Palestinians vote for first time at UN Assembly

The Palestinians voted for the first time at the UN General Assembly Monday and claimed the moment as a new step in its quest for full recognition by the global body.
Most of the 193 members of the General Assembly stood in applause when Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour cast a vote for a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The Palestinians became observer members of the United Nations on November 29 last year. It cannot vote on UN resolutions, but under UN rules, it and other observers such as the Vatican can vote in elections for judges on international courts.

“This is an important step in our march for freedom and independence and full membership of the United Nations,” Mansour told the assembly. But afterwards, Mansour told reporters: “I think that this is a very, very special moment in the history of the struggle of the Palestinian people at the United Nations.” “It is another step for strengthening the pillars of the state of Palestine in the international arena,” he added.
Mansour acknowledged it was a “symbolic” vote, but said: “It is an important one because it reflects that the international community, particularly the General Assembly, is hungry and waiting for the state of Palestine to become a full member of the United Nations.”

Asked whether the United States or Israel had objected to their vote in the UN assembly, Mansour said: “They can’t. This is a very crystal clear case.”

The Palestinians have sought to become an observer member of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, which organizes the International Criminal Court. The assembly is to meet in The Hague this week.
The United States blocked the move even though it is not a a formal member of the court, diplomats said.
“The United States said this was not acceptable — they refused,” according to one UN diplomat.
“It would have been a step too far for the Americans. They can cause problems even though they are not members,” added a second diplomat who confirmed the move.

Source: http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/international/19-Nov-2013/palestinians-vote-for-first-time-at-un-assembly?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online%2F24hours-news+(The+Nation+%3A+Latest+News)

Advertisements

UNSC refused to defer the trial

So, finally United Nations Security Council (UNSC) refused to defer the trial of Kenya’s President and Vice President for one year.(1)The power to defer the proceedings has been invested with the UNSC under Article 16 of the Rome Statute. For purpose of deference, Kenya required total 9 votes according to Article 27 of UN Charter which states that matters except non-procedural require 9 affirmative votes in UNSC including all five permanent members.(2) But, it could gather only 7 votes because other eight members of UNSC abstained from voting which includes USA, UK and France. Whereas China and Russia voted in favor of deferral. The reason cited to defer the trial was that ‘court case is distracting and preventing Kenyatta and Ruto from carrying out their duties. And reference was also made to a terrorist attack in in September at a mall in Nairobi that left over 60 people dead.(3) China’s representative said that ‘Deferring ICC proceedings against Kenyan leaders is not only the concern of Kenya, but also the concern of all African countries. It is indeed an urgent need dictated bythe interest of maintaining regional peace and stability.’ (4) The question this remark raises is that can justice be traded off for peace and stability? what is meaning of peace without justice?

The African nations, led by Rwanda, who proposed the resolution faced strong criticism for the challenge and the way it was forced upon the council i.e. resolution was called as ‘un-necessary’, which created ‘artificial confrontation’ between International Criminal Court(ICC) and UNSC. (5) African countries was using the narrative of discrimination which is unfortunately true to some extent. This is evident from the fact that 20 cases in 8 situations brought before ICC are all from African Region. (6)But I don’t subscribe to the idea that we should let go of one criminal because others are not prosecuted. that reasoning is absurd. And another point to be noted is that out of these 8 situations about 4 situations were referred by those states themselves.

To date, four States Parties to the Rome Statute – Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and Mali – have referred situations occurring on their territories to the Court. (7) visited on 18-11-2013

But that should not blind us to fact that some countries are using ICC and exercising power without bearing any responsibility. Yes! I am talking about USA. But what about the citizens of Kenya. So there was poll conducted according to which  67 percent of 2,060 Kenyans surveyed think that President Uhuru Kenyatta should attend his trial at the International Criminal Court.(8) Apparently, a common man of Kenya doesn’t subscribe to the views of African Union.

Background:

The ICC charged Kenyatta and Ruto with crimes against humanity, including murder, forcible population transfer and persecution, for their alleged roles in postelection violence that left more than 1,000 people dead in late 2007 and early 2008. Kenyatta also is accused of responsibility for rape and other inhumane acts carried out by a criminal gang known as the Mungiki, which was allegedly under his control.

Financial Crisis?

The international body tasked with ensuring Syria’s chemical weapons are eliminated has enough money to fund its mission only until the end of this month, and needs more funds soon for the destruction of poison gas stocks next year.

An official at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which won the Nobel Peace Prize last month, expressed confidence that governments would find more money to ensure the process does not lose momentum.

Discussions are underway with countries willing to host facilities for incinerating or chemically neutralizing the poisons, including Albania, Belgium and an unspecified Scandinavian country, two sources familiar with the discussions said.

Companies in the United States, Germany and France are competing for the contract to provide destruction facilities, the sources said.

Since being established under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW has overseen the destruction of more than 50,000 tonnes of toxic munitions, or more than 80 percent of the world’s declared stockpile. The United States and Russia, the largest possessors of chemical weapons, are years behind schedule in destroying their arsenals.

source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/06/us-syria-crisis-chemical-idUSBRE9A40YN20131106?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&rpc=69

Kerry says Iran rejected nuclear deal

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the major powers were unified on an Iran nuclear deal during weekend talks in Geneva but the Iranians were unable to accept it. He also said critics of the diplomatic effort should withhold their comments until a deal is reached.

Earlier reports said that the talks came apart because France refused to accept the deal with Iran.

Netanyahu has repeatedly criticized what he considers readiness by the six powers involved in the talks to be too generous to Iran and has aggressively campaigned against an agreement. But Kerry reasserted the U.S. commitment to Israel, saying the United States would not allow Iran to develop a nuclear bomb. Thus, Kerry tried to reassure Washington’s Arab allies and Israel that his country would not abandon them.

Kerry said there is no “end game” in motion and the Geneva talks were a first step in longer process of possible give and take.

Tehran has been eager to reach an agreement to ease international sanctions that have halted most oil exports and crippled the county’s economy.

But a key stumbling block has been Iran’s insistence that the international community recognize its “right” to enrich uranium as a signer of a U.N. treaty governing the spread of nuclear technology — also frequently pointing out that Israel has not signed the accord. Kerry’s comments challenge the Iranian view, but do not appear to significantly alter the currently Western effort that seeks to curb Iran’s ability to make its highest-enrich uranium but possibly leaving intact the country’s production of lower-level nuclear fuel.

In deal agreed on Monday aimed at improving transparency in Iran’s nuclear program, Tehran will grant U.N. inspectors “managed access” to a uranium mine and a heavy water plant within three months.

Under the technical accord signed by U.N. nuclear agency chief Yukiya Amano in Tehran, Iran will also provide information about planned new research reactors and sites for future nuclear power plants, as well as clarify earlier statements about additional uranium enrichment facilities.

Britain and Iran said they were reviving diplomatic ties two years after a mob of students attacked the British embassy in Tehran. Both sides said they were appointing a new charge d’affaires.

Britain closed the embassy in 2011 after a rally against British sanctions escalated into violence and protesters scaled the walls, ransacked offices and burned buildings.

source: http://news.yahoo.com/kerry-says-iran-rejected-nuclear-deal-121636403–politics.html

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/11/us-iran-nuclear-idUSBRE9A804X20131111

Persecution or Justice?

A trial in Bangladesh, which brought death sentences for 152 border guards accused of murder and arson in a mutiny in 2009, failed to meet international law standards, United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay said on Wednesday.

Citing allegations that many of the defendants in the mass trial, which ended on Tuesday, had been abused and tortured while in jail, she also called for a full independent investigation into how the accused were treated.

“The crimes committed during the mutiny were utterly reprehensible and heinous,” the former South African high court and International Criminal Court judge said in a statement.

But she added: “Justice will not be achieved by conducting mass trials of hundreds of individuals, torturing suspects in custody and sentencing them to death after trials that failed to meet the most fundamental standards of due process.”

A total of 171 of the mutineers, whose main complaint was that their regular army commanders were better paid and housed, were acquitted, while the remainder of the some 4,000 defendants were given jail terms of up to 10 years and fines.

At the same time, she voiced concern about the conduct of the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) set up by the Bangladesh government in 2010 to try people accused of atrocities during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

The ICT, she said, should be an important means to tackle impunity for those atrocities and provide redress to the victims, but its proceedings had to meet the highest standards if they were to enforce the rule of law.

The Tribunal has sentenced 7 people to death, but Pillay called on the Bangladesh government not to carry out the sentences due to concerns about the fairness of the trials.

Source: http://www.euronews.com/newswires/2197292-un-rights-chief-says-bangladesh-trials-unfair/

ICC and African Union

So i came across an article. I specially liked the ‘The case of UNSC deferral’ portion which actually makes it clear that diplomacy and play of politics has some, if not more, limitations in light of international law laid down. though, since states are sovereign, this limitation might not produce any desirable interest. And secondly, the principle of individual responsibility in international law is posing new problems as we are witnessing in kenya. where accused persons are at helm of state affairs and were democratically elected and trying to prosecute them at this time doesn’t seem feasible. but we can’t let them go free as they had committed crimes. Thirdly, there is another problem of selective justice i.e. by and large product of notion of sovereignty and economics mixed with politics. we have not came across any head of state from any of the western countries who has been proceeded against except the Nuremberg trials which is a separate category altogether.

Anyways, enjoy reading the article

http://www.ejiltalk.org/the-aus-extraordinary-summit-decisions-on-africa-icc-relationship/

 

Interview with First Director of OPCW

José Maurício Bustani could have prevented the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But the first director general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was shown the door at a special session of the then 145-nation watchdog in 2002. It’s an open secret that the Brazilian diplomat was fired by the OPCW under pressure from the U.S. administration of George W. Bush, which saw Bustani as a major obstacle in its plans to attack Iraq. After leaving the global organisation, Bustani quietly returned to Brazilian diplomatic service. In an exclusive interview with The Hindu’s Shobhan Saxena in Sao Paulo, Bustani, who is now Brazil’s ambassador to France, told his side of the story: the real reasons behind his removal from the OPCW, how he could have stopped the Iraq war and how shocked he was by India’s vote against him.

But right now inspectors from the organisation are cataloguing the Syrian government’s stockpiles of chemical weapons as a step forward in Syria’s civil war. So, the OPCW is a part of the peace plan this time. In 2002, it was seen as an obstacle to U.S. plans to invade Iraq.

I got re-elected for a second term in 2001 and later that year, things begin to turn bad after Iraq and Libya expressed their desire to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, the international treaty. As to become a member a country has to provide a list of stockpiles and agree to the inspection and destruction of weapons, our inspectors were planning to visit Iraq in January 2002. That caused a major uproar in Washington and I began to get warnings from American and other diplomats. The Bush administration feared that chemical weapons inspections in Iraq would neutralise their plans for invading it as there were no chemicals weapons. By December 2001, I knew that the Americans were serious about getting rid of me.

If our plan about chemical weapons inspection in Iraq had been accepted, there would be no war. In those months, Washington was claiming that Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons, but our experts believed that those weapons were destroyed in the 1990s after the war with Iran.

Initially, the Americans failed to get a no-confidence motion against me from the OPCW’s executive council. But then they threatened to cut off its financing. They were supported by Japan and then the U.K.

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/interview/indias-vote-against-me-came-as-a-big-shock/article5237928.ece