Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New UN Report Cites Lack of Progress by Israel and Lebanon on Key Obligations

Although Israel and Lebanon have enjoyed the longest period of stability in their recent history, not enough progress has been made on key obligations under the Security Council resolution that ended the hostilities of 2006, according to a new United Nations report released today.  Click here to see the full report.

In addition to bringing to a close the conflict that took place between Israel and the Lebanese group Hizbollah four years ago, Security Council Resolution 1701 also calls for respect for the so-called Blue Line separating the Israeli and Lebanese sides, the disarming of all militias operating in Lebanon and an end to arms smuggling in the area.

“Although the parties remained committed to the full implementation of resolution 1701 (2006), a number of violations occurred and no progress was recorded with regard to key obligations under the resolution,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes in his latest report on the issue.  He voices concern about ongoing air violations committed by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) through almost daily overflights of Lebanese territory, as well as ground violations of the Blue Line that have occurred in recent months.  “The inherent risk of escalating the security situation that these incidents carry cannot be overstated,” he warns. In addition, he stresses that Israel must withdraw its forces from the northern part of the village of Ghajar and an adjacent area north of the Blue Line, in accordance with the resolution, and urges the Israeli Government to expedite the withdrawal of the IDF from the area without further delay.

He adds that amid allegations of continued arms transfers to Hizbollah, in violation of the resolution, “a perceptible increase in tension between the parties was recorded during the reporting period,” which covers developments since his February report. “That raised the spectre of a miscalculation by either party leading to a resumption of hostilities, with potentially devastating consequences for Lebanon and the region,” he says.  This tension, he writes, once again illustrates the importance of control by Lebanon over its borders and of respect by all Member States for the prohibition against the transfer of arms and related materiel to entities or individuals in Lebanon without the consent of the Lebanese State, which are key elements of resolution 1701.

The report notes that the UN regularly receives reports and specific allegations that Hizbollah maintains “a vast arsenal and a significant military capacity,” but it does not have the means to verify this information independently.  The presence of armed groups in Lebanon operating beyond the control of the State is also a concern, Mr. Ban says, as they challenge the ability of the State to exercise its full sovereignty and control over its territory.  “I continue to believe that the disarmament of armed groups should be carried out through a Lebanese-led political process that would result in bringing all arms under the control of the State.”

The Secretary-General stresses that it is the responsibility of the parties to focus on all outstanding issues so that they can reach a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution, as envisaged in resolution 1701.  "At the moment, they are not doing enough in this regard,” he writes.  Noting that the partnership between the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) is critical to the implementation of the resolution, Mr. Ban calls for increased support for the LAF.  He also calls for ensuring the full freedom of movement for UNIFIL within its area of operations, while voicing concern about recent incidents impeding the work of the Force.

(adapted from a UN Press Release)

July 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

USAID Seeks Public Comments

USAID announced a request for public comment on a proposed renewal of a currently approved information collection, the Applicant’s Certification that It Does Not Support Terrorist Organizations or Individuals, which is used to reassure that USAID does not directly provide support to organizations or individuals that engage in terrorism, and to assure that recipients are aware of these requirements when it considers individuals or organizations as subrecipients. Comments are due by September 7, 2010.  Get more informaiton at Fed. Reg. 39,204

Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office


July 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Senate Hearings on the START Treaty

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold hearings on July 14, 2010 on the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and Protocol, which President Obama and President Medvedev of Russia signed in April.  Click here to links to the text of the treaty, protocol, and a video of the signing ceremony from the White House.


July 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Iran Sanctions

President Obama has signed HR 2194 (PL 111-195), the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on the implementation of Iran sanctions on July 15, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 2154 of the Rayburn Building in Washington, D.C.

Hat tip to the ABA Government Affairs Office


July 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UN Secretary General Streeses Need for Accountability for Srebrenica

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the need to ensure accountability for those involved in the massacre of Muslim men and boys 15 years ago by Bosnian Serb forces after they took over Srebrenica, which was declared a safe haven by the Security Council.  “Until all those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes face those charges and are judged, our quest for justice, and the path towards healing, will remain incomplete,” Mr. Ban said at an event at United Nations Headquarters to honor the victims.  Some 8,000 Muslims were killed by the Bosnian Serb forces who overran Srebrenica, the largest such massacre on European soil since the founding of the UN.

“We recognize the burden of families and loved ones who carry the memories and pain with each step,” said Mr. Ban. “And, we vow, together, never again to allow such an atrocity to happen at any time...in any place.”  He noted that while the region has made progress over the past 15 years, including efforts to promote reconciliation, there is still a long way to go.

The emergence of respect and trust after conflict depends heavily on bringing perpetrators to account, the Secretary-General said. “Truth must be told. Justice must be done.”  He pointed out that the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslaviahave found that the horror of Srebrenica constituted a crime of genocide, and that these institutions are contributing significantly to the ongoing fight against impunity.  

“The work of the International Criminal Court (ICC) . . . our efforts to protect civilians . . . our increased vigilance for early signs of genocide or other grave crimes . . . are all meant to reduce the risk of another such assault on innocents – and to fully prepare us if it does come,” Mr. Ban added. “The age of impunity has passed, and the age of accountability is now taking over.”

(from a UN Press Release)

July 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ICC Appeals Chamber Upholds War Crimes Charges Against Katango

Judges at the International Criminal Court today dismissed a request by Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga to have the war crimes case against him dropped.  Mr. Katanga, a senior commander from the group known as the Force de Résistance Patriotique en Ituri (FRPI), faces three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes for a deadly assault on the village of Bogoro, in the Ituri province in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Hundreds of people were killed in the February 2003 attack and many women forced into sexual slavery. He is on trial with another Congolese rebel leader, Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, a former commander of the National Integrationalist Front (FNI), who faces three counts of crimes against humanity and six of war crimes, and is alleged to have played a key role in designing and carrying out the Bogoro attack.

Mr. Katanga filed a motion on 30 June 2009 requesting that his detention be declared unlawful and a stay of proceedings against him for his alleged unlawful arrest and detention in the DRC prior to his surrender to the Court.  In November 2009, the Court’s Trial Chamber rejected that motion, finding that it was submitted seven months too late.

In today’s decision, the Appeals Chamber found that the November 2009 decision of the Trial Chamber “did not infringe Mr Katanga’s right to a fair hearing and that he had been given adequate notice and opportunity to raise the issue of his alleged unlawful pre-surrender arrest and detention.”

(from a UN Press Release)


July 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ICC Issues a Second Arrest Warrant for Sudan's President -- This Time for Genocide

The International Criminal Court ("ICC") today issued a second arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, adding genocide to the list of charges for crimes he has allegedly committed in the war-ravaged Darfur region.

The Court’s pre-trial chamber said that there are reasonable grounds to believe Mr. al-Bashir is responsible for three counts of genocide against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups, including genocide by killing; genocide by causing serious bodily or mental harm; and genocide by deliberately inflicting conditions of life meant to destroy each target group.

In March 2009 the Sudanese leader became the first sitting head of State to be indicted by the Court, which charged him with two counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity.

But the ICC’s pre-trial chamber at that time rejected Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s application to charge Mr. al-Bashir with genocide, ruling that there was insufficient evidence.

In February, the appeals chamber called for adding the charge of genocide to be reconsidered, finding the standard of proof set by the pre-trial chamber to be too demanding at the arrest warrant stage, amounting to an “error of law.”

The arrest warrant issued today for Mr. al-Bashir does not replace or revoke last year’s, which remains in effect.

The United Nations estimates that 300,000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million forced from their homes since fighting erupted in 2003 in Darfur, pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen. All sides are accused of serious human rights violations.

In May, the ICC’s judges referred Sudan’s lack of cooperation in failing to arrest the Mr. al-Bashir and other indictees – including Ahmad Harun, a former national government minister of the interior – to the Security Council.

Although Sudan is not a State Party to the Rome Statute that set up the ICC, it is obliged to “cooperate fully with and provide any necessary assistance to the court and the prosecutor” in accordance with a Council resolution adopted in 2005.

The ICC is a permanent court based in The Hague in the Netherlands and tries people accused of the most serious international offences, such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Other than Darfur, the ICC currently has investigations open in four situations: the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), northern Uganda, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Kenya.

(from a UN Press Release)

July 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Switzerland Rejects Roman Polanski Extradition Request by United States

Switzerland has rejected an extradition request by the United States for the film director Roman Polanski, who is charged with having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.  The New York Times reports that the Swiss Justice Ministry said that the decision not to extradite was based on national interests and that Mr. Polanski was now a free man.


July 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cuba Frees Political Dissidents

Last week, the major news outlets reported that the Cuban government had reached an agreement with the Catholic Church and the government of Spain pursuant to which Cuba agreed to release a number of political dissidents over the next few months.  Some of the dissidents will be allowed to return home; others will be sent to Spain.  Over the weekend, Cuba began making good on its promise, freeing the first three political prisoners.  Spain has agreed to accept at least 5 of them and perhaps all 52.  The dissidents have been in prison in Cuba since their arrest in 2003.  The Cuban government's release of persons imprisoned for stating their beliefs is welcomed by the international human rights community, and it is hoped that the move signals a greater tolerance for peaceful disagreement in the country.


July 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Italy Wants You to Know: Paul the Octopus . . . is Really "Paolo"

The biggest star of the World Cup has not been one of the players but rather an Octopus in a German acquarium who has successfully predicted seven of seven results in the World Cup Games.  (He picked Spain to win today, in case you are wondering.)

Italians are now taking pride upon learning that "Paul" was caught in the Italian waters of Tuscany, which makes him "Paolo."  Click here to read more.


July 11, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Meeting on U.S.-China Bilateral Trade

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission will hold a meeting on July 14, 2010 in Washington, DC, to examine the implications for the U.S. bilateral trade and economic relationship with China. Get more information at Fed. Reg. 38,875.

Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office.


July 11, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)