Saturday, April 13, 2013
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is in the process of selecting its next Director General (DG). The Chair of the WTO General Council announced today that after the first round of consulations with the Members, the slate of candidates has been narrowed to five as follows:
Ms Mari Elka Pangestu (Indonesia)
Mr Tim Groser (New Zealand)
Mr Herminio Blanco (Mexico)
Mr Taeho Bark (Republic of Korea)
Mr Roberto Carvalho de Azevêdo (Brazil)
The next step will be to further narrow this list of five down to two final candidates. Consultations with the Member States will begin next week to accomplish this task.
The Chair's full statement on this matter may be found here.
Friday, April 12, 2013
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has announced that it will hold public hearings in the case concerning Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan: New Zealand intervening) from Wednesday 26 June to Tuesday 16 July 2013, at the Peace Palace in The Hague. Each party has been alloted two and a half days of argument in the first round of oral arguments and one and a half days of argument in the second round. Additionally, New Zealand has been alloted one morning of argument time to present its observations.
The ICJ will consider Australia's allegations that "Japan's continued pursuit of a large-scale program of whaling under the Second Phase of its Japanese Whale Research Program under Special Permit in the Antarctic ("JARPA II") is in breach of obligations assumed by Japan under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling ("ICRW"), as well as its other international obligations for the preservation of marine mammals and the marine environment."
More information may be found in the ICJ press release.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
In its fourth annual report on the global use of the death penalty, Amnesty International found progress towards its abolition in all regions of the world.
In 2012, 21 countries carried out executions - the same as 2011, but down from 28 countries a decade ago. The five countries that carried out the most executions are China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
682 known executions were carried out worldwide, 2 more than in 2011. Amnesty International believes more were carried out in China, but said it cannot obtain accurate data.
Amnesty International "opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. The death penalty violates the right to life and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment."
For more information, see the Amnesty International press release.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
The trial chamber of the United Nations-backed court in Cambodia that is trying those accused of genocide and crimes against humanity ruled last week that Nuon Chea, also knows as "Brother Number Two" to Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, is fit for trial. Mr. Noun is before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a mixed court set up under a 2003 agreement signed by the UN and the Government, on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s.
"Notwithstanding the advanced age and frailty of the accused, Nuon Chea, and the accused's precarious physical health, the recent report and testimony of the court-appointed medical experts clearly indicate that the accused remains capable of meaningful participation in his own defence," the president of the court, Nil Nonn, said through an English translator. Mr. Noun waived his right to be present in court on grounds of health reasons. He is reportedly 86-years-old and suffers from heart disease, among other ailments.
Earlier this month, former foreign minister Ieng Sary, died of heart failure. His widow and former social minister, Ieng Thirith, was found unfit to stand trial last September owing to medical reasons and the Court granted her a provisional release
Nearly two million people are thought to have died during the Khmer Rouge regime between 1975 and 1979. Out of five Khmer Rouge leaders indicted by the ECCC in 2007, the court has so far completed just one case, sentencing former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, whose alias is 'Duch', to life in jail.
In addition, witness hearings in Case 002/01 against Mr. Nuon and Khieu Samphan will resume on 8 April, the Court announced.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
The United Nations General Assembly today held its first ever debate on the role of the international criminal justice system in reconciliation, with its president stressing the vital part it must play not just in looking back on past atrocities but in bringing former foes together to build a better and more inclusive tomorrow. “The paramount question is how international criminal justice can help reconcile former adversaries in post-conflict, transitioning societies,” Assembly President Vuk Jeremic said in opening the session.
Over the past two decades various international criminal courts have been set up, either under UN sponsorship or in cooperation with the world body, to judge war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in countries as diverse as the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia.
These include the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is not country-specific.
Addressing the Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that the international criminal justice system was launched two decades ago, almost 50 years after the Nuremberg trials against Nazi war criminals, “in the face of horrendous acts that at times summoned up those very ghosts” from the Second World War. “Impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and other serious international crimes is no longer acceptable, nor is it tolerated,” he said, noting that the system has also given voice to victims and witnesses. “Where once they might have gone unheard, left to suffer in silence, today they have a platform.”
He added that supporting international tribunals and courts means respecting, and not calling into question, their independence, impartiality and integrity. “It means implementing their decisions. And it means safeguarding them from those who seek to undermine them for reasons that may have more to do with politics than justice,” he said.
Highlighting the theme of reconciliation, Mr. Jeremic, who comes from Serbia, part of former Yugoslavia, said: “Reconciliation will come about when all the parties to a conflict are ready to speak the truth to each other. Honouring all the victims is at the heart of this endeavour. That is why it is so critically important to ensure atrocities are neither denied, nor bizarrely celebrated as national triumphs. “Reconciliation is in its essence about the future, about making sure we do not allow yesterday's tragedies to circumscribe our ability to reach out to each other, and work together for a better, more inclusive tomorrow.”
He noted that the subject is immensely sensitive, often involving considerations of delicate matters like sovereignty or impartiality. “But I firmly believe there should be no forbidden subjects in the General Assembly,” he said. “Where else can all Member States come together, as equals, to exchange views frankly, openly, and inclusively on far-reaching issues?”
Mr. Ban later met representatives of the Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves, where at least some 6,000 Moslem men and boys were massacred in the breakaway Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995 during the wars in former Yugoslavia, as well as the Association of Victims and Witnesses of Genocide.
Forty-eight countries are scheduled to speak during the day-long General Assembly session.
(UN Press Release)
Tuesday, April 9, 2013