Saturday, June 8, 2013

43rd General Assembly of the OAS

Inter Am Commn Human RtsThis week, Guatemala hosted the 43rd General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS).  At the Assembly, the parties adopted by consensus the Declaration of Antigua, Guatemala, “For a Comprehensive Policy Against the World Drug Problem in the Americas.” This declaration reaffirms the commitment of the OAS Members to work in partnership to strengthen the rule of law, stem the flow of illegal drugs, and engage in best practices with regard to prevention, rehabilitation, and treatment of our citizens affected by drug addiction and abuse.  Also this week, the OAS General Assembly adopted the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance and the Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance.

In addition, the Members of the OAS elected new Commissioners to the the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.  Commissioner Jose de Jesus Orozco Henriquez, from Mexico, current Chair of the IACHR, was reelected. In addition, James L. Cavallaro, a Professor at Stanford Law School in the United States of America, and Paulo De Tarso Vannuchi, from Brazil, were elected. The period for which they were elected runs from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2017.  They will take the place of Dinah Shelton of the United States and Rodrigo Escobar Gil of Columbia, whose terms end December 31, 2013. The other members of the IACHR include Tracy Robinson (Jamaica), who is currently First Vice Chair; Rosa Maria Ortiz (Paraguay), who is the Second Vice Chair; Felipe Gonzalez (Chile); and Rose-Marie Antoine (dual citizen of Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago).

June 8, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 7, 2013

EU-China Trade Dispute Over Solar Panels

Eu-flagEarlier this week, the European Commission imposed 20 billion euros worth of anti-dumping tariffs on solar panels from China.  (Dumping involves selling a product a less than fair market value.) News reports indicate that the average initial AD duties are 11.8%, but will increase to 47% in two months if Chinese exporters do not raise prices and reduce the volume of sales in the EU. The European Commission is also investigating subsidies provided by the Chinese government to its solar panel industry and may impose additional duties to offset those subsidies later this summer.  The European authorities  found that the dumped goods are causing injury to the domestic solar panel industry.  China

On Wednesday, China retaliated by initiating anti-dumping and subsidy investigations of wine imports from France, Spain and Italy.  No tariffs have yet been imposed and the European Commission takes the position that there is no dumping or unlawful subsidization of wine exports.  It is likely this trade war will be resolved by a combination of legal actions and negotiations between these two large trading powers.


June 7, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ireland's EU Presidency

Irish EU PresI am spending some time in Dublin again this summer, which has made me more aware of Ireland's Presidency of the Council of European Union (EU). The EU Presidency rotates among the 27 Member States every six months.  This is Ireland's 7th time holding the Presidency and it comes at a time when Ireland is celebrating 40 years a member of the EU.  During Ireland's Presidency, many of the relevant meetings are being held at the historic and beautiful Dublin Castle, which means that the Castle is not as available for tourists.  The Irish Presidency covers a wide variety of issues, including justice, business expansion, immigration, environmental protection, fisheries policy and the fight against terrorism. Dublin Castle

For example, yesterday, Ireland announced agreement on a key reform to the Common Fisheries Policy.  Today, Ireland announced that an agreement had been reached among the appropriate EU bodies to expand the ban of mercury and cadmium in batteries.  This now complete ban will reduce the amount of cadmium and mercury that is extracted, transported and released into the environment with attendant health benefits.

Lithuania will take on the rotating Presidency post for the first time as of July 1. It is expected to inherit a record number of legislative measures to be considered.  Lithuania's President has said that economic matters will be the main priority.  Lithuania is expected to bring an "Eastern" focus to the EU, with a focus on closer relations with the EU's Eastern neighbors, including the conclusion of an association agreement between the EU and the Ukraine and efforts to improve the situation with Belarus. 

For more informaton about Ireland's Presidency of the EU, click here.


June 6, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Latvia to Become the 18th Member of the Eurozone

LatviaFlagYesterday, the European Commission approved Latvia's application to join the eurozone, making it the 18th Member State to adopt the common currency. The decision must still be approved by the EU Finance Ministers next month, which experts predict will not be a problem.  Assuming the approval is received, Latvia is expected to join the euro in 2014.  For more details, read this report from the EU Observer.


June 6, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

World Environment Day

June 5 is World Environment Day - a day for positive environmental action.  World Environment Day is sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and has been celebrated every year since the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment.  UNEP uses the day as a call for political attention and action on environmental issues of concern. This year, the focus is on reducing food waste.  For more informaton and resources, visit the UNEP website.

And the Pope has described throwing away food is like stealing from the poor and the hungry.


June 5, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Arms Trade Treaty Opened for Signature

The first international treaty regulating the global arms trade opened for signature at United Nations Headquarters this morning, culminating a decades-long push to halt illegal shipments of weapons such as missiles, combat aircraft and attack helicopters. Approved overwhelmingly two months ago in the UN General Assembly by a vote of 154 to three – Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Iran and Syria – with 23 abstentions, the treaty, according to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), “will foster peace and security by putting a stop to destabilizing arms flows to conflict regions.”

Angela Kane, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, opened this morning’s special event, saying that the day opens “a new chapter in which States will sign up to an international contract bringing responsibility and transparency to the global arms trade.”  While the treaty is “not perfect,” she said it is certainly “robust.”  Some 30 countries are listed to take part in today’s events, which will be capped by a Ministerial segment this even, which will be opened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and is expected to feature a keynote address by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

The Treaty will come into force 90 days after it has been signed by 50 nations. Though it will not control the domestic weapons use, once ratified, it will require States to establish national regulations to control the transfer of conventional arms and regulate arms brokers, among other objectives.

(Adapted from a UN press release)

June 3, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Protests in Turkey

Sunday, June 2, 2013

US Imposes Sanctions on Companies Doing Business with Iran

In a continuing effort to hinder Iran's nuclear program, the U.S. government recently took action against companies helping Iran to evade U.S. sanctions and doing illicit business with Iran.
Pursuant to Executive Orders (E.O.) 13622 and 13599, the Obama Administration imposed sanctions on a series of companies related to Iran’s petrochemical industry. These actions were taken to cut off funds from the Iranian petrochemical sector as the second largest revenue source for Iran’s illicit nuclear program.
More specifically, the U.S. Department of State imposed sanctions on Jam Petrochemical Company and Niksima Food and Beverage JLT pursuant to E.O. 13622 for knowingly engaging in a significant transaction for the purchase or acquisition of petrochemical products from Iran. Jam Petrochemical Company is an Iranian manufacturer and seller of petrochemicals. Niksima Food and Beverage JLT received payments on behalf of Jam Petrochemical Company. The sanctions selected for both companies prohibit: financial transactions subject to U.S. jurisdiction, transactions with respect to property and interests in property under U.S. jurisdiction, and foreign exchange transactions subject to U.S. jurisdiction.
In addition to these entities, the Department of the Treasury also identified eight Iranian petrochemical companies as owned or controlled by the Government of Iran.
The U.S. Departments of State and Treasury also took actions to impose sanctions, including a visa ban on corporate officers, on Ferland Company Limited (Ferland) under both the Iran Sanctions Act, as amended by the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (TRA), and Executive Order 13608 for efforts to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.
According to the U.S. government, in March 2013, Ferland and the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) cooperated in a scheme to sell Iranian crude oil deceptively in order to help Iran evade international sanctions. This operation involved a vessel owned by Dimitris Cambis, a Greek national sanctioned by the Department of State. The details of the ship-to-ship operations were arranged by a NITC manager and a representative of Ferland. Ferland later furnished a falsified certificate of origin as part of its cargo documentation, claiming that the crude oil loaded onto the Aldawha was a “product of Iraq.”
The sanctions imposed by the Department of State against Ferland prohibit: U.S. visas for corporate officers, loans from U.S. financial institutions, financial transactions subject to U.S. jurisdiction, transactions with respect to property and interests in property under U.S. jurisdiction, and foreign exchange transactions subject to U.S. jurisdiction. Separately, the sanctions imposed by the Department of the Treasury on Ferland generally prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in any
transactions with that entity.

June 2, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)