Saturday, October 4, 2014
he United Nations spotlighted the benefits of satellite navigation and its contribution to the betterment of humankind today in preparation for the observance of World Space Week – an annual global celebration of the contributions of space science and technology to humanity.
In a statement released yesterday, Simonetta Di Pippo, the Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), welcomed the upcoming celebrations that will take place around the world, including a ceremony to be held at the UN offices in Vienna where the Organization will be presented a rare Tiuterra Crystal.
Tiuterra is a composite of a Mars meteorite found in Morocco and rock samples collected globally by individuals and institutions. Three smaller versions of the crystal will accompany Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on her journey to the International Space Station in November 2014.
Proclaimed by the General Assembly in 1999, World Space Week, observed each year during the week of 4-10 October, aims to provide unique leverage in space outreach and education; educate people around the world about the benefits that they receive from space; encourage greater use of space for sustainable economic development; demonstrate public support for space programs; excite young people about science, technology, engineering, and math; and foster international cooperation in space outreach and education.
The dates recall the launch, on 4 October 1957, of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik I, and the entry into force, on 10 October 1967, of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies.
The theme of this year’s World Space Week is Space: Guiding Your Way. It highlights the benefits of satellite navigation to society which, Ms. Di Pippo said, are of “great importance” to her Office, particularly as UNOOSA also functions as the Executive Secretariat to the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG) – a body which promotes voluntary cooperation on civil satellite-based positioning navigation, timing and value-added services.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
In these dramatic and perilous times, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson urged the international community to reaffirm the power and potential of bringing about change through peaceful means, following in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi, who inspired the International Day of Non-Violence celebrated earlier this week.
“The response to violence is all too often more violence when, in fact, reconciliation and dialogue is needed,” Mr. Eliasson said in a special event for the occasion, held at UN Headquarters in New York.
He called for embracing the fundamental values embodied by Mr. Gandhi: passion, compassion, and belief in the dignity and equal worth of all human beings.
Mr. Eliasson recalled Mr. Gandhi’s warning that “an eye for an eye ends up making the whole world blind.”
The International Day, marked annually on Mr. Gandhi’s birthday, celebrates his non-violent philosophy and tactics have been adopted by leaders around the world. It was established by the General Assembly as an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness,” and has been observed annually since 2007.
Mr. Gandhi’s historic “Salt March” against unfair colonial taxation, and his other non-violent resistance inspired change in countries from the Georgia to South Africa, Northern Ireland and the United States, Mr. Eliasson said.
This year’s event is particularly relevant given the resurgence of exceptionalism and sectarianism in parts of the world, the senior UN official said. He added that many minorities find themselves under attack, and civilizations are being displaced as conflicts force them to flee.
“We must reject violence as the futile and default means to bring about change,” Mr. Eliasson said. “We must embrace the path to non-violence and peaceful settlements as the road to sustainable and equitable transformations of societies.”
The UN is strengthening its efforts to bring non-violence to concrete action through preventive diplomacy and the recent “Human Rights up Front” initiative which highlights the need for early action, and the crucial role of responding early to human rights violations.
At this time of increased sectarian violence and the wanton destruction of cultural sites and heritage, “We have to foster a culture of peace, built on dialogue and understanding, for living together in harmony while respecting and celebrating humanity’s rich diversity,” the UN chief said.
Stressing that there is no greater tool than education to enhance human dignity, promote a culture of non-violence, and build lasting peace, Mr. Ban said: “Through education, we can craft new ways of living with each other and the planet. Education can also lay the foundation for developing new forms of global citizenship and solidarity that are so essential in today’s world.”
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
Friday, October 3, 2014
Security Council Wants "Swift Neutralization" of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR)
The United Nations Security Council today reiterated that the “swift neutralization” of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) armed group is a top priority in bringing stability to and protecting the civilians of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes region.
The 15-member body noted in a press statement that 2 October marked the half-way point of the six-month timeframe for the voluntary surrender of the FDLR as set out by the joint International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting of Ministers of Defence on 2 July.
Since that date “no further voluntary surrenders of members of the FDLR have happened and the FDLR have failed to deliver on their public promise to voluntarily demobilize,” the Council noted with deep concern.
Leaders and members of the FDLR are among the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, during which Hutu and others who opposed the genocide were also killed, the Council recalled. Indeed, the FDLR is a group under UN sanctions and which has continued to promote and commit ethnically based and other killings in Rwanda and in the DRC.
Council members reaffirmed support for regional commitments made by the ICGLR and SADC to end the threat of armed groups and undertake a three-month review of the FDLR disarmament process.
It was important to conclude this process swiftly, have a clearly defined end-state and support the process through credible military action by the DRC, with the support of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).
They stressed that “only substantial progress toward the full demobilization called for by the region and committed to by the FDLR could justify any further reprieve from military action against the FDLR.”
The Council said it would assess the process through the number of surrenders, the number of working weapons handed over, the agreement of those surrendering to be transferred to holding areas determined by the DRC government in coordination with MONUSCO, and the transfer of control over territory to the DRC authorities.
The Council reiterated its call on the Government of the DRC, in coordination with MONUSCO, to undertake military action against those leaders and members of the FDLR who do not engage in the demobilization process or who continue to carry out human rights abuses. There was no need for political dialogue with the FDLR, Members said, reaffirming the need to arrest and bring to justice those responsible war crimes.
(UN Press Release)
Professor and scholar Raj Bhala did a television interview on the "Not So Late Show" in Lawrence, Kansas. He spoke about his impressive international law scholarship in a television format that you'll certainly enjoy. Click here to see the interview.
Successful Treaty Event at the United Nations; Arms Trade Treaty Gets Enough Ratifications and Will Enter Into Force on Christmas Eve 2014
Fifty-two States participated in the this year’s United Nations treaty event, held annually on the margins of the UN General Assembly’s high-level segment, as they signed or ratified a range of treaties on issues spanning human rights, disarmament, the environment, transnational organized crime and world trade, the Organization announced at the conclusion of the week-long process.
“The success of the treaty event this year serves to underline the continued commitment of all UN Member States to address global challenges through internationally agreed norms and standards,” stated Miguel Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel who flagged, in particular, the milestone reached on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
“The upcoming entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty in particular provides a tangible example of how the multilateral treaty framework can be harnessed by States to collectively combat global threats to peace, security and the rule of law,” Mr. Serpa Soares said.
Adopted by the UN General Assembly in April 2013, the ATT regulates all conventional arms within the categories of battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers and small arms and light weapons. To enter into force, it required 50 ratifications, which it obtained at the latest treaty event session. The ATT will now enter into force on 24 December 2014.
Welcoming the news, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon remarked that the international community could now “look ahead with satisfaction to the date of this historic new Treaty’s entry into force.”
“Now we must work for its efficient implementation and seek its universalisation so that the regulation of armaments – as expressed in the Charter of the United Nations – can become a reality once and for all,” Mr. Ban declared.
During the course of the treaty event, which ran from 23 September to 1 October, some 81 actions were completed by Member States. A number of issues were spotlighted, including the protection of the environment, as Djibouti, Gabon, Guyana, Monaco, and Uruguay joined the United States in signing the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
The Convention, which was adopted on 10 October in the Japanese city of Kumamoto, was named after the place where thousands of people were poisoned by mercury in the mid-20th century. Twenty other States also signed the Convention, bringing the total number of signatories up to 122, with the US the first country to ratify it.
At the same time, the event saw Latvia, Poland, and Spain ratify the Kampala amendments to the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – setting a definition and framework for the prosecution of the crime of aggression.
(UN Press Release)
A Swiss national working for International Committee of the Red Cross was killed on Thursday in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine. Laurent DuPasquier, a 38-year-old Swiss national, was an administrator in the organization’s office in Donetsk. He was killed when a shell landed near the ICRC offices there.
A spokesperson for U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said that the incident followed the “appalling” shelling of a school in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, which resulted in the death of a number of civilians. Mr. Ban is also seriously concerned over the “dangerous surge” in fighting in recent days and mounting civilian casualties. “These recent, tragic incidents underscore the fragility of the current cease-fire and the importance of ensuring a secure environment in south-eastern Ukraine that will allow humanitarian actors to carry out their work and deliver critical assistance to those most in need,” he said in a statment.
The Secretary-General called on all parties to adhere to their commitments under the Minsk Memorandum agreed on 19 September in order to ensure a sustainable cease-fire.
Political and diplomatic efforts must be urgently redoubled toward this end. A return to full-scale fighting could be catastrophic for Ukraine, the region and beyond, the Secretary General reiterated in his statement.
Adapted from press releases of the United Nations and the ICRC.
The United Nations and the International Criminal Court today recommitted to their decade-long relationship calling it “indispensable for a strong international community and the protection of the interests of humanity.” In a joint statement, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Judge Sang-Hyun Song, welcome the tenth anniversary of the entry-into-force of the Relationship Agreement between two organizations. “The conclusion of the Relationship Agreement was a significant milestone in the collective efforts of the international community to end impunity for the most serious crimes of international concern,” according to the statement.
The Relationship Agreement entered into force on 4 October 2004, following its signing by then ICC President Judge Philippe Kirsch and the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Under the accord, the ICC and the UN recognize each other’s mandates and status, and agree to cooperate and consult with each other on matters of mutual interest. The Agreement was founded “on a shared belief that peace can only be served if those responsible for the suffering of the victims of unimaginable atrocities are brought to justice,” according to Mr. Ban and Mr. Song.
It has also provided a solid basis for cooperation between the UN and the ICC in a wide range of fields.
The Hague-based ICC is an independent international body that is not part of the UN and tries those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Any of the currently 122 States Parties to the 1998 Rome Statute which set up the Court can ask its Prosecutor to carry out an investigation, a non-State Party can accept its jurisdiction for crimes committed in its territory or by its nationals, and the Council may also refer cases to it. Its mandate is to try individuals, rather than States.
(UN Press Release)
The October 3, 2014 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education reminds us that the number of applicants to U.S. law schools has plummeted 45 percent from 2004 to 2014, citing preliminary figures from the American Bar Association. The Chronicle states that law schools were reaching deeper into the applicant pool and that bar pass rates were taking a hit.
Some U.S. law schools have shown particularly large enrollment drops. Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, notes the article, went from 422 entering students in 2010 to only 242 students in 2014. That's a drop of 43 percent. See Katherine Mangan, Struggling Law School May Be a Canary in the Coal Mine, Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct. 3, 2014, at A8. Another school cited in the aritcle is Thomas Cooley, which saw a drop of 41 percent in its enrollment. Citing a report from the National Jurist, the Chronicle reports that Thomas Cooley had 3,931 enrollments in 2010 but only 2,334 in 2013.
The number of ABA-accredited law schools has grown in the past 15 years, growing from 182 schools in 1999 to 204 today (three of which are provisionally accredited).
Thursday, October 2, 2014
The U.S. Supreme Court this morning granted certiorari in Din v. Kerry, 718 F.2d 856 (9th Cir. 2013), a suit filed against U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, the U.S. Consul General in Islamabad, and the U.S. Ambassador in Afghanistan. A U.S. citizen filed the acction against those government officials alleging that they violated her right to due process by refusing to provide her or her husband (a citizen and resident of Afghanistan) a bona fide reason for denyuing his visa petition.
The district court dismissed the action on the basis of consular non-reviewability. (2010 WL 2560492). By a 2-1 vote, in an opinion by Judge Murguia, the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that the government had to do more than to cite a broad section of the Immigration and Nationality Act and that the U.S. citizen had standing to seek a declaratory judgment that her right to due process to limited judicial review of the statute as applied to her violated due process. Judge Clifton filed a dissenting opinion.
The U.S. Supreme Court granted the petition for certiorari on October 2, 2014. The respondents are represented by Mark Haddad and Heidi Larson Howell of Sidley Austin LLP in Los Angeles.
The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) held a swearing-in ceremony for two new members yesterday (Oct. 1, 2014). Mr. Alonso Gomez-Robledo Verduzco (Mexico) and Mr. Tomas Heidar (Iceland) were elected at the twenty-fourth Meeting of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to serve nine-year terms. More information, including the curricula vitae for these gentlemen, may be found on the ITLOS website.
In other news yesterday, the members of the Tribunal elected Judge Golitsyn (Russian Federation) as the new President of the Tribunal and Judge Gouguetaia (Algeria) as the Vice President for the term 2014-2017. More information about these elections may be found here.
While congratulations are certainly due to these gentlemen, it also must be noted that out of 21 members of the Tribunal, there is currently only one woman (Elsa Kelly of Argentina). The States Parties should be encouraged to do a better job of identifying qualified women and ensuring gender diversity on the Tribunal.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
The Republic of Palau (Belau) became an independent country on October 1, 1994. Palau had previously been a Strategic Trust Territory of the United Nations administered by the United States. I had the honor of serving as Court Counsel for the Republic of Palau during the year that it became an independent country. In many ways, it was the best year of my life. Thank you, Palau, and happy national day.
Mark E. Wojcik (mew)
Monday, September 29, 2014
The new sustainable development agenda should advance people’s wellbeing, promote inclusivity and ensure implementation, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the United Nations General Assembly, delivering his country’s annual address to the world body. One of the top priorities for China and the 192 other Member States will be to define a new roadmap that will guide development work staring in January 2016, after the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). “The international community should, building on past progress and breaking new ground, adopt more effective plans and take more robust actions to advance the common development of mankind,” Mr. Wang said.
He noted also that the agenda should aim to enhance global partnerships on development and improve implementation tools and mechanisms. One of the priority areas of the current MDGs is environment, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted with his Climate Summit earlier in the week at which China was represented by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.
In his address last week, Mr. Wang voiced optimism that the political momentum generated by the Summit will translate into “effective actions to step up international cooperation” on climate change leading to talks next year on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Among other issues raised in his remarks, Mr. Wang called for renewed efforts to resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula in an “objective and impartial way.”
“The Six Party Talks remain the only viable and effective way to resolve the nuclear issue,” the Foreign Minister said in reference to talks involving also the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Republic of Korea, Japan, Russia and the United States. “The pressing task now is to restart the talks as soon as possible,” Mr. Wang said.
He is one of 196 world representatives addressing the UN body this month under the theme of “Delivering on and Implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda” as well as urgent crises ranging from the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and South Sudan.
(adapted from a UN press release)
Sunday, September 28, 2014
Ashraf Ghani has been sworn in as the new president of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, following the 13-year term of Hamid Karzai. In a power sharing agreement, Abdullah Abdullah has also been sworn in as the Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Dignataries from various countries are in Kabul attending the ceremony.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Telling the United Nations General Assembly that his country knows what terrorism is; “not merely in words but in practice,” Arseniy Yatsenuk, Prime Minister of Ukraine, reiterated his Government’s commitment to restore law and order and urged Russia to adhere to its international obligations and seek a diplomatic path out of the current crisis.
The conflict in Ukraine was not domestic; its origin had been an “invasion” by the Russian Federation. “A P-5 member violated the United Nations Charter,” he said, underscoring that such actions are “absolutely and entirely unacceptable.” Twenty years ago Ukraine abandoned its nuclear arsenal, the third largest in the world at the time.
In return, it had been guaranteed territorial integrity and sovereignty. Russia signed the memorandum to that effect, yet it had since broken that promise. “We are committed to our nuclear non-proliferation programme but we need guarantees of territorial integrity, security and independence,” Mr. Yatsenuk said.
A few months ago, Russia had “annexed” Crimea, he said, commending those Member States that supported the General Assembly resolution supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity and condemning Russia’s actions. Yet today, Russian troops were deployed in eastern Ukraine. In addition, Russia violated several multilateral and bilateral agreements. He urged Russia to pull out its forces and to start real talks. “We are the country that needs peace. It’s difficult to hammer out any kind of peace deal at the barrel of a gun made in Russia,” he said.
Mourning the victims of the Malaysian Airliner that he said had been downed a few months ago by Russia, Mr. Yatsenuk urged everyone to help Ukraine bring to justice those responsible for “this despicable crime against humanity”. Every day, despite the ceasefire, Ukraine was losing soldiers and civilians. Ukraine needs peace. The military option is not the best option, he said, calling for a comprehensive diplomatic and political solution.
“Sanctions are the way to start real talks and hammer out a peace deal,” he said, urging those States that had imposed such measures not to lift them until Russia fully withdrew from eastern Ukraine, including Crimea. “Mr. Putin, you can win the fight against the troops. But you will never win the fight against the nation, the united Ukrainian nation.”
(adapted from a UN press release)
The world must come together to form a comprehensive plan to defeat the ideology of extremism that is the root cause of terrorism in order to win the battle of ideas and not just the battle of military might, said British Prime Minister David Cameron as he took to the General Assembly podium on Wednesday evening.
“Of course it is absolutely right that we should learn the lessons of the past, especially of what happened in Iraq a decade ago,” he said. “But we have to learn the right lessons. Yes to careful preparation; no to rushing to join a conflict without a clear plan.”
Yet, Mr. Cameron continued, “We must not allow past mistakes to become an excuse for indifference or inaction,” he said, adding that the right lesson is that “we should act – but act different.”
The poisonous ideology spewed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has nothing to do with Islam, which is peaceful religion that inspired countless acts of generosity every day. To defeat ideology of extremism, world leaders must deal with all forms of extremism, not just violent extremism, he said.
“For Governments, there are some obvious ways we can do this. We must ban preachers of hate from coming to our countries. We must proscribe organisations that incite terrorism against people at home and abroad. And we must work together to take down illegal online material like the recent videos of ISIL murdering hostages,” said Mr. Cameron.
He acknowledged that some will argue this is not compatible with free speech but people should ask themselves: “Would we sit back and allow right-wing extremists, Nazis or Klu Klux Klansmen to recruit on our university campuses?” Muslims around the world must reclaim their religion from “these sick terrorists.”
Governments are responsible with showing young people the path to a better, more open and democratic future. The failure to meet people’s aspirations can create a breeding ground where extremist and even terrorist insurgency can take root.
In Iraq, this means supporting the creative of a new and genuinely inclusive Government capable of uniting all Iraqis – Sunni and Shia, Kurds, Christians and others. In Syria, it must mean a political transition and an end to Assad’s brutality through a democratic government that looks after the interests of all its people.
Recalling his meeting earlier today with Iranian President Rouhani, Mr. Cameron said that while there are some “severe disagreements,” Iran’s leaders could help in defeating the threat of ISIL. For its part, the United Kingdom is strengthening its ability to seize passports and strip British identity from dual nationals and enabling security services to apply strong constraints on those who pose a risk.
(adapted from a UN press release)
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
U.N. Security Council Adopts Resolution to Improve Response to Threats Posed by Foreign Terrorist Fighters
Responding to an unprecedented flow of foreign terrorist fighters and the growth of facilitation networks fuelling conflicts around the world, the United Nations Security Council today adopted a resolution to resolutely address this growing threat to international peace and security.
During a high-level summit chaired by Barack Obama, President of the United States, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency this month, the 15-member body voted unanimously to adopt the text, which calls on Member States to cooperate in efforts to address the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters.
The resolution decided that Member States shall “prevent and suppress the recruiting, organizing, transporting or equipping of individuals who travel to a State other than their State of residence or nationality for the purpose of the perpetration, planning or preparation of, or participation in, terrorist acts or the providing or receiving of terrorist training, and the financing of their travel and of their activities…”
It underscored “the particular and urgent need to implement this resolution with respect to those foreign terrorist fighters who are associated with ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant], ANF [Al-Nusrah Front] and other cells, affiliates, splinter groups or derivatives of Al-Qaida…”
Among its other provisions, the text urged Member States to intensify and accelerate the exchange of operational information regarding actions or movements of terrorists or terrorist networks, including foreign terrorist fighters.
Opening the meeting, which was scheduled to hear from around 50 speakers, many of them represented at the level of head of State or government, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called those who carry out terrorist attacks “enemies of the faith.”
“As Muslim leaders around the world have said, groups like ISIL – or Da’ish – have nothing to do with Islam, and they certainly do not represent a state,” he stated. “They should more fittingly be called the ‘Un-Islamic Non-State.’”
He added that the growing phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters is a consequence – not a cause – of the conflict in Syria.
“A long period of upheaval and, until recently, unresponsive leadership in Iraq – coupled with outrageous human rights abuses in Syria – have created a hothouse of horrors,” he said, as he highlighted the need for a “creative and comprehensive” political strategy in Syria and beyond to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters.
“Terrorists must be defeated, but we must do so in a way that avoids the deliberate acts of provocation that they set for us – victimization, further radicalization and more civilian deaths.”
While immediate security issues must be addressed, said the Secretary-General, the biggest threat to terrorists over the longer term is not the power of missiles, but the politics of inclusion.
“It’s peaceful societies and respect for human rights. It’s education, jobs and real opportunity. It’s leaders who listen to their people and uphold the rule of law. Missiles may kill terrorists. But good governance kills terrorism. Free and independent societies – free from suffering, oppression and occupation – this is what will kill terrorism.”
Speaking in his national capacity, Mr. Obama said that the tactic of terrorism is not new. “So many nations represented here today, including my own, have seen our citizens killed by terrorists who target innocents,” he said, while also noting the murder today of French citizen Hervé Gourdel by terrorists in Algeria.
“Resolutions alone will not be enough,” he added. “Promises on paper cannot keep us safe. Lofty rhetoric and good intentions will not stop a single terrorist attack.
“The words spoken here today must be matched and translated into action, into deeds – concrete action, within nations and between them, not just in the days ahead, but for years to come. For if there was ever a challenge in our interconnected world that cannot be met by any one nation alone, it is this: terrorists crossing borders and threatening to unleash unspeakable violence.
“These terrorists believe our countries will be unable to stop them. The safety of our citizens demands that we do.”
In a statement issued to the press, the Council strongly condemned the “heinous and cowardly murder” Mr. Gourdel, saying the killing once again demonstrates the barbaric brutality of those who declare themselves affiliated to ISIL.
Council members stressed that those responsible for the killing must be held accountable, and demanded the immediate, safe and unconditional release of all those who are kept hostage by ISIL, Al-Nusrah Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida.
With the world at a crossroads “between war and peace, disorder and integration”, United States President Barack Obama today urged cooperation at the United Nations to tackle “two defining questions at the root of many of our challenges”: rebuilding the fractured multilateral system on which the UN is based and “rejecting the cancer of violent extremism” spread by groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“There is a pervasive unease in our world – a sense that the very forces that have brought us together have created new dangers, and made it difficult for any single nation to insulate itself from global forces,” Mr. Obama said, noting that right now, “an outbreak of Ebola overwhelms public health systems in West Africa; Russian aggression in Europe recalls the days when large nations trampled small ones in pursuit of territorial ambition; and the brutality of terrorists in Syria and Iraq forces us to look into the heart of darkness.”
“We come together with a choice to make – we can renew the international system that has brought so much progress or allow ourselves to be pulled back by more and more outbreaks of instability. For America, the choice is clear. We choose hope over fear,” said Mr. Obama, urging a world shaped through collective effort, rejecting fatalism or cynicism.
With “much to be done to meet the text of this moment” he said, firstly, all nations must observe and enforce international norms. In that regard, he flagged Russia’s actions in Ukraine as a challenge to post-war order. “Against the will of the Government in Kiev, Crimea was annexed. Russia poured arms into Eastern Ukraine, fuelling violent separatists and a conflict that has killed thousands…this is a vision of the world in which might makes right.”
Rejecting that vision, he said the US would “reinforce our NATO allies, and uphold our commitment to collective defence. We will impose a cost on Russia for aggression, and counter falsehoods with the truth. We call upon others to join us on the right side of history.” He also suggested the path of diplomacy and peace and the ideals the UN is designed to uphold.
Turning to today’s other main challenge, Mr. Obama said: "As we look to the future, one issue risks a cycle of conflict that could derail such progress…and that is the cancer of violent extremism that has ravaged so many parts of the Muslim world." Collectively, the world must take concrete steps to address the danger posed by “religiously motivated fanatics, and the trends that fuel their recruitment.”
“The terrorist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) must be degraded, and ultimately destroyed,” he said, emphasizing that the group has terrorized all who they come across in Iraq and Syria ¬– women and girls had been subjected to rape as a weapon of war; children had been gunned down; religious minorities had been starved to death; and innocent human beings had been beheaded on video.
“No God condones this terror. No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no reasoning – no negotiation – with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death,” the President declared.
Emphasizing that the United States would not act alone in that effort or send troops to occupy foreign, he said that instead, his Government would support Iraqis and Syrians fighting to reclaim their communities. “We will use our military might in a campaign of air strikes to roll back ISIL,” he declared, noting that already, over 40 nations have offered to join his country’s coalition against the extremist group.
“Today, I ask the world to join in this effort. Those who have joined ISIL should leave the battlefield while they can. Those who continue to fight for a hateful cause will find they are increasingly alone. For we will not succumb to threats; and we will demonstrate that the future belongs to those who build – not those who destroy."
(UN Press Release)
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced that she is opening a second investigation into the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) with respect to crimes allegedly committed since 2012.
Fatou Bensouda recalled in a statement issued to the press that in February of this year, following an escalation of violence in CAR, she opened a new preliminary examination to assess whether or not to proceed with an investigation into what was a “dire” situation in the country.
Thousands of people are estimated to have been killed in CAR in a conflict which erupted when mainly Muslim Séléka rebels launched attacks in December 2012 and then took on increasingly sectarian overtones as mainly Christian militias known as anti-Balaka (anti-machete) took up arms.
“My Office has gathered and scrupulously analysed relevant information from multiple reliable sources. Based on this independent and comprehensive analysis, I have concluded that an investigation is warranted,” said Ms. Bensouda.
“The information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that both the Séléka and the anti-Balaka groups have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes including murder, rape, forced displacement, persecution, pillaging, attacks against humanitarian missions and the use of children under 15 in combat.
“The list of atrocities is endless. I cannot ignore these alleged crimes.”
CAR – specifically the events relating to the events of 2002-2003 – was already one of eight situations already under investigation by the Court, along with the Darfur region of Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Libya, Mali and northern Uganda.
The transitional government of CAR decided to refer the situation to the Prosecutor’s Office on 30 May 2014, requesting the investigation into alleged crimes falling within the ICC’s jurisdiction committed in the country since 1 August 2012.
“The 30 May 2014 referral by the CAR authorities demonstrates a commitment to fight impunity for mass crimes and to bring justice to the victims. We look forward to their full cooperation as we conduct our investigation into these crimes,” said Ms. Bensouda.
“As the investigation moves forward, we will continue to record any new crime against civilians that might be committed in CAR,” she added.
“Mass crimes shock the conscience of humanity and tear at the social fabric of society. Let this be a message to would-be perpetrators in CAR and beyond: such crimes will not be tolerated and will be met with the full force of the law.”
(UN Press Release)
The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, opened the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York today with an appeal to member states to seize this "unprecedented historic opportunity" to improve the livelihoods of all people and set them on a path to achieving sustainable development. "The world today is vastly different from what it was in 1945," he said, "but one thing remains constant the need to work together to harness opportunities for prosperity and to find solutions to the global challenges confronting humanity."
His speech comes with less than 470 days left to achieve the eight anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDG's). Since 2000, the world reached targets on reducing poverty, increasing access to improved drinking water sources, improving the lives of slum dwellers and achieving gender parity in primary school. Yet the sanitation target lags behind, maternal health is still low, and inequalities within and among countries remain high, and employment levels particularly among youth remain high, Mr. Kutesa said.
The international community is also formulating a post-2015 development agenda which should be "ambitious, transformative and produce tangible benefits and improved livelihoods."
"The new agenda should promote sustained and inclusive economic growth, safeguard the future of our planet, and lead to the achievement of sustainable development," articulated Mr. Kutesa, who will lead the effort to finalize the new agenda in September of next year.
The theme of this year's General Assembly is "Delivering on and Implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda."
Mr. Kutesa also noted the importance of recognizing climate change as a dangerous reality that must be urgently addressed. World leaders, as well as representatives of business and civil society, yesterday took part in Secretary-'eneral Ban Ki-moons Climate Summit which drew attention to progress towards a universal and meaningful climate agreement in 2015.
He will convene a high-level event on combatting climate change in June.
The General Assembly will also have a high-level thematic debate on strengthening cooperation between the UN and regional organizations.
Among other topics in his speech, Mr. Kutesa called for revitalisation of the 'eneral Assembly and reform of the Security Council to more effectively reflect the current membership of the UN bodies.
(adapted from a UN press release) (mew)