Sunday, March 20, 2011
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon again called on the Libyan Government to stop all hostilities against its own civilians and comply fully with last week's Security Council resolution. Libyan authorities in the capital, Tripoli, reportedly declared a ceasefire tonight in their battle with opposition forces who have led a popular uprising against the long-standing regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi.
Speaking to journalists in Egypt, Mr. Ban noted that this is at least the third time in 48 hours that senior Libyan officials have either declared a ceasefire or pledged to fully abide with last Thursday's Council resolution. "Now they have been continuing to attack the civilian population," Mr. Ban said in response to questions, adding that their ceasefire claims must be verified and tested.
UN Security Council Resolution 1973 authorizes UN Member States to take "all necessary measures" to protect civilians and the militaries of several countries have launched air raids against Libyan targets in the past 48 hours. Mr. Ban noted the "very decisive action" of some Member States to implement the resolution and try to protect Libyan civilians from further attacks. He also commended the Arab League for its recommendation of a no-fly zone above Libya, which was included in the Council resolution. "Let me say: we are at a historic moment. Democracy is on the march across the Arab world."
(Excerpts from a UN Press Release)
A successful transition in Egypt towards greater democracy can inspire the rest of the region, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, urging the country to continue with its recent reforms by holding fair and transparent elections soon, upholding the rights of women and minorities and encouraging the development of a free press.
In his first visit to Egypt since long-standing leader Hosni Mubarak was toppled by popular protests in January, Mr. Ban pledged that the United Nations would help the country as it "walks this very difficult, very important road? towards fuller democracy and more participatory democracy." The Secretary-General held talks today in Cairo with many senior officials, including Foreign Minister Nabil el-Araby, and tomorrow he is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Ezzad Sharaf and the country's High Council of the Armed Forces.
Today's talks focused in part on yesterday's referendum, in which Egyptians voted on a number of proposals for constitutional reform, including reducing the number and length of presidential terms and altering the criteria for eligible presidential candidates. Media reports indicated an extremely high voter turnout for the referendum. Mr. Ban told journalists in Cairo that he would stress during his visit that there must be "transparent and inclusive national dialogue that spans the spectrum of Egyptian society," as well as the staging of free and fair elections on a mutually agreed timetable.
Popular protests have swept North Africa and the Middle East in recent months and the long-term regime in Tunisia also fell earlier this year. The Secretary-General said the UN was able to assist Egypt with its social and economic development, including the promotion of further tourism, as well as technical support for elections expected to be held later this year.
(Excerpts from a UN Press Release)
Friday, March 18, 2011
United Nations officials today intensified their condemnation of an attack yesterday by forces allied to Côte d’Ivoire’s defeated president on a market that killed 25 to 30 people and wounded dozens more, with the Organization’s human rights office warning that it could be a crime against humanity.
Such charges can bring the alleged perpetrator within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, whose prosecutor is already leading a preliminary examination into the deadly violence sparked by former president Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to step down despite his UN-certified and internationally recognized defeat by opposition leader Alassane Ouattara in last November’s run-off elections. “We utterly condemn yesterday's attack by rockets or other missiles on a civilian area in the Abobo suburb of the [commercial] capital Abidjan,” UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson Rupert Colville told a news briefing in Geneva, referring to the neighbourhood that is a Ouattara stronghold. “It is quite difficult to avoid the conclusion that this may be an international crime, possibly a crime against humanity. We are very concerned that the situation in Côte d’Ivoire appears to have deteriorated even further over the past week.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also voiced shock at the attack, in which six mortars were fired into the market, condemned the recent escalation of violence, and warned the Ivorian parties to bring the fighting and related human rights violations to an end without further delay.
The UN peacekeeping operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), which has blamed Gbagbo loyalists for much of the violence that has killed over 400 people since December and voiced outrage immediately after yesterday’s attack on the Ouattara stronghold of Abobo, has vowed that the perpetrators will not go unpunished.
(Excerpts from a UN Press Release)
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the Security Council’s “historic” decision to authorize the use “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya, saying the move was an affirmation of the international community’s determination to fulfil its responsibility to protect people from violence perpetrated by their own government.
The Security Council yesterday passed a resolution permitting the use of all necessary measures, including the imposition of a no-fly zone, to prevent further attacks and the loss of innocent lives in Libya, where the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi has conducted a military offensive against citizens seeking his removal from power. Following the adoption of the resolution, media reports stated that Libyan authorities had declared a ceasefire. Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa was quoted as saying that the truce was intended to “to protect civilians.”
The Arab League last weekend requested the Council to impose a no-fly zone after Mr. Qadhafi was reported to have used warplanes, warships, tanks and artillery to seize back cities taken over after weeks of mass protests by peaceful civilians seeking an end to his 41-year rule.
Mr. Ban said that in adopting Resolution 1973, the Council had placed great importance on the appeal of the League of Arab States for action. “Given the critical situation on the ground, I expect immediate action on the resolution’s provisions. I am prepared to carry out my responsibilities, as mandated by the resolution, and will work closely with Member States and regional organizations to coordinate a common, effective and timely response,” the Secretary-General said in a statement issued overnight. “Once again, I join the Council in calling for an immediate cease-fire, a halt to all attacks on civilians and full humanitarian access to those in need. Our strenuous diplomatic efforts will continue,” Mr. Ban said. He said his Special Envoy for Libya, Abdul Ilah Khatib, yesterday met with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States in Cairo following his visit to Libya. Mr. Khatib was due to brief the Secretary-General at the weekend. “I myself will travel to the region to advance our common efforts in this critical hour,” said Mr. Ban.
Acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which provides for the use of force if needed, the Council adopted the resolution by 10 votes to zero, with five abstentions, authorizing Member States “to take all necessary measures… to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamhariya, including Benghazi, while excluding an occupation force.” The abstentions included China and Russia, which have the power of veto, as well as Brazil, Germany and India.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) also welcomed the Council’s move, terming it an important manifestation of the international community’s commitment to the principle of responsibility to protect civilians. “We are extremely worried about reprisals against opposition supporters by pro-Government forces and security agents in Libya. No one knows what has been going on in the towns that were first of all held by the opposition and then recaptured by Government forces,” Rupert Colville, the OHCHR spokesperson told reporters in Geneva. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), meanwhile, reported that the number of Libyans fleeing to Egypt has been on the rise over the past few days, with about 1,490 of the 3,163 Libyan refugees already in Egypt arriving on Wednesday.
The agency’s spokesperson in Geneva, Melissa Fleming, told reporters that UNHCR and its partners have done extensive contingency planning and are ready to work with the Egyptian Government to prepare for a massive influx of people fleeing the violence in Libya. A total of 300,706 people, most of them foreign workers, had fled Libya to neighbouring countries as of 16 March, according to UNHCR.
Earlier, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, expressed grave concern over reports of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in Libya and called on the authorities to refraining from the use of such weapons in populated areas.
(UN Press Release)
Switzerland has a fun little website with information and photos from Switzlerland, quizes to test your knowledge about Switzerland, and monthly drawings to win various prizes from Switzerland (chocolate, I guess!). Click here for a quick visit.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
The University of Missouri is organizing a conference on October 21, 2011 called “Border Skirmishes: The Intersection Between Litigation and International Commercial Arbitration." The Keynote speaker is author and arbitrator Gary Born and other speakers are expected from Canada, Austria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The call for papers includes a student writing competition and works-in-progress. Click here to download the call for papers. Download CFP Missouri
Hat tip to Stacie Strong
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued two press releases yesterday regarding upcoming events. First, on Friday, April 1, 2011, the Court will deliver its judgment on preliminary objections to jurisdiction raised by Russia in Application of the International Covention on the Elimination on All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Russia v. Georgia). Second, from Monday, March 21 to Wednesday, March 30, public hearings will be held in Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece). The hearings will be broadcast live. More information on both these events may be found on the ICJ website.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
The New York Times website has a page with interactive photos that show "before" and "after" the tsunami. Click here. Our thoughts remain with the people of Japan and all those affected by this terrible disaster.
(Hat tip to David Austin.)
On Friday, the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued its report in United States-Definitive Anti-dumping and Countervailing Duties on Certain Products from China (DS379) upholding the panel's findings in part and reversing them in part. There are some interesting discussions in the opinion regarding what constitutes a "public body" within the meaning of Article 1 of the Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM) Agreement, as well as whether the imposition of both dumping and countervailing duties on the same products constitutes double penalties contrary to the SCM Agreement. Ultimately, the AB determined that the United States acted contrary to its obligations under the WTO Agreements and, thus, recommended that the United States bring these measures into conformity. To read the opinion in full, click here.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed great concern over the deteriorating situation in Yemen. He condemned the excessive use of force by security forces against peaceful demonstrators in the country's capital Sana'a, which left several people dead and many others injured. Media reports said that Yemeni police attacked demonstrators in the centre of Sana'a, killing some six people and injuring many others. Hundreds of police reportedly used tear gas, water cannon and fired live bullets at protesters gathered in a square in the city.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had yesterday expressed concern following allegations that Yemeni Government security forces have in recent weeks used excessive force against demonstrators and opposition figures.
At least 37 protesters and six security officers were reported to have been killed in similar demonstrations before today's violence. Security forces are alleged to have killed two demonstrators at the University of Sana'a on 9 March, a day after dozens of students were injured following a similar protest. Other incidents include the reported killing of inmates at a prison in Sana'a and the slaying of two protesters on 4 March near the town of Harf Sufyan.
(mew) (adapted from a UN press release)
President Obama issued Executive Order 13568 to extend the International Organizations Immunities Act to the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the International Civilian Office in Kosovo. Click here for more information from the Federal Register Notice. FR13497.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
I've had the pleasure of visiting Cuba as an academic, and I know that many people have a desire to travel to Cuba for any number of reasons. I also know that many people oppose expanding direct air travel between the United States and Cuba. Whatever your view is on the question, you might like to know that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), announced a request for public comment on a proposed information collection, Request for Entry or Departure for Flights To and From Cuba, regarding regulations to allow additional U.S. airports to have flights between the United States and Cuba. Comments are due May 9, 2011. Get more information at FR13204.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Six high-ranking Kenyan officials, including a deputy prime minister, two ministers and a police chief, have been summoned to appear before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in connection with possible crimes against humanity committed in post-electoral violence three years ago.
An ICC pre-trial chamber declared yesterday by a majority of two to one that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the six are criminally responsible as either indirect co-perpetrators or contributors to the crimes against humanity of murder, forcible transfer and persecution, and ordered them to appear before the court on 7 April.
The six are William Samoei Ruto, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology; Henry Kiprono Kosgey, Minister of Industrialization; Joshua Arap Sang, Head of Operations for KASS FM radio station; Francis Kirimi Muthaura, Head of the Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet; Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance; and Mohamed Hussein Ali, Police Commissioner at the time of the violence.
More than 1,100 people were killed, 3,500 injured and up to 600,000 forcibly displaced in the violence that followed the December 2007 elections. There were also hundreds of rapes, possibly more, and at least 100,000 properties were destroyed in six of Kenya’s eight provinces, according to ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who had requested the summonses.
The Chamber found reasonable grounds against Mr. Ruto, Mr. Kosgey and Mr. Sang in connection with murder, forcible transfer and persecution, although not for the count of torture. For the three others it also found reasonable grounds relating to the additional crimes of rape and other inhumane acts.
The six were ordered to have no direct or indirect contact with any person who is or is believed to be a victim or witness of the alleged crimes; to “refrain from corruptly influencing a witness, obstructing or interfering with the attendance or testimony of a witness, or tampering with or interfering with” the collection of evidence; and to “refrain from committing crime(s)” set forth in the 1998 Rome Statute that established the ICC.
(UN Press Release)
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has confirmed war crimes charges against two rebel leaders accused in the September 2007 attack that resulted in the death of 12 peacekeepers in Darfur, and committed them to trial. The decision concerning Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain (Abdallah Banda) and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus (Saleh Jerbo) was announced yesterday. The Pre-Trial Chamber found “substantial grounds” to believe that both men are criminally responsible as co-perpetrators for three war crimes allegedly committed during the attack on the Haskanita camp in South Darfur state, according to a news release issued by the Court.
The crimes alleged are violence to life and attempted violence to life; intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units and vehicles involved in a peacekeeping mission; and pillaging. The attack resulted in the killing of 12 peacekeepers and the wounding of eight others serving with the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) – a predecessor to the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission, known as UNAMID. It was allegedly carried out by the troops belonging to the Sudanese Liberation Army-Unity (SLA-Unity), which had broken away from the Sudanese Liberation Movement-Army (SLA/M), under the command of Jerbo, jointly with splinter forces of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), under the command of Banda.
An estimated 300,000 people have died and another 3 million have been displaced in Darfur, where rebels have been fighting Government forces and allied Arab militiamen, known as the Janjaweed, since 2003.
The ICC has charged a number of other individuals for alleged crimes committed in Darfur, including Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who in March 2009 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.
(mew) (from a UN Press Release)
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an Order regarding Provisional Measures today in Certain Activities Carried Out by Nicaragua in the Border Area (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua). In its Order, the Court ordered that: "Each party shall refrain from sending to, or maintaining in the disputed territory, . . . any personnel, whether civilian, police or securty." Notwithstanding this order, the Court permitted Costa Rica to dispatch civilian personel charged with protection of the environment to the disputed territory as necessary to avoid "irreparable prejudice" being caused to the wetland area. In doing so, Costa Rica is required to consult with the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention, to give Nicaragua prior notice, and to use its best endeavors to find common solutions with Nicaragua. The Court further ordered the parties to refrain from any action that might aggravate the situation. More details regarding the Court's reasoning may be found on the ICJ website here.
For a great reminder of the difficulty of advising clients regarding the practical implications of the new Libyan sanctions, check out Mark Hermann's blog post, "Inside Straight: Oy Libya" on abovethelaw. (Mark Herrmann is the Vice President and Chief Counsel – Litigation at Aon and author of The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law).
Today, March 8, is International Women's Day, which is intended to mark the economic, social and political achievements of women worldwide. According to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, today marks the 100th anniversary of the first International Women's Day celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March 1911. The UN has adopted the following theme for 2011: "Equal Access to Education, Training and Science and Technlogy: Pathway to Decent Work for Women." Take a moment to celebrate the achievements of the women in your life and to reflect on the lack of women's rights in some areas where work remains to be done. To learn more about International Women's Day events taking place around the world, click here and here.