Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Fun

A long-time favorite video made by some students in Canada . . . 



November 30, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

ICJ To Hold Public Hearings in Temple Preah Vihear Case

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will hold public hearings from April 15-19, 2013 regarding the request for an interpretation of the 1962 ICJ judgment in the Case Concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand).  Cambodia requested the interpretation of the judgment to confirm its sovereignty over the territory where the Temple is located and asks the Court to declare that Thailand has an ongoing obligation to keep military troops away from vicinity of the Temple.  More information may be found in this ICJ Press Release.


November 29, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

IAHRC Condemns Killing of Journalist in Brazil

The following is from a press release of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR):

"The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the [IACHR] condemns the murder of Eduardo Carvalho, owner and editor of the news website UH News (Última Hora News), which took place on November 21 in Campo Grande, capital of Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil. The Office of the Special Rapporteur expresses its concern and requests that the authorities conduct a prompt and diligent investigation to establish the motive of the crime, identify and appropriately punish the perpetrators.

According to the information received, an unidentified man shot Carvalho to death while he was outside his home in Campo Grande. The information available indicates that the journalist had received serious threats for publishing allegations against the police and local officials of Mato Grosso do Sul.

The ninth principle of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states: “The murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation.”

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to encourage the defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system."


November 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Protecting Minority Rights

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today reaffirmed the commitment of the United Nations to addressing the concerns of minorities worldwide, while noting that many challenges remain in ensuring that their rights are respected. “The United Nations has a crucial role to play in minority protection,” Mr. Ban said in a video message to the UN Forum on Minority Issues, which is meeting in Geneva today and tomorrow. “I am strongly committed to ensuring that concerns of minorities are reflected in our work,” he told representatives of governments, human rights organizations and other groups attending.  Click here to read the text of his message.

The Forum was established in 2007 by the UN Human Rights Council as a “platform for promoting dialogue and cooperation on issues pertaining to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.”

Meeting for its fifth session, the Forum is this year focusing on further implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1992, and celebrating its 20th anniversary.

“The Declaration sets out essential human rights standards for the many millions of people across the world who belong to minority groups,” Mr. Ban said, describing it as a “landmark” initiative. “It underscores the responsibility of States to protect the rights of minorities to enjoy their cultures, use their languages and practice their religions.” 

He described the anniversary as an “opportunity to review the Declaration’s impact on national legislation, policy and practices,” as he noted the common refrain that societies “are judged by how they treat their most vulnerable members.”

“Twenty years on, many challenges remain,” he said. “Too many minorities face discrimination, stereotyping, hatred and violence, solely for being who they are. And at this time of economic distress, minorities often bear the brunt of societal tensions.”

Mr. Ban highlighted that efforts to overcome the remaining challenges got a boost with the launch this year of the UN Network on Racial Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities, which aims to help UN entities work together on minority issues. It also seeks to ensure minority concerns are reflected in the UN’s work, according to the Geneva-based Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which coordinates the initiative.

The Secretary-General also saluted the efforts of the UN Independent Expert on minority issues, Rita Izsák, who reports in an independent and unpaid capacity to the Human Rights Council. 

“This Forum, together with the Independent Expert on minority issues, are crucially important actors, including as platforms for dialogue on implementation of the Declaration,” said Mr. Ban.

(Adapted from a UN press release)

November 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Chemical Weapons Convention

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged the eight States that have not yet done so to join the Chemical Weapons Convention which aims to eliminate the use, development, production and transfer of these deadly weapons. Those States are:

  • Angola,
  • the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),
  • Egypt,
  • Israel,
  • Myanmar,
  • Somalia,
  • South Sudan and
  • Syria 

In a letter issued jointly with the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Üzümcü,Mr. Ban called on the heads of those States to commit to the legally-binding prohibition against chemical weapons to ensure that such weapons are never used again.

The Convention, whose implementation is overseen by the OPCW, currently has 188 States Parties representing more than 98 per cent of the world’s population and chemical industry. On 1 October, the Convention marked its 15th anniversary since entering into force.

The letter states that “the continuing growth in the membership of the (OPCW) […] is evidence that the prohibition against the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons constitutes a universal norm.”

The OPCW stated in a news release that the letters “underscore the importance of achieving the universality of the Convention as a condition necessary to attain a world free from chemical weapons. These States have, therefore, been strongly urged to join the Convention ‘without delay’.”

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

November 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Judicial Independence in El Salvador

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, today urged  El Salvador to ensure the independence of its judicial system and comply with its decisions to avoid a constitutional crisis such as the one it experienced earlier this year.  “Decisions of judicial authorities cannot and should not be interpreted by other organs of the State; they must be complied with,” she said at the end of her visit to the Latin American country.  

Although she welcomed the democratic advances made in recent years, she stressed that the country still faces many challenges regarding the autonomy of the judicial system.  “The institutional crisis between the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice and the Legislative Assembly risks undermining the independence of the judiciary and the principle of separation of powers,” warned Ms. Knaul, recalling that existing international human rights standards require all governmental and other institutions to respect the independence of the judiciary, and that inappropriate or unwarranted interferences with the judicial process are inadmissible.   

According to media reports, on 5 June the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court ruled that two previous elections of Supreme Court magistrates by the National Assembly were unconstitutional and ordered new elections for 15 judges and their alternates. The National Assembly appealed this decision to the Central American Court of Justice, which ruled in the Assembly’s favour, causing the Constitutional Chamber to argue that the multinational court did not have authority over the country’s Government branches and leading to a constitutional crisis.  

Ms. Knaul said the crisis demonstrated that the current procedure for the appointment of magistrates of the Supreme Court did not provide sufficient guarantees to ensure that they are selected on the basis of fair and objective criteria.   “The Legislative Assembly should review the procedure, so as to ensure that judges and magistrates are appointed solely on the basis of their qualification, and not on the basis of their actual or presumed proximity to political parties,” Ms. Knaul said.  

She also expressed concern about the Legislative Assembly’s failure to appoint a new Attorney-General of the Republic and noted he or she would have a crucial role in guaranteeing legality, combating corruption and impunity and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.  The new Attorney-General should be appointed solely on the basis of his/her integrity, independence, competence and ability and through an open and transparent process,” she added.   

During her eight-day mission, Ms. Knaul held meetings in the capital, San Salvador, and Santa Ana with senior Government officials, the Legislative Assembly, Supreme Court magistrates, judges, prosecutors, international and local non-governmental organizations, and UN agencies.   

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed in an honorary capacity by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. Ms. Knaul is scheduled to present her report on her visit to the Council in June 2013.   

(Adapted from a UN press release)

November 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gaza Ceasefire Offers Chance to Address "Root Causes" of Israel-Palestine Conflict

The ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, which controls Gaza, was announced on 21 November, just over a week after the start of the latest wave of deadly violence, which included rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza, and Israeli airstrikes on targets in the Strip.

In his remarks, Mr. Grandi also noted that an Israeli blockade on Gaza, imposed since 2007, was illegal, and the “greatest danger is to return to the status quo ante, and restore the prison-like conditions of Gaza.” He said it would be “only a matter of time (until) violence resumes” if there was such a return.

Mr. Grandi called for the blockade, which Israel has reportedly said it maintains for security reasons, to be “lifted in all its aspects.” He mentioned crossings, fishing zones, imports and exports as aspects of the blockade in need of address, and said there should be “proper guarantees given to – and by – all parties in respect of the security of all civilians.”

Created by the UN General Assembly in 1949, UNWRA is the main provider of education, health, social and other basic services to the five million registered Palestinian refugees in Gaza, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The refugees trace their roots to those displaced amid the Arab-Israeli hostilities of 1948. The Assembly created the Advisory Commission, which comprises 25 UN Member States and three Observer entities, to “advise and assist” UNWRA.

On Saturday, UNWRA re-opened all but two of its 245 schools in Gaza, according to the agency. It added that all 21 of its health centres resumed operations on Sunday, while it also named three crossings into the Strip that were open.

“The fragile calm in Gaza seems to hold,” UNRWA said in a situation report, while also highlighting that a Palestinian youth was killed and 19 other people injured on Friday by fire from the Israel Defense Forces.

“The people of Gaza used the official holiday on Friday to mourn their beloved ones, to rest, and to somehow find a way back into daily life,” the report noted. “The first heavy winter storms, accompanied by strong winds, rain, and cold temperatures, brought further hardship to all those living in damaged homes.”

Mr. Grandi also briefed the Commission on UNRWA’s work amid the crisis in Syria, where many of UNRWA’s beneficiaries are located and where violence – since an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began over 20 months ago – has killed at least 20,000 people, mostly civilians, and spawned more than 440,000 refugees.

“Concerns about the welfare of the half-million Palestine refugees there have grown as they are increasingly affected by the conflict,” the Commissioner-General said. “UNRWA’s strategy in Syria, as in Gaza, is to be there, to maintain services, and to address the growing emergency needs as much as possible.”

(UN Press Release)

November 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Establishing a Nuclear-Free Zone in the Middle East

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has reaffirmed his support to convene a United Nations-sponsored Conference attended by all the States in the Middle East with the aim of establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. The Conference, also backed by Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, would take place next year in Finland, and would be facilitated by the Finnish Under-Secretary of State, Jaakko Laajava.

"I have worked closely with the co-conveners to support the facilitator, Mr. Jaakko Laajava," Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson. "He has conducted intensive consultations with the States of the region to prepare the convening of the conference in 2012. I have also personally engaged with the States of the region at the highest level to underline the importance of the Conference in promoting long-term regional stability, peace and security on the basis of equality." 

Mr. Ban stressed that organizing States have a collective responsibility to make every effort to convene the conference as mandated, and said he would continue to work with them on that basis. He also noted his full support for the proposal put forward by Mr. Laajava to conduct multilateral consultations in the shortest possible time to allow the conference to be held in early 2013.

"I encourage all States of the region to continue their constructive engagement with the facilitator," Mr. Ban said. "I also appeal to them to seize this rare opportunity to initiate a process that entails direct engagement on security issues -- a critical shortcoming at the moment -- and follow-on steps leading to achieving the complete elimination of all weapons of mass destruction in the region, nuclear, chemical and biological and their delivery systems."

The May 2010 review meeting of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) -- which tak
es place every five years -- called for a UN-sponsored conference to establish a nuclear-free Middle East to be attended by all States in the region.

Ahead of the 2010 meeting, Mr. Ban had called for the number of nuclear-weapon-free zones to multiply and ultimately span the globe. "My goal -- our goal -- is to make the whole world a nuclear-weapon-free zone," he stated, calling such zones the "success stories of the disarmament movement."

Currently, there are five such zones:

  • Latin America and the Caribbean;
  • the South Pacific;
  • South-East Asia;
  • Central Asia; and
  • Africa.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

November 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Preventing the Spread of Ballistic Missiles

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has pledged the help of the United Nations to build on the achievements of a widely agreed code of conduct for preventing the spread of ballistic missiles. In a message delivered last week on his behalf, Mr. Ban told a gathering in Vienna commemorating the tenth anniversary of The Hague Code of Conduct to Prevent the Proliferation of Ballistic Missiles that such weapons “destabilize regional and international relations, and jeopardize progress on nuclear disarmament” because of their ability to deliver weapons of mass destruction. “I encourage your efforts to further develop the Code to take into account other types of missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, such as cruise missiles,” Mr. Ban said in the remarks, delivered by the Deputy Director-General of the UN Office at Vienna, Mazlan Othman.  Click here to see a copy of the Secretary-General's remarks.

“The United Nations stands ready to work with subscribing States and all interested parties to further elaborate the Code and achieve its universality,” added Mr. Ban.

The Code emerged from international efforts to regulate access to ballistic missiles, and calls for restraint in their production, testing and export.

The Code was launched in The Hague, Netherlands, on 25 November 2002. The 193-member UN General Assembly welcomed the measure in a December 2004 resolution, which also called on all States to submit to it. By June of this year, 134 States had subscribed to the instrument.

“The world still lacks a universally accepted norm or instrument specifically governing the development, testing, production, acquisition, transfer, deployment or use of such missiles,” Mr. Ban said. “The Code, therefore, fills a critical void by enhancing transparency and building confidence among States, and by contributing to the peaceful use of outer space.”

Key, said Mr. Ban, was that the Code provided for the exchange of pre-launch notifications and annual declarations on space and ballistic missile policies – measures that he said could “supplant related bilateral and regional efforts.”

Mr. Ban offered his “strong support” for efforts to explore how to deepen the relationship between the Code and the UN. He also praised outreach activities aimed at promoting the Code, and welcomed a joint ministerial statement marking the instrument’s tenth anniversary.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

November 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cyber Monday - ABA Section of International Law Books on Sale

It's "Cyber Monday" in the United States (and elsewhere), a day when many retailers offer generous one-day discounts for electronic shopping.  The American Bar Association Section of International Law has joined in with 40% off of its titles.  Use the code "CYBER12" to Save 40% on International Law Books at the ABA webstore.  You get a further discount if you are a member of the ABA Section of International Law.

New titles of possible interest for you include

  • Careers in International Law (4th edition)
  • The ABA Guide to Internaitonal Bar Admissions
  • The Unofficial Guide to Legal Studies in the U.S. for Foreign Lawyers


November 26, 2012 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A United Nations Action Plan to Protect Journalists

More than 100 journalists have been killed so far this year, making 2012 the deadliest year for media since the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) began keeping records on the issue. 

During a United Nations-led meeting in Vienna, the world body and its partners yesterday renewed their pledge to improve safety for journalists and prosecute those who commit acts against them through a new plan to protect media workers.  The UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity follows two days of discussions by UN agencies, independent experts, governments, media houses, and civil society organizations on the most pressing issues facing freedom of expression, during the 2nd UN Inter-Agency Meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

The new action plan outlines more than 100 areas of work that different UN agencies and civil society groups intend to contribute to securing the safety of journalists, and will operate at the national and global level. Activities that will be implemented as a result of the plan include: helping governments develop laws on safeguarding journalists, raising awareness so that citizens understand the damage done when a journalist’s rights to freedom of expression is curtailed, providing training courses for journalists in safety and safety online, establishing real-time emergency response mechanisms and strengthening the safety of journalists in conflict zones, among others. 

The plan also calls for enhancing protection for women journalists in response to the increasing incidence of sexual harassment and rape, decriminalizing defamation offences and encouraging adequate remuneration for full-time and freelance employees.

The Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, emphasized that attacks on media workers have a far-reaching effect on society, threatening to silence all citizens. “These attacks – not only the many murders and physical assaults, but also the countless abductions, the acts of harassment, the illegal arrests, the arbitrary detentions – have an impact that reaches well beyond the personal suffering of the person involved,” he said.  Click here to read more.  “They aim to silence the journalist and, by extension, all of us.”

Civil society delegates issued a statement during the UNESCO-organized meeting welcoming and endorsing the new plan. They also recommended that it be implemented in a comprehensive manner in Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan, South Sudan and Latin America.

The action plan is the result of a process that began in 2010, on the request of the Intergovernmental Council of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). It was endorsed by the UN Chief Executives Board on 12 April 2012.

(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)

November 24, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Human RIghts Abuses in Bahrain

A United Nations assessment team will head to Bahrain in early December, at the invitation of the Government, to discuss the judicial system and accountability for present and past human rights abuses, it was announced this week.   “This is a long-awaited follow-up to a preliminary mission that took place last December,” Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters in Geneva.  As agreed with the Government, the four-member team that will travel to Bahrain from 2 to 6 December will also discuss the measures undertaken by the authorities to implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, and those agreed at the recent Universal Periodic Review of Bahrain by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.   

The Commission of Inquiry was established by the King of Bahrain in June 2011 to investigate incidents that occurred during unrest in the country last year.    

The human rights team is scheduled to hold discussions with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice, Interior, Human Rights, Health, Labour, and Education, as well as with the National Human Rights Institution and civil society organizations.    

Mr. Colville added that High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay regrets the decision taken by Bahraini authorities on 7 November to revoke the nationality of 31 citizens for ‘having undermined state security,’ which may leave around 16 of them stateless.  “She urges the Government to reconsider this decision, which stands in clear violation of article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that, ‘everyone has the right to a nationality’ and ‘no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.’”    

States are expected to observe minimum procedural standards to ensure that decisions concerning the deprivation of nationality do not contain any element of arbitrariness, added Mr. Colville.    

Ms. Pillay is also “deeply concerned” about the restrictions on public demonstrations and other public gatherings declared by the Bahraini authorities on 30 October. “Bahrain should fully comply with its international human rights commitments, including respect for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and association,” said Mr. Colville.  “She is also concerned by the sentencing of 23 medical professionals on 21 November, and reiterates her call on the authorities to release all individuals who have been detained or sentenced simply for exercising their right to demonstrate peacefully.” 

(Adapted from a UN press release)

November 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Books Noted: Fundamentals of Transnational Litigation -- The United States, Canada, Japan, and the European Union

Haley BookDerived from materials originally used in an advanced law course on U.S.-Japanese Disputes taught at the University of Washington Asian Law Program, this newly published casebook provides students from diverse legal systems with global perspectives on fundamental issues in transnational litigation.  It's called "Fundamentals of Transnational Litigation: The United States, Canada, Japan, and The European Union," and it has just been published by Lexis Nexis.  

The book includes chapters on these areas:

  • Adjudicatory Jurisdiction
  • Foreign Sovereign Immunity and Related Abstention Doctrines
  • Parallel Litigation (including styas and anti-suit injunctions)
  • Service of Process Abroad
  • Taking of Evidence Abroad
  • Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign-Country Judgments and Arbitral Awards
  • Choice of Forum

The choice of cases and materials is good and worth looking at even if you're happy with whatever book you're now using to teach international litigation.  You've probably never seen as rich a selection of Japanese law cases in English.  I'm also taken by a new format for presenting the questions in each chapter -- they are set off in a box that makes them easy to find and identify in class.  A simple thing, I know, but I like it!  

The publisher highlights the following points:

  • Canadian law provides the perspective of a contrasting common law jurisdiction to the U.S. and thus enables students to appreciate features of U.S. law that are truly exceptional.
  • The Japanese cases and materials are intended to introduce the relevant rules and practices related to transnational litigation in a highly-developed and relatively typical civil law jurisdiction. Japan is also one of the most significant U.S. trading partners and Japanese firms are among the most frequent parties in transnational litigation in the U.S.
  • The European Union adds a dimension of equal significance as a regional system with binding rules on transnational litigation for all member states, which include the civil law jurisdictions of continental Europe as well as the common law systems of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Professors (and adjunct professors too!) can request complimentary examination copies of LexisNexis law school publications to consider for class adoption or recommendation. Contact LexisNexis directly to do that.  This book also is available in a three-hole punched loose-leaf version with the same pagination as the hardbound book.

Mark E. Wojcik

November 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday Fun: Is there a Difference Between Italy and the Rest of Europe?

We enjoy these cartoons and are happy to share them with you.



November 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

UN General Assembly Third Committee Votes for a Global Moratorium on the Death Penalty

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomes a record vote by a General Assembly committee in favor of the call for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, according to his spokesperson.

“Monday’s vote offers the opportunity to again encourage Member States who still practice the death penalty or retain it in law to follow suit,” the spokesperson added in a news statement, noting that 150 States have either abolished or do not practice the death penalty.  Click here to read a copy of the statement.  

The new resolution calls on all States to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. 

The vote took place on Monday in the Assembly’s Third Committee, which adopted the resolution by 110 votes in favour, with 39 against and 36 abstentions. 

The Third Committee deals with social and humanitarian issues, as well as human rights. It is one of six such bodies, which each deal with a block of issues and themes under discussion by the wider General Assembly, but which lend themselves to more effective discussion in smaller settings before then being forwarded to all UN Member States – in the so-called General Assembly Plenary – for a final decision.

Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said the Committee’s resolution reflects a trend against capital punishment which has grown stronger across regions, legal traditions and customs since a landmark General Assembly resolution on the topic in 2007. 

“The Secretary-General saluted this development at a high-level event on the death penalty in New York this July,” the spokesperson added. “He said then that the taking of life is too absolute, too irreversible, for one human being to inflict on another, even when backed by legal process.”

(Adapted from a UN press release)

November 21, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UN Security Council Adopts a Resolution on Goma

United Nations Security Council LogoThe United Nations Security Council has strongly condemned the latest wave of attacks by the 23 March Movement (M23) rebel group and demanded its immediate withdrawal from Goma, a provincial capital in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), that was overrun yesterday.  

In a resolution adopted unanimously last night, the 15-member body also demanded “the cessation of any further advances by the M23 and that its members immediately and permanently disband and lay down their arms.”  

The M23 – composed of soldiers who mutinied from the DRC national army in April – launched new attacks over the weekend in North Kivu province, uprooting some 60,0000 civilians and prompting the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) to deploy attack helicopters in aid of the national army, known by the French acronym FARDC.  

Eastern DRC has been hit this year by massive humanitarian needs triggered by the rise of the M23 and violence by more than two dozen other armed groups across the region, with widespread abuses against civilians including murder, rape and brutal reprisals.   

The Council “strongly condemns the M23 and all its attacks on the civilian population, MONUSCO peacekeepers and humanitarian actors, as well as its abuses of human rights, including summary executions, sexual and gender-based violence and large scale recruitment and use of child soldiers,” it stated in the resolution.  

It also expressed deep concern at reports indicating that external support continues to be provided to the M23, including through troop reinforcement, tactical advice and the supply of equipment, causing a significant increase of the military abilities of the M23. It demanded that “any and all outside support to the M23 cease immediately.”  

The Council requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report in the coming days, in coordination with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and the African Union, on the allegations of external support to the M23 and expressed its readiness to take “further appropriate measures” on the basis of this report.  

It also expressed its intention to consider additional targeted sanctions against the leadership of the M23 and those providing external support to it and those acting in violation of the sanctions regime and the arms embargo imposed by the Council in relation to the DRC.  

The Council requested the Secretary-General to report in the coming days on options for the possible redeployments of MONUSCO contingents and additional force multipliers, observation capabilities and troops that could improve the Mission’s ability to carry out its mandate, including to protect civilians and report on flows of arms and related materiel across the borders of eastern DRC.  

MONUSCO, with 19,000 uniformed personnel, is the latest iteration of UN peacekeeping missions that have helped to bring stability and civilian elections to the vast nation after it was torn apart by civil wars and rebel movements.

(UN Press Release)

November 21, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Another Journalist Murdered in Mexico

The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today condemned the murder of Mexican crime reporter and called for an investigation into the attacked that killed him and a former municipal police officer.  “I am appalled by the murder of Adrián Silva Moreno and Misray López González,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.  “It is essential that the perpetrators of this crime be brought to justice. Violence against journalists in Mexico has reached an intolerable level,” she added in a news release.  Click here to see the news release.

On 14 November, Mr. Silva Moreno was reportedly shot dead in his car while covering an investigation into the theft of gasoline from Government-owned pipelines in the town of Tehuacán, in central Mexico. His passenger, Misray López González, was killed as he tried to flee the reporter’s car.   

“I call for firm action to enable media workers in Mexico to carry out their professional duties which are essential to democracy and rule of law,” Ms. Bokova said. “The basic human right of freedom of expression must be defended, alongside press freedom, its corollary.”   

Mr. Silva Moreno’s killing brings to seven the number of journalists and media workers murdered in Mexico over the past year, according to UNESCO.    

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

November 21, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bus Attack in Tel Aviv

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemns in the "strongest possible terms" a bomb attack on a bus today in the centre of the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, according to his spokesperson. "The Secretary-General was shocked at the news of the terror attack," the spokesperson added in a statement. "There are no circumstances that justify the targeting of civilians. The Secretary-General is saddened and expresses his sympathy to those injured in the blast."

According to media reports, at least 10 people have been injured in the bus explosion, which comes amidst a wave of renewed violence between Israel and Gaza -- including rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza, and Israeli airstrikes on Gaza -- that began on 14 November. 

A chorus of UN officials, beginning with the Secretary-General, have appealed for an end to the violence and strongly urged the parties to achieve an immediate ceasefire.

The attack took place as the UN chief visits the region in order to help bring about an end to the ongoing violence. He has strongly urged the parties to avoid further escalation and work towards achieving an immediate ceasefire.

The UN chief is scheduled to travel to Ramallah in the West Bank to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Previously, he has met with various leaders in the region, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Mohamed Qandil and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Nabil Elaraby.

(UN Press Release)

November 21, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Calls for "Maximum Restraint" on the Situation in Gaza

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday called on Israel to exercise “maximum restraint” in its operation focused on Gaza, saying in Jerusalem that the loss of civilian lives was “unacceptable under any circumstances.”  Speaking at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the two held a meeting, Mr. Ban also said he “strongly cautioned against a ground invasion” of the Palestinian enclave.

The latest wave of violence – which includes rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza, and Israeli airstrikes on Gaza – began on 14 November. A chorus of UN officials, beginning with the Secretary-General, have appealed for an end to the violence and strongly urged the parties to achieve an immediate ceasefire.

“Rockets have hit areas just outside of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, as well as Israeli towns near Gaza, killing and injuring civilians,” said Mr. Ban, calling the attacks “unacceptable, irresponsible and reckless.”

“I strongly condemn these actions,” he states. “Rocket attacks by Palestinian militants targeting Israel must cease immediately.” He added that any further escalation benefits no one. “I know how difficult the situation is here, but Israel must exercise maximum restraint,” he said, also taking noted of an Israeli statement that Israeli military operations focused on “military facilities.”

“While Israeli rockets may be aimed at military targets inside Gaza, they kill and injure civilians and damage civilian infrastructures,” he said. “The loss of civilian lives is unacceptable under any circumstances. The excessive use of force is unlawful and must be rejected. He added that, in the course of military operations, civilians are “apt to be victimized, as we have seen.”

The Secretary-General said his “paramount immediate concern” was for the safety and well-being of all civilians – in Israel and in Gaza. “Innocent people, including children, are being killed and injured on both sides,” he said. “I appeal to all those commanding, bearing and operating arms – weapons – to respect international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians at all times.”

Mr. Ban made similar points at a press conference with Israeli President Shimon Peres, with whom he also met privately, in addition to holding meetings with several other Israeli leaders.

In the Egyptian capital of Cairo earlier, Mr. Ban held separate meetings there with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Nabil Elaraby, and the Egyptian Prime Minister, Hisham Mohamed Qandil.

At press conferences with the two leaders, Mr. Ban called for an immediate ceasefire by “all sides” involved in the violence in Gaza, echoed previous statements in saying that rocket fire from Gaza into Israel was “unacceptable,” and said publically for the first time that an Israeli ground invasion of the Palestinian enclave would mark a “dangerous escalation” that must be avoided.

He spoke at that time as media reports, citing Egyptian and Palestinian officials, said a ceasefire in the conflict was “imminent,” and that Israel had put its plans for a land invasion on hold, though it had made no official comment.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

November 21, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Calls for a Ceasefire in Gaza

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate ceasefire by “all sides” involved in the violence in Gaza, saying in Cairo that peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians could not be achieved through more bloodshed. The UN chief echoed previous statements in saying that rocket fire from Gaza into Israel was “unacceptable,” while also noting that an Israeli ground invasion of the Palestinian enclave would mark a “dangerous escalation” that must be avoided.

Mr. Ban delivered his comments at a pair of news conferences in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, following separate meetings there with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Nabil Elaraby, and the Egyptian Prime Minister, Hisham Mohamed Qandil. He spoke as media reports, citing Egyptian and Palestinian officials, said a ceasefire in the conflict was “imminent,” and that Israel had put its plans for a land invasion on hold, though it had made no official comment.

Mr. Ban is currently in Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders.

“My message is clear: all sides must stop fire,” Mr. Ban said during his press conference with Mr. Qandil. “Further escalating the situation will only result in more tragedy, and puts the entire region at risk. That is why a ground operation must be avoided. That is why it is urgent to contain the present crisis.”

In Geneva, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, added her concerns about Palestinian and Israeli civilians caught up in the ongoing crisis, which has seen continued rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza and Israeli airstrikes on targets in the territory. “She is dismayed by the marked surge in the number of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, killed and injured over the past 48 hours as a result of Israeli military action,” said a spokesperson for Ms. Pillay, according to a press release from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Right (OHCHR).

“According to information gathered by OHCHR monitors on the ground, the civilian death toll has more than doubled during this period,” the spokesperson added, noting that available information on Tuesday morning showed that at least 57 civilians, including 18 children, had been killed, and hundreds injured since Israel launched its military operation on 14 November.

At his joint press encounter with Mr. Elaraby, the UN chief said he and his Arab League counterpart shared a “deep concern” about the “appalling rising cost in human lives.” “A new cycle of bloodshed will make neither Israelis nor Palestinians more secure,” Mr. Ban told reporters.  “Nor will bloodshed open the door to negotiations that could achieve the two-state solution necessary to end the occupation and such violence permanently,” he added, citing an end goal that would see Israel and an independent Palestinian exist peacefully side by side.

Mr. Ban said that when he meets with Israeli leaders, he will “firmly reiterate that Israel must respect its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law.”

While he also highlighted that Israel had “legitimate security concerns that must be respected in accordance with international law,” he added that a “ground invasion would be a dangerous escalation.”

Mr. Ban is also scheduled to travel to Ramallah in the West Bank to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He said the Palestinian leader’s efforts at finding a “long-overdue two-state solution” were now “more crucial than ever.”

Gaza is run by the Palestinian group Hamas, which seized control of the territory a year after winning elections there in 2007.

“I am deeply worried that efforts to facilitate renewed negotiations to achieve a two-state solution have failed to produce a breakthrough,” the Secretary-General said about the stalled Middle East peace process in his news conference with Mr. Qandil. “Yet, the present crisis proves again that the status quo is unsustainable and that a negotiated two-state solution ending a prolonged occupation is more urgent than ever.”

In addition, Mr. Ban recalled travelling to the region under “similar circumstances” in early 2009, after Israeli forces entered Gaza amid rocket attacks from the enclave into Israel. “It is extremely painful for me to be back for the same reason, for the same situation, and to see that the parties are no closer to ending their hostilities,” he said.

(adapted from a UN Press Release)

November 21, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)