Saturday, March 29, 2014

The New Chinese Trademark Law

Chinese Trademark Law

A new trademark law will take effect in the People's Republic of China on May 1, 2014. The new law has some fairly important goals:

  • It improves and streamlines the registration process;
  • It attempts to deter trademark hijacking by imposing principles of good faith on trademark filings;
  • It clarifies rules on "well-known trademarks";
  • It increases the fines for trademark infringement to six times the previous limits; and
  • It increases the kinds of things that can be trademarked, including sounds.

There's many other changes as well. Luckily, the first book in English on the new Chinese Trademark Law has just been published by Carolina Academic Press as the inaugural volume in a new international legal practice series. It's called, fittingly enough, Chinese Trade Mark Law: The New Chinese Trademark Law of 2014.  Here's the description from the publisher, noting perhaps the book's most significant feature: the first English translation of the new Chinese Trademark Law:

Chinese trademark law will change dramatically in May 2014 when the Third Revision of the Trademark Law institutes various changes, including increased statutory damages for trademark infringement, stronger trademark protections, and obligations on Chinese trademark agencies.

This book predicts how the new law will affect Chinese trademark practice and includes an appendix of all of the related laws as well as the first English translation of the new law. Most publications that discuss China’s new trademark law provide a brief review of its most important amendments. This book goes several steps further by providing and analyzing each amendment in the new trademark law. It also includes practical advice for practitioners of Chinese trademark law.

This book facilitates readers’ understanding of the new law by carefully categorizing and explaining each amendment and how it will change Chinese trademark practice. It also tailors itself to both non-Mandarin and Mandarin readers by providing in-depth English explanations and analysis as well as citing the original Mandarin language for each amendment.

This book launches a new CAP series of essential books for International Legal Practice and is recommended for international business and intellectual property lawyers as well as lawyers interested in Chinese law.

Congratulations to book author Paul Kossof on the publication of this book. Click here for more information about the book on Chinese Trademark Law.  

Click here for a further article on the new Chinese Trademark Law on the Asia Law Portal.


March 29, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Internationally Wrongful Memes

IntLawProf Blog MentionGo have a look at "Internationally Wrongful Memes."  Really.   And what makes these so beautiful (besides being so funny) is that many of these memes include citations to the cases, treaties, or other sources they are citiing.

Visit Internationally Wrongful Memes.


March 29, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Fun: Internationally Wrongful Memes

VCLTAlright.  Click here. You'll be glad you did. An amazing collection of memes for any serious fan of international law. Bravo, Internationally Wrongful Memes!


March 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Same-Sex Marriage in England and Wales

Same-sex couples can now marry in England and Wales. Click here for more information and video links.


March 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Panel Finds China's Export Restrictions on Rare Earths Violate WTO

WTOYesterday, a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute resolution panel issued its report in China - Measures Related to the Exportation of Rare Earths, Tungsten and Molybdenum (WT/DS431/R, WT/DS432/R and WT/DS433/R).  The United States brought the original complaint regarding China's export restrictions on materials that are used in the production of electronic goods.  Several other countries either joined in the consultations (Canada, the EU and Japan) or reserved their third party rights. 

China argued that its export restrictions are necessary to protect exhaustible natural resources and to reduce pollution from mining and thus fall within the exceptions to the GATT/WTO Rules contained in GATT Article XX.  Complainants disagreed, arguing that the measures were intended to protect domestic production.

The panel found that China's measures were not justified under Article XX.  Thus, it found that China had violated its obligations under the WTO.  For more details regarding the panel's findings, visit the WTO website here.

Under WTO dispute resolution procedures, China has 60 days to appeal the decision to the WTO Appellate Body.


March 27, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

UNHCR Issues Annual Report on Asylum Trends

Earlier this week, the United Nations Commission for Refugees issued the 2013 Asylum Trends report, which indicates a 28% increase in the number of asylum claims filed in industrialized countries last year.  The total number of claims filed was 612,700, making 2103 the second highest year for asylum claims in the past 20 years.

The top five source countries for asylum seekers were Syria, Russia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Serbia. This is the first time Syria has occupied the top spot for producing asylum seekers.

Germany took the top spot as the biggest recipient of asylum claims (109,600) with the United States being bumped to second place (88,400), followed by France, Sweden and Turkey.

Pursuant to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, a successful asylum seeker must demonstrate that he or she has a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion by the government or a non-state actor that the government is unable or unwilling to control.  Thus, the high level of asylum claims indicates an almost unprecedented level of fear of persecution worldwide -- not an encouraging trend.


March 25, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Twitter is Blocked in Turkey

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blocked Twitter in Turkey. The Financial Times reports that the Twitter ban was imposed in Turkey after was used to spread corruption allegations against Erdogan's government.

Mr. Erdogan said his intention is to "root out Twitter" and that he did not care what the international reaction is to the ban.


March 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Progress in Haiti

Following a recent agreement on an inter-Haitian dialogue, the long-troubled country is at a turning point where progress on peace, security and stability must be sustained through the consolidation of the democratic process, the rule of law, good governance and better support for the needs of the population, the top United Nations official in Haiti told the Security Council today.  “Dialogue as means of agreement is a victory for Haiti,” said Sandra Honoré, head of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), as she hailed as an “unprecedented step in Haitian political history,” the launch of a dialogue among the Executive, the Parliament and political parties launched to discuss democratic governance, elections and amendment of the Constitution. She told the Council that the resulting El Rancho Accord was formally signed on 14 March and stipulates that one election will be held this year, combining the long-delayed local, municipal and partial senatorial elections with those foreseen for the end of 2014, for a second third of the Senate, and the entire Chamber of Deputies. 

In addition, key provisions to be implemented within a ten-day timeframe are: amendment of the Electoral Law to confer the appropriate mandate upon the electoral council; replacement of up to one member of the electoral council by each of the three powers of the State; and a cabinet reshuffle to include individuals drawn from interested political parties. “The long-awaited adoption and promulgation of the Electoral Law in December 2013, along with the March 14th Accord emanating from the inter-Haitian dialogue, have prepared a path toward inclusive and transparent elections to be held later this year – a sine qua non for the continuous functioning of Parliament in January 2015,” she said. 

Ms. Honoré said it is now of critical importance that the provisions of the Accord, including the amendment of the Electoral Law, be implemented in a timely manner by the Haitian authorities. “To this end, MINUSTAH along with members of the international community represented in Haiti, are engaging Haiti’s key political actors,” she added. She went on to note that the overall security situation has remained relatively stable, including in the five departments vacated by MINUSTAH’s military component. She cautioned that when the capacity of the national police was put to severe test, operational support by MINUSTAH peacekeepers was necessary, and stressed that “the further strengthening of the Haitian national police remains critical.”

As for the economic situation, Ms. Honoré said there is reason for “cautious optimism and renewed hope” because of Haiti’s economic growth rate last year of 4.3 per cent, which will provide the Government with an important building block for more sustainable and equitable development.  While citing gains in post-earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation, she said the Government had a humanitarian imperative to close the remaining temporary camps and find durable housing solutions for those that had been displaced.

“While the number of suspected cholera cases has been reduced significantly every year from 352,033 cases in 2011 to 58,608 cases in 2013, more needs to be done since Haiti still has the highest number of cholera cases in the world,” she continued, adding that delivering and sustaining better health requires an urgent, scaled up effort to combat the disease and address decades of under-investment in basic systems for safe water, hygiene, sanitation and healthcare. 

Ms. Honoré  said that the UN system in Haiti has developed a two-year, $68 million initiative in support of the Government’ s 10-year National Plan for the Elimination of Cholera. In addition, the UN and the Haitian Government are finalizing the creation of a high-level committee that will oversee the coordinated implementation of the cholera response measures as contained in the National Plan.    

Finally, she emphasized that the gains made in the stabilization of Haiti should be preserved. She also underlined the importance for the Government of Haiti, with the support of MINUSTAH, to continue to make progress in the areas of police development, electoral capacity building, rule of law and human rights, and on key governance issues.

(UN press release)

March 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Nuclear Weapons Should Be Seen as a Liability, Not an Asset

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today cited deeper global cooperation as “indispensable” to strengthening nuclear security, as he called on leaders to take the necessary steps towards ensuring a safer world for all. “My message to you now, today, is this: be the first mover. Do not wait for others to act. The challenge is one of leadership,” Mr. Ban said in his remarks at the opening session of the Nuclear Security Summit, hosted by the Government of the Netherlands in The Hague. “Let us work towards a safer world for all – a world free of nuclear weapons and threat of nuclear terrorism.”

Calling nuclear security a “pressing concern,” the UN chief noted that the primary responsibility for preventing non-State actors and terrorists from acquiring the most devastating weapons known to humanity lies with national governments. “But international cooperation and assistance are indispensable,” he stated, adding that important challenges include strengthening nuclear security implementation and building a culture of nuclear security.
He highlighted three areas where the UN has an important role to play: strengthening the international framework for nuclear security; strengthening the capacity of States to detect and stop illicit trade in nuclear and radiological material; and the world body’s efforts to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.  “Non-proliferation and nuclear material controls are truly important, but neither offers any guarantee against the worst threat of all: a future use of nuclear weapons,” Mr. Ban said. “Let me be clear: nuclear security is jeopardized by the very existence of such weapons and the vast amounts of weapons-usable nuclear material in stockpiles outside of any international regulatory controls. This is why disarmament belongs on the global nuclear security agenda.”  
The catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons require that it be treated as a top priority, he continued, adding that disarmament will work better than any alternative in reducing the risk of use.   “Together, we must ensure that nuclear weapons are seen by States as a liability, not an asset,” the UN chief stressed.

(UN press release)

March 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Only a Diplomatic Solution Between Russia and Ukraine

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday reiterated his message that only a diplomatic solution, based on the ideals of the United Nations Charter, would solve the current crisis between Russia and Ukraine. In a meeting in Kyiv with Ukraine's Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Mr. Ban added that a direct dialogue between the two neighbours is critical to reducing the ongoing tensions.  The UN chief was in Russia on Thursday and arrived in Ukraine on Friday as part of his efforts to help de-escalate tensions between Moscow and Kyiv. 

Months of political unrest in Ukraine led to the removal by Parliament of President Viktor Yanukovych in February, followed by increased tensions in the country's autonomous region of Crimea, where additional Russian military were recently deployed and a secession referendum was held last week.  Throughout the crisis, the Secretary-General and senior UN officials have consistently called for a solution that is guided by the principles of the UN Charter and that respects Ukraine's unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

During his meeting today, Mr. Ban briefed the Prime Minister on his recent meeting with Russian leaders, including President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, according to a readout provided by Mr. Ban's spokesperson. He also commended the Prime Minister for his recent speech in which he called for an inclusive political process in Ukraine. 

(adapted from a UN press release)

March 22, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

World Water Day

Wwwd-logoSaturday, March 22 is World Water Day.  This year's theme emphasizes the nexus between water and energy.  The United Nations' objectives for World Water Day 2014 are:

  • Raise awareness of the inter-linkages between water and energy
  • Contribute to a policy dialogue that focuses on the broad range of issues related to the nexus of water and energy
  • Demonstrate, through case studies, to decision makers in the energy sector and the water domain that integrated approaches and solutions to water-energy issues can achieve greater economic and social impacts
  • Identify policy formulation and capacity development issues in which the UN system, in particular UN-Water and UN-Energy, can offer significant contributions
  • Identify key stakeholders in the water-energy nexus and actively engaging them in further developing the water-energy linkages
  • Contribute as relevant to the post-2015 discussions in relation to the water-energy nexus.

For more information, visit the United Nations World Water Day 2014 Home Page.


March 22, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 21, 2014

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Today, March 21, is not only the first full day of spring here in the United States, but is also the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  This year's theme is "The Role of Leaders in Combatting Racial Discrimination," a message that was highlighted in the Durban Declaration and Program of Action, adopted at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in 2001.  That document underlines the key role that political leaders and political parties can and ought to play in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Government institutions, political leaders, non-governmental organizations and individual citizen leaders all share responsibility for teaching and modelling tolerance.

At UN Headquarters in New York, the General Assembly will hold a Special Meeting today in observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, as mandated by GA Resolution 68/151 on the Total Elimination of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance.   

One step that citizens can take is to encourage the remaining States of the world to join the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).  Currently, there are 176 States parties, meaning there are at least 15 States that do not belong.  Universal ratification of CERD would demonstrate a world wide commitment to the elimination of racial discrimination.

For more information on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, visit the United Nations web page.


March 21, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Russia as an Occupying Power in Crimea

Human Rights Watch has prepared a document that summarizes its view of the international law applicable to the situation in Crimea.  In this document, entitled Questions and Answers: Russia, Ukraine and International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law, Human Rights Watch argues that Russia is an Occupying Power in Crimea within the meaning of the Geneva Conventions on the Laws of War.  As such, Russia has certain obligations towards the local population, as spelled out in more detail in the document.


March 21, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Systematic, Widespread, and Grave Human Rights Violations in North Korea

Detailing a raft of “unspeakable atrocities” committed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) “without parallel in the modern world,” the head of a United Nations-mandated probe into the human rights situation there called today on the international community to hold the country to account, including through referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC). “The Commission of Inquiry found systematic, widespread and grave human rights violations occurring in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It also found a disturbing array of crimes against humanity,” said Chairman Michael Kirby in Geneva during a dialogue with members of the UN Human Rights Council. 

The Council set up the Commission of Inquiry in March 2013 with a one-year mandate to investigate several alleged human rights violations, including those concerning the right to food and those associated with prison camps; torture and inhuman treatment; arbitrary detention; discrimination; freedom of expression, movement and religion; the right to life; and enforced disappearances, including abductions of nationals to other countries. The result was an unprecedented 400-page set of linked reports and supporting documents ¬– initially released on 17 February – culled from first-hand testimony from victims and witnesses, revealing, according to the Commission, crimes that “arose from policies established at the highest level of the State.”  

In the today’s discussion with the Council, Mr. Kirby said the scale, duration and nature of the atrocities committed in the DPRK revealed a totalitarian State carrying out crimes that were being ignored by the rest of the world. “What is important now is how the international community will act on the report.”  

“A compelling report and wide media coverage are good, but woefully insufficient,” he said, urging UN Member States and the wider international community, to accept their responsibility to protect and implement all the recommendations contained in the report, especially those related to accountability, including referral of the situation of the DPRK to the ICC. 

As for the country in question, Mr. Kirby and the Commission challenged the DPRK to respect the human rights of its citizens.  The country was also urged to immediately and unconditionally implement all of the recommendations of the report.  “The Commission also urges all countries, including China, to respect the principle of non-refoulement,” he added, referring to protecting refugees from being returned to places where their lives or freedoms could be threatened.

Mr. Kirby said that the Commission’s findings had been characterized by Pyongyang as “sheer lies and fabrications” deliberately cooked up, and that the three-member body itself had been accused of politicizing human rights.“The Commission did not ask anyone to blindly believe what it said,” he declared, underscoring that testimonies from hundreds of witnesses who spoke to the Commission of extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortion and other sexual violence could be read in the report.  

“Their testimony is not only in these documents, but also on the internet ¬– but these were denied to the ordinary people of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It should be asked why this regime forbade such access,” said Mr. Kirby, who asked: “If letting victims raise their voices was politicizing human rights, how could these victims then be helped?”</P>

All efforts to initiate dialogue and offer cooperation had been spurned by the DPRK, he said. However, the Commission obtained first-hand testimony through public hearings with about 80 witnesses in Seoul, Tokyo, London and Washington D.C., and more than 240 confidential interviews with victims and other witnesses, including in Bangkok. Eighty formal submissions were also received from different entities. 

Along with its chairman, Mr. Kirby, a retired judge from Australia, the Commission comprises Sonja Biserko, founder and president of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, and Marzuki Darusman, former Attorney General of Indonesia and the current UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in DPRK.

(UN press release)

March 18, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Ongoing Crisis in Ukraine

Leading the United Nations push for parties in Ukraine to resolve the country’s ongoing political crisis through peaceful dialogue, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said he is “deeply concerned and disappointed” that this weekend’s Crimea secession referendum will only exacerbate an “already complex and tense situation.”

“The Secretary-General continues to closely follow the situation in Ukraine,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, told reporters in New York, adding that since the beginning of the crisis, the UN chief has urged all parties to avoid “hasty steps” that could exacerbate tensions.  “He encourages all parties to work for a solution that is guided by the principles of the United Nations Charter, including respecting Ukraine’s unity and sovereignty,” said Mr. Dujarric.

The statement comes in the wake of an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council on Saturday, at which the 15-nation body was blocked from adopting a resolution urging the international community to affirm Ukraine’s national borders and declare the referendum in Crimea invalid, owing to a “no” vote from Russia, a permanent member.  China – who is also a permanent member, along with France, United Kingdom and the United States – abstained in the vote.  

Media reports suggest that voters in Crimea overwhelmingly supported leaving Ukraine and joining Russia. The referendum caps months of political unrest, triggered by the Government's decision last November not to sign an agreement on broader European integration. The Ukrainian capital, Kiev, erupted in violent demonstrations and street clashes in late January, culminating with the removal by Parliament of President Viktor Yanukovych. Tensions mounted in the Crimea region, where additional Russian troops and armoured vehicles were reportedly deployed.

In his statement today, the Secretary-General condemned the violence which occurred over the weekend in eastern Ukraine and which resulted in injuries and loss of life on all sides.  “The Secretary-General once again urges all parties to refrain from violence and to commit themselves to de-escalation and inclusive national dialogue in the pursuit of a political and diplomatic solution,” said Mr. Dujarric, adding: “A deterioration of the situation will have serious repercussions for the people of Ukraine, the region and beyond.”  

The UN chief also urged all parties in Ukraine and those with influence to avoid any steps that could further increase tensions. “Above all, the Secretary-General urges all concerned to intensify their efforts and engage constructively toward a peaceful solution to this crisis, with the aspirations of all the people of Ukraine foremost in mind,” said Mr. Dujarric, adding that Mr. Ban remains ready to work with all parties to resolve this situation.

(UN press release)

March 17, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

US Announces Sanctions on Russia

U.S. President Obama issued an Executive Order (E.O) today imposing targeted sanctions on Russia in response to its actions in Crimea.  President Obama has declared a national emergency with respect to the Ukraine which finds Russia's deployment of military forces in the Crimean region and its actions to undermine democratic processes in the region constitute a threat to peace and security.  The White House press release and fact sheet containing the sanctions information may be found here. The E.O. authorizes the imposition of sanctions on certain Russian officials and certain individuals and other entities connected to the Russian arms industry.  The specific individuals named in this E.O. are: Vladislav Surkov, Sergey Glazyev, Leonid Slutsky, Andrei Klishas, Valentina Matviyenko, Dmitry Rogozin, and Yelena Mizulina.  The sanctions include asset freezes and travel bans.

Separately, the U.S. Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on four other individuals under E.O. 13660, issued on March 6, "for their actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine," including Crimea-based separatist leaders Sergey Aksyonov and Vladimir Konstantinov; former Ukrainian presidential chief of staff Viktor Medvedchuk; and former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych.

The European Union is also imposing sanctions on several Russian officials in line with the US sanctions. 


March 17, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Books Noted: International Business Transactions

Carolina Academic Press has published a new book in its Context and Practice Series.  It's a casebook by Amy Deen Westbrook of the Washburn University School of Law on "International Business Transactions."

The book is 788 pages long and is reasonably priced at $93.00 (have a look at what other casebooks in the field are selling for and you'll know why Carolina Academic Press publications are so popular!).  But you can click here to get a further discount on even that great price.  The book provides a basic introduction to internatioanl trade law and cross-border business transactions in goods and services.  Click here for more information.  A teachers' manual is also available.


March 17, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

New Books Noted: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Fatwahs

Ohio State University Press has published a new book called Fatwahs and Court Judgments: A Genre Analysis of Arabic Legal Opinions by Ahmed Fakhri.  The book is 157 pages long and sells for $57.95.  We have not seen a copy of it yet but we are told that it examines the linguistic and rhetorical construction of secular court judgments and the Islamic fatwas, and documents the influence of secular court judgments on those Islamic edicts.


March 16, 2014 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Crisis in Syria Enters its Fourth Year

With nearly 13 million Syrians uprooted from their homes, senior United Nations officials warn that without a political solution to the conflict, which today enters its fourth year, Syria and its people face years more of destruction and continued brutality.  "Children, women and men are being used as pawns by parties to the conflict in their battle for territorial advantage," said the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos. An entire generation of children has been traumatized and brutalized. Hospitals and school playgrounds have been attacked, and residential neighbourhoods are flattened by barrel bombs, she noted.

"Our collective voice should be raised in protest at the flagrant violations of international humanitarian and human rights law," added Ms. Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Coordinator. "The international community needs to show the courage and determination to do all that is necessary to reach a political solution."

The comments echo Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who earlier this week said the  international community cannot afford to lose focus or turn away from war-torn Syria, and called for renewed political efforts to end what is now the biggest humanitarian and security crisis in the world.

Syria is also already the world's leading country of forced displacement with 9.3 million people unable to find a safe home in their country, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNCHR). In the absence of visible progress towards a political solution, the UN agency predicts that the region could become the largest refugee population in the world. "It is unconscionable that a humanitarian catastrophe of this scale is unfolding before our eyes with no meaningful progress to stop the bloodshed," UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said in a statement.

Well over 100,000 people have been killed since opposition protesters first sought to oust the Government of President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011. In addition, there are currently more than 2.4 million refugees registered in the region: some 932,000 in Lebanon; 574,000 in Jordan; some 613,000 in Turkey; 223,000 in Iraq; and about 134,000 in Egypt, according to UNHCR figures.

In Lebanon, for example, there are nearly 230 registered Syrian refugees for every 1,000 Lebanese, making this the highest per capita concentration of refugees of any country in recent history.

"Imagine the crushing social and economic consequences of this crisis on Lebanon and other countries in the region," Mr. Guterres said. 

Jordan is among those countries reeling under the refugee presence, estimating the related costs, which include access to water, bread, gas and electricity for the additional people, to be at more than $1.7 billion so far.

"They need much stronger international support than they have received so far, both financially and in terms of commitments to receive and protect Syrian refugees in other parts of the world, beyond the immediate neighbouring region," Mr. Guterres said in reference to the governments of the hosting countries.

The High Commissioner also noted that Syrians are becoming a global refugee population as they are arriving in increasing numbers in Europe. Over 84,000 asylum applications have been submitted by Syrians in European countries since 2011, mostly in Germany and Sweden.  

Syrian refugees are also seeking safety in North and South America, and in Australia.

They are also reports of Syrians facing instances of closed borders and push backs to neighbouring countries. UNHCR has called on countries to ensure access to territory for all Syrians seeking protection and a moratorium on returns to neighbouring countries.   

Also today, more than 30 leading film makers, writers, artists, musicians and public figures have appealed to the UN, asking General Assembly President John Ashe and Ambassador Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg, which holds the Security Council presidency for March, to make clear what they are doing to aid humanitarian access in Syria. 

The joint statement, endorsed by UN's Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA) and partnering Hoping Foundation, is signed by director Alfonso Cuarón, actors Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant, musicians Sting and Annie Lennox, amongst others.
The call comes two weeks after the UN was last able to deliver food parcels to the besieged Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, Damascus, where some 20,000 people are still believed to be trapped.

(UN press release)

March 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Russia Uses Its Security Council Veto on Crimea (and China Abstains)

Owing to the negative vote of one of its permanent members, the United Nations Security Council today failed to adopt a draft resolution which urged countries not to recognize the results of this weekend's referendum in Crimea.

Thirteen of the Council's 15 members voted in favour of the draft text, Russia voted against, and China abstained. A veto by any of the Council's five permanent members -- China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States -- means a resolution cannot be adopted.

The resolution would have reaffirmed Ukraine's "sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity" and declared that Sunday's referendum which could lead to Crimea's break with Ukraine and union with Russia, "can have no validity". 

Speaking ahead of the vote, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said it was "no secret" that Russia was planning to vote against the draft. He added that Moscow would respect the decision of the Crimeans but could not accept the basic assumption of the draft resolution which aimed "to declare illegal the planned March 16 referendum where residents of the Republic of Crimea should decide on their future".

Liu Jieyi, Permanent Representative of China to the UN, said after the vote that Beijing sought a "balanced" solution to the conflict within a framework of law and order. He called for the creation of a coordination group, a support package for Ukraine, and also called on countries to refrain from action which could further escalate the conflict. 

Deep disappointment and incredulity was expressed by several Council members, who noted that this was the seventh time the body was convening to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

United States Permanent Representative Samantha Power, whose country sponsored the resolution, said the text was aimed at finding a principled and peaceful solution, and upheld UN principles on the sovereignty of its Member States.   Russia has the power to veto a Security Council resolution, "but it does not have the power to veto the truth," she said.

United Kingdom's Mark Lyall Grant said the result of today's vote highlighted Russia's isolation over Crimea within the Council and from the international community. 

Meanwhile, Gérard Araud of France quipped that Russia "vetoed the UN Charter" with its "no" vote.  

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that "emotions have been hardened" over the forthcoming referendum.

Addressing journalists Friday at the UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Ban cautioned against "hasty measures and decisions which may impact the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine" and stressed that any actions should be in accordance with provisions of the UN Charter.

UN officials, including Mr. Ban, have been appealing to all parties to calm the situation and to engage in direct and constructive dialogue to forge a peaceful way forward in Ukraine, which has been witnessing unrest for several months.

Tensions heightened last week as lawmakers in Crimea, where additional Russian troops and armoured vehicles have recently been deployed, voted to join Russia and to hold a referendum on 16 March to validate the decision.

(UN Press Release)

March 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)