Sunday, April 5, 2015

United Nations Condems Al Shabaab Attack on Garissa University in Kenya

The United Nations has condemned the terrorist attack carried out by Al Shabaab in Garissa, Kenya, in the strongest terms, with the Security Council members stressing their “outrage” at what the President of the General Assembly called a “heinous” attack.

The Secretary-General, who had previously condemned the attack in a statement released on Wednesday, sent a personal letter yesterday to the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, to once again expressed his sincere condolences following the “horrendous” attack.  “There is little more appalling than targeting young people for murder and mayhem.” Mr. Ban wrote in the letter. “Those responsible for this heinous attack must be brought to justice.” He also reiterated the solidarity of the United Nations with the people and Government of Kenya in preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism.

Those sentiments were echoed by the members of the Security Council, who issued a statement paying tribute to Kenya's role in the fight against terrorism, in particular the role played by the country in the fight against Al Shabaab as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Reaffirming that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivation, wherever and whenever and by whomsoever committed, Council members reiterated their determination to combat all forms of terrorism, in accordance with their responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations.

They underlined the need to bring the perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice and urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the Kenyan authorities in this regard.

The members of the Security Council reminded States that they must ensure that measures taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, international humanitarian law and refugee law.

The President of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa (Uganda), also reiterated that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of its motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever commits it, and he joined the Secretary-General and the Security Council in extending condolences to the families of the victims and the people and government of the Republic of Kenya, while wishing a speedy recovery to those injured.

The heinous attack left dozens dead, scores injured and many held hostage and others unaccounted for, the vast majority of whom were students, the statement said, adding a call on the international community to redouble its efforts to combat the scourge of terrorism.

(UN Press Release)

April 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Iran Nuclear Accord Reached With China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has congratulated the team of international negotiators and Iran on achieving a political framework that paves the way for an historic comprehensive joint plan of action on Iran’s nuclear programme to be achieved by 30 June.

“That comprehensive agreement will provide for substantial limits on Iran’s nuclear programme and for the removal of all sanctions,” said Mr. Ban in a statement released by his spokesperson, following the announcement that Iran and the Foreign Ministers of the so-called ‘E3+3’ (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States), had reached a deal.

“It will respect Iran’s needs and rights while providing assurances to the international community that its nuclear activities will remain exclusively peaceful,” Mr. Ban’s statement continued.

The statement added that the Secretary-General is convinced that a comprehensive, negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue will contribute to peace and stability in the region and enable all countries to cooperate urgently to deal with the many serious security challenges they face.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

April 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UN Human Rights Office Welcomes Condemnation of Attacks on People with Albinism

The United Nations Human Rights office has welcomed Malawi President Peter Mutharika's strong statement condemning the recent spate of attacks on people with albinism in his country and urged that the measures he outlined to arrest those responsible for such attacks and better protect albinos be launched “without delay.”

“We hope that this series of measures will result in a significant improvement in the security and well-being of people with albinism in Malawi,” the southern African country where at least six incidents have been reported this year, said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Mr. Colville welcomed President Mutharika’s statement in which he called on security agencies in Malawi to be placed on high alert, to arrest people responsible for such attacks and provide maximum protection to people with albinism.

Malawi’s Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati, has unveiled a five-point plan of action, which included the development of an education and awareness programme, strengthening of community policing structure, research to understand the root causes of the problem and what is done with the body parts of people with albinism.

Noting the Minister’s reference to the Government considering appealing against some lenient sentences, the spokesperson said: “We would welcome this as well, and note that earlier this week a man received a sentence of just two years after being convicted of attempting to kidnap his 11-year-old niece Mina Jeffrey.” Her uncle later reportedly said he had been promised $6,500 for her body.

Attacks against albinism had traditionally been recorded in Tanzania, Burundi and Malawi, Mr. Colville said, noting that it was a recent phenomenon in Malawi, while attacks have recently been reported in Mozambique.

The UN has expressed revulsion at a recent spike in gruesome attacks against people with albinism in several African countries where in the past six months, at least 15 albinos were abducted, wounded, or killed, including three such incidents last week.

In Tanzania, in early March, President Jakaya Kikwete promised to put an end to the current wave of killings in that country, saying he will not allow them to escalate as they have done in previous years.

“We have been informed that the Tanzanian authorities, in particular the Attorney General’s Chambers, have started to develop a plan of action to raise public awareness and fight against impunity,” according to spokesman Colville. “However it appears that most of the witchdoctors/arrested over the past few weeks have now been released.”

“We once again call upon the Tanzanian authorities to take prompt and firm action to ensure accountability for the crimes committed against people with albinism and to take effective measures to protect this particularly vulnerable group,” he said.

Mr. Colville also welcomed the establishment of the post by the UN Human Rights Council of an Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights of persons with albinism.

“This important new mandate will help give a voice to people with albinism and contribute to their protection, through a dialogue with concerned States, enhanced awareness raising and reporting, and the provision of advisory services and technical assistance,” according to the human rights spokesman.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

April 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

United Nations Budget Committee Rejects Proposal to Change How U.N. Categorizes Employment Benefits for Same-Sex Couples

The United Nations budget committee on March 24, 2015 rejected a draft decision that would have had Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon withdraw a bulletin, issued last year, which established rules for the personal status of staff members in determining their benefits and entitlements.

Eighty delegations voted against the draft decision, which revolved around such principles as the Secretary-General’s prerogatives in organizational matters, equality of UN employees, national sovereignty, and transparency. The text received 43 votes in favour, while 37 delegations abstained.

In 2014 the UN changed how it categorizes staff members’ personal status, allowing more same-sex couples access to the same benefits enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts.

In a major policy change that took effect in June, the UN decided to honour the marriage of any same-sex couple wed in a country where same-sex marriages are legal. Previously, a staff member’s personal status was determined by the laws of the country whose passport he or she carried.

Mr. Ban did not consult UN Member States about the policy change.

Following today’s vote, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters that the Secretary-General appreciated the support of those who recognized his authority as Chief Administrative Officer as per the UN Charter.

“I’d like to repeat in issuing his bulletin last year, the Secretary-General was acting under that authority in managing UN staff members,” said Mr. Haq.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

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World Tuberculosis Day

With some 37 million lives saved between 2000 and 2013 through the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis, it is possible to end the epidemic by 2035, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on World Tuberculosis Day, urging leaders to recommit to ending one of humanity's top killers.

“Victory is not guaranteed,” Mr. Ban said in his message for the Day, observed each year on 24 March.

“I urge Governments, communities affected by tuberculosis and health workers around the world to intensify their efforts in line with the ambitious strategy established by the World Health Assembly in 2014 to end the global epidemic within two decades,” he stated.

Tuberculosis, or TB, is one of the world's top infectious killers. Approximately 9 million people fell ill from it in 2013, and 1.5 million died. TB's impact is felt acutely by the most vulnerable populations, including those struggling with poverty and poor health systems. For women aged 15 to 44, tuberculosis is one of the top five killers. For children, prisoners, migrants and those living with HIV, TB remains the most common form of illness and the leading cause of death.

Last May, governments agreed on a new 20-year (2016-2035) strategy to end the global tuberculosis epidemic. To that end, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for new action in the global fight against the scourge. Its 'End TB' strategy outlines clear actions and targets that provide a pathway to a world free of tuberculosis deaths and suffering. The plan also links to the wider poverty eradication, social protection and universal health coverage agenda.

“While achievement by 2015 of one of the key health-focused Millennium Development Goals, namely the reversal of the spread of tuberculosis, is significant, World Tuberculosis Day reminds governments and communities that this is no time for complacency. Efforts must begin now to ensure the effective global roll-out of the 'End TB' strategy and to stimulate the research that will underpin its success,” Mr. Ban said.

'End TB' sets targets and outlines actions for governments and partners to provide patient-centred care, pursue policies and systems that enable prevention and care, and drive research and innovations needed to end the epidemic and eliminate tuberculosis.

WHO is also calling on governments, affected communities, civil society organizations and health-care providers to join the drive to roll out this strategy and to reach, treat and cure all those who are ill today.

“With patient-centred care at the heart, this dynamic action plan will drive forward the critical advances in research and innovation that are needed to combat tuberculosis, including the worrying surge in its multi-drug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant forms,” Mr. Ban emphasized.

(UN Press Release)

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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Private International Law Prize 2015

The Private International Law Interest Group (PILIG) of the American Society of International Law invites submissions for this year’s ASIL Private International Law prize. The prize is given for the best text on private international law written by a young scholar. Essays, articles, and books are welcome, and can address any topic of private international law, can be of any length, and may be published or unpublished, but not published prior to 2014. Submitted essays should be in the English language.  Competitors may be citizens of any nation but must be 35 years old or younger on December 31, 2014. They need not be members of ASIL.

This year, the prize will consist of a $400 stipend to participate in the 2015 or 2016 ASIL Annual Conference, and one year’s membership to ASIL. The prize will be awarded by the Private International Law Interest Group based upon the recommendation of a Prize Committee. Decisions of the Prize Committee on the winning essay and on any conditions relating to this prize are final.

Submissions to the Prize Committee must be received by June 1st 2015.

Entries should be submitted by email in Word or pdf format. They should contain two different documents: a) the essay itself, without any identifying information other than the title; and b) a second document containing the title of the entry and the author’s name, affiliation, and contact details.

Submissions and any queries should be addressed by email to Private International Law Interest Group Co-Chairs Prof. S.I. Strong ([email protected]) and Cristian Gimenez Corte ([email protected]). All submissions will be acknowledged by e-mail.

Hat tip to Prof. S.I. Strong


April 4, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Tear for Students in Kenya

Gunmen have murdered at least 147 students at Garissa University College in northeastern Kenya, and more than 500 students cannot be found and may have been kidnapped.  The gunmen reportedly singled out non-Muslim students and executed each one they found.  Kenyan security forces have surrounded the campus.  We extend our deepest sympathy to the faculty, students, alumni, and families.  This is madness.

April 2, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Palestine Joins the International Criminal Court as the 123rd State Party

04-01-2015Palestin_CourtThe International Criminal Court (ICC) welcomed the Palestine as the 123rd State Party to its founding Rome Statute today, in a ceremony held at the seat of the Court in The Hague in The Netherlands.

“Accession to a treaty is, of course, just the first step,” said Judge Kuniko Ozaki, the ICC’s Second Vice-President. “As the Rome Statute today enters into force for the State of Palestine, Palestine acquires all the rights as well as responsibilities that come with being a State Party to the Statute. These are substantive commitments, which cannot be taken lightly.”

During the ceremony, Ms. Ozaki presented Riad Al-Malki, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, with a special edition of the Rome Statute, as a symbol of their joint commitment to the rule of law.

Joining Ms. Ozaki and Mr. Al-Malki at the ceremony were several other ICC judges, as well as the ICC Deputy Prosecutor, James Stewart, ICC Registrar Herman von Hebel and the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Statute, Sidiki Kaba.

“Such highly symbolic commitment confirms, once again, that people all over the world embrace the noble ideals of the ICC, that are ideals of peace and justice for all,” said Mr. Kaba.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine Dr. Riad Al-Malki said thee accession brought the world closer to its shared goals of justice and peace.

“As Palestine formally becomes a State Party to the Rome Statute today, the world is also a step closer to ending a long era of impunity and injustice,” he said.

Today’s step comes after the 16 January announcement by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda that she had opened a preliminary examination into the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, following the accession earlier in January by the Palestinian Authority to the Court’s founding Rome Statute.

A news release from the ICC noted that Ms. Bensouda opened an initial examination of the situation following the Palestinian Government accession to the Rome Statute on 2 January 2015 and its declaration of 1 January 2015, accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC ‘over alleged crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014.’

(UN Press Release)

Photo: ICC Second Vice-President, Judge Kuniko Ozaki (right), walking with Foreign Minister Dr. Riad Al-Malki to a ceremony welcoming the State of Palestine as the 123rd State Party to the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty. Photo: ICC-CPI

April 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

2015 ILA-ASIL Asia-Pacific Research Forum (Taipei, Taiwan)

The Chinese (Taiwan) Society of International Law, in partnership with the American Society of International Law's Interest Group on the Pacific Rim Region, will hold the ILA-ASIL Asia-Pacific Research Forum on May 25-26, 2015 in Taipei, Taiwan, ROC.

The theme of the Research Forum is: “Integrating the Asia-Pacific: Why International Law Matters.” Confirmed speakers include Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, ASIL President Lori Damrosch, Chief Justice of India H L Dattu, and Judge Helmut Tuerk of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Click here to see the tentative program and registration information. The registration deadline is May 1, 2015.


April 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)