Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sultan of Brunei Praises UN 2030 Development Agenda

BruneiDespite what some people may say about its effectiveness, the Sultan of Brunei today told world leaders in the General Assembly that the United Nations has no equal, and 70 years of existence is a testament to its relevance.

“With a membership of 193, the expectation is inevitably high on what our Organization can do to address ever-increasing range of issues,” said Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah. “So, I am pleased that our new development agenda has encapsulated most if not all of these concerns.”

The Sultan was referring to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by all 193 UN Member States last Friday to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years.

“Brunei Darussalam firmly believes that tolerance, compassion and social harmony are essential for lasting peace and security,” the Sultan of the Southeast Asian nation continued. “This has resulted in the close-knit community we have and enjoy today.”

He noted that in his region, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member States share principles of territorial integrity, non-interference, rule of law, and good governance which guide efforts towards closer cooperation for peace.

“It is these national and regional experiences which constitute our contribution to the UN as part of the multilateral process,” he explained. “And it is through the UN, that I envision the creation of a close-knit global community with similar values and principles, which can unleash our potential to work and achieve greater things together.”

He proposed that one way to achieve this is through cultural exchanges to foster greater understanding and empathy with one another, and which could also help prevent new conflicts.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah also underlined that according to the World Bank, the average cost of civil war is equivalent to more than 30 years of [gross domestic product] growth for a medium-size developing country.

“So, preventive diplomacy is a cost-effective means of addressing conflict and certainly an integral part of conflict prevention efforts,” he added.

On the issue of terrorism, he stated that since the last General Assembly, the global community has witnessed tragic loss of lives caused by “inhumane” terrorist acts in various parts of the world.

“It is crucial for us to address the root causes of terrorism and extremism in a comprehensive manner,” the Sultan declared. “We need to ensure that irresponsible parties do not exploit others' despair and suffering to fuel their own extremist agendas.”

(UN Press Release)

September 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Turkey Calls for End to Syrian Crisis

TurkeyRecalling the heart-rending story of the little boy whose lifeless body washed up on a beach in Turkey last month, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu today urged the United Nations to take swift action to address the deepening crisis in Syria and to protect the millions of people “fleeing war and tyranny.”

“The tragic story of the three-year-old Aylan should serve as a reminder of what the UN should stand for,” Mr. Davutoglu said, adding that the child’s body had washed ashore after a boat his family was on capsized in the Aegean Sea. “[They were] trying to escape from the indiscriminate barrel bombs in his town somewhere in Syria, onto an imagined land of hope, anywhere in Europe.”

The Prime Minister declared: “This tragedy will not end before the people of Syria have a legitimate Government that truly represents their will and enjoys their full consent. Until then, the international community must act swiftly to provide them safety in their homeland, a ‘safe zone,’ free from aerial bombardment by the regime and ground assault by Da’esh [also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL] other terrorist organizations.

Turkey, for its part, has offered protection for two million Syrians and 200,000 Iraqis fleeing conflict, calling this the largest number of refugees anywhere in the world.

“And our doors will remain open. And our hearts will remain open,” he said.

To date, he said, 66,000 Syrian babies had been born in Turkey; 6,000 would-be migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean; 55,000 sea-borne migrants have been rescued by Turkish lifeguards; 5 million Syrians have fled chemical weapons and indiscriminate bombing; and 12 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), almost half of which are children, are “in desperate need of help.”

With all this in mind, Mr. Davutoglu said his delegation had proposed the inclusion of the item ‘Global awareness of the tragedies of irregular migrants in the Mediterranean basin with a specific emphasis on Syrian asylum-seekers’ in the Agenda of the Assembly’s 70th session.

That proposal had ben accepted last week and would provide an opportunity to examine viable responses to the tragedy of migrants, through partnership between countries of origin, destination and transit. “This is now a priority agenda for all humanity,” he said.

Mr. Davutoglu also turned to other issues of concern, saying “the Palestinian tragedy continues unabated.” He also welcomed the raising of the Palestinian flag at UN Headquarters today which, he said, would give Palestine “equal footing at the table,” and ultimately lead to equitable and sustainable peace.

Turning his attention to the subject of terrorism, he said that it was without justification and it was “patently mistaken” to affiliate terrorism with any religion. He noted the rise of Da’esh, as well as the increase in the number of foreign terrorist fighters in the region.

“This threat needs to be addressed at the source,” he said.

He then noted the link between development and global stability, saying that Turkey had given $3.5 billion in official development aid and that it wished to see that “no one is left behind,” particularly women and the most vulnerable, as well as refugees and IDPs.

Mr. Davutoglu also said that Turkey, as the Chair of the Global Forum on Migration and Development for 2014-15, looked to promote the linkages between these two subjects.

He closed his statement by echoing the calls of other leaders for UN reform, particularly with regard to the Security Council.

“The UN must remain relevant and effective,” said Mr. Davutoglu. “The change in the UN is not comprehensive enough to make it fit for purpose.”

(UN Press Release)

September 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Alturi: A New Tool to Combat Violence and Discrimination Against LGBTI People

A new non-profit organization devoted to elevating the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community globally, launched publicly today and announced the selection of its founding boards of directors.

The new organization is called Alturi.

U.S. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus, and U.S. Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI), who has introduced the Global Respect Act to protect the basic human rights of the international LGBTI community, expressed support for addressing LGBTI issues at the Capitol Hill press conference.

Alturi is an online platform that enables individuals from all walks of life to take a stand against the violence and discrimination confronting the international LGBTI community and provide direct help for LGBTI advocates around the world. With marriage equality secured at last in the United States, the LGBTI rights movement is turning its attention in new directions, and Alturi is committed to making the worldwide human rights of LGBTI people a priority.

"At this historic moment, Americans have the opportunity to learn about and support the people on the frontlines of the struggle for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people's rights and dignity around the globe," said Steve Roth, director and co-founder of Alturi. "Even as we celebrate marriage equality and other advances for the LGBTI community in the U.S., same-sex relations are still a crime in nearly 80 countries around the world, and even punishable by death in some. Our work is not complete. We must continue to fight for equality and respect for LGBTI people everywhere, and Alturi makes that possible."

"In a time when countries like Russia outlaw an individual from being themselves, and promote fear and disinformation, we are at a crossroads at how to lead globally," said Sanchez. "Organizations like Alturi and their partners are moving us forward. We must hold those countries accountable that resort to hatred and misinformation. We stand ready to work with you all."

"I was delighted to join in today's press conference to underscore the importance of addressing international LGBTI issues," said Cicilline. "It's critical that we continue to build momentum around efforts to guarantee respect for basic human rights of all people around the world, including members of the LGBTI community."

"Grassroots organizing and online activism played a central role in shifting the entire debate about what equality means for the LGBT individuals across the county," said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI). "While we are still fighting issues like workplace discrimination here at home, I'm proud to see LGBT activists and organizations, like Alturi, now turn their energy to the struggles of the global LGBT community."

Alturi is designed to help Americans learn about the issues facing LGBTI people around the world and take action in support of LGBTI advocates creating change worldwide. Alturi features real-life stories, accessible analysis, and a curated newsfeed to help visitors make sense of the issues affecting the lives of LGBTI people across the globe. The website also highlights international and U.S.-based organizations doing and funding cutting-edge advocacy abroad and enables donations to them, with 100 percent of contributions going directly to the recipient organizations.

Alturi draws inspiration from the lives and work of people like Angeline Jackson, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Quality of Citizenship Jamaica and a survivor of "corrective" rape who has become a leading voice for LGBTI rights - especially for women - in Jamaica. On his visit to Jamaica in April, President Obama recognized Jackson as a "remarkable young leader" who provides "an example of what is possible, even in the most difficult of circumstances." Jackson is a member of Alturi's Global Advisory Board.

"I'm thrilled to be a part of Alturi at its very founding," said Jackson. "LGBTI people across the globe are fighting for our own survival and dignity in the face of extraordinary violence and oppression. Alturi promises to play a key role in the worldwide movement for LGBTI human rights for decades to come."

Alturi is also pleased to welcome two volunteer boards of advisors: its Executive Board and its Global Advisory Board.

The Executive Board consists of leaders in communications, marketing, finance, and advocacy who are responsible for providing guidance on Alturi's strategic direction and programs, securing funding, and serving as public champions of Alturi's work. Its members are:

  • Warren Brown, Out Caribe
  • Martín Diego Garcia, Latino Victory Project
  • Steve Dumas, Westfield Corporation Architecture Studio
  • Stephen Farragher, Xylem Inc.
  • Jack Harrison-Quintana, Grindr for Equality
  • Fabrice Houdart, World Bank
  • Vincent Jones, Reinvent Communications
  • Tony Lima, SAVE
  • Rebecca Rittgers, Proteus Fund
  • Dr. Chloe Schwenke, Georgetown University
  • Greg Willenborg, Willenborg Productions
  • Oscar Yuan, Ipsos Strategy3

The Global Advisory Board is composed of human rights practitioners and leaders from around the world whose perspectives will inform Alturi's global strategy, ensure accountability to international advocates and LGBTI people on the ground, and provide a voice for Alturi's work. Its members are:

  • J. Bob Alotta, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice
  • Markéta Hronková, La Strada Czech Republic
  • Zeenia Irani, World Food Program USA
  • Angeline Jackson, Quality of Citizenship Jamaica
  • Paul Akio Kawata, National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC)
  • Graeme Reid, Human Rights Watch
  • Melissa Tilling, Funway Holidays
  • Czeslaw Walek, Prague Pride
  • Dr. John Waters, Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral (COIN)
  • Bob Witeck, Witeck Communications, Inc.

"We are privileged to have these leaders in advocacy, development, industry, and philanthropy at the table as we forge a path toward global LGBTI equality," said Charlie Rounds, Alturi co-founder and senior advisor. "We welcome them, and you, to this new stage in our movement."

A fiscally sponsored project of Bolder Giving, Alturi is named for the gay World War II codebreaker Alan Turing, who was later persecuted by his own government for his sexual orientation. The name is a tribute to him, and to the idea that all LGBTI people worldwide deserve the opportunity to live to their full potential.

The organization's website currently features a petition to end the travel ban of Belize against LGBT travelers.


September 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Citing Violations of International Law, Ukraine Urges the United Nations to Remove Russia's Right to Veto

UkraineUkraine is suffering from a brutal violation of the fundamental norms and principles of the United Nations Charter, President Petro Poroshenko told world leaders yesterday at the annual General Assembly debate.

“The aggressor is Russia – a neighbouring country, former strategic partner that legally pledged to respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders of Ukraine,” President Poroshenko declared.

“In February 2014, Russia conducted an open and unprovoked aggression against my country, having occupied and annexed Crimea,” he continued. “Bluntly and brutally violating international law and shocking the whole world community […] Despite the fact the until now Russia refuses to officially admit its direct military invasion, today there is no doubt that this is an aggressive war against my country.”

Since the conflict began in eastern Ukraine in mid-April 2014, the UN reports that close to 8000 people– including Ukrainian armed forces, civilians and members of the armed groups– have been killed, and more than 17,800 injured.

The Ukrainian leader warned that to mislead the world community, Russian leadership orders that insignias be taken of its military servicemen and identification marks of its military equipment, to abandon its soldiers captured on the battlefield, and to “cynically use mobile crematoriums to eliminate traces of its crimes in Ukrainian soil.”

He noted that over the past few days, the global community heard “conciliatory statements from the Russian side” in which it called for the establishment of anti-terrorist coalition.

“Cool story, but really hard to believe! How can you urge an anti-terrorist coalition if you inspire terrorism right in front of your door?” President Poroshenko asked.

Meanwhile, he said he was taking the opportunity during his address to express his gratitude to the international community for the considerable efforts in providing necessary assistance to the people in need in his country.

“However, we must recognize that in the 21st century our Organization lacks an effective instrument to bring the aggressor-country to justice, which has stolen the territory of another sovereign State,” he added.

Since the beginning of the conflict, Russia has used its veto right twice while the Security Council was considering questions related to Ukraine.

“At the outset, Russia blocked a draft resolution condemning ‘fake referendum’ on Crimea's annexation in March 2014,” he stated. “The second time, Russia put its shameful veto on the draft resolution on establishment of the International Tribunal to investigate and bring to justice all responsible for Malaysian MH17 plane crash.”

President Poroshenko insisted that Ukraine stands for the gradual limitation of the veto right with its further cancellation.

“I welcome the initiative of my French colleague President Hollande, supported by President Peÿa Nieto of Mexico, on the Political Declaration to restrain from the veto right among the ‘P5 members’ [of the UN Security Council, United States, France, United Kingdom, China, and Russia] in case of mass atrocities.”

Furthermore, the Ukrainian leader said combatting terrorism should be one of the top priorities for the General Assembly 70th session, adding that he strongly believes that one of the most important aspects of fighting against terrorism is keeping and sharing the memory of the victims.

“In this context, I propose that [the] 70th Session of the General Assembly consider the establishment of the International Day of Commemoration of Memory of the Victims of Terrorist Acts,” he stated.

He also called upon the UN to launch a worldwide campaign to pressure Russian authorities to immediately release all Ukrainian citizens who have been held hostage or sentenced. He said this includes Nadiya Savchenko, Oleg Sentsov, Olexandr Kolchenko, as well as Oleg Sentsov, a respected filmmaker sentenced to 20 years in prison “only for being Ukrainian patriot.”

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

September 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Has Still Not Entered into Force

Lamenting the fact that nearly two decades after its negotiation the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) has still not entered into force, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this week urged world leaders gathered at the United Nations to demonstrate the necessary political will to usher in a nuclear-weapon-free world.

“A breakthrough is long overdue,” Mr. Ban said at a conference on facilitating the entry into force of the CTBT, held on the margins of the General Assembly’s high-level debate.

“I welcome all the Treaty’s steadfast supporters here. I am also pleased to see representatives from States that have not yet either signed or ratified the Treaty. I count on you to do so quickly.”

Adopted by the General Assembly in September 1996, the CTBT now has 164 State parties. For the Treaty to enter into force, ratification is required from the so-called Annex 2 States. Of these, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States have yet to ratify it.

To the eight remaining Annex 2 States, Mr. Ban said: “You have a special responsibility. You must not wait for others to act before ratifying.”

Noting that more than 20 States not listed in Annex 2 have either not signed or ratified the Treaty, he called on them to take this step as soon as possible.

“We need every person in this room to show leadership on the urgent international imperative of ending nuclear tests,” said the Secretary-General.

(Adapted from a UN press release)

September 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Twelve UN Agencies Call for End to Violence and Discrimination Against LGBTI People

Twelve UN agencies called this week for an end to violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) adults, adolescents and children, and set out specific steps to protect these individuals.

“This is the first time that so many members of the UN family have joined forces in defence of the basic rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people,” said Charles Radcliffe, the Chief of Global Issues for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“It’s both an expression of commitment on the part of UN agencies, and a powerful call to action for Governments around the world to do more to tackle homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination and abuses against intersex people,” he added in a news release.

At a high-level event on LGBT rights, held in New York on the margins of the annual debate of the General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon applauded the agencies for “speaking in one voice” on this critical issue.

“When the human rights of LGBT people are abused, all of us are diminished. Every human life is precious – none is worth more than another,” he stated.

“This United Nations I lead will never shirk in the fight against discrimination. We will never shy away from protecting the most marginalized and vulnerable people. This is not just a personal commitment – it is an institutional one.”

The event highlighted the linkages between protecting the rights of LGBT people and progress towards achieving the new set of global development goals that world leaders adopted last week.

“There are 17 sustainable development goals all based on a single, guiding principle: to leave no one behind. We will only realize this vision if we reach all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Mr. Ban stated.

Ending marginalization and exclusion of LGBT people is a human rights priority – and a development imperative, he continued.

“We are here together to break down the barriers that prevent LGBT people from exercising their full human rights. When we do that, we will liberate them to fully and productively contribute to our common economic progress…. We can show future generations that the best way to advance our shared goals is to embrace all members of our human family – regardless of who they are or whom they love.”

In at least 76 countries, discriminatory laws criminalize private, consensual same-sex relationships, exposing millions of individuals to the risk of arrest, prosecution and imprisonment – and even, in at least five countries, the death penalty.

The joint statement outlines how laws are used to harass, detain, and discriminate against LGBTI people, while laws that criminalize cross-dressing are used to arrest and punish transgender people. These discriminatory laws perpetuate stigma and discrimination, police abuse and torture, and negatively affect public health by hampering vital access to health and HIV treatment and services.

In addition, the statement sets out steps for Governments to stop violence and discrimination against the LGBTI community, including measures to improve the monitoring, reporting and investigation of hate crimes.

In addition to OHCHR, the joint statement has been endorsed by the following UN entities:

(Adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)

September 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UN Secretary-General Urges Use of All Tools Available to Solve Problems in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today called for using all the tools available to the United Nations to help steer the Middle East and North Africa towards a path of freedom, safety and dignity, citing in particular the obligation of the international community to ensure a peaceful solution to the conflict in Syria and accountability for serious crimes committed there.

“Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen are our common concern, and their resolution is our shared responsibility,” Mr. Ban told a ministerial-level meeting of the Security Council on the settlement of conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa and countering the terrorist threat in the region.

He said the region is in the midst of some of the deadliest conflicts and worst humanitarian emergencies ever, with terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Al-Qaida affiliates “elevating the horror and complicating the search for solutions.”

While each is very different, the crises and conflicts in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen all expose similar horrors, Mr. Ban said.

“Syria has proven to be the most intractable,” he stated. “It has generated one peril after another: the use of chemical weapons, the rise of ISIL and other extremist groups, the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War and the displacement of 8 million people inside the country.”

He appealed to the Council to strongly support the efforts of his Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, to promote a comprehensive and credible political transition based on the 2012 Geneva Communiqué, which sets out a clear roadmap for a democratic transition and remains the basis for any peaceful settlement.

Mr. Ban went on to note that conflicts, governance failures and systematic violations of human rights are affecting not only the Middle East and North Africa, but the world at large. “Women and girls are facing systematic brutality. Young people are having their futures taken away from them before they have barely had a chance to dream,” he noted.

“We must work together to stop this downward spiral, using all UN tools. The people of the Middle East and North Africa deserve our full support in meeting these tests and steering the region towards a path of freedom, safety and dignity for all.”

On the subject of terrorism, Mr. Ban said “it is not enough to counter terrorism; we must also prevent violent extremism, while taking care not to take steps that only breed the resentment and alienation on which violent extremism feeds.”

To that end, he said, the UN is working with partners to expand capacity-building assistance to Member States, including to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters and to address the related ills of illicit drug-trafficking and cybercrime.

“During the course of this General Assembly, I will present to the Member States a comprehensive plan of action outlining ways we can work together in this endeavour,” he said.

Today’s Security Council meeting was chaired by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of Russia, who holds the rotating Council presidency for the month of September.

(UN Press Release)

September 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Armenia's President Reports Increasing Problems from Azerbaijan

The peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh problem remains one of the most salient issues in the South Caucasus, the President of Armenia told world leaders attending the General Assembly this week, while highlighting that the establishment of the UN has been one of the “greatest achievements of humankind” that consolidated nations around shared aspirations and principles.

“I shall note that aggressive policy pursued by Azerbaijan resulted in the absence of any meaningful progress in negotiations for the conflict settlement, and the situation drifts toward increasing tension,” said President Serzh Sargsyan at the annual debate in New York.

An autonomous region during Soviet times, Nagorno-Karabakh has been at the centre of a dispute between the neighbouring countries since they became independent in the early 1990s.

“Just a few days ago in the bordering area of Armenia, three women fell victim to Azerbaijani bombardment,” the President recalled. “It is obvious for us that the Azerbaijani leadership has irreversibly lost both the sense of reality and of norms of human conduct.”

He further noted that Azerbaijan “completely disdains” five joint statements issued by the leaders of the United States, Russia and France, as well as the efforts of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group.

“Shall it continue such an aggressive policy, it will not leave Armenia any other choice but to take necessary legal and political-military steps to provide the Republic of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh Republic with the opportunity to develop in security and peace,” President Sargsyan warned.

Meanwhile, he recalled that last year, one the eve of the Armenian Genocide Centennial, he expressed gratitude to the nations that recognized the Armenian Genocide and named them all individually.

“Today, from this very podium, I thank Pope Francis, and acknowledge the historical Mass he served; the European Parliament, and recall the Resolution it adopted; the German President, and, believe me, his well-known statement will thenceforth take part in the pages of our nation's history textbooks,” the President continued.

He also thanked the legislative bodies of Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, for their recent recognition of the 1915 genocide.

“Our determination to keep the prevention of the crime of genocide on the international agenda is [exemplified] by the resolutions we periodically table at the Human Rights Council,” Armenia’s leader underlined.

Furthermore, President Sargsyan said the global community is today witnessing “unspeakable cruelty” in the Middle East, and that his country has been directly affected by the atrocities unfolding there, since they result in the destruction of the Armenian spiritual and cultural heritage artefacts, as well as the murder and expulsion of the numerous Armenians residing in Iraq and Syria.

“The Armenian community of Syria, whose history is centuries-long, shares and experiences all hardships that the Syrian people are undergoing in these difficult times,” he declared.

“We are trying to aid the refugees to the best of our abilities: until this day, Armenia received more than 16,000 refugees from Syria. By this sheer figure, Armenia is one of the first among recipient European countries.”

He also highlighted the historical agreement made on the nuclear programme of Iran, which he noted is an “immediate neighbour” of Armenia.

“All these come to prove that when there is political will to bridge disagreements and emphasize the spirit of cooperation, it is indeed possible to find solutions for the most complicated issues,” the President highlighted.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

September 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Australia Praises the Unanimous Adoption of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Speaking to the 70th United Nations General Assembly, Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, commended the unanimous endorsement and adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the UN and its Member States.

“Should we realize all 17 Goals, we will transform our world for the betterment of humankind. We must ensure that the remarkable spirit of cooperation displayed during the negotiation process is maintained as we work to turn these ambitious Goals into reality,” she told the annual General Debate this week.

She also called for the collective participation of all countries in the combat against climate change, saying the phenomenon is a challenge for all nations, and decisive action is required to affectively address it.

“We will only succeed in reducing global emissions if there is engagement by the entire UN membership,” said Ms. Bishop. “Australia has announced a strong, responsible and achievable post-2020 contribution to international climate action. We are committed to ensuring the UN Climate Conference in Paris is the platform needed to secure a collective approach to the 2 degree goal,” she added.

As for her country’s contribution to meeting Goal 5 of the SDGs, she said Australia has established a $50 million fund to accelerate support for gender equality in development programmes it delivers in the Indo-Pacific. “We must step up the fight against the global scourge of violence against women and girls,” she stressed.

Regarding the Europe refugee crisis, Ms. Bishop commended the neighbouring countries to war-torn Syria and Iraq and pledge Australian support in terms of humanitarian assistance.

“The humanitarian consequences of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq are devastating. I commend neighbouring countries – Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey – which continue to bear the brunt of the population of displaced persons.”

She said that Australia has provided $230 million in humanitarian assistance since the start of the conflicts. The massive flows of displaced people across the Middle East and into Europe have stretched response capacities to breaking point. In this environment, people smugglers will strive to prosper from their dangerous and criminal trade, she added.

Julie Bishop is among the many leaders who will address the general debate of 70th General Assembly which opened this year with the adoption of Agenda 2030 and 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Made up of all the 193 Member States of the UN, the Assembly provides a forum for multilateral discussion of international issues covered by the UN Charter.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

September 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Citing Violations of Agreements, Palestinian President Renounces Political and Security Accords with Israel

On the day that the Palestinian flag was raised at United Nations Headquarters for the first time, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today renounced political and security accords with Israel, saying it must now resume its responsibilities as occupying Power, due to its continual violations of the 20-year-old agreements.

“They leave us no choice but to insist that we will not remain the only ones committed to the implementation of these agreements, while Israel continuously violates them,” he announced from the General Assembly podium, referring to the so-called Oslo accords to set up a Palestinian state alongside Israel, with interim terms governing security and economic cooperation.

But at the same time, he held out the prospect of peace if Israel fully respects the accords.

“My hands remain outstretched for the just peace that will guarantee my people's fights, freedom and human dignity. I say to our neighbours, the Israeli people, that peace is in your interest, in our interest, and in the interest of our future generations,” he declared.

“I hope that you will consider the dangerous reality on the ground and look to the future and accept for the Palestinian people what you accept for yourselves. Then, you will find that the achievement of peace will be possible, and you will enjoy security, safety, peace and stability.”

Speaking on the third day of the Assembly’s 70th annual General Debate shortly before the official flag-raising for Palestine as an Observer State, Mr. Abbas cited continual Israeli violations of the accords, which originally set full Palestinian independence for 1999, from non-stop settlement of territory slated for the Palestinian State to deadly attacks by Jewish extremists.

“Is it not time to end the racist, terrorist, colonial settlement of our land, which is destroying the two-State solution,” he said, referring to the establishment of a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security.

“Is it not time to end this injustice? Is it not time to stop this suffering? Is it not time for the racist annexation wall to be dismantled? Is it not time for the humiliating and degrading checkpoints and barriers set up by the Israeli occupying forces in our land to be removed, for the Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip to be lifted, and for our people to move in freedom and dignity in their own homeland and outside?”

Voicing deepest gratitude to the countries that voted by a massive majority in favour of the resolution allowing the Palestinian flag to fly at UN Headquarters, he said the day is not far off when the flag of Palestine will be raised in East Jerusalem.

“The policies and practices of the Israeli Government and the positions of its Prime Minister and cabinet members lead to a clear conclusion: it is working extremely hard to destroy the two-State solution that we are seeking on the basis of the resolutions of international legitimacy,” Mr. Abbas declared.

But he again stressed, in a reference to both Muslim and Jewish festivals coinciding at this: “From this rostrum at the United Nations and in this period of religious holidays, I also extend a sincere call to the people of Israel for peace based on justice, security and stability for all.”

Speaking at the flag-raising ceremony, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called today a day of pride and hope for Palestinians around the world and urged renewed efforts to achieve the two-state solution.

“Now is the time to support initiatives which will preserve the two-State solution and create the conditions for a return to meaningful negotiations on the basis of an agreed framework,” he said. “Now is the time to restore confidence by both Israelis and Palestinians for a peaceful settlement and, at last, the realization of two states for two peoples.

“I sincerely hope that a successful peace process will soon yield a day when we unfurl the Palestinian flag in its proper place – among the family of nations as a sovereign Member State of the United Nations.”

General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft also stressed the need to implement the two-state solution.

“On this day, we are of course keenly aware of the urgent need for real improvements on the ground and a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – one that fulfils the vision of an independent, sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security with Israel,” he said.

(UN Press Release)

September 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Positions Available at the Center of Excellence For International Courts (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

iCourts (Center of Excellence for International Courts), The Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen, Denmark is seeking applications for two or three positions as postdoc within the research area of one of the Faculty’s research centres - iCourts (the Center of Excellence for International Courts). The positions are available from 1st February 2016, and for duration of two (2) years. Start date is negotiable under special circumstances. Click here for more information.

Hat tip to Phillip Martens, University of Copenhagen


September 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 28, 2015

ICC to Try First Person Accused of Destruction of Cultural Heritage

Extremists linked to Al Qaeda inflicted significant damage to Timbuktu, Mali’s cultural heritage in 2012 and 2013, including the destruction 14 out of the 16 mausoleums with World Heritage status, when they overran northern Mali. Now the first suspect accused of the war crime of the intentional destruction of historic monuments and buildings has been transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecution.

The suspect, Ahmad Al-Mahdi Al-Faqi, was transferred from neighboring Niger to the ICC, located in The Hague, under the accusation of the war crime of direct attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, and historic monuments. 

“This is the first such case and it breaks new ground for the protection of humanity’s shared cultural heritage and values," Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said in a statement today.

"The cultural heritage of Mali belongs to all humanity. It is vital that the criminals be brought to justice. This is justice for Mali, the identities and history of its people – this is justice for all women and men everywhere," she added.

UNESCO led a global movement decrying the destruction in the age-old city on the southern edge of the desert and helped with the Government and local community to rebuild and restore the mausoleums. "UNESCO kept its promise to rebuild the mausoleums of Timbuktu," Ms. Bokova said after a visit to Mali in July. 


September 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

AALS Section of International Law to Host Field Trip to the United Nations on January 7, 2016

The Association of American Law Schools Section on International Law has organized an impressive lineup of presenters for its one-day field trip to the United Nations on Thursday, January 7, 2016 as part of the AALS Annual Meeting. The event is open to all law professors attending the AALS Annual Meeting and you need not be a member of the AALS Section on International Law (although if you're a U.S. law professor reading this blog, why wouldn't you be a member of that section?).

The day-long program includes a briefing, a luncheon, a tour of the United Nations, and time to visit the U.N. bookstore and gift shop.

Speakers for the program have just been announced. It is an impressive lineup organized by Dean Claudio Grossman of the Washington College of Law at American University. The speakers are:

  • His Excellency Cristian Barros, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Chile to the United Nations, speaking on challenges facing the U.N. Security Council.
  • Andrew Gilmour (to be confirmed), Director of the Political, Peacekeeping, Humanitarian, and Human Rights Unit of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG). Topic: “Peace, Security, and the Secretary General’s Human Rights Up Front Initiative to Prevent and Respond to Serious Human Rights Violations.”
  • Claudio Grossman (confirmed), Chair, United Nations Committee Against Torture and Dean of the American University Washington College of Law. Topic: “The Human Rights Treaty Bodies of the United Nations – Challenges for the Future”
  • Katarina Mansson (confirmed), Human Rights Treaties Division, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Topic: “Partnering for Peace and Rights: The Evolving Relationship Between the United Nations and Regional Organizations.”
  • Craig Mokhiber (confirmed), Research and Right to Development Division, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Topic: “Development and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.”
  • Salil Shetty (to be confirmed), Secretary-General, Amnesty International. Topic: “Amnesty International’s Efforts”
  • Moderator: Prof. Mark E. Wojcik (The John Marshall Law School--Chicago)

When you register for the AALS annual meeting, you can select the field trip as a separate option. The cost for the day-long event is $90.00, which includes the luncheon and tour. The number of tickets is limited.


September 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Iran Accuses Saudi Arabia of Violating International Law in Hajj Stampede

Sadly, more than 700 persons were killed while making a religious pilgrimage called Hajj to Mecca in Saudi Arabia this past week. Many of those among the dead are Iranian.  Iran has accused Saudi Arabia of mismanaging the crowds resulting in the stampede.  Iran has even alleged that Saudi Arabia has committed a crime under international law and that Saudi officials should be held liable before an international tribunal.

Could Saudi Arabia be found liable for a crime by an international tribunal? It's unlikely.  First, most criminal behavior requires a showing of intent.  It will likely be quite difficult to prove that Saudi officials purposefully mismanaged the pilgrimage in such a way to cause deaths.  In addition, Saudi Arabia is reported to have taken many preparations in advance of the pilgrimage.  Second, there does not appear to be international tribunal that would have jurisdiction over the matter. Neither Iran nor Saudi Arabia are parties  to the International Criminal Court.  The International Court of Justice is not a criminal court and neither Iran nor Saudi Arabia has accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ in any event. Iran's best bet might be to ask the United Nations to form a special panel of experts to investigate.


September 27, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 21, 2015

International Day of Peace

September 21 is the International Day of Peace, a day the United Nations General Assembly has declared should be devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among nations and peoples.  The UN General Assembly established the International Day of Peace in 1981 by way of Resolution 36/67.  The theme for this year's International Day of Peace is "Partnerships for Peace - Dignity for All."  This theme was chosen to emphasize the need for all segments of society to work together to achieve peace.  Who will you make peace with today?



September 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Join the AALS Field Trip to the United Nations

The Association of American Law Schools Section on International Law has organized an impressive lineup of presenters for its one-day field trip to the United Nations on Thursday, January 7, 2016 as part of the AALS Annual Meeting. The event is open to all law professors attending the AALS Annual Meeting and you need not be a member of the AALS Section on International Law (although if you're a U.S. law professor reading this blog, why wouldn't you be a member of that section?).

The day-long program includes a briefing, a luncheon, a tour of the United Nations, and time to visit the U.N. bookstore and gift shop.

Speakers for the program have just been announced. It is an impressive lineup organized by Dean Claudio Grossman of the Washington College of Law at American University. The speakers are:

  • His Excellency Cristian Barros, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Chile to the United Nations, speaking on challenges facing the U.N. Security Council.
  • Andrew Gilmour (to be confirmed), Director of the Political, Peacekeeping, Humanitarian, and Human Rights Unit of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG). Topic: “Peace, Security, and the Secretary General’s Human Rights Up Front Initiative to Prevent and Respond to Serious Human Rights Violations.”
  • Claudio Grossman (confirmed), Chair, United Nations Committee Against Torture and Dean of the American University Washington College of Law. Topic: “The Human Rights Treaty Bodies of the United Nations – Challenges for the Future”
  • Katarina Mansson (confirmed), Human Rights Treaties Division, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Topic: “Partnering for Peace and Rights: The Evolving Relationship Between the United Nations and Regional Organizations.”
  • Craig Mokhiber (confirmed), Research and Right to Development Division, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Topic: “Development and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.”
  • Salil Shetty (to be confirmed), Secretary-General, Amnesty International. Topic: “Amnesty International’s Efforts”
  • Moderator: Prof. Mark E. Wojcik (The John Marshall Law School--Chicago)

When you register for the AALS annual meeting, you can select the field trip as a separate option. The cost for the day-long event is $90.00, which includes the luncheon and tour. The number of tickets is limited.


September 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

EU proposes new investment court with US

The European Union (EU) has proposed the creation of a new court to settle investment disputes between the EU and the United States which could be part of their proposed trade and investment agreement known as Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP.

Private firms would be able to bring claims against governments if they believe a government has violated the trade and investment rules. The type of claims that could be heard include losses related to government expropriation or contractual disputes, as well as losses resulting from war or civil conflict.  

The new Investment Dispute Court would be created jointly with the United States and would have 15 permanent judges, five each from the EU, US and a third country. The court would not have a permanent location, but would hear cases in different cities.

Early reactions suggest more support for the idea in Europe than in the U.S.


September 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

UN to Host High Level Meeting on Refugee Crisis

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is to be commended for announcing that he is convening a high-level meeting of world leaders on 30 September to mobilize “a humane, effective and rights-based response” to the refugee crisis. Mr. Ban stated: “I urge all States to shoulder their responsibilities and live up to their legal obligations.” The meeting will take place in conjunction with the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.  Now we need bold new thinking and action to address refugee issues.


September 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Does Sri Lanka Need a Special Courto to Prosecute Its War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity?

A new report released today by the United Nations human rights office has identified patterns of grave violations in Sri Lanka between 2002 and 2011, and recommends the establishment of a hybrid special court to ensure that justice is served.

“Our investigation has laid bare the horrific level of violations and abuses that occurred in Sri Lanka, including indiscriminate shelling, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, harrowing accounts of torture and sexual violence, recruitment of children and other grave crimes,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a news release.

“This report is being presented in a new political context in Sri Lanka, which offers grounds for hope,” he continued. “It is crucial that this historic opportunity for truly fundamental change is not allowed to slip.”

The report indicates that war crimes and crimes against humanity were most likely committed by both sides to the country’s conflict – the Government of Sri Lanka and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Among the most serious crimes documented in the report are numerous unlawful killings, sexual and gender-based violence, enforced disappearances, torture, child recruitment, attacks on civilians, denial of humanitarian assistance, and violation of the rights of internally displaced persons in closed camps.

The report also documents “years of denials and cover-ups, failure to carry out prompt investigations, stalled investigations and reprisals against the family members of victims and others who have pushed for justice,” states the news release issued by the UN human rights office (OHCHR).

Sri Lanka’s criminal justice system, says the report, is not adequately equipped to deal with the violations, as it lacks a reliable system for victim and witness protection and has been corrupted by decades of emergency, conflict and impunity.

As such, the report recommends the creation of a hybrid special court that integrates judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators, to ensure that justice is served, as well as a range of measures to develop a comprehensive transitional justice policy to address the human rights violations of the past 30 years and prevent their recurrence.

“Sri Lanka must now move forward to dismantle the repressive structures and institutional cultures that remain deeply entrenched after decades of erosion of human rights,” said the High Commissioner, who welcomed the positive steps taken by the new Government of President Mathiripala Sirisena since January.

“The levels of mistrust in State authorities and institutions by broad segments of Sri Lankan society should not be underestimated,” he said, adding that it is for this reason that the establishment of a hybrid special court is so essential.

“A purely domestic court procedure will have no chance of overcoming widespread and justifiable suspicions fuelled by decades of violations, malpractice and broken promises.”

(UN Press Release)

September 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Montreal at Work and Play (Host City for the ABA Section of International Law Fall Meeting)

If you're going to Montreal for the Fall Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law, this short video will inform you about some economic advantages that Montreal offers. It's supposed to be a video about work and play in Montreal, but I think it comes up way short on the "play" side (at least in this video, from what friends who visit Montreal tell me!). Click here to see this short video about Montreal.


September 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)