Monday, March 10, 2014
International and well-coordinated support is vital to helping Libya through its democratic transition, a United Nations envoy told the Security Council today, as he described the recent polarization in the country, a dramatic increase in violence, including attacks on the media, as well as difficulties in strengthening the security sector. “Libya faces the risk of embarking on a new trajectory of unprecedented violence,” Tarek Mitri, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said in his briefing to the 15-member body.
Mr. Mitri has been heading the UN’s efforts to assist the Libyan Government and people as they undergo a democratic transition following the toppling of former leader Muammar al-Qadhafi three years ago. Recent months have witnessed worsening security and political divisions which threaten to undermine the country’s transition. He recalled that, on 2 March, the General National Congress building was stormed by protestors demanding its dissolution. About 150 young men ransacked the main chamber and assaulted members, four of whom were injured.
“Intense efforts to resolve differences and negotiate an agreement on the management of the transitional period, including the future of the General National Congress and the Government, have not succeeded in bringing an end to the divisions that have paralysed the political process,” noted Mitri. “Considerable differences remain over holding both parliamentary and presidential elections, and the extent of powers to be granted to a future president.”
The previous three months have witnessed a “dramatic” increase in violence across the country, he stated. This includes violence in Sabha in the south that resulted in over 100 fatalities, including children and the elderly, as well as the displacement of hundreds of families and shortages of fuel, food and medical supplies.
In the east, the unabated campaign of targeted assassinations, bombings and abductions in Benghazi has reached “intolerable” levels. Many victims have been security and judicial personnel. But civilians have also suffered unchecked terror and intimidation.
“In a city which prides itself on its role in putting an end to decades of tyrannical rule, the present public’s sense of anger is mounting,” said the envoy. “While the primary responsibility for reining in the perpetrators of this ugly campaign of terror lies with the State, this will only be possible with the concerted efforts by the Government, political, civic and revolutionary forces, aiming at the protection of the civilian population.”
In addition, Mr. Mitri reported that there has been an “alarming” increase in attacks on journalists and media institutions. Several television stations in Tripoli and Benghazi were the target of armed acts of vandalism. A number of journalists and media figures were abducted. He added that strengthening the State’s ability to assume its security responsibilities continues to be hindered by the absence of a political agreement over the rebuilding of a national army, the integration of revolutionary fighters and the collection of weapons.
“A solution to this problem will require a clear strategy and giving a number of assurances to the revolutionaries who are only nominally under state authority. These include recognition of their contributions to the revolution and safeguards for their legitimate rights and interests.”
The people of Libya, said Mr. Mitri, expect that the international community will assist them in the difficult task of building a State, with strong and accountable institutions. “Support to Libya, however, can be meaningful and effective if there is unequivocal commitment on the part of Libya’s leaders to this goal and a political will to resolve, through dialogue and concerted efforts, the major problems of the country.”
The Council also heard today from the current chair of the committee set up to monitor UN sanctions imposed on Libya, which include an arms embargo, a travel ban and an assets freeze.
Highlighting some observations made by the panel of experts assisting the committee, Ambassador Eugène-Richard Gasana of Rwanda noted that the proliferation of weapons to and from Libya remained a major challenge for the stability of Libya and the region. In that context, the panel noted that the control of non-State armed actors over the majority of stockpiles in Libya, as well as ineffective border control systems remained primary obstacles to countering proliferation and that Libya had become a primary source of illicit weapons. Also, trafficking from Libya was fuelling conflict and insecurity, including terrorism, on several continents, which was unlikely to change in the near future.
In discussing the report of the panel, the committee focused on serious concerns about persistent arms proliferation from Libya; the need to further clarify arms procurement structures and procedures in Libya; cooperation with UNSMIL concerning the storage and security of stockpiles; and how to carry forward the recommendations of the panel.
(UN press release)
Underscoring the Central African Republic’s (CAR) history of coups, violence and impunity, the head of a United Nations inquiry warned today that the spread of hate speech and the collapse of law and order in the strife-riven country are likely precursors to grave human rights violations, including genocide. “We want to present to the [UN] Security Council a complete file so the appropriate action can be taken,” said Bernard Acho Muna, who chairs the International Commission of Inquiry tasked with probing reports of human rights violations in the CAR, compiling information, and helping identify the perpetrators of such abuses.
The three-person inquiry, established by the Security Council, is expected in the country on Tuesday and will begin gathering evidence amid what UN Emergency Coordinator Valerie Amos recently described as an “extremely grave” situation, after months of inter-religious violence has wrecked State institutions, left millions on the brink of starvation and now threatens to suck in the wider region.
Thousands of people are believed to have been killed in the CAR and 2.2 million, about half the population, are in need of humanitarian aid as a result of the conflict, which erupted when Séléka rebels launched attacks in December 2012. The fighting has taken on increasingly sectarian overtones as mainly Christian militias known as anti-Balaka (anti-machete) have taken up arms. The UN estimates that some 650,000 have been internally displaced, while nearly 300,000 other have fled to neighbouring countries.
At a news briefing in Geneva, Mr. Muna said the spread of propaganda and the collapse of law and order in the CAR could be a precursor to serious human rights violations, including genocide. “We would like to talk to the refugees, groups of Muslims or groups of Christians who are running away from violence. They have a story to tell [and] those stories might lead us to be able to give a better picture to the Security Council,” he said.
He said the investigators have also heard reports of genocide. “I can tell you from my Rwandan experience that there is definitely a question of hate propaganda. I think it is implied in our mandate to see that we don't wait until genocide has been committed and then we call for prosecution,” said Mr. Muna, who is a former prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). “I think it is in our mandate to see how we can stop any advances towards genocide,” he said, but added: “I hope this is only noise and when you put troops on the ground then law and order, it might disappear.”
The Commission, which also includes Fatimata M’Baye of Mauritania and Jorge Castañeda of Mexico, is expected to submit its initial report to the Security Council within six months.
(UN press release)
Sunday, March 9, 2014
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed serious concern last week over the conviction of Malaysian opposition leader, Karpal Singh, who was found guilty of sedition late last month and is due to be sentenced on 11 March. Under Malaysia’s 1948 Sedition Act, Mr. Singh was charged “after suggesting at a press conference in 2009 that it was possible to bring a legal challenge against a decision by the Sultan of the Malaysian state of Perak to dismiss the then Chief Minister,” explained OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville in Geneva.
“The prosecution in the case argued that Mr. Singh’s words had the tendency to create hatred towards the Sultan,” he said. “Lawyers must be able to discharge their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance or improper interference of any sort and should be entitled to express views in their professional capacities on matters concerning the law,” Mr. Colville continued.
In addition to being a prominent lawyer and a Member of Parliament, Mr. Singh is also the chairperson of Malaysia’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Action Party.
He faces a fine of up to 5,000 Malaysian Ringgit (approximately $1,500) and/or three years’ imprisonment. If he is fined more than 2,000 Malaysian Ringgit or sentenced to more than a year behind bars, he could lose his parliamentary membership.
“The 1948 Sedition Act is not in conformity with international human rights law. Using this law to limit freedom of expression and opinion could stifle enjoyment of these rights in Malaysia,” said Rupert Colville. “We urge the Government of Malaysia to review Mr. Singh’s conviction and to repeal the Sedition Act – something which the Prime Minister had, in 2012, publicly undertaken to do.”
(Adapted from a UN press release)
The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution setting out practical steps to combat violations against children in armed conflict, as United Nations officials underscored the need to do more to ensure that children are protected and perpetrators are brought to justice.
“All children deserve and are entitled to protection, not exploitation. They belong in school, not armies and fighting groups. Children should be armed with pens and textbooks, not guns and grenades,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his remarks at the Council’s open debate on children and armed conflict. Mr. Ban called on the Council to use all the tools at its disposal to protect children on the front lines of conflict and prevent a new generation from having to endure the same privations. “Let our children be children – safe and secure, living lives of dignity and opportunity.”
In the new resolution, the Security Council strongly condemned all violations of international law involving the recruitment and use of children by parties to armed conflict, as well as their re-recruitment, killing and maiming, rape and other sexual violence, abductions, attacks against schools or hospitals and denial of humanitarian access by parties to armed conflict.
The 15-member body “demands that all relevant parties immediately put an end to such practices and take special measures to protect children.” It also welcomes the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign initiated by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and launched yesterday, to end the recruitment and use of children by Government armed forces in conflict by 2016.
Fifteen years have passed since the Council adopted its first resolution specifically dedicated to children and armed conflict. A new element in today’s resolution is references to the use of schools by armed forces.
The Council expressed deep concern at the military use of schools in contravention of applicable international law, “recognizing that such use may render schools legitimate targets of attack, thus endangering children’s and teachers’ safety as well as children’s education. It urged all parties to armed conflict to respect the civilian character of schools, and Member States to ensure that attacks on schools are investigated and those responsible duly prosecuted.
“Military use puts schools and school children in danger. Schools become potential battle fields. Seeking ways to better prevent attacks on schools calls for efforts to incrementally prevent their military use by parties to conflict,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, told the Council.
Ms. Zerrougui noted attacks on schools and hospitals, as well as the killing and maiming of children, continue unabated in Syria, one of several countries – including also South Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR) – where conflict has taken a heavy toll on children.
In South Sudan – where more than half of the population are children – a whole generation, which should be entrusted with building a new nation, is about to deprived of a fair chance to do so, she said, while the impact on children of the ongoing violence in CAR has been “devastating.”
“We must not rely on hope when children suffering in armed conflict are calling upon us to be heard. Only action and concrete measures will ultimately make a difference,” she stated.
“Hundreds of thousands of children have their eyes upon you as you continue to lead the way in protecting children from armed conflict,” Ms. Zerrougui told the Council.
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said that while the world has made real progress in recent years, more must be done. “Just as the global community has a responsibility to end grave violations against children, each nation, too, holds a responsibility to keep children from entering the ranks of its armed forces in the first place. As does every armed group.”
Verifying the ages of soldiers is an important first step, said Mr. Lake, as is birth registration, a greater awareness at the community level of the need to end child recruitment, and addressing the specific needs of child soldiers emerging from conflict as they seek to reintegrate into society. “With support, investment and encouragement, we can help these young men and women rebuild their lives, transform themselves and their societies, and help their countries emerge from the shadow of conflict.”
The debate is being held at the ministerial level and chaired by Jean Asselborn, the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg, which holds the Council’s presidency for this month and is also the current chair of the Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. Among those addressing the meeting was Alhaji Babah Sawaneh, who was abducted and forced to fight as a child soldier with the rebel forces in Sierra Leone, and was in 2001 the first former child soldier to address the Security Council.
(Adapted from a UN press release)
Deeply concerned by an outbreak of inter-communal violence in North Darfur, the African Union-United Nations Mission in the region called today for an end to the fighting, which has sent thousands fleeing for safety and left a number of people dead over the past few days. According to a news release from the Mission, known as UNAMID, thousands of displaced civilians from the town of Saraf Omra, located some 90 kilometres east of El Geneina, are currently seeking refuge near UNAMID's base in the vicinity.
"The Mission is providing protection and water to those affected, as well as medical treatment for more than 30 wounded individuals," the release said, adding that UNAMID is working with the humanitarian community in taking the necessary steps to provide further much needed assistance.
UNAMID says that its patrols found the town looted and a local market destroyed. "Reconciliation efforts among the tribes have been taking place, however the situation remains tense and those displaced are in need of critical food and proper sanitary conditions," the Joint UN-AU operation said, calling on all parties involved to cease hostilities and to find a peaceful solution to their differences.
Just yesterday , the AU-UN Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, wrapped up talks between the top AU official and leaders of two of the region's main rebel movements, encouraging the parties to overcome their misgivings and press ahead towards a comprehensive political accord, for the benefit of not only strife-ridden Darfur, but also for wider Sudan.
According to an earlier news release, Mr. Chambas facilitated a meeting yesterday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, between the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, and leaders of the Sudan Liberation Army - Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) and the Justice and Equality Movement - Gibril Ibrahim (JEM-GI).
The incident in Saraf Omra comes in the wake of other recent episodes of violence in Darfur, most notably in Taweisha and El Lait areas in North Darfur, and in South Darfur where thousands were displaced following the looting and destruction of villages in the areas of Um Gunya and Hajeer.
UNAMID today reiterated its call upon the authorities to allow the Mission unhindered and immediate access to these areas, so that it can carry out its core activity for the protection of civilians as mandated by the AU and the UN and as consented to by the Sudanese Government.
(UN Press Release)
Saturday, March 8, 2014
The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, sponsored and organized by the International Law Students Association (ILSA), is the world's largest and most competitive moot court competition. More than 550 teams from law schools in more than 80 countries compete in this competition to promote apprecitation for international law.
In the United States, there are six super-regional rounds. The last of those six rounds was held this weekend in New Orleans at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Twenty-two teams competed in the super-regional round. The finalists of the U.S. Southern Regional round are Washington University of St. Louis and The John Marshall Law School of Chicago. Both teams advance to the White and Case International Rounds of the Jessup Competition in Washington D.C. in April 2014.
Pictured here are students from one of the semifinal rounds, the University of Houston and The John Marshall Law School.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday emphasized the need for peace and stability in Ukraine’s Crimea region, where the announcement of a referendum on joining Russia constitutes a “worrying and serious” development. Lawmakers in the autonomous Ukrainian region of Crimea voted yesterday to join Russia and to hold a referendum on 16 March to validate the decision. The move comes amid rising tensions in the region, where additional Russian troops and armoured vehicles have recently been deployed, and against the backdrop of the protests and violence that have plagued Ukraine since last November.
“The recent announcement by the authorities in Crimea that they intend to hold a referendum is a worrying and serious development,” UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York. “In this regard, the Secretary-General urges the authorities in Ukraine, including in Crimea, to treat this matter with calm.” Mr. Nesirky said it should be noted that referendums usually have clear rules on national constitutional law that should be looked into “carefully and dispassionately.” “All concerned should think about the implications of any hasty actions or decisions taken in the heat of the moment. The Secretary-General cannot emphasize enough the need for peace and stability in the region,” he added.
Mr. Nesirky also said that the Secretary-General’s Senior Advisor, Robert Serry, is continuing his consultations with Ukrainian and diplomatic interlocutors in Kiev today, before leaving the country tomorrow. He will then return to Jerusalem next week, where he is based as the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. “At this stage, it is not yet known when he will return to Ukraine,” the spokesperson stated. “But he will continue to assist the Secretary-General, as required, in his good offices to promote urgently needed de-escalation and a peaceful political resolution of the country’s current crisis.”
Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonovic has arrived in Ukraine to conduct a preliminary assessment of the human rights situation following recent developments. He will “seek to identify existing and potential human rights challenges and to advocate for the protection of human rights, including those of minorities, as well as for accountability for recent human rights violations,” Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told a news conference in Geneva.
During his eight-day visit, Mr. Šimonovic plans to meet authorities in the capital, Kiev, as well as in Lviv, Kharkiv and Simferopol, as well as the Ombudsman, and civil society organisations at central and regional levels. He will also liaise with regional organizations active in Ukraine, especially the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and the Council of Europe. Mr. Šimonovic will be joined by a team of five other OHCHR staff from Geneva over the weekend in addition to the two staff already on the ground. He is expected to present a report with recommendations for follow-up actions to the High Commissioner upon his return.
(adapted from a UN press release)
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has convicted former Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga of war crimes in relation to a deadly 2003 attack on a village in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Hundreds of people were killed and many women were forced into sexual slavery as a result of the February 2003 attack on the village of Bogoro in Ituri district.
The Trial Chamber of the ICC found Mr. Katanga, a senior commander from the group known as the Force de Résistance Patriotique en Ituri (FRPI), guilty on four counts of war crimes and one count of crimes against humanity in relation to the attack, namely murder, attacking a civilian population, destruction of property and pillaging. “In light of the witness testimonies and the evidence presented before the Chamber, it had been established beyond reasonable doubt that Germain Katanga had made a significant contribution to the commission of the crimes by the Ngiti militia, which was acting with a common purpose, by assisting its members to plan the operation against Bogoro,” the Court stated in a news release.
At the same time, the Trial Chamber acquitted Mr. Katanga of the other charges that he was facing. In this regard, the Chamber found that there was evidence beyond reasonable doubt that the crimes of rape and sexual slavery were committed, and that there were children within the Ngiti militia and among the combatants who were in Bogoro on the day of the attack. "[T]he Chamber concluded that the evidence presented in support of the accused’s guilt did not satisfy it beyond reasonable doubt of the accused’s responsibility for these crimes.”
Decisions on sentencing and victim reparations will be rendered later. The Prosecutor and the Defence may appeal the judgment within 30 days.
(Adapted from a UN press release) (mew)
Friday, March 7, 2014
The U.S. Southern Regional Jessup Competition is being hosted at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. If you're able to attend, the semifinal rounds start at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday and the final rounds at 1:00 p.m.
Further to our post earlier this week on a court decision calling into question a US$9.5 billion judgment from Ecuador, we're happy to share this link to analysis on the FCPA Blog by Professor Mike Koehler.
In honor of International Women's Day, March 8, here is a Washington Post article and map of where in the world women work. As the author points out, when women work, they have more economic independence, which is often linked to greater human rights.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
The Onion is not a real newspaper. It's stories are not real. But every now and then their stories get confused with real stories. This is NOT one of those moments.
Here is the Onion's story about the actress Jennifer Lawrence and the 1986 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties Between States and International Organizations. Enjoy. Scroll through the nine pictures to read the captions.
Hat tip to Rusty.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
The Daily Star of Lebanon is reporting today (on page 4) that in January, Judge Naji al-Dahdah dismissed a case against a transsexual woman who had been charged with having a same-sex relationship with a man, a criminal act under article 534 of Lebanon's Penal Code. The article cites the quarterly magazine The Legal Agenda as its source for the report.
The Daily Star reports:
Dahdah ruled that Article 534, which criminalizes “unnatural sexual intercourse,” did not provide a clear interpretation of what was considered unnatural.
The verdict relied in large part on a December 2009 ruling by Judge Mounir Suleiman that consensual homosexual relations were not against nature and could therefore not be prosecuted under Article 534.
Suleiman said: “Man is part of nature and is one of its elements, so it cannot be said that any one of his practices or any one of his behaviors goes against nature, even if it is criminal behavior, because it is nature’s ruling.”
The February case is thought to be the first ever involving a transsexual, and although Dahdah initially referred to the defendant as male, he later switched to using “he/she.” This demonstrates “the matter’s complexity and depth,” wrote the author of the Agenda article, trainee lawyer Youmna Makhlouf.
In his final ruling, Dahdah said that a person’s gender should not simply be based on their personal status registry document, but also on their outward physical appearance and self-perception.
Federal Court Rules that $9.5 Billion (!) Damage Award from Ecuador is Tainted by Misdeeds of Lawyer
The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that a federal judge has ruled that a $9.5 billion environmental damage award from Ecuador against Chevron is tainted by the misdeeds of the lawyer suing Chevron.
U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan found that attorney Steven Donziger and his litigation team had fabricated evidence, promised $500,000 to an Ecuadorian judge, ghost-wrote much of t he final verdict, and took other actions that tainted the award. Jennifer Smith & Daniel Gilbert, Judge Rips Lawyer, Hands Win to Chevron, Wall St. J., Mar. 5, 2014, at 1.
In February 2011, a provincial rainforest tribunal (Lago Agrio) in Ecuador imposed a verdict of $19 billion against Chevron. The Supreme Court of Ecuador cut the award in half. The case in New York arose as part of efforts to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment against the California-based company.
In the opinon issued yesterday, Chevron Corp. v. Donziger, 2014 WL 81553 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 4, 2014), the court wrote about this "extraordinary" case involving "things that normally come only out of Hollywood" that the lawyer corrupted the Lago Agrio case against Chevron:
Upon consideration of all of the evidence, including the credibility of the witnesses—though several of the most important declined to testify—the Court finds that Donziger began his involvement in this controversy with a desire to improve conditions in the area in which his Ecuadorian clients live. To be sure, he sought also to do well for himself while doing good for others, but there was nothing wrong with that. In the end, however, he and the Ecuadorian lawyers he led corrupted the Lago Agrio case. They submitted fraudulent evidence. They coerced one judge, first to use a court-appointed, supposedly impartial, “global expert” to make an overall damages assessment and, then, to appoint to that important role a man whom Donziger hand-picked and paid to “totally play ball” with the LAPs. They then paid a Colorado consulting firm secretly to write all or most of the global expert's report, falsely presented the report as the work of the court-appointed and supposedly impartial expert, and told half-truths or worse to U.S. courts in attempts to prevent exposure of that and other wrongdoing. Ultimately, the LAP team wrote the Lago Agrio court's Judgment themselves and promised $500,000 to the Ecuadorian judge to rule in their favor and sign their judgment. If ever there were a case warranting equitable relief with respect to a judgment procured by fraud, this is it.
Id. at *1.
The court also wrote that there was no "Robin Hood" defense to the attorneys' wrongful conduct:
Justice is not served by inflicting injustice. The ends do not justify the means. There is no “Robin Hood” defense to illegal and wrongful conduct. And the defendants' “this-is-the-wayit-is-done-in-Ecuador” excuses—actually a remarkable insult to the people of Ecuador—do not help them. The wrongful actions of Donziger and his Ecuadorian legal team would be offensive to the laws of any nation that aspires to the rule of law, including Ecuador—and they knew it. Indeed, one Ecuadorian legal team member, in a moment of panicky candor, admitted that if documents exposing just part of what they had done were to come to light, “apart from destroying the proceeding, all of us, your attorneys, might go to jail.” It is time to face the facts.
There's a lot more to be said about this court decision, which is 485 pages long. We welcome your comments on this story.
CNN news and other media outlets are reporting that legislators in Russia are now drafting legislation to authorize the siezure of U.S. and European assets if economic sanctions are imposed against Russia for sending troops into Ukraine.
Monday, March 3, 2014
ICJ Orders Provisional Measures in Questions Relating to the Seizure of Certain Documents and Data (Timor-Leste v. Australia)
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an Order today granting certain Provisional Measures requested by Timor-Leste in connection with certain documents and seized by Australia that contain communications between Timor-Leste and its attorney concerning a pending arbitration under the Timor Sea Treaty. In its Order, the ICJ stated that Australia must ensure the documents and data are not used to the disadvantage of Timor-Leste; that the documents and data be kept under seal; and that Australia not interfere in any way in communications between Timor-Leste and its legal counsel or in any future bilateral negotiations relating to maritime delineation.
For more informaton, visit the ICJ website here.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Each year, the U.S. State Department releases human rights reports on most of the countries around the world. These reports assess the progress made by countries with respect to meeting their human rights commitments, as well as their failures (as determined by the U.S. State Dept.). This year's reports highlight "egregious human rights violations" in Syria, a lack of judicial independence in China, targeting of the LGBT community in Russia, and repression of freedom of assembly in Egypt, among other human rights concerns. The reports may be found on the State Deparment website here.
Friday, February 28, 2014
The United Nations Security Council held Friday what its President described as an "urgent" meeting on the situation in Ukraine, with the body's members noting that it is important for all political actors in the strife-torn country to exercise maximum restraint and pursue inclusive dialogue. "The Security Council…reviewed with concern the recent developments in Ukraine," said Raimonda Murmokaité, Permanent Representative of Lithuania, which holds the rotating presidency of the 15-nation body for February.
The Council held closed-door consultations at the request of the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the UN, which appealed in a letter on Friday to the Council President for an urgent meeting "due to the deterioration of the situation in the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea, Ukraine, which threatens the territorial integrity of Ukraine."
On Saturday, 22 February, Members of the Parliament of Ukraine -- which had been witnessing mass protests since last November -- voted to remove President Viktor Yanukovych, and an arrest warrant has reportedly been issued for his arrest. The move came after more than 100 people were killed last week in the latest wave of deadly clashes in the capital, Kiev.
Speaking to the press after the consultations, Ambassador Murmokaité said the Council had been briefed by UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco.
"Support was expressed for the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. The Council agreed that it was important that all political actors in Ukraine exercise maximum restraint and called for an inclusive dialogue recognizing the diversity of the Ukrainian society," said the Council President.
Amid the rapidly unfolding events in Ukraine, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for an inclusive political process to enable the country to emerge from the crisis, one which reflects the aspirations of its people and preserves its unity and territorial integrity.
"He reiterates his call for non-violence and urges all Ukrainians to express their differences peacefully and through dialogue, and to seek a durable solution through compromise," Mr. Ban's spokesperson said in a statement issued in New York earlier this week.
In addition, this past Tuesday, the Secretary-General dispatched Robert Serry to Kiev as his Senior Advisor to assure all citizens of Ukraine of the UN's support and also convey that he expects all key international actors to work collaboratively to help the country during the crisis.
Mr. Serry has held meetings with, among others, the new Speaker of Parliament, the Vice Prime Minister, the acting Minister of Finance, and the acting Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to discuss the situation and concerted efforts to bring about a stable and prosperous future.
(adapted from a UN press release)
The United Nations human rights chief today condemned the recent violence in Venezuela, and urged the Government to ensure respect for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. “The inflammatory rhetoric from all sides is utterly unhelpful and risks escalating the tense situation in the country,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stressed. “It is time for all sides to move beyond verbal aggression and towards meaningful dialogue. This crisis will only be resolved if the human rights of all Venezuelans are respected.”
In a news release issued by her office (OHCHR), Ms. Pillay also voiced deep concern at the reported excessive use of force by the authorities in response to protests, including yesterday in the capital, Caracas. She unequivocally condemned the violence leading to death and injuries, irrespective of the perpetrators, and called on all sides to renounce violence.
At least 140 people have been injured and 13 people have died since the beginning of the unrest, according to the General Public Prosecutor. Noting that 11 police and intelligence officers have been arrested in connection with violence during the protests, Ms. Pillay urged an impartial, full and independent investigation into every case of death and injury, and for those responsible to be brought to justice. OHCHR said that, according to the latest known official figures, 579 people have been arrested since the unrest in the country began earlier this month.
“I am concerned that a very large number of people have been arrested and we have reports indicating that some of them are being held incommunicado. I urge the authorities to ensure that people are not penalised for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression,” said the High Commissioner. “Those who are being detained merely for exercising these rights must be promptly released. All cases must be handled according to international standards of due process.” She added that concrete action by the authorities, including through full and independent investigations, releasing peaceful protestors who have been detained, as well as disarming armed groups, will go a long way towards defusing tensions and paving the way for resolving the crisis.
Earlier this week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced his sadness at continuing reports of violence and loss of life amid protests in the South American nation, and urged that all efforts be made to lower the tensions and prevent further violence.“He hopes for concrete gestures by all parties to reduce polarization and create the necessary conditions to engage in a meaningful dialogue so that calm can be fully restored in the country as soon as possible,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.
(UN press release)
First, the DSB established a panel at the request of Denmark, on behalf of the Faroe Islands, to consider economic measures regarding Atlanto-Scandian herring and Northeast Atlantic mackerel imposed by the European Union (EU) against the Faroe Islands. The Faroe Islands is a self-governing territory forming an integral part of Denmark and covered territorially by Danish WTO membership. In Denmark's view, the EU measures are inconsistent with basic provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994 and have no justification under WTO law. WTO members reserving third-party rights include Turkey, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, China, United States, Japan, Australia, Chinese Taipei, New Zealand, Iceland, Russia and India. For more information, see WTO case no. DS469.
The second panel established by the WTO DSB this week is a compliance panel under Article 21. 5 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU). In this case, the WTO DSB established the panel at the request of the United States to examine China's compliance with a 2103 arbitrator's decision establishing a reasonable time for compliance with the WTO Appellate Body Report in the case of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties on Grain-Oriented and Flat-Rolled Electrical Steel from the United States. Members reserving third-party rights were Japan, the European Union, Russia and India. For more information on this dispute, see WTO case no. DS414.
Costa Rica also notified the WTO Safeguard Committee this week that it has initiated a safeguard investigation on pounded rice to determine whether an increase in imports of the pounded rice are causing or threatening to case serious injury to a domestic industry.