Archive for the ‘UN’ Category
What the &^%$ did UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon think he would be doing, by going to Burma only to come back absolutely empty-handed?
The risks were fully known, but Ban Ki-Moon vowed the “right things” and then dedicated a speech in Yangon with the “right words” inside but…is it really the business of the UN Secretary-General to fly around the world begging to visit local dissidents, and then to lament his “disappointment” when not allowed to?
There’s plenty of low-ranking UN diplomats that perfectly able to do just that.
The bloody Burmese junta has made the usual electoral promise (this time for 2010…yeah, right!).
It could all have been so simple:
- Ban Ki-Moon lands in Yangon
- Ban Ki-Moon asks to see Aung San Suu-Kyi
- Ban Ki-Moon is refused to see Aung San Suu-Kyi
- Ban Ki-Moon flies away (immediately that is)
One would think even the current UN Secretary-General could devise such a complex plan, couldn’t he?
Perhaps in the post-Cold War world there is something fundamentally wrong in the way UN Secretary-General are chosen.
(letter published on Saturday May 10 in the International Herald Tribune, written by Jakob Kellenberger, Geneva President, International Committee of the Red Cross)
Note how the proposed new Treaty is not to ban cluster munitions outright: it is to prevent the deployment of ineffectual bombs that do not explode during a conflict, and despite having zero military strategic or tactical value, rather hang on waiting to kill or wound unsuspecting, perfectly innocent civilians years and even decades after the war has ended.
More than 100 countries are due to meet in Dublin later this month to negotiate a new international treaty banning cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians. They should seize this historic opportunity to prevent these weapons from killing and maiming countless other men, women and children.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has repeatedly witnessed the terrible impact of cluster munitions on civilians in armed conflicts across the globe. Their deadly legacy can continue for generations.
Laos, for example, the world’s worst affected country, is still struggling to deal with the estimated 270 million munitions dropped there in the 1960s and 1970s. Tens of millions failed to explode and go on killing people today.
In more than 20 countries around the world, unexploded cluster munitions have effectively rendered vast areas as hazardous as minefields.
Without urgent concerted international action, the human toll of cluster munitions could become far worse than that of antipersonnel landmines, which are now banned by three-quarters of the world’s countries.
Meanwhile, billions of cluster munitions are currently in the stockpiles of many nations. Many models are aged, inaccurate and unreliable. But unlike antipersonnel landmines, which were in the hands of virtually all armed forces, only about 75 countries currently possess cluster munitions.
The Dublin conference is the culmination of a process that started in Oslo in February 2007 and has been building momentum ever since. Participants should agree to a treaty that prohibits inaccurate and unreliable cluster munitions, provides for their clearance and ensures assistance to victims.
Jakob Kellenberger, Geneva President, International Committee of the Red Cross
Some useful links related to the above:
Letter published on the International Herald Tribune, Dec 14, 2007
Regarding “Get Tehran inside the tent” by Vali Nasr and Ray Takeyh (Views, Dec. 7): The one underlying issue that the writers do not mention, and that does not appear in the article by Valerie Lincy and Gary Milhollin (“In Tehran we trust?” Views, Dec. 7), is that Iran is alone in a sea of hostile neighbors.
Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear bomb is as logical as Israel’s or Pakistan’s. For the current Iranian regime, and perhaps even for a hypothetical Iranian democracy, it would be extremely foolish to leave the fortunes of the state to the whims of the United States, Europe, Russia, or the Sunni Arab states, especially with troubled neighbors like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It is obvious that the West needs a new policy for Iran. Perhaps once – just once – the powers that be will pay attention to the basic needs of Iran, starting by ruling out an invasion.
Isn’t it telling that Nasr and Takeyh repeat the old fairy tale that during the Cold War “confronting Communism meant promoting capitalism and democracy,” forgetting to mention an egregiously contrary example? In a most tragic decision 54 years ago, the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh was toppled and an autocratic monarch reintroduced, all in the name of fighting world Communism.
Maurizio Morabito, England
Newspapers are slowly waking up to the importance of the Moratorium against Death Penalty approved on Thursday, Dec 18 by the UN General Assembly. Here’s an important editorial “A Pause from Death” from The New York Times (and “Lining up against the death penalty” from the International Herald Tribune):
The United Nations General Assembly voted on Tuesday for a global moratorium on the death penalty. The resolution was nonbinding; its symbolic weight made barely a ripple in the news ocean of the United States, where governments’ right to kill a killer is enshrined in law and custom.
Go to The Board » But for those who have been trying to move the world away from lethal revenge as government policy, this was a milestone. The resolution failed repeatedly in the 1990s, but this time the vote was 104 to 54, with 29 nations abstaining. Progress has come in Europe and Africa. Nations like Senegal, Burundi, Gabon — even Rwanda, shamed by genocide — have decided to reject the death penalty, as official barbarism.
The United States, as usual, lined up on the other side, with Iran, China, Pakistan, Sudan and Iraq. Together this blood brotherhood accounts for more than 90 percent of the world’s executions, according to Amnesty International. These countries’ devotion to their sovereignty is rigid, as is their perverse faith in execution as a criminal deterrent and an instrument of civilized justice. But out beyond Texas, Ohio, Virginia, Myanmar, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe, there are growing numbers who expect better of humanity.
Many are not nations or states but groups of regular people, organizations like the Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay Catholic movement begun in Italy whose advocacy did much to bring about this week’s successful vote in the General Assembly.
They are motivated by hope — and there is even some in the United States. The Supreme Court will soon hear debate on the cruelty of execution by lethal injection. On Monday, New Jersey became the first state in 40 years to abolish its death penalty.
That event, too, left much of this country underwhelmed. But overseas, the votes in Trenton and the United Nations were treated as glorious news. Rome continued a tradition to mark victories against capital punishment: it bathed the Colosseum, where Christians once were fed to lions, in golden light.
It is rather unfortunate that no mention has been given of the Transnational Radical Party and “Hands Off Cain“, the organizations that have initiated the whole process almost 14 years ago. But the fact that the NYT deemed it important enough to warrant an editorial, should be placate those claiming the Moratorium, as a nonbinding document, is a useless document or worse.
For other articles on the Moratorium:
(1) On the Los Angeles Times, an opinion piece “The UN’s Death Blow” by Louise Arbour, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights.
(2) On BBC News, a Special Report “UN votes for death penalty freeze” with words from the Singapore and Mexican ambassadors and the “detail” that only 51 nations still retain the right to use death penalty
(3) On Euronews (in French), an article “L’Italie s’est fortement impliquée en faveur d’un moratoire sur la peine de mort” with some background on those that have fought for the Moratorium
(4) On the Sueddeutsche Zeitung (in German), an article “Die guten Menschen von Rom” about the Community of Sant’Egidio mentioned by the New York Times’ editorial.
(5) On the Tagesenzeiger (Swiss, in German), an editorial “Ein Akt der Zivilisation” that makes the rather obvious points that dangerous criminals should be locked up, and the death penalty, whatever one thinks of it, is arrogant and archaic.
(6) The Argentinian El Mundo (in Spanish) hosts a commentary “Una victoria italiana contra la pena de muerte“ by the local Italian Ambassador, Stefano Ronca.
(7) In Diário Digital (in Portuguese) there is an exhaustively explanatory article “ONU: AG aprova apelo a moratória na aplicação pena de morte“, explaining the origin of the “Hands Off Cain” name.
And I am sure there’s lots more in other languages I an as yet unable to perform searches with…
104 States in favor, 54 against, 29 abstentions. We finally have a Moratorium on the Death Penalty, a moratorium that is approved by the United Nations General Assemply.
The ecumenical impetus is so strong, even the Vatican has positively commented the results.
December 18 may go down in history as the largest Italian foreign policy victory in more than 140 years. And finally, one will be able to say that Italy has given something to international politics, something else than the the invention of Fascism.
A very Merry Christmas to everybody!
The UN General Assembly is likely going to vote on the Universal Moratorium on Capital Punishment on Tuesday 18, presumably shortly after 10am New York time (3pm GMT).
There are many positive indications that a majority of States will support the resolution, although of course nothing will be certain until after the vote’s results are announced.
In any case, it will be the culmination of almost 14 years of efforts:
(1) In 1994, following an initiative by “Hands Off Cain” and the Transnational Radical Party, the Italian Government asked the UN General Assembly to vote on a document asking all Member States to stop capital executions. The resolution did not pass by just 8 votes.
(2) In 1997, the Moratorium was approved by the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva. The same Commission has approved it since, every single year.
(3) In the meanwhile, the number of States still having the death penalty in their penal codes has gone down from 97 (in 1994) to 48 now.
(4) The Moratorium was presented to the UN General Assembly in 1999, by the European Union that proceeded to inexplicably withdraw it.
(5) During the past year, “Hands Off Cain” and the Transnational Radical Party have been working relentlessly for more than one year with Parliaments, Governments and citizens the world over, to get the resolution once again submitted for a UN General Assembly vote.
(6) The Italian Parliament lower Chamber and the European Parliament have unanimously declared support for the resolution. Signatories to an “Appeal for the Moratorium” included 55 Nobel Prize winners and tens of thousands more people.
(7) On June 18, 2007 the European Union General Affairs Council decided to present the resolution to the UN General Assembly’s 62th Session in September.
(8) On November 15, 2007 the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly approved the resolution as presented by Italy and 86 more countries from all continents. Votes have been 99 in favour, 52 against.
Finally, sometimes on December 18, 2007 the whole UN General Assembly will be asked to approve the Moratorium.