The UN General Assembly has unanimously adopted a nuclear disarmament resolution that includes proposals forwarded by Iran President Hassan Rouhani as head of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
The resolution, adopted on Thursday, calls on nuclear-power states to make more efforts to scale down and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear arms.
In an address to the UN Disarmament Conference in New York on September 25, President Rouhani called for the “total elimination” of nuclear weapons across the world and said no one should possess such weapons.
Rouhani’s proposals included the holding of immediate negotiations on the conclusion of a comprehensive international convention on banning the production, proliferation and use of nuclear weapons; the holding of a high-level conference in 2018 on nuclear disarmament; and designating September 26 as the international day for total elimination of nuclear weapons.
The UN General Assembly’s resolution urges nuclear-weapon states to rapidly adopt the necessary measures in order to abide by their international commitments regarding disarmament. It specifically calls for the full annihilation of nuclear arsenals, transparently, irrevocably, and under international supervision.
According to the resolution, non-nuclear states should be given guarantees that they will not be threatened or attacked with nuclear weapons.
It also calls on the General Assembly to urge all signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to follow up on the implementation of their obligations as agreed in the 1995, 2000 and 2010 Review Conferences.
The United Nations is set to carry out an investigation into the spying activities of the US and UK, a senior judge has said. The probe will examine the espionage programs and assess whether they conform to UN regulations.
UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC told British newspaper The Guardian that the UN will conduct an inquiry into the NSA and the GCHQ’s spying antics. Following Edward Snowden’s revelations, which blew the whistle on both agencies’ intelligence gathering programs, Emmerson said the issue was at “the very apex of public interest and concerns.”
The report will broach a number of contentious issues, said Emmerson, including whether Snowden should be granted the legal protection afforded to a whistleblower, whether the data he handed over to the media did significant harm to national security, whether intelligence agencies need to scale down their surveillance programs and whether the UK government was misled about the extent of intelligence gathering.
“When it comes to assessing the balance that must be struck between maintaining secrecy and exposing information in the public interest, there are often borderline cases,” Emmerson told The Guardian.
Emmerson also mentioned the raid this summer on The Guardian’s London offices in search of hard drives containing data from Snowden. Addressing the allegations made by the chiefs of British spy agencies MI5, GCHQ and MI6, that publishing Snowden’s material was “a gift to terrorists,” Emmerson said it was the media’s job to hold governments to account for their actions.
“The astonishing suggestion that this sort of responsible journalism can somehow be equated with aiding and abetting terrorism needs to be scotched decisively,” said Emmerson, who will present the conclusions of his inquiry to the UN General Assembly next autumn.
Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger is set to appear before a Commons home affairs committee in a hearing about the newspaper publishing of Snowden’s security leaks. British Prime Minister David Cameron issued a statement in September, warning of a possible crackdown if media continued to publish information on covert intelligence gathering programs.
He said the government had not yet been “heavy-handed” in its dealings with the press, but it would be difficult not to act if the press does not “demonstrate some social responsibility.” Cameron added that the UK was a more dangerous place after the Guardian published Snowden’s material.
Snowden’s revelations of the international spying activities of the UK and US have embarrassed the White House and Downing Street. Recent leaks show that the NSA and GCHQ not only monitored millions of civilian communications using programs such as PRISM and Tempora, but also eavesdropped on high-profile businessmen and politicians. Moreover, it was revealed that the NSA also spied on the UN’s headquarters in New York.
Both nations have sought to justify their intelligence gathering programs as being in the interests of national security.
Following Israel’s resumption of ties with the United Nations Human Rights Council, six Western countries; the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, Canada and the United States are pressuring the United Nations to allow Israel to permanently join the Western European and Others Group (WEOG). The text of the letter, which has been made available online, states: “we, the undersigned, would like by this letter to recall Israel’s long standing request to join the WEOG regional group in Geneva. We are strongly supportive of Israel’s membership at the earliest opportunity.” The letter also exhorts a sense of urgency, requesting inclusion of the matter in the next meeting to be held in Geneva.
Exclusive treatment in Israel’s regard, ostensibly in return for its continuous human rights violations, remains a priority for the colonising power’s allies. Israel’s return to the Human Rights Council was characterised by negotiated leniency, including a concession preventing countries from criticising Israel’s human rights violations – a stipulation valid for the next two years during which any comments relating to Israel’s infringements on human rights will be deemed ‘empty of content’.
Discourse regarding political and regional isolation applied to Israel has been propagated, depicting an ongoing contrivance to enhance Israel’s victimised stance. In 2007 Canada deemed Item 7 as specific targeting of a particular country in a “politicised, selective, partial and subjective” manner which breaches the United Nations’ objectivity. In 2010 the US echoed similar sentiment, declaring the stipulation as a “disproportionate focus on Israel … the Council has too often been exploited to unfairly single out Israel, while ignoring significant human rights situations elsewhere”. This stance has been described as “working constructively on aspects that need change”. The hypocrisy within human rights discourse is easy to decipher – it is inadmissible to challenge Israel’s human rights violations. Instead, the international community should devise the means through which Israel is allowed to oppress with impunity – a trend which it has been perfecting for decades.
There is no justification for the removal of Item 7 – the only requirements are flawed reasoning, international complicity and oblivion. Claims that Israel fails to achieve support for its actions are erroneous and should be examined within the exclusive impunity bequeathed to Zionist ideology prior to the establishment of the illegal state. The depiction of Israel as a politically disadvantaged country has been utilised to the point of exhaustion, yet the deceitful reasoning is still upheld as inviolable, thus diverting attention from the problems faced daily by Palestinians whose rights have yet to be acknowledged, let alone implemented. According to conventional rhetoric, equality should only be applied when the issues at stake do not restrain Israel’s ability to perfect its oppression. Any objectivity and justified impartiality is vehemently rejected, lest Israel should declare a fictitious and detrimental isolation. Far from remaining isolated within the international community due to a degree of extra scrutiny, the coloniser has been embraced by world powers on account of its compatibility in maintaining the exploitation of land, people and countless human rights charters.
- | Exposing impunity: Israel’s ‘exceptionalism’ and the UN! (truthaholics.wordpress.com)
The Special Political and Decolonisation Committee (Fourth Committee) of the General Assembly of the United Nations has adopted eight new resolutions concerning the plight of the Palestinians. The drafts were taken on board with large majorities voting in favour.
The resolutions covered the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and an intention for the committee to investigate “Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the Occupied Territory”.
Predictably, Israel voted against all of the resolutions, being joined variously by Cameroon, the United States, Canada, Australia and Panama. Equally predictable abstentions included Micronesia, Palau, Vanuatu and South Sudan.
The resolutions relating to UNRWA were backed consistently by more than 160 UN members states, whereas those committing the UN to look at the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory saw fewer in favour, just under 90 countries, with far more abstentions (70 or more).
The resolutions reflected the extremely difficult living, economic, social and humanitarian conditions faced by Palestinian refugees in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the Gaza Strip, as a result of the continued Israeli military aggression and siege. They emphasised the vital and important role of UNRWA and the tireless efforts of its staff in implementing its mandate until a just solution to the Palestinian refugee issue is achieved.
After the votes, Ambassador Riyad Mansour, the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, expressed the appreciation and gratitude of the state to all the countries that voted in favour of the new resolutions. He thanked them in particular for their support for UNRWA, which should ensure that it can continue with its mandate to help Palestinian refugees. He noted that the General Assembly was reaffirming the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and the refugees’ right to return to their land.
The nations of the world called on Israel to comply with its obligations under international law, the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice concerning the apartheid wall and all UN resolutions. The application of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, was also reaffirmed.
Ambassador Mansour said that the international community must make a serious collective effort to put an end to the violations committed by Israel and ensure that it complies fully with all legal obligations in order that a just settlement is reached for the Palestinian issue.
Gaza – The Palestinian Government stressed that the Palestinian people and resistance have the right to defend themselves by all possible means against Israel’s undeterred war crimes and aggressions.
Spokesman for the Palestinian Government, Ihab AL-Ghusain, stated on his facebook page “No one can deny the Palestinians thinking of new ways to confront the high-tech military apparatus of the Israeli occupation.”
The Gaza Strip citizens had been subjected to two wars and thus entitled to defend themselves, Ghusain said, adding that “digging tunnels is a defensive tactic innovated by the Palestinian resistance.”
AL-Ghusain found odd the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman’s statement that digging the [recently discovered] tunnel is a violation of the cease-fire agreement [mediated by Egypt between Hamas and the Israeli occupation after Israel's 8-day war in November 2012], overlooking the Israeli violations of it.
“The Israeli occupation has not stopped violating the cease-fire agreement ever since its had been concluded; many violations are to mention, above them all sustaining Israel’s siege on the 1.7 million Gaza population by failing to open the commercial crossings, and to expand the fishing zone,” he said.
“What is more “terrorist” than an Israeli navy boat firing on a fisherman, an armored vehicle shooting a farmer, invading, or leveling his land?” Ghusain wondered, pointing to the deaths and injuries of a number of Palestinian civilians throughout the past year.
AL-Ghusain called on the UN to take its real role in putting pressure on the Israeli occupation to lift the siege, bringing Israeli leaders to justice, and protecting the Palestinian people from the continuous Israeli crimes and aggressions.
There’s a dark side to the flurry of reports and testimony on drones, helpful as they are in many ways. When we read that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch oppose drone strikes that violate international law, some of us may be inclined to interpret that as a declaration that, in fact, drone strikes violate international law. On the contrary, what these human rights groups mean is that some drone strikes violate the law and some do not, and they want to oppose the ones that do.
Which are which? Even their best researchers can’t tell you. Human Rights Watch looked into six drone murders in Yemen and concluded that two were illegal and four might be illegal. The group wants President Obama to explain what the law is (since nobody else can), wants him to comply with it (whatever it is), wants civilians compensated (if anyone can agree who the civilians are and if people can really be compensated for the murder of their loved ones), and wants the U.S. government to investigate itself. Somehow the notion of prosecuting crimes doesn’t come up.
Amnesty International looks into nine drone strikes in Pakistan, and can’t tell whether any of the nine were legal or illegal. Amnesty wants the U.S. government to investigate itself, make facts public, compensate victims, explain what the law is, explain who a civilian is, and — remarkably — recommends this: “Where there is sufficient admissible evidence, bring those responsible to justice in public and fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.” However, this will be a very tough nut to crack, as those responsible for the crimes are being asked to define what is and is not legal. Amnesty proposes “judicial review of drone strikes,” but a rubber-stamp FISA court for drone murders wouldn’t reduce them, and an independent judiciary assigned to approve of certain drone strikes and not others would certainly approve of some, while inevitably leaving the world less than clear as to why.
The UN special rapporteurs’ reports are perhaps the strongest of the reports churned out this week, although all of the reports provide great information. The UN will debate drones on Friday. Congressman Grayson will bring injured child drone victims to Washington on Tuesday (although the U.S. State Department won’t let their lawyer come). Attention is being brought to the issue, and that’s mostly to the good. The U.N. reports make some useful points: U.S. drones have killed hundreds of civilians; drones make war the norm rather than an exception; signature strikes are illegal; double-tap strikes (targeting rescuers of a first strike’s victims) are illegal; killing rather than capturing is illegal; imminence (as a term to define a supposed threat) can’t legally be redefined to mean eventual or just barely imaginable; and — most powerfully — threatened by drones is the fundamental right to life. However, the U.N. reports are so subservient to western lawyer groupthink as to allow that some drone kills are legal and to make the determination of which ones so complex that nobody will ever be able to say — the determination will be political rather than empirical.
The U.N. wants transparency, and I do think that’s a stronger demand than asking for the supposed legal memos that Obama has hidden in a drawer and which supposedly make his drone kills legal. We don’t need to see that lawyerly contortionism. Remember Obama’s speech in May at which he claimed that only four of his victims had been American and for one of those four he had invented criteria for himself to meet, even though all available evidence says he didn’t meet those criteria even in that case, and he promised to apply the same criteria to foreigners going forward, sometimes, in certain countries, depending. Remember the liberal applause for that? Somehow our demands of President Bush were never that he make a speech.
(And did you see how pleased people were just recently that Obama had kidnapped a man in Libya and interrogated him in secret on a ship in the ocean, eventually bringing him to the U.S. for a trial, because that was a step up from murdering him and his neighbors? Bush policies are now seen as advances.)
We don’t need the memos. We need the videos, the times, places, names, justifications, casualties, and the video footage of each murder. That is to say, if the UN is going to give its stamp of approval to a new kind of war but ask for a little token of gratitude, this is what it should be. But let’s stop for a minute and consider. The general lawyerly consensus is that killing people with drones is fine if it’s not a case where they could have been captured, it’s not “disproportionate,” it’s not too “collateral,” it’s not too “indiscriminate,” etc., — the calculation being so vague that nobody can measure it. We’re not wrong to trumpet the good parts of these reports, but let’s be clear that the United Nations, an institution created to eliminate war, is giving its approval to a new kind of war, as long as it’s done properly, and it’s giving its approval in the same reports in which it says that drones threaten to make war the norm and peace the exception.
I hate to be a wet blanket, but that’s stunning. Drones make war the norm, rather than the exception, and drone murders are going to be deemed legal depending on a variety of immeasurable criteria. And the penalty for the ones that are illegal is going to be nothing, at least until African nations start doing it, at which point the International Criminal Court will shift into gear.
What is it that makes weaponized drones more humane than land mines, poison gas, cluster bombs, biological weapons, nuclear weapons, and other weapons worth banning? Are drone missiles more discriminate than cluster bombs (I mean in documented practice, not in theory)? Are they discriminate enough, even if more discriminate than something else? Does the ease of using them against anyone anywhere make it possible for them to be “proportionate” and “necessary”? If some drone killing is legal and other not, and if the best researchers can’t always tell which is which, won’t drone killing continue? The UN Special Rapporteur says drones threaten to make war the norm. Why risk that? Why not ban weaponized drones?
For those who refuse to accept that the Kellogg Briand Pact bans war, for those who refuse to accept that international law bans murder, don’t we have a choice here between banning weaponized drones or watching weaponized drones proliferate and kill? Over 99,000 people have signed a petition to ban weaponized drones at http://BanWeaponizedDrones.org Maybe we can push that over 100,000 … or 200,000.
It’s always struck me as odd that in civilized, Geneva conventionized, Samantha Powerized war the only crime that gets legalized is murder. Not torture, or assault, or rape, or theft, or marijuana, or cheating on your taxes, or parking in a handicapped spot — just murder. But will somebody please explain to me why homicide bombing is not as bad as suicide bombing?
It isn’t strictly true that the suffering is all on one side, anyway. Just as we learn geography through wars, we learn our drone base locations through blowback, in Afghanistan and just recently in Yemen. Drones make everyone less safe. As Malala just pointed out to the Obama family, the drone killing fuels terrorism. Drones also kill with friendly fire. Drones, with or without weapons, crash. A lot. And drones make the initiation of violence easier, more secretive, and more concentrated. When sending missiles into Syria was made a big public question, we overwhelmed Congress, which said no. But missiles are sent into other countries all the time, from drones, and we’re never asked.
We’re going to have to speak up for ourselves.
I’ll be part of a panel discussing this at NYU on Wednesday. See http://NYACT.net
The comments come from Malala and the U.N. respectively.
President Obama invited Malala Yousafzai, a 16-year-old Pakistani advocate for girls’ education, to meet with his family. And she promptly explained that what he is doing works against her agenda and fuels terrorism.
Malala is a victim of violence in Pakistan, having been attacked by religious fanatics opposed to her work. But Obama may not have expected her to speak up against other forms of violence in her country.
Malala recounted: “I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education, it will make a big impact.”
President Obama may also have not expected most people to notice or care. The corporate media have virtually ignored this part of a widely-reported meeting.
It’s up to us to surprise everyone with the depth of our interest and concern. Almost 100,000 have thus far signed a petition to ban weaponized drones, soon to be delivered to the U.N., the I.C.C., the State Department, the White House, Congress, and embassies.
The United Nations has released a report on “armed drones and the right to life” (PDF). The report begins by noting that, as of now, weaponized drones are legal:
“Although drones are not illegal weapons, they can make it easier for States to deploy deadly and targeted force on the territories of other States. As such, they risk undermining the protection of life in the immediate and longer terms. If the right to life is to be secured, it is imperative that the limitations posed by international law on the use of force are not weakened by broad justifications of drone strikes.”
Drones, the U.N. Special Rapporteur reports, risk making war the normal state of affairs:
“Peace should be the norm, yet such scenarios risk making its derogation the rule by privileging force over long-term peaceful alternatives. . . . Given that drones greatly reduce or eliminate the number of casualties on the side using them, the domestic constraints — political and otherwise — may be less restrictive than with the deployment of other types of armed force. This effect is enhanced by the relative ease with which the details about drone targeting can be withheld from the public eye and the potentially restraining influence of public concern. Such dynamics call for a heightened level of vigilance by the international community concerning the use of drones.”
The U.N. Charter and this report seek to make war an exceptional state of affairs. This is a very difficult, and a morally depraved thing to attempt with an institution that deserves total abolition. War does not work as a tool with which to eliminate war. But, even within that framework, the U.N. finds that drones create extra-legal war:
“An outer layer of protection for the right to life is the prohibition on the resort to force by one State against another, again subject to a narrowly construed set of exceptions. The protection of State sovereignty and of territorial integrity, which onoccasion presents a barrier to the protection of human rights, here can constitute an important component of the protection of people against deadly force, especially with the advent of armed drones.”
The strongest excuse for war is the claim of defense against an actual attack. The next best thing is to pretend an attack is imminent. The Obama Administration has famously redefined “imminent” to mean eventual or theoretical — that is, they’ve stripped the word of all meaning. (See the “white paper” PDF.) The U.N. doesn’t buy it:
“The view that mere past involvement in planning attacks is sufficient to render an individual targetable even where there is no evidence of a specific and immediate attack distorts the requirements established in international human rights law.”
U.S. lawyers at Congressional hearings have tended to maintain that drone killing is legal if and only if it’s part of a war. The U.N. report also distinguishes between two supposedly different standards of law depending on whether a drone murder is separate from or part of a war. Disappointingly, the U.N. believes that some drone strikes can be legal and others not:
“Insofar as the term ‘signature strikes’ refers to targeting without sufficient information to make the necessary determination, it is clearly unlawful. . . . Where one drone attack is followed up by another in order to target those who are wounded and hors de combat or medical personnel, it constitutes a war crime in armed conflict and a violation of the right to life, whether or not in armed conflict. Strikes on others confirmed to be civilians who are directly participating in hostilities or having a continuous combat function at the time of the follow-up strike could be lawful if the other international humanitarian law rules are respected.”
The complex mumbo-jumbo of multiple legal standards for multiple scenarios, complete with calculations of necessity and distinction and proportionality and collateral damage, mars this report and any attempt to create enforceable action out of it. But the report does, tentatively, find one little category of drone murders illegal that encompasses many, if not all, U.S. drone murders — namely, those where the victim might have been captured rather than killed:
“Recent debates have asked whether international humanitarian law requires that a party to an armed conflict under certain circumstances consider the capture of an otherwise lawful target (i.e. a combatant in the traditional sense or a civilian directly participating in hostilities) rather than targeting with force. In its Interpretive Guidance, ICRC states that it would defy basic notions of humanity to kill an adversary or to refrain from giving him or her an opportunity to surrender where there manifestly is no necessity for the use of lethal force.”
Pathetically, the report finds that if a government is going to pretend that murdering someone abroad is “self-defense” the action must be reported to the U.N. — thereby making it sooooo much better.
A second UN report (PDF) goes further, citing findings that U.S. drones have killed hundreds of civilians, but failing to call for prosecutions of these crimes. That is to say, the first report, above, which does not list specific U.S. drone murders of civilians, discusses the need for prosecutions. But this second report just asks for “a detailed public explanation.”
The fact that an insane killing spree is counter-productive, as pointed out to Obama by Malala, in case he hadn’t heard all his own experts, is not enough to end the madness. Ultimately we must recognize the illegality of all killing and all war. In the meantime, prior to the U.N.’s debate on this on the 25th, we can add our names to the growing movement to ban weaponized drones at http://BanWeaponizedDrones.org.
Petitioning the American government and the United Nations to take over the Fukushima clean-up would be morally wrong and a political folly.
The argument goes that since TEPCO and the Japanese government have shown themselves incompetent and untrustworthy in their information policies regarding the Fukushima disaster, now the international community and especially the United States government should step in and take over.
However, looking at the US’s own track record in giving comprehensive and accurate information about its nuclear accidents and the failure of its nuclear industry to even implement the most basic safety precautions would actually be letting the fox guard the hen house. It wasn’t just the Three Mile Island disaster. In reality 56 of the 99 globally recorded reactor accidents occurred in the United States. And charging a US dominated UN organization with the task would not be any better. This would be similar to what happened with the fake swine-flu scare, where the Big-Pharma dominated WHO licensed Pharma corporations which before had been caught red-handed at contaminating ordinary flu-vaccines with live bird-flu viruses to produce anti-swine-flu vaccines.
Demanding an American take-over of the clean-up efforts at Fukushima would also imply that the Japanese, after a catastrophe like this happening to one of their nuclear installations, are incapable of cleaning up the mess themselves; that everything is fine and dandy with western — and especially American — nuclear facilities, since Americans and other westerners via the western dominated UN must step in to rescue the Japanese.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In the Al Jazeera documentary “Danger Zone: Ageing US Nuclear Reactors” the decrepit state of many American nuclear reactors and the corrupt relationship of the industry with its supposedly regulating government agency is shown in terrifying detail. Vital infrastructure at nuclear sites is often in a state of corrosion or are even falling apart. And still these reactors are getting their licenses renewed. Like in Japan, many reactors were built in earthquake-prone areas and to the same design as the Fukushima reactors and to standards that do not allow them to withstand major earthquakes beyond 7.2 on the Richter scale.
The money that has to be expended to repair and renew the infrastructure would make the reactors financially no longer viable. This means that the industry would have to shut down a large part of its reactors and the US government regulating agency therefore looks the other way rather than having to risk a shut-down.
This insane attitude endangers the American people and the rest of humanity just as much as a possible further melt-down at Fukushima.
While the Japanese government might have lots of reasons for not informing their own population of the severe danger they are in at the moment, especially the people of Tokyo, it has all the reasons in the world for the best and most carefully deliberated actions to clean up the fuel-pool at the Fukushima reactor 4.
The people who will be most effected by a further melt-down are the people of northern Japan, including the political and economic elites themselves. Once the nuclear clouds reach the rest of the northern hemisphere their impact will be far more diluted.
Japan is a highly developed country, has a population of 127 million people with many highly educated technicians, engineers and scientists in the nuclear field. The Japanese government already has consulted with foreign nuclear experts and without doubt they will do so in the future. There is no reason to believe that an American dominated international group of experts could do a better or more competent job than a Japanese dominated one. The Japanese people have the most to lose and would therefore be the most intent to avert a further nuclear catastrophe.
Japanese workers are already risking their lives every single day in the clean-up efforts motivated not by money but by wanting to protect their families and their fellow citizens. Those who will start the dangerous work in November will be no less motivated.
While the energy corporation TEPCO might be too cash-strapped to carry the enormous costs of the operation, the argument that the Japanese government could not carry them either does not hold any water at all.
While America is the greatest debtor nation on the planet, Japan is next to China as the second greatest creditor nation. It holds about 6% of the American debts in its central bank. Cashing in on those debts and using this money would certainly cover whatever astronomic costs might be incurred by the clean-up.
There is no necessity whatsoever to violate Japanese sovereignty over the Fukushima clean-up attempts.
To do so would create a dangerous precedent that would allow American and UN interference in a quasi take-over of every country that has suffered natural or man-made disasters.
It also would be a dangerous re-writing of international law and one more increase of power for the un-elected corporate elites which rule America and have enormous influence on most of the UN organizations.
Yes, we should have more transparency of information. Different from what the governments of our nations think, the general population has indeed a right to the truth and is quite capable of processing truthful information in a productive manner. One thing that would emerge out of it would be more pressure on governments all over the world to shut down or at least phase out their nations’ nuclear reactors and replace this dangerous form of energy-production with a better, less poisonous and destructive one.
- Japan Shuts Down Its Last Running Nuclear Reactor (inhabitat.com)
On Thursday, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, said that his country plans to compete for one of the non-permanent seats on the Security Council for 2019-20. According to Prosor, Israel is trying hard to win this. “It should have happened a long time ago,” he claimed.
To win a seat in the Security Council, Israel must win a two-thirds majority in the UN General Assembly, which has 193 members. The five regional groups nominate the candidates, but they are elected by the General Assembly.
Prosor said that Israel would compete against Germany and Belgium for the two seats reserved for Western European and other countries. Israel should be in the group with Asian and Pacific Ocean countries, along with the other countries in the Middle East, but Muslim-majority countries prevented its inclusion. In 2000, Israel agreed to join the West European and other countries group temporarily. The group includes the United States and in 2004 Israel’s membership was made permanent.
UN diplomats said that it will not be easy for Israel to win the seat as most of the UN member states are part of the Non-Aligned Movement and are either lukewarm or openly hostile towards it.
KHARTOUM/WASHINGTON – Sudan’s foreign minister has called on the United Nations General Assembly to condemn the United States “denial of entry visa” to the Sudanese president Omer Al Bashir, as the foreign ministry in Khartoum summoned the American chargé d’affaires to protest the delay on the same day.
“It is with deep regret I inform you of the refusal by the authorities of the United States to give an entry visa to president Omer Al Bashir and his delegation”, said minister Ali Karti, in a speech on Friday before the Assembly general.
The Sudanese top diplomat described Washington’s position as “a very serious precedent in the history of the United Nations”, adding “it requires a firm position be taken on this matter” by all the UN membership.
He also called on the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to react against “this denial of legitimate right” and to protect the rights of the member states under the agreement signed with the host country.
U.S. State Department officials said recently that Bashir’s visa demand is “pending” stressing that there are different considerations to be taken into account on this regard.
“There are a lot of considerations going into this request, including the outstanding warrant against him (Al-Bashir)” further said Marie Harf, State Department deputy spokesperson on Friday 20 September.
Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court which issued two arrest warrants against him for war crimes and genocide in Darfur.
Rights groups said they would legally seek his arrest if he arrives on American soil, and also the ICC urged the American administration to cooperate with the court and to arrest him.
SUDAN SUMMONS U.S. CHARGÉ D’AFFAIRES
In Khartoum, the foreign affairs ministry summoned the American chargé d’affaires on Friday to formally protest against delaying the issuance of the entry visa for president Bashir to participate in the meetings of the 68th session of the UNGA.
In a statement released on Friday, the foreign ministry said that Ambassador Joseph Stafford was summoned to officially protest the “U.S. administration’s procrastination” in issuing a visa to the Sudanese president.
Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem, deputy undersecretary of the foreign ministry told Stafford that the non-issuance of the visa “so far disrupted the vital national interests of the Sudan”.
Bashir had to take part in a meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council on the relations between Sudan and South Sudan, he also wanted to deliver a speech to the UNGA.
Civil society statement to the UN high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament
Delivered by Nosizwe Lise Baqwa of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) on behalf of civil society
26 September 2013, New York
The use of a nuclear weapon on a major populated area would immediately kill tens if not hundreds of thousands of people—women, men, and children.
Hundreds of thousands more would be alive—but severely injured. Blinded, burned, crushed. The immediate effects of even a single nuclear weapon are shocking and overwhelming. Its destructive force capable of nightmarish scenes of death and despair. Of suffering. They go far beyond what is considered acceptable, even in the context of war.
The blinding flash will leave people sightless; the massive blast will level cities; the searing heat and spreading fires will melt steel and engulf homes, and can coalesce into a firestorm that will suck the air from anyone still breathing.
And the survivors of these physical traumas may yet be poisoned by radioactivity, which invades and destroys their bodies over the days and weeks that follow.
In addition to this, there are significant long-term impacts of a nuclear weapons explosion.
A single nuclear weapon will cause devastating damage to infrastructure, critical industry, to our livelihoods and to our lives. The lives of fathers, of mothers, of grandparents; the lives of our children. The long-term effects of exposure to radiation will lead to increased incidence of leukemia and solid cancers among survivors, and a heightened risk of hereditary effects for future generations. Their use would result in large-scale forced or voluntary migration—floods of refugees into neighboring countries, who would be unable to return home for decades, if ever. A nuclear weapons explosion will affect the environment and agricultural production for decades to come.
If multiple nuclear weapons were used, the combined effects of their firestorms would seriously disrupt the global climate, causing widespread agricultural collapse and famine that could blight the lives of millions. Global communications and electrical and electronic systems would be disrupted. An extensive nuclear exchange would produce temperatures lower than the last ice age.
The effects will spread beyond borders, to areas far away from where the bombs were dropped.
There will be a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable people around the world: those without enough food; those without access to health care, water, and education; those who are already suffering from the lack of resources.
The Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Oslo held in March this year, concluded that it would not be possible to coordinate and deliver any meaningful humanitarian response, to a catastrophe brought about by nuclear weapons. No international organization or state could adequately deal with the situation.
Any use of nuclear weapons would eradicate hospitals, food, water and medical supplies, transportation and communications—infrastructure required for the treatment of survivors.
Physicians and paramedics arriving from outside would have to work without resources needed for effective treatment; furthermore, radiation, as we know from both Chernobyl and Fukushima, can make it impossible for rescuers to enter highly contaminated areas.
There are still many aspects of the impact of nuclear weapons that are rarely discussed. We look forward to the upcoming conference in Mexico next year, where we hope all governments will continue to engage in a fact-based discussion around the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. The horror that these weapons threaten is stark.
That nuclear weapons have not already been clearly declared illegal for all, alongside the other prohibited weapons of mass destruction, is a failure of our collective social responsibility.
The time has come for committed states to correct that failure. The time has come to ban nuclear weapons once and for all.
The current framework provided for multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations has not been able to overcome the lack of political will of nuclear-armed states to comply with their obligations to disarm. Let us not allow deadlocks in meetings to be the legacy we leave behind us, for our children.
A treaty banning nuclear weapons is achievable. It can be initiated by states that do not possess nuclear weapons. Nuclear-armed states should not be allowed to prevent such negotiations. We should not abandon productive or promising efforts in other forums, but neither should we ignore the opportunity that lies before us now, to make history.
History shows that legal prohibitions of weapon systems—of their use or their possession—facilitate their elimination. Weapons that have been outlawed increasingly become seen as illegitimate. They lose their political status, and so do not continue compelling money and resources to be invested in their production, modernisation, proliferation, and perpetuation.
The ban on nuclear weapons will raise the political and economic costs of maintaining them, by prohibiting assistance with the development, production, or testing of nuclear weapon systems.
The new treaty will perhaps be the most important tool in our collective work towards eliminating nuclear weapons, and this tool can actually be achieved now.
It will take courage. It will take the leadership by states free of nuclear weapons. And you will have the support of civil society. My name is Nosizwe Lise Baqwa and I am a campaigner from ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Campaigners like me, from all around the world, are demanding action to finally achieve the outlawing and elimination of nuclear weapons. It is time. It is time to change the status quo. It is time we ban nuclear weapons.
- Rohani Tells UN No Nation Should Have Nuclear Weapons (eurasiareview.com)
- IPPNW to Prime Minister Abe: “Cancel Rokkasho” (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua told media that an aircraft carrying President Nicolas Maduro was denied a path over Puerto Rico’s airspace.
President Maduro’s flight, which was to depart for China, was forced to find an alternate flight path according to Jaua, who denounced the act as “an act of aggression.”
“We have received the information from American officials that we have been denied travel over its airspace,” Jaua said, speaking to reporters during an official meeting with his South African counterpart.
“We denounce this as yet another aggression on the part of North American imperialism against the government of the Bolivarian Republic,” he added.
“No one can deny airspace to a plane carrying a president on an international state visit.”
There is “no valid argument” for denying travel through American airspace, Jaua said, adding that he expected the US to rectify the situation.
President Maduro was due to arrive in Beijing this weekend for bilateral talks with the Chinese government. Jaua was adamant that the Venezuelan leader would reach his destination, regardless of any perceived interference.
Though the US has yet to issue an official response, the latest incident will likely add to already strained relations between the two countries.
In July, the Venezuelan president announced that his government was halting attempts to improve relations with the US. The move was in response to comments made by the newly appointed US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, who told a Senate committee that her new role would include challenging the “crackdown on civil society” abroad, including in Venezuela.
Relations under former President Chavez had been acrimonious, as he had long held suspicions that the US had actively intervened on behalf of an attempted coup in 2002. Since his election in April, President Maduro has often made pointed criticisms at alleged US interference in Venezuelan affairs.
Bolivian President Evo Morales, whose own plane was grounded this summer allegedly due to suspicions by US authorities that the aircraft was transporting whistleblower Edward Snowden, said that ALBA bloc nations should consider a boycott of the upcoming UN General Assembly in New York as a response.
“We cannot accept that the US carries on with politics of intimidation and the prohibition of flights by presidents,” said Morales, adding that the latest incident “demonstrates the country’s predisposition to humiliate other governments” and commit crimes against other nations.
Dispute over visas ahead of UN summit
The Venezuelan President also spoke of attempts by the US to set “conditions” on a visa issued to General Wilmer Barrientos, one of Maduro’s ministers who is slated to attend meetings during the UN General Assembly next week.
“They want to put conditions, if we decide to go to New York… They don’t want to give a visa to my minister,” said Maduro. “Do we want to go as tourists? We’re going to the United Nations. You’re obligated to give visas to all the delegation.”
Appearing via the television network TeleSUR on Thursday, Maduro indicated that he had directed his foreign minister, Elías Jaua, and Venezuela’s Ambassador to the UN, Samuel Moncada, to “activate all mechanisms” in reference to the visa dispute.
“US, you are not the UN’s owner. The UN will have to move out of New York,” remarked Maduro.
He warned that if he has to take “measures” against the government of the US, he would be prepared to take “the most drastic measures necessary” to ensure Venezuelan sovereignty.