Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Araqchi says the United States’ opposition and lack of commitment to various international disarmament conventions are obstacles to advancing the issue of global disarmament.
Pointing to the US’s 16-year opposition to bringing up the issue of disarmament in the UN Disarmament Conference, Araqchi said, “The US has, for all practical purposes, taken the conference hostage and is hindering its effective performance in advancing international peace and security.”
He said that the US opposition to the protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention, its non-adherence to its commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention to eliminate its arsenal by 2012, and efforts to prevent global denuclearization as well as a nuclear-free Middle East are all part of Washington’s black record of non-compliance with international obligations and disrespect for international mechanisms on global disarmament and security.
Reacting to Washington’s recent decision to boycott the upcoming UN Conference on Disarmament because of its chairmanship by Iran, Araqchi said, “Iran is among the first founders of the [UN] Disarmament Conference, and as an independent country, it has always played an instrumental and constructive role in advancing the objectives of the conference, in particular that of nuclear disarmament.”
In a statement issued on Monday, Erin Pelton, the spokesperson for the US Mission to the United Nations, said that the US would not send its ambassador to the conference, adding the US believes the Islamic Republic of Iran should be barred from any formal or ceremonial positions in UN bodies.
Araqchi further noted, “Iran has also played a key role in negotiations on international treaties, including the Chemical Weapons Convention.”
Describing Iran as a victim of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), the Iranian spokesman said the Islamic Republic of Iran along with other peace-loving nations of the world will continue to tap into all national and international potential to contribute to the creation of a WMD-free world.
Iran proposed the idea of a nuke-free Middle East and is among the flag-bearers of nuclear disarmament, he highlighted.
Iran will accede to the rotating presidency of the 65-nation UN Conference on Disarmament, based in Geneva, on May 27 and it will hand it over to another country on June 23 in an alphabetical order.
The conference seeks to reach an agreement on global nuclear disarmament and stopping the development of other weapons of mass destruction.
- Canada not to attend UN disarmament talks under Iran presidency (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Foundation fellows and diplomats have lauded the overwhelming approval of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) by the General Assembly of the United Nations, with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon describing it as a means to obstruct the illicit arms flow to warlords, pirates, terrorists, criminals and the like. Many who have critically monitored the situation in Syria and the ramifications of foreign intervention in Libya may have difficulty swallowing Ban’s words, as some would argue that the UN has itself been complicit in these crises for turning a blind eye to arms and funding going to al-Qaeda-linked rebels in various countries. Twenty-three countries abstained from the vote (representing half the world’s population), including Russia, China, India, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Egypt, while three – Syria, Iran, and North Korea – voted no. Iran’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Gholam-Hossein Dehqani called the treaty a political document disguised as an Arms Trade Treaty, and with highly legitimate reasons for doing so.
“The right to acquire and import arms for their (importer states’) security needs is subject to the discretionary judgment and extremely subjective assessment of the exporting states. That is why this text is highly abusable and susceptible to politicization, manipulation and discrimination,” said Dehghani, referring to conditions that arms exporting states would be able to impose on importing states. The pact prohibits the export of conventional arms to countries deemed guilty of violating international human rights laws and committing crimes against humanity – sure, this appears to be ethical and just at first glance, but more careful reflection is required. If we assume that the United Nations makes the call on which states qualify as human rights abusers and which states do not, then Israel would not be hindered from purchasing conventional weapons, but a country like Syria would be barred from purchasing arms to defend itself and its territorial sovereignty.
What makes the treaty not only toothless, but also particularly dangerous, is the fact that it lacks any explicit prohibitions regarding arms proliferation to terrorists and unlawful non-state actors. “Without such provisions, the ATT would in fact lower the bar on obligations of all states not to support terrorists and/or terrorists acts. We cannot allow such a loophole in the ATT,” said Sujata Mehta, India’s lead negotiator for the ATT in a statement. What this means is that NATO and Gulf states that supply arms to opposition groups in Syria will retain the flexibility to continue to do so, while at the same time having a greater say over whether individual importing states can arm themselves in accordance with their legitimate defense and national security interests. There is no doubt that certain states would take advantage of this loophole’s vast potential for misuse.
The treaty does not recognize the rights of all states to acquire, produce, export, import and possess conventional weapons for their own legitimate security purposes. In theory, this treaty gives the United States, the world’s largest arms exporter with heavy sway over the UN, much greater ability to influence whether or not an individual country is allowed to obtain weapons for its own defense. The treaty, in its glaring bias and predictability, completely fails to prohibit the transfer of arms to countries engaged in military aggression against other nations, such as Israel. “Somebody probably wants to have free rein to send arms to anti-government groups in countries ruled by regimes they consider inconvenient… When we started work on the document, the General Assembly set the task of establishing the highest possible international standards in the area of arms transfers. In reality though, the treaty has established minimally acceptable standards,” said Russian treaty negotiator Mikhail Ulyanov in a recent interview.
The treaty applies to the transfer of conventional weapons such as battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, small and light weapons, while the proliferation of UAV drones and other modern military technology is not addressed or scrutinized. While feel-good rhetoric prevails and politicians pat themselves on the back, the United Nations by its own admission concedes that the treaty does not ban or prohibit the export of any type of weapon. It is clear that the countries that rely most on the illicit trafficking of arms to execute their foreign policy objectives have had noticeable influence over the contents of this treaty. The treaty depends on how stringently individual countries implement it, and international arms transfers that involve barter deals or leases are also not scrutinized.
While many call it a welcomed development and the first step in regulating the $70 billion global conventional arms trade, there is little evidence that it will accomplish anything more than increase the frequency of illicit transfers under different guises and further legitimize the ‘Good Terrorist-Bad Terrorist’ dichotomy – it also contains no language concerning the right to self-determination by people who are under occupation, as is the case in Palestine. The treaty contains some reasonable common-sense measures, such as introducing national systems that monitor arms circulation in countries that lack such systems, but the absence of progressive processes lends credence to accusations that the text is highly industry-friendly and serves to reinforce the status quo.
Most importantly, the treaty pays no focus to actually reducing the sale of arms by limiting global production, which should rightfully be the objective of a treaty that uses global mass causality figures to legitimize itself. According to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, armed violence kills more than half a million people each year, a figure that should rightfully strengthen calls to regulate and decrease global production rather than solely focusing simply on trade. Rather, the treaty institutionalizes and legalizes the arming of good terrorists while denying arms to unfriendly governments. Until the UN can cease being an appendage of a handful of the most powerful arms exporting states, there is little hope that any international arms trade treaty can reduce human suffering and have a meaningful impact on the lives of the most vulnerable in conflict zones around the world and elsewhere.
Nile Bowie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Onésimo Rodríguez, a leader in Panama’s Ngöbe-Buglé indigenous group, was killed by a group of masked men in Cerro Punta, in western Chiriquí department, the evening of Mar. 22 following a protest against construction of the Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam. Carlos Miranda, another protester who was attacked along with Rodríguez, said the assailants beat both men with metal bars. Miranda lost consciousness but survived; Rodríguez’s body was found in a stream the next day. Miranda said he was unable to identify the attackers because it was dark and their faces were covered. Manolo Miranda and other leaders of the April 10 Movement, which organizes protests against the dam, charged that “the ones that mistreated the Ngöbes were disguised police agents.”
The Ngöbe-Buglé stepped up their demonstrations against the Barro Blanco project in January, when construction continued at the site despite a United Nations (UN) report that largely substantiated indigenous claims that the dam would flood three villages, cut the residents off from food sources and destroy important cultural monuments [see Update #1168]. As of Mar. 26 an independent study mandated by the UN report and agreed to by the government had still not started.
In addition to protesting the Honduran-owned company building the dam, Generadora del Istmo, S.A. (GENISA), indigenous activists blame two European banks for funding the project: Germany’s private Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG) and the Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V. (FMO), in which the Dutch government holds a controlling interest. Dam opponents say GENISA also sought funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB) but withdrew the application after learning that bank officials planned to visit the affected communities themselves. (Mongabay.com 3/25/13; La Estrella (Panama) 3/26/13)
In other news, as of Mar. 19 the National Coordinating Committee of the Indigenous Peoples of Panama (COONAPIP) had decided to withdraw from the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (UN-REDD+) program, which focuses on environmental problems in developing nations. The indigenous group charged in a statement that the UN and the Panamanian government “have appeared to marginalize the collective participation of the seven indigenous peoples and 12 traditional structures that make up COONAPIP” and have put “legal and administrative obstacles in the way” of indigenous participation. The Mesoamerican Alliance of People and Forests (AMPB), a coalition of Central American and Mexican indigenous and environmental groups, is backing COONAPIP’s decision. (Mongabay.com 3/19/13; Adital (Brazil) 3/21/13)
An Iranian envoy to the UN has reiterated Tehran’s proposal for a Middle East free of nuclear arms, blaming the Israeli regime for hampering efforts to cleanse the entire region of all nuclear weapons.
Pointing to Israeli bids to oppose and obstruct an Iranian initiative to rid the Middle East of all atomic warheads, Iran’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Gholam-Hossein Dehqani said in a Monday address to the UN Disarmament Commission (UNDC) meeting that the Islamic Republic and all Arab nations have declared their willingness to partake in a conference on eliminating all nuclear arms in the region without preconditions.
Dehqani further pointed to Iran’s insistence that all UN amendments for freeing the Middle East and the world from nuclear arms must be implemented, emphasizing that the eradication of all atomic weapons across the globe is the only ultimate guarantee for removing this threat.
The Iranian official also stressed that since the US atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, nuclear disarmament has remained one of the greatest global priorities and the UN General Assembly called for the abolishment of atomic bombs in a resolution at its first meeting on January 24, 1946.
Dehqani expressed regret, however, that “the maintenance of thousands of nuclear arms in the weapon depots of nuclear powers” on their own soil as well as in the territories of their allies “threatens international peace and security and the existence of human civilization.”
He further pointed to major concerns about the continued allocation of billions of dollars by countries that possess nuclear weapons for the testing and development of a new generation of atomic arms, as well as constructing new facilities to manufacture such weapons of mass destruction.
The Iranian envoy also pointed to the massive annual expenditures for the production and development of nuclear arms by some of the countries that possess atomic warheads and said there are major concerns regarding the expansion of nuclear military programs by these countries.
Calling for the total eradication of such nuclear arms, Dehqani further expressed regret about the “slow progress” on the issue of nuclear disarmament at the United Nations, reiterating the Islamic Republic’s insistence on eliminating all atomic arms based on the nation’s core opposition to all weapons of mass destruction.
The Israeli regime is widely believed to be the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. The regime reportedly maintains between 200 and 400 atomic warheads, but under its policy of so-called nuclear ambiguity, it has never denied nor confirmed its possession of the weapons of mass destruction.
Furthermore, the Israeli regime has never allowed any international inspection of its nuclear facilities and has refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It has also refused to join the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which limits members to civilian uses of the nuclear technology.
The UNDC meets annually in geographical working groups for three weeks in the spring, but over the years it has failed to agree on any substantial outcome. The commission, like most other UN bodies, is heavily influenced and manipulated by the US and its allies to ensure their global interests are served through the world body.
On the 10th anniversary of the United States’ illegal invasion of Iraq, we can expect the war’s supporters to argue that military action seemed necessary at that moment, while critics will remind us of the suffering that resulted from that tragic miscalculation.
But amid the rationalizations and critiques, we should linger on this uncomfortable term: “illegal invasion”.
No matter how much we all ignore it, here is the reality: The U.S. invasion of Iraq was unlawful. The leaders who planned and executed the war are criminals. U.S. citizens bear some responsibility for not holding those leaders accountable.
The charter of the United Nations is clear about when the use of force in international relations is legal. War must be authorized by the U.N. Security Council, and in this case the council rejected a resolution authorizing war. The only other condition under which a member state can go to war is in self-defense when attacked, a principle that is extended to the right to respond to an imminent attack, what is sometimes called “the customary right of anticipatory self-defense.”
The basic principles are uncontroversial and clearly articulated in articles 39 and 51 of the U.N. Charter, though there is debate among legal experts about interpreting terms such as “imminent” and “anticipatory.” But whatever one’s position in those debates, there is no way to stretch the facts of this invasion to justify a self-defense claim.
At this point, many people respond by dismissing international law as irrelevant. Because U.S. policymakers’ first job is to protect Americans, they argue, our leaders shouldn’t be constrained by international law—the Constitution trumps international law or treaties.
But a small problem arises: Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states that “all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States” are part of “the supreme Law of the Land.” Since the United States signed the U.N. Charter (and, in fact, wrote most of it), to reject international law in this matter is to express contempt for the plain meaning of the U.S. Constitution. No patriot would dare.
So, back to those uncomfortable conclusions: A decade ago, U.S. leaders launched what under the principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal is called a “crime against peace.” Whether in the course of that crime, U.S. forces also committed war crimes can be debated. For example, should the deliberate bombing of the civilian infrastructure of a country be considered a war crime? What about the use of cluster munitions in ways that predictably kill civilians? I believe both are criminal, but let’s put those more complicated issues aside. The illegality of the invasion itself is not a tough question.
In my travels outside the United States, I have found that the vast majority of people agree that the U.S. invasion was unlawful. Within the United States, mentioning this worldwide consensus typically is considered idealistic and irrelevant. But while we can ignore evidence and logic, and even ignore the world, we can’t escape the implications of those choices.
The moral force of law, domestic or international, lies in the consistent application of clear standards. When laws are applied only to the poor and the rich act with impunity, for example, we understand that as a perversion of the law.
Over and over in the United States, we proclaim our commitment to the rule of law—we are a nation of laws not men. If that were the case, we would turn over to the International Court of Justice high-ranking figures from the Bush administration, which initiated the war; from the Obama administration, which continued the war; from Congress, which enabled the war; and from the military, which prosecuted the war. We would determine the amount of reparations we owe Iraq and begin to make payments. And we would apologize to the Iraqi people, and to the world.
Why is that unthinkable in our political culture? Perhaps it is because we worship power rather than respect law. Perhaps it is because we have no intention of acting on the moral principles we routinely impose on others.
Perhaps it is because we are not the people we tell ourselves we are.
Robert Jensen is a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. His latest book is We Are All Apocalyptic Now: On the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing, and Speaking Out (Monkey Wrench Books). Jensen is also co-producer of the documentary film Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other Still Dancing (Media Education Foundation, 2009), which chronicles the life and philosophy of the longtime radical activist. An extended interview Jensen conducted with Osheroff is online. He can be reached at: email@example.com. Twitter: @jensenrobertw.
The editorial page of last Saturday’s Times led with the following headline: “Arm the Rebels”.
Editorials seldom have the name of the writer attached to them, which is possibly very useful in the case of this particular article. The piece refers to the suggestion that the British government is poised to begin (officially) supplying military hardware to the militants who are at war with the Syrian government. The article insists that the government get on with doing so… and that, my friends, is incitement to break international law. Chapter one of the UN Charter (an international law), article two, paragraph 4 reads:
“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”
No resolution demanding the overthrow of President Assad has been passed by the general assembly of the United Nations – nor even its cynical “security” council. The UK is a founder member of the United Nations and it really ought not to be breaking its own laws: what sort of example is that to be setting to the plebs? Of course lawyers would argue that the law does not specifically forbid the provision of military hardware to militant anti-government extremists. However, such an action could be said to be an “other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations” – one of which is clearly stated in article one paragraph one as “to maintain peace and security”.
The Times editorial opens its argument with a subheading that reads:
“It is no longer strategically or morally tenable to stand by while Iran and Russia ship weapons to the Assad regime for use against Syrian rebels and civilians.”
As with so many articles in the Times, the content fails to deliver what is promised in the heading. We see not one word of evidence to justify the use of the word “strategically”. Why is the situation in Syria of any “strategic” importance to the interests of sixty million people in a country 3,000 miles away, with no significant economic or diplomatic links? The Times gives no answer.
As for morality, well… what can you say? Here we are being lectured on morality by someone who is openly calling for our government to break international law; and a quick glance at Britain’s “allies” in its disgraceful adventure in Syria is instructive. The anti-Assad militants are said to be resourced extensively from icons of freedom and democracy such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia which, by the way, just happened to be carrying out some routine executions of some men convicted of theft (some of whom were just juveniles when the crimes were committed) during a chummy visit by Prince Charles. But the morality of making allies of dictatorial tyrants who routinely murder their own country’s children doesn’t seem overly to trouble the Times. Who said satire was dead?
As for the argument about standing by “while Iran and Russia ship weapons to the Assad regime” … there’s one small flaw in that point. The Assad “regime” happens to be the legitimate government of Syria. It’s perfectly within its rights to buy whatever it likes from whomever it likes – cynical trade sanctions notwithstanding, obviously.
You have to wonder what the Times leader-writer would say if there were armed extremists from foreign lands running wild around Britain, murdering, raping and looting; and some foreign country with a sizable interest in selling military hardware and a known fondness for looting distant lands demanded the right to supply those extremists with their wares on the grounds that the British government, whilst trying to do its job to protect its people, was using some military equipment known to be supplied from the United States. Would The Times also support the right of that country to supply those extremists, I wonder, for the sake of morality.
The Times is no stranger to the courtroom. Its legal experts will know, just as our trusted political leaders who’re supporting the outrageous events in Syria know, that having a law is one thing, enforcing it is something quite different. You can quite literally get away with murder if no one is able to stop you or call you to account; and you can break international laws with just as much impunity, if the world’s only superpower says it’s O.K. But that doesn’t make the thing right, does it. Still, what could I possibly know about morality; I’m sure The Times knows much more about the subject than I do.
A UN team investigating civilian casualties from US assassination drone attacks in Pakistan has stated that the terror airstrikes violate sovereignty of Pakistan.
Ben Emmerson, head of the UN team, said in a statement on Friday that Pakistani government told him at least 400 civilians have been killed in US drone strikes.
The team paid a three-day research trip to Pakistan that ended on Wednesday. The trip was kept secret until the team left the country.
“The position of the government of Pakistan is quite clear. It does not consent to the use of drones by the United States on its territory and it considers this to be a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Emmerson said.
The attacks “involve the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty,” he added.
The UN launched an investigation into civilian casualties from drone attacks and other targeted killings in Pakistan in January 2013 and will publish the final report in October.
Pakistani officials have condemned the attacks as violation of the country’s sovereignty.
The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism said in a report in February that the United States has carried out more than 360 drone attacks in Pakistan since 2004, killing nearly 3,500 people.
Over the past few months, demonstrations have been held across Pakistan to condemn the United States for violating Pakistan’s sovereignty.
On February 13, hundreds of Pakistani tribesmen held an anti-US demonstration in Islamabad to protest against the killing of innocent civilians by the US drones.
The United Nations says the ill treatment of Palestinian minor inmates within the Israeli military detention system is “widespread, systematic and institutionalized.”
The UN children’s fund, UNICEF, said in a 22-page report on Wednesday that it has examined the Tel Aviv regime’s military court system for holding Palestinian children and found evidence of “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.”
Some 7,000 Palestinian children, aged between 12 and 17, have been arrested, interrogated and prosecuted by Israeli forces, the report said, adding that the majority of them were boys.
“In no other country are children systematically tried by juvenile military courts that, by definition, fall short of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure respect for their rights,” the report stated.
UNICEF analyzed the procedure employed by Israeli forces from arrest to trial of the children. It said many children were “aggressively awakened in the middle of the night by many armed soldiers and being forcibly brought to an interrogation centre tied and blindfolded, sleep deprived and in a state of extreme fear.”
Many of them faced mistreatment during the transfer process and forced to lie down on the floor of a vehicle for one day in some cases. They were also subjected to verbal or physical abuse, the report also noted.
“The interrogation mixes intimidation, threats and physical violence, with the clear purpose of forcing the child to confess,” the international body said, adding they were not accompanied by a lawyer or a family member during the interrogation.
“Children have been threatened with death, physical violence, solitary confinement and sexual assault, against themselves or a family member,” it said, adding that they were restrained during the questioning even for extended periods of time.
The maximum penalty for minor inmates, aged 12 to 13, is six months. However, it could be extended to 20 years for those who are over 14. The vast majority of Palestinian children have been arrested for throwing stones.
“The principal evidence against the child is the child’s own confession, in most cases extracted under duress during the interrogation,” the UNICEF report further said, saying they have to sign confession forms in Hebrew which they barely understand.
“Ultimately, almost all children plead guilty in order to reduce the length of their pretrial detention. Pleading guilty is the quickest way to be released. In short, the system does not allow children to defend themselves,” the report concluded.
A referendum on the Malvinas Islands’ sovereignty is a publicity stunt with no legal ground, Argentina’s ambassador to Britain Alicia Castro has said.
The Malvinas settlers will take part in a referendum next Sunday for the islanders to decide whether they want to remain British or rather they want to rejoin Argentina as motherland.
Argentina, however, has repeatedly announced that the islander’s vote does not count as they believe the Royal Navy has expelled the Argentinians who originally lived on the territory and has replaced them with British settlers.
“This referendum has no legal grounds. It’s not approved, nor will it be recognized by the United Nations or the international community,” Castro said.
“So this referendum is little more than a public relations exercise.”
Britain illegally occupied the Malvinas Islands in 1833 and has since refused to leave. Over the past years, Argentina has repeatedly brought the question of Malvinas to international forums in a bid to highlight its sovereignty over the region.
I would like to avail myself of the possibility to reach the readers of The Tripoli Post in order to correct a series of inaccuracies included in the article entitled “Senkaku/Diaoyu: Another Falklands?” of your February 9th issue. I thank your prestigious publication for allowing me to contribute to a fairer and better understanding of the “Question of the Malvinas Islands”.
When comparing the case of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands and the case of the Malvinas Islands, the author of the aforementioned article says that the latter “have been inhabited by some thousands of English-speaking people of British descent for almost two centuries” and that “Argentina’s claim relates to a short-lived colony in 1830-33 which was preceded by somewhat longer-lived French and British colonies in the 1700s.”
Not true: it is well documented that from as early as the XVIth Century the whole austral region of the Americas – with its coasts, seas and islands – was under the effective control of the Spanish authorities by virtue of several treaties signed by Spain and the United Kingdom. The 32 consecutive Governors named by Spain for the Islands further proves this, as also does the fact that the Argentine governments which succeeded Spain took over and exercised themselves both jurisdiction and administrative faculties over the Malvinas Islands.
Furthermore, all through the process leading to its recognition of the Argentine state in 1825, the United Kingdom did not state any intention to stake a claim to the Malvinas Islands. And in June 1829 Argentina formally created the Political and Military Command of the Malvinas Islands.
On the 3rd of February 1833, a corvette of the British Royal Navy forcefully expelled the Argentine authorities from the islands. Thus started the colonial situation which still prevails and which has incessantly been protested by Argentina.
It is important to mention that in 1965 the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 2065 (XX) which recognizes the existence of a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom, establishes that the situation in the Malvinas Islands is a form of colonialism and invites both governments to engage without delay in negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the problem. This mandate has been reiterated and confirmed up to the present through 40 Resolutions
of the General Assembly and the Decolonization Committee of the UN, as well as by other multinational fora, amongst which the most recent is the Africa – South America Summit held last week in Malabo, where the 54 African countries joined South America in recognizing the legitimate Argentine Sovereignty rights over Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.
Unfortunately, while the United Kingdom refuses to resume dialogue with the Argentine Republic, it does continue carrying out unilateral activities in the disputed area, such as exploration and exploitation of oil and fisheries, thus disrespecting also Resolution 31/49 of the United Nations General Assembly, which calls on both parties in the sovereignty dispute to refrain from adopting decisions which introduce unilateral modifications to the situation. These unilateral activities also include the increasing militarization of the area, which challenges the characterization of the South Atlantic as a Peace Zone, therefore causing concern in the countries of Latin America.
In the meantime, the Argentine Republic reaffirms its vocation for dialogue and its predisposition to comply with the many calls of the international community in order to find a peaceful, fair and definitive solution to the sovereignty dispute.
Argentine Embassy in Libya”
Ten years ago today, Colin Powell made the Bush administration’s case for going to war against Iraq. Much of what he said about Iraq’s threats to the United States was false. But the media coverage gave the opposite impression, and most of the pundits and journalists who promoted the justifications for the war paid no price for their failures.
As FAIR reported at the time, even before the Powell address there were reasons to be skeptical of the administration’s claims. On February 4, 2003, FAIR published “Iraq’s Hidden Weapons: From Allegation to Fact,” which made the point that “it has not been demonstrated that Iraq continues to hold unconventional weapons.” FAIR criticized coverage like that of the New York Times (2/2/03), which asserted that “nobody seriously expected Mr. Hussein to lead inspectors to his stash of illegal poisons or rockets, or to let his scientists tell all.”
As the FAIR release concluded:
The media convey to the public the impression that the alleged banned weapons on which the Bush administration rests its case for war are known to exist, and that the question is simply whether inspectors are skillful enough to find them.
Powell’s address was instrumental in pushing a faulty media line on Iraq’s WMDs further. That much was clear in the coverage right after his appearance at the United Nations, as FAIR documented on February 10 in “A Failure of Skepticism in Powell Coverage.”
In Andrea Mitchell‘s report on NBC Nightly News (2/5/03), Powell’s allegations became actual capabilities of the Iraqi military: “Powell played a tape of a Mirage jet retrofitted to spray simulated anthrax, and a model of Iraq’s unmanned drones, capable of spraying chemical or germ weapons within a radius of at least 550 miles.”
Dan Rather, introducing an interview with Powell (60 Minutes II, 2/5/03), shifted from reporting allegations to describing allegations as facts: “Holding a vial of anthrax-like powder, Powell said Saddam might have tens of thousands of liters of anthrax. He showed how Iraqi jets could spray that anthrax and how mobile laboratories are being used to concoct new weapons.” The anthrax supply is appropriately attributed as a claim by Powell, but the mobile laboratories were something that Powell “showed” to be actually operating.
Commentator William Schneider on CNN Live Today (2/6/03) dismissed the possibility that Powell could be doubted: “No one disputes the findings Powell presented at the U.N. that Iraq is essentially guilty of failing to disarm.” When CNN‘s Paula Zahn (2/5/03) interviewed Jamie Rubin, former State Department spokesperson, she prefaced a discussion of Iraq’s response to Powell’s speech thusly: “You’ve got to understand that most Americans watching this were either probably laughing out loud or got sick to their stomach. Which was it for you?”
If you turn to FAIR’s “Iraq and the Media: A Critical Timeline” (3/19/07), you see that February 6 Washington Post op-ed page had Mary McGrory writing: “I don’t know how the United Nations felt about Colin Powell’s ‘J’accuse’ speech against Saddam Hussein. I can only say that he persuaded me, and I was as tough as France to convince.” She added that she “heard enough to know that Saddam Hussein, with his stockpiles of nerve gas and death-dealing chemicals, is more of a menace than I had thought.”
And Richard Cohen (2/6/03) announced that the debate was over:
The evidence he presented to the United Nations–some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail–had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn’t accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them. Only a fool–or possibly a Frenchman–could conclude otherwise.
Obviously, the fools and Frenchmen were correct. And as FAIR documented, independent-minded journalists were reporting that some of the administration’s claims did not stand up to scrutiny. The Associated Press had a detailed look at the state of Iraq intelligence on January 18. The skepticism and good judgment of those reporters (and others) should have been the rule, not the exception, if journalists had been doing their jobs.
But most journalists did a different job. And most of them faced no consequences whatsoever for being so disastrously wrong.
A UN human rights inquiry has called on Israel to remove all Jewish settlers from the West Bank and cease expansion. The report said the settlements violate international law, and are an attempt to drive out Palestinians through intimidation.
”Israel must, in compliance with article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, cease all settlement activities without preconditions,” the report read, adding that Israel must immediately begin to withdraw all settlers from the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT).
The inquiry prompted a strong reaction from Israel who slammed the report as biased.
“The Human Rights Council has sadly distinguished itself by its systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel. This latest report is yet another unfortunate reminder of that,” said spokesman Yigal Palmor in a statement.
The 1949 Geneva Convention prohibits the transfer of a civilian population into an occupied area – such an act could constitute war crimes if brought before the International Criminal Court. Following the UN’s de facto recognition of Palestine last December, Israel announced plans to build thousands of homes in the OPT.
In response, Palestine wrote to the UN warning that Israel’s planned expansion into the occupied territories would lead to more war crimes being committed.
The UN investigators interviewed over 50 people who were driven from their homes. They described how their livelihoods were destroyed and their land was confiscated, and how they were subjected to continuous violence from Jewish settlers.
“The mission believes that the motivation behind this violence and the intimidation against the Palestinians as well as their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands and allow the settlements to expand,” said the report.
The report has the potential to significantly worsen the UN’s already-strained relationship with Israel, particularly after Israeli representatives failed to appear at a UN human rights review two days ago.
The Israeli government has repeatedly ignored international condemnations of its settlements in the occupied territories, and continues to bar the entry of a Human Rights Council probe to assess the impact of the settlements. Israel has insisted that the organization is biased in favor of the Palestinians, and claimed that historic and biblical ties justify its claim to the territories.
Summary executions and mass human rights abuses targeting innocent civilians in Mali are being perpetrated by soldiers loyal to the dubious Malian regime in a campaign supported by the United Nations, the new socialist French government, and the Obama administration. According to human rights groups and witnesses on the ground, the atrocities are increasing as the number of murdered victims continues to rise — eerily reminiscent of similar tragic interventions in Libya, Syria, and the Ivory Coast.
The regime ruling southern Mali out of the capital city of Bamako, which seized power in a military coup last year led by a U.S. government-trained officer, is currently attempting to recapture the northern regions of the country. The vast swath of territory in the north was declared independent last year by a group of historically oppressed nomadic Tuareg rebels armed with weapons obtained from the recent Western-backed war on Libya.
Islamic fighters with various loyalties joined the fight against the corrupt central government, too — providing a half-baked excuse for the UN, the French government, Obama, and various African despots to enter the fray on behalf of the illegitimate regime in the south. After the UN Security Council purported to “authorize” an international invasion on behalf of the coup-installed regime, forces from France openly began their military campaign earlier this month under the guise of fighting “Islamic extremism.”
Obama, the U.K. government, and a motley assortment of African tyrants — most of whom continue to be propped up with Western taxpayer money — quickly joined the battle as well. But within days of the military operation to crush rebels in the north, disturbing reports of gross human rights violations perpetrated by Western-backed forces began to emerge from across the region.
“This series of grave abuses confirms the concerns that we have been expressing for several weeks,” said President Souhayr Belhassen with the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), a Paris-based umbrella group representing more than 160 organizations around the world. “These acts of revenge together with the extreme tensions that exists between the communities constitute an explosive cocktail leading us to fear that the worst could happen, especially in the context of the reconquering the North.”
According to FIDH, which said it is “very alarmed by the increasing number of summary executions and other human rights violations committed by Malian soldiers,” an immediate investigation is needed. The umbrella organization said an independent commission should be established to assess the scope of the crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice. The group said it had already confirmed dozens of reports of extrajudicial murders in various towns, and that other reported atrocities were still being investigated.
Even in Bamako, where the corrupt regime styling itself the “government” of Mali is based, ethnic Tuaregs who have nothing to do with the secession movement in the north are being brutalized. According to reports, their homes are being invaded and plundered. Simply failing to produce valid identification documents is apparently justification enough to brutalize or even murder the victims.
“These abuses undermine the legitimacy of the operation to restore territorial integrity and must be prosecuted by the national justice, and if required, by the International Criminal Court which opened an investigation on the situation in Mali on 16 January,” FIDH Honorary President Sidiki Kaba said in a statement, urging French and Malian authorities to investigate the lawlessness and criminal terrorization of victims. [...]
While the press has been largely barred from conflict areas by the French government, even establishment journalists have documented the slaughter by UN-backed forces. A Reuters reporter, for example, “saw at least six bodies in two areas of the Walirdi district of Sevare. Three of them were lying, partly covered in sand, near a bus station and showed signs of having been burned. Three more had been thrown into a nearby well.”
Witnesses who spoke to the Associated Press but asked to remain anonymous gave vivid accounts of the atrocities being perpetrated by the Malian regime, which, again, has the full force of the Obama administration, the UN, and the socialist government in France behind it. According to the sources, Malian soldiers were massacring anyone suspected of having ties to the rebels in the north.
“They gathered all the people who didn’t have national identity cards and the people they suspected of being close to the Islamists to execute them and put them in two different wells near the bus station,” one of the witnesses was quoted as saying by the AP. After being dumped in the wells, Malian troops poured gasoline on the bodies and set them ablaze, probably to conceal the evidence of their crimes.
The coup regime in Bamako has denied the accusations, saying it ordered its officers to “respect human rights.” However, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, when asked about whether he knew of the abuses being perpetrated by the “government” his forces are supporting in Mali, said: “There’s a risk” that the atrocities are occurring, but that it was up to the Malian regime to stop it. … Full article