06/30/2010 - 10:29am
Posted by Melissa Kaplan
How can the United States and Europe work together to promote democracy around the world? That was the topic of discussion on June 29th as a distinguished panel--including former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Representative Vin Weber, and former Polish Prime Minister and current President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek—spoke at a National Democratic Institute event entitled “Transatlantic Dialogue: Strengthening Cooperation on Democracy Support.” One important conclusion: what works in one country (including the U.S.) may not succeed everywhere.
06/29/2010 - 4:04pm
Is there a Responsibility to Protect the people of Kyrgyzstan? The answer is Yes.
Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) calls upon the international community to abide by its moral responsibility to not let deadly conflicts got unnoticed. If R2P is important to you, then click HERE to see how Citizens for Global Solutions is working collectively with other organizations to urge the UN Security Council to remember their Responsibility to Protect. The ethnic violence and suffering that is taking place in Kyrgyzstan must end soon and the interim government of Kyrgyzstan has already stated that they are unable to protect their people from further violence. The people of Kyrgyzstan need the UN Security Council to not let the current conflict in their State go unnoticed.
06/28/2010 - 4:21pm
Posted by Michael Crabtree
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee continues to push forward with hearings on the New START Treaty, despite vocal opposition from stubborn opponents relentlessly repeating the same misguided objections. Listening to these obstinate Representatives continue to regurgitate these same obstructive statements, a listener is left wondering if any amount of information, military experts or hearings would really convince them to put security over partisan politics.
Working Across the Aisle for a New START
Bi-partisan collaboration is not only possible, it has been a cornerstone of non-proliferation treaties since START I. The New START Treaty is no different. It maintains a broad coalition of support from respected individuals, both Democrat and Republican. As noted by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the treaty “is, by definition, not a bipartisan but a non-partisan challenge.” This claim has been echoed by a veritable parade of respected authorities, both civilian and military, that have come forward with their support.
During several hearings, the SFRC has heard the testimonies of former Secretaries of State and Secretaries of Defense. According to James Baker and William Perry, ratifying the Treaty is crucial in preventing nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists and rogue states. According to foreign policy experts Henry Kissinger and Stephen Hadley, the New START is fundamental to the relationship between the United States and Russia, while Brent Scowcroft warned that if the U.S. fails to ratify the treaty, diplomatic efforts for nuclear non-proliferation may be thrust into “a state of chaos.”
Why Should We Ratify?
The reasons for ratifying the New START treaty are numerous and compelling. Since the expiration of START I in 2009, the United States and Russia have lost a critical link between the two governments. For this reason, the treaty offers benefits far greater than an incremental decrease in nuclear weapons. It will reestablish definitions, counting rules, and a means of verification previously laid out in the expired START I treaty
Failure of Treaty negotiations will have even greater strategic consequences. Henry Kissinger noted the importance of passing New START in order to achieve other key objectives, specifically “to reduce or eliminate the danger of war by miscalculation…to bring about the maximum stability in the balance of forces to reduce incentives for nuclear war by design…to overcome the danger of accidents fostered by the automaticity of the new technology. Kissinger even broached the topic of disarmament, albeit cautiously, stating “All these measures combined might, if successful, merge into a strategy that would reduce or limit—and, in the end, perhaps eliminate—the use of these weapons as a conscious choice.”
To join the discussion and stay current with Committee proceedings, become a fan of the New START Page
06/23/2010 - 5:18pm
Authorities in Kyrgyzstan have reported that more than half, approximately 57,500, of the individuals who left Kyrgyzstan for Uzbekistan have returned home. Reports from inside Kyrgyzstan indicate that 75,000 Kyrgyz citizens fled to Uzbekistan but international aid groups are saying that over 100,000 Kyrgyz citizens actually left the country. In addition to people leaving the country, many more people, approximately 300,000 people, are internally displaced.
Why are they returning home? Has the violence subsided? The answer is not really. Even though Large-scale unrest has ceased in the country's south, tension still remains high, security forces are carrying out raids and human rights organizations are accusing the police of looting. Officials are reporting that as many as 2,000 people may have been killed during the fighting that took place earlier this month.
In spite of the present tension, the interim leader, Roza Otunbayeva, still wants to continue with the plan of having a constitutional referendum on Sunday. Some say that this is not a good idea because there is a high risk of causing new unrest, but Otunbayeva insists that holding the constitutional referendum is essential for ensuring stability back in Kyrgyzstan.
06/22/2010 - 5:07pm
Their names are Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus and they have both voluntarily surrendered to the International Criminal Court. The two individuals are each charged with three counts of war crimes as a result of attacking African Union peacekeepers in September 2007 in Haskanita, in northern Darfur. Both men are currently staying at an undisclosed location and they will remain there until the close of the legal proceedings. The case against Jerbo and Banda is the fourth case dealing with genocide taking place in Darfur that has been handled by the International Criminal Court.
Facts of the Haskanita Attack
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06/17/2010 - 4:08pm
The United Nations (UN) announced today that approximately 400,000 have been displaced by the unyielding violence in Southern Kyrgyzstan. The UN has also reported that roughly 300,000 people have fled their homes and another 75,000-100,000 people (not counting children) are thought to have taken refuge in Uzbekistan. Many of the people that have fled to Uzbekistan are women and children who are now living in makeshift camps where many are reporting instances of rape and severe beatings.
The effect of the violence on Uzbekistan
This is the first time that Uzbekistan has opened its doors to refugees but Uzbek Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Aripov said Uzbekistan would stop accepting refugees because they could not be accommodated. Additionally, Uzbekistan has called for international aid to assist them in their ability to admit and accommodate refugees.
What about aid?
Shortages of food, water, clothing, medicine and shelter are additional issues that plague those who had to run from their homes in an effort to save their lives but some aid has begun to arrive. The Red Cross (ICRC) has been on the scene in the city of Osh and has reported that the unsettling calm in fighting between the ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks had allowed its workers to reach refugees in the areas around Osh. A true humanitarian crisis has unfolded in the region and the lack of much needed aid has caused some, such as, a baker from an Uzbek district of Osh who had fled to the border with his wife and five children on Sunday to return to their now unsafe home in Southern Kyrgyzstan because all supplies had run out when they reached the border.
06/16/2010 - 4:58pm
On Tuesday, June 15, 2010 Legal Advisor for the U.S. State Department, Harold H. Koh, and Ambassador-at-Large for War Crime Issues, Stephen J. Rapp engaged in a press briefing to discuss their visit to Kampala, Uganda for the International Criminal Court Review Conference. Koh addressed any concerns regarding the U.S. relationship with the Court when he said, "[T]o paraphrase Churchill, this is not the end, it was not the beginning of the end, but it did feel like the end of the beginning of the U.S's 12-year relationship with this court. After 12 years, I think we have reset the default on the U.S. relationship with the court from hostility to positive engagement. In this case, principled engagement worked to protect our interest, to improve the outcome, and to bring us renewed international goodwill. As one delegate put it to me, the U.S. was once again seen, with respect to the ICC, as part of the solution and not the problem. The outcome in Kampala demonstrates again principled engagement can protect and advance our interests, it can help the states parties to find better solutions, and make for a better court, better protection of our interests, and a better relationship going forward between the U.S. and the ICC."
Koh did not hold back in further complimenting themselves and the rest of the U.S. delegation for their hard work "to resume engagement with the court, states parties, observer nations, and many private organizations involved in international criminal law". The U.S. delegation should be praised for their hard work at this conference. Rapp made sure to highlight that "one of the main aspects of [the] conference in which…[U.S.] principled engagement was so positive was working with the court in stocktaking exercises, which looked at issues like complementarity, which is this idea that you should have justice at the national level in preference to justice at the international level".
Click HERE for the full transcript of the press conference.
06/15/2010 - 3:54pm
Posted by Melissa Kaplan
Until a week or so ago, most Americans probably couldn’t locate the nation of Kyrgyzstan on a map. However, ethnic violence has now broken out in the country in dramatic fashion, following a coup in early April, and the small Central Asian republic is now dominating the news.
06/11/2010 - 6:40pm
Posted by Abigail Long
By: Ariela Blatter
Shortly after the historic decision for the ICC to prosecute the crime of aggression, Harold Koh, Legal Advisor to the United States Department of State made a shaky statement from the floor. Overcome by either emotion or exhaustion at 1am here in Kampala, he spoke in a shaky voice, after a marathon 48 hours of negotiations. In his remarks he gave a window into the Obama Administration's desire to map the course of the Court for the years to come. Reminding States Parties of its recent commitment to cooperate with the Court and the US eagerness to engage in taking stock of the courts progress, it foreshadowed a potential difficult battle ahead for ICC advocates. The US delegation, in agreeing with France and the UK, re-asserted its view of the primary role of the UNSC over aggression. The US asserted it was a wise decision today to defer the decision for the ICC to prosecute crimes of aggression to a later date (in seven years), when 2/3 of the state parties must convene again to decide whether or not to stick to the spirit of the amendments made here in Kampala.
Finally, the US warned that any "organic" decision-making of the Court through the normal channels of decision-making by the Assembly of State Parties would be a serious constitutional problem; any future decision-making on aggression must wait for the next big review conference. However, the US requested that upcoming regular meetings of the Assembly of State Parties consider future amendments "to strengthen the Rome Statute." I sincerely hope that by requesting leave to consider future amendments to the Rome Statute before the next official review conference, the US does not use this opportunity to undermine the historic decision today to place the ICC as the first permanent international court to try individuals who have engaged in the decision and implementation of illegal wars. It is important to note that the US delegation made a significant victory here in Kampala, by inserting several clarifications to the Rome Statute, or "understandings" that in their view addressed their most serious concerns about the definition on aggression, and that it not impinge on their ability to enter into coalition military operations or humanitarian intervention.
06/11/2010 - 6:06pm
Posted by Abigail Long
By: Ariela Blatter
The delegation from the United Kingdom (UK) states that any future action by state parties in prosecuting crime of aggression must respect the PRIMACY of the UN Security Council. Citing Article 39 of the UN Charter, the UK delegation re-asserts that it is the UNSC that has the expertise to determine an act of aggression. In a momet of levity the head of the English delegation calls the opening text, or preamble of the adopted text the most boring thing he has ever read, and asks that the official record reflects this text.
Is this a prelude of a fight to come? Did the UK put a line in the sand that the UN Security Council is the EXCLUSIVE body to decide aggression? Will they object in seven years to the ability of the Court to act independently of the UN Security Council? Will the UK and other members of the UN Security Council roll back the progress that was made only 10 minutes ago when a standing ovation at Kampala welcomed the decision to announce the ICC as first permanent international court that would have jurisdiction over the crime of aggression?
Only time will tell at this point....
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