U.N.

Ban ‘killer robots’ to protect fundamental moral and legal principles

When drafting a treaty on the laws of war at the end of the 19th century, diplomats could not foresee the future of weapons development. Bonnie Docherty The Conversation But they did adopt a legal and moral standard for judging new technology not covered by existing treaty language. This standard, known as the Martens Clause, has survived generations of international humanitarian law and gained renewed relevance in a world where autonomous weapons are on the brink of making their own ... Read More »

Why should Kofi Annan’s death cause us to forget how bad at his job he was?

Failure falls upwards. Dominic Green Spectator We’re supposed only say good things about the dead—‘De mortuis & c.’, as one of John Buchan’s heroes manfully abbreviates it. It’s an ancient superstition, apotropaic and illogical. I’m with the Archdeacon in Anthony Trollope’s The Last Chronicle of Barset: the taboo is ‘founded in humbug’, so why adopt the ‘everyday decency of speaking well of one whom one had ever thought ill’? The deceasedness of the deceased means we can say what we really ... Read More »

Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, dead at age 80

(CNN) – Kofi Annan, the first black African to lead the United Nations, has died at age 80. By Laura Smith-Spark, Richard Roth and Joe Sterling, CNN He served as Secretary-General at a time when worries about the Cold War were replaced by threats of global terrorism, and his efforts to combat those threats and secure a more peaceful world brought him the… Annan, who was born in Ghana in 1938, served as the seventh UN Secretary-General, from 1997 to 2006, ... Read More »

US ‘picking and choosing’ from the Law of the Sea

A recent article argues that China is ‘selectively choosing the parts of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that it likes and is ignoring or reinterpreting the parts that it does not like or… Mark J Valencia EastAsiaForum The argument is made on the basis that China sent a ‘spy ship’ to observe the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, the world’s largest joint naval exercise, held in June and July 2018. But this account ignores that ... Read More »

Kabila Shows His Hand in DR Congo’s Electoral Poker

As election preparations in the Democratic Republic of Congo proceed, President Joseph Kabila has announced he will not run for re-election. He may hope this important move will relieve outside pressure for free and fair elections. International actors should keep up the scrutiny. Hans Hoebeke ICG On 8 August 2018, the filing deadline, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s ruling majority coalition announced that Emmanuel Ramazani Shadari would be its candidate in the presidential election slated for 23… The announcement ... Read More »

China Uighurs: Beijing denies detaining one million

China has said reports it is holding a million Muslim Uighurs in detention in Xinjiang are “completely untrue”. BBC Uighurs enjoyed full rights but “those deceived by religious extremism… shall be assisted by resettlement and re-education”, officials said. The rare admission from Beijing – at a UN meeting in Geneva – came in response to concerns that the region “resembles a massive internment camp”. Xinjiang has seen intermittent violence – followed by crackdowns – for years. China accuses Islamist… China ... Read More »

The Brilliant Cathy Wilcox

Here is a letter by Freddie Steen to the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.  I agree with every word of it ( Julian Burnside ) The Editor , Cathy Wilcox(“political cartoon, 1/8) cuts to the core: Dutton’s punitive, care-less position on the human status of men seeking asylum, lets young men die. A breach of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention RG Menzies freely signed in 1954. The death of Hamid Khazaie is now world history as a preventable death in administrative ... Read More »

Countering China’s Actions in the South China Sea

For many who follow developments in the South China Sea, the July 2016 tribunal ruling in the Philippines’ case against China has become the equivalent of the birth of Jesus in the Gregorian calendar: Developments are considered… Lynn Kuok Lawfare In the first year after the award, compliance was fair: Beijing largely kept its actions, if not its words, within the letter of the ruling. In late July 2017, however, things went south. The Chinese government insists that the situation ... Read More »

Stuck in Lebanon: a Syrian refugee family’s life in limbo

I don’t remember exactly how Reham and I came to meet on Facebook but I do recall how articulate she was, her love for her younger sister Fatima and her quiet desperation for a new life. Heaven Crawley The Conversation Reham is just nine years old, a Syrian refugee living in a small town in the north of Lebanon with her parents and three siblings, the youngest of whom is just eight months old. Her father Abdul told me that ... Read More »

Are We Set Up to Relieve the Mind-Numbing Chernobyl and Fukushima Experience?

There’s a visible pattern amid the European media voicing ever increasing concern over malfunctions and all sorts of emergencies occurring lately at nuclear power plants. Grete Mautner NEO A very real possibility of a second Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster occurring in Europe has recently been reported by Italian news service Gli Occhi Della Guerra. In particular, it reported that the authorities of Germany and the Netherlands made a decision to hand out to the population iodine tablets capable of reducing the effects ... Read More »

Deal to Protect Waters Around ‘Jurassic Park Island’ Falls Through

Costa Rica’s government failed to execute a commitment to protect 4,000 square miles around Cocos Island National Park, a critical shark habitat. Stephen Leahy National Geographic A commitment to create a marine protected area around Cocos Island fell through, though the country’s new government may take another look. Two years ago, former Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís made international news by committing to a 4,000-square-mile expansion of the marine protected area around the extraordinarily biodiverse waters of Cocos Island ... Read More »

‘A huge win’: New Zealand brings in paid domestic violence leave

MPs cheer after legislation passes to tackle what one called ‘horrifying’ rates of family violence Eleanor Ainge Roy, in Dunedin The Guardian New Zealand has passed legislation granting victims of domestic violence 10 days paid leave to allow them to leave their partners, find new homes and protect themselves and their children. MPs clapped and cheered as bill passed on Wednesday night with 63 votes to 57. It is the result of seven years of work by Green MP Jan ... Read More »

UN delivers strong rebuke to Australian government on women’s rights

This week, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women handed down its recommendations from its review of Australia’s compliance with the women’s rights treaty, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Authors: The Conversation The UN delivered a scathing critique of Australia’s failures to protect and promote the rights of women and girls. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women is a UN treaty body, made up of ... Read More »

Forced Evictees in Northern Uganda Entitled to a Remedy

Residents in Apaa Seek United Nations Help Oryem Nyeko HRW Over the past week and a half, about 200 people from the northern Uganda village of Apaa have traveled 100 kilometers to the town of Gulu seeking safety – and help – after Ugandan soldiers allegedly torched their homes. They have turned to the United Nations for assistance with their plight, and are camped at the offices of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). In ... Read More »

Vietnam: Clean Up Abysmal Rights Record

Past UN Member Recommendations Ignored © 2018 Reuters/Kham HRW (Geneva) – Vietnam’s government should release all political prisoners and uphold its pledges to respect basic civil and political rights, Human Rights Watch said in a submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Vietnam will be appearing before the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in January 2019. During its 2014 UPR review, Vietnam accepted 182 out of 227 recommendations it received from UN member countries. Since then, the Vietnamese government ... Read More »

Justice for the next Generation? The Collapse of Values.

I was honoured to be invited to give the 2018 Hobart Oration. Julian Burnside It is sponsored by the Bob Brown Foundation. Here is what I said. Hobart Oration 23 July 2018:  Justice for the next Generation?  The Collapse of Values. The two great issues our generation is leaving the next are climate change and the treatment of refugees. Climate change I have no hesitation in saying that climate change is the number one issue today: refugees are a second-order issue, ... Read More »