MAYORS FOR PEACE REINFORCE THE POSSESSION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS AS A VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW

By Erica Laster                                                                                                                       Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

NEW YORK, United States – U.N. officials have been actively discussing the complete abolition of nuclear weapons.   “They all understand that nuclear weapons make us less safe, not more,” said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at an exhibit and presentation by the Mayors of Peace at U.N. headquarters in New York last Thursday.  In the wake of the meltdown of Japanese nuclear plants following the tsunami, human rights groups have called for an end to the sale, use and production of nuclear weapons across the World.

U.S. & Russia sign Nuclear Arms Treaty (April 2010). Photo courtesy of npr.org.
U.S. & Russia sign Nuclear Arms Treaty (April 2010). Photo courtesy of npr.org.

Mayors of Peace began working alongside the United Nations in 1991 to confront the difficult task of nuclear weapon bans.  It now operates in 150 countries and over 4,500 cities in the International community. 

Accompanied by survivors of the Atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, Ban Ki-moon indicated the necessity of nuclear disarmament.

Just one day before, the Simons Foundation and the International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) released the Vancouver Declaration which declared that nuclear weapons are “incompatible” with international humanitarian law.  Further, as weapons of mass destruction, they are universally prohibited in warfare. 

Specifically, the harm inflicted on civilians from nuclear heat and radiation has been widely discussed and argued in the community as a violation of international law by experts and public diplomacy officials.

The declaration’s signers cite the International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion of 1996, arguing that “It cannot be lawful to continue indefinitely to possess weapons which are unlawful to use or threaten to use, are already banned for most states, and are subject to an obligation of elimination.”  This obligation to eliminate nuclear arsenals stems directly from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation (NPT) of 1970.  According to the NPT, states possessing weapons agreed to disarm and destroy their supply of weapons and those not in possession agreed not to acquire them.

93 percent of the world’s stockpile of nuclear weapons are possessed by the United States and Russia.  The remaining nuclear powers include China, France, Israel, Britain, India and Pakistan.

Many have derailed, prolonged and completely ignored their agreement to disarm and reduce their nuclear stockpiles.  Some, such as Dr. Jennifer Simons, Simons Foundation President, believe that “the possession of nuclear weapons should be an international crime.”

Despite a recent US-Russia Arms Treaty approved by the Barack Obama administration which confirms the countries intent to disarm, the United States is still allowed to keep 3,500 weapons after the year 2020.  John Burroughs of the Lawyer’s Committee on Nuclear Policy is hopeful that despite the long haul, the peace movement will help crystallize and garner support for the abolition of nuclear weapons. 

For More Information Please Visit:

IPS – Public Momentum Builds Against Nukes – 25 March 2011

Mayors For Peace – Powerful earthquake, huge tsunami and nuclear accident in Japan – 11 March 2010

NY Times – Nuclear Weapons – 22 December 2010

Saudi Arabia Outlaws Protests

By Eric C. Sigmund
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Islamic scholars in Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa, a religious edict, Tuesday, forbidding protests in the country.  The edict declares that anti-government demonstrations are punishable as un-Islamic.  The Saudi government reports that it will print and additional 1.5 million copies of the edict, to add to the 500,000 already printed, to distribute to citizens.

The fatwa, issued by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al al-Sheikh, the most prominent religious official in the country, urges citizens to “have a united front….under its wise and legitimate leadership.”  Despite the government’s quick endorsement of the edict, not all Islamic scholars support a ban on free expression.   Sheikh Gamal Qotb, the former head of the Al-Azhar fatwa committee, the highest religious institution in the Sunni world, expressed that the edict was a “big mistake,” noting that protest helps to promote peace and check tyranny.

While countries throughout the region continue to experience massive popular uprisings, Saudi Arabia has been largely immune from pro-democracy resistance.  The government quickly reacted to attempts by opponents to stage mass protests on March 11 by increasing the street presence of its police forces.   Heightened security patrols and strong rhetoric from the Saudi leaderships has thus far allowed the government to suppress and deter civilian protests. 

For more information please see:

Al-Masry Al-Youm- Al-Azhar Scholar Criticizes Saudi Edict Banning Protests – Mar. 30, 2011

People’s Daily Online – Saudi Arabia Prints 1.5 Million Copies of Anti-Protest Edict –Mar. 30, 2011

Reuters Africa – Saudi Prints 1.5 Million Copies of Anti-Demo Edict – Mar. 29, 2011

Colombian Politicians Accused In Journalist’s 2002 Murder

By Patrick Vanderpool
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

Orlando Sierra Hernandez, deputy editor and columnist for La Patria newspaper, was murdered in 2002 (photo courtesy of Committee to Protect Journalists)
Orlando Sierra Hernandez, deputy editor and columnist for La Patria newspaper, was murdered in 2002 (photo courtesy of Committee to Protect Journalists)

BOGOTA, Colombia – Francisco Ferney Tapasco and Dixon Ferney Tapasco, father and son politicians, will be charged with the planning of the 2002 murder of Orlando Sierra Hernandez, a Colombian journalist, according to the Colombian Attorney General’s Office. Sierra Hernandez was the assistant editor of La Patria newspaper; he was gunned down in January 2002 outside the newspaper’s offices in Manizales.

According to the prosecution, several key witnesses have linked Ferney Tapasco, the former director of the Liberals in the Caldas department, and Dixon Tapasco, his ex-congressman son  with the murder. The murder came shortly after Sierra Hernandez published allegations of corruption against the father and son.

Luis Fernando Soto Zapata, the confessed shooter, was sentenced to 29 years in prison, but was subsequently released after only six years on good behavior. The early release spurred large-scale protests by journalists across Colombia. Zapata ultimately was killed in a June 2008 gunfight with police in the southwestern city of Cali.

Francisco Ferney Tapasco is already serving jail time in connection with an investigation of his alleged ties to a violent right-wing rebel group in Colombia. His son is also previously served a seven-year prison sentence for paramilitary links, but left prison earlier this month.

The arrests of these politicians support the fears initially expressed by the Colombian journalistic community that the murder was politically motivated. Sierra Hernandez had been outspoken against what he perceived as corrupt politicians for years prior to his murder. In face, he the journalist was assigned bodyguards following death threats that he had received in 1998.

For more information, please see:

Colombia Reports –Liberal Party Politicians Indicted for Journalist Murder – 29 March 2011

Latin American Herald Tribune –Colombia Politicians Accused of Journalist’s Murder – 29 March 2011

Committee to Protect Journalists – Journalist Killed: Colombia – February 2002

35 Years Later, British Apologize For Schoolgirl Killing

Majella O’Hare was 12 years old when she was shot twice in the back by a British army soldier in 1976. Photograph courtesy of Pacemaker.
Majella O’Hare was 12 years old when she was shot twice in the back by a British army soldier in 1976. Photograph courtesy of Pacemaker.

By Christina Berger
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

BELFAST, Northern Ireland — The British government has issued a formal apology to the family of a schoolgirl who was killed by the British army in Northern Ireland in 1976. The apology, coming almost 35 years after the incident, has acknowledged that the version of what happened as told by the solider involved is “unlikely.”

Majella O’Hare, a 12-year-old Catholic girl, was walking with school friends to church in county Armagh during the summer of 1976 when she was struck in the back by two bullets. Her father, who was the school caretaker, witnessed the shooting. Majella died in a helicopter on the way to the hospital.

The paratrooper who fired the shots, Private Michael Williams, claimed that he had fired the shots in response to an IRA sniper hiding in the bushes. The RUC conducted an initial investigation, and found that Williams was not returning fire at a gunman. The RUC recommended Williams be charged with manslaughter and prosecuted. Williams was prosecuted but he was acquitted by a senior Belfast judge.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Historical Enquiries Team (HET) has been conducting investigations into more than 3,000 unsolved killings, many of which took place during the Troubles. The HET reinvestigated Majella O’Hare’s case and concluded that there was never any evidence to suggest there had been an IRA gunman present. Last summer, the HET’s director urged the army to apologize for killing Majella. This was in addition to campaigning for a formal apology which British Irish Rights Watch, a civil liberties group, has done for years.

The apology, signed by secretary of defense Liam Fox, was hand-delivered to Majella’s 88-year-old mother by the Northern Ireland secretary. The letter read in part: “I apologise for Majella’s death and offer you my heartfelt sympathy…both the initial investigation by the RUC and the more recent review have concluded that it was unlikely that there was a gunman in the area when the soldier involved opened fire and struck Majella, as he claimed. The soldier’s actions resulted in the loss of a young and innocent life, causing sorrow and anguish for those who knew and loved Majella. On behalf of the army and the government I am profoundly sorry that this tragic incident should have happened.”

This was only the second apology to ever be issued by the British government for army conduct during Northern Ireland’s Troubles. Last summer, a general apology was issued in response to a report that rejected the army’s defense for what happened on Bloody Sunday in 1972, when 13 Catholic demonstrators were killed. Groups like British Irish Rights Watch hope that this signals a change in the attitude of politicians and military figures, and in the future they might be more willing to acknowledge that what happened in certain cases was wrong.

Majella’s family has welcomed the apology, though they’ve noted it’s been a long time coming. “It’s good to get this apology,” Majella’s brother Michael said. “It’s not going to bring Majella back but at least it will set the record straight for history.”

For more information, please see:

IRISH TIMES — Apology but no new criminal case over 1976 shooting of girl in North — 29 March 2011

AP — British apologize for ’76 killing of Catholic girl — 28 March 2011

GUARDIAN — Ministry of Defence says sorry for killing of Majella O’Hare — 28 March 2011

Civil War Looms in Jordan after Fierce Clashes between Civilians and Government

By Eric C. Sigmund
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

AMMAN, Jordan – Civil unrest in Jordan continues to rise as protesters, unsatisfied with government concessions, become more emboldened, spurring violate clashes between protesters and government supporters.  Saturday’s clashes were the bloodiest yet in the country, leaving 2 protesters dead and 160 injured.  Concerned that Jordan is edging closer to civil war, King Abdullah II called for national unity and announced that the government “is going ahead with political and economic reforms, strongly and enthusiastically.”

Protesters Remain Strong Three Months Later Despite Crackdowns (Photo Courtesy of The Medial Line)
Protesters Remain Strong Three Months Later Despite Crackdowns (Photo Courtesy of The Medial Line)

Pro-reform protest continued to remain resilient three months after their initial outbreak despite security crackdowns from government supporters and police forces.  While the King has expressed his commitment to address the concerns of discontent citizens, some of his proposed reforms face significant opposition from Parliament.   In particular, the Jordanian Parliament has been unwilling to limit the King’s power, claiming that a diminution of the King’s constitutional authority represents a “threat to Jordan’s survival.”  Commenting on Saturday’s deadly clashes, Parliamentary leaders announced that it will “make sure [the King] remains powerful to preserve the Jordanian identity and the constitution” and warned that “political blackmail is rejected.”  

Parliament’s statements however, have not been well received by government critics and have led some political analysts to issue their own warnings about the heightened possibility of civil war.  One commentator noted that “there is a sense that the situation may explode at any moment.”   While King Abdullah has already taken some steps to calm popular discontent, such as raising pensions and reshuffling his Cabinet, these reforms have largely been rejected as half-hearted reforms which do not address protester’s core demands.  Until all their demands are met, citizens will continue to clog the streets and pursue reform notes one protester.   Given Parliaments resistance to further constitutional reforms, the prospects for peaceful reform may be dwindling in Jordan. 

For more information please see:

The Media Line – Jordan Teetering on Civil War, Local Analysts Say – Mar. 28, 2011

Agence France Presse – Jordan King Urges Unity After Unrest – Mar. 27, 2011

Al-Jazeera – Jordan’s King Calls for National Unity – Mar. 27, 2011

Property Rights and the Demands of Transformation

Courtesy of Bernadette Atuahene, Assistant Professor, Chicago-Kent School of Law

UPDATE: More than One Million Ivorians Flee Violence and Chaos

By Daniel M. Austin
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

Refugees at a bus terminal trying to leave Abidjan. (Photo courtesy of Morris News).
Refugees at a bus terminal trying to leave Abidjan. (Photo courtesy of Morris News).

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), up to one million people have fled the escalating violence in Ivory Coast. The UNHCR, along with other aid agencies, has not been able to access the western part of Ivory Coast due to increasing violence. Additionally, the United Nations Human Rights Council is sending a commission to investigate allegations of human rights abuses.

The number of refugees trying to escape the violence in Ivory Coast, and in particular the city of  Abidjan, has nearly double over the past two weeks. The most recent report from UNHCR claims the number of refugees has increased from half a million up to one million people. Specifically, the UNHCR has warned that somewhere between 700,000 and 1,000,000 people have fled their homes since the November election.

Violent clashes are taking place between forces loyal to former president Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, the president-elect. Much of the heavy fighting is occurring in and around the city of Abidjan. Consequently, most of the refugees being displaced are also from Abidjan.  The UNHCR has noted heavily populated neighborhoods such as Abodo, Adjamame, Willaimsville and Yopougon have seen many of their residents leave as violent clashes have intensified.

Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba, a UNHCR spokeswoman for Africa, said her agency is finding new pockets of displaced people in Abidjan on a daily basis. UNHCR believes refugees are fleeing Abidjan for the more peaceful northern, central, and eastern regions of the country.

Further complicating this situation are reports that Liberian militiamen have been crossing the western border of Ivory Coast to loot, rape, and kill. The UNHCR does not believe these mercenaries are an extension of the Liberian government but simply groups of armed men who are taking advantage of the chaos in Ivory Coast. Aid agencies have curtailed operations in the western region of Guiglo because law and order has broken down and the police force is not operating.  In one incident, the UNHCR claims that English-speaking mercenaries, likely Liberians, looted a warehouse and office complex making off with supplies, office furniture, and pick-up trucks.

The United Nation Human Rights Council is sending a delegation to Ivory Coast to investigate post-election violence. Specifically, the Council has approved a request to establish a Commission of Inquiry that will look into allegations of human rights abuses that have taken place since the November 28th election. According to Human Rights Watch Director Julie de Rivero, the situation in Ivory Coast includes a “steady crescendo of abuses including targeted killings, enforced disappearances, politically motivated rape, and indiscriminate shelling.” De Rivero also notes the actions of the Council in “establishing a Commission of Inquiry for Cote d’Ivoire sends a strong signal to all parties to the conflict that they will be held accountable for their actions.”

For more information, please see:

Al Jazeera — UN: One million flee Cote d’Ivoire violence – 25 March 2011

AOL News — ‘Humanitarian Tragedy’ Unfolding in Ivory Coast – 25 March 2011

BBC — Ivory Coast: One million refugees feared, UNHCR says –25 March 2011

Bloomberg – UN Human Rights Council to Send Commission to Ivory Coast – 25 March 2011

BusinessWeek — Ivory Coast Unrest Forces Up to 1 Million to Flee, UN Says – 25 March 2011

Human Rights Watch – UN: Rights Body Acts Decisively on Iran, Cote d’Ivoire – 25 March 2011

Voice of America — UN: One Million Flee Ivory Coast Violence as Crisis Deepens – 25 March 2011

Zee News — Liberian mercenaries ‘loot, rape, kill’ in Ivory Coast – 26 March 2011

More Than One Judicial Official Killed Monthly In Colombia

By Patrick Vanderpool
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

Funeral for Colombian judge Gloria Contanza Gaona, slain March March 22 (photo courtesy of Colombia Reports)
Funeral for Colombian judge Gloria Contanza Gaona, slain March March 22 (photo courtesy of Colombia Reports)

BOGOTA, Colombia – According to the association of judicial employees in Colombia, 287 Colombian judicial officials have been assassinated and hundreds more were subjected to violence and intimidation over the past 20 years. Within the past two decades, 750 judiciary officers have been threatened, including 220 in the last four years, 42 officials have been kidnapped, 39 are missing, 39 more have been forced into exile and 31 were forced to relocate.

On March 22, 2011, the most recent murder of Judge Gloria Constanza Gaona prompted the National Association of Employees of the Judicial Branch to hold a public demonstration in the nation’s capital. Over 41,000 judicial workers attended the demonstration, which was held on March 25 at the Paloquemao Judicial Complex in downtown Bogota. Judiciary officers hung black banners from buildings as a sign of mourning along with displaying images of 160 victims in the square of the complex.

Judge Gaona was presiding over a case involving three murdered siblings in which Colombian army members are the primary suspects. Judge Gaona was shot and killed on her way to a municipal court. According to reports, the family of the murdered children have received many death threats and will enter a protection and relocation program.

Nelson Cantillo, president of the National Association of Employees of the Judicial Branch, said “if we take into account that 287 homicides of judicial employees have been committed in the last 20 years, that gives us an average of one murder per month. These are outrageous figures, figures that may not move the government but they move us, which is why we called this day of protest.”

Last week, the Supreme Judicial Council of Colombia called being a judge in the country a “high risk” job. According to Supreme Judicial Council President Hernando Torres, Colombian judges “are very concerned that in the past five years six judges have been murdered. Being a judge is becoming a high risk profession.”

For more information, please see:

Colombia Reports – One Judicial Official Murdered Every Month in Colombia – 26 March 2011

Latin American Herald Tribune – More than 1 Judicial Official Killed Every Month in Colombia – 26 March 2011

Colombia Reports – Colombia Judges at “high risk”: Court – 23 March 2011

Healing the Wounds: Speech, Identity & Reconciliation in Rwanda and Beyond

Courtesy of Cardozo Program in Holocaust & Human Rights Studies

International Committee of the Red Cross News and Notes – March 2011

This month the ICRC Regional Delegation for the United States and Canada brings you news from Libya, Japan and about the International Review of the Red Cross, the academic journal published by the ICRC and Cambridge University Press.

As events continue to unfold in the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere, the ICRC remains focused on the plights of civilians while adapting its operational responses. In Afghanistan, we are witnessing a security situation for ordinary Afghans that has dramatically deteriorated. The Middle East and North Africa have become increasingly volatile, with significant humanitarian consequences. Below, we highlight the work of the ICRC in Libya.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is also responding to the disasters that have befallen Japan. A section of this newsletter explains how we are working to reconnect families in that country.

In this issue, we highlight the International Review of the Red Cross. The IRRC, as it is known, is a scholarly journal whose most recent edition focuses on the environment. Within this section we present two interviews. The first is with Claude Voillat, Economic Advisor to the ICRC, who for four years has worked on environment issues for the organization. The interview touches on our approach to environmental issues as well as his involvement in this edition of the Review. The second interview is with the new Editor of the Review, Vincent Bernard. Vincent shares his thoughts on the current edition of the IRRC, humanitarian issues he intends to highlight; and future directions for the Review.

For the complete newsletter, please see: ICRC March News and Notes

UN Human Rights Council Appoints a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran

Courtesy of Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

The UN Human Rights Council appoints a special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

March 24, 2011

The UN Human Rights Council appoints a special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Read the full resolution.

Human Rights Council
Sixteenth session
Agenda item 4
Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention

Albania*, Australia*, Austria*, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Bulgaria*, Canada* , Chile, Colombia*, Costa Rica*, Croatia*, Cyprus*, Czech Republic*, Denmark*,Estonia*, Finland*, France, Georgia*, Germany*, Greece*, Honduras*, Hungary, Iceland*, Ireland*, Italy*, Latvia*, Liberia*, Liechtenstein*, Lithuania*, Luxembourg* ,Maldives, Malta*, Monaco*, Montenegro*, Netherlands*, New Zealand*, Norway, Panama*, Peru*, Poland, Portugal*, Republic of Moldova, Slovakia, Slovenia*, Spain, Sweden*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, United Kingdom of Great Britain and North Ireland, United States of America, Zambia: draft resolution

16/…  Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Human Rights Council,

Guided by the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and other relevant international human rights instruments,

Recalling General Assembly resolution 65/226 of 21 December 2010, and regretting  the lack of cooperation on the part of the Islamic Republic of Iran with the requests of the Assembly made in that resolution,

Welcoming the interim report of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran1 submitted to the Human Rights Council, and expressing serious concern at the developments noted in that report,

Recalling its resolutions 5/1, on the institution-building of the Council, and 5/2, on the code of conduct for special procedures mandate holders of the Council, of 18 June 2007, and stressing that mandate holders are to discharge their duties in accordance with those resolutions and the annexes thereto,

1.  Decides to appoint a special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, to report to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, to present an interim report to the Assembly at its sixty-sixth session and to submit a  report to the Council for its consideration at its nineteenth session;

2.  Calls upon the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and to permit  access to visit the country as well as all  necessary information to enable the fulfilment of the mandate;

3.  Requests the Secretary-General to provide  the Special Rapporteur with the resources necessary to fulfil the mandate, within existing resources

Peace Negotiations Watch, Volume X, Number 10

PEACE NEGOTIATIONS WATCH

Friday, March 11, 2011
Volume X, Number 10

In this issue:

CONFLICT UPDATES

Bosnia
Burma
Cameroon: Southern Cameroons
Cyprus
Kashmir
Kenya
Kosovo
Kyrgyzstan
Nagorno-Karabakh
Nepal
Philippines
Somaliland
Sudan: Darfur
Sudan: Southern Sudan
Tanzania
Uganda
Zimbabwe

Bosnia

Croatian, Republika Srpska Presidents Meet
B92 News, March 2, 2011
Croatian President Ivo Josipovic and Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik recently met to discuss the possibility of increased cross-border cooperation.  Both men have requested that refugees be able to return to their homes.  Dodik has further guaranteed the safety of Croats who wish to return to the Serbian entity.

Serbia Drops Charges Against Croat War Veteran
Daily News and Analysis, March 3, 2011
Serbia has dropped charges against Tihomir Purda, a former Croat soldier extradited for his alleged involvement in war crimes.  Purda’s extradition and arrest have prompted rallies, demonstrations, and marches in Croatia, where demonstrators have demanded the government protect veterans from war crimes prosecutions.

BiH Urged to Meet Three Conditions Before Applying For EU Candidate Status
SETimes.com, March 8, 2011
The foreign ministers of Slovenia and Bulgaria met with the three members of the Bosnia and Herzigovina (BiH) presidency to discuss European Union (EU) membership.  The ministers suggested that before applying for EU membership, BiH should amend its electoral laws, approve a law on state aid, and pass a law on holding a nationwide population census.

Burma

Fighting Intensifies Between the Regime and Shan

Mizzima, February 28, 2011
Armed clashes between junta troops and Shan State Army-South (SSA-S) have increased in the past few weeks as part of the junta’s plan to split the SSA-S and the United Wa State Army (UWSA).  SSA-S and the junta have clashed eleven times in the past four months, including once last week when SSA-S ambushed army soldiers.  The government plans to build a town between the UWSA and the SSA-S main bases, and has given strong economic incentives to Burmese civilians who settle there.

Than Shwe Grants Himself Power to Access “Special Funds”
The Irrawaddy, March 4, 2011
Before the newly-elected Burmese Parliament first met at the end of January, junta leader Than Shwe passed the Special Funds Law.  The law allows Than Shwe, as the commander-in-chief of the army, to access and use “special funds” to protect the Union, national solidarity, and national sovereignty.  The special funds are in addition to the official national budget, of which 23.6% is already allocated to the military.  Further, the law  provides the commander-in-chief absolute discretion in using the funds with the only requirement being the submission of an annual report to the President.

Naypidyaw Orders New “Four Cuts” Campaign
The Irrawaddy, March 4, 2011
The junta has decided to renew the “Four Cuts” strategy first employed by the former regime in the 1970s to cut off ethnic groups’ access to food, funds, information, and recruitment.  The Four Cuts strategy will be imposed to weaken the ethnic armed groups that continue to resist integration into the junta’s Border Guard Force.  According to military sources, the junta will use the strategy to target areas in the Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Shan, and Mon States, as well as the Tenasserim Division.  Observers raise concerns that the renewed use of the strategy will lead to an increased number of human rights violations and the further displacement of Burmese civilians.

Cameroon: Southern Cameroons

UNPO Members Attend 39th Congress of the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty
UNPO, February 22, 2011
A delegation from the Southern Cameroons attended the 39th Congress of the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT), which took place in Italy from February 17-20.  The NRPTT is a gathering of representatives from member states of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) as well as human rights activists and other state leaders.  During the four-day conference, the NRPTT held general debates and lectures focused on the common goal of the promotion of democracy, political nonviolence, universal support for human rights principles, and federalism models.

Cyprus

Cyprus: Six Steps toward a Settlement
International Crisis Group, February 22, 2011
The International Crisis Group issued its latest report about the Cyprus peace process.  The report details six policies that interested actors need to implement in order for the conflict to move toward a settlement.  One step is for Turkey to open its ports and airports to the Greek Cypriots and allow Greek Cypriot aircrafts to fly through Turkish airspace.  Another step is for Greek Cyprus to allow Turkish Cypriots to manage the Famagusta port and to allow Cypriot trade from the port to the EU.

North Cyprus Demonstrators Direct Anger at Turkey’s Austerity Measures
Voice of America, March 3, 2011
Turkish Cypriots took to the streets to protest their government’s policies and the Turkish government’s actions in Turkish Cyprus.  The protesters criticized Turkey’s current austerity package, claiming that it creates unemployment on the island.  The protesters also demanded that Turkey stop interfering in Cyprus’s peace process.  The austerity package would raise taxes and cut entry-level salaries by 40 percent.  In response to the first round of protests in January, the Turkish Prime Minister dismissed the protesters’ demands and said that they were dividing the Turkish cause and helping Greek Cyprus.

United Nations Chief Says Cyprus Talks Cannot Be Open-Ended Process
Today’s Zaman, March 5, 2011
United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s report on the Cyprus peace talks was critical of both sides stalling on important, unresolved issues.  The report said that the leaders needed to make difficult choices so that the talks would not lose momentum and drag on indefinitely.  The UN Security Council is scheduled to discuss the report on March 15.

Kashmir

Police Detain Kashmiri Separatist Geelani
Reuters, March 1, 2011
Indian police detained Kashmiri hardliner separatist Syed Ali Geelani at the New Delhi airport for questioning relating to a money laundering case.  Geelani was a major leader of the violent separatist protests last summer in Kashmir.  A spokesman for Geelani denied that Geelani was involved in the money laundering case, and charged the Indian police with trying to defame him with false charges.

India to Discuss Kashmir in “Open” Pakistan Talks
AFP, March 4, 2011
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced that all disputes were open for discussion in full peace talks with Pakistan, scheduled to be resumed in July after a two-year suspension.  Singh said he would approach the talks with an open mind, and hoped to resolve all outstanding disputes with Pakistan, including the status of Kashmir.  Singh also commented that India would not reach its full potential without normal relations with Pakistan.

Kenya

Kenya Rights Group Warns of 2012 Vote Violence
Associated Press, February 28, 2011
The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) evaluated the government’s implementation of its promised reforms relating to the post-election violence of 2007-08. The KHRC gave the government a score of forty-three out of one hundred on the third anniversary of the power-sharing agreement.  The commission stresses that demobilization of militias, addressing impunity of elected officials, and addressing poverty and youth unemployment need to be dealt with or the 2012 elections may see violence well beyond what occurred in 2007-08.  Civil society groups are especially concerned that the failure to demobilize youth and militia groups signal that they may be used again in the future.

Members of Parliament on Holiday Again as Reform Agenda Piles Up
Daily Nation, March 2, 2011
Parliament went on recess amid protest by groups lobbying for reform that the chamber was coming up against tight deadlines to enact a new election law, create electoral boundaries and an electoral commission, and approve the new chief justice prior to election in August 2012.  At the same time, those responsible for drafting the new laws, such as the Attorney General and Law Reform Commission, have not yet finished the writing process.  The leader of one of the lobbying groups noted that the majority of the necessary legislation needs to be passed by June.

Kibaki Names Envoys to Push International Criminal Court Deferral Bid
Daily Nation, March 4, 2011
President Kibaki announced that he had appointed his deputy, Kalonzo Musyoka, as the special envoy to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to lobby the ICC to defer its investigation of Kenya’s post-election violence.  The announcement is a strong indicator of Kibaki’s determination to defer the controversial case.  Earlier this week Musyoka announced that he would travel to the United States (US) to lobby for its support in seeking a deferral.

Kosovo

Serbia Prosecutor Backs Del Ponte Role in Organ Trafficking Probe
Balkan Insight, March 2, 2011
Serbian war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukevic supports the initiative of Carla del Ponte, former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, to lead an independent investigation into alleged organ trafficking in Kosovo.  Del Ponte believes that an independent international institution should investigate the allegations implicating former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), and that her experience and knowledge of the case files qualify her to head the investigation.  Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic also supports an independent, international investigation pursuant to a United Nations mandate because the European Union Rule of Law Initiative (EULEX) can only operate inside Kosovo.

Medicus Indictment Confirmed, Two Counts Dropped
Balkan Insight, March 4, 2011
On an evidentiary appeal, a EULEX judge confirmed indictments against four defendants in the Medicus organ trafficking case.  The judge confirmed charges against the four men for unlawful exercise of medical activity and abuse of official position, but dropped charges of human trafficking and organized crime.  EULEX prosecutors say they will appeal the ruling to ask that the dropped charges be reinstated.  The prosecutors allege that in 2008 the men united poor donors and rich buyers in Kosovo for harvesting and transplanting the donors’ kidneys.

Kosovo, Serbia to Hold First Direct Talks
The Associated Press, March 7, 2011
On Tuesday, March 8, 2011, Serbia and Kosovo will engage in their first direct talks since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.  Robert Cooper, a diplomat for the EU, will mediate the talks, which are expected to focus on the practical problems related to freedom of movement, regional cooperation, and rule of law.  Both Serbia and Kosovo hope to join the EU, however the legitimacy of Kosovo’s independence remains a divisive issue for the EU Member States.

Kyrgyzstan

Reforms Critical to Kyrgyzstan’s Stability: OSCE Chairman
Xinhua, March 4, 2011
The chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Auronius Azubalis said that Kyrgyzstan’s stability depends of future reforms of the police and judiciary, and the promotion of economic stability and protection of the rights of members of all ethnic communities.  Azubalis emphasized that reforms are especially important before the upcoming presidential election.

Nagorno-Karabakh

Nagorno-Karabakh to Join Negotiation Process, RPA MP Says

News.am, March 7, 2011
Artak Zakaryan, member of the Republican Party of Armenia, said Nagorno-Karabakh may participate in the peace negotiations to voice their input on issues in the conflict. Nagorno-Karabakh will be involved only where an issue cannot be discussed without its input, according to Zakaryan.  He also stressed the importance of Nagorno-Karabakh’s role in determining the issues of self-determination and territory when the negotiations reach a final implementation stage.

Armenian, Azeri Leaders Pledge to Seek Peaceful Karabakh Settlement

Azatutyun.am, March 7, 2011
The Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Ilham Ariyev and Serzh Sarkisian, promised to work towards a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict after talks hosted by the Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on March 5-6.  The three leaders will continue to seek a peaceful settlement and investigate alleged ceasefire violations, and agreed to exchange prisoners of war.  However, an Armenian foreign policy official emphasized that a military option had not been taken off the table.

Nepal

UCPN-M Agrees to Bicameral Legislature
The Himalayan Times, March 1, 2011
In a meeting of a Constituent Assembly sub-committee aiming at solving the disputed issues regarding the new constitution, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) changed their stance and agreed to a bicameral national legislature composed of a House of Representatives, as the lower house, and a National Assembly, as the upper house. Provincial governments will have a unicameral legislature.  The parties still have to work out the details of the national and provincial legislatures, and to reach an agreement on the more general issues of the form of governance and the role of the president.

Nepal’s Maoist Ex-Rebels Join Government, Boost to Peace
Reuters, March 4, 2011
The Maoists joined the coalition government on March 4, giving renewed hope to the peace process.  Prime Minister Jhalnath Khanal appointed four senior Maoist leaders to cabinet positions.  According to analysts, Maoist participation will allow for the drafting of the constitution and a decision on the future of ex-combatants to happen more quickly. Maoist leaders said that the government would now focus on concluding the peace process.

Philippines

Philippine Troops Kill Tribal Chieftain, Son
The Mindanao Examiner, March 4, 2011
Representatives for the New People’s Army (NPA) allege government soldiers murdered a tribal chieftain and his son for aiding insurgents in Davao del Sur province.  The NPA says government troops arrested and tortured Rody Dejos and Rody Rick Dejos, who led a farmer’s group called Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.  The AFP previously threatened to break down their chapter of the farmer’s group.

Philippines Names New Military Chief Amid Corruption Scandals
Reuters, March 6, 2011
President Benigno Aquino appointed Lieutenant-General Eduardo Oban as the new military chief amid allegations of graft and misconduct by recently retired leaders.  Aquino hopes that Oban, a widely-respected former fighter pilot, will restore credibility to the military.  Government officials reported large-scale corruption by former generals who had obtained US property and deposited military funds into their own bank accounts.  Aquino addressed recent graduates of the Philippine Military Academy, promising to punish corrupt army leaders and ensure proper allocation of military money.

Somaliland

Former Somaliland Minister Visits South Sudan
Somaliland Press, March 4, 2011
Somaliland’s former Civil Aviation Minister, Ali Mohamed, is scheduled to hold talks with the South Sudan government regarding general issues such as bilateral ties in economic and trade.  An official Somaliland delegation has yet to be sent to South Sudan, but Somaliland supports the new South Sudan’s independence, and hopes it will set a precedent to help Somaliland achieve independence as well.

Sudan: Darfur

JEM Wants International Community to Relocate Its Leader from Libya
Sudan Tribune, February 28, 2011
The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) urged the international community help evacuate its leader from Libya where a popular uprising has swept through towns close to Tripoli.  The JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim has been residing in the Libyan capital since May 2010, after being barred entry to Chad following JEM’s withdrawal from the Doha peace talks.  JEM fears that Sudanese government agents may try to take advantage of the chaos to assassinate or kidnap Ibrahim.

Sudan to Hold Referendum on Darfur’s Administration Status

Xinhua, March 2, 2011
Sudanese presidential advisor Ghazi Salah Al-Deen said that the Government expects to hold a referendum on the permanent status of the region of Darfur in about three months. He said the people of Darfur should decide the status of the region, following the failed efforts of the Government and Darfur’s rebel movements to reach a peace agreement in Doha.  Mr. Salah Al-Deen expressed the opinion that the efforts in Doha were not proper negotiations, but merely offerings of commentary on suggestions made by the mediators.

Darfur Referendum Means to Undermine the Doha Peace Process – Rebels Say
Sudan Tribune, March 3, 2011
Sudanese Presidential Adviser Ghazi Salah Al-Deen announced that, based on the Abuja peace deal, Sudan will hold a referendum on the administrative status of Darfur within three months.  The Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) released a joint statement rejecting the referendum as a means to undermine the Doha peace forum, and arguing that it violates framework agreements already agreed upon in negotiations.  US and EU envoys for the region are in Doha for talks on the peace process.

Sudan: Southern Sudan

SPLM Denies Agreement with NCP on Dropping Southerners from National Assembly
MirayaFM, March 02, 2011
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Ahmed Ibrahim Tahir, has made public comments indicating that an agreement was reached between the NCP and SPLM to remove southerners from the National Assembly.  The Deputy Speaker has contested this, and the State Minister of Justice has called on the President to intervene, saying that the southerners should remain in the National Assembly until July, and any movement to the contrary is unconstitutional.

SPLM Threatens to Boycott Negotiations with NCP over Abyei Attacks

Sudan Tribune, March 03, 2011
Negotiations with the National Congress Party (NCP) in Addis Ababa are in jeopardy after repeated armed attacks in the Abyei region.  The SPLM accuses the NCP of supporting the attacks, and claims the attacks are targeted to remove citizens from Abyei.  Seventy people have reportedly been killed in three days of attacks in the region, and more than 300 women and children have fled.  Negotiations are over outstanding issues regarding the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, such as the status of Abyei, South Kordofan, and South Blue Nile State.

South Sudan Looks at New Oil Pipeline Bypassing North
The National, March 04, 2011
If significant future oil discoveries are made, the south is considering the possibility of building new pipelines to destinations other than Port Sudan in the north.  However, in the immediate period after independence, the SPLM admits that there is no alternative to the existing system of using northern pipelines to Port Sudan to export the south’s oil.

Tanzania

Tanzania Can Hold Its Head High as a Champion for Promoting Gender Equality – European Union

IPP Media, March 8, 2011
The EU has acknowledged Tanzania’s recent improvements in promoting gender equality, while simultaneously noting that much work remains to be done.  The EU has recognized Tanzania’s ratification of many gender-related international treaties, but holds that women are still a vulnerable part of Tanzanian society.

Uganda

Lord’s Resistance Army Attacks Populated Areas of North-Eastern Congo
New Design World, March 3, 2011
The UN Refugee Agency said that attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have increased in the Democratic Republic of Congo since January, adding that the LRA appears to be targeting more populated areas.  The group is said to have killed at least thirty-five people, abducted 104, and displaced 17,000 in the Orientale province.  These attacks pose a significant risk to the political stability of the region and have seriously hampered humanitarian aid and development.

U.S. Lawmakers Want Monitoring of Possible Aid by Sudan to LRA
Sudan Tribune, March 4, 2011
In a counter-terrorism effort, members of Congress proposed a bill on March 3 that would require the US Administration to ensure that the Sudanese government is not supporting the LRA before removing it from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.  The bill calls for proof that Sudan is no longer facilitating the acts of the LRA, its leader Joseph Kony, or its top commanders.  Washington purportedly promised to remove Sudan from the list of countries said to sponsor terrorism, provided the North honored the Southern Sudanese referendum for independence.  Khartoum provided aid to the LRA in 2005.

Zimbabwe

Gwisai, Forty-Four Others Detained Further
New Zimbabwe, March 1, 2011
A group of forty-five human rights campaigners will remain in jail until their hearings on March 7 for attending a lecture on the uprisings in North Africa.  When authorities came to the meeting, the group was watching a video on the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.  Although the activists claim the lecture was academic, they are all being charged with treason, which includes a possible death sentence.

Zimbabwe’s Main Political Parties Exchange Recriminations over Violence
Voice of America, March 3, 2011
The Tsvangirai-led portion of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and ruling party ZANU-PF have blamed each other for the recent rise in political violence.  Civil society is backing the MDC’s claims that youth militia and war veterans who support ZANU-PF have been the main perpetrators of violence, but ZANU-PF says that this is a ploy by the MDC to gain political traction.  Augustine Chihuri, Police Commissioner-General, has stated that he, a ZANU-PF supporter, has not been called before the Senate Committee to answer questions about peace, defense, and security, while MDC members have, showing that the MDC is responsible for the violence.

Peace Negotiations Watch is a weekly publication detailing current events relating to conflict and peace processes in selected countries.  It is prepared by the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG) and made possible by grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Ploughshares Fund.

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