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

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


Friday, March 11, 2011
Volume X, Number 10

In this issue:


Cameroon: Southern Cameroons
Sudan: Darfur
Sudan: Southern Sudan


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, 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.


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: 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.


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 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.


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.


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 to Join Negotiation Process, RPA MP Says, 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, 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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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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