E.U. Seeks U.N. Backing for Military Action to Stop Wave of Migrants Fleeing Horrific Abuse in Libya: Interview with Magda Mughrabi
‘The European Union is expected to ask the United Nations Security Council today to permit military action against human traffickers operating out of Libya. The U.N. estimates more than 60,000 people have already tried to cross the Mediterranean from Libya into Europe this year. Over 1,800 migrants have died in the attempt, 20 times more than the same period last year. Meanwhile, the European Commission is due to make a proposal that member countries take in refugees under an E.U. quota system. The European Commission’s migration policy will also propose organizing legal means for migrants to come to Europe so they don’t turn to traffickers. This comes as a new report by Amnesty International reveals how migrants are forced to flee Libya because of “horrific abuse.” The report is based on interviews with refugees and migrants across Libya who face “rape, torture and abductions for ransom by traffickers and smugglers, as well as systematic exploitation by their employers, religious persecution and other abuses by armed groups and criminal gangs.” We are joined by the report’s author, Magda Mughrabi, Libya Researcher at Amnesty International.’ (Democracy Now!)
- Amnesty Report: Libya is full of cruelty
- Amnesty reports abduction, torture and rape of migrants in Libya
- Libya: “Rejoicing our bloody democracy”
- Libya’s people smugglers: military action won’t stop this multifaceted trade
- U.N. Wants to Let Europe Use Military Force to Stop Migrant Smuggling Boats
- Mediterranean migrants: Libya rejects EU military plans
- EU is keeping Tripoli in the dark about military action, says Libya’s UN ambassador
- Mediterranean migrant crisis: EU refugee quotas to be proposed
- Libyans urge Europe to help stem migrant flow
- Libya’s human traffickers operate freely amid chaos
- A Man-Made Crisis and Illusion: The European Migration Crisis
- EU triples fund to address migrant crisis
- EU summit to offer resettlement to only 5,000 refugees
- EU Leaders Urged to Look at Libya Mistakes as More Migrants Perish at Sea
- Italy seeks military intervention, other steps to handle migrant crisis
- Facing death for lure of better life in Europe
- Europe’s war on migrants
- Libya’s coast is often the end of a painful road to despair (2013)
‘Starting Monday, the United States’ human rights record will be subject to international scrutiny by the U.N. Human Rights Council. It may just be the perfect catalyst for the Obama administration to make good on past and present wrongs that should never be associated with a liberal democracy predicated on respect for human rights.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is part of a regular examination of the human rights records of all 193 U.N. member countries and will be the second review of its kind for the U.S. since 2010. The review comes at a critical time when the U.S. human rights record has been criticized for falling short of meeting international human rights standards. From racially biased policing and excessive use of force by law enforcement to the expansion of migrant family detention and from the lack of accountability for the CIA torture program to the use of armed drones abroad, the U.S. has a lot to answer for.’
- UN Rights Review to Expose U.S. Failings
- UNHR Universal Periodic Review Second Cycle – United States of America
- IACHR Wraps Up Visit to the United States of America
- Human Rights Bodies Respond to Killings by Police in U.S.
- ACLU Response to Revised DOJ Guidance on the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies
- U.N. Criticizes U.S. on Torture and Array of Human Rights Issues
- ACLU files new lawsuit over Obama administration drone ‘kill list’
- UN rights experts welcome US review of lethal drone attacks, urge transparency and accountability
- The Senate Committee’s Report on the C.I.A.’s Use of Torture
- The United States is Obligated to Compensate Victims of Torture
- Retired Justice Stevens says some Guantanamo captives may deserve reparations
- US to Answer for Surveillance Practices on Global Stage
- ACLU: Immigrant Family Detention in the United States
- ACLU Fact Sheet on Alternatives to Immigration Detention (ATD)
- Spies Among Us: How Community Outreach Programs to Muslims Blur Lines between Outreach and Intelligence
- SNCC/ACLU – Securing the Southwest Border: Perspectives from Beyond the Beltway
‘Conflicts and violence in places like Syria and Ukraine have displaced a record 38 million people in their countries — equivalent to the total populations of New York, London and Beijing, a watchdog group said Wednesday.
Nearly one-third of them — 11 million people — were displaced last year alone, with an average of 30,000 people fleeing their homes every day, the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) said in a report.
“These are the worst figures for forced displacement in a generation, signaling our complete failure to protect innocent civilians,” said Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which is behind the IDMC.
Internally displaced people (IDPs) have been forced to leave their homes but remain in their country, as opposed to refugees, who flee across borders.’
- Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre: Global Overview 2015
- World neglects displaced as 30000 a day forced to flee
- 2.2 Million Iraqis Displaced by Islamic State Group
- 1.9 million internally displaced by violence in Pakistan
- Nigeria accounts for fourth of new internally displaced population in the world
- 100,000 displaced by fighting in S. Sudan
- Over 33.3 million people internally displaced in 2013
- Internally displaced person – Wikipedia
Joe Lauria is the Wall Street Journal’s UN correspondent. He discusses how a former UN envoy came forward with details of a power-sharing deal in Yemen and why Saudi Arabia would want to prevent that deal from becoming a reality. (The Real News)
‘Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz was speaking at the five-year review conference of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Diplomats from the 159 countries supporting the ban, presented ahead of the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atom bombs dropped on Japan, said the initiative was modelled on successful campaigns to ban land mines and other weapons and could take years to move forward.
The initiative has virtually no support among NPT nuclear weapons states and veto-wielding Security Council members – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China – or the countries of NATO, an alliance that provides a kind of “nuclear umbrella” security guarantee for its members.
But most of the 193 U.N. members back it.’
‘U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned Thursday that Saudi Arabian air strikes and combat between Yemen’s warring sides that target civilian and United Nations facilities are having a devastating impact on humanitarian aid efforts and are in violation of the laws of war.
In a statement, Ban said the attacks included bombardment of hospitals, humanitarian warehouses and U.N. compounds, and that civilians in Aden, Yemen’s second largest city, had been targeted by snipers. He called the attacks “unacceptable and in violation of international humanitarian law.”
U.N. officials have cited both the air campaign and fighting between Houthi rebels and supporters of the government of exiled Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in statements denouncing the growing civilian toll. But they’ve been particularly critical of the Saudi air strikes, which they say have all but halted any effort to evacuate civilians by air or deliver humanitarian aid. The United States is providing aerial refueling and intelligence to the Saudi-led campaign.
On Thursday, Ban said more than 1,200 people have been killed in the past six weeks of fighting and that 300,000 have fled their homes.’
- Yemenis in Desperate Need of Food and Fuel After Weeks of Airstrikes
- Saudis Bomb Yemen Airport, Assuring End to Aid Flights
- ISIS Issues Video Showing Execution of 15 Soldiers in Yemen
- Dozens Killed as Houthis, Saudi Forces Fight Along Yemen Border
- Pakistan wants peaceful solution of Yemen, says PM
- Video Claims the Islamic State Has Established a New Branch in Yemen
- Over 550 Civilians Killed So Far in Saudi War on Yemen
- 115 Children Killed: Saudi Arabia’s War on Yemen by the Numbers
- Saudi bombing in Yemen still claiming civilian casualties, UN says
- Saudis Increase Airstrikes Against Yemen, Strikes Reported Nationwide
- Fighting Prompts an Exodus From Yemen, Often on Boats
- The Saudi prince who offered Bentleys to bombers
- Saudi Arabia to deploy ground troops in Yemen
- US Naval Deployment to Yemen Targets Iran
- Why Is the U.S. Backing a War That’s Helping al-Qaida?
- Under Bombardment in Yemen, Civilians Voice Terror and Despair Online
- No power, no fuel, no water, no food. That’s Yemen right now
- US Increases Involvement in Saudi War Against Yemen
‘Here on Techdirt, we’ve had plenty of posts looking at the major trade agreements currently being negotiated. As we’ve noted, criticism of TPP and TAFTA/TTIP has come from many quarters, particularly for the corporate sovereignty provisions, which are seen as problematic both on the left and right wings of the political spectrum. Intellectual Property Watch carries a fascinating statement criticizing key aspects of trade negotiations, which looks at things from quite a different angle. It’s written by Alfred de Zayas, who is the “Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order” — apparently an honorary and unpaid position. In his statement, he expresses:
his deep concern over the general lack of awareness on the adverse effects that existing, or under negotiations, bilateral and multilateral free trade and investment agreements have on the enjoyment of human rights in many countries, particularly in the developing world.
Specifically, he is concerned about the secrecy of trade talks, and the fact that key stakeholders like trade unions, environmental protection grups and health professionals are excluded — something that we’ve commented on many times here on Techdirt. He also thinks that fast-tracking the adoption of treaties — as is currently being attempted in the US — has a “detrimental impact on the promotion of a democratic and equitable world order.”‘
‘The latest quarterly report out of the UN shows 521 civilian casualties in the first quarter of 2015, including 136 deaths. This is an 8% increase over the same period in 2014, which was itself the deadliest since the UN began keeping track.
UN officials warn that as the spring thaw begins the tolls are likely to start soaring again, setting the stage for another terrible year for civilians trapped 14 years deep into a NATO occupation.’
‘Sometimes I’m challenged over my linking belligerent neoconservatives with “liberal interventionists” who justify U.S. military invasions under the “humanitarian” banner of “responsibility to protect” – or R2P – meaning to intervene in war-torn countries to stop the killing of civilians, like the 1994 slaughter in Rwanda.
And, most people would agree that there are extraordinary situations in which the timely arrival of an external military force might prevent genocide or other atrocities, which was one of the intended functions of the United Nations. But my overall impression of R2Pers is that many are careerist hypocrites who voice selective outrage that provides cover for the U.S. and its allies to do pretty much whatever they wish.
Though one can’t generalize about an entire group – since some R2Pers act much more consistently than others – many of the most prominent ones operate opportunistically, depending how the dominant narrative is going and where the power interests lie.’
- The Dangerous Neocon-R2P Alliance
- The untold story of the Maidan massacre
- Seeing No Neo-Nazi Militias in Ukraine
- Ukraine: Widespread Use of Cluster Munitions
- The ethics of the responsibility to protect
- Are Neocons Getting Ready to Ally With Hillary Clinton?
- Is Hillary Clinton a Neocon-Lite?
- A New Neocon Push for Syrian War
- Top 10 warning signs of ‘liberal imperialism’
- Selective Use of R2P to Secure Regime Change, Says India at UN
- Libya, ‘R2P’ and the selective business of ‘accountability’
- What intervention in Libya tells us about the neocon-liberal alliance
- Not All Interventions Are the Same
- Responsibility to protect – Wikipedia
‘Those of us who work on foreign policy like to think of ourselves as hard-headed, rational people who don’t easily succumb to myths, fables, or delusions. If only that were true! In fact, foreign-policy mavens as just as vulnerable to blindered thinking as any other human beings, and our community has its own set of odd beliefs and practices that are rarely questioned or criticized.
In fact, if one moves outside the bubble of mainstream discourse and takes a hard look at some familiar elements of contemporary world politics, they begin to look rather peculiar, even absurd. What do I mean by that? I mean an unusual, bizarre, risible, and hard-to-justify state of affairs whose dubious nature is no longer questioned, mostly because we’ve grown accustomed to it and no longer notice how weird it really is. These situations are like the discarded oddities of a bygone era — like phrenology, corsets, powdered wigs, binding feet, etc. — or like the bad habits that we sometimes acquire without noticing how strange or damaging they might be.
Some of these absurdities persist because they’ve been around a long time, or because powerful interests defend them vigorously, or because they align with broader social prejudices. Some of them may in fact be defensible, but we should still bring such oddities out into the open air on occasion and ask ourselves if they really make sense.’
‘While Americans recognize China’s rapid rise as an economic powerhouse, the implications remain murky. According to a 2014 Gallup poll, most people unfavorably view China as the world’s leading economic power. Indeed, twenty percent of Americans viewed China, not Iran, as America’s top enemy in 2014. When discussing China, Americans think of its 13.39 trillion GDP (2013 est.), expansion into the South China Sea or human rights abuses.
Yet China’s global influence is expanding in surprising ways. China is the largest contributor to UN peacekeeping operations of all the permanent members of the UN Security Council. China’s rise in peacekeeping operations is indicative of China’s rise in global prominence by both expanding its role in foreign affairs and protecting its own economic interests.’
‘A massive campaign in support of foreign intervention against Syria is underway. The goal is to prepare the public for a “No Fly Zone” enforced by US and other military powers. This is how the invasion of Iraq began. This is how the public was prepared for the US/NATO air attack on Libya.
The results of western ‘regime change’ in Iraq and Libya have been disastrous. Both actions have dramatically reduced the security, health, education and living standards of the populations, created anarchy and mayhem, and resulted in the explosion of sectarianism and violence in the region. Now the Western/NATO/Israeli and Gulf powers, supported by major intervention-inclined humanitarian organizations, want to do the same in Syria. Is this positive or a repeat of past disasters?’
- Avaaz call for a ‘no-fly zone’ in Syria
- Donors pledge $4bn in humanitarian aid for Syrians
- Call for no-fly zone in Syria after ‘fresh war crime’ by Assad forces
- As Syria crisis enters fifth year, UN humanitarian leaders urge end to conflict
- After four years of conflict, Syria is ‘entering the dark ages’
- Humanitarian Organizations Criticized The U.N For Failing To Help Syrian War Victims
- Obama admin: US ‘will protect’ Syrian rebel forces, no-fly zone “under consideration”
- Hailed as a Model for Successful Intervention, Libya Proves to be the Exact Opposite
- What Happened to the Humanitarians Who Wanted to Save Libyans With Bombs and Drones?
- The Humantarian War: The Lies That Led Us Into Libya (Documentary)
‘The United Nations has loaded the last of its staff in Yemen quietly onto airplanes, sending them to safety in Ethiopia, and capping their failed effort to start peace talks in the war-torn country.
There is no room for peace talks now, it seems, with Saudi Arabia and its allies so decidedly in favor of a full-scale war against the Shi’ite Houthis, and leaving no room open for a settlement.
For the Saudis, there is no middle ground, and democratic reform is not the goal. The only goal for the war is to reinstall General Hadi, Yemen’s dictator from early 2012 until his resignation in January, back into power.’
- Arabs vow to pound Yemen rebels until they surrender
- Yemen strikes will continue until Hadi can rule – Saudi spokesman
- Saudi Airstrikes Destroy Yemeni Air Force, Officials Brag of Destroying ‘Rebel Planes’
- Fighting and air strikes across Yemen; dialogue remains distant
- Arab States Already Planning to Extend Attack on Yemen
- Houthis threaten Saudi Arabia with suicide bombings
- Houthis told to ‘surrender’ at Arab League summit
- 38 Killed as Yemen’s Houthis Clash with Tribesmen in Oil Rich South
- Questions and answers about the Arab peacekeeping force
- Yemen Invasion Could Define Saudi Policy for Years to Come
- Ex-Yemeni Leader Urges Truce and Successor’s Ouster
- Yemen’s president calls Houthis ‘stooges of Iran’
- U.N. pulls out of Yemen, ending hopes of brokered peace
- Yemen crisis: Warships pave the way for a ground invasion
- Yemen president fires predecessor’s son, escalating power struggle
- Yemen says Saudi-led campaign stopped Iran flights supplying Houthis
- Who’s fighting for whom in Yemen’s proxy war?
Israel’s activities in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem resulted in the deaths of 2,314 Palestinians and 17,125 injuries, compared with 39 deaths and 3,964 injuries in 2013, according to the annual report (pdf) by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The conflict in Gaza in July and August was largely responsible for the dramatic increase in fatalities. It claimed the lives of 2,220 Gazans, of whom 1,492 were civilians, 605 militants and 123 unverified.’
U.S. Closes Key Drone Base and Withdraws Forces as U.N. Warns of Civil War in Yemen: Interview with Iona Craig
‘After touting its “successful” counterterrorism model in Yemen, the United States has evacuated its remaining personnel, including 100 special operations forces from a military base seen as key in the drone war against al-Qaeda. This comes amidst worsening violence between government forces and Shia Houthi rebels, and an attack claimed by the Islamic State that killed dozens of worshipers at two mosques. The United Nations has warned Yemen is on the brink of an “Iraq-Libya-Syria”-type civil war. We are joined by Iona Craig, a journalist who was based in Sana’a for four years as the Yemen correspondent for The Times of London.’ (Democracy Now!)
- Yemen Combatants Court International Allies for Proxy War
- Yemen urges GCC military intervention against Houthis
- Pullout Won’t Stop Strikes in Yemen, White House Says
- White House stands by Yemen as a counterterrorism model
- Once Obama’s model for fighting extremists, US counterterrorism strategy collapses
- Britain evacuates special forces from Yemen over worsening security
- UN Warns Yemen Is At ‘Edge Of Civil War’
- Rebels Seize Yemen’s Third Largest City
- Yemen’s Houthi rebels move on strategic Gulf waterway
- Factbox: Leading factions in Yemen’s crisis
- Yemen risks: separatism, sea lanes, Qaeda, poverty, sectarianism
- Yemeni implosion pushes southern Sunnis into arms of al-Qaida and Isis
- U.N. Security Council condemns Houthi actions in Yemen, threatens further measures
- President Hadi: Suicide bombings seek to drag Yemen into ‘chaos’
- US Withdraws Last 100 Ground Troops From Yemen
- 142 Killed in Bombings of Shi’ite Mosques in Yemen
- Prominent Yemeni journalist and Houthi activist killed
- U.S. Lost $500M in Weapons in Yemen
- Yemen’s collapse is a taste of things to come
- Did Obama’s Drone War Help Cause Yemen’s Collapse?
- Hailed as U.S. Counterterrorism Model in Middle East, Yemen Teeters on the Brink of Collapse: Interview with Iona Craig
‘At least 4,134 people were killed during the short month of February. Another 2,280 were wounded. These numbers combine figures released by the United Nations and various media outlets. The number of fatalities dropped considerably from January’s count of 6,106 dead. That may be due to the shorter month. The number of those injured increased slightly, however, by forty wounded.
In this column, Antiwar.com found that 1,097 civilians and security personnel were killed, and 3,031 militants were reported killed, for a total of 4,128. At least 1,381 were wounded, including 199 militants. Our figures are compiled from news reports, but they should be considered estimates, particularly those of militant deaths.
The United Nations also released their figures, which are complied by their associates in Iraq. They found that 1,103 civilians and security personnel were killed, but they do not count militant deaths. Although that is close to what the media has reported, they found 2,280 who were wounded. That number is much higher. They warn that these are the bare minimum numbers. It is likely that the figures are much higher.’
‘The UN Security Council has unanimously approved a Russian-drafted resolution that endorses the new ceasefire agreement on Ukraine as battle rages between pro-Moscow rebels and Ukrainian forces for the control of a key town.
The vote on Tuesday came as Russian President Vladimir Putin told Kiev to let its soldiers surrender to the separatists who fought their way into the town of Debaltseve, encircling thousands of government troops.
The UN resolution was not expected to have a significant impact on the peace deal that was reached in the Belarusian capital Minsk last week with both sides failing to begin pulling back heavy weapons as required.
[…] The United States and other council members supported the resolution, but spoke with scorn.’
- UN Backs Russian Resolution Endorsing Ukraine Ceasefire
- Ukraine Starts Troop Withdrawal From Key Town of Debaltseve
- Putin Urges Ukraine Military to Cede Contested Town
- U.S. says ‘proxy war’ with Russia not in Ukraine’s interest
- Ukraine soldiers taken prisoner in fighting for railway hub
- Horrific Images Capture The Sheer Brutality Of War In Ukraine
- Pro-Kiev Commander: ‘We Will Burn Down Crimea, With All Its Residents’
- Ukrainian gov’t presents ‘Kremlin’s Black Book’ highlighting costs of Russian war
- Moscow condemns Lithuania’s provocative actions related to arms supplies to Kiev
- Donetsk Residents Without Water, Electricity As Fight Goes On
- Gas Pipeline Blast Caught On Video, Hit By Shell In Eastern Ukraine
- Amid Ukraine Ceasefire Struggles, Both Sides Refuse Artillery Pullout
- VICE News Inside Rebel-Held Uglegorsk: Russian Roulette
- Kremlin says accords underpinning Ukraine truce must be ‘unconditionally observed’
- General Sir Richard Dannatt condemns armoured vehicle transfer to Ukraine
- Ukrainian forces have decimated the civilian population: Interview with Patrick Lancaster
- As Ukraine Ceasefire Begins, Threats From the Margins
- Ukraine Ultranationalists Spurn Ceasefire, Will Continue ‘Active Fighting’
- Chicago Neighborhood Supplies Ukranian Army
- Warlords and armed groups threaten Ukraine’s rebuilding
- And Now, The Race To Begin Moon Colonization Begins…
- The US government is getting ready for the commercialization of the moon
- Should We Colonize the Moon? And How Much Would It Cost?
- 15 Ambitious Plans to Colonize the Moon
- Colonization of the Moon – Wikipedia
- 1967 Outer Space Treaty – Wikipedia
- ‘A World in the Moon': Wilkins and his Lunar Voyage of 1640
‘The United Nations says the drug war’s rationale is to build “a drug-free world — we can do it!” U.S. government officials agree, stressing that “there is no such thing as recreational drug use.” So this isn’t a war to stop addiction, like that in my family, or teenage drug use. It is a war to stop drug use among all humans, everywhere. All these prohibited chemicals need to be rounded up and removed from the earth. That is what we are fighting for.
I began to see this goal differently after I learned the story of the drunk elephants, the stoned water buffalo, and the grieving mongoose. They were all taught to me by a remarkable scientist in Los Angeles named Professor Ronald K. Siegel.’
- Intoxication: The Universal Drive for Mind-Altering Substances (Book)
- Graham Hancock: The War on Consciousness
- Citing Failed War on Drugs, World Leaders Call for Widespread Decriminalization
- How the War on Drugs and the War on Terror Merged Into One Disastrous War on All Americans
- ‘It is time to end the war on drugs’, says top UK police chief
‘The US State Department said on Friday that the Palestinian application to join the International Criminal Court will have “implications” for US aid to the Palestinian Authority.
“It should come as no surprise that there will be implications for this step, but we continue to review,” the official told Reuters.
“US assistance to the Palestinian Authority has played a valuable role in promoting stability and prosperity not just for the Palestinians, but also for Israel as well,” the official added.
Washington sends about $400 million in economic support aid to the Palestinians every year. Under US law, that aid would be cut off if the Palestinians used membership in the International Criminal Court to make claims against Israel.’
‘“There was a clear message from international community to the Palestinians: Do not try to use tricks to replace negotiations,” a top Foreign Ministry official told Ynet, but the American effort to torpedo the Palestinian’s UN Security Council resolution demanding Israel end its ‘occupation’ of the West Bank proved once again the importance of maintaining good relations with Washington.
Furthermore, the abstention by African nations also demonstrated the importance of the visits made by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to the African continent. However, the change of power set to take place in the Security Council on Thursday will change the balance of power against Israel.
The rejection of the Palestinian resolution by the UN Security Council on Tuesday night was a reminder of the great extent to which Israel-US relations serve as a critical factor in Israeli national security. It only strengthens the need for Israel to maintain good relations with Washington in general and more specifically with the White House, and prevent disagreements such as the one that occurred between Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Israeli diplomats say that the US played a crucial role in the effort to block the Palestinian resolution which sought to set a time table for Israel’s disengagement from territories for a future Palestinian state without direct negotiations.’
- Abbas mulls another UN Security Council bid for Palestinian state
- France to Israel: We backed Palestinians in Security Council to prevent ICC bid
- US and Israeli intervention led UN to reject Palestinian resolution
- Palestinians plan next steps after failed UN bid
- UK declares it cannot support Palestinian UN bid
- Palestinian statehood bid fails at UN Security Council as US, Australia vote against
‘Mexico on Sunday called for an overhaul of the United Nations Security Council, envisaging more member countries across a wider geographical swathe, as the government steps up efforts to raise its profile on the global stage.
Tasked with maintaining global peace, the U.N. Security Council meets when war looms and cooperates in efforts to solve international disputes, with measures ranging from sanctions to military action.
The Council has five permanent members – China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States – and 10 temporary members elected by the U.N. General Assembly for two-year terms.
Editor’s Note: I thought the below profile by civil rights lawyer Chase Madar written back in 2009 was worth sharing after Evan Osnos’s recent piece on “humanitarian interventionist” Samantha Power in the New Yorker.
‘[…] The intellectual career of Samantha Power is a richly instructive example of the weaponization of human rights. She made her name in 2002 with A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. In this surprise global bestseller, she argues that when confronted with 20th-century genocides, the United States sat on the sidelines as the blood flowed. Look at Bosnia or Rwanda. “Why does the US stand so idly by?” she asks. Powers allows that overall America “has made modest progress in its responses to genocide.” That’s not good enough. We must be bolder in deploying our armed forces to prevent human-rights catastrophes—to engage in “humanitarian intervention” in the patois of our foreign-policy elite.
In nearly 600 pages of text, Power barely mentions those postwar genocides in which the U.S. government, far from sitting idle, took a robust role in the slaughter. Indonesia’s genocidal conquest of East Timor, for instance, expressly green-lighted by President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger, who met with Suharto the night before the invasion was launched and carried out with American-supplied weapons. Over the next quarter century, the Indonesian army saw U.S. military aid and training rise as it killed between 100,000 and 200,000 East Timorese. (The figures and the designation of “genocide” come from a UN-formed investigative body.) This whole bloody business gets exactly one sentence in Power’s book.
What about the genocide of Mayan peasants in Guatemala—another decades-long massacre carried out with American armaments by a military dictatorship with tacit U.S. backing, officer training at Fort Benning, and covert CIA support? A truth commission sponsored by the Catholic Church and the UN designated this programmatic slaughter genocide and set the death toll at approximately 200,000. But apparently this isn’t a problem from hell.’
- The Samantha Power Doctrine
- Samantha Power, Goddess of the U.N.
- UN Ambassador Samantha Power Warns Against Intervention Fatigue
- Samantha Power: Don’t Knock U.S. Intervention In Syria
- The Millennials Rise Up Against Samantha Power At Fusion Conference
- CAR Atrocities Must Be Answered, Says U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power
- Samantha Power on the Duty to Intervene
- Samantha Power Goes to War
- Cass Sunstein and Samantha Power: Fun Couple of the 21st Century
- A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (Book)
‘[…] The number of stateless people worldwide likely exceeds 15 million, the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion said in a report, which lifts the veil on some of the most invisible people on the planet.
[…] The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) estimate of 10 million stateless people left out 1.5 million stateless refugees and 3.5 million stateless Palestinians.
Without a nationality, stateless people are denied basic rights and benefits that most people take for granted, including access to healthcare, education and work. They often cannot own property, open a bank account or even get married.
Sometimes called “legal ghosts”, stateless people are vulnerable to rights abuses, detention and exploitation.’
‘Israel continues to interact with Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights and allow them to cross the border, according to a new UN report corroborated by a VICE News team that visited the area in November, uncovering additional incidents beyond what has been described by the UN.
Israel has occupied the Golan Heights since the Six-Day War in 1967, when it captured it from Syria. In 1974, a UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNDOF, was established to police a 50-mile-long disengagement zone between the Israeli “Alpha” and Syrian “Bravo” lines. At the disengagement zone’s narrowest southern points, the distance between the two lines can be less than a kilometer.’
‘As protests continue over the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the United States is facing pressure internationally over its failure to put a halt to police brutality. In a new report, the United Nations Committee Against Torture expresses deep concern over the “frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals.” The Committee also criticizes a number of other U.S. practices on torture and imprisonment, Guantánamo Bay, and the custody of migrants including children in “prison-like detention facilities.” We discuss the report’s findings with Dr. Jens Modvig, member of the Committee against Torture and one of two rapporteurs for its report.’ (Democracy Now!)
‘[…] The resigned attitudes toward spying at the climate talks signal a normalization of broad surveillance by states like the U.S. and Britain. It seems that spying has become part of the woodwork of international ecological negotiations.
Intelligence gathering is fading into the background in part because it has become so ubiquitous, expanding well beyond traditional redoubts like diplomacy and military affairs into corporate operations, political activism and, yes, environmental affairs. Faiza Patel, who helps lead efforts against surveillance overreach at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, says, “The big point of this story for me is the fact that both the GCHQ and NSA shroud their actions as if it’s all about national security, when what we’ve seen over and over again is that it’s not.”’
- Disguised as Climate Negotiators
- Ban Ki-moon: Climate Espionage should be investigated
- Snowden documents reveal British climate espionage – Copenhagen climate summit targeted
- Foreign diplomats shrug off leaked report of U.S. spying and bugging at climate talks
- For the NSA, espionage was a means to strengthen the US position in climate negotiations
- The U.S. Government’s Secret Plans to Spy for American Corporations
‘About 13.6 million people, equivalent to the population of London, have been displaced by conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and many are without food or shelter as winter starts, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday.
Amin Awad, UNHCR’s director for the Middle East and North Africa, said the world was becoming numb to the refugees’ needs.
“Now when we talk about a million people displaced over two months, or 500,000 overnight, the world is just not responding,” he told reporters in Geneva.
The 13.6 million include 7.2 million displaced within Syria – an increase from a long-held U.N. estimate of 6.5 million – as well as 3.3 million Syrian refugees abroad.
In Iraq, 1.9 million have been displaced this year by tribal fighting and the advance of Islamic State, adding to 1 million previously displaced, and 190,000 have left the country to seek safety.’
‘On October 31, a new United Nations General Assembly First Committee resolution on depleted uranium (DU) weapons passed overwhelmingly. There were 143 states in favor, four against, and 26 abstentions. The measure calls for UN member states to provide assistance to countries contaminated by the weapons. The resolution also notes the need for health and environmental research on depleted uranium weapons in conflict situations.
This fifth UN resolution on the subject was fiercely opposed by four depleted uranium-shooting countries — Britain, the United States, France and Israel — who cast the only votes in opposition. The 26 states that abstained reportedly sought to avoid souring lucrative trade relationships with the four major shooters.
Uranium-238 — so-called “depleted” uranium — is waste material left in huge quantities by the nuclear weapons complex. It’s used in large caliber armor-piercing munitions and in armor plate on tanks. Toxic, radioactive dust and debris is dispersed when DU shells burn through targets, and its metallic fumes and dust poison water, soil and the food chain. DU has been linked to deadly health effects like Gulf War Syndrome among U.S. and allied troops, and birth abnormalities among populations in bombed areas. DU waste has caused radioactive contamination of large parts of Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo and perhaps Afghanistan.’
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- How the World Health Organisation covered up Iraq’s nuclear nightmare
- Still dangerous after 30 years: Uranium particles from DU weapons
- We’ve moved on from the Iraq war, but Iraqis don’t have that choice
- Ten Years Later, U.S. Has Left Iraq With Mass Displacement & Epidemic of Birth Defects, Cancers
- In a State of Uncertainty: impact and implications of the use of depleted uranium in Iraq
- Study: Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009