Friday, November 30, 2012

Palestine UN status upgrade should open door to justice

Amnesty International: Palestine UN status upgrade should open door to justice

“Palestine's historic recognition as a non-member observer state of the United Nations brings with it obligations under international law, Amnesty International said today.

The vote at the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday was decided by 138 votes in favour, 41 abstentions, and 9 against.

Palestine is in a position to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and other human rights and international humanitarian law treaties, bolstering accountability for human rights violations and crimes under international law.” 

UNGA Resolution on the "Status of Palestine in the United Nations"

Full text of UN General Assembly Resolution on the "Status of Palestine in the United Nations" (A/RES/67/19)

Israeli Settlements and the International Criminal Court

Since the beginning of its occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967, Israel, the Occupying Power, has officially adopted, supported and financed a policy of settling parts of its civilian population in those areas, under the pretext of maintaining its security.

Moreover, it has encouraged the “unofficial”building of settlements, in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, through what it refers to as “illegal outposts”. Those outposts are built by Jewish groups without the prior consent or permission of the Israeli Government. However, they eventually obtain retro-active permits as well as all sort of facilities.

This direct and indirect settling of Israelis in the abovementioned areas is in breach of the international law, because the occupation itself is at the outset illegal under Article 2/4 of the Charter of the United Nations, and it further constitutes a war crime according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC)[*]. Article 8/2/b/viii of the Statute states: “The transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own population into the territory it occupies…”

These facts give rise to two questions: How to hold the perpetrators – as war criminals – accountable before the ICC? Who can refer this situation to the ICC?

This situation is worthy of a careful scrutiny as Israel, the Occupying Power, is not Party to the Statute and thus, in principle, is not bound by it. Consequently, the International Criminal Court cannot exercise jurisdiction over Israeli nationals.

In order to answer the raised the questions, we first must specify the competent parties to refer situations before the ICC. Pursuant to Article 13 of the Rome Statute, a State Party, the Security Council or the Prosecutor is empowered to bring cases before the Court.

However, in the case of a referral by a State Party or the Prosecutor initiates an investigation, the conduct in question must have occurred on the territory of a State Party or the State of the accused person must be a State Party, in compliance with Article 12/2 of the Statute, or otherwise, each can accept the jurisdiction of the Court, on an ad hoc basis, in accordance with Article 12/3 of the Statute.

Now that Palestine’s status has been upgraded by the UN General Assembly to a “non-member Observer State”, and which implicitly means the recognition of Palestine as a sovereign and independent State, it can either accede to the Rome Statute, or accept the jurisdiction of the Court on an ad hoc basis. As such, it can refer the situation of settlements – as a war crime - to the ICC.

It is worth mentioning that Israel has only signed the Statute but has not yet ratified it. However, Israel can accept the jurisdiction of the Court, in conformity with Article 12/3, but it is not expected to do so, so as to give the Court jurisdiction over its own nationals. In any case, its consent is not required in the case before us.

Concerning the Security Council, it can - acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations - and in accordance with Article 13/b of the Rome Statute, refer situations to the ICC - whether the State where the conduct was committed or of the accused person is a State Party or not. In other words, the Security Council has the power to refer any situation to the Court without any restrictions, i.e.: the limitations set forth by Article 12/2 of the Statute.

In conclusion, it is now possible for Palestine to bring the situation of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank – as a war crime – before the International Criminal Court. The Security Council, by a resolution adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, can do so as well – as a last resort.

Vote on Status of Palestine at the United Nations

The draft resolution on the Status of Palestine at the United Nations (document A/67/L.28) was adopted by a recorded vote of 138 in favour to 9 against, with 41 abstentions, as follows:

In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Palau, Panama, United States.

: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Colombia, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Estonia, Fiji, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malawi, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Poland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tonga, United Kingdom, Vanuatu.

Absent: Equatorial Guinea, Kiribati, Liberia, Madagascar, Ukraine.



Palestinians win implicit U.N. recognition of sovereign state

“The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the de facto recognition of a sovereign Palestinian state after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the world body to issue its long overdue "birth certificate."
There were 138 votes in favor, nine against and 41 abstentions. Three countries did not take part in the vote to upgrade the Palestinian Authority's observer status at the United Nations to "non-member state" from "entity."”

منح فلسطين صفة "دولة مراقبة" في الجمعية العامة للأمم المتحدة

منح فلسطين صفة "دولة مراقبة" في الجمعية العامة للأمم المتحدة يعني ضمنياً الاعتراف بها كدولة مستقلة وذات سيادة. فبموجب صفة "دولة مراقبة" تحول الوضع القانوني الدولي لفلسطين من "أراضي محتلة" و"كيان" في الجمعية العامة إلى دولة محتلة - مراقبة.
وحيث تم الاعتراف بفلسطين كدولة، يعني أن بامكانها - ضمن غيرها من الأمور - أن تفتح علاقات دبلوماسية كاملة مع الدول الأخرى. وأيضاً يحق لفلسطين أن تكون طرف في أية معاهدة أو اتفاقية دولية، والانضمام لأية منظمة دولية، والتوجه للمحاكم الدولية.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The day of truth dawns for the Palestinians

“The Palestinian bid for longed-for although indirect recognition as a state is expected to pass easily when presented to the 193-nation General Assembly in New York on Thursday.

There are dissenters, though; a handful of states, including Israel and the US, are expected to vote against.

US diplomats have made a last-ditch attempt to persuade Mahmoud Abbas to opt for dialogue with Israel.

A few European member states have voiced doubts but, despite their objections, almost half of the 27 have pledged their support. There is also strong backing from the developing world.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Palestinian statehood bid

The injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people must end.

The UN should send a clear and resounding message to Israel: end the suffering of the Palestinian people !

Palestine at the United Nations

UN recognition of Palestinian statehood: constitutive or declaratory?

It is necessary to clarify the legal effect of UN recognition of Palestine as a “State”. In other words, does the recognition establish a Palestinian State, or merely acknowledge an already existing State?

To put it straightforward: a UN recognition does not establish a State, but rather acknowledges an already existing fact on the ground; the State of Palestine. Therefore, if a resolution is passed at the UN General Assembly, it would merely recognize the existence of the State of Palestine. 

Some reflections on Palestine UN statehood bid

The Palestinians will request the UN General Assembly to upgrade their status from Permanent Observer to a "non-member Observer State".  For an UNGA resolution to pass into this effect, it requires a simple majority, which means 50 percent plus one of all Member States present and participating in the voting.
If the General Assembly decides to upgrade Palestine’s status to a "non-member Observer State", this would implicitly result in a collective recognition of Palestine as an independent State. However, it is significant to emphasize that this doesn’t in any way grant Palestine membership at the United Nations.
A status upgrade for Palestine would qualify it for the “all States” clause contained in international treaties. As a result, Palestine - as a State - would be able to become party to any international treaty/agreement, whether by ratification or accession. In addition, Palestine would be able to establish full diplomatic relations with other States. This would further grant Palestine access to international judicial bodies such as: the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Futhermore, Palestine would be able to directly bring to the attention of the Security Council or of the General Assembly any dispute to which it is a party, in accordance with Article 35(2) of the Charter of the United Nations. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Missteps by Rebels Erode Their Support Among Syrians

Anne Bernard: “BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syria’s rebel fighters — who have long staked claim to the moral high ground for battling dictatorship — are losing crucial support from a public increasingly disgusted by the actions of some rebels, including poorly planned missions, senseless destruction, criminal behavior and the coldblooded killing of prisoners.

The shift in mood presents more than just a public relations problem for the loosely knit militants of the Free Syrian Army, who rely on their supporters to survive the government’s superior firepower. A dampening of that support undermines the rebels’ ability to fight and win what has become a devastating war of attrition, perpetuating the violence that has left nearly 40,000 dead, hundreds of thousands in refugee camps and more than a million forced from their homes.”

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Anatomy of a White House win: how Obama outmaneuvered Romney

“On the day after the 2010 midterm election that swept Republicans into control of the House of Representatives and decreased Democrats' majority in the Senate, senior White House adviser David Axelrod had a message for President Barack Obama.
"I think they just planted the seeds of your re-election," he told his boss.
"The most strident voices had seized control of the Republican Party and you knew that the nominee who would emerge either would come from that Tea Party base or would have to yield to it in order to be the nominee," Axelrod told Reuters.
That nominee ended up being former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and Obama's campaign went on to exploit his ties to the conservative wing of his party and outmaneuver him to victory in the November 6 general election.
Axelrod, who left the White House to oversee strategy for the president's 2012 campaign, and fellow Democrats attribute Obama's decisive win on Tuesday to Obama and to a consistent strategy that sidelined Romney in key swing states.
An early and effective effort to define the former private equity executive as unfriendly to the middle class, a superior ground operation to get out the vote, and a deft response to missteps by Romney and his allies helped Obama overcome his own perceived weaknesses in presiding over a slow economic recovery.
"They successfully made this a choice election as opposed to a referendum on the president and the economy," said Michael Feldman, a Democratic strategist and former adviser to Vice President Al Gore. "They also used the critical months between the end of the (Republican) primary and the general election to better define Mitt Romney than the Romney campaign did."
That defining process turned out to be key.
In the spring and summer, Obama's campaign used a massive advertising package to highlight concerns about Romney's tenure as the head of Bain Capital and pounded the multi-millionaire executive for refusing to release several years of his personal tax returns.
The Romney campaign's slow response to that onslaught and failure to neutralize the criticism over his tax returns baffled Obama's Chicago team.
"Their inability to respond to attacks that they knew were coming, I think, was a major mistake on their part," said one Obama campaign official. "If they had made a decision they weren't going to release his taxes, they should have had a plan around how to deal with that."
Obama's campaign made mistakes, too. The president's first debate performance was widely panned and would have been blamed by many for his defeat if he had lost to Romney on Tuesday. Democrats' slow acceptance of the financial influence of outside groups known as Super PACs was also cited earlier in the year as a strategic misstep.
But Obama's strength on the ground and effective messages - which Republicans viewed as particularly negative - made up for those weaknesses.
"They had a ground game that they worked on for five years," said Charlie Black, a Republican strategist who advised Romney.
"It's unusual for an incumbent president to run such a negative, divisive campaign, but they pulled it off."
Axelrod cited Romney's secretly taped comment that 47 percent of Americans were reliant on government, conservative policy positions on immigration and taxes, and his selection of budget hawk Paul Ryan as a running mate as key factors that tied him to the right and turned off mainstream voters.
"I think it was a mistake," Axelrod said of Wisconsin Representative Ryan's selection. "I think it was a way for (Romney) to coalesce his base and get through his convention."
In an election that was determined by the fight over swing states such as Ohio, where jobs tied to the auto industry are critical, Obama's team also deftly highlighted Romney's opposition to Obama's auto bailout and his published opinion piece that suggested Detroit, Michigan-based companies should be allowed to fail.
"Whoever decided that they should use the phraseology 'Let Detroit Go Bankrupt' should probably not get employed as a political consultant again," said an Obama campaign worker. "It definitely has haunted them in Ohio in a big way."
Obama ended up winning Ohio and most of the battleground states that he and Romney both coveted, granting him another four-year term.”

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Turkey to request NATO missile defense on Syria border

Erdogan seems to be determined to hide behind NATO and to implicate it at any cost in the Syrian crisis.

2012 Presidential Election Results

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney: 2012 Presidential Election Results

Divided U.S. Gives Obama More Time

BarackHussein Obama was re-elected president of the United States on Tuesday, overcoming powerful economic headwinds, a lock-step resistance to his agenda by Republicans in Congress and an unprecedented torrent of advertising as a divided nation voted to give him more time.

In defeating Mitt Romney, the president carried Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin, a near sweep of the battleground states, and was holding a narrow advantage in Florida. The path to victory for Mr. Romney narrowed as the night wore along, with Mr. Obama winning at least 303 electoral votes.

President Map 2012

President Map: Election 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Qatari draft media law criticized

Qatari draft media law criticized by rights group: Qatar's draft media law came under fire on Tuesday from Human Rights Watch, which singled out "loosely worded provisions" penalizing criticism of the Gulf emirate and its neighbors. The New York-based organization urged Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani not to approve the law as drafted, calling it "a commitment to censorship".”

Friday, November 2, 2012