One step closer to justice

It has taken sixteen years, but Bosnian Muslims finally have a chance to seek final justice with the capture of one of ‘ the most wanted man ’ in Europe. Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb commander charged with responsibility for the siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre was caught in a small town in northern Serbia on May 26. Sixteen years after he was first listed as a wanted man for acts committed during the violent break-up of Yugoslavia, the Serbian national now faces The Hague on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. His arrest, so long after the crimes he commanded, underlines the powerful impact on international affairs of post Cold War norms of accountability – norms that presently also underpin international operations against Mummar Gaddafi in Libya. " His arrest is a clear message to accused like Omar al-Bashir and potential accused like Moammar Gadhafi that justice never forgets ," said Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch's International Justice Program, in an email to the AP. Last Friday the 69-year-old was declared fit to face trial and now faces extradition to Netherlands to face the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) Since the 2008 arrest of Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic, Mladic has been the most prominent Bosnian war criminal on the run. The Serb ultranationalist has been pivotal to the region’s politics for over two decades. First he commanded the brutal three year siege of Sarajevo (the longest of a capital city in modern warfare) and the 1995 genocide in Srebrenica. Then, after going on the run in Serbia, he became a litmus test of the country’s commitment to international codes of conduct. After the Kosovo crisis and the removal of Slobodan Milosovic Serbia’s rehabilitation into international society and its ascension to the European Union became de facto conditional on handing Mladic over to the ICTY.

Obama: US, UK leadership essential for self-determination

In a historic speech in Britain President Barack Obama said Wednesday that US and UK leadership in the world is essential for the promotion of freedom and human dignity. “Our relationship is special because of the values and beliefs that have united our people through the ages,” Obama said in the first-ever address by a US president to both houses of Parliament. See report by Marketwatch here “The time for our leadership is now,” President Obama said. “ We are the nations most willing to stand up for the values of tolerance and self-determination that lead to peace and dignity. ” He also...

US official visits Libyan rebels‏, EU opens office

The most senior American diplomat yet to visit the rebels in Libya is holding talks in their strongold, Benghazi, the BBC reports Monday. US Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman has met the Transitional National Council, which rules the east of the country. His visit comes after the EU foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, also visited the city to open an EU office on Sunday. Some countries - including France, Italy and Qatar - have already given diplomatic recognition to the TNC rebel leadership. The Libyan rebels failed to gain full recognition when they travelled to Washington a...

Self-determination: self and sovereignty

Below are some quotes on self-determination from a speech by Mahmood Mamdani, professor and director of the Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR) on the independence of South Sudan . The full speech can be found here . “Let me ask one question to begin with: who is the self in what we know as self ‐ determination? In 1956, when Sudan became independent, that self was the people of Sudan . Today, in 2011, when South Sudan will become independent, that self is the people of South Sudan . “That self, in both cases, is a political self. It is a historical self, not a metaphysical self as...

The dangers of Canada’s new refugee laws

The below is an extract from Human rights Watch’s open letter to Canada’s newly elected government on human rights priorities (see full text here ). In June 2010, Canada's Parliament passed the Balanced Refugee Reform Act. Human Rights Watch is concerned about the act's "safe-country of origin" provision, which allows the minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism to designate certain countries or parts of countries as "safe." The application of this provision is problematic. It is impossible to make a blanket determination that any country is safe for everyone, and the criteria by which the minister would make such a determination are unclear.

Genocide prevention enters US military thinking

The United States has launched a high-level initiative to make its military more ready and able to respond to potential mass killings in future , the Wall Street Journal reports. A senior Department of Defense official told the WSJ that the project, which is at an early stage, would help develop "a complete set of options that the leadership can consider in the preventive area before it comes to sending in the military, or not sending in the military." The emerging doctrine is a blueprint for an interventionist foreign policy that places such ideas as "responsibility to protect" on a par with...

1983 Iraqi attack on Kurds ruled an 'act of genocide'

An Iraqi tribunal has ruled that a 1983 attack on the Barzani tribe in the Kurdish provinces of Iraq was an act of genocide , the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said. The KRG said as many as 8,000 members of the Barzani tribe, most of them men and boys, were rounded up and killed by the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein in 1983. The reprisal came five years before the 1988 chemical attacks on Halabja in which 5,000 more Kurds were killed by Saddam’s forces. The Kurds have been waging a decades long struggle, including a campaign of armed resistance, for self-rule from Arab-dominated Iraq...

Pro-independence party wins Scottish majority, vows referendum

A party advocating Scotland’s independence from Britain has won a surprising majority in the Scottish Parliament in last Thursday’s elections. It is the first time the Scottish National Party (SNP) has taken a majority in the devolved national assembly which was established in 1999. The head of the SNP, Alex Salmond, who will serve another term as Scotland's first minister, pledged to introduce a plebiscite on Scottish independence within the next five years. "The SNP can finally claim that we have lived up to that accolade as the national party of Scotland," he said. "That is why, in this...

Obama: US forces kill Osama Bin Laden

The front page of the New York Times the day after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

UN rights probe team to Libya

A UN team is due to arrive in Tripoli to investigate allegations of human rights violations in Libya since the start of the conflict in February, the BBC reported Wednesday. The team was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council following the Libyan government's crackdown on protesters. The government has said it will co-operate with the inquiry. The three investigators say they will look at all alleged abuses, including those the government says have been committed by rebels or Nato forces. Separately, the UN Security Council has asked the International Criminal Court to investigate Libya on...

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