France warns against veto of Palestinian statehood bid

Speaking at the UN General Assembly shortly after President Obama urged the Palestinians to abandon their bid for UN membership, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned a Security Council veto against the Palestinian statehood bid, 'risks engendering a cycle of violence in the Middle East'. Sarkozy's comments expose a clear divide between France and the United States, who have repeatedly asserted that the US will veto any such resolution at the Security Council. Sarkozy said, “Let us cease our endless debates on the parameters. Let us begin negotiations and adopt a precise timetable.” "Each of us knows that Palestine cannot immediately obtain full and complete recognition of the status of United Nations member state," "But who could doubt that a veto at the Security Council risks engendering a cycle of violence in the Middle East?" " Why not envisage offering Palestine the status of United Nations observer state? This would be an important step forward. Most important, it would mean emerging from a state of immobility that favors only the extremists .”

Former Mexican President sued in US for crimes against humanity

Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Mexico is being sued for alleged crimes against humanity for a massacre of 45 villagers in 1997. The former President from 1994-2000, now a Professor at Yale University, has had the lawsuit filed against him by ten relatives and survivors of the massacre, who claim that Zedillo was both responsible for the attack and helped cover up the killings. See report by The Associated Press here . The lawsuit alleges that Zedillo “knew or should have known that his subordinates were committing human rights abuses, and he failed to prevent the abuses or punish those...

US urges restraint in Yemen

Renewed clashes have killed over 50 anti-government protestors after two days of violence the AFP reports. The US embassy in Sanaa has called for restraint and a peaceful transfer of power from President Saleh to his deputy. "The United States regrets the deaths and injuries of many people during protest marches in Sanaa yesterday (Sunday). In this tense situation, we call upon all parties to exercise restraint," the statement said. "The United States continues to support a peaceful and orderly transition in Yemen, one which addresses the Yemeni people's aspirations for peace and security. "...

Netanyahu calls for talks as Palestine prepares membership bid

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has called to meet President of the Palestinian Authortity Mahmoud Abbas in New York this week for “direct negotiations”, as the Palestinians gear up to submit their statehood bid to the UN on Friday. Abbas told Fox News that he is willing to meet with “any Israeli official any time... But there is no use if there is nothing tangible." "I felt there is no way for negotiations because the American administration, including President Obama, exhausted their efforts to bring Netanyahu to the negotiating table. They couldn't convince him to cease the...

Pakistan refuses to hand over former ISI chief to war crimes tribunal

Islamabad has refused to hand over the former head of the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, to an international tribunal investigating war crimes in Bosnia. Javed Nasir, a retired Lieutenant General, has been accused by The Hague of supporting Bosnian Muslim fighters, despite a UN embargo at the time, and has demanded his custody. Official sources told the Express Tribune that Pakistan has rejected the demand on medical grounds, saying that the former general had “lost his memory” after a road accident and would be unable to face investigations on the matter. Nasir apparently...

World welcomes the new Libya

Libya's new flag at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York (Photo: AFP) Libya’s interim leaders were welcomed by leaders from around the world, while the new flag of Libya flew outside the headquarters of the United Nations in New York for the first time. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed interim President and Gaddafi’s former justice minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil and insisted the UN Security Council was forced to act to prevent massacres on Libyan civilians. "Today, we must once again respond with such speed and decisive action -- this time to consolidate peace and democracy” said Ban Ki-Moon, signalling that the mission will not be completed until stability and security has been brought to the country. He also commended the Libyan rebels on their bravery in standing up to the Gaddafi regime. “For the past seven months, you have fought courageously for your fundamental rights and freedoms," he told Jalil.

Advancing U.S. Interests at the United Nations

The White House has released a document outlining US policy at the United Nations. The Obama Administration hails the current “era of engagement” as successful in advancing US foreign policy objectives. The US claims “concrete results” at the UN are due to US leadership, including the stiffest sanctions against Iran and North Korea, the mandate to intervene in Libya, the independence of South Sudan and initial progress in “improving the flawed UN Human Rights Council”.

Syrian opposition unites as Russian delegates visit

Opponents to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have united to form a national council, as Russian lawmakers visited the country to help defuse the ongoing crisis. An 80-member central council was elected on Saturday, with a quarter deemed “young revolutionaries”, as various opposition groups unified in their aim to oust President Assad. The council saw a wide range of groups negotiate and come together, including Arab and Kurd nationalists, as well as liberal opposition members and the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. The move comes as a delegation of Russian MPs came to the country hoping to meet with both the President and the opposition, in order to broker talks. Russia, a long-time ally of Syria, has been criticized for obstructing any Security Council resolutions that have sought to condemn the current regime’s behaviour. Previously, French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe, accused the Syrian government of crimes against humanity and urged Russia to join them in passing sanctions against the Syrian regime. Juppe told reporters that, " The Syrian regime has committed crimes against humanity … The way it suppressed the popular protests is unacceptable.” He went on to say that “there should be international sanctions” which would send “a powerful signal that such actions cannot continue ". "I hope Russia will back us in the Security Council even if our positions do not yet fully agree." Meanwhile Ilyas Uumakhanov, vice president of the Russian upper house said , "Russia cares about the fate of the Syrian people. That's why we want to find a way to stop a negative scenario developing." "We intend to assess the situation, lead the consultations with the different political forces." Strong sanctions have been put in place against Syria by the EU and US, while the Arab League has also joined the criticism of President Assad’s regime.

Rwandan rebel leader at The Hague for war crimes

A former Rwandan leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebel group has been brought before the ICC to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Callixte Mbarushimana, the executive secretary of the FDLR faces 13 charges, including those for rape, murder and torture committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009. 48 year-old Mbarushimana was arrested in Paris last year, and is accused of being the “linchpin” of the Hutu group. Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that Mbarushimana had “represented the respectable public face of the FDLR," but...

NTC denies accusations of war crimes

Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) has denied accusation it is targeting black immigrants and dark-skinned Libyans in its hunt for Gaddafi loyalists. Gaddafi is thought to have hired mercenaries from Sub-Saharan countries, including Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan to fight the Libyan rebels. The rebels have been accused of committing war crimes, after summary arrests and executions of black migrants and Libyans were detailed in a report by Amnesty International. 'Members and supporters of the opposition, loosely structured under the leadership of the National Transitional Council (NTC),...