Palestinians seek statehood in 2011

Palestinian leaders, determined to proclaim their state in the coming year, are readying an arsenal of diplomatic alternatives to frozen negotiations with Israel. The Palestinians’ strategy centres on a proclamation of statehood in September 2011 - when the United Nations holds its next General Assembly. If the Palestinians lose this battle, they are considering calling for their territories to be placed under international administration.

New UN convention on ‘disappearances’ becomes law

An international convention aimed at preventing ‘disappearances’ - a fate affecting tens of thousands of people throughout the world - came into force last week. The International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance , first launched by the UN General Assembly in 2006, became law following its ratification last month by the minimum 20 states. Another sixty states have also signed the Convention. "It is an important achievement in the struggle against a cause of indescribable fear and sorrow for hundreds of thousands of people worldwide." - Olivier Dubois of...

‘It is time for South Sudan to break free’

“ Self-determination is the only way that the people of south Sudan will be able to join the modern world . I want my people to have ownership of their land, to have ownership of their future and their destiny.” “I am certain that the popular vote will be won in favour of independence. It is the will of the people. … I hope very much that the international community will take note and help us.” - Tobiolo Almero Olberto, member of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM). See his call for international support here . Meanwhile, in the north, a group of radical Muslim clerics on Friday...

Argentina’s Videla gets life for crimes against humanity in 'Dirty War'

Former Argentine military ruler Jorge Videla has been sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity, the BBC reports . The general is accused of being the main architect of what became known as Argentina's ‘ Dirty War ’ – a period of state-sponsored terror friom 1976 to 1983 in which up to 30,000 people were killed or ‘disappeared’. See a survivor’s account here . An Argentine court, however, found Gen Videla, 85, guilty of a specific crime : the torture and murder of 31 prisoners in 1976. During the Dirty War, Argentina’s dictatorship was then supported by the United States in the...

More nuclear power stations for Tamil Nadu

India and Russia this week discussed setting up more nuclear reactors in Tamil Nadu, in addition to the two being jointly built which will become operational in the next two years, IANS reported. Announcing the discussions on ‘additional nuclear reactors’, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, at a joint press conference with visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, said the move “reflects our mutual desire for strong cooperation in the field of defence and (civil) nuclear energy.”

India and Russia to build super-fighter in record defence contract

India and Russia signed on Tuesday India's largest ever defence deal, worth $30 billion, for fifth-generation fighter aircraft, reports said . India will take delivery of 250 of the stealth fighters between 2020 and 2030, each of which will ultimately cost $100m. The agreement is notable in underlining how India is now not only looking to acquire equipment but also to ensure that transfer of technological know-how to its domestic industry is integral to such deals.

Germany charges two Rwandans for Congo war crimes

German prosecutors have filed war crimes charges against two Rwandan men said to have lead a Hutu militia involved in killings of Congolese civilians. The pair said to be the top military leaders of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda - a militia drawn from Hutus from Rwanda who took cover across the border in Congo after the 1994 genocide. They are specifically held responsible for 26 crimes against humanity and 39 war crimes that were committed by militiamen under their command in Congo from January 2008 to November 2009. They See reports by Associated Press and AFP .

India and China relations

“ Our relationship has assumed global and strategic significance . The growing inter-dependence of nations provides both the opportunity and the obligation for India and China to cooperate together to meet the challenges facing the international community. “India-China relations have achieved a high degree of maturity that serves the interest of our two peoples. As the Asian century unfolds, we must work together to bring peace, stability and development to our peoples, to the region and to the world at large.” - Indian Premier Manmohan Singh, speaking at a banquet for Chinese Premier Wen...

Genocide noose tightens on Sudan's leader - but slowly

"He is not under house arrest, he is under country arrest. [And] When he is outside, he flies with half the air force because he knows he can be arrested." Chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, tells AFP of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir who faces ICC warrants for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Bashir's is the first warrant for genocide issued by the ICC. This week he is due to attend a regional summit in Zambia which, despite being an ICC signatory, has not agreed to arrest him. South Africa and Uganda have however said they...

Cold … feet

That Sri Lanka won’t be present at the award ceremony on Friday, when jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo receives the Nobel Peace Prize is no surprise. But here’s the logic: One diplomat from Sri Lanka initially told The Wall Street Journal that its embassy in Oslo was sure to send someone "if nobody had a cold," but later said that no one would attend, saying: "We are a small country and China is now our friend."