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UN Week – 6/20/11

June 20, 2011

John and Douglas Carey, Editors. www.unweek.blogspot.com

Contents of this issue: UN Sharpens anti-al-Qaeda weapons; US accomplishments in Human Rights Commission.

Late last week, US Ambassador Susan Rice announced that, “with the adoption of two new resolutions, the Security Council has taken important steps to respond to the evolving and distinct threats posed by al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

The United States welcomes the decision to create a new sanctions regime targeted against extremists in Afghanistan and also to refocus the 1267 sanctions exclusively on the threat posed by al-Qaeda. Today’s action shows that the Security Council can adapt flexibly to evolving threats. “The United States remains committed to disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaeda using every weapon at our disposal. We appreciate the important role the UN sanctions play in this effort. Al-Qaeda clings to a bankrupt ideology and stands as an enemy of the entire international com-munity; thus its members will continue to face tough and comprehensive sanctions.

“By limiting the 1267 regime to those associated with al-Qaeda, the Security Council has strengthened and focused its preeminent counter-terrorism tool. Resolution 1989 will allow the 1267 Committee to custom-tailor its response to the unique and persistent threat posed by al-Qaeda. The United States believes that the new sanctions regime for Afghanistan will serve as an important tool to promote reconciliation, while isolating extremists.

Resolution 1988 sends a clear message to the Taliban that there is a future for those who separate from al-Qaeda, renounce violence and abide by the Afghan constitution. We look forward to working with the Government of Afghanistan, other concerned Member States, UNAMA, and the Monitoring Team, to ensure that this new regime is fully implemented and remains responsive to events on the ground in Afghanistan.” On June 17th the following fact sheet on Security Council resolutions 1988 and 1989 had been released by the Department of State:

Eleven years after the Security Council first imposed sanctions against the Taliban and al-Qaida, the Security Council has adopted two resolutions to respond to the evolving and distinct threats posed by these groups. First, the Council adopted Resolution 1988 to create a new sanctions regime targeting those associated with the Taliban in constituting a threat to the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan. Second, the Council adopted Resolution 1989 to focus the current 1267 sanctions regime on the al-Qaida terrorist network. These two resolutions will allow the Council to custom-tailor and strengthen its response to these threats.

Resolution 1988:

1. Creates a new Afghanistan sanctions regime to target threats to Afghanistan’s stability. Resolution 1988 allows a new sanctions regime targeting those associated with the Taliban in constituting “a threat to the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan.” The Afghan Taliban-associated individuals who were previously listed under the 1267 sanctions have been transferred to this new sanctions list. A new Sanctions Committee will be established to oversee the implementation of the new Consolidated List, including by considering requests for new listings and delistings. The 1267 Monitoring Team will support both this new Sanctions Committee, as well as the existing 1267 Committee.

2. Establishes specific criteria for having the sanctions removed. The Security Council has directed the new Afghanistan Sanctions Committee to lift sanctions on individuals who meet the reconciliation conditions agreed to by the Afghan government and the international community. these delisting criteria include: renouncing violence, severing links to international terrorist organizations (particularly al-Qaida and affiliates) and respecting the Afghan Constitution. The Security Council has said that delisting requests on behalf of reconciled individuals should, if possible, include a communication from the Afghan government’s High Peace Council confirming the reconciled status of the individual. Every six months, the Committee will receive the names of individuals whom the Afghan government considers to be reconciled, in addition to reviewing any specific delisting requests that are submitted in the interim.

3. Continue to ensure fair procedures exist for listed individuals. The new sanctions regime will incorporate procedures to ensure the sanctions are implemented as fairly and transparently as possible, including requirements to notify listed individuals, requirements to publish narrative summaries of reasons for listing and regular review of sanctions lists. Individuals seeking to be delisted may directly petition the UN Focal Point to have the sanctions against them removed (the same process as other country-specific UN sanctions regimes).

Resolution 1989:

1. Focuses the 1267 regime exclusively on the threat from al-Qaida. Resolution 1989 will modify the 1267 sanctions list so that it is tailored to target individuals and entities associated with al-Qaida. This reinforces our core goal of disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaida. Afghan Taliban individuals previously subject to the 1267 sanctions will be transferred to the new Afghanistan sanctions list.

2. Expands the mandate of the 1267 Ombudsperson The new 1267 resolution expands the mandate of the 1267 Ombudsperson, whose Office was established in UNSCR 1904 (2009) to help the 1267 Committee consider requests to delist individuals and entities. For the first time ever, the Ombudsperson will be able to make recommendations to the Committee whether to accept or reject a delisting request. If the Ombudsperson recommends against retaining a listing, then that listing will be removed unless the Committee decides by consensus to retain it, although the question can be submitted to the Security Council. The resolution strongly urges States to provide the Ombudsperson with all relevant information, including confidential information, concerning delisting petitions, to further enhance the Ombudsperson’s ability to offer an effective independent review.

3. Improves the fairness and transparency of how the sanctions are applied. The resolution enhances the Security Council’s ongoing efforts to refine and improve procedures used to add and remove people to the 1267 list. The state that initially requested a name be added to the sanctions list may request the name be removed at any time; upon such a request, the listing will be automatically removed unless the Committee decides otherwise, although the question can also be submitted to the Security Council. The 1267 Committee will continue to conduct regular triennial re-views of its list, as well as annual reviews listed individuals who are reportedly deceased, and also review and update to the extent possible listings that the Monitoring Team circulates to the Committee for consideration due to concerns over the lack adequate identifying information impeding Member States implementation of the sanctions.

Also on June 17th, David B. Dunn, Acting U.S. Ambassador and Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, stated that:

 “The United States welcomes and strongly supports today’s Council action to implement significant reforms to the 1267 regime and create a new sanctions regime targeting violent extremists in Afghanistan. With these re-forms, the Council acknowledges that the nature of these threats has evolved and that events on the ground in Afghanistan have changed. The Council has also taken major steps to strengthen the fairness and transparency in its listing and delisting procedures, including to expand the mandate and enhance the authority of the 1267 Ombudsperson.

“The actions the Council took today, with Afghan government support, are designed to support and promote Afghan-led reconciliation, while targeting those associated with the Taliban in constituting a threat to the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan. They will also allow the 1267 Committee to better tailor its efforts to the unique global threat posed by al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

“We wish to acknowledge the role of the 1267 Monitoring Team in outlining the evolving nature of the threat and recommending ways for us to modernize the 1267 sanctions. This sanctions regime is one of the most important multilateral counter-terrorism tools the international community has at its disposal. We hope today’s actions will ensure that these measures continue to enjoy the full support of the international community, and are fully implemented by all Member States.”

US accomplishments in Human Rights Commission.

Also on June 17th, the following fact sheet was issued: The seventeenth session of the Human Rights Council came to an end in Geneva today. This is the sixth regular session that the United States has participated in since joining the Council in September 2009. U.S. engagement has reshaped the Council’s agenda, leading to a number of new tools to address urgent human rights situations and focus international attention on some of the world’s most egregious human rights abusers. Key accomplishments at this session include:

LGBT RESOLUTION The Council took bold, assertive action to highlight violence and human rights abuses faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons around the world. This is the first UN resolution solely focused on LGBT persons. The United States co-sponsored and lobbied heavily to support this initiative by South Africa, which was joined by countries from every UN geographic region. The resolution will commission the first UN report on the challenges faced by LGBT people around the world and will pave the way for sustained Council attention to LGBT issues in sessions to come.

DEEPENING ENGAGEMENT IN COUNTRY SITUATIONS AND ADDRESSING URGENT HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATIONS

Syria: The United States joined Canada and over fifty UN members to deliver a forceful joint statement addressing the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria, calling for an end to the on-going human rights violations committed by the Syrian authorities, and urging the Government of Syria to allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Office access to Syria to conduct their fact-finding mission. This statement further demonstrates the international community’s resolve to highlight the ongoing campaign of violence by the Syrian Government.

Yemen: The United States joined the Netherlands and 73 other countries in delivering a statement on the ongoing violence and human rights abuses in Yemen. The Council made a decision to hold an interactive dialogue on Yemen at its next session. The statement and decision mark the first HRC action on Yemen. We applaud the Government of Yemen for supporting both the statement and the decision and inviting OHCHR to visit the country to aid in its reporting.

Libya: After considering the report from the UN Commission of Inquiry detailing allegations of human rights violations in Libya, alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Qadhafi regime, the Human Rights Council extended the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry. The Commission will continue to provide important, credible, and independent information on the human rights violations and crimes committed by the Libyan authorities.

Cote d’Ivoire: The Council debated a mandated report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Cote d’Ivoire, established in an emergency Council session in December. The Council authorized continued monitoring and reporting as well as technical assistance. It agreed to name an Independent Expert to follow up on the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry and assist the Government of Cote d’Ivoire to combat impunity. Acceptance of this sustained oversight is a strong indication of the Ivoirian Government’s commitment to respect human rights and take steps toward reconciliation.

Iran: On June 17, the Human Right’s Council appointed Ahmed Shaheed as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. The Special Rapporteur will serve as a voice for the millions of Iranians who have suffered egregious human rights violations and are not heard by their own government.

Other Country Specific Resolutions:

Belarus: The Council adopted an EU-led resolution on the human rights situation in Belarus, highlighting the abuses committed since the December 2010 Presidential election in Belarus, and ongoing crackdowns against civil society and the democratic opposition in the country. This renewed UN scrutiny of human rights in Belarus for the first time since an earlier Commission on Human Rights mandate on Belarus was abolished in 2006.

Somalia: The Council adopted a resolution acknowledging the constructive engagement of the Transitional Federal Government in the Universal Periodic Review process earlier this year. The resolution encouraged technical assistance from the international community for Somalia and renewed the mandate of the Independent Expert on Somalia for one year.

Kyrgyzstan: The United States and Kyrgyzstan worked together on a new Council resolution to support the Government of Kyrgyzstan’s efforts to address and reform current law enforcement practices and ensure fairness, security, and due process in the judicial proceedings arising out of last year’s violence. The resolution encourages further efforts to promote national reconciliation and invites states to continue to provide technical assistance.

BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

The United States worked with the Government of Norway to pass a resolution that welcomes the groundbreaking work of the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative, Professor John Ruggie of Harvard University. Professor Ruggie has developed a set of far-reaching Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and built support for them among governments, corporations, and civil society stakeholders worldwide. The resolution creates a working group of five independent experts and establishes a forum on business and human rights to discuss trends and challenges in implementing the Guiding Principles. The forum will maintain the multi-stakeholder approach that was a critical component of Dr. Ruggie’s work.

INTERNET FREEDOM

The United States worked with Sweden to develop a joint statement, supported by a cross-regional coalition of 40 countries, affirming Internet freedom. We appreciate the timely focus of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression on access to electronic communications and freedom of expression online. The dramatic events unfolding in North Africa, the Middle East, and beyond highlight the importance of new communications tools for political expression and the realization of democratic aspirations.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

The United States continues to join UN members to call attention to violence against women and girls around the world and improve international efforts to eliminate and prevent that violence. The United States strongly supported a Canadian-led resolution addressing Violence Against Women, took part in annual day discussion on addressing sexual violence against women in conflict, and responded to the report of Violence Against Women Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo on the United States.

That’s all for this June 19th issue of United Nations Week: News and Views. We’ll be back with the next issue. Meantime send along your own views on these or other UN-related issues to http://www.unweek.blogspot.com

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