Germany recognises Libya's rebels

Germany has recognised Libya's rebels as "the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people", the BBC reports. "We want a free Libya, in peace and democracy without [Muammar] Gaddafi," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in the rebel stronghold Benghazi. "The national council is the legitimate representative of the Libyan people." German opposition politicians, media commentators and foreign policy experts had sharply criticised the government for its position on Col Gaddafi, accusing it of failing to live up to its international obligations. Mr Westerwelle said in Benghazi that staying...

China supports Ban's bid for 2nd term

Ban Ki Moon received China's endorsement for his bid for a second term as UN Secretary General, giving a boost to his campaign. China's permanent representative to the UN, Li Baodong, speaking in New York, described Ban as a good candidate who had made significant contributions to international affairs, peace and development. " China supports Mr Ban Ki-Moon's bid for re-election, and hopes that he will gain the extensive support from all partie s" said Li. Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, has thus secured the backing of five veto-wielding members of the Security Council, namely,...

China meets Libyan rebels, after Russia u-turn on Gaddafi

China said Friday one of its envoys met with a Libyan rebel leader in what could signal Beijing's change of tactics on the conflict after staying on the sidelines and avoiding criticism of Libya's dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The meeting between the head of Libya's rebel council and China's ambassador to Qatar took place in the Qatari capital, Doha. It was Beijing's first known contact with the rebels. See the AP’s report here . China said in a statement that Beijing remained hopeful that Libyans themselves could find a political solution to the conflict. China abstained in the UN Security...

Bob Rae accepts Liberal Party's interim leadership

Canada’s Liberal Party, pushed into third place in recent elections, has appointed as interim leader Bob Rae. Rae was a prominent advocate of federalism who figured in the Norwegian-led peace process in Sri lanka between 2001 and 2006. In June 2009 he was denied entry and deported by Sri Lanka’s hardline regime, which was angered by Rae’s outspoken criticism of the mass killings of Tamil civilians in the preceding months. “ The world can't just sit back and let this death and destruction happen ,” Rae had said in April 2009 as Sri Lankan artillery continued to kill and wound hundreds of...

Sudan offensive sparks crisis, displaces 110,000

Thousands of residents have fled North Sudan’s offensive that captured the disputed Abyei region. As urgent talks began to try and defuse the situation, 110,000 people face a humanitarian crisis. Having occupied Abyei, Northern Sudan claimed that it had ceased military operations in the region. A column of northern Sudanese tanks and troops rolled into Abyei last week after weeks of hit-and-run clashes between northern and southern forces, sparking the worst crisis since South Sudanese overwhelming voted for independence. South Sudan is due to declare independence on July 19 after a...

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.

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