Tuesday October 24, 2017
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Reforms to re size security council gain momentum

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United Nation: Reforms in security council have gained momentum with a total consensus on its resizing from 15 to mid-20s. Although, Russia and the US opposed at the recent negotiating session, according to diplomatic sources.

While the issue of adding permanent members was not on the session’s agenda and was scheduled for later, Pakistan and a group of countries served notice that they would oppose any such move.

Despite these differences, the “momentum of convergence is gaining speed” for reforms, a diplomat who was at the February 22 meeting told agencies. The diplomat cited the overwhelming support for increasing the total number of Council members from 15 to the mid-20s and for other reforms, which include making its working more transparent, emphasising mediation over military force, and more involvement of non-member countries in its activities.

This was the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reforms (IGN) after the General Assembly overcame stiff opposition last year to adopt a text to base the discussions on. IANS put together this account of the closed-door meeting from conversations with sources who attended it and speeches released by some countries.

The US and Russia wanted the size of the Council restricted to 20 asserting that anything more would undermine its efficiency. Limiting it to 20 would make it virtually impossible to add permanent members because there would then be no room for any non-permanent members, which would be the priority of most countries to broaden the representation on the UN’s highest decision-making body.

Washington and Moscow have, however, endorsed adding permanent members, with India as one of them. But a 20-member limit on the Council could nullify this.

The other permanent members, Britain and France, backed the mid-20s number while China did not take a stand.

India supported going up to 27 and Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said: “Efficiency is not merely an issue of numbers but stems from a broader set of factors such as credibility, equitability, legitimacy and representativeness.”

Russia also opposed proposals coming from the IGN on reforming the working of the Council, the other item on the agenda, claiming that it was an internal matter that only the Council should decide.

The IGN is to discuss on March 9 the veto issue, including whether new permanent members should have veto powers and if they should voluntarily forgo them. But in a preview of differences expected at the session, African nations said they wanted two permanent members from their region with veto powers and all other privileges the current five have.

While China spoke of a greater role for developing countries, it avoided saying anything on adding permanent members so as not to publicly antagonise the African countries, even as it lobbies against more permanent members.

Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi said categorically: “There should be no additional permanent seats.”

Pakistan belongs to a 13-member United for Consensus (UfC) group led by Italy that campaigns against adding permanent members and held up the reform process for several years by preventing the adoption of a negotiating text for the talks.

Italian Permanent Representative Sebastiano Cardi, speaking on behalf of UfC, suggested adding 11 seats to the Council, but said: “UfC countries are convinced that we cannot afford to allocate seats permanently to a few countries at the expense of the rest of the membership.”

Cardi examined the current distribution of seats in the Council to various groups, which gives five seats to the Europe and North America group and only three each to the Asia-Pacific and Africa groups and two each to Eastern Europe and Latin America groups.

This resulted in one Council seat for every 26 Asian-Pacific countries and one seat for every 18 African nations, he said. To right the imbalance, the majority of the added seats should go to Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America, he said.

German Permanent Representative Harald Braun, who spoke on behalf of four-nation group G-4 that includes India, Brazil and Japan, said he was “gratified” that the UfC supported his group’s proposal for enlarging the Council and added that this “indicated the group’s willingness to consolidating this point accordingly”.

The G-4 nations lobby for adding permanent seats and mutually support each for them.(IANS)

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in)

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4 Ships Banned From All Ports For Violating North Korea Sanctions

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South Korea's naval ships
South Korea's naval ships take part in a military drill for possible attack from North Korea in the water of the East Sea, South Korea. voa

The U.N. Security Council has banned all nations from allowing four ships that transported prohibited goods to and from North Korea to enter any port in their country.

Hugh Griffiths, head of the panel of experts investigating the implementation of U.N. sanctions against North Korea, announced the port bans at a briefing to U.N. member states on Monday. A North Korean diplomat attended the hour-long session.

Griffiths later told several reporters that “this is the first time in U.N. history” that the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Pyongyang has prohibited ships from entering all ports.

He identified the four cargo ships as the Petrel 8, Hao Fan 6, Tong San 2 and Jie Shun.

According to MarineTraffic, a maritime database that monitors vessels and their moments, Petrel 8 is registered in Comoros, Hao Fan 6 in St. Kitts and Nevis, and Tong San 2 in North Korea. It does not list the flag of Tong San 2 but said that on Oct. 3 it was in the Bohai Sea off north China.

Griffiths said the four ships were officially listed on Oct. 5 “for transporting prohibited goods,” stressing that this was “swift action” by the sanctions committee following the Aug. 6 Security Council resolution that authorized port bans.

That resolution, which followed North Korea’s first successful tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States, also banned the country from exporting coal, iron, lead and seafood products. Those goods are estimated to be worth over $1 billion – about one-third of the country’s estimated $3 billion in exports in 2016.

The Security Council unanimously approved more sanctions on Sept. 11, responding to North Korea’s sixth and strongest nuclear test explosion on Sept. 3.

These latest sanctions ban North Korea from importing all natural gas liquids and condensates, and cap its crude oil imports. They also prohibit all textile exports, ban all joint ventures and cooperative operations, and bars any country from authorizing new work permits for North Korean workers-key sources of hard currency for the northeast Asian nation.

Both resolutions are aimed at increasing economic pressure on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – the country’s official name – to return to negotiations on its nuclear and missile programs.

Griffiths told U.N. diplomats that the panel of experts is getting reports that the DPRK “is continuing its attempts to export coal” in violation of U.N. sanctions.

“We have as yet no evidence whatsoever of state complicity, but given the large quantities of money involved and the excess capacity of coal in the DPRK it probably comes as no surprise to you all that they’re seeking to make some money here,” he said.

Griffiths said the panel is “doing our very best to monitor the situation and to follow up with member states who maybe have been taken advantage of by the tactics deployed by DPRK coal export entities.”

As for joint ventures and cooperative arrangements, Griffiths said the resolution gives them 120 days from Sept. 11 to close down.

But “in a number of cases, the indications are that these joint ventures aren’t shutting down at all but are on the contrary expanding _ and therefore joint ventures is a major feature of the panel’s current investigations,” he said.

Griffiths also asked all countries to pay “special attention” to North Korea’s Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies, also known as the Mansudae Art Studio, which is on the sanctions blacklist and subject to an asset freeze and travel ban.

According to the sanctions listing, Mansudae exports North Korea workers to other countries “for construction-related activities including for statues and monuments to generate revenue for the government of the DPRK or the (ruling) Workers’ Party of Korea.”

Griffiths said Mansudae “has representatives, branches and affiliates in the Asia-Pacific region, all over Africa and all over Europe.” Without elaborating, he added that “they’re doing an awful lot more than producing statues in Africa.” (voa)

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner Used Private email Account for White House officials

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Jared Kushner
Jared Kushner is senior advisor at the White House .

Washington, Sep 25: US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner has occasionally used a private email account for correspondence with fellow administration officials, his lawyer confirmed.

“Fewer than a hundred emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account,” counsel Abbe Lowell told CNN on Sunday night.

Politico news had first reported Kushner’s use of a private account and said it was set up in December and was used to sometimes trade emails with senior White House officials, outside advisers and some others about media coverage.

Lowell said that the emails on Kushner’s private account were “usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal, rather than his White House, address”.

Federal law requires that all White House records be preserved, including emails.

Regarding concerns that some of the emails might not have been preserved since Kushner was not using a White House account, Lowell told CNN: “All non-personal emails were forwarded to his official address, and all have been preserved, in any event.”

During his campaign, Trump repeatedly criticised Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server to send and receive an email during her tenure as Secretary of State.(IANS)