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Sushma Swaraj calls for expansion of UNSC

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New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday advocated reforms to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and pointed out that neither India with nearly one-sixth of the world’s population nor the largest continent Africa in terms of number of countries were on board.

She said the United Nations continued to be a “representative of the world order of 1945”.

“A major issue in this context is that of UN Security Council reforms. The Security Council continues to be representative of a world order of 1945. It is inconceivable that the Security Council today does not have any permanent representation from Africa, which is the largest continent (in terms of number of countries),” said Sushma Swaraj

She also added it was also incomprehensible that India, which represents almost one-sixth of world’s population and has all credentials to be a permanent member of the Security Council, was still out of it.

“We all need to work together to remove this anomaly and the media has an important role in this,” she said.

The minister said developing countries were articulating similar views and concerns as the UN celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.

Sushma Swaraj said 2015 has been a historic year for pushing forward south-south cooperation.

“We celebrated the 60th anniversary of Asian-African conference and the 10th anniversary of the new Asian-African strategic partnership at Bandung (in Indonesia). We worked together in the finalisation of the post-2015 Development Agenda,” she said.

Welcoming the participants of India-Africa Editors’ Forum at the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit, the minister also asserted, the unprecedented participation was testimony to the deep historical bonds that India shares with Africa.

The summit will begin on Monday and end on October 29.

 

(IANS)

 

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Trump Toughens Iran Strategy, Decertifies Tehran’s Compliance With Accord

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President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump announces a new Iran policy from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House. voa

Saying Iran is not living up to the spirit of a two-year-old nuclear agreement it signed with Western powers, President Donald Trump Friday unveiled a tough new strategy toward Tehran, including additional sanctions aimed at blocking the regime’s path to develop nuclear weapons.

“Today, I am announcing our strategy along with several major steps we are taking to confront the Iranian regime’s hostile actions and to ensure that Iran never — and I mean never — acquires a nuclear weapon,” Trump said in a nationally televised address at the White House.

He stopped short of pulling the United States out of the 2015 deal involving Iran, the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany and the European Union. But he said he would no longer certify Iran’s compliance with its terms, effectively giving Congress 60 days to consider whether further action is necessary.

“We cannot and will not make this certification,” Trump said. “We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout.”

Global reaction

European powers France, Britain and Germany together issued a statement following Trump’s address, saying preservation of the JCPOA with Iran is “in our joint national interest.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Friday said his country sees the JCPOA as non-negotiable, and would remain committed to it as long at it serves the national interests.

In a nationally televised address, Rouhani charged that Trump’s comments were full of “insults and fake accusations” against Iran.

“The Iranian nation has not and will never bow to any foreign pressure. … Iran and the deal are stronger than ever. … Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps will continue its fight against regional terrorists,” Rouhani said.

Obama administration officials involved in crafting the agreement say any attempt to tinker with it is fraught with numerous pitfalls, and will require close coordination with allies and lawmakers.

“This action is completely unnecessary and arbitrary,” said Ben Rhodes, who served as deputy national security adviser to former President Barack Obama. “The question at play in certification is whether or not Iran is complying with terms of the nuclear deal, and as you know, the Trump administration itself has twice certified that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal.”

Gary Samore, who held senior positions on arms control and non-proliferation in the Obama and Clinton administrations, described Trump’s move as “mostly political theater.”

“President Trump gets to denounce the Iran agreement, which he’s heavily criticized, but at the same time, the U.S. will continue to comply with the agreement by waiving sanctions. So for now, it really doesn’t change anything,” Samore told VOA.

“President Trump found it embarrassing and irritating to have to certify this ‘bad deal’ every 90 days, and he made it clear to his advisers that he wasn’t’ going to do that anymore,” Samore added. “And they’ve come up with a way for him to stop performing this task but not destroy the agreement.”(VOA)

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UN Should Name and Shame Countries Failing to Protect Doctors in War Zones: Aid Expert

Leonard Rubenstein, head of Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, said impartial investigations and reforming both military training and practice could improve safety for health workers

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Health workers
The ruins of a hospital in Idlib province in northern Syria are seen in this image provided by Doctors Without Borders Feb. 15, 2016. VOA
  • International law bounds all warring parties to respect and protect medical personnel, but the provision is largely disregarded
  • At least 80 people were killed in attacks on health facilities in 14 countries in the first three months of 2017, according to the World Health Organization
  • An expert Leonard Rubenstein said impartial investigations and reforming both military training and practice could improve safety for health workers

New Delhi, August 19, 2017: The United Nations should name and shame countries that fail to protect health workers in war zones and audit what steps they take to keep medics safe, Leonard Rubenstein- an aid expert- said on Thursday.

International law bounds all warring parties to respect and protect medical personnel, but the provision is largely disregarded, with hospital and medics often deliberately targeted in conflict areas, aid agencies say.

Last year, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution calling for an end to impunity for perpetrators, but little has been done to implement it, said Leonard Rubenstein, head of Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, a network of aid groups.

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“Since 2016, we have had complete international paralysis,” he told an event in London, blaming the stalemate on divisions between Russia and other members of the Security Council.

At least 80 people were killed in attacks on health facilities in 14 countries in the first three months of 2017, according to the World Health Organization.

More than half the attacks were in Syria.

Rubenstein said impartial investigations and reforming both military training and practice could improve safety for health workers — but nations had to be pushed into adopting them.

“The only way to get them to do it is to shame them,” he told a panel at the Overseas Development Institute via video link, ahead of World Humanitarian Day on Aug 19.

In order to do so, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights should issue annual reports highlighting what steps countries have taken to implement resolutions made the year before, Rubenstein said.

“It’s not the most powerful mechanism that we have — but it is the only one that we (have) really got at the moment, and I think that would go a long way to forcing the states to take the actions that they have committed to do,” he said. (VOA)

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United Nations Security Council to Close 13-year-old Haiti Peacekeeping Mission in October

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FILE - The U.N. Security Council votes on a resolution concerning North Korea, March 23, 2017. The Council voted unanimously Thursday to end the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti in mid-October. VOA

The United Nations Security Council took action Thursday to begin shutting down its 13-year-old peacekeeping mission in Haiti.

The current 5,000-strong mission will begin drawing down its troops and transition in mid-October to a smaller force of just over 1,200 police personnel. It will focus on the rule of law, building Haitian police capacities and monitoring human rights.

“As the stabilization mission in Haiti draws down and the new mission gears up, the Haitian people will be set on the path of independence and self-sufficiency,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told council members.

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The council said in its unanimously agreed resolution that the transition recognizes “the major milestone towards stabilization achieved” with the peaceful transfer of power in elections held in February.

“This new stage does not mean that it is the end of the commitment to Haiti,” said France’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Alexis Lamek. “It shows quite the contrary, that we can develop, change and adapt our activity to the situation on the field, while guided by the need to meet the aspirations of the people.”

FILE – A U.N. peacekeeper takes cover behind national police officers while demonstrators throw rocks, during a protest against the country’s electoral council to mark the 25th anniversary of first democratic election in 1990, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. VOA

History

The U.N. stabilization mission, known as MINUSTAH, was deployed to Haiti in June 2004. It succeeded a Multinational Interim Force authorized by the Security Council in February 2004 after then-Haitian President Bertrand Aristide departed the country for exile following violence that spread to several cities across the nation.

By 2010, the country was regaining stability when it was rocked by a massive earthquake. More than 220,000 people were killed. Among the dead were 102 U.N. personnel, including the head of the MINUSTAH mission and his deputy.

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In response to the needs following the earthquake, the Security Council added 3,500 more troops and police to support recovery, reconstruction and stability efforts.

In 2016, Haiti again faced another natural catastrophe when Hurricane Matthew devastated the southern part of the Caribbean nation and killed hundreds.

FILE – A demonstrator spray paints the message in Creole “We demand justice for all cholera victims” outside United Nations headquarters to protest the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Oct. 15, 2015. VOA

Cholera outbreak

In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, the country suffered a cholera epidemic. U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal were blamed for bringing the disease into the country. Haiti’s Artibonite River was infected with cholera through human waste believed to be from the peacekeepers’ camp. The river is the main water source for tens of thousands of Haitians.

Subsequently, more than 8,500 people died of the water-borne disease, which can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting, and hundreds of thousands more were sickened.

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Last year, the United Nations acknowledged it played a role in the epidemic and said it would set up a trust fund for victims. It has appealed to member states for $400 million to fight the disease and support those most directly affected by it. The trust fund, however, is severely underfunded, with only $2.6 million of the $400 million requested having been received.

FILE – A Brazilian U.N. peacekeeper opens a gate at the U.N. base in the Cite Soleil slum of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. VOA

Sexual abuse and exploitation

U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti have also come under criticism for the rape and exploitation of children and women they were sent to protect.

In 2012, three Pakistani peacekeepers were sent home after the rape of a Haitian boy at their base. Only one peacekeeper reportedly served a brief jail sentence in Pakistan.

This week, the Associated Press reported that at least 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers repeatedly sexually abused nine Haitian children as part of a sex ring from 2004 to 2007. None of the peacekeepers has been jailed for the alleged crimes.

Peacekeepers from Bangladesh, Brazil, Jordan, Nigeria and Uruguay have also faced allegations in Haiti.

The Haitian cases are part of a wider problem in U.N. peacekeeping of sexual exploitation and abuse that the organization has been trying to stem for years. Despite a “zero tolerance” policy and the repatriation of offenders, the inability to stop often poorly trained and ill-disciplined troops from abusing civilians has been a major stain on the U.N.’s credibility and reputation.

The United States, which pays nearly a third of the annual peacekeeping budget of almost $8 billion, has demanded that the abuses stop.

“These peacekeepers are sent into vulnerable communities to protect the innocent, not to exploit or rape them,” Ambassador Haley told council members. “Countries that refuse to hold their soldiers accountable must recognize that this either stops, or their troops will go home and the financial compensation will end.” (VOA)