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UN concerned over continuing political violence in Nepal

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UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville
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Kathmandu: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville on Tuesday expressed concern over reports from Nepal of continuing political violence, saying a change of approach was the need of the hour. A day after seven security personnel and three protesters were reportedly killed in Nepal, Colville said there was a clear risk that the protests and violence would continue to feed off each other in the coming days unless all sides change their approach.

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On Tuesday, western Nepal remained tense with curfew imposed in several parts of the country and some districts declared riot-affected areas. The victims included the two-year-old son of a police officer killed in Monday’s violence in Tikapur, Kailai while protesters demanded a separate Tharu state. This is in addition to the deaths of five protesters during widespread demonstrations since an August 8 agreement by political parties on redrawing internal state boundaries.

“The agreement was the product of extended negotiations to draw up a new constitution further to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the 10-year internal conflict in 2006. Since the political agreement was reached, increasingly violent protests and strikes against the proposed delineation have taken place throughout the country,” said Colville in a statement. The rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly are essential elements in the promotion of democracy and human rights, he said, adding that likewise, protests should be carried out in a peaceful manner. “We urge the government of Nepal to create a climate where minority or dissenting views or beliefs are respected, and security forces only employ force as a last resort and in full accordance with the standards laid out under international law for maintaining public order, including detailed guidelines governing the use of live ammunition,” Colville added. “Moreover, protesters should not pursue violent confrontations with the security services,” he said.

Urging political leaders and protesters to sit down together to find a peaceful solution to the current situation before the rising violence spirals out of control, the UN high commissioner said: “We fully support the call of the Nepal National Human Rights Commission for an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into all deaths and injuries resulting from the alleged use of disproportionate force by security personnel, as well as into the deaths of the seven security personnel killed on Monday.”

(IANS)

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Dalveer Bhandari re-elected as the judge of ICJ

Bhandari has also served as the judge of Supreme Court of India

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The judge of the international court of justice.
Dalveer Bhandari got 121 votes in a 193 members assembly. IANS

Arul Louis

United Nations, November 21

Judge Dalveer Bhandari was re-elected to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Tuesday as the General Assembly rallied behind him in a show of strength that made Britain bow to the majority and withdraw its candidate Christopher Greenwood.

“I am grateful to all the nations who have supported me,” Bhandari told IANS in the Assembly chamber after the election. “It was a big election as you know.” The withdrawal of its candidate by Britain, which had the backing of its fellow permanent members, was a setback for the Security Council that had been locked in a test of wills with the Assembly.

A candidate has to win a majority in both the chambers. Bhandari won majorities in the Assembly in the first 11 rounds of voting over two meetings, while the Council blocked his election by giving majorities to Greenwood in the ten rounds of balloting it held.

“The British ultimately had to bow down to the will of the majority,” a diplomat said. “The Indians stared them down.” The Council’s permanent members have traditionally had a judge in the ICJ, assuming it to be a matter of right. This time the 193-member Assembly asserted itself, forcing the Council to back down and put at risk the continuation of the ICJ perk of the permanent members.

In letters written to the Presidents Miroslav Lajcak of the Assembly and Sebastiano Cardi of the Council, Britain’s Permanent Representative Matthew Rycroft said that his country was withdrawing Greenwood’s candidature keeping “in mind the close relationship that the United Kingdom and India always enjoyed and will continue to enjoy”.

Bhandari’s election was a dramatic face-saving turn of fortunes for India, as he lost the Asian seat on the ICJ to Lebanese lawyer-turned-diplomat Nawaf Salam, who had been campaigning for two years and had the backing of the powerful Organisation of Islamic Cooperation with 55 members in the UN.

Bhandari got a second chance only because an unpopular Britain could not get an Assembly majority for a remaining judgeship requiring a runoff where the two chambers of the UN split in their voting.

Bhandari’s cause became a rallying point for the nations not a member of the Council, who were chafing under the domination of the unrepresentative Council to make a popular show of force.

India hammered home the representative character of the Assembly compared to the Council and insisted that the UN members follow democratic principles and re-elect Bhandari by accepting the global majority he has received in the Assembly.

In the last round of voting on November 13, Bhandari received 121 votes, just short of a two-thirds majority in the 193-member Assembly, while Greenwood received nine in the Council.

“The precedent is clear,” India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said at a reception for Bhandari attended by representatives of over 160 countries on Thursday.

“As is expected in the 21st century, the candidate who enjoys the overwhelming support of the General Assembly membership can be the only legitimate candidate to go through.” Diplomats familiar with behind-the-scenes manoeuvres said Britain indicated late last week that it would withdraw Greenwood, but over the weekend changed course with the backing of some fellow permanent members and came up with a plan for the Council to call for ending the balloting and set up a joint conference to resolve the deadlock.

The statutes of the ICJ provides for a joint conference made up of three members each from the Council and the Assembly to resolve a deadlock that persists after three election meetings.

India feared the outcome and campaigned resolutely to avoid it, pointing to the precedents in the elections in 2011 and 2014 and earlier when the candidate leading in the Council withdrew in favour of the candidate with the majority in the Assembly even though in those cases permanent members were not involved.

Bhandari’s election upsets what has become a traditional balance in the ICJ. Besides a permanent member going unrepresented, four Asian countries will be represented on the ICJ bench instead of the usual three.

Three incumbent judges of the ICJ — President Ronny Abraham of France, Vice President, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia, and Antonio Augusto Cancado Trindade of Brazil – were elected along with Salam in the first four rounds of voting on November 9.

Bhandari and the others elected will start their term in February next year. (IANS)

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