Thursday October 19, 2017
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Head of Security Council reform process replaced ahead of renewed negotiations

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United Nations: As the General Assembly prepares for intensified talks on Security Council reforms next month, the Jamaican diplomat who brokered a major breakthrough in the stalled process has been replaced as head of the politically complex negotiations.

General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft announced the appointment of Luxembourg’s Permanent Representative Sylvie Lucas to replace Jamaica’s Permanent Representative Courtenay Rattray in a letter to permanent representatives Friday. His letter endorsed the general direction of the negotiating process and encouraged members to continue with it and “build on the momentum and progress” made in the last General Assembly session.

Lykketoft’s letter made no mention of Rattray, who took over as head of the reform process known as the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) last year and broke decades of stalemate to produce a document with which the negotiations could go forward.

Sources at the UN who follow the reform process said that the Jamaican government had asked Rattray to step down asserting that he was overextending the nation’s limited diplomatic resources.

However, according to sources from the region with knowledge of the inner workings of Jamaican politics, China had pressured Jamaica into pulling him out of the IGN because of his efficiency in moving the reform process forward. China used some infrastructure projects as a lever, according to the sources.

Beijing strongly opposes Security Council reforms that could potentially bring in India and Japan as permanent members.

China, however, may not have gained by displacing Rattray because it does not have much leverage with Luxembourg, which supports the expansion of the Security Council.

Lucas has long experience in the UN system and a knowledge of its working. She has been the permanent representative since 2008 and did a five-year stint as the deputy permanent representative in the 1990s.

She has held one of the rotating presidencies of the Security Council when Luxembourg was an elected member in 2013 and 2014 and served as a president of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). A diplomat who has dealt with her at the UN described her a “tough” negotiator and a tireless advocate for issues of women and security.

When the negotiating text for reforms came up before the General Assembly on Sept. 14, China folded when it saw that the overwhelming majority of UN members were for it and allowed its adoption unanimously. This was first major breakthrough in moving the reform process forward

The current round of reform negotiations was mandated by the General Assembly in 2008 but it was caught in a Catch-22 trap as discussions could not take place meaningfully without a text for the framework of discussions leading to a consensus or a decision, while those opposed to reforms blocked it saying there couldn’t be such a document unless there was a consensus first.

The opponents of the negotiating text included a caucus of 13 countries that called themselves Uniting for Change (UfC). Italy led the group, which included Pakistan.

Rattray, who was appointed the chair of the IGN by the president of the last session of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa, polled the members of the UN on their views of Security Council reform. And against stiff opposition from some he produced the negotiating text that was adopted, effectively ending the stalemate and setting the stage for negotiations to resume next month.

Ahead of next month’s renewed IGN talks, Lykketoft has called for a General Assembly plenary debate Friday on equitable representation on the Security Council and increasing its membership.

Lykketoft wrote to member delegations, “I am confident that the forthcoming negotiations will build on the momentum and the progress made during the 69th session.”

He added, “I encourage Member States to continue moving this process forward pursuant to decision” by the General Assembly adopting the negotiating text, and the positions of and proposals made by members that was circulated by Kutesa.

(Arul Louis,IANS)

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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United nations
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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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya. 

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China pays Tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, Celebrates Gandhi Jayanti in Beijing

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Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi

Beijing, Oct 02: China on Monday celebrated the 148th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, with the India Embassy in Beijing releasing commemorative postage stamps on the Ramayana.

Many Chinese nationals offered flowers to a statue of Gandhi at Beijing’s Chaoyang Park, while school children recited his famous quotes in Mandarin on a nippy overcast day.

“Gandhiji looked forward to a day when a free India and a free China could cooperate in friendship and brotherhood for their own good and for the benefit of Asia and the World,” Wilson Babu, Charge D’Affaires at the Indian embassy, said.

“Leaders of our two countries have been striving to build strong India-China relations based on Gandhiji’s ideals of world peace and respect for all human beings.”

In Shanghai, the Indian Consulate organised a series of events including a memorial lecture, screening of a documentary film and a painting completion for children of the Indian community.

Mahatma Gandhi has become increasingly popular in China, with many Chinese researchers studying his ideology of non-violence.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar in Gujarat to Putlibai and Karamchand Gandhi. (IANS)