Tuesday October 24, 2017
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India seeks drastic reforms, transparency in election of UN Secretary-General

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United Nations: India has called for drastic reforms in the election of the secretary-general to introduce transparency and choice in the process of picking a successor to Ban Ki-moon next year, saying it should not be a prerogative of the five permanent members of the Security Council.

India’s delegate Bhartruhari Mahtab told the Security Council on Tuesday that the secret straw polls in the Council should be done away with and discussions should be held in open sessions with the secretary-general providing a summary of the proceedings. Moreover, the Security Council should recommend a slate of two or more candidates on whom the General Assembly can vote, he said.

The UN Charter only says that the secretary-general should be appointed by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council and a 1946 General Assembly resolution added a provision that only one candidate should be recommended and a debate should be avoided.

This has morphed into an arcane process in which the Security Council members vote on the candidate with colour-coded ballots — one colour for permanent members and another for the others. A ballot in the colour of the permanent members automatically results in a veto of a candidate while it won’t be known who cast the veto.

The candidate who gets a majority with the colour-coded ballots of all the five permanent members is recommended to the General Assembly and its vote to approve the candidate is a given.

To make the election transparent, “an important step would also be to do away with secret straw polls using different coloured slips that allow the P5 (five permanent members) to exercise the veto without even taking ownership of it”, Mahtab said.

“My delegation has pressed for the Council to recommend two or more names to the General Assembly,” he added. “While the pronouncements of the General Assembly do not specifically provide for this, there is — in our view — no legal impediment for the Council to do so.”

Mahtab appealed to the non-permanent members of the Security Council to push for changes in the way the secretary-general is elected.

Under the system of rotating the presidency of the Security Council, except for three months next year, the non-permanent will preside over the Security Council next year and it will be for them to decide on whether the selection of the secretary-general will remain the sole preserve of the P5 or not, he said.

Mahtab, a Biju Janata Dal member of the Lok Sabha representing Cuttack in Orissa, is one of the five members of parliament who are currently in India’s UN delegation.

General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft had told reporters after his inauguration last month that the secretary-general candidates will be presented to the UN members in a timely fashion and they will interact with them. “This will something happening for the first time in the history of the United Nations and I see that as a major step forward,” he added.

However, he sounded tentative on Tuesday only saying that he would work with the Security Council President to begin the process of soliciting candidates and acknowledged that there was “widespread calls for increased transparency, inclusivity and a more rigorous process in selecting the next chief of this Organization”.

On the issue of transparency, Mahtab said, “The most non-transparent of the subsidiary bodies of the Security Council is the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee.” Named for the number of the Security Council resolution setting it up, the committee imposes sanctions on terrorists and terrorism supporters.

“No information is shared on the criteria of listing or not listing individuals and organizations on whom sanctions are applied,” Mahtab said. “It is our apprehension that there may, in fact, be no criteria at all. And that any of the 15 members may be allowed to exercise a veto without assigning any reason and without the wider membership being informed of their having done so.”

Earlier this year, China vetoed India’s demand for taking action under Security Council’s anti-terrorism resolution 1267 against Pakistan for releasing Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the Lashkar-e-Taiba mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack.

“In April this year, the new Chair of the 1267 Committee organised a briefing for the wider membership of the UN and said that he would do so periodically,” Mahtab said. “No meeting has, however, since been held. His predecessor had also kept the work of the Committee cloaked in secrecy.” The current chair of the committee is Gerard van Bohemen, the Permanent Representative of New Zealand.

(Arul Louis, IANS)

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Asia Cup : India Emerge Champions for third time, Beat Malaysia in Asia Cup Hockey Championship

India emerged victorious for the third time

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(representational Image) India vs Malaysia Hockey Match wikimedia

Dhaka, October 22, 2017 : India overcame Malaysia 2-1 in the final on Sunday to win the Asia Cup hockey championship for the third time.

Ramandeep Singh (3rd minute) and Lalit Upadhyay (29th) scored for India. Shahril Saabah (50th minute) scored the reducer for Malaysia. (IANS)

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Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been named the new Goodwill Ambassador by WHO

New WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Zimbabwe for its commitment to public health

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President of Zimbabwe and Chairman of the African Union Robert Mugabe. Wikimedia

United Nations, October 21, 2017 : The World Health Organization (WHO) has appointed Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador to help tackle non-communicable diseases.

New WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Zimbabwe for its commitment to public health, BBC reported on Saturday.

But critics say Zimbabwe’s health care system has collapsed, with the president and many of his senior ministers going abroad for treatment.

They say that staff are often unpaid and medicines are in short supply.

Tedros, who is Ethiopian, is the first African to lead the WHO and replaced Margaret Chan, who stepped down from her 10-year post in June.

He was elected with a mandate to tackle perceived politicisation in the organisation.

The WHO head praised Zimbabwe as “a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide health care to all”.

But US-based campaign group Human Rights Watch said it was an embarrassment to give the ambassador role to Mugabe given his record on human rights.

“If you look at Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s corruption, his utter mismanagement of the economy has devastated health services there,” said executive director Kenneth Roth.

“Indeed, you know, Mugabe himself travels abroad for his health care. He’s been to Singapore three times this year already. His senior officials go to South Africa for their health care.

“When you go to Zimbabwean hospitals, they lack the most basic necessities.”

The idea of hailing Mr Robert Mugabe “as any kind of example of positive contribution to health care is absolutely absurd”, he added.

President Robert Mugabe heard about the award while attending a conference held by the WHO, a UN agency, on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Montevideo.

He told delegates how his country had adopted several strategies to combat the challenges presented by NCDs, which the WHO says kill about 40 million people a year and include cancers, respiratory diseases and diabetes.

“Zimbabwe has developed a national NCD policy, a palliative care policy, and has engaged United Nations agencies working in the country, to assist in the development of a cervical cancer prevention and control strategy,” Mugabe was reported by the state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper as saying.

ALSO READ Countries with best Health Care in the world

But the President admitted that Zimbabwe was similar to other developing countries in that it was “hamstrung by a lack of adequate resources for executing programmes aimed at reducing NCDs and other health conditions afflicting the people”.

Zimbabwe’s main MDC opposition party also strongly criticised the WHO move.

“The Zimbabwe health delivery system is in a shambolic state, it is an insult,” said spokesman Obert Gutu.

“Robert Mugabe trashed our health delivery system. He and his family go outside of the country for treatment in Singapore after he allowed our public hospitals to collapse.” (IANS)

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North Korea may soon be able to hit US with Nuclear Missiles ; Could a war break out soon?

Pyongyang's deputy envoy to the United Nations, Kim In Ryong, warned Monday that war could break out at any moment.

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CIA Director Mike Pompeo speaks during the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) National Security Summit in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)(VOA)

Washington, October 20, 2017 : North Korea is likely just months away from being capable of striking the United States with a nuclear missile, according to two top U.S. officials.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo told a forum in Washington on Thursday he is “deeply worried” about the advancing threat from North Korea and the possibility it could spark a nuclear arms race across East Asia.

“We ought to behave as if we are on the cusp of them achieving that objective,” Pompeo said when asked about Pyongyang’s pursuit of missile technology that could launch a warhead to targets in the U.S.

“They are so far along in that it’s now a matter of thinking about how do you stop the final step?” he added.

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National security adviser H.R. McMaster speaks during the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) National Security Summit in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)(VOA)

McMaster: We’re running out of time

U.S. National Security Adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster said later on Thursday that Washington was racing to resolve the situation, short of using military force.

“We’re not out of time but we’re running out of time,” McMaster said, speaking at the same event. “Accept and deter is unacceptable.”

The comments by Pompeo and McMaster come as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have been steadily rising following Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test last month, it’s sixth overall, and repeated tests of what intelligence officials have assessed to be both intermediate and long range ballistic missiles.

But despite warning that North Korea is just months away from being able to target the U.S., the CIA’s Pompeo cautioned there are still questions about just how “robust” the North Korea nuclear threat has become, and whether Pyongyang will be able to deliver multiple nuclear warheads to nuclear targets.

“There’s always a risk. Intelligence is imperfect,” Pompeo said, adding there is evidence Pyongyang may be getting help from Iran, citing “deep conventional weapons ties as between the two countries.”

He also warned that each North Korean test makes an arms race ever more likely.

“You watch as North Korea grows ever closer to having its capability perfected, you can imagine others in the region also thinking that they well may need that capability,” he said.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while answering questions at a meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi, Russia (VOA)

Putin suggests force won’t work against North Korea

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned against the use of force to eliminate the North Korean nuclear threat, suggesting it would not work.

“Talks about a preventative, disarming strike — and we hear both hints and open threats — this is very dangerous,” Putin said during a speaking engagement in Sochi.

“Who knows what and where is hidden in North Korea? And whether all of it can be destroyed with one strike, I doubt it,” he said. “I’m almost sure it is impossible.”

North Korean officials have also repeatedly warned the U.S. against any provocations.

Pyongyang’s deputy envoy to the United Nations, Kim In Ryong, warned Monday that war could break out at any moment.

Other North Korean officials have accused the U.S. of making preparations for war, citing the presence of the USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, conducting exercises to the east of the Korean Peninsula.