Confrontation between the US, Russia, & China on the Crisis in Venezuela

The Security Council convened, by request of the US, for an emergency session discussing the Venezuelan crisis. While the meeting began typically, with briefings on progress and problems, the morning took a turn once US Vice President Mike Pence came to speak. After arriving late, Pence turned the conversation from humanitarian needs to the need for democracy and the rule of law. He blamed the crisis on the Maduro regime, which he claimed to, in the midst of deprivation and suffering, use violence against those who oppose it, killing protesters and jailing journalists. He called the international community to remove Maduro and recognize the interim president appointed by the national assembly, Juan Guaidó, which the US attempted to do in a resolution vetoed by China and Russia. Pence blamed these two nations for directly supporting the Maduro regime out of personal interests.

Russia retaliated, saying Russia would take as much time as it needs to speak, regardless of time. Russia denied Pence’s allegations and blamed US sanctions on Venezuela for the crisis. He claimed that US desire for intervention had to do with its own geopolitical interests, citing US involvement in Latin America going back to the Monroe doctrine. He questioned how the US can speak of humanitarian assistance when it still has own damage from Hurricane Maria. He ended saying that if American is trying to make itself great again, Russia is watching.

China also responded, insisting against intervention while also saying that while “On the one hand we hear tall talks about helping the people of Venezuela, on the other hand we keep seeing more sanctions.” China called the allegations unfounded, and said that China never interferes in other countries’ internal affairs, nor does it impose its will, leaving unsaid the suggestion that the US does exactly this.

Meeting​: United Nations Security Council: The Situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Date/Location​: Wednesday April 10, 2019; 10:30 to 1:30; Security Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers​: Secretary-General António Guterres, USG for Humanitarian Affairs, Joint Special Representative of the UNHCR, Dr. Kathleen Page, a professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine, US Vice President Mike Pence, Russia, China,  France, UK, Peru, Dominican Republic, Belgium, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, Venezuela

Written by: WIT Representative Bertina Kudrin

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UN Institute for Disarmament Research: Space Security Workshop

This meeting was brought about to discuss the current updates on the future of space, with a specific focus on the safety, security, and commercial actors in space. The speakers shared their insight on the socio-economic impact of space on the future, with the discussion eventually shifting towards the importance of international policy regarding space.

It was emphasized that international rules require a consensus among space-faring nations, that are both applicable to public and private entities, specifically mindful of new start-ups. Preventing weaponization and the arms race, and mitigating risks from other human activities is deemed as essential in any international discussion.

Moreover, regarding any current and future actions in space, everyone should be considered a stakeholder. Both Low Earth and Geosynchronous (370 km and 36,000 km above the earth, respectively) orbiting satellites play a vital role in our world. They are responsible for communications, data collection, as well as weather, climate, and environmental sensors. Today, nearly 40% of the SDG targets (65 out of 169) are directly supported by space activity. 

Moving forward, space-actors must also consider the mass accumulation of space debris.

While it requires more energy and money to bring down a satellite, the space environment is already at that critical point where the Low Earth Orbit will be inaccessible to satellites in its orbit within the next 100 years. Ultimately, there needs to be an increase in international dialogue among government and private bodies in order to ensure the security and safety of space, with a focus on demilitarization and non-polluting activity.

Meeting​: UNIDIR Space Security Workshop: A Primer for Delegations

Date/Location​: Wednesday, January 30th, 2019; 10:00 to 12:00; Conference Room 11, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers​:

  • Mr. Kazuto Suzuki, Professor of Public Policy at Hokkaido University
  • Ms. Laura Grego, Senior Scientist for the Global Security Program

Written By: WIT Representative Michael Murphy

 

Women, peace, and security

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Women with the Afghan National Army Air Force & International Force during an International Women’s Day celebration in Kabul. Photo: Sgt. Dustin Payne.

The meeting began with acknowledging the fact the first woman president had won the election in Ethiopia. This gave way into the discussion of the political and economic empowerment of women. Women need to be apart of peace and security agendas. Many already are, but they need to be further supported in reducing any challenges. There has been progression, especially within women’s groups who focus on this large issue. Although there has been progress, there is still a long way to go.

Women peace workers help. Women can be quickly drawn into the conflict and be severely affected by it, so more women need to be able to speak on their behalf. Women are better aware of their community needs. Gender equality programming is needed to address the devastating effects by building sustainable peace. There has been a systematic failure to bring women in peacekeeping. Women are constantly excluded. It was brought up that there is a significant gap with what it is said in UN chamber and what is actually going on in the world. Superficial efforts need to come to an end and they need to become concrete.

Women are active and resilient. They have negotiated ceasefires, safe zones, drawn up protection plans. This includes women from various countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, among others. They need to be enabled to do even more. One main way to give women this chance is education. During the conflict, girls are more likely to be out of primary schools. Child marriage is high in these conflict areas. Not only is a girl likely to not be attending school, but she is likely to get pregnant. Maternal mortality is almost twice the global ratio in conflict and post-conflict areas. Education is a catalyst for equal participation.

The way the world views the role of women needs to be changed. Women are perceived to not have the skills or knowledge to handle these important roles. Greater participation of women in political life causes a stronger path for peace. Global peace and security are enhanced when helping women. It was said that no woman needs to be given a voice, there just needs to be more listening.

Meeting:  Women and peace and security

Location/time/date: Security Council Chamber, UN HQ-NYC; 10:00 PM – 12:45 PM, October 25, 2018

Speakers:

  • Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)
  • Ms. Randa Siniora Atallah, General Director of the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counselling
  • Her Excellency Mara Marinaki, Principal Adviser for Gender and the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women
  • Ms. Narjess Saidane, Permanent Observer of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie
  • Ms. Amarsanaa Darisuren, Senior Advisor on Gender Issues of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
  • Ms. Clare Hutchinson, Special Representative of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary-General for Women, Peace and Security
  • Secretary-General, His Excellency António Guterres
  • Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden
  • Yoka Brandt, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
  • Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State in the Federal Foreign Office of Germany
  • Simona Leskovar, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia
  • Iryna Herashchenko, First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine

Written by: WIT Representative Yasmeen Razack

The right to say no: 72nd session Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

1506685855_eeb204dc36061d725f5db3e393c34229-1.jpgBad mothers. Loose Morals. Lack of femininity. That is how world leaders such as Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and President Donald Trump refer to women’s rights activists. Both men have continuously made women the butt of the joke of their presidencies with Donald Trump’s famous “Grab her by the pussy” and President Duterte’s continuous rape jokes and command to shoot women rebels in the genitals. According to the Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, this is the continued norm of how the world treats women.

The conference held on July 26th, 2018 shed light on the deeply rooted patriarchy engrained into our international system that has resulted in the championing of white males in human rights movements and the vilification of the women actually affected.

Lolita Chavez has been the target of 5 assassination attempts, two massive hate attacks, lynching attempts, accused of illegal entry, and has had more than 25 petitions filed against her in court resulting in a forced exile from Guatemala. What could cause this type of horrific backlash on a 5-foot-tall mother of 2? Her advocacy for indigenous people and the environment. In Uganda, Brenda Kuganza has been punched in the gut by a policeman, slaughtered on social media for defending victims of sexual violence and has had to witness her friends be brutally attacked, arrested, and/or killed for wanting the right to say no.

People trying to defend their territories and rights are sidelined – jailed, tortured, raped. Now more than ever, there is a need for concrete action from the international community but also a needed refrain by states in legislation and policy of repression action against human rights defenders. The governments in places such as Guatemala, Uganda, Nicaragua need to make the role of human rights defenders facilitative not restrictive.

There needs to be an understanding that human rights defenders are not performing a job. There is a deep commitment to protecting life, livelihood, and the dignity of communities. That is what empowers these women to endure layers of oppression and brutality.

Meeting: Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; 72nd Session

Location/time/date: Conference Room 2, UNHQ-NYC; July 26th, 2018

Speakers: Michéle Forest, Special Rapporteur; Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights; Marusia Lopez Cruz, Senior Associate, Power & Protection of Women’s Activist; Lolita Chavez; Brenda Kuganza; Asha Kowtal; Miriam Miranda

Written by: WIT Representative Ariel Granat

 

 

Twenty years of the Rome Statute system and a look ahead to the future of the International Criminal Court

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http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/fight/Rome-Statute-20-anniversary-2018

This event took place on the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute. On this basis, the International Criminal Court (ICC) was established to prosecute individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide. The discussion began by focusing on the withdrawal of Burundi from ICC. Speakers acknowledged the need for sufficient resources to deliver efficient judgment.

Concerning the investigation power of ICC, Mr. Stephen J. Rapp, former US ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice, illustrated the mechanism that ICC considers cases only after referral by Security Council. He pointed out cases which failed to be brought to ICC, including Syrian crisis and Rohingya persecution in Myanmar. Also, Mr. Christian Wenaweser, permanent representative of Liechtenstein, recognized the political reality of the dysfunctional Security Council and the consequence it has on criminal justice.

The discussion ended with speakers’ vision of ICC in twenty years. Mr. Stephen J. Rapp expressed his will that ICC could operate like a regular court. Mr. Christian Wenaweser expected that ICC could safeguard criminal justice at the global level. In addition, he called for an effective use of principle of complementarity. In this regard, he hoped to see cases of serious crimes to be firstly dealt within national jurisdiction. All in all, speakers agreed that ICC should operate effectively and efficiently.

Meeting: Panel discussion: Twenty years of the Rome Statute system and a look ahead to the future of the International Criminal Court (co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein and the Wayamo Foundation)

Date/Location: Monday 16th July 2018; 15:00-16:30; Conference Room 5, UNHQ, NY.

Speakers:

H.E. Mr. Christian Wenaweser, Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein to the UN

H.E. Ms. Aurelia Frick, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Principality of Liechtenstein;

Mr. Stephen J. Rapp, former US ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice.

Written by WIT representative Vivian Wang

Situation in Palestine

Palestinians Israel

http://time.com/5279345/the-breakdown-gaza-gas-prices/

This meeting is about the situation in the Middle East, particularly on the Palestinian question. In the opening remarks, Mr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the UN, condemned Israeli government of their actions against international law. He stated that the escalation of conflicts poses a threat to international security. Seeing this, he supported the two-state solution.

In response, H.E. Mr. Danny Danon from Israel stressed that Israel will not give up any sovereignty over its territory. Concerning the suffering of Palestinian civilians, he emphasized the contribution made by Israeli government in humanitarian aid. Also, he pointed to Hamas, the rebel group in Palestine, that built terror tunnels to attack Israeli population and condemned Iranian authority of their support to Hamas. Overall, H.E. Mr. Danny Danon argued that Israel was countering Hamas for self-defense.

Following the exchange of opinions, countries gave their national statements. H.E. Ms. Nikki R. Haley, Permanent Representative of US to the UN, criticized Arab states of their zero contribution to UNRWA. She compared that with the donation made by China, Russia, Turkey, Kuwait and UAE to the education of Palestinian civilians. She called for Arab states’ financial contribution rather than speeches in resolving the question of Palestine.

Russian representative, H.E. Mr. Nebenzia Vassily Alekseevich, believed that the only way to achieve a settlement lies in the meeting between relevant parties. Thus, he revealed the undergoing process to convene a Palestinian-Israeli meeting in Russia. Another supporter of UNWRA, China, called for the two-state solution. Similarly, France agreed that there is no viable alternative solution than that. However, France called on the US to shoulder responsibility to make sure UNRWA budget can be filled.

Meeting: Security Council – meeting 8316

Date/Location: Tuesday 24th July 2018; 10:00-13:00; Security Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York.

Speakers:

Mr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the UN;

H.E. Mr. Danny Danon, Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN;

H.E. Ms. Nikki R. Haley, Permanent Representative of US to the UN;

H.E. Mr. Nebenzia Vassily Alekseevich, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation at the United Nations.

Written by WIT representative Vivian Wang

Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People: Meeting 390

The recent volatile situation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was brought to the floor from the Permanent Representative of the Observer State Palestine and the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights. Two recent events were the theme of the conversation. First, the recent “Nation State Law”  passed by the Israeli Knesset reaffirming Israel as fully the home of Jews and abolishing Arabic as an official language of Israel. Arabic was an official language for over 70 years.  This also comes after the contested US move of its  headquarters to Jerusalem months prior.

The next event was the recent attacks on the Bedouins. Mr.Mansour, representing Palestine shamed Israel for a law that bluntly discriminates and is moving Israel to a state of “apartheid.” He called on representatives of experienced apartheid states, Namibia and South Africa to weigh in on the Israeli abuse of Palestinians. The South African representative echoed the universal scar of colonization in many countries and applauded Egypt’s involvement which resulted in a ceasefire.  He stressed that more states need to get involved and one measure includes stopping illegal business transactions in Israeli settlements.

Also, hundreds of Palestinian children have been put in jail without a trial, as a clear human rights violation.  The representative of Venezuela repeated the need to accept Palestine as a UN Permanent Member.  Evidently, the unrest and lack of peace between Israel and Palestine is historic, and it will take the global community to finally decide to take feasible action to attempt to resolve this sensitive conflict.

Meeting​: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian
People – meeting 390

Date/Location​: Monday 23th July 2018; 10:00-13:00; Conference Room 3, United
Nations Headquarters, New York.

Speakers​:

Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights;

H.E. Dr. Riyad H. Mansour, Ambassador of Permanent Observer of the State of
Palestine to the United Nations;

H.E. Mr. Carmelo Inguanez, Permanent Representative of Malta to the United
Nations.

Written by: WIT Representative Mariam Elsaker