The Global Citizen: March 2012
This morning I attended an event at the Brookings Institution, "The Contribution of The Hague's International Courts: Dispute Settlement in Complex Conflicts." It featured the heads of the various international courts and tribunals located in The Hague, including International Criminal Court (ICC) President Sang-Hyun Song.
The event began with opening remarks by The Hague Mayor Jozias Van Aartsen. He noted that the international community is moving from a system prioritizing state sovereignty above all to one focused on human dignity, where the obligation of the world to protect civilians is considered paramount. He cited Libya as an example of this trend, and said that a moral obligation exists with regard to the situation in Syria as well. Mayor Van Aartsen said that the ICC's recent verdict in the case of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, its first conviction at the end of its first completed trial, is an example of the crucial work the courts in The Hague are doing to promote global stability and punish those who disregard the world's values with respect to human rights. He finished his remarks by noting that the Responsibility to Protect-long a concept that Citizens for Global Solutions has championed-is really about, in the worlds of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, "freedom from fear."
This Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on U.S. policy on Iran. Witnesses included the Honorable Thomas Pickering, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, General James Cartwright, former Vice Chairman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Mr. Karim Sadjadpour, Senior Associate for the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The hearing assessed the current nuclear crisis in Iran and what the future of the situation looks like. Chairman Kerry acknowledged that intelligence shows that Iran has not yet started to make a nuclear weapon, but it is clear that the purpose of Iran developing better nuclear technology is so that they will be ready when that decision is made. To deter this decision, the international community has been placing sanctions on Iran. The European Union has banned oil contracts with Iran and the Swiss have announced that they will not grant access to Iranian banks. Chairman Kerry reiterated the President's resolve to "keep all options on the table", and continue to push Iran forward. Senator Lugar gave short remarks, noting that even as Iran grows more isolated, nothing has changed. The regime continues the oppression and persecution of certain groups within the country.
Guest Post by Nicole Helmers, University of Indianapolis, freshman majoring in Psychology and Occupational Therapy.
While all my wild friends were getting spray-on tans and neon bikinis for Panama City Beach for Spring Break 2012, myself and a couple of my classmates from the University of Indianapolis met up with other students from other Indiana Universities and headed to Washington, D.C. in dress pants and heels. After an eleven-hour bus ride, we arrived in this beautiful city, with the cherry blossoms in full bloom, eager to attend the Citizens for Global Solutions' 2012 Annual Conference early the next morning.
After maneuvering through D.C.'s stressful traffic, we arrived and discovered that the conference was filled with people of every age, race, and religion, not just college students. It was refreshing and empowering to be part of such a great group!
After a long day of traveling and spending a few hours out on the town the day before, we were now on Capitol Hill ready to kick off the conference and start our day of lobbying. As a Cincinnati resident and Ohio voter, I split off from my Indiana friends and headed to the Russell Office Senate building to meet with Senator Rob Portman's office.
Remembering the Citizens for Global Solutions 2011 Annual Conference and how exciting it was, I just knew I had to gather some like minded people, from Nashville, TN, to experience this year's 2012 conference.
About 10 of us traveled 10 hours from the great state of Tennessee to attend the conference in Washington, D.C. and even though the road trip was adventurous, the conference had it beat hands down. From exciting lobby training and visits; to the "official" White House briefings with the Obama Cabinet; to ethic dinner discussions. This by far was a non-stop adventure and discovery all in itself.
"I had a blast in DC! I really enjoyed the breakout sessions. They were so personal and informative. Sometimes when you are around people in high ranking positions you become somewhat intimidated naturally, but the way the sessions where set up I felt comfortable enough to ask questions and become engaged in discussions. I'm so proud to be affiliated with CGS and I look forward to many more years like these," said Morgan Brumfield co-owner of iSpeak PR in Nashville.
I came across an interesting piece by Carter Eskew this week in the Washington Post. The post, "Compromises for Romney?" speculated about concessions Mitt Romney might have to make to please conservatives in his party if he wins the Republican nomination and is elected President this fall. Some of the speculation: John Bolton as Secretary of State; Newt Gingrich as U.N. ambassador; and Rick Santorum as attorney general.
It's going to be tough to lose the outstanding Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State in any case (as she's leaving after this term is up even if President Obama is re-elected). But I can't think of anyone I'd rather NOT see succeed her than John Bolton. He was refused confirmation as U.N. ambassador by the Senate in 2005 and 2006 (since he had expressed his belief that the U.N. shouldn't exist at all, that was hardly surprising) before finally getting the position during a recess appointment. Somehow, I don't think that having someone who opposes the U.N.'s very existence managing America's relationship with the rest of the world is a very bright idea. Bolton also said the decision to pull out of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was the "happiest moment" of his political career to date.
Last Friday, activists organized in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington D.C. to protest the regime of Omar Al-Bashir. After crossing too far onto Embassy property several of the protestors, including George Clooney, Martin Luther King Junior III, and Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Al Green (D-TX), John Olver (D-MA), and Jim Moran (D-VA) were arrested. The arrests helped the protest gain international and national media attention.
Omar Al-Bashir is currently wanted by the International Criminal Court. He is charged with committing war crimes during the conflict in Darfur. When factions within Sudan began to rise up against government oppression, Bashir is accused of orchestrating a mass genocide. While there is an arrest warrant out for him, Bashir has been traveling around Africa without issue.
Last week police officers in Mauritania arrested Abdullah al-Senussi, Muammar Gaddafi's chief intelligence officer. It was decided by Mauritanian officials that Senussi will be extradited back to Libya. While his extradition date was originally scheduled for today, it has been put off. Libyan officials are still confident that the extradition will happen relatively soon.
Last week Citizens for Global Solutions held its Annual Conference, which included a day of lobbying senators and representatives and a visit to the White House. Lobby day was filled with discussions of global problems, how to lobby your representative in government, and the role and the importance of social media in grassroots movements.
The most important message I got out of the Annual Conference is that no matter who you are, you have a voice. You can use that voice to talk to your government and advocate for global issues that you want to put on the national agenda. It is too often argued that because of the financial crisis in the United States, foreign relations should be put on the back burner of national policy. But after seeing the excitement at this conference and the many people who feel as strongly on global issues as CGS does, it is clear that the United States needs to stay present in the global scene.
If the United States loses its influence abroad and ceases to work with international organizations, then we will lose the respect of other nations. Whether you call up your senator, tweet an article about the violence in Syria, or attend a protest, just remember: you have a voice and you should always use it. Stay tuned for more information and reactions to CGS's Annual Conference. More blog posts and photos to come!
Abdullah el-Senussi, former Libyan intelligence chief and brother-in-law of Muammar Gaddafi, was arrested this weekend in Mauritania. The big question now is, where and by whom will he be tried for his crimes?
Senussi was indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of crimes against humanity stemming from the government's attacks on civilians last year prior to Gaddafi's fall from power. However, the ICC is not the only body that wants to bring Senussi to justice-France has also sentenced him in absentia to life in prison for his involvement in the 1989 bombing of a plane over Niger in which 170 passengers, many of them French, were killed. And Libya wants to punish him for a crackdown on a prison riot in Tripoli in 1996 that left 1200 dead.
So who gets Senussi now? It's not entirely clear. The ICC, France, and Libya have all expressed the desire to take him into custody and try him for his various crimes, and it is not certain what Mauritania will do with him.
"We insist that Senussi is extradited to Libya," stated Mohammed al-Harizy, a spokesman for Libya's National Transitional Council. "There are demands from the ICC and France to get Senussi, but the priority is to deliver Senussi to Libya."
In a landmark moment for international justice, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first ever verdict today, convicting Thomas Lubanga of the Democratic Republic of the Congo of abducting and conscripting child soldiers. In honor of this judgment, members of the Washington Working Group on the ICC (WICC), a group of the Washington-based NGOs committed to the cause of international criminal justice, sent a letter to Congress celebrating the verdict.
The letter was signed by twelve organizations, including: Citizens for Global Solutions, American Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Amnesty International USA, ENOUGH, The Fund for Peace, International Alliance of Women, International Criminal Court Alliance, International Criminal Court Student Network, Physicians for Human Rights, United to End Genocide, United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society, and Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.
The full text of the letter can be found by clicking here.
March 14, 2012 marks an extraordinary moment in world history. This morning, the International Criminal Court (ICC) completed its very first trial, convicting Thomas Lubanga Dyilo of forcing children to serve as soldiers in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. More than 74 million viewers have watched Invisible Children's Kony 2012 video, calling for the arrest and ICC trial of Joseph Kony. But few are aware that Lubanga, a man as despicable as Kony, has laid the groundwork for the kind of trial that Joseph Kony surely deserves.
During the trial, witnesses detailed how Lubanga and his men forced child soldiers to rape, kill and plunder. Commanders abducted children and forced them to commit terrible acts, including killing their parents - acts designed to cut off the abducted children from their families and communities. Witnesses reported that young girls were abducted by Lubanga's commanders to serve as their 'wives' and sexual slaves. Girls who were raped by commanders faced brutal violence, disease, forced pregnancy, and did not receive adequate medical care when needed.
Witness 229, a former child soldier and one of Lubanga's victims, testified that he was abducted on his way home from school, drugged and forced to travel for days to a military training camp. During training, the children were forced to follow strict disciplinary rules. The witness testified,
- Arms Control (22)
- Become a Member (3)
- Become a Member (1)
- Capitol Hill (164)
- CGS Political Action Committee (PAC) (17)
- Chapters (4)
- Civilian Protection (133)
- Climate Change (94)
- Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) (2)
- Congressional Report Card (7)
- Current Campaigns (8)
- Election News & Analysis (101)
- Fellows (2)
- Gender Based Violence (26)
- Genocide Prevention (113)
- Get Involved (68)
- Home (12)
- Human Rights (223)
- Human Rights Council (31)
- International Criminal Court (167)
- International Criminal Justice (51)
- Law & Justice (211)
- Law of the Sea Treaty (55)
- Nuclear Disarmament (81)
- Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) (2)
- Other (33)
- PAC: 2010 Election Endorsements (3)
- Partners for Global Change (2)
- Peacekeeping (104)
- Prevent War (181)
- Rights of the Child Treaty (10)
- Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) (19)
- Support Us (14)
- Take Action (24)
- Tax Deductible Giving (2)
- UN Funding (71)
- UN Reform & Revitalization (43)
- United Nations (321)
- usaforicc.org (1)
- WFI (5)
- Women's Rights Treaty (CEDAW) (47)