The Global Citizen

Search form

World Climate Change to be Independently Analyzed

Last week the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) held a meeting in Antalya, Turkey where world weather agencies agreed to compile data from around the world and allow independent scrutiny of the raw figures.  The UK Met Office put forward the "grand challenge" proposal which was accepted by 150 delegates from around the world.  The details will be agreed upon at a conference to be held in Britain later this year.

The Met Office proposal explains that this "effort will ensure that the datasets are completely robust and that all methods are transparent"  The proposal additionally states that "any such analysis does not undermine the existing independent datasets that all reflect a warming trend."

The proposal aims to have the entire global record of land-based air temperatures from 5,000 weather stations available to anyone. Several groups of scientists working independently in different countries will re-examine millions of observations, dating back to before 1860. The methods of the scientific groups will also be made transparent and open to scrutiny.  The task is expected to take three years.

The Met Office stated that current measurements were "fundamentally ill-conditioned to answer 21st-century questions, such as how extremes are changing, and therefore what adaptation and mitigation decisions should be taken."

The new agreement came about amidst criticism that climate change data had been exaggerated in recent documents. Scientists and other climate specialists said the WMO has been trying to enhance data collection for years.  Interestingly they said that it took a persistent campaign by opponents of climate change to take the issue more seriously.

Ambassador Stephen Rapp Addresses the Washington Working Group on the International Criminal Court

(February 24, 2010) This morning Stephen Rapp, Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, spoke to the Washington Working Group on the International Criminal Court.  Rapp addressed the current status of the U.S. relationship with the International Criminal Court and his experiences at the Assembly of States Parties meeting in November of 2009.  Over twenty-five NGOs attended representing a cross-section and important representation of the NGO ICC-support community in Washington DC.

Ambassador Rapp spoke positively about the International Criminal Court (ICC).  He referred to the situations in Darfur, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to emphasize that, far from 'grey' area cases, the ICC has only become involved in cases concerning atrocity crimes that shock the human conscience.  Rapp explained that it is because of the gravity of the cases before the ICC that the US hopes to help ensure the work of the ICC is done effectively.  Throughout the discussions,  Ambassador Rapp drew from his past experience as a prosecution attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and more recently as chief prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

The Working Group had constructive discussions on key issues relating to US policy with Ambassador Rapp; ranging from the crime of aggression to recent US commitment to helping protect ICC witnesses in Kenya.   Rapp also spoke of a current review into US legislative compatibility in aiding the ICC.

For many, the highlight of the meeting came as Ambassador Rapp confirmed that Obama administration representatives will be attending the March resumed Assembly of States Parties meeting in New York and that they intend to participate in the Review Conference this June in Kampala, Uganda.

To learn more about the ICC CLICK HERE

ICC will Continue to Pursue Preliminary Investigation in Guinea

As part of an on-going ICC preliminary investivation, Fatou Bensouda, Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), arrived in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, last Wednesday (February 17, 2010).  Upon arrival Bensouda said: "The aim of our visit is to observe what has been done about the painful events of September 28 2009 here in Conakry so that justice should be done to the victims." Bensouda visited the Conakry stadium where national security forces have been accused of killing of more than 150 people at an opposition rally.  A United Nations report said that in addition to the deaths, 1,200 people were injured and hundreds of girls and women were raped. Guinea's military junta reported 63 deaths.

Guinea has been a State Party to the Rome Statute since July 14, 2003. As such, the ICC has jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide possibly committed in the territory of Guinea or by nationals of Guinea. In October 2009, the ICC said the situation in Guinea was under preliminary examination.  In preliminary investigations the Office of the Prosecutor considers whether the alleged crimes fall within the ICC's jurisdiction and whether the facts warrant further involvement.  Beatrice Le Fraper, the Special Adviser to the Prosecutor of the Court, has said that before a full-scale investigation the ICC will examine the nature and gravity of the crimes, the interests of justice in general and whether Guinea is unwilling or unable to try individuals accused of serious violations.  Guinea's prime minister, Jean Marie Dore told reporters that the "judiciary is a problem in Guinea, the way it is organised, the training of the magistrates and some of their behaviour presents problems between the Guinean authorities and their internal and external partners."

Vice President Biden Speaks About Increased Nuclear Budget and Test Ban Treaty

Vice President Biden spoke on February 18 at the National Defense University regarding the budget increase for the National Nuclear Security Administration as well as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.  Increasing the budget for nuclear weapons seems as though the United States is directing policy contradictory to what President Obama had recommended for nuclear non-proliferation.  Yet in this speech, Vice President Biden sought to prove that these budget initiatives were in fact for both non-proliferation and American national security.

Vice President Biden echoed the sentiments of President Obama by showing that the United States can be a leader in non-proliferation while still maintaining a high level of security.  He reiterated this by defining the United States as a leader for a post nuclear world, but to reach this goal we still need a limited nuclear arsenal.  The Vice President explained that nuclear deterrence worked as a Cold War doctrine and retaining an arsenal will further deter our enemies.  Eventually through our leadership, new technologies will evolve bringing a new form of deterrence making nuclear weapons obsolete.

US to Help the ICC Protect Kenyan Witnesses

On February 11, 2010 U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, Stephen Rapp, stated that the United States would assist in protecting witnesses that testify in International Criminal Court (ICC) proceedings.   The ICC is carrying out preliminary examinations into the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya. ICC judges are currently in the process of deciding whether Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo can proceed with an investigation into the violence that killed more than 1,000 people and left over 300,000 people displaced. As an ICC State Party, Kenya would be obliged to arrest any citizen indicted by the Court.

According to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights more than 20 witnesses who testified during the 2008 government-led investigation into the violence went into hiding or exile after receiving death threats.  Ambassador Rapp underlined a holistic approach to protecting witnesses: "The reform agenda, in particular in regard to police and the judiciary, [is] critical. Without that, you won't have the confidence of witnesses to come forward."

A further criminal justice issue in Kenya surrounds Felicien Kabuga. Kabuga is a fugitive who owned a Rwandan radio station which urged ethnic Hutu to kill ethnic Tutsi during the Rwandan genocide.  The prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda have said that Kenyan officials have not done enough to assist in capturing him.   Ambassador Rapp told reporters in Nairobi: "I'm here to convey the message that the level of cooperation has to dramatically improve . There is no question that Felicien Kabuga has been in Kenya."

What to Give for Valentine's Day?

Not sure what to give your sweetie for Valentine's Day?  Forget the traditional chocolates and roses and go for a gift that won't wilt away.  The gift of membership will leave a lasting impression not only on your sweetheart, but also on the world.  By joining your loved one will become part of a movement of engaged citizens working together to achieve global peace, justice, and cooperation.

Click here to give the gift of membership and spread the word about the need for global solutions to global problems.

When you give the gift of membership, your loved ones will receive:

  • A personalized note presenting the one-year gift of membership
  • An "I am a Global Citizen" bumper sticker
  • A subscription to' newsletter, The Global Citizen
  • The satisfaction of being part of a movement for global peace, justice, and cooperation.

Love grows by giving.  Give the gift of membership today.

Check Out "The ICC's Most Wanted"

The presentation highlights the activities of the ICC, specifically focusing upon the individuals who are presently indicted by the court.  The purpose of the interactive presentation is to demonstrate that the ICC is currently active in pursuing war criminals.  The Rome Statute, which is the legislation that created the ICC, defines the types of crimes that individuals can be charged for: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.  Many opponents have claimed that the ICC will target the actions of U.S. soldiers.  With this interactive module, hopes to deflate that notion by demonstrating that the court is taking aggressive measures against individuals who have allegedly committed atrocious crimes throughout the world.

"The ICC's Most Wanted" provides summary information for the individuals who are currently being indicted for the terrible crimes they have committed.  The module also shines spotlights on four regions that have experienced significant turmoil: Sudan, Uganda, Congo, and the Central African Republic.  In each country's section, it describes the details and circumstances for each of the individuals currently being pursued by the court.  The Sudan, for example, describes the crimes committed by Omar al-Bashir, Ahmed Haroun, Bahr Idriss Abu Garda, and Ali Kushayb.

The interactive tool is a great first introduction to the activities of the International Criminal Court.  It is important to emphasize, however, that the nature of the crimes is quite disturbing.  You can explore the module and all it has to offer HERE.

Pre-Trial Chamber Declines to Confirm Charges Against Abu Garda

As the snow descends on Washington DC and the Federal Government enters its third consecutive day closed, events continue to unfold at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, The Netherlands. On Monday, February 8, 2010, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court, composed of three judges, issued a decision declining to confirm the charges in the case of The Prosecutor v. Bahar Idriss Abu Garda.

Abu Garda was charged with violence to life, intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units and vehicles involved in a peacekeeping mission, and pillaging, allegedly committed during an attack carried out on 29 September 2007, against the African Union Mission in Sudan ("AMIS"), a peace-keeping mission stationed in North Darfur. Abu Garda appeared voluntarily in front of the International Criminal Court. The Chamber was not satisfied that therewas sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that Abu Garda could be held criminally responsible either as a direct or as an indirect co-perpetrator for the commission of the crimes with which he was charged by the Prosecution. The Office of the Prosecutor will have an opportunity to repeal the decision.

Want to learn more about the ICC? Look below:

Click Here to tell the United States to reengage with the ICC

Click Here to read more about the ICC case against Abu Garda

No Immunity for National Leaders in the 'Shadow of the Court'

Last night I had the pleasure of participation in a presentation at the Council on Foreign Relations given by Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.  As conveyors' of the Washington Working Group on the ICC we had helped him set up a few meetings on the Hill.  Our Program Coordinator, Abby Long helped out tremendously in this effort.

My friend Mark Goldberg at the UN Dispatch wrote an excellent piece on Ocampo's key points.

I want to emphasize two points that Mark mentioned and one that he didn't:

First, the true relevance of the Court is its global impact. Ocampo said that:

"Even before any ruling in the Lubanga case, the issue of child recruitment gained new momentum, triggered debates in remote countries like Colombia or Sri Lanka and child soldiers were released in Nepal. The Special representative of the UN Secretary-General on children in armed conflicts immediately factored in such potential and used us as a tool to campaign around the world, and secure even more releases." This is an example of how the Court can help to prevent crimes.  While the ICC will only deal with a few cases, its "shadow" extends far beyond them and the 110 nations that are Parties to the Rome Statute.

Second, political leaders sought by the ICC, such as Sudanese President Al-Bashir, are increasingly being shunned by other leaders and nations.  According to Ocampo:

ICC to Reconsider Genocide Charge in Bashir Case

Today (February 3rd 2010) the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court unanimously reversed ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I's decision of March 2009 which excluded the charge of genocide on the arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir.  The decision was based on the grounds that the judges had set the standard of proof too high for the Pre-Trial stage. The Appeals Chamber remanded the decision to the Pre-Trial Chamber to decide, based on the correct standard of proof, whether a warrant of arrest should be extended to cover the crime of genocide.

In 1989 Omar Al-Bashir came to power in a military coup. Throughout his presidency, there have been several violent struggles between the Janjaweed militia and rebel groups such as the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in the form of guerilla warfare in the Darfur region. Since 2003 violent conflict in Darfur has resulted in 2.5 million people reportedly being displaced and death tolls estimated at between 200,000 and 400,000.

Don Kraus, Chief Executive Officer of stated:

"Today's ruling by the International Criminal Court (ICC) judges demonstrates the wheels of international justice at work.  We are now one step closer to holding accused war criminal Omar Al-Bashir in front of the world's premier court for trying perpetrators of mass atrocities. Adding a charge of genocide to Al-Bashir's arrest warrant, would be a first for the ICC and for a sitting head of state. This charge would add to the equally grave charges Al-Bashir faces of Crimes against Humanity and War Crime, including murder, extermination and rape.. President Al-Bashir is still evading arrest, despite the grave charges against him and still presides over a government that is harboring a fugitive from the law.  Each day that Al-Bashir is free from remand is another win for impunity for the world's most egregious crimes."