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Bangladesh becomes an ICC State Party!

Bangladesh ratified the Rome Statute today, becoming the 111th State to do so.  The Rome Statute was adopted by the international community on July 17, 1998 and Bangladesh signed it on September 16, 1999. This leaves twenty-eight states that have signed but not ratified the treaty.  As a State Party to the Rome Statute, Bangladesh now has a vote in the Review Conference which will begin in May in Kampala, Uganda. The Asian Human Rights Commission forwarded a Statement from Odhikar, a human rights organization, congratulating the government of Bangladesh for ratifying the Rome Statute: "Bangladesh has demonstrated its commitment to international justice."

ICC President, Judge Sang-Hyun Song, noted that "By ratifying the Rome Statute, Bangladesh will become the first State Party in South Asia. I applaud its decision to join the growing commitment of states to end impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide."

CLICK HERE to see Citizens for Global Solution's interactive ICC flash module.

CLICK HERE  to act in support of the ICC.

World Water Day

Did you know that today is World Water Day?  The UN General Assembly designated the first World Water Day in 1993, and on 22 March every year since, the focus has been on a different aspect of freshwater sustainability. In a statement today, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that more people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war.  He further stated that water is vitally linked to all UN development goals including maternal and child health and life expectancy, food security and sustainable development. On behalf of UN-Water a three-day celebration for World Water Day has begun in Nairobi, Kenya, bringing together scientists and policy-makers to discuss how to address the challenges posed by degrading water quality worldwide.

It is children that are most affected by world water problems, one child under the age of five dies every 20 seconds from water-related diseases, according to the UN Environment Program (UNEP).  In a new publication, entitled Clearing the Waters: A focus on Water Quality Solutions, the agency points out that in some developing nations, more than half of treated water is lost to leaks, but by some estimates, saving just half of the water could benefit 90 million people without additional investment.  Additionally they argue that an investment of $20 million in low-cost water technologies, such as drip irrigation and treadle pumps, could potentially lift 100 million families out of extreme poverty.  

"Courtside"! New ICC blog coming soon!

Next week the resumed 8th session of the ICC's Assembly of States Parties (ASP) meeting will begin.  Each State Party has one representative in the ASP, the ICC's governing body.  So far 110 States have ratified the Rome Statute.  Out of them, 30 are African States, 14  are Asian States, 17 are from Eastern Europe, 24 are from Latin American and Caribbean States, and 25 are from Western European and other States. The U.S. has not ratified the Rome Statute but, due to the US signature on the Final Act of the Rome Conference, US representatives may attend ASP meetings as observers.

CGS will have an observer at the meetings who will keep us updated throughout the week.  Check back for "Courtside" CGS's International Criminal Court blog that will be up and running soon!

CLICK HERE to To see Citizens for Global Solution's interactive ICC flash module

CLICK HERE  to act in support of the ICC

Law of the Sea - "it's time to take our seat at the table"

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) had a meeting about U.S. Ocean Governance on March 8, 2010.  The meeting, which began as a general ocean governance discussion, quickly became focused on the Law of the Sea Treaty.  Moderator, Scott Borgerson of CFR at one point said "this wasn't intended originally to be the Law of the Sea party, but as the author of the report outside the door titled The National Interests and the Law of the Sea, I can't lie that it doesn't warm my heart a little bit."

The meeting began with a showing of the Council on Foreign Relation new interactive Web Oceans Governance Monitor.  CLICK HERE to watch the remarkable video.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island stated: "As the wonderful video said, the oceans really are the dominant resource of our planet, and we've paid far too little attention to it. The economic theory of the tragedy of the commons is being worked out on the ocean at a massive scale, and we see it in the changes that the ocean is undergoing. It's rising. It's warming. It's enduring biological changes as it rises and warms. It is continuing to be bombarded with pollution, and it's facing chemical changes. That's a lot all at once for this resource"

Admiral Thad Allen, the 23rd Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, emphasized that "rules of conduct and how we interact with each other on the water" are "incrementally changed every time there is a new convention that is ratified through IMO, every time a piece of domestic legislation is passed in any country or a time a new set of regulations is issued in the United States. We have a lot of pending work. [we] should start first with ratifying the Law of the Sea treaty."

Obama and Medvedev Discuss Arms Treaty

On Saturday, President Obama and Russian President Medvedev spoke for 30 minutes by telephone about "START" (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 1991 which expired in December).  The new treaty would reduce the active nuclear arsenals of both countries by more than one-quarter. It would require each side to reduce deployed strategic nuclear warheads from 2,200 to roughly 1,600, and reduce strategic bombers and land- and sea-based missiles to below 800, down from the old limit of 1,600.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry, who is responsible for leading the treaty through the Senate, said that the "administration administration is appropriately holding out for what we need to make the treaty verifiable and that will help it pass." John Kerry's counterpart, committee ranking Senate Republican Richard Lugar, remains hopeful that it will be signed and that there will be time assigned on the floor for debate and a vote this year, Lugar said he would support the treaty "unless there are extraordinary changes beyond those that I've heard about."

President Obama and President Medvedev tried to resolve remaining differences before forty-four nations arrive for the nuclear summit meeting in Washington DC in mid-April.   In a statement, the Kremlin said "It is now possible to talk about specific dates for the submission of the draft Start treaty for signing by the heads of state." White House spokesman, Mike Hammer, said the leaders "had a good conversation" about "the progress and consensus reached" in Geneva negotiations.  He added that the "results of their talks are encouraging, and both leaders are committed to concluding an agreement soon." While most of the substance has been settled for months, missile defense and verification have proved hard to resolve.

Car-puccino: an alternative fuel?

A coffee-powered car, dubbed the "car-puccino," went on a 250-mile road trip yesterday from London to Manchester.  The vehicle, powered by nothing more than coffee beans, burned the equivalent of more than 10,000 espressos during its journey.

The car is part of a showcase for alternative fuels at the annual "Big Bang: UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair." It is the creation of engineer Jem Stansfield, presenter of the BBC show 'Bang Goes The Theory.'  The car, formerly destined for a scrap heap, began as a 1988 VW Scirocco bought on eBay for £400 (roughly $600). A furnace built into the back of the car roasts coffee grounds to generate flammable vapors that fuel the engine.

The car was cheered through the streets as it battled endless traffic jams and eventually made it to Manchester last night.  The journey took approximately 17 hours and was interrupted by some hiccups along the way, as well as for a coffee refueling stop every 60 miles.  The UK's Telegraph reported, "by lunchtime it seemed more likely to be using decaf." Francesca Bennett, a member of the team responsible for the car, responded by saying: "It's not the most reliable form of transport, but we knew that.This is the first time this has been done and it wasn't about reliability. It was about energy and making people think about how they use it."

ICC Postpones Bemba Trial

The International Criminal Court (ICC) trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo was due to start on April 27, however, the ICC announced that the trial has been postponed until July 5.  On April 27 the ICC will hold a status conference to discuss the admissibility challenge brought by the Defense for Bemba.

Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo grew up in Belgium and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Bemba became leader of the DRC's Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC).  In 2002, President Ange-Felix Patasse of the Central African Republic (CAR) requested help from the MLC to put down a coup attempt.  The MLC allegedly used systematic rape and torture against local populations to suppress political opposition in the CAR. More than 15% of the women in northern CAR are estimated to have experienced some form of gender based violence and many girls were exposed to HIV. Reports from the area show the extent of the damage that was inflicted by the MLC on the population and are highly disturbing to read. As leader of the MLC, Bemba is charged with five counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes including charges of rape and torture.

On May 24, 2008, Bemba was arrested at his home in Belgium. Belgian authorities, in accordance with the ICC arrest warrant, transferred him to the ICC Detention Centre in The Hague on July 3, 2008 where he remains in ICC custody.

To learn more about Bemba see Citizens for Global Solution's interactive ICC flash module

Act now in support of the International Criminal Court

International Women's Day!

Ann Lewis, a director of communications for President Clinton, and Susan Molinari, former Republican Congresswoman for New York, wrote that "investment in women and girls' education and empowerment is increasingly recognized as a linch-pin to advancing social, economic and political progress in most poor countries... Girls with just one year of formal education are less likely to suffer from illness or hunger...and their children are less likely to die in infancy." This reasoning was implemented in Pakistan where the U.S. supported education in the country towards a goal of addressing illiteracy.  The U.S. stated that this formed part of efforts to stabilize Pakistan and to weaken the influence of Al Qaeda and the Taliban; arguing that nations that are stable and democratic are far less likely to engage in war or host terrorist organizations. Thus, it has been argued that supporting women and girls through agricultural development and improvements health-care is a worthwhile investment.  Indeed, there is broad bipartisan support in the idea that investing in programs that build healthy, educated societies are a big part of making the U.S. and the world safer.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her speech today referred to U.S. policy towards women: "Today, the United States is making women a cornerstone of foreign policy because we think it's the right thing to do, but we also believe it's the smart thing to do as well. Investing in the potential of the world's women and girls is one of the surest ways to achieve global economic progress, political stability, and greater prosperity for women — and men — the world over."

Success! Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe Confirmed!

Yesterday afternoon Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe was confirmed as the first ever United States Ambassador to the Council.

We want to thank activists who sent over 1200 letters to 94% of the Senate demanding that Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe be confirmed as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe is an Affiliated Scholar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.  Her research has focused on norms on use of force, UN reform, and the international rule of law.  Previously, Ms. Donahoe was a litigation associate at Fenwick & West in Silicon Valley. Prior to that, she was a teaching fellow at Stanford Law School and law clerk to the Honorable William H. Orrick.  Ms. Donahoe has also worked with various human rights organizations.

The U.S. recognises the controversial history of the Human Rights Council, but hopes to see the Council follow its goals of protecting human rights.  Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero stated on Monday that: "the Human Rights Council was established to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe. Our expectations should be nothing less and the United States will continue to strongly advocate that the Council meet these expectations."



International Women's Day is next Monday (March 8th); here are some events for those of you in the DC area:

The International Center for Research on Women is hosting the 2010 Champions for Change: Innovation Empowers Women Awards Cocktail Reception. For more information CLICK HERE

Passing of a Larger than Life Advocate for World Peace

On February 20, 2010 Linda Grover, 76, who devoted more than 10 years to establishing January 1 as a worldwide day of peace, died Feb. 20 of uterine and ovarian cancer at the Washington Home and Community Hospices.

Last October, joined Linda in her crusade to celebrate Global Family Day worldwide.  Global Family Day is a practical tool for peace and sharing that the US Congress and the UN General Assembly have both adopted.  Linda understood that what binds us together as true is our strong belief that we are all, everywhere in the world, connected as members of the Global Family.

In this vein, this past January 1st, 2010, we recognized and celebrated Globalfamily Day, One Day of Peace and Sharing for all faiths, cultures, races, nationalities and economic classes. During the 48 hours of January 1st, 2010, we broke bread together, rang bells, and pledged to find non-violent solutions to all our problems in the year ahead.  Holidays are society's most powerful tool to inspire and unify individual groups and we will use Global Family day to remember that we are all part of the global family and to remind our leaders that we need global solutions for the world's most pressing challenges.

"We live by the rhythms of our holidays," Linda told The Washington Post in 2002. "The quality of our holidays, or the meaning of our holidays, defines our individual cultures. And having no holiday that everyone shares means we're all out of step."

"Peace is like Carnegie Hall," she said. "If you want to get there, you've got to practice."  And practice she did.

We are all honored that we had the opportunity to work on this incredible project with Linda and look forward to continung her legacy into the future.