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ICC grants bail to Congolese ex-Vice President

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has ordered the conditional release of Congolese ex-Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba ahead of his war crimes trial.

An ICC statement said a pre-trial chamber had found that Mr. Bemba's continued detention was not necessary to ensure his appearance at his trial, to ensure he did not hamper court proceedings or to prevent him "from continuing with the commission of the same or related crimes".

He is to face trial on three counts of war crimes and two of crimes against humanity.

Latest Updates on U.N. Security Council Reform Negotiations

Recent negotiations on U.N. Security Council reform were filled with difficulty. The discussions revolve around three questions:

  • Composition of the Security Council, including key issues of size, categories of membership and regional representation
  • Relationship of the Security Council with the General Assembly
  • The veto

On the first point - virtually all agree to the need to increase non-permanent membership; the disagreement is over whether the number of permanent members should be increased.

Spotlight on 'The Responsibility to Protect'

Led by the recently formed International NGO Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect of which is a part, efforts are underway at the United Nations to introduce a new legal mechanism to help prevent crimes against humanity.

Under international law, no country may intervene in another country's internal matters. Also, the U.N. Security Council, the only U.N. body allowed to exercise military force, is not permitted to take actions for purely internal matters - its responsibility is solely for the restoration of international peace and security. Unfortunately, most genocides and crimes against humanity are internal matters, usually taking place in the context of a civil war between rival ethnic groups. The result is that any international intervention efforts to prevent the genocide are illegal under international law.

Past efforts at intervention, such as the NATO intervention in Kosovo in the late 90s, are widely considered illegal even if morally justified. This obviously discourages many countries from intervening.

The concept of 'Responsibility to Protect' places responsibility on states with regards to how they treat their citizens. If the concept is successfully introduced into international law, it would mean that countries no longer have free rein to treat their citizens as they like. It would mean they have a responsibility to protect their citizens against genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. Should they fail in this responsibility (by being unwilling or unable to stop genocide, or perhaps even participating), then that responsibility would fall to the international community to protect the citizens of that country. This would make the legal case for intervention much stronger, and allow countries to make the choice to intervene more quickly.

CGS Mourns the Death of Senator Ted Kennedy

On Wednesday, August 26, 2009, the United States Senate lost its third longest serving member, Senator Edward Kennedy.  President Barack Obama issued this statement in response to Kennedy's passing, "An important chapter in our history has come to an end," the statement said. "Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States senator of our time." 

A change in approach but not tone from Tehran

After a year of stalemate, the BBC reports that Iran has allowed inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to its nuclear facility at Arak. Furthermore, Tehran has agreed to increase oversight of its nuclear plant at Natanz. applauds these gestures but looks forward to the upcoming report from Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA, regarding the status of Iran's program. In accordance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran has the right to use nuclear energy for civilian purposes such as providing energy but not to pursue weapons development.

The call for closer engagement between the West and Iran from Hassan Qashqvi, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, echoes our sentiments. That being said, a nuclear Iran pursuing weapons development does not bode well for the security of the region or the world. As Susan Rice stated in her recent speech at NYU, this problem is one of the many critical challenges that "cannot be tackled by any one country alone." The Obama Administration must continue to constructively engage Iran while encouraging others with influence to put pressure on Tehran.

Why Empowering Women Really Matters

"There's a growing recognition among everyone from the World Bank to the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff to aid organizations like CARE that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. That's why foreign aid is increasingly directed to women. The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren't the problem; they're the solution."

South Africa reverses course on ICC Arrest Warrant for Sudanese President

A South African Foreign Ministry Official recently confirmed that Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir will be arrested if he sets foot on South African soil. This would be done in compliance with South Africa's obligations to the International Criminal Court, which has issued an arrest warrant for Bashir for seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur. Under the Court's Statute, member states are obliged to arrest individuals on their soil who have had an arrest warrant issued for them by the Court.

An Intern's Perspective

My experience at has been a completely enjoyable one. From a work perspective all of the assignments were fun and challenging. There were a lot of chances to work on projects that actually make a difference. I felt like there was always enough work to do without being overwhelmed. There are opportunities to work on all kinds of aspects of a non-profit organization, and the staff was always willing to lend a hand.

From a personal aspect this has been one of the most fun summers I've ever had. The people that work here are all a total joy to be around. The work environment is friendly but with a sense of importance. I've made some great friends being here. It's also great to be in DC. There are a lot of chances to see what we're doing in action and to visit Capitol Hill and other landmarks.

I highly recommend it to people who are interested in government and how laws are made but I also really recommend it to people who aren't sure what they want to do but care about issues like the ones that CGS supports. All in all this summer has been a great experience and I would encourage anyone interested to apply.

My Internship Experience at CGS

Being an intern at CGS was an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable experience. I learned so much about the state of international issues domestically and how Congress, non-profits, and NGOs work to bring about change. I gained so much knowledge at CGS not by observing, but by getting involved with these projects and working directly with others who promote these goals.

Rice on the Right Track with U.S.-U.N. Relations

Yesterday the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Susan Rice, delivered a strong and promising speech on the U.S.'s position towards the United Nations and global cooperation. Many of her statements reflected progress on issues that we at have been working hard to further.

Rice commended U.N. operations that have helped to rebuild shattered societies, including missions in Haiti where deadly gangs have been defeated and local police have been trained, and missions in Congo that have allowed the first democratic elections in the country to be held. Promising to improve U.S. support to U.N. peacekeeping, Rice pledged more U.S. military staff officers, military observers, civilian police, and other civilian personnel.

Working towards nuclear non-proliferation, Rice recalled U.S. work to have the Security Council condemn North Korea's nuclear weapons tests, and ongoing efforts to constructively engage Iran in the non-proliferation process. She also said that the U.S. is aiming to achieve a successful NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty] Review Conference next year.

Referring to the U.S.'s new seat on the Human Rights Council- another action we have championed-  Rice acknowledged the need for the U.S. to be involved with such institutions to increase their effectiveness and scope, and to help address their shortcomings.

Elaborating on other causes that we support, Rice said, "We no longer oppose mentions of