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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.

ICC Prosecutor Names 20 People Involved in Instigating the Kenyan Post-Election Violence

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo today named 20 people that he alleges are most responsible for the deadly post-election violence which swept Kenya in December 2007 and January 2008.

Following a request for additional information from the ICC judges last month, the Prosecutor, in a confidential list, identified senior political and business leaders who allegedly organized, enticed and/or financed attacks against the civilian population on account of their perceived ethnic and/or political affiliation pursuant to or on furtherance of a State and/or organizational policy.

At the time of the violence the PNU was in the government and the ODM was the main opposition party.  The Prosecutor stated:  "These senior leaders from both PNU and ODM parties were guided by political objectives to retain or gain power." The names were identified after several inquiries were conducted. Among the evidence examined by Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo was sealed materials submitted former Secretary-General Kofi Annan in early 2009.  Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo told the pre-trial chamber today that, in line with the ICC's complementarity principle, none of the 20 people he named have faced justice in Kenya for the crimes.

The Prosecutor added that: "At this stage, the names are indicative only" said the Prosecutor. "The allegations concerning the named individuals will have to be measured against the evidence gathered independently by my office. If the Judges authorize the investigation, I will engage those who wish to clarify their role or provide further information."

Kenya signed the ICC's Rome Statute in 2005 and many people in Kenya support ICC intervention as a way to prevent violence during the next election and break years of political impunity in the country.

Check out CGS's new flash tool on the ICC CLICK HERE

Karadzic Trial Resumes

On March 1, 2010 the trial of Radovan Karadzic, former Bosnian Serb politician, resumed at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.  Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade in 2008 after being on the run for over a decade. He is accused of eleven counts of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and other crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. Karadzic refused to enter a plea to charges and so the tribunal judge entered a plea of not guilty to all charges on his behalf, in line with the rules of the court.

Karadzic described the Bosnian conflict as "just and holy." Sarajevo, where some 12,000 people died in 44 months, has been described as the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. Karadzic told the court that Sarajevo, was "not a city under siege" by Bosnian Serb forces.  He also stated that claims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys were based on "false myths and false victims". Karadzic laid the blame for the outbreak of the Bosnian war on the Bosnian Muslims.  He added: "It is going to be easy for me to prove that I had nothing to do with it."

bosnia memorialKaradzic was president of the self-declared Bosnian Serb Republic and commander of its army during the Bosnian conflict which left more than 100,000 people dead.  Prosecutors say he orchestrated a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" against Muslims and Croats in eastern Bosnia.  Prosecutor Alan Tieger, in his opening statement last October, said Karadzic had "harnessed the forces of nationalism, hatred and fear to pursue his vision of an ethnically segregated Bosnia."

Human Rights Council Meetings Start Today

(March 1, 2010)  Today is the first day of the 13th session of the Human Rights Council.  Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, referred to the impact of the international economic situation in her opening statement to the Council:

The "sudden and cascading upheavals exposed and exacerbated existing violations of human rights.  They also widened the areas and increased the number of victims of abuse and hardship.  Some countries have now overcome the most acute phases of recession and hardship. However, according to World Bank economist Shanta Devarajan, in Africa the crises have thrown an estimated 7 to 10 million into poverty, 30-50,000 children may have not reached their first birthday as a result of the recession."

The UN General Assembly created the Human Rights Council in 2006.  Its main purpose is to address situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.  The Council has had a controversial past and spectators will be watching the session's activities closely.  Pillay emphasized that the Human Rights Council must "address gaps in the Council's practices in order to attain greater equality and a framework in which the public good is more widely enjoyed...[Council discussions] should not be, or be perceived as, a zero-sum game."

Pillay concluded her statement by recalling the six priority areas that Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights identified as requiring additional focus in the next biennium. They are:

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."