National Security This Week at the United Nations (Oct 30-Nov 6)

 “Unwavering Support” for ICC Amid U.S. Sanctions 

72 countries at the U.N. on Monday offered their “unwavering support” for the International Criminal Court (ICC) after the Trump administration sanctioned two of the court’s officials. The officials, ICC prosecutors Fatou Bensouda and Phakiso Mochochoko, are investigating alleged war crimes involving U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The joint statement signed by countries that included Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and France, stated “we reconfirm our unwavering support for the Court as an independent and impartial judicial Institution,” and vowed “to preserve [the Court’s] integrity and independence undeterred by any measures or threats against the Court, its officials and those cooperating with it.” The statement concluded by stating, “by giving our full support to the Court and promoting its universal membership, we defend the progress we have made together towards an international rules-based order, of which international justice is an indispensable pillar.”

U.N., International Response to Results of U.S. Elections 

United Nations (U.N.) Secretary General Antonio Guterres had no comment as of Thursday regarding the U.S. presidential elections. Stephane Dujarris, spokesperson for the U.N. chief said Thursday, “we’re all watching, obviously, closely. The process is still playing itself out. We do not have a comment at this point.” Allies indicated concern over U.S. president Donald Trump’s unfounded allegations of fraud and called for all votes to be counted, with German Defense Minister describing the fraud allegations as setting the stage for “a very explosive situation.” Commenting on the delay in vote processing, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei described the U.S. elections as “a spectacle,” adding that, “one says this is the most fraudulent election in U.S. history. Who says that? The president who is currently in office.” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman described the delays as demonstrating the “obvious shortcomings of the American electoral system.” The U.N.’s Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) also weighed in, with chief Michael George Link scolding the Trump administration for harming “public trust in democratic institutions” and making “baseless allegations of systematic deficiencies” in the voting process.

U.N. Experts Blast Belarus Human Rights Violations and Attacks on Women Human Rights Defenders 

“Belarus has effectively criminalized human rights work at a time when the work of human rights defenders is more essential than ever,” said Mary Lawlor, U.N. Special Rapporteur to Belarus on Tuesday. The U.N. expert expressed concern that “women human rights defenders are being particularly targeted” pointing specifically to the arrest of Maria Rabkova – a volunteer coordinator for a human rights center. Lawlor noted that, “the charge against Maria Rabkova is tantamount to the criminalization of human rights work,” adding that the “Belarusian authorities must release her immediately and drop all charges.”

 U.N. Special Rapporteurs Demand Inquiry on Police Violence in Nigeria

“Since 2005, U.N. Special Rapporteurs have repeatedly raised the issue of police killings and impunity with the Nigerian government,” said the U.N. human rights experts on Tuesday. “We have had 15 years of government promises, but nothing has changed.” The Special Rapporteurs further commented that Nigeria’s “governments come and go, but police brutality is as intractable as ever. Nigerians need justice.” The Special Rapporteurs are tasked with independent fact-finding and monitoring and are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council – the largest body of independent experts in the U.N. Human Rights system. The U.N. Special Rapporteurs described Oct. 20th shootings of protestors as “especially disturbing because demonstrators were precisely calling for accountability for previous police brutality.” Since early October, Nigerians have taken to the streets across the country to protest human rights violations committed by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The U.N. Special Rapporteurs noted that although authorities had reportedly disbanded the SARS unit in accordance with protestors’ demands, “they immediately announced the formation of another similar unit and have not ended the excessive use of force.”

 U.N. Special Rapporteur Urges Fair Elections in Myanmar Nov. 8

Thomas Andrews, U.N. Special Rapporteur for human rights said Tuesday that the Myanmar government had set a “laudable standard” for the upcoming elections – that they be free and fair – “but this cannot happen as long as it is enforcing laws that undermine the very lifeblood of democracy, and [as long as] the right to vote is denied based on race, ethnicity of religion as it is with the Rohingya.” The U.N. human rights expert added that Myanmar’s government “is using the Penal Code, enacted by the British in 1861, to lock up journalists, students and others for exercising their basic right to free expression.” The Special Rapporteur concluded that, “we must be prepared to stand with the people of Myanmar during this critical time as we work with them to advance the principles and values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

U.N. Climate Change Secretariat Expresses Regret Over U.S. Withdrawal from Paris Agreement 

Issuing a joint statement on Wednesday, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) expressed its “regret” regarding the “U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement [which] has formally come into effect today.” Under the Paris Agreement, signatories pledged to take a variety of actions to limit emissions and slow global warming. The administration of President Donald Trump announced its intent to withdraw from the Paris agreement three years ago in August 2017; the withdrawal became effective on Wednesday. The joint statement, joined by countries Chile, France, Italy, and the U.K., concluded on a forward-looking note stating, “we remain committed to working with all U.S. stakeholders and partners around the world to accelerate climate action.”

 U.N. Responds to Super Typhoon Goni in the Philippines 

According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), around 68.6 million people have been affected by Typhoon Goni (also known as Typhoon Rolly). Gustavo Gonzalez, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines, said Monday that “U.N. agencies and humanitarian NGOs are already working with relevant Government departments and offices, Philippine Red Cross, and with private sector groups to coordinate our efforts to support the conduct of rapid needs assessments and swiftly assist the most vulnerable people caught in the typhoon’s destructive path.” The U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has prepared emergency supplies for families and stands ready to provide support. “Children are among the most vulnerable in any emergency. [We are] closely monitoring the situation and [are] deeply concerned for the survival, development and protection of children at risk,” the U.N. agency said Monday.

WHO Chief Expresses Concern Over Long-Term Symptoms of COVID-19 and Notes Unconscionability of Herd Immunity Strategy

Speaking in Geneva on Friday, World Health Organization (WHO) Chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated, “although we’re still learning about the virus, what’s clear is that this is not just a virus that kills people. To a significant number of people, this virus poses a range of serious long-term effects.” He noted problems with the idea of relying on herd immunity to combat the virus, describing such a strategy as “morally unconscionable and unfeasible.” Ghebreyesus elaborated, “not only would [a herd immunity strategy] lead to millions more unnecessary deaths, it would also lead to a significant number of people facing a long road to full recovery.”

Image: The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor Fatou Bensouda gives a press conference in Sudan’s capital Khartoum on October 20, 2020, at the conclusion of her five-day visit to the country. Many Member States of the Rome Statute expressed unwavering support for the ICC and its personnel on Monday after the U.S. sanctioned top personnel. (Photo by EBRAHIM HAMID/AFP via Getty Images)

  

About the Author(s)

Lyes Jalali

Lyes Jalali is a J.D. student at Yale Law School. Follow him on Twitter at (@LyesMauni).