Guilty Verdict in Derek Chauvin’s Trial in the Killing of George Floyd Welcomed by U.N.
On April 20, Derek Chauvin, a White former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted of murdering George Floyd, an African American man. In a statement on Wednesday, April 21, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet called the occasion “momentous.” Bachellet praised the “courage and perseverance” of the Floyd family and other activists who stood for justice. Further, she acknowledged the battle against police brutality is “far from over” and called for increasingly “robust measures” to reform police departments across America as part of an effort to “dismantle systematic racism.”
New Iraqi Law Takes Major Step Toward Recognizing and Repairing ISIS Violence Against Minorities
In a statement on Wednesday, April 21, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons Cecilia Jimenez Damary called for the broad implementation of a new law to provide reparations, reintegration, and rehabilitation to Iraqi survivors of ISIS atrocities against minority communities. Damary also called on the international community to provide external support for implementation of the law.
Adopted on March 1, 2021, the Law on Yazidi Survivors recognizes ISIS’s violations against members of several ethnic and religious minorities, including the Yazidi, Turkman, Christians and Shabaks, as genocide and crimes against humanity. The atrocities against women and girls include kidnapping, sexual enslavement, forced marriage, forced pregnancy and forced abortions, while boys were kidnapped and forced to become child soldiers and men were slaughtered. The new law provides financial support to survivors to ensure “a decent life for them” as well as rehabilitation and reintegration services with the aim of preventing recurrence of atrocities. Beneficiaries of the law include women and girls subjected to abduction and slavery as well as survivors of massacres – notably, however, the law does not explicitly include children born of women in forced marriages or slavery. On Wednesday, Damary expressed concern over this gap: “These children are at risk of abandonment, and these Yazidi mothers face the difficult choice of either leaving their children or their community.”
Security Council Passes Resolution Calling for Foreign Forces to Leave Libya
On Friday, April 16, the United Nations Security Council passed a unanimous resolution calling for all foreign forces and mercenaries to leave Libya “without delay.” This follows the U.N.-brokered ceasefire agreement signed by the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA). Last week’s resolution approves the Security Council’s plan to deploy a 60-member ceasefire monitoring team.
Clashes Between Government and Insurgent Forces Cause Refugee Crisis in Nigeria
In a statement on Friday, April 16, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that up to 65,000 Nigerians have fled their homes in search of safety, following a series of violent attacks by armed groups in the Borno state. According to Babar Baloch, a UNHCR spokesperson, at least eight people have been killed, and a dozen more injured. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OHCA) echoed the UNHCR’s concerns, reporting that aid infrastructure centers, such as nutrition and health clinics have been targeted by armed groups. Further, private homes and civilians have been victimized by the latest attacks, creating an “extremely critical” situation.
Conflict in Ethiopia Continues to Pose Significant Threat to Women and Children
In a statement on Tuesday, April 20, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) declared that “there is no clear end in sight” to the violent conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. More than a million people have already been displaced in the six months since the violence began. According to UNICEF’s spokesperson James Elder, the scene in Tigray is a “disturbing picture of severe and ongoing child violations,” which has been exacerbated by the destruction of services children require such as education and nutrition. Further, health clinics providing vital maternal health options and other life-saving services have been “ransacked,” vandalized and looted.
Crisis in Myanmar Reaching a Breaking Point
As of Monday, April 19, over 700 people are reported to have been killed by Myanmar’s security forces since the violent military coup began on Feb. 1. An additional several hundred people have fled their homes in search of safety from the violence and turmoil. Tom Andrews, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, urged the international community to play a part in providing shelter and safety to the people seeking to escape the “brutality” and conflict. Andrews also called the international response thus far “inadequate,” citing the international community’s responsibility to protect the lives of innocent people. He went on to say that the “international community can and should do more,” and that the Security Council exists to engage in this kind of emergency, if the situation calls for it.
Biden Administration to Withdraw Combat Troops from Afghanistan by Sep. 11
Sep. 11 will mark the end of the United States’ military engagement in Afghanistan, the nation’s longest ongoing war, Biden officially announced on April 13. Nearly 2,400 American troops have died, and the conflict has cost American tax payers $2 trillion dollars over a 20-year period. NATO has also confirmed it will withdraw troops in conjunction with the United States military’s exit. While many within the Biden administration and U.S. government view the exit as necessary to avoid a “forever war,” other American political officials such as Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) have called the decision “reckless and dangerous,” with the potential to “create a breeding ground for international terrorists.” On the other hand, the Taliban has signaled that the new deadline is not expedient enough. In a statement responding to Biden’s announcement, Zabihulah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, declared that “any delay after May 1 [the original withdrawal date agreed to under President Trump] is not acceptable for us.”
Concurrently, the Biden administration has pushed for renewed peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Turkey, beginning on Saturday, April 24. However, on Tuesday, April 20, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed the peace talks have been postponed. According to reports, the Taliban’s refusal to participate precipitated the delays. U.S. Marine General Kenneth McKenzie expressed “grave doubts” that the Taliban can be viewed as a reliable diplomatic partner moving forward.
Relatedly, in spite of an executive order on Feb. 4 that aimed to speed up refugee processing and sought to review any “undue delays” for applicants from Afghanistan, the Biden Administration has yet to unequivocally revoke a Trump-era cap on refugee admissions.
United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson Condemns ICC Investigation of Israel
In a letter to the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) dated April 9 and released April 13, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the U.K.’s opposition to the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigation into the situation in Palestine. Johnson questioned whether the “ICC has jurisdiction…. Given that Israel is not a party to the Statute of Rome and Palestine is not a sovereign state.” Palestine called the letter “deeply regrettable,” but praised the investigation as a “long-awaited step” in achieving justice and peace. The investigation was announced on March 3, 2021 by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, and covers events from June 13, 2014 to present day, seeking to determine whether crimes within the ICC’s mandate have been committed by any party in the Gaza Strip or West Bank.
Security Crisis in West and Central Africa is Creating a Food Crisis
According to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), more than 31 million people across West and Central Africa may face food insecurity in the coming months. In a statement on Friday, April 16, the WFP warned that a confluence of factors including rising food prices, conflict destabilizing the region and the COVID-19 pandemic were all contributing to a potentially catastrophic situation. The agency is seeking nearly $800 million to fund operations in 19 countries in West and Central Africa in an effort to assist nearly 18 million people.