|ASEAN new chief's pressing concern (Channel News Asia, 23 January 2013)|
ASEAN's newly-installed secretary-general Le Luong Min has voiced concern over the slow progress towards building an ASEAN Community by 2015. Minh said member states have yet to ratify the numerous treaties and agreements necessary to transform the region into a single market. "One of the major challenges is that while we have been able to agree on many measures, we have been able to adopt many treaties and agreements, the pace of ratification and of course implementation on the part of the member states is rather low,” Minh noted. This is going to be one of the main areas he will be focusing on during this 5-year term in office.
|General Assembly Votes Overwhelmingly to Accord Palestine ‘Non-Member Observer State’ Status in United Nations (UN News, 29 November 2012)|
Voting by an overwhelming majority — 138 in favour (including China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam) to 9 against (Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Panama, Palau, United States), with 41 abstentions (including Singapore and South Korea) — the General Assembly has accorded Palestine non-Member Observer State status in the United Nations. Resolution A/RES/67/19 upgraded Palestine’s status without prejudice to the acquired rights, privileges and role of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the United Nations as the representative of the Palestinian people, in accordance with the relevant resolutions and practice. The Palestinian Liberation Organization was recognized as an observer entity in 1974. By other terms of the resolution, Member States echoed the “urgent need for the resumption and acceleration” of the peace negotiations.
In particular, Malaysia has expressed continued support for the creation of a Palestinian state while Indonesia has sent a high-level delegation to Gaza to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians. India has also reaffirmed its unwavering support to the people of Palestine and reiterated its belief that a just, comprehensive and lasting peace can be achieved through talks leading to a "sovereign, independent, viable" state. Japan and China have recently expressed regret over Israel's recent approval of the construction of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and have urged the Israeli government to review the plan for the sake of the progress of the peace process.
|ICJ is the international community’s forum of choice for the peaceful settlement of every kind of international dispute over which it has jurisdiction (ICJ Press Release No. 2012/31, 1 November 2012)|
President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Peter Tomka, informed the United Nations General Assembly that over the last 12 months the Court had “continued to fulfil its role as the international community of States’ forum of choice for the peaceful settlement of every kind of international dispute over which it has jurisdiction”. He added that the Court had “made every effort to meet the expectations of the parties appearing before it in a timely manner” and noted in that regard that, “since the Court has been able to clear its backlog of cases, States thinking of submitting cases to the principal judicial organ of the United Nations can be confident that, as soon as they have finished their written exchanges, the Court will be able to move to the hearings without delay.”
|The International Court of Justice has more than doubled its work rate since 1990 (ICJ Press Release 2012/27, 28 September 2012)|
H.E. Judge Peter Tomka, President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) noted in his address before the United Nations member states at the “high-level meeting on the rule of law” on 24 September 2012 that “bringing a dispute before the Court usually contributes to defusing tensions between States, in particular in situations of competing claims to sovereignty or maritime zones”. President Tomka noted, “If the Parties are unable to resolve such matters through negotiation to their satisfaction or find a creative solution, such as joint management and exploitation régimes, the Court remains available to assist them by adjudicating the dispute on the strength of their legal arguments and evidence in accordance with international law.”
|UN employees sentenced by Myanmar court for Rakhine violence (UN News, 27 August 2012)|
One employee of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), one of the World Food Programme (WFP), and another person working for UNHCR’s partner organization were sentenced at a court in Maungdaw, in the westernmost part of Myanmar.
Addressing the media at UN Headquarters in New York, UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said that no further information was provided by the local authorities to UN officials in Myanmar’s capital, Yangon. “The UN has consistently held that formal and precise charges would need to be provided to us before action is taken by the Myanmar authorities,” Mr. Nesirky said. “We would like to indicate that the detained staff should be treated in accordance with all the applicable international conventions and immunities they may be entitled to.”
|A 'test case of ASEAN's ability to forge consensus' (Today, 3 August 2012)|
Disagreements over the South China Sea will continue to test ASEAN's ability to forge consensus on difficult political issues, said Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong at an ASEAN and Asia forum organised by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs. This statement comes as ASEAN foreign ministers failed to issue a joint communique at the recent annual ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) last month because of disagreements over the South China Sea. "Whether we like it or not, after the 45th AMM, the South China Sea will remain a test case of ASEAN's ability to forge consensus on difficult problems and act in the region's broader interests," said Mr Goh, speaking to some 300 business leaders at the forum. A goal that encompasses such interests is the setting up of the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015. Mr Goh said ASEAN's economic integration cannot be insulated from its ability to maintain unity on important issues and stability in the region.
ASEAN's dialogue partners and investors are watching and re-calculating their interests and positions, he added. "We cannot blame them for this. It is therefore imperative that we address their concerns and demonstrate that we're capable of reaching consensus on even the most sensitive of issues."
|United Nations General Assembly and Security Council elect Mr. Dalveer Bhandari as a Member of the International Court of Justice (ICJ Press Release, 27 April 2012)|
The General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations have elected Mr. Dalveer Bhandari as a Member of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), with immediate effect. Of Indian nationality, Mr. Bhandari succeeds Mr. Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh (Jordan), former judge and Vice-President of the Court, who resigned in 2011 (see Press Release 2012/1). Pursuant to Article 15 of the Statute of the Court, Mr. Bhandari will hold office for the remainder of Judge Al-Khasawneh’s term, which will expire on 5 February 2018.
|ASEAN calls for Burma sanctions to be lifted (BBC News, 3 April 2012)|
Leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have called for economic sanctions against Burma to be lifted during their 2-day ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. They said the move would help Burma achieve "peace, national reconciliation, democracy and national development". Separately, Burmese President Thein Sein endorsed by-elections on Sunday comprehensively won by the opposition. ASEAN has called on the rest of the world to show its faith in the reform process in Burma. As the current chair of the association, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said the international community should "consider lifting economic sanctions" in response to the Burmese opposition's strong showing in the weekend's by-elections.
|Security Council extends UN presence in Timor-Leste until end of 2012 (UN News, 23 February 2012)|
Until its expected departure on 31 December, the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) will assist with key tasks such as institutional development and capacity-building of the national police, known as the PNTL, as well as provide electoral assistance. This year Timor-Leste will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its independence and hold presidential elections on 17 March, followed by a legislative poll at the end of June. In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council endorsed the plan of UNMIT’s phased drawdown, “in accordance with the wishes of the Government of Timor-Leste, conditions on the ground and following the successful completion of the 2012 electoral process.”
|Anger after Russia, China block U.N. action on Syria (Reuters, 5 February 2012)|
Western and Arab states voiced outrage on Sunday 5 February after Russia and China vetoed a U.N. resolution that would have backed an Arab plan urging Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to give up power. Russia said the resolution was biased and would have meant taking sides in a civil war. China's veto appeared to follow Russia's lead. "On the issue of Syria, China is not playing favourites and nor is it deliberately opposing anyone, but rather is upholding an objective and fair stance and a responsible position," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin. Liu stated, "Our goal is for the Syrian people to escape violence, conflict and flames of war, and not to make the problem even more complicated. Unfortunately, the countries that proposed the resolution forced a vote despite the serious differences among various sides, and this approach was not conducive to the unity and authority of Security Council and is not conducive to the appropriate resolution of the problem. Therefore, China voted against the draft resolution.”
|No big Fukushima health impact seen: U.N. body chairman (Reuters, 31 January 2012)|
Wolfgang Weiss, chairman of the UN Scientific Committee on the effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), has noted that the health impact of last year's Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan appears relatively small thanks partly to prompt evacuations. The fact that some radioactive releases spread over the ocean instead of populated areas also contributed to limiting the consequences. A preliminary report on the radiation effects of Fukushima will be presented at UNSCEAR's annual meeting in May and a final document will be submitted to the United Nations General Assembly in 2013.
|Iran: Fordo uranium enrichment site runs under IAEA watch (Xinhua, 10 January 2012)|
Iran's permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ali-Asghar Soltanieh said all of Iran's nuclear activities, including those at Fordo enrichment site, are under the supervision of the IAEA. Since two years ago, the agency is continuously monitoring all the activities in Fordo. Soltanieh said that "every step we have taken so far has been and every step we will take in the future will be under the IAEA framework and surveillance," adding that "now with the 24-hour (surveillance by) cameras and inspections, the enrichment activities in Natanz and Fordo are under the control of the IAEA."
China has expressed that it is opposed to the use of force in resolving the issue.
|United Nations General Assembly and Security Council elect four Members of the Court (ICJ Press Release, 11 November 2011)|
The General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations have elected four Members of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a term of office of nine years, beginning on 6 February 2012. Judges Hisashi Owada (Japan), Peter Tomka (Slovakia) and Xue Hanqin (China) were re-elected as Members of the Court. Mr. Giorgio Gaja (Italy) was elected as a new Member of the Court. The election of a fifth Member of the Court has been postponed to a later date, yet to be fixed. In February 2012, the Court as newly constituted will proceed to elect from among its Members a President and a Vice-President, who will hold office for three years.
|International Court of Justice’s Report (1 Aug '10 to 31 Jul '11): The best efforts are being made by the Court to respond to the high expectations of the international community for an expeditious handling of the cases referred to it (ICJ PR, 26 Oct '11)|
|The President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, H.E. Judge OWADA Hisashi, stated in an address to the United Nations General Assembly that “the best efforts are being made by the Court to respond to the high expectations of the international community for an expeditious handling of the cases referred to the International Court of Justice”. He noted that the Court has rendered multiple decisions in cases which “have involved States from all regions of the world, and have raised a broad range of legal questions whose substantive areas are broader in scope than before, with each case presenting distinct legal and factual elements.” Furthermore, the “cases are frequently made up of different incidental phases, from preliminary objections to provisional measures, to requests for intervention and interpretation [and that t]he Court has as a result been consistently handling cases in parallel and shortening the time between the closure of written proceedings and the opening of the oral proceedings.”|
|America for “Amity” with ASEAN (The Hindu, 20 February 2009)|
In contrast with the relatively cool stance of George Bush’s government towards ASEAN, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has signalled the US’ intention to strengthen ties in East Asia through the ASEAN-led forum of the East Asia Summit (EAS). Clinton announced on her visit to Indonesia that the Obama Administration intends to “pursue accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation [in Southeast Asia]” as a gateway to the 16-nation EAS held after the annual ASEAN Summit. Current EAS members are the ten ASEAN states, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
|China Wuyi says It 'Regrets' World Bank Ban (China Daily, 22 January 2009)|
Last week the World Bank released a list of firms it has barred from making tenders the next few years after investigations uncovered corruption and fraud in their operations. Among these are China’s Wuyi and India’s Wipro. Both have come out strongly against the ban. Wuyi released a statement that it could “not accept the decision of punishment without the support of ample evidence and feel regretful about the bank's action”. The Chinese government has urged the World Bank to hand over details of its investigations.
|China Warned Against Security Council Expansion: Wikileaks (Dawn.com, 3 December 2010)|
In a 2009 discussion over the possible expansion of the Security Council to have ten permanent members, an anonymous Chinese official was noted to have told the US Charge d’Affaires, Dan Piccuta, that such a development was “not good” for China and the US. The Chinese official also said that it would be difficult for the Chinese public to accept Japan as a permanent member of the Security Council. Piccuta replied that “it was hard to envision any expansion of the Council that did not include Japan, which was the second largest contributor to the UN budget” and that the Permanent Five (P-5) should allow other member states to “state their positions” on an expanded Council “freely and openly without undue P-5 influence”.
Click here to read the Foreign Policy post on the US-China correspondence.
|Countering China, Obama Backs India for U.N. Council (NYT, 8 November 2010)|
By endorsing India for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council during his visit there in early November, US President Barack Obama on Monday signalled America’s intention to create a deeper partnership of the world’s two largest democracies that would expand commercial ties and check the influence of an increasingly assertive China. The US now holds standing promises to support Japan’s and India’s bid for a permanent seat on the Council. Obama spoke of India as an “indispensable” partner for the coming century, noting that in Asia and around the world, India had “emerged”. Obama’s endorsement notwithstanding, reforming the Security Council could take years. China is viewed as far less eager for its Asian neighbours to acquire permanent membership in the Council.
|PM Seeks Int'l Help for Nepal's Bid at UN (Xinhua, 31 August 2010)|
|Nepalese Prime Minister Madhav Kumar has called on Chinese and Russian ambassadors to Nepal – Qiu Guohong and Andrey Leonidovich Trofimov – to discuss the extension of the United Nations Mission in Nepal's (UNMIN) term and Nepal's bid for the chair of United Nations General Assembly for 2011-2012. Kumar informed them that Nepal was fielding Kul Chandra Gautam as a candidate and said United Nations Security Council Permanent Member Nations had an important role in electing the Chair of the General Assembly.|
|Kosovo: UN Envoy Stresses Need for Dialogue to Resolve Outstanding Issues (UN News Centre, 3 August 2010)|
|Lamberto Zannier, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), told the Security Council that efforts to properly resolve issues between Belgrade and Pristina — the respective capitals of Serbia and Kosovo — had been hindered by the 22 July advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legality of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia. The ICJ had concluded that the February 2008 declaration did not breach either general international law, Security Council resolution 1244 adopted in 1999 following the end of fighting in Kosovo, or the constitutional framework that was adopted by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on behalf of UNMIK. In giving its advisory opinion, the ICJ had expressly limited itself to the question whether Kosovo’s the declaration of independence was in accordance with international law and not whether “Kosovo had achieved statehood” (para.51). Zannier emphasized that Serbia and Kosovo should now engage in constructive dialogue to resolve outstanding issues for the stability and the development of the region. He also noted that the UN’s preliminary legal assessment is that the opinion does not affect the status of UNMIK, or its status-neutral policy.|
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