Archive for the 'UN' Category

South African Parliamentary Conference backs boycott of Israel


Monday, 10 February 2014

South Africa’s Parliamentary Portfolio Committee held a “Solidarity Conference in Support of the Peoples of Palestine, Western Sahara and Cuba” on Thursday, 6th February. The session was opened by an icon of the anti-apartheid struggle, Ahmed Kathrada. He was followed to the podium by South Africa’s Deputy Minister of International Relations, Marius Fransman; the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on International Relations, Mr Tisetso Magama, MP; and the Ambassadors of Cuba, Palestine and Western Sahara.

The Palestine solidarity human rights organisation, BDS South Africa, welcomed the resolutions and recommendations of the conference. In particular, the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign group was pleased to see the recommendation to forward the 2009 Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) report, which found Israel guilty of Apartheid, to international bodies including the International Parliamentary Union, the International Criminal Court, the United Nations and the African Union.

The parliamentary conference was attended by MPs as well as a wide range of civil society organisations including representatives from South Africa’s largest trade union, COSATU; the South African Communist Party (SACP); the African National Congress (ANC); the African National Congress Youth League (ANC Youth League); the Congress of the People (COPE); the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF); the Coalition for a Free Palestine (CFP); the Friends of Cuba Society (FOCUS); the Western Sahara Solidarity Forum; Kairos Southern Africa; the Media Review Network (MRN); African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP); BDS South Africa and some members of the South African Jewish community who identify with the struggles of Palestine, Cuba and Western Sahara.

“The solidarity conference is a first of its kind in parliament,” explained Mr Magama. “It is a culmination of extensive work carried out… in response to the call by President Zuma in his successive State of the Nation addresses since 2010, with a message that solidarity should feature as a strong element of South Africa’s internationalism… The primary focus of the conference is to make the people of South Africa aware of the common challenges facing the peoples of Cuba, Palestine and Western Sahara relating to the denial of human rights.”

The full list of recommendations and resolutions adopted by the Parliamentary conference on the issue of Palestine follows below.



06 February 2014

1. South Africa has a legal obligation under the Rome Statute to set up a special court to deal with war crimes, this needs to be urgently setup. South Africa must expeditiously deal with the “Gaza Docket” and deal with South Africans serving in the Israeli Defence Force;

2. The 2009 Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) report that found Israel guilty of Apartheid should be adopted by South Africa’s Parliament and by the South African government. The HSRC report must also be referred to international bodies including the International Parliamentary Union, the International Criminal Court, the United Nations and the African Union.

3. South Africa has a legal obligation and must stop all financial transactions with Israeli settlement companies as well as banks and companies involved in the Israeli settlements. This would be in line with developments in Europe and other countries.

4. On the global arena South Africa must lobby for the financial and other support of the Palestinians for socioeconomic development after the end of the illegal Israeli occupation.

5. The South African government must support Palestinian students, as a concrete act of solidarity, similar to how India, Cuba and other countries supported South Africa during the 1980s.

6. Entrance into South Africa for Palestinians must be made easier.

7. The Palestinian health system must be supported beyond people capacity. Infrastructure in Gaza, West Bank and refugee camps must be supported.

8. Conference supports the Robben Island Declaration for the freedom of Marwan Barghouti and all Palestinian Political prisoners.

9. Conference supports the Palestinian-led call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) issued by the majority of Palestinians. Complete military, financial and political sanctions must be applied against Israel until it complies with all applicable UN resolutions and international law and ends its occupation.

10. All South African political parties must clearly communicate their stance on the plight of the Palestinian people and make it timeously known in the build-up to 2014 elections.

11. Witness and solidarity visits to Palestine should be encouraged, for example, through the World Council of Churches EAPPI programme.

12. South Africa should build and strengthen an international diplomatic block in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

13. The South African government and parliament must campaign for Israel to be suspended from the SWIFT banking network.

14. Palestinian reconciliation efforts must be encouraged and supported.

15. Our government and parliament must table the above at the AU, UN and IPU.

United Nations General Assembly adopts resolution on “child, early and forced marriage”

Friday 22nd Nov 2013

On 21 November, over 100 states co-sponsored a resolution calling for a panel discussion on child, early and forced marriage and the post-2015 development agenda at the UN General Assembly next year.

The panel discussion will be a chance for the international community to reflect on the historic lack of attention to adolescent girls in development efforts, demonstrated by the continued existence of child marriage around the world. It will be an opportunity to discuss how it can be addressed in whatever development framework succeeds the Millennium Development Goals, which are due to expire in 2015.

The resolution follows the adoption in September of a resolution on child, early and forced marriage at the Human Rights Council, which stressed the need to include the issue in the post-2015 agenda and called for a report on preventing and eliminating the practice.

This latest resolution puts the issue of child, early and forced marriage on the agenda of the General Assembly in 2014, and offers a valuable opportunity to mobilise political commitments to address the issue at the highest levels over the coming year.

The resolution also calls on the UN Secretary-General to transmit the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report on child early and forced marriage, and the summary report of the panel discussion at the Human Rights Council on the issue, to the UN General Assembly. This is significant as it will help ensure that child, early and forced marriage is treated as a human rights issue and that the two processes at the HRC and UNGA complement each other.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is calling for submissions on child, early and forced marriage to its report by 15 December. The report is likely to set the stage for discussions at both the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly over the coming year, so let’s ensure we make our voices heard!

Find out how to contribute here.

The full list of 109 countries who co-sponsored the resolution:

Afghanistan; Albania; Andorra; Argentina; Armenia; Australia; Austria; Belgium; Benin; Bolivia (Plurinational State of); Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cabo Verde; Canada; Central African Republic; Chad; Chile; Congo ;Costa Rica; Croatia; Cuba; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Estonia; Ethiopia; Finland; France; Georgia; Germany; Ghana; Greece; Grenada; Guatemala; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Haïti; Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Japan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Kiribati; Kyrgyzstan; Latvia; Lebanon; Liberia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Madagascar; Malawi; Maldives; Mali; Malta; Monaco; Mongolia; Montenegro; Morocco; Netherlands; New Zealand; Nicaragua; Norway; Palau; Panama; Papua New Guinea; Paraguay; Peru; Poland; Portugal; Republic of Korea; Republic of Moldova; Romania; Rwanda; San Marino; Sao Tome and Principe; Senegal; Serbia; Seychelles; Sierra Leone; Slovakia; Slovenia; South Sudan; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Thailand; the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; Togo; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Uganda; Ukraine; United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; United States of America; United Republic of Tanzania; Vanuatu; Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of); Zambia

The UN is not renowned for getting things done, but I do hope that these initiatives are successful in thrashing out some solutions so that laments such as that seen in the Kath Walker poem A ‘Child Wife’ are a relic of the past.

UN adopts “the freedom agenda”!

The UN Security Council has voted for military intervention to facilitate regime change in Libya!

When Bush was president this was illegal

UN Resolution 1973 which authorizes “all necessary measures” to protect the Libyan people from being crushed by Gaddafi’s army is an historic event. It’s been put in terms of a humanitarian intervention aimed at preventing atrocities against civilians (which it is, on one level), but in reality it goes far further than that. It’s actually a resolution aimed at ensuring the success of the democratic revolution in Libya.

No way is it just a No Fly Zone, already the new COW has begun destroying Gaddafi’s military infrastructure, and the resolution has clearly been worded to allow attacks on ground troops, if required. And although it rules out occupation, it doesn’t specifically rule out on-the-ground operations.

About time!!

As I write this I’m listening to interviews with Egyptians who are at this very moment casting their votes in a referendum on constitutional reform. The euphoria is palpable. Democratic revolution really is sweeping the Middle East . The tyrants and autocrats of the region are all under threat now.

With the passing of UN resolution 1970, suddenly “regime change” is ok , is becoming legitimate. So far in all the interviews I’ve heard, the question “Is this really about regime change”? has been dodged. Instead the talk is all about Gaddafi “killing his own people” and the need to stop this. But it’s pretty easy to join the dots.

And it was France which spearheaded the push in the UN. What a change from 2003!

Alain Juppe’s speech prior to the resolution talked of “a wave of great revolutions that would change the course of history” .

But it was under the dreaded Bush regime that the “democracy agenda” was actually launched.

Continue reading ‘UN adopts “the freedom agenda”!’