Monthly Archives: August 2008
The Beijing Olympics have ended. The U.S. won the most medals. China won the most gold.
The Democratic National Convention begins tonight. Stay tuned. Travis, our man on the ground, will be sending updates.
>>Georgia – President Mikheil Saakashvili announced on Sunday that he intends to rebuild Georgia’s army and remains committed to keeping Abkhazia and South Ossetia under Georgia’s flag. Today both houses of Russia’s parliament voted today to request that President Medvedev recognize the independence of the two separatist enclaves.
>>Pakistan – The party led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has quit the governing coalition amid arguments over the reinstatement of judges dismissed by former President Musharraf and also who would be nominated as a replacement for the former President. Sharif claims that an earlier agreement had been reached to nominate a non-partisan candidate. The Pakistan People’s Party has nominated Benazir Bhutto’s widow, Asif Ali Zardari. Analysts believe it’s unlikely that the government will fall.
- UN Plaza: Georgia Still on Our Minds
- Possible abortion ban to be enforced in Lithuania
- PSA From Our Friends at ONE
We find via RH Reality Check that the Lithuanian Parliament is considering an abortion ban.
This was brought up at the 41st Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the UN agency that monitors nations’ progress on ensuring women’s human rights. Anna Wilkowska-Landowska reports:
By adopting more restrictive regulations on abortion Lithuania would join a group of three countries of the European Union (Malta, Ireland and Poland), where access to abortion is significantly limited.
The Committee considered the recent official reports from Lithuania as well as a shadow letter submitted by the Seimos Planavimo ir Seksualines Sveikatos Asociacija (The Family Planning and Sexual Health Association-FPSHA) based in Vilnius, Lithuania and the Center for Reproductive Rights, based in New York. In their letter of June 5, 2008, organizations brought to the Committee’s attention the pending restrictive abortion legislation. And during Lithuania’s review, CEDAW committee members pressed the government delegation not only on access to contraception but also on proposed legislation that seeks to defend prenatal life and would pose restrictions on access to abortion. Japanese committee member Yoko Hayashi stated that governmental restrictions on abortion “contradict the full enjoyment of women’s reproductive health rights that are protected by CEDAW.”
CEDAW is recommending that instead of changing the laws to restrict abortion (which won’t effect the number of abortions or population growth), Lithuania develop strategies to increase family planning, “such as a comprehensive range of contraceptives, including emergency contraception, more widely available and affordable, provide mandatory sexual education in schools and increase knowledge and awareness about family planning among women as well as men.”
Let’s hope the nation takes their advice.
As I’ve mentioned before — and as others have articulated in much greater depth — ICC jurisdiction in Darfur can, if the Security Council authorizes it, be suspended for up to a year. The legal rationale cited to justify this option — which is supported by countries like China and Russia that contend that pursuing justice through the ICC will impede efforts at peace — is found in a section of the Rome Statute (the document that established the ICC) called Article 16. However, according to someone who helped negotiate the Rome Statute, this assumption may actually rest on shaky legal ground. Writing in Jurist, the University of Pittsburgh School of Law blog, David Scheffer, who led the U.S. delegation at the Rome Statute talks, explains that those designing the ICC ten years ago had a pretty clear idea of when Article 16 should and should not be invoked.
The original intent underpinning Article 16 was to grant the Security Council power to suspend investigation or prosecution of situations before either is launched if priorities of peace and security compelled a delay of international justice.
The negotiators’ focus was on situations referred by a State Party or the Prosecutor, not by the Security Council. It would have been very odd to argue we need Article 16 as a check on Security Council referrals.
The situation in Darfur, of course, was referred to the ICC by the Security Council — on March 31, 2005, to be precise — so calls to suspend ICC jurisdiction are most definitely not coming before the investigation was launched. This would seem to indicate that the type of scenario in Darfur today is not one for which Article 16 was intended to be used, and, indeed, Scheffer, looking back at the process of negotiation, says as much:
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.