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Ex-Irish president decry abuse of veto powers in UN Security Council



Former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, on Wednesday said the United Nations Security Council had “failed to live up to its responsibilities” in conflict prevention.

Addressing members of the council at its 8546th meeting in New York, Robinson berated “certain permanent members” of the Council for wrong use of their veto powers.

She said the abuse was more apparent during votes on resolutions aimed at conflict prevention.

The meeting was convened to discuss how best to better utilise the tools at the disposal of the UN and the council for a more effective and efficient multilateral approach to conflict prevention and mediation.

Robinson spoke as Chairperson of The Elders, a group of independent global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela to promote good governance and ethical leadership.

She said: “Over the decades, the Council – and, particularly, its five permanent members – has failed to live up to its responsibilities.

“It has favoured realpolitik or short-term power stratagems rather than meeting the solemn commitments outlined in the UN Charter.

“Nowhere has this been more apparent than in the repeated use of the veto by certain permanent members on resolutions aimed to prevent mass atrocities, including the use of chemical weapons on civilians.”

Robinson urged the Council to approach the issue of conflict prevention and mediation in the “spirit of inclusive dialogue and willingness to work for compromise and consensus in the interests of peace.”

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke in similar vein, calling for improvement in the working methods of the Council.

“Faced with complex, multi-faceted and gravely serious challenges, it is profoundly irresponsible that politicians collude in or deliberately stoke illusions for their own gain.

“This is in full knowledge that no one country, however powerful, will be able to meet the global challenges on its own,” Ki-moon said.

The former UN chief called for unity and cooperation among members of the council especially in the area of conflict prevention and mediation.

He added: “When the Security Council can cooperate and speak with a strong common voice.

“This strong, common voice is needed more than ever at this current time, when the deceptive allure of populism and isolationism is growing across all continents, from North and South America to Africa, Asia and Europe.

Earlier in his remarks, incumbent UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said conflict prevention and mediation were two of “the most important tools at our disposal to reduce human suffering”.

Guterres also urged the Council and all member states “to strive for greater unity so that prevention and mediation efforts are as effective as possible”.

This, he noted, is “the only way to meet our responsibilities to the people we serve”.

“When we act early, and are united, we can successfully prevent crises from escalating, saving lives and reducing suffering – fulfilling the most fundamental mandate of the United Nations,” he noted.

To this end, he told the chamber that the UN was working with various parties to conflict, together with partners for peace, in regions and countries across the world.  

He noted some “encouraging signs”, such as the constitutional transfers of power in Mali and Madagascar, and the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Others, according to him, are the revitalised agreement in South Sudan; and, after decades of dispute, “the designation of the Republic of North Macedonia to be internationally recognised”.

The UN Security Council consists of 15 member states. These are categorised into five permanent members; namely Russia, United Kingdom, France, China and the United States.These countries can veto or block any substantive resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or nominees for the office of security Council.

NAN also reports that although speakers at the meeting did not mention names, China, Russia and the U.S., are known opponents of resolutions that threaten their interests in international conflicts.
Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola


Rights group urges Myanmar, Bangladesh to stop Rohingya repatriation




“Myanmar has yet to address the systematic persecution and violence against the Rohingya, so refugees have every reason to fear for their safety if they return,’’ Meenakshi Ganguly, the group’s South Asia director, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Rohingya have long been denied citizenship and freedom of movement in Myanmar and starting in 2017, more than 740,000 were expelled by the military in a campaign that UN investigators have said was genocidal.

More than 100,000 Rohingya, who remain in Myanmar, are confined to open-air detention camps.

The HRW statement quotes one refugee as saying: “We do not want to go back to Myanmar, where so many of our loved ones did not even get a funeral and ended up in mass graves after they were killed’’.

Dozens of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh held a protest on Tuesday demanding to return only with guarantees of safety and citizenship.

The current repatriation plan follows an earlier attempt by Myanmar and Bangladesh to repatriate more than 2,000 Rohingya refugees in November 2018.

Repatriation failed after the two governments neglected to consult with the UN and refugees themselves.

Many of the refugees on the list went into hiding.

“Bangladesh has been generous with the Rohingya – though conditions in the camps have been difficult – no refugee should feel compelled to return to a place that isn’t safe,’’ Ganguly said. (Reuters/NAN)


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China threatens sanctions over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan




China “resolutely opposes” the arms sales and has lodged “solemn protests” to the U.S., said a statement on the Foreign Ministry’s WeChat account.

”China will take all necessary measures to safeguard its own interests including imposing sanctions against U.S. companies involved in the arms sales to Taiwan,” the ministry said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, urged the U.S. to stop the arms sales and end military contact with Taiwan.

The U.S. government has approved the possible eight billion dollars (6.6 billion euros) deal involving 66 aircraft, the biggest in decades.

The potential sale comes amid ongoing tensions between Washington and Beijing, notably over trade.

China regards Taiwan as part of its territory which should be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary.

It has regularly criticised U.S. arms deals with Taiwan including the current one, which has been widely discussed.

The U.S. Defence Security Cooperation Agency announced the deal on Tuesday in an official notification to Congress.

In a statement, it said that the deal was for 66 F-16 fighter aircraft, 75 General Electric engines and other systems.

The sale was in U.S. national interests and would help improve Taiwan’s security, it added.

Quoted by Chinese state media, Mr Geng said the sale was a violation of international law and international relations, as well as the One China policy – under which the U.S. recognises and has only formal ties with China and not Taiwan. (dpa/NAN)


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Veteran general Burhan sworn in as Sudan’s new leader



Veteran general Burhan sworn in as Sudan’s new leader


Khartoum, Aug. 21, 2019 (dpa/NAN) Military Lt.-Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan has been sworn in as Sudan’s new leader, state news agency SUNA said on Wednesday.

The swearing-in came hours after the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the country’s pro-democracy opposition movement formed an 11-member sovereign council to lead the country through a three-year transitional period towards civilian rule.

Burhan, who chaired the TMC after former president Omar al-Bashir was ousted in an April military coup, has a long-standing military career, with positions as former commander of Sudan’s ground forces and inspector general of the army.

Born in 1960, Burhan will lead the Sovereign Council, made up of six civilians and five TMC officers, for the next 21 months.

A civilian will take over from Burhan for the remaining 18 months until 2022, when democratic elections are due.

A prime minister and the remaining members of the Sovereign Council are expected to be sworn in later in the day.

A spokesman for the TMC announced the names of the members of the council in a televised address late Tuesday.

The council was formed after a power-sharing deal was signed between the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) and the military on Aug. 17, regulating how power is divided.

The deal gives the pro-democracy movement two-thirds of the seats in Sudan’s Legislative Council and the power to select the prime minister.

The military council will have the power to choose the interior and defence ministers.

The interim government follows months of massive pro-democracy demonstrations in Sudan.

The protests initially led to the ousting of al-Bashir, who had ruled the country in north-eastern Africa for three decades with an iron fist.

Protesters continued to call for civilian rule in the wake of his replacement by the TMC. (dpa/NAN)


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Displaying apartheid flag constitutes hate speech, says South African court



The old flag, which was replaced in 1994, when South Africa became a democracy with Nelson Mandela as its president, can now only be displayed for historical, educational or artistic purposes, Judge Phineas Mojapelo said in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.

Mojapelo was granting an application from the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which had argued the gratuitous display of the orange, white and blue apartheid flag was an indicator of racial superiority and oppression.


(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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Taiwan says U.S. arms sale a vote of confidence in bilateral relations




“The $8 billion deal is a vote of confidence in Taiwan-U.S. relations and will help us maintain cross-strait peace and defend our democracy,’’ Taiwan’s Foreign Minister, Joseph Wu, said on Twitter.

“The decision made by the Trump Administration means a lot to regional stability,’’ Presidential Office spokesman, Ting Yun-Kung, said on Wednesday, citing recent frequent military exercises carried out by China in areas near Taiwan.

The planned U.S. arms sale to Taiwan could anger China, adding to the tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

On Monday, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed the proposed sale, Ma Xiaoguang, the spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, denounced the deal, urging the U.S. government to cancel it.

Taiwan on Wednesday said the planned sale helps improve the self-governing democracy’s air defence capabilities.

“This major arms sale will significantly boost Taiwan’s confidence to pursue the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,’’ Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Joanne Ou, said in a statement.

According to U.S. Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the State Department on Tuesday notified the Congress of the proposed deal, which includes the sale of 66 F-16 fighter jets and related equipment.

“This proposed sale will contribute to the recipient’s capability to provide for the defence of its airspace, regional security and interoperability with the U.S.,’’ the DSCA statement said. (dpa/NAN)


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