United States Officially Announces Intention to Seek Election to U.N. Human Rights Council

The United States has formally announced its intention to seek election to the United Nations Human Rights Council. according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“Today, the administration took an important step in that direction by announcing the U.S. intent to seek election to a seat on the UN Human Rights Council starting in January 2022. The United States has long been a champion of human rights. If elected to the Human Rights Council, we will use the opportunity to be a leading voice within the Council for promoting respect for human rights,” he said in a statement. read more

U.N. to Debate Systemic Racism and Police Brutality in U.S. Following Call from Entire African Continent

The United Nations’ Human Rights Council will debate systemic racism and police brutality in the United States following a call from all 54 African nations.

“Structural racism and police violence are issues, which are commonly raised by states and civil society at meetings of the council, as are unlawful killings by police and racial bias in policing,” U.N. human rights spokesman Rolando Gomez told Voice of America. “And, the aim, of course, is to prevent such abhorrent acts.” read more

Coronavirus has Magnified Problem of, Silence Around, Sexism and Gender Inequality

One can find in the media many important analyses and accounts of the way the coronavirus pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the myriad inequities plaguing U.S. society.

The most opulent among us can shelter in place and not have to worry about their next paycheck, about being evicted, about having enough food. They don’t have to choose between staying safe and risking their lives by going to work. read more

Opinion: Trump Needs to be Brought to U.N. on Charges of Genocide

While the Turkish continue to deny this history to this day, in 1915 the nation of Turkey engaged in a genocide of the Armenian people.  The mass killing reduced the Armenian population from two million to 400,000.

Last week, with the knowledge and approval of U.S. President Donald Trump, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered Turkish troops into northern Syria to commit, effectively, another genocide, this time of the Kurdish people.  Some international reporters have, indeed, declared the act an “ethnic cleansing.”

How did Trump respond? Well, he did more than simply respond, apparently.  He was, in fact, an active, even pro-active, co-conspirator in this genocidal invasion.  All it took was simply a telephone call with Erdogan, and Trump was gung-ho, with no consultation with his military or foreign policy advisors, to pave the way for Turkish forces by pulling out the U.S. forces from the area in northern Syria where they had been stationed precisely to protect and ensure the survival of the Kurdish people, who had fought alongside U.S. forces to defeat ISIS.

The act of handing the Kurdish people up for slaughter, of effectively authorizing and inviting Erdogan’s genocide, was announced by Trump’s press secretary in these words:

“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its planned operation into northern Syria. The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and the United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”

Of course, removing forces and denying support and defense previously in place are acts that do most certainly constitute “support” and involvement.

As a reminder, in 1948 the United Nations, in an historic and important moment, drafted its Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.

A review of the convention’s salient articles makes clear that not only is Trump complicit in this current act of ethnic cleansing against the Kurds, but also his administration has repeatedly in its policies engaged in genocidal behavior, most blatantly in his immigration enforcement policies, his denial of asylum seekers, and his caging of children and separation of them from their parents.

At a minimum, Trump’s policies and behaviors merit scrutiny in an International Court of Justice.

Here is how Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide defines genocide:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

  1. Killing members of the group;

  2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

  3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

  4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

  5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Certainly, when it comes to the situation of the Kurds in northern Syria, the active and intentional withdrawal of military support and defense at least warrants consideration as an act of “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

When it comes to Trump’s immigration policies, his administration’s order denying immigrants from Central America the right to seek and apply for asylum in the U.S. is also quite arguably an act of deliberately inflicting on these migrants conditions likely to result in their deaths.  By many accounts, those people fleeing, in particular, Guatemala and El Salvador, and seeking asylum are escaping conditions of brutal and deadly violence or starvation conditions. Many asylum-seekers deported to these nations have in fact been brutally murdered upon return.

And how about the separation of families? In international law, as we can see in the convention’s language, “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group” constitutes genocide. One might argue that the children aren’t necessarily being transferred to another group, though in some cases the separated children have been placed with other families. At a minimum, though, they have been transferred to the care of U.S. governmental agencies. By some counts, over

2,500 children were separated from their parents, and hundreds remain in that condition read more

Human Rights Groups Demand That the U.N. Investigate Khashoggi’s Killing

Amnesty International and several other leading global human rights organizations are calling for the United Nations to investigate the killing of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In addition to Amnesty International, the groups include the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders. They have joined together to ask Turkey to pressure the U.N. to open up a formal investigation into Khashoggi’s death.

Khoshoggi was living in the United States and writing for the Washington Post when he visited Istanbul, Turkey on October 2nd. He entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and has not been seen since. Saudi Arabia initially denied any involvement in his disappearance and after 17 days admitted they knew he was dead, and have denied any involvement in the killing.

Saudi Arabia has now acknowledged that Khashoggi died inside its consulate in Istanbul. But the human rights groups are saying that the Saudi government’s explanation that Khashoggi died during a fight inside the consulate is not credible.

“The investigation findings by the Saudi authorities claiming that Khashoggi died as a result of a ‘fist-fight’ inside the consulate are not trustworthy,” Samah Hadid, director of Amnesty International’s Middle East campaigns, said in a press release.

“We call on the Saudi Arabian authorities to immediately produce Jamal Khashoggi’s body so an autopsy can be performed by independent forensic experts in accordance with international standards,” Hadid added.

Turkish authorities have claimed that the journalist, who was a resident of Virginia and served as an opinion contributor to The Washington Post, was ambushed and killed by Saudi operatives and had his body dismembered.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement Friday that he was “deeply troubled” by the official explanation for Khashoggi’s death, and called for a transparent investigation while not saying whether the U.N would conduct its own.

“The Secretary-General stresses the need for a prompt, thorough and transparent investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Khashoggi’s death and full accountability for those responsible,” Guterres’s press secretary

said in a statement read more

United Nations to Trump: Stop Separating Families At the Border

On Tuesday the United Nations called on the Trump administration to “immediately halt” its policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S. border with Mexico. 

The request came from the United Nations human rights office which has heavily criticized the administration for their actions of taking children away from their parents after they cross into the United States from Mexico. read more