15 January 2014
SHARES News Items Overview: 16 December 2013-15 January 2014
This is our News Items Overview of 16 December 2013-15 January 2014, a summary of recent news relating to shared responsibility.
- United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the signing of long-awaited declarations between the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the M23 rebels, and called on all other armed groups in the country to lay down their weapons and join the political process.
- The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said that a decision by the Uruguayan parliament to legalise cannabis is a strike against international cooperation. The head of the UNODC said that ‘Just as illicit drugs are everyone’s shared responsibility, there is a need for each country to work closely together and to jointly agree on the way forward for dealing with this global challenge.’
- The search for suitable vendors to assist in the commercial transport and destruction of Syrian chemical agents is due to begin on 20 December 2013, according to the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). He announced a multinational effort, that will require additional funding.
The International Trade Union Confederation, politicians and NGOs have urged western institutions involved in major projects in Abu Dhabi, including the British Museum and New York University, to take active steps to address the workers’ welfare and press the United Arab Emirates government to improve their conditions.
IKV Pax Christi and FairFin have published an updated report entitled Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions: a Shared Responsibility. The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions. The report stipulates that financing the production of cluster munitions constitutes ‘assistance’ or ‘encouragement’ which is prohibited by the CCM.
- The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, expressed doubt on the legality of the conduct of both the United States (US) and Yemen in relation to recent lethal drone airstrikes, which were allegedly conducted by US forces in the Republic of Yemen and resulted in civilian casualties.
- The US has sent dozens of Hellfire missiles and low-tech surveillance drones to Iraq to help government forces combat an Al-Qaeda-backed insurgency that is gaining territory in both western Iraq and Syria. The assistance was requested by the Iraqi prime minister.
- A Reuters investigation revealed on 5 December 2013 that Thai naval security forces were involved in the smuggling of Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar (or Burma) following outbreaks of religious violence. The report revealed a clandestine policy to remove Rohingya refugees from Thailand’s immigration detention centers and deliver them to human traffickers waiting at sea. Thousands of Rohingya were then transported across southern Thailand and held hostage in camps near the border with Malaysia until relatives had paid ransoms to release them. Those who could not pay for their passage to Malaysia were sometimes sold as servants on farms or into slavery on fishing boats.
- The New York Times reported that Saudi Arabia, which supports the ousting of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, has become the main backer of the Syrian rebels, even when these include Islamists who fight alongside militants loyal to Al Qaeda.
- On 7 January, a first quantity of priority chemical materials was moved from two sites in Syria to the port of Latakia and loaded onto a Danish commercial vessel which sailed for international waters with a naval escort from Denmark, Norway and Syria. These ‘priority 1’ chemicals are to be destroyed at sea aboard a US vessel. Lower priority chemicals will be taken to land sites outside Syria for destruction by companies in countries that have agreed to accept them.
- The US deployed a small team of military advisers to Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, in December 2013 to assist Somali and African forces in combating the Shabab, an Islamic militant group.
- The World Bank ombudsman criticised the International Finance Corporation, for failing to follow requirements when it approved a loan to Corporación Dinant, a Honduran palm-oil company, in 2009 and inadequate supervision afterwards. Dinant is in violent conflict with farm workers over land tenure of the Bajo Aguán Valley, where it is the largest landowner.
- On 6 January, six tonnes of confiscated ivory (ornaments, tusks and carvings) were publicly destroyed by Chinese authorities in the city of Dongguan, in an effort to combat the illegal trade in elephant tusks. Ivory stockpiles across range, transit and demand states have also been destroyed.