Connect with us

International Law

A Disturbing Double-Standard:A Human Rights Criticism of the JCPOA

Published

on

Critics of capital punishment have long claimed that the utilization of such measures are inhumane and disregard certain human rights. One state at the center of this debate has been the United States.

Since 1976, when the death penalty was re-enacted in the U.S., America has executed more than 1,400 individuals, all of whom were convicted of wide range of highly evil crimes. However, when compared to the Caspian Five, this number is extremely small.

Across the Caspian one can observe a dire human rights record. According to the 2015 Human Rights Risk Atlas, the five littoral nations can be categorized as holding an “extreme risk” or “high risk” of committing human rights violations. These risk classifications are based upon a scale of 1 to 10, where extreme risk is determined to be 0-2.5 and high risk is 2.5-5.0. Moreover, these classifications are based upon certain criteria which include state repression of assembly, speech, and religion; continued conflict; judicial corruption; torture; executions; and failing to uphold civil rights for workers. Russia and Iran both are categorized as extreme, while Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan are categorized as high. Just to put it into perspective the United States currently is considered a ‘medium risk’ (5.0-7.5) country. This is due to human rights violations in the areas of criminal justice, immigration, and national security—the criminal justice criteria include harsh sentencing and capital punishment. In comparison, capital punishment has been outlawed in Russia. However, the nation’s human rights situation continues to deteriorate. This is because the state suppresses the media, internet, and civil society, while at the same time turns a blind eye to the harassment of activists and corrupt legal and economic practices. Now, while capital punishment may be outlawed, Russia’s seemingly systemic human rights violations on multiple levels earn it the title of ‘extreme risk.’ Iran, on the other hand, is a nation currently attempting to gain international legitimacy and have a say in global political dialogue. However, while Western powers, and more specifically the United States, are attempting to engage Iran, the Islamic Republic’s rhetoric compared to its actions on human rights garners well-earned criticism.

Just one year ago Iran carried out the second highest number of executions in the world, trailing just behind China, who was the world’s leading executioner per capita. Despite the election of President Hassan Rouhani in 2013—a moderate in the eyes of many—and the JCPOA nuclear deal being struck with the United States, Iran’s human rights record has not improved. In fact, its record is now considered to be the worst in the world. For example, between January 2015 and September 2015, the Islamic Republic of Iran carried out public executions by method of hanging on more than 694 individuals, a statistic that a United Nations human rights monitor has called the highest rate of executions per capita within the country in the last 25 years. The majority of these executions were due to a surge in drug-related crime, an offense that is punishable by death within the Islamic Republic. In addition to drug crimes, which accounted for 69 percent of all executions in the first half of 2015, Iranian law employs the death penalty for a variety of offenses. These include threats toward the security of the state, any verbal or physical hostility towards God – also known as Moharebeh – and for any insults against the memory of Imam Khomeini and against the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic. Moharebeh specifically has been frequently utilized by prosecutors as a criminal charge against political dissenters, journalists, activists, and bloggers, of which the Islamic Republic remains the one of the world’s largest incarcerators. However, for a nation that is attempting to gain both political and economic clout on the international stage, it still acts as a repressive government and uses wide state powers as tools of control against its society.

So one must ask, when comparing international standards for human rights, why is there not more international outrage about the rate and number of executions being conducted inside of Iran? Furthermore, how is it that despite U.S. leadership’s knowledge of such dire reality for many Iranian citizens and political prisoners, America continued to pursue diplomatic openings that would remove sanctions and allow Iran to engage the global community freely? Does this not signify that the United States is undermining its own professed prioritization of human rights? For example, the ink had not even dried on President Obama’s historical nuclear agreement when in October 2015 United States citizen and Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian was convicted of espionage in an Islamic court in Iran.

However, if the Iranian regime is content with ruling heavy-handedly over its own citizens and moving against their human rights to the point of becoming the world’s leading executioner, how can Western powers trust the regime to not produce nuclear weapons or not act under false pretenses? Clearly, there seems to be a double-standard based upon certain political or economic advantages as deemed by the United States. And while it is not inherently wrong to engage and participate in developmental discourse, it is wrong to overlook what history has taught: evil deeds should not be discounted in an attempt to establish new positions with so-called moderate officials. We do know that under the Rouhani presidency, Tehran has pledged to become more moderate. But when dissecting the nation’s human rights score sheet, violations have become increasingly systemic. Nevertheless, the passing of the nuclear agreement between the United States and Tehran was a legacy-building move on behalf of President Obama and one that may hold the potential to improve global nuclear security and stability. But with the agreement acting as the sole motivator and center of diplomatic openings, it overlooks and arguably even dismisses human rights as an issue of importance. This fact cannot help but allow the expansion of systemic abuse against human rights within Iran. Whether the JCPOA can be a positive facilitator to improve that record remains to be seen, but this author is highly skeptical.

(*)The opinions expressed in this article are not offered as unemotional objective political commentary but as a liberal critique in the long and storied history of human rights scholarship. The views expressed are solely those of the author and not necessarily a reflection of The Caspian Project, its other contributors, or Modern Diplomacy in general.

Continue Reading
Comments

International Law

Human Rights Council election: 5 things you need to know about it

MD Staff

Published

on

The United Nations General Assembly held secret-ballot elections for the Human Rights Council (HRC) on Friday.  As of 1 January next year, the 18 newly-elected States will serve for three years on the UN’s highest inter-governmental body, mandated to protect and promote human rights worldwide.

While the institution has been the subject of controversy since its creation in 2006 – culminating in the withdrawal of the USA this past June – UN Secretary-General António Guterres reiterated that it plays “a very important role” in the UN’s human rights architecture.

1. First of all… how does it all work?

Elections to the Council happen annually, with countries serving for three years on a rotational basis, as some of the seats expire on 31 December every year. There are 47 seats, equitably distributed according to five regional divisions.

Countries need a minimum of 97 votes to get elected, and everything happens by secret ballot. This year, 18 seats were up for election:  five for Africa, five for Asia-Pacific, two for Eastern Europe, three for Latin America and the Caribbean, and three for Western Europe and other States.

2. So… who’s in and who’s out?

After Friday’s election, here’s how the Council will look from 1 January:

IN, elected this year: Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Denmark, Eritrea, Fiji, India, Italy, Philippines, Somalia, Togo and Uruguay.

IN, continuing their terms: Angola, DRC, Egypt, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia, Afghanistan, China, Iraq, Japan, Nepal, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Australia, Iceland, Spain, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

OUT, because they didn’t apply for a second consecutive term: Belgium, Burundi, Ecuador, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Panama, Slovenia and Switzerland.

OUT, because after two consecutive terms, they’re not eligible for re-election: Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Republic of Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Germany.

3. What does the Council actually do?

In a nutshell, the HRC is a multilateral forum to discuss anything relating to human rights issues around the world.

In addition to launching fact-finding missions and establishing commissions of inquiry into specific situations, it meets three times a year to review the human rights records of all UN Member States, in a special process designed to give countries the chance to present the actions they have taken, and what they’ve done, to advance human rights. This is known as the Universal Periodic Review.

This video explains it all in a simple way:

4. How come some countries accused of human rights violations still serve?

The HRC was created in 2006, following a proposal by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan. In a report titled “In Larger Freedom”, he noted that the Commission on Human Rights, created in 1946, was suffering from “declining credibility and professionalism” and was “in need of major reform”. Subsequently, based on his recommendations, the Human Rights Council was established by the General Assembly to replace the Commission and several measures were put in place to try and avoid the same problems that eventually arose with the Commission.

For example, as it is understood that the Council can only be as effective as its Member States, the election process was placed directly in the hands of the General Assembly, the only UN organ where every one of the 193 countries has equal voting weight.

In addition, the geographical group divisions and seat allocations are meant to prevent disproportionate focus on just a handful of regions and countries, and ensure that every country has a chance of fair consideration.

Finally, during the elections for each regional group, the General Assembly allows extra blank slates: this should theoretically ensure there are more candidates than available seats, enabling a competitive process. However, if – as was the case this year with 18 candidacies for 18 available seats – no extra countries apply, then no competition occurs, and whichever Member State applies, is likely to get elected.

5. So does the HRC make a difference for human rights worldwide?

Although human rights have always been a very sensitive matter for Member States, the Human Rights Council remains an essential part of the UN’s human rights architecture.

The Council has the power to adopt resolutions, launch fact-finding missions and investigations, and establish commissions of inquiry. In particular, the HRC can appoint independent experts on specific issues. At the moment, there are 44 thematic experts and 11 country ones appointed to monitor and report on human rights issues as requested.

All these mechanisms allow for grave violations to be highlighted and brought up on the global stage for examination, discussion and, whenever feasible, action.

Continue Reading

International Law

Unilateralism Vs Multilateralism

David Ceasar Wani

Published

on

During the 73rd sessions of the general assembly at the UN, the crunch of unilateralism and multilateralism between US and China kicked off, in which Trump’s unilateral visualization of the world likely to hurt the US, but it might undermine his presidency. As the competitions between unilateralism and multilateralism are viewed inversely. According to the international relations scholars, unilateralism has defined an approach in international relations in which states act without regard to the interests of other states or without their support. Unilateralism is usually contrasted with its opposite approach, yet multilateralism is acting cooperatively with other states. Though unilateralism is often used in a negative way, experts agree that there are positive aspects to occasionally acting unilaterally, such as in issues of national self-defense.

Some politicians and international experts support unilateralism, at least for certain issues. An example of a unilateral action is the U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord in 2017. The Paris Climate Accord was actually negotiated and approved by nearly 200 nations around the world, and the issue of climate change is impossible to be handled significantly without united efforts of all the countries, particular the major ones. Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord, saying that it hurt American jobs and American interests as well. Trump’s decision was opposed by many experts and average people around the world including the United States.

Nevertheless, it is believed that unilateralism is a policy of dealing with affairs that may be violent, regardless of the will of other countries or nationals. Given this, the most prominent feature of multilateralism is the negotiation since it can pay close attention to the shared interests of the majority and take practical and reasonable measures to deal with affairs in international affairs. The U.S. adopts unilateralism as a kind of closed rather than open behavior. Self-interest is the American priority mentality that Trump previously reiterated, and this approach seems to be a good way to safeguard the interests of the United States, but in fact, it is inconvenient for American nationals, and for the United States.  Conversely, politics, diplomacy, and trade all have disadvantages and this disadvantage can be a hindrance to domestic investment, risk from political changes negative influence on exchange rates, higher costs, economic non-viability, expropriation, negative impact on the country’s investment, modern-day economic colonialism and etc.

From this point of view, it can be said unfavorable to Americans. The reason why the United States has become strong from a dispersed federation compared with the confederation is mainly between states. Improvement of politics and other status has enabled the United States to develop and be strong because of a strong government. If the United States 1787 Constitution was originally formulated by the founding fathers’ generation, and then adopted unilateralism and did not negotiate, it is unimaginable that there would be a powerful United States today. So now Trump adopts unilateralism, which is contrary to the spirit and method adopted by the U.S. Constitution. The threat to his presidency is great because unilateralism is difficult to promote the cooperation and development of national economies. The interests generated by the United States are very short-lived, but they pose great threats to their long-term development and the long-term interests of their citizens. Therefore, when dealing with state affairs or international affairs, multilateralism should be adopted and negotiated. The problem is that we can better safeguard the interests of all parties, maximize the benefits, and promote the development of countries and their own economies.

In conclusion, it is important to understand the evolution of China’s concept of multilateralism, because one has to begin with China’s particularly humble experience with multilateral institutions e.g. it’s being kept out of the United Nations (UN) and its institutions during its preliminary decades as also for it is being the target of UN criticism and sanctions (for Korean War) during those years. The things were to begin to change following the Sino-US rapprochement and China’s entry into the UN and other multilateral institutions from the 1970s. Another crunch change to overlap with the late 1970s was the rise of Deng Xiaoping to power in China. Deng’s economic reforms and openness become the driving force behind China’s conclusive shift toward multilateral institutions.

According to Zhang Baijia, expert at the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Central School, numerous internal and external developments during the first half of the 1980s were to expressively influence Deng’s strategic thinking in three major ways: (a) Deng aborted the long-held view that world war is inevitable’ and instead stresses on ‘peace and development’ as central theme for China; (b) Deng acknowledged that the contemporary world is heterogeneous in nature and that conflicts coexist with cooperation and competition with interdependence; and (c) Deng maintained that independence does not equal isolation and self-reliance does not mean rejecting all foreign things as had been the case during Mao’s times. Change in Deng’s worldview was to result in the change in China’s approach towards international institution and towards the whole idea about multilateralism.

As a result, the whole of the 1980s witnessed extraordinary qualitative and quantitative changes as China gradually involved itself in not only international organizations in the political domain but also expanded its participation in economic and security types of multilateral forums. As regards China’s future vision on multilateralism, it has been motivated primarily by China’s felt need (a) for undermining the basis of United States’ unilateralism and its global power profile and (b) for making efforts to become acceptable as the benign rising power amongst its immediate neighbors and amongst the world at large. By far these two remain China’s most important foreign policy challenges through its rise as a major power has already been accepted as a given reality in general. The conditions have also been facilitated by external dynamics, especially following the collapse of former Soviet Union which has shifted the focus of international relations and led to the widening of the whole understanding of security and strategic calculations amongst major players therefore moving the dynamic of international power politics beyond two superpowers to include new actors like China.

Continue Reading

International Law

Strengthen UN, Implement UN Charterer in true spirit

Published

on

Humanity is suffering everywhere whether it is Syria or Yemen, Afghanistan or Libya, Iraq or Myanmar, Palestine or Kashmir. The one who are being killed are human beings, irrespective of his or her race, color, religion, nationality, its human lives which are being lost. Last couple of decade, around 2 million people have been killed, 6 million have been made refugees in their own country or forced to migrate to other countries. Threats and tension is felt in Iran, Turkey and North Korea, Ukraine, and many other parts of the world.  If one switches on TV or read or listen to News, it is all about War, Killings, Blasts, hate and suppressions. People are fed-up of bad news all the time. Everyone is suffering with mental torture. Geo-political situation is deteriorating rapidly. The world is less safe than few decades ago. Insecurity feelings are rising exponentially. What is new world order? On the name of World new order, we have made this world more hostile and fragile. Who is suffering, humanity! Who is the beneficiary, end of the day, no one will be winner.

United Nation General Assembly is busy in its 73rd session. Leaders from all over the world are meeting each other and making speeches one after another, but what will be the out-come or result?

United Nation was founded on 24 October 1945, just after the World War II, in replacement of League of Nations. Its head quarter is at New York, USA. The United Nations is an intergovernmental organization tasked to promote international co-operation and to create and maintain international order. The charter of UN was very well drafted and very comprehensive. Its charter was formulated on justice and equality. It was hard work of genius people.

But with the passage of time, it is losing its effectiveness and failed to maintain world order. Some nations became so strong that, they put aside the UN and act unilaterally. Some nations are so stubborn, that they violate UN charter openly and feel no guilt. Some countries are so feeling-less that the whole world condemned them but they keep criminal silence.

Should we stay calm and just became spectators and watch what so-ever will happen? Should we leave all the issues to our next generations to suffer? Should we close our eyes and do not acknowledge the issues? Can we escape? Can we be ignorant? Can be we so cruel to our kids and leave them to be humiliated?

I believe, it is time to think and raise our voice, and struggle for a better tomorrow, better tomorrow for everyone, better tomorrow for my kids, better tomorrow for your kids, better tomorrow for our next generation, better tomorrow for everyone. We should struggle to make our tomorrow better than our yesterday. Think positively, act smartly and be optimistic.

We demand, respect of the UN , we demand for implementation of UN charter, We demand for justice, We demand for equality, We demand for fair-practices, We demand respect for human kind, We demand for a stoppage of killing, we demand stoppage of violence, We demand for protection of weak, We demand for uniformity etc.

It is natural, when we live together, the differences may rise among us. It can be among individuals or nations. It is very much normal and was happening since ages. We quarrel with our kids, brothers and sisters, parents, spouse or friends, boss or subordinates or colleagues. It is understandable. But we live in a civilized world. There are mechanisms to resolve the differences. In our day to day life we are over-coming on many issues and resolve with each other. The same approach may be followed to resolve the differences or misunderstanding among nations. UN is the right platform, UN charter is the proper guidelines for resolving the issues. Diplomacy is the weapon of civilized world. We all must respect UN, and its charter and resolve all issue through peaceful manner and dialogue. No one should have the right to by-pass UN or impose its decisions unilaterally.

I suggest, the International Community may join hands and strengthen UN and implement its charter in true later and spirit. UN may investigate the history of almost 7 decades and point out all the violators and let them declare responsible for their wrong doings. Force them to rectify their mistakes, compensate their wrong doings. UN should strengthen to the extent that any country how strong it might be, should not dare to violate UN charter. Any sanctions without UN approval may be declared null and void. Any military action without UN approval may not be recognized and declared criminal acts. They must be punished for their heinous crimes and war like crimes.

Let us struggle to make this world a place of “Peace, Harmony, Justice, Equality and Prosper” place for our generations to come. We may sacrifice but our next generation may enjoy Peace, Harmony and Prosperity.

Continue Reading

Latest

Middle East4 hours ago

Middle East Instability to Overshadow Future Global Nuclear Nonproliferation Efforts

The Middle East fragile situation in which contradicting aspirations of states and non-states’ actors that are involved in shaping the...

Europe6 hours ago

EU-Republic of Korea Summit: Building on a well-established partnership

The 9th EU-Republic of Korea Summit took place on 19 October in Brussels. It marked the 55th anniversary of diplomatic...

Newsdesk7 hours ago

ADB Invests $25 Million in Private Equity Fund to Help Small Businesses in Southeast Asia

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed an agreement to provide a $25 million equity investment to Exacta Asia Investment II,...

Defense20 hours ago

US Air force : Competing with rivals or creating a new weaponry market?

US President Donald Trump has once again stressed the need for formation of US space force, reasoning that Russia and...

Africa21 hours ago

SADC-Russia’s economic cooperation: Strategies, challenges and future perspectives

In 1991, the globally recognized anti-western Soviet propaganda machine collapsed and disappeared. Russia and SADC Member States have had long-standing...

Middle East23 hours ago

Mohammed bin Salman: For better or for worse?

Embattled Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman could prove to be not only a cat with nine lives but also...

Newsdesk24 hours ago

Suzhou Forum Calls for Faster Energy Transformation for Better Lives and Prosperity

Senior government officials, business leaders and key players in the global energy sector met today at the Third International Forum...

Trending

Copyright © 2018 Modern Diplomacy