The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has warned of possible war crimes in the ongoing fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.
Michelle Bachelet on Monday expressed alarm at continuing indiscriminate attacks in populated areas in and around the border region, in contravention of international humanitarian law, despite a recent agreement by the two sides.
“Since the conflict reignited in September with the terrible consequences we are now seeing, there have been repeated calls, including by myself, for the parties to take all feasible steps to avoid, or at the very least minimize, the loss of civilian life and damage to civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals – as well as to distinguish civilians from combatants, and civilian objects from military objectives,” she said.
“International humanitarian law cannot be clearer. Attacks carried out in violation of the principle of distinction or the principle of proportionality may amount to war crimes, and the parties to the conflict are obliged to effectively, promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigate such violations and to prosecute those alleged to have committed them.”
Artillery strikes reported
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has persisted for more than three decades. The region has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces since the parties fought a war as the Soviet Union was dissolving.
The UN rights chief said despite an agreement reached on Friday by Armenia and Azerbaijan, which called for refraining from deliberately targeting civilian populations, artillery strikes against populated areas were reported over the weekend.
The Azerbaijani Government reported that since fighting resumed in September, at least 91 civilians have been killed in areas under its control, while the Armenian Government said 45 people have been killed in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, and two within its borders. The UN Human Rights Office, OHCHR, which Ms. Bachelet heads, has not been able to independently verify these figures.
Against cluster munitions
The UN rights chief also noted that the biggest loss of life occurred on 28 October, when some 21 people were reportedly killed, and 70 others injured, in a rocket attack on the Azerbaijani town of Barda, roughly 30 km from the area of active hostilities.
The rockets, allegedly fired by Armenian forces from Nagorno-Karabakh, reportedly carried cluster munitions.
“Amid deeply troubling reports that cluster munitions have been used by both parties, I call once again on Armenia and Azerbaijan to stop using them, and to join the more than 100 States that have ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions which comprehensively bans their use,” the High Commissioner said.
The conflict has also caused widespread displacement, and Ms. Bachelet urged the parties to “depoliticize the issue of providing human rights and humanitarian access” to affected areas, including by UN teams.
Concern over videos
The High Commissioner also expressed serious concern over videos which appear to show war crimes being committed.
Although she said fake images have been circulated on social media, in-depth investigations by media organizations have uncovered “compelling and deeply disturbing information” surrounding videos what appeared to show Azerbaijani troops summarily executing two captured Armenians in military uniforms.
The wilfiul killing of protected persons represents a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, the international treaty which established the standards for humanitarian treatment during war time.
Ms. Bachelet explained that while such an incident would constitute a war crime, only a competent court can determine and rule on this.
With the fighting taking place amid rising cases of COVID-19, the UN rights chief underscored the direct threat to public health, adding that “the fighting is also strikingly in opposition to the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire amid the pandemic.”
Ms. Bachelet reiterated her call for all parties to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, abiding by the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution, and avoiding the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
“As the loss of life continues and the suffering of civilians deepens, I appeal again for an immediate halt in the fighting and urge all parties to abide by a humanitarian ceasefire and engage in negotiations to find a peaceful and durable solution to this conflict that has wrought so much destruction in the region,” she said.
Uzbekistan’s Artel joins UN’s ‘Orange The World’ campaign against gender-based violence
Artel Electronics LLC (Artel), Central Asia’s largest home appliance and electronics manufacturer, has teamed up with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) on a public information campaign against gender-based violence.
The campaign is in line with the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which utilizes the color orange to symbolize a brighter future. Artel’s green branding turned orange for several days in advertising material throughout Uzbek capital Tashkent, and public figures made statements to raise awareness.
Artel joins an international movement that kicked off on 25th November and lasts for 16 days. Since 1991, it has been used by individuals and organizations to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.
This is the second year the company has ‘gone orange’. Artel Electronics HR Director, Lazizbek Mamatov, also took part in a panel discussion about Gender Equality in the Workplace hosted by the UNFPA at Westminster International University in Tashkent in line with the campaign.
Shohruh Ruzikulov, CEO of Artel, said “It is a privilege to once more work with the UN in raising awareness about the issue of Gender Based Violence. In Uzbekistan, this conversation is at a relatively young stage. We are proud to stand against domestic violence and continue Artel’s work in all areas to contribute to a better society.”
Mr. Yu Yu, Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund, said “We are delighted to partner with a company like Artel on such an important issue. The public reach of the private sector is vital in ensuring our message to stand against domestic violence can be heard across all segments of society. We are grateful to Artel for taking leadership on this important issue in Uzbekistan. Together, we can make the change.”
The true rate of domestic violence in Uzbekistan is not known. However, the government alongside diplomatic partners and aid organizations are prioritizing the issue. In recent years the Presidential Administration has issued decrees targeted at domestic violence prevention, the government has adopted laws guaranteeing equal rights for women, and funding has been provided for information campaigns and rehabilitation centers.
Support for this campaign is just one of Artel’s initiatives to support women’s empowerment. Internally, the company has introduced whistle-blowing mechanisms, and is implementing an internal legal clinic to improve the legal literacy of employees. Over the last year, the proportion of women in the company’s 10,000 employees has risen by 5%, to 35%. The global average for the manufacturing industry is thought to be around 30%.
In 2021, Artel became a full participant of the UN Global Compact (UNGC), the world’s largest business community focused on sustainable development. In doing so, the company committed to promoting ten principles covering human rights, labor rights and environmental protection.
Douglas Macgregor: ‘Russia will establish Victory on its own terms’
The Biden administration repeatedly commits the unpardonable sin in a democratic society of refusing to tell the American people the truth: contrary to the Western media’s popular “Ukrainian victory” narrative, which blocks any information that contradicts it, Ukraine is not winning and will not win this war, notes in his new article Douglas Macgregor, Col. (ret.), who was the former advisor to the Secretary of Defense in the Trump administration.
Months of heavy Ukrainian casualties, resulting from an endless series of pointless attacks against Russian defenses in Southern Ukraine, have dangerously weakened Ukrainian forces.
Predictably, NATO’s European members, which bear the brunt of the war’s impact on their societies and economies, are growing more disenchanted with Washington’s Ukrainian proxy war.
European populations are openly questioning the veracity of claims in the press about the Russian state and American aims in Europe.
The influx of millions of refugees from Ukraine, along with a combination of trade disputes, profiteering from U.S. arms sales, and high energy prices risks turning European public opinion against both Washington’s war and NATO.
After concluding that the underpinning assumptions regarding Washington’s readiness to negotiate and compromise were invalid, Putin directed the STAVKA to develop new operational plans with new goals:
– first, to crush the Ukrainian enemy;
– second, to remove any doubt in Washington and European capitаls that Russia will establish Victory on its own terms;
– and, third, to create a new territorial Status Quo commensurate with Russia’s national security needs.
It is now possible to project that the new Russian armed forces that will evolve from the crucible of war in Ukraine will be designed to execute strategically decisive operations.
The new military establishment will consist of much larger forces-in-being that can conduct decisive operations on relatively short notice with minimal reinforcement and preparation.
Put differently, by the time the conflict ends, it appears Washington will have prompted the Russian State to build up its military power, the very opposite of the fatal weakening that Washington intended when it embarked on its course of military confrontation with Moscow.
Biden’s “take no prisoners” conduct of U.S. foreign policy means the outcome of the next phase of the Ukrainian War will not only destroy the Ukrainian state. It will also demolish the last vestiges of the postwar liberal order and produce a dramatic shift in power and influence across Europe, especially in Berlin, away from Washington to Moscow and, to a limited extent, to Beijing, writes Douglas Macgregor.
Politicians and journalists targeted by spyware to testify at Council of Europe parliamentary hearing in Paris
Politicians and journalists from Poland, Spain and Greece who have been targeted by the Pegasus or similar spyware are to give testimony at a public hearing of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Paris on 12 December 2022, to be live-streamed in English.
The hearing, organised by PACE’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, will focus on the role played by spyware in secret state surveillance, as part of a report on this topic being prepared for the Assembly by Pieter Omtzigt (Netherlands, EPP/CD).
- Krzysztof Brejza, a member of the Polish Sejm from the opposition Civic Platform party, and a former member of PACE (accompanied by his lawyer, Dorota Brejza).
- Diana Riba, a Spanish member of the European Parliament from Catalonia’s Republican Left Party, and Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s committee of inquiry which is also currently investigating the use of Pegasus and similar spyware.
- Thanasis Koukakis, an investigative journalist from Greece specialising in financial affairs, who has reported on corruption and money laundering (via teleconference).
In two earlier hearings, the committee heard from journalists who first revealed the spyware surveillance, as well as data protection and legal experts, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In an April 2022 introductory memorandum, Mr Omtzigt listed the different Council of Europe member states where it is alleged Pegasus has been used, those individuals targeted, and the different national inquiries into its use that have been launched, as well as international reaction so far.
He concluded that the use of this software had “serious implications” for the human rights of those targeted, and questioned whether its use on journalists, lawyers, politicians and human rights activists could be justified on national security grounds or to investigate crime.
Mr Omtzigt’s final report is due for possible plenary debate by PACE in June 2023. The Assembly, which brings together 306 parliamentarians from the 46 member states of the Council of Europe, has powers to investigate human rights abuses in member states and make recommendations to Council of Europe governments.
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