Weekly News Recap (12-18 Oct 2020)

Photo by UN Geneva via Flickr




International Court of Justice:  Appointment of four experts in the case of DRC v. Uganda

On 12 October, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), following its order of 8 September 2020, appointed four experts to give their opinions regarding the damage alleged by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Based on the Judgment of the ICJ from 2005, Uganda caused injury in the DRC by violations of the principles of non-use of force and of non-intervention, and the DRC caused injury to Uganda by violations of obligations from 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. In 2015, the DRC submitted to the ICJ a request to determine the amount of reparations owed by Uganda to the DRC. The Court decided that the decision on the reparations for the alleged damage including the loss of human life, the loss of natural resources and property damage, shall depend on the expert opinion of four independent experts.


European Court of Human Rights upholds the decision on indication of an interim measure in the case Armenia v. Turkey

On 14 October, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) announced its decision to uphold the interim measure indicated on 6 October 2020. Following the indication of an interim measure, the government of Turkey requested on 7 October 2020, that the Court reconsiders its decision and lifts the interim measure. The ECtHR’s indication remained in place after the examination of the objections expressed by the Turkish government and taking into account the serious and rising nature of the conflict. On these grounds, the Court did not find any reason to amend its decision or to lift any part of the indicated interim measure.


European Court of Human Rights rules on the expulsion of Pakistani nationals suspected of terrorism

On 15 October, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights decided that there had been a violation of procedural safeguards related to the expulsion of aliens in the case Muhammad and Muhammad v. Romania. The case concerns Pakistani nationals living lawfully in Romania who were declared undesirable and deported. The Grand Chamber found that the applicants had received only very general information about the legal characterisation of the accusations against them. In addition, none of their specific acts which allegedly endangered national security could be seen from the file.



The Council of the EU: Conclusions on the Belarus developments

On 12 October, Council of the EU restated that “9 August presidential elections were neither free nor fair” and questioned Aleksandr Lukashenko’s democratic legitimacy. It also called for the release of arbitrarily detained citizens, and expressed an intent to diminish its bilateral cooperation with the Belarus government. There have been already restrictive measures imposed on 40 people found responsible for the questionable legitimacy of the election and rise of violence at peaceful protests. Furthermore, the EU has allocated financial resources for “victims of violence, civil society organisations and independent media” and calls for the authorities to start a national dialogue and support a democratic transition. The situation worsened during the week, as on Friday, 16 October 2020, the authorities issued an arrest warrant against the exiled opposition figure Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, which was followed by protests on Saturday 17 October 2020 and violent detentions of protesters by police.



The Council of the EU: Sanctions imposed on Nicaragua for undermining human rights and democracy

On 12 October, the Council extended the current restrictive measures until the 15 October 2021. This framework was first introduced in October 2019, in response to the repression of the opposition and civil society present since April 2018. The targeted six individuals on the list were selected in regard to their lack of respect for human rights, as well as undermining democracy and the rule of law. The deterioration of the situation remains a central concern for the EU, which called for the Nicaraguan government to stop its repression and abide to the March 2019 agreement with its opposition. These are comprised of the “re-establishment of civil and political rights and guarantees, the liberation of the remaining political prisoners and the dropping of all charges against them, the return of international human rights bodies to Nicaragua and an agreement on electoral and institutional reforms between the government and the opposition […] with the aim of guaranteeing credible, inclusive and transparent elections in 2021”.


The Council of the EU: Extension of the regime for chemical weapons to support the Chemical Weapons Convention

On 12 October, Council of the EU reached a decision regarding its regime on restrictive measures imposed on actors involved in the production and use of chemical weapons. It will be extended for a year, until the 16 October 2021. Its objective is to “counter the proliferation and use of chemical weapons”, following the conclusions of the European Council from 28 June 2018. These measures currently target nine individuals and one entity, respectively linked to the Syrian regime and the Salisbury attack, and the Scientific Studies and Research Centre – which is a Syrian chemical weapon factory. The restrictions consist of a ban on travel to the EU and an asset freeze, as well as an interdiction for European actors to provide resources.


Election of the UN Human Rights Council’s members

On 13 October, the UN General Assembly elected by secret ballot 15 members to serve three-year terms beginning on 1 January 2021, namely Bolivia, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, France, Gabon, Malawi, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Senegal, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uzbekistan. The membership is based on equitable geographical distribution. Concerns were expressed that electing members with a track record of human rights violations damages the credibility of the UN.



High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy: Varosha negotiations in the Cyprus presidential election

On 13 October, the EU expressed an opposition to the opening of the previously fenced section of Varosha by Ankara. The section was opened on 8 October, despite several warnings by the EU and against the UN Security Council Resolutions 550 (1984) and 789 (1992). In regard to this, the EU was concerned by Turkey’s non-compliance and remained committed to “full respect of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions”, also calling for a reversal of Ankara’s decisions. The UN and EU support both Cyprus and Turkey in resuming the negotiations. In the context of the second round of voting in the presidential election which took place on 18 October 2020, Ankara is interested in using the opening of Varosha to support its candidate, Tatar, to establish a two-state Cyprus.



United Nations: Thousand displaced in conflicts in Afghanistan

On 13 October, thousands of civilians were displaced during the clashes between security forces and Taliban forces in the province of Helmand (Afghanistan). The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) revealed that 500 people were internally displaced, while the local authorities stated that 35 000 have fled the conflict. It is reported that 200 individuals had been killed or injured. The provision of health services in the region was also interrupted, as the clashes took place in several districts of Helmand – including near the provincial capital Lashkargah and parts of the Kandahar province. More so, improvised explosive devices blocked the highway between the two provinces. The UN Assistance Mission in the country (UNAMA) urged the belligerents to protect the civilians and provide them a safe path if they wanted to leave.


Statement from the General Secretariat of the Organisation of American States on the situation in Nicaragua

On 15 October, the General Secretariat of the Organisation of American States issued a statement on discussions with the members of the civil society and the issue of violations of human rights in Nicaragua.

The Statement addresses the issues of ill-treatments of political prisoners and violations of their human rights, including their trial rights. Subsequently, the General Secretariat urges the government of Nicaragua to restore the normality of the constitutional order, respecting the separation of powers, public liberties and the rule of law, while complying with its international obligations in the matter.


Russia walks away from the trilateral consultations on the MH17 plane crash

On 15 October, Russia issued a statement on discontinued participation in trilateral consultations with Australia and the Netherlands on the MH17 plane crash. Russia stated that it supported the independent investigation of the plane crash which was foreseen in the UN Security Council Resolution 2166. However, according to the statement, Russia perceived the investigation that has taken place to be biased and geared towards establishing Russia’s responsibility for the incident. The final push that led to walk away from the consultations was the interstate complaint against Russia filed with the European Court of Human Rights by the Netherlands in July.



ICRC transported home more than 1000 former detainees from Yemen conflict

On 15 and 16 October, the ICRC operated 11 flights into and out of Yemen and Saudi Arabia to transport 1056 detainees back to their region of origin or country of origin. The detainee release is the largest operation that the ICRC has been involved within the five and half year Yemen conflict. The former detainees were provided with clothes, hygiene material and money for the final trip home. These releases are the results of talks in Montreux, Switzerland, which built upon the works of the Stockholm Agreement in late 2018. 


The Council of the EU: Sanctions imposed on Syrian Ministers

On 16 October, the Council of the EU decided to impose targeted restrictive measures on seven Ministers in Syria, bringing the total of sanctioned individuals to 280, as well as 70 entities. Introduced in 2011, the measures consist of a travel ban and assets freeze, as a measure of retorsion against the repression of the Syrian population. It targets individuals and entities benefitting from the war and from their ties with the regime, by monitoring imports and exports of key goods and controlling certain investments. The EU is nonetheless committed to a “lasting and credible political solution to the conflict”, following the UN Security Council resolution 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué. All the concerned individuals and companies are listed in the Official Journal, and the sanctions’ prolongation is discussed by the Council every year.


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