©Photo by Omar Chatriwala
- ECtHR: A Violation of Freedom of Expression in a Case Concerning a Conviction for Spitting on Portrait of President Putin
- ICC: NGOs File Motion with ICC Regarding the Role of Maltese Officials in Alleged War Crimes
- ECtHR: A Violation of Right to a Fair Trial and Right to Legal Assistance of Own Choosing During Questioning by the Police in Spain
- ECtHR: A Violation of Right to a Fair Trial and Right to Obtain Attendance and Examination of Witnesses in a Terrorism Trial in Turkey
- UK: London-Based Law Firm Requests Police to Investigate Indian Officials’ Role in Kashmir
- ICC: Maduro’s Government Given Three Months by ICC Prosecutor to Respond to Allegations of Crimes Against Humanity
- Germany: Trial of Syrian Doctor Charged with Crimes Against Humanity Commences in Frankfurt
- ICC: The Opening of the 2022 Judicial Year
- ECtHR: No Violation of the Convention in a Case Concerning a Conviction for War Crimes on the Basis of of Command Responsibility
- Venezuela: Rise of Extrajudicial Executions for “Resistance To Authorities”
- FAO: $ 138 Million Response Plan Appeal Launched in Africa to Avoid Hunger Crisis
- ILO: Deepening Poverty and Inequalities in Times of COVID-19 lead to ‘Slow’ Labour Market Recovery
- Afghanistan: Taliban Thwarts Afghan Women’s Rights Protest
- CAAC: UN Mandate to Protect Children Caught in Conflict Reaches 25 Year Milestone
- UNRWA: Appeal for $ 1.6 Billion Made by the Agency to Assist Palestinian Refugees
- UN: Action Required to Address Ongoing Deterioration of the Situation in Occupied Palestinian Territory
- UN: Efforts to End Conflict in Ethiopia Applauded by UN Secretary-General
- UNRWA: Destruction of Palestinian Home in East Jerusalem Condemned
- UN: Secretary-General Called for Greater Incorporation of Young Persons in Peace Processes
- UN: Colombia’s Peace Accord in Need of Enhanced Implementations
- ICRC: Increasing Injuries and Deaths in Yemen a Cause for Concern
INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION
ECtHR: A Violation of Freedom of Expression in a Case Concerning a Conviction for Spitting on Portrait of President Putin
On 18 January 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in the case of Karuyev v. Russia that there had been a violation of freedom of expression. The case concerned the applicant’s conviction for spitting on a portrait of Russian President Putin in 2012, in the wake of his re-election. The applicant had been convicted of a breach of public order and sentenced to 15 days of detention. The Court found that spitting on the portrait of President Putin had been an expression of his political opinion and had not led to any public disturbance. Thus the performance of the applicant’s expression had essentially been peaceful and the applicant’s prosecution had not had a clear and foreseeable basis in domestic law and his conviction had not been prescribed by law, as required by the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
ICC: NGOs File Motion with ICC Regarding the Role of Maltese Officials in Alleged War Crimes
On 18 January 2022, a communication was filed with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Netherlands by three NGOs, namely, Dutch NGO UpRights, France’s Adala for Al and Italy’s StraLi. Collectively, these organisations have alleged that Maltese officials were responsible for helping Libyan Coast Guards with the return of migrants who were attempting to arrive by Sea. The communication calls for the ICC to investigate a number of individuals, such as former OPM envoy Neville Gafà. The NGOs have attested to Mr Gafà’s involvement in the pushing back of boats filled with migrants to Libya where they were transferred to detention centres. Migrants, whilst in these detention centres, were subjected to a range of inhumane acts such as torture, rape, forced labour, and abuse. The collaboration between Italian, Maltese and Libyan Coast Guards has so far been treated as a ‘pocket of immunity’, with many unaware of what happened to migrants once they were sent to detention centres or with European countries outright choosing to ignore the evidence before them. The aforementioned NGOs argued that those involved must be held accountable in accordance with Articles 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute, i.e., those governing war crimes and crimes against humanity.
ECtHR: A Violation of Right to a Fair Trial and Right to Legal Assistance of Own Choosing During Questioning by the Police in Spain
On 18 January 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) unanimously held that there had been a violation of the right to a fair trial and the right to legal assistance of own choosing protected under the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the case concerning the applicant’s pre-trial detention when the applicant was questioned by the police without a lawyer present, making self-incriminating statements. These statements had formed part of the reasons for his conviction for terrorism offences. The procedural errors committed during pre-trial proceedings without giving individualised reasons had undermined the fairness of the subsequent criminal proceedings in so far as the applicant’s incriminating initial statement was admitted in evidence. The absence of remedial measures during the trial had irretrievably prejudiced his defence rights.
ECtHR: A Violation of Right to a Fair Trial and Right to Obtain Attendance and Examination of Witnesses in a Terrorism Trial in Turkey
On 18 January 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) unanimously held that there had been a violation of the right to a fair trial and the right to obtain attendance and examination of witnesses protected under the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in a case concerning the applicant’s trial on terrorism-related charges related to the alleged involvement in an armed attack on a police checkpoint in 1997. The Court found in particular that examining witnesses in other jurisdictions could not be considered an adequate method of ensuring a fair trial in the circumstances of the present case. The absence of the four witnesses from the trial, the lack of a confrontation between them and the applicant, and the use by the court of their evidence as the cornerstone of his conviction and life sentence without the necessary procedural safeguards, had substantially hindered the defence in testing the reliability of their evidence and had, in the circumstances of the present case, tainted the overall fairness of the proceedings.
UK: London-Based Law Firm Requests Police to Investigate Indian Officials’ Role in Kashmir
On 19 January 2022, a request to investigate the role of Indian officials in alleged war crimes in Kashmir was forwarded to British police by a London-based law Firm called Stoke White. The law firm based its application on the grounds of universal jurisdiction and has proceeded to submit ‘…extensive evidence to the Metropolitan Police’s War Crimes Unit…documenting how Indian forces headed by General Manoj Mukund Naravane and Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah were responsible for the torture, kidnapping and killing of activists, journalists and civilians – particularly Muslim – in the region.’ It has been reported that eight senior Indian military officials have been identified as being involved in war crimes and torture committed in the region. These allegations are based on ‘more than 2,000 testimonies’ obtained during 2020 and 2021. The Director of International Law at Stoke White Hakan Camuz expressed hope that the report would provide enough material for British police to take action. Mr Camuz noted that he and his firm are ‘asking the UK government to do their duty and investigate and arrest them for what they did based on the evidence we supplied to them. We want them to be held accountable.’
ICC: Maduro’s Government Given Three Months by ICC Prosecutor to Respond to Allegations of Crimes Against Humanity
On 19 January 2022, it was reported that International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan QC granted the Venezuelan government an extension of three months to respond to allegations of crimes against humanity stemming from human rights abuses in the region. In the motion filed on 17 January 2022, Prosecutor Khan stated that his decision to provide the extension was based on the ‘spirit of cooperation, dialogue and fairness.’ This extension will also permit the Prosecutor to meet personally with government officials and open up a dialogue regarding procedural matters and other ongoing issues. Since 2017, the Venezuelan government has responded to demands for justice issued by the international community by arresting over 150 police and military personnel for the violation(s) of human rights. However, opposition parties have argued that this is simply showcasing the false realities of the judicial system in Venezuela as there seems to be a lack of any real change following the arrests.
Germany: Trial of Syrian Doctor Charged with Crimes Against Humanity Commences in Frankfurt
On 19 January 2022, the trial against Syrian Doctor Alaa Mousa, aged 36, began in Frankfurt, Germany, in the regional courts. Dr. Mousa has been charged with approximately 18 counts of crimes against humanity, including torture and murder, which were allegedly committed during 2011 and 2012 when he worked at Syrian regime military hospitals. The doctor has been ‘accused of kicking and punching detainees in the head, torso and groin, and operating on someone without sufficient anaesthetic.’ Additionally, according to Prosecutors, he is alleged to have restrained and injected one man with a substance that ultimately killed him (the man was believed to have protested against a beating). The Legal Director of the Syria Justice and Accountability Center in Washington D.C., Roger Lu Phillips, expects that the trial will provide further insight into the abuses committed by the Syrian government throughout the conflict, in particular, with a focus placed on ‘mistreatment in the medical system.’ Furthermore, the Director of the International Research and Documentation for War Crimes at the University of Marburg in Germany, Stefanie Bock, stated that the trials would send ‘a clear signal’ to the international community ‘…that Germany takes this fight against impunity very serious and it will continue to commit itself to the international criminal justice system.’
ICC: The Opening of the 2022 Judicial Year
On 20 January 2022, the International Criminal Court (ICC) hosted a hearing to celebrate the opening of the judicial year where current President of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova gave the keynote speech. In light of the current circumstances several ICC judges, judges from international, regional and national courts, chief justices from Member States and practitioners joined the hearing virtually. However, there were also a number of important figures present in person such as the ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan QC., ICC Registrar Peter Lewis and current ICC President Judge Piotr Hofmanski. Judge Hofmanski stated that whilst this event ‘underlines that the ICC is a Court, an independent judicial body’ it also serves as ‘an occasion to stop for a moment, to take a brief look back, but even more importantly, to focus our minds on the work that awaits us in the New Year.’ Similarly, Prosecutor Khan QC highlighted the importance of upholding these traditions, by means of ceremonial practice, in order to remember our international responsibility to further the cause of international criminal justice.
ECtHR: No Violation of the Convention in a Case Concerning a Conviction for War Crimes on the Basis of of Command Responsibility
On 20 January 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) unanimously ruled that there had been no violation of Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the case of Milanković v. Croatia. The case concerned the applicant’s conviction for war crimes, perpetrated by the police units under his command, against the Serbian civilian population and a prisoner of war, on the territory of Croatia between mid-August 1991 and mid-June 1992. The applicant argued that the domestic courts had applied the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, whereas the events had taken place before the Croatian independence, thus during a non-international armed conflict. The Court found that the the conviction for war crimes on the basis of command responsibility had, at the time of the respective events, a sufficient legal basis in customary international law applicable also to non-international armed conflicts. Hence the applicant should have known that his failure to prevent war crimes from being committed by the police units under his command would result in criminal responsibility. Lastly, the Court noted that this conclusion applies regardless of whether those crimes were committed before or after the war in Croatia in the early 1990s became an international armed conflict.
INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION
Venezuela: Rise of Extrajudicial Executions for “Resistance To Authorities”
On 17 January 2022, Spanish newspaper El Pais shed light on the increase of extrajudicial executions occurring in poor neighbourhoods in Venezuela. According to NGO Control Ciudadano, security forces had murdered 27 individuals so far, with numbers continuing to increase. Liliana Ortega, Lawyer and Director of Cofavic (an NGO) expressed her concern, stating, that ‘now we are not only seeing extrajudicial executions due to a disproportionate use of public force, we are facing systematized patterns linked to the purpose of generating social control in popular areas of urban areas.’ The ultimate goal being to have part of region under the control of Maduro’s government. Similar reports show that civil servants make regular visits to certain neighbourhoods where they threaten people by randomly killing and torturing men. The police continue to infiltrate poor neighbourhoods in the region and commit violations knowing that citizens are too scared to seek justice, as they are aware of the corruption and of the fact that they are being watched. According to the Monitor on the Use of Legal Force in Latin America, by 2019, Venezuela had become one of the most violent countries on the list due to a growing number of civilians killed by police agents. Ms. Ortega notes that attention must be drawn to these ongoing incidents as they are acts against humanity; they are systematic attacks aimed directly at citizens (i.e., a specific population). Furthermore, she notes that if not resolved, the violence in the region will continue to have an impact on future generations.
FAO: $ 138 Million Response Plan Appeal Launched in Africa to Avoid Hunger Crisis
On 17 January 2022, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched a comprehensive response plan in order to assist rural communities affected by the ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa. The third consecutive year of poor rains in the region has resulted in major threats to food security in countries already dealing with the impacts of ‘natural resource limitations and conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, and locust invasions.’ FAO stated that by the end of February, $130 million would be needed in order to provide urgent assistance to the three countries who are suffering (and who have been impacted) the most, i.e., Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. ‘Projections indicate that around 25.3 million people will face “high acute food insecurity” by the middle of the year.’ If this were to occur, then the situation in Horn of Africa would be categorised as one of the world’s ‘largest-scale food crises.’ The FAO aims to devote 1.5 million in the form of water and seeds to the three aforementioned countries who are most at risk. The agency seeks to organise the provision of ‘pre-planting land-ploughing services and access to irrigation, as well as training on good agricultural practices.’ The plan also includes the option for ‘able-bodied households’ to earn extra income by assisting with a range of agricultural tasks. For example, the FAO intends to put a call out for equipment such as boats which can assist in the training of people living in coastal areas so they are able to fish etc. The rationale being that this will allow these people to ‘…secure a new and much-needed source of nutrition, building on existing programmes to promote the diversification of livelihoods in the country.’ The FAO noted that with the full amount they are seeking, by the first half of 2022, they would have been able to produce ‘90 million litres of milk and up to 40,000 tones of staple food crops… putting over one million highly food insecure people on a safe footing for at least six months.’
ILO: Deepening Poverty and Inequalities in Times of COVID-19 lead to ‘Slow’ Labour Market Recovery
On 17 January 2022, the International Labour Organization (ILO) in a report entitled ‘World Employment and Social Outlook Trends 2022 (WESO Trends)’, amended its predictions for the labour market in 2022. The organisation predicted an ongoing ‘major deficit’ due to the contrast in working hours when compared to those before the pandemic. According to ILO Director-General Guy Ryder, ‘two years into this crisis, the outlook remains fragile and the path to recovery is low and uncertain.’ The ILO report focuses on 2022 and 2023 and examines global labour market recovery. In particular, it hones in on the approaches taken to ‘pandemic recovery’ and the impact of these approaches on various ‘groups of workers and economic sectors.’ Both the ILO and the World Employment and Social Outlook Trends have identified that there could be ‘potentially lasting damage’ as several individuals have left the work force leaving the impact on employment far more significant than identified in the raw data. As a consequence, in 2022, the participation rate of the labour force is estimated to remain ‘1.2 percentage points below that of 2019.’ The report also highlights the impact of the crisis on deepened inequalities between States, citing the ‘weakening of the economic, financial and social fabric of almost every State, regardless of development status.’ The ILO noted a difference in the form of ‘recovery patterns, which seem to correlate with the containment of coronavirus.’ With the key data in mind, the report offered policy recommendations designed to create a ‘fully inclusive, human-centred crisis recovery at both national and international levels.’
Afghanistan: Taliban Thwarts Afghan Women’s Rights Protest
On 18 January 2022, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that the Taliban had employed threatening measures in order to prevent a women’s right protest organised in Kabul from going ahead. The protest, which took place on January 16th, had been organised by a group of women who have been demanding justice. HRW noted that since August 15th, 2021, the Taliban have rescinded the rights of women and girls ‘including blocking access to education and employment for many.’ Measures used by the Taliban (to ensure that the protest was disrupted) included shouting insults and threats whilst pointing firearms at protestors. Additionally, there was the use of electrical devices to shock individuals and chemical substance sprayed on protestors, which led to ‘sever irritation of their skin, eyes and respiratory tract.’ Several individuals ran away once they spotted the Taliban, some made it to safe shelter at the nearby Kabul University. Other individuals reported being followed on their way home after attempting to join the march. The United Nations ‘Guidance on Less-Lethal Weapon in Law Enforcement’ provides some clarity of this issue stating that tactics of this kind should not be employed in situations ‘of purely passive resistance to orders from officials.
CAAC: UN Mandate to Protect Children Caught in Conflict Reaches 25 Year Milestone
On 18 January 2022, UN Secretary-General António Guterres and other senior officials reflected on the 25th anniversary of the UN Mandate on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) which has had a significant impact throughout the years. CAAC has facilitated the release of ‘more than 170,000 children’ (both girls and boys) who had been recruited as soldiers/to fight. Mr. Guterres drew attention to the numerous declarations and plans adopted by warring parties during this time which have also contributed to the number of saved lives. However, he also called upon the international community to continue doing their part whilst remarking that ‘children are still in harm’s way. Peace in short supply. Cycles of violence and despair won’t stop automatically.’ The UN Office on Children and Armed Conflict utilised the anniversary as an opportunity to produce a report reflecting on the office’s success as well as the existing gaps and problems in the field. Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba, stated that the report provides a way forward for States to participate in facilitating enhanced protection at the domestic and international level. Ms Gamba noted that ‘the CAAC mandate requires us to be proactive, and not solely reactive, to break the cycles of violence that continue to harm children daily. It obliges us to also work towards preventing these violations before they occur.’
UNRWA: Appeal for $ 1.6 Billion Made by the Agency to Assist Palestinian Refugees
On 18 January 2022, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) issued an appeal for $1.6 billion dollars due to ‘chronic funding shortfalls’ in order to facilitate its ongoing work amidst the Israel-Palestine crisis. According to the budget proposal for 2022, these funds would be used to remedy humanitarian crises in various areas, namely, Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, and Lebanon. UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini, noted that the agency’s capacity would be seriously undermined without these funds. He stated that ‘the international community recognizes the lifesaving role of UNRWA and its indefensible contribution to stability in the Middle East. It also recognizes how cost-efficient and agile UNRWA is. In 2022, that recognition must be supported by the adequate level of funding to meet this critical moment for Palestine refugees.’ Currently there are approximately ‘2.3 million Palestinian refugees’ being subjected to poverty which has been heightened by the ongoing pandemic. In order to be able to provide much needed assistance the UNRWA has undergone organisational and pragmatic reform. The agency has already provided ‘$31.2 million in microfinance loans’ and through improving refugee camps in an effort to break the ‘cycle of despair’ currently being experienced by refugees. Mr Lazzarini emphasized that this is the time for the international community to step up, stating that ‘the amount that UNRWA is requesting for 2022 will directly contribute to the wellbeing of Palestine refugees, to efforts to combat and contain COVID-19 and to regional stability.’
UN: Action Required to Address Ongoing Deterioration of the Situation in Occupied Palestinian Territory
On 19 January 2022, the UN Envoy dedicated to the Middle East identified the need for urgent action in order to address the worsening ‘economic, security and political situation’ in occupied Palestinian territory. UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, noted the Palestinian Authority is facing a dire financial situation which threatens its future. Mr Wennesland emphasized the importance of implementing effective measures in order to address the conflict, stating that ‘unilateral steps and conflict drivers must stop. Political and economic reforms must be implemented to ensure the PA’s continued ability to function effectively, while boosting donor confidence and support. Above all, effort by the parties and the international community to stabilize and improve conditions on the ground should be linked to a political framework.’ Furthermore, he encouraged the continued engagement between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Defence Minsiter Benny Gantz who met in late December to update the registrations of approximately ‘9,500 Palestinians’ who were located in the West Bank and Gaza areas (these parties were also encouraged to continue cooperating with the UN forces in the area). Mr Wennesland underlined the importance of coordinating approaches in order to achieve a peace process that would be efficient in addressing existing obstacles whilst also reaching political consensus and lead to the uniting of ‘Gaza and the occupied West Bank under one legitimate, democratic Palestinian authority.’ Though, solutions produced with the aim of achieving a ‘two-State solution’ must adhere to existing agreements, UN resolutions and international law frameworks.
UN: Efforts to End Conflict in Ethiopia Applauded by UN Secretary-General
On 19 January 2022, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, expressed his delight at the efforts currently underway to achieve peace in Ethiopia in light of the ongoing conflict which began in Tigray in November 2020. The Spokesperson of the Secretary-General and the African Union High Representative for the Horn of Africa H.E Mr Olusegun Obasanjo, engaged in a conversation (via telephone) to discuss how the conflict was continuing to impact the country. The representative (who is also the former Nigerian President) ‘expressed optimism that there is now a real opportunity for political and diplomatic resolution of the conflict.’ The UN Secretary-General noted that whilst this ‘optimism’ marked progress, that ‘ongoing military operations remain a challenge to the peace process and sour the confidence building measures that we hope are being taken by all parties in the conflict.’ With this in mind, he continued by stating that the UN is ‘ready to support an all-inclusive and nationally owned dialogue, peace, security and reconciliation process in Ethiopia.’ Since the conflict began thousands have died and approximately ‘two million’ have been forced to migrate elsewhere. In light of ongoing human rights abuses, a humanitarian situation has arisen in the area with ‘9.4 million people’ believed to be in need of urgent food assistance. Unfortunately, the World Food Programme has been forced to suspend all ongoing operations until hostilities cease and funding improves. The UN Secretary-General has issued a call for ‘all actors in the conflict to support and facilitate local and international efforts to provide humanitarian aid.’
UNRWA: Destruction of Palestinian Home in East Jerusalem Condemned
On 20 January 2022, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) called upon Israeli forces in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to cease ongoing evictions and demolitions. This call was made after it had come to light that several structures had been torn down and that a family had been evicted from their two homes during the middle of the night. During the eviction certain relatives were arrested and family members suffered various injuries. UNRWA staff who attended the scene found ‘total destruction of the property, with school bags, clothes and family photos still partially visible beneath the rubble.’ The abovementioned family had been residing in the Sheikh Jarrah area for approximately 40 years. The agency utilised this opportunity to emphasize that ‘under international humanitarian law, the forcible transfer of protected persons, as well as the destruction of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons by Israel, as the occupying power, is strictly forbidden, except where such measures would be rendered absolutely necessary by imperative military reasons, or for the security of the population under occupation.’ Despite existing frameworks, that agency highlighted that these kinds of events were a sad reality for approximately 200 people (including children) living in different areas within Sheikh Jarrah. Similar statistics can be found in the situation in East Jerusalem where approximately ‘218 Palestinian households are at risk of displacement by the Israeli authorities’ with these households comprising ‘some 970 people, including 424 children.’ The agency reinforced the right of individuals to have access to ‘safe and secure housing’ and to live in a society with ‘peace and dignity.’ UNRWA, alongside two other UN agencies monitoring developments in the region, also called for the release of children who were minors (i.e., under the age of 18) when they were initially detained. In particular, they have called upon Israel to release Amal Nakhleh who is (now) 18 and has a rare neuromuscular disorder. Lawyers and family members have not been given any information regarding Mr. Nakhleh’s arrest or detention (which has been going on for just over a year now). Though the outcomes of these calls for action remain to be seen as the situation continues to unfold.
UN: Secretary-General Called for Greater Incorporation of Young Persons in Peace Processes
On 20 January 2022, during the High-Level Global Conference on Youth-Inclusive Peace Processes, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres encouraged the international community to facilitate the participation of young peacebuilders, particularly in relation to women who felt that their presence was not welcomed nor respected. Mr Guterres stated that ‘we need to ensure that young people have a seat at the table – forging inclusive solutions that combine peace and security, sustainable development and human rights.’ He then continued by outlining various examples of UN support in this area, such as through the Peacebuilding Commission, but noted that more resources need to be made available in order to support and further develop such initiatives. In 2021, the Peacebuilding Fund provided almost $26 million to finance a number of projects in conjunction with civil society sectors directly working on ‘youth, peace and security’ issues. Mr Guterres also announced the launch of the ‘Youth in Politics’ toolbox which will take the form of an index which tracks ‘the opening of political space in countries around the world that younger generations are so clearly demanding.’ He offered his congratulations and support to the groups of youths who were already voicing their concerns on various issues such as responses to COVID-19 and climate change. Ultimately, the conference resulted in the creation of two key documents, one of which outlined a strategy for implementing ‘Youth-Inclusive Peace Processes’ over the course of five years. At the conclusion of the conference, Mr Guterres reemphasized the potential for young individuals to act as ‘powerful agents for change’ and to assist with the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, stating that ‘you can count on the United Nations to continue to amplify young people’s voices and support your efforts towards a peaceful, sustainable and inclusive future.’
UN: Colombia’s Peace Accord in Need of Enhanced Implementations
On 20 January 2022, UN Special Representative for Colombia and Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia Carlos Ruiz Massieu, noted that country’s peace accord was ‘setting down even deeper roots’ but that in light of upcoming Congressional elections support would be needed to ensure peaceful political reintegration is achieved. The representative noted that for the first time elections will consist of 16 representatives from ‘special transitional electoral districts for peace which were established in 2021 and stipulated under the 2016 agreement to promote participation of historically excluded populations in conflict-affected areas.’ In addition to these representatives there are also approximately 400 candidates ‘running to make the voices of regions historically affected by poverty and conflict heard’, all of which have been victims of the conflict. In light of the peace agreement the special representative stated that there was no longer any excuse or justification for violence in the region. However, there are still ongoing tensions and killings occurring throughout the region, as whilst approximately 13,000 ex-combatants had been reintegrated many still face rejection within their own communities. Former combatant Luz Marina Giraldo stated that ‘stigmatization, polarization and discrimination have prevented the fulfilment of those goals enshrined the peace deal.’ Furthermore, Giraldo highlighted that former combatants, war widows and orphaned children alike should be able to ‘live safely throughout the country’ and be protected from discrimination. Though there are some promising statistics too, with ‘70 percent of 13,000 former combatants’ now enjoying ‘relative economic sustainability.’ In terms of the future, Presidential Advisor for Stabilization and Consolidation of Colombia Emilio Jośe Archila stated that, ‘Colombia placed a bet on peace’ and that it would show ‘the world that conflict can be resolved through political determination, strict planning and a focus on results.’
ICRC: Increasing Injuries and Deaths in Yemen a Cause for Concern
On 21 January 2022, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expressed concern regarding the ongoing attacks throughout the region, resulting in an ever-increasing number of injuries and deaths. The ICRC noted that concerns were not limited to this area, with cities across Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also forming the target of such attacks. The ICRC’s Regional Director for the Near and Middle East Fabrizio Carboni stated that ‘the human toll that we witness in Yemen is unacceptable […] civilians living in densely populated areas have been exposed to increased attacks, causing death and injury and deepening the psychological trauma among the affected communities after seven years of war.’ The ICRC reminded the parties involved of their obligations under existing legal frameworks (domestic and international) and emphasized that they must not target infrastructure considered to be ‘essential for the survival of the population’, i.e., hospitals, schools, electricity stations and residential areas, to name a few. Mr. Carboni believes that negotiations based in ‘good faith’ and ‘based on guarantees for the Yemeni people’ is what is required in order to secure a ‘better future.’