Sexta-feira, 20 de Maio de 2011

IPRIS Viewpoints 57

The last stretch: ICC's arrest warrants on Libyan top leaders

Diogo Noivo

Although the arrest warrants will be a legal step with solid foundations, the ICC's decision has an inherent political dimension that goes far beyond the jurisdictional scope. When the UNSC referred the Libyan Crisis to the ICC, it simultaneously approved a series of other measures including imposing an arms embargo on the country, banning travel rights for 16 Libyan leaders and freezing the assets of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and his family. In other words, it was a decision clearly intended to increase pressure over the Libyan regime, more than punish human rights violations. This distinctive political dimension becomes even more obvious if one bears in mind the evolution of the Libyan crisis, particularly with regard to the stance taken by the international community. These arrest warrants are, perhaps, an attempt by the international community to end a marathon whose finish line, despite the distance already traveled, has been difficult to see.

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publicado por IPRIS às 18:03
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Segunda-feira, 21 de Março de 2011

UN: legitimacy and relevance

Mohamed Mansour Kadah, "United Nations: building legitimacy and maintaining relevance in a weakened Institution" (Portuguese Journal of International Affairs, No. 4, Autumn/Winter 2010): 40-49.


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publicado por IPRIS às 19:48
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Terça-feira, 15 de Março de 2011

Portugal and the UN Security Council

José Amaral, Sara Martins and Rui Macieira, "All for one, as long as there is not one for Europe" (Portuguese Journal of International Affairs, No. 4, Autumn/Winter 2010): 31-39.


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publicado por IPRIS às 19:28
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Sexta-feira, 5 de Novembro de 2010

IPRIS Lusophone Countries Bulletin 12

OCTOBER 2010 -- Table of Contents:
Paulo Gorjão, "Editorial note"
Vasco Martins, "Angolan security and the State of the Nation speech"
David Zounmenou, "Guinea-Bissau: Still in search of stability"
Pedro Seabra and Paulo Gorjão, "Portugal and the UN Security Council victory: Now for the hard part"
Timeline of Events

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publicado por IPRIS às 13:09
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Segunda-feira, 6 de Setembro de 2010

UNIFIL, Portugal and Lebanon

By Diogo Noivo


On August 30, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously approved resolution 1937, which extends UNIFIL’s mandate until 31 August 2011, saying that its presence in the south of Lebanon helps to promote stability. The UNSC assesses the situation in Lebanon as “a threat to international peace and security” thus justifying the need for one more year.

In fact, in the weeks that preceded resolution 1937, two episodes clearly drew  attention to how unstable peace is in the country.

First, it was the cutting down of a three by Israel Defense Forces in the border with Lebanon, with lead Lebanon’s Armed Forces to clash with the Israeli soldiers. This episode killed three people, raised tension between both countries and led many to speculate about a new armed conflict.

Second, it was the aftershock of UN’s Special Tribunal for Lebanon indication that Hezbollah was the most probable actor behind the assassination of Rafik Hariri.

Aside from the aforementioned cases, the region’s political instability is, by itself, more than enough to justify permanent attention by the international community – specially in times like these, with ongoing Mideast Peace Talks and with Iran’s situation becoming increasingly more dangerous.

As a committed member of the UN, Portugal has 146 soldiers deployed in Lebanon – five at headquarters and the remaining from an engineering unit – in a demonstration of the role Lisbon wishes to maintain as an international security provider. Furthermore, taking part in international operations can give greater leverage to Portugal in international forums, thus increasing its political capability – a fact that Portugal also has in mind. However, to develop this dimension, Lisbon should be more determined in its logistic and human support, without which it will be difficult to assure the command of international operations or, in a very timely case, maintain important international facilities such as NATO’s base in Oeiras – either to disappear or to lose relevance in the next NATO Summit to be held in Lisbon this year.


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publicado por IPRIS às 00:01
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Quinta-feira, 2 de Setembro de 2010

Compromise by the UN will open a dangerous precedent

By Vasco Martins


A UN draft report leaked to the French newspaper Le Monde is creating a firestorm in Kigali, which now threatens to stop supporting UN peace-keeping missions and has already devised a contingency plan for withdrawal from Sudan, in case the UN publishes this polemic report. The UN draft report accuses the Tutsi-led Rwandan army of having targeted and murdered tens of thousands of ethnic Hutus in neighbouring DR Congo between 1996 and 1997, a crime which may amount to genocide. The timeline in question is limited to the First Congo War, which was largely a consequence of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and of the displacement of approximately 2 million Hutus, including Interhamwe, towards the DRC in fear of Tutsi retaliation.

The Rwandan leadership is dismissing this report as being an “amateurish NGO job”, according to President Paul Kagame. Nevertheless, if indeed the Tutsi-led Rwandan army was involved in the killing of ethnic Hutus, the entire credibility of the post-1994 Tutsi plight will be shattered and unappealing from the international point of view. Such a situation would certainly limit the international credibility of recently re-elected President Paul Kagame and possibly even merit that a case be brought before the International Criminal Court, besides constraining the freedom of action and living space of Rwanda.

Rwanda is one of the biggest contributors of peacekeeping forces and a central actor in the region. However, the UN would suffer the biggest loss if it crumbles under pressure from Rwanda. Le Monde quoted an unnamed UN source claiming that Ban  Ki-moon had warned UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay against using the word ‘genocide’ in referring to Rwandan forces, thus sending the message that support for internationally unwanted peace-keeping missions in Africa’s ‘hot spots’ may serve as a trade-off to avoid accusations of genocide.

If the UN folds under pressure from Kigali and does not publish this report, a precedent will be opened where international condemnation can be avoided if one provides essential support in terms of peace-keeping to regions lacking such initiatives. This of course, is a minefield for the UN. Support for United Nations peacekeeping missions should neither excuse nor disregard evidence or accusations of genocide, no matter how great the losses in terms of support for its missions.

The African continent and the Great Lakes region specifically will most likely be involved in more violent conflict in the future. While it is true that the UN and the African Union lack the tools and human resources to avoid or even control such conflicts, backing down from genocide accusations in favour of continuing support from Rwanda is a compromise Ban Ki-moon should never be willing to make.


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publicado por IPRIS às 00:02
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Quarta-feira, 28 de Julho de 2010

EU foreign policy: More harm than good

By Vasco Martins


The European Union approved a fresh new wave of sanctions targeting Iran’s foreign trade, banking and energy sectors. Russia has already reacted to the unilateral row of sanctions, considering them not only to undermine joint efforts to seek a political and diplomatic solution to the issue of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, but also to show disdain for the co-ordinated provisions of the UN Security Council, of which Russia is a permanent member.

Russia has frequently shown uneasiness in imposing sanctions on Iran. Although it approved the last UN resolution, in part due to unprecedented rapprochement with the US, Russia has always been trying to minimize the impact on its relations with the Islamic Republic.

Russia, lost in its own Eurasian/Western orientation, shares several interests with Iran. Firstly, both Russia and Iran see Turkey’s aspirations in the wider Middle East and Europe with caution and contempt; both understand the presence of US military bases on Central Asia as a threat to their national security; and both realize that China, although cooperative, is a force to be reckoned with in the coming future. Secondly, regarding military cooperation, due to the imposition of sanctions Russia has been one of the only countries to sell military equipment, especially aircraft, to Iran, although it halted the delivery of surface-to-air S-300 missiles. Lastly, concerning trade relations, and although substantially small, trade between the two countries accounts for approximately US$3.7 billion, which makes Russia a top trading partner with Iran.

Hence, it is not difficult to understand Russia’s harsh criticism to the unilateral EU imposed sanctions on Iran. Moreover, Russia feels its position was not taken into account in such an important decision. Russia has always felt like a ‘second tier power’ when international decisions are made outside the centers of powers it can control - i.e. the UN Security Council - a factor which has always promoted contempt between the Federation and the western powers.

This unilateral adoption of sanctions targeting Iran is a move that will surely anger Moscow, which will feel alienated and will further support Tehran in response. The incredibly counter-productive imposition of sanctions by the EU will also cast a shadow between Russia-US relations, as the US is an active supporter of sanctions against Iran.

The EU managed to antagonize its most important partner in dealing with Iran. This position only reveals the EU’s desire to quickly achieve concrete results in its foreign policy prism in order to justify the need for such a common action. However, it failed to include Moscow in the equation, which only proves the EU is not ready to become an independent foreign policy actor.


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publicado por IPRIS às 00:01
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