Cameroon Elected As  Member of U.N. Human Rights Council

As has been discussed in many posts, for the last several years the government of Cameroon has been engaged in armed conflict with the minority of Cameroonians whose principal European language is English (the Anglophones). In the course of that conflict, the government allegedly has committed many human rights violations.[1]

This record and the objections against these acts were voiced by many other governments during Cameroon’s recent Universal Periodic Review by the U.N. Human Rights Council, which is the body within the U.N. system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe. These Council members are elected by the majority of members of the U.N. General Assembly through direct and secret ballot. The General Assembly [purportedly] takes into account the candidate States’ contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as their voluntary pledges and commitments in this regard. (Emphasis added.)

Despite Cameroon’s dismal human rights record, on October 12, 2018, the U.N. General Assembly elected Cameroon to be a member of the Council for a three-year term beginning January 1, 2019.[2]

Amnesty International  Human Rights Watch and other rights groups objected to the election of Cameroon and certain other countries. “Elevating states with records of gross human rights violations and abuses is a tremendous setback,” said Amnesty International USA’s advocacy director, Daniel Balson. “It puts them on the world stage, and moreover, it empowers them to fundamentally undermine notions of human rights that are accepted internationally.[3]

In this context, Human Rights Watch raised “serious concerns about human rights in . . . Cameroon, . . . . [where] government security forces and armed separatists have committed grave abuses against residents of the country’s Anglophone region. The region has been rocked by protests and violent clashes rooted in longstanding political grievances of the Anglophone minority. While the government has taken some positive steps in recent months, including signing the Safe Schools Declaration, violence and abuses in the Anglophone region continue.”

The Council elections of Cameroon and four other African states (Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Somalia and Togo) are partially attributable to the Council’s allocation of 13 of the 47 seats to African states; and to three of the African members having terms ending on December 31, 2018 and being ineligible for re-election after having served two consecutive terms (Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Kenya). The other African members are Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.[4]

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[1] See Cameroonian President Biya Wins Re-Election by a Landslide, dwkcommentaries.com (Oct. 26, 2018); Continued Violence in Cameroon, dwkcommentaries.com (Oct. 4, 2018). See also posts listed in List of Posts to dwkcommentaries—Topical: CAMEROON.

[2] U.N., General Assembly Elects 18 Member States to Human rights Council, Allowing Vote by 3 Member States in Article 19 Exemption over Financial Dues (Oct. 12, 2018).

[3] Assoc. Press, US, Rights Groups Say UN Rights Council Vote Lets Abusers In, N.Y. Times (Oct. 12, 2018); Human Rights Watch, UN: Philippines, Eritrea Don’t Belong on Rights Council (Oct. 11, 2018).

[4] U.N. Hum. Rts. Council, Membership of the Human Rights Council; U.N., General Assembly Elects 18 Member States to Human Rights Council, Allowing Vote by 3 Member States in Article 19 Exemption over Financial Dues (Oct. 12, 2018).

 

“MUSLIM NATIONS LEAD ACTION AGAINST TERRORISM”    

This was the large- caps subheading of a November 24 full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal with the even more prominent large-caps headline, “ALLIED AGAINST TERRORISM.” It was the proclamation of the        Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition” (IMCTC).

The ad went on to say, “Until now, counter-terrorism efforts have been fragmented, with nations and groups often taking isolated initiatives against the growing threat of terror. From November 26th, international counter-terrorism efforts will take a new dimension. Forty-one Muslim countries are coming together in Riyadh [the capital of Saudi Arabia] to launch a global, multi-disciplinary strategy that aims to tackle terrorism at its deepest roots. Under the banner of the IMCTC, these nations will forge an unprecedented and powerful coalition against terror—a coalition that will source sustainable counter-terrorism initiatives in the four strategic domains of Ideology, Communications, Counter Terrorist Financing, as well as Military, to build a cohesive, united front against terror.”[1]

This inaugural IMCTC meeting will be opened by Saudi Arabia’s His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who at age 32 has been leading major reform efforts in the Kingdom and in the Islamic world.[2]

Its website (www.IMCTC.org) lists the following countries as members: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Kingdom of Bahrain, People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Republic of Benin, Burkina Faso, Brunei Darussalam, Republic of Thad, Union of the Comoros, Republic of Còte d’Ivoire, Republic of Dijbouti, Arab Republic of Egypt, Republic of Guinea-Bissau, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, State of Kuwait, Republic of Lebanon, State of Libya, Republic of Maldives, Republic of Mali, Islamic republic of Mauritania, Kingdom of Morocco, Malaysia, Republic of Niger, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Sultanate of Oman, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, State of Palestine, State of Qatar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Republic of Sierra Leone, Republic of Somalia, Republic of Senegal, Republic of Sudan, Republic of Togo, Republic of Tunisia, Republic of Turkey, Republic of Uganda, United Arab Emirates and Republic of Yemen.

Notable absentees from this list (with their Muslim populations) are Indonesia (202,867,000). India (160,945,000), Iran (73,777,000) and Algeria (34,1999,000).[3]

This coalition was started in December 2015 by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and in March 2016 chiefs of staff from Islamic countries met in Riyadh and affirmed  “their determination to intensify efforts in fighting terrorism through joint work according to their capabilities, based on the desire of each member country to participate in operations or programs within the IMCTC framework as per its  policies and procedures, and without compromising the sovereignty of the Coalition member countries.” This group of chiefs of staff adopted the following as its strategic objectives:

  • “Strengthen the contribution of Islamic countries towards global security and peace, and complementing international counter terrorism efforts.
  • Reinforce solidarity and collaboration among coalition member countries to present a unified front against terrorist organizations and their attempts to destabilize security and distort the image of Islam and Muslims.
  • Counter radical ideology in Coalition member countries through strategic communication campaigns to refute the radical and extremist narratives and propaganda.
  • Reaffirm the moderate values of Islam and its principles of peace, tolerance and compassion.
  • Combat terrorism financing in collaboration with Coalition member countries and international [counter-terrorism] authorities, to promote compliance with international agreements and advance legal, regulatory, and operational frameworks.
  • Establish strategic partnerships between member countries, supporting nations and international organizations to share counter terrorism information and expertise.”

Conclusion

All of us will need to follow what happens at this inaugural IMCTC conference and the implementation of its objectives. It sounds like an important and positive development.

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[1] IMCTC’s Ideology domain has been presaged by the Marrakesh Declaration from January 2016 as discussed in a prior post.

[2] Press Release: His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Open Inaugural Meeting of the IMCTC Ministers of Defense Council  (Nov. 22, 2017); Friedman, Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, at Last (Nov. 23, 2017); Mohammad bin Salman, Wikipedia.

[3] Pew Research Center, Mapping the Global Muslim Population (Oct. 7, 2009).

International Criminal Court: Basics of Its Upcoming Judicial Election

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has 18 judges, each of whom serves only one term of nine years. In December of 2011 six new judges will be elected by the Court’s governing body, the Assembly of States Parties.[1]

Aside from specified and recommended personal qualifications for these judgeships,[2] there are requirements that judges come from the current 115 States Parties, that no State may have more than one judgeship and that there be equitable geographical and gender representation on the Court. There is also a requirement that the Court have representation of the “principal legal systems of the world.”[3]

Of the six judges who will be replaced in the upcoming elections, three are female and three are male. Two are from Latin America (Brazil and Costa Rica), two from Africa (Mali and Uganda) and two from Western Europe and Other (France and the U.K.)[4]

Given the Rome Statute’s requirement for considerations of geographical and gender equity  and for certain proportions for Lists A and B judges, the upcoming elections will seek to elect up to 2 females and at least 4 males who come from the A List (at least 4) and the B List (no more than 2) from the following geographical areas:

  • Africa: 2 from 28 African States Parties (31 -3 (Botswana, Ghana and Kenya, which already are represented on the Court));
  • Latin America: 2 from 24 Latin American and Caribbean States Parties (26  – 2 (Argentina and Bolivia, which already are represented on the Court)); and
  • Western Europe & Other States Parties: 2 from 22 Western European/Other States Parties (25 – 3 (Belgium, Finland, and Germany, which already are represented on the Court)).[5]

Nominees for these six positions must come from the 115 States Parties (with no more than one nomination from each such State) during the period June 13 through September 2, 2011. Each nomination must have a statement specifying how the individual meets the personal requirements of the Rome Statute.[6]

As of June 22, 2011, there were the following four nominations:[7]

  • Judge John Bankole Thompson of Sierra Leone. He has been a Judge of the High Court of Sierra Leone and of the Trial Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He also has been a law professor in his country and in the U.S. (University of Akron School of Law, Kent State University and Eastern Kentucky University. He holds LLB, M.A. and Ph. D. degrees in law from Cambridge University.
  • Bruno Cathala of France. He has been the ICC’s Registrar and its Director of Common Services; Deputy Registrar of the ICTY; president of two regional French courts and one of its juvenile courts. He also has been Deputy Director of a French government department for judicial protection of juveniles. He hold degrees from France’s Institutes of Higher National Defense Studies and of Higher Internal Security Studies and a post-graduate pre-PhD diploma in Private Law from the School of Law, University of Paris.
  • Chile Eboe-Osujl of Nigeria. He has been an advocate in criminal cases in the courts of Nigeria and Canada and a prosecutor at the ICTR and the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He has served as an advisor to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and to the Nigerian delegation to the ICC’s Review Conference on the crime of aggression. He has taught international criminal law at the University of Ottawa. He has special experience and expertise regarding violence against women and children.
  • Gberdao Gustave Kam of Burkina Faso. He has been an ad litem judge for the ICTR and a judge in several courts in his country. He also has served in his country’s Ministry of Justice.

The more fascinating issue of the specified and recommended personal qualifications for these positions will be discussed in a future post.


[1] See Post: The International Criminal Court: Introduction (April 28, 2011); Rome Statute, Art. 36 (1), (9); ICC, Election of six judges–December 2011, http://www2.icc-cpi.int/Menus/ASP/Elections/Judges/2011/2011.htm.

[2] A future post will discuss the Rome Statute’s specified qualifications for judgeships as well as recommended qualifications proposed by civil society.

[3] Rome Statute, Art. 36 (7), (8)(a).

[4] International Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Information about the Nomination and Election of Six New Judges and the Prosecutor, New York, December 2011, http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/documents/.

[5] Id.

[6]  Rome Statute, Art. 36 (4)

[7]  ICC, Election of six judges–December 2011, http://www2.icc-cpi.int/Menus/ASP/Elections/Judges/2011/2011.htm.