France tells Russia to Make Good on Promises

3 03 2010

Reuters reports that in a visit to Paris, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev was asked to follow through on his promise to tackle corruption by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy is reported to have said, “Pursue your reform program, pursue your modernisation program, pursue all your policies against corruption and for a rule of law … out of respect of your own promises,” The request comes following few signs of any action having been taken in the first two years of medvedev´s term in office. Full Article





Sudan is Critical

5 10 2008

Today Reuters reports that the foreign minister of Sudan has criticized both US vice presidential contenders, Biden & Palin. They expressed support for the idea of a flying ban over the Darfur region in their recent TV debate.

Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadig on Sunday said an air ban would be ineffective because the Sudanese armed forces are only using government planes and helicopters to fight bandits and protect humanitarian convoys.

The Darfur conflict has killed 200,000 – 300,000 and driven more than 2.5 million from their homes, say international experts. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.

Opinion

As I have reported in earlier posts the Darfur situation was recognized as genocide by the Busy administration as long ago as 2004. In September 2004 Secretary Powell officially invoked the term “genocide” to describe what was going on there in testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and  President Bush (white House Press Release, September 9, 2004).

Despite calling it a genocide the U.S. and the rest of the world have taken no effective action to date. UN forces there have no mandate to engage. They are there to observe and offer humanitarian aid. This is a repeat of Rwanda.

A no fly zone would at least show some action was being taken, but not nearly enough. Enforcement of the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity would also be a step in the right direction.

Incredibly, and despite all the evidence the no fly zone is only a possibility with pathetic arguments being made against it, and apparently THE UN Security Council is under pressure to suspend the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of Bashir according to a report in the Economist, which I reported here last week.

The charges may be dropped because, of the Security Council’s five permanent members, three – China, Russia and the United States—refused to sign up to the International Criminal Court. Coincidentally Russia and China have huge financial interests in Sudan and are actively supporting the regime, and in-directly the genocide. I reported on this before – China is Fueling the War in Darfur.

the 53-member African Union (AU) and the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) have also demanded that the Security Council suspend proceedings against Mr Bashir. As the author of the Economist article rightly points out several members of the AU abd OIC, “no doubt fearing that it could be their turn next”, to face the International Criminal Courts.

It is also interesting that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in her electioneering today accused Obama of “palling around with terrorists”. She could equally suggest that, by their unwillingness to act to stop what they themselves describe as genocide, the republican party, the President, and the United states are also guilty of “palling around with terrorists.”





Saving the President

26 09 2008

THE UN Security Council is under pressure to suspend the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity, according to a report in the Economist magazine today.

Unsurprisingly, Mr Bashir does not like the charge at all, and nor do the rest of his peers in the 53-member African Union (AU) and the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Both groups have demanded that the Security Council suspend proceedings against Mr Bashir. As the author of the article rightly points out several members of the AU abd OIC, “no doubt fearing that it could be their turn next”.

Further increasing the pressure on the ICC if it does indict Mr Bashir (a decision is expected in November), several AU and OIC members, who together account for a third of the ICC’s 108 states parties, have threatened to pull out of the court.

With an eye on Sudan, Ban Ki-moon, the UN’s secretary-general, recently declared that the search for a balance between peace and justice “should never be influenced by the threats and postures of those seeking to escape justice”.

There is a more than reasonable chance that charges will be dropped, or ‘postponed’ despite the overwhelming evidence against Bashir (an estimated 300,000 have already lost their lives and some 3m have been forced to flee their homes in the five-year conflict, continues to deteriorate). And, despite the fact that as early as September 2004 Secretary Powell officially invoked the term “genocide” to describe what was going on there in testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and  President Bush (white House Press Release, September 9, 2004).

Despite calling it a genocide the U.S. and the rest of the world have taken no effective action to date. This is Rwanda 2:0, and the killing not only continues, it is getting worse.

Why might charges be dropped despite the evidence? Corrupt politics of course. Of the Security Council’s five permanent members, three – China, Russia and the United States—refused to sign up to the court. Coincidentally Russia and China have huge financial interests in Sudan and are actively supporting the regime, and in-directly the genocide. I reported on this before – China is Fueling the War in Darfur.

As I have also said already, Darfur and Sudan show the ineffectiveness of the United nations. Now there is a more than reasonable chance that they will show how useless one of it’s key institutions, the International Criminal Court, actually is. This may make or break the future of the ICC and, the action of the permanent members in relation to Sudan and Darfur will be yet another test of the credibility of the United Nations itself.

Read the Economist Article





33% of Russian National Budget Lost in Corruption

23 07 2008

A senior Russian prosecutor claims that “Corrupt Russian officials are creaming off about $120bn (£61bn) a year – the equivalent of a third of the national budget” according to a BBC news report “Russian Corruption Skims Billions” (6th June 2008).

The BBC’s James Rodgers, in Moscow, says corruption is like a disease which affects almost every part of Russian life. Russians were resigned to bribe-taking officials and business kickbacks worth billions, he said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in his interview with western media since taking office in May, said, “We have specific Russian problems, I will mention two of these. Firstly, poverty which we haven’t yet defeated. We are going to work hard at this in the next few years, using all of our economic might. And the second problem I must mention is corruption, corruption as a systemic challenge, as a threat to national security, as a problem which leads to a lack of faith among citizens in the ability of government to impose order and protect them.”

The report adds, “Not every Russian has had their share of the construction and consumer boom spawned by rising oil and gas prices. Russia is the world’s second biggest oil exporter but analysts say rising inflation and widespread poverty have resulted in a huge gap in living standards.”

Russia is an example of the way corruption, when endemic, can massively undermine the opportunities of a country, even a country rich in oil that should be able to lift its citizens out of poverty.