What to do about Sochi?

While most people are horrified by Russia’s recent laws on “Gay Propaganda” and its inaction on the torture of LGBT Teenagersby thugs, the rest of the right thinking world is split on how to react.

Should we boycott Russian Vodka? Should we move the Olympics like Stephen Fry has suggested? But if we do this will it harden the Russian Attitude and make them the victims? Well in their media anyway.

But of course the International Olympic Committee has been here before. Beijing.

Those planning to protest should remember that the IOC took no heed of those protests despite China’s trampling on Human Rights, so why would the IOC treat Russia any differently?

Its a catch-22 for those who want to protest. The IOC have said it will enforce rule 50 of the IOC Charter on athletes and officials. Rule 50 states

‘No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.’

Tilda Swinton in Moscow

 

The Russians too have said they will enforce the law during Sochi 2014 meaning athletes, officials and spectators face 15 days in jail followed by deportation if suspected of Gay Propaganda.

How do you fight this? Go for the sponsors? Sign Petitions?

You can’t move it. No where else is geared up for this.

A boycott is unfeasible as it puts a break on an athletes career. These are only every 4 years.

There are no good options on this.

The only option is, as The National Post points out for Gay Athletes attending Sochi 2014,

Go, be out, be yourself. If you’re not out, be supportive. Be proud. Inspire the people watching. We don’t know if someone will offer an act of bravery on a podium, or elsewhere. But someone should have the chance, because that, more than anything, should be what the world will remember.

Between that and protests around the world like this one in Sweden outside the Russian Embassy,

Amsterdam’s “Welcome” to President Putin

and other such as Irish Youth Groups coming together to protest against this, then we may start to make the Russian realise they are on the wrong side of this.

We can only hope they find this out before Sochi gets underway.

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EU Again Split on Palestine

 

Palestine
Palestine (Photo credit: Squirmelia)

Last night the European Union again failed to present a Common Foreign Policy with regards to Palestine. Following on from last years split on the admission to UNESCO, the EU split on upgrading Palestine from being an “nonmember observer entity” to “nonmember observer state” at the United Nations. Bringing it to the same level as the Vatican City in the UN System.

See how the EU Split in the UNESCO Vote

While overall the UN General Assembly vote was 138 Yes, 9 No and 41 Abstentions, this time round the EU Split 14 Yes, 1 No and 12 Abstentions. They were as follows (countries in Italic changed vote since 2011):

Countries Voting Yes

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Sweden

Country Voting No

  • Czech Republic

Countries Abstaining:

  • Bulgaria
  • Estonia
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • United Kingdom

Again Some Common Policy? Its interesting to note that most countries softened there positions. Italy, Denmark and Portugal went from Abstain to Yes. Germany, Netherlands and Lithuania went from No to Abstain. Sweden did a straight switch from No to Yes.

Slovenia was the only country to change from a Yes vote and Abstained.

This vote shows that the Czech Republic is the only country still out-rightly opposed to the recognition of Palestine in International Bodies for the moment.

Of course what this vote really shows is the utter shambles that is the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy is when it comes to Palestine.

At the end of the day, I am delighted that Palestine is now the 194th country recognised by the United Nations.

See how your country voted here

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EU split on Palestine

 

Flag of the United Nations Educational, Scient...
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Today’s vote at UNESCO’s General Conference on full membership for Palestine gives an idea of how a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) vote could go if the membership bid gets that far. More worrying for me is the complete split among European Union member states showing the failure of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

The application for membership was accepted by 107 Yes votes to 14 No votes with 52 Abstentions. The EU was split as follows;

Countries voting YES:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Cyprus
  • Finland
  • France
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Slovenia
  • Spain

Countries voting NO:

  • Czech Republic
  • Germany
  • Lithuania
  • Netherlands
  • Sweden

Countries who Abstained:

  • Bulgaria
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • United Kingdom

So that meant the EU split 11 Yes, 5 No and 11 Abstentions. Some Common policy there?

The question of Palestinian membership of the United Nations is going to be a long protracted one as long as the United States is threatening the use of the Veto on the UN Security Council. This is holding up a vote in the UNGA on Palestine’s membership. But at least now the Palestinians have an idea of the amount of support they have within the UN System.

Of course the fallout of this vote will not show in the EU’s CFSP and will be ignored. But the big fallout will either be the US withholding funding from UNESCO or withdrawing from the organisation completely.

For now though the idea of a Common Foreign Policy is a long way off, and today’s vote proves that.

Addendum

The applicant Countires to the EU voted as follows:

  • Croatia: ABSTAINED
  • FYR Macedonia: ABSTAINED
  • Turkey: YES
  • Iceland: YES

The potential Candidate Countries voted as follows:

  • Albania: ABSTAINED
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: ABSTAINED
  • Kosovo: Not a member
  • Montenegro: ABSTAINED
  • Serbia: YES

To see a full list of how countries voted check out the post on

The Human Province

Boycott Hungary?

Logo of the EU-ACP Joint AssemblyAn interesting possibility has arisen from ALDE MEP’s. They want to move a meeting of the EU-African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Joint Parliamentary Assembly to Brussels according to Euractiv (original in French and English) thereby boycotting Hunagary. This is seen as a democratic protest against the recent media law in Hungary. This law has met with opposition from within and without Hungary.

The idea of this boycott came after Belgian MEP Louis Michel, co-chair of the EU-ACP assembly, called a special meeting after receiving a letter from Luxembourg colleague Charles Goerens MEP, who wrote that the law ”violates democratic principles recognised by EU member states”.

The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly brings together MEPs and elected representatives from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries that have signed the Cotonou Agreement.

MPs from the ACP states meet their European counterparts for two plenary sessions a year, focusing on democracy and human rights. The 2011 meetings are scheduled for 16-18 May in Budapest and 21-23 November in Sierra Leone.

This is an interesting tactic by the liberal MEPs and is a constructive way to voice criticism of Hungary’s media. If the meeting is moved it will mean some loss of face for the Hungarian Government.

Related Posts

ALF statement on Terror Attack in Alexandria

The Anna Lindh Foundation have issued the following declaration in response to the terror attack a Christian Church in Alexandria, Egypt.

The Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, which has its international headquarters in Alexandria (Egypt), expresses its deep sadness and pain about the terror attack which affected this city on the night of 31st December. The President of the Foundation, André Azoulay, and all of his team, wish to express their solidarity with the victims, their families and the Egyptian people.

In response to this act of violence, the Anna Lindh Foundation will intensify its efforts in favour of dialogue in the Euro-Mediterranean region by involving and engaging in this mission all those who share the need to eradicate the culture of hatred, and to build societies based on mutual respect between people of different origins, traditions and beliefs. Committed against a Coptic church in Alexandria, the attack aimed to provoke sectarian tension between the different religious communities that have lived together in peace in Egypt for centuries. This crime, carried out against civilians who were practising their faith together, demands the mobilisation of all those who promote the right to practise freely religious beliefs. The Anna Lindh Foundation condemns any pretention to exploit religions and take religions hostage for the sake of fuelling violent behaviour and terrorism, whilst they carry a message of peace and fraternity for the immense majority of believers.

The Anna Lindh Foundation has had the opportunity to consistently observe in Alexandria how the coexistence between Muslims and Christians, which is part of the daily life in Egypt, is a major asset for peaceful relations between the different religious communities that exist in Middle Eastern societies, from where they originated. In view of the brutal attack that the Alexandrian people suffered, the Anna Lindh Foundation feels closer than ever to the Egyptian people and its institutions, and sets out to preserve the diverse heritage which is essential to building a Euro-Mediterranean space of peace and freedom.

Now more then ever the work of the Anna Lindh Foundation is important across the Mediterranean.

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Campaign for a more accountable and democratic UN

UN Parliamentary Assembly logo. Contributed to...
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After my posts on the UN Security Council Elections I received an interesting email on a “Campaign for a more accountable and democratic UN”. They are campaigning for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA). The appeal is quite interesting.

A United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) for the first time would give citizen representatives, not only states, a direct and influential role in global policy. The assembly would not replace existing UN bodies but would be an additional means to integrate parliamentarians more effectively into the shaping of globalization.

As a transitional step until direct elections become practical, the UN Parliamentary Assembly could consist of delegates from national and possibly regional parliaments, reflecting their political diversity. The UNPA would therefore include members of minority parties whose opinions are often not represented in the United Nations. Unlike current UN ambassadors, UNPA representatives would not be subject to the authority of national governments. These parliamentarians would be free to ask probing questions, raise sensitive issues, and table innovative proposals for consideration by the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Bretton Woods financial institutions and other UN bodies.

The great problems of our times – such as war, disease, poverty and climate change – cannot be solved by individual nations acting alone. Direct citizen representation could help the world develop a greater understanding of itself as a global community. At the highest levels of the United Nations, a UNPA could function as a world conscience and watchdog, and a catalyst for further reforms. Over time, the UNPA could evolve from a consultative body to a world parliament with genuine rights of information, participation and control.

A consultative Parliamentary Assembly at the UN could be established as a subsidiary body by a vote in the General Assembly under Article 22, without changing the UN Charter. The historical record demonstrates, as with the Land Mines Treaty and the International Criminal Court, that if a few countries urged on by civil society take the lead, significant transformation at the international level is indeed possible.

The “Appeal for the Establishment for a Parliamentary Assembly at the United Nations” promoted by the UNPA-Campaign reflects the consenus among like-minded parliamentarians, civil society representatives, activists and scholars regarding the proposal.

The campaign is being supported by many important people.

After only three years the campaign is now already supported by 779 parliamentarians from 97 countries and 270 NGOs. In addition to this, individual supporters include hundreds of distinguished personalities, in particular 268 professors from 53 countries, 6 Nobel laureates, 11 Right Livelihood laureates, 10 former foreign ministers, 5 former prime ministers and people from all walks of life.

There is a facebook page for people who want to find out more. You can endorse the campaign here.

After only three years the campaign is now already supported by 779 parliamentarians from 97 countries and 270 NGOs. In addition to this, individual supporters include hundreds of distinguished personalities, in particular 268 professors from 53 countries, 6 Nobel laureates, 11 Right Livelihood laureates, 10 former foreign ministers, 5 former prime ministers and people from all walks of life.

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United Nations Security Council Election Voting Results

United Nations General Assembly hall in New Yo...
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As promised here are the results from today’s elections at the UN General Assembly to fill 5 non-permanent seats at the UN Security Council. The quota in all elections was 127 based on the fact that 182 members were present and voting.

African Group:

  • South Africa 182

Asian Group

  • India 187

Latin America

  • Columbia 186

Western Europe and Other States

Round 1 Result:

  • Germany 128
  • Portugal 122
  • Canada 114

Round 2 Result:

  • Portugal 113
  • Canada 78

Round 3 Result:

  • Portugal 150
  • Canada 32
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Security Council Election Results

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 29:  Members of Security Co...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

A follow on from this mornings post on the Elections to the five non-permament seats on the UN Security Council.

The following countries have been elected:

  • African Group: South Africa
  • Asian Group: India
  • Latin America: Columbia
  • Western European and Other States: Germany and Portugal

While the African, Asian and Latin American seats were uncontested, the candidates still needed a two-third majority to be elected.Canada, Germany and Portugal were contesting the Western European and Other States Seat.

Germany attained the required votes on the first round of voting. On the second round Portugal finished higher then Canada. Following that announcement and before the third round of voting, Canada withdrew from the election. The General Assembly is currently voting on Portugal membership of the council.

The full voting results are here

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Elections to the Security Council

UN Security Council Chamber in New York.
Image via Wikipedia

Today 5 new members of the of United Nations Security Council will be elected. They will replace Uganda, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and Austria.

They will be elected for two years. The African seat is not being contested as South Africa as been endorsed by the African Union and is therefore unopposed. For the Asian seat, India is running unopposed and it is the same in Latin America where Columbia is running unopposed. The only election will be for the Western Europe and Others Group. Portugal, Germany and Canada are all vying for a place on the council.There are two seats available for this group so only one will lose out. Many do hope to see Canada win one of the seats.

Germany and India want reform of the UN to allow them (plus Brazil and Japan) to have permanent seats at the UN Security Council. This is of course opposed by many other UN member states especially Italy and Mexico. Russia and China also don’t like the idea.

I will post the results as soon as they are out.

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Th!nk4 Post: Will COP16 Succeed Where COP15 Failed?

This time last year the buzz was beginning to build around COP15 that took place in Copenhagen last year. This was going to be when Europe stood up to the rest of the world and set out its plan and hoped to get everyone else on board.

Did it work? Nope. Will COP 16 be any different is the big question.

We have witnessed 15 Conference’s of the Parties since the signing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change since 1992. The only things that have come out of these meetings is the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and the Montreal Action Plan in 2005.

Kyoto is soon to run out. COP 16 will be another talking shop. But do we as a planet and a people have the time to wait? Can we leave things as they are till COP 17 in South Africa in 2011? or COP 18 in Qatar or South Korea? Can we as a race take that risk or will we have reached tipping point?

COP 16 attendees will have to prove themselves. I know prepatory meetings are currently under way in China, but can world leaders agree in Cancun between November 29 to December 10 to actually do something. To change how we act towards our environment. Can we protect our planet before its too late.

In a year where it is only now we have found a planet that could possible support life, Gliese 581g, it shows how few and far between this planet and the life we have is. We have been lucky as a race to make it this far. Are we going to be our own worst enemy and destroy our planet. Here is hoping COP 16 will be different and something will come from it.

Originally post on the Th!nk4  website

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