After numerous false starts, negotiations between the two parties to the decades-old stalemate in Cyprus seem to be moving forward again, this time with the assistance of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Mr. Ban Ki-moon recently made his first official visit to Cyprus. The island nation has been divided into a Greek-speaking south and a Turkish-speaking north since 1974, when a Greek-led coup sought to annex the island to Greece, prompting a Turkish invasion that claimed the top 37% of the island. The north, which calls itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), has only been recognized by Turkey, and has lagged behind the impressive economic development of the south, which enjoys broad international recognition and now represents the island in the European Union. UN peacekeepers patrol the unofficial border between the two sides, and the island is heavily militarized. During his visit, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon visited with leaders from both the Turkish and Greek factions.
Previous talks have been derailed by a number of contentious issues; the most serious recent attempt at unification, in 2004, produced an agreement which was subsequently ratified in a referendum by the north but rejected, under the hard-line presidency of Tassos Papadopoulos, by the south. Papadopoulos has since been replaced by the more moderate Demetris Christofias, but the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, now faces a challenge in upcoming elections from a more hard-line candidate. This has ramped up the pressure for a solution, as has the fact that the ongoing stalemate has dimmed Turkey’s prospects in its own bid for EU accession.
Legal issues relating to the conflict stem originally from the question of whether the 1974 Turkish invasion was justified as a matter of international law. Greek Cypriots argue that the invasion was a clear violation of the UN Charter, which prohibits aggressive war; their argument is supported by the fact that no multilateral body authorized the action. Turkish Cypriots counter that Turkey’s response was justified, as a form of self-defense, by the prospect of the island’s annexation to Greece, and, as a form of humanitarian intervention, by longstanding intercommunal violence directed toward the Turkish-speaking minority. Going forward, both political and legal solutions will be needed to address issues including the division of contested territory, the presence of Turkish forces, reparations for lost property, and power sharing under a proposed federation.
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On Tuesday, November 10, the navies of North and South Korea exchanged fire in disputed waters off the western coast of the peninsula, damaging ships from both sides and reportedly killing a North Korean sailor. The incident began when a 215-ton North Korean vessel entered South Korean-controlled waters. Ignoring warnings from the South, the ship exchanged fire with two 130-ton South Korean vessels before re-crossing the border, reportedly in flames. The North, which claims the waters where the incident took place, has blamed the South for instigating the confrontation and issued repeated warnings through its state news service.
South Korea’s options in responding to this incident are limited. Seoul’s right to military retaliation is constrained by the ongoing border dispute. The end of the Korean War never produced a peace treaty, and the North and South have technically been observing a truce since 1953. The North has never accepted the current sea boundary, a UN-drawn border called the northern limit line, and its ships regularly stray into waters controlled by the South. In this context, the South cannot make an undisputed claim that its territory was invaded.
South Korea’s options for less direct action are similarly constrained. While the South could initiate economic sanctions and asset-freezing, it believes that such measures could add to the desperate poverty of the North’s citizens and slow the recent détente between the two countries. In a sign that the confrontation has not altered trade relationships, a North Korean freighter was allowed to enter South Korean waters yesterday on its way to Incheon. Meanwhile, any attempt to arbitrate the dispute before an international body would require the consent of one of the most isolationist regimes in the world.
The North has a history of initiating skirmishes in order to escalate pressure before major regional events; the last time the countries clashed was in 2002, while the South was hosting the World Cup. In this case, analysts believe, the North may be trying to send a message to President Obama, who is currently visiting the region and is scheduled to arrive in Seoul on Wednesday. North Korea wants a formal peace treaty to replace the 1953 truce, including reconsideration of disputed territory. It also wants bilateral negotiations with the U.S., which it believes could lead to its acceptance as a nuclear power. President Obama, who has made engagement with “rogue states” a cornerstone of his foreign policy, plans to send special envoy Stephen Bosworth to Pyongyang for talks over ending the North’s nuclear program.
On November 5th, a three-judge panel at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) sentenced Michel Bagaragaza, the former head executive of the Rwandan tea industry, to eight years in prison for his role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The ICTR, which presides in Tanzania, found Bagaragaza guilty on one count of complicity for his role in having substantially contributed to the death of 1,000 ethnic Tutsis. Bagaragaza’s sentence includes credit for time he has already served since his detention in 2005.
As director general of OCIR/The, the government office controlling the tea industry, Bagaragaza oversaw 11 tea factories employing approximately 55,000 people. In addition to his government position in the tea industry, Bagaragaza was also the vice-president of a bank and a political leader in Gisenyi prefecture. His role in the 1994 genocide arose when 1,000 Tutsis sought refuge at Kesho Hill and at Nyundo Cathedral in Rwanda’s Gisenyi prefecture, close to the tea factories Bagaragaza oversaw. On April 8, 1994, Bagaragaza met with Thomas Kuradusenge, a senior official of the Giciye commune, and learned of Kuradusenge’s plan to carry out the killing of the 1,000 Tutsi seeking refuge. According to prosecutors, Bagaragaza aided and abetted Kuradusenge in carrying out those killings, authorizing that vehicles and fuel from the tea factories Bagaragaza oversaw be used in the attack, and ordering that the attackers be provided with weapons Bagaragaza had allowed the army to conceal at the tea factories since 1993. Bagaragaza also ordered that personnel from the factories participate in the attacks, according to a summary of the tribunal’s judgment. On subsequent occasions, Bagaragaza gave Kuradusenge large sums of money for the purchase of alcohol, so as to encourage those carrying out the killings in the Kabaya and Bugoyi areas to continue to do so.
Bagaragaza was initially charged with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, and in the alternative, complicity in genocide. On August 15, 2005, he voluntarily surrendered himself to the ICTR, pleading not guilty to each of the three counts listed in the initial indictment. Following procedural complications, he eventually pleaded guilty to the complicity charge in August of this year.
In sentencing, the judges noted that Bagaragaza had shown “genuine remorse for his actions,” providing “invaluable assistance to the Prosecution in its investigations.” They said that Bagaragaza had “to a remarkable degree contributed to the process of truth-finding with respect to the Rwandan tragedy and to national reconciliation.” The ICTR further noted that the defence had provided credible showing that Bagaragaza demonstrated no bias against Tutsis, and that his participation in the organization of the killings was likely motivated by concern for himself and his family. However, the court went on to state that the evidence did not suggest that Bagaragaza, “being a very resourceful person,” would have faced imminent danger had he not complied with the requests of the perpetrators.
Bagaragaza was represented by Counsel Geert-Jan Alexander Knoops from The Netherlands. The Prosecution was led by Wallace Kapaya, assisted by Patrick Gabaake, Mousa Sefon and Iskander Ismal.
The United Nations Security Council authorized the creation of the ICTR in 1994. An estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the genocide that began in early April of that year.
The Kimberley Process (KP) held a Plenary meeting in Swakopmund, Namibia last week, where it adopted a work plan for the Marange diamond mining fields in Zimbabwe, agreed to monitor “conflict diamonds” from the Côte d’Ivoire following UNSC Resolution 1893 (2009), and made decisions on the general enforcement mechanism of the KP rules. The Democratic Republic of Congo will be the 2011 Kimberely Process Chair.
The KP initiative began after 2000 discussions between interested governments, the diamond industry, and members of civil society of how to combat “conflict diamonds,” which have been used to finance wars in Africa’s diamond-rich countries. By 2002, the KP adopted the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), which requires participants to rigorously control diamond exports and imports and incorporate internal controls for the production and trade of diamonds. To ensure compliance, the KP requires statistical reporting on a regular basis in addition to other verification measures. With the Support of the United Nations and the European Community, the KP now has 49 Participants, with the members of the European Community counted together as a single member. The participants include all key centers for the production, polishing, and trade of diamonds.
The KP’s review of the Marange mining fields occurred as a result of recent reports suggesting non-compliance and human rights abuses. These reports followed the Zimbabwean government’s takeover of the fields during operation “Hakudzwoki” (no return) back in November of 2008. As a result, the KP adopted a double-track approach, using scientific measures to halt the flow of conflict diamonds from the area and sending a high-level KP envoy to the area. As part of the action plan adopted at the Swakopmund Plenary meeting, Zimbabwe agreed to bring mining into compliance with the KP so that the diamonds can be used for economic development rather than war.
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