October 2021: Issue 2

International Human Rights

Sierra Leone abolishes the death penalty

Sierra Leone became the 23rd African country to abolish the death penalty after President Julius Maada Bio signed a bill on 8th October 2021 confirming the same. Under the new law, the death penalty will be replaced with life imprisonment or a minimum 30-year jail term for crimes such as murder or mutiny. In a statement denouncing capital punishment, the President stated that “[w]e today affirm our belief in the sanctity of life.” To read more click here.

Access to a healthy environment declared a human right by UNHRC

The United Nations Human Rights Council declared access to a clean and healthy environment as a fundamental right, thereby joining the worldwide fight against climate change and its catastrophic repercussions. To read more click here and here.

A Special Rapporteur appointed on the situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan.

The Human Rights Council voted to appoint a Special Rapporteur to review the state of human rights in Afghanistan for a period of one year, in order to investigate alleged abuses committed by the Taliban and other opposing forces. To read more click here and here

UN Human Rights Council takes cognisance of the right to a sustainable environment 

The UN Human Rights Council recognised a “safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment” as a fundamental human right on 8th October, 2021. The text proposed by countries including Maldives and Morocco was passed with the only abstentions coming from India, China, Japan, and Russia. However, member states will not be legally bound by the resolution according to the ambassador in Geneva, Rita French. To read more click here.

Pandora Papers and its implications

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published a report on 3rd October 2021 (now known as the “Pandora Papers”) that revealed the complex financial schemes adopted by wealthy elites and world leaders for hiding their assets. To read more click here.

Conflict and Security

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has issued a warning about an impending military strike by Myanmar.

The OHCHR is afraid that the Myanmar military is preparing an armed invasion on its opponents, amid a build-up of weapons and personnel in parts of the country where the internet has already been shut down. The OHCHR reported the army’s recent intensification of operations in Chin state and other places, including killings and home burnings, in an evident effort to garner out armed insurrection. To read more click here and here.

China’s reunification with Taiwan

Despite increased military threats towards the self-governing territory, Chinese President Xi Jinping has sworn to pursue and achieve “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan. In response, Taiwan encouraged Beijing to end its military, political, and economic pressure on Taiwan and instead engage in bilateral and peaceful talks. To read more, click here and here.

Nuclear talks to resume between US and Iran

The Biden and Raisi administrations have been in talks in Vienna about reviving the JCPOA pact. The chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Department announced the manufacture of 120 kg of 20% enriched uranium, over 50% more than the IAEA expected in its report last month. The agreement is more important than ever because of Iran’s rapid learning on how to operate advanced equipment and technology  for uranium enrichment as Tehran advances its nuclear program. To read more click here and here

International Organisations

IMF to decide Kristalina Georgieva’s future as Managing Director 

The executive board of the International Monetary Fund will meet with Kristalina Georgieva and WilmerHale, the law firm that claims she coerced World Bank staff to change data to benefit China while serving as the bank’s CEO. The final verdict will be announced on Monday. To read more click here and to read the report published by WilmerHale click here.

EU accused of overextending their powers

After supporting a Polish court finding that parts of EU law is incompatible with the Polish constitution, the Hungarian government along with the Polish government has called on EU institutions to respect the sovereignty of the member countries. Hungary’s position came after a very different joint statement from the German and French foreign ministers, who said Poland had a moral and legal commitment to accept the EU’s rules and expectations. To read more click here and here.

Edited by Rishav Sen & Akshara Ravindran

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