After two years of dedication, we are excited to officially announce the launch of the International People’s Tribunal on U.S. Imperialism: Sanctions, Blockades, and Economic Coercive Measures. This project is a first-ever international effort to build systems of accountability—rooted in global cross-movement solidarity—both within and outside of the law, to challenge the violence of imperialism through sanctions. With an impressive group of internationally renowned jurists from across the world, we interrogate sanctions not from the perspective of those who enforce them, but from the perspective of those most impacted by them, namely the peoples of Asia, Africa, and South America. This half-day event took place on January 28, 2023, at People’s Forum located at 320 W 37th St, New York, NY 10018, by an international coalition of over 30 organizations.
Hundreds of Palestinians gathered on Monday, January 23, near Khan al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank to oppose the proposed Israeli plan to forcefully displace the residents by demolishing their village. The protesters gathered following the calls for demolition issued by ultra right-wing Itamar Ben-Gvir, interior minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. It was also rumored that Ben-Gvir would be visiting Khan al-Ahmar along with his cabinet colleague and settler leader Bezalel Smotrich. Maarouf Rifai, legal advisor to Palestinian Authority (PA), who participated in the protests, told Al Jazeera that Khan al-Ahmar “is Palestinian land. It is private Palestinian land. There is no excuse for the Israeli government, other than to develop the ‘Greater Jerusalem’ plan and to link the settlements surrounding East Jerusalem in order to clear this area from Palestinian Arabs.” He asserted that PA will not let Khan al-Ahmar be demolished.
A historic United Nations vote on December 31 called on the ICJ to look at the Israeli Occupation in terms of legal consequences, the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the responsibility of all UN Member States in bringing the protracted Israeli Occupation to an end. A special emphasis will be placed on the “demographic composition, character and status” of Occupied Jerusalem. The last time the ICJ was asked to offer a legal opinion on the matter was in 2004. However, back then, the opinion was largely centered around the “legal consequences arising from the construction of the (Israeli Apartheid) wall.” While it is true that the ICJ concluded that the totality of the Israeli actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are unlawful under international law – the Fourth Geneva Convention, the relevant provision of the earlier Hague Regulations and, of course, the numerous UN General Assembly and Security Council Resolutions – this time around the ICJ is offering its view on Israel’s attempt at making what is meant to be a temporary military Occupation, a permanent one.
On January 3, 2023, Shaun Tandon of Agence France-Presse asked US State Department spokesperson Ned Price about Venezuela. In late December, the Venezuelan opposition after a fractious debate decided to dissolve the “interim government” led by Juan Guaidó. From 2019 onward, the U.S. government recognized Guaidó as the “interim president of Venezuela.” With the end of Guaidó’s administration, Tandon asked if “the United States still recognize[s] Juan Guaidó as legitimate interim president.” Price’s answer was that the US government recognizes the “only remaining democratically elected institution in Venezuela today, and that’s the 2015 National Assembly.” It is true that when the U.S. government supported Guaidó as the “interim president” of Venezuela, it did so because of his role as the rotating president in that National Assembly in 2019.
Days after a U.S. warplane bombed a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing forty-two people, twenty-four of them patients, the international president of MSF, Dr. Joanne Liu walked through the wreckage and prepared to deliver condolences to family members of those who had been killed. A brief video, taped in October, 2015, captures her nearly unutterable sadness as she speaks about a family who, the day before the bombing, had been prepared to bring their daughter home. Doctors had helped the young girl recover, but because war was raging outside the hospital, administrators recommended that the family come the next day. “She’s safer here,” they said.
On Tuesday, Mehr news agency reported that a senior Iranian judicial official said 94 U.S. nationals have been charged with involving in the 2020 assassination of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani. Kazem Gharibabadi, deputy chief of the Iranian judiciary and secretary general of the High Council for Human Rights, made the remarks in a televised interview on the third anniversary of Soleimani's assassination. He said the three main accused are former U.S. President Donald Trump, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Commander of U.S. Central Command Kenneth Frank McKenzie, stressing that no one will be immune from prosecution in this case. Gharibabadi said the accused are not just the 94 Americans, and their accomplices from seven other countries, including certain regional states as well as Germany and Britain.
The way that the wording rules-based order is bandied about makes it sound like it has worldwide acceptance and that it has been around for a long time. Yet it comes across as a word-of-the-moment, both idealistic and disingenuous. Didn’t people just use to say international law or refer to the International Court of Justice, Nuremberg Law, the UN Security Council, or the newer institution — the International Criminal Court? Moreover, the word rules is contentious. Some will skirt the rules, perhaps chortling the aphorism that rules are meant to be broken. Rules can be unjust, and shouldn’t these unjust rules be broken, or better yet, disposed of? Wouldn’t a more preferable wording refer to justice? And yes, granted that justice can be upset by miscarriages. Or how about a morality-based order?
This Friday, December 16, the US Senate unanimously approved the Law to Prohibit Operations and Leasing with the Illegitimate Authoritarian Regime of Venezuela (BOLIVAR Act), presented by the ultra-conservative Floridian senator, Rick Scott. The discussion of the interventionist act in the lower house of the US Congress is still pending. “The regulations prohibit federal agencies from doing business with anyone who supports the oppressive Maduro regime,” reported the official website of Scott, who was one of the primary promoters of the law. Scott was joined by far-right Senator Marco Rubio as well as other far-right congressmen. The bill had been unanimously approved by the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs in March 2021, as a preliminary step before being discussed in the Senate.
Join a discussion of the latest developments in key regions of the world with several authors of the new anthology: SANCTIONS: A Wrecking Ball in a Global Economy. Intensifying US sanctions, imposed on a third of humanity, are sending shock waves through the world economy. Now this brutal form of economic warfare on civilian populations is being contested. US dollar dominance is being challenged as the currency of global trade. Sanctions have boomeranged back on the US and EU countries with inflation, supply chain shortages, and a looming recession causing hardship at home. But by far the greatest burden is borne by 40+ sanctioned countries. The US response is doubling down on harsher sanctions. What are the implications?
UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures and human rights Alena Douhan today urged sanctioning States to lift unilateral sanctions against Syria, warning that they were perpetuating and exacerbating the destruction and trauma suffered by the Syrian people since 2011. “I am struck by the pervasiveness of the human rights and humanitarian impact of the unilateral coercive measures imposed on Syria and the total economic and financial isolation of a country whose people are struggling to rebuild a life with dignity, following the decade-long war,” Douhan said. In a statement following her 12-day visit to Syria, the Special Rapporteur presented detailed information about the catastrophic effects of unilateral sanctions across all walks of life in the country.
The vast majority of countries on Earth voted in the United Nations General Assembly to condemn the Israeli apartheid regime for having nuclear weapons, in flagrant violation of international law. Israel is the only country in West Asia that has nukes. Tel Aviv has not officially acknowledged its possession of the planet-destroying weapons, but experts estimate it has at least 90 nuclear warheads, and perhaps hundreds. On October 28, a staggering 152 countries (79% of all UN member states) adopted a resolution that called on Israel to give up its atomic bombs, join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to supervise its nuclear facilities. Just five countries voted against the measure: the United States and Canada, the small island nations of Palau and Micronesia, and apartheid Israel itself.
Academics Benny Morris of Ben-Gurion University and Benjamin Z. Kedar of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem have produced an extraordinary paper based on a welter of archival material, exposing in disturbing detail the hitherto obfuscated dimensions of an operation by Zionist forces to use chemical and biological weapons against both invading Arab armies and local civilians during the 1948 war. That brutal conflict created the state of Israel, and led to permanent displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, known as the “Nakba” – Arabic for disaster, catastrophe, or cataclysm. Morris and Kedar offer a highly granular timeline of events, starting in the initial months of that year, as Britain prepared to evacuate Mandatory Palestine on May 15.
The gloves came off at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Monday, October 17, 2022 in one of the best bare-knuckle since the dawn of the new multipolar world on February 24, 2022. And the subject was Haiti. The United States is to justify its fourth major military intervention into Haiti in a century. To do so, Washington is playing fast-and-loose with the UN Charter, trying to deputize one nation or group of nations to intervene on its behalf. Sources say that the candidates for the honor are Canada, Mexico, and Norway. However, veto-wielders China and Russia are pushing back, and there’s no guarantee that the US (with its usual allies, Canada and France) will succeed in its gambit. Brazil played the leadership role in the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), which lasted from 2004 to 2017.
The 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly was, in many ways, similar to the 76th session and many other previous sessions: at best, a stage for rosy rhetoric that is rarely followed by tangible action or, at worse, a mere opportunity for some world leaders to score political points against their opponents. This should surprise no one. For many years, the UN has been relegated to the role of either a cheerleader for the policy of great powers, or a timid protester of sociopolitical, economic or gender inequalities. Alas, as the Iraq war proved nearly thirty years ago, and as the Russia-Ukraine war is proving today, the UN seems the least effective party in bringing about global peace, equality and security for all.