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Monday, October 10, 2011

African Union (finally?) recognizes new Libyan leadership

On 21 September 2011, the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) H.E. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea, announced the recognition of the National Transitional Council (NTC) ‘as the representative of the Libyan people as they form an all-inclusive transitional government that will occupy the Libyan seat at the AU’. Although being rather ambiguous in its wording – as it speaks of the NTC as an ‘all inclusive transitional government’, a status which the NTC can not claim to fulfill – this statement should be seen as a major alteration in the position of the AU and as a strong leg up for the NTC. Especially since South Africa expressed its support for the decision of the AU. Prior to this statement, the AU refused by all means to recognize the NTC while encouraging ‘the Libyan stakeholders to form an all-inclusive transitional government that would work towards the promotion of national unity, reconciliation and democracy’.

During the course of the conflict in Libya the AU has, under the leadership of South African President Jacob Zuma, continuously called for a cease-fire and mediation under African guidance. Simultaneously, the body expressed multiple concerns about the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 1973. According to the AU the massive airstrikes NATO launched on Libyan soils would be counterproductive. As Zuma stated in June of this year: ‘These actions undermine the efforts of the AU in finding solutions to the problems facing its member states’. By the time Tripoli had been conquered by the rebels and all five veto-powers had recognized the NTC, the AU held on to the belief that the future for Libya would lie in a truly all-inclusive transitional government, including supporters of Gaddafi’s regime. This position provoked some fierce criticism from voices within and outside the African community. In essence, two strains of criticism can be identified.

Commander and Chief: Cultural Constraints Related to Command Responsibility

The trial of Jean Pierre Bemba, at the International Criminal Court raises important issues related to the theory of command responsibility. This is the first case at the International Criminal Court which focuses on the doctrine to establish the criminal responsibility of an accused in a case before the Court. On face value, the facts of the Prosecutions case reveal that Mr. Bemba being the President of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) and commander in chief of its military wing, the Arme´e de Liberation du Congo (ALC)., had a particular relationship to the troops directly involved in the commission of the crimes in the Central African Republic (CAR) during 2002 and 2003. In short, through a chain of command he was directly responsible for the crimes committed by his troops in the region. The basis of this type of responsibility is codified under Article 28 of the Rome Statute, which holds that military commanders can be held individually accountable for the crimes of their troops if they fail to exercise effective control over those under their command, regardless of whether or not they are connected to the crime in question. Article 28 goes even further to distinguish between military and non-military commanders complicating the rule even further.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

China No Longer Shy on Human Rights

Professor Tom Zwart recently visited China, where he had the opportunity to address the Human Rights situation and the progress made by China since its ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In an interview on Chinese national television's CNTV's Dialogue, Professor Zwart addressed the possibility of bridging the divide between the universality of human rights to Chinese culture and society. For more on this interview visit the link below:

Posted by Ingrid Roestenburg-Morgan