International brief ~ UN Security Council expansion plans likely dead

[JURIST] Leading Friday's international brief, UN officials are now admitting that membership of the Security Council is unlikely to change anytime soon, despite months of negotiation and calls for changes [JURIST report] to the body's composition. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan supports expansion [JURIST report], and the US supports it in principle, but it opposed the plans put forth [JURIST report]. As a permanent member of the Security Council, a US veto would torpedo a proposal. Japan, Germany, Brazil, and India [JURIST report] were the primary players considered for addition, along with guaranteed spots for African nations and rotating positions. US ambassador to the UN John Bolton [official profile] predicted in October that expansion proposals would fail because the US supports only adding four or five new members, not 10 or more as the proposals suggested. Two days of speeches last week seemed to signal the loss of any momentum for the process, and Jan Eliasson, UN General Assembly president, said Thursday that he is only in "listening mode" on the issue. The New York Times has more.

In other international legal news ...

  • Indonesian officials on Friday dismissed a Dutch report [press release] released Wednesday that called the 1969 "Act of Free Choice" vote [Wikipedia backgrounder] in West Papua [advocacy website], in which just over 1,000 individuals selected by the Indonesian government decided that all of the then-700,000 populace would remain under Indonesian rule, a fraud and argued that Indonesia had violated international law and the UN Charter by absorbing West Papua as a province. The vote on self-determination was required as part of a 1962 agreement between the Netherlands, which had exercised colonial rule over the western half of New Guinea, and Indonesia, which claimed the territory as part of the de-colonization process. The UN Temporary Executive Authority was supposed to administer the island until 1969, when residents would be allowed to vote on their future political ties, but within a year, the UNTEA handed control of the territory over to Indonesia. Indonesian officials rejected the claims of the report, saying that the Netherlands and the international community had accepted the status of West Papua as a legitimate province of Indonesia. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Indonesia[JURIST news archive]. The Jakarta Post has local coverage.

  • The UN-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society [official website], being held in Tunisia, has been the site of an informal debate between attending nations over the right of governments to limit freedom of the press and access to information. Officials from China and Senegal have taken a strong stand against the UN implementing any kind of official review of governments that block access to internet sites deemed 'seditious', arguing that state sovereignty allows independent nations to combat the 'negative impact' of the internet. China recently forced Yahoo News services [official website] to release the identity of a reporter [JURIST report] that published an article critical of the Chinese government. The head of international advocacy group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) [official website] Robert Menard was denied access to Tunisia [RSF report] in spite of being accredited to attend the summit because he faces criminal charges for incidents relating to the protest of the Tunisia tourist office in Paris in 2002. Menard has repeatedly called on the UN to take active steps to sanction the Tunisian government for limiting the access of its citizens to the internet. The Mail & Guardian Online has more.

  • The Sri Lankan Department of Elections [official website] confirmed that ruling-party candidate Mahinda Rajapakse [official website, BBC profile] won Thursday's presidential election by receiving just over 50 percent of the national votes cast. Rajapakse has vowed to take a hard line on peace talks with rebel Tamil leaders and has stated that he intends to renegotiate the current ceasefire agreed to under former Sri Lankan president Chandrika Kumaratunga [official profile]. Rajapakse has also pledged to end attempts at privitization of national services in Sri Lanka [government website] and to initiate public agricultural subsidies. The election was touted as the most peaceful in Sri Lanka's independent history, as the Tamil Tigers [advocacy website] proclaimed no interest in the outcome of the election. BBC News has more.

 

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