[JURIST] In Tuesday's international brief, the Russian government [official website in Russian] has rejected a petition initiated Monday by KPRF [party website in Russian], the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, requesting a Duma vote of no-confidence. The government denied the that there existed any real reason for the government to resign, and said that the KPRF and its allies are merely arguing over political differences with the executive. The petition was circulated after Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website] said that legislative opposition to a new social benefits plan [JURIST report] had been prompted by the loss of kick-backs and illegal private gain that many legislators made off of the provision of food, energy, and heating to welfare recipients. The KPRF is expected to use the petition as leverage for concessions, and is not anticipated to actually collect the 90 signatures needed to initiate a vote of no-confidence during Duma session. The Duma is scheduled to hold hearings on the controversial replacement of certain social benefits by cash payments on Friday. Itar-Tass has local coverage.
In other international legal news…
- The Sudanese government [official site] announced Monday that a preliminary peace deal was initialed between the government and the leading rebel group in the northern and eastern regions of Sudan, the National Democratic Alliance [NDA official site]. The proposed peace deal is scheduled for official signing in February and will include a withdraw of the current state of emergency laws, a reintegration of the NDA into Sudanese politics, and a merging of the rebel forces into the national army. The NDA has been fighting the Sudanese government, often alongside the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army, since the overthrow of the country's last democratically elected leader in 1989. With the NDA's likely acceptance of the proposal, the only region of Sudan left in turmoil is the western, Darfur region. The UN recently intensified its calls for the Sudanese government to use the progress with other rebel groups as momentum for finding a solution to the current humanitarian crisis in Darfur. JURIST's Paper Chase has background [JURIST country archive] on the situation in Sudan.The Sudan Tribune has local coverage.
- Pakistan [official government website] announced Tuesday that it will be seeking formal arbitration from the World Bank [official site] regarding concerns raised by the planned construction of a hydro-electric dam in Jammu, India. Pakistan claims Baglihar Dam would block a significant portion of the water flowing from the Chenab River, drastically lowering the level of water available for vital irrigation of Pakistani fields and crops. Construction on the river is governed by the Indus Waters Treaty [official text, PDF], which prohibits India from impairing the flow of water to Pakistan from the three major rivers that run through India, but allows India to generate electricity from the rivers. Pakistan claims it has tried every option within the treaty to resolve the dispute, and has requested arbitration from the World Bank as a last resort. Many fear that the dispute over Baglihar Dam will slow or even stop the already lethargic peace talks between India and Pakistan. The Times of India has local coverage.
- The UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction [official website] opened in Kobe, Japan, Tuesday with a focus on organizing a more efficient and rapid global response to disasters in the face of tragedies such as the recent Indian Ocean Tsunami. The Conference is run by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction organization [UNISDR official website] and will address a number of different proposals for disaster reduction, including a tsunami early-warning system for the Indian Ocean, and education of government officials concerning responses to disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. Read the transcript of UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland's opening statement [PDF]. View the Conference's schedule [PDF] for its meetings in Kobe, Japan. View video of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's address to the Conference and read the UN news release.