International brief ~ Venezuelan leader jump-starts controversial land reform law News
International brief ~ Venezuelan leader jump-starts controversial land reform law

[JURIST] Leading Wednesday's international brief, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez [official website in Spanish] issued a presidential decree Tuesday creating a presidential and national land commission to implement the provisions of Venezuela's four year old land reform law. The law, called Plan Zamora [Wikipedia article], focuses on breaking up the large estates owned by a minute percentage of the overall Venezuelan population. The law has been viewed as critical to the domestic political success of Chavez's administration, and the delay in implementing its provisions has been a sore spot among the leader's normally loyal lower class supporters. Chavez pledged that landowner concerns about constitutional rights and private property interests would be addressed on an individual basis, but remained firm in his assertion that Venezuela's land must be more equitably distributed to its entire population. BBC News has more.

In other international legal news…

  • The European Union [official website] will open talks Wednesday with Iran on a formal trading partnership now that EU, US, and UN officials have finished negotiations over Iran's planned refinement of nuclear materials [JURIST Hot Topic]. Included as incentive in the negotiations is the promise of support from the EU for Iran's bid to gain membership in the World Trade Organization [official website]. The negotiations require equal response from Iran on key issues such as human rights, regional security in the Middle East, the fight against terrorism, and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The Guardian has more.
  • The African Union [official website] concluded its annual Meeting of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) on Tuesday, pledging a stronger level of involvement in ending the numerous conflicts currently occurring on the continent. The body discussed easing the eligibility requirements for the office of president in Cote d'Ivoire, which would pave the way to allowing popular leader Alassane Ouattara [Wikipedia profile] to be a candidate in the upcoming elections. The PSC also recommended that the rebels in western Sudan use the recent peace agreement between the northern and southern regions as a model for its own peace process, and encouraged the Sudanese government to enter peace talks with the rebels. The PSC has also authorized the use of AU troops to help the Democratic Republic of the Congo disarm Hutu rebels currently sheltering in its territory near the Rwandan border. Rwandan President Paul Kagame [official profile] has warned that he will use massive troop movements to draw out the rebels if they are not taken care of internally. Read the official resolutions of the PSC. Voice of America has more. In a related story, the chairman of the PSC, Gabon's President Omar Bongo Ondimba [Wikipedia profile], called for the creation of an African humanitarian organization that would be capable of dealing with disasters, such as the recent Indian Ocean tsunamis, as well as the fall out from the many civil wars and violent unrest that occur on the continent. Ondimba said that while the AU cannot currently fund the equipment and resources needed for such a body, the organizational structure and support systems should be designed and reviewed so that the implementation of the Humanitarian relief agency could occur as quickly as possible. South Africa's Sunday Times has more.
  • Acting Secretary-General of the Organization of American States, Luigi R. Einaudi [official profile] and Juan Gabriel Valdés, the Chief of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti [official website], reported to the OAS Permanent Council [official website] Tuesday on progress being made to prepare Haiti for general elections, scheduled for sometime in 2005. Valdez expressed optimism about the process, and noted that the next undertaking would be the creation of a national registry to ensure that elections would be fair and legal, laying the framework for a stable Haitian government. The report prefaced Wednesday's discussion of the situation in Haiti by the UN Security Council [official website], which will examine election preparations and will most likely discuss increasing funding for the project. Read the OAS press release.