The Record: This Week in Review

European Parliament Rejects Budget Agreement That Promoted Austerity

The European Parliament overwhelmingly voted to demand significant changes to the E.U.’s budget.  The budget, which for the first time would cut spending, was seen as promoting austerity.  The 27 member states of the E.U. will now have to agree to another budget compromise, and include the Parliament in its decision.

American and European Officials Push for Trade Agreement

On Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama and E.U. Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht both expressed support for a free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union.  Mr. De Gucht expressed hope that negotiations could begin by the summer.  Mr. Obama, speaking from Washington D.C. called for support from industry and labor groups.  Similar attempts at an agreement have failed in the past but industry and government officials think that this time could be different due to the European debt crisis and pressure from large, emerging economies such as China.

Shale Development Talks Between Chevron and Argentina Stall

Argentina and Chevron had been working towards forming a joint venture between the American oil giant and YPF, Argentina’s national oil company to develop Argentine shale reserves.  However, Chevron has confronted Argentina’s government after an Argentine Judge froze many of Chevron’s assets over a matter related to pollution in the Amazon.

ICC Drops Charges Against Kenyan Politician

On Monday, the prosecutor’s office announced a decision to drop the charges of humanity crimes against former Kenyan cabinet secretary Francis Muthaura after encountering various issues with evidence and witness testimony.

Pro-Democracy Leader Aung San Suu Kyi Faces Protests and Criticism

The Burmese opposition leader defended a government recommendation that the building of a Chinese-backed copper-mine should continue, despite findings that the project lacked environmental protection measures and would not provide jobs for locals. There was a violent police crackdown at the site last year and Aung San Suu Kyi’s decision to back the project has led to criticism, alleging that she puts economic interests and good relations with China above human rights.

High levels of unemployment on the agenda at EU Summit

The two-day summit to occur this week focuses on unemployment levels and budget policies. 11 % of EU population is currently unemployed. There are great social challenges and consequences of the debt crisis that the EU is facing and this needs to be addressed.

UN Resolution to partially lift the arms embargo imposed on Somalia

The UN Security Council has reauthorized the mandate of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia along with a partial lift on the arms embargo. The Somali government will now be able to buy light weapons as they face the continuing challenges from Islamic Militants.

Obama administration request for increased IMF voting power rejected

U.S. lawmakers have rejected a request by the Obama administration to approve a permanent increase in U.S. funding to the International Monetary Fund. Congressional approval is necessary for such a reform as it involves shifting and making permanent a $65 billion U.S. contribution to an IMF crisis fund.

The Record: This Week in Review

Governments and Private Sector Meet to Discuss Strategies for Combatting Transnational Organized Wildlife Crime

Over 150 governments and businesses are attending a UN-backed conference in Thailand from March 3rd to March 14th, organized under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Thus far the conference has focused on the importance of international cooperation in combating transnational organized wildlife crime.

UN and Arab League Negotiate with Syrian Rebels to Free Detained UN Peacekeepers

The UN has monitored Israeli-occupied Golan Heights since the 1974 ceasefire between Israel and Syria. UN representatives were on a “regular supply mission” in the area, when they were detained by Syrian rebels. The UN and Arab League have entered into negotiations with the rebels to free the UN representatives.

EU Fines Microsoft for Failing to Meet Previous Competition Agreement

In its settlement following a previous EU competition investigation, Microsoft agreed to promote a wider range of browsers in its operating system, rather than just Internet Explorer. While it implemented a “Browser Choice Screen” feature in accordance with the settlement in 2010, its most recent software update eliminated the feature. The UN viewed this oversight as a “serious breach” of the settlement agreement and fined Microsoft.

42,500 Nazi Ghettos and Camps from World War II Identified in Europe

The Holocaust Memorial Museum has identified and catalogued a shocking number of Nazi-run war camps, providing for deeper understanding of the magnitude of the Nazi camp network. Identifying these camps may have legal implications for survivors whose insurance claims and claims over stolen property have been denied in the past because they took place at unknown camps.

Saudi Arabia Halted Executions of Minors

Seven Saudis were convicted of armed robbery as juveniles and sentenced to death by crucifixion and firing squad. Human rights groups demanded that the executions be halted to prevent Saudi Arabia from violating the Convention of the Rights of the Child that was ratified by Saudi Arabia in 1996. On the day of the planned executions, the Saudi government announced that it would delay the executions in order to review the sentences.

Kenyatta Leading Poles in Kenyan Presidential Election

Uhuru Kenyatta, indicted by the Internation Criminal Court for crimes against humanity related to the violence that erupted in Kenya after the heavily disputed 2007 presidential elections, has a significant lead in the current elections as ballot counting is slowing down. Measures are being taken to prevent disputes over the election results from leading to violence, but controversy over 300,000 spoiled ballots may lead to questions over the legitimacy of the vote count.

Hugo Chavez Dies After Fourteen Years in Power

Chavez died after struggling with cancer for over a year. Vice President Maduro will be the acting President of Venezuela until elections are held in the next 30 days. New leadership in Venezuela may impact the political balance and economy of Latin America if the next president embodies more centrist values than the socialist, anti-imperialist Chavez.

Potential HIV Cure

A toddler in Mississippi has been “functionally cured” of HIV after antiretroviral medication was given immediately after birth. If this method proves effective after further testing, it may provide a revolutionary and cost-effective solution to managing the AIDS epidemic across the globe.

Technology and Index Tools of the International Chamber of Commerce

The International Chamber of Commerce released a new digitally interactive Model International Sale Contract, specifically adapted for transactions governed by the United Nations Convention for the International Sale of Goods, with user-friendly features such as pop-ups when parties select incompatible clauses. The International Chamber of Commerce further presented Open Markets Index findings that G20 countries still are not leading by example in their efforts to reduce trade barriers, stimulate growth, and create jobs, “achieving only average scores for openness.”

Tajikistan joins the WTO

Tajikistan joined the World Trade Organization on 2 March 2013, bringing the WTO’s total membership to 159. In negotiations, Tajikistan agreed to further liberalize its trade regime and integrate itself in the world economy.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Collaboration Initiatives

UNCTAD coordinated a United Nations Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity mission to Myanmar along with the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the International Trade Centre, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank from 18-22 February. Their goals included establishing a Diagnostic Trade Integration Study and assisting Myanmar’s integration into the world trade system. In another collaboration, the UNCTAD and Eurasian Economic Commission agreed to sign a memorandum of cooperation to work together on regional integration, trade and competition policy, facilitation of customs procedures, entrepreneurship development, transport, and statistics.

Jim Yong Kim visits Brazil

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim visited Brazil for three days, where he praised Bahia Hospital for providing low-income families better access to healthcare, spoke about the impact of domestic violence on economic opportunities, and launched the “Knowledge and Innovation Initiative on the Reduction of Poverty” with the Ministry of Social Development, Institute of Applied Economics, and the United Nations International Policy Center on Inclusive Grown.

The Record: This Week in Review

Human Rights Watch Finds Israeli Airstrikes in Gaza Violated the Laws of War

Human Rights Watch has sent detailed information to the IDF about numerous airstrikes in Gaza that may have violated the Laws of War.  The airstrikes, at least 18 of them, were carried out during fighting in November 2012 and were the result of Human Rights investigations.  The IDF has said that it is conducting “operational debriefings” of the attacks and will have completed its investigation sometime in February.

UN Security Council Set to Approve Sending Peacekeepers to Mali

Although the Malian government has expressed concerns about the presence of UN peacekeepers in the country (it fears the strengthening of a split between northern and southern Mali) it looks as though the UN Security Council will be approving the deployment of about 6,000 peacekeepers in the coming weeks.  The move comes after French troops have already secured much of the country from Islamist rebels.  Some issues that still remain to be worked out is how this UN peacekeeping force will interact with the UN backed African military force (AFISMA) which is currently fighting alongside French troops.

ICC Orders Extradition of Libyan Spy Chief

 Abdullah al-Senussi, Gadaffi’s ex spy chief, has requested that he be tried by the International Court of Court in the Hague.  He has been denied access to his British lawyer and the ICC, along with other human rights organizations, have expressed concern about his ability to receive a fair trial in the new Libya, which suffers from a weak central government and lack of rule of law.  Libyan leaders however have a vested interest in trying Gadaffi’s family members and supporters in country in order to gain credibility among their own population.

U.N. Sanctions North Korea for Latest Nuclear Tests

Tensions mounted this week with North Korea conducting additional nuclear tests, resulting in tightened sanctions from the U.N. Security Council.  However, nuclear capability concerns are drawing attention away from human rights issues within North Korea.  Current estimations put the number of persons currently held in North Korea prison camps at 200,000, where they suffer torture, rape and slave labor.  Both the United States and Japan will support additional inquiries into human rights violations in North Korea.

Human Rights Watch Report on Yemen

The Human Rights Watch released a report titled “Unpunished Massacre – Yemen’s Failed Response to the “Friday of Dignity” Killings” calling attention to the inadequate investigation and prosecution of those responsible. The massacre resulted in the deaths of 45 protesters, including University students and children, and implicated the involvement of several government officials.

Australian’s Prisoner X

The New York Times reported further details regarding the mysterious death of Mr. Ben Zygier, an Australian citizen also known as “Prisoner X,” who was being held in an Israeli maximum security prison.  Israel’s Justice Ministry issued a statement denying any violation of Mr. Zygier’s rights during the secret imprisonment or criminal proceedings. Mr. Zygier was incarcerated in 2010 and suspected by the Australian government of spying for Israel.

Abuse of Canadian Women Exposed

Human Rights Watch has published a report exposing police abuse of indigenous women and children in Canada.  The report details police brutality, threats of arrest, and shaming.  The British Columbia legislature recently established an investigative unit to further explore “police-related incidents involving death or serious harm.”  The concern is that the majority of the abuse faced is not covered by the definition of “serious harm” and more needs to be done by the Canadian government to protect women and children.

Australia Accused of Human Rights Violations 

Australia has been accused of human rights violations involving 23 Indonesian minors.  They were incorrectly housed in adult prisons where they were sexually harassed by the prison guards.  Jailed between 2008 and 2011, they were originally smuggled into Australia and have since been returned to Indonesia.

Jamaica in Final Stages of Accepting $ 750 million IMF Loan

Jan Kees Martijn, Head of the International Monetary Fund million to Jamaica, stated it has reached a “staff-level agreement” with Jamaica on a $ 750 million loan. Jamaica, which derives most of its GDP from tourism and other services, has seen a decline in its economy over the last thirty years. This loan is intended to reduce Jamaica’s “medium-term financing needs” and to contribute to its “debt sustainability,” Martijn said, but the loan still needs to be approved by the IMF’s executive board—scheduled to be completed by the end of March.

Three International Organizations Collaborate for the First Time

The World Health Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, and the World Trade Organization released a book, “Promoting Access to Medical Technologies and Innovation: Intersections between Public Health, Intellectual Property and Trade,” marking the first time that these three organizations have come together to tackle some of the most pressing issues involving medicine and health. The book examines a range of issues related to these fields, uncovers powerful studies, and most notably, provides tools for future development and success of medical technologies and innovations.