GJC Weekly News Roundup


Kim Jung-un and Trump Deal: Missed Opportunity

The two leaders met on Tuesday in Singapore to sign a "comprehensive" deal. The agreement features several key details which critics argue, are vague and possibly problematic. The first point of the deal is the guarantee of "peace and prosperity" for both the United States and North Korea. The second point highlights US support for ensuring a "lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean peninsula." The deal also mentions an important point: the complete denuclearization of North Korea.  However, the leaders did not mention anything on improving human rights practices.

Joint Submission to CEDAW Committee on the State of Palestine 

Human Rights Watch,Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counseling, andEquality Now have submitted the first review on Palestine's compliance with CEDAW obligations. The report is based on findings and publications from Human Rights Watch and Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counseling as well as first-hand interviews with affected women. The report highlights the need to consider the obstacles posed by the Israeli occupation. It also explores several key issues such as honor killings of women and child marriages. 

Paraguay Eliminates Malaria 

According to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of World Health Organization, Paraguay is the first country in 45 years in the Americas to have eliminated malaria. The organization stated that Paraguay has reported no cases of malaria in the past five years. It was also included in the 2016 WHO list of countries to likely become free of malaria by 2020. 

UAE Pressures UN to Implement Ceasefire in Yemen

The United Arab Emirates gave a 48 hour ultimatum to the UN and other actors involved in Yemen's conflict to implement a ceasefire at the "Red Sea" port of Hodeiah. The port serves as the entrance for rebels, Saudi militias, and UN aid envoys. The UAE has stated it will carry out an attack at the port if the ceasefire is not implemented. Currently, the UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is seeking negotiations between Saudi Arabia and UAE to avoid the 'catastrophic' attack. 

Legalizing Abortion in Argentina Creates Divide

On June 13, Argentina's lower house approved an abortion bill allowing women to receive abortions during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Currently, only women who were raped or face potential health risks can receive abortions in Argentina. The bill was passed 129 – 123, however, it must still pass Senate. So far, 16 senators have spoken out in favor of the bill while 27 seven have expressed disapproval.

U.S and 'Zero Tolerance Policy'

United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, Zeid Ra'ad al -Hussein, has criticized the US for its border control policy. The "Zero Tolerance" policy will prosecute anyone who has illegally crossed US borders. However, the policy has also resulted in the separation of families and their children. Ra'ad al- Hussein has stated, "The thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable.” Moreover, UN officials have stated  that the US is in violation of children's rights and international law. 

GJC Weekly News Roundup

Monsoon Rains Hit Rohingya Refugee Camps

Monsoon rains have hit the camps housing hundreds of thousands Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. So far, these rains have caused the death of one child and have destroyed hundreds of makeshift shelters. The UN refugee agency UNHCR reported that “large areas of the camp were underwater”, leading to 21 landslides. The rains will potentially impact upwards of 200,000 Rohingya refugees who are huddled in camps along Bangladesh’s eastern border. The monsoon season usually lasts until October.

No Mention of Reproductive Rights at G7 Development Meeting

The G7 Development Ministers’ Meetings in Whistler, Canada failed to mention reproductive rights in their concluding declarations. This occurred despite the fact the focus of the event is “the empowerment of women and girls.” Although stronger language was used at the ministerial held last week, with ministers calling for access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, softer language was used at the declarations due to the U.S. delegation being present. This censorship is also due to Trump’s reestablishment of the Global Gag Rule.

Myanmar Willing to Take Back Rohingya Refugees, Official Says

Myanmar’s national security advisor U Thaung Tun announced the country is willing to take back all 700,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees who have fled to Bangladesh if they volunteer to return. This was declared in response to the question of whether the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state could trigger the use of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) framework of the United Nations. The R2P framework was adopted for nations to agree to protect their own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Tun argued that, “there is no war going on, so it’s not war crimes.” He also argued for clear evidence of crimes against humanity.

Boat Sinks, Killing Scores of Migrants

The Defense Ministry of Tunisia announced at least 46 migrants were killed and 67 rescued after their boat sank off of the country’s coast. One of the worst migrant boat accidents in recent years, the boat was packed with migrants from Tunisia and other African countries. Human traffickers have started using Tunisia as a launchpad for migrants heading to Europe due to the tightened control of Libya’s coast with the aid of armed groups.

Supreme Court Dismisses Decision Allowing Undocumented Teen an Abortion

The Supreme Court dismissed a lower court’s decision that allowed an undocumented immigrant teen to receive an abortion. Siding with the Trump Administration, the Supreme Court directed the lower court to dismiss the teen’s individual claim seeking access to abortion services as moot. The teenager was able to terminate her pregnancy before the high court became involved. The Supreme Court refused the Trump Administration’s request asking that the ACLU lawyers representing the girl be disciplined for their actions.

Saudi Arabia Issues Driving Licenses to Women

Saudi Arabia has issued driving licenses to women for the first time in decades, which comes just before the ban on female drivers is lifted. Rights groups in the kingdom have campaigned against the law that requires women to seek male permission for various decisions. It is expected that another 2,000 women in the kingdom will join the other licensed drivers. The lifting of the driving ban was announced last September and is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s program to modernize certain aspects of Saudi Arabia’s society.


Photo Credit: John Owens (VOA) / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

GJC Weekly News Roundup

By Julia d'Amours

Chile proceeds with the repeal of its total anti-abortion laws. In August, legislation was presented to permit abortion in three cases: if the life of the mother was in danger, if it the fetus would not survive, or if the pregnancy was a result of rape. Lawyers argued that a total abortion ban was inhumane and a violation of women’s rights. Though polls indicate more than 70 percent of the population supports more lenient abortion laws, the Catholic Church and elite upper class staunchly opposed the bill. The repeal is considered a major victory in women’s rights and reproductive rights, and many hope it will lead to similar legislation in the region.

Last Friday, Kenya’s Supreme Court ruled that the re-election of the sitting president would be revisited after discovery that the vote counts had been irregular. It is the first example in Africa in which a court voided the re-election of an incumbent. Many are at unease considering Kenya’s fragile political landscape—the last disputed election in 2007 resulted in at least 1,300 dead and 600,000 displaced around the country.

On Sunday, Cambodia arrested Kem Sokha, the main opposition leader, accusing him of treason. This follows accounts of government harassment on the free press and expulsion of NGOs, such as the pro-democracy National Democratic Institute. A Human Rights Watch official called the arrest “a disastrous setback” for Cambodia as the country prepares for elections next year.

On Monday, Malala Yousafzi joined an increasing number of human rights activists in publicly criticizing Myanmar’s effective leader Aung San Suu Kyi for the treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Burma. More than 73,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh after they were attacked by Burmese military factions on August 25th. The UN special rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar has described the situation as “grave.” Widely seen as a champion of democracy, Suu Kyi has remained quiet on the subject of the Rohingya.

On Tuesday, President Trump broke headlines by announcing the end of DACA—the federal program that protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children. He claimed DACA’s establishment was an abuse of electoral power and rebuking it would establish rule of law. Many of those enrolled in DACA already have families, started careers, or enrolled in higher education in the US. Permits that are set to expire in the next six months will be renewed, but the Department of Homeland Security will stop processing new applications for the program. Officials say there will be no formal guidance that former DACA recipients are not eligible for deportation.

On Wednesday, the Trump Administration introduced a Security Council resolution that would empower the United States Navy and Airforce to interdict North Korean ships and evaluate if their cargo contains military equipment. It also included a ban on the shipment of crude oil, petroleum, and natural gas, which would have severe results for the North Korean population as winter approaches, and aims to block the assets of Kim Jong-un. The resolution is careful not to encompass a total blockade, which is an act of war, but permits the US and UNSC to “nonconsensual inspections.”

On Thursday, a federal appeals court permitted thousands of refugees who had been blocked by President Trumps’ travel ban to enter the country. Since June, the government has frozen refugee resettlement applications and brought resettlement programs to a standstill.  Yesterday’s ruling mandated that the government resume refugee resettlements in the next five days. It also upheld a lower court decision that exempted grandparents and other relatives from the ban. A Justice Department representative remarked that they will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Also on Thursday, the High Court of Australia ruled that a postal survey on the legalization of gay marriage was legitimate, despite the objections of same-sex marriage advocates. The results of the survey could not make same-sex marriage legal or illegal, but it could spark a vote in Parliament. Polls suggest that a “yes” vote in favor of legalizing gay marriage will prevail. The results will be announced the 15th of November.

Photo by Alsidare Hickson 

GJC Weekly News Roundup

Monday, in response to Donald Trump’s expanded Global Gag Rule, Lilianne Ploumen, minister of foreign trade and development cooperation in the Netherlands, created a non-governmental organization called “She Decides.” The NGO vows to raise money for aid groups who are suffering financial losses due to the Gag Rule. The Dutch ministry announced that it will donate 10 million euros to the organization.

Tuesday, President Trump introduced new deportation rules that allow more expulsions. These new rules will allow the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport more immigrants immediately and put pressure on resources, staffing and budget.

Tuesday, Norway pledged millions to counter Trump’s Global Gag Rule. Norway joins countries like Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg and Belgium in taking a stance against President Trump’s global abortion policy.

Wednesday, it was announced that with the aid of Germany, a new and beneficial trauma unit specializing in mental help will open and treat women who are former Islamic State sex slaves. This initiates dialogue regarding psychological trauma and the proper treatment and resources that women need after such traumatizing experiences.

Thursday, it was asked, is anyone leading the feminist movement in President Trump’s cabinet? Seems not. While it is still uncertain what particular roles the First Lady, Melania Trump, and the President’s oldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, will have in the Trump administration, their stance on current issues regarding universal healthcare, availability of abortions and reproductive rights, as well as gender equality, seem to align closer with the policies of President Trump and his cabinet, rather than a progressive, feminist agenda.

Friday,  a report shown a light on the negative consequences of the expanded Global Gag Rule enacted by President Trump in places like Kenya and across Africa. Lack of access to safe medical procedures, including abortions, is leading to a rise in maternal deaths nationwide.

GJC Weekly News Roundup


Sunday, Sweden’s Foreign Minister announced that while Sweden has the presidency of the UN Security Council they want to focus on the involvement of women in peace processes. Giving women a voice in decision making is crucial to protect in conflicts.

Monday, the Burmese Union Election Commission revealed the parliamentary candidates for the upcoming election. Of the 95 candidates, 16 are women. This is a positive step in the progress against women’s exclusion in politics in Myanmar.  

Also Monday, Yazda – an NGO supporting the Yazidi in Iraq – was without any warning or reason shut down by the Kurdish authorities according to Human Rights Watch. ISIS has been committing genocide against the Yazidi since 2014. Iraq is a party of the Genocide Convention, and must fulfil its obligationsto prevent this genocide.

Thursday, GOP announced that they plan to defund Planned Parenthood. Denying women their right to abortion violates human rights.

Also Thursday, the World Economic Forum released a report that the US spends $13.6 trillion yearly on conflict related activities whilst spending nothing on peace-building. Providing an abortion to raped women in conflict areas is one peace-building effort.

GJC Weekly News Roundup

Tuesday, the European Parliament awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to ISIS slavery survivors Nadia Murad and Lamya Haji Bashar. As the nominees voiced themselves, the EU must go beyond a prize and recognize the ongoing genocide of Yazidi and prosecute the perpetrators.

Wednesday, it was reported that women in Aleppo commit suicide to escape being raped by ISIS. The international community must act to stop ISIS from committing these non-killing crimes of genocide.

Wednesday, a study investigating the impact of having or being denied abortion on woman’s mental health was published. The study concluded that denying women abortion can affect the woman’s mental health negatively, and that abortion restrictions cannot be justified with the argument that it harms women’s health. Denying women safe abortion is in some cases can constitute torture and violate human rights.

Wednesday, the Obama administration finalized an amendment that protects Planned Parenthood and similar clinic’s federal funding. Abortion restrictions on US foreign funding has a huge influence on the humanitarian agenda, hindering women’s right to abortion around the world.

Wednesday, the Human Rights Council opened a special session discussing human rights issues, including gender-based violence such as rape, and the prevention of genocide in South Sudan. The international community must hold perpetrators of genocide to account and recognize gender components in genocide.

Photo: European Parliament

GJC Weekly News Roundup