On July 17th the world celebrated International Justice Day, the anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the International Criminal Court.
In honor of this important landmark, the Global Justice Center reaffirms its commitment to enforcing these international human rights laws to create a more just world. In this GJCnews, we share how we are working to use the law to end the impunity of the military in Burma and ensure that the men, women, and children in Burma finally realize justice and peace.
In March we were busy running back and forth to the UN for the 54th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). In this issue of GJCNews, we want to share with you our staff's stories from those amazing two weeks and introduce you to some of the incredible women leaders we look forward to collaborating with as we continue to use the law to enforce the rights of women around the world.
"Human rights is universal - it equally applies to all human beings and it is the collective wisdom of all faiths, religions and peoples." -Shirin Ebadi, San Francisco Jewish Communtiy Center, May 18, 2009
When Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi spoke these words "in conversation" with GJC President Janet Benshoof on May 18th, the packed auditorium at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco broke into applause. It was a historic and profound evening, as these two legal pioneers explored topics ranging from how Iranian feminists in the lead-up to the elections forced candidates to talk about human rights and equality and the important role international law has and must play in enforcing equality and universal human rights.
Much has happened in Iran since this remarkable evening, but the principles that were discussed remain unchanged. The day before the elections in Iran, Dr. Ebadi wrote in a Washington Post editorial that "the true mark of success in Iran will be an election that follows due process...a healthy, functioning and fair legal system is the people's long-term guarantee for greater human rights." As we now know, the Iranian election and the government's response in the following days and weeks regrettably did not follow this ideal.
In less than three years, the Global Justice Center has dramatically expanded the scope and influence of its programs. This summer we've been on the move and taking our work to a whole new level! We just relocated to a new office that will provide work and research space for our growing staff and allow us to host interns, colleagues and researchers from around the world.
As we were finishing this month's e-news on criminal accountability in Burma, we were saddened and shocked to hear of the catastrophic cyclone that hit the country this past weekend. The Global Justice Center first wants to extend our deepest sympathy to the people of Burma who have been impacted by the cyclone.
This devastating event has increased immeasurably the suffering of people who were already in dire circumstances and now must struggle to find clean water, food and rebuild their homes and lives. Although information is still coming out, estimates are now reaching 100,000 dead and over a million homeless, making this natural disaster second only to the 2004 tsunami that devastated the region. There are now concerns that the military regime is not permitting international aid agencies full access inside Burma to deliver aid and help the cyclone victims.
Photo: Paul Arps / CC BY 2.0
In commemoration of the 52P ndP Session of the Commission on the Status of Women’s Review Theme: Women’s Equal Participation in Conflict Prevention, Management and Conflict Resolution and in Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, we take this opportunity to highlight our work for the women victims of the armed conflict in Colombia.
Last November, we launched the Special Initiative on Gender, Non-Impunity and International Law (SIGNAL) project in Colombia. SIGNAL’s mission is to advance gender parity through the use of international law as well as regional and domestic legal tools as part of a larger discourse and analysis of the Justice and Peace Law of 2005 (JPL) passed in Colombia. The SIGNAL legal team, headed by Special Counsel Zulma Miranda, provides analysis and legal expertise on the ground in Colombia to insure that the JPL and other transitional justice processes are implemented in conformance with international laws requiring gender equality and set standards on gender crimes. Using international legal mandates that address gender issues, such as the Rome Treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the InterAmerican Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women “Convention of Belem do Para”, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention on the Rights of Child, the Torture and Genocide Conventions, the American Convention on Human Rights, and the jurisprudence of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325), SIGNAL will facilitate the use of a gender perspective in the changing dialogue on conflict resolution and demobilization processes in Colombia.
October 31st marked the seventh anniversary of the unanimous passage of Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1325 on women, peace and security. SCR 1325 mandates the inclusion of women in all aspects of decision making in conflict prevention, resolution and reconstruction as well as protection of women in situations of conflict and ending impunity for those crimes. Despite some progress, seven years after its implementation much more is needed to ensure that the requirements set forth in SCR 1325 are fully achieved. The GJC continues to push for greater recognition of SCR 1325 as legally binding and thus a means for enforcement of women’s right to participate in all decision making processes as well as to redress and assure accountability for crimes perpetrated against them.
September has obviously been a time of great turmoil, as we dealt with the slow leaks of news, the horrific pictures of atrocity and the deafening silence of the military crackdown in Burma. GJC has the fortune of having a Burmese woman working in our office and during the first few days of the crisis, she was able to speak to some people on the phone in Burma and she read all the Burmese blogs. As the junta cut off cell phones and internet access, her ability to get information from inside Burma was severely, and then totally, curtailed.
Due to our recent trip to Thailand, where GJC staff met with the Burma Lawyer's Council, we are in a position to offer an informed opinion on aspects of this recent crisis. On September 29th, GJC and the BLC issued a joint press release calling for criminal accountability for members of the SPDC cabal. Following the issuance of the press release, on September 28th, GJC president Janet Benshoof was invited to speak on BBC "News 24" during their 8pm program. Additionally, The Nation, South East Asia's English language 'paper of record' printed our press release in full.
As many of you may have noticed, Burma has made its way to the international news media as a result of ongoing protests inside the country over the past few weeks. These protests, many of which have been initiated by the 1988 Generation Student Group, have resulted in arrests by the military regime for allegedly undermining the stability and security of the country. The recent protests are the most significant since the 1988 uprising and the military regime continues to respond with brutality and a complete disregard for human life, as it has done for the past 20 years. The Global Justice Center is pleased with the news coverage about these protests and other attention recently focused on Burma, and we are working to take this opportunity to also raise awareness about the ongoing heinous crimes committed by the criminal regime.
The Burmese junta is the longest running military dictatorship in the world. For the first time since the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the International Red Cross departed from its customary neutrality and released a report detailing the gross level of abuse in Burma and the impossibility of working with the regime. As the 2008 Olympics approaches, many have called on China to withdraw its investments from Sudan. As a result of this joint effort, China responded by sending a diplomatic envoy to Sudan leading to Al-Bashirs agreement to allow U.N. Peacekeeping forces to enter Darfur. Similarly, at the beginning of August, a group of U.S. Representatives introduced House Resolution 610 calling for the United States to take immediate steps to boycott the Beijing Olympic games "unless the Chinese regime stops engaging in serious human rights abuses against its citizens and stops supporting serious human rights abuses by the Governments of Sudan, Burma, and North Korea against their citizens." The current efforts by the global community strongly indicate that it is time that we demand accountability for the crimes committed by the military regime in Burma.
Photo: Robert Coles / CC BY 2.0
Women are lobbying the Iraqi tribunal--the court trying the war crimes of Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime--to prosecute crimes against women. Iraqi women involved in the effort are concealing their identities out of fear of retribution.
(WOMENSENEWS)--A prominent women's group in Iraq, along with advocates of international law in the United States, are beginning to demand justice for thousands of Iraqi women who suffered under the regime of Saddam Hussein.