Panama – official visit UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights

La Estrella (31 July), El Siglo (1 August), La Prensa (2 August) and Crítica (4 August) all report on the two-day visit to Panama of the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang. During the official visit Ms. Kang stated that “human rights should not be seen as an obstacle to public security, but as an instrument to control crime and violence”. She recommended “prevention and special attention to the causes of violence, in a dialogue with all sectors”. The Deputy High Commissioner also referred to the Report on Citizen Security and Human Rights, published by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and UNICEF.

She mentioned the importance of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which will be held in Panama next November and with which the Human Rights Council analyzes human rights in the country. Ms. Kang recommended that the inter-institutional commission set up to prepare the report, should become a permanent mechanism that would follow-up on the UPR recommendations.

Panama – IACHR asked for investigation riots Bocas del Toro

Panama America (4 August) states that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed its concern about the riots in Bocas del Toro and urged the Panamanian government to investigate the acts that were in violation of human rights. The IACHR reminded the Panamanian State of its duty to control demonstrations within the framework of respect for inter-American human rights standards. La Estrella (4 August) also mentions that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemned the excessive force that the police used against protestors.


Panama – government called for dialogue

Crítica (4 August) reports that the Panamanian government installed a Special Commission charged with the duty of promoting a dialogue about the articles in the Labor Code that were reformed by Law 30 and that led to demonstrations in Changuinola where people got killed, injured and detained. But even before discussions can start it is clear that the opinions are too diverse and that expectations on the outcome are limited. The main obstacle is that the trade unions are asking the government to declare the whole law null and void instead of adjusting a few articles.


Israel – United Nations will investigate attack flotilla

La Estrella (3 August), La Prensa (3 August), Panama America (3 August) and El Siglo (3 August) all report on the formation of an international panel that will investigate the incident of 31 May, when an international flotilla trying to breach Israel’s blockade of the Gaza strip was attacked. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon announced the formation of the panel after two months of negotiations with Israel and Turkey. The panel will be led by Geoffrey Palmer, the former prime minster of New Zealand, and Álvaro Uribe, who stands down as Colombia’s president.

Crítica (6 August) published an article stating that several NGOs rejected the appointment of Álvaro Uribe in the panel that will investigate the incident with the flotilla in Israel. According to the NGOs and other organizations Uribe “is not qualified to defend international law”.

Africa – maternal and child health theme during African Union Summit

Panama America (29 July) published an article written by Asha Rose Migiro, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. This week the African Union Summit took place, where maternal and child health were under special attention. The percentage of women dying during childbirth is much higher in Africa than in the rest of the world. Recently Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon put a Joint Action Plan together, aiming to accelerate progress on maternal and newborn health. African leaders will have to find the resources needed to fulfill promises of the past and start a better future.

International Convention on Cluster Munitions

La Estrella (2 August) states that on 1 August the Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force. Cluster munitions or bombs are explosive weapons that eject smaller sub-munitions. The convention prohibits all use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster munitions. Separate articles concern destruction of stockpiles, clearance of contaminated areas and assistance to victims.

La Prensa (5 August) also published an article about the Convention on Cluster Munitions, signed on 30 May 2008 by 107 countries. The author of the article also states that the use of cluster munitions is a violation of two important principles of International Humanitarian Law, being Art 35 of Protocol I of 1977, which says that “in any armed conflict, the right of the Parties to the conflict to choose methods or means of warfare is not unlimited” and that “it is prohibited to employ weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering”.

Sudan – four UN peacekeepers killed in Darfur road accident

El Siglo (3 August) reports on the death of four international peacekeepers from Sierra Leone. The four UNAMID peacekeepers died in a road accident in Nyala, South Darfur. The joint UN-African force in Darfur has more than 17,000 troops and around 5,000 police personnel. The conflict in Darfur started in February 2003 and already cost the lives of 300,000 people.

Carman Lapointe-Young appointed as Under-Secretary-General OIOS

The General Assembly of the United Nations has approved the nomination of Carman Lapointe-Young, former Auditor General of the World Bank Group, as Under-Secretary-General for the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). The Canadian auditor was appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to replace Inga-Britt Ahlenius, who stepped down on 16 July after a critical internal report.



North Korea – deploying missiles near the border with South Korea

La Estrella (5 August) reports on the conflict between North and South Korea, stating that Piongyang is deploying missiles close to the border with South Korea. As a reaction on the military maneuvers of the Unites States and South Korea the past few days North Korea deployed long-range anti-aircraft missiles with a range of 250 km near the border. According to the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo various SA-5 missiles have been moved from the province of Hwanghae to the South West of the country, where they constitute a danger for South Korean aircrafts. According to a military source the move seems to be aimed at preventing South Korean fighters from launching precision strikes on strategic targets in the North.

Cambodia – first member Khmer Rouge convicted

La Prensa (3 August) published an article about Cambodia. Between 1975 and 1979 almost two million people died in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge Regime, one of most sinister social-political experiments ever. After having kept these facts quiet for many years the first person has now been convicted. A tribunal, which consists of the United Nations and Cambodians, sentenced Comrade Duch, former chief of a legendary centre of torture in Phnom Penh, to 35 years` jail for war crimes. It is not sure yet how many other people will be convicted by the tribunal, that is being accused of corruption and sabotage by the Cambodian government, whose prime minister Hun Sen used to be a Khmer Rouge. Others, like Pol Pot, have already died.



Reducing poverty

La Estrella (3 August) published an article about reducing poverty written by Rafeal Carles. The author starts by mentioning the Millennium Development Goals, signed in 2000 by more than 150 countries. The most important goal of the MDG is the reduction of poverty. However, there are other objectives as well: the reduction of the number of people infected with HIV and the reduction of illiteracy and child mortality. To realize these goals the richest countries (United States, Japan, and West Europe) agreed to increase their help with 0.17% of their gross national income. The poor countries, on the other hand, promised to cooperate and carry through administrative and economic reforms. According to the author the agreement is correct: more help in exchange for more governability.

The 2008 Human Development Report published by the United Nations mentions how to achieve these goals by means of investing in healthcare, education, agriculture, water and other important areas. However, it also shows that there is a lot of work still to be done.

At the end of the article the author wonders why it seems to be so difficult to fulfill the promises made in 2010 if all countries are contributing to charity. The author states that the United States is donating much less than the rest of countries. Most Americans, however, are convinced that the United States contributes much more that it actually does.

Splitting existing countries and forming new countries

Panama America (3 August) published an article about splitting existing countries and forming new countries. After World War II a number of countries asked to be split in different states. There are 3 different forms. The first possibility is a nation/people with a common historic knowledge. Examples for this are Vietnam, Germany, Yemen, Korea and China. The second possibility is a nation/people divided over different states. Examples mentioned for this are the Tamil People in India and Sri Lanka, the Kurds in Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria and Russia, the Basques in Spain and France, the Baloch people in Iran and Pakistan. The third possibility is a part of a nation, outside the territory, but part of it. Examples for this last possibility are the Hungarians, Albanians and Romanians who, during World War II, united as nations under Hitler`s control. After 1945 a big part of the mainly Hungarian populations was “returned” to its neighbors Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. The UN has recognized the split of several nations. However, when it comes to nations spread over different countries the UN has always been reluctant. In the third category the UN has accepted Moldavia, but not the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.