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Archive for July 27th, 2008

Press Conference by outgoing United Nations Legal Counsel

Posted by African Press International on July 27, 2008

While the links between peace and justice were sometimes sensitive and complex, impunity and amnesties for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes were unacceptable, Nicolas Michel, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, said at Headquarters this afternoon.

Speaking at a farewell press conference, Mr. Michel said that, in the past, it had often been assumed that either peace or justice was possible, but not both. Todays dilemma was not over which to choose, but how to link the two. It was not merely a question of sequencing; justice was among the necessary conditions for a sustainable peace, as in the challenging but true slogan: No peace without justice.

It was more a question of balance, he said, noting that warlords sometimes had to be arrested because peace was unachievable while they remained in the picture. At other times they were needed to negotiate a peace agreement — which did not mean they would not eventually end up behind bars. Difficulties arose today around the compatibility of judicial accountability and the mechanisms that could guarantee it with peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. That was particularly visible in the case of Uganda, where Joseph Kony, leader of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), had not shown up for the final peace negotiations, because he was not entirely sure he would not be prosecuted.

He said other challenges occurred when the establishment of a judicial mechanism was difficult to reconcile with a search for internal political stability, or when it was linked to conditions for a cessation of hostilities. Such was the deal offered to former Liberian president Charles Taylor with regard to the civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone. Burundi provided another example of the potential tension between mechanisms designed for justice and those supporting truth and reconciliation.

While there was no clear one-size-fits-all solution, there were several requirements that should be fulfilled if the right arrangement were to be found, he said. First, the overall objective of sustainable peace should be a priority. Judicial accountability must also be integrated into the design of a peace project from the beginning. Sequencing was likewise important.

Additionally, judicial mechanisms should be understood as independent instruments rather than political tools, and respect for judicial decisions must be ensured, he said. Outreach was also necessary, particularly to include civil society and especially when there was no proximity between the court of justice and the scene of the crime. Domestic capacity must be bolstered while objectivity and impartiality were necessary postures when tribunals were set up. Finally, victims must be protected, as did the fragile culture around the concept of ending impunity.

On the last point, he emphasized that, because the culture of ending impunity was new, fragile and still fragmented, there must be progress towards making that culture more universal and ensuring it was perceived as equal for everyone. Faced with a dilemma between justice for everybody and no justice for anyone, the solution was to say you want to make progress as much as you can; you want to develop that culture with the hope that, down the road, it will be equal for everyone.

Asked about rumours that political deals could compromise the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, he said the main elements for the Tribunal were in place, including the Registrar in The Hague, the Prosecutor and the judges. The Tribunal had not been negatively affected in any way by events in the country. On the contrary, there was never any talk about the course of action being amended in view of the evolution of the circumstances.

The Tribunal will be created, it will be there, he stressed, pointing out that it was the Secretary-General, not the Security Council, who oversaw the investigation. He would decide how to proceed, in consultation with the Lebanese Government and on the basis of the progress achieved by the investigation and receipt of the necessary funding.

As far as the Tribunals funding was concerned, he pointed out that the issue went beyond the case of Lebanon. As subsidiary bodies of the Security Council, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda were funded through assessed contributions. Those in Sierra Leone, Cambodia or Lebanon were funded through voluntary contributions, despite the Secretariats position that the formula did not work well. The first year of the Lebanon Tribunal was covered and more funding had been pledged.

Asked whether there would be constraints on the Secretary-General and on the Department of Peacekeeping Operations if President Omer al-Bashir of Sudan were indicted, Mr. Michel said the Organization was going through a learning process and policies must be established and amended on the basis of lessons learned. It was true that, in the past, the United Nations had learned that implementing some of its most vital, mandated activities might require it to be in contact with warlords, for example. In the case of Sudan, the Security Council resolution authorizing the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) had no mandate to arrest anyone in Sudan indicted by the International Criminal Court.

Responding to a question about the International Criminal Courts work being limited to Africa and being applied selectively, even politically, as a result, he said it was largely thanks to Africa that the Rome Statute had been adopted and the Court set up. A large number of States on that continent had ratified the Statute, and Uganda had submitted its own case to the International Criminal Court, as had the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Looking at the broad picture, the largest number of people convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia were Europeans. Moreover, the judges at the International Criminal Court were eager to demonstrate their independence.

Asked what suggestions he might have for the United Nations on staffing matters, he emphasized that when the Organization had been created, an independent civil service had been envisioned to staff it. To achieve that, the current pension system should be more flexible and conceived for mobility.

Looking back on his time with the United Nations, he said: Any time we can achieve even an inch in favour of victims or people who are ill-treated on this Earth, it is worth it.

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The shambles that is education system in Kenya

Posted by African Press International on July 27, 2008

It is apparent that in as much as Kenya political question is yet to be addressed there are still other structural problems inherent in critical sectors like Education. In a country where education is revered and respected and only second to religion, It is apparent that Kenya is in the long haul path to self destruction. A country without a vibrant education is simply dead. A country with an education sector busy churning out useless or fake products is simply as good as gone bananas.

Unfortunately Kenya is in that spectrum. The frequent school strikes seems to be well co-ordinated , ill intentioned and in the wrong direction. How come all over sudden students have become such rebellious, nasty, brutal and reckless? Can it be just as a result of drugs, too much societal demands, political atmosphere, tribalism, confusion or just what is it? Clearly this is a disaster in the waking!

Some argue that the elimination of caning in schools was the beginning of the end. But then even in the developed countries like USA, Britain, Canada, Australia, New-Zealand , Japan and so on, canning is banned in schools. So what is wrong with Kenya?

Providing solutions to the challenge will not involve simplistic solutions as the minister of education Hon Professor Sam Ongeri and eggheads of the ministry seem to prescribe. The fact is the youth today are in all forms of self destructive ways like destruction of learning institutions facilities, drugs, destructive sexual habits , evil materialism, get rich quick habits and so on. Unfortunately for Kenya the youth form the bedrock of the country and obviously they are the future presumptive in leadership and safeguarding the existence of the nation.

These are the people who will be leaders and will be running industries for the betterment of Kenya as a country tomorrow. That they can sink that low and with gusto is greatly appalling and worrying. How do you have such destructive elements leading in future. Then the country will be just set ablaze in wholesale scale.

Basically the youth need to be given a and driven through a national strategic plan. An individual strategic plan is the way forward in the sense that our youth need to be developed to what to become while they are still in school. They need to be re-assured that the nice things they desire in life are attainable and that with a good career planning, modeling, mentorship and involvement in identifying opportunities they can each individually make themselves great. For this to happen though, bad habits like drug abuse need to be fought both aggressively and endlessly. This cannot be achieved through window dressing methodologies as the relevant ministry and the government is driving to. Task force and inquiries s have just become the convenient way to ease into burying the head on the sand and assume things will simply sort themselves out.

Unless our youth are guided we will breed a distorted and lost stock who will be unjust, evil, destructive and a quiet senseless. This is the route to an hobbesian state where life is brutish and short. It is not hard to degenerate into such levels. Our neighbours Somalia sank and sank too low with hopeless bands of destructive youths. With its education system in shambles , unemployment running very high, misdirected political systems, confused systems and a youth desperately looking for occupation, Somalia is just a world eyesore. With the school system in shambles and youth getting bad habits at the stage they are in we are simply making the world more insecure.

To destabilize a country just destabilize the youth. The spillover effect will be felt for generations and Kenya stands on the threshold of failure if the salient problems are not addressed. It is simply dangerous for the world to let more generations fall into the wrong direction. Insecurity would only rise. After failure witnessed globally we can’t add another basket of rotten tomatoes

It is highly doubtful whether we have critically examined the goal and philosophy of our education and subsequently checked if they are achievable through the current structure, syllabi, calibre of teachers, calibre of leadership we have and the resources. The bottom-line is that our education system is quite discriminative , bereft of ingenuity and totally confused with due regard to modern economic paradigm. It is just an art for art sake kind of operation. We have schools just because it is good to have schools and simply we no idea that the education system could be a harbinger to great milestones of achievements in future. No country on earth has achieved success without a robust, well organized, innovative and well-intentioned and positioning education system.

What we are lacking in , is not unusual in Kenya or third world for that matter. Whereas countries like Japan and Singapore have systematically used their education systems to push their countries to the top of competitive and productive edge ours is a system of just churning human resources who are robotically bound to follow confused very elementary orders in industry, politics, business, social engagements and in a nutshell a system of producing un-competitive and un-innovative products.

In addition how on earth do you expect that our education system will be effective if the government continues to pay lip service to the woes afflicting the education managers and drivers who are basically the teachers. If you don’t care for the teachers well being forget getting anywhere. Teachers need to live well, own property, own good houses, dress well and achieve a level of economic satisfaction. But if teachers have to borrow loans even to educate their children, what a confused country! Yet it is in the same nation where civil servants in strategic positions, jobs ministries or parastatals can conduct deals which leaves them with hefty fortunes. It is in the same country where some like Mp’s who ordinarily produce very little and minimally yet earn colossal sums of money which is greatly un-taxed. This is a great shame!
Junior civil servants, Teachers, nurses, Doctors and the various categories of police need to be taken care of if we hope to rid this country the rottenness it is engulfed in. Unless we operationize a modus operandi to actively sort out income inequalities in our country the rot in critical institutions and sectors which has led to social break-down, we are getting nowhere. In a nutshell the systems are there but they are poorly oiled, distorted, confused and bereft of reason.

In addition how would you expect the school system to perform yet other than the economic woes afflicting teachers there are problems with societal malfunctioning. Parents have just left the role of moulding their children just to teachers yet the same parents are busy spoiling their kids to be useless brats. The same teachers cannot even met the simplest of disciplinary measures to students without incurring the wrath of the largely irresponsible parents. In addition, a country in perpetual economic woes leaves the parents with no time to look after their kids as they are r busy looking for means of economic survival and economic gain. The burdensome and disoriented education curriculum is just the right seed to inject madness to the young minds in an atmosphere full of r evil forces. And when this is happening ofcourse at the highest level there is simply no leadership in various sectors . This is also in a country where job creation is only found in campaign manifestoes and the youth only look to a future full of mirage of promises and perpetual lies.

Then isn’t the current mess as a result of a conglomeration of factors and a natural response to the chaos prevailing all over the place and in the country! Who is then surprised that our education system is simply in shambles? Unless somebody with some Utopian fantastical mind!

Written by Harrison Mwirigi Ikunda, Nairobi. Kenya.

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Mugabe and the opposition sign deal on peace talks

Posted by African Press International on July 27, 2008

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai today signed a deal laying down the framework for formal talks on forming a power sharing government to end a deep political crisis.

It was the first meeting in 10 years between the two rival leaders, who are widely believed to detest each other. They sat at a conference table separated by South African President Thabo Mbeki who mediated the deal.

The preliminary agreement was signed in Harare’s Rainbow Towers Hotel after weeks of deadlock since Mugabe was re-elected on June 27 in a widely condemned poll boycotted by Tsvangirai because of violence against his supporters.

President Mbeki said the agreement committed both sides to an intense process to try to complete substantive negotiations as quickly as possible. All parties recognise the urgency, he said. A subdued Mugabe said after the signing that the agreement was to chart a new way of political interaction.

Historic occasion

Mr Tsvangirai called the ceremony a very historic occasion and stressed that a solution must be found.

If we put our heads together, I am sure we can find a solution. In fact, not finding a solution is not an option, he said.

Officials from both sides said the framework agreement sets a two-week deadline for the government and two factions of the opposition MDC to discuss key issues including a unity government and how to hold new elections.

A government of national unity has been pushed as a solution to the crisis by the African Union and the regional body SADC (Southern African Development Community), both deeply concerned by Zimbabwe’s political violence and an economic crisis that has flooded neighbouring states with millions of refugees. Tsvangirai’s MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) and Mugabe’s ZANU-PF are also committed under the agreement to ease political tension within the two-week deadline, officials said.

One analyst said there were still wide differences between the MDC and Mugabe’s ruling party which needed to be overcome.

This represents a small step in terms of the overall picture of moving towards negotiations, said Mike Davies, an analyst at Eurasia Group.

Wide differences

We would still see that there are wide differences between the positions of the MDC and ZANU-PF that will have to be overcome if there is to be any negotiated solution to the crisis. Some of the differences are so entrenched it is difficult to see how they could be resolved quickly, he added.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai have been under heavy world and African pressure to enter negotiations, which are expected to be extremely tough. They have both demanded to be recognised as Zimbabwe’s rightful president. Mugabe called for an end to Western sanctions against him and his ruling circle and said there was no need for intervention from Europe in Zimbabwe. He has frequently called Tsvangirai a puppet of former colonial ruler Britain.

Zimbabwe’s economic collapse under Mugabe’s 28-year rule has plunged the once prosperous country into inflation of at least 2 million percent as well as crippling food and fuel shortages.

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API/Nation.ke.Reuters

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Lake Victoria fisheries organization set to upgrade status with EAC

Posted by African Press International on July 27, 2008

  • PRESS RELEASE

    On the institutional matters, the Secretary General of the East African Community, Ambassador Juma Mwapachu said the current Convention establishing the LVFO would be reviewed to bring the LVFO under a Community law that would structure it into a legal and regulatory framework that fits the EAC Treaty. The Secretary General said that steps were also being taken to formalize the full membership of Rwanda and Burundi in the LVFO.

    EAC Headquarters, Arusha, Friday 25 July 2008: The Secretary General of the East African Community, Ambassador Juma Mwapachu held a meeting with the newly appointed Executive Secretary of the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO), Mr Dick Nyeko in Arusha on 24 July 2008.

    The Secretary General was accompanied during the meeting at the EAC Headquarters by the Deputy Secretary General of the EAC, Dr Julius Rotich and the Executive Director of the East African Community Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA) Mr. Mtesigwa Maugo . Mr. Nyeko was accompanied during the mission to EAC by the Deputy Executive Secretary of the LVFO Mr. Mathias Wanyama Wafula.

    The discussions centred on the progress of the LVFO Strategic Plan (1999-2015) in particular the Fisheries Management Plan for sustainable fisheries on the Lake Victoria . They also discussed institutional matters related to streamlining of linkages between the LVFO and the Secretariats of other EAC institutions such as the Lake Victoria Basin Commission that have complementary roles.

    Mr. Nyeko said that a lot of environmental changes were taking place affecting fisheries stock on the lake. He said that, in particular, the Nile Perch stocks were threatened. Noting that the Nile perch was the major traded commodity internationally, he said its decline presented a special concern for livelihoods of millions around the lake.

    Mr. Nyeko said the Lake Victoria Fisheries Conference is planned to be held in Entebbe , Uganda in October this year to review the situation of fisheries in Lake Victoria as well as focusing on poverty alleviation among the majority of the populations living around the Lake .

    The conference is expected to bring together over 700 participants representing both State and non State actors, Parliamentarians, local government, Beach Management Unit , Non governmental organizations and community based organizations leaders, regional institutions and international collaborators.

    Directorate of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs

    EAC Secretariat

    Arusha

    25 July 2008

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    Forwarded to API by Leo Odera Omolo

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    API

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