The Case of Puerto Rico

The Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples met this morning to hear statements from petitioners regarding the case of Puerto Rico. The chairperson of the committee, H.E. Ms. Keisha Aniya McGuire commenced the meeting by stating that there had been 53 requests for intervention on this item. She then turned the floor over to petitioners.

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Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and People

A special committee meeting was convened to discuss the situation of Puerto Rico, with regard to the granting of independence to colonial countries. The meeting was based on the General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) that affirms independence to colonial countries and people and recognises the passionate yearning for freedom in all dependent peoples and the decisive role of such peoples in the attainment of their independence.    

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Petitioners drew attention to the major political challenges facing Puerto Rico, resulting from its relationship with the United States: (i) the United States military presence in Puerto Rico; (ii) the imprisonment in the United States of pro-independence Puerto Ricans; and (iii) the application of the death penalty to Puerto Ricans convicted on federal charges. They, therefore, emphasised on the need to defend their inalienable right to sovereignty, which has been denied to them for many years.

Mr. Pedro Pierluisi, stressed that the government of the United States has the ministerial and moral duty to act upon the 54% of votes rejecting the commonwealth status. It is imperative upon the international community to find a common objective and a mechanism whereby the people of Puerto Rico can determine their status without any colonial restraints.

Ms. Wilma E. Reverón-Collazo, highlighted the plight of workers who have been majorly challenged by American businesses and have consequently suffered economic damages. Furthermore, petitioners also underscored that Puerto Rico is the fourth country for military recruitment in the US. In 1917, 27,787 Puerto Ricans fought WWI and thousands of them lost their lives or are suffering from PTSD, arthritis, brain damage and severe disabilities.

Most petitioners posited that even though the US is seen as a major proponent of human rights, its colonial rule in Puerto Rico can be seen equivalent to a form of slavery. Mr. Juan Dalmau, denouncing the role of international community stated that the subordination of Puerto Rico is a testimony to the failure of the idea that the relation between nations should be conditioned as per international law.

Meeting Title: Granting of independence to colonial countries and people
Speakers: (Chair)H. E. Ambassador Xavier Lasso, Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the United Nations; Mr. Pedro Pierluisi, Resident Commisioner of Puerto Rico; Wilma E. Reverón-Collazo, human rights activist; Mr. Juan Dalmau, Candidate of the Puerto Rican Independence Party.
Location: CR2, CB, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Date: 23 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Nusrat Laskar
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Barrel Bombs: Syria’s Indiscriminate Killers

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The Syrian government is bombing its citizens using barrel bombs; weapons filled with violent explosives and shrapnel. Most recently the barrel bombs have contained chlorine, transforming the already illegal bombs into chemical weapons. Due to the extreme heights at which the bomb is released it is impossible for the Syrian government to target the exact location of the explosion, resulting in an in-discriminative weapon destroying everything in its path.

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Peggy Hicks the Global advocacy director of Human Rights Watch explained that the HRW team has been monitoring attacks using satellites and witness testimonies. This map Ms Hicks shared demonstrates the location of the bombs in the last nine months; they are clearly aimed at the residential region of opposition civilians; there have been approximately 200 strikes since February 2014.

Syrian activist Ibrahim Al-Assil explained that these unpredictable bombs put the Syrian civilians in a state of constant fear and panic, unable to resume any semblance of normal life, including schooling for children.

Ambassadors from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Turkey, and the United States were unanimous that the current events in Syria are crimes against humanity and declared their full support for the motion from H.E. the Ambassador of France that the ICC should trial the Syrian government for the violation of international law and war crimes.

Chairperson H.E. Peter Van der Vietconcluded the conference with a call for the United Nations member states to unite on concrete action plans for the immediate termination of barrel bomb use and to enable the distribution of necessary food and medical supplies to civilians in Aleppo, who are in desperate need of security and support from the international community.

 

More extensive images on barrel bomb destruction in Syria can be viewed here: http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/04/28/syria-new-barrel-bombs-hit-aleppo

 

Meeting Title: Barrel Bombs: Syria’s Indiscriminate Killers

Speakers: Chairperson H.E. Peter Van der Vliet, Ibrahim Al-Assil, Dr Samer Attar, Peggy Hicks the Global advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, Representatives of the Permanent Missions of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Turkey, and the United States Mission

Location: United Nations HQ, New York

Date: 14 May 2014

Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

OWG for Sustainable Development Goals: Focus Areas 15 & 16

Focus Area 15: Means of implementation/Global partnership for sustainable development 

Focus area 16: Peaceful and inclusive societies, rule of law and capable institutions

H.E. the Ambassador of Bolivia on behalf of G77 and China acknowledged that the implementation process of the SDGs would determine the success of the program. The G77 delegates reiterated their support of Bolivia’s statement that the MDGs were weakened by the ill-defined implementation programs, particularly for the 8th MDG, and therefore action-orientated targets are key to maximising outcomes.

Delegates commonly asked that focus area 15 address; the removal of tariff boundaries, debt relief, market and trade access, prevention of elicit arms trade and human trafficking. H.E. the Ambassador of Denmark, Ambassador of Switzerland and representatives on behalf of Norway, Germany, France, and Australia, affirmed the need to engage with civil society, media and private sectors alongside multiple levels of governance for successful implementation worldwide.

State ambassadors and those representing the G77, Caricom, and the Non-aligned Movement have emphasised the role of peace as indispensable to the achievement of sustainable development for all states. In particular, H.E. the Ambassador of Croatia, focused on Croatia’s recent experience of war and corrupt governance, which has cemented their firm believe that factors of Sustainable Development are lead by safety, freedom of speech, inclusiveness, and institutions that are both accountable and capable.

Representative of Zimbabwe who spoke on behalf of the Southern African Counties expressed that the primary focus should instead be on the eradication of poverty, which would, in turn, provide peace to states. Representatives of Denmark, Egypt, Cuba and Brazil shared their concerns for inclusive societies and rule of law as a whole focus area and consider instead mainstreaming these targets throughout the paper amongst other focus areas.

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Meeting Title: Eleventh session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (9th meeting: Focus Areas 15 and 16)

Key Speakers:Co-Chair H.E. Ambassador of Hungary Csaba Kőrösi, Co-Chair H.E. Ambassador of Kenya Macharia Kamau and delegates on behalf of: Bolivia, China, Barbados, Iran, Papua New Guinea, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Benin, Lesotho, Colombia, Guatemala, Nauru, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Netherlands, UK, Australia, United States, Canada, Romania, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Sweden, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Switzerland, Germany, France, Singapore, Palau, Liechtenstein, Nigeria, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Latvia, Austria, Portugal, Cuba, Morocco, Egypt, Paraguay, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, India and Vanuatu

Location: United Nations Headquarters, New York

Date: May 9th 2014

Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark