Two Weeks in Review, 30 August – 12 September 2021

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Diane Desierto and Tahmina Sobat introduce a petition written by Afghan human rights advocates that seeks explicit international action from the UN, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and regional organizations to, amongst other things:

“Address the root causes of the escalating conflict and violence in Afghanistan in order to find sustainable solutions that are in the best interests of Afghan citizens.

Call on all parties involved in the current conflict to search for a solution through peaceful dialogue in order to ensure the rule of law and the protection of human rights in Afghanistan.

Ensure that all countries immediately expand and expedite refugee protection measures for Afghans fleeing violence and persecution.

Establish a special humanitarian program for Afghan civilians at this time of great need.

Arrange inclusive and direct evacuation flights for Afghan human rights defenders and women activists, who are all under threat and in great need of easing emergency relocation for themselves and their families.”

To read more about this petition, see here.

Rebecca Barber considers the situation facing the UNGA Credentials Committee in relation to Afghanistan in light of its last three decades of practice dealing with questions of government legitimacy. Barber also argues that ‘if the Taliban is indeed seeking international recognition, it seems reasonable to suppose that denying them a seat at the table at the General Assembly might be one thing the international community could do to incentivise better adherence to international human rights and humanitarian law.’

Azin Tadjdini writes about the 2020 Agreement between the US and the Taliban, which ‘in simple terms, handed the keys of the presidential palace over to the Taliban.’ Tadjdini notes that this Agreement might raise questions regarding the US’ responsibility for acts committed by the Taliban subsequent to the agreement.

Debate: UN Special Procedures

Philip Alston criticises a recent report published by the European Centre for Law and Justice ‘The Financing of UN Experts in the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council’ which examined links between UN Special Procedure mandate-holders and the Open Society Foundations (OSF), established and funded by George Soros. Alston argues the report did not ‘going into the question of causal effect, or putting the funding into its broader contextual setting. Nor does it pay any attention at all to the far larger source of funding received by individual experts, which comes from UN Member States.’ Alston says ‘the arguments put forward by the ECLJ … are in reality much closer to insinuations’.

Martin Scheinin calls the ECLJ report a ‘dishonest attack on UN human rights mechanisms’. Scheinin recounts his experience of being interviewed by the ECLJ for the report and submits that the report is ‘a sad example of the post-truth world we live in, where the presentation of “alternative facts” is fine’.

Grégor Puppinck defends the ECLJ report in his response to Philip Alston. Puppinck summarises the report and argues that ‘the available financial data on the Special Procedures was found to be incomplete and often inconsistent’, ‘highlight[ing] the financial insecurity of the Special Procedures system’ and issues related to a lack of transparency of extrabudgetary funding.

Philip Alston responds to Puppinck’s allegations concerning his connections with the Open Society Foundations before addressing the larger issue of transparent external funding of human rights activities. Alston argues ‘Puppick’s own position should be judged by the standard that he seeks to apply to others in relation to funding’ and ends by calling the report ‘an unprincipled, methodologically suspect, and conceptually flawed attack motivated by a commitment to banning abortion worldwide and reducing women’s equality is hardly the best way to achieve that goal.’

Other posts

Saskia StuckiGuillaume FuthazarTom SparksErik Tuchtfeld and Hannah Foehr present the World Lawyers’ Pledge on Climate Action, urging ‘lawyers of all kinds to incorporate climate responsibility into their professional work and activities’ and for the ‘mainstreaming and integrating climate concerns into all areas of law and legal activity’. You can find out more about this petition and how to sign it here.

Joseph Weiler reflects on the lessons of Versailles for the Brexit negotiations process and the Northern Ireland Protocol. Weiler suggests that while ‘this was one occasion where the Union flexed impressively the muscles it has’ it also ‘seems [to be] a repeat of the same 1919 error: short-term gain, long-term loss.’

All recent Events and Announcements can be found here.

The European Journal of International Law has new advance articles and advance reviews available to read online.

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