NGOs want Russia out of UN rights council for Syria role

Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian military's General Staff speaks in front of a map of the Aleppo area in Syria, at a briefing at the Russian Defense Ministry's headquarters in Moscow on Oct. 19, 2016. Human rights and aid organizations on Monday urged UN member states to drop Russia from the Human Rights Council over its military campaign in Syria. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Updated 24 October 2016
0

NGOs want Russia out of UN rights council for Syria role

UNITED NATIONS: More than 80 human rights and aid organizations on Monday urged UN member states to drop Russia from the Human Rights Council over its military campaign in Syria.
Human Rights Watch, CARE International and Refugees International were among the signatories of the appeal launched ahead of elections to fill 14 seats at the 47-nation council on Friday.
Russia, Hungary and Croatia will be running for two seats representing the Eastern European group at the council, which is tasked with addressing rights violations worldwide.
The organizations urged UN member states to “question seriously whether Russia’s role in Syria — which includes supporting and undertaking military actions which have routinely targeted civilians and civilian objects — renders it fit to serve on the UN’s premier inter-governmental human rights institution.”
Russia has been supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s war against opposition rebels and jihadists from the Daesh group since September 2015.
On Friday, the UN General Assembly will cast ballots to elect the members for a three-year term beginning in 2017.
Other than Russia, China and Saudi Arabia are almost guaranteed to win seats as their regional grouping is putting forward a clean slate of four countries for four seats. The other two are Iraq and Japan.
Brazil, Cuba and Guatemala will be battling for two seats representing Latin America.
Africa is also presenting a clean slate, with Egypt, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia set to win seats.
The United States and Britain are seeking election to the two seats representing the Western Europe and others group.
Created in 2006, the rights council monitors violations and in particular set up a ground-breaking commission of inquiry on North Korea that led to calls for war crimes prosecutions of the Pyongyang regime.
The council last week asked the commission of inquiry for Syria to carry out a special investigation of rights abuses in Aleppo.


Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

Updated 20 May 2019
0

Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

  • Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut
  • Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt

BEIRUT: Security forces opened water cannons on Lebanese anti-austerity protesters in the country’s capital on Monday, as the government continued to hold marathon meetings to discuss severe budget cuts.
Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt, rising unemployment and slow growth. The government’s tightened budget and key reforms aim to unlock billions of dollars in pledged foreign assistance. But planned cuts have unleashed a wave of public discontent, amid leaks that austerity could target public wages, services and social benefits.

A retired Lebanese soldier chants slogans while holding an army flag, during a protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday. (AP)

Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut shouting “Thieves, thieves!” as the Cabinet met for its 16th session and struggles to reach agreement.
Protesters pushed back against police lines and set fire to tires outside the building. At least two policemen and one civilian were wounded in the scuffles.
Among those demonstrating Monday were public and private school teachers and retired officers.
The government, headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, has sought to calm nerves while also describing the upcoming budget as the most austere in Lebanon’s history.
Hariri said he hopes the government will be able to send the budget to parliament later this week.
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said the cabinet made “important progress” in discussions Sunday.