Palestinians join two UN agencies, chemical weapons treaty

Palestine’s Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour addresses the United Nations Security Council, during a meeting to discuss the situation in the Middle East at the United Nations in New York. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 24 May 2018
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Palestinians join two UN agencies, chemical weapons treaty

UNITED NATIONS: The Palestinians have joined two UN agencies and the global convention to halt the spread of chemical weapons, a UN envoy said Wednesday, despite a threat of US funding cuts.
At the United Nations, the Palestinians have the status of a non-member observer state that allows them to seek membership of agencies and become a party to international treaties.
The move will raise the Palestinian profile in international diplomacy and comes amid a rift with the administration of President Donald Trump over its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Nickolay Mladenov, the UN coordinator for the Middle East, told the Security Council that the Palestinians had joined the Geneva-based UN trade organization UNCTAD, Vienna-based industrial development agency UNIDO and the chemical weapons convention.
“On May 15, Palestine acceded to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the Convention on the Prohibition, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons,” Mladenov said.
The envoy did not address whether the decision will have an impact on funding from the United States for these agencies and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The OPCW, UNCTAD and UNIDO rely on voluntary contributions from UN member-states to fund its activities as well as its regular budget.
The United States withdrew some funding for UNESCO when the Palestinians joined the cultural and education agency in 2011 and last year pulled out of the agency altogether.
The Trump administration has also cut funds to the UN Palestinian refugee agency that have left UNRWA struggling to fill a major gap in its education and health programs.
The OPCW announced in The Hague earlier that the state of Palestine will become the 193rd state to join the chemical weapons convention.
Only four countries — Israel, Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan — have yet to ratify the chemical weapons convention, which aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction.
The Palestinians angered Israel when they became a state-party to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2015.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki this week met with the ICC chief prosecutor to push for an investigation of Israeli war crimes after more than 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza, the worst violence since the 2014 war.


Anti-money-laundering body gives Iran until February to complete reforms

Updated 23 min 1 sec ago
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Anti-money-laundering body gives Iran until February to complete reforms

  • The Financial Action Task Force said it was disappointed that Tehran had acted on only nine out of 10 of its guidelines despite pledges to make the grade

PARIS: The international group that monitors money laundering worldwide said on Friday Iran had until February to complete reforms that would bring it into line with global norms or face consequences.
The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force said after a meeting of its members that it was disappointed that Tehran had acted on only nine out of 10 of its guidelines despite pledges to make the grade.
“We expect Iran to move swiftly to implement the commitments that it undertook at a high level so long ago,” said Marshall Billingslea, the US assistant Treasury Secretary for terrorist financing, after chairing an FATF meeting.
“In line with that, we expect that it will have adopted all of these measures by February. If by February 2019 Iran has not yet done so, then we will take further steps,” he said.
In the meantime, the FATF said it had decided to continue suspending counter-measures, which can go as far as limiting or even banning transactions with a country.
Iran’s parliament approved some new measures against funding terrorism earlier this month under pressure to adopt international standards. But FATF said that it could only consider fully enacted legislation.
Members of FATF had already given Tehran until this month to bring its laws against money-laundering and funding of terrorism up to its guidelines.
Otherwise, Iran risked being returned to a blacklist of non-compliant countries that makes foreign investors and banks reluctant to deal with it.
Britain, France and Germany are trying to keep some financial channels open to Iran after the US pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal in May and re-imposed sanctions.
Analysts say that inclusion on the FATF’s blacklist could effectively make that all but impossible.