UN council adopts 1st measure on people missing in conflict

The United Nations Security Council meeting. (AFP)
Updated 12 June 2019

UN council adopts 1st measure on people missing in conflict

  • The government is still trying to learn the fate of 369 Kuwaitis missing since the 1991 Gulf War that liberated the country after Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein invaded in August 1990

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Tuesday unanimously approved its first-ever resolution focused on the countless thousands of people missing in conflicts, including over 45,000 registered in 2018 alone by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The Kuwait-drafted resolution urges all parties to conflicts to search for the missing, return remains and account for all the missing. It also calls on those involved to prevent people from being reported missing, including by facilitating family news and reunions, by registering details of detainees and prisoners of war and allowing them to correspond with their families.
The International Committee of the Red Cross was mandated by the 1949 Geneva Conventions to address and oversee the issue of missing persons in conflicts.
ICRC President Peter Maurer said after Tuesday’s vote that the organization has seen “an alarming increase in cases in recent years,” and the 2018 figure “is the tip of the iceberg and does not convey the true extent of the problem nor do justice to the suffering of each and every family.”
The Security Council resolution also expresses concern “about the dramatic increase in persons reported missing as a result of armed conflict,” and the consequences and impact on families.
Reena Ghelani, director of operations in the UN humanitarian office, told the council that people reported missing might be captured and held incommunicado by warring parties. They might also be victims of extrajudicial killings, civilians or combatants killed in fighting, or civilians including children, the elderly or disabled who fled violence or were left behind, she said.
“When the missing person is also the breadwinner, the impact on families can be economically devastating,” Ghelani said. “In some situations, relatives of missing persons find it hard to remarry, claim their inheritance, receive benefits and rebuild their lives in the face of legal and administrative obstacles.”
Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, who presided over the meeting as this month’s Security Council president, said that “missing persons are the main victims or any war or conflict.”
And he said the resolution “tackles an issue that is close to the heart of the people of Kuwait.” His government is still trying to learn the fate of 369 Kuwaitis missing since the 1991 Gulf War that liberated the country after Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein invaded in August 1990.
Maurer told the Security Council by video from Geneva that what is “crystal clear” today is the need for “stronger political will and cooperation” by parties to conflicts.
Crucially, he said, “missing persons and their families are not bargaining chips” and cases must be handled without discrimination.
“Every minute the ICRC, together with National Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, helps a family separated by conflict restore contact,” Maurer said. “Yet so much more can be done if parties to the conflict fulfil their obligations to search for missing persons and if they manage the dead systematically and with respect.”
Then, he said, “missing persons can be found, remains can be identified and answers can be given.”
The resolution urges parties to armed conflicts to establish a national information bureau or other mechanism at the start of hostilities to exchange information about detainees and civilians on opposing sides, with ICRC support “as a neutral intermediary where appropriate.”
It also underscores that accounting for missing persons can be part of peace negotiations and agreements.


UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

Updated 15 September 2019

UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

  • Johnson said he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what
  • “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the Mail

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has compared himself to The Incredible Hulk in a newspaper interview emphasizing his determination to take Britain out of the European Union next month.
Johnson faces considerable legal and political hurdles but told the Mail on Sunday he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what.
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the widely read tabloid, invoking the comic book and film character known for formidable but destructive strength.
Johnson remains defiant even though Parliament has passed a law requiring him to seek an extension to the deadline if no deal is reached by mid-October. He has also lost his working majority in Parliament and been told by Scotland’s highest court that his decision to suspend Parliament was illegal.
Johnson portrays himself as more convinced than ever that Britain will break with the EU at the end of October.
He will have a lunchtime meeting in Luxembourg on Monday with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to try to modify the Irish backstop that has been a main sticking point, but EU leaders did not seem impressed by Johnson’s invocation of the Hulk.
The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said the comments showed a lack of maturity.
“Even to Trumpian standards the Hulk comparison is infantile,” he tweeted. “Is the EU supposed to be scared by this? The British public impressed?“
Juncker, who has downplayed hopes of a breakthrough at Monday’s meeting, also expressed alarm that many people in Britain seem to feel a British departure without a deal with the EU would be a positive thing.
“It would be terrible chaos,” he said in an interview with Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio. “And we would need years to put things back in order. Anyone who loves his country, and I assume that there are still patriots in Britain, would not want to wish his country such a fate.”
The Oct. 31 deadline looms large because Johnson has not said he will seek another extension if no deal is reached, despite legislation passed by Parliament shortly before it was suspended.
Britain’s Supreme Court this week will rule on whether Johnson overstepped the law when he shut the legislature for a crucial five-week period.
The Liberal Democrats, who have been enjoying a revival, voted overwhelmingly at their party conference Sunday to end the Brexit process entirely if they come to power.
Party leader Jo Swinson said Article 50, which triggered Brexit, would be revoked if she becomes prime minister.
The party gained an important member Saturday with the defection of Sam Gyimah, a former Conservative minister. He is the sixth legislator to switch allegiance and join the Liberal Democrats this year.
Johnson also continues to take flak from former Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the 2016 referendum on Brexit.
Cameron said in an interview published Sunday that Johnson didn’t really believe in Brexit when he broke ranks and led the campaign to take Britain out of the EU. Cameron had been expecting Johnson’s help during the hard-fought campaign.
Cameron says of Johnson: “The conclusion I am left with is that he risked an outcome he didn’t believe in because it would help his political career.”
Cameron is giving interviews to gain publicity for his upcoming memoirs.