Foreign Policy News #4 by Adam

1. Today (13th April 2017) the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) Executive Council consisting of 41 members gathered at its 54th Meeting to discuss the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

One of the main functions of the Executive Council is to discuss any measures to take in cases of non-compliance by a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, in which Syria is a party to.

United States Ambassador to the Executive Council OPCW Kenneth D. Ward said “The Syrian government has shown time and time again it is not willing to stop using chemical weapons...this outrage is abetted by Russia’s continuing efforts to bury the truth and protect the Syrian regime from any consequences for its heinous use of chemical weapons.”

The United States in their full statement condemned the use of chemical weapons, encouraged the OPCW fact finding mission to do its work thoroughly and quickly, and called upon state parties to support the fact finding mission.

Swedish Ambassador Per Holmstrom to the OPCW said “…if allegations are proven correct, this attack will add to other confirmed cases of international crimes committed by the Syrian regime.” He ended his statement with “chemical weapons use in the Syrian conflict must end here.”  

https://www.opcw.org/about-opcw/executive-council/membership-and-functions/

https://www.opcw.org/documents-reports/executive-council/documents-from-the-fifty-fourth-meeting-of-the-executive-council/

https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/EC/M-54/en/Sweden_ECM-54.pdf

https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/EC/M-54/en/United_States_ECM54_Statement.pdf

 

2. On the 11th April, the UN Security Council failed to pass draft resolution S/2017/315 on the situation in Syria due to the veto of the permanent member Russia.

The draft resolution was drafted by the UK, US and France calling for specific instruction and access to two bodies, the OPCW FFM (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Fact Finding Mission) and JIM (United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism).

This includes calls for both organisations to be provided full access to relevant locations in Syria, Syria to hand over details of flight plans and flight logs of air operations, including the names of individuals in command of any aircraft, and to provide access to airbases which the fact finding mission find applicable in regards to chemical weapon use.

If Syria does not comply with the terms, the draft resolution mandates the authorisation for use of force under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

The wording of the draft resolution was phrased in a way to say “alleged chemical weapons use” rather than actual confirmed use of chemical weapons. 

The vote consisted of 10 affirmative votes, 3 abstentions (China, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan and 2 vetoes (Russia, Bolivia). According to the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vladimir Safronkov, Russia vetoed the resolution as not doing so would legitimise the US air strike on the Shayrat airbase in Syria.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=56554#.WO8iMqLNvIU

The draft resolution can be found here: http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2017/images/04/12/resolution..pdf

 

 

 

 

Foreign Policy News #3 by Adam

1. Exercise Cope Tiger has been underway in March 2017, a multilateral training exercise involving the U.S Air Force, Republic of Singapore Air Force and the Royal Thai Air Force for increasing combat readiness and inter-operability. It involved over 70 aircraft and over 40 air defence assets.

http://www.pacom.mil/Media/News/News-Article-View/Article/1137501/961st-airborne-warning-and-control-system-provides-eyes-for-cope-tiger-17/

 

2. As part of the 20th anniversary commemoration at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on the 26th April 2017 in The Hague, the Netherlands, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands will attend the event. During the ceremony, His Majesty the King together with the Director-General, will unveil a plaque in honour of the OPCW’s anniversary.

https://www.opcw.org/news/article/king-of-the-netherlands-and-high-dignitaries-to-attend-opcw-20th-anniversary-commemoration/

 

3. On the 31st March 2017, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson attended a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium. The theme of the meeting was about the changing security threats in the world. Issues discussed were about Russia’s activities, international terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, and appeals for help in Libya.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/foreign-secretary-attends-nato-foreign-ministers-meeting

 

4. For the month of April 2017, the President of the United Nations Security Council is the United States. The US Ambassador to the UN is Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor. The provisional work programme has not yet been updated. It will be an interesting month to see what the first UNSC presidency of Trump’s administration will bring.

http://www.un.org/en/sc/programme/monthly.shtml

 

5. There have been three new ambassador appointments from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, subject to the receiving state’s approval. They are:

Harman Idema, currently head of the Office for International Cooperation, to be the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Republic of Chile, duty station Santiago de Chile.

Ed Kronenburg, currently ambassador in the French Republic, to be the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the People’s Republic of China, duty station Beijing.

Anne van Leeuwen, currently consul-general in Toronto to be the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Republic of Suriname, duty station Paramaribo.

https://www.government.nl/ministries/ministry-of-foreign-affairs/news/2017/03/17/appointment-of-ambassadors

 

 

Foreign Policy news #2 Presidential Debate special by Adam

The first presidential debate for the United States between the two nominated candidates took place on Monday 26th September at 9pm (Eastern Time) at Hofstra University in New York. The participants in the debate were Donald Trump (Republican nominee) and Hillary Clinton (Democratic nominee). The debate lasted for 90 minutes.

It was a debate to articulate the policies, positions, visions and values of the candidates. Three main topics of the debate were achieving prosperity, America’s direction and securing America.

1. Achieving prosperity:

As with all presidential debates, the domestic issue of jobs in the country arises time and time again.

-The problem of lack of jobs and income equality.

-There needs to be more jobs in infrastructure (roads, bridges, airports and so on), advanced technology (software, coding and so on), renewable energy (solar, wind and so on), and growth in small businesses.

-Specific issues of income inequality: raising the national minimum wage, profit sharing (so those who make the profits will get more a share of the profits rather than simply lining the pockets of the executives), getting the balance right between family and work, making university affordable and debt free.

-It is tough to bring jobs back to the country as there is cheaper labour overseas, which is attractive to profit hungry businesses.

-Enforce the trade deals America has.

-Focus should pivot more to clean energy. Some country is going to be the clean energy superpower of the 21st century. Why not let it be America? This creates jobs, activity, and is the right thing to do for the sustainability of the planet.

-Slashing taxes for the wealthy hasn’t worked. Top down doesn’t work in America. Needs broad based inclusive growth.

2. America’s direction:

-Race unfortunately determines too much. It can determine where someone lives, it can determine the result of the criminal justice system, it can determine the kind of education received in public schools.

-Need to restore trust between communities and the police. Need more training and techniques for the police, for them to be better equipped to use force only when necessary.

-Everyone should be respected by the law and everyone should respect the law.

-Need to get guns out of the hands of people that should not have them. Of those that are out to do harm. If someone is on a watch list and deemed too dangerous to fly, that person is too dangerous to buy a gun.

-Need to deal with mandatory minimum jail sentences. Shouldn't have a jail system that is profit driven to fill cells.

-Many police find it difficult to deal with people who have mental health issues. This is a major concern for policing. They need more support, training and assistance.

-There are the right ways of doing things and there are other ways that prove to be ineffective.

3/ Securing America:

-Cyber security and cyber warfare will be the greatest challenge facing the next president.

-There are two different adversaries. Independent hacking groups with commercial interests and state sponsored cyber hacking.

-USA does not want to engage in cyber warfare between countries. However USA will defend the citizens of their country.

-On Iraq: George W Bush made the agreement about when American troops would leave Iraq. The only way that American troops would have stayed in Iraq is to get an agreement from the then-Iraqi government that would have protected American troops. The Iraqi government would not give that protection.

-By working more closely with allies on intelligence, it will better protect America's security.

-NATO Article 5: an attack on one member state is an attack on them all. The only time Article 5 has been invoked was after the 9/11 attacks. The 28 nations of NATO said they would go to Afghanistan to fight terrorism.

-The USA spent time building a coalition including Russia and China to impose the toughest sanctions on Iran, in efforts to prevent their nuclear weapons program. These economic sanctions worked, as they compelled Iran to the negotiating table. This negotiation broke up Iran's pursuit for their nuclear weapons program.

-Trump's cavalier attitude about nuclear weapons is troubling.

-It is the policy of the United States to reduce proliferation of nuclear weapons.

 

Foreign policy news #1 by Adam

 

1. The current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is tipped to become the next President of the Republic of Korea. The election process starts on 20th December 2017, with the next President taking office in 25th February 2018.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/30/does-plodding-un-chief-ban-ki-moon-have-his-eye-on-becoming-sout/

 

2. The next UN Secretary General will take office on 1st January 2017. Candidates from the five permanent countries are not considered for the role (UK, USA, China, Russia, France).

There are currently 9 candidates for this role including Portugal's former Prime Minister Antonio Guterres and Slovakia's Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák. The election for the role will take place in October 2016.

http://www.un.org/pga/71/sg/

 

3. The current India-Pakistan conflict on Kashmir has become more heated this year. Originating from a territorial dispute following the partition of India in 1947, recent violence has heightened from the killing of a Kashmir militant Burhan Wani in July 2016 by Indian security forces.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Kashmir_unrest

 

4. Russian planes are accused of bombing a UN aid convoy in Syria killing at least 20 people. After a ceasefire deal was brokered, the convoy carrying food and medicine was bombed en-route to Aleppo, one of the worst affected cities in Syria from the ongoing crisis.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/20/un-aid-convoy-attack-syria-us-russia

 

5. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's political future is in doubt as he pledges a referendum on Italy's constitutional reforms. If the referendum does not go his way, he will resign as the Prime Minister. The referendum takes place in November 2016.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/06/matteo-renzi-italy-referendum-banks-brexit

 

6. South Africa's Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in Parliament in September 2016 that the government released a new brand of government issued condoms called Max. Quoting from Cyril's speech in Parliament: "The Max condom is in response to what a number of people were saying, they were saying that the other condom that had been introduced by government did not smell so well and it made a noise whenever it was used"

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/02/south-africas-deputy-president-moves-to-replace-government-issue/

 

7. Whistleblower Edward Snowden who leaked confidential information about the US National Security Agency is seeking a Presidential Pardon from President Obama. Snowden argues that the disclosure of the scale of surveillance by US and British intelligence agencies was in the service of the public good.

http://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2016/09/edward-snowden-asks-for-an-obama-pardon/499811/

 

8. The current question for discussion in Germany's news is whether or not Angela Merkel will run again for her role of Chancellor of Germany in 2017. Her popularity has recently been in decline after 11 years in office due to her open-door stance on refugees. The election will start around September 2017.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-19/berlin-in-the-dark-as-merkel-weighs-political-fate-scenarios