Tag Archives: Geneva

UN calls UK for Assange liberation

First day of new year 2019 the UN office in Geneva, Switzerland, reminds of the United Nations Working group on arbitrary detention (WGAD) reiterated call to the UK that Julian Assange recover his entire freedom. In December 2015, the WGAD had determined the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Assange arbitrary and called for his release.

“GENEVA (21 December 2018) – UN human rights experts today repeated a demand that the UK abides by its international obligations and immediately allows Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to walk free from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has been for over 6 years, fearing arrest by British authorities if he leaves, and extradition to the US.

“States that are based upon and promote the rule of law do not like to be confronted with their own violations of the law, that is understandable. But when they honestly admit these violations, they do honour the very spirit of the rule of law, earn enhanced respect for doing so, and set worldwide commendable examples,” the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) said.

In December 2015, the Working Group concluded in its opinion No. 54/2015 that Mr. Assange – who at the time had a European arrest warrant issued against him for an allegation of crimes committed in Sweden ‑ was being arbitrarily deprived of his freedom and demanded that he be released.

“Under international law, pre-trial detention must be only imposed in limited instances. Detention during investigations must be even more limited, especially in the absence of any charge” said the experts. “The Swedish investigations have been closed for over 18 months now, and the only ground remaining for Mr. Assange’s continued deprivation of liberty is a bail violation in the UK, which is, objectively, a minor offense that cannot post facto justify the more than 6 years confinement that he has been subjected to since he sought asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador. Mr. Assange should be able to exercise his right to freedom of movement in an unhindered manner, in accordance with the human rights conventions the UK has ratified,” the experts further said

The WGAD is further concerned that the modalities of the continued arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Mr. Assange is undermining his health, and may possible endanger his life given the disproportionate amount of anxiety and stress that such prolonged deprivation of liberty entails.

“The United Kingdom has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and has a responsibility to honour its commitment, by respecting its provisions in all cases,” the experts said.

“As the High Commissioner for human rights said several years ago, human rights treaty law is binding law, it is not discretionary law. It is not some passing fancy that a state can apply sometimes and not in the other,” the experts recalled.

“In addition, the recommendations of the WGAD Opinions are expected to be implemented by all States, including those which have not been a party in the case concerning Mr. Assange,” said the experts.

“On 10 December, the world celebrated International Human Rights Day. Seventy years ago, on that very day, the United Nations proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the mother of all rights contained in subsequent conventions, including the ICCPR.

“It is time that Mr. Assange, who has already paid a high price for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of opinion, expression and information, and to promote the right to truth in the public interest, recovers his freedom,” the experts concluded.”

This statement by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is endorsed by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mr. Michel Forst.

Half a billion EU aid to Afghanistan

The European Commission has today announced a financial package worth €474 million to support state building and public sector reforms, health, justice, and elections, as well as to address migration and displacement challenges in Afghanistan. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, made the announcement today at the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan, signing the financing agreements with the Afghan Minister of Finance Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi.


“The EU stands side by side with Afghanistan and its people to build a stronger future for the country. The EU’s new assistance package of €474 million will contribute towards addressing peace and security challenges and set up the foundations for a more stable and economically sustainable society. Through joint efforts we intend to reduce aid-dependency and invest in democratic governance for the benefit all citizens of the country”, Commissioner Mimica said.

The EU support package consists of:

Budget support through a State and Resilience Building Contract: the EU will support the Government of Afghanistan in pursuing its reform agenda with an allocation of €311 million. Funding will support: public sector reform and the fight against corruption; basic service delivery and gender equality; public financial management and macro-economic stability with a particular focus on domestic revenue mobilisation. Human rights, democratic values, peace and gender equality will continue to be at the core of EU action and in its discussions with the Government of Afghanistan.

Justice sector: €31 million will support justice reform by supporting the Attorney General’s office to become more effective and Afghan civil society to ensure that the Afghan justice system is accountable to citizens.

Health and nutrition: zero hunger and quality health for all remain central priorities of the European Union in the country. With a new €80 million support package, the EU will work in partnership with the Government of Afghanistan to improve the health and nutrition of the population, in line with the national plans and strategies until 2020.

Electoral process support: an ad hoc instrument worth €15.5 million will support the presidential and provincial council elections in 2019.

Migration and forced displacement: The European Union and the Government of Afghanistan signed a new commitment worth €37 million, which reinforces EU assistance to Afghanistan in addressing migration and forced displacement challenges, in particular the reintegration of people on the move and returnees in Afghanistan. This commitment brings the total EU contribution to the challenges in the region in this field to almost € 230 million.

We believe that this is the moment to begin serious peace talks. All of us at this table have something to contribute. On the European Union’s side, we are ready: as a facilitator; as a reliable provider of incentives; as a partner of all countries in the region; as a force for peace and cooperation; and, most importantly, as a reliable friend of the Afghan people” EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini said, addressing the Geneva conference.

UN watches Syria ceasefire

“The agreement is basically broadly holding, quite well. In all agreements there is a period of adjustment, we are watching very carefully, but we can say we believe it has fairly good chances of working out” – said  U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura told a news conference on Syria.

Agreements to de-escalate the fighting  could simplify the conflict and lead to a phase of stabilizing the country, but such deals must be an interim measure and avoid partition, de Mistura suggested.

Addressing the start of five days of peace talks in Geneva, de Mistura told the discussions were taking place in Amman to monitor implementation of a U.S.-Russian imposed ceasefire for southwest Syria, the first peacemaking effort of the war by the U.S. government under President Donald Trump.


Russia, France towards Syrian talks

Russian Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov and his  French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault have agreed to cooperate in preparing the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.


“The ministers have agreed that Russian and French representatives will be cooperating to prepare and hold a next round of intra-Syrian talks, due to begin in Geneva on March 23, 2017,” the ministry said in a statement.

During the phone talk, Lavrov noted that absence of some armed opposition groups from the recent meeting manifested certain countries’ continuing attempts to hamper a peace resolution in Syria. At the same time, the Russian foreign minister expressed his satisfaction with the negotiations in Astana, according to ITAR-TASS news agency.



Guterres: no miracles for Cyprus

G UN Secretary-General António Guterresguterres-geneva


Geneva, 12 January 2017 – UN Secretary Genearl Antonio Guterres press encounter:

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, thank you very much for your presence.

I want, first of all, to pay tribute to the extraordinary statesmanship, to the courage and to the determination of Mr. [Nicos] Anastasiades and Mr. [Mustafa] Akıncı, who for 20 months have been conducting in a very determined way a dialogue aiming at creating the conditions to allow for Cyprus to be able to be again a country united, living in normal conditions for its people.

And it is only thanks to their work that it was possible to come today to the opening of the Conference that, historically and for the first time, has put around the same table, not only the two protagonists, but also the guarantors: the Republics of Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

We had this morning an extremely constructive opening session, followed by a very open debate during lunchtime, a true brainstorming, in which it was possible to identify, not only the very important progress that was made in the negotiations, as taken in the last few days, on the first five chapters, but also to identify the complexity of the problems related to security and guarantees that need to be addressed and resolved.

In that lunch, it was possible to clearly come to the conclusion that we need to find instruments, instruments that allow for the implementation of the settlement that would be achieved in a way that guarantees simultaneously the response to the security concerns of the Turkish Cypriot community and the security concerns of the Greek Cypriot community.

But there is obviously a way to go, work to continue. We will reconvene the Conference today in the late afternoon. You cannot expect miracles or immediate solutions. We are not looking for a quick fix. We are looking for a solid and sustainable solution for the Republic of Cyprus and for the communities of the Republic of Cyprus, and we will be working as long as necessary in order to achieve that goal, with the objective naturally to reach these in the context of the present Conference.

I would like to say very clearly that for the United Nations, our role is to support the parties, in order for them to be able to come to the agreement that is necessary. We do not aim at any protagonism, we have no agenda but the agenda that results from the consensus possible to be established between the parties.

As I said during our lunch, those that deserve the Oscar of the best actor, if this was a competition of cinema, are on my right-hand side and my left-hand side. In the UN, we do not aim at more than to eventually get an Oscar of the best actor in a supporting role. What we really want is to help create the conditions and we were very encouraged by the fact that the European Union has shown total commitment to support this process. And we are also ready in the context of the UN to make, to seize, the Security Council to guarantee, in an effective and strong way, the results that will be possible to achieve in the context of the present Conference.

From now on, you will have to be patient. As I said, we are not here for a quick fix. We are here to work seriously for a solution that is simultaneously a solid and a sustainable solution for Cyprus, for the people of Cyprus. And I believe a solution will be a symbol of hope in a world where so many conflicts are emerging, where so many problems do not seem to come to an end, but where I very much trust the courage, determination and the statesmanship of the two leaders that are here with me today.

(Source: UN Geneva)

Mogherini looking forward to 'united Cyprus'


“The EU supports this historic opportunity to settle the Cypriot issue after 40 years, in the heart of Europe and Mediterranean”, – said EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini, looking forward to welcoming “united Cyprus”.

High Representative  Federica Mogherini is in Geneva for the International Conference on Cyprus. The European Union, a strong supporter of the UN-facilitated settlement talks, attends the sessions of the Conference as an interested party. In this context, Mogherini met also bilaterally with Espen Barth Eide, Special Advisor of United Nations Secretary General on Cyprus, with Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akıncı, and with the Foreign Ministers of Greece, Nikos Kotzias, and of Turkey, Mevlut Cavusoglu.

(Source: EEAS)


Juncker attends talks on Cyprus

Cyprus Peace Talks

Today Jean-Claude Juncker the European Commission president attends Cyprus peace talks in Geneva considering it as a ‘very last chance’ between divided island to united, however he expected it to be a success. His participation is framed in an observer status.

The Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders come together to reunification talks in Geneva this week, but both sides do not expect a quick fix in protracted dispute. Turkey’s prime minister is to join international diplomats at Cyprus peace talks in Geneva, amid signs of progress towards reuniting the divided island.

The Geneva talks also involve UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and his Greek and Turkish counterparts. It will be a first foreign trip in his capacity as UN chief  for Antonio Guterres.

The Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot communities have been split since 1974. Cyprus joined the European Union on 1 May 2004, and  on 1 January 2008  the euro zone. There are six Cyprus MEPs in European Parliament; a Cypriot Christos Stylianides is the  Commissioner on Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management; EU funds help the Turkish Cypriot community prepare for the reunification of Cyprus.

Any negotiated deal would come into force if both Cypriot communities approve of it in separate referendums.

(Source: European Commission)

Photo: illustration

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