The United States submitted a draft Security Council resolution insisting that contributing states—not the International Criminal Court (ICC)—have exclusive responsibility for investigating and prosecuting crimes allegedly committed by their nationals during their peacekeeping missions, during discussions last week to extend the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH). The draft resolution states: that peacekeepers “shall enjoy in the territory of all member states other than the contributing state immunity from arrest, detention, and prosecution with respect to all acts arising out of the operation, and … this immunity shall continue after termination of their participation in the operation,” according to the UN Wire. The United States has threatened to withdraw its 712 troops from UN peacekeeping missions if demands are not met, according to Reuters. No one in the 15-member council agrees with the US position. According to Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch: “Peacekeepers are protected by status of forces’ immunity agreements that are standard to all UN peacekeeping agreements, which say national courts have exclusive jurisdiction over their national soldiers. So any US personnel in a UN Security Council-mandated mission are already protected and under the exclusive authority of US courts.” The UN Security Council last month defeated a similar resolution submitted by the US at the UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET).
Sixty-seven nations have ratified the Rome Statute, the treaty establishing the ICC. The Court enters into force July 1. Last week, several European nations with troops in Afghanistan, received written assurances that their troops serving as peacekeepers would be immune from arrest or surrender to the ICC, according to the Washington Post. This agreement put the US and its allies sharply at odds with Bush’s proposal to exclude personnel in all UN missions from the reach of the ICC, according to the Post. For the past several months, the Feminist Majority and other women’s organizations as well as the United Nations and the interim Afghan government have asked the Bush administration to expand US peacekeeping troops in order to protect the Afghan people.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .