Open letter to Congress urging continued support and leadership in the United Nations
(28 February 2017) Continued engagement with the UN is critical to advancing a number of core U.S. foreign policy objectives, including securing recent gains in international development, delivering lifesaving humanitarian assistance, combating terrorism, encouraging the peaceful resolution of conflict, and promoting universal human rights. IRRI has joined with one hundred other human and civil rights organizations to advocate for stronger United Nations support, both financially and politically.
Now is the time to engage robustly and constructively with Mr. Guterres to achieve these ends, and avoid counterproductive actions, such as withholding financial support for the UN, that will only isolate the U.S. from its international partners and stymie efforts to achieve real and sustainable reform. This viewpoint has been articulated by both Republican and Democratic Administrations for decades. Earlier this month, for example, during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Ambassador Nikki Haley stated repeatedly that she opposed the “slash-and-burn” approach to UN funding advocated by some observers. Furthermore, in 2005, when Congress was considering legislation to tie the payment of U.S. dues to reform, a bipartisan group of eight former U.S. Ambassadors to the UN—including Jeane Kirkpatrick, John Danforth, Richard Holbrooke, and Madeleine Albright— authored a letter opposing the proposal. “Withholding our dues to the UN is the wrong methodology,” the letter argued. “When we last built debt with the UN, the United States isolated ourselves from our allies within the UN and made diplomacy a near impossible task.”
Renewing the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan and addressing the need for accountability for past and on-going crimes under international law and human rights violations in South Sudan
(23 February 2017) We, the undersigned South Sudanese, regional and international non-governmental organisations, write to urge your delegation to renew and strengthen the mandate and capacity of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan (the Commission) to address the continued lack of accountability for severe, widespread and on-going crimes under international law and human rights violations and abuses, many of which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, during the upcoming 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UN HRC). Since July 2016, the political, humanitarian and human rights situation in South Sudan has deteriorated. The return of Riek Machar to Juba in April 2016 was the starting point for the implementation of the August 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS). However, an outbreak of fighting in July 2016, which culminated in the flight of then First Vice-President Riek Machar from Juba and eventually from South Sudan, seriously jeopardised the implementation of the ARCSS and its transitional justice components.
During the July 2016 clashes between government and opposition forces in the capital Juba, the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) and opposition soldiers killed and raped civilians and extensively looted civilian property. Since then, the security situation in the country has continued to deteriorate, including in the Equatoria region, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as of December 2016, there were over 3.3 million South Sudanese civilians displaced internally or to neighbouring countries.
Read the full press release.
Sudan: Urgent concern for human rights defender on hunger strike over unlawful detention
(14 February 2017) Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, a prominent Sudanese human rights defender, has been unlawfully detained for over two months, held by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) at Khartoum’s Kober Prison without charge or access to legal representation, 39 human rights groups and activists said. Dr. Mudawi, who was arrested with his driver, Adam El-Sheikh Mukhtar, on December 7, 2016 at the University of Khartoum, has received three brief visits from family members, all of which have been supervised by the NISS. A public statement issued by the family after meeting him on January 27, 2017 stated that he appeared to be in poor health with visible weight loss. They said that the NISS have prevented Dr. Mudawi from receiving essential medication for a pre-existing heart condition. The latest visit, on February 9, followed a week-long hunger strike that continues to date. The family noted that Dr. Mudawi has lost further weight and is extremely fragile with decreasing blood pressure.
February 14, 2017 is 70 days since his arrest, and 13 days since Dr. Mudawi resumed a hunger strike to protest his detention without charge or access to legal representation. He originally went on hunger strike on January 22, but ended it on January 27 following a family visit. Dr. Mudawi resumed his hunger strike on February 2 to protest the continued unlawfulness of his detention. He has since been placed into a “punishment cell” with bad ventilation and very hot temperatures, thereby exacerbating his medical concerns. The NISS have furthermore opened proceedings against Dr. Mudawi under Article 133 (Attempted Suicide) as a result of his hunger strike.
Read the full press release.