Achai Wiir denies saving South Sudan from UN debt-trap

A South Sudanese businesswoman and philanthropist, Achai Wiir, has vehemently denied bailing out South Sudan after defaulting on UN membership fees totaling 22,804 dollars.

In response to the allegations on social media, Achai Wiir said that she does not support anyone or any political party in the country and has nothing to do with South Sudan’s politics.

As you all know, I don’t associate with politics or in any manner and I will stand with it,” said Achai Wiir, a businesswoman and philanthropist.

Achai Wiir wears a T-shirt labeled SKM an acronym that stands for Salva Kiir Mayardit | Photo/ Courtesy

Last year, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres announced that nine African countries, including South Sudan, had lost their voting rights as required under the UN Charter after defaulting on membership fees contributed annually as UN’s operating budget.

Last week, the South Sudanese government confirmed, in a statement that, it had regained the right to vote as a member of the United Nations after paying its dues.

“The Ministry of finance has cleared the outstanding contributions and fees for the UN,” said Deng Dau, a South Sudanese official. “So, South Sudan has the right place in the international community.”

The United Nations has an annual operating budget of $3.2 billion, and every member state has an obligation to pay their annual contributions in order to maintain their membership.

UN calls for swift formation of Hybrid Court for South Sudan

The United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten | Photo: UN

The United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, has called for the immediate formation of the AU Hybrid Court for South Sudan to hold accountable individuals accused of having committed acts of sexual violence during the conflict.

“The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary- General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, welcomes the announcement by the Government of South Sudan to establish transitional justice institutions provided for under Chapter V of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), and calls on the Government to expedite their establishment,” the UN diplomat said in its statement.

The Special Representative noted that the timely establishment of Chapter V institutions, including the long-awaited African Union Hybrid Court, which are envisioned to investigate and prosecute individuals bearing responsibility for violations of international law and/or applicable domestic law will be a strong signal that such crimes, including acts of sexual violence will not be tolerated, that those responsible will be held accountable, and that the needs of survivors and communities will be addressed.

The Special Representative further underscored the importance of adhering to the 35 per cent quota for women’s representation in government institutions, including Chapter V institutions, in line with the revitalized peace agreement.

The UN official urged Southern Sudan leaders to devise an approach focusing on sexual and gender-based violence that would undoubtedly address sexual violence committed during the war.

“As the Government of South Sudan moves forward with establishing transitional justice and peacebuilding processes, I call on the authorities to adopt a survivor-centered approach. Survivors of sexual violence, their families and communities have a central role to play”, emphasized the Special Representative.

“My Office stands ready to support the Government and its partners in their efforts to strengthen prevention and response to sexual violence and ensure that the prosecution of these grave crimes takes place in a timely and transparent manner.”

How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change

Former US President Barack Obama speaking to reporters |Photo: AP

By | Barack Obama

June 1, 2020 (Washington)–As millions of people across the country take to the streets and raise their voices in response to the killing of George Floyd and the ongoing problem of unequal justice, many people have reached out asking how we can sustain momentum to bring about real change. Ultimately, it’s going to be up to a new generation of activists to shape strategies that best fit the times. But I believe there are some basic lessons to draw from past efforts that are worth remembering.

First, the waves of protests across the country represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States. The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support, not condemnation — something that police in cities like Camden and Flint have commendably understood.

On the other hand, the small minority of folks who’ve resorted to violence in various forms, whether out of genuine anger or mere opportunism, are putting innocent people at risk, compounding the destruction of neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment and detracting from the larger cause. I saw an elderly black woman being interviewed today in tears because the only grocery store in her neighborhood had been trashed. If history is any guide, that store may take years to come back. So let’s not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it. If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves.

Second, I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time. I couldn’t disagree more. The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities. But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.
Moreover, it’s important for us to understand which levels of government have the biggest impact on our criminal justice system and police practices. When we think about politics, a lot of us focus only on the presidency and the federal government.

And yes, we should be fighting to make sure that we have a president, a Congress, a U.S. Justice Department, and a federal judiciary that actually recognize the ongoing, corrosive role that racism plays in our society and want to do something about it. But the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.

It’s mayors and county executives that appoint most police chiefs and negotiate collective bargaining agreements with police unions. It’s district attorneys and state’s attorneys that decide whether or not to investigate and ultimately charge those involved in police misconduct. Those are all elected positions. In some places, police review boards with the power to monitor police conduct are elected as well. Unfortunately, voter turnout in these local races is usually pitifully low, especially among young people — which makes no sense given the direct impact these offices have on social justice issues, not to mention the fact that who wins and who loses those seats is often determined by just a few thousand, or even a few hundred, votes.

So the bottom line is this: if we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both. We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform.

Finally, the more specific we can make demands for criminal justice and police reform, the harder it will be for elected officials to just offer lip service to the cause and then fall back into business as usual once protests have gone away. The content of that reform agenda will be different for various communities. A big city may need one set of reforms; a rural community may need another. Some agencies will require wholesale rehabilitation; others should make minor improvements. Every law enforcement agency should have clear policies, including an independent body that conducts investigations of alleged misconduct. Tailoring reforms for each community will require local activists and organizations to do their research and educate fellow citizens in their community on what strategies work best.

But as a starting point, here’s a report and toolkit developed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and based on the work of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing that I formed when I was in the White House. And if you’re interested in taking concrete action, we’ve also created a dedicated site at the Obama Foundation to aggregate and direct you to useful resources and organizations who’ve been fighting the good fight at the local and national levels for years.

I recognize that these past few months have been hard and dispiriting — that the fear, sorrow, uncertainty, and hardship of a pandemic have been compounded by tragic reminders that prejudice and inequality still shape so much of American life. But watching the heightened activism of young people in recent weeks, of every race and every station, makes me hopeful. If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals.
Let’s get to work.

Originally published by Medium 

IOM Appeals for USD 119.3 Million To Support Development Responses in S. Sudan

a South Sudanese child who suffers from malnutrition (Photo: File)

(Thessherald)–The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has launched its Consolidated Appeal for 2020 which builds upon the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan for South Sudan in which it is appealing for USD 119,311,000 to meet the needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees, host community members and migrants throughout the country.

The Consolidated Appeal recognizes the significant needs that persist across South Sudan as highlighted in the 2020 Humanitarian Needs Overview.

The effects of years of conflict and displacement continue to impact South Sudanese throughout the country and abroad, with the country suffering sustained poverty, periods of food shortages, persistent protection concerns, and a lack of livelihoods and access to basic services, with women and girls being disproportionately affected.

Aid agencies estimate that nearly 7.5 million South Sudanese are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Some 1.5 million people remain displaced internally while a further 2.2 million are in neighbouring countries.

Through humanitarian assistance and an integrated, multi-sector approach, whereby governance, migration management, and transition, recovery, and stabilization complement humanitarian interventions, IOM will continue to ensure the sustained provision of life-saving responses that supports IDPs, returnees, and host communities across the country, and ensuring the equitable access of women, men, girls and boys to services provided.

“In 2019, IOM received immense support from the donor community, and we are hopeful that this year will be no different,” said Jean-Philippe Chauzy, IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission.

“We call on the donor community to continue providing support to the people of South Sudan as they rebuild their lives towards a durable peace as promised by the Revitalized Peace Agreement,” Chauzy added.

IOM’s 2020 Consolidated Appeal puts the needs of displaced South Sudanese, returnees and host communities at the centre of its programming. This is driven by humanitarian, development, peacebuilding and governance efforts. IOM continues to provide essential core services such as health, water, sanitation and hygiene response and the provision of mental health and psychosocial support while protection and safeguarding beneficiaries remain the cornerstones of all IOM’s activities.

IOM supports social cohesion, conflict mitigation and effective peacebuilding initiatives and remains steadfast in its commitment to working with the government to increase its technical knowledge and strengthen institutional capacity on migration and border management, as part of efforts to achieve long-term sustainability.

The CAP 2020 recognizes that while South Sudan still struggles with the devastation caused by the five-year long civil war, there is a new wave of optimism and an opportunity for continued effective humanitarian and development activities such as providing infrastructural support and initiating income generating schemes in areas of return.

“We have seen the impact of our support to governance efforts in 2019, with the development of the country’s first ever Comprehensive Migration Policy, the formation of the Technical Taskforce on Anti-Trafficking and Smuggling of Persons, and the Draft Land Policy now slated for passage through Parliament,” Chauzy said.

“We have a window to tap into the resilient nature of the people of South Sudan. The CAP 2020 offers a launchpad for such activity,” he added.

Cognizant of huge humanitarian and development needs, not only in South Sudan, but across the globe that far outpace the availability of resources, IOM hopes for favourable support from donors.

“We trust that IOM and the communities we serve across South Sudan can count on your much-needed support throughout what I believe will be a defining year for the country,” said Chauzy.

US Court demands $4.3 billion from Sudan in compensation for 1998 al Qaeda bombings

Scene after the Al Qaeda bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, which killed 213 people (August 7, 1998) (Photo: Not Known)

(Thessherald)–The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday appeared open to reinstating $4.3 billion in punitive damages against Sudan in lawsuits accusing it of complicity in the 1998 al Qaeda bombings of two U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.

The nine justices heard about an hour of arguments in an appeal – filed by people injured and relatives of people killed in the attacks – of a 2017 lower court ruling that blocked the plaintiffs from collecting the punitive damages imposed against Sudan alongside about $6 billion in compensatory damages.

The justices directed the bulk of their questioning toward an attorney representing Sudan as opposed to the plaintiffs. Conservative and liberal justices raised doubts over Sudan’s argument that it could not be hit with punitive damages.

Sudan, riven by civil war and unrest, has been trying to reduce its exposure in the litigation.
Twelve Americans were among the dead in the Aug. 7, 1998, attacks, with thousands of other people wounded. The lawsuits involve 567 people, most of whom are non-U.S. citizens who were employees of the U.S. government and their relatives.

Doreen Oport, 58, who was working as an immigration assistant in the embassy in Kenya’s capital Nairobi during the attack and suffered burns and other injuries, expressed optimism following the arguments.
“We are waiting for justice,” Oport said.
President Donald Trump’s administration urged the justices to side with the plaintiffs.

The damages were imposed by default because for most of the litigation Sudan did not appear before a lower court to counter accusations that it harbored and provided support to the Islamist militant group al Qaeda, which led to the bombings. Sudan denies the allegations.

The truck bombs that detonated outside the embassies in Nairobi as well as Dar es Salaam, Tanzania marked the first large-scale al Qaeda attack. Three years later, on Sept. 11, 2001, al Qaeda operatives carried out attacks in the United States, killing nearly 3,000 people.

Starting in 2001, several groups of plaintiffs sued in federal court in Washington under the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which generally bars claims against foreign countries except those designated by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism, as Sudan has been since 1993. Other claims were made under local District of Columbia law.

A federal judge found Sudan liable and awarded the plaintiffs $10.2 billion, including $4.3 in punitive damages.

In 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld Sudan’s liability, but ruled that a 2008 change in the law allowing for punitive damages was enacted after the bombings occurred and cannot be applied retroactively.

Originally published by Reuters.