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February 2017
Editor-in-Chief: Nicola Giovannini
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 Highlights

NPWJ welcomes South African Court decision on illegality of ICC withdrawal
 

At the end of 2016, the South African Government deposited a notice of its withdrawal from the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court with the United Nations Secretary-General, becoming the first State to withdraw from that treaty. Today, South Africa’s High Court ordered the South African Government to revoke that notice of withdrawal, saying that the decision to leave without Parliament’s approval was unconstitutional and invalid.
 
“This is clearly a victory for the rule of law and a shining demonstration of the important role the judicial system has to play in ensuring the proper checks and balances are upheld”, said Alison SmithNPWJ’s International Criminal Justice Director. “Today’s decision gives victims a reprieve and edges South Africa back to the community of nations that together have decided that might is not right; that impunity for crimes under international law is a threat and an affront to all of humanity, requiring a global justice response when national systems are unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute; and that those who bear the greatest responsibility for atrocities need to account for their crimes irrespective of their official capacity or diplomatic status.”
 
The South African Government has said it is reflecting on whether or not to appeal the decision and has also signalled its intention to present a Bill to Parliament to withdraw from the Rome ICC Statute. “We hope today’s decision gives time for cooler heads in South Africa’s Government to prevail and decide not to present a withdrawal Bill to Parliament”, Smith added. “If that happens, however, we hope that South Africa’s Parliament will stand on the side of victims and the protection of human rights on which today’s South Africa was built. In the meanwhile, we urge all States Parties to continue to reiterate in no uncertain terms their commitment to the integrity and the principles underpinning the Rome ICC Statute and their absolute commitment to ensuring justice and redress for victims of the world’s worst crimes, wherever they may take place”.
 
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Protecting Children from War: 10 years of the Paris Principles
 

Ten years after adopting the Paris Principles and Commitments on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups, States, international organisations and civil society gathered in Paris yesterday to reaffirm their commitment to protecting children and enhancing their rights. The Conference, organised by the French Government and UNICEF, was an important moment to discuss progress since the original adoption of the Paris Principles in 2007 and identify ways to strengthen the protection of children in the years to come.
 
“The last ten years has seen some important improvements for children affected by armed conflict, not least that we have seen several armed forces and groups commit to not recruiting or using children in hostilities; we’ve also seen many children released from those groups”, said Alison SmithNPWJ’s International Criminal Justice Director, who participated in the discussions in Paris yesterday. “The legal frameworks for the protection of children have been strengthened, with several States adhering to the Option Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child raising the minimum age for recruitment to 18. We also welcome the fact that three new States – Kazakhstan, Myanmar and Tunisia – added their names to the Paris Principles, raising the total number of States committed to the Principles to 108”.
 
Against this background, however, not only has child recruitment or use not stopped, children continue to bear the brunt of armed conflict and massive political violence. “It is appalling that in 2017, millions of children around the world are being denied their childhood because of armed conflict”, Smith continued. “Quite frankly, despite the tremendous efforts of many actors to ensure the protection of children, it just isn’t good enough. We need to do more to increase the cost of harming children. Beyond meeting their needs before and after their rights have been violated, we need to ensure there is accountability for those who commit crimes against children and against the resources they need to live their lives and fulfil their potential. We call on all States and international justice institutions, including the International Criminal Court, to redouble their efforts to bring these perpetrators to justice, wherever and whoever they may be”.
 
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Syria: NPWJ calls on the UN Member States to support the Mechanism for investigation and prosecution of serious crimes
 

On the occasion of the release of the Terms of Reference for the Mechanism to support the investigation and prosecution of serious crimes in Syria, established by the UN General Assembly on 21 December 2016, NPWJ addressed an open letter to the UN Member States calling for their political and financial support to this new Mechanism.
 
The establishment of this an international, independent and impartial Mechanism represents the most concrete step towards accountability that the international community has taken since the start of the conflict almost six years ago. With its mandate to support investigations, gather information from a wide variety of sources, including the Commission of Inquiry, and prepare case files, it has the chance to lay a solid foundation for future prosecutions. To realise this potential, the Mechanism will need to implement its mandate with these twin goals as their guiding principles; to adopt procedures and protocols that adhere to the highest possible international standards; to learn from the experiences of international courts and tribunals, particularly on outreach, and adapt them to their own situation; and have the support from the international community that it will need to fulfil its mandate.
 
In its open letter, NPWJ urge all UN Member States to support the Mechanism by (1) providing financial support, even in small amounts, preferably before the next report of the Secretary-General at the end of February 2017; (2) providing political support, such as by expressing support for the Mechanism in all relevant fora, including at the March session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva; and (3) engaging with the Mechanism and demanding transparency and accountability in its own work.
 
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International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation: NPWJ appeals to all States to enact and enforce legislation banning this human rights violation
 

On this International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, No Peace without Justice (NPWJ) wants to extend a special salute and recognition to all the outstanding individuals and organizations who battle this human rights violation and extreme form of discrimination and violence against women and girls.
 
Millions of women and girls worldwide are still victims or at risk of FGM, as both a result and a perpetuation of gender inequality and discrimination that denies them the most basic forms of personal autonomy and self-determination. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) had taken a first strong stance on this issue on 20 December 2012 by adopting the Resolution 67/146, which was hailed by the Ban FGM campaign, a coalition of African and European NGOs created thanks to the initiative of No Peace Without Justice. In December 2014, the UNGA Resolution 69/150 renewed this commitment, with an increased number of sponsoring countries and strengthened language.
 
As called for by these breakthrough resolutions, NPWJ and its partners of the BanFGM Campaign have constantly stressed that the adoption and the enforcement of explicit and effective legislation, backed by sanctions, banning all forms of FGM are fundamental and crucial factors to successfully combat this form of gender-based violence, protect its victims and end impunity. In addition to holding perpetrators to account, legislation protects and provides the legal tools for women and girls willing to defy the social pressures of tradition and reject FGM, and also establishes the legal environment that legitimizes and facilitates the advocacy and educational work of local anti-FGM activists and women’s rights groups.
 
"On this important day when we reaffirm our commitment to stamp out FGM, it is also important to note that the majority of countries worldwide still lack appropriate and effective legislation to protect women and girls from this human rights violation; where laws have been enacted, political will to implement them effectively has not always followed. We appeal to all states in which FGM is perpetrated to enact and ensure compliance with legislation that unequivocally prohibits FGM as a criminal offence as well as to provide strong and clear support for the innumerable human rights groups, women’s associations and individual advocates that fight a daily battle to ensure that the women and girls of tomorrow will be free from the threat of FGM.
 
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Alvilda Jablonko is Director for Gender and Human Rights of No Peace Without Justice

 NPWJ events

BanFGM Conference Rome on the global ban on female genital mutilation
 

The BanFGM Conference on the worldwide ban on female genital mutilation is a high-level meeting called for by the Dakar Ministerial Sub-regional Consultation which was held in Rome on 30-31 January and 1 February 2017, at Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at the Italian Senate.
 
The Conference was organized by No Peace Without Justice and the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children, in partnership with the African Women’s Forum, the Crans Montana ForumWomen Empower the World, AMREF Health Africa and Sénégambie, and with the political and financial support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Islamic Development Bank, Open Society Foundations, the Embassy of France in Italy, White & Case and AFV.
 
The battle to end FGM is emblematic of all battles that invoke the rule of law to promote individual rights and personal sovereignty and autonomy in the context of a broader political struggle for individual self-determination. This high-level meeting, which brought together ministers, parliamentarians and civil society from over 45 different countries, represented a culminant step of the BanFGM Campaign.
 
The purpose of the conference was to take stock of the results of the BanFGM Campaign, review its principal political milestones, and highlight its strategy of the engagement of activists, parliamentarians and ministers at the local, national and international level. It also provided e an opportunity to continue to widen the focus on FGM activism beyond Africa, highlighting how FGM is a persistent violation also in other regions of the world, and not only within immigrant communities, as evidenced by the universal mobilisation that led to the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 67/146 banning FGM worldwide.
 
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Roundtable discussion with Fernando Iglesias on the Campaign for the creation of a Latin American and Caribbean Criminal Court Against Transnational Organised Crime
 

On Friday 10 February 2017 No Peace Without Justice hosted in his office in Brussels a roundtable discussion with Dr Fernando Adolfo Iglesias*, Director of the Campaign for the establishment of a Latin American and Caribbean Criminal Court Against Transnational Organized Crime (COPLA, after its Spanish acronym). The campaign is building a coalition of Latin American and Caribbean organizations committed to the creation of a regional judicial body to fight against organised criminal networks in Latin America.
 
Participants to the roundtable included Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, Secretary General of NPWJ and Alison Smith, Director of International Criminal Justice Program, together with representatives of other international NGOs (the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), Fair TrialsTransparency International and FIDH). The meeting was held in the framework of the Brown Bag Lunch seminar series, which consists of monthly lectures by prominent speakers and experts on human rights and political issues relevant to NPWJ’s work.
 
Dr. Iglesias explained the motivations that make the creation of the COPLA necessary, how the COPLA is related to federalism in South America, and how this has been blocked by the disagreement between states. He then highlighted the peculiarity of organised crime in South America, which causes dramatic number of victims, higher than anywhere else in the world. It now represents the biggest threat to human rights in Southern America, having replaced political violence in such a manner that now the basic social discrimination is about security, the possibilities available of surviving the day. Moreover, it represents a limit to economic development of the countries, due to the multinational and transnational nature and its influence on the state structure itself and the submerged economy. State forces cannot fight it effectively due to the disparity of means with the networks of organised crime, which have huge economic and technologic resources, while the state security forces have to work with grave budget restraints.
 
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 NPWJ on Radio Radicale

Stay tuned with No Peace Without Justice
 

No Peace Without Justice and Radio Radicale, the foremost Italian nationwide all-news radio, have an ongoing partnership to provide news and information on our activities to a broad Italian audience. This partnership features an in-depth weekly program on NPWJ’s current campaigns and activities. The program is broadcast in Italian every Wednesday evening at 23.30.

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 NPWJ press releases

NPWJ welcomes South African Court decision on illegality of ICC withdrawal
Brussels, 22 February 2017

Protecting Children from War: 10 years of the Paris Principles
Brussels, 21 February 2017

Syria: NPWJ calls on the UN Member States to support the Mechanism for investigation and prosecution of serious crimes
Brussels – Rome, 13 February 2017

Roundtable discussion with Fernando Iglesias on the Campaign for the creation of a Latin American and Caribbean Criminal Court Against Transnational Organised Crime
Brussels – 10 February 2017

International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation: NPWJ appeals to all States to enact and enforce legislation banning this human rights violation
6 February 2017

Bahrain: Joint open letter urging UK Foreign Secretary to call for activist Nabeel Rajab’s release
3 February 2017

BanFGM Conference Rome on the global ban on female genital mutilation
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation - Italian Senate, Rome, 30 January – 1 February 2017

Emma Bonino at BanFGM Conference: women are not a minority to be protected but a major protagonist of change
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation - Italian Senate, Rome, 30 January – 1 February 2017

Syria peace talks must unlock humanitarian access
23 January 2017

 NPWJ in the news


 

Tanzania: a Dar es Salaam seminario su mutilazioni genitali femminili
OnuItalia, 23 February 2017

Cooperazione: Tanzania, a Dar es Salaam seminario su mutilazioni genitali femminili
Agenzia Nova (Nairobi), 23 February 2017

South Africa: ICC withdrawal bid unconstitutional say judges
CICC News, 22 February 2017

La giornata di riflessione per dire stop alla tortura delle MGF
di Giada Gramanzini, La Voce di New York, 7 February 2017

"Medicalisation is one of the biggest threats against the programme to eliminate FGM", the experts said
Reuters / The Indian Express / All Africa, 7 February 2017

Masooma Ranalvi: We need stringent laws to ban practice of khatna
by Gaurav Sarkar, Mid Day (India), 6 February 2017

HR Groups Urge UK Foreign Secretary to Call for Nabeel Rajab's Release
Bahrain Mirror, 6 February 2017

Approvata alla Camera la risoluzione sui Difensori dei Diritti Umani
Agenpress, 1 February 2017

Mutilazioni genitali, 140 mln di vittime. Cooperazione in prima linea contro fenomeno
di Francesco Cosentino, Il Velino, 31 January 2017

FGM: Bonino, from Italy a message of inclusion and dialogue, education and respect
(by Valentina Bianco, OnuItalia, 31 January 2017

FGM: Italy, “political will of governments is crucial
By Alessandra Baldini, OnuItalia, 30 January 2017

Farnesina, conferenza sulla lotta alle mutilazioni genitali femminili
di Francesco Cosentino, Il Velino, 30 January 2017

Il peso della tradizione sopravvive alle norme contro le mutilazioni genitali
Vichi De Marchi, L'Huffington Post, 30 January 2017

Le mutilazioni genitali femminili, "un male universale »
Askanews / AI TV, 30 January 2017

Les grandes leçons de la campagne contre les mutilations génitales
Emma Bonino, Le Soir, 30 January 2017

First ladies vow to fight 'barbaric' genital mutilation in West Africa
Emma Batha, Rome, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 30 January 2017

Mutilazioni genitali femminili: "Fermiamole entro il 2030"
Repubblica, 25 January 2017

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