23 August, 2013

Syria ~ Chemical weapons

There is no doubt that chemical weapons are being deployed in Syria.  The question is who is responsible for this since all sides in the conflict deny responsibility and indulge in mutual blame.

The recent attacks, near Damascus, appear to have involved Sarin.

Sarin has extreme potency as a nerve agent and production and stockpiling of sarin was outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 where it is classified as a Schedule 1 substance.

As at 21st May 2009, Syria had not signed or acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention - see OPCW - though Syria was a party to the 1925 Geneva Gas Protocol.  There is some authority that the use of chemical weaponry is unlawful under customary international law.

Law and Lawyers 31st August - House of Commons debate on Syria 29th August

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

OPCW 31st August - UN Investigation Team return to The Hague from Syria

UN Office for Disarmament Affairs - Chemical Weapons

UN Office for Disarmament Affairs

Statement of Foreign Secretary (William Hague) 23rd August 2013.

Sales of chemicals to Syria:

The Guardian 2nd September - Chemical export licences for Syria - just another UK deal with a dictator

Update --- Syria and the Chemical Weapons Convention:

Syria is to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention - HERE.

Update --- Syria acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention on 14th September 2013



OPCW Director-General Welcomes Agreement on Syrian Chemical Weapons 


The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, has welcomed the agreement on chemical weapons in Syria that was announced today following talks held in Geneva...14 September 2013  Full story

OPCW to Review Request from Syria 


The Director-General of the OPCW Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü received a letter on 12 September sent by the Syrian Foreign Minister, Mr Walid al-Muallem, informing him of the decision by the Syrian Government to join the Chemical...13 September 2013  Full story

Inspection Report:

16th September - United Nations - The Report on the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Ghouta area of Damascus on 21st August 2013

The Independent 16th September 2013 - Syria gas attacks: the clear ad concise evidence from UN chemical weapons inspectors

United Nations Commission taking evidence from North Korean defectors

The New York Times reports on how defectors from North Korea are recounting their stories to a United Nations Commission.  

The three-member Commission of Inquiry was started by the United Nations Human Rights Council in March with a one-year mandate to investigate what the council called allegations of “systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights,” including possible crimes against humanity, by the North Korean authorities.

The three panel members are retired Australian judge Michael Kirby (Chairman), UN special rapporteur Marzuki Darusman and human rights activist Sonja Biserko.  The panel will examine reports of prison camps, torture and food deprivation, reporting back in March 2014, a UN statement said.

According to UN Human Rights Council resolution 22/13, among the violations to be investigated are those pertaining to the right to food, those associated with prison camps, torture and inhuman treatment, arbitrary detention, discrimination, freedom of expression, the right to life, freedom of movement, and enforced disappearances, including in the form of abductions of nationals of other States. 

06 August, 2013

International Big Brother

In early June 2013, the news broke that the United States National Security Agency was operating a data collection programme known as Prism.  Details of the programme were published by the Guardian and the Washington Post newspapers on 6 June.  Late that day the US director of national intelligence confirmed the initiative's existence and declassified some information about it.

The 'detailed information' claims that there are errors in the Guardian and Washington Post reports and informs us that the programme operates under section 702 of the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).  The information further states that the section is designed to facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non U.S. persons located outside the United States. It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States.

Naturally, that enables