During November 2018 the quadrennial IFOR council took place, before council the Migration conference ‘On the Move’ was held. After this week a press release was released to the public mentioning the appointment of Lotta Sjöström Becker, from Sweden as the new president of IFOR. Followed by some important actions and visits made by IFOR delegates from all over the world that were attending council during this week.
Read on to find out more!
During the 38th session of the Human Rights Council held in Geneva, IFOR organized a side event, co-sponsored by War Resisters International, focusing on the causes of migration from Eritrea and the struggles of Eritrean refugees.
The event was well attended and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Eritrea, Ms. Sheila B. Keetharuth, offered a valuable contribution to the discussion.
Among the speakers was Father Mussie Zerai, a well known advocate for the rights of refugees and chairman of the Habeshia Agency. In addition to his participation on the panel, Father Zerai offered an additional statement calling on European governments to respond to migration in humane ways.
During the 38th session of the Human Rights Council IFOR delivered an oral statement addressed to the Human Rights Commissioner condemning the targeting of conscientious objectors in Turkey and Russia. IFOR maintains a connection to the Turkish Conscientious Objector’s Organization VR-DER Vicdani Ret Dernegi, through our partners, the European Bureau of Conscientious Objection, and War Resisters International. In 2016, VR-DER held an event in honour of those that have refused, on grounds of conscience, to be recruited into the armed forces,. This led to the co-Chair of the organisation being summoned to answer charges of “making propaganda for terror”. IFOR denounced this and similar aggression directed towards nonviolent movements by the Russian Federation.
On Friday, May 18th, A special session of the Human Rights Council on the current situation in Gaza took place at the United Nations in Geneva. High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein denounced the violence and called for the creation of a Commission Of Inquiry. Many states condemned the attacks in Gaza. IFOR joined several NGOs condemning the attacks. In IFOR’s statement, our representative spoke in support of Israeli conscientious objectors and condemned the Israeli Defense Force, and the U.S. Government, holding them as the most responsible for the atrocities that were committed.
Saturday, April 21st, a controversial law about the electoral code which was adopted at the beginning of last April, lead to trouble among the deputies of the House of Commons in Madagascar. Of the 152 deputies, 79 voted FOR and 73 AGAINST this law. The 73 deputies of the opposition denounced the abnormal way in which the law was passed, which they called fraudulent and corrupt. These 73 deputies decided to publicly denounce the actions of their colleagues in parliament before the population of the Capital (Antananarivo) on the 21st of April. The army forbid them access to the Main Square of Independence, where they planned to hold a public rally. The incident ended with violent clashes between the protestors and the army. Four people were killed and many were injured.
IFOR's branch in Madagascar issued a statement on April 22, 2018 responding to the crisis:
On April 14th, The United States, Britain, and France launched air strikes against Syria in retaliation for the suspected chemical weapons attack. The delegates to the EUFOR meeting held a silent circle in Turin's main square honoring the victims of war and making a stand for peace and nonviolence. They drafted and released the following statement in response to the air strikes:
IFOR's Representatives to the United Nations in Geneva worked closely with the dedicated international observation program supported by several IFOR branches known as FOR Peace Presence, to describe ongoing attacks on conscientious objectors and human rights defenders in Colombia. On February 2, they submitted a statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council about the ongoing situation in Colombia.
July 03-28, 2017 IFOR's Representatives to the United Nations in Geneva attended the 120th Session of the Human Rights Committee. This synopsis is taken from notes provided by IFOR's Fellow in Geneva, Martina Lanza.
The HR Committee reviewed the implementation of civilian and political rights in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Honduras, Mongolia and Swaziland. IFOR attended the meetings on Switzerland, Honduras and Mongolia reviews.
From June 6-23 IFOR's Representatives in Geneva attended the 35th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. IFOR's Representatives Derek Brett, Hans Ulrich Gerber and IFOR Fellow Martina Lanza worked with IFOR's members and contacts around the world to provide make oral statements, submit written statements and host side events during the council.
In March of 2017 IFOR's representatives in Geneva engaged two important UN Human Rights bodies: the Human Rights Council (34th session) and the Human Rights Committee (119th session).
During the Human Rights Council session, IFOR delivered seven oral statements addressing critical concerns of IFOR members around the world. IFOR spoke to situations in Colombia, Eritrea, Turkey, and Western Sahara in particular as well as issues of torture and the forced recruitment of child soldiers in general.
Amid escalating violence, IFOR's Branch in South Sudan, the Organization for Nonviolence and Development (ONAD) joined a coalition of organizations who have responded to the call for National Dialogue issued by South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit.
The coalition of organizations is known as "The Voluntary Civil Society Taskforce on Implementation of the Peace Agreement." It is a coalition of over 20 diverse and non-partisan South Sudanese civil society organizations and networks. The Taskforce is interested in genuine and full implementation of the Peace Agreement and a quick end to the suffering inflicted on innocent citizens of South Sudan by the political crises in the country.
During the first week of the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council, IFOR held a side event titled “Human rights in Turkey”.
The event was moderated by IFOR Fellow, Martina Lanza and featured the following panelists:
January 15-20, IFOR’s International Coordinator visited South Sudan, at the invitation of the Organization for Nonviolence and Development (ONAD). ONAD has been a part of IFOR since 2006. The visit was primarily to express solidarity with ONAD and the South Sudanese people in this period of intense violence in the country. The IFOR International Committee (ICOM) has long sought to prioritize support for nonviolent movements in Africa. The most recent months of violence in South Sudan have caused global concerned that the country was teetering towards genocide. ICOM and the International Secretariat felt it critical to express support for ONAD and find ways to amplify their efforts in the country.