South News Dec12

Islamic Summit supports rights of women  

Tehran : Muslim nations of the world declared Thursday the rights of Muslim women and their role in all aspects of social life. They also condemned terrorism committed in the name of Islam and demanded that Israel stop building settlements on war-won Arab land, particularly in Jerusalem. 

The declaration made a veiled criticism of Afghanistan's Taliban militia, conspicuously absent from the summit. The Taliban do not allow girls to attend school or women to work outside the home. The declaration called for ``full respect for the dignity and the rights of Muslim women and enhancement of their role in all aspects of social life in accordance with Islamic principles.'' 

The resolution comes after comments by  U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan comments about  "war lords, terrorists, drug dealers and others" refusing to rise above their narrow factional interests. He said, "The United Nations cannot do it alone. We must do it with partners such as the OIC and other international, regional organizations and arrangements whose experience and knowledge complement the resources and legitimacy of the United Nations. The United Nations, in spirit and in reality, is committed to that vision. A vision of a world of concert. A world where tolerance and mutual respect among and within all nations is the basis for global progres." 

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami met Iraqi Deputy President Taha Yassin Ramadan on Thursday in the highest-level contact between the two countries since their 1980-88 war. Both men said after the 25-minute meeting on the last day of a three-day Islamic summit in Tehran that they had agreed to hold more talks to settle their differences. 

Khatami ``confirmed Iran's good intentions in solving all outstanding problems with Iraq,'' the official Iranian new agency IRNA reported. ``We must solve our problems ourselves and not let other powers interfere in our affairs because our enemies don't want a strong Iran or Iraq in the region,'' Khatami said. 

``The killing of innocent people is forbidden in Islam,'' delegates said in a joint declaration to be read later today at the closing session of the three-day summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. 
The conference's 55 members adopted the declaration criticized Israel for what it called ``state terrorism'' and supported the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. 

The summit, which drew 28 heads of state, prime ministers and crown princes, served as a forum for Iran to forge ties with countries long wary of its 1979 Islamic revolution. Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said today that the meetings brought about a measure of conciliation, ``some understanding and some movement in the right direction.'' 

Arab officials hoped, too, that the summit would pressure Turkey to reconsider two military agreements it signed with Israel in 1996, cooperation that was denounced during the debate. Turkey is the only Muslim nation to have concluded such agreements. While not mentioning Turkey by name, the declaration urged it to reconsider its military cooperation because of ``the danger it poses to the security of Islamic countries.'' 

The declaration also criticized U.S. attempts to penalize countries doing business with Iran and Libya. 

UN call for no new nuke deployment  

United Nations: The General Assembly on Tuesday urged nuclear-weapon States to immediately stop the qualitative improvement, development, production and stockpiling of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems. It also called on Israel to sign the non proliferation treaty. 

The vote comes after President Bill Clinton's new guidelines for targeting US  new nuclear weapons leaked to the Washington Post and the New York Times over the weekend reflect the decline of Russia as a threat and the rise of China and non aligned nations such as Iraq in the US strategic crosshairs. 

The Assembly reiterated its call on the nuclear-weapon States to undertake a step-by-step reduction of the nuclear threat. It sought a phased programme of progressive and balanced deep reductions of nuclear weapons, and effective nuclear disarmament measures with a view to the total elimination of those weapons within a time-bound framework. 

By a vote of 147 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 14 abstentions, the Assembly called upon the only State in the region of the Middle East not yet party to the NPT to accede to it without further delay. The Assembly urged States not parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to accede to it as soon as possible. It also called on the nuclear-weapon States to pursue systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating them. It adopted that text by a vote of 156 in favour to none against, with 10 abstentions. 

By the a third nuclear disarmament text, the Assembly reiterated its request to the Conference on Disarmament to commence negotiations on an international convention to prohibit the use or threatened use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances. The text was adopted by a vote of 109 in favour to 30 against, with 27 abstentions. 

Last month US President Clinton approved using nuclear weapons against attackers who hit American forces with chemical or biological weapons  in a "Presidential Decision Directive." The policy, made explicit in a classified presidential directive, marks the administration's first instruction to the Pentagon shaping a nuclear strategy to target non aligned nations such as Iraq. 

A senior Clinton administration adviser said Sunday the policy conforms with two decades of White House statements on the possible "first use" of nuclear weapons. But it adds presidential weight to the emerging concern about "rogue states" that has replaced the nuclear terror of the Cold War. 

Robert Bell, a a special assistant to Clinton and senior director of defense policy at National Security Council commenting on the leaked document said, "The PDD requires a wide range of nuclear retaliatory options, from a limited strike to a more general nuclear exchange," 

The new guidelines reportedly put greater emphasis on developing nuclear options to deal with "rogue" states with chemical, biological and nuclear programs. Countries like Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria had been the subject of some US nuclear options in the past, but the threat they posed had not been emphasized. 

John Pike of the Federation of American Scientists argued Sunday that the presidential directive represents a far sharper policy shift than the Clinton administration would admit. The White House, he said, was bowing to strategies already set by the military. 

"What they are retroactively doing is attempting to realign national policy with what the operational policy has been for some time," Pike said. "The colonels and lieutenant colonels figured out what they wanted to do, and you've just now got the White House catching up with that." 

According to the Post, the language of the new guidelines also will allow strategic planners to develop a broader list of targets in China. However Beijing on Tuesday slammed the United States for "stubbornly" sticking to its policy of nuclear deterrence and urged Washington to cut its nuclear arsenal. 

"We urge the United States in the strongest terms to abandon the policy of nuclear deterrence and continue to cut its nuclear weapons significantly," foreign ministry spokesman Tang Guoqiang told a regular news briefing. 

"Now that the Cold War is already over, the international situation has eased a lot. The United States still possesses a large arsenal of nuclear weapons," Tang said. "It stubbornly sticks to its policy of nuclear deterrence. It goes against the trends of peace, cooperation and development in our world," Tang said. 

Related article: Penetrator N-bombs threaten third world 

Farrakhan calls for unity to lift sanctions  

Baghdad : The Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan called on Muslim leaders attending the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in Iran to unite to "defy these sanctions" imposed on Arab nations. 

"If the United Nations fails to respond to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (meeting in Tehran) then the Muslim world must act and defy these sanctions," Farrakhan told an audience of union representatives in the Iraqi capital. 

He urged the 54 Muslim nations meeting in neighboring Iran to use their combined power -- and the threat of an oil embargo -- to get sanctions on Iraq, Libya and Sudan lifted."Sanctions are a weapon of mass destruction and should be viewed by the nations as the greatest form of terrorism," he said. 

"Sanctions are a weapon of mass destruction and should be viewed by all nations as the greatest form of terrorism, for sanctions kill the innocent to achieve political aims," Farrakhan, flanked by bow-tied bodyguards, said to warm applause. He said Muslim nations should consider using their oil supplies as a weapon if the world did not heed them. "There is a river that the West depends upon which the kings of the East can dry up," he said. 

He said 1.5 million of Iraq's 22 million population had died since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. "How then can any nation remain silent in the face of this slaughter?" he said. "The Muslim world has to speak with the voice of unity or the Muslim world will be marginalized." 

But the Nation of Islam leader urged Clinton to talk to the Iraqi president to resolve their disputes. "I believe it is time for the American administration to sit down with President Saddam Hussein to begin a dialogue," Farrakhan told the  gathering . 

Farrakhan urged Clinton to oppose the sanctions the way he resisted the Vietnam War. "President Bill Clinton, in your youth, you had the moral courage to oppose the war in Vietnam," he said. "Would you want history to write (that) you were the killer of babies through sanctions? Where is your courage today?" 

Farrakhan said he had come to Iraq to draw the world's attention to the plight of Iraqis suffering under sanctions and to the threat of military confrontation with the United States. 

"Why are you in Baghdad, Mr. Farrakhan? Because Baghdad is the focus of the world, because the clouds of war hover over this great city," he said. "Why Baghdad? Allah brought me here, because what better place to deliver a message of peace to the American administration and the American people," he added. 

Farrakhan has enjoyed wide publicity in Iraq's media, with newspapers and television covering his visits to hospitals and meetings with senior officials. Coverage of Farrakhan 50 nation peace tour can be accessed on the  Internet at it's web address, 

Native title supported in Canada 

Canada: The Supreme Court issued a landmark decision Thursday establishing the principle that native Indian title were not invalidated by European settlement. 

The case involves claims to 22,000 square miles in the west coast province of British Columbia has implications for almost all of British Columbia and other parts of Canada. "We've got a decision from the Supreme Court of Canada that says that we have a proprietary interest in the land, and that we have an interest in the forests, land and resources ," said Don Ryan, chief negotiator for the Gitxsan, a group of about 5,000 Indians. 

The Gitxsan, along with the 1,500 Wet'suwet'en people, launched a four-year legal battle over land rights in 1987 but lost in a lower court. They appealed to Canada's highest court, arguing that they retained rights to the land because they never signed treaties relinquishing those claims with British officials who colonized the area. 

British authorities in Canada signed no land treaties for most of British Columbia, which is rich in mineral resources and timber. Nor did they sign treaties for vast tracts of land in the Northwest Territories and other scattered areas in Canada. 

The Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision by six judges that the case should be retried, but that it would be preferable for the federal and British Columbia governments to negotiate a settlement with the native Indians. "Let us face it, we are all here to stay," Chief Justice Antonio Lamer wrote in his decision. Lamer defined "aboriginal title" according to a complicated formula in which such peoples have rights to "exclusive use and occupation of the land" as long as they do not completely change the land, for example by strip-mining a hunting ground. 

For government approved agriculture, forestry, mining, hydroelectricity "fair compensation will ordinarily be required when aboriginal title is infringed," Lamer said. The ruling  brings large compensation settlements for Indians, with ramifications for lumber and mining companies and the ability of non-Indians to develop land. 

"We're quite happy with the decision and hopefully we can work together from now on, instead of going to the court," said a Gitxsan chief, George Muldoe, who appeared at the court dressed in a black cape emblazoned with a red eagle. 

  Greenhouse emission targets agreed 

Kyoto:  The world's first treaty to reduce greenhouse gases finally emerged Thursday from weary delegates exausted by long hours of debate that pitted nations, interest groups and whole regions against each other, the Third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change reached agreement early on Thursday morning on a legally binding Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

"This will represent a major shift in the trend of emissions", said Secretary-General Kofi Annan, adding, "it shows true political leadership by the largest industrialized countries". In a statement issued by his Spokesman, the Secretary-General noted that the Protocol provided opportunities for partnerships between governments and the private sector. "This is a sound foundation for a global cooperative strategy which will bring together, under the aegis of the United Nations, governments, civil society and the business community in a joint effort to protect a common environmental resource."

Under the Protocol, negotiated by ministers and other high-level officials from over 160 countries, industrialized States will reduce their collective emissions by 5.2 per cent by the years 2008 to 2012. If compared to expected emissions levels for the year 2000, the total reductions required by the Protocol will actually amount to some 10 per cent, because many industrialized countries have not succeed in meeting their earlier aim to return their emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000.

"This agreement will have a real impact on the problem of greenhouse gas emissions", said Ambassador Raoul Estrada Oyuela of Argentina, who chaired the negotiating committee.

But the United States and China argued angrily at least twice, Estrada adjourned the meeting for a 30 minute cooling-off period when he thought the agreement was blowing up, and many delegates missed planes because the gathering went on for an extra day. Only a smattering of delegates were in the hall when Japanese Environment Minister Hiroshi Oki brought down the gavel to declare the treaty adopted. 

Under the Protocol, the overall reductions will be realized through national reductions of 8 per cent by Switzerland, many Central and Eastern European States, and the European Union; 7 per cent by the United States; and 6 per cent by Canada, Hungary, Japan and Poland. Russia, New Zealand and Ukraine are to stabilize their emissions, while Norway may increase by up to 1 per cent, Australia up to 8 per cent, and Iceland up to 10 per cent. 

The Protocol will be opened for signature at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 16 March 1998. It will enter into force after it has been ratified by at least 6 countries representing 55 per cent of the total 1990 emissions from developed countries.

Santa to visit Iraq this year   

Iceland : "Santa  who visits many children that are suffering in areas of war and conflict this holiday season will visit Iraq this year and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Iraq government have been advised of Santa's flightplan to Baghdad ", said a spokesperson for the Peace 2000 Institute

"Thousands of children are near death in Iraq from lack of food and medical supplies. Santa is getting his flight ready to bring toys, food and medical supplies to them on Christmas day. Christmas is a time of peace and reconciliation for all the worlds children.  Last time Santa went to Sarajevo, "  the official Santa spokeperson said. 

"Santa does not represent any particular religion and the Peaceflight is his way to spreading a message of peace and goodwill to all, while delivering gifts, food and medical aid as appropriate. Experts estimate that almost 5000 children are dying every month as a result of the santions against Iraq," a Santa helper commented. 

"Santa does not understand how food and medicines for young children can be used as a weapon in a political conflict, or why humanitarian flights should be restricted. Violence is conducive to more violence - Peace cannot be forced. Santa calls for a peaceful way to eliminate military threats," the Santa spokesperson concluded. 

Santa's address: P.O.Box 190, 121 Reykjavik, Iceland. Email: 

More photographs - Go to Santas Home Page - Click here

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