International Women's Day focuses on Human Rights
United Nations: Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette today urged women to recommit themselves to ensure that the equal rights of men and women as enshrined in the Charter became a reality. She was opening a panel discussion on "Women and Human Rights", held at UN Headquarters to commemorate International Women's Day (8 March).
Frechette said that International Women's Day was an occasion to take stock of where women were, to celebrate what had been achieved thus far and for a recommitment to the pursuit of goals until they were fully met. The movement of women's rights was one of the most momentous in the history of humankind. . Achieving the goals of the women's movement required the building of a truly global partnership of solidarity, a partnership which came alive at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna and the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing.
During a question-and-answer session, several participants congratulated the panellists for putting a human face on women's suffering. Others spoke out about the oppression and suffering of women in their own countries and continents -- including in India, Africa, Afghanistan, Algeria, Jordan, Iran, and Iraq -- and drew attention to the devastating effects on women of military occupation and aggression, and economic sanctions.
In Sydney Australia, women got an early start to the festivities, holding a march Saturday. Thousands of women marched through Sydney, with a special emphasis on Aboriginal women.
In Perth, organisers of this year's festivities have chosen abortion as the central theme of a rally and march in Perth this morning. Organisers say they will be promoting choice for women and there will be several speakers on the issue on the steps of the Cultural Centre. The event also includes a performance by Aboriginal dancers.
In Hobart, an International Women's Day rally will be held at Parliament House. Speakers will include women from unions, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and a group called Women for Wik.
UN to debate Libya sanctions
United Nations: The Security Council decided on Thursday to hold a full-fledged debate on March 20 on sanctions imposed on Libya since 1992 in light of a recent world court ruling.
But Britain and the United States rejected combining the public meeting, requested by Arab and African states, with the council's periodic review of sanctions against Libya.
The closed Security Council review went as scheduled on Friday retaining without change the sanctions imposed on Libya since 1992. Friday's closed-door review of the sanctions, which include an arms and air embargo and the downgrading of diplomatic relations, was the 18th in a series conducted every 120 days.
Libyan ambassador Abuzed Dorda spoke of the ``strong support for my country from all of the international community'' except the United States and Britain. ``Libya has no problem with the Security Council and the Security Council has no problem with Libya at all,'' he said. The only problem was between his country and the United States and Britain, he told reporters.
China's deputy U.N. representative Sheng Guofang expressed regret that ``the various sides have still yet to reach consensus'' and hoped the council would be able to ``take a step forward on this issue.''
``China does not favor any kind of sanction against any country, including sanctions on Libya,'' he said, expressing support for options put forward by the Arab League and the Organization of African Unity for a trial at a neutral venue
Last Friday the Hague-based International Court of Justice ruled it had jurisdiction to hear Libyan arguments that the 1971 Montreal civil aviation convention allows the suspects to be put on trial in Libya and that Britain and the United States are acting unlawfully in insisting on their extradition.
London and Washington have played down the ruling as a technicality
but Libya, backed by Arab, African and other nonaligned countries urged
the Security Council to suspend the sanctions.
Vanuatu goes to the polls
Port Vila: The people of Vanuatu went to the polls on Friday following the dissolution of Parliament by the country's President. A record 219 candidates, including 63 independents contested the Parliament's 52 seats.
After the release of early figures supporters of the Vanua'aku party claimed victory in Port Vila.Unofficial figures give the Vanuaku party 16-seats and with the probable support of two independents they could almost form a government.
The union of moderate parties which led the last government has nine seats so far but should pick up a few more in the stronghold of Santo, the home base of their leader Serge Vohor. But fresh election may have to be called in Port Vila -- after allegations of double voting and other breaches of Vanuatu's electoral regulations.
Vanua'aku's Kalpokas, who suceeeded prime minister Father Walter Lini in1991, said his party was ready to run a transparent government.
``It will be a government the people can trust and have confidence in, so that they will be able to invest and work in an atmosphere that is favourable to them,'' he said.
The National United Party has ten seats and the other parties will need its support to form a coalition government, Unofficial figures are now available in 45 of the 52 seats it may be several days before the official results are decalred.
Vanuatu's ombudsman made a series of allegations of government corruption, accusing Prime Minister, Serge Vohor, former Prime Minister Maxime Carlot Korman and many government ministers of serious misdeeds. Those allegations sparked riots in the capital, Port Vila, in January and a major police operation is underway to ensure today's election goes smoothly.
The former French and British condominium known as the New Hebrides
gained independence in 1980.
Farrakhan: US an outlaw state
United Nations : Any unilateral bombing of Iraq would mean the United States and Britain were ``outlaw states'' that did not deserve to be in the United Nations, Louis Farrakhan said Wednesday.
The Nation of Islam leader commended U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan for brokering an agreement between the United Nations and Iraq to permit weapons inspections at presidential palaces and other sensitive sites.
The Security Council unanimously endorsed the agreement Monday. American officials have suggested the resolution gives the United States the go-ahead to attack Iraq if Baghdad fails to honor the agreement.
The bombing of Iraq ``would make America and England, in our judgment, outlaw states,'' Farrakhan said. ``No power should be able to act unilaterally and be a member of the United Nations.''
Farrakhan wrote Saddam Hussein, telling the Iraqi leader he is a ``visionary'' that the West wants to destroy. Copies of the letter were made available to reporters.
Farrakhan also called for the lifting of sanctions against Libya, Sudan and Cuba. Farrakhan was at the United Nations at the invitation of the Libyan mission.
``The characterizing of nations as rogue states ... is not the way to peace,'' he said.
Farrakhan recently returned from a 37-nation tour that included stops
in those countries.
U.N economic sanctions and an air embargo were imposed in 1992 to force
Libya to hand over two suspects in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103
over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people.
US bio- terrorism hysteria hiding real culprits
By Christopher Reed
Who is most likely to release germs into the New York subway system:
b) Middle Eastern terrorists;
or c) the United States Government?
In December 1976 the army admitted to Congress that 10 years earlier its bacteriological warfare unit had dropped what is now known to have been pathogenic bacteria, contained in a light bulb, in New York's subway.
The purpose was to "monitor the spread of the agent through the tunnels". This was precisely the method allegedly envisaged by the white supremacist microbwirologist Larrry Harris, arrested by the FBI last week for having "military grade" anthrax.
The FBI alleged that he talked last summer of dropping a globe of toxins
in the New York subway that would kill "hundreds of thousands". If he did
say that, we know where he got the idea.
But on 27 September 1950, he army sprayed the same bacteria from a navy minesweeper off San Francisco Bay. The germ cloud covered an area of 314 square kilonetres and a population of one milion. The experiment may have killed at least 13 people who died of a heart valve infection.
From 1950 to 1966 the army also dumped the pathogen Serratia, or Aspergillus
fumigatus, in Florida, at army bases in California, Alabama and Pennsylvania,
and at the Pentagon.
None of this was recalled in the days following the arrest of Harris and his colleague William Leavitt. Nor was the Government's pathogenic history mentioned by the "security experts" who pontificated on the threat of biological terrorism.
In the midst of an Iraq hysteria outbreak, it was the FBI's head agent in Las Vegas, Bobby Siller, who mustered 70 agents, a Swat unit, a bacteriological warfare team and a corps of scientists. All this to arrest a Mormon businessman— now released—and a "terrorist" who went on Las Vegas Christian television that day to promote his anthrax vaccine work.
Related Commentary: Is the Pentagon plotting biowarfare on Iraq?
Aust farmers worry over Iraqi wheat sales
Sydney: The New South Wales Farmers Association says it is concerned about Iraqi threats to buy its wheat elsewhere. The Iraqi Wheat Board has warned future wheat contracts are in doubt because of Australia's support for the United States in the Gulf crisis.
Australia has been Iraq's major wheat supplier for 28 years. Ian Donges of the farmers association says Iraq is a valuable trading partner.
"The world market is definitely softening and stocks are building up and Iraq is one of our most important customers," Mr Donges said. "So as a wheat grower in Australia I'm very concerned that any threat to our potential markets will have an impact on us."
The director general of the Iraqi Wheat Board warned that Australia's political stand will have an impact on future wheat purchases. Iraqi wheat imports in 1998/99 could approach pre-Gulf War levels, following the UN. Security Council's recent decision to allow Iraq to make increased oil sales, analysts.
Australian wheat is the wheat of choice for Iraqis - Australia has been the country's major supplier for 28 years.
Iraq would import 2.2 million tonnes of wheat in 1997/98, up from 1.2 million in 1996/97 and only 509,000 tonnes in 1995/96. Australia currently supplies more than half the wheat allowed under the food for oil program - more than 1.25 million tonnes.
The UN has agreed to more than double the size of that program, but Zouer Daoud, the Director General of the Iraqi Wheat Board, says Australian involvement in the military build-up in the Gulf will be considered when future contracts are negotiated.
"You know and I know and everyone knows that there is another basket and every time, everyone could get wheat from other sources," he said.
The Australian Wheat Board says this summer's harvest is on track to be sold earlier than usual, despite concerns about demand from markets in the Persian Gulf.
The board says traditional customers in the Middle East, including Iraq,
Egypt, Iran and Yemen, have continued to show strong demand. Board general
manager Nigel Officer says $1.15 million tonnes of wheat from the recent
crop has been sold to Iraq.