Australian diplomat Richard Butler was named to replace outgoing Rolf Ekeus as the top UN disarmament inspector for Iraq, the United Nations announced on May 1.
The 54-year old Australian ambassador is a disarmament specialist, largely credited with bringing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to the UN General Assembly for successful adoption last September after Geneva negotiations failed.
Ekeus, who has been UN Special Commission chairman for the last six years, is reported to be moving to Washington to become Sweden's ambassador on July 1 after severe criticism from council members on his role of maintaining sanctions against Iraq.The Swedish diplomat has been accused of misleading the Security Council about the extent of Iraq's compliance. Several major countries, including France, Russia and China, have urged the commission to stop delaying and outline precisely what steps Iraq must take to comply.
Butler served for six years as Australia's representative to a UN disarmament conference in Geneva. He has served as Australia's ambassador to the United Nations since March 1992.In 1994 he was elected president of the UN Economic and Social Council and was chosen to be vice-chairman of the summit on poverty held in Copenhagen in March 1995.
In the early part of his career, he was Australia's deputy permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. From 1983-89 he was Australia's first ambassador for disarmament, notably leading the Australian delegation to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. He also chaired the Canberra commission on the elimination of nuclear weapons which produced an influential report in August last year.
An Aboriginal woman is seeking refugee status overseas, driven out of Australia by racists who have been inspired by notorious independent MP Pauline Hanson, the Australian Greens said Friday.
Aboriginal rights activist Mingli Wanjurri asked Greens Senator Dee Margetts from Western Australia state, for help this week in finding a new country. Margetts' staff in her Perth office are investigating the possibility of Wanjurri being granted refugee status in another country.
The application for refuge status, comes less than a month after eight peak Aboriginal groups told the United Nations' human rights forum that Australian governments had shown a serious disregard for indigenous human rights. "The media have created Pauline Hanson, who is the mouthpiece for white Australia's racism," she said.
Hanson, whose opinions on Aborigines, immigration and other contentious topics have been rejected by nearly every other politician in the country, came under fire again in the past week with the release of an eponymous book that portrayed Aborigines as cannibals. "Pauline Hanson - The Truth", a fundraising venture for her new One National party, included claims that Aborigines systematically ate their own women and babies, "like livestock".
In an interview in Australian communist newspaper Vanguard, April 9 Palestinian authority representative Ali Cazak slammed the role of Australian mining billionaire Josef Gutnik in undermining peace in the Middle East.
"He is an Australian citizen who has declared he will use $300 million for expansion settlements in the West Bank. He directly helps to escalate tension in the region with his money and influential political connections. His help leads to war. He should not be allowed to destroy the peace process, to use money in such a destructive way. It is not good for the Jewish people or anyone else. The Australian government must stop Gutnik from continuing to violate international law. But so far the only response is that they can't do anything unless he breaks an Australian law. This is not true because there are a whole range of measures which can be taken"
Gutnik implicated Australia as a nation. The Australian people do not support his actions.
There is a lot of opposition in the Jewish community. Wealth actually created by Australians working in Gutnik's mines, which should belong to Australia, is being sent overseas for a sinister purpose. Australians don't want to be paying for this. The Australian government's continued soft peddling has obviously got a lot to do with its close ties to US interests. It is not good enough. Australians want it to take an independent stand.
The Vanguard interview concluded in saying that by stopping Gutnik, Australia can make an important contribution towards achieving justice for the Palestinian people and progress for the middle east.
Palestinian human rights organizations are seeking an international investigation into what they allege is Israel's use of a new form of nerve gas against Palestinians during clashes with Israeli soldiers.
While Israel has claimed it is using ordinary tear gas, Palestinian protesters (and many journalists) have been made violently ill by the gas fired in recent demonstrations. Side effects include lingering stupor (sometimes for days), complete loss of physical coordination and violent nausea, symptoms not normally caused by tear gas inhalation.