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US refuses to recognize UN court jurisdiction on Argentina’s debt

RT | August 9, 2014

Washington has refused to allow the UN International Court of Justice (IJC) to hear Argentina’s claims that US court decisions on the country’s debt have violated Argentina’s sovereignty.

“We do not view the ICJ as an appropriate venue for addressing Argentina’s debt issues, and we continue to urge Argentina to engage with its creditors to resolve remaining issues with bondholders,” the US State Department told Reuters in an email.

The State Department sent an email with the same content to one of Argentina’s leading newspapers, the Clarin.

Argentina complained against Washington’s decisions on its debt to the International Court of Justice in The Hague on Thursday.

But according to existing norms, Buenos Aires needs Washington to voluntarily accept the ICJ’s jurisdiction for the proceedings to begin.

The US withdrew from compulsory jurisdiction back in 1986 after the UN court ruled that America’s covert war against Nicaragua was in violation of international law.

Since then, Washington accepts International Court of Justice jurisdiction only on a case-by-case basis.

On Friday, US District Judge Thomas Griesa, who oversees Argentina’s legal battle with hedge funds, threatened that a contempt of court order may be implemented.

Griesa said it will be put forward if Argentina continues to “falsely” insist that it has made a required debt payment on restructured sovereign bonds.

The warning caused confusion, as the judge didn’t specify who will face the punishment – Argentina or its lawyers.

It will be quite difficult to sanction the Argentinean state, as US federal law largely protects the assets of foreign governments held in the US, said Michael Ramsey, a professor of international law at the University of San Diego.

“You can’t put Argentina in jail, so I’m not sure what he’d have in mind besides monetary sanctions,” Ramsey said.

Later on Friday, Argentina’s economy ministry issued another statement, accusing the US judge of “clear partiality in favor of the vulture funds.”

“Judge Griesa continues contradicting himself and the facts by saying that Argentina did not pay,” the statement said.

Previously, Argentina announced the restructuring of 93 percent of its 2001 debt, but creditors holding the other seven percent of the bonds demanded full payment and initiated a legal battle.

A New York court ruled that Argentina had to pay $1.33 billion to the hedge funds, blocking the transfer of $590 million that Buenos Aires forwarded in order to cover its restructured debt.

The judge said Argentina had to start talks with the lenders that didn’t approve the debt restructuring and negotiate to postpone the payment with those who did agree.

With lenders unable to receive payment, international regulators and rating agencies announced Argentina’s ‘selective’ default.

August 9, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Argentina files lawsuit against US over debt dispute

Press TV – August 8, 2014

Argentina has attempted to sue the United States at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, the UN’s highest court, over a debt dispute.

The lawsuit was filed on Thursday after a US judge blocked Argentina from servicing its restructured debt, with Buenos Aires accusing Washington of violating Argentinean sovereignty.

New York District Judge Thomas Griesa has ruled to freeze Argentina’s June debt payment of $539 million in a US bank because two American hedge funds are demanding a full repayment of their money.

The two hedge funds, NML Capital and Aurelius Capital Management, have been described by Argentina as “vulture funds” that are seeking profit out of the country’s financial misery.

“Given that a state is responsible for the conduct of all the branches of its government, these violations have generated a controversy between the Republic of Argentina and the United States, which our country submits to the ICJ for resolution,” President Cristina Kirchner’s office said in a statement.

However, the ICJ declined to take any action, claiming that it is powerless to act “unless and until the United States of America consents to the court’s jurisdiction.”

Argentina’s 2001 economic collapse caused the country to default on more than $100 billion in debt. Argentina is still fighting to deal with the crisis.

Last week, Argentinean Economy Minister Axel Kicillof went to New York to try to resolve the impasse on the eve of his country’s default. There, he slammed the US judge for his ruling.

“A judge in one jurisdiction can’t be allowed to block the debt payments of an entire country,” he said. “There’s something called sovereignty.”

August 8, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

Israel’s dirty little secret: the ‘internally displaced persons’ it continues to deny basic rights

By Dr. Daud Abdullah | MEMO | May 17, 2013

Inevitably, the 65th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba – Catastrophe – was overshadowed by calls to exercise refugees’ right of return. Although the vast majority of Palestinians live in forced exile and the focus tends to dwell on their plight, there are now an estimated 370,000 ‘internally displaced persons’ (IDPs) within the Israeli state. They are also denied the right to return to their homes and villages. No Nakba anniversary can pass without remembering them.

Unlike their compatriots in the wider Diaspora, the displaced Palestinians in Israel enjoy little international assistance and far less protection. Ever since the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) stopped providing services for them in 1952, they have remained refugees in their own land and second-class citizens in the state established around them.

From the very first, Israel never intended to accord equal rights to the 150,000 Palestinians who remained on their land as 750,000 of their compatriots were being driven into exile, despite an undertaking given in its ‘declaration of independence’ to ‘uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of religion, race or sex’. The Palestinians have always been regarded as a ‘fifth column’ and a threat to the security of the state. As such, they were subjected to military rule from 1948 until 1966.

Under Israeli law, the IDPs are present in so far as they are obliged to pay taxes but absent in terms of their rights to employment, health care, water and education. They were assigned the absurd legal designation, unique to Israel, of ‘present-absentees’.

With no regard for their rights to ownership, the state has used its Absentee Property Law of 1950 to confiscate some 97 per cent of Palestinian land, leaving 1.5 million Palestinian citizens’ access to the remaining three per cent. These are either administered by the state or allocated to Zionist institutions such as the Jewish National Fund (JNF) for the exclusive use of Jews. Priority is given routinely to American Jews, followed by Europeans, Russians and others in that order.

While Palestinian villages which pre-date the state of Israel are denied basic services, newly-established Jewish settlements are granted them unconditionally. In 1992, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the Palestinian villages should be connected to the Israeli national water system. That has still not been done.

On another level, the Regulation and Construction Law prohibits Palestinians from repairing let alone building their homes on land which Israel classifies as ‘agricultural land’ or ‘closed military zones’. Their villages, mostly in the Negev and the Galilee, are ‘unrecognised’ by the state and, therefore, by definition ‘illegal’. The underlying purpose of all these classifications by Israel is to force its Palestinians citizens to leave; it is, in other words, ethnic cleansing by stealth.

If Palestinian homes in the West Bank, including Ramallah, are destroyed with impunity on the pretext that they have no proper licence, one can only imagine what is done to the ‘unrecognised villages’ in what Israel regards as its sovereign territory. Using the Emergency Laws inherited from the British Mandatory government, officials often post notices on homes earmarked for demolition, which are thereafter destroyed within forty-eight hours.

In the Negev, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel – Adalah – reported the destruction of 2,200 homes and the forced displacement of more than 14,000 people between 2008 and 2011. In these villages women and children die in childbirth because they have no access to basic medical care of a kind accessible by Jewish immigrants the moment they land at Tel Aviv airport.

Nevertheless, the fact that Palestinians in Israel marked this year’s Nakba anniversary across the country demonstrates that after 65 years Israel has failed to erase their sense of identity and link to their land. Nor has it succeeded with its discriminatory laws to break the bonds between them and the rest of the Palestinian people; in fact, this has grown stronger. They all, to this day, share the common aspiration to return to their homes. After all the sacrifices they have made over the past 65 years it is inconceivable that the displaced Palestinians in Israel will submit to further ethnic cleansing.

The problem of the IDPs in Israel differs only marginally from that of the refugees in the Diaspora. Without doubt, they all share the common experience of dispossession and dislocation but because the IDPs didn’t cross international borders they have no access to humanitarian aid from the UNHCR or UNRWA. Though initially recognised and served by UNRWA, that came to an abrupt end in 1952 when Israel assumed responsibility for them not, it transpired, in order to provide for all of its citizens. Quite simply, and very cynically, the Israeli government wanted to divert attention from their officially-sanctioned maltreatment of its Palestinian citizens and prevent them from having access to international legal protection.

The full story of the IDPs in Israel is yet to be told. After 65 years their dream of return remains unfulfilled. Like the generation who were forcibly evicted in 1948 they also have a right to return to their homes. Their living, striving and dying over the past six decades were all with this objective in mind. Israel may delay it for some time but cannot prevent it in the long-term, because no people in history have ever accepted completely the loss of their homeland. The Palestinians’ day will come, with or without the approval of the Israeli government.

May 18, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel’s dirty little secret: the ‘internally displaced persons’ it continues to deny basic rights

Bolivia: Officials Present Chile Case at The Hague

By Avery Kelly | The Argentina Independent | April 24, 2013

Bolivia presented its case against Chile regarding maritime sovereignty to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) this morning.

The Bolivian delegation, headed by former president and current Ambassador Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé and Chancellor David Choquehuanca, has brought the issue to The Hague in hopes that the principal judicial organ of the United Nations would resolve the sovereignty question. Veltzé and Choquehuanca are to present documents to the international court defending Bolivia’s maritime access rights.

Bolivia is calling for control of disputed ports accessing the Pacific Ocean along 400km of coast that it claims to be rightfully Bolivian although currently dominated by Chile.

Choquehuanca said: “Bolivia has resorted to this international meeting convinced that peace should come first between our nations.” He added: “Bolivia is looking to re-establish the rights of a country unjustly cloistered and confined to a sovereign exit to the sea after over 100 years.”

International lawyer and ex-government minister of Bolivia Wilfredo Chávez explained the importance of the issue to Venezuelan news agency teleSUR, stating, “We are convinced that this claim is just. It is transcendental… this is a central issue for all Bolivians. It is not a political concern–it is a state matter… We are united in this claim, we know that it is a difficult matter, but we are completely united.”

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera’s government has announced its confidence that the ICJ will reject the Bolivian claim and affirm Chile’s sovereignty over the port.

As the case is processed through the ICJ, Chile will be invited to present a counter statement against the claims presented this morning by Bolivia. After this is done, with the cooperation of both sovereigns, the international court will set deadlines for submission of written documents regarding claims to the ports and later hold official hearings.

April 25, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Comments Off on Bolivia: Officials Present Chile Case at The Hague

An Illegal Anniversary

By Robert Jensen | Dissident Voice | March 20th, 2013

On the 10th anniversary of the United States’ illegal invasion of Iraq, we can expect the war’s supporters to argue that military action seemed necessary at that moment, while critics will remind us of the suffering that resulted from that tragic miscalculation.

But amid the rationalizations and critiques, we should linger on this uncomfortable term: “illegal invasion”.

No matter how much we all ignore it, here is the reality: The U.S. invasion of Iraq was unlawful. The leaders who planned and executed the war are criminals. U.S. citizens bear some responsibility for not holding those leaders accountable.

The charter of the United Nations is clear about when the use of force in international relations is legal. War must be authorized by the U.N. Security Council, and in this case the council rejected a resolution authorizing war. The only other condition under which a member state can go to war is in self-defense when attacked, a principle that is extended to the right to respond to an imminent attack, what is sometimes called “the customary right of anticipatory self-defense.”

The basic principles are uncontroversial and clearly articulated in articles 39 and 51 of the U.N. Charter, though there is debate among legal experts about interpreting terms such as “imminent” and “anticipatory.” But whatever one’s position in those debates, there is no way to stretch the facts of this invasion to justify a self-defense claim.

At this point, many people respond by dismissing international law as irrelevant. Because U.S. policymakers’ first job is to protect Americans, they argue, our leaders shouldn’t be constrained by international law—the Constitution trumps international law or treaties.

But a small problem arises: Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states that “all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States” are part of “the supreme Law of the Land.” Since the United States signed the U.N. Charter (and, in fact, wrote most of it), to reject international law in this matter is to express contempt for the plain meaning of the U.S. Constitution. No patriot would dare.

So, back to those uncomfortable conclusions: A decade ago, U.S. leaders launched what under the principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal is called a “crime against peace.” Whether in the course of that crime, U.S. forces also committed war crimes can be debated. For example, should the deliberate bombing of the civilian infrastructure of a country be considered a war crime? What about the use of cluster munitions in ways that predictably kill civilians? I believe both are criminal, but let’s put those more complicated issues aside. The illegality of the invasion itself is not a tough question.

In my travels outside the United States, I have found that the vast majority of people agree that the U.S. invasion was unlawful. Within the United States, mentioning this worldwide consensus typically is considered idealistic and irrelevant. But while we can ignore evidence and logic, and even ignore the world, we can’t escape the implications of those choices.

The moral force of law, domestic or international, lies in the consistent application of clear standards. When laws are applied only to the poor and the rich act with impunity, for example, we understand that as a perversion of the law.

Over and over in the United States, we proclaim our commitment to the rule of law—we are a nation of laws not men. If that were the case, we would turn over to the International Court of Justice high-ranking figures from the Bush administration, which initiated the war; from the Obama administration, which continued the war; from Congress, which enabled the war; and from the military, which prosecuted the war. We would determine the amount of reparations we owe Iraq and begin to make payments. And we would apologize to the Iraqi people, and to the world.

Why is that unthinkable in our political culture? Perhaps it is because we worship power rather than respect law. Perhaps it is because we have no intention of acting on the moral principles we routinely impose on others.

Perhaps it is because we are not the people we tell ourselves we are.

~

Robert Jensen is a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. His latest book is We Are All Apocalyptic Now: On the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing, and Speaking Out (Monkey Wrench Books). Jensen is also co-producer of the documentary film Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other Still Dancing (Media Education Foundation, 2009), which chronicles the life and philosophy of the longtime radical activist. An extended interview Jensen conducted with Osheroff is online. He can be reached at: rjensen@austin.utexas.edu. Twitter: @jensenrobertw.

March 21, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Comments Off on An Illegal Anniversary

‘Water occupation’ of Palestine

By Stuart Littlewood | Al-Ahram | February 16, 2012

There are few crimes more despicable than stealing your neighbour’s water, and polluting what’s left, then watching him and his children suffer thirst, disease and ruin. Most of us would want nothing to do with the perpetrators of such evil.

British Water describes itself as the voice of the water industry. It talks about best practice and corporate responsibility, and lobbies governments and regulators on behalf of its members. No doubt it does a good job. It also has international ambitions including in the Middle East. So presumably it knows what’s going on water-wise in the Holy Land.

British Water should know, for example, that the 400-mile long structure known worldwide as Israel’s Apartheid Wall bites deep into the Palestinian West Bank dividing and isolating communities and stealing their lands and water.

If the wall was simply for security, as Israel claims, it would have been built along the internationally-recognised 1949 Armistice Green Line, although not even this is an official border. The wall’s purpose is plainly to annex plum Palestinian land and water resources for illegal Israeli settlements, and to that end it closely follows the line of the Western Aquifer.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice at The Hague ruled that the construction of the wall is “contrary to international law” and Israel must dismantle it and make reparation for damage caused. The ICJ also ruled that “all states are under an obligation not to recognise the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction”.

But the wall marches on, aided by American tax dollars and America’s protective veto, so that Israel can wield complete control over the water resources it sees as necessary to the regime’s present and future needs. This makes the Palestinians, who sit on top of enough water to be self-sufficient, entirely dependent on Israel for God’s life-giver. Israel also consumes most of the water from the Jordan River despite only three per cent of the river falling within its pre-1967 borders. Palestinians now have no access to it whatsoever due to Israeli closures.

Most of the Coastal Aquifer, on which Gaza’s inhabitants rely for water, is contaminated by sewage and nitrates, and is unfit for human consumption. Children particularly are at great risk. The aquifer is depleted and in danger of collapse. The damage could take generations to reverse, say experts.

During Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza (Operation Cast Lead) in 2008-09 over 30km of water networks were damaged or destroyed in addition to 11 wells. A UN fact-finding mission (the Goldstone Report) considered the destruction “deliberate and systematic”. Proper repairs have been impossible these last three years because Israel blocks the import of spare parts.

“Thirsting for Justice” is an aptly-named campaign by the Emergency Water Sanitation and Hygiene group, a coalition of 30 Palestinian and European humanitarian organisations, including Oxfam. It calls on European governments to put pressure on Israel to respect international law and the Palestinians’ basic rights to water and sanitation.

Under the warped arrangements of the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (1995) Palestinians are only allowed to extract 20 per cent of the “estimated potential” of the mountain aquifer beneath the West Bank. Israel not only takes the balance (80 per cent) but overdraws its sustainable yield often by more than 50 per cent. A Joint Water Committee was set up to implement the agreement but Israel was given veto power and the final say on decisions. As a result, a number of essential projects for Palestinians have been denied or delayed. To make up for part of the supply shortfall, Palestinians are forced to buy water from the Israeli national water company Mekorot, some of which is extracted from wells within the Palestinian West Bank. In other words they are having to buy their own water, and at inflated prices.

Oxfam, which is very active on the ground in Gaza, confirms that 90-95 per cent of water from Gaza’s only source, the Coastal Aquifer, is undrinkable. At the current rate the aquifer will be unusable by 2016 and the damage irreversible by 2020.

Gaza residents are restricted to an average of 91 litres of water per day compared to 280 litres used by Israelis. 100-150 litres a day are required to meet health needs, says the World Health Organisation. Marginalised Palestinian communities in the West Bank survive on less than 20 litres per capita per day, the minimum amount recommended by WHO to sustain life in an emergency.

Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are said to have full legal rights to nearly 750 million cubic metres of water but they have to make do with a trickle, or go without, while Israelis fill their swimming pools, sprinkle their lawns and wash their cars. In Bethlehem’s Aida refugee camp the water is turned off for days. When the street taps come on again, usually for a few hours, there’s a desperate scramble to refill domestic tanks and other containers before the next cut.

Haaretz last month reported the French parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee findings on the geopolitical impact of water in confrontation zones like Israel-Palestine.

According to the report, water has become “a weapon serving the new apartheid. Some 450,000 Israeli settlers on the West Bank use more water than the 2.3 million Palestinians that live there. In times of drought, in contravention of international law, the [illegal] settlers get priority for water”.

Israel is waging a “water occupation” against the Palestinians, says the report accusing the Israelis of “systematically destroying wells that were dug by Palestinians on the West Bank” as well as deliberately bombing reservoirs in the Gaza Strip in 2008-09. Furthermore, “many water purification facilities planned by the Palestinian Water Ministry are being blocked by the Israeli administration.”

Head of the Palestinian Water Authority Shaddad Attili observed: “Palestinians need to be able to access and control our rightful share of water in accordance with international law. The Oslo Accords did not achieve this. Without water, and without ensuring Palestinian water rights, there can be no viable or sovereign Palestinian state.”

Not content with robbing the Palestinians of their water, the Israelis are in the habit of flooding Palestinian fields and villages with untreated sewage from their hilltop settlements.

Against this background British Water has decided to cooperate with MATIMOP, an Israeli government agency that has been ordered to enter into international agreements and “aggressively expand opportunities for Israel’s industry”.

Always eager to oblige, the UK Trade and Investment Department’s briefing on Environment Opportunities in Israel contains this advice: “Israeli companies are keen to form alliances with companies abroad, and this is where the UK can benefit. In addition, growing development and marketing costs compel Israeli environmental companies to seek cooperation with foreign partners. The UK are world leaders in many aspects of the environment and so the UK and Israel complement each other and have much to offer each other in this sector. Teaming up with Israeli environment companies will give UK companies access to innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. UK companies can also benefit by providing their experience in marketing and management for Israeli companies.”

British Water signed a Memorandum of Understanding with MATIMOP on 21 December, so close to the Christmas holidays that it went unnoticed here. The event was not even recorded on British Water’s website but it was proudly featured on the embassy of Israel site and treated by the Israeli press as a triumph. MATIMOP calls it “a strategic cooperation agreement”. Executive Director Israel Shamay said: “We are pleased to be working closer with British Water than we have worked with any foreign trade organisation before. The UK water sector is well respected internationally for its world-leading capabilities, solutions and services, making it the perfect partner to help commercialise and market Israeli innovation and R&D in this sector.”

British Water agreed the text for an announcement by the Embassy of Israel but didn’t release it themselves, apparently happy for Tel Aviv’s propaganda boys to take care of it. In the press release MATIMOP says: “Israel has been coping with water scarcity since its founding.” Yes, coping by thieving.

The Palestinians have been subjected to the longest and most brutal military occupation in modern times and are held prisoner within the fragmented remnants of their own country, unable to develop its resources or travel freely within it to find work, attend university, visit family, or worship at their holy places in Jerusalem. Is helping Israel to become a water superpower really the right thing for British Water to be doing?

British Water’s CEO David Neil-Gallacher was asked: “EU agreements require Israel to show “respect for human rights and democratic principles” and provide for the agreement to be suspended otherwise. Does the MATIMOP agreement include similar good behaviour conditions?”

His reply: “The agreement with MATIMOP is a Memorandum of Understanding. Both parties are professional organisations with admirable aims and objectives.”

Another question: “British Water will be aware that Israel illegally occupies its neighbour Palestine and has seized control of its water resources. The path of Israel’s 400-mile separation wall closely follows the line of the Western Aquifer and encloses key supplies. In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that the construction of the wall in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, is ‘contrary to international law’ and ‘all states are under an obligation not to recognise the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction’. In the circumstances, should ethically-minded British companies allow themselves to become embroiled?”

Neil-Gallacher was unfazed: “I’m not sure what you mean by ’embroiled’ or ‘ethically-minded’. The aim of the MoU is for businesses to work together for the good of the global water industry. It’s no part of our role to exchange philosophical concepts with you. The arrangement with MATIMOP is one of commercial intent for the benefit of UK and Israeli companies.”

Finally, “is British Water being evenhanded in this Holy Land confrontation zone? Are you offering help to the Palestinian Water Authority? Have you responded positively to the sea-water desalination project for Gaza and other programmes for West Bank towns and villages?”

Neil-Gallacher: “We notify our member companies of potential commercial opportunities wherever they may arise, leaving them — as they’re best-qualified — to weigh the relative attractiveness of different markets.”

David Neil-Gallacher is also Director-General of Aqua Europa, which does the same sort of job on a Europe-wide basis. This was his parting shot:

“Regions of tension are bound to engender strong views and conflicting principles, and it’s usually notoriously difficult to discern unequivocal moral ascendancy on the part of any of those involved. In my dealings with our companies active in the region, however, I’ve never seen any evidence that they are lacking in principle or moral locus. British Water’s perspective has to be a commercial one. We do our best to conduct our activities in the best interests of our part of British industry and strictly within the requirements of the law.”

How will British Water avoid complicity with Israel’s endless oppression of the Palestinians and the deadly strife with its other neighbours in the region? Perhaps Neil-Gallacher should ask one of his own member companies, Veolia, what can happen if caught up in Israeli projects that violate international law. Veolia dumps Israeli waste on Palestinian land and is helping to build and run a tramway connecting Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements. The company must rue the day it crossed the line to fall foul of those nice folks at BDS — the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement.

February 23, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Comments Off on ‘Water occupation’ of Palestine