Cate Minall

Born and raised in New York City, I've been fortunate enough to experience diverse cultures without ever leaving home. Despite this, I still maintain grand dreams of seeing the world (give me a break - I'm young and still an idealist). I'm in my last year of school at Oberlin College, where I'm double majoring in Politics and Law with a concentration in International Studies. I'm currently an intern at the NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court in New York.

Inspired by Karl Rove…

As one journalist states – and I agree – “…the United States of America has the moral duty and legal obligation to go after each and every one of those involved in the illegal acts of butchery in Afghanistan and Iraq, following up and holding them responsible for the consequences of these acts and holding accountable each and every person involved in the decision-making process, however high their position in the pyramid may have been.” The notion of command responsibility seems conveniently absent from the minds of American policy-makers. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, “a wall of impunity surrounds the architects of the policies responsible for the larger pattern of abuses.”

Ah. Let us take a moment to re-read that last sentence. This time focus on the word “architect”. Architect…perhaps as in, Karl Rove, widely known as “The Architect” for Bush’s reelection and subsequent policies?  Read the rest of this entry »

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The UN and this brave new world.

“Despite all criticism, the UN remains the world’s premier supranational forum. As such, it may be the best hope for tackling global issues,” suggested the Carnegie Council in 2006. Four years later, these words are still true, but it’s becoming increasingly common to hear the UN described as “weak” and “irrelevant”. However, considering the antiquated balance of power in the organization, do countries have an incentive to engage more fully in the UN system?

In an interview with Turtle Bay, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that the new assertiveness of emerging powers like Turkey and Brazil “should not be seen as a new game” aimed at altering the balance of power at the United Nations. I appreciate the sentiment, Mr Davutoglu (after all, who wants to piss off the P5?), but perhaps it is time to consider that the balance of power at the UN really should be altered.

When it comes to Security Council reform, there are two conversations that can take place: what should happen, or what can happen. Should the system reflect the world as it was immediately following World War II? No. Should five countries hold permanent seats? No. Should those same five `countries have the ability to use the veto power to enhance their political sway? No. Should a veto power even exist? I don’t think so. In the words of Kevin Rudd, Australia’s minister of foreign affairs, “The international community can no longer tolerate the actions of a few dissenting states to roadblock the common resolve of the many…If we fail to make the UN work, to make its institutions relevant to the great challenges we all now face, the uncomfortable fact is that the UN will become a hollow shell.”

Could it be that the reluctance of the P5 to surrender any of their power is actually good for the UN’s image? If the UN were truly an irrelevant and stagnant body, powerful states wouldn’t care so much about their standings as members. By holding on so tightly to veto power, the P5 is admitting that the UN is actually a organization capable of big things.

Let’s face it – the veto power and permanent members of the Security Council aren’t going anywhere, but this doesn’t have to be an all or nothing game. India, Brazil, Japan, and Germany are all seeking a permanent seat on the council, and US Under-Secretary for Political Affairs William Burns stated, “For countries like India and for other countries, we need very much to consider how their increasing role in global affairs is matched by the responsibilities that they can discharge in the most important parts of the international architecture.” We also need to consider the role of the aforementioned countries in the UN itself – Japan and Germany are, respectively, the second and third largest UN funders, and Brazil and India are two of the largest contributors to UN-mandated peacekeeping missions. Similarly, Africa, which has more UN members than every other continent, doesn’t include a state that’s a permanent member. Already, the US, France, and the UK have issued formal statements that support Council reform and expansion.

As said by Turkish President Abdullah Gul to the General Assembly last week, “”We should keep in mind that global problems cannot be solved unilaterally, bilaterally or in small circles of like-minded nations.”

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Could the Pope be prosecuted?

It’s no secret that the majority of sexual abuse claims regarding the Catholic Church have failed to be investigated by either legal authorities or the Church itself, but the Pope’s recent trip to the UK has spurned a debate of, shall we say, almighty proportions.

In a letter to the Catholics of Ireland dated 19 March 2010, Pope Benedict XVI wrote:

“To priests and religious who have abused children: You betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals.”

What “tribunal” is he talking about? Can the Pope himself be charged with anything? What about the entire Holy See, or a representative, as suggested by Patrick Wall, an American lawyer and former Benedictine monk? Read the rest of this entry »

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I’m inviting Bashir to the next family picnic.

There’s been a media firestorm in response to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s trip Friday to attend the promulgation of Kenya’s new constitution, despite the ICC warrant for his arrest (see Xavier’s post below). A quick response:

In a press release, Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Africa Deputy Programme Director, said, “It is disturbing that the Kenyan government is celebrating a new constitution – the national centrepiece of the rule of law – while obstructing justice for victims of such serious human rights violations in a neighbouring country.” Apparently the whole ‘neighbor’ part is being used by the Kenyan government to defend al-Bashir’s attendance: Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula stated, “[al-Bashir] was here today because we invited all neighbors and he is a neighbor.” Well, thanks, Mr Wetangula, for that priceless bit of social precedent. Next time I have a barbecue, I’ll be sure to invite the serial killer down the block, even though I promised my friends that I wouldn’t associate with him.

I don’t know where Wetangula is finding these gems, but he keeps them coming: “[Bashir] is a state guest. You do not harm or embarrass your guest.” Yes, Mr Wetangula, it seems the only thing Kenya is embarrassing lately is itself. To be fair, there is some hope for the sanity of select Kenyan government officials. Deputy Defense Minister David Musila stated, “Kenya has brought shame to itself by allowing President Bashir to visit the country. If he is still in the country he should be arrested immediately and handed to the ICC.” Unfortunately, Kenya’s apparent war crimes poster boy is already safe and snug back in Khartoum.

My apologies for the tone of this post. If I sound bitter, that’s because I am.

But do follow me on twitter @cminall.

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What Legal Response To Mass Rape in the Congo?

In October 2007, John Holmes, United Nations Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, told the New York Times:

The sexual violence in Congo is the worst in the world. The sheer numbers, the wholesale brutality, the culture of impunity – it’s appalling.

It seems as though not much has changed over the last three years.

Last month, civilians were brutally attacked and raped by armed elements of the Mai-Mai and the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). According to Will F. Cragin, the International Medical Corps’ coordinator for the region, between 200 and 400 men entered the village of Ruvungi and systematically raped more than 150 women. The victims, most of whom were raped by two to six men at a time, were often violated in front of their families.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is understandably outraged by the attacks, and has dispatched Assistant Secretary-General Atul Khare, Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, to the DRC, and has instructed his Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström, to take charge of the UN’s response and follow-up to this incident. But will anyone actually be prosecuted for the atrocities? Read the rest of this entry »

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Communiqué: The International Jurist Wishes To Congratulate St Lucia For Ratifying The Rome Statute

Xavier: I’d like to welcome our newest team member, Cate Minall. This is her first post, and hopefully the first of many. Cate, welcome to The International Jurist.

On 18 August 2010, the Eastern Caribbean state of St. Lucia deposited its instrument of ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the UN Headquarters, becoming the 113th State Party to the ICC Treaty.

The Court welcomed this decision, calling it “a new sign of the international community’s commitment to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes that deeply shock the conscience of humanity.”

According to the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Caribbean states played a key role in the creation and establishment of the ICC, and Catherine Ashton, the EU’s High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy noted that St. Lucia’s ratification was the third this year. She stated, “A steady increase in the number of ratifications demonstrates that the Court is a reality, which everybody must recognize.”

The International Jurist congratulates St. Lucia for showing true commitment to international justice, and welcomes them to the growing community of states around the world that are working to end impunity.

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