The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 10 October to 16 October 2023.
Guernica 37 will provide weekly media updates from the International Criminal Court, European Court of Human Rights, United Nations, European Union and other sources. Should you wish to contribute or submit a media summary, opinion piece or blog, please send to Ned Vucijak at firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Poland - October 16th
Although this news comes on the day of the Polish election, the ramifications of this election on Poland's laws and judicial system could be far-reaching. Having had a Right-wing Conservative government, it looks as though a new Civic Coalition led by former Prime Minister and European Union president Donald Tusk will be formed.
In theory, the previous "Law and Justice Party" still did well while retaining more seats than any other party; its vote share did decrease with many voters struggling with high inflation, and accusations of cronyism and frustrating European allies.
What does the future hold for Poland now? LGBTQ+ and Abortion rights will likely be liberalised. It is thought that Poland will seek to establish a better relationship with the EU, especially with its past president now leading the country. In addition, a controversial referendum on immigration may be scrapped, allowing Poland to accept many more migrants as part of the EU immigration scheme in future.
France - October 16th
Schools in France held a minute’s silence on Monday, October 16th, for Dominique Benard, 57, the teacher stabbed to death due to an Islamist terrorist attack in Arras, North-Eastern France.
The perpetrator was a Russian, Mohammed Moguchkov, 20, who had lived in France since he was 5. 9 people remain in custody; it is thought the attack had been well planned for several weeks before the incident, despite being on a French register of potential security threats and monitored by the French Domestic Intelligence Agency (DGSI).
The attack comes almost 3 years after the beheading of Samuel Paty, another French teacher, in a Paris suburb. President Macron has faced growing criticism that tighter security is needed to prevent future terrorist attacks, which France has felt an upsurge in. Despite deploying over 7000 troops and putting the country on high alert, it is easy to understand that with growing pressures in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the French population is beginning to feel unease; there is a large Jewish and Muslim population living in France with Arras.
Russia\China – Oct 16th
President Putin is gearing up for meetings with Chinese leaders in Beijing this coming week, as it is thought that a strong partnership will emerge, changing the dynamics in the war with Ukraine. The focus being on the Israel conflict. China is in the difficult position of balancing its relationships with Israel and the joint ticket of Syria and Iran, who have been seen to have supported and perhaps even bankrolled the Palestinian effort in attacking Israel.
The meeting will largely focus on BRI projects where countries such as Zambia and Sri Lanka have used Chinese money to build infrastructure projects. Putin has been careful to downplay China's economic influence in other regions of the world while at the same time trying to establish a stronger relationship between Russia and China, who have strong links in terms of Energy, Tech and Financial industries. Now that the Ukrainian war is not the only conflict the world has turned its attention to, Russia must maintain good relations with China, which can help Russia continue its fight with Ukraine. Where else would Russia be able to get its commodities from, and which other country apart from China would be willing to purchase and then sell products made in Russia?
Although unlikely to form a military alliance, it is almost inevitable that there will be closer military cooperation. Despite China’s efforts to present itself as a neutral party for brokering peace in the Ukrainian war.
USA – October 16th
Given the recent unprecedented political turmoil of removing the speaker of the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill, one might forget that Donald Trump still faces charges in the Federal case of attempting to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election. US prosecutors are now attempting to silence Donald Trump from discussing possible witnesses, court staff, and potential jurors and disparaging those with a legal duty to prosecute President Trump. Trump attacks those who look to criticise and undermine him; although relatively quiet on Twitter since his reinstatement by Elon Musk earlier this year, Trump has shown himself adept at turning the public against his enemies at public rallies and speeches.
President Trump has responded by accusing prosecutors of stifling his fundamental constitutional rights for freedom of speech; this will surely strengthen his position amongst his Republican fan base, who consider that the "establishment" is out to weaken his chances of receiving the Republican nomination for next year's presidential race.
President Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges he is facing; this includes other charges in other lawsuits, including a civil fraud against him and his family where a gag order has already been issued. Prosecutors said in a court filing, "The defendant knows that when he publicly attacks individuals and institutions, he inspires others to perpetrate threats and harassment against his targets".
President Trump’s legal team have suggested that the Biden administration is trying to silence its most prominent political opponent. All trials against President Trump continue.
UK – October 13th
Internationally recognised solicitor firms Trowers & Hamlins and Mishcon de Reya have become the latest law firms to cut jobs; both law firms have highlighted the need to cut their cloth in a fast-moving global market. Both companies have undertaken reviews in recent years as to the services they provide.
Mishcon has highlighted that their software solutions team have faced the brunt of their redundancies, mainly from outsourcing and doing less tech in-house. In contrast, Trowers have made cuts in their real estate department amongst qualified solicitors, including 6 partners.
Changes to both law firms are undoubtedly the result of a slowdown in global activity. This is a trend that has been seen before, particularly with US law firms.
Israel\Palestine - Oct 12th
Almost all International News this week has been dwarfed by the Middle East's constantly moving and changing situation. International legal experts and global leaders are still trying to fathom the mass bloodshed and Human Rights atrocities last weekend. There has been a global outpouring of support and sympathy for Israel as it comes to terms with its recent events.
Amnesty International has highlighted the need for all parties in the Israel and Palestinian conflict to be held accountable. Hamas launched attacks against Israel, leaving 1200 dead, 2400 injured and 150 hostages taken since the October 7th attack. Israel has now put a blockade that has disconnected vital utilities to Palestinians.
Amnesty International continues to investigate the potential war crimes and genocide that have taken place, along with several Human Rights contraventions in its ongoing investigations. Since its investigations, Amnesty has verified various videos posted to social media. The International Criminal Court also continues to investigate, which started in 2021.
The Nova music festival, which attracted primarily young people, saw 260 of its attendees killed and many more young people lost and unaccountable. Various Human Rights groups have asked for strict adherence to International Criminal Law, which minimises civilian harm and sees the release of currently held hostages.
The legal parameters in these circumstances are that civilian protection and safety must be paramount. Continuing investigations hope to elicit what is truly going on in this region. Going forward, it is hard to envisage how a ceasefire or any talk of peace can be attainable in the current fevered climate.
International Criminal Court/Armenia – October 14th
Last week, the Armenian President, Vahagn Khachaturyan, approved Parliament's decision to join the ICC after the Rome statute was finally ratified in a 60-22 vote, a move almost designed to frustrate Armenian old ally Russia.
This has been 20 years in the making. As of 2004, Armenia's Constitutional Court suggested that the Rome statute contradicted its constitution; since then, there have been amendments to the constitution which have now allowed the door to be open to the ICC.
This comes as Armenia had previously assured Russia that President Putin would not be arrested if he entered the country; Armenia has justified this action not because of Russia but because of Azerbaijan's potential aggression when Azerbaijan captured the Armenian separatist forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.
International Criminal Court/Russia - October 13th
Russia’s decision to issue arrest warrants against senior judges of the International Criminal Court has triggered a wave of consternation. In addition, Russia has also issued warrants against the President, Deputy, its Prosecutor and a Pre-Trial Judge, all of whom it sees as being complicit in examining potential war crimes in Ukraine.
It is seen as a tit-for-tat for the ICC issuing a warrant for President Putin for the potential international crimes Russia has committed against Ukraine in the current Ukrainian annexation by Russia. The Court is “a cornerstone of the rule of law and complements the work of national courts in the fight against impunity,” said Ms. Shamdasani a spokeswoman for the UN. “It is therefore crucial that it, and its officials, can perform their vital functions under the Rome Statute, unhindered by pressure, interference, or intimidation - from any quarter,” she added.
USA/Mexico – October 12th
A man from Oklahoma has been extradited from Mexico to face murder charges for shooting his estranged wife 6 years ago in Tulsa. José Gomez-Baca, 31, was found in Mexico City after receiving a tipoff. He had successfully evaded authorities up until this week.
The shooting was considered particularly horrific as the victim, Elizabeth Rodriguez, 26, was sitting in the car with her mother and brother when the incident occurred. The shooting took place outside of the family home with their respective children inside.
This case highlights Mexico's often delicate situation with the US regarding extraditing fugitives back to face charges; the degree of success in this case after 6 years is particularly noteworthy.
International Criminal Court - October 10th
President of the ICC, Piotr Hofmański, sat down in a recent talk at Berkeley Law School in the US to discuss his role as president of the ICC. He highlighted that 123 states have now joined the Court, making up two-thirds of the states in the world. He highlighted that this was progress, but more must be done.
He suggested that the US should join the ICC to help strengthen the international community's efforts for accountability. He espoused the importance of considering the victim and the Court's independence and the fact that each case is its watershed, with sometimes upwards of hundreds of thousands of victims. He acknowledged that resources were stretched, but the Court was still doing a valiant job under difficult circumstances where it had to deal with atrocities worldwide. He said that, unlike other organisations, the ICC elects its president in a judicial voting system to separate it from politics. He also highlighted the difficulty in budgeting for an ICC, whose costs have escalated recently.
“We need every state that values the rule of law, peace, security, human rights, and democracy,” Hofmański said. “We basically intervene only in situations where it’s completely not possible otherwise, where the judiciary system is destroyed, for example … Our role is to encourage states to pursue justice there, but when that can’t happen, we exist to close the gap of impunity.”