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Weekly update: 19 June – 25 June 2023

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 19 June to 25 June 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 for consideration.

SYRIA - 23 JUNE 2023

HRW, UN: Create Body on Missing Syrians. Groups Urge UN General Assembly to Establish New Unit

United Nations member countries should vote to establish a humanitarian body that will seek to provide Syrians with long-overdue answers about their long-missing loved ones, Human Rights Watch and over 100 other Syrian and international human rights organizations said today.

The groups’ message to the UN General Assembly’s 193 member states was published in a joint letter on June 23, 2023. A vote on the resolution to establish the new UN unit is expected to come as early as the week of June 26. According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, well over 100,000 people have gone missing during the 12 years of the conflict in Syria. Many were forcibly disappeared by the Syrian government.


Amnesty International, Morocco/Spain: 'Deliberate cover up' of migrant carnage at Melilla border continues.

At least 76 people still missing and 22 unidentified bodies still at a morgue in Morocco. Mounting evidence of crimes under international law by both Spanish and Moroccan governments at the Melilla border

EU/ISRAEL - 20 JUNE 2023

MEMO, EU: Israel settlements illegal under international law.

The European Union yesterday reiterated that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, Sama news agency reported. According to Sama, the spokesperson also said that the Israeli settlements constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten the viability of the two-state solution.

The EU is concerned about the changes adopted by the Israeli government to the settlement planning and management process, the statement added, which will accelerate the planning and approval of settlements, calling on Israel not to proceed with that. "These unilateral steps contradict the need to ensure calm and defuse tensions on the ground," she said, adding: "The EU continues to support the statements of Aqaba and Sharm el Sheikh, and urges all parties to recommit to de-escalation, and pave the way towards a political horizon.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Israel to stop and reverse what he described as disturbing decisions regarding settlement activity in the occupied West Bank. "The Secretary-General reiterates that the settlements are a flagrant violation of international law," Farhan Haq said, adding: "They are a major obstacle to achieving a viable two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.” He pointed out that "the expansion of these illegal settlements is a major driver of tension and violence and greatly increases humanitarian needs.”

WORLD - 20 JUNE 2023

IBA, Momentum builds for legally binding treaty to ensure torture-free trade.

When it launched almost six years ago, the Alliance for Torture-Free Trade had one aim in mind: to prevent products designed to inflict death and pain from being bought and sold around the world. Though international law bans torture in all circumstances, products such as batons with metal spikes and electric shock belts can be freely traded, an activity that the governments of Argentina and Mongolia have joined forces with the EU to try to stop.

As part of the alliance, close to 60 countries around the world have committed to controlling and restricting the export of torture tools, with the EU bringing in its own regulation in 2019. It wasn’t until 2022 that a global standard was mooted, however. Following the release of an expert report in May that year, the UN General Assembly made a commitment to begin negotiations on how to close the governance gap, with organisations such as Amnesty International leading the call for the introduction of a legally binding torture-free trade treaty.

UKRAINE - 21 JUNE 2023

Yahoo News, Ukrainian ombudsman accuses Hungary of violating international law by holding Ukrainian POWs

Hungary is violating humanitarian international law by negotiating with Russia and assuming control of Ukrainian prisoners of war, Ombudsman of Ukraine Dmytro Lubinets said, on June 21. Lubinets emphasized that Hungary's actions, conducted without notifying the Ukrainian government, are a clear violation of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention. According to international law, the relocation of POWs should only occur after informing their country.

While Russia's disregard for internationally accepted rules is not surprising, Lubinets expressed his astonishment that a member of the EU and NATO would openly and deliberately engage in such behavior. He revealed that he reached out to his Hungarian counterpart to inquire about the conditions of confinement but received no response.’

DRC - 23 JUNE 2023

HRW, Democratic Republic of Congo Wants More from ICC.

New International Criminal Court Referral a Reminder that Court’s Work Isn’t Done. The Democratic Republic of Congo is requesting the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the upsurge of violence and abuses in the embattled eastern province of North Kivu.

Last week, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan announced that the Congolese government formally requested his office to investigate serious crimes allegedly committed in North Kivu since January 1, 2022. As the prosecutor considers whether to move forward with investigating these crimes, this new referral highlights the need for the ICC’s continued engagement in Congo, particularly given escalating violence not just in North Kivu but in other provinces as well.

EU - 26 JUNE 2023

EJIL Talk! The EU’s (limited) push toward the strengthening of International Space Law.

International Space Law has long suffered from a deficit in global regulatory action. Like many other areas of international law, international space law is behind with what is needed to solve current problems, including: low-earth orbit pollution (or even potential un-useability if orbital debris reaches a severity flashpoint), light pollution (from satellites), the weaponization of space (including anti-satellite weapons), and many other legal issues threaten the sustainability of future extra-terrestrial expansion, with seemingly no solution on the horizon just yet.


Yahoo News, Russia places ICC judge on wanted list for issuing warrant for Putin's arrest.

One of the judges of the International Criminal Court, Rosario Salvatore Aitala, who issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, appeared on the wanted list of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

USA - 22 JUNE 2023

Just Security, Meta’s Oversight Board Recommends Major Advance in International Accountability.’ On June 13, Meta’s Oversight Board–an organization that issues binding decisions related to the company’s content moderation challenges–released a ruling and series of recommendations that may have far-reaching ripples for the human rights and international criminal legal communities.

Recommending a Protocol for Conflict-Related Content

Known as the “Armenian prisoners of war video case,” the central issue the case raised before the Board was whether a Facebook post of prisoners of war (POWs) should have been taken down to protect the prisoners’ dignity and security, as provided for in Geneva Convention Article 13 on the humane treatment of prisoners, or left up because it was newsworthy. The Oversight Board ultimately agreed with Meta’s decision to leave the graphic video up but with an age restriction and a warning to protect potential viewers, including the POWs’ family members.


Crux, Nigeria human rights group files ICC complaint over anti-Christian violence.

In part on the basis of widespread attacks against Christians, a human rights organization in Nigeria has filed a complaint against the governor of Nigeria’s southeastern Imo state as well as 31 other public officials before the International Criminal Court in the Hague, charging them with “crimes against humanity.”

The 13-page criminal complaint was filed with the ICC on June 19 on behalf of the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety), and was prepared by a legal team headed by Austin Okeke, a respected human rights lawyer.


Sunday World SA, SA’s top jurist up for top UN post

Accomplished jurist and professor of international law at the University of Pretoria (UP), Dire Tladi, is a step closer to making history after the cabinet approved his nomination to serve as a permanent judge at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Tladi, who served as a member of the UN’s International Law Commission from 2012 to last year, is competing with four other African candidates who are vying for the one of three seats allocated to Africa. The term of the present incumbent Mohamed Bennouna of Morocco comes to an end in February next year.


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