Since 1987, Taiwan has had a long journey in the process of democratization and promotion of human rights. In spite of the repetitive rejections of its application for a seat in the United Nations, it has become determined to gradually adapt its national law to the United Nations’ human rights standards. The milestone was reached last year when Taiwan established the National Human Rights Institution according to the Paris Principles.
Self-made review process
Taiwan (officially named the Republic of China) is not a member state of the United Nations (UN). Its international status dates back to 1971 when the UN General Assembly passed Resolution No. 2758 recognizing the People’s Republic of China as “the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations”. Despite this fact, Taiwan has made vigorous efforts to step out from the international isolation and establish a functional democratic society based on the rule of law and the protection of human rights according to the UN human rights framework. It has started to comply with UN human rights treaties and implement their obligations in its domestic law. To date, Taiwan has implemented five of such treaties.
On 20 February 2020, seven countries, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the League of Arab States, and another 34 applicants, including NGOs and distinguished scholars were granted leave to be amici curiae (‘friends of the Court’) in the determination on jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Palestine situation. They will express their position on whether the ICC has territorial jurisdiction pursuant to Art. 12 of the Rome Statute over the crimes committed in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
Preliminary examination and a struggle of the Court
The situation in Palestine has been subject to a preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) since 16 January 2015. On 20 December 2019, the OTP concluded that the issue of territorial jurisdiction needed to be resolved before a commencement of a formal investigation. In its request of 22 January, the OTP asked the Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) to rule on the issue. The decision has been praised by some as a sign of prudence and criticized by others as a cowardly move. Effectively, it shifts the burden of such an emotionally, politically and legally difficult decision from the executive to the judicial branch of the ICC.
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom made a bold step, which can re-write textbooks. In the R v TRA case, the Court held that acts of torture under the UN Convention Against Torture can be committed by non-state armed groups, challenging the conservative state-centric view. How was the judgment received? What is the way forward?
The end of the decade was marked by the much anticipated judgment released by the United Kingdom Supreme Court (UKSC) in the R v TRA case. The UKSC, then still presided by Lady Hale, decided that for the purposes of domestic prosecution, the definition of torture under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) can be understood to include torture committed by officials of non-state armed groups. Such interpretation confirmed a broader understanding of who can commit torture under the UNCAT that stretches beyond the more conservative state-centric model.
In October, Turkey launched “Operation Peace Spring” in the northeastern part of Syria, which was controlled by Kurdish-led forces. The operation began after President Trump withdrew US forces from northern Syria. The Kurdish-led forces have been a strong US ally against the so-called Islamic State radical group in the past. The Turkish president, Recep Erdoğan, has been strongly criticised for these actions by his Western allies.
Who are the Kurds?
There are between 25 and 35 million Kurds, who are an ethnic group inhabiting parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Even though there are many members of this minority, they have never been able to create a nation-state.
The British people voted for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) in the 2016 referendum. The UK should have left the EU by the end of October 2019. How did the individual negotiations go and what were their results?
The referendum about Brexit
As a member state, it is possible to leave the EU on the basis of a democratic decision, which is approved by the public, as it is governed by Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. This is exactly what happened in the case of the UK. The referendum took place in June 2016. The official turnout was 72.2 % of possible voters. 51.9 % people voted to withdraw, and conversely, 48.1 % people voted to remain in the EU. David Cameron resigned from his post as Prime Minister after the results went public. He was succeeded in his post by Theresa May.
Two years ago, in 2017, the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar engendered international attention. The crisis was all over the news and social media, and for a moment, the entire world seemed to be coming together to attempt to resolve the crisis and alleviate the human rights violations. Today, although the crisis is no longer anywhere near as prevalent in the media, the Rohingya are still facing extreme persecution from those in charge.
The Contemporary Problem
Today, approximately 600,000 Rohingya are still living in reprehensible conditions in Myanmar according to the United Nations’ (UN) new report released to the public in September 2019. Additionally, although genocide has not been officially named, numerous UN officials from their recent fact-finding mission and report on Myanmar have stated that the Rohingya still living in Myanmar face the “threat of genocide.”
In August, Russians protested against the exclusion of opposition candidates from city assembly elections that took place later in September 2019. State authorities responded harshly. What preceded this crackdown? What is the current development concerning human rights in Russia?
Before the protests
At the beginning of September, the Moscow City Duma election took place. However, the crucial part connected to this election dates back to July when Moscow’s Election Commission published a list of candidates. This document, which represents single ballot paper composed of party’s and non-party candidates, certified who had been registered to run for the city legislative assembly in each election district. Opposition candidates were left out.