News / USA

US Leads Boycott of Controversial UN Debate

Margaret Besheer
The United States led a boycott Wednesday of a controversial debate in the U.N. General Assembly about the role of international criminal justice in reconciliation. 
 
Some diplomats criticized the debate, saying it was intended to disparage the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and, by association, all other international tribunals.
 
The meeting was the idea of the Vuk Jeremic, president of the U.N. General Assembly. He is a former foreign minister of Serbia, and some diplomats say has his eye on the presidency of his homeland.
 
In a statement, a U.S. spokesperson said American diplomats would not take part in the debate which Washington feels was set up to be “unbalanced" and "inflammatory." 
 
The heads of all the international tribunals skipped the event, as did Canada and Jordan.
 
Jordan’s U.N. ambassador, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al Hussein, told reporters he had hoped Jeremic would have shown greater sensitivity in planning the meeting and consulted more with member states about it.
 
“When it became clear to us that there was a distinct agenda to this meeting - a 'flavor' to it - it seemed to me the president of the General Assembly was exploiting his position for a narrower aim, and that was unacceptable to us," he said. 
 
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made only a brief appearance at the session, urging all nations to respect and support international courts. Ban said no one should undermine the courts "for reasons that have more to do with politics than justice." 
 
Jeremic did not directly criticize The Hague Tribunal in his opening remarks, but Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic did, for 40 minutes.
 
“We wonder what kind of impartialities [there are] when there is a systematic atmosphere of 'lynch-mobbing' of everything that is Serbian ... The influential Western media have created an image of a presumed Serbian guilt," he said. 
 
Speakers also included the Bosnian Serb president of Bosnia and Herzegovina Nebojša Radmanović. At a side event, a controversial retired Canadian General, Lewis MacKenzie, was expected to speak. He has previously questioned whether a genocide took place at Srebrenica in 1995 when nearly 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were massacred after Serb forces captured the town.
 
Since it was established in 1993, The Hague Tribunal has indicted 161 people for crimes, 15 of whom have been acquitted. Several dozen suspects remain on trial. 

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid