July 2003 – Beyond Intractability
Marshall Islands Becomes the 24th Country to Ratify War Crimes Tribunal on December 7, 2000
by Chris McMorran
What International War Crimes Tribunals Are
International war crimes tribunals are courts of law established to try individuals accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Despite the often heinous nature of the crimes that individuals commit during intractable conflicts, including genocide, torture, and rape, it has become common practice to offer the accused an opportunity to explain his or her actions in front of the victims and their families, as well as the media. Tribunals have almost entirely replaced retributive justice’s summary executions. Based on generally agreed-upon international standards of acceptable human behavior, they have introduced a new ethos of liberal legalism for dealing with war crimes.
Why War Crimes Tribunals Matter
Following a conflict, crimes that have exceeded the normal parameters of war behavior (jus in bello) must be dealt with before a society can begin the peacebuilding process of reconciliation. War crimes tribunals do not offer the accused a chance for forgiveness as truth and reconciliation commissions do. Tribunals do, however, offer victims and their families the opportunity to confront those responsible for what happened to them, and hopefully to put the horrors of war behind them. A tribunal can be a forum for honoring the memory of those lost, as well as punishing those responsible.
The war crimes tribunals of Nuremberg and Tokyo, in which legal justice was used to punish the upper echelons of the German and Japanese military following World War II, continue to be regarded as the most successful tribunals to date. The democratic, progressive success of both nations following these tribunals is often given as evidence of the effectiveness of war crimes tribunals in helping a society that has perpetrated war crimes to return to stable diplomatic relations and the road to peace.
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24 June 2009 – Secretariat of the Pacific
High level of STIs spark call for more sex education in Marshalls
Written by Tangata Vainerere
Majuro (Pacnews) – There are calls for more sex education and HIV awareness in the Marshall Islands, reports Radio New Zealand International. A recently released Ministry of Health report said the nation is at greater risk of contracting HIV as a result of high rates of sexually transmitted infections, low condom usage and lack of safe sex practices.
Administration officer at the College of Marshall Islands, Ellia Seblan Zebedy, said the Marshall Islands has a cultural barrier where it’s taboo to talk about sex but says education on safe sex is essential. She said the school has a health clinic and holds forums where issues such as HIV are discussed openly. “And so it’s not just a person lecturing the students but there are activities involving those sessions so that students can engage and they can actually come out and say something. And so that’s how we assess whether students understand these issues and whether they’re able to talk about them.”
28 August 2009 – Islands Business
UNESCO issues voluntary sex education guidelines to help young people
New voluntary sexuality education guidelines have been issued by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to help young people learn how to protect themselves against HIV and against abuse and exploitation.
New York, USA – New voluntary sexuality education guidelines have been issued by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to help young people learn how to protect themselves against HIV and against abuse and exploitation. The International Guidelines on Sexuality Education also arms educators with guidance on how children and youth can acquire the knowledge to prevent unintended pregnancies and transmission of sexually-transmitted infections.
Over 5 million young people are living with HIV worldwide and nearly half of all new infections occur among young people between the ages of 15 and 24, according to the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO). At least 111 million new cases of curable sexually transmitted infections occur among people aged between 10 and 24 years every year, while more than 4 million girls aged 15 to 19 will seek abortions, most of which will be unsafe, says the non-governmental organization (NGO) International Planned Parenthood.
Additionally 10 per cent of births worldwide are to teenage mothers, a demographic group that faces higher rates of maternal mortality than older women. “At the moment, education is the best weapon we have for dealing with these issues,” said Mark Richmond, who works in UNESCO’s education division. “However, evidence tells us that by and large, young people do not have access to the knowledge that could help them make informed decisions and thereby avoid tragic consequences.”
The new guidelines, which will help fill these gaps, are not a curriculum, but instead focus on “the ‘why’ and ‘what’ issues that require attention in strategies to introduce or strengthen sexuality education,” he added. Drawing on dozens of studies conducted around the world, they are designed to help education, health and other authorities developing and implementing school-based sexuality education programmes and materials.
The guidelines are organized around six key concepts: relationships; values, attitudes and skills; culture, society and law; human development; sexual behaviour; and sexual and reproductive health. “Maths and science are valued as important knowledge for young people to have for their own sake,” said Nanette Ecker, a co-author of the publication. “A sound sexuality education should be equally valued.”
September 2009 – UNAIDS
Marshall Islands: Progress towards Universal Access and The Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS
Data from Marshall Islands UNGASS country progress reports (2003, 2005 and 2007) and additional correspondence with country.
National Commitment and Action Indicators
National Composite Policy Index (NCPI):
Countries were asked to report on legislation, policies, plans and programmes related to gender, workplace programmes, stigma and discrimination, prevention, care and support, human rights, civil society involvement, and monitoring and evaluation). For the response to the NCPI questionnaire please refer to the NCPI Report for 2007 which is available on the UNAIDS website
Decriminalizing Homosexuality–first step to establish equality
Op-ed by Matilda Bogner
Decriminalizing homosexuality is an essential first step towards establishing genuine equality before the law
Calls for truly universal application of human rights have been gathering momentum at the global level. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, and UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon have both called for measures to counter discrimination and violence against those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI). Last year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched an appeal for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality and for every country to ensure equal rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he said, is just that. It is universal and it applies to us all—whoever we are, whatever we look like, whoever we share our lives with. No exceptions.
Pacific Island countries have supported this call, with Australia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu signing onto a joint statement of over 80 countries at the UN Human Rights Council condemning violence based on sexual orientation in March this year. The statement expressed concern at the continued evidence in every region of acts of violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, including killings, rape, torture and criminal sanctions.
This message was underlined by a historic Human Rights Council resolution on 17 June 2011, expressing grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The resolution requested the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to commission a study, to be finalized by December 2011, documenting discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against LGBTI individuals, in all regions of the world, and how international human rights law can be used to end these violations. Laws criminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults remain on the statute books in more than 70 countries globally, including the Pacific Island countries of Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu. Such laws are an affront to principles of equality and non-discrimination and fuel hatred and violence—in effect giving homophobia a State-sanctioned seal of approval.
Recognising this, Palau and Nauru accepted recommendations to decriminalize homosexual acts during their appearances at the Human Rights Council. Pacific Island countries have now all completed the first round of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of their human rights situation. Each country will return to the review in four years time to see what progress has been made in implementing their human rights commitments. During the most recent UPR meeting at the Human Rights Council, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea rejected recommendations relating to the decriminalization of sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex – citing cultural or religious reasons.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is encouraging countries to make progress in the area of LGBTI rights, and in particular the decriminalization of sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex. In a speech on Human Rights Day (10 December) 2010, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “As men and women of conscience, we reject discrimination in general, and in particular discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity… Where there is tension between cultural attitudes and universal human rights, universal human rights must carry the day”.
Decriminalizing homosexuality is an essential first step towards establishing genuine equality before the law. But real, lasting progress cannot be achieved by changing laws alone. We must change minds as well. Like racism and misogyny, homophobia is a prejudice born of ignorance. And like other forms of prejudice, the most effective long-term response is legal equality backed-up by information and education.
*Matilda Bogner is the Regional Representative for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Regional Office for the Pacific, based in Suva, Fiji.
For further information and media requests to OHCHR’s Regional Office for the Pacific in Suva, please contact Communications Officer Jacob Quinn at + (679) 331 0465 (ext. 211), or by email