Weekly update: 19 September – 25 September 2022
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 19 September to 25 September 2022.
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.
China – 19 September 2022
Western powers are weighing the risk of a potential defeat if they table a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council calling for an independent commission to investigate alleged human rights abuses by China in Xinjiang. The issue is a litmus case for Chinese influence at the UN, as well as the willingness of the UN to endorse a worldview that protects individual rights from authoritarian states. The outgoing UN human rights commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, issued a report on her last day in office – 31 August – claiming there was clear evidence of crimes against humanity committed by China during its suppression of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province. It was the first time the UN made such a serious allegation against China.
Equatorial Guinea – 19 September 2022
Equatorial Guinea, one of the world’s most authoritarian countries, has abolished the death penalty, according to state television, which cited a new law signed by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. The last official execution in the small country was carried out in 2014, according to Amnesty International, but international NGOs and the UN regularly accuse the regime of forced disappearances, arbitrary detention and torture.
United States (US) / United Kingdom (UK) – 20 September 2022
Britain may not strike a free trade deal with the US for years, Liz Truss has admitted ahead of her first bilateral meeting with Joe Biden. The new Prime Minister conceded that talks were unlikely to start in the “medium term” as she travelled to New York on her first foreign trip since entering Downing Street. On the plane to the US, Truss admitted to reporters: “There aren’t currently any negotiations taking place with the US and I don’t have any expectation that those are going to start in the short to medium term.”
Ukraine – 20 September 2022
The UN general assembly summit this week will be dominated by a struggle – between the US and its allies on one side and Russia on the other – for global support over the fate of Ukraine, as the global south fights to stop the conflict from overshadowing the existential threats of famine and the climate crisis. The weeklong session of United Nations general assembly meetings and leaders’ speeches begins as mass graves are being discovered after the Russian retreat from the Ukrainian town of Izium.
Russia – 21 September 2022
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has announced a partial mobilisation in Russia in a major escalation that places the country’s people and economy on a wartime footing. Putin also threatened nuclear retaliation, saying that Russia had “lots of weapons to reply” to what he called western threats on Russian territory and said that he was not bluffing. In a highly anticipated televised address, Putin said the “partial mobilisation” was a direct response to the dangers posed by the west that “wants to destroy our country” and claimed the west had tried to “turn Ukraine’s people into cannon fodder”.
Russia / Ukraine – 22 September 2022
Russia must face "just punishment" over its invasion of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky has told the UN General Assembly in New York. In a pre-recorded video, the Ukrainian leader called for the creation of a special war tribunal and detailed alleged war crimes by Russia. He also set out a "formula", including more military support and to punish Russia on the world stage. Russia's Vladimir Putin had earlier called up 300,000 reservists for duty.
United Kingdom (UK) / Russia – 22 September 2022
A Briton who was threatened with execution after being captured by Russian forces during the siege of Mariupol has been released alongside four other Britons and five other international prisoners after the intervention of Saudi Arabia. Aiden Aslin and “the other British prisoners of war held captive by the Russian authorities” were already on their way back to the UK, said Aslin’s MP, Robert Jenrick, after being flown from Russia to Saudi Arabia. Aslin was released alongside the two fighters he was sentenced to death with at a controversial trial in Russian-held eastern Ukraine in June – Shaun Pinner, and a Moroccan named Brahim Saadoun.
United Kingdom (UK) – 22 September 2022
Four people accused of murder are to be released on bail after a judge refused to extend the time they could be kept in custody pending trial. The trial, for the fatal stabbing of 40-year-old Keith Green in February, could not go ahead as planned because of the indefinite strike by criminal barristers over legal aid fees. Judge Ian Pringle, the recorder of Oxford, was asked to extend the period the accused could be held on remand beyond the six-month limit, which expires at midnight on Thursday, but refused to do so. It was the latest in a series of refusals by judges to extend custody time limits (CTLs) in cases affected by the barristers’ strike, but the first where the defendants were accused of murder.
Ukraine – 23 September 2022
Ukrainians have reported armed soldiers going door-to-door in occupied parts of the country to collect votes for self-styled "referendums" on joining Russia. Experts say the self-styled referendums, taking place across five days, will allow Russia to claim - illegally - four occupied or partially-occupied regions of Ukraine as their own. In other words, a false vote on annexation, seven months into Russia's invasion. The "annexation" would not be recognised internationally, but could lead to Russia claiming that its territory is under attack from Western weapons supplied to Ukraine, which could escalate the war further.