King Faisal Prize Awards $1 Million, in Recognition of COVID-19 Vaccine Development, Nanotechnology Ingenuity Contributing to 100 Scientific Breakthroughs that Changed the World, and other Key Scientific & Humanitarian Achievements

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 20, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — On 20 March, Harvard University and Oxford University professors Dan Barouch from the US and Sarah Gilbert from the UK received the King Faisal Prize for Medicine in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for their innovative vaccine technologies. They developed Covid–19 vaccines, which saved millions of lives. Furthermore, Northwestern University Professor, Chad Mirkin, and the A*STAR Senior Fellow and Director at NanoBio Lab, Professor Jackie Yi–Ru Ying, were awarded the Science Prize for helping define the modern age of nanotechnology and for their various advancements and applications of nanomaterials.

Professor Dan Barouch; the Director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the William Bosworth Castle Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Professor Sarah Gilbert; the Sad Chair of Vaccinology in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at Oxford University, employed a novel technology in developing Covid–19 viral vectors vaccines: the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the Oxford""AstraZeneca vaccine, respectively.

Novel Vaccine Technology and Quick Response to the Pandemic

Instead of the traditional vaccines' methods which use a weakened or killed form of the original infection and require a long time to develop in the human body, professors Dan Barouch and Sarah Gilbert genetically modified a harmless version of a different virus to carry genetic material to body cells and deliver protection. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was based on engineering a harmless adenovirus (called Ad26) which was a common type of virus that caused mild cold symptoms..

In his acceptance speech during the ceremony, Professor Barouch said, "The Ad26 vaccine for COVID–19 demonstrated robust efficacy in humans, even after a single shot, and showed continued protection against virus variants that emerged. This vaccine has been rolled out across the world by the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson, and over 200 million people have received this vaccine, particularly in the developing world".

Like the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the essence of the Oxford""AstraZeneca vaccine, (called ChAdOx1 nCoV–19), is a genetically modified weakened version of a common virus which caused a cold in chimpanzees and no infection when injected in humans. The modified virus in both vaccines carried the genetic instructions for the coronavirus spike protein. When entering the body cells, the virus used a genetic code or instructions to produce the specific surface spike protein of the coronavirus inducing an immune response and preparing the immune system to attack coronavirus if it infects the body.

Both vaccines were achieved in few months of work; the Johnson & Johnson vaccine required 13 months and the Oxford""AstraZeneca vaccine took 10 months of work. This was due to previous research work and clinical trials to develop vaccine candidates for multiple pathogens of global significance. The development of the Ad26 vaccine platform, which was the base for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, came as a result of Dan Barouch's accumulated work on HIV, Zika virus, and tuberculosis. He is considered a pioneer in the creation of a series of vaccine platform technologies that can be used when developing vaccines for emerging infectious diseases, such as COVID–19. Moreover, Barouch led the world's first demonstration of Zika vaccine protection in preclinical studies and launched a series of phase 1 Zika vaccine clinical trials.

Likewise, the Oxford""AstraZeneca vaccine's innovative technologies were also applied by Sarah Gilbert to Malaria, Ebola, Influenza, and MERS, with clinical trials of the latter taking place in the UK and in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In fact, the patented ChAdOx1 technology was developed by Professor Gilbert and other researchers at the University of Oxford in 2012. In 2014, she led the first trial of an Ebola vaccine after a large outbreak of the disease in West Africa.

"I am humbled to join the other 2023 laureates today, and to follow–in the footsteps of the men and women whose work has been recognized by the Foundation over more than four decades. This award is in recognition of my work to co–create a vaccine for COVID–19. A low–cost, accessible, efficacious vaccine that has now been used in more than 180 countries and is estimated to have saved more than six million lives by the start of 2022", said Professor Gilbert in her acceptance speech during the awarding ceremony.

Nanotechnology Inventions Topping 100 Scientific Discoveries that Changed the World

In this year's King Faisal Prize for Science about "Chemistry", Professor Chad Mirkin (from the US); the Director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology (IIN) and the Rathmann Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Medicine, Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Chemical and Biological Engineering at Northwestern University, and Professor Jackie Yi–Ru Ying (from the US); the A*STAR Senior Fellow and Director at NanoBio Lab, Agency for Science, Technology, and Research, received the prize.

The work of Professor Chad Mirkin, which has been at the forefront of nano chemistry for over three decades, has helped define the modern age of nanotechnology. He is widely recognized for his invention of spherical nucleic acids (SNAs), which are nanostructures composed of nucleic acids in a spherical configuration which enter human cells and tissues and overcome biological barriers, making it possible to detect or treat a disease on the genetic level. More than 1,800 products for medical diagnostics, therapeutics, and life science research were based on this technology. "One vital component of our work aims to use nanotechnology to restructure DNA and RNA into forms that make them more potent medicines for treating debilitating types of cancer and neurological disease. Through this work, we hope to usher in a new era of powerful and precision genetic medicines where we can attack and treat disease at its genetic routes", said Mirkin in his acceptance speech.

Professor Mirkin has over 1,200 patent applications worldwide. He also founded several companies, including Nanosphere, AuraSense, TERA–print, Azul 3D, MattIQ, and Flashpoint Therapeutics. He pioneered artificial intelligence–based materials discovery inventing a method to create patterns directly on different substances with a variety of inks called "dip–pen nanolithography", which was described by National Geographic as one of the "top 100 scientific discoveries that changed the world". He also developed HARP (high–area rapid printing) technology, a 3D printing process that can manufacture different products like ceramics at record–breaking throughput.

As for Professor Jackie Yi–Ru Ying, her research focused on synthesis of advanced nanomaterials and systems, and their application in biomedicine, energy conversion, and catalysis. Her inventions have been used to solve challenges in different fields of medicine, chemistry, and energy. "I am deeply honored to be receiving the King Faisal Prize in Science, especially as the first female recipient of this award," she said in her acceptance speech.

Her development of stimuli–responsive polymeric nanoparticles led to a technology which can autoregulate the release of insulin, depending on the blood glucose levels in diabetic patients without the need for external blood glucose monitoring. Dr. Ying's laboratory has pioneered the synthesis of mesoporous and microporous transition metal oxides; a class of nanomaterials used in energy storage and conversion, by supramolecular templating (organizing or assembling entities).

Dr. Ying has more than 180 primary patents and patent applications; 32 of which have been licensed to multinational and start–up companies for a range of applications in nanomedicine, drug delivery, cell and tissue engineering, medical implants, biosensors, medical devices, and others. Her work is at the intersection of nanotechnology and technical medicine and has culminated in the establishment of six successful start–ups and spinoff companies.

Four Exceptional Thinkers and Leaders Recognized in Arabic Language & Literature, Islamic Studies, and Service to Islam

Along with Medicine and Science, the King Faisal Prize recognized outstanding thinkers and scholars in Arabic Language & Literature and Islamic Studies this year and honored exemplary leaders who have contributed to serve Islam, Muslims, and humanity.

Professor Abdelfattah Kilito, from Morocco, received the "Arabic Language & Literature" prize focusing on "Classical Arabic Narrative and Modern Theories". He has been a visiting professor and lecturer at the New Sorbonne, Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Chicago, the University of Oxford, and the College de France. Professor Robert Hillenbrand, from the UK, Honorary Professorial Fellow in the department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES) at the University of Edinburgh, was awarded the "Islamic Studies" prize in "Islamic Architecture". His work was distinguished by its geographic and temporal expansiveness, which covered North Africa, Egypt, Palestine, and Central Asia, and spanned from the early Islamic period till the 19th Century. As for the "Service to Islam" Prize, Professor Choi Young Kil–Hamed (from South Korea) and His Excellency Shaikh Nasser bin Abdullah Al Zaabi (from the UAE) were this year's laureates.

Since 1979, King Faisal Prize in its 5 different categories has awarded 290 laureates who have made distinguished contributions to different sciences and causes. Each prize laureate is endowed with USD 200 thousand; a 24–carat gold medal weighing 200 grams, and a Certificate inscribed with the Laureate's name and a summary of their work which qualified them for the prize.


GLOBENEWSWIRE (Distribution ID 8791879)

Bow Valley College introduces an English proficiency exemption

Calgary, March 20, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Bow Valley College is announcing an exciting change to its admissions process for many international students and newcomers to Canada. Applicants from almost 50 countries around the world are now exempt from taking an English language proficiency test.

"Bow Valley College prides itself on removing barriers to learning. This landmark change provides students from countries where English is the primary language of education the opportunity to realize their academic dreams with a more seamless entry," says Kara Mott, Dean, Enrolment Management and Registrar, Bow Valley College.

To qualify, applicants must provide transcripts that show completion of required secondary (high school) or post–secondary education. The change applies to virtually all Bow Valley College programs.

"As a former international student, I know firsthand what preparing for an English language proficiency test is like. An exemption for some of our prospective students means one less step, saving them time and money. It will be a game changer," says Trisha Choudhury, Manager, International Student Recruitment, Bow Valley College.

Please visit our website for a list of countries now exempt from the English language proficiency test and details about the requirements.

About Bow Valley College
Calgary and region's only Comprehensive Community College "" with 14,000 full– and part–time students, Bow Valley College helps Open Doors "" Open Minds to in–demand jobs in Calgary, Alberta, and Canada. Our graduates contribute to the digital economy, careers in business, TV & film production, and serve on the frontlines of healthcare and social services. Bow Valley College invests in three applied research pillars: educational technology, social innovation, and health.


GLOBENEWSWIRE (Distribution ID 8791681)

Keep Moving …

By Yasmine Sherif
NEW YORK, Mar 20 2023 (IPS-Partners)

Only forty-five days into our new Strategic Plan 2023-2026, Education Cannot Wait secured 55 percent of its total requirement for the coming four years, reaching $826 million at #HLFC2023. This is a significant milestone for education in emergencies and protracted crises, and ECW will continue to pursue fund-raising year-round in the coming four years. The goal is to reach the target of 20 million children and adolescents affected by armed conflicts, climate-induced disasters and forced displacement.

At the Education Cannot Wait High-Level Financing Conference, hosted by Switzerland and co-convened by Colombia, Germany, Niger, Norway and South Sudan, the education community from around the world came together and, inspired by the UN Secretary-General’s Transforming Education Summit 2022, provided tangible action towards results.

By embracing UN Reform and the New Way of Working, by breaking down silos and by supporting humanitarian-development coherence amidst crises, ECW’s stakeholders recognize and embrace ECW’s added value: the UN’s global fund designed specifically to move with efficiency and effectiveness to collectively deliver quality education in emergencies and protracted crises.

New donors, including Qatar, Italy, the Global Business Coalition for Education and Zürcher Kantonalbank, joined ECW with significant and important new commitments, bringing the total to 24 donors, including governments, foundations and private sector.

ECW’s partners across government, UN agencies, civil society, the private sector and more continue to go above and beyond the call of duty in supporting our global advocacy movement. At the HLFC, we saw these partners unite in key sessions on Spotlight on Afghanistan, A Transformative Agenda, A Proven Model Across the Nexus, Leading During Crisis, Climate Change, Armed Conflict, Better Financing, Support for Teachers, Advancing Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Girls, Championing Early Learning, Addressing Holistic Needs Through Education and more.

This is just the beginning. We need to stay ambitious and hungry, results-driven and passionate about the cause, because the grand total of children and adolescents in urgent need of a continued and inclusive quality education in crises amounts to 222 million. There is indeed scope for more donors, bigger contributions, and even deeper commitment to building a better world.

We cannot forget the girls of Afghanistan and the hundreds of millions of children and adolescents across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America whose education is disrupted and denied due to conflicts and forced displacement. We cannot ignore the world’s forgotten crises as we build back together and work to create a more just, more equal world, as The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of the ECW High-Level Steering Group so passionately highlighted in his Opening Session remarks.

One of my favourite quotes is that of Martin Luther King, Jr., who said: “If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, crawl, but by all means keep moving!”

Education Cannot Wait is a global movement. We move for the 222 million children and adolescents left furthest behind, holding on to their dreams. For this very reason, and together, we must be unstoppable!

Yasmine Sherif is Director of Education Cannot Wait.

IPS UN Bureau


!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+’://’;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, ‘script’, ‘twitter-wjs’);  

Protecting and Managing the High Seas

By Daud Khan and Stephen Akester
ROME / LONDON, Mar 20 2023 – On March 4 2023, the 193 members of the United Nations reached a major milestone. They agreed on a treaty to manage and protect the high seas– the marine areas that lie outside the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of coastal states. The high seas are an essential part of the global ecosystem. They cover 50 percent of the Earth’s surface, produce half the oxygen we breathe, provide a home to 95 percent of the planet’s biosphere, are a critical sink for carbon dioxide, and help regulate the Earth’s temperature.

Daud Khan

The new treaty provides a legal framework for establishing vast marine protected areas (MPAs) in the high seas and for a body to manage these protected areas – the target is to protect 30 percent of the seas by 2030. It will also set up systems to ensure the benefits of the genetic resources derived from the sea are “shared in a fair and equitable manner”; and will establish a Conference of the Parties that will meet periodically and members will be held to account on issues such as governance and biodiversity.

The agreement of the new treaty, the result of decades of work and lobbying, is something to celebrate. However, a review of other international laws and treaties suggests that enthusiasm needs to be tempered with realism. Commonly, developed countries, due to their superior technology and financial heft, are the biggest economic beneficiaries of open access resources such the high seas, the atmosphere and outer space. They are also the worst culprits in terms of damage caused due to pollution and overuse. Getting these benefiting countries to change behavior has proved difficult.

The case of the 1982 Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) is illustrative. . Some of the provisions of Part VII of UNCLOS, which deals with the high seas, work well. For example those related to piracy – maybe because keeping shipping lanes safe is of interest to big countries with large fleets. However, the provisions related to fisheries work much less well.

Stephen Akester

Under Article 119 of UNCLOS, parties are required “to maintain or restore populations of harvested species at levels which can produce the maximum sustainable yield”. The responsibility for this lies with states whose flags the fishing fleets fly (Article 117). Notwithstanding these provisions, overfishing has continued unabated with the fleets from a handful of countries being the main culprits. There has been no effective action or sanctions to curb this, and, as a result, the proportion of fishery stocks exploited in excess of sustainable levels has continued to rise and has reached 35 percent in 2019 ( Under UNCLOS there is also a requirement for states to “cooperate to establish subregional or regional fisheries organizations”. But these too have had a patchy record of success as we pointed out in our article about Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (

Similarly the International Seabed Authority was set up to oversee and manage the exploitation of the resources on or under the seabed including oil, gas and minerals. However, there is no requirement to carry out any detailed environmental or ecological assessment; no royalties are to be paid; and no requirement for sharing of benefits with the poorer countries that lack the technologies to mine these resources.

The situation is even worse with regard to the disposal of waste in the high seas where there are virtually no regulations. This has resulted in increasing plastic and chemical pollution, much of which emanates from developed countries. Even spent fuel from nuclear power plants and radioactive water from the Fukushima power plant disaster have been dumped there.

The new treaty for the high seas aims to address many of these issues. However, it is essential that developing countries are fully involved in drafting the detailed implementation and enforcement arrangements; and defining responsibilities, as well as sanctions in the case of violation of rules and procedures. Developing countries should also continue to call into question the fact that new treaty does not cover ongoing exploitation of the high seas.

The high seas are common property of mankind and all countries need to be involved in how they are managed. The European Union has already pledged €40m to facilitate the formal ratification of the treaty and its early implementation. This will certainly give them a big say on the evolution of the detailed institutional and regulatory architecture. In order to counter this, developing countries must at least match this amount, with the larger developing countries taking in lead in provision of funding and technical skills.

Daud Khan works as consultant and advisor for various Governments and international agencies. He has degrees in Economics from the LSE and Oxford – where he was a Rhodes Scholar; and a degree in Environmental Management from the Imperial College of Science and Technology. He lives partly in Italy and partly in Pakistan.

Stephen Akester is an independent fisheries specialist working in Indian Ocean coastal countries for past 40 years.

IPS UN Bureau


!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+’://’;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, ‘script’, ‘twitter-wjs’);  

Championing Sustainability Despite Adversities in Asia & the Pacific

The Asia-Pacific SDG Progress Report will be launched on Wednesday, 22 March 2023, 11:00-12:00 hours (Bangkok time, UTC+7), at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand, and Online via Zoom.

By Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana
BANGKOK, Thailand, Mar 20 2023 – As we reach the midpoint of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is an opportune moment to reflect on the Asia-Pacific region’s progress and accelerate efforts to achieve our goals.

This year’s Asia-Pacific SDG Progress Report published by ESCAP features pace-leaders of the region who have successfully implemented evidence-based policies to accelerate progress. For instance, Pakistan has made great strides in increasing the number of skilled birth attendants. India has taken concrete steps to reduce child marriages.

Timor-Leste has implemented a national remittance mobilization strategy to leverage remittances as an innovative financial diversification tool, and Cambodia is implementing an evidence-informed clean air plan.

These national achievements across the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are grounded in evidence-based approaches and provide hope and valuable lessons for other countries in the region to follow. By learning from one another’s successes and building on them, the region can collectively accelerate its progress towards achieving the SDGs.

However, the report presents a sobering reminder of how much work remains. While a few nations have made remarkable strides in achieving some of the targets, none of the countries in Asia and the Pacific are on course.

The region has achieved less than 15 per cent of the necessary progress, which puts us several decades away from accomplishing our SDG ambitions. In the absence of increased efforts, the region will miss 90 per cent of the 118 measurable SDG targets.

It is unsettling to observe that progress towards climate action (Goal 13) is slipping away. The region is both a victim of the effects of climate change and a perpetrator of climate change.

Countries are not on track to achieve greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, and more countries must report emission levels for all sectors to properly monitor their contribution towards global climate agendas.

Goals 5 (Gender equality) and 16 (Peace, justice, and strong institutions) also require urgent attention from all countries to fill the persistent data gaps. Unfortunately, the report shows that since 2017 there has been almost no progress in the region in the availability of data for these two goals with the most significant data gaps.

Investment in data systems is crucial to closing this gap, but more is needed. A data-driven approach to implementing the SDGs is critical to measure progress accurately. To progress towards SDG 5, collecting gender-disaggregated data and investing in education, promoting participation in decision-making, and ensuring access to essential services is crucial.

To achieve SDG 16, countries need to strengthen the rule of law, promote human rights and good governance, and foster civic participation.

As we face a multitude of challenges, including climate change, human-made disasters, military conflicts, and economic difficulties, progress towards the SDGs becomes increasingly critical. Governments must act quickly, invest wisely, enhance partnerships and prioritize populations in the most vulnerable situation.

We must renew our commitment to producing high-quality data and use every means available to ensure sustainability across social, economic, and environmental dimensions. National plans must align with the 2030 Agenda to guide development at the national level.

Despite significant challenges, we must not give up the ambition to achieve the SDGs. There are many inspiring examples of national achievements in carrying out data-informed actions in the region.

These successes give hope for Asia and the Pacific, and there is a need to leverage them more effectively for change. Our collective commitment to the SDGs will serve as a compass towards achieving a sustainable, prosperous and inclusive future for all.

Produced by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Asia-Pacific SDG Progress Report 2023 will shine a spotlight on countries that have demonstrated commitment and progress towards the 17 global goals. Their strong performance deserves recognition, and their experiences provide important lessons and illuminate pathways for progress in the years ahead.

Unfortunately, this year’s report also reveals that the Asia-Pacific region has achieved less than 15 per cent of the necessary progress, which could result in substantial delays in accomplishing our 2030 ambitions. While the full impact of COVID-19 has yet to be quantified, data on a limited number of indicators are beginning to reveal impacts on people, planet and prosperity.

IPS UN Bureau


!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+’://’;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, ‘script’, ‘twitter-wjs’);  


The writer is Under-Secretary-General of the UN and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

War Criminals & Military Aggressors Who Occupy Seats in the Security Council

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Mar 20 2023 – Come April 1, a post-Ukraine Russia, will preside over the UN Security Council in a month-long presidency on the basis of alphabetical rotation.

But Russia will not be the first or the only country – accused of war crimes or charged with violating the UN charter—to be either a member or preside over the most powerful political body in the United Nations.

Stephen Zunes, a professor of politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco who has written extensively on the politics of the Security Council, told IPS the United States has served as president of the Security Council while committing war crimes in Vietnam and Iraq.

France and the United Kingdom, he pointed out, served while committing war crimes in their colonial wars. China has recently served despite ongoing war crimes in Xinjiang.

“So having Russia take its turn as Security Council president would hardly be unprecedented.”

“It is certainly true that Russia would be the first to illegally annex territory seized by military force. However, given how the United States has formally recognized illegal annexations by Israel and Morocco of territories seized by military force, it’s not like Russia is the only permanent member to think that is somehow okay,” declared Zunes.

The ICC has also previously accused several political leaders, including Omar Hassan al-Bahir of Sudan, Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia and Libya’s Muammar el-Qaddafi of war crimes or genocide.

Karim Asad Ahmad Khan was elected on 12 February 2021 as the new chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

Asked at a press conference last week about the anomaly of a member state that commits war crimes presiding over the UN Security Council, UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters: “You’re well aware of the rules of the Security Council, including the alphabetical rotation of the Member States of the Security Council for the Presidency of the Council, which is a policy that is held throughout the lifespan of the Security Council,”.

“And we have nothing further to say than that,” he added, just ahead of the ICC announcement.

But in a stunning new development, the ICC last week accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of war crimes and issued a warrant for his arrest, along with a similar arrest warrant for Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova.

The announcement on March 17 specifically charged them for the illegal transfer of children out of war-devastated Ukraine, which was invaded by Russia last year, in violation of the UN charter.

Russia, which is not a signatory for the Rome Statute which created the ICC, dismissed the warrants.

In a statement released last week, ICC’s Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan, said “on the basis of evidence collected and analysed by my Office pursuant to its independent investigations, the Pre-Trial Chamber has confirmed that there are reasonable grounds to believe that President Putin and Ms Lvova-Belova bear criminal responsibility for the unlawful deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, contrary to article 8(2)(a)(vii) and article 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute.”

Incidents identified by the ICC office include the deportation of at least hundreds of children taken from orphanages and children’s care homes. “Many of these children, we allege, have since been given for adoption in the Russian Federation. The law was changed in the Russian Federation, through Presidential decrees issued by President Putin, to expedite the conferral of Russian citizenship, making it easier for them to be adopted by Russian families”.

Thomas G. Weiss, Distinguished Fellow, Global Governance, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, told IPS the statement by the UN spokesperson is completely accurate.

“There is no precedent for preventing a rotating chair in the Security Council (SC)—yet another and only the most recent indication of the aberrant way that it was constructed.”

That said, the Russian ambassador will perhaps be squirming in his SC chair after the ICC’s embarrassing arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin, he noted.

“While it is extremely unlikely that he will be in The Hague anytime soon, the international pressure will only increase—we should recall the itinerary of Slobodan Milošević”.

Moscow is extremely unhappy with this development, Weiss said, as they were when the General Assembly unceremoniously ejected them from the Human Rights Council last year.

Bouncing Russia off (or Libya in 2011) was an important precedent to build upon for other UN bodies (other than the SC). Moscow detests being isolated, and fought against the decision for that reason, he added.

The biggest “what if?” takes us back to December 1991 when the USSR imploded. That was the moment to have called into question Russia’s automatically assuming the seat of the Soviet Union.

“We have thirty years of state practice, and so, we cannot call that into question (although Ukrainian President Zelensky has); we can only wish that we had raised that question then, instead of heaving a huge sigh of relief that the transition was so smooth,” declared Weiss, who is also Presidential Professor of Political Science, and Director Emeritus, Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, the CUNY Graduate Center.

James Paul, a former Executive Director, Global Policy Forum, told IPS the Russian military campaign in Ukraine has raised many questions about international peace and security. Inevitably the debate has produced heated arguments at the United Nations.

Many Western governments (and liberal “idealists” among their citizenry), he said, would like to punish Russia in various ways through sanctions and isolation, in hopes that this will cause Russia to withdraw its military forces and give up its strategic goals in Ukraine.

“Some have proposed that Russia should not be able to take its monthly rotating seat as President of the UN Security Council in the month of April.”

This is a position that shows weak familiarity with international affairs and the workings of the world’s most powerful state actors, including ignorance of the military history of the Western powers, now so exercised about Russian transgressions, said Paul, author of “Of Foxes and Chickens”—Oligarchy and Global Power in the UN Security Council

If the Security Council, he argued, had even-handedly denied its rotating presidency to members that break international law, invade other countries, forcibly change the boundaries of sovereign states or engineer the overthrow of elected governments, then all permanent members of the Council (not least the Western powers) would lose their presidencies.

Asked for the UN Secretary-General’s reaction to the ICC arrest warrants, UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters March 17: “As we’ve said many times before here, the International Criminal Court is independent of the Secretariat. We do not comment on their actions.”

Asked whether Putin will be permitted to enter the UN premises either in Geneva, Vienna or New York, or meet with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, he said: “I don’t want to answer hypothetical questions because … as you know, issues of travel involve others. We will continue… As a general rule, the Secretary-General will speak to whomever he needs to speak in order to deal with the issues in front of him”.

Balkees Jarrah, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch, said the ICC announcement was a big day for the many victims of crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine since 2014.

“With these arrest warrants, the ICC has made Putin a wanted man and taken its first step to end the impunity that has emboldened perpetrators in Russia’s war against Ukraine for far too long”.

The warrants, Jarrah pointed out, send a clear message that giving orders to commit or tolerating serious crimes against civilians may lead to a prison cell in The Hague.

“The court’s warrants are a wakeup call to others committing abuses or covering them up that their day in court may be coming, regardless of their rank or position.”

Elaborating further, Paul said in a world of violent and powerful states, the UN is useful because it can bring warring parties together and promote diplomacy and conflict resolution.

“Those calling for punishment for Russia should realize that the United States would (if even-handed rules were enforced) be subject to regular penalties, since it has violated other states’ sovereignty with military forces on many occasions to pursue its own interests,” he noted.

The Iraq War, he said, typifies the US disregard for UN rules and Security Council decisions. US wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan are further high-profile wars of this type. There are dozens of cases.

“Britain and France, too, have used their powerful militaries in contravention of international law, to carry out bloody wars against decolonization as well as later post-colonial interventions to insure access to mines, oil resources, etc.”

The Suez War, launched against Egypt jointly with Israel, was a classic of this genre. Russia and China have had their share of military operations and interventions as well, including Russia’s intervention in Afghanistan and its many wars in the Caucasus.

China, famous for promoting territorial integrity as a principle, annexed Tibet and fought several wars with its neighbor Vietnam, he said.

“So, the Permanent Members of the Security Council have a very poor record when it comes to setting the standard for international law. Even smaller states (with bigger protectors) have been in the invasion business. Israel, Turkey and Morocco come quickly to mind”, declared Paul.

Asked whether the President of the General Assembly Csaba Kőrösi would be willing to meet with President Putin, his Spokesperson Pauline Kubiak told reporters that “President Kőrösi represents all Member States of the General Assembly, which includes Russia. He has been willing and remains willing to meet with President Putin”.

IPS UN Bureau Report


!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+’://’;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, ‘script’, ‘twitter-wjs’);