UN’s highest court orders US to lift certain Iran sanctions

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The United Nations’ highest court on Wednesday ordered the United States to lift sanctions on Iran that affect imports of humanitarian goods and products and services linked to the safety of civil aviation.

The ruling by the International Court of Justice is legally binding, but it remains to be seen if the administration of President Donald Trump will comply.

Trump moved to restore tough U.S. sanctions in May after withdrawing from Tehran’s nuclear accord with world powers. Iran challenged the sanctions in a case filed in July at the International Court of Justice.

In a preliminary ruling, the court said that Washington must “remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments arising from” the re-imposition of sanctions to the export to Iran of medicine and medical devices, food and agricultural commodities and spare parts and equipment necessary to ensure the safety of civil aviation.While imposing the so-called “provisional measures,” the court’s president, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, stressed that the case will continue and the United States could still challenge the court’s jurisdiction.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif praised the court ruling on Twitter, calling it “another failure for sanctions-addicted” U.S. and a “victory for rule of law.” He added that it is imperative for the international community “to collectively counter malign US unilateralism.”

Iranian state television trumpeted the court’s decision in a scrolling graphic at the bottom of TV screens: “The victory of Tehran over Washington by the Hague Court.”

U.S. diplomats in The Hague had no immediate reaction.

The U.S. is expected to challenge the court’s jurisdiction in a future hearing. No date has been set for further hearings in the case.

At hearings in August, Tehran sought the suspension of the sanctions while the case challenging their legality is being heard — a process that can take years. U.S. lawyers responded that the sanctions are a legal and justified national security measure that cannot be challenged by Tehran at the world court.

In its decision, the court said that the U.S. sanctions “have the potential to endanger civil aviation safety” in Iran and that sanctions limiting sales of goods required for humanitarian needs such as food, medicines and medical devices “may have a serious detrimental impact on the health and lives of individuals on the territory of Iran.”

The court said that the Trump administration must “ensure that licenses and necessary authorizations are granted” and payments not restricted if they are linked to the humanitarian and aviation goods.

The court also told both the United States and Iran to “refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute.”

U.S. lawyers had told the court that the administration would “use its best endeavors” to look at concerns about humanitarian and aviation related issues caused by the sanctions.

But in its written ruling the court said that the American assurances “are not adequate to address fully the humanitarian and safety concerns” raised by Iran.

Iran alleges that the sanctions breach a 1955 bilateral agreement known as the Treaty of Amity that regulates and promotes economic and consular ties between the two countries.

The treaty was signed when the U.S. and Iran were still allies following the 1953 revolution — fomented by Britain and the U.S. — that ultimately cemented the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Diplomatic relations were severed following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and takeover of the U.S. Embassy and ensuing hostage crisis. However, the treaty remains in force.

Wednesday’s ruling could set up another clash between the Trump administration and a Hague-based court. Last month, Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, denounced the International Criminal Court — a separate and unrelated institution based just a few kilometers (miles) away from the International Court of Justice.

The ICC prosecutes people accused of war atrocities while the ICJ settles disputes between nations.

Bolton said last month that “for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”

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Associated Press writer Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed.

An Indictment of the Failed Neo-liberal Paradigm

Failed Neo-liberal paradigm Poverty and inequality continue as persistent, unjust, socio-economic issues of our time

  • No definition of poverty can ever hope to truly fathom with accuracy what it really means to be poor
  • Globalisation is the intensification of worldwide links and affects distant, far away, localities
  • Globalisation has no space for people-centred ideologies

In his 2013 Apostolic Exhortation, EVANGELII GAUDIUM, Pope Francis, firmly and eloquently drew the attention of all global leaders, big and small, to fight poverty

and growing inequality with the sharpest words and phrases ever, on the dominant economic system, which he pointed out derives from “the tyranny of unfettered capitalism and the ideology of money.”

The world is at present mid-way into the second decade of the 21st Century, yet, still lacking the political will and moral courage and resolve, to delve deep into the policies, and structures that perpetuates poverty and inequality; And to conscientiously adopt whatever socio-economic adjustments and policy changes that are imperative, in order to end the scourge affecting the lives of billions of human beings on the face of this earth.

The fact is that no definition of poverty can ever hope to truly fathom with accuracy what it really means to be poor – the misery, the degradation, the squalor, the helplessness, the desperation, the powerlessness, and the callous oppression in many forms experienced. Perhaps, the only way of truly grasping what it actually means to people who are condemned to suffer it, is, to examine with empathy and sensitivity the lives of the poor around us.

Thus, Pope Francis made a point in this context by alluding to the irony of the difference in the manner in which we react to a news item of an elderly homeless man who dies of exposure to the harsh elements, and, the news item of the stock market losing two-points !!

Nearly two decades ago, Anthony Giddens in his celebrated book entitled The Consequences of Modernity, (Cambridge; Polity Press, 1990), described globalization, the twin partner of unfettered Capitalism, as the primary cause of all the socio-economic and political issues that are bedevilling mankind at present.

He defined globalisation, “as the intensification of worldwide social relations which linked distant, far away, localities in such a way, that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice-versa”.

Pope Francis, made a point in this context by alluding to the irony of the difference in the manner in which we react to a news item of an elderly homeless man who dies of exposure to the harsh elements, and, the news item of the stock market losing two-points

As many enlightened people know and remember Globalised Capitalism is quite a different kettle of fish to the wave of internationalism that blew across the globe for many years.

When globalization arrived, it brought with it a trail of different multidimensional agendas, one of which was the integration of real national economies with world capitalism, leading to the latter’s geographical reach spreading within a short period of time.

It not merely confined itself to gripping the local economic sphere, but, more pertinently, impinged on a wide range of existing local socio-economic and political institutions and their policies, no less, on the culture and style of living traditions and values.

These influences gradually became hegemonic, with the ability and strength to force changes in the power structures and balances of societies in decision-making mechanisms and governance.

Following these changes, radical changes came about in the political philosophy, ideological constructs, institutions and processes in society, social organizations, and, far more damagingly, in the way people relate to each other in public, in private and in their personal life, which resulted in the fractured societies and the now chaotic world we live in today.

The print and electronic media present daily, heart-rending scenes of restless youth, frustrated students, underpaid workers, forced workers, abducted workers, wounded young and old women, child-labour and child-soldiers, and alarmingly, oppressed and silenced intellectuals, academics, and civil society activists, mainly Journalists.

Any innovative alternatives to capitalist development can be evolved ONLY when the background and magnitude of the present crises are understood and realised.
Globalisation has no space for people-centred ideologies and socio-economic policies which are challenged, distributed, and emptied of their real relevance. The market and capital must dominate the world of intellectual discourse, not the compelling issues of the vast majority of the global population, even if billions have to go to bed hungry.

“The worship of the ancient biblical Golden Calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and dictatorship of an impersonal economy, lacking a truly human purpose”, wrote Pope Francis; “The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their real concern for Human Beings.”

Poverty alleviation projects with a plethora of high-sounding names have been formulated at huge costs for implementation in response to the widespread evidence of prevailing poverty in practically every country sitting in the United Nations. These are supremely mere palliatives, and considering the magnitude of the global problem they are by no means a substitute for a genuine, determined, and committed fight against poverty and inequality.

The world today, for those who have eyes to see, and ears to hear and for intelligent and objective observers, has sunk into decadence, economically, socially, culturally, morally, ethically, and seems to be immersed in a quagmire of unprecedented superficiality.

There are wars among nations, ethnic and religious groups, social upheavals between haves and have-nots, heinous forms of crimes, domestic violence, political violence, break down of law and order, revolution and counter-revolution; corruption by the mightiest, politicians, bankers, and businessmen, blatant violations of time-honoured principles and codes of conduct and decency; blatant violations of constitutions, democracy, the judiciary and the executive organs of administration. Even religious institutions are not exempt.

All of these have emerged, slowly but surely, as the inevitable consequences of a model of development that harshly treads on all alternative models of development, and imposed itself through-out the world. This model has been intrinsically exploitive of nations and people with little power between nations and of course within nations, and ruthlessly, the environment of our planet as well. That is precisely why Pope Francis was constrained to remark that, “unfettered capitalism is an amoral pursuit where the guiding stars, were not ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but only, ‘profit’ and ‘loss’, which will be harder to sustain, sooner than later.”

The world remains in this chaotic state because, we, the people, are now experiencing an “existential vacuum”. We are confused, distracted, uninterested, selfish, self-centred and self-absorbed. It is imperative that all peoples wake-up to this reality before there is some form of universal calamity. Governments, civil society, and religious organizations should actively engage themselves in developing and promoting a more just and sustainable model and style of living, not by rhetoric but by example. It is the bounden duty and responsibility of intellectuals, professionals, businessmen, academics, politicians in particular, and religious leaders to wake-up and comes to the aid of the world and its people that are in a state of anguish.

(This is an updated version of an article which first appeared in the book Prophetic Indictments – The Failed Neoliberal Paradigms of Economics, Politics, Governance, Society and Science in Sri Lanka and Globally: The collected works of Dr Mervyn D. de Silva, published by Tulane Jubilee Publications, Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, 2018. Available now at the VijithaYapa, Godage and Barefoot Bookshops)

Neoliberal propaganda keeping voters ‘asleep’ like Orwellian sheep–Roger Waters

Roger Waters: Neoliberal propaganda keeping voters ‘asleep’ like Orwellian sheep

Roger Waters: Neoliberal propaganda keeping voters ‘asleep’ like Orwellian sheep

Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters has taken aim at decades of neoliberalism in the West. Speaking to RT’s SophieCo, he said government propaganda in the media has left viewers “asleep” and uncomfortable “to see anything real.”

Speaking to Sophie Shevardnadze, Pink Floyd’s former frontman said that those who say he should “stick to music” were “sleepwalking” when it came to conflicts like the Syrian civil war and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

“Because they’re asleep. Because they’re the victims of the neoliberalism that Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher brought to the world,” Waters said.

Neoliberalism’s pervasiveness through Western culture and politics, in Waters’ view, has left many people with the inability to see and accept anything critical of the mainstream narrative.

“Part of the way it works is to anaesthetise people and almost make it uncomfortable for people to see anything real.”

For Waters the root of this antipathy, in the US at least, lies in part from its poorly funded public education system. In Waters’ view the reason for this lies in the political establishment’s desire to keep an ignorant and compliant population.

“They want to keep the electorate ignorant, and mindless, and unthinking, and malleable, and pliable, and very open to the use of consumerism and propaganda to keep them under control, to maintain the Orwellian notion of the sheep and whatever.”

Mainstream media consumption is another factor given by Waters for this outlook. Citing the “scripted, carefully shot” documentary on the White Helmets, and the group’s dubious claims of a Syrian government gas attack in the city of Douma, Waters said the MSM isn’t “interested in telling you anything about anything.”

“You know, it’s so obvious now that CNN and all of them are all the same, from MSNBC to Fox and everything in between,” he said after pointing out the lack of coverage in the West after an Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) report found no evidence of chemical weapons in Douma.

“Their narrative is that there was a chemical attack and the White Helmets are wonderful.”

One US channel to escape Waters’ ire was Discovery, describing it as the “one little piece of TV in the United States where you can occasionally get a glimpse of reality of what it’s like to be human.”

“The rest is just propaganda,” he added.