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India denies talks with UK for Bhandari’s withdrawal from ICJ election

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ICJ Dalveer bhandari

United Nations, Nov 18: India has shot down rumours that it was in talks with the UK for Judge Dalveer Bhandari to withdraw in favour of the British candidate, Christopher Greenwood, in the deadlocked election to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Dismissing the rumours meant to undermine Bhandari’s support in the General Assembly, India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said: “We understand that some impression is being sought to be created that India and the UK are in talks and Judge Bhandari may withdraw, as he may not be allowed to win.

“We are here; we intend to stay the course until the will of the majority prevails,” Akbaruddin declared at a reception for Bhandari attended by representatives of over 160 countries here on Thursday.

A candidate has to win an absolute majority in both the General Assembly and the Security Council, which neitherof the two sitting judges have.

Bhandari has nearly a two-thirds majority with 121 votes in the 193-member Assembly, while Greenwood has a slender majority of nine in the 15-member Council.

As the runoff between Bhandari and Greenwood reached the “tipping point” with another round of election scheduled for November 20, Akbaruddin also strongly opposed using a joint conference made up of three representatives each from the Assembly and the Council to break the deadlock saying that it was against the principles of democracy.

The ICJ statues provide for the joint conference to pick a candidate if the stalemate continues after the third election meeting of the Council and the Assembly.

Calling the joint conference a “can of worms”, Akbaruddin said the UN cannot go back to a “toolkit” of the past that has never been used in its history.

As the lobbying has intensified, the campaign has taken an ugly turn with Greenwood’s supporters trying to break Bhandari’s growing support in the Assembly by carrying out a stealth campaign to make it appear that India was giving up, according to diplomats.

Rumours were floated that Bhandari may withdraw or that India would agree to a joint conference, making the Assembly voting seem futile, the diplomats said.

So far 11 rounds of balloting have been held over two days in the Assembly and 10 in the Council.

Four others were elected on the first day on November 9, in the first four rounds with majorities in both chambers. After that seven rounds of runoff balloting between Bhandari and Greenwood were held in the Assembly and six in the Council without being able to break the deadlock.

“This election is getting prolonged only because the clear support of 121 is being equated to the support of nine,” Akbaruddin said.

General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak had a round of meetings on Friday afternoon with Security Council President Sebastiano Cardi and officials of the UN legal and General Assembly departments in preparation for the balloting on November 20, his spokesperson Brenden Varma said.

“We also understand that there is talk of a joint conference mechanism to break the deadlock.

“Let me tell you right now upfront that not one person has approached me with this proposal, certainly not the representative of the country whose candidate is being faced,” Akbaruddin said.

Akbaruddin did acknowledge meeting British diplomats. “Yes, we have talked. Sure, we are diplomats, what else do we do? We talked, but never once was such a proposal made.”

“The precedent is clear… As is expected in the 21st century, the candidate who enjoys overwhelming support of the General Assembly membership can be the only legitimate candidate to go through.”

He cited the outcome of the ICJ elections in 2011 and 2014 when the candidate who won the Assembly majority prevailed.

Susana Ruiz Cerutti of Argentina won in the Council and Patrick Lipton Robinson of Jamaica in the Assembly in the 2014 ICJ election. After 12 rounds of voting, Cerutti withdrew.

In 2011, Julia Sebutinde of Uganda had a majority in the Assembly and Abdul Koroma of Sierra Leone in the Council. When the deadlock continued after the 10th round of balloting in the Council and 11th in the Assembly, the African Union prevailed on Sierra Leone to back off.

It has to be decided on the floor of the house… We are democratic country we will abide by democratic verdict. We urge all others do too,” Akbaruddin added.

IANS

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Azerbaijan says 2,783 soldiers killed in Nagorno-Karabakh fighting

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Nagorno Karabakh

Azerbaijan said Thursday that nearly 2,800 of its soldiers were killed in recent fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, the first details it has released of military losses in weeks of clashes with Armenian forces.

The defence ministry in Baku said in a statement that “2,783 servicemen of the Azerbaijani armed forces were killed in the patriotic war,” adding that 100 more soldiers were missing.

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Criminal networks could try to sell fake COVID vaccines physically and on internet, warns Interpol

The Interpol has asked police organisations to ensure “the safety of the supply chain” and said “identifying illicit websites selling fake products will be essential”.

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New Delhi, December 3: The Interpol has warned law enforcement agencies across the globe that organised criminal networks could try to advertise and sell fake COVID-19 vaccines physically and on the internet.

In an Orange notice issued to all 194 member countries on Wednesday, the Lyon-based international police cooperation body warned agencies to prepare for potential criminal activity in relation to “the falsification, theft and illegal advertising of COVID-19 and flu vaccines”.

“It also includes examples of crimes where individuals have been advertising, selling and administering fake vaccines,” a statement from the Interpol said.

The Interpol issues an Orange notice to warn of an event, a person, an object or a process representing a serious and imminent threat to public safety.

The CBI, which is the national central bureau for India, is tasked with coordination with the Interpol.

The warning came on the day the UK became the first Western nation to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, vaulting past the US and the European Union in the race to approve a vaccine.

The Interpol has asked police organisations to ensure “the safety of the supply chain” and said “identifying illicit websites selling fake products will be essential”.

“Criminal networks will also be targeting unsuspecting members of the public via fake websites and false cures, which could pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives,” Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock said in a statement.

“It is essential that law enforcement is as prepared as possible for what will be an onslaught of all types of criminal activity linked to the COVID-19 vaccine, which is why INTERPOL has issued this global warning,” the official said.

The Interpol cybercrime unit has analysed that of 3,000 websites associated with online pharmacies suspected of selling illicit medicines and medical devices, around 1,700 contained cyber threats, especially phishing and spamming malware making such operators even more potent of causing financial and health harms.

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Pakistan’s Covid-19 cases surpass 406k mark

Frontline healthcare workers and people over 65 years of age will be the first to get the vaccine administered, he added.

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Islamabad, Dec 3 : Pakistan’s overall coronavirus caseload has increased to 406,810 after an additional 3,499 people tested positive in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

In the same period, a total of 8,205 people died and 346,951 recovered from the disease in the country which is currently battling a serious second wave, Xinhua news agency quoted the Ministry as saying.

The two new figures increased the overall death toll and recoveries to 8,205 and 346,951, respectively.

Sindh province is currently the worst hit with 177,625 cases, followed by most populous province Punjab with 121,083 positive cases, the official figures revealed.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Health Faisal Sultan said that the government has approved to allocate a budget of $150 million to purchase vaccines.

Frontline healthcare workers and people over 65 years of age will be the first to get the vaccine administered, he added.

Meanwhile, Federal Parliamentary Secretary in the Health Ministry Nausheen Hamid said that the government will provide free of cost vaccine to its citizens and the vaccination will start in the second quarter of 2021.

The Pakistani government has also decided to observe “Covid-19 standard operating procedures compliance week” from Saturday for creating awareness in public about the significance of the SOPs in guarding against the disease.

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