Nigerian Election, Palestine Joins ICC, Sanctions on Venezuela

Originally published at the Fordham Observer‘s “Going Global” column.

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Nigerian Presidential Election

Muhammadu Buhari has become the first opposition candidate to win a presidential election in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, unseating President Goodluck Jonathan by 2.7 million votes. One of Nigeria’s military rulers, Buhari, 72, first came to power in a military coup in 1984. Many voters were drawn to his hard-handedness in a country marked by corruption and an Islamist insurgency by Boko Haram, both targets of much of Buhari’s aggressive rhetoric. “If he acts on his military approach to end the insurgency, Nigeria will plunge into violence and political instability. There is no military solution to Boko Haram. Buhari must address the socio-economic causes of the insurgency to advance democratic values and foster economic development,” Amir H. Idris, professor and chair of African and African American Studies, said.

Palestine Becomes Member of ICC

As of April 1, Palestine has become an official member of the International Criminal Court (ICC). In January, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas acceded to the 1998 Rome Statute, which created the court, after the United States and Israel blocked a U.N. Security Council measure calling for an end to the Israeli occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state. Palestine has given the ICC jurisdiction over incidents beginning in June 2014, a month before Israel launched its 51-day assault on the Gaza Strip killing more than 2,200 Palestinians, including nearly 1,500 civilians, opening the door to prosecute Israeli war crimes. Fatou Bensouda, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, opened a preliminary examination in January. The Israeli military is conducting several already in an attempt to stymie external efforts to hold the military accountable for war crimes. “[Palestinian ICC membership] could mean prosecution not only of Israelis, but also Palestinians – including groups like Hamas. As the ICC’s preliminary examinations typically last months or years, it may be a whole year before we see how the ICC will proceed,” Karen Corrie, adjunct professor of political science and former trial lawyer for the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC, said.

Obama Imposes Sanctions on Venezuelan Leaders

In March, the White House imposed sanctions on seven Venezuelan senior officials, citing human rights violations and corruption. As a legal requirement to justify the sanctions, President Obama declared Venezuela “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security,” but has since rescinded this classification. 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries issued support for President Nicolás Maduro and rejected the US sanctions, claiming they are a threat to Venezuelan sovereignty and aren’t actually about human rights given U.S. support of repressive regimes across the world and its long-time attempt to overthrow the democratically elected government in Venezuela. “Regardless of what one can think of the wisdom of Maduro’s policies, it is hard to see how Venezuela — a country in the middle of a deep economic crisis, high inflation and high crime rates — can represent such a threat to the most powerful country in the world,” Hector Lindo-Fuentes, professor and associate chair of history, said.

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