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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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The Islamic Caliphate and Australia

In June 2014, the Islamic State (IS) declared an Islamic Caliphate spanning the area from Syria’s Aleppo governorate in the west, to Iraq’s province of Diyala in the east. The area under IS control now covers up to one third of Iraq, including the city of Mosul, which previously had a strong Christian community, but who have now mostly been forced to flee.  Read more...

Israel-Palestine: Why the peace talks failed

As the dust settles after the collapse of the latest round of peace talks between Israel and Palestine, the way forward is unclear. Both sides lay the blame on each other for the failure, and an anonymous US official has been quoted as saying the willingness of US Secretary of State John Kerry—who brokered the talks—to continue his efforts ‘depends on the sides' willingness to show seriousness’.   Read more...

Syria: losing ground in the fight to eradicate polio

Polio resurfaced in Syria late last year, and has now been found in Iraq as well, leading to concerns that this could reverse gains in international efforts to eradicate the virus. A side effect of the conflict in Syria, now running for over three years, is that for many children vaccinations have lapsed.  According to the BBC‘Vaccination rates in Syria fell from 91 per cent of children before the war to an estimated 68 per cent in 2012. But those are national figures. In rebel-held territory, where all the polio cases so far have occurred, immunisation levels are much lower’. In some cases, the Syrian Government has been accused of deliberately excluding rebel-held areas ... Read more...

Impact of drought in the Middle East

According to a Reuters report from 7 March, United Nations (UN) agencies and water and agricultural authorities are preparing to declare a drought in the Middle East. Aside from the immediate impact of drought on crops, water scarcity is already a problem in parts of the Middle East, and some of the most affected countries are already struggling to absorb hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. Read more...

Al-Shabaab: links to background and analysis

 It has been widely reported that the Somali militant group al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack on a Nairobi shopping mall on 21 September 2013 which cost at least 62 lives. This FlagPost provides information on the listing of al-Shabaab as a terrorist organisation in Australia and other countries, and links to publicly available information on the organisation.Terrorist listingsAl-Shabaab has been listed as a terrorist organisation by the Australian Government since 22 August 2009, with the listing last renewed on 18 August 2012. The statement of reasons outlines details about al-Shabaab, including its objectives and activities, the basis for listing it as a terrorist organ... Read more...

World Refugee Day

On Thursday 20 June people around the world will celebrate World Refugee Day, which was first marked in 2001 following the adoption of a UN General Assembly resolution in December 2000. World Refugee Day is an opportunity to increase awareness about the world’s growing number of refugees, asylum seekers and forcibly displaced people. Events will be held around the world, including in Australia, to celebrate the achievements of refugees and highlight the many challenges they still face. When the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees was first adopted in the 1950s there were an estimated 1.5 million refugees worldwide. By the time World Refugee Day was first celebrate... Read more...

Australia wins seat on United Nations Security Council: what next?

In the early hours of this morning (local time), Australia received 140 votes from United Nations General Assembly members to secure a seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for its 2013–14 term. The result has been welcomed by both the Government and the Opposition. Australia’s Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr, has described the win as a tribute to Australia’s global standing: ‘it’s the world saying, we see Australia as a good country, a fine global citizen’, he said, thanking Pacific, African and Caribbean nations in particular for their support. The 15-member UNSC is the principal organ under the UN Charter responsible for maintaining international peace and security. It is ... Read more...

Australia’s performance against Anti-corruption treaty reviewed

Australia signed the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in December 2003 and ratified it two years later.  A summary of the findings of the first review of Australia’s implementation of the UNCAC was released on 18 June 2012.  The review of chapters III and IV of the UNCAC coincided with the Australian Government’s development of the country’s first National Anti-Corruption Plan.  While the findings were largely positive, the reviewers also identified several challenges and areas of improvement.The UNCAC, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in October 2003 and entered into force in December 2005, is the most comprehensive international treaty on corrupt... Read more...

Trafficking in Persons - Special Rapporteur's Report to the Human Rights Council

On 22 June, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons especially women and children, presented her annual  report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, including reports of her missions to Thailand and Australia.Special Rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (formerly the Commission on Human Rights) to investigate, monitor, and advise on human rights violations – world wide or in specific countries. In carrying out her mandate, the Special Rapporteur undertakes country visits to study the situation on the ground and, develop recommendations to better prevent or combat trafficking and protect the human ri... Read more...

New autonomous sanctions against Iran

On 6 December 2011 the Australian Government announced its intention to impose additional sanctions against Iran, ‘targeting additional entities and individuals for their involvement in Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs’.This follows the introduction on 21 November by the governments of the United States (US), Canada and the United Kingdom (UK) of additional autonomous sanctions against Iran in response to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors’ report about the advancement of Iran’s nuclear research and development program.   On 1 December the European Union (EU) foreign ministers decided to impose additional EU financial and energy sanctions against Ir... Read more...

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