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NAIROBI, Kenya Navy SEAL snipers on the fantail of a destroyer cut down three Somali pirates in a lifeboat and rescued an American sea captain on Easter Sunday. The surprise nighttime assault in choppy seas ended a five-day standoff between a team of rogue gunmen and the world’s most powerful military that began when 53-year-old freighter Capt. Richard Phillips was taken hostage Wednesday by pirates who tried to hijack the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama.

The Vermont native was held on a tiny lifeboat that began drifting precariously toward Somalia’s anarchic, gun-plagued shores.

The operation, personally approved by
President Barack Obama, quashed fears the saga could drag on for months and marked a victory for the U.S., which for days seemed powerless to resolve the crisis despite massing helicopter-equipped warships at the scene.

A fourth pirate surrendered after boarding the Bainbridge earlier in the day and could face life in a U.S. prison.

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Geneva: (Agencies: 2/3/2009): All countries should attend the upcoming United Nations-sponsored conference against racism, the international body’s top rights expert said recently.  Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said victims of racism would reap the greatest benefits from the conference which should not get bogged down by "diversions," a reference to parochial issues that some states had been pursuing. 

So far, she noted, five heads of state and numerous ministers had agreed to attend, including the South African foreign minister. The official announcement of who exactly would attend was to be made closer to the date of the conference. 

The racism review set to take place for four days starting on April 20 would be a follow-up to a 2001 conference which took place in Durban, South Africa.

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Washington (AFP: 2/4/2009): – President Obama is taking another step down the road of engaging America’s adversaries with the decision to seek a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, a group President Bush had shunned.  

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced in a statement Tuesday the reversal of Bush’s policy of remaining outside the council as a way of protesting its makeup and work. "With others, we will engage in the work of improving the UN human rights system," Secretary Clinton said, with the goal of "advancing the vision of the UN declaration on Human Rights." 

The administration’s decision set off the latest installment of a debate in foreign-policy circles over whether the world’s most egregious rights abusers are best confronted from within or outside the international human rights tent embodied by the council.

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Brussels, March 30 (QNA) – H.E Dr. Ali bin Smaikh al Merri, Chairman of the Qatari National Human Rights Committee met in Brussels today with officials of Human Rights Units in GCC, Iran, Iraq, and Yemen, at the General Directorate of Foreign Relations of the European Commission.

Discussions during the meeting dealt with Qatar- EU relations in Human Rights fields and means to boost cooperation between the two sides.

The meeting was attended by H.E. Mishaal bin Hamad al Thani, head of Qatar’s mission to EU and Dr. Yusuf Obiedan Fakhro, Deputy Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee.

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Doha: (Agencies: 30/3/2009): Arab leaders have concluded their annual summit by showing their support for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and by pledging to maintain and consolidate Arab solidarity on all issues through constructive dialogue. The Arab League said it rejected the International Criminal Court’s decision to issue a warrant for the arrest of President al-Bashir. President Bashir had earlier spoken at the summit in Qatar, and won strong support from his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad. They were among 17 heads of state in Qatar.
 At the end of the summit a joint statement by the Arab League said: "We stress our solidarity with Sudan and our rejection of the ICC (International Criminal Court) decision." Earlier in the day, Syrian President Assad said those who had "committed massacres and atrocities in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon" should be arrested first. Many African states, along with Sudan’s key ally China, have called for the ICC proceedings to be suspended, arguing they will hamper efforts to bring peace to Darfur. 

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DOHA (Agencies) – Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir defied an international arrest warrant by travelling to Doha on Sunday for an Arab summit.

United Nations chief
Ban Ki-moon, who has also flown in to the Qatari capital, will still attend the summit which opens on Monday despite the presence of Beshir, a UN official said.

"Sudan is a member of the United Nations while the
International Criminal Court is an independent judicial body, which does not prevent the United Nations from dealing with Sudan," the official told AFP requesting anonymity.

became Beshir’s fourth trip abroad since the ICC issued the warrant on March 4 for alleged war crimes in the conflict-battered Darfur region of western Sudan.

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Doha: (Agencies: 28/3/2009): At their preparatory ministerial session ahead of of an annual Arab summit due to convene in the Qatari capital on Monday 30/3/2009) have approved 25 draft resolutions to be submitted to the summit. 

These include consolidating  moves already taken ahead of the summit meeting to  promote joint Arab action culminating in three meetings: the ice-breaking mini-Arab summit in  Riyadh  that brought the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt  together on tenth March 2009 which ended with a pledge to work together to advance the causes of their region; the meeting in Amman between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and King Abdallah II of Jordan; and,  the first Arab economic summit held in Kuwait on 19th March 2009.

Another draft resolution urges the International Criminal Court (ICC) to annul its arrest warrant against Sudan’s President Omar al-Beshir; it  also "urges all Arab countries not to cooperate with the measures of the ICC" against Beshir.

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Geneva: (Agencies): In a break with the policy of the previous Bush administration, the United States is to work again with the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Mark Storella of the US mission to the United Nations in Geneva, told the Geneva-based council on Wednesday that his country "looked forward to participating in the council’s deliberations" where it will be an active observer.

The US had always been critical of the council, which was established in 2006. The country has never sought a seat on the council and withdrew almost completely nine months ago, accusing it of bias against Israel and failure to confront human-rights abuses in a number of other countries.

Storella quoted President Barack Obama’s promise to a joint session of the US Congress that "a new era of engagement has begun".

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WASHINGTON (AFP) – Prospects for veteran US diplomat Christopher Hill’s Senate confirmation as US ambassador to Iraq brightened Tuesday as one of his vocal critics pledged not to block the nomination.

"There are better choices out there. But at the end of the day we need an ambassador and, you know, he has many talents,"
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters after "a good meeting" with Hill last week.

"My concern is that this is a very important position. It would be better (to) have somebody who’s knowledgeable in the area, knows the players, but we’ll see," he said. "I will say he was very knowledgeable about Iraq."

Graham called the nomination "a work in progress" but pledged not to use a parliamentary tactic popularly known as a "hold" to stall the appointment, which requires vetting by the Senate.

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World capitals: (Agencies: 8/3/2009): Women around the world have marked International Women’s Day by demanding equal rights, protesting against domestic violence and growing poverty in the global economic crisis.Thousands gathered in public squares from Bangalore to Kinshasa to the capitals of Europe, drawing attention to discrimination and fears facing women in their respective countries.

US President Barack Obama said women are "vital" to solving world challenges and called for "the full and active participation of women around the world".

The French government sought to raise awareness by releasing a book for 18-year-olds titled "Respect Girls", warning teenagers not to buy into stereotypes in advertising and providing information on sexual harassment and equal opportunities.

Western Correspondents meanwhile claim that for women mainly outside the West, however, their very existence is in peril from violence and cultural attitudes that endanger their lives.

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