23 October 1998

Israel and the Palestinian Authority sign the Wye River Memorandum.

The Wye River Memorandum, also known as the Wye River Agreement, was an important interim agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that aimed to address various outstanding issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The memorandum was signed on October 23, 1998, at the Wye River Conference Center in Maryland, USA. The signing ceremony was attended by then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, with U.S. President Bill Clinton serving as a witness and mediator.

The Wye River Memorandum built upon earlier agreements, such as the Oslo Accords, and was seen as a step toward implementing the “land for peace” framework.

Security Provisions: The memorandum included detailed security arrangements that both parties agreed to follow to combat terrorism and reduce violence. It established a series of steps for the gradual redeployment of Israeli forces from parts of the West Bank, allowing for greater Palestinian self-rule.

Territorial Issues: The agreement addressed issues related to the transfer of additional land to Palestinian control and set the stage for further withdrawals of Israeli forces from parts of the West Bank.

Palestinian Commitments: The Palestinian Authority committed to taking measures to combat terrorism and incitement to violence. It was also required to amend the Palestinian National Covenant to remove clauses calling for the destruction of Israel.

Final Status Negotiations: The Wye River Memorandum reaffirmed the commitment of both parties to negotiate final status issues, such as the borders, refugees, and Jerusalem.

U.S. Commitment: The United States played a significant role in brokering the agreement and committed to providing assistance and monitoring the implementation of the agreement.

The implementation of the Wye River Memorandum faced many challenges and setbacks, including disputes, violence, and delays. Despite the agreement, the larger issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were not fully resolved. The memorandum was seen as a confidence-building measure that aimed to move the peace process forward, but it did not lead to a final peace agreement.

2 September 1998

The UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda finds Jean-Paul Akayesu, the former mayor of a small town in Rwanda, guilty of nine counts of genocide.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was a special international court established by the United Nations (UN) to prosecute individuals responsible for the genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law that occurred in Rwanda in 1994. The genocide in Rwanda was one of the most brutal and devastating events in recent history, during which an estimated 800,000 people, primarily ethnic Tutsis, were systematically killed by ethnic Hutu extremists in just 100 days.

Establishment: The ICTR was established on November 8, 1994, by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 955. Its creation was part of the international community’s response to the Rwandan genocide.

Jurisdiction: The ICTR had jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions committed in Rwanda and neighboring countries during 1994. It primarily focused on prosecuting those who were allegedly responsible for planning and carrying out the genocide.

Location: The ICTR was headquartered in Arusha, Tanzania. The choice of location was made to ensure the court’s independence and security while maintaining proximity to the region where the crimes occurred.

Mandate: The tribunal’s mandate included the investigation, prosecution, and trial of individuals suspected of being among the top leaders, military officials, and other key figures responsible for the genocide and related crimes. It also aimed to contribute to the process of reconciliation and justice in Rwanda.

Key Figures: The ICTR indicted and prosecuted numerous high-ranking officials, military officers, and leaders of Rwandan political parties and media organizations who were accused of playing a significant role in the genocide. Notable among them were Jean Kambanda, the Prime Minister of Rwanda during the genocide, and Jean-Paul Akayesu, the first person to be convicted of genocide by an international tribunal since the Nuremberg Trials.

Completion: Over its two decades of existence, the ICTR successfully prosecuted many individuals for their roles in the Rwandan genocide. Its work was marked by both successes and challenges. The tribunal officially closed on December 31, 2015. Some remaining functions and cases were transferred to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), which also handles cases from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Legacy: The ICTR played a significant role in bringing perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide to justice and establishing a historical record of the events. It also contributed to the development of international criminal law and jurisprudence. Additionally, the tribunal’s work aimed to promote reconciliation and healing in Rwanda by addressing the legacy of the genocide.

20 August 1998

The Supreme Court of Canada rules that Quebec cannot legally secede from Canada without the federal government’s approval.

There have been historical and ongoing discussions and debates regarding Quebec’s relationship with the rest of Canada, including the possibility of Quebec seceding and becoming an independent nation.

One of the most notable instances of this debate was the 1995 Quebec independence referendum. The Quebec government, led by the Parti Québécois and its leader Jacques Parizeau, held a referendum on whether Quebec should become a sovereign state. The referendum question asked whether Quebec should become a sovereign state with a partnership offer from Canada or remain within Canada. The vote was very close, with the “No” side winning by a slim margin of 50.6% to 49.4%.

The idea of Quebec independence has deep historical roots, stemming from cultural, linguistic, and political differences between Quebec and the rest of Canada. Quebec is predominantly French-speaking and has its own distinct culture and legal system. Over the years, there have been various political movements advocating for greater autonomy or outright independence for Quebec.

The Canadian federal government and various provincial governments have worked to address Quebec’s concerns and promote national unity. In 1982, Canada’s constitution was amended to include the Constitution Act, which recognized the province of Quebec as a distinct society and provided certain protections for its language and culture.