Thursday, 6 December 2007

Report: Guns out of Control: The Continuing Threat of Small Arms

Filed under: Books, reports, sites, blogs,Disarmament — Catherine Morris @ 13:06 PDT

GLOBAL: Small arms: the real weapons of mass destruction
The subject of small arms and light weapons has been covered in great detail in numerous studies and is an issue of concern for the United Nations, as well as a wide range of international nongovernmental organisations, think-tanks and government agencies.

The aim of this In-Depth is thus not to attempt to challenge the wealth of material that is available, but rather to provide the reader an overview of the critical issues. It also includes 13 frontline reports from IRIN journalists, interviews with experts in the field and those who have directly experienced the human impact of small arms, and links to further information.

Please note that the terms ‘small arms’, ‘guns’, ‘weapon’s and ‘firearms’ are used interchangeably in this report.

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Can public pressure help bring an end to the abject misery in west Sudan?

Filed under: Business, Human Rights, Environment,News Watch Blog — Catherine Morris @ 11:11 PDT

Dream for Darfur, a New York-based human rights project group, released a detailed report last week on the lack of concern for the genocide in Darfur among multinational brand names such as Microsoft, Adidas, Coca-Cola, McDonalds and General Electric. The group had asked 19 companies sponsoring the 2008 Olympic Games to urge Beijing to publicly acknowledge the full extent of the human devastation due to the state-bred racial atrocities in Darfur. And to pressurize the Sudanese government to resolve the humanitarian crisis using the huge influence that Beijing has as oil-rich Sudan’s largest oil customer.

The Dream for Darfur group got very poor responses from most of the companies, which —the group points out—otherwise make explicit claims of their corporate social responsibility. Its advocacy has not resulted in any of the 19 companies agreeing to take a strong stand against the Chinese government. Their main argument was that the Darfur crisis was best handled at the UN and governmental level…

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China: Government closes civil society organizations, places individuals under house arrest

Filed under: Human Rights,News Watch Blog — Catherine Morris @ 10:32 PDT

BEIJING – Last Thursday morning, five law-enforcement agents marched into Zhai Minglei’s Shanghai apartment, seized his computer hard disk and copies of the small magazine he used to publish, and ordered him to report for questioning the next day.

It was the latest blow in what one leader of a nongovernmental organization here calls a “systematic crackdown on the voices of civil society” in China, as the government manufactures the unruffled image it hopes to project to the world during the 2008 Olympic Games.

Civil society groups formed by activists in fields such as environment, social welfare, health, and education “have really suffered setbacks and tougher controls since earlier this year,” adds Wen Bo, China program director for the US NGO Pacific Environment…

They also cast doubt on International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge’s claim after Beijing was awarded the 2008 Olympics that “the Olympic Games will improve the human rights record in China.” Many NGO activists attribute the current crackdown specifically to government preparations for the games.

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Iraq’s Christians risk their lives to celebrate their faith

Filed under: Human Rights,Middle East,Religion and peacebuilding — Catherine Morris @ 10:30 PDT

From the time of Jesus, there have been Christians in what is now Iraq. The Christian community took root there after the Apostle Thomas headed east.

But now, after nearly 2,000 years, Iraqi Christians are being hunted, murdered and forced to flee — persecuted on a biblical scale in Iraq’s religious civil war. You’d have to be mad to hold a Christian service in Iraq today, but if you must, then the vicar of Baghdad is your man. He’s the Reverend Canon Andrew White, an Anglican chaplain who suffers from multiple sclerosis and from a fanatical determination to save the last Iraqi Christians from the purge.

White invited 60 Minutes cameras and correspondent Scott Pelley to an underground Baghdad church service for what’s left of his congregation. White’s parishioners are risking their lives to celebrate their faith.

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Kashmir Insurgency Bans Use of Antipersonnel Landmines

Filed under: Disarmament,News Watch Blog — Catherine Morris @ 10:28 PDT

On 16 October 2007, the United Jihad Council (UJC), which includes 13 armed Kashmiri groups (five other non-Kashmiri groups have ‘observer’ status, and UJC directives are binding upon them) publicly declared a total ban on antipersonnel mines. The UCJ simultaneously pledged to respect the prohibitions of the four Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocol I.

This public declaration by the combined leadership of militant organizations in Kashmir was the result of a year-long series of activities carried out by the ICBL in partnership with the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a Srinagar-based ICBL member.

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Speaking Out Against Cluster Munitions

Filed under: News Watch Blog — Catherine Morris @ 10:27 PDT

In October 2007 I met two amazing women who explained to me what a cluster dud is and what it is like to find yourself under a cluster munitions strike: “The thing looks like a ball. I thought it was a toy”. “It is like finding yourself under the Niagara falls. Except that it is not water”. I believe that, beyond all technical definitions, the words of Rasha from Lebanon and Snezana from Serbia, in their harrowing simplicity, are the best argument to answer those who still ask why cluster munitions should be banned…

For the first time, during the Belgrade Conference of Affected States in October 2007, a group of women and men from Lebanon, Serbia, Tajikistan and Albania gathered to discuss their own experiences and to organize themselves as a team to influence the Oslo Process in a way that responds to their real needs.

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Progress towards a World Fit for Children

Filed under: Books, reports, sites, blogs,Human Rights,News Watch Blog,Peace and health — Catherine Morris @ 10:17 PDT

At the 27th Special Session of the General Assembly in May 2002, Governments committed to a set of time-bound and specific goals, strategies and actions in four priority areas for the rights and well-being of children: promoting healthy lives; providing quality education; protecting against abuse, exploitation and violence; and combating HIV/AIDS…

This report provides new information and analysis on how far the world has come in reducing child and maternal mortality and malnutrition, ensuring universal primary education, protecting children against abuse, exploitation and violence, and combating HIV/ AIDS.

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Peacebuilding in Eastern DRC: Improving EU support for Economic

Filed under: Books, reports, sites, blogs,News Watch Blog — Catherine Morris @ 10:11 PDT

In order to help overcome the fractures in Congolese society, there needs to be a step-change in the level of constructive economic exchanges within the country and of formal, public revenue generating trade across international borders. At the same time, an immense push to create jobs and provide equitable access to income-generating opportunities is vital not only to improve livelihoods for local populations but also to help separate combatants from the violence and extortion through which they realised a degree of economic security.

In that light, and following on from the more wide-ranging report, Peacebuilding in the Great Lakes: Challenges and opportunities for the EU in the DRC, this study focuses on economic (re)construction issues in the eastern DRC.

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Negotiating Peace in Liberia: Preserving the Possibility for Justice

Filed under: Books, reports, sites, blogs,News Watch Blog — Catherine Morris @ 10:05 PDT

Liberia has been at peace since 18 August 2003, when a Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in Accra, Ghana. After a brutal war in the early-to-mid- 1990s, a repressive government headed by Charles Taylor was in power from 1997. By the time the rebel movement Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy started encroaching on the capital in 2003, there was considerable pressure for a firm and lasting peace agreement. But Liberia had seen over a dozen peace agreements in the previous dozen years, and all suffered from questionable political commitment of the signatories actually to keep the peace and build a truly democratic society.

This article is based on extensive interviews with many of those who took part in the 2003 talks.

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CANADA: Landmark ruling backs self-determination, sends parties back to negotiate treaty

Filed under: Human Rights,Indigenous Peoples — Catherine Morris @ 10:04 PDT

VANCOUVER – In a case that took a decade to complete and cost close to 30 million dollars, a British Columbia Supreme Court judge last week gave a boost to Native Canadian bands seeking aboriginal land title, but also sent the various parties back to the table to negotiate a treaty…

British Columbia, Canada’s western-most province, is still largely unceded territory and subject to First Nations land claims. While some bands have formally joined the government-sanctioned BC Treaty process with mixed results, other bands have stayed out of the process and have proceeded to direct litigation to pursue their claims.

Some First Nations leaders have argued that the BC Treaty Process is too restrictive and limits the rights of First Nations people to territory.

Vickers concluded that the Tsilhqot’in First Nations may have ownership rights to an area of British Columbia known as the Chilcotin region, which is approximately 2,000 square kilometres.

Justice Vickers wrote, “While I make no declaration of aboriginal title in this action, I do express an opinion as to where such title may exist…the denial or avoidance of this constitutional responsibility is unacceptable if there is to be a just reconciliation in this era of decolonisation.”

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