Sunday, 9 August 2009

Geneva Conventions still going strong at 60

Filed under: International Law: War — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 19:29 PDT

On 12 August, the Geneva Conventions will turn 60 – an important milestone for the treaties, which place limits on how war is waged and form the cornerstone of international humanitarian law (IHL).

In 1949, States met in Geneva to revise the existing Geneva Conventions and add a fourth one dedicated to the protection of civilians. Since then, these treaties have been supplemented by three Additional Protocols.

Some critics have suggested that the Conventions are approaching the age of retirement and are no longer suited for the kind of contemporary wars that pit regular armies against armed groups, and in an era when most wars are fought within States, not between them.

Proponents maintain that the rules are indeed still relevant and that the Conventions, together with their Additional Protocols, continue to provide the best available framework for protecting civilians and people who are no longer fighting.

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Hey, C’mon, Why Can’t Reds and Blues Agree?

Filed under: News Watch Blog — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 19:15 PDT

I was thinking about the reds and the blues. You’d think they’d be able to reach agreement once in a while without bashing each other. But, the more I analyze it, the more I realize that the reds and blues are probably doomed. Some of the time, it’s not in one side or the other’s interest to reach agreement. They have more to gain by holding out for some extreme proposal, even if it throws them into deadlock. And, often, something or somebody stands in the way. It’s hard to have a constructive conversation if there’s too much background noise or by-standers are trying to sabotage things. And, finally, I keep forgetting that most of the reds and blues have no relevant negotiation training or consensus building experience.

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Low health standards impeding recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights – Ban

Filed under: children and youth,Environment,Human Rights,Humanitarian work,Indigenous Peoples,Peace and health — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 18:54 PDT

The low standards of health among indigenous communities is perpetuating the gap in many countries between the recognition of their rights and the actual situation on the ground, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, calling for swift action to find solutions.

In his message on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, the Secretary-General appealed to governments and civil society “to act with urgency and determination to close this implementation gap, in full partnership with indigenous peoples.”

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Higher Rating for President Morales in Bolivia

Filed under: Indigenous Peoples,Latin America & Caribbean — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 18:54 PDT

Public support for Evo Morales increased this month in Bolivia, according to a poll by Ipsos, Apoyo, Opinión y Mercado published in La Razón. 57 per cent of respondents approve of their president’s performance, up four points since April.

Morales—an indigenous leader and former coca-leaf farmer—won the December 2005 presidential election as the candidate for the Movement to Socialism (MAS), with 53.7 per cent of the vote. He officially took over as Bolivia’s head of state in January 2006.

Morales’s tenure has been focused on “re-founding” Bolivia through a new constitution…
In January, Bolivia’s new constitution was ratified with 61 per cent of the vote in a nationwide referendum.

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Insecurity impacting preparations for Afghan polls, finds UN report

Filed under: Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 18:53 PDT

Insecurity is having a serious impact on preparations for Afghanistan’s upcoming elections, especially for women, according to the United Nations and the country’s human rights body, which added that despite attacks and threats, Afghans are eager to take part in the polls.

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New website consolidates national red lists

Filed under: Books, reports, sites, blogs,Environment — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 18:53 PDT

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has brought together national red lists from around the world for the first time in one location. From the cliff tiger beetle in the United Kingdom (classified as ‘rare’) to the Asian elephant in Sir Lanka (considered ‘vulnerable’) the website National Red Lists

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AFRICA: Raising the Profile of Gender-Based Violence

Filed under: Africa files,children and youth,gender,Human Rights,Media and Conflict,Peaceworkers in the news — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 18:53 PDT

NAIROBI – Imagine you are a journalist; you get a tip for a story about a sexual assault on a ten-year-old girl, and pitch it to your editor.

You think it’s a strong story idea – fresh news of a violent crime illustrating a widespread social problem; aching human interest angle and solid sources. But he – and chances are high that your editor is male – is not interested.

Susan Wabala, from Peace Pen Communications, a Kenyan media organisation focused on social change, peace-building and conflict resolution, says just such a story about the rape of a minor in the girl’s family home was turned down by editors.

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How President Obama Gets To Yes

Filed under: Dispute resolution and negotiation,Restorative justice — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 18:52 PDT

President Barack Obama’s willingness to acknowledge that he had chosen his words badly in his response to the incident involving Harvard professor Henry Gates jnr and a Massachusetts police sergeant – and his suggestion that all three of them meet up at the White House for a “beer summit” – marks him out yet again as a man who is able to act in a way which is different to that which we often expect of politicians.

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New map reveals extent of antipersonnel landmine contamination in Myanmar/Burma

Filed under: International Law: War,Myanmar — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 18:52 PDT

GENEVA —The first map documenting the hazard posed by antipersonnel landmine contamination in Myanmar/Burma was issued by the UN in July 2009, based on data provided by Landmine Monitor. It represents a first small step by illustrating the extent of the country’s landmine problem in order to be able to address it more effectively.

The map was produced by the Myanmar Information Management Unit of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Yangon.

It reveals that 26 townships, in seven states and divisions, are mine-affected. The map does not result from technical survey, which is not currently possible due to ongoing armed conflict, and does not convey how extensive mine contamination is in any particular township.

The map is based on casualty data from January 2007 to June 2009 and on other information on mined areas from January 2008 to June 2009, both compiled by Landmine Monitor, the research and monitoring initiative of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

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Why the “R” in “C.S.R.”?

Filed under: Business, Human Rights, Environment — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 18:29 PDT

In mid-July, I asked Why the “C” in “CSR”?. Two weeks later I followed up with, Why the “S” in “CSR”? In both cases, my complaint was basically that the words the letters stand for (i.e., “Corporate” and “Social”) are too narrow to capture the topic at hand. So, am I now going to question the R-as-in-”Responsibility?” Yes, here endeth the trilogy.

The “R” in “CSR” is there because CSR grew out of an interest in the idea that companies, especially the biggest and most powerful ones, have some obligation, some responsibility, to do right by the communities they are part of. But the notion of “responsibility” is inadequate to capture the range of questions about which CSR advocates are typically (and ought to be) concerned.

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Creating a peace park in the Golan Heights

Filed under: Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 18:28 PDT

JERUSALEM – It is said that good ideas do not die but wait till their time has come. When I read recently in the press that the American Government, or more precisely the office of George Mitchell, President Obama’s envoy to region, had taken up the idea of creating a peace park in the Golan Heights as a way of resolving the Israeli-Syrian conflict, I felt a certain sense of pleasure.

As long ago as 1995, I put forward the idea of a peace park that would include most, but not all, of the Golan. The concept at that time was that the Golan would return to Syrian sovereignty but that much of it would be recognised as an international park or enclave which would be accessible to Syrians, Israelis, and other nationals of the Middle East and elsewhere. It would be controlled by an international commission, specifically created for this purpose, which would be comprised of representatives from Syria, Israel and a selected United Nations agency. A detailed paper was produced outlining how such a park would be managed and how its presence would be advantageous to all parties.

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Potatoes, the fruit of the earth

Filed under: children and youth,Environment,Humanitarian work — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 18:16 PDT

How important is nutrition to economic development? Historically, development was paralleled by growth in population and urbanisation. Hence, one way to gain some insight into this question is to understand the role that nutrition played in the historical growth in population and urbanisation.

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The How of Proliferation

Filed under: News Watch Blog — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 17:56 PDT

After all the information that has come to light about proliferation programs around the world, I think we are in a position to say what are some of the key factors that lead some countries to be successful and some to fail miserably in their pursuits of WMD… There are three important, independent axes in this drawing or theory. One is how much foreign “assistance” the proliferator receives in terms of the “product.” Another is how much foreign assistance he receives in the production line. The final important criterion, represented by the vertical axis in the diagram, is the existing state of knowledge in the country. It is very important to keep these two types of foreign assistance separate in one’s mind.

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