Monday, 28 February 2011

Advocates Fearing “Worst Case” Scenario as Canada Delays Ratifying Cluster Bomb Treaty

Filed under: Disarmament,International Law: War — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 20:57 PDT

OTTAWA – On the anniversary of the day the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines became binding international law (March 1, 1999), Canadian cluster bomb ban advocates are increasingly concerned about the lack of progress made on Canada’s ratification of the Cluster Munition Convention (CCM). Additionally, a lack of information is increasing the fear of a worst case scenario of weak, watered-down national legislation that creates loopholes permitting acts that would contravene the spirit of the treaty.

The CCM entered into force on 1 August 2010 and has 108 signatories and 51 ratifications including almost all NATO allies and some of the most cluster bomb-affected countries in the world such as Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Laos. It bans the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster bombs and dictates that stockpiles must be destroyed within eight years and all land must be cleared within ten years. It also clearly prohibits any State Party from assisting, encouraging or persuading anyone to engage in any activity banned by the Convention. However, a controversial article (Article 21) was also inserted in the final negotiations, largely at Canada’s insistence, in an attempt to clarify the impact on joint operations with countries not party to the treaty. Advocates fear that Canada’s silence and delay in its ratification is a result of internal negotiations on the interpretation of this article with an intent to water down and create a loophole of exceptions in our treaty obligations during joint operations with allies like the US – something no other country has done to date and which advocates believe could contravene the treaty’s spirit and intent.


Gaddafi aide ‘to talk to rivals’

Filed under: Africa files,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 17:25 PDT

Muammar Gaddafi has reportedly appointed the head of Libya’s foreign intelligence service to speak to the leadership of the anti-government protesters in the east of the country, while a minister said the government will attempt dialogue before using military force.

The appointment of Bouzaid Dordah on Monday comes as the opposition expanded its grip across the country, including several cities near the capital, Tripoli.

Asked if Libya could use military force to retake these cities, deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim said: “We will wait until all other attempts are exhausted.


Africa No foreign military intervention, Libyans tell West

Filed under: Africa files,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 16:09 PDT

Benghazi – Libyan pro democracy protesters say they are determined to unseat strongman Muammar Gaddafi without any foreign military intervention, even at the cost of further bloodshed. With world powers weighing options to end Gaddafi’s 41 year hardline rule, protesters who overran Benghazi, Libya’s second city, hoisted a banner spelling out their message loudly and clearly, “No foreign intervention, Libyan people can do it alone.”

The devastating sectarian violence that rocked Iraq in the aftermath of the 2003 US led military intervention, that brought down dictator Saddam Hussein, haunts many Libyans. “The Iraqi example scares everyone in the Arab world,” said Abeir Imneina, a professor of political sciences at the university of Benghazi.


Nonviolent Struggle: Ethiopian Exceptionalism?

Filed under: Africa files,Middle East,Nonviolence — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 16:09 PDT

The long oppressed citizens of Tunisia and Egypt have freed themselves. Libyans are almost there. Bahraini, Yemeni, Algerians, and Moroccans are in the middle of a fierce struggle. Our neighbors, Djiboutians have also risen up. In Ethiopia, debate is raging over whether the current wave of people’s uprising should, could or would reach Meles Zenawi? While the successes in the Arab world have a visibly energizing effect, skepticism is still dominating the discourse in much of sub-Saharan Africa.


Saturday, 26 February 2011

In Swift, Decisive Action, Security Council Imposes Tough Measures on Libyan

Filed under: Africa files,Human Rights,International Law: War,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 20:44 PDT

Deploring what it called “the gross and systematic violation of human rights” in strife-torn Libya, the Security Council this evening demanded an end to the violence and decided to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court while imposing an arms embargo on the country and a travel ban and assets freeze on the family of Muammar Al-Qadhafi and certain Government officials.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1970 (2011) under Article 41 of the Charter’s Chapter VII, the Council authorized all Member States to seize and dispose of military-related materiel banned by the text and adopt “all measures necessary” to secure the prompt and safe delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need.

Through the text, the Council also decided to establish a new committee to monitor sanctions, to liaison with Member States on compliance and to respond to violations and to designate the individuals subject to the targeted measures. Individuals and entities immediately subjected to the targeted sanctions were listed in an Annex to the resolution.


Excerpts from UN sanctions resolution on Libya

Filed under: Africa files,Human Rights,International Law: War,Middle East,News Watch Blog — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 20:11 PDT

UNITED NATIONS – Following is an abridged version of the sanctions resolution on Libya that the U.N. Security Council adopted on Saturday. [ID:nN26176835]

The resolution includes two annexes listing the names of 16 people to face travel bans and six people facing asset freezes. It will be known as Security Council resolution 1970.


Friday, 25 February 2011

Tribal Dynamics Sets Libya Apart From Neighbors

Filed under: Africa files,Indigenous Peoples,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 19:10 PDT

More than 100 clans and ethnicities are woven into Libya’s complex social fabric, making cooperation or conflict among tribes a key determinant of the country’s course.

Ziad Akl, a researcher at Cairo’s Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, keeps a close eye on neighboring Libya. He says that in Libyan society, the loyalty to the tribe supersedes loyalty to the state. This means that amid the current turmoil, clan affiliations and customs are more important than civic organizations, or following the state law.

He says that the tribal dynamics that Qaddafi long suppressed through modernization, nationalism, and the development of patron-client relations with tribal heads appear to be turning against him.
Deep divisions have not yet surfaced, which is the only comforting signal coming out of Libya right now.

“The tribal composition seems to be against Muammar Qaddafi right now, and they are very much pro-dialogue among these tribes,” Akl says. “Deep divisions have not yet surfaced, which is the only comforting signal coming out of Libya right now.”


ABC Obtains Text of Draft UN Sanctions on Libya Which Targets Gadhafi’s Inner Circle

Filed under: Africa files,International Law: War,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 16:44 PDT

ABC News has obtained the text of a draft resolution that was introduced to the United Nations Security Council this afternoon, proposing stiff sanctions on Libya for its crackdown on protestors over the past 10 days. According to an annexed list, also obtained by ABC News, 23 individuals would also face travel bans and asset freezes if the resolution is approved.

Among those individuals are Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi himself and his children Khamis, Hannibal, Mohammed, Saif al-Arab, Saif al-Islam, Mutassim, Saadi, and Aisha.

Also targeted are top military, security, and intelligence commanders who are alleged to have ordered violence against demonstrators, as well as members of Gadhafi’s inner circle…

The resolution would impose an arms embargo on Libya and refer the case to the International Criminal Court for investigation into events since February 15.


Libya: ‘Amazing’ Hospitality Amid The Bloodshed

Filed under: Africa files,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 13:56 PDT

I am repeatedly stunned by the Libyan peoples’ ability to absorb what has happened and not want to exact revenge but instead create normality.

Each town has created temporary committees to organise their communities. Volunteers direct traffic and secure weapons caches. They also distribute food and fuel.

All the local committees in eastern Libya have come together over the last few days to discuss how they should approach their new found freedom. They heard from people who had lost their children to Gaddafi’s brutality. Their conclusion was a united Libya with freedom and democracy inscribed in a national constitution.

Fears of tribal conflict in a post-Gaddafi world may have been overstated.


U.N. Human Rights Council condemns Gaddafi’s crackdown in Libya

Filed under: Africa files,Human Rights,International Law: War,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:31 PDT

UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a European-drafted resolution condemning Moammar Gaddafi’s government for its bloody crackdown on demonstrators and establishing a U.N. commission of inquiry to probe possible war crimes by Libyan authorities.

The meeting Friday marked the Geneva-based council’s first emergency session to address serious human rights violations by one of its own members. It also provided the first clear sign that the popular uprisings in the Middle East are forcing governments to rethink their traditional alliances with autocratic governments such as Libya’s that are facing existential threats to their rule.

In a sign of the changing times, the Libyan mission to the United Nations in Geneva broke ranks with the government in Tripoli. In an emotional speech before the council, a Libyan diplomat, Adel Shaltut, made it clear that his mission supported the demonstrators.

With other members standing at attention, the Libyan envoy called for a minute of silence “in honor of the revolution of 17 February.”


A UN First! Both Israel and Palestine Co-Sponsor Resolution Condemning Libya Violence

Filed under: Africa files,Human Rights,International Law: War,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:28 PDT

Leave it to Muammar Qaddafi to bring together the Israelis and Palestinians at the United Nations.

I have just obtained the copy of a draft resolution from the Human Rights Council that strongly condemns the violence in Libya. The resolution is as strongly worded as they come. But what is more significant than the substance of the resolution is the broad support that it has attracted by a diverse set of members.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Libya: Past and future?

Filed under: Africa files,Middle East,Nonviolence — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 18:58 PDT

Many believed that Colonel Gaddafi’s regime in Libya would withstand the gale of change sweeping the Arab world because of its reputation for brutality which had fragmented the six million-strong population over the past 42 years.

Its likely disappearance now, after a few days of protest by unarmed demonstrators is all-the-more surprising because it has systematically destroyed even the slightest pretence of dissidence and has atomised Libyan society to ensure that no organisation – formal or spontaneous – could ever consolidate sufficiently to oppose it.


The “Arab 1848”: Reflections on US Policy & the Power of Nonviolence

Filed under: Books, reports, sites, blogs,Middle East,Nonviolence — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 18:38 PDT

The uprising in the Arab world shows, along with being a textbook example of nonviolence as a mechanism of democratic social change, the crude results of a US policy based on dictatorship promotion.


Exporting Nonviolent Revolution, From Eastern Europe To The Middle East

Filed under: Africa files,Middle East,Nonviolence,Peaceworkers in the news — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 18:35 PDT

Srdja Popovic has a dream: a world where political change comes through nonviolent struggle.

He started out as a pro-democracy activist in his native Serbia by founding the group “Otpor” (Resistance), which led the protests that drove authoritarian President Slobodan Milosevic from power more than a decade ago.

Popovic then exported his nonviolent methods, helping train the activists who spearheaded Georgia’s Rose Revolution in 2003 and Ukraine’s Orange Revolution in 2004.

And now, Popovic is deploying his new organization, called Canvas, even farther afield — assisting the pro-democracy activists who recently brought down despotic regimes in Egypt and Tunisia.


Tahrir Square Prayer

Filed under: Africa files,Middle East,Religion and peacebuilding — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 18:01 PDT

Weeks of public protests in Egypt have brought many to their knees — literally. A doctor in Egypt, who is also a Christian, offers us his thoughts about the peaceful prayers in Tahrir Square which were shared by both Muslims and Christians.


Are the Mideast revolutions bad for women’s rights?

Filed under: Africa files,gender,Human Rights,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 16:00 PDT

On Friday, Egyptians again gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, this time in a victory celebration, one week after their revolution unseated President Hosni Mubarak. Tunisians have also been sampling new freedoms of speech and press along a boulevard that is no longer a war zone. But even as the exultation lingers, women in both countries have launched new protests. They want to make sure that democracy does not erode their rights.


UN drops Gaddafi’s daughter as goodwill ambassador

Filed under: Africa files,gender,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:39 PDT

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Development Programme has dropped Libyan ruler Moammar Gaddafi’s daughter as a goodwill ambassador following the recent events in Libya that include a crackdown on anti-government protestors.

UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky yesterday said the agreement with Aisha al-Gaddafi has been terminated under Article 30 of the UN Guidelines for the Designation of Goodwill Ambassadors and Messengers of Peace.

The article says that the designation will be terminated if the “messenger of peace or goodwill ambassador engages in any activity incompatible with his/her status or with the purposes and principles of the United Nations, or if the termination is in the interest of the Organisation.”

Aisha al-Gaddafi was appointed as the goodwill ambassador of Libya on July 24, 2009 to address the issues of HIV/AIDS and violence against women in Libya, both culturally sensitive topics in the country.


An EU official’s eyewitness account of the Egyptian revolution

Filed under: Africa files,Middle East,Nonviolence — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 07:58 PDT

When Egyptians took to the streets in massive numbers on Tuesday 25 January, it seemed to many observers of Egypt’s political life that something extraordinary was happening.

Before being hired by the EU administration, I went out in 2004 and 2005 to study the dynamics of street mobilisations in Egypt and what was left of the country’s political opposition. I concluded that the regime had developed sufficiently sophisticated and adaptable techniques to contain protests and had aborted the development of any meaningful opposition party. There was an almost non-existant secular opposition and there was the Muslim Brotherhood. President Hosni Mubarak’s Western backers called this stability. Mass demonstrations were not meant to happen anytime soon.

Given my background and considering the potential importance of the 25 January protests for the wider region, I needed to see what was happening with my own eyes. On Thursday 27 January I was in Cairo. Twelve hours later I was on another planet.


Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Lessons for Abbas in the Arab uprising

Filed under: Africa files,Middle East,Nonviolence — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:39 PDT

Egypt and Tunisia are moving forward thanks to the power and discipline of their non-violent movement.

Bahrain and Libya are trying it too but at the price of being shot at by the army. They have to persist as did Gandhi and Martin Luther King in similar situations.

One is reminded of the argument of Martin Luther King when confronted by the outburst of black rage — the big city riots, the rise of black power and the birth of the gun toting Black Panthers. Violence is not truly revolutionary, he used to argue, because it invites defeat.


Laugh, O Revolution: Humor in the Egyptian Uprising

Filed under: Africa files,Art of Peacework,Middle East,Nonviolence — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:33 PDT

Revolutions can be messy. They can be tragic. As long as the Internet is working, they can be tweeted. And, as Egyptians demonstrated during their 18 days of protest, they can also be funny.

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