Sunday, 29 May 2011

No, the UN Has Not Said the U.S. Is Engaged in an “Armed Conflict” with Al Qaeda

Filed under: International Law: War — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 14:30 PDT

Harold Koh continually refers to the existence of an “armed conflict” between the U.S. and al Qaeda…

That position may be consistent with domestic U.S. law under the AUMF [Authorization for Use of Military Force], but it’s incorrect under international law, for reasons I’ve explained before.  Even more troubling, though, is that various commentators on the legality of UBL’s killing are claiming that the United Nations has endorsed the U.S. position that a global NIAC exists between the U.S. and al Qaeda…

It is critically important to understand why this is wrong.  The U.S. position that it is involved in a global NIAC with al Qaeda is bad enough; it would be even worse if people believed that the United Nations agreed with it.


South African Leader Seeks Role in Libya Negotiations

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

JOHANNESBURG—South African President Jacob Zuma is heading to Libya, the latest in a flurry of peacemaking trips that reflects a foreign policy driven by crisis and by ambition for an elevated role in the world.


Saturday, 28 May 2011

Canadian corporations continue to invest in cluster munitions

The following Canadian corporations continue to invest in cluster munitions, according to research presented by IKV Pax Christi (Netherlands) and Netwerk Vlaanderen (Belgium) in Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions: A shared responsibility:

  • Manulife Financial (Canada) investing in Textron (US)
  • Royal Bank of Canada investing in Alliant Techsystems (US)
  • Sun Life Financial Services (Canada) investing in Textron (US)

Read the full report for details.

Handicap International is outraged: Canadian financial institutions continue to bankroll cluster munitions

The updated “Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions” report produced jointly by IKV Pax Christi and Netwerk Vlaanderen, the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) which Handicap International is a part of, targets Canadian financial institutions due to many among them funding cluster munitions manufacturers. These practices are an affront to Handicap International and they are calling on financial institutions to ban any direct or indirect involvement with cluster munitions manufacturers.

The “Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions” reports that Canadian financial institutions earn a spot on the “Wall of Shame” for bankrolling cluster munitions manufacturers.


Open Letter to Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Federal Party Leaders on Human Rights Priorities

Filed under: Business, Human Rights, Environment,Disarmament,Environment,Human Rights,International Law: War — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:30 PDT

Human Rights Watch conducts research on a number of human rights issues where Canada has an important role to play. In some instances, our research has documented a failure by Canada to defend adequately or to adhere to international standards…

1. Regulation and monitoring of the activities of Canadian oil, mining, and gas companies operating abroad…

2. Targeting the root causes of pregnancy-related illness and deaths in developing nations…

3. The introduction of comprehensive legislation to ratify and implement the international Convention on Cluster Munitions, which Canada has signed…


Swiss banks deny cluster bomb investment charges

Filed under: Disarmament,International Law: War,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:18 PDT

Switzerland’s two big banks, Credit Suisse and UBS, have rejected accusations that they continue to invest in cluster bomb manufacturing.

According to a new report, 16 Swiss companies are among 166 leading financial institutions worldwide that are funding cluster bomb and parts manufacturing, despite the entry into force of an international treaty banning such munitions in 2010.

Globally, financial institutions from 15 countries are channelling more than $39 billion (SFr34.2 billion) into eight bomb and part manufacturers, according to the “Worldwide investments in cluster munitions: a shared responsibility” 2011 report by the Cluster Munitions Coalition member organisations Pax Christi and Netwerk Vlaanderen.

Most are from five countries that have not yet signed or ratified the convention: China, Russia, Singapore, South Korea and the United States, plus Taiwan[emphasis added]. But 38 are from states that have signed the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions.


US, European banks invest billions in cluster bombs: NGOs

Filed under: children and youth,Disarmament,Europe,International Law: War,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:18 PDT

BRUSSELS — US and European financial firms are still investing billions of dollars in cluster bomb producers despite a global ban on a weapon that maims and kills civilians, NGOs said Wednesday.

The US financial titans JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs are joined by Royal Bank of Scotland, Germany’s Deutsche Bank and China’s Changjiang Securities in a “hall of shame” of investors in cluster munitions.

They are among 166 private and public financial institutions from 15 countries that have invested a total of $39 billion in eight cluster munition producers since May 2008, according to a report by two Dutch non-governmental organisations that are members of the Cluster Munition Coalition.

While most investors are from countries that have yet to sign up to the international convention that bans cluster munitions, including the United States, 38 firms are from nine states that joined the accord.

The nine countries – Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Switzerland and the Netherlands [emphasis added] — have not passed legislation that bans investment in cluster bomb producers.

Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and New Zealand are the only countries worldwide that have passed legislation prohibiting such investments, according to the report drafted by Netwerk Vlaanderen, which promotes responsible investment, and the peace group IKV Pax Christi.


Libya denies using cluster bombs as ‘children pick them up’

Filed under: children and youth,Disarmament,International Law: War — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:07 PDT

In what was once a sleepy suburb, lined with palm trees and neatly tended to gardens, six-year-old Aisha leans down to pick up a strange round object on the road. Panicked, her father, Ahmed Abu Falgha leaps forward and snatches the cluster bomb from his daughter’s fingers.

As the battle for the besieged west Libya town of Misrata escalates, government forces loyal to the Libyan leader Muammer Gaddafi have begun firing cluster munitions into residential neighborhoods.


Friday, 27 May 2011

Amnesty announces 2011 Media Awards winners

Filed under: Human Rights,Media and Conflict — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 18:38 PDT

Amnesty International UK has announced the winners of its prestigious annual media awards, this year celebrating its 20th year.

The winners, in ten categories, were announced this evening at a ceremony hosted by BBC Six O’Clock News presenter George Alagiah at the British Film Institute in central London.

There were wins for Channel 4 News, More 4, CNN International, BBC Radio 4, the Independent, the Guardian, GQ Magazine, Marie Claire, Guardian Weekend Magazine and the Sunday Times Magazine. Awards also went to the Bureau Of Investigative Journalism and the Belfast Telegraph, as well as VERITA magazine in a new student journalism award category.

The coveted awards recognise excellence in human rights reporting and acknowledge journalism’s significant contribution to the public’s awareness and understanding of human rights issues.

The awards ceremony included a recorded video message from Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma….



One woman’s silent quest for peace on India’s wild frontier

Filed under: Media and Conflict,Nonviolence — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 18:34 PDT

Sharmila Irom, a young woman from the Indian state of Manipur, has not eaten for almost 10 years. She is too angry to eat, too upset, too disgusted by the violence that surrounds her, too disturbed by her helplessness to do anything about it. She is hungry for justice, not for food.

So, three times a day for the past decade, two nurses have poured a liquified mixture of vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins and laxatives into a plastic feeding-tube, which enters her nose, attached by a grubby piece of white tape. Initially this force-feeding was uncomfortable, but now she no longer feels a thing.

Sharmila Irom is the world’s longest-running hunger striker, and yet both she and the cause for which she is fasting are barely known outside her home state, let alone beyond India’s borders…


Retiring Fraser urges vigilance over watchdog’s independence

Filed under: Media and Conflict — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:26 PDT

Sheila Fraser is nipping at the heels of the federal government to the very end, saying her successor must carefully protect the independence of the Office of the Auditor-General and its ability to criticize any misuse of public funds in Ottawa…

“Independence of the legislative audit office is absolutely critical to our credibility, so we have to be independent in fact, and in perception as well,” Ms. Fraser told reporters. “We have to always be vigilant that there is no inappropriate interference from government… I think the office has to remain always vigilant to ensure that that independence is protected.”


The Case Against Our Attack on Libya

Filed under: International Law: War,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 07:21 PDT

There are so many things wrong with the Libyan intervention that it is hard to know where to begin. So, a few big things, in no particular order…


Saudi women campaign for right to drive

Filed under: gender,Middle East,Nonviolence — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 06:05 PDT

Saudi women have started a right-to-drive campaign that has quickly garnered the attention of the international media as well as the concern of conservative Saudi Arabian authorities. The organizers of Women2Drive had began encouraging women to take to the streets en masse, behind the wheel, on June 17 in defiance of a religious edict, fatwa, forbidding women to drive automobiles. A figurehead of the movement, Manal al-Sharif, was detained and released on Saturday and then arrested on Sunday by Saudi police shortly after she posted a video of herself driving a vehicle.

The social media tools that al-Sharif and her fellow activists had used to spread the word about the campaign were quickly removed from the internet. The video of her driving was taken down, as was its replacement. Additionally, the Facebook page marking the June 17 protest against the driving ban was removed and al-Sharif’s Twitter account appeared to be ‘secretly’ taken over by Saudi authorities. Unsurprisingly, the internet community rallied: the video has been reposted, two new facebook pages are online, as is a new twitter account for the campaign.


No Safe Haven? The long saga that led to Ratko Mladic’s arrest shows that international pressure does work. It just takes time.

Filed under: Human Rights,International Law: War,Transitional Justice — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 05:58 PDT

The arrest of the notorious fugitive Ratko Mladic almost 16 years after his indictment for genocide closes a gaping hole in the otherwise laudable efforts to bring to justice the authors of “ethnic cleansing” in the Balkans. Of the alleged architects of that slaughter, former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic may have been the better known (he managed to drag out proceedings in The Hague until he died, depriving the world of the satisfaction of a judgment); former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic may have been the more flamboyant (his long period in hiding ended in 2008, and he is now on trial in The Hague), but Mladic, the wartime Bosnian Serb military leader, was arguably the most ruthless.


Thursday, 26 May 2011

Cambodia to attend int’l trial on land dispute

Filed under: Cambodia,Thailand — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 21:04 PDT

Cambodia will delegate Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong to attend the International Court of Justice (ICJ) trial over its dispute with Thailand about Preah Vihear temple, scheduled to open in Hague, the Netherlands, from May 30-31.


Arrest an impetus for ‘reconciliation’

Filed under: Transitional Justice — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 20:57 PDT

THE ARREST of war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic has been welcomed by the Government and campaign groups in Ireland.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said he looked forward to the former Bosnian Serb commander’s swift transfer to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.

“The arrest of Mladic represents another important step in addressing the appalling atrocities committed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s,” Mr Gilmore said. “True reconciliation . . . can only be helped by this arrest.”


Education and reconciliation on agenda for national event: Inuvik to engage Canadian public and residential school survivors

Filed under: children and youth,Human Rights,Indigenous Peoples,Transitional Justice — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 20:56 PDT

INUVIK – The community of Inuvik has one month left to prepare logistically and emotionally for the second national Truth and Reconciliation Commission event. It is meant to both inspire reconciliation among survivors and engage and educate all Canadians on the history of residential schools.


Analysis: 29 years of nonviolent resistance to occupation

Filed under: Human Rights,Middle East,Nonviolence — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 20:53 PDT

“Here comes your nonviolent resistance,” The Economist proclaimed in an article two days after the events of Nakba Day.

The writer pointed out that the demonstrations demanding an end to occupation and the right of return for Palestinian refugees that took place on May 15 were in the spirit of the First Intifada which was, by and large, nonviolent.


A Laissez Faire Attitude To S-xual Assault

Filed under: gender,Human Rights — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 20:45 PDT

As the allegations against Dominique Strauss-Kahn pile up, the question to ask is not only, did he do it, but why has it taken so long for these allegations to emerge, writes Harriet McHugh-Dillon from Paris…

Since DSK’s arrest, numerous unproven stories about rough dealings with women have surfaced, or indeed re-surfaced. See, for example, here and here. Writing in Libération on 17 May, Jean Quatremer, the journalist who was the first to suggest in a 2007 blog post that Strauss-Kahn’s relations with women would be “the only real problem” for him as IMF head, alleged that DSK’s predatory behaviour was an open secret in media and political circles: “Women who wanted to avoid problems knew it was better to avoid finding themselves alone with him”.

If this is true, it would raise the question: why was this man protected for so long? The issue is more complex than the much-vaunted French “code of silence” surrounding politicians’ private lives — there is a gulf, after all, between consensual peccadilloes and criminal s-xual harassment or assault.


More Bosses Means More Press Freedom

Filed under: Media and Conflict — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 20:37 PDT

Last week’s Canberra media conference when Senator Bob Brown turned the tables on assembled journalists by posing questions and analysing their work not only put the spotlight on coverage of the current climate change negotiations. The Greens leader’s probing also highlighted another important debate about media content and relations between journalists and politicians.

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