- 10 April 2013
- Community Relations Council | Northern Ireland
The Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report covering the past year will be published today (Wednesday 10 April) by the Community Relations Council with the support of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.
The Report notes that the Northern Ireland peace process has had its most difficult year for a decade. The flags dispute has shaken any complacency about the inevitability of progress, but it has not led to any suspension of the political institutions. Street demonstrations, although determined and protracted, were not on the scale of the Drumcree disturbances of the 1990s or the protests against the Anglo-Irish Agreement in the 1980s. Likewise, the activities of dissident republicans, however callous or threatening, have not succeeded in disrupting the political consensus on the overall architecture of the peace accord, and are not on the scale of dissident violence a decade ago.
- 12 April 2013
- Foreign Policy
- By FRANK JANNUZI
As John Kerry makes his first trip to Asia as secretary of state, North Korea seems poised to welcome him with a flurry of missile tests, and in Seoul, Beijing, and Tokyo, he will surely discuss how to deal with North Korea’s recent provocations. But Washington’s head-on approach to Pyongyang’s nuclear program has failed for decades, and the situation has only grown more dangerous, as shown by the new reports that North Korea may have developed a warhead small enough to fit on a ballistic missile. The best way to resolve the ongoing nuclear crisis is to stop talking about nukes — and instead focus on advancing North Korean human rights, reorienting global attention from the North’s plutonium to its people.
- 9 April 2013
- OUP Blog
- By Nigel D. White
Ten years after the capture of Baghdad on 5 April 2003 by US troops, following an invasion of Iraq by US and UK forces, we are still awaiting the outcome of the Chilcot Inquiry which was set up by the government of Gordon Brown in 2009. The report has been delayed at least until the end of 2013 due to the reluctance of the government to release key documents, but the outcome as regards the illegality of the invasion should not be in doubt.
Any student of international law, and the laws governing the use of force in particular (the jus ad bellum), knows the recognized exceptions to the prohibition on the use of force (self-defence and enforcement action taken under the authority of the UN Security Council) and that attempts by the US and the UK to fit their actions of 2003 into these exceptions were either exercises in political hubris or damage limitation by skilled lawyers. Rather than rehearse these debates, I’ll attempt to lay out a path to a clearer understanding of the Security Council as a recognized source of authority for using force (The invasion of Iraq was purportedly undertaken under the authority of that organ to enforce disarmament resolutions of that very same organ.) Given the calamitous effects of the ill-judged invasion of Iraq in 2003, where no Weapons of Mass Destruction were found, we should have expected profound changes in the work of the Security Council and the attitude of the permanent members towards collective security.
There has been some evidence of positive change. The main protagonists in favour of the use of military force against Libya in the spring of 2011, France and the UK, were clearly mindful of the lessons from Iraq, taking care that their actions were underpinned by legality by securing a clear authorising resolution (Resolution 1973) from the Security Council. This suggested a return to respect for the jus ad bellum but, as the operation against Libya unfolded, it became clear that some of the problems that undermined the legality and legitimacy of the invasion of Iraq remain.
- 9 April 2013
- By Louis Charbonneau
The conflict in Mali threatens to spill over into the disputed territory of Western Sahara and the Polisario Front independence movement has warned the United Nations of the possibility of “terrorist infiltrations,” the U.N. chief said in a new report.
- 8 April 2013
- OUP Blog
- By Stuart Casey-Maslen
On Tuesday, 2 April 2013, after seven years of discussions and negotiations, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the UN Arms Trade Treaty by an overwhelming margin — the first ever global agreement governing the transfer of conventional arms. A total of 154 States voted in favour of the resolution, three voted against, and 23 abstained. The treaty will now be opened for signature on 3 June 2013.
The treaty is a strong and balanced text that clearly enjoys very widespread support, and if adhered to and implemented in good faith it will significantly reduce the humanitarian impact from the irresponsible transfer of weapons. That it is a meaningful treaty is evidenced by the fact that in two successive diplomatic conferences, certain States blocked its adoption by consensus. First time around, in July 2012, it was the United States (followed by Russia) that asked for more time. In the ‘final’ diplomatic conference in late March 2013, three States — Iran, DPR Korea, and Syria — blocked the adoption of the text that had been skillfully negotiated by the new Conference President, Ambassador Peter Woolacott of Australia. These same three States went on to vote against the General Assembly resolution that adopted the treaty.
- 4 April 2013
- OUP Blog
- By Stuart Casey-Maslen
Derided by a number of major military powers when it was adopted, almost 16 years later the 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention is in pretty rude health. No fewer than 161 States have adhered to its provisions — the most recent being Poland in December 2012 – and few outside dare to use anti-personnel mines these days such is the stigmatisation of the weapon, even though a ban has not yet crystallised in customary law. There is little or no transfer of anti-personnel mines, and what little there is consists mainly of small-scale, illicit sales. As a result, large stockpiles in China and the USA lie dormant, and even Russia is no longer laying mines in Chechnya, so far as we know.
- 5 April 2013
- Carter Center
- By Jimmy Carter
It is an honor and pleasure for Rosalynn and me to come to Myanmar, a country that we have wished to visit for many years.
I have been eager to learn more about your country’s ongoing transition process — towards democracy, peace, human rights, and economic development for all citizens.
During my visit, I have had the opportunity to meet with: President U Thein Sein, the Speaker of the Lower House, the Union Election Commission, members of the Cabinet, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders of political parties, ethnic community representatives, former political prisoners, the National Human Rights Commission, civil society organizations, farmers, the media, and religious leaders.
I am grateful to all of these people for sharing their thoughts with me — their aspirations for the future, and their concerns about the challenges your country is facing.
- 26 February 2013
- By Jessica Proudfoot
On February 12, 2013, the [Alberta] Court of Queen’s Bench released a memorandum announcing that it will not enforce the Mandatory Dispute Resolution Rules “until such time as the judicial complement of the Court and other resources permit reinstatement.” Since their introduction in November 2010, these Rules have imposed an obligation on all parties to participate in at least one dispute resolution process before the Court would allow the matter to proceed to trial…
Unfortunately, rather than improve accessibility, affordability and timeliness, the Mandatory Dispute Resolution Rules proved to be a complicating hurdle to timely resolution of many claims, particularly where the Defendant disputed liability. Long wait times for JDR dates combined with the Court’s resistance to grant orders waiving the requirement meant that parties had no choice but to wait several months for a JDR, or they had to finance a quicker, albeit more expensive, alternative dispute resolution process. This added delay and expense to an already slow and expensive process.
- 4 April 2013
- compiled by George Stromboulopoulos
On April 4, 1968, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was fatally shot while delivering a speech from the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
It’s been 45 years since that night. To pay tribute to King and his legacy, here are some photographs from his remarkable life, along with some of the powerful things he said over the years.
- 9 March 2013
- Victoria Times Colonist
- By Katherine Dedyna
The value of video games far surpasses fun for geeky guys in the basement, but the stereotype remains despite the cultural upheaval games have created, says a writing professor at the University of Victoria.
In fact, video games play an increasingly positive role in society, says David Leach, organizer of today’s Games Without Frontiers session at UVic’s Ideafest.
- 1 April 2013
- By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS – The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly is tentatively planning to vote on Tuesday on a draft treaty to regulate the $70 billion global trade in conventional arms.
Iran, Syria and North Korea last week prevented a treaty drafting conference at U.N. headquarters from reaching the required consensus to adopt the treaty. That left delegations that support it no choice but to turn to the General Assembly to adopt it.
The Mexican delegation, which has been one of the most ardent supporters of the arms trade treaty, predicted victory if the resolution containing the draft convention is put to a vote in the General Assembly.
Following are questions and answers about the arms treaty.
- 26 March 2013
- YES! Magazine
- By Katrina Rabeler
Communities working to stop a controversial gas drilling process are getting what sounds like encouragement from an unlikely source: a report prepared for the oil and gas industry on the risks posed by those communities themselves. Even more bizarre than a risk assessment about grassroots activists is one that basically admits the activists are right.
- 1 April 2013
- Foreign Policy
- By Joshua Keating
In the months leading up to the Rwandan genocide of 1994, the radio station Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines blanketed the country with anti-Tutsi propaganda, inciting its Hutu listeners to “exterminate the cockroaches.” During the genocide, the station took on an even more active role, reading out lists of people to be killed and their locations.
The role played by the station only became widely understood outside of Rwanda after the violence was over. Three of its former executives were eventually indicted by a U.N. tribunal for their part in the genocide, but what if the world had been monitoring Milles Collines before the killing started?
That’s the idea behind Hatebase, a new initiative from the Sentinel Project, a Canadian group that aims to use social media and other technology to identify early warning signals for ethnic conflict.
- 1 April 2013
- Will the US Supreme Court strike a blow to corporate accountability for human rights abuses?
- By Lauren Carasik, Director of the International Human Rights Clinic at Western New England University School of Law
The United States Supreme Court is poised to issue a ruling in the case of Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum. The stakes are enormous – the case will determine whether victims of human rights abuses on foreign soil, who often lack any other viable legal remedy, can bring suit against corporations in US courts.
- 27 March 2013
- Globe and Mail
- By KIRK MAKIN
An unreleased report commissioned by the country’s top judge is urging a radical overhaul of Canada’s family law system.
The report to Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, scheduled for release next month, calls for restructuring the family law system from the ground up, with a focus on streamlining the court process and ending a fixation on combat…
A copy of the report, obtained by The Globe and Mail, says that estranged spouses and their children are seriously damaged by the adversarial system; and that judges, lawyers and law schools must embrace a culture of mediation and settlement.
- 4 March 2013
- New York Times
- Read the discussion
In Guatemala next month, the former dictator Efraín Rios Montt will become the first head of state ever tried on genocide charges in a domestic court. Not all such efforts to prosecute crimes against humanity have proceeded peacefully.
Still, the quest to bring war criminals and vicious leaders to justice in international or domestic courts is part of a global trend toward greater accountability for human rights violations.
But do trials help secure peace after war, civil conflict and repression? Does the threat of prosecution make dictators more reluctant to step down? Would it be better for democracy if survivors could forgive perpetrators and move on?
Thai authorities and Muslim rebels leaders have started peace talks aimed at ending almost a decade of unrest in the country’s far south, as fresh violence killed at least five people.
The talks on Thursday with representatives from the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) insurgent group, expected to last one day, will focus on reducing bloodshed, Thai National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabut said, warning the overall peace process would take time.
“Today’s main focus is to reduce violence. Today we will focus on building mutual trust and good relations,” Paradorn told reporters in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, where the meeting was being held.
- 22 March 2013
- Prince George Citizen
- By Mark NIELSEN
With the Family Law Act, the provincial government is hoping to deliver a change in tone when it comes to the children of couples going their separate ways.
Gone are the terms “custody” and “access” that were part of the legislation the Act replaces. Now, it’s “guardianship,” “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” in an effort to make the issue less adversarial…
The Family Law Act came into force on Monday.
- 12 March 2013
- Toronto Star
- By Lisa Kerr
The scandal of aboriginal incarceration in Canada is getting worse. The Correctional Investigator has advised that the aboriginal prison population has increased 43 per cent in the past five years. Métis, Inuit and First Nations people make up 23 per cent of the prison population, although they comprise just 4 per cent of the population of the country.
The reasons for this disparity are undoubtedly complex, and worthy of serious study. But the startling fact remains. Levels of imprisonment in Canada’s aboriginal communities are higher than the overall incarceration rate in the United States — a nation that famously has the highest rate of imprisonment in the world and probably in history. There are 2.3 million people in American jails and prisons, with another 4 million under some form of community-based correctional control. No other country matches that, not by a long shot.
The U.S. rate is seven times higher than Europe, and six times higher than Canada. According to the metric that criminologists use to make comparisons, the U.S. imprisonment rate is 730 per 100,000 people. Canada remains at a safe distance: 140 per 100,000, with about 38,000 people in custody on any given day last year. When that number is broken down, however, the intensity of the impact of incarceration on aboriginal communities is revealed. Astonishingly, aboriginals are imprisoned at a rate in excess of 910 per 100,000 people.