The Global Citizen: Human Rights
It's hardly surprising at the point, but no less sad and infuriating. Once again, Russia and China have used their permanent veto-wielding power on the U.N. Security Council to protect Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rather than the citizens his regime continues to butcher.
In another double-veto today, Russia and China voted against a Security Council resolution which would have threatened the Syrian regime with sanctions in an effort to end the bloodshed there which has gone on for more than a year and killed at least 14,000 civilians. It's not the first time Russia and China have vetoed efforts to stop Syria's crimes against its people; they've been standing in staunch opposition to any such action by the international community for months now. And whether it's the result of Russia's ties to the Assad regime, a belief that the U.N.-approved campaign in Libya last year overreached its mandate, or the fear of what message international efforts in Syria might send to their own restive populations at home, ultimately means very little.
What matters is that the Syrian peace process continues to fail, and two-fifths of the Security Council continues to shield a tyrant and international pariah who happens to be a head of state.
This morning the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing on The Next Ten Years in the Fight Against Human Trafficking: Attacking the Problem with the Right Tools. Holly Burkhalter of International Justice Mission, David Abramowitz of Humanity United, and Jada Pinket Smith of Don't Sell Bodies testified, citing the enormity of the issue on a global scale.
While keeping myself from diving over the row of chairs separating me from Will Smith and his daughter Willow, I was shocked to hear that worldwide, there are 27 million women, children, and men being held in modern-day slavery. I am already convinced on how urgent this issue of sex trafficking and forced prostitution is; for it is a topic I am passionate about. Yet to others, what could have been the most convincing element of the testimonies to bring greater awareness, action, and prevention of human slavery were the stories of three women that Ms. Pinkett Smith brought to sit in the hearing. These three women had been either abducted as children, abused by her own parents, or kicked out of foster care-and all had suffered as victims of sexual slavery.
Social media is now a part of everyday life for millions of people across the world and even more so for young people. Organizers behind the 2012 Olympic Games in London aim to capture this momentum by integrating services like Facebook and Twitter into this summer's games. There are already four official Twitter accounts associated with the event, a Youtube channel, Facebook page, Flickr slideshow, iPhone app, the list goes on and on.
In a development sure to spark renewed tensions between the Chinese government and the Vatican, a Catholic bishop has reportedly been detained by Chinese authorities after announcing his resignation from the state-sponsored Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA).
The bishop, Thaddeus Ma Daqin (pictured above), is reportedly being held in a seminary near Shanghai, where he is barred from contact with the outside world. During his Saturday ordination ceremony, Ma announced that he was resigning from the CPCA, declaring that "once you assume your pastoral job...your body and heart should be completely focused on pastoral things and evangelization." This resignation was apparently perceived as a threat to the authority of the Chinese government, which exercises official supervision over China's Catholic population through the CPCA.
The 2012 Summer Olympics in London are only eighteen days away and the famous logo featuring five interlocking rings is appearing daily on television. Throughout the past several weeks we profiled stories of courage, cooperation, and athleticism at the Olympics. The Games are a forum for dialogue and understanding and this week we want to highlight a few emerging trends and institutions that are helping to facilitate effective and inclusive international policy. There are the well-known institutions such as the United Nations, NATO, and Arab League that represent the world's most powerful countries, but several forums and ideas are originating, primarily in the Global South, that promote more participation for burgeoning world economies.
Responsibility while Protecting (RwP)
Since assuming political control over Hong Kong in 1997, the Chinese government has found itself subject to frequent criticism from pro-democracy advocates who argue that its policies have curtailed the political freedom of Hong Kongers. Nevertheless, despite these setbacks, the island remains one of the few areas of China's sovereign domain where individuals can gather in protest without being swiftly repressed by the government.
American runner Tommie Smith won the gold medal in the 200 meter dash at the 1968 Olympic games with a record 19.83 seconds. Australia's Peter Norman came in second at 20.06 seconds and the US's John Carlos clocked in at 20.10 seconds, rounding out the medal winners. As the three runners walked to the podium to receive their medals, Smith and Carlos wore only black socks to symbolize widespread poverty in the African-American community. Carlos also wore a necklace of beads representing African-Americans who were lynched and killed in the United States. Once the three athletes reached the podium and the national anthem began, Smith and Carlos raised their fists instead of covering their hearts. Norman, a critic of Australia's discriminatory policies, joined them in protest by wearing a human rights badge on his uniform.
This was an unprecedented moment in modern Olympics history. The three runners made an overtly political statement that criticized major world powers. The Games were held only months after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and a few years after Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous March on Washington. The salute was a sign of resistance to white oppression around the world, similar to other famous incidents such as Rosa Parks' refusal to sit at the back of a bus, the Greensboro sit-ins, and Malcolm X's revolutionary speeches.
For those of us who are passionate about international justice, yesterday marked an extraordinary milestone. The International Criminal Court (ICC), the world's first permanent international court, celebrated its 10th anniversary. However, its roots go back much further than a mere decade.
The ICC traces its heritage in part back to the Nuremberg trials after World War Two, in which the U.S. played a leading role. Nazi war criminals were put on trial and brought to justice for horrific crimes against humanity committed during the war, and the international community vowed "never again" to allow such atrocities to happen on its watch. Tragically, this promise remained unfulfilled as the 20th century continued to witness genocides in places as diverse as Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and Sudan. The need for a permanent international body to bring war criminals to justice remained glaring.
In 1998, representatives from around the world met in Rome, Italy to firm up plans for such an international court. The result was the Rome Statute and the creation of the ICC. The Court officially came into being on July 1, 2002.
The Rio+20 summit, intended to develop a global sustainable development agenda, concluded last week. In the words of author Gwynne Dyer, "rarely has such a large elephant laboured so long to give birth to such a small mouse." 150 world leaders were unwilling and incapable of creating substantive reforms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because of a lack of political will and competing economic interests. The United Nations, the G-8, G-20, and other major multinational conferences suffer from many of the same ills. This begs the question, what is the alternative?
Nonetheless, the past few months were busy for the world's major international institutions. The International Criminal Court, which is about to celebrate its tenth anniversary, convicted Thomas Lubanga in March marking a major milestone for the international justice community. However, others have not been so successful. The United Nations is struggling to resolve the fifteen-month long crisis in Syria that has killed more than 10,000 people. The most recent G-20 summit also recently concluded in Mexico producing piecemeal economic recovery efforts and meaningless statements about violence in Syria.
Modern tension on the Korean Peninsula dates back to 1945 when the Soviet Union declared war on the current occupiers, Japan. In years prior, the peninsula had been controlled by a series of dynasties, but was invaded and annexed by Japan in 1910. After the end of World War II in 1945, the territory was divided along the 38th parallel between the United States and Soviet Union. Hope for unification faded in June 1950 when North Korea breached the border leading to the outbreak of the Korean War. After three years of intense fighting between American, Chinese, Soviet, and Korean troops, the war officially concluded with the formalization of a interstate border called the demilitarized zone. However, low-level fighting and frequent rhetorical provocations keep the conflict on the radar of many relevant states.
In the past, North and South Korea marched together in the Olympics on three separate occasions: 2000 in Sydney, 2004 in Athens, and 2006 in Turin. Describing the event as "highly emotional," athletes from North and South Korea travelled to the stadium together and marched in the opening ceremonies as one unified entity. Using the flag of the Korean Peninsula, a simple flag with a blue silhouette of the Korean Peninsula and a white background, the group showed one of the very few instances of Korean bilateralism in the last few decades.
- Arms Control (28)
- Capitol Hill (188)
- CGS Political Action Committee (PAC) (20)
- Chapters (5)
- Civilian Protection (162)
- Climate Change (120)
- Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) (2)
- Congressional Report Card (11)
- Election News & Analysis (101)
- Gender Based Violence (32)
- Genocide Prevention (131)
- Get Involved (100)
- Home (3)
- Human Rights (325)
- Human Rights Council (39)
- International Criminal Court (175)
- International Criminal Justice (58)
- Law & Justice (267)
- Law of the Sea Treaty (55)
- Nuclear Disarmament (90)
- Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) (3)
- Other (101)
- PAC: 2010 Election Endorsements (3)
- PAC: Candidate Questionnaires (2)
- Partners for Global Change (2)
- Peacekeeping (113)
- Prevent War (241)
- Rights of the Child Treaty (13)
- Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) (20)
- Support Us (28)
- Take Action (36)
- Tax Deductible Giving (2)
- UN Funding (71)
- UN Reform & Revitalization (53)
- United Nations (404)
- WFI (26)
- Women's Rights Treaty (CEDAW) (52)