The Global Citizen: skane
During the summer of 2012, when I was a research associate at GlobalSolutions.org, I began a research project that dealt with the issue of nuclear terrorism. It was a labor of strangelove. About eight months later, this project has resulted in "Preventing Nuclear Terrorism: Nuclear Security, the Nonproliferation Regime, and the Threat of Terrorist Nukes." This research paper seeks to analyze this nightmarish threat. Among the questions that this paper will seek to answer are:
- From which states would a terrorist-controlled nuclear weapon be most likely to originate? Why are these states such unique threats?
- What has the US done to counter the proliferation threat posed by these countries?
- What international institutions are currently in place to prevent this kind of unauthorized nuclear proliferation?
- What additional steps can the US and the international community take to prevent nuclear materials from falling into terrorist hands?
It is sometimes tempting to dismiss the nuclear threat as a relic of the Cold War. That, after all, was the era of the A-Bomb and the H-Bomb, of "duck and cover" and MAD (mutually assured destruction). And yet, to adopt such a viewpoint is to ignore the reality that, in the post-Cold War world, the nuclear threat has, indeed, changed, but is far from disappearing entirely.
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.
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.
Last Thursday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the implementation of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), seeking to gauge the treaty's performance in the time since February 2011, when it first came into effect. Witnesses brought before the committee included the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Thomas P. D'Agostino; the Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the State Department, Rose Gottemoeller; and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs, Madelyn R. Creedon.
Each of the witnesses offered positive assessments of New START's effectiveness, highlighting the ways in which the agreement has helped to make nuclear relations between the US and Russia more stable and transparent. In her testimony, Gottemoeller remarked that New START has helped to improve the flow of nuclear weapons-related information between the two countries. In particular, she cited the treaty's verification mechanisms, including exhibitions of strategic arms and guaranteed on-site inspections, as concrete examples of provisions that have helped to improve the aforementioned information flow.
UPDATE (6/27/12): Earlier today, President Morsi announced that he would appoint a woman as one of his vice presidents, and a Coptic Christian as his other. On the whole, this move should help to assuage the concerns of those who feared that Morsi's affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood would lead him to adopt radical Islamist policies. In addition, this announcement followed news that an administrative court in Cairo has overturned the military's declared right to make warantless arrests. Overall, a good day for democracy in Egypt, though, of course, much work remains to be done.
This past Sunday, Egypt took another tenuous step along the road to democracy, as the Supreme Presidential Election Council declared the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, Mohamed Morsi, the winner of Egypt's first presidential elections since the fall of Hosni Mubarak. According to statistics released by the Election Council, Morsi garnered 51.7% of the popular vote, compared with a 48.3% share for his opponent, Ahmed Shafiq.
Rarely are the words "stable" and "consistent" used to describe Somalia, a country that has spent a majority of the past two decades mired in near-perpetual civil war. However, in the case of the Fund for Peace's annual Failed States Index (FSI), the aforementioned adjectives could, unfortunately enough, be applied to the troubled East African state.
For the fifth straight year, Somalia earned the dubious distinction of topping the index, which "ranks instability risks of 177 nations based on 12 social, economic, and political indicators," including "violations of human rights and rule of law," "legitimacy of the state," and "uneven economic development," among others. This year, the Fund for Peace cited Somalia's "widespread lawlessness, ineffective government, terrorism, insurgency, crime, and well-publicized pirate attacks against foreign vessels" as the primary reasons for the country's continued presence at the top of the list.
Between the news of his government's provision of weapons to the murderous Assad regime and his support for legislation that will sharply restrict the Russian people's right to assemble, the past few weeks have delivered a harsh blow to Vladimir Putin's already-dubious human rights record. In an article published late last week, Foreign Policy's Anna Nemtsova shines a light on another one of Russia's continuing human rights abuses, namely, the government's ongoing conflict with Muslim insurgents in Dagestan.
Providing a background to the conflict, Nemtsova writes:
Today featured some more disappointing news from the human rights front in Russia, as the Russian parliament passed a bill that will increase fines for people charged with participating in unauthorized protests.
According to an article by the BBC, the bill will "boost fines for violations from the current maximum 5,000 rubles (£99; $152) to 300,000 for participants and 600,000 for organizers." President Vladimir Putin is widely expected to approve the legislation, having previously voiced support for the bill as a necessary measure to "shield our people from radical actions."
Of course, few would argue that protecting the Russian people from radicalism is truly Putin's motivation for supporting this bill. Since winning a third presidential term, in an election that his opponents claim was riddled with fraud, Putin has faced a series of protests from Russians unhappy with the prospect of another six-year installment of the his presidency. This bill, then, can be seen as an effort to dissuade such demonstrations, intimidating the Russian populace with the prospect of harsh penalties.
No one will blame Kofi Annan for a lack of effort. Over the past few months, the former UN Secretary-General has worked tirelessly to peacefully resolve the ongoing turmoil in Syria. And yet, with the bloodshed continuing to escalate, Annan's peace plan has not come to pass.
The Syrian government's continued defiance of Annan's six-point peace plan, coupled with its ongoing brutality towards its enemies at home, clearly indicates that this regime values power above all else, even if it comes at the expense of its own people. In light of this reality, it is time for the United States and the international community to take firm steps to bring about the end of violence in Syria and secure a transfer of power from the Assad regime before the violence in Syria truly spirals out of control.
Over the past six decades of its rule, the Chinese government has gained a well-deserved reputation for a disturbing lack of regard for the human rights of its citizens. In light of this reality, it is hardly surprising that, in its annual report on global human rights practices, released this past week, the US State Department directed some harsh criticisms towards the Chinese government for its various human rights abuses.
Given its historically poor track record on the issue, the Chinese government has a fairly low bar to clear when it comes to making "progress" in the arena of human rights. Nonetheless, according to the State Department report, 2011 saw a continued "deterioration" of the country's human rights situation. Among the litany of abuses highlighted by the report:
- Arms Control (22)
- Become a Member (3)
- Become a Member (1)
- Capitol Hill (165)
- CGS Political Action Committee (PAC) (17)
- Chapters (4)
- Civilian Protection (133)
- Climate Change (94)
- Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) (2)
- Congressional Report Card (7)
- Current Campaigns (8)
- Election News & Analysis (101)
- Fellows (2)
- Gender Based Violence (26)
- Genocide Prevention (113)
- Get Involved (70)
- Home (12)
- Human Rights (223)
- Human Rights Council (31)
- International Criminal Court (167)
- International Criminal Justice (51)
- Law & Justice (211)
- Law of the Sea Treaty (55)
- Nuclear Disarmament (81)
- Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) (2)
- Other (33)
- PAC: 2010 Election Endorsements (3)
- Partners for Global Change (2)
- Peacekeeping (104)
- Prevent War (182)
- Rights of the Child Treaty (10)
- Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) (19)
- Support Us (15)
- Take Action (24)
- Tax Deductible Giving (2)
- UN Funding (71)
- UN Reform & Revitalization (43)
- United Nations (321)
- usaforicc.org (1)
- WFI (5)
- Women's Rights Treaty (CEDAW) (47)