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The Third World Climate Conference Opens

Today was the start of the Third World Climate Conference (WCC-3) in Geneva. The main theme of this conference is climate change and how to spread information on the effects of this global phenomenon. Not only is the WCC-3 focusing on the long-term effects of climate change, but also the day to day impacts (also known as climate variability).

While most climate conferences have focused on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, WCC-3 is focusing on how to deal with the already present effects of climate change. It hopes to provide a framework in which climate predictions can be made, for example rainfall predictions and drought monitoring. With this information individuals can have advance warning of heavy rainfall (which may cause Malaria outbreaks) or other potential cases for extreme weather which could escalate to disasters (floods, wildfires).  Using this knowledge, proper preparations or evacuation measures can be taken in advance.

A wide array of professionals, including scientists, high-level policy makers, and business leaders are attending this conference. The interactions of these different types of people are important because it connects the people who develop the climate information with those who utilize it to create policies.

Half the Sky

In a monumental effort to raise the status of women, Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn have authored a book titled, "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide." One of the many goals of the book is to end discrimination against women and release them into society so they can make valuable economic contributions and ameliorate global poverty. Kristof and WuDunn argue that the greatest unexploited resource in the world are the women and girls. The book can be bought on September 8th. It details women's stories of success after receving microfinance loans and being given the opportunity to contribute to the economy.

You can buy the book HERE

To learn more about the work is doing to help women around the world, CLICK HERE

ICC grants bail to Congolese ex-Vice President

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has ordered the conditional release of Congolese ex-Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba ahead of his war crimes trial.

An ICC statement said a pre-trial chamber had found that Mr. Bemba's continued detention was not necessary to ensure his appearance at his trial, to ensure he did not hamper court proceedings or to prevent him "from continuing with the commission of the same or related crimes".

He is to face trial on three counts of war crimes and two of crimes against humanity.

Latest Updates on U.N. Security Council Reform Negotiations

Recent negotiations on U.N. Security Council reform were filled with difficulty. The discussions revolve around three questions:

  • Composition of the Security Council, including key issues of size, categories of membership and regional representation
  • Relationship of the Security Council with the General Assembly
  • The veto

On the first point - virtually all agree to the need to increase non-permanent membership; the disagreement is over whether the number of permanent members should be increased.

Spotlight on 'The Responsibility to Protect'

Led by the recently formed International NGO Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect of which is a part, efforts are underway at the United Nations to introduce a new legal mechanism to help prevent crimes against humanity.

Under international law, no country may intervene in another country's internal matters. Also, the U.N. Security Council, the only U.N. body allowed to exercise military force, is not permitted to take actions for purely internal matters - its responsibility is solely for the restoration of international peace and security. Unfortunately, most genocides and crimes against humanity are internal matters, usually taking place in the context of a civil war between rival ethnic groups. The result is that any international intervention efforts to prevent the genocide are illegal under international law.

Past efforts at intervention, such as the NATO intervention in Kosovo in the late 90s, are widely considered illegal even if morally justified. This obviously discourages many countries from intervening.

The concept of 'Responsibility to Protect' places responsibility on states with regards to how they treat their citizens. If the concept is successfully introduced into international law, it would mean that countries no longer have free rein to treat their citizens as they like. It would mean they have a responsibility to protect their citizens against genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. Should they fail in this responsibility (by being unwilling or unable to stop genocide, or perhaps even participating), then that responsibility would fall to the international community to protect the citizens of that country. This would make the legal case for intervention much stronger, and allow countries to make the choice to intervene more quickly.

CGS Mourns the Death of Senator Ted Kennedy

On Wednesday, August 26, 2009, the United States Senate lost its third longest serving member, Senator Edward Kennedy.  President Barack Obama issued this statement in response to Kennedy's passing, "An important chapter in our history has come to an end," the statement said. "Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States senator of our time." 

A change in approach but not tone from Tehran

After a year of stalemate, the BBC reports that Iran has allowed inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to its nuclear facility at Arak. Furthermore, Tehran has agreed to increase oversight of its nuclear plant at Natanz. applauds these gestures but looks forward to the upcoming report from Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA, regarding the status of Iran's program. In accordance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran has the right to use nuclear energy for civilian purposes such as providing energy but not to pursue weapons development.

The call for closer engagement between the West and Iran from Hassan Qashqvi, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, echoes our sentiments. That being said, a nuclear Iran pursuing weapons development does not bode well for the security of the region or the world. As Susan Rice stated in her recent speech at NYU, this problem is one of the many critical challenges that "cannot be tackled by any one country alone." The Obama Administration must continue to constructively engage Iran while encouraging others with influence to put pressure on Tehran.

Why Empowering Women Really Matters

"There's a growing recognition among everyone from the World Bank to the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff to aid organizations like CARE that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. That's why foreign aid is increasingly directed to women. The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren't the problem; they're the solution."

South Africa reverses course on ICC Arrest Warrant for Sudanese President

A South African Foreign Ministry Official recently confirmed that Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir will be arrested if he sets foot on South African soil. This would be done in compliance with South Africa's obligations to the International Criminal Court, which has issued an arrest warrant for Bashir for seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur. Under the Court's Statute, member states are obliged to arrest individuals on their soil who have had an arrest warrant issued for them by the Court.

An Intern's Perspective

My experience at has been a completely enjoyable one. From a work perspective all of the assignments were fun and challenging. There were a lot of chances to work on projects that actually make a difference. I felt like there was always enough work to do without being overwhelmed. There are opportunities to work on all kinds of aspects of a non-profit organization, and the staff was always willing to lend a hand.

From a personal aspect this has been one of the most fun summers I've ever had. The people that work here are all a total joy to be around. The work environment is friendly but with a sense of importance. I've made some great friends being here. It's also great to be in DC. There are a lot of chances to see what we're doing in action and to visit Capitol Hill and other landmarks.

I highly recommend it to people who are interested in government and how laws are made but I also really recommend it to people who aren't sure what they want to do but care about issues like the ones that CGS supports. All in all this summer has been a great experience and I would encourage anyone interested to apply.