The Global Citizen

Search form

Human Rights Abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Two reports were released by the United Nations on September 7, 2009 regarding human rights abuses, and possible war crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). These reports, and top human rights officials stress the importance of reforming the DRC's judicial and security mechanisms. The focus of the reports is the period of heavy violence in late 2008 in the country's North and South Kivu provinces.

The first report focuses on the government troops (FARDC) who have been accused of human rights abuses including arbitrary killings, looting, and sexual violence. These ruthless acts were committed against the people that the FARDC was deployed to protect (from the Tutsi rebel group, the National Congress for People's Defense). If the government does not take action to punish those guilty of these acts, it could also be held responsible for human rights violations. The report states that "The judicial response to the violations has, so far, been wholly insufficient".

The second report focuses on the Tutsi rebel group, the National Congress for People's Defense (CNDP). The main human rights abuses being addresses in this report is 67 arbitrary killings conducted by the CNDP, as well as rape, displacement of populations, arbitrary arrests, abductions, and forced recruitment. The individual who led the CNDP during the time period addressed, Laurent Nkunda, was taken into custody in January 2009.

Both reports conclude that the government of the DRC must take action in investigating and punishing individuals guilty of these human rights abuses and war crimes.

International Criminal Courts Investigates War Crimes

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo, announced today that in the next three years he plans to open four new investigations into war crimes committed around the world. He is currently looking into war crimes committed in Afghanistan, Georgia, Colombia, Kenya and Gaza.

Bipartisan Group: U.S. Security requires urgent action on climate change

The Partnership for a New America, a bipartisan group of 32 former secretaries of State, national security advisers, senators, military leaders and senior foreign policy officials, is urging Congress to act on climate change.

The group recently released a statement calling for Congress to do just that, as well as reduce the country's dependence on petroleum and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Bush Administration sought to soften treaty on 'forced disappearances'

According to documents recently declassified by the U.S. State Department, the Bush administration had tried to soften the draft language of an international treaty on "enforced disappearances", in order to protect those involved in the CIA's secret prison system.

The treaty, which had been supported by many prior U.S. administrations, was to bring an end to government-sponsored kidnappings which took place en masse in Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s, and apparently still occur in some parts of the world.

Executive Office of the President signals interest in ratifying Law of the Sea Treaty

This weekend, the Executive Office of the President sent its first signal of support for US ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty.

Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, joined by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Jane Lubchenco and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen published an article in the Seattle times on the topic of stewardship of the Oceans in which they strongly endorsed the ratification of the treaty:

"We strongly support ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. The oceans have been called, "the last global commons," and their sustained global health can best be maintained by a stable, universally accepted convention that promotes the key interests of the United States, its allies and its trading partners. Ratification would ensure our ability to participate in interpreting and applying the convention to the changing realities of the global maritime environment and preserves our ability to protect our domestic interests, including our extended continental shelf claims."

In justifying their support for the treaty, they go on to talk about burgeoning economic and research opportunities for the United States in the Arctic / near Alaska. The best way to promote and maintain U.S. interests in those areas is by agreeing to a globally agreed standard on their use, as is contained in the Law of the Sea Treaty.

The article also emphasized that American involvement in the region will be a long-term exercise, so it was critical to have governance agreements on long-term issues such as the sustainability of the area, as well as agreements concerning safety and research-sharing. The Law of the Sea Convention would provide a framework for such agreements.

ICC's President Song Comes to Washington

It was a pleasure today to meet Sang-Hyun Song, the new President of the International Criminal Court who was on his first visit to Washington DC in this capacity.  He is meeting with staff on the Hill and the at the State Department.  Hopefully this will help the Administration's policy review process on the Court.  At present a new p

The United States and Global Cooperation

Chuck Hagel, a former Republican Senator, published an op-ed in the Washington Post that reflects many of the   ideals that is working towards. He stresses the need for the United States to take a collaborative role in the global community, working together with other states to solve critical issues: 

"We need a clearly defined strategy that accounts for the interconnectedness and the shared interests of all nations. Every great threat to the United States -- whether economic, terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, health pandemics, environmental degradation, energy, or water and food shortages -- also threatens our global partners and rivals."

The best way for the United States to combat these problems is to work alongside other nations, specifically through the United Nations. The U.N. provides a forum in which countries can build "coalitions of common interests", so that they can work collectively to solve issues facing every nation in the world. These issues require such collaboration because they have such a wide reach, like climate change or the global food crisis, for example.

The United States cannot work as a lone force in the globalized world. Nations are interconnected in ways that were never imaginable years ago, and this requires a change in actions. The U.S. needs to use the U.N. as a tool to help solve the critical problems it is facing, along with the rest of the world.

Obama to chair disarmament meeting at United Nations Security Council

To aid the cause of nuclear disarmament, U.S. President Barack Obama will chair a United Nations Security Council meeting on September 24th. This comes after President Obama's April speech in Prague, where he promised greater U.S. leadership on nuclear disarmament. Peter Weiss, president of the Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP) said what he thought Obama will do at the meeting:

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