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Obama Holds G-8 Closing News Conference and Discusses Nuclear Weapons, Climate Change, UN Reform, and R2P

President Obama held a news conference on the morning of July 10, 2009, to wrap the three-day G-8 summit, held in the Italian city of L'Aquila.

The Reckoning: A New Documentary About the ICC

A new film, called The Reckoning, is coming out on PBS on July 14th which will look at the workings and struggles of the International Criminal Court. The film follows Luis Moreno Ocampo, the prosecutor for the ICC, for three years as he battles genocidal criminals across four continents. These include the Lord's Resistance Army leaders in Uganda, Congolese war lords, the Columbia justice system, and the president of Sudan. The Reckoning touches on the two problems that the ICC faces. Not only do they deal with human rights violators but they must also fight to remain efficient and stir up enough political will from the countries involved. The atrocities shown in this movie are only touched on in the trailer but hopefully this movie will alert the American people and Congressional officials alike to the absolute necessity of an International Criminal Court.

Obama Delivers Speech on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Russian-U.S. Relations

On July 7, 2009, President Obama spoke to the graduating class of the New Economic School in Moscow. He discussed the importance of Russian involvement in global politics and a new way of thinking about the relationship between the U.S. and Russia. He noted that the dynamics of international politics have changed greatly and that "the pursuit of power is no longer a zero-sum game - progress must be shared." He added that the U.S. and Russia must make "a sustained effort...to identify mutual interests, and expand dialogue and cooperation that can pave the way to progress."

In his speech, he specifically addressed the issue of nuclear non-proliferation. "The notion that prestige comes from holding [nuclear] weapons, or that we can protect ourselves by picking and choosing which nations can have these weapons, is an illusion," Obama said. "In the short period since the end of the Cold War, we've already seen India, Pakistan, and North Korea conduct nuclear tests. Without a fundamental change, do any of us truly believe that the next two decades will not bring about the further spread of these nuclear weapons?" Obama stressed the importance of upholding commitments to the Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT], to which both Russia and the U.S. are party, and of both countries working together to create defense missile architecture against nuclear weapons in Central Asia and the Middle East.

"These challenges demand global partnership," Obama stated, "and that partnership will be stronger if Russia occupies its rightful place as a great power."

Robert McNamara's Legacy of Peace

Robert McNamara has passed away today at the age of 93. He was most well known for being the eighth secretary of defense. He served under both President Kennedy and President Johnson from 1961-1968. He then went on to become the President of the World Bank. Even after retiring McNamara was very active in politics and organizations which promote peace.

His disagreements with President Johnson regarding the Vietnam War lead to his eventual resignation. In 1967 McNamara advised the President to stop sending in troops and bombing North Vietnam. After the war McNamara became an advocate for organizations like the International Criminal Court. He wanted to prevent another war like the Vietnam War and believed that the US needed to submit to the ICC. He also believed in the need for restrictions on the use of nuclear weapons. McNamara's experiences during the Vietnam War influenced his contributions to organizations like the ICC. His legacy is long and important and he will be remembered.

World Opinion of the U.S. in the Obama Era

A lecture on world opinion towards the United States in its transition to the Obama era was led by Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org and Randa Slim of the United States Institute for Peace on July 7.  Mr. Kull opened the meeting with a series of graphs which depicted the attitudes of numerous key nations regarding the U.S.  The graphs showed that throughout most of the world, there has been an overall improvement in opinion towards the United States since President Obama took office.  However, Mr.

World Peace Through Law - a guest post from Jim Ranney

World Peace Through Law: Rethinking an Old Theory and a Call for a UN Peace Force

by: James T. Ranney1 of the Philadelphia CGS Chapter

U.S. and Russia Work Toward More Extensive Weapons Cuts

The United States and Russia have announced that they will hold talks aimed at reducing the amount of weapons, particularly nuclear weapons, on both sides.

T. Friedman on Waxman-Markey Climate Bill: "let's get it passed in the Senate and make it law."

Thomas Friedman said of the Waxman-Markey Bill: "It stinks. It's a mess... Now let's get it passed in the Senate and make it law."

So why does he want this stinky, messy bill to become law?T. Friedman

A Window of Opportunity: The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea

Dr. John T. Oliver has published a new paper describing the history and benifits of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  He goes into great detail regarding why now is the time for the U.S. to ratify this law.

Oliver begins by presenting the history of the Law of the Sea, beginning with it's first negotiations from 1973-1982. He also lays out the basic things that the convention covers such as rights and obligations of coastal states, scientific research, and protection of the marine environment. 157 states have signed the convention yet the US has not. At one point in 1994 the US came close to ratifying the Law of the Sea after President Reagan identified many provisions that needed to be changed. However the Senate has never had a full vote on the convention. 

Oliver then goes on to discuss the many ways that the Law of Sea benefits the U.S. One of the biggest is National Security. This law would provide resources necessary for fighting the global war on terrorism and protecting our military power overseas. As this is one of the most important issues for the United States it is surprising that this law has not been ratified. Oliver also discusses environmental and economic advantages as well as the war on drugs. The Law of the Sea would give the US territorial claims to the 200 nautical miles on its coast which would help the control of drug trafficking.

House Passes Key Climate Legislation!

On June 26, 2009, the House succeeded in passing the Waxman-Markey Bill, which takes important steps towards addressing climate change. The bill narrowly passed with 219 ayes and 212 noes: we commend all the representatives who voted in favor of this key legislation, and urge the Senate to pass the bill before December 2009, when countries will be meeting in Copenhagen to discuss an international environmental agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

The Congressional Budget Analysis Office found that 1.7 million jobs will be created with the implementation of the legislation through the growth of clean energy jobs. Low income families will receive a $40 benefit from using more solar and wind energy in place of foreign oil. U.S. dependence on foreign oil will be cut, along with the hazardous effects of pollution- all for the cost of about one postage stamp a day for every family.

There are concerns about compromises made along the way to secure support for the bill. For instance, the Agriculture Committee has secured rights over the Environmental Protection Agency to oversee implementation among farmers, and pollution permits have been given for free to coal-burning utilities, oil refineries, automakers, and manufacturers struggling to compete with overseas production.

By imposing a higher price on carbon emissions, incentives are created to invest in green technology within the U.S. The bill is not strong enough to sufficiently thwart climate change, but it is an important step in the right direction, and a symbol of changing mindsets and modes of development. If even the current bill could not be passed, hopes for stronger measures tomorrow would be dampened significantly.