Recent Blog Posts
Though the citizens of the U.S. have just finished packing up their fireworks, the people of South Sudan are just getting theirs out. Tomorrow, July 9, marks the independence of this country and its secession from North Sudan. Unfortunately, the newly minted nation may face independence fireworks of a more violent sort.
The independence negotiations ended a 21 year civil war between the northern and southern regions, and in the past few weeks, the north has recognized the south as a sovereign state. However, the battle for complete freedom is far from won. In the recently demilitarized regions of South Kordofan and Abyei, the threat of war still lingers on, and the brokered peace is fragile at best. Boundaries and borders are still in dispute, as different ethnic groups and oil barons continue to face off. For now, the UN peacekeeping mission (deployed in 2005 to oversee the secession negotiations) is stationed in these regions, hoping to maintain order. The UN troops, along with some sent from neighboring Ethiopia, are hoping to facilitate a successful transition to independence.
On July 1, Freedom House released a report detailing the "worst of the worst," highlighting the 20 least free places on earth. The list is comprised of the most repressive dictatorships around the globe, and features countries such as North Korea, Libya, Burma, Equatorial Guinea, and Eritrea in its top 5. The dictators of these nations share the same appalling human rights and political records. Elections are never free and are often rigged, voters are threatened, opposition parties (if they are allowed to exist) are hindered, violence is perpetrated on women and minorities, religious factions are persecuted, and the refugees from each country number in the thousands.
Not coincidentally, the International Criminal Court has been very active in both pursuing and issuing arrest warrants for the heads of states in these repressed countries. Of the top 20, the ICC has been involved in Libya and the Sudan, issuing warrants for both Qaddafi and al-Bashir, while there have been moves to begin or continue ICC investigation in Burma, Syria, and Cote d'Ivoire (all of which make the list). The ICC hopes to depose these leaders in the interest of both the country's citizens and the international community.
President Wallace Loh of the University of Maryland is the latest of many university presidents with the prescience to see the future of higher education: global engagement. In his recent op-ed in the Baltimore Sun, he heralded the importance of students' international exposure, not only so that these future leaders would be able to survive in an increasingly global economy, but because they would be the leaders addressing the worldwide challenges of energy, pandemics, and climate change.
"At the beginning of the 21st century, we can say that every person sent out from a university should be a person of the world as well as a person of his or her time." -Wallace Loh, President of the University of Maryland