Sunday, July 26, 2015
International Courts and the New Paternalism - African leaders are the targets because ambitious jurists consider them to be 'low-hanging fruit'
African leaders are the targets because ambitious jurists consider them to be ‘low-hanging fruit.’
WSJ, July 24, 2015 6:47 p.m. ET
President Obama arrived in Kenya on Friday and will travel from here to Ethiopia, two crucial U.S. allies in East Africa. The region is not only emerging as an economic powerhouse, it is also an important front in the battle with al Qaeda, al-Shabaab, Islamic State and other Islamist radicals.
Yet grievances related to how the International Criminal Court’s universal jurisdiction is applied in Africa are interfering with U.S. and European relations on the continent. In Africa there are accusations of neocolonialism and even racism in ICC proceedings, and a growing consensus that Africans are being unjustly indicted by the court.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. After the failure to prevent mass atrocities in Europe and Africa in the 1990s, a strong consensus emerged that combating impunity had to be an international priority. Ad hoc United Nations tribunals were convened to judge the masterminds of genocide and crimes against humanity in Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. These courts were painfully slow and expensive. But their mandates were clear and limited, and they helped countries to turn the page and focus on rebuilding.
Soon universal jurisdiction was seen not only as a means to justice, but also a tool for preventing atrocities in the first place. Several countries in Western Europe including Spain, the United Kingdom, Belgium and France empowered their national courts with universal jurisdiction. In 2002 the International Criminal Court came into force.
Africa and Europe were early adherents and today constitute the bulk of ICC membership. But India, China, Russia and most of the Middle East—representing well over half the world’s population—stayed out. So did the United States. Leaders in both parties worried that an unaccountable supranational court would become a venue for politicized show trials. The track record of the ICC and European courts acting under universal jurisdiction has amply borne out these concerns.
Only when U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld threatened to move NATO headquarters out of Brussels in 2003 did Belgium rein in efforts to indict former President George H.W. Bush, and Gens. Colin Powell and Tommy Franks, for alleged “war crimes” during the 1990-91 Gulf War. Spanish courts have indicted American military personnel in Iraq and investigated the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay.
But with powerful states able to shield themselves and their clients, Africa has borne the brunt of indictments. Far from pursuing justice for victims, these courts have become a venue for public-relations exercises by activist groups. Within African countries, they have been manipulated by one political faction to sideline another, often featuring in electoral politics.
The ICC’s recent indictments of top Kenyan officials are a prime example. In October 2014, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta became the first sitting head of state to appear before the ICC, though he took the extraordinary step of temporarily transferring power to his deputy to avoid the precedent. ICC prosecutors indicted Mr. Kenyatta in connection with Kenya’s post-election ethnic violence of 2007-08, in which some 1,200 people were killed.
Last December the ICC withdrew all charges against Mr. Kenyatta, saying the evidence had “not improved to such an extent that Mr Kenyatta’s alleged criminal responsibility can be proven beyond reasonable doubt.” As U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs from 2005-09, and the point person during Kenya’s 2007-08 post-election violence, I knew the ICC indictments were purely political. The court’s decision to continue its case against Kenya’s deputy president, William Ruto, reflects a degree of indifference and even hostility to Kenya’s efforts to heal its political divisions.
The ICC’s indictments in Kenya began with former chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s determination to prove the court’s relevance in Africa by going after what he reportedly called “low-hanging fruit.” In other words, African political and military leaders unable to resist ICC jurisdiction.
More recently, the arrest of Rwandan chief of intelligence Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Karenzi Karake in London last month drew a unanimous reproach from the African Union’s Peace and Security Council. The warrant dates to a 2008 Spanish indictment for alleged reprisal killings following the 1994 Rwandan genocide. At the time of the indictment, Mr. Karenzi Karake was deputy commander of the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping operation in Darfur. The Rwandan troops under his command were the backbone of the Unamid force, and his performance in Darfur was by all accounts exemplary.
Moreover, a U.S. government interagency review conducted in 2007-08, when I led the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs, found that the Spanish allegations against Mr. Karenzi Karake were false and unsubstantiated. The U.S. fully backed his reappointment in 2008 as deputy commander of Unamid forces. It would be a travesty of justice if the U.K. were to extradite Mr. Karake to Spain to stand trial.
Sadly, the early hope of “universal jurisdiction” ending impunity for perpetrators of genocide and crimes against humanity has given way to cynicism, both in Africa and the West. In Africa it is believed that, in the rush to demonstrate their power, these courts and their defenders have been too willing to brush aside considerations of due process that they defend at home.
In the West, the cynicism is perhaps even more damaging because it calls into question the moral capabilities of Africans and their leaders, and revives the language of paternalism and barbarism of earlier generations.
Ms. Frazer, a former U.S. ambassador to South Africa (2004-05) and assistant secretary of state for African affairs (2005-09), is an adjunct senior fellow for Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Dissidents in the world's most oppressive countries aren't feeling the love from President Obama.WSJ, Apr 24, 2010
No one seems to know precisely who is behind the "Miss Me Yet?" billboard—the cheeky one featuring a grinning George W. Bush that looks out over I-35 near Wyoming, Minn. But Syrian dissident Ahed Al-Hendi sympathizes with the thought.
In 2006, Mr. Hendi was browsing pro-democracy Web sites in a Damascus Internet café when plainclothes cops carrying automatic guns swooped in, cuffed him, and threw him into the trunk of a car. He spent over a month in prison, some of it alone in a 5-by-3 windowless basement cell where he listened to his friend being tortured in the one next door. Those screams, he says, were cold comfort—at least he knew his friend hadn't been killed.
Mr. Hendi was one of the lucky ones: He's now living in Maryland as a political refugee where he works for an organization called Cyberdissidents.org. And this past Monday, he joined other international dissidents at a conference sponsored by the Bush Institute at Southern Methodist University to discuss the way digital tools can be used to resist repressive regimes.
He also got to meet the 43rd president. In a private breakfast hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Bush, Mr. Hendi's message to the former president was simple: "We miss you." There have been "a lot of changes" under the current administration, he added, and not for the better.
Adrian Hong, who was imprisoned in China in 2006 for his work helping North Koreans escape the country (a modern underground railroad), echoed that idea. "When I was released [after 10 days] I was told it was because of very strong messaging from the White House and the culture you set," he told Mr. Bush.
The former president, now sporting a deep tan, didn't mention President Obama once on or off the record. The most he would say was, "I'm really concerned about an isolationist mentality . . . I don't think it lives up to the values of our country." The dissidents weren't so diplomatic.
Mr. Hendi elaborated on the policy changes he thinks Mr. Obama has made toward his home country. "In Syria, when a single dissident was arrested during the administration of George W. Bush, at the very least the White House spokesman would condemn it. Under the Obama administration: nothing."
Nor is Mr. Hendi a fan of this administration's efforts to engage the regime, most recently by deciding to send an ambassador to Damascus for the first time since 2005. "This gives confidence to the regime," he says. "They are not capable of a dialogue; they don't believe in it. They believe in force."
Mr. Hong put things this way: "When you look at the championing of dissidents . . . and even the rhetoric, it's dropped off sharply." Under Mr. Bush, he says, there were many high-profile meetings with North Korean dissidents. "They went out of their way to show this was a priority."
Then there is Marcel Granier, the president of RCTV, Venezuela's oldest and most popular television station. He employs several thousand people—or at least he did until Hugo Chávez cancelled the network's license in 2007. Now, he's struggling to maintain an independent channel on cable: Mr. Chávez ordered the cable networks not to carry his station in January. Government supporters have attacked his home with tear gas twice, yet he remains in the country, tirelessly advocating for media freedom.
Like many of the democrats at the conference, Mr. Granier was excited by Mr. Obama's historic election, and inspired by the way he energized American voters. But a year and a half later, he's disturbed by the administration's silence as his country slips rapidly towards dictatorship. "In Afghanistan," he quips, "at least they know that America will be involved for the next 18 months."
This sense of abandonment has been fueled by real policy shifts. Just this week word came that the administration cut funds to promote democracy in Egypt by half. Programs in countries like Jordan and Iran have also faced cuts. Then there are the symbolic gestures: letting the Dalai Lama out the back door, paltry statements of support for Iranian demonstrators, smiling and shaking hands with Mr. Chávez, and so on.
Daniel Baer, a representative from the State Department who participated in the conference, dismissed the notion that the White House has distanced itself from human-rights promotion as a baseless "meme" when I raised the issue. But in fact all of this is of a piece of Mr. Obama's overarching strategy to make it abundantly clear that he is not his predecessor.
Mr. Bush is almost certainly aware that the freedom agenda, the centerpiece of his presidency, has become indelibly linked to the war in Iraq and to regime change by force. Too bad. The peaceful promotion of human rights and democracy—in part by supporting the individuals risking their lives for liberty—are consonant with America's most basic values. Standing up for them should not be a partisan issue.
Yet for now Mr. Bush is simply not the right poster boy: He can't successfully rebrand and depoliticize the freedom agenda. So perhaps he hopes that by sitting back he can let Americans who remain wary of publicly embracing this cause become comfortable with it again. For the sake of the courageous democrats in countries like Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, Colombia, China and Russia, let's hope so.
Ms. Weiss is an assistant editorial features editor at the Journal.
Monday, January 18, 2010
For Haitians, just about every conceivable aid scheme beyond immediate humanitarian relief will lead to more poverty, more corruption and less institutional capacity.
WSJ, Jan 19, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
A humane decision for temporary refuge in America.
WSJ, Jan 16, 2010
The Obama Administration acted properly, and humanely, late yesterday in extending temporary amnesty to Haitians who were illegally inside the U.S. before this week's catastrophic earthquake. Some 30,000 Haitians had been awaiting deportation but will now be allowed to stay in the U.S. and work for another 18 months.
You might even call this amnesty of a sort, if we can use that politically taboo word. But we hope even the most restrictionist voices on the right and in the labor movement will understand the humanitarian imperative. The suffering and chaos since the earthquake should make it obvious that Haiti is no place to return people whose only crime was coming to America to escape the island's poverty and ill-governance.
For that matter, we don't mind if they stay here permanently. Haitian immigrants as a group are among America's most successful, which demonstrates that Haiti's woes owe more to corruption, disdain for property rights and lack of public safety than to any flaw in its people. Their remittances to Haiti also help to sustain the impoverished population. Haitians received some $1.65 billion from overseas in 2006, according to the Inter-American Development Bank.
We can argue later about whether to make this temporary amnesty permanent, but for now the U.S. decision to let the Haitians stay is evidence of the generosity that Americans typically show in a crisis.
Monday, December 14, 2009
I want to thank Jas for his introductory remarks, and clearly, those of you who are in the Foreign Service School heard reflections of the extraordinary opportunity you’ve been given to study here as he spoke about the culture of human rights. It is also a real honor for me to be delivering this speech at Georgetown, because there is no better place than this university to talk about human rights. And President DeGioia, the administration, and the faculty embody the university’s long tradition of supporting free expression and free inquiry and the cause of human rights around the world.
I know that President DeGioia himself has taught a course on human rights, as well as on the ethics of international development with one of my longtime colleagues, Carol Lancaster, the acting dean of the School of Foreign Service. And I want to commend the faculty here who are helping to shape our thinking on human rights, on conflict resolution, on development and related subjects. It is important to be at this university because the students here, the faculty, every single year add to the interreligious dialogue. You give voice to many advocates and activists who are working on the front lines of the global human rights movement, through the Human Rights Institute here at the law school and other programs. And the opportunities that you provide your students to work in an international women’s rights clinic are especially close to my heart.
All of these efforts reflect the deep commitment of the Georgetown administration, faculty, and students to this cause. So first and foremost, I am here to say thank you. Thank you for keeping human rights front and center. Thank you for training the next generation of human rights advocates, and more generally, introducing students who may never be an activist, may never work for Amnesty International or any other organization specifically devoted to human rights, but who will leave this university with it imbued in their hearts and minds. So thank you, President DeGioia, for all that you do and all that Georgetown has done. (Applause.)
Today, I want to speak to you about the Obama Administration’s human rights agenda for the 21st century. It is a subject on the minds of many people who are eager to hear our approach, and understandably so, because it is a critical issue that warrants our energy and our attention. My comments today will provide an overview of our thinking on human rights and democracy and how they fit into our broader foreign policy, as well as the principles and policies that guide our approach.
But let me also say that what this is not. It could not be a comprehensive accounting of abuses or nations with whom we have raised human rights concerns. It could not be and is not a checklist or a scorecard. We issue a Human Rights Report every year and that goes into great detail on the concerns we have for many countries. But I hope that we can use this opportunity to look at this important issue in a broader light and appreciate its full complexity, moral weight, and urgency. And with that, let me turn to the business at hand.
In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize last week, President Obama said that while war is never welcome or good, it will sometimes be right and necessary, because, in his words, “Only a just peace based upon the inherent rights and dignity of every individual can be truly lasting.” Throughout history and in our own time, there have been those who violently deny that truth. Our mission is to embrace it, to work for lasting peace through a principled human rights agenda, and a practical strategy to implement it.
President Obama’s speech also reminded us that our basic values, the ones enshrined in our Declaration of Independence – the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – are not only the source of our strength and endurance; they are the birthright of every woman, man, and child on earth. That is also the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the prerequisite for building a world in which every person has the opportunity to live up to his or her God-given potential, and the power behind every movement for freedom, every campaign for democracy, every effort to foster development, and every struggle against oppression.
The potential within every person to learn, discover and embrace the world around them, the potential to join freely with others to shape their communities and their societies so that every person can find fulfillment and self-sufficiency, the potential to share life’s beauties and tragedies, laughter and tears with the people we love – that potential is sacred. That, however, is a dangerous belief to many who hold power and who construct their position against an “other” – another tribe or religion or race or gender or political party. Standing up against that false sense of identity and expanding the circle of rights and opportunities to all people – advancing their freedoms and possibilities – is why we do what we do.
This week we observe Human Rights Week. At the State Department, though, every week is Human Rights Week. Sixty-one years ago this month, the world’s leaders proclaimed a new framework of rights, laws, and institutions that could fulfill the vow of “never again.” They affirmed the universality of human rights through the Universal Declaration and legal agreements including those aimed at combating genocide, war crimes and torture, and challenging discrimination against women and racial and religious minorities. Burgeoning civil society movements and nongovernmental organizations became essential partners in advancing the principle that every person counts, and in exposing those who violate that standard.
As we celebrate that progress, though, our focus must be on the work that remains to be done. The preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights encourages us to use it as a, quote, “standard of achievement.” And so we should. But we cannot deny the gap that remains between its eloquent promises and the life experiences of so many of our fellow human beings. Now, we must finish the job.
Our human rights agenda for the 21st century is to make human rights a human reality, and the first step is to see human rights in a broad context. Of course, people must be free from the oppression of tyranny, from torture, from discrimination, from the fear of leaders who will imprison or “disappear” them. But they also must be free from the oppression of want – want of food, want of health, want of education, and want of equality in law and in fact.
To fulfill their potential, people must be free to choose laws and leaders; to share and access information, to speak, criticize, and debate. They must be free to worship, associate, and to love in the way that they choose. And they must be free to pursue the dignity that comes with self-improvement and self-reliance, to build their minds and their skills, to bring their goods to the marketplace, and participate in the process of innovation. Human rights have both negative and positive requirements. People should be free from tyranny in whatever form, and they should also be free to seize the opportunities of a full life. That is why supporting democracy and fostering development are cornerstones of our 21st century human rights agenda.
This Administration, like others before us, will promote, support, and defend democracy. We will relinquish neither the word nor the idea to those who have used it too narrowly, or to justify unwise policies. We stand for democracy not because we want other countries to be like us, but because we want all people to enjoy the consistent protection of the rights that are naturally theirs, whether they were born in Tallahassee or Tehran. Democracy has proven the best political system for making human rights a human reality over the long term.
But it is crucial that we clarify what we mean when we talk about democracy, because democracy means not only elections to choose leaders, but also active citizens and a free press and an independent judiciary and transparent and responsive institutions that are accountable to all citizens and protect their rights equally and fairly. In democracies, respecting rights isn’t a choice leaders make day by day; it is the reason they govern. Democracies protect and respect citizens every day, not just on Election Day. And democracies demonstrate their greatness not by insisting they are perfect, but by using their institutions and their principles to make themselves and their union more perfect, just as our country continues to do after 233 years.
At the same time, human development must also be part of our human rights agenda. Because basic levels of well-being – food, shelter, health, and education – and of public common goods like environmental sustainability, protection against pandemic disease, provisions for refugees – are necessary for people to exercise their rights, and because human development and democracy are mutually reinforcing. Democratic governments are not likely to survive long if their citizens do not have the basic necessities of life. The desperation caused by poverty and disease often leads to violence that further imperils the rights of people and threatens the stability of governments. Democracies that deliver on rights, opportunities, and development for their people are stable, strong, and most likely to enable people to live up to their potential.
So human rights, democracy, and development are not three separate goals with three separate agendas. That view doesn’t reflect the reality we face. To make a real and long-term difference in people’s lives, we have to tackle all three simultaneously with a commitment that is smart, strategic, determined, and long-term. We should measure our success by asking this question: Are more people in more places better able to exercise their universal rights and live up to their potential because of our actions?
Our principles are our North Star, but our tools and tactics must be flexible and reflect the reality on the ground wherever we are trying to have a positive impact. Now, in some cases, governments are willing but unable without support to establish strong institutions and protections for citizens – for example, the nascent democracies in Africa. And we can extend our hand as a partner to help them try to achieve authority and build the progress they desire. In other cases, like Cuba or Nigeria, governments are able but unwilling to make the changes their citizens deserve. There, we must vigorously press leaders to end repression, while supporting those within societies who are working for change. And in cases where governments are both unwilling and unable – places like the eastern Congo – we have to support those courageous individuals and organizations who try to protect people and who battle against the odds to plant seeds for a more hopeful future.
Now, I don’t need to tell you that challenges we face are diverse and complicated. And there is not one approach or formula, doctrine or theory that can be easily applied to every situation. But I want to outline four elements of the Obama Administration’s approach to putting our principles into action, and share with you some of the challenges we face in doing so.
First, a commitment to human rights starts with universal standards and with holding everyone accountable to those standards, including ourselves. On his second full day in office, President Obama issued an executive order prohibiting the use of torture or official cruelty by any U.S. official and ordered the closure of Guantanamo Bay. Next year, we will report on human trafficking, as we do every year, but this time, not only just on other countries, but also on our own. And we will participate through the United Nations in the Universal Periodic Review of our own human rights record, just as we encourage other nations to do.
By holding ourselves accountable, we reinforce our moral authority to demand that all governments adhere to obligations under international law; among them, not to torture, arbitrarily detain and persecute dissenters, or engage in political killings. Our government and the international community must counter the pretensions of those who deny or abdicate their responsibilities and hold violators to account.
Sometimes, we will have the most impact by publicly denouncing a government action, like the coup in Honduras or violence in Guinea. Other times, we will be more likely to help the oppressed by engaging in tough negotiations behind closed doors, like pressing China and Russia as part of our broader agenda. In every instance, our aim will be to make a difference, not to prove a point.
Calling for accountability doesn’t start or stop, however, at naming offenders. Our goal is to encourage – even demand – that governments must also take responsibility by putting human rights into law and embedding them in government institutions; by building strong, independent courts, competent and disciplined police and law enforcement. And once rights are established, governments should be expected to resist the temptation to restrict freedom of expression when criticism arises, and to be vigilant in preventing law from becoming an instrument of oppression, as bills like the one under consideration in Uganda would do to criminalize homosexuality.
We know that all governments and all leaders sometimes fall short. So there have to be internal mechanisms of accountability when rights are violated. Often the toughest test for governments, which is essential to the protection of human rights, is absorbing and accepting criticism. And here too, we should lead by example. In the last six decades we have done this – imperfectly at times but with significant outcomes – from making amends for the internment of our own Japanese American citizens in World War II, to establishing legal recourse for victims of discrimination in the Jim Crow South, to passing hate crimes legislation to include attacks against gays and lesbians. When injustice anywhere is ignored, justice everywhere is denied. Acknowledging and remedying mistakes does not make us weaker, it reaffirms the strength of our principles and institutions.
Second, we must be pragmatic and agile in pursuit of our human rights agenda – not compromising on our principles, but doing what is most likely to make them real. And we will use all the tools at our disposal, and when we run up against a wall, we will not retreat with resignation or recriminations, or repeatedly run up against the same well, but respond with strategic resolve to find another way to effect change and improve people’s lives.
We acknowledge that one size does not fit all. And when old approaches aren’t working, we won’t be afraid to attempt new ones, as we have this year by ending the stalemate of isolation and instead pursuing measured engagement with Burma. In Iran, we have offered to negotiate directly with the government on nuclear issues, but have at the same time expressed solidarity with those inside Iran struggling for democratic change. As President Obama said in his Nobel speech, “They have us on their side.”
And we will hold governments accountable for their actions, as we have just recently by terminating Millennium Challenge Corporation grants this year for Madagascar and Niger in the wake of government behavior. As the President said last week, “we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement; pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time.”
We are also working for positive change within multilateral institutions. They are valuable tools that, when in their best, leverage the efforts of many countries around a common purpose. So we have rejoined the UN Human Rights Council not because we don’t see its flaws, but because we think that participating gives us the best chance to be a constructive influence.
In our first session, we cosponsored the successful resolution on Freedom of Expression, a forceful declaration of principle at a time when that freedom is jeopardized by new efforts to constrain religious practice, including recently in Switzerland, and by efforts to criminalize the defamation of religion – a false solution which exchanges one wrong for another. And in the United Nations Security Council, I was privileged to chair the September session where we passed a resolution mandating protections against sexual violence in armed conflict.
Principled pragmatism informs our approach on human rights with all countries, but particularly with key countries like China and Russia. Cooperation with each of those is critical to the health of the global economy and the nonproliferation agenda we seek, also to managing security issues like North Korea and Iran, and addressing global problems like climate change.
The United States seeks positive relationships with China and Russia, and that means candid discussions of divergent views. In China, we call for protection of rights of minorities in Tibet and Xinxiang; for the rights to express oneself and worship freely; and for civil society and religious organizations to advocate their positions within a framework of the rule of law. And we believe strongly that those who advocate peacefully for reform within the constitution, such as Charter 2008 signatories, should not be prosecuted.
With Russia, we deplore the murders of journalists and activists and support the courageous individuals who advocate at great peril for democracy. With China, Russia, and others, we are engaging on issues of mutual interest while also engaging societal actors in these same countries who are working to advance human rights and democracy. The assumption that we must either pursue human rights or our “national interests” is wrong. The assumption that only coercion and isolation are effective tools for advancing democratic change is also wrong.
Across our diplomacy and development efforts, we keep striving for innovative ways to achieve results. That’s why I commissioned the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review to develop a forward-looking strategy built on analysis of our objectives, our challenges, our tools, and our capacities to achieve America’s foreign policy and national security objectives. And make no mistake, issues of Democracy and Governance – D&G as they are called at USAID – are central to this review.
The third element of our approach is that we support change driven by citizens and their communities. The project of making human rights a human reality cannot be just one for governments. It requires cooperation among individuals and organizations within communities and across borders. It means that we work with others who share our commitment to securing lives of dignity for all who share the bonds of humanity.
Six weeks ago, in Morocco, I met with civil society activists from across the Middle East and North Africa. They exemplify how lasting change comes from within and how it depends on activists who create the space in which engaged citizens and civil society can build the foundations for rights-respecting development and democracy. Outside governments and global civil society cannot impose change, but we can promote and bolster it and defend it. We can encourage and provide support for local grassroots leaders, providing a lifeline of protection to human rights and democracy activists when they get in trouble, as they often do, for raising sensitive issues and voicing dissent. This means using tools like our Global Human Rights Defenders Fund, which in the last year has provided targeted legal and relocation assistance to 170 human rights defenders around the world.
And we can stand with these defenders publicly, as we have by sending a high-level diplomatic mission to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, and as I have done around the world, from Guatemala to Kenya to Egypt, speaking out for civil society and political leaders who are working to try to change their societies from within, and also working through the backchannels for the safety of dissidents and protecting them from persecution.
We can amplify the voices of activists and advocates working on these issues by shining a spotlight on their progress. They often pursue their mission in isolation, often so marginalized within their own societies. And we can endorse the legitimacy of their efforts. We recognize these with honors like the Women of Courage awards that First Lady Michelle Obama and I presented earlier this year and the Human Rights Defenders award I will present next month, and we can applaud others like Vital Voices, the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights, and the Lantos Foundation, that do the same.
We can give them access to public forums that lend visibility to their ideas, and continue to press for a role for nongovernmental organizations in multilateral institutions like the United Nations and the OSCE. And we can enlist other allies like international labor unions who were instrumental in the Solidarity movement in Poland or religious organizations who are championing the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa.
We can help change agents, gain access to and share information through the internet and mobile phones so that they can communicate and organize. With camera phones and Facebook pages, thousands of protestors in Iran have broadcast their demands for rights denied, creating a record for all the world, including Iran’s leaders, to see. I’ve established a special unit inside the State Department to use technology for 21st century statecraft.
In virtually every country I visit – from Indonesia to Iraq, from South Korea to the Dominican Republic – I conduct a town hall or roundtable discussion with groups outside of government to learn from them, and to provide a platform for their voices, ideas, and opinions. When I was recently in Russia, I visited an independent radio station to give an interview, and express through word and deed our support for independent media at a time when free expression is under threat.
On my visits to China, I have made a point of meeting with women activists. The UN Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 inspired a generation of women civil society leaders who have become rights defenders for today’s China. In 1998, I met with a small group of lawyers in a crowded apartment on the fifth floor of a walk-up building. They described for me their efforts to win rights for women to own property, have a say in marriage and divorce, and be treated as equal citizens.
When I visited China again earlier this year, I met with some of the same women, but this group had grown and expanded its scope. Now there were women working not just for legal rights, but for environmental, health, and economic rights as well.
Yet one of them, Dr. Gao Yaojie, has been harassed for speaking out about AIDS in China. She should instead be applauded by her government for helping to confront the crisis. NGOs and civil society leaders need the financial, technical and political support we provide. Many repressive regimes have tried to limit the independence and effectiveness of activists and NGOs by restricting their activities, including more than 25 governments that have recently adopted new restrictions. But our funding and support can give a foothold to local organizations, training programs, and independent media. And of course, one of the most important ways that we and others in the international community can lay the foundation for change from the bottom up is through targeted assistance to those in need, and through partnerships that foster broad-based economic development.
To build success for the long run, our development assistance needs to be as effective as possible at delivering results and paving the way for broad-based growth and long-term self-reliance. Beyond giving people the capacity to meet their material needs for today, economic empowerment should give them a stake in securing their own futures, in seeing their societies become the kind of democracies that protect rights and govern fairly. So we will pursue a rights-respecting approach to development – consulting with local communities, ensuring transparency, midwife-ing accountable institutions – so our development activities act in concert with our efforts to support democratic governance. That is the pressing challenge we face in Afghanistan and Pakistan today.
The fourth element of our approach is that we will widen our focus. We will not forget that positive change must be reinforced and strengthened where hope is on the rise, and we will not ignore or overlook places of seemingly intractable tragedy and despair. Where human lives hang in the balance, we must do what we can to tilt that balance toward a better future.
Our efforts to support those working for human rights, economic empowerment, and democratic governance are driven by commitment, not convenience. But they have to be sustained. They cannot be subject to the whims or the wins of political change in our own country. Democratic progress is urgent but it is not quick, and we should never take for granted its permanence. Backsliding is always a threat, as we’ve learned in places like Kenya where the perpetrators of post-election violence have thus far escaped justice; and in the Americas where we are worried about leaders who have seized property, trampled rights, and abused justice to enhance personal rule.
And when democratic change occurs, we cannot afford to become complacent. Instead, we have to continue reinforcing NGOs and the fledgling institutions of democracy. Young democracies like Liberia, East Timor, Moldova and Kosovo need our help to secure improvements in health, education and welfare. We must stay engaged to nurture democratic development in places like Ukraine and Georgia, which experienced democratic breakthroughs earlier this decade but have struggled to consolidate their democratic gains because of both internal and external factors.
So we stand ready – both in our bilateral relationships and through international institutions – to help governments that have committed to improving themselves by assisting them in fighting corruption and helping train police forces and public servants. And we will support regional organizations and institutions like the Organization of American States, the African Union, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, where they take their own steps to defend democratic principles and institutions.
Success stories deserve our attention so they continue to make progress and also serve as a model for others. And even as we reinforce the successes, conscience demands that we are not cowed by the overwhelming difficulty of making inroads against misery in the hard places like Sudan, Congo, North Korea, Zimbabwe, or on the hard issues like ending gender inequality and discrimination against gays and lesbians, from the Middle East to Latin America, Africa to Asia.
Now, we have to continue to press for solutions in Sudan where ongoing tensions threaten to add to the devastation wrought by genocide in Darfur and an overwhelming refugee crisis. We will work to identify ways that we and our partners can enhance human security, while at the same time focusing greater attention on efforts to prevent genocide elsewhere.
And of course, we have to remain focused on women – women’s rights, women’s roles, and women’s responsibilities. As I said in Beijing in 1995, “human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights,” but oh, I wish it could be so easily translated into action and changes. That ideal is far from being realized in so many places around our world, but there is no place that so epitomizes the very difficult, tragic circumstances confronting women than in eastern Congo.
I was in Goma last August, the epicenter of one of the most violent and chaotic regions on earth. And when I was there, I met with victims of horrific gender and sexual violence, and I met with refugees driven from their homes by the many military forces operating there. I heard from those working to end the conflicts and to protect the victims in such dire circumstances. I saw the best and the worst of humanity in a single day, the unspeakable acts of violence that have left women physically and emotionally brutalized, and the heroism of the women and men themselves, of the doctors, nurses and volunteers working to repair bodies and spirits.
They are on the front lines of the struggle for human rights. Seeing firsthand their courage and tenacity of they and the Congolese people and the internal fortitude that keeps them going is not only humbling, but inspires me every day to keep working.
So those four aspects of our approach – accountability, principled pragmatism, partnering from the bottom up, keeping a wide focus where rights are at stake – will help build a foundation that enables people to stand and rise above poverty, hunger, and disease and that secures their rights under democratic governance. We must lift the ceiling of oppression, corruption, and violence.
And we must light a fire of human potential through access to education and economic opportunity. Build the foundation, lift the ceiling, and light the fire all together, all at once. Because when a person has food and education but not the freedom to discuss and debate with fellow citizens, he is denied the life he deserves. And when a person is too hungry or sick to work or vote or worship, she is denied a life she deserves. Freedom doesn’t come in half measures, and partial remedies cannot redress the whole problem.
But we know that the champions of human potential have never had it easy. We may call rights inalienable, but making them so has always been hard work. And no matter how clearly we see our ideals, taking action to make them real requires tough choices. Even if everyone agrees that we should do whatever is most likely to improve the lives of people on the ground, we will not always agree on what course of action fits that description in every case. That is the nature of governing. We all know examples of good intentions that did not produce results, some that even produced unintended consequences that led to greater violations of human rights. And we can learn from the instances in which we have fallen short in the past, because those past difficulties are proof of how difficult progress is, but we do not accept the argument by some that progress in certain places is impossible, because we know progress happens.
Ghana emerged from an era of coups to one of stable democratic governance. Indonesia moved from repressive rule to a dynamic democracy that is Islamic and secular. Chile exchanged dictatorship for democracy and an open economy. Mongolia’s constitutional reforms successfully ushered in multiparty democracy without violence. And there is no better example than the progress made in Central and Eastern Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago, an event I was privileged to help celebrate last month at the Brandenburg Gate.
While the work in front of us is daunting and vast, we face the future together with partners on every continent, partners in faith-based organizations, NGOs, and socially responsible corporations, and partners in governments. From India, the world’s largest democracy, and one that continues to use democratic processes and principles to perfect its union of 1.1 billion people, to Botswana where the new president in Africa’s oldest democracy has promised to govern according to what he calls the “5 Ds” – democracy, dignity, development, discipline, and delivery – providing a recipe for responsible governance that contrasts starkly with the unnecessary and manmade tragedy in neighboring Zimbabwe.
In the end, this isn’t just about what we do; it is about who we are. And we cannot be the people we are – people who believe in human rights – if we opt out of this fight. Believing in human rights means committing ourselves to action, and when we sign up for the promise of rights that apply everywhere, to everyone, that rights will be able to protect and enable human dignity, we also sign up for the hard work of making that promise a reality.
Those of you here at this great university spend time studying the cases of what we’ve tried to do in human rights, or as Jas said, the culture of human rights. You see the shortcomings and the shortfalls. You see the fact that, as Mario Cuomo famously said about politics here in the United States, we campaign in poetry and we govern in prose. Well, that’s true internationally as well. But we need your ideas, we need your criticism, we need your support, we need your intelligent analysis of how together we can slowly, steadily expand that circle of opportunity and rights to every single person.
It is work that we take so seriously. It is work that we know we don’t have all the answers for. But it is the work that America signed up to do. And we will continue, day by day, inch by inch, to try to make whatever progress is humanly possible. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Thank you, Secretary Clinton, for an inspiring, comprehensive, and wonderful speech. It made me proud to be an American.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much.
MODERATOR: And proud to be at Georgetown, too. (Laughter.)
The Secretary has time for three questions, and we thought because so many of you have abandoned your final papers to be here – the students, that is – that we would take those questions from our students. So let me ask you – we have several people along the sides with microphones. Let – okay, here’s somebody with a microphone. Have we got one more? Okay.
So let’s have a first question from a student. That doesn't look like a student. (Laughter.) Let’s get – here, let’s get a young person here. We’re not discriminating. We just want a calm approach to things.
QUESTION: Hello, Secretary Clinton. Thank you so much for speaking to us today. You spoke about the situation in Uganda. Could you please talk to us a little bit more about how the United States can protect the rights of LGBT people in areas where those rights are not respected?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. And first let me say that over this past year, we have elevated into our human rights dialogues and our public statements a very clear message about protecting the rights of the LGBT community worldwide. And we are particularly concerned about some of the specific cases that have come to our attention around the world. There have been organized efforts to kill and maim gays and lesbians in some countries that we have spoken out about, and also conveyed our very strong concerns about to their governments – not that they were governmentally implemented or even that the government was aware of them, but that the governments need to pay much greater attention to the kinds of abuses that we’ve seen in Iraq, for example.
We are deeply concerned about some of the stories coming out of Iran. In large measure, in reaction, we think, to the response to the elections back in June, there have been abuses committed within the detention facilities and elsewhere that we are deeply concerned about. And then the example that I used of a piece of legislation in Uganda which would not only criminalize homosexuality but attach the death penalty to it. We have expressed our concerns directly, indirectly, and we will continue to do so. The bill has not gone through the Ugandan legislature, but it has a lot of public support by various groups, including religious leaders in Uganda. And we view it as a very serious potential violation of human rights.
So it is clear that across the world this is a new frontier in the minds of many people about how we protect the LGBT community, but it is at the top of our list because we see many instances where there is a very serious assault on the physical safety and an increasing effort to marginalize people. And we think it’s important for the United States to stand against that and to enlist others to join us in doing so.
MODERATOR: Right here.
QUESTION: Good morning, Secretary Clinton. Thank you so much for being here at Georgetown. You brought up Iran today, and I really appreciate that as an Iranian American. I’m a graduate student here and had the pleasure of being in Iran this summer for my first trip, and to witness really what happened after the election was an incredible moment in history.
Now that six months has passed after the election, what can the United States do to balance our support of the human rights activists and demonstrators in the streets of Iran with our agenda regarding the broader international security issues with Iran’s proposed nuclear program? So how do we balance those two issues?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right. Well, it is a balancing act. But the more important balancing act is to make sure that our very strong opposition to what is going on inside Iran doesn't in any way undermine the legitimacy of the protest movement that has taken hold. Now, this is one of those very good examples of a hard call. After the election and the reaction that began almost immediately by people who felt that the election was invalid, put us in a position of seriously considering what is the best way we can support those who are putting their lives on the line by going into the streets. We wanted to convey clear support, but we didn’t want the attention shifted from the legitimate concerns to the United States, because we had nothing to do with the spontaneous reaction that grew up in response to the behavior of the Iranian Government.
So it’s been a delicate walk, but I think that the activists inside Iran know that we support them. We have certainly encouraged their continuing communication of what’s going on inside Iran. One of the calls that we made shortly after the election in the midst of the demonstrations is this unit of these very tech-savvy young people that we’ve created inside the State Department knew that there was a lot of communication going on about demonstrations and sharing information on Twitter, and that totally unconnected to what was going on in Iran, Twitter had planned some kind of lapse in service to do something on their system – you can tell I have no idea what they were doing. (Laughter.) I mean, you know, I don’t know Twitter from Tweeter, so – (laughter) – to be honest with you.
So these young tech people in the State Department called Twitter and said don’t take Twitter down right now. Whatever you’re going to do to reboot or whatever it is – (laughter) – don’t take Twitter down because people in Iran are dependent upon Twitter. So we have done that careful balancing.
Now, clearly, we think that pursuing an agenda of nonproliferation is a human rights issue. I mean, what would be worse than nuclear material or even a nuclear weapon being in the hands of either a state or a non-state actor that would be used to intimidate and threaten and even, in the worst-case scenario, destroy?
So we see a continuum. So pursuing what we think is in the national security interest not only of the United States but countries in Europe and in the Middle East is also a human rights issue. So we do not want to be in an either/or position: Are we going to pursue nonproliferation with Iran or are we going to support the demonstrators inside Iran? We’re going to do both to the best of our ability to get a result that will further the cause we are seeking to support.
MODERATOR: One final question in the back. Right there, with the red. Right. Christmas red.
QUESTION: Thank you. I am wondering what you see the role of artists doing in helping to promote human rights. I had the privilege earlier this summer to hear the playwright Lynn Nottage speak in one of the Senate buildings after she advocated for women’s rights in the Congo, and I wonder how you see creative practice accompanying and amplifying policy.
SECRETARY CLINTON: That is a wonderful question because I think the arts and artists are one of our most effective tools in reaching beyond and through repressive regimes, in giving hope to people. It was a very effective tool during the Cold War. I’ve had so many Eastern Europeans tell me that it was American music, it was American literature, it was American poetry that kept them going. I remember when Vaclav Havel came to the White House during my husband’s administration, and we were having a state dinner for him. And I said, “Well, who would you like to entertain at the state dinner?” And I didn’t know what he was going to say. And he said, “Lou Reed.” (Laughter.) “It was his music that was just so important for us – in prison, out of prison.”
Well, you could name many other American artists who have traveled. We’re going to try to increase the number of artistic exchanges we do so that we can get people into settings where they will be able to directly communicate. Now, with communication being what it is today, you can download them and all the rest, but there’s something about the American Government sending somebody to make that case which I think is very important to our commitment.
Also, artists can bright to light in a gripping, dramatic way some of the challenges we face. You mentioned the play about women in the Congo. I remember some years ago seeing a play about women in Bosnia during the conflict there. It was so gripping. I still see the faces of those women who were pulled from their homes, separated from their husbands, often raped and left just as garbage on the side of the road. So I think that artists both individually and through their works can illustrate better than any speech I can give or any government policy we can promulgate that the spirit that lives within each of us, the right to think and dream and expand our boundaries, is not confined, no matter how hard they try, by any regime anywhere in the world. There is no way that you can deprive people from feeling those stirrings inside their soul. And artists can give voice to that. They can give shape and movement to it. And it is so important in places where people feel forgotten and marginalized and depressed and hopeless to have that glimmer that there is a better future, that there is a better way that they just have to hold onto.
So I’m going to do what I can to continue to increase and enhance our artistic outreach, but this is also a great area for private foundations, for NGOs, for artists themselves, for universities like Georgetown to be engaged in. It’s interesting, in today’s world we are deluged with so much information. I mean, we are living in information overload time. And so we need ways of cutting through all of that. We’re also living in an on-the-one-hand-this and on-another-hand-that sort of media environment. I always joke that if a television station or a newspaper interviews somebody who is claiming that the earth is round, they have to put on somebody from the Flat Earth Society because that’s balance, fair and balanced coverage. (Laughter and applause.)
And so part of what we have to do is look for those ways of breaking through all of that. And I think that the power of the arts to do that is so enormous, and we can’t ever forget about the role that it must play in giving life to the aspirations of people around the world.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Khartoum's hard men and Obama's diplomacy.
The Wall Street Journal, Dec 12, 2009, page A18
In his Oslo address Thursday, President Obama mulled the trade-offs in dealing with repressive regimes. "There's no simple formula here," he said. "But we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement, pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time."
From Nobel theory, we move to practice in Sudan. As a candidate, Mr. Obama stood with the human rights champions of Darfur and pledged tougher sanctions and a possible no-fly zone if a Sudanese regime infamous for genocide didn't shape up. His tone has changed in office.
Unveiled in October, the Administration's Sudan policy emphasized carrots for the regime to ease up in Darfur and implement a peace deal in southern Sudan; any sticks were relegated to a secret annex. The President's special envoy to Sudan, retired Major General Scott Gration, was reluctant even to allude to tougher sanctions. He said that "cookies" and "gold stars" are preferable to threats and that Darfur was experiencing only "remnants of genocide."
President Omar al-Bashir, whose Islamist National Congress Party took power in a 1989 coup, got the message and decided to test the limits of this new indulgence. Almost immediately the regime hardened its stance on implementing the peace accord. Brokered by the Bush Administration in 2005, the deal calls for political reforms, including free parliamentary elections now scheduled for April, and a referendum on independence for the south in two years. Long before the ethnic cleansing in Darfur turned into a Hollywood cause célèbre, a two-decade war between the Muslim north and the Christian and oil-rich south took two million lives.
On Monday, police in the capital Khartoum beat and arrested opposition leaders who were pressing parliament to adopt the necessary laws to hold the April elections. Time is running out to pass them. The Bashir regime now refuses to overhaul the national security and criminal laws as also stipulated in the 2005 deal. Its recalcitrance means the election and referendum, assuming both come off, would be tainted. This could in turn end up restarting the civil war.
At the same time, the preference for diplomacy over pressure has encouraged the hard men in Khartoum to stoke the flames in Darfur, ignoring an arms embargo and challenging the U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force there.
In the man-bites-dog story of the year, the U.N. last week took the Obama Administration to task over its lax efforts to enforce the arms embargo, while praising the Bush Administration. "In contrast to that leadership of 2004 and 2005, the United States appears to have now joined the group of influential states who sit by quietly and do nothing to ensure that sanctions protect Darfurians," Enrico Carisch, who was the top U.N. investigator of violations of the arms embargo until October, said in written testimony before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa.
The Sudanese aren't even the hardest of cases. Concerted American pressure forced this regime to cut ties with al Qaeda in the 1990s, end aerial bombing and support for slave-hunting militias in the south and accept the 2005 peace deal.
Mr. Obama can summon up tough rhetoric. "Yes, there will be engagement; yes, there will be diplomacy—but there must be consequences when those things fail," he said in Oslo. But the world's rogues might be forgiven for missing the nuances. So far, they've seen only the engaging side of this American President.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
"We are committed to working with you to keep our people safe and secure, to protect and harness our natural resources and to widen opportunity and prosperity. To achieve the shared prosperity we seek, we must integrate our commitment to democracy and open markets with an equal commitment to social justice."
— Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have met every democratically elected leader in the Western Hemisphere, part of a forward-looking U.S. approach to the region that emphasizes shared responsibility for challenges and relationships. Our engagement with our hemispheric neighbors includes pragmatic and concrete partnerships addressing common challenges and advances a shared regional agenda of inclusive prosperity, democratic governance and citizen safety.
Commitment to Social and Economic Justice
The United States supports policies that broaden social opportunity and mobility, create a wider foundation for growth and ensure the benefits of growth and trade are more widely distributed, particularly among traditionally marginalized groups.
- The U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racism breaks new ground in cooperation on racial issues and opens the way to similar dialogues with other countries.
New Partnerships Benefiting the Region’s Poorest and Most Vulnerable Citizens
- The Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas Initiative fosters shared prosperity by expanding economic opportunities.
- Microfinance Growth Fund for the Americas puts money in the hands of small and micro businesses that affect people’s daily lives.
- The Inter-American Social Protection Network facilitates country-to-country partnerships to design or improve social protection programs, starting with conditional cash transfer programs.
- The Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas is a demand-driven, flexible approach to enhance energy efficiency and infrastructure, by promoting technology sharing and clean energy use.
Commitment to Citizen Safety
The United States and the nations of the Western Hemisphere have developed a series of partnerships to increase public safety and strengthen our ability to address a wide range of traditional and transnational threats, including health and natural disasters. These programs address local, transnational and white collar crime including corruption, as well as the links between these threats and the region’s social and economic challenges.
- The Merida Initiative broadens and deepens our cooperation with our partners in Mexico and Central America to strengthen the rule of law institutions necessary to ensure citizen safety.
- The Caribbean Security Basin Initiative reflects our commitment to greater shared security throughout the Caribbean and will address a broad spectrum of issues affecting the safety of citizens across a 15-nation region.
- Emergency Management Agreements with Mexico and Canada have strengthened emergency communication capabilities and allowed our countries to develop effective responses to pandemic outbreaks.
- The Colombia Strategic Development Initiative is a comprehensive approach to sustain stabilization gains made in Colombia by increasing the presence and impact of economic and social development institutions.
Bicentennials: 2010 is an important year of bicentennial celebrations in the Americas. Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico will all commemorate 200 years of independence. During this "Year of the Bicentennial," we will showcase a history of deepening integration in the hemisphere and a series of new partnerships with our neighbors to strengthen the ability of democracies to deliver safety and prosperity to all their citizens.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Implementing US Gov't Wildlife Surveillance Project to Detect and Predict Emerging Infectious Diseases
USAID, November 3, 2009
[There is a collection of articles on this. This is one of them, titled Implementing USAID Wildlife Surveillance Project to Detect and PREDICT Emerging Infectious Diseases, using Predict as an acronym. Other articles are here and here]
Washington, D.C. - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Global Health is pleased to announce a partnership with UC Davis to monitor for and increase the local capacity in "geographic hot spots" to identify the emergence of new infectious diseases in high-risk wildlife such as bats, rodents, and non-human primates that could pose a major threat to human health. UC Davis leads a coalition of leading experts in wildlife surveillance including Wildlife Conservation Society, Wildlife Trust, The Smithsonian Institute, and Global Viral Forecasting, Inc. This is a five-year cooperative agreement with a ceiling of $75 million.
This project, named PREDICT, is part of the USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats Program - a specialized set of projects that build on the successes of the Agency's 30 years of work in disease surveillance, training and outbreak response. PREDICT will focus on expanding USAID's current monitoring of wild birds for H5N1 influenza to more broadly address the role played by wildlife in spreading of new disease threats.
PREDICT will be active in global hot spots where important wildlife hosts species have significant interaction with domestic animals and high-density human populations. In these regions, the team will focus on detecting disease-causing organisms in wildlife before they lead to human infection or death. Among the 1,461 pathogens recognized to cause diseases in humans, at least 60 percent are of animal origin. Predicting where these new diseases may emerge , and detecting viruses and other pathogens before they spread to people, holds the greatest potential to prevent new pandemics.
PREDICT will be led by Dr. Stephen S. Morse of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, a leading emerging disease authority. Other key staff include Dr. Jonna Mazet, the project's Deputy Director; Dr. William Karesh, Senior Technical Advisor; Dr. Peter Daszak, Technical Expert; and Dr. Nathan Wolfe, Technical Expert.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Washington, DC, October 14, 2009
Conventional arms transfers are a crucial national security concern for the United States, and we have always supported effective action to control the international transfer of arms.
The United States is prepared to work hard for a strong international standard in this area by seizing the opportunity presented by the Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty at the United Nations. As long as that Conference operates under the rule of consensus decision-making needed to ensure that all countries can be held to standards that will actually improve the global situation by denying arms to those who would abuse them, the United States will actively support the negotiations. Consensus is needed to ensure the widest possible support for the Treaty and to avoid loopholes in the Treaty that can be exploited by those wishing to export arms irresponsibly.
On a national basis, the United States has in place an extensive and rigorous system of controls that most agree is the “gold standard” of export controls for arms transfers. On a bilateral basis, the United States regularly engages other states to raise their standards and to prohibit the transfer or transshipment of capabilities to rogue states, terrorist groups, and groups seeking to unsettle regions. Multilaterally, we have consistently supported high international standards, and the Arms Trade Treaty initiative presents us with the opportunity to promote the same high standards for the entire international community that the United States and other responsible arms exporters already have in place to ensure that weaponry is transferred for legitimate purposes.
The United States is committed to actively pursuing a strong and robust treaty that contains the highest possible, legally binding standards for the international transfer of conventional weapons. We look forward to this negotiation as the continuation of the process that began in the UN with the 2008 UN Group of Governmental Experts on the ATT and continued with the 2009 UN Open-Ended Working Group on ATT.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The seizure of the U.S. embassy followed the failure of Carter administration talks with Ayatollah Khomeini's regime.
WSJ, Sep 30, 2009
The Obama administration's talks with Iran—set to take place tomorrow in Geneva—are accompanied by an almost universally accepted misconception: that previous American administrations refused to negotiate with Iranian leaders. The truth, as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said last October at the National Defense University, is that "every administration since 1979 has reached out to the Iranians in one way or another and all have failed."
After the fall of the shah in February 1979, the Carter administration attempted to establish good relations with the revolutionary regime. We offered aid, arms and understanding. The Iranians demanded that the United States honor all arms deals with the shah, remain silent about human-rights abuses carried out by the new regime, and hand over Iranian "criminals" who had taken refuge in America. The talks ended with the seizure of the American Embassy in November.
The Reagan administration—driven by a desire to gain the release of the American hostages—famously sought a modus vivendi with Iran in the midst of the Iran-Iraq War during the mid-1980s. To that end, the U.S. sold weapons to Iran and provided military intelligence about Iraqi forces. High-level American officials such as Robert McFarlane met secretly with Iranian government representatives to discuss the future of the relationship. This effort ended when the Iran-Contra scandal erupted in late 1986.
The Clinton administration lifted sanctions that had been imposed by Messrs. Carter and Reagan. During the 1990s, Iranians (including the national wrestling team) entered the U.S. for the first time since the '70s. The U.S. also hosted Iranian cultural events and unfroze Iranian bank accounts. President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright publicly apologized to Iran for purported past sins, including the overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh's government by the CIA and British intelligence in August 1953. But it all came to nothing when Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei proclaimed that we were their enemies in March 1999.
Most recently, the administration of George W. Bush—invariably and falsely described as being totally unwilling to talk to the mullahs—negotiated extensively with Tehran. There were scores of publicly reported meetings, and at least one very secret series of negotiations. These negotiations have rarely been described in the American press, even though they are the subject of a BBC documentary titled "Iran and the West."
At the urging of British Foreign Minister Jack Straw, the U.S. negotiated extensively with Ali Larijani, then-secretary of Iran's National Security Council. By September 2006, an agreement had seemingly been reached. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Nicholas Burns, her top Middle East aide, flew to New York to await the promised arrival of an Iranian delegation, for whom some 300 visas had been issued over the preceding weekend. Mr. Larijani was supposed to announce the suspension of Iranian nuclear enrichment. In exchange, we would lift sanctions. But Mr. Larijani and his delegation never arrived, as the BBC documentary reported.
Negotiations have always been accompanied by sanctions. But neither has produced any change in Iranian behavior.
Until the end of 2006—and despite appeals for international support, notably from Mr. Clinton—sanctions were almost exclusively imposed by the U.S. alone. Mr. Carter issued an executive order forbidding the sale of anything to Tehran except food and medical supplies. Mr. Reagan banned the importation of virtually all Iranian goods and services in October 1987. Mr. Clinton issued an executive order in March 1995 prohibiting any American involvement with petroleum development. The following May he issued an additional order tightening those sanctions. Five years later, Secretary of State Albright eased some of the sanctions by allowing Americans to buy and import carpets and some food products, such as dried fruits, nuts and caviar.
Mr. Bush took spare parts for commercial aircraft off the embargo list in the fall of 2006. On the other hand, in 2008 he revoked authorization of so-called U-turn transfers, making it illegal for any American bank to process transactions involving Iran—even if non-Iranian banks were at each end.
Throughout this period, our allies advocated for further diplomacy instead of sanctions. But beginning in late 2006, the United Nations started passing sanctions of its own. In December of that year, the Security Council blocked the import or export of "sensitive nuclear material and equipment" and called on member states to freeze the assets of anyone involved with Iran's nuclear program.
In 2007, the Security Council banned all arms exports from Iran, froze Iranian assets, and restricted the travel of anyone involved in the Iranian nuclear program. The following year, it called for investigations of Iranian banks, and authorized member countries to start searching planes and ships coming or going from or to Iran. All to no avail.
Thirty years of negotiations and sanctions have failed to end the Iranian nuclear program and its war against the West. Why should anyone think they will work now? A change in Iran requires a change in government. Common sense and moral vision suggest we should support the courageous opposition movement, whose leaders have promised to end support for terrorism and provide total transparency regarding the nuclear program.
Mr. Ledeen, a scholar at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, is the author, most recently, of "Accomplice to Evil: Iran and the War Against the West," out next month from St. Martin's Press.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Many restrictions on the use of force against aggressors make no moral sense.
The Wall Street Journal, page A25, Sep 22, 2009
Last week the United Nations issued a report painting the Israelis as major violators of international law in the three-week Gaza war that began in December 2008. While many find the conclusion a bit unsettling or even bizarre, the report's conclusion may be largely correct.
This says more about international law, however, than it does about the propriety of Israel's conduct. The rules of international law governing the use of force by victims of aggression are embarrassingly unjust and would never be tolerated by any domestic criminal law system. They give the advantage to unlawful aggressors and thereby undermine international justice, security and stability.
Article 51 of the U.N. Charter forbids all use of force except that for "self-defense if an armed attack occurs." Thus the United Kingdom's 1946 removal of sea mines that struck ships in the Strait of Corfu was held to be an illegal use of force by the International Court of Justice, even though Albania had refused to remove its mines from this much used international waterway. Israel's raid on Uganda's Entebbe Airport in 1976—to rescue the victims of an airplane hijacking by Palestinian terrorists—was also illegal under Article 51.
Domestic criminal law restricts the use of defensive force in large part because the law prefers that police be called, when possible, to do the defending. Force is authorized primarily to keep defenders safe until law enforcement officers arrive. Since there are no international police to call, the rules of international law should allow broader use of force by victims of aggression. But the rules are actually narrower.
Imagine that a local drug gang plans to rob your store and kill your security guards. There are no police, so the gang openly prepares its attack in the parking lot across the street, waiting only for the cover of darkness to increase its tactical advantage. If its intentions are clear, must you wait until the time the gang picks as being most advantageous to it?
American criminal law does not require that you wait. It allows force if it is "immediately necessary" (as stated in the American Law Institute's Model Penal Code, on which all states model their own codes), even if the attack is not yet imminent. Yet international law does require that you wait. Thus, in the 1967 Six Day War, Israel's use of force against Egypt, Syria and Jordan—neighbors that were preparing an attack to destroy it—was illegal under the U.N. Charter's Article 51, which forbids any use of force until the attack actually "occurs."
Now imagine that your next-door neighbor allows his house to be used by thugs who regularly attack your family. In the absence of a police force able or willing to intervene, it would be quite odd to forbid you to use force against the thugs in their sanctuary or against the sanctuary-giving neighbor.
Yet that is what international law does. From 1979-1981 the Sandinista government of Nicaragua unlawfully supplied arms and safe haven to insurgents seeking to overthrow the government of El Salvador. Yet El Salvador had no right under international law to use any force to end Nicaragua's violations of its sovereignty. The U.S. removal of the Taliban from Afghanistan in 2001 was similarly illegal under the U.N. Charter (although it earned broad international support).
An aggressor pressing a series of attacks is protected by international law in between attacks, and it can take comfort that the law allows force only against its raiders, not their support elements. In 1987, beginning with a missile strike on a Kuwaiti tanker, the Iranians launched attacks on shipping that were staged from their offshore oil platforms in the Persian Gulf. While it was difficult to catch the raiding parties in the act (note the current difficulty in defending shipping against the Somali pirates), the oil platforms used to stage the attacks could be and were attacked by the U.S. Yet these strikes were held illegal by the International Court of Justice.
Social science has increasingly shown that law's ability to gain compliance is in large measure a product of its credibility and legitimacy with its public. A law seen as unjust promotes resistance, undermines compliance, and loses its power to harness the powerful forces of social influence, stigmatization and condemnation.
Because international law has no enforcement mechanism, it is almost wholly dependent upon moral authority to gain compliance. Yet the reputation international law will increasingly earn from its rules on the use of defensive force is one of moral deafness.
True, it will not always be the best course for a victim of unlawful aggression to use force to defend or deter. Sometimes the smart course is no response or a merely symbolic one. But every state ought to have the lawful choice to do what is necessary to protect itself from aggression.
Rational people must share the dream of a world at peace. Thus the U.N. Charter's severe restrictions on use of force might be understandable—if only one could stop all use of force by creating a rule against it. Since that's not possible, the U.N. rule is dangerously naive. By creating what amount to "aggressors' rights," the restrictions on self-defense undermine justice and promote unlawful aggression. This erodes the moral authority of international law and makes less likely a future in which nations will turn to it, rather than to force.
Mr. Robinson, a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania, is the co-author of "Law Without Justice: Why Criminal Law Does Not Give People What They Deserve" (Oxford, 2006).
Monday, August 10, 2009
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chevron Corporation and the Cooperative League of the United States of America (CLUSA) to assist Angola in diversifying its economy by revitalizing small and medium scale commercial farming, and promoting agricultural development that is environmentally friendly, socially just and economically sustainable.
Benefits of Implementation
The partnership between USAID, Chevron and the CLUSA will enable farmers to develop and improve the commercial viability of their products and services. The mechanisms the partnership will use to assist Angola in reaching its agricultural sector development include:
- Providing finance, business and training support to small and medium scale farmers and related agricultural enterprises;
- Strengthening the capacity of agrarian schools;
- Providing assistance to non-governmental organizations that deliver savings and credit products to small and medium scale farmers and related agricultural enterprises;
- Technical assistance to commercial banks providing wholesale lending to rural finance institutions; and
- Financing and support to private sector-based agricultural initiatives that promote sustainable, integrated value chains that link producers, input suppliers, financiers, buyers and other agribusinesses.
To build on the successes of this partnership, USAID, Chevron and CLUSA will coordinate technical assistance and research to promote environmentally friendly resource management agricultural and agribusiness practices and will serve as the facilitators of "best practices" to country-level partners. They will work together to monitor the impact, effectiveness, and sustainability of their support to agricultural activities.
Friday, July 31, 2009
The organization displays a strong bias against Israel.
WSJ, Jul 31, 2009
Over the past two weeks, Human Rights Watch has been embroiled in a controversy over a fund raiser it held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. At that gathering, Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson pledged the group would use donations to “battle . . . pro-Israel pressure groups.”
As criticism of her remark poured in, Ms. Whitson responded by saying that the complaint against her was “fundamentally a racist one.” And Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, declared that “We report on Israel. Its supporters fight back with lies and deception.”
The facts tell a different story. From 2006 to the present, Human Rights Watch’s reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict have been almost entirely devoted to condemning Israel, accusing it of human rights and international law violations, and demanding international investigations into its conduct. It has published some 87 criticisms of Israeli conduct against the Palestinians and Hezbollah, versus eight criticisms of Palestinian groups and four of Hezbollah for attacks on Israel. (It also published a small number of critiques of both Israel and Arab groups, and of intra-Palestinian fighting.)
It was during this period that more than 8,000 rockets and mortars were fired at Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza. Human Rights Watch’s response? In November 2006 it said that the Palestinian Authority “should stop giving a wink and a nod to rocket attacks.” Two years later it urged the Hamas leadership “to speak out forcefully against such [rocket] attacks . . . and bring to justice those who are found to have participated in them.”
In response to the rocket war and Hamas’s violent takeover of Gaza in June 2007, Israel imposed a partial blockade of Gaza. Human Rights Watch then published some 28 statements and reports on the blockade, accusing Israel in highly charged language of an array of war crimes and human rights violations. One report headline declared that Israel was “choking Gaza.” Human Rights Watch has never recognized the difference between Hamas’s campaign of murder against Israeli civilians and Israel’s attempt to defend those civilians. The unwillingness to distinguish between aggression and self-defense blots out a fundamental moral fact—that Hamas’s refusal to stop its attacks makes it culpable for both Israeli and Palestinian casualties.
Meanwhile, Egypt has also maintained a blockade on Gaza, although it is not even under attack from Hamas. Human Rights Watch has never singled out Egypt for criticism over its participation in the blockade.
The organization regularly calls for arms embargoes against Israel and claims it commits war crimes for using drones, artillery and cluster bombs. Yet on Israel’s northern border sits Hezbollah, which is building an arsenal of rockets to terrorize and kill Israeli civilians, and has placed that arsenal in towns and villages in hopes that Lebanese civilians will be killed if Israel attempts to defend itself. The U.N. Security Council has passed resolutions demanding Hezbollah’s disarmament and the cessation of its arms smuggling. Yet while Human Rights Watch has criticized Israel’s weapons 15 times, it has criticized Hezbollah’s twice.
In the Middle East, Human Rights Watch does not actually function as a human-rights organization. If it did, it would draw attention to the plight of Palestinians in Arab countries. In Lebanon, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are warehoused in impoverished refugee camps and denied citizenship, civil rights, and even the right to work. This has received zero coverage from the organization.
In 2007, the Lebanese Army laid siege to the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp for over three months, killing hundreds. Human Rights Watch produced two anemic press releases. At this very moment, Jordan is stripping its Palestinians of citizenship without the slightest protest from the organization. Unfortunately, Human Rights Watch seems only to care about Palestinians when they can be used to convince the world that the Jewish state is actually a criminal state.
Mr. Pollak is a graduate student in international relations at Yale University.
Better seeds and fertilizers, not romantic myths, will let them do it.
WSJ, Jul 31, 2009
Earlier this month in L’Aquila, Italy, a small town recently devastated by an earthquake, leaders of the G-8 countries pledged $20 billion over three years for farm-investment aid that will help resource-poor farmers get access to tools like better seed and fertilizer and help poor nations feed themselves.For those of us who have spent our lives working in agriculture, focusing on growing food versus giving it away is a giant step forward.
Given the right tools, farmers have shown an uncanny ability to feed themselves and others, and to ignite the economic engine that will reverse the cycle of chronic poverty. And the escape from poverty offers a chance for greater political stability in their countries as well.
But just as the ground shifted beneath the Italian community of L’Aquila, so too has the political landscape heaved in other parts of the world, casting unfounded doubts on agricultural tools for farmers made through modern science, such as biotech corn in parts of Europe. Even here at home, some elements of popular culture romanticize older, inefficient production methods and shun fertilizers and pesticides, arguing that the U.S. should revert to producing only local organic food. People should be able to purchase organic food if they have the will and financial means to do so, but not at the expense of the world’s hungry—25,000 of whom die each day from malnutrition.
Unfortunately, these distractions keep us from the main goal. Consider that current agricultural productivity took 10,000 years to attain the production of roughly six billion gross tons of food per year. Today, nearly seven billion people consume that stockpile almost in its entirety every year. Factor in growing prosperity and nearly three billion new mouths by 2050, and you quickly see how the crudest calculations suggest that within the next four decades the world’s farmers will have to double production.
They most likely will need to accomplish this feat on a shrinking land base and in the face of environmental demands caused by climate change. Indeed, this month Oxfam released a study concluding that the multiple effects of climate change might “reverse 50 years of work to end poverty” resulting in “the defining human tragedy of this century.”
At this time of critical need, the epicenter of our collective work should focus on driving continued investments from both the public and private sectors in efficient agriculture production technologies. Investments like those announced by the G-8 leaders will most likely help to place current tools—like fertilizer and hybrid seeds that have been used for decades in the developed world—into the hands of small-holder farmers in remote places like Africa with the potential for noted and measured impact.
That investment will not continue to motivate new and novel discoveries, like drought-tolerant, insect-resistant or higher-yielding seed varieties that advance even faster. To accomplish this, governments must make their decisions about access to new technologies, such as the development of genetically modified organisms—on the basis of science, and not to further political agendas. Open markets will stimulate continued investment, innovation and new developments from public research institutions, private companies and novel public/private partnerships.
We already can see the ongoing value of these investments simply by acknowledging the double-digit productivity gains made in corn and soybeans in much of the developed world. In the U.S., corn productivity has grown more than 40% and soybeans by nearly 30% from 1987 to 2007, while wheat has lagged behind, increasing by only 19% during the same period. Lack of significant investment in rice and wheat, two of the most important staple crops needed to feed our growing world, is unfortunate and short-sighted. It has kept productivity in these two staple crops at relatively the same levels seen at the end of the 1960s and the close of the Green Revolution, which helped turn Mexico and India from starving net grain importers to exporters.
Here, too, the ground seems to be slowly shifting in the right direction, as recent private investments in wheat and public/private partnerships in maize for Africa re-enter the marketplace. These investments and collaborations are critical in our quest to realize much needed productivity gains in rice and wheat to benefit farmers around the world—and, ultimately, those of us who rely on them to produce our daily food.
Of history, one thing is certain: Civilization as we know it could not have evolved, nor can it survive, without an adequate food supply. Likewise, the civilization that our children, grandchildren and future generations come to know will not evolve without accelerating the pace of investment and innovation in agriculture production.
Mr. Borlaug, a professor at Texas A&M University, won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to the world food supply.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
The Brookings Institution
July 2009 — Introduction
I is now generally accepted that development interventions can only be successful and sustainable if they are accepted by stakeholders and implemented in accordance with local institutions, culture and norms. “Tournament Approaches to Policy Reform—Making Development Assistance more Effective,” by Clifford Zinnes (Brookings Press, 2009), identifies a new class of emerging development intervention designs fitting this mold. In these designs the intervention is approached as a “game” with players, predefined—and, therefore, prospective—rules and payoff s, strategies, and beliefs in which players must compete to achieve the best implementation. “Winning” is based on scores on preannounced purpose-built indicators. Rewards are the sponsor’s aid. While players can be individual organizations (such as schools or even water companies), they are typically jurisdictions (from countries down to villages) so the underlying class of incentive mechanism is called “prospective inter-jurisdictional competition” (PIJC).
This brief summarizes an evaluation of past PIJC applications running from reducing red tape, youth unemployment, and pollution through to increasing literacy, public services, and governance. It asks how successful and sustain able they have been across a variety of situations and whether the approach merits replication and scaling up, particularly for improving the effectiveness of development assistance
Thursday, July 23, 2009
US State Dept, Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of the Spokesman, Washington, DC, Thu, 23 Jul 2009 13:54:26 -0500
The United States in close cooperation with 29 countries has destroyed over 30,000 foreign, at-risk Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) since 2003, thus potentially preventing these weapons – commonly referred to as shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles – from falling into the hands of arms traffickers, criminals, and terrorists who could threaten civil aviation.
The threat posed by MANPADS to civil aviation is real. 40 civilian aircraft have been hit by these missiles since the 1970s. A total of 859 deaths resulted from these attacks.
The United States salutes the countries that have worked cooperatively to reduce their excess, aging stocks of MANPADS. The United States encourages all nations to voluntarily reduce the MANPADS and other conventional weapons that are not essential to their defense needs, and to reduce their old and unstable munitions.
The U.S. Department of State appreciates the assistance of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Transportation Security Administration, Organization of American States, NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Regional Center on Small Arms in Kenya, and other international organizations for their vital collaboration on MANPADS threat reduction initiatives to make the world’s skies safer for airline passengers and international aviation.
As part of the U.S. Government’s inter-agency threat reduction response to the misuse of these light, easily concealed weapons, the Transportation Security Administration has since 2003 conducted 33 “Assist Visits” to airports in 26 countries in order to help the host nations identify vulnerabilities to potential MANPADS attacks, at a cost of approximately $500,000.
Since 2001, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs has invested over $113 million to help destroy 1.3 million small arms and other conventional weapons around the world, including these more than 30,000 MANPADS. In fiscal year 2009, the Bureau’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement is investing approximately $130 million to destroy MANPADS and other conventional weapons, and to conduct humanitarian mine action in a continuous effort to make the world safer.
Visit www.state.gov/t/pm/wra to learn more about the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement’s conventional weapons destruction and humanitarian mine action programs.