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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: united nations, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 43
1. The UN Summit for refugees and migrants: A global response includes empowering one refugee at a time

Refugees have become so pervasive in human consciousness that the Oxford Dictionaries for Children identified “refugee” as the 2016 Oxford Children’s Word of the Year, based on findings from the “500 Words” global children’s writing competition sponsored by BBC Radio 2. According to the BBC, “refugee” was selected “due to a significant increase in usage by entrants writing in this year’s competition combined with the sophisticated context that children were using it in and the rise in emotive and descriptive language around it.”

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2. Scaling the UN Refugee Summit: A reading list

The United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants will be held on 19 September 2016 at the UNHQ in New York. The high-level meeting to address large movements of refugees and migrants is expected to endorse an Outcome Document that commits states to negotiating a ‘Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework’ and separately a ‘Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,’ for adoption in 2018.

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3. The CISG: a fair balance of interests around the globe

The CISG may be called a true story of worldwide success which is not only proven by the ever increasing number of member states around the world but also by the fact that during the last 20 years the CISG has served as a decisive blueprint for law-making in the area of contract law on the international as well as on the domestic level.

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4. French language in International Law

French is the language of diplomacy, German the language of science, and English the language of trade. Whereas German has been displaced by English in science, French continues to occupy a privileged position in international diplomacy. Its use is protected by its designation as one of the two working languages of the United Nations (UN), the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and ad hoc UN-backed tribunals.

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5. Japanese elections: constitutional revision and the anxiety of free speech

While the high drama of the Brexit vote and the US presidential election has grabbed international headlines, Japan has also completed an election that may have far-reaching implications. In the elections for the Upper House of the Diet (Japan’s parliament) on July 10, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partners won 162 seats.

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6. Japanese elections: constitutional revision and the anxiety of free speech

While the high drama of the Brexit vote and the US presidential election has grabbed international headlines, Japan has also completed an election that may have far-reaching implications. In the elections for the Upper House of the Diet (Japan’s parliament) on July 10, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partners won 162 seats.

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7. How much do you know about Nordic countries and international law?

Which Nordic state had sovereignty over Iceland until 1918? Which state was allowed to discriminate against a transgender woman by annulling her marriage? Who disputed ownership of Eastern Greenland before the Permanent Court of International Justice? In preparation for the European Society of International Law's 11th annual conference, this year held in Oslo, test your knowledge of Nordic countries in international law with our quiz.

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8. Establishing ICSID: an idea that was “in the air”

As a young ICSID neophyte, I once asked Aron Broches, the World Bank’s General Counsel from 1959 to 1979, how he had come up with the idea for the Centre. “It was in the air,” he explained. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, there were indeed a number of proposals circulating for the creation of an international arbitral mechanism for the settlement of investment disputes.

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9. Climate change and the Paris Conference: is the UNFCCC process flawed?

As representatives from 146 countries gather in Paris for the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference, we’ve turned to our Very Short Introduction series for insight into the process, politics and topics of discussion of the conference. Is the UNFCCC process flawed?

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10. Book List: 11 Children’s Books About Human Rights

Today is Human Rights Day. It commemorates the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights lists basic rights and freedoms that every person should get, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender.

Human Rights Book Collection canva imageBooks are a great way for readers to learn about history and culture, and develop empathy for other people.

Our Human Rights collection explores the issues of human rights around the world and in the United States, and the great leaders who have fought to protect those rights:

Twenty-two Cents: Growing up in Bangladesh, Muhammad Yunus witnessed extreme poverty. He later founded Grameen Bank, a bank which uses microcredit, lending small amounts of money, to help lift people out of poverty. In 2006, Dr. Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Brothers in Hope: Thousands of boys from southern Sudan walk hundreds of miles to seek safety, from Ethiopia to Kenya. This inspiring story is based on the true events of the Lost Boys of Sudan.

When the Horses Ride By: These poems from the point of view of children during times of war let readers experience the resilience and optimism that children who go through these situations experience.

Irena’s Jars of Secrets: Irena Sendler, a social worker born to a Polish Catholic family, smuggled clothing and medicine into jewish ghettos during WWII and then started to smuggle Jewish children out of the ghettos. Hoping to reunite them with their families, Irena kept lists of children’s names in jars.

John Lewis in the Lead: After high school, John Lewis joined Dr. King and other civil rights leaders to peacefully protest and fight against segregation. In 1986, John Lewis was elected to represent Georgia in Congress, where he continues to serve today.

A Place Where Sunflowers Grow: This bilingual Japanese-English picture book depicts life in a Japanese interment camp inspired by author Amy Lee-Tai’s family’s experiences during WWII. Young Mari wonders if she’ll be able to come up with anything to draw in a place where nothing beautiful grows.

Seeds of Change: As a young girl, Wangari Maathai was taught to respect nature and people. She excelled in science and later studied abroad in the United States. When she returned home, she helped promote the rights of women and also began to plant trees to replace those that had been cut down. Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace prize in 2004.

Etched in Clay: This biography in verse follows the life of Dave the Potter, an enslaved young man in South Carolina who engraved poems into the pots he sculpted despite the harsh anti-literacy laws of the time.

Yasmin’s Hammer: Yasmin and her family are refugees in Bangladesh. Young Yasmin works at a brick yard to help her family out, but she longs for the day when she can attend school.

A Song for Cambodia: This the inspirational true story of Arn Chorn-Pond, who was sent to a work camp by the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. His heartfelt music created beauty in a time of darkness and turned tragedy into healing.

The Mangrove Tree: Dr. Gordon Sato, himself a survivor of a Japanese Internment Camp, travels to an impoverished village in Eritrea and plants mangrove trees to help the village of Harigogo become a self-sufficient community.

Want to own this book list? Purchase the whole collection here.

More resources

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Interpreting César Chávez’s Legacy with Students

7 Core Values to Celebrate During Black History Month

Why You Should See Selma

11 Educator Resources for Teaching Children About Latin American Immigration and Migration

The Opposite of Colorblind: Why it’s essential to talk to children about race

Selection Is Privilege

Protesting Injustice Then and Now

Thoughts on Ferguson and Recommended Resources

Character Day: Taking a Look at the Traits Needed to Do What’s Right

Books for Children and Educators About Kindness

Infographic: 10 Ways to Lend a Hand on #GivingTuesday


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11. The business of inequality

Recently, debates about inequality have risen to the forefront in academic and public debates. The publication of the French economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century in 2013 did not, to say the least, go by unnoticed. And many other prominent economists have partaken in the debate about global inequality: Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz and Angus Madison, just to name a few.

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12. The migration crisis: what can trade unions do?

2015 will probably go down as the ‘year of migration’, certainly in Europe. All the contradictions of globalisation were coming to a head. All the ‘blowback’ from Western interventions in the Maghreb and in the Levant were coming home.

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13. Why soil matters more than we realise

The soils surrounding the village where I live in the north west of England have abundant fertility. They mostly formed in well-drained, clay-rich debris left behind by glaciers that retreated from the area some ten thousand years ago, and they now support lush, productive pasture, semi-natural grassland and woodland. Although the pastures are managed more intensively than they were in the past, most of them are well drained, and receive regular dressings of manure along with moderate fertiliser, and are regularly limed, which keeps the land productive and the soil in good health.

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14. How can we hold the UN accountable for sexual violence?

Cometh the new year, cometh the fresh round of allegations that United Nations peacekeepers raped or abused some of the most vulnerable people in the world. 2016 has just begun and already reports are surfacing of UN peacekeepers paying to have sex with girls as young as 13 at a displaced persons camp in the Central African Republic.

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15. Multiculturalism and international human rights law

By Federico Lenzerini

When, in 1935, the Permanent Court of International Justice was requested by the Council of the League of Nations to provide an advisory opinion on the Minority Schools in Albania, it emphasized that “the application of the same regime to a majority as to a minority, whose needs are quite different, would only create an apparent equality.” The Court also added that the rationale of the protection of minorities is to allow them to “preserving the characteristics which distinguish them from the majority, and satisfying the ensuing special needs” (ibid., at 48). The well-known Aristotelian formula — according to which equality consists in treating like cases alike and unlike cases differently — implies that the metaphysical “idea of equality of men as persons and equal treatment” should be handled in a flexible manner, to allow “different treatment of persons [when it is justified by] the consideration of the differences of factual circumstances such as sex, age, language, religion, economic condition, education, etc.”

International Court of Justice; by Yeu Ninje at en.wikipedia. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

International Court of Justice, The Hague, Netherlands. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

If one were asked to choose one word to embrace all factual — but also spiritual, intellectual and emotional — circumstances (rectius: ”elements”) determining the existence of differences among individuals and communities, this word would certainly be culture, intended as “the whole complex of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterize a society or social group [including] not only the arts and letters, but also modes of life, the fundamental rights of the human being, value systems, traditions and beliefs” (1982 UNESCO Mexico City Declaration on Cultural Policies).

Culture is indeed the element determining the uniqueness, identity, and distinctiveness of each human being (as an individual) and community (as a collectivity). Ultimately, the cultural specificity of each person or community determines their life aspirations, expectations, and choices. Since human rights are one of the main “tools” available to human beings to pursue their life expectations and dreams, their strict interconnection with culture is beyond question. Therefore, conceiving human rights in terms of a monolithic system of inflexible rules destined to be applied according to pre-determined and standardized criteria wouldn’t help much in ensuring their effectiveness in pursuing the well-being and happiness of human beings.

On the contrary, the correct approach to international human rights law–in terms of understanding, interpretation, adjudication and redress for breaches–should be centered on the idea of multiculturalism, so as that in each concrete case the specific needs of the people specifically concerned should be taken into primary account. In the most recent decades such an approach has actually been adopted in the context of relevant international practice, which, through promoting the process of culturalization of human rights law, is making human rights standards much more responsive to the real needs of human beings and, a fortiori, much more effective.

The specific situation of indigenous peoples–who, due to their cultural specificity and vision of life, actually need a differentiated treatment in the context of human rights adjudication and enforcement–offers a very clear idea of how such a process works. Human rights monitoring bodies have developed a marked sensibility for their needs, carving in stone a noticeably evolutionary piece of culturally-responsive jurisprudence. In particular, they have “adapted” human rights standards of individual character to the collectively-driven understanding of life and social relationships of indigenous peoples. In this respect, for example, the Human Rights Committee has affirmed that, although the rights of the members of ethnic, religious, or linguistic minorities to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language, contemplated by Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, “are individual rights, they depend in turn on the ability of the minority group to maintain its culture, language, or religion. Accordingly, positive measures by States may also be necessary to protect the identity of a minority” (General comment No. 23(50) (art. 27)).

To a similar extent, most monitoring bodies have extended the scope of human rights treaty provisions defending the individual right to property to cover the collective property of ancestral lands by indigenous peoples. A similar hermeneutic approach has been followed with respect to the interpretation of other human rights standards, through adapting them to the cultural needs and views of indigenous communities. This happens, for instance, with respect to the right to humane treatment, which includes the right of every person to have their physical, mental, and moral integrity respected and, consequently, the prohibition of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. So, for example, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has equated a community that is denied the possibility of burying its dead according to its own traditions to inhuman treatment. This is because such a situation is perceived by the community members–in light of their own culture–as a severe offence, leading “to a number of ‘spiritually-caused illnesses’ that become manifest as actual physical maladies and can potentially affect the entire natural lineage” of the community itself (e.g. Case of Moiwana Community v. Suriname). This practice is certainly to be welcomed, and its extension to the specific needs of all diverse cultural groups inhabiting the world promises to represent a huge step forward towards maximizing the effectiveness of human rights standards in the life of people.

Federico Lenzerini is Professor of International Law and European Union Law at the University of Siena (Italy). He is also Professor at the LLM programme in Intercultural Human Rights of the St. Thomas University School of Law, Miami (FL), USA. He is the author of the book The Culturalization of Human Rights Law, published by Oxford University Press in 2014. Federico Lenzerini can be found on LinkedIn.

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16. World Refugee Day Reading List

World Refugee Day is held every year on 20 June to recognise the resilience of forcibly displaced people across the world. For more than six decades, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been tracking and assisting refugees worldwide. At the beginning of 2013, there numbered over 10.4 million refugees considered “of concern” to the UNHCR. A further 4.8 million refugees across the Middle East are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

To mark World Refugee Day 2014, we’ve compiled a short reading list about issues in international law arising from the forced displacement of persons, including definitions of refugees, asylum, and standards of protection, international refugee legislation, international human rights legislation, the roles of international organisations, and challenges arising from protracted refugee situations and climate change. Additionally, Oxford University Press has made select articles from refugee journals freely available for a limited time, including ten articles from the International Journal of Refugee Law.


Refugees” in The Human Rights of Non-Citizens by David Weissbrodt

Explore the legal definition of refugees and their rights under the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

Dieter Kugelmann on “Refugees” from The Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law

Survey several legal definitions of refugees, refugee status, and refugee rights.

The Refugee in International Law by Guy S. Goodwin-Gill and Jane McAdam

Explore three central issues of international refugee law: the definition of refugees, the concept of asylum, and the principles of protection.

The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, edited by Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Gil Loescher, Katy Long, and Nando Sigona

How did Refugee and Forced Migration Studies emerge as a global field of interest? What are the most important current and future challenges faced by practitioners working with and for forcibly displaced people?

Population fleeing their villages due to fighting between FARDC and rebel groups, Sake North Kivu, 30 April 2012. Photo by MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Population fleeing their villages due to fighting between FARDC and rebel groups, Sake North Kivu, 30 April 2012. Photo by MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Refugee Legislation

The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol: A Commentary, edited by Andreas Zimmermann, Assistant editor Jonas Dörschner, and Assistant editor Felix Machts, including Part One Background: Historical Development of International Refugee Law by Claudena M. Skran

Analyze the Convention and Protocol that function as the indispensable legal basis of international refugee law. What provisions do they make for refugees?

Chapter 5 “Refugees” in International Migration Law by Vincent Chetail

Legislation relating to the movement of persons is scattered across numerous branches of international law. How does current law govern the movement of refugees, and how might legislation develop in the future?

Textbook on Immigration and Asylum Law, Sixth edition by Gina Clayton

How has the law relating to immigration and asylum evolved? And how does the asylum process operate for refugees and trafficking victims? Gina Clayton’s newly-revised volume provides clear analysis and commentary on the political, social, and historical dimensions of immigration and asylum law.

Climate Change, Forced Migration, and International Law by Jane McAdam

Climate change is forcing the migration of thousands of people. Should this kind of displacement be viewed as another facet of traditional international protection? Or is flight from habitat destruction a new challenge that requires more creative legal and policy responses?

Refugees and international human rights

“International refugee law” by Alice Edwards in D. Moeckli et al’s International Human Rights Law, Second Edition

Alice Edwards, Senior Legal Coordinator at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, examines international human rights laws relating to refugees.

Textbook on International Human Rights, Sixth Edition by Rhona Smith

Check chapter 22 “Group rights”, which focuses on four specific groups which are currently beneficiaries of dedicated human rights’ regimes: indigenous peoples, women, children, and refugees.

“Are Refugee Rights Human Rights? An Unorthodox Questioning of the Relations between Refugee Law and Human Rights Law” by Vincent Chetail in Human Rights and Immigration, edited by Ruth Rubio-Marín

While originally envisioned as two separate branches of law, refugee law and human rights law increasingly intersect as refugees are highly vulnerable and often victims of abuse. What framework can we use to ensure the best outcome for refugees?

The obligations of States and organizations

The Collective Responsibility of States to Protect Refugees by Agnès Hurwitz

What legal freedom of choice do refugees possess? Can they choose the countries that will decide their asylum claims? States have devised several arrangements to tackle the secondary movement of refugees between their countries of origin and their final destination. See the chapter ‘States’ Obligations Towards Refugees’, which assesses the limitations of current safe third country mechanisms.

Complementary Protection in International Refugee Law by Jane McAdam

What obligations do – and should – States have to forcibly displaced persons who do not meet the legal definition of ‘refugees’?

The European Union Qualification Directive: The Creation of a Subsidiary Protection Regime’ by Jane McAdam in Complementary Protection in International Refugee Law

How does the European Union address the rights of persons who are not legally refugees, but who still have need of some other form of international protection?

Göran Melander on ‘International Refugee Organization (IRO)’ from The Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law

What can the history of the IRO tell us about the development of international agencies working for refugees, and about its successor, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)?

Refugees in Africa

African Institute for Human Rights and Development (on behalf of Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea) v Guinea, Merits, Comm no 249/2002, 36th ordinary session (23 November-7 December 2004), 20th Activity Report (January-June 2006), (2004) AHRLR 57 (ACHPR 2004), (2007) 14 IHRR 880, IHRL 2803 (ACHPR 2004), African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights [ACHPR] from ORIL

Case-study by the African Commission: was the treatment of Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea in 2000 in violation of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights?

Human Security and the Protection of Refugees in Africa’ by Maria O’Sullivan in Protecting Human Security in Africa, edited by Ademola Abass

What is distinctive about refugee flows in Africa, what are the challenges arising from mass influx and ‘protracted’ refugee situations? What are the implications of new UNHCR initiatives to protect refugees?

Oxford University Press is a leading publisher in international law, including the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, latest titles from thought leaders in the field, and a wide range of law journals and online products. We publish original works across key areas of study, from humanitarian to international economic to environmental law, developing outstanding resources to support students, scholars, and practitioners worldwide. For the latest news, commentary, and insights follow the International Law team on Twitter @OUPIntLaw.

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17. Ralph Zacklin: a personal perspective on international law

What does international law truly mean in the world today? For the publication of Malcom Evans’s International Law, Fourth edition, we asked several leading figures that question. Ralph Zacklin, the former UN Assistant Secretary General for Legal Affairs, provides his personal perspective on international in the edited essay below. A full version of his essay can be found on the textbook’s Online Resource Centre, along with five other personal perspectives.

By Ralph Zacklin

I have been privileged to work for almost thirty years as an international lawyer in the United Nations and from this vantage point international law is neither the omnipotent solution to the world’s problems nor is it an illusion that only die-hard pacifists cling to. It is, in fact, for the practitioner a very real and pragmatic discipline. That it may be uncertain, incomplete, and difficult to enforce does not lessen the need for the rule of law on the international plane nor does it mean that the efforts to codify the law and develop its institutions should cease or be diminished.

At the core of contemporary international law is the Charter of the United Nations. It is a tribute to its drafters in the San Francisco Conference that this instrument has retained its essential validity as a set of fundamental principles which have guided the community of States for more than fifty years. It is the basis for the development of much of international law as we know it today in such key areas as human rights, the environment, and the law of the sea and outer space, not to mention the vast array of multilateral treaties in numerous technical, economic, and scientific areas.

International law provides a common legal vocabulary within which States and other actors operate. It provides a framework for conceptions of what is ‘legal’ or ‘right’. For the author personally, the most striking lesson of the last thirty years is not the quantitative qualitative development of international law which has been substantial but the degree to which States have come to accept the existence of international law as a standard that must be observed or by which their actions must be justified.

There is another dimension to international law which is sometimes overlooked in an era of globalization. International law, however inchoate it may be, represents the expectations and claims of substantial segments of humanity. It cannot be dismissed merely because of its perceived weakness. This dimension is of particular relevance to the member States of the United Nations, the overwhelming majority of whom rely on international law-making processes in international forums to weave together the fabric of the rule of law.

This accounts for the persistence of the United Nations in the holding of major conferences or summits––much derided in some quarters––which have produced soft law Declarations on the environment, human rights, advancement of women and a panoply of economic and social rights. These fora move from agenda-setting gradually towards normative outcomes and have undeniably altered the international legal landscape over the past twenty-five years.

Law, whether domestic or international, is by nature a conservative discipline. Its evolution is slow, even laborious. International law is not, nor should it be, viewed as an ideal state in which harmony prevails. Like any other system of law, its rules and institutions mature over time. When one compares the international law of today with that of a mere three decades ago, one cannot but marvel at the advances that have been made both normatively and institutionally. The path of advancement is by no means uneventful but it continues.

I have been fortunate in my own career to have had the opportunity to contribute to significant developments in international law, such as the establishment of ad hoc criminal tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda as well as, more recently, the Special Court in Sierra Leone. Over the years I have provided legal advice which has helped to shape much of the contemporary law of UN peace-keeping and, like many of my colleagues, have rejoiced in the completion of UN mandates which have resulted in the independence of countries such as Namibia and Timor-Leste. There have also been tragic failures in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Somalia.

At the outset of my career I was motivated like many young people of the time by an idealistic determination to make the world a safer and a better place. Over the years my idealism has certainly been tested, but I believe that the role and impact of international law has grown, and it continues to grow.

Ralph Zacklin is the former UN Assistant Secretary General for Legal Affairs. Malcolm Evans is a Professor of Public International Law at the University of Bristol. Malcolm Evans is the editor of International Law, which provides wide-ranging analysis of all the key issues and themes in public international law and brings together an outstanding collection of interesting and diverse writings from the leading scholars in the field.

Oxford University Press is a leading publisher in international law, including the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, latest titles from thought leaders in the field, and a wide range of law journals and online products. We publish original works across key areas of study, from humanitarian to international economic to environmental law, developing outstanding resources to support students, scholars, and practitioners worldwide. For the latest news, commentary, and insights follow the International Law team on Twitter @OUPIntLaw.

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18. What constitutes a “real” refugee?

Refugee identity is often shrouded in suspicion, speculation and rumour. Of course everyone wants to protect “real” refugees, but it often seems – upon reading the papers – that the real challenge is to find them among the interlopers: the “bogus asylum seekers”, the “queue jumpers”, the “illegals”.

Yet these distinctions and definitions shatter the moment we subject them to critical scrutiny. In Syria, no one would deny a terrible refugee crisis is unfolding. Western journalists report from camps in Jordan and Turkey documenting human misery and occasionally commenting on political manoeuvring, but never doubting the refugees’ veracity.

But once these same Syrians leave the overcrowded camps to cross the Mediterranean, a spell transforms these objects of pity into objects of fear. They are no longer “refugees”, but “illegal migrants” and “terrorists”. However data on migrants rescued in the Mediterranean show that up to 80% of those intercepted by the Italian Navy are in fact deserving of asylum, not detention.

Other myths perpetuate suspicion and xenophobia. Every year in the UK, refugee charity and advocacy groups spend precious resources trying to counter tabloid images of a Britain “swamped” by itinerant swan-eaters and Islamic extremists. The truth – that Britain is home to just 1% of refugees while 86% are hosted in developing countries, including some of the poorest on earth, and that one-third of refugees in the UK hold University degrees – is simply less convenient for politicians pushing an anti-migration agenda.

We are increasingly skilled in crafting complacent fictions intended not so much to demonise refugees as exculpate our own consciences. In Australia, for instance, ever-more restrictive asylum policies – which have seen all those arriving by boat transferred off-shore and, even when granted refugee status, refused the right to settle in Australia – have been presented by supporters as merely intended to prevent the nefarious practice of “queue-jumping”. In this universe, the border patrols become the guardians ensuring “fair” asylum hearings, while asylum-seekers are condemned for cheating the system.

That the system itself now contravenes international law is forgotten. Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan asylum-seeking mothers recently placed on suicide watch – threatening to kill themselves in the hope that their orphaned, Australian-born children might then be saved from detention – are judged guilty of “moral blackmail”.

Opening ceremony of new PNC headquarters in Goma (7134901933).jpg
Population fleeing their villages due to fighting between FARDC and rebels groups, Sake North Kivu the 30th of April 2012. © MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti (from Opening ceremony of new PNC headquarters in Goma). Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Such stories foster complacency by encouraging an extraordinary degree of confidence in our ability to sort the deserving from the undeserving. The public remain convinced that “real” refugees wait in camps far beyond Europe’s borders, and that they do not take their fate into their own hands but wait to be rescued. But this “truth” too is hypocritical. It conveniently obscures the fact that the West will not resettle one-tenth of the refugees who have been identified by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees as in need of resettlement.

In fact, only one refugee in a hundred will ever be resettled from a camp to a third country in the West. In January 2014 the UK Government announced it would offer 500 additional refugee resettlement places for the “most vulnerable” refugees as a humanitarian gesture: but it’s better understood as political rationing.

Research shows us that undue self-congratulation when it comes to “helping” refugees is no new habit. Politicians are fond of remarking that Britain has a “long and proud” tradition of welcoming refugees, and NGOs and charities reiterate the same claim in the hope of grounding asylum in British cultural values.

But while the Huguenots found sanctuary in the seventeenth century, and Russia’s dissidents sought exile in the nineteenth, closer examination exposes the extent to which asylees’ ‘warm welcome’ has long rested upon the convictions of the few prepared to defy the popular prejudices of the many.

Poor migrants fleeing oppression have always been more feared than applauded in the UK. In 1905, the British Brothers’ League agitated for legislation to restrict (primarily Jewish) immigration from Eastern Europe because of populist fears that Britain was becoming ‘the dumping ground for the scum of Europe’. Similarly, the bravery of individual campaigners who fought to secure German Jews’ visas in the 1930s must be measured against the groundswell of public anti-semitism that resisted mass refugee admissions.

Opening ceremony of new PNC headquarters in Goma (6988913212).jpg
Population fleeing their villages due to fighting between FARDC and rebels groups, Sake North Kivu the 30th of April 2012. © MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti (from Opening ceremony of new PNC headquarters in Goma). Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

British MPs in 1938 were insistent that ‘it is impossible for us to absorb any large number of refugees here’, and as late as August 1938 the Daily Mail warned against large number of German Jews ‘flooding’ the country. In the US, polls showed that 94% of Americans disapproved of Kristallnacht, 77% thought immigration quotas should not be raised to allow additional Jewish migration from Germany.

All this suggests that Western commitment after 1951 to uphold a new Refugee Convention should not be read as a marker of some innate Western generosity of spirit. Even in 1947, Britain was forcibly returning Soviet POWs to Stalin’s Russia. Many committed suicide en route rather than face the Gulags or execution. When in 1972, Idi Amin expelled Ugandan’s Asians – many of whom were British citizens – the UK government tried desperately to persuade other Commonwealth countries to admit the refugees, before begrudgingly agreeing to act as a refuge of “last resort”. If forty years on the 40,000 Ugandan Asians who settled in the UK are often pointed to as a model refugee success story, this is not because but in spite of the welcome they received.

Many refugee advocates and NGOs are nevertheless wary of picking apart the public belief that a “generous welcome” exists for “real” refugees. The public, after all, are much more likely to be flattered than chastised into donating much needed funds to care for those left destitute – sometime by the deliberate workings of the asylum system itself. But it is important to recognise the more complex and less complacent truths that researchers’ work reveals.

For if we scratch the surface of our asylum policies beneath a shiny humanitarian veneer lies the most cynical kind of politics. Myth making sustains false dichotomies between deserving “refugees” there and undeserving “illegal migrants” here – and conveniently lets us forget that both are fleeing the same wars in the same leaking boats.

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19. rgz Newsflash: International Day of the Girl, October 11

Just caught this early shout out from iheartdaily:

Just two years ago, the United Nations declared October 11th to be International Day of the Girl. The UN has said, “Girls face discrimination and violence every day across the world. The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.”   

This year's theme is "Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence."

Amen to that! Bravo, to the United Nations for this intentional focus. With their estimate of 200 million girls missing around the world due to gendercide, dowry infractions, and forced abortions of girls we need to stop and think and act.

Since the publication of FIRSTBORN, inspired by my outrage over gendercide, I've been trumpeting the work of All Girls Allowed. The nonprofit funds young women, pregnant with females, so they can carry their babies full term and keep them. They work to stop the intentional annihilation of girls. And then there's the Global Gendercide Advocacy and Awareness Project who takes internships, rgz! Or there's the movie which is absolutely chilling. Take a look at the trailer for IT'S A GIRL and then watch the full movie on NETFLIX.

I created a collection of posters on Polyvore to draw attention to gendercide. You can see the full group of 30 by clicking here. Share them and raise awareness.

Gendercide Poster #25Gendercide Poster #27

Celebrate INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL! Read, reflect, and reach out, rgz!

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

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20. Nuclear strategy and proliferation after the Cold War

On 4 November 1994, the United Nations Security Council formally endorsed the so-called “Agreed Framework,” a nuclear accord discussed for years but negotiated intensively from September to October 1994 between The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) and the United States.

The framework had four main parts:

  1. The nations would cooperate to replace the DPRK’s graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities with light-water reactor (LWR) power plants.
  2. The United States and DPRK would work toward full normalization of political and economic relations.
  3. The United States and the DPRK pledged to seek peace and security on a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.
  4. The United States and the DPRK agreed to work together to strengthen the international nuclear non proliferation regime.

In light of recent events these are eye-catching promises. They were then as well. As The New York Times reported, the agreement was a remarkable event. The four key tenets of the accord, even to the jaundiced eye of a seasoned diplomat seemed symbolic of the post-Cold War era. However, according to the Times, the announcement of the agreement “kept secret many details of how the accord will be put into effect.”

It is unclear whether the momentum for the framework continued despite the secrecy or because of details hidden from view. Within two weeks of the agreement, the Security Council took up the cause and numerous nations were on board (many not yet privy to some more secret aspects of the Framework). The UN proclaimed support of North Korea’s decision to freeze its current nuclear program and to comply with a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Yet perhaps such international approbation did more harm than good, because North Koreans objected to how the agreement was playing out symbolically. The UN statement seemed to emphasize only North Korea’s responsibilities under the framework agreement and not the reciprocal obligations of the United States and of South Korea.

North Korean leaders aimed for their nation to be perceived not as a rogue state being brought into line, but as holding the United States and its allies accountable in an agreement with mutual responsibilities. The agreement itself, as events unfolded, seemed promising enough. Within another two weeks, by 11 November 1994, the IAEA arranged to send inspectors, and soon thereafter United States and North Korean scientists and policymakers announced preliminary protocols regarding storage issues for over 8,000 spent fuel rods. South Korean diplomats pushed back, seeking security guarantees, but eventually bought into the agreement. By 18 November, according to Reuters, the United States, South Korea, and Japan agreed to lead an international consortium to finance more than $4 billion in construction and maintenance costs for light-water reactors in North Korea.

To many observers, the Agreed Framework of 1994 augured a new chapter in non-proliferation, tailored to the post-Cold War era. Despite difficult negotiations regarding the compromise framework and the international consortium, it seemed to be a real success.

Why such a promising framework collapsed bears further scrutiny and has profound implications for the future.

North Korea: By Roman Harak. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The end of the Cold War did not eliminate the challenges of nuclear weapons and strategy. Far from it. Recognizing the new nuclear and strategic landscape, the Clinton Administration tried to align nuclear policy with new circumstances. “A wide-ranging and thorough bottom-up study conducted by the Pentagon during 1993,” writes Joseph Siracusa, “identified a number of key threats to United States national security. Foremost among them was the increased threat of proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.”

Clinton’s strategy for dealing with obvious threats, such as a resurgent Russia and the need to keep track of former Soviet stockpiles, materials, technologies, and experts, was to pursue new agreements that addressed the concerns of individual states, while strengthening the existing Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Just months after the agreement with North Korea, for example, the United States, Britain, and Russia worked with Ukraine to send its inherited Soviet-era nuclear arsenal to Russia, persuading it to join the NPT in return for security guarantees. It seemed that new accords, adjusted to the new era, could be reached to foreclose future proliferation. Notorious cases of international trafficking in materials, technology, expertise, such as the transnational network of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan, served as a reminder that proliferation required constant attention. Through diplomatic channels, military threats, and economic coercion, the Clinton Administration sought to work with allies to alleviate nuclear threats in such places as Libya, Iraq, and North Korea. Subsequent administrations hoped for productive results into the early 21st century despite instability in the Balkans, Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere.

So, what changed?

First, on the Korean peninsula tensions persisted. “Pyongyang’s continued failure to come into full compliance with its IAEA safeguard obligations,” according to Daniel Poneman, “appeared to threaten the project.”

Second, US policymakers and many among their allies in the international community lost sight of the importance of perception for a country like North Korea. Third, American leaders too easily assumed that “unipolar” power, stability, and unilateralism could go hand-in-hand. US political rhetoric, especially related to nuclear and WMD negotiations and in sharp contrast to international economic agreements, abandoned the sense of mutual obligation and reciprocity that had been essential to Cold War and immediate post-Cold War diplomacy. Instead, American leaders tended to emphasize the pacts as treaties “to be enforced” rather than ones in which nations “shared,” which often resulted in resentment and retrenchment.

In terms of the Agreed Framework, Siracusa argues that the agreement collapsed because in 2002 President George W. Bush refused to honor the two most crucial precepts of the Agreement: helping to build light-water reactors and moving to normalize relations. North Korean diplomatic brinksmanship did not help, but rejecting direct negotiations was clearly a mistake. Pushing for new “six-party talks on North Korea, in which the two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan, and the United States were jointly to reach a solution with Kim Jong-il’s Stalinist regime” may have added too many voices and competing interests. Similarly, new incentives seemed to be aligning to make states like North Korea, in the wake of 9/11 seek nuclear power status as a bulwark against more overt attempts at regime change.

No longer obliged to the Framework, on 9 October 2006, North Korea exploded a nuclear bomb in a tunnel complex at Punggye, in the far north of the country, which made it the ninth nation in history to become a nuclear power.

In his 2002 State of the Union Address President Bush inveighed against all members of the “Axis of Evil.” Of the three “members” of this purported axis, Iraq was first to be invaded, in large part based on the premise that weapons of mass destruction were located there but no nuclear threshold had yet been reached. Iran has been attacked largely via sanctions and covert operations and to date there have been no recent military assaults on the nation’s nuclear facilities.

In contrast to Iraq and Iran, the already isolated, impoverished, and heavily sanctioned nuclear North Korean state, a nation that the New York Times deemed “too erratic, too brutal, and too willing to sell what it has to have a nuclear bomb,” has retained a high nuclear barrier to direct military action. Indeed, the Times in 2006 ruled out “a military strategy” entirely. The differential treatment of North Korea and Iraq, one nuclear-armed and the other not, has left strategists in Iran with mixed messages from the United States.

Even as nuclear stockpiles have been dramatically reduced, the new nuclear strategic world seems to be one of state proliferation. On the one hand “any confrontation between nuclear armed states runs the risk of escalating to the use of nuclear weapons, whether by inadvertence, accident, or bad decision-making,” reasons Tilman Ruff, co-chair of the International Steering Group and Australian Board member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. On the other hand, without those weapons, states and groups out of favor with the United States, Russia, or other “great” powers may find themselves far more susceptible to coercion or even attack. In turn, with nuclear weapons as a credible threat, states may be able to negotiate better deals, even if those accords ultimately might result in the relinquishing the very weapons themselves.

The ability of the impoverished North Korean state to stand up to the United States and its allies in recent years remains a product of its nuclear deterrent. The Russian annexation of Crimea followed by Russian-backed separatist attacks and revolution in the Ukraine pinpoint a similar counterfactual lesson: would a nuclear Ukraine be able to stand up more effectively to Russia? Kazakhstan and Belarus, which also gave up their Soviet era stockpiles in the mid-1990s, are confronting this question today.

There is an unfortunate logic for states to develop nuclear weapons in the 21st century, even if they have no intention of using them. Despite the end of the Cold War, the concept of deterrence may have more legitimacy than ever before. Potential combatants around the world now see the development of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear, as a means of neutralizing the hegemonic capacities of the United States and other major military and economic powers. The stubborn, persistent spread of nuclear weapons – in large part because of the apparent strategic-diplomatic need for them – in a multi-polar world is more complicated and more problematic than most would have predicted in November 1994. In no small measure the changes of the last two decades mark a moment of diminished US leadership and what Andrew Bacevich has depicted as the limits of American power. The United States, in the wake of 9/11 and in attempting to combat the spread of WMDs, has not exactly made the world safe for an NPT by all-too-often abandoning the interest- and mutual security-based discussions of the 1990s.

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21. Human Rights Day: abolishing the death penalty

Every year, on December 10, UN Human Rights Day commemorates the day in 1948 on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although the Declaration itself said nothing about the death penalty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that incorporated its values in 1966 made it clear in Article 6(6) that ‘nothing … should be invoked to delay or to prevent the abolition of capital punishment by any State Party to the … Covenant,’ which now has been ratified by all but a handful of nations.

Today, we pause to consider the considerable changes that have taken place in the use of capital punishment around the world over the past quarter of a century, changes which have shifted our pessimism – believing that in many regions of the world there was little hope of worldwide abolition occurring soon – towards increasing optimism. Since the end of 1988, the number of actively retentionist countries (by which we mean countries that have carried out judicial executions in the past 10 years) has declined from 101 to 39, while the number that has completely abolished the death penalty has almost trebled from 35 to 99; a further seven are abolitionist for all ordinary crimes and 33 are regarded as abolitionist in practice: 139 in all. In 2013 only 22 countries were known to have carried out an execution and the number that regularly executes a substantial number of its citizens has dwindled. Only seven nations executed an average of 20 people or more over the five year period from 2009 to 2013: China (by far the largest number), Iran (the highest per head of population), Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Yemen. The change has been truly remarkable. Indeed, we have witnessed and recorded a revolution in the discourse on and practice of capital punishment since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

We have witnessed and recorded a revolution in the discourse on and practice of capital punishment since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

This year’s Human Rights Day slogan – Human Rights 365 – encompasses the idea that every day is Human Rights Day. It celebrates the fundamental proposition in the Universal Declaration that each one of us, everywhere, at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights, that human rights belong equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with the same ideals and values. What better day then to reflect on the dynamo for this new wave of abolition – the development of international human rights law and norms.

Arising in the aftermath of the Second World War and linked to the emergence of countries from totalitarian imperialism and colonialism, the acceptance of international human rights principles transformed consideration of capital punishment from an issue to be decided solely or mainly as an aspect of national criminal justice policy to the status of a fundamental violation of human rights: not only the right to not to be arbitrarily deprived of life but the right to be free from cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment or treatment. The idea that each nation has the sovereign right to retain the death penalty as a repressive tool of its domestic criminal justice system on the grounds of its purported deterrent utility or the cultural preferences and expectations of its citizens was being replaced by a growing acceptance that countries that retain the death penalty – however they administer it – inevitably violate universally accepted human rights.

A prison cell in Kilmainham Gaol. Photo by  Aapo Haapanen. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.
A prison cell in Kilmainham Gaol. Photo by Aapo Haapanen. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

The human rights dynamic has not only resulted in fewer countries retaining the death penalty on their books, but also in the declining use of the ultimate penalty in many of those countries. Since the introduction of Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection of the Rights of those Facing the Death Penalty, which were first promulgated by the UN Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50 and adopted by the General Assembly 30 years ago, there have been attempts to progressively restrict the use of capital punishment to the most heinous offences and the most culpable offenders and various measures to try to ensure that the death penalty is only applied where and when defendants have had access to a fair and safe criminal process. Hence, in many retentionist countries juveniles, the mentally ill, and the learning disabled are exempt from capital punishment, and some countries restrict the death penalty to culpable homicide.

There has been some strong resistance to the political movement to force change ever since the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989. Attempts by the abolitionist nations at United Nations Congresses, in the General Assembly, beginning in 1994, and at the Commission on Human Rights, annually from 1997, to press for a resolution calling for a moratorium on the imposition of death sentences and executions met with hostility from many of the retentionist nations. By 2005, when an attempt had been made at the Commission on Human Rights to secure sufficient support to bring such a resolution before the United Nations, it had been opposed by 66 countries on the grounds that there was no international consensus that capital punishment should be abolished. Since then, as the resolution has been successfully brought before the General Assembly, the opposition has weakened as each subsequent vote was taken in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2012, when 111 countries (60 per cent) voted in favour and 41 against. Just three weeks ago, 114 of the UN’s 193 member states voted in favour of the resolution which will go before the General Assembly Plenary for final adoption this month. The notion behind Human Rights 365 – that we are a part of a global community of shared values – is reflected in this increasing support for a worldwide moratorium as a further step towards worldwide abolition. We encourage all those who believe in human rights to continue working towards this ideal.

Headline image credit: Sparrow on barbed wire. Photo by See-ming Lee. CC BY 2.0 via seeminglee Flickr.

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22. The other torture report

At long last – despite the attempts at sabotage by and over the protests of the CIA, and notwithstanding the dilatory efforts of the State Department – the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has finally issued the executive summary of its 6,300-page report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. We should celebrate its publication as a genuine victory for opponents of torture. We should thank Senator Dianne Feinstein (whom some of us have been known to call “the senator from the National Security Agency”) for her courage in making it happen.

Like many people, I’ve got my criticisms of the Senate report. Suffice it to say that we’ve still got work to do if we want to end US torture.

We now know something about the Senate report, but many folks may not have heard about the other torture report, the one that came out a couple of weeks ago, and was barely mentioned in the US media. In some ways, this one is even more damning. For one thing, it comes from the international body responsible for overseeing compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – the UN Committee Against Torture. For another, unlike the Senate report, the UN report does not treat US torture as something practiced by a single agency, or that ended with the Bush administration. The UN Committee Against Torture reports on US practices that continue to this day.

Here are some key points:

Guards from Camp 5 at Joint Task Force Guantanamo escort a detainee from his cell to a recreational facility within the camp.
Guards from Camp 5 at Joint Task Force Guantanamo escort a detainee from his cell to a recreational facility within the camp. Photo by US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kilho Park. Public domain via Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
  • The United States still refuses to pass a law making torture a federal crime. It also refuses to withdraw some of the “reservations” it put in place when it signed the Convention. These include the insistence that only treatment resulting in “prolonged mental harm,” counts as the kind of severe mental suffering outlawed in the Convention.
  • Many high civilian officials and some military personnel have not been prosecuted for acts of torture they are alleged to have committed. It would be nice, too, says the Committee, if the United States were to join the International Criminal Court, where other torturers have already been successfully tried. If we can’t prosecute them at home, maybe the international community can do it.
  • The remaining 142 detainees at Guantánamo must be released or tried in civilian courts, and the prison there must be shut down.
  • Evidence of US torture must be declassified, especially the torture of anyone still being held at Guantánamo.
  • While the US Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations prohibits many forms of torture, a classified “annex” still permits sleep deprivation and sensory deprivation. These are both forms of cruel treatment which must end.
  • People held in US jails and prisons must be protected from long-term solitary confinement and rape. “Supermax” facilities and “Secure Housing Units,” where inmates spend years and even decades in complete isolation must be shut down. As many as 80,000 prisoners are believed to be in solitary confinement in US prisons today – a form of treatment we now understand can cause lasting psychosis in as short a time as two weeks.
  • The United States should end the death penalty, or at the very least declare a moratorium until it can find a quick and painless method of execution.
  • The United States must address out-of-control police brutality, especially “against persons belonging to certain racial and ethnic groups, immigrants and LGBTI individuals.” This finding is especially poignant in a period when we have just witnessed the failure to indict two white policemen who killed unarmed Black men: Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City. Like many who have been demonstrating during the last few weeks against racially selective police violence, the Committee was also concerned about “racial profiling by police and immigration offices and growing militarization of policing activities.”

Why should an international body focused specifically on torture care about an apparently broader issue like police behavior? In fact, torture and race- or identity-based police brutality are intimately linked by the reality that lies at the foundation of institutionalized state torture.

Every nation that uses torture must first identify one or more groups of people who are torture’s “legitimate” targets. They are legitimate targets because in the minds of the torturers and of the society that gives torture a home, these people are not entirely human. (In fact, the Chilean secret police called the people they tortured “humanoids.”) Instead, groups singled out for torture are a uniquely degraded and dangerous threat to the body politic, and therefore anything “we” must do to protect ourselves becomes licit. In the United States, with lots of encouragement from the news and entertainment media, many white people believe that African American men represent this kind of unique threat. The logic that allows police to kill unarmed Black men with impunity is not all that different from the logic that produces pogroms or underlies drone assassination programs in far-off places, or that makes it impossible to prosecute our own torturers.

At 15 pages, the whole UN report is certainly a quicker read than the Senate committee’s 500-page “summary.” And it’s a good reminder that, whatever President Obama might wish, this is not the time to close the book on torture. It’s time to re-open the discussion, to hold the torturers accountable, and to bring a real end to US torture.

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23. 6 things you didn’t know about light

Light occupies a central place in our understanding of the world both as a means by which we locate ourselves in nature and as a thing that inspires our imagination. Light is what enables us to see things, and thus to navigate our surroundings. It is also a primary means by which we learn about the world – light beams carry information about the constituents of the universe, from distant stars and galaxies to the cells in our bodies to individual atoms and molecules.

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24. Neverending nightmares: who has the power in international policy?

Late last year, North Korea grabbed headlines after government-sponsored hackers infiltrated Sony and exposed the private correspondence of its executives. The more significant news that many may have missed, however, was the symbolic and long overdue UN resolution condemning the crimes against humanity North Korean committed against its own people.

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25. Crowd Watch: Comics Uniting Nations Kickstarter is saving the world with van Lente, Dunlavey, Woo, Brrémaud, Bertolucci 


One of the more ambitious and important comics Kickstarter efforts now running is the Comics Uniting Nations effort. Spearheaded by Josh Elder, who already got the Reading With Pictures literacy effort off the ground, this is an equally important project that will communicate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals via the medium of comics. This is a great mix since comics have been proven to cross cultural lines, and communicating the important goals of the SDGs worldwide.

The campaign has been moving along but should get a boost from the first announced creative teams — including Action Philosophers van Lente and Dunlavey and (most excitingly to me anyway) Frédéric Brrémaud  and Federico Bertolucci the team behind the exquisite wordless Love series. Anyway, here’s the line-up thus far:


Writer: Yen Yen Woo (Dim Sum Warriors)
Artist: Lars Jakobsen (Ganske Vist)


Writer/Artist: Graphic India (Ramayan 3392A.D., Grant Morrison’s 18 Days)


Writer: Fred Van Lente (Amazing Spider-Man, Archer & Armstrong, Action Philosophers)
Artist: Ryan Dunlavey (Action Philosophers, M.O.D.O.K: Reign Delay)


Writer: Frédéric Brrémaud (Love: The Tiger, Daffodil) 
Artist: Federico Bertolucci (Love: The Tiger, Richard Coeur de Lion)

And some background:

“I was a United Nations employee for years before becoming a comics pro, and I am thrilled at this opportunity to be contributing again to their global mission,” says Fred Van Lente, the New York Times bestselling author tackling Goal 6: FRESH WATER AND SANITATION.  “I’ve been doing comics for non-fiction and non-profits long enough to know comics aren’t just a great way to convey complex issues to a wide audience, they are the best way. With the great literacy advocacy group Reading with Pictures at the helm, this is a terrific chance to tell great comics and save lives in the process.”

“Comics change lives,” explains Josh Elder, Founder of Reading With Pictures. “Every comic fan already knows this because comics changed our lives. Now we have the chance to do the same for millions of disadvantaged men, women and children all over the world.”

“Publishing the LOVE series by Frederic Brremaud and Federico Bertolucci has been a thrill for us at Magnetic Press, not just because they are beautiful books, but because they speak about a topic near to our hearts: wildlife conservation and the world of nature that surrounds us, too often ignored in today’s society,” offers Mike Kennedy, Publisher/President of Magnetic Press, whose creators Brremaud and Bertolucci are working on Goal 15: ENVIRONMENT ABOVE WATER.  “We hope that these books — and our participation in the Comics Uniting Nations project — can help open eyes around the world to these plights and interest people to at the very least become aware of the issues, if not actively participate in any way towards improving these conditions.”

Comics Uniting Nations is a partnership between Reading With Pictures, PCI Media Impact and the PVBLIC Foundation.  The Comics Uniting Nations team is working in coordination with the United Nations Post-2015 Development Planning Team to create a series of seventeen comics addressing the world’s most serious challenges, such as climate change and sustainable energy, extreme poverty, health, education, gender equality, drinkable water and economic growth. 

Comics UNiting NAtions has teamed with Abrams ComicArts, Action Labs, Andrews McMeel Universal, Archie Comics, Boom Studios, comiXology, Dark Horse, Dynamite, Humble Bundle, IDW, Madefire, Magnetic Press, NBM Publishing, Oni, Papercutz, Peanuts Inc., Teshkeel, TOKYOPOP, UDON and Valiant to run this Kickstarter with rewards and talent.

It’s not very often you get to support educating people around the world about the most important survival issues our planet faces AND create from kick-ass comics, so get behind this KS pronto!


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