The Status of Refugees in Kenya

UNHCR E Hockstein Kenya1

Source: UNHCR in Kenya / E. Hockstein

A refugee is defined as a person who has fled his or her own country to seek refuge in another country for the safety of his/her life and limb because of a well-founded fear of persecution. The definition of a refugee also covers those who are compelled to leave their domicile or place of habitual residence because of among other things, ‘events seriously disturbing public order in his or her country of origin’. The main sources of International Law on refugees are the 1951 Refugee Convention, and the OAU Convention of 1969. Kenya acceded to the 1951 Convention but has not ratified it (according to the UNHCR website in 2014). The obligations under these documents include not sending a person back to a country where he or she may be persecuted, and in the case of the OAU convention where his or her life is threatened because of the threats to public order which form the basis for refugee status; not discriminating among groups of refugees; the right of refugees to freedom of movement and to work in the country (though a three year limit on the right to work can be imposed to protect the local labour market); the same right to basic education as a national; the duty of refugees to obey the law in the country where they are received. The OAU Convention adds that members states shall ‘use their best endeavours’ to receive refugees and ensure their settlement. Continue reading

The Importance of Transitional Justice

justice africaWhether for welcoming a newborn or mourning the loss of a relative, every society has and dearly holds onto its own forms of traditions. But in times of emergency such as civil war and genocide, those atrocities not only disrupt current community life but also affect future generations, with such death and destructions, no country is prepared to face the crises aftermath, let alone having a “Recovery toolkit” or a “Reset button”. Therefore, countries look for new ways to mourn their dead, commemorate the events, preserve the memory and move forward.

Since independence in the late 1950s and early 1960s, most Africa governments have been undemocratic, repressive and authoritarian. This has often been marked by serious violation of human rights. These attempts to move away from dark eras of dictatorship with the advent of the so-called “Third wave” of democratization in the 1990s has been accomplished by numerous challenges, one of which is how to deal with the trauma and wounds of the past by ensuring that human rights violations are accounted for in a manner that respects and protects the dignity of survivors and their relatives without threatening future peace and security. The movement from repressive to democratic systems of governance is a worldwide phenomenon and therefore, the transition in Africa has learnt from the inspiring experience of other transitions in Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America. The transitional challenges have usually been enormous. The question is HOW DO YOUTHS DEAL WITH PEOPLE WHO RULED ON A DAILY BASIS BY VIOLENCE, TERROR, INTIMIDATION AND DIVISION? HOW DO YOUTHS BRING BACK TRUST, ECONOMIC PROSPERITY, POLICAL STABILITY AND CONGENIAL SOCIAL RELATION? Continue reading

Youth Activism in South Africa, a Day in History

South Africans commemorate the 16th of June to serve as a reminiscence of what transpired in Soweto (a township/suburb I have yet to visit) on the said day in 1976. It is the most significant and arguably the most famous youth demonstration in all of South African history. For those who aren’t really sure what happened, I will in summary, elaborate.

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Back then black people (mostly of African descent) were confronted by political oppression, extreme social degradation and inhumane economic exploitation. You could argue that there still exists political oppression in the motherland today and you could use the recent public attacks on public protector Thuli Madonsela by leading politicians. You could go on and tell me about how top prosecutor, Glynnis Breteynbach was unfairly suspended after she big names in the political scenery tackled (or at least tried to do so). Secondly, you could argue that social degradation is prevalent today and its prevalence is actually depressing. You could use the racism that we black people have to endure in our country everyday. You could use the stories your parents and all those related to you share about corporate South Africa as one of many examples. You could use the recent forced evictions that took place in Lwandle as socially degrading. You wouldn’t need to go further and tell me about the “open” toilet that once called the shanty townships around Cape Town home or the “still fresh on our minds” Marikana massacre. On economic exploitation you could outline how domestic workers, miners, unskilled labourers and the like are overworked and under-paid. I would never dispute the mentioned points; I would however argue that be it as it may, it was way worse back then. Continue reading

The Situation of Human Rights of Disabled Youth in Kenya

Source: http://tinyurl.com/l3y89vy

Source: http://tinyurl.com/l3y89vy

“When you hear the word ‘disabled’, people immediately think about people who can’t walk or talk or do everything that people take for granted. Now, I take nothing for granted. But I find the real disability is people who can’t find joy in life and are bitter”, says Terri Garr, a motivational speaker.

When I heard Terry speak, I asked myself, WHO IS THE DISABLED? WHAT ARE HIS OR HER HUMAN RIGHTS? HOW YOUNG ARE THEY? DOES THE CONSTITUTION DEFINE RESTRAINS OVER THE SAME? As for Kenya, the Human Rights commission defines the disabled as the naturally challenged beings whose daily livelihood does not follow the norms of normalcy, but rather struggles through the corridors of life to make ends meet. Continue reading

The Balkan Floods Aftermath: Have the Institutions Done Their Job? No, They Should Learn From This for the Future

Floods in Brcko, Bosnia

Photo: Floods in Brcko, Bosnia; theguardian.com

It has been over a month since the catastrophic floods that hit Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia.

The water has receded but it left behind many problems, some of them classic for big floods – such as destroyed houses and farms, risks of sewer contamination, lack of drinking water; and some of them specific to the region – such as fields full of landmines still left from the Yugoslav civil war where the water has potentially moved the mines or removed warning signs thereby putting people at mine danger[1]. Some of the problems, however, seem to be purely institutional.

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The Role of Renewable Energies in Achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Ghana. (Solar Energy)

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight goals with measurable targets and clear deadlines for improving the lives of the world’s deprived people. To meet these goals and eradicate poverty, leaders of 189 countries signed the historic millennium declaration at the United Nations Millennium Summit in the year 2000. However, renewable energy is reliable, abundant and will potentially be very cheap once technology and infrastructure are improved. It includes solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower and tidal energy, plus biofuels that are grown and harvested without fossil fuels. Non-renewable energy, such as coal and petroleum, require costly explorations and potentially dangerous mining and drilling, and they will become more expensive as supplies decrease and demand increases.

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The Social Corporate Responsibility of International Oil Companies in Nigeria and the Global Compact of the UN

Nigeria’s economy is highly dependent on oil found in the Niger delta area of the country.

Photo: Daily Telegraph

Photo: Daily Telegraph

The social corporate responsibility of international oil companies faces a different political and economic environment both nationally and at the level of producing communities where there facilities are located.  The NNPC (Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation) operates mainly through joint venture contract. The greatest joint partners of NNPC remains. The Anglo Dutch conglomerate, Chevron, Texaco and Nigeria liquefied Natural Gas ( a subsidiary of NNPC). Unfortunately, the influx of oil companies and the heightening of their operations in Niger Delta are not matched with an agenda for the development of Nigeria in general and Niger Delta in particular. The oil companies claim to have executed several projects in the host communities as part of their corporate social responsibility. The claims include: the construction of hospitals, roads and schools, provision of potable water, electricity and programmes among others. However, the host communities in Niger Delta seem not to have acknowledged these acclaimed community development projects by the oil companies as they continue in their hostile disposition to the companies. The relationship of cordiality which existed between oil communities and oil companies in the good days have given away hostility and violence thereby causing the form of pipelines vandalism, kidnapping, shutting down of oil companies and seizure of oil installation. Continue reading

Model United Nations must grow into the role of a simulation of the UN

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Photo: Delegates at Harvard WorldMUN 2014. Rima-Maria Rahal

At ModelUN, we simulate the United Nations. A ModelUN conference is a hands-on way to learn how international relations work, how to behave as a diplomat, and – wherever you see your career path take you – a golden opportunity to learn how to be a global leader. After all, slipping into the role of a diplomat to a UN body not only requires you to put your knowledge of current affairs, international relations and the mechanics of being a diplomat into action while aiming to represent your nation’s views to your best ability. Being a MUNer also means trying to cut deals that are not only good for you, but good for the simulated international community as a whole, crafting your own network of cooperators and pulling through intrigue and competition.

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The Role of Youth in the Accomplishment of MDGs in Nigeria

MDGs

Photo: MDGs

The role of the Nigerian youth in the attainment of MDG’s is varied and diverse. The vision of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is to have a world without corruption, strife and bad leadership among the peoples as well as authorities. The level of commitment and discipline among Nigerian youth should be the first consideration if the nation is to achieve the MDG goals.

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Bring Back Our Girls

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Photo: change.org

It is time for the international community to take actions not only in responding to the Chibok abductions, but also prevent more tragedies from happening.

In the week since the kidnapping of over 200 girls in northern Nigeria, people from across the world have condemned the terrible attack caused by the Boko Harams. The truth is that before they were taken at gunpoint, the Chibok girls lead a life that was exceptional for a girl in northern Nigeria: they were in school.

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