What Textiles, Wars and Earthquakes Have in Common

labores-patchworkOver 30.000 people displaced between August and October in the Centre of Italy due to several earthquakes, whose tremors are still threatening the life of its inhabitants. Experts asserted October 30th quake has been the strongest in 35 years, registering a 6.6 on the Richter scale.

One is man-made, the other is an uncontrollable – although predictable – phenomenon; both wars and earthquakes provoke victims and/or people’s displacements and do urge a quick and effective response. Not only at emergency level though. Continue reading

The Law of War

International Committee of the Red Cross LogoInternational humanitarian law (IHL) is a universal code established to protect victims of armed conflicts. At first, the rules were not written, they were a matter of tradition, but over time they were enshrined in international treaties becoming laws of compulsory compliance. Nowadays, the main rules of international humanitarian law are contained in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocols of 1977.

The laws set out in this treaty encompass two fields. On the one hand they protect people outside of the combat (civilians, the wounded and sick and people who are detained). On the other hand they restrict and forbid the usage of some weapons in warfare. The aim of IHL is to narrow the scope of hostilities without taking into account the moral status of the parties. The article is a complaint against the lack of importance given to these rules and its continuous violations which aren´t condemned.

After the Second World War most countries committed to obey IHL when they signed the Geneva Convention, but if we analyse some of the latest international news we can see that these rules are constantly violated. There is no guarantee that they will be enforced and the consequences of infringing the laws have not yet been resolved. Here are just a few examples of the ceaseless violations of IHL, which have occurred this year and have not yet been punished.

The rules of customary IHL say that victims of armed conflicts must be given medical care and that deliberate attacks against medical facilities, staff or transports are a violation of IHL (rule110). However, it is not difficult to find evidence of violations to this law. Last July, Al-Shifa medical compound and refugee camp in Palestine were struck by a missile and rockets, several civilians were injured and killed, and the hospital came under fire several times.

Without a doubt this a serious violation of IHL as the line had not been drawn between legitimate military objectives, which are the only legal targets to attack, and civilian ones. Another rule (rule 90) says that torture and inhuman treatment is prohibited, but since the breakout of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, armed groups from both sides have been accused of carrying out tortures, arbitrary detentions and abductions.

Although this issue has been addressed several times in the UN General Assembly, accountability processes have not started up yet. Rule 104 makes reference to the principle of distinction in saying that the religious practices of civilians and people who do not take part in the hostilities must be respected. Every person shall be treated regardless of his or her religion, sex, race, wealth, etc.

Source: http://cacarc.wordpress.com/

Source: http://cacarc.wordpress.com/

 

However, in many parts of the world this law have not been respected. Some countries such as Iraq and Syria are involved in religious and racial conflicts in which human rights principles have been constantly violated. In some regions of Iraq, such as Baghdad, religious centres have been destroyed, and in Syria people are persecuted for their religious beliefs.

After all these examples it is clear that the international community is not taking IHL seriously. On the one hand governments are not making any effort to preserve a certain degree of humanity in times of war, and on the other hand institutions have not yet settled clear accountability measures to punish such violations. Although the main international law-enforcing bodies of the United Nations as well as peacekeeping forces have voiced their concern over IHL violations, there is no evidence that makes us think that international law infractions will cease, as there are no serious accountability measures.

This issue is of extreme importance as it concerns the lives of millions of people who are suffering from hostilities, which have nothing to do with them. It is important to instruct soldiers and spread the principles of IHL in order to provide protection to the victims of armed conflicts and to make sure that the violations are being detected and tried in court. Otherwise, these rules would be worthless and dignity of life wouldn´t be protected.

Sources:

IHL Rules
Syria violations of humanitarian law (video)
• BAYLIS, John; SMITH, Steve, OWENS, Patricia: The Globalization of World Politics: “An Introduction to International Relations”. Editorial Oxford, 2010.
ICRC statement to the United Nations
Inside a Gaza hospital during Israeli ground offensive. BBC News (video)

Conflicts and the Challenges of the Post Conflicts

This article deals with conflict and effective post-conflict rehabilitation approaches to prevent future wars and to establish the rule of law and respect for human rights. A special focus is put on establishing democratic governance in Nigeria.

http://tinyurl.com/kj4z5zm

http://tinyurl.com/kj4z5zm

There are daunting challenges of post-conflict reconstruction facing the majority, if not all African countries. Recovering from violent conflicts poses the risk of conflict relapse. The level of visibility varies with regard to the country as well as to the type of conflicts. This fundamentally influences public awareness associated with fear, insecurity and tolerance levels, relating to acceptable of conflict behaviors. 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

Youth Unemployment

UN Photo/Jean Pierre Laffont

UN Photo/Jean Pierre Laffont

Youth unemployment. This is one of the major concerns for young people all over the world today, especially in the countries going through major economic crises.

According to the International Labor Organization, there are 75 million youths looking for jobs around the world today [1]. However, it is not only unemployment that is affecting our fellow youngsters across the world.  The precarious conditions in which they work involve low salaries and long hours, with interns feeling lucky to be paid since the increase of unpaid internships in which one works as a slave with only a “thank you” and a whisper from the boss hoping that this job will help you find better future opportunities.  How are we, the younger generation, supposed to survive in a society ruled by plutocracy (money) if we cannot get a job?

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Remember the Time: About the Youth and Decision-making

UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

At some point in our lives, we have all been young. The future still looked uncertain and the fear of not achieving our goals dominated our mind. Just remember those moments even if adolescence may now be just a golden memory somewhere in the past.

Young people are facing a lot of challenges when taking their first steps in working life. But it’s not only the problem of finding a job: young people are also prone to work longer hours without a proper compensation or adequate information about their rights on the collective labor agreement. Remember your first job. Whether it was at the local fast-food restaurant or a job that actually correlated fully with your education and competences, it was an important step in becoming independent. Still, fighting for your rights might have been difficult. By guaranteeing the realization of fundamental labor rights, and by offering possibilities for proper education and jobs, we can affect many levels of society including the aspects of social security. One could consider Arab spring as an example of the situation where these expectations weren’t met, which then led to an uprising of the unsatisfied youth who felt their voice wasn’t heard.

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Freedom of Expression or “Why This Blog?”

“Freedom of expression is one of our most precious rights. It underpins every other freedom and provides a foundation for human dignity. Free, pluralistic and independent media is essential for its exercise.”

– UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova

Today, on 3 May 2013, the International World Press Freedom Day, UNYANET is proud to officially open its blog for the public. Announced at the General Assembly 2012, this blog will give our members as well as guests and experts the opportunity to present their thoughts, ideas and projects to a wider audience. Let me share some thoughts about why we at UNYANET decided to start this blog especially at this important day, when we celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. Continue reading