Latest Developments, July 18

In the latest news and analysis…

Democratic hiatus
The International Business Times picks up on a German media report that former US President Jimmy Carter said “America does not at the moment have a functioning democracy”:

“The 39th U.S. president also said he was pessimistic about the current state of global affairs, wrote Der Spiegel, because there was ‘no reason for him to be optimistic at this time.’

Carter said a bright spot was ‘the triumph of modern technology,’ which enabled the democratic uprisings of the Arab Spring; however, the NSA spying scandal, Carter said, according to Der Spiegel, endangers precisely those developments, ‘as major U.S. Internet platforms such as Google or Facebook lose credibility worldwide.’ ”

Bounty hunters
Jeune Afrique reports that France is not happy to see “20 or so” retired members of its special forces arriving in the Central African Republic:

“Commanded by Jérôme Gomboc, a former member of the French Navy’s 3rd airborne regiment, these ‘bounty hunters’ – as they are being called in Paris – are providing, among other things, round-the-clock protection for Michel Djotodia, the country’s new strongman, at Roux Camp. Over the last few days, the French embassy in Bangui has tried to convince him to send them away. It is also looking for a legal flaw in the contract with these very special retirees of the French military. But they work for a company, Roussel G-Sécurité, registered in the American state of Delaware. ‘We have no way of pressuring them,’ says Paris.” [Translated from the French.]

Euro tax haven
Reuters reports that the Dutch government is reviewing its “double taxation treaties” to see if they are unfair to poor countries:

“The Netherlands has more than 90 double taxation agreements. Several thousand international corporations, including 80 of the world’s largest, use the Netherlands to re-route profits from dividends, royalties and interest, often paying no withholding tax in the country of origin.

A June study by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations found that use of the Dutch tax system by multinational corporations causes 771 million euros ($1.01 billion) in annual lost tax revenue in 28 developing countries.”

Droned descendents
Nasser al-Awlaki, the father/grandfather of two American citizens killed in separate US drone strikes in Yemen, argues “a country that believes it does not even need to answer for killing its own is not the America I once knew”:

“In 2010, the Obama administration put Abdulrahman’s father, my son Anwar, on C.I.A. and Pentagon ‘kill lists’ of suspected terrorists targeted for death. A drone took his life on Sept. 30, 2011.
The government repeatedly made accusations of terrorism against Anwar — who was also an American citizen — but never charged him with a crime. No court ever reviewed the government’s claims nor was any evidence of criminal wrongdoing ever presented to a court. He did not deserve to be deprived of his constitutional rights as an American citizen and killed.

After the deaths of Abdulrahman and Anwar, I filed another lawsuit, seeking answers and accountability. The government has argued once again that its targeted killing program is beyond the reach of the courts. I find it hard to believe that this can be legal in a constitutional democracy based on a system of checks and balances.
The government has killed a 16-year-old American boy. Shouldn’t it at least have to explain why?”

RIP 1504
The American Lawyer’s Michael Goldhaber takes issue with a recent US court ruling that does away with a law requiring extractive industry companies to divulge payments to foreign governments:

“In accepting the arguments of the American Petroleum Institute and tossing the ‘Publish What You Pay’ rule, the district court for the District of Columbia was wrong on the law and wrong on the policy

The one certain consequence of section 1504’s vacatur is that the E.U.—whose directive cannot be challenged until after it is implemented by member nations—will become the policy leader in revenue transparency. The SEC should gather its nerve to re-propose its own rule, the D.C. courts should show more respect for Congress, and all players should welcome a thoughtful debate on costs and benefits.
‘The global transparency train has left the station,’ says Ian Gary of Oxfam America. The U.S. got on the train first, and the E.U. followed. Now, in a reversal of the historical pattern, the U.S. threatens to get off. It should reconsider.”

Victims’ justice
In a Warscapes Q&A, Columbia University’s Mahmood Mamdani argues that the prevailing narrative in the “human rights movement” may be an impediment to peace:

“I do not agree with the point of view that the way forward is victims’ justice. I do have a notion that the real problem, at least in the situations that I know of in the African context, is an ongoing cycle of violence. Victims and perpetrators have tended to trade places over time. Yesterday’s victims become today’s perpetrators. And ‘victims’ justice’ will simply produce another round of violence. How do you bring it to an end? That is really my question. So my answer is that we have to look beyond victims and perpetrators to the issues. What are the issues? What drives the violence? Not just in terms of criminals and criminal justice, but in terms of political justice

If the objective is to bring the cycle of violence to a conclusion, then of course one has to look beyond the victim – and, instead, to look to the victim and the perpetrator, the context, and the issues.”

Beyond aid
The Center for Global Development’s Charles Kenney and Sarah Dykstra argue “ambitious goals and a weak global partnership is not a recipe for post-2015 success”:

“But the limited (if important) impact of aid also suggests that, with a set of goals that look to be even more ambitious than the original MDGs, we should be thinking about a much wider range of policy levers in rich countries to speed development progress in poor countries. The new MDG 8, or post-2015 Goal 12, needs stronger, better language not just on aid flows, but on trade, finance, tax, illicit flows, migration, intellectual property rights, research into global public goods, commitments to the global commons and global institutions … the list is long.”

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