Latest Developments, November 7

In the latest news and analysis…

Historic votes
In addition to news of Barack Obama’s re-election to a second term as US president, the Associated Press reports that Maine and Maryland voted in favour of allowing gay marriage, and Colorado and Washington voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana:

“The outcome in Maine and Maryland broke a 32-state streak, dating back to 1998, in which gay marriage had been rebuffed by every state that voted on it.

The marijuana measures in Colorado and Washington set up a showdown with the federal government, which outlaws the drug.

The Washington measure was notable for its sponsors and supporters, who ranged from public health experts and wealthy high-tech executives to two of the Justice Department’s top former officials in Seattle, U.S. Attorneys John McKay and Kate Pflaumer.”

Observers threatened
KPBS reports that international election observers were told by state government officials to “stay away from polling sites” in Texas and Arizona:

“Texas election officials are threatening the observers with arrest if they show up at the polls.
For the last decade the United Nations-affiliated Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has directly observed elections in the United States — but not this Election Day in Texas or Arizona.”

Agence France-Presse reports that non-African troops may take part in attempts to recapture northern Mali from armed groups:

“ ‘If African heads of state agree, there will be non-African troops on the ground to help Mali win back its territory,’ an African official taking part in the meeting of international experts told AFP on the last day of the conference.

He said that the number of troops sent into Mali by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ‘could reach 4,000 instead of the planned 3,000’ and would be spread throughout the country.

The Bamako conference was attended by experts from ECOWAS, the European Union, African Union, United Nations and Algeria, who are helping Mali draw up a plan to be presented to the UN on November 26.
Another delegate told AFP that the UN is expected to finance the bulk of the military operation.”

Internationalized minds
The Overseas Development Institute’s Jonathan Glennie makes the case for “global public spending” to replace the current model of international aid:

“As important as any inevitably fraught architectural decisions is the communications value of this concept – the general public in all countries, rich, middle-income and poor, should quickly grasp and appreciate the idea of global public spending reversing the antagonism to ‘aid’. National public spending is widely accepted – only the most die-hard anti-statists oppose social safety nets for the poorest people, investment in research for new technologies, conservation, policing and so on. In a globalising world, it is only logical that we take that theory one step further.
Just as individual contributions are the price of living in a civilised society, so national contributions to the global pot could be the price of living in a prosperous and sustainable world.
The very reason that this vision is hard to achieve is what makes it so progressive and exciting. This way of thinking will only work insofar as human beings are able to internationalise their minds and think on a truly global, horizontal level, the project of progressives for centuries. This is a truly radical perspective, implying a kind of internationalism that is still only developing.”

Protection racket
The Guardian’s Seumas Milne questions the sincerity of UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s professed support for Arab democracy, given his current “trip to sell weapons to Gulf dictators”:

“Cameron went to the Gulf as a salesman for BAE Systems – the private arms corporation that makes Typhoon jets – drumming up business from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Oman, as well as smoothing ruffled feathers over British and European parliamentary criticism of their human rights records on behalf of BP and other companies.

This is effectively a mafia-style protection racket, in which Gulf regimes use oil wealth their families have commandeered to buy equipment from western firms they will never use. The companies pay huge kickbacks to the relevant princelings, while a revolving door of political corruption provides lucrative employment for former defence ministers, officials and generals with the arms corporations they secured contracts for in office.”

Planeloads of cash
Reuters reports that Guinea’s government is accusing mining firm BSG Resources of “flying in cash” in order to gain access to a major iron ore deposit:

“Guinea’s government has asked BSG Resources and its partners to respond to the accusations in the report, put together by a government technical committee. If the responses are not satisfactory, it could put their permits at risk, a source at Guinea’s mines ministry said.

‘During the period of the military regime in Guinea from 2009 to 2010, BSGR was engaged in a strategy to improve its relations with decision-makers by making regular payments to high military figures,’ the report said.
‘These payments were often distributed in cash, carried into the country in BSGR’s private jet,’ it said.”

Environment Conflict Day
The UN marked its annual International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict:

“Though mankind has always counted its war casualties in terms of dead and wounded soldiers and civilians, destroyed cities and livelihoods, the environment has often remained the unpublicized victim of war. Water wells have been polluted, crops torched, forests cut down, soils poisoned, and animals killed to gain military advantage.”

Ultimate control
ECONorthwest’s Ann Hollingshead argues that the best way rich countries can help poor ones achieve the Millennium Development Goals in tough economic times is to promote “domestic resource mobilization” by cracking down on illicit financial flows:

“Most people would likely agree that the optimal, most sustainable way to lift developing countries out of poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals is to help them help themselves. When it comes to the transparency initiatives I outlined above, while they are the ones most hurt by harmful financial practices, it is not the developing countries that have the ultimate control over their implementation. Participation from developed countries will make or break the effort.”

Latest Developments, November 1

In the latest news and analysis…

Base talks
Radio France Internationale reports that negotiations are underway over where foreign troops will be based for a looming military intervention in Mali:

“Time and again, Mali declared there was no need for foreign troops in Bamako to secure institutions, but those troops were welcome in the North to fight Islamist forces. To which the international community responded there was no way its troops would go directly to the North, straight into the lion’s den.
Both sides have softened their position and in the end, the following solution is taking shape: foreign headquarters could be located in Koulikoro, 50km from Bamako. But Bamako’s airport will be the hub for aerial operations.” [Translated from the French.]

Ocean grabbing
The UN’s right to food expert has urged world governments to “take urgent steps to protect, sustain, and share the benefits” of fisheries and oceans:

“ ‘“Ocean-grabbing” – in the shape of shady access agreements that harm small-scale fishers, unreported catch, incursions into protected waters, and the diversion of resources away from local populations – can be as serious a threat as “land-grabbing,”’ [Olivier] De Schutter said as he unveiled a new report on fisheries and the right to food.

The UN expert called on governments to rethink the models of fisheries that they support, highlighting that small-scale fishers actually catch more fish per gallon of fuel than industrial fleets, and discard fewer fish. ‘Industrial fishing in far-flung waters may seem like the economic option, but only because fleets are able to pocket major subsidies while externalizing the costs of over-fishing and resource degradation. Future generations will pay the price when the oceans run dry,’ he said.”

Young adults
Reuters reports that Argentina’s lower house has voted 131 to 2 in favour of lowering the country’s voting age from 18 to 16:

“Skeptics say the new law is aimed at drumming up support for the president before legislative elections scheduled a year from now. Supporters say the measure aims to bring Argentina in line with progressive countries such as Ecuador and Brazil that have already extended voting right to people as young as 16.
[President Cristina] Fernandez-allied lower house member Diana Conti said the bill ‘is neither opportunistic nor demagogic,’ but rather seeks ‘to widen the electoral base of our democracy.’

More than a million new voters are estimated to be eligible to cast ballots now that the bill has passed both houses. The Senate approved the measure earlier this month.”

MDG blind spot
A new Save the Children report argues that the successors to the Millennium Development Goals must include a global strategy for tackling inequality, not just extreme deprivation:

“Consideration of how to tackle capital flight and to strengthen domestic taxation measures will be key to increasing domestic revenues. It is now widely accepted that illicit financial outflows (dominated by corporate tax evasion) dwarf receipts of aid.
Progressive taxation plays a critical role in raising revenues to fund social protection mechanisms and universal access to basic services, and also in establishing the social contract between states and citizens upon which effective political representation and accountability depend.
A major issue for the post-2015 framework is to what extent it should emphasise both domestic budgetary transparency and the international financial transparency between states that is necessary to combat illicit flows.”

Strangelovian world
The Environmental Defense Fund’s Gernot Wagner calls for scientific and governance measures to be taken now in preparation for the inevitable turn to geoengineering as a quick, cheap fix against climate change:

“Imagine a country badly hit by adverse climate changes: India’s crops are wilting; China’s rivers are drying up. Millions of people are suffering. What government, under such circumstances, would not feel justified in taking drastic action, even in defiance of world opinion?
Once we reach that tipping point, there won’t be time to reverse warming by pursuing collective strategies to move the world onto a more sustainable growth path. Instead, speed will be of the essence, which will mean trying untested and largely hypothetical techniques like mimicking volcanoes and putting sulfur particles in the stratosphere to create an artificial shield from the sun.
That artificial sunscreen may well cool the earth. But what else might it do? Floods somewhere, droughts in other places, and a host of unknown and largely unknowable effects in between. That’s the scary prospect. And we’d be experimenting on a planetary scale, in warp speed.”

Dirty Money
Deutsche Welle reports that there were more money laundering cases in Germany last year than at any time since the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Act came into effect in 1993:

“An especially clever trick is to legalize dirty money by running it past insolvency proceedings. Lately, it’s not only commodities that are exchanged, but services between larger networks of companies which are difficult to control. Even the trade of CO2 emission certificates is now being used as a means for money laundering.
Yet another problem arises when illegally acquired money is transfered to non-involved third parties to circumvent confiscation. In 2010, the authorities succeeded in only 150 out of 600 preliminary proceedings on this front.According to a study published by the Tax Justice Network that examined 70 countries, Germany is one of the biggest havens for tax evasion – ranking even before Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg or Jersey.”

Contentious project
Le Soleil reports that an Australian-owned mining project in Senegal is proving rather unpopular with the local population:

“Come to see how things are coming along for Grande Côte Opérations, a company specialized in the extraction and separation of sand, the Minister of Energy and Mines, Aly Ngouille Ndiaye, was greeted, along with his delegation, by angry crowds, demanding more participation in the project. According to the spokesman for the youth of Diogo, Mansour Diop, the protesters want more jobs and a better handling of compensation for their ancestral lands which have been given over to the company.
In their view, the rate of compensation has been too low. Minister Aly Ngouille Ndiaye said he was sympathetic to the claims of people who have seen their agricultural land expropriated by this large-scale project.” [Translated from the French.]

Latest Developments, August 14

In the latest news and analysis…

Hunger crimes
The Guardian’s George Monbiot criticizes British Prime Minister David Cameron for holding a summit on world hunger while promoting the use of biofuels, which Monbiot calls a “crime against humanity”:

“Preparing for the prime minister’s hunger summit on Sunday, the international development department argued that, with a rising population, ‘the food production system will need to be radically overhauled, not just to produce more food but to produce it sustainably and fairly to ensure that the poorest people have the access to food that they need’. But another government department – transport – boasts on its website that, thanks to its policies, drivers in this country have now used 4.4bn litres of biofuel.
Of this 30% was produced from recycled cooking oil. The rest consists of 3bn litres of refined energy snatched from the mouths of the people that Cameron claims to be helping.”

Cereal secrets
Oxfam’s Duncan Green draws attention to a new report on four of “the biggest and most influential firms you’ve never heard of,” grain traders whose combined sales topped $300 billion last year:

“[The ABCDs] are not alone, nor unchallenged, but they remain the overwhelmingly dominant traders of grain globally, and what they do is central to understanding international markets (and the domestic politics of food in many countries, too). Too often invisible in policy debates about farmers and consumers, these companies are careful about where and when they get involved in such debates, rarely seeking the limelight. They do not have brand names to protect in the way that a food processor such as Nestlé does. [Archer Daniels Midland] is publicly listed and Bunge is also a fully public company. [Louis] Dreyfus and Cargill remain essentially family-owned businesses. None of the companies is very forthcoming about its activities, and to track their activities requires patience and guesswork. However, despite the difficulties, it is important to understand their role and their interactions with other companies, national and global.”

Iceland’s success
Bloomberg reports that the International Monetary Fund has praised Iceland for its “decision to push losses on to bondholders instead of taxpayers and the safeguarding of a welfare system that shielded the unemployed from penury” following its economic crisis:

“Iceland refused to protect creditors in its banks, which failed in 2008 after their debts bloated to 10 times the size of the economy. The island’s subsequent decision to shield itself from a capital outflow by restricting currency movements allowed the government to ward off a speculative attack, cauterizing the economy’s hemorrhaging. That helped the authorities focus on supporting households and businesses.
‘The fact that Iceland managed to preserve the social welfare system in the face of a very sizeable fiscal consolidation is one of the major achievements under the program and of the Icelandic government,’ [the IMF’s Daria] Zakharova said.”

Hague threats
The Guardian reports that Rwandan opposition parties in exile are planning to ask the International Criminal Court to indict the country’s president, Paul Kagame, for war crimes for his alleged role in neighbouring DR Congo’s conflict:

“The demand to bring charges against Kagame has support among Congolese as well as opposition Rwandan politicians. ‘The politicians in Kinshasa are aware of these charges and they support them, although there have been no official statements as yet,’ said Nzangi Butondo, a Congolese MP representing Goma. ‘We think now is the right time to [go to The Hague]. It is certainly something to raise publicity, but there is also the hope that the ICC will, as a result, at least launch an investigation into this affair.’ ”

Tragedy double standard
The University of Notre Dame’s Naunihal Singh notes how much less attention American media and politicians paid to the recent mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin compared to the Dark Knight killings a couple of weeks earlier:

“The two incidents were obviously different in important ways: Holmes shot more people, did so at the opening of a blockbuster film, and was captured alive. There were also the Olympics. However, it is hard to escape the conclusion that Oak Creek would have similarly dominated the news cycle if the shooter had been Muslim and the victims had been white churchgoers. Both the quantity and content of the coverage has been clearly shaped by the identities of the shooter and his victims.”

Oceans Compact
Inter Press Service reports that the UN’s new “compact” for the protection of ocean resources has received lukewarm praise from some environmental activists:

“Asked for a response, Sebastian Losada, senior oceans policy analyst at Greenpeace International, told IPS that Greenpeace welcomes the announcement of the secretary-general, and added, ‘We don’t need more statements of concern nor more summaries of the problems we face.
‘What we do need is urgency in the negotiation rooms to move from words to action. Solutions to the oceans crisis exist and are well known, but they continue to be blocked by short-sighted national interests,’ Losada said.”

Adoption trends
James Bloodworth writes an Independent blog entry on the growing popularity in rich countries of adopting children from poor countries:

“Most of those looking to adopt abroad have, I imagine, the same motivation for doing so as those hoping to adopt domestically: a desire to give a child the best possible start in life. And yet the disparities in power and wealth (as with all disparities in power and wealth) inevitably set up a grossly unequal relationship between budding parents in the west and those who ‘produce’ the adoptees of the future in the developing world. Ethiopia accounted for nearly a quarter of all international adoptions to the US in 2010, second only to China. Adoption is fast becoming Ethiopia’s new export, perhaps soon to overtake coffee. Yet not everybody is happy with the way things are going. ‘We want people to invest in Ethiopia rather than take our children,’ Dr Bulti Gutema, head of the government’s adoption authority, has said. Media investigations have also found evidence to suggest that some adoption agencies have recruited children from intact families.”

Failed index
In a letter to Foreign Policy, the Royal African Society’s Richard Dowden expresses three “fundamental doubts” about the validity of the magazine’s Failed States Index:

“Third, the index misses one vital factor: chronic capital flight from poor countries — especially of the illicit variety — conducted largely by transnational companies avoiding taxes through commodity mispricing. Nearly a trillion dollars was looted from Africa through these methods between 1970 and 2008, according to the Washington-based think tank Global Financial Integrity, and that figure has since risen sharply. Poor countries in other parts of the world suffer from this same problem. Will the index assess the cost of these massive financial outflows on human well-being and governance? Now that would be interesting.”

Latest Developments, August 1

In the latest news and analysis…

ATT postponed
Inter Press Service reports that six years of preparatory meetings were not enough for the US, China and Russia, as they requested “more time” in the quest for an international accord on regulating the global arms trade:

“The ‘killed’ Arms Trade Treaty is now to be referred to the U.N. General Assembly’s First Committee in October, where it will be submitted to a majority vote.
The process will take a long time, [Amnesty International’s Alberto] Estevez warns.
‘It might well take two to three years at least, and that would mean that the ATT would not enter into force until 2014 or 2015,’ he told IPS.
‘A key question remains whether the largest exporter of arms – the U.S. – wants to be part of the game,’ Estevez added.”

The future of development
Agence France-Presse reports that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has named the 26 members of a panel established to recommend a “new development vision” to replace the Millennium Development Goals after 2015:

“Ban on Tuesday named personalities ranging from Queen Rania of Jordan and German former president Horst Kohler to Tawakel Karman, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner for her activism in the uprising in Yemen, and the mayor of Istanbul Kadir Topbas.

The corporate world is represented by Paul Polman, the Dutch chief executive of Unilever and Betty Maina, chief executive of Kenya’s Association of Manufacturers.”

Robin des Bois
Sky News reports that France is today becoming the first EU country to introduce a financial transaction tax:

“It was first proposed by the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy who suggested a 0.1% levy on all share purchases involving France’s biggest companies.
The country’s new leader, Francois Hollande, has been sharply critical of the financial services industry and decided to double the tax to 0.2%, while applying it to all publicly traded businesses with a market value over 1bn euros.
That means anyone buying shares, including credit default swaps, in 109 companies will have to shell out the extra euros to the French Treasury.”

Security focus
Reuters reports that, while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to talk publicly about democracy and economic potential during her trip to Africa this week, her real concern will be security:

“Instead, attention has focused on AFRICOM, the unified U.S. Africa Command that the Pentagon established in 2007. It is playing an increasingly important role as the United States pumps resources into training African militaries.

J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa program at the Atlantic Council, said Washington’s emphasis on security, coupled with the lack of new economic initiatives, had shifted the balance in U.S. ties with Africa.
‘It is militarization by default,’ Pham said. ‘Part of the reason is the U.S. interest in fighting al Qaeda, and part of it is because of the weakness of our African partners which are unable to contain these threats themselves.’ ”

Looting Africa
The UN Economic Commission for Africa reports on a new study that accuses foreign multinationals of illicitly transferring back to rich countries most of the $1.5 trillion they make in Africa each year, thereby “draining hard currency reserves from the continent, stimulating inflation, reducing tax collection and deepening income gaps”:

“The report on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa: Scale and Developmental Challenges is adamant about the role of multinational corporations in what some call Africa’s greatest economic sabotage, because it ‘perpetuates Africa’s economic dependence on other regions’, it says.
It adds the depletion of investments and stifling of competition caused by these illicit transfers actually undermine trade and worsen the socio-economic fabric of poor communities in Africa, leading to shorter life expectancy due to limited spending in providing social services such as health care, according to the Information and Communication Service of ECA.”

Compliance Week reports that the British government is looking into following the US lead on so-called deferred prosecution agreements, which “require corporate reforms and other penalties in exchange for holding off on pursuing a conviction”:

“The U.K. Ministry of Justice published a much-anticipated consultation paper recently on whether to adopt DPAs in an effort to fight corporate bribery and corruption without having to win a conviction in every case.

The U.K.’s Solicitor General and Serious Fraud Office are firmly in support of adopting the use of DPAs in Britain. As the consultation paper points out, enforcement agencies often rely on companies to self-report wrongdoing due to a lack of tools and resources. Without the ability of prosecutors to offer a plea deal, however, companies have little incentive to self-report, especially if doing so may result in a criminal conviction.”

Ease of doing business
The Associated Press reports that “liberal company laws” make New Zealand an attractive place for shady business enterprises:

“Like those before him, [American fraudster and launderer Jeffery Lowrance] found that about $130 and a little online paperwork let him set up a shell company in New Zealand without stepping foot in the country or having any financial presence. He registered First Capital Savings & Loan to an Auckland address but ran his scheme from Panama.

Some say New Zealand has yet to get serious about stopping abuse. Financial blog naked capitalism has repeatedly accused New Zealand of playing the equivalent of the arcade game ‘Whac-a-Mole’ by knocking down illegitimate operators as they pop up but not dealing with the systemic problems that give rise to the abuse.”

Haitian gold
Al Jazeera reports that with 15 percent of Haitian territory under license to North American mining companies or their partners, there are concerns over who will reap the benefits Haiti’s potential gold rush:

“Many Haitians we spoke to are divided on the issue. Some locals like Jean Igo, who has been unemployed for months, says he would welcome a job working in a mine. However, after he allowed a Canadian company to drill on his land he is now having second thoughts about doing business with foreigners.
‘I don’t trust doing business with them. They did not give us a good guarantee. They gave us a little cash but it was nothing. They promised they would give people jobs operating the machines and they did not fulfill any of their promises.’ ”

Latest Developments, June 8

In the latest news and analysis…

Euro racism
The Guardian reports that “several hundred people” at Krakow’s Stadion Miejski subjected the Dutch national football team to monkey chants at an open practice on the eve of the Euro 2012 tournament:

“Uefa subsequently tried to deny that it was racially motivated, saying they had checked with the Dutch squad and had been told it was not thought to be of that nature. Instead, the official line is that a small part of the crowd was protesting about the fact that Krakow had not been made one of the host cities.”

True ownership
Global Witness reproduces an open letter from civil society groups calling on the EU to require companies to disclose “their ultimate, or beneficial, owner”:

“Civil society has seen repeatedly how obscure company ownership structures have facilitated corruption, money laundering, tax evasion, environmental damage, terrorism and other crimes.

Stronger measures to address money laundering would contribute significantly to the EU’s stated aim of policy coherence for development. In 2010 there was a US$58 billion shortfall in the funds needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Yet at the same time developing countries were estimated to have lost between US$775 billion and US$903 billion in 2009 to illicit financial flows; the opacity around the beneficial ownership of companies and other legal structures facilitates these flows on a vast scale.”

Drone legality
The Hill reports that the UN is considering looking into the legality of US drone policies:

“On Thursday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the investigations would focus on the rate of civilian casualties generated by the American drone campaign, and whether those casualties constituted human rights violations.

‘The principle of distinction and proportionality and ensuring accountability for any failure to comply with international law is also difficult when drone attacks are conducted outside the military chain of command and beyond effective and transparent mechanisms of civilian or military control,’ she said, according to local news reports.
When asked if American-led drone strikes in Pakistan can be considered a human rights violation, Pillay replied: ‘I see the indiscriminate killings and injuries of civilians in any circumstances as human rights violations.’ ”

Forcible returns
A new UN report calls on countries including the US, Canada and France to stop deportations to Haiti:

“Since the 12 January 2010 earthquake, several international bodies, including the Independent Expert, have urged UN member states to suspend forced returns to Haiti because of the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Despite the international community’s appeals, several UN member States have forcibly returned Haitian nationals to Haiti since the earthquake, placing these individuals in a vulnerable, life-threatening position and placing additional burden on Haiti. Due to the government’s instability, the shortage of resources in Haiti, the conditions under which forcibly-returned individuals are detained, and the severe humanitarian consequences – including separation of family members and exposure to deadly diseases – the Independent Expert is deeply concerned that the forced return of these individuals may constitute human rights violations.

Some States/territories that returned individuals to Haiti since 12 January 2010 had previously halted or decreased forced returns for humanitarian reasons, including the Bahamas, Canada, the Dominican Republic, France, Jamaica, Mexico, and the United States.”

Legal troubles
The Independent reports that former French president Nicolas Sarkozy whose immunity from prosecution is about to run out may soon be involved in “at least two legal cases” regarding allegations of illegal campaign funding:

“Just before this spring’s presidential election the left-leaning website Mediapart alleged that the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had ‘agreed in principle’ to pay €50m (£40m) to Mr Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign.
The website published a document in Arabic, signed by Moussa Koussa, Gaddafi’s former spy chief. The authenticity of the document is disputed. No official investigation is contemplated, but this may be the first of the ‘Sarkozy scandals’ to come to court.”

Western morality
Al-Akhbar’s Antoun Issa takes issue with the West’s indignation over the killings in Syria while it kills civilians elsewhere:

“Much of Western identity centers on a pillar of high civility, and by extension, high morality. It is a lingering legacy from colonialism where the West re-invokes its perception of the current world, where it is the civilized, and those beyond, hapless barbarians.

International relations does not base its machinations on slaughtered children, for if it did, there would be far fewer cases of massacres to report. Western nations expressing outrage over the Syrian massacre simply reeks of hypocrisy. The day preceding the Al-Kubeir massacre, a NATO airstrike in Logar Province, southeast of Kabul, killed 18 civilians.
On the morning of May 26, as the residents of Houla were coming to grips with the killings, another NATO airstrike blew up a family home in eastern Afghanistan, killing eight members of a single family, including six children.”

Evolving justice
Manuela Picq, most recently a visiting professor and research fellow at Amherst College, argues that it is precisely because “it is in the nature of power itself to resist and deny mechanisms of accountability” that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which has recently come under attack from a number of governments, is necessary:

“As the IACHR creatively interprets human rights norms, it expands the definition of rights, generates innovative, cutting-edge and progressive legislation. The IACHR’S pioneering role has inspired other human rights courts around the world, from Africa to Europe.
Tensions around collective rights to prior consultation like Belo Monte show the evolving face of human rights across the region. Cases brought to the Court against the depredations of mining companies reveal both the collective dimension of human rights and the intricate relationship between states, multinational corporations and indigenous peoples.”

Hierarchy of victimhood
In the wake of a fatal shooting at a downtown Toronto mall, York University’s Simon Black writes about the different facets of the city’s inequality of gun violence:

“Racism can be understood in part as the collective denial of the humanity of ‘the other.’ Unlike those deemed ‘innocent,’ poor, racialized young men impacted by youth violence are our ‘urban other.’ Victims and perpetrators alike are spoken of as ‘hoods,’ ‘gang-affiliated’ or ‘known to police,’ never as ‘citizens,’ full members of our community. They are criminalized in life and in death. This ‘othering’ is a form of violence in and of itself.
In our city it is the trauma and victimhood of those seldom exposed to gun violence that is prioritized. In response to last Saturday’s events, a headline on a Toronto Star column said, ‘It could have been any of us; it wounds all of us.’ Yet the reality remains that the primary victims of gun violence in our city are poor, racialized youth. And the primary sites of this violence are those neighbourhoods these youth call home.”