Latest Developments, June 13

In the latest news and analysis…

Making the rules
The Wall Street Journal reports on the unilateral actions that US officials believe their country can legally take in and around Syria:

“Proponents of the proposal say a no-fly zone could be imposed without a U.N. Security Council resolution, since the U.S. would not regularly enter Syrian airspace and wouldn’t hold Syrian territory.
U.S. planes have air-to-air missiles that could destroy Syrian planes from long ranges. But officials said that aircraft may be required to enter Syrian air space if threatened by advancing Syrian planes. Such an incursion by the U.S., if it were to happen, could be justified as self-defense, officials say.”

Continental boom
The Guardian reports on new UN population projections that suggest an equitable world will require a massively increased voice for Africa:

“The UN report World population prospects: the 2012 revision, published on Thursday, predicts the world’s population, now at 7.2 billion, will reach 8.1 billion in 2025. By mid-century, the world’s population is expected to top 9.5 billion, reaching nearly 11 billion by 2100.
More than half of the growth predicted between now and 2050 is expected in Africa, where the number of people is set to more than double, from 1.1 billion to 2.4 billion. Africa’s population will continue to rise even if there is a future drop in the average number of children each woman has, says the report, which predicts the number of people living on the continent could reach 4.2 billion (or more than 35% of total global population) by 2100.”

Unanimous gene ruling
Inter Press Service reports that all nine members of the US Supreme Court have agreed that “naturally occurring DNA” cannot be patented:

“The decision overturns three decades of practise to the contrary by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Health and civil liberties groups are celebrating the unusual unanimous ruling, as are consumer protection advocates.
Although the case dealt specifically with questions regarding the ‘isolating’ of genes within the human genome, the judges did not limit their decision to human genetics, meaning the case will have an effect throughout the biotechnology industry.”

Fear of transparency
The Independent reports that UK Prime Minister David Cameron has asked his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper, not to block an agreement aimed at cracking down on “secret companies used for money laundering, tax evasion and terrorist activity” at next week’s G8 summit:

“But after talks in Downing Street last night it was doubtful whether Canada would back Mr Cameron’s ‘full disclosure’ plan for the eight leading economies to create registers of who controls and owns every company based in their country.”

The US and Russia also have doubts about public registers. Mr Cameron may have to settle for a Plan B, under which the G8 nations would set up private registers that could be accessed only by tax and law enforcement authorities. It is not certain Canada would agree to that. Aid agencies say private registers would be second best because it would be harder for the world’s poorest countries to track individuals and businesses avoiding tax in their nations who hide behind anonymous ‘shell companies.’ ”

Tax hunger
Olivier De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, writes that “nothing is more crucial in financial or symbolic terms” in the fight against hunger than tax justice:

“It’s not just the usual suspect tax havens that are culpable. The whole world is a tax haven for companies able to navigate between its tax jurisdictions. The G8 cannot control tax policy in developing countries, but it can clamp down on the multinationals and individuals whose wealth is often earned in developing countries but domiciled and managed in London, New York and Paris, perversely causing more cash to flow from poor countries to rich countries than vice versa.”

Green fraud
The Oakland Institute’s Anuradha Mittal uses the example of a US-based company’s duplicitous attempts to establish a massive palm-oil plantation in Cameroon as a reminder that “Africa is open for business, not for theft”:

“Last year, after complaints about [Herakles Farms] to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) highlighted the company’s alleged environmental violations, [CEO Bruce] Wrobel made no attempts to set the record straight. Instead, Herakles resigned from the Roundtable before the claims were to be investigated, spuriously stating that they ‘remain committed’ to RSPO’s standards.

This is a sobering lesson for all parties involved – that the land rush by foreign investors into African nations is not philanthropically driven, despite claims to the contrary. Rather, companies such as Herakles Farms have exploited images of poverty and hunger, and couched their efforts in the language of sustainability, allowing them to handily reap profits from Africa’s resources while undermining national laws, local communities and the environment.”

ICC judged
The Institute for Security Studies’ Solomon Dersso argues that the International Criminal Court’s claims that it is immune to political influence are not entirely convincing:

“While legally speaking this position is largely true, the nature and structure of international politics is such that the application of international justice processes more often than not reflects the distribution of power within the international community. The ICC is not immune to this, and the way in which the ICC launched its case in Libya is a testimony. The speed with which and the way the ICC prosecutor launched this case also betrays the ICC’s acquiescence to its instrumentalisation by UN Security Council politics.

Some of the referrals, such as those in Uganda and Kenya, were inspired by domestic political calculations rather than the interest to serve justice. Indeed, in charging some people and not others in these cases, the ICC was in some ways playing local politics.”

Bad name
The Huffington Post reports that National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell is standing by a team name that a group of US Congress members recently called a “racial, derogatory slur”:

“ ‘The Washington Redskins name has thus from its origin represented a positive meaning distinct from any disparagement that could be viewed in some other context,’ Goodell wrote. ‘For the team’s millions of fans and customers, who represent one of America’s most ethnically and geographically diverse fan bases, the name is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.’ ”

Latest Developments, March 29

In the latest news and analysis…

Treaty postponed
Carol Giacomo of the New York Times calls on America’s president and lawmakers to resist opposition from domestic heavyweights and sign/ratify a proposed international arms trade treaty, assuming it receives majority approval at the UN General Assembly after failing to obtain consensus support from member countries:

“The opposition included the conservative Heritage Foundation and the National Gun Rifle Association. As usual they ginned up dark visions of how any limits on conventional arms sales would deprive Americans of their weapons, which is totally false: The Obama administration bent over backwards to make sure the treaty excluded domestic sales and, in any event, as the American Bar Association affirmed, the treaty did not and could not infringe on Americans’ constitutionally-guaranteed Second Amendment Rights.

The world is awash in conventional weapons with a market valued at upward of $70 billion a year. These arms are fueling conflicts and killing innocents in Syria, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and beyond. But while trade in virtually every major commodity, from oil to bananas, is subject to strong international agreements, conventional arms, absurdly, are not. The treaty would require states to review all cross-border arms contracts, establish national control systems and deny exports to purchasers who might use the weapons for terrorism or violations of humanitarian law.”

Not going anywhere
The Associated Press reports that French troops will remain in Mali “at least through the end of this year”:

“[French President François] Hollande said on France-2 television Thursday night that the first of France’s more than 4,000 troops in Mali will pull out in late April.
By July, he said about 2,000 French soldiers will still be in the former French colony, and at the end of the year ‘1,000 French soldiers will remain.’ He said the French troops would likely be part of a U.N. peacekeeping operation that France is pushing for.”

International corporate liability
Global Diligence reports that International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda recently stressed her commitment to investigating “business institutions” that contribute to war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity:

“She said that it had always been the [Office of the Prosecutor’s] strategy to investigate the link between international crimes and business. Conflicts are driven either by financial enrichment or ideology: a thorough investigation of the finances behind a conflict therefore helps to identify suspects and develop a more complete picture of responsibility.
‘We need to look beyond the structures that commit the actual atrocities … to the broader network around the criminal organization,’ Bensouda said. In other words, examining who is responsible for arming, supplying and equipping the troops committing the atrocities. Prosecutors should also scrutinise the exploitation of trade and natural resources, such as the minerals used in communications and technology devices, in order to trace the direct and indirect financial influence on the course of a conflict.”

Lawyering up
Reuters reports that the government of Guinea has assembled a stable of international lawyers to “help review and, if need be, renegotiate” mining contracts signed before the country’s first democratic elections were held in 2010:

“The review, pledged by President Alpha Conde after he came to power in 2010, will scrutinise contracts with companies such as BHP Billiton, Vale, Rio Tinto, RUSAL and BSGR to ensure the mineral-rich but impoverished West African nation is benefiting sufficiently from deals.
‘Our objective is to point out to our partners areas in their contracts where the country is at a flagrant disadvantage, and discuss openly with them,’ [review head] Nava Toure told Reuters.”

Coast to coast
The Associated Press reports the US is considering applying anti-piracy tactics used in Somalia to the Gulf of Guinea off Africa’s west coast:

“No final decisions have been made on how counter-piracy operations could be increased in that region, and budget restrictions could hamper that effort, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about emerging discussions between senior U.S. military commanders and other international leaders.

After repeated urgings from military commanders and other officials, shipping companies increased the use of armed guards and took steps to better avoid and deter pirates [off Somalia’s coast].”

Military non-intervention
Le Figaro’s Alain Barluet argues the French decision to send only a few hundred troops to the Central African Republic during recent violence is an example of France’s new policy of “non-interference” in Africa:

“French military engagement was limited to sending 300 troops to Bangui over the weekend, as reinforcements for the 250 soldiers already on the ground, to protect French, European and American citizens.

With the Central African crisis, we see an example of the policy outlined last October in Dakar by [French President] François Hollande who had announced, once again, the end of ‘Françafrique’. [Deposed CAR President] François Bozizé ‘did not receive our military support, any more than any other African president will from now on,’ according to a source close to Hollande.
But these same sources insist non-interference is not the same as indifference. The head of state is ‘involved’, he had phone conversations with a number of African presidents, including two with South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, according to an Élysée source.” [Translated from the French.]

The Future of R2P
Mount Holyoke College’s Jon Western and American University’s Joshua Goldstein argue the international community must “decouple” regime change from the responsibility to protect:

“The [R2P] doctrine will lose legitimacy if it is seen purely as an instrument of neoimperial adventurism. In an effort to prevent such misuse, Brazil, in 2011, introduced the concept of Responsibility While Protecting (RWP), which calls for increased UN Security Council monitoring and review of R2P actions. Brazil’s proposal was initially met with a tepid response by the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, who feared it would lead to slower international responses to mass atrocities. But the concept is now gaining support; Ban endorsed it in a July 2012 report. Mitigating concerns that R2P will be misused, RWP might help the international community strike the right balance between maintaining the support of the UN Security Council and effectively responding to mass atrocities in a timely manner.”

Cyber limits
Al Jazeera explores America’s policies on and alleged commission of attacks on computer networks:

“Now a 300-page manual commissioned by NATO and written by legal scholars and military lawyers from member countries suggests the [Stuxnet] attack was an act of force prohibited under the United Nations charter.
After months of the US national security establishment sounding the alarm on the need to defend against potential cyber threats, questions are again being raised about how far the US itself is pioneering offensive cyber policy.”

Latest Developments, March 13

In the latest news and analysis…

Non-European pontiff
Reuters reports that the Argentine cardinal who has become Francis I, the first ever Latin American pope, faces “sharp questions” about the role he played decades ago in his country’s Dirty War:

“ ‘History condemns him. It shows him to be opposed to all innovation in the Church and above all, during the dictatorship, it shows he was very cozy with the military,’ Fortunato Mallimacci, the former dean of social sciences at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, once said.
His actions during this period strained his relations with many brother Jesuits around the world, who tend to be more politically liberal.
Those who defend [Jorge] Bergoglio say there is no proof behind these claims and, on the contrary, they say the priest helped many dissidents escape during the military junta’s rule.”

Investor bias
Reuters also reports that Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has proposed a bill to “annul” his country’s investment protection treaty with the US:

“Correa, who won a sweeping re-election victory in mid-February, said over the weekend that the OPEC-member country could go bankrupt because arbitration tribunals always rule that Ecuador should pay damages to foreign investors when there is a dispute.
‘These (investment) treaties favor foreign investors over human beings. Anyone can take us to an arbitration tribunal without first going to a national court,’ he said on Saturday.

Ecuador has signed 23 investment protection treaties, which has allowed foreign companies to file 39 arbitration requests at the World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), state-run media said on Monday.”

Shareholder battle
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Chevron is moving to block activist shareholders that want the US oil giant to settle a multibillion-dollar lawsuit over alleged environmental destruction in Ecuador:

“ ‘I’ve never had a case of a company playing such hardball tactics against its own shareholders this way,’ said Simon Billenness with Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.

‘The feeling among institutional shareholders is we really have to draw a line in the sand here, because we can’t have companies using these tactics against shareholders in the future,’ he said.”

Changing tactics
The BBC reports that Guatemala is looking for bold new ways to deal with drug trafficking beyond what the country’s interior minister calls a “failed” military campaign:

“This idea, being put forward by Guatemala to decriminalise and regulate the international trade in drugs such as heroin and cocaine, is unequivocally condemned by Britain and other Western governments.

Guatemala is not yet clear on how decriminalisation would work. The idea of legal containers of cocaine being loaded onto ships in port might be far-fetched, but with the drugs trade undermining fragile states such as Afghanistan and Burma, its initiative for change is gaining support.”

Getting worse
Al Jazeera reports on the state of the Guantanamo Bay prison more than four years after US President Barack Obama promised to shut down the controversial facility on his first day in office:

“ ‘I think we need to understand what we mean when we talk about closure, we don’t mean transfer or prosecute which is what many of the critics of Guantanamo would like to see happen. When the US government talks about closing Guantanamo, they talk about moving some set of detainees to some other place where they continue to be detained without charge,’ [according to Georgetown University’s Jennifer Daskal].”

Unintended consequences
Makerere University’s Mahmood Mamdani calls the International Criminal Court “the single factor with the most influence” in Kenya’s recent presidential election:

“Whereas the 2010 referendum had a de-ethnicising effect on Kenyan politics, the involvement of the ICC had the opposite effect, re-ethnicising Kenyan politics, with more and more ethnicities organising politically and centrally. The result is that the country has re-divided into two large ethnic coalitions.

The ICC process has polarised politics in Kenya because the electoral process did not unfold on a level playing field. Led by individuals who stand charged before the ICC, one side in the electoral contest is, and so it can not contemplate defeat. The simple fact is that, if defeated, they would lose all.
Everyone knows that the worst thing to do in a contest is to leave your opponent without an escape route. If you do that, you turn the contest into a life-and-death struggle. You transform adversaries into enemies.”

Reporting differently
Cornell University’s Mukoma Wa Ngugi writes that “Western journalists have been left behind by an Africa moving forward”:

“For western journalism to be taken seriously by Africans and Westerners alike, it needs Africans to vouch for stories rather than satirizing them. I am not saying that journalism needs the subject to agree with the content, but the search for journalistic truth takes place within a broad societal consensus. That is, while one may disagree with particular reportage and the facts, the spirit of the essay should not be in question. But Africans are saying that the journalists are not representing the complex truth of the continent; that Western journalists are not only misrepresenting the truth, but are in spirit working against the continent. The good news is there have been enough people questioning the coverage of Africa over the years that Western journalists have had no choice but to do some soul searching. The bad news is that the answers are variations of the problem.”

Radical shift
The Overseas Development Institute’s Jonathan Glennie argues that the language of development has changed drastically in the last few years:

“Three words: universality, sustainability and equality – like a non-violent French revolution, all are now unshakeably central to the post-2015 agreement. The absurd conceptualisation of countries as either developed or developing; the ruinous failure to integrate the environment into development; the self-serving attempt to relegate the distribution of wealth to an afterthought – all now consigned to the dustbin.
Where the [Millennium Development Goals] narrative implied we were marching boldly towards the ‘end of development’, to paraphrase Francis Fukuyama’s declaration, such a philosophy will be roundly rebuffed by the new [Sustainable Development Goals] narrative, which calls for profound action in countries that were once self-described as ‘developed’ as much as in much poorer countries.”

Latest Developments, March 12

In the latest news and analysis…

Off the hook
The UN News Centre reports that the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor is dropping charges against Francis Muthaura who was charged with crimes against humanity in the wake of Kenya’s 2007-08 post-election violence, but charges remain against president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta:

“[Fatou Bensouda] said that she had explained to the judge that several people who may have provided important evidence in the case have either died or are too afraid to testify for the Prosecution.
Ms. Bensouda also noted that the Prosecution lost the testimony of its key witness ‘after this witness recanted a crucial part of his evidence, and admitted to us that he had accepted bribes.’

‘Let me be absolutely clear on one point – this decision applies only to Mr. Muthaura. It does not apply to any other case,’ the Prosecutor said in her statement.
She added that, while aware of political developments in Kenya, ‘these have no influence, at all, on the decisions that I make as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.’ ”

Shoot first
Reuters reports that the UN is contemplating sending “a 10,000-strong force” with an unusually aggressive mandate to Mali ahead of elections scheduled for July:

“A heavily armed rapid-reaction force, similar to the unit proposed for a U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, would be a departure from its typically more passive peacekeeper operations.
In practical terms, U.N. diplomats say, troops in the rapid-response force would have more freedom to open fire without being required to wait until they are attacked first, a limitation usually placed on U.N. peacekeepers around the world.”

Contentious referendum
The Buenos Aires Herald reports that Argentina’s government is dismissing a referendum in which inhabitants of the Falklands/Malvinas voted overwhelmingly to remain British subjects:

“ ‘It’s a referendum organized by the British and for the British with the only purpose of having them saying that the territory must be British. It was neither organized nor approved by the United Nations,’ [Argentina’s ambassador to London] Castro told FM Millenium.

‘Self-determination is a fundamental principle contemplated by the international law that’s not granted to any settlers of a certain territory, but only to the original natives that were or currently are being subjugated to a certain colonial power, and this is not the case of the Malvinas Islanders.’
‘The Islanders are not a colonized people, but inhabitants of a colonized territory.’ ”

Illegal deal?
The Economist Intelligence Unit reports that Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has signed an offshore oil deal with ExxonMobil that does not meet her country’s legal requirements:

“The deal will come under intense scrutiny given controversy over the contracts signed by the government in the extractive industries in recent years. The terms appear to be more beneficial to the state than other contracts in the oil sector, but still fall short of the country’s standard tax terms. The government will receive a US$50m signing bonus up-front, a 10% equity stake and royalties of 5-10% when production starts. According to Reuters, the country’s law requires a minimum royalty rate of 10% and a minimum equity stake of 20%.”

Double standard
Foreign Policy reports that the US State Department has accused Syrian rebels of “terrorism” for carrying out “attacks against folks who are not in the middle of a firefight”:

“One reporter pointed out that the United States routinely targets and kills members of various groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan who are not physically engaged in the fight at the time they are targeted. [State Department spokeswoman Victoria] Nuland declined to comment on the perceived double standard.

Nuland also declined to confirm or deny a report by the German magazine Der Spiegel that Americans are training Syrian anti-regime forces in Jordan.”

Cyberwarriors
The Washington Post asks under what circumstances the US will use its planned “military force to defend the nation against cyberattacks”:

“In fact, said Michael Schmitt, chairman of the International Law Department at the U.S. Naval War College, ‘the law of self-defense does not allow you to strike at a state merely because they have the capability to attack you.’

Georgetown University law professor Catherine Lotrionte said that if states start to take more aggressive measures at a lower threshold, the risk of escalation and ‘tit for tat’ goes up. ‘There needs to be international agreement on rules to prevent that escalation,’ she said, ‘or we’re looking at a really ugly world.’ ”

Bad role model
Tax Justice Network-Africa’s Alvin Mosioma and political scientist Hakima Abbas argue that Kenya should not be looking to the UK for help mapping out its financial future:

“Human rights, democracy and justice movements across the land have fought to keep political and economic elites in check. Yet, the reality is that greed surfaces whenever citizens rest. This was true with the recent send-off package that the outgoing parliament gave themselves despite the growing inequality of our society. This will be true if we allow our financial models to be based on the same systems that have stolen Africa’s wealth for centuries.

It is time we amplify African voices in the call for an end to the secrecy in the City of London and within the global financial system. We must call on our new public officers as they come into office in March to not allow Kenya’s future to be tied to the same rules of corruption and tax evasion.”

Mining ethics
Doug Olthuis of United Steelworkers and Ian Thomson of KAIROS argue the Canadian government has turned its back on the only useful component of its overseas corporate social responsibility strategy:

“Binding regulations are the only way to deal with the worst offenders in the industry. Providing access to Canadian courts for those who have been harmed in the most egregious cases is urgently needed, particularly for abuses committed in countries with no rule of law or weak judiciaries.
We were willing to engage in the [Centre for Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility] even though we see CSR as an extremely limited concept. All too often, CSR amounts to little more than public relations to promote a better corporate image without substantive commitment to change on the part of companies. Reliance on CSR alone, in the absence of enforceable standards, represents a model of corporate ‘self-regulation’ that leaves communities and workers without legal recourse to defend their rights and advance their collective interests.”

Latest Developments, February 5

In the latest news and analysis…

Redefining imminence
NBC News reports that a confidential US government document lays out the conditions needed to ensure the “lawfulness of a lethal operation” against American citizens who are thought to be senior members of certain organizations:

“It refers, for example, to what it calls a ‘broader concept of imminence’ than actual intelligence about any ongoing plot against the U.S. homeland.

Instead, it says, an ‘informed, high-level’ official of the U.S. government may determine that the targeted American has been ‘recently’ involved in ‘activities’ posing a threat of a violent attack and ‘there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.’ The memo does not define ‘recently’ or ‘activities.’ ”

Conflict parasites
Olivier Roy, of the School of Advanced Social Science Studies (EHESS), argues the solution to Mali’s current conflict will require more political negotiation than military force:

“Al-Qaeda’s strategy is global and deterritorialized: it seeks to multiply confrontations, always with the West.
In a word, al-Qaeda draws on local conflicts, each of which has its own logic, in order to promote radical anti-Western sentiment and lure the West into the trap of intervention.

It would be absurd for France to hope it can dislodge al-Qaeda from the Maghreb by occupying territory: the group will just reconstitute itself a little further away.
And it would be equally absurd to aim to destroy these groups: given their small number of fighters (a few hundred) and international recruiting, nothing would be easier for them than to relocate, cross borders or come back clean-shaven and wearing jeans in Toronto or London.
Al-Qaeda is a nuisance, but not a strategic threat. To remove a big part of its power, one must ensure the local forces off which the movement wants to feed no longer have any good reason to protect it.” [Translated from the French.]

ICC detainees
Radio Netherlands reports that Congolese witnesses before the International Criminal Court are struggling to get the attention of the Dutch state, which “tries to keep people away from court and out of range of Dutch law”:

“Last month the International Criminal Court (ICC) handed down the second verdict in its 10-year history: Congolese militia leader Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui was found not guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes relating to a deadly 2003 attack in the Ituri region of DR Congo. Ngudjolo was released pending the prosecutors’ appeal, but the three Congolese witnesses who testified against him remain in custody.
The witnesses have spent almost two years in a prison cell in the ICC’s detention unit in a legal limbo one of their lawyers has compared to Guantanamo Bay. Last month they lost their first legal round in an attempt to get asylum from the Dutch state.”

Swiss plunder
The Berne Declaration alleges that Trafigura, Switzerland’s third largest company, has extensive ties with a pair of Angolan generals who dominate their country’s economy:

“In the US, laws have been passed forcing oil and mining companies to publish any payments made to governments in countries where they are active; the EU is also about to do the same. Switzerland has decided to do nothing. The lack of transparency and regulation in Switzerland provides a refuge for unscrupulous companies and contributes to enriching dictators to the detriment of the poorest peoples on the planet. Angola is but another country on the long list where Switzerland is complicit in the plundering of their natural resources.”

Right to say no
The Guardian reports, in photo essay form, on a recent gathering in Mexico, which brought together activists from across the Americas to “co-ordinate growing local resistance” to mining on indigenous lands:

“In the final moments of the gathering a declaration of intent was read out: ‘The time when the government represented absolute power is a thing of the past, we need a new relationship with the government, where indigenous peoples decide the fate of their territories. Faced with the great threat that the mining industry represents to our Mesoamerican region, we call on the people and communities of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Canada and Mexico to strengthen our networks of resistance and to generate broad-based partnerships based on our knowledge, where the defence of territory is the basis of our co-ordination.’ The event closed with the statement: ‘We have the right to say NO to imposed development and to define our own forms of economic, social, political and cultural production’ ”

Population boom
Inter Press Service reports that the number of inmates in US federal prisons has increased by close to 800 percent over the past three decades:

“ ‘Last year, some 95,000 juveniles under 18 years of age were put in prison, and that doesn’t count those in juvenile facilities,’ [Human Rights Watch’s Maria McFarland] noted.
‘And between 2007 and 2011, the population of those over 64 grew by 94 times the rate of the regular population. Prisons clearly aren’t equipped to take care of these aging people, and you have to question what threat they pose to society – and the justification for imprisoning them.’ ”

Fragile states
Oxfam’s Duncan Green summarizes (and quotes extensively) from a recent report that lays out some of the ways in which outside actions can further destabilize countries they are ostensibly meant to help:

“ ‘There is a strong, negative and significant association between military interventions and democracy. Military interventions have tended to destroy a state’s conflict-resolution mechanisms, often unleashed forms of politics incompatible with democracy, upset political settlements and critically weakened state systems in general.’

‘Policy makers need to consider the extent to which deregulating an economy across the board will be politically destabilising and actually undermine economic reforms….. policies that contribute to state withdrawal are often evaluated on grounds of efficiency and equity, but almost never for their impact on the institutional resilience of the state. This is a major blind spot which has far-reaching consequences for the ability of states to embark upon or return to a path of institutional consolidation.’ ”

Global new deal
UN economist Richard Kozul-Wright and Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Jayati Ghosh argue the international community is “in the wrong frame of mind” for solving global problems, such as extreme poverty and environmental destruction:

“Making inequality part of the development policy agenda has already gained traction. But to make lasting progress, it will be necessary to move beyond MDG-style targets and instead consider a global new deal allowing different economic strategies providing benefits for all.

Policies of universal social protection (including basic income policies) can help repair the social contract. Along with humanitarian aid for the poorest and most vulnerable, the international community needs to guarantee adequate policy space for countries to develop measures relevant to their own contexts.”