Latest Developments, July 15

In today’s news and analysis…

The pre-negotiations for the proposed international Arms Trade Treaty have come to an end. In theory, the real negotiations will take place next year, culminating in a legally binding global compact. The Control Arms Coaltion says it is pleased with how the week went, particularly a joint statement of support for the process by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, who together account for 88% of the global arms trade. But while there appears to be broad support for some kind of treaty, there is much disagreement on details, reportedly prompting Russia to say consensus is “very, very unlikely.”

After the latest Mumbai bombings, Ramesh Thakur, one of the formulators of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, says India, a country where over half the population lives on less than $2 a day, “must invest all means necessary” to acquire the capabilities to take “the fight to neighbouring territory from where terror attacks originate through strikes and targeted killings of terrorists.” He concedes that such a policy would risk destabilizing India’s already fragile, nuclear-armed rival but concludes that “is no longer an unacceptable risk.” A quick reminder: The three bombs detonated in Mumbai this week killed 18 people, while the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan in August, 1945 killed an estimated 150,000-250,000 people.

A Reuters piece looks at the rise of the drone as America tries to extricate itself from its wars and avoid getting embroiled in new ones, while targeting perceived threats in an ever growing list countries. The EU, meanwhile, is looking to come up with a drone strategy within the next 12 months.

Canadian immigration authorities have denied internationally acclaimed Tinariwen visas to play this weekend’s Vancouver Folk Festival. A festival organizer, pointing out that the Malian band were in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics and are touring in the US right now, said the decision made no sense. Could it be the Canadian government, which is trying to toughen up its immigration laws, mistook a group originally formed in Libyan refugee camps three decades ago as current refugee claimants? An internal government report indicates a third of all such cases are refused because an officer does not believe the refugee’s story.

Writing about oil and corruption, Global Witness’s Brendan O’Donnell puts much of the blame on the likes of Muammar Gadhafi and other autocratic rulers, but not all of it. “Essentially, because oil companies do not currently have to disclose what they pay to foreign governments for resource deals, and banks do not have to report on their financial dealings with sovereign funds, it’s very hard for citizens to know how their leaders are using their countries’ natural resource wealth.”

According to Transparency International, the phone hacking scandal “shows that even in a well-functioning democracy where corruption levels are perceived to be low, weaknesses in institutions considered pillars of integrity can lead to breaches of trust if there is insufficient vigilance.”

In a Guardian piece about the post-2015 development agenda, the author reports Allister McGregor as telling the British Parliament the MDGs are outdated and a more nuanced view of the world is necessary: “It’s basically about inequality, how we live well together and how we share wealth.” The trick, according to Jack McConnell who was quoted in the same piece, will be to keep the new goals tangible and verifiable: “If you want to pin governments down, you need precise targets.”

A piece in the Globe and Mail points out “the microfinance revolution that rippled around the world focused squarely on the lending side of the ledger – largely overlooking microsaving.” As a result, poor people had nowhere secure to store their small savings. But that is now changing.

A new Institute of Development Studies bulletin on seed politics and the push for an African Green Revolution asks “who wins, who loses, and whose interests are being served?”