The Great Debate UK

Cluster munitions treaty – a milestone, but a long way to go

Bonnie Docherty is a senior researcher in the Arms Division at Human Rights Watch. She is also a lecturer and clinical instructor in the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School.  The opinions expressed are her own.

On August 1, the world moved a step closer to eliminating cluster munitions, large weapons that carry dozens or hundreds of smaller submunitions and are notorious for killing and maiming civilians, both during attacks and long afterward.

On that day, the Convention on Cluster Munitions “entered into force,” becoming binding international law on the countries that have joined it. The treaty seeks to eradicate these weapons, which have plagued the world for half a century.

It is a milestone to celebrate. But it is also a moment to reflect on the road ahead. To help the convention achieve its full potential, the international community needs to work toward three goals: complete universalization—that is, getting all countries to join, strong interpretation, and effective implementation.

Intelligence cooperation: time to ask the hard questions

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- Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher for Human Rights Watch, has worked extensively on counterterrorism issues. The opinions expressed are her own. -

Torture is prohibited under international law, at anytime and anywhere. No exceptions are allowed. Yet the UK, France and Germany are engaged in ongoing counterterrorism cooperation with foreign intelligence services in countries that routinely use torture.

The worst place to return a child?

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-Simone Troller is children’s rights researcher with Human Rights Watch and specialises in unaccompanied migrant children in Europe. The opinions expressed are her own.-

It should hardly come as a surprise to anyone reading the news that Europe’s biggest group of asylum seekers are Afghans, including thousands of children who arrive alone.

Women, asylum and the UK Border Agency

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gvgGauri van Gulik is a Women’s Rights Advocate and Researcher for Human Rights Watch and author of the report “Fast-Tracked Unfairness: Detention and Denial of Women Asylum Seekers in the UK. The opinions expressed are her own. Reuters will host a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Please tune in.–

Last week, the Home Office Minister Meg Hillier said on the BBC’s Woman’s Hour programme that the UK Border Agency ensures that very complex cases brought by women asylum seekers do not go through the UK’s so-called “detained fast-track” asylum process, a route designed for straightforward asylum claims that can be decided quickly.

Time to break the silence on injustices against women

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gisellportenier- Giselle Portenier is an  award-winning documentary filmmaker who focuses on human rights abuses around the world and a member of the Toronto Human Rights Watch Film Festival committee. The opinions expressed are her own. Reuters will host a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Please tune in.-

Soon it will be that famous Ladies’ Day again, International Women’s Day, when the Western press packs their pages with stories—and it’s already started– either celebrating all we have achieved, or lamenting all that still eludes us—equal pay for work of equal value, glass ceilings, balancing work and family life, domestic violence, and so on.

Where schooling is sabotaged

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Kennji_KIZUKA- Kennji Kizuka was a consultant to the children’s rights division of Human Rights Watch and conducted research for their new report, Sabotaged Schooling: Naxalite Attacks and Police Occupation of Schools in India’s Bihar and Jharkhand States. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Late in the evening of November 29, 2008, a group of guerrilla fighters entered the remote village of Dwarika in the Indian state of Jharkhand and detonated improvised bombs inside the village’s only school. Doors blew apart, desks and chairs splintered, and portions of the classroom walls crumbled. No longer suitable or safe for learning, the school closed.

Italy forces migrants back to Libyan abuse

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Bill Frelick- Bill Frelick is Human Rights Watch‘s refugee policy director and the author of “Pushed Back, Pushed Around: Italy’s Forced Return of Boat Migrants and Asylum Seekers, Libya’s Mistreatment of MIgrants and Asylum Seekers“. The opinions expressed are his own. -

On May 6, for the first time since World War II, a European state ordered its coast guard and naval vessels to intercept and forcibly return boat migrants on the high seas without screening to determine whether any passengers needed protection or were particularly vulnerable. That state was Italy; the receiving state was Libya. The Italians left the exhausted passengers on a dock in Tripoli, where the Libyan authorities immediately detained them.

Squandered oil wealth, an African tragedy

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arvind ganesan-Arvind Ganesan is the Director of the Business and Human Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Equatorial Guinea is a tiny country of about half a million people on the west coast of Africa, but is the fourth-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa.

Make no exceptions to ban on cluster munitions

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bonnie docherty- Bonnie Docherty, a researcher in the Arms Division at Human Rights Watch, has conducted investigative field missions on cluster munition use in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, and Georgia and was actively involved in the negotiations for the new Convention on Convention Munitions. The opinions expressed are her own. -

Six months after the new treaty banning cluster munitions opened for signature, half the world has formally expressed its support. So far, the Convention on Cluster Munitions has an impressive 98 signatories, 10 of which have ratified. Those figures are growing, and Albania, Niger, and Spain ratified this month. The convention will enter into force six months after the thirtieth state ratifies. Many observers predict that it will actually enter into force in 2010, a remarkably short turnaround for international law.

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