The Great Debate UK
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.
As political leaders wrangle over how best to deal with warring factions in hot spots around the world, enclaves of humanitarian aid workers grapple with how best to help innocent victims of violence.
Author and journalist Linda Polman proposes in “War Games: The Story of Aid and War in Modern Times” that since the end of the Cold War, there is much more at stake than the simple distribution of billions of dollars in aid money each year to fix crisis situations. Aid agencies relegated in the past to the peripheries of war zones and refugee camps now play a very different role.
from Afghan Journal:
It must take a particularly determined lot to bomb a bus full of pilgrims, killing scores of them, and then following the wounded to a hospital to unleash a second attack to kill some more. Karachi's twin explosions on Friday, targeting Shia Muslims on their way to a religious procession were on par with some of the worst atrocities committed in recent months.
It also came just two days after a bombing in Lower Dir, near Swat, in which a convoy of soldiers including U.S. servicemen were targeted while on their way to open a girls school. Quite apart from the fact that the U.S. soldiers were the obvious targets, the renewed violence along with fresh reports of flogging by the Taliban calls into question the broader issue of negotiating with hard-core Islamists as proposed by the Afghan government just over the border.
from The Great Debate:
- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own -
Who is winning the war of ideas between the West and al Qaeda's hate-driven version of Islam?
It is a question that merits asking again after a 23-year-old Western-educated Nigerian of privileged background, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, attempted to murder almost 300 people by bringing down a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day with explosives sewn into the crotch of his underpants.
- François Grignon is Director of the Africa Program at the International Crisis Group. the opinions expressed are his own. -
Four years ago, the Sudanese people were promised a brighter future. A peace deal had finally ended the two-decades-long civil war between north and south, which killed more than two million people and devastated the south. But today, that bright future is looking decidedly tarnished, and Sudan is sliding towards violent breakup.
- Carl Mollins is a Toronto-based journalist who has worked at the Toronto Daily Telegram, Reuters (in London), The Canadian Press news service (in Toronto, London, Ottawa, Washington, DC) and Maclean’s magazine (in Toronto and Washington, DC). The opinions expressed are his own. -
It was long ago, in 1761, when Pennsylvanian portrait artist Benjamin West moved east—across the Atlantic. Nine years later in England, he looked back west to produce a controversial but renowned portrayal of the death of British General James Wolfe during England’s seizure of Quebec from France 250 years ago, on September 13, 1759.
- Luke Baker is a political and general news correspondent at Reuters. -
The mountains and deserts of southern Afghanistan are far removed from the elegant charms of Trieste in northern Italy, but there will be a link between the two this weekend.
Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight nations meet in the Italian city on the Adriatic on Thursday for three days of talks, with the state of play in Afghanistan, as well as developments in Iran and the Middle East, front and centre of their agenda.
- Donald Steinberg, Deputy President for Policy of International Crisis Group, is a board member of the Women’s Refugee Commission and served on the UNIFEM executive director’s advisory council. The opinions expressed are his own. -
Preparations are now starting for the 10th anniversary of the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. This groundbreaking resolution was passed unanimously in October 2000 to address abuses against women during armed conflict, including sexual violence and displacement, and to bring women more fully into conflict prevention and peacemaking.
Germany is becalmed by a political and economic phoney war five months before this year’s most important European general election. But a lack of real economic debate now risks prolonging the political stalemate and delaying much needed reforms.
from The Great Debate:
They have no fear, they never tire, they are not upset when the soldier next to them gets blown to pieces. Their morale doesn't suffer by having to do, again and again, the jobs known in the military as the Three Ds - dull, dirty and dangerous.
They are military robots and their rapidly increasing numbers and growing sophistication may herald the end of thousands of years of human monopoly on fighting war. "Science fiction is moving to the battlefield. The future is upon us," as Brookings scholar Peter Singer put it to a conference of experts at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania this month.