Archive

Tag Archives: Conflict

By Alexander Green

800px-Azaz_Syria_during_the_Syrian_Civil_War_Missing_front_of_HouseThe obvious should go without saying. However, sometimes it goes much better with saying. It should be obvious, at least to every right-thinking international lawyer, that Western military intervention in Syria would be illegal at this time. Someone had better tell Messrs Obama and Cameron before they do something we all might regret.

This article will first provide a brief summary of the facts before examining the legal position. I will argue, based upon a normative interpretation of international law, that any military action without the consent of the UN Security Council would be illegal even if a deliberate chemical attack was carried out by the Syrian government on its civilian population.

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By Babak Moussavi

Probably not a place to build your holiday home.

Probably not a place to build your holiday home.

North Korea’s autarkic regime is sabre-rattling once again, with many observers genuinely worried about an outbreak of fighting. But while the tension in the Korean peninsular continues, another dispute has been rumbling, which is equally likely to build up to a dangerous clash in the near future. While nobody really knows what exactly Kim Jong-Un’s latest bout of frothing anger is all about, the other long-brewing conflict, between regional superpowers, China and Japan, is over some small, uninhabited rocks in the sea.

International Crisis Group’s recent report on the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute is worth reading. Based on a large number of interviews with prominent and relevant individuals from both Japan and China, the ICG report, entitled Dangerous Waters: China-Japan Relations on the Rocks, provides the context for this dispute, and explains why tension that suddenly increased late last year has not subsided. It is a worrying tale, and the report does not rule out the possibility that violence could break out – out of the blue, as it were. This article briefly summarises the ICG report.

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9/11 Wars coverBy Babak Moussavi

It is a cliché to point out that the events of September 11th 2001 changed the world. Indeed, they did. The dust of the collapsing towers of the World Trade Centre may have settled long ago, but the aftermath is still felt acutely. Nearly 12 years after the invasion of Afghanistan, principally to root out and destroy the leadership of the al-Qaeda terrorist group that was harboured there by the Taliban regime, NATO troops are still in the country, and are still fighting the Taliban. Huge numbers of mostly innocent people have died, mainly in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other parts of the Middle East and southern and central Asia, but also in Western capitals. What happened?

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By Sam Tomlin

Israel’s hasbara efforts (public relations, disseminating information about the country) were dealt another blow last week with the publication of a report from UNICEF on the conditions of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention centres.

Unicef's report: Children in Israeli Military Detention

Unicef’s report: Children in Israeli Military Detention

In 2009, in response to evidence that children were prosecuted in adult courts, Israel established a juvenile military court, which, according to UNICEF, “is the first and only juvenile military court in operation in the world. In fact, it uses the same facilities and court staff as the adult military court.”

The analysis by UNICEF identified clear examples that amount to, “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” of children as young as 12. On a yearly basis, it reports, around 700 12-17 year olds (mostly boys) are arrested, interrogated and detained by Israeli army, police and security agents, often in conditions which it would be difficult not to describe as torture. Read More

By Sam Hawke

Today, Kenya has gone to the polls for the 19th time in its 50-year history. Of course, it will be electing only its 4th President. That’s not to say that Kenya’s history – and its complex relationship to democratic politics – can be glibly summarised by reference to that unfortunate fact. However, violent conflict and authoritarianism remain some of the dominant forces within its political life, as the 2007/08 elections so strongly evidenced. The question with which Kenyans are faced, of course, is whether this year will further prove this terrible rule, or be its exception.

800px-Nairobi_Kibera_01

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By Babak Moussavi

Descent Into Chaos Image 2“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality”.

The question to be asked, over 11 years after the war in Afghanistan began, was whether the unnamed, neoconservative Bush adviser who uttered the foolish comment above was deluding himself about US power, or was dreaming up a nightmare. For the Afghan people, as well as those of surrounding countries, the question is not merely abstract: the reality that was “created” was chaos.

Ahmed Rashid’s explanation for the chain of events since 9/11 (up until 2008, which was when Descent Into Chaos was published) is that it was a toxic combination of massive incompetence and dangerous ideology. Most of us, with the benefit of hindsight, would surely agree. Mr Rashid, a well-respected Pakistani journalist and author of an authoritative text on the Taliban, was usually close to where the action was taking place during the dark years of the “war on terror”, however, and has provided a meticulously detailed account of the seven years that followed for Afghanistan, Pakistan and their central Asian neighbours.

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The author of this article is a 22 year old Christian Palestinian author. She is originally from Jerusalem but has lived in Jordan and the United States most of her life. She is now back in Jerusalem, after finishing her university education, and is working in a Christian organization.

Whenever the topic of Israeli occupation comes up, Palestinians usually talk about the 1967 borders, prisoner exchange, the land confiscations, the settlements, the separation wall, etc. And although these are all very important issues to discuss, I would like to talk about the day to day, mundane issues that a Palestinian Christian young women like me faces as a direct result of the occupation.

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By Sam Hawke

The crisis between Iran, the US, and Israel has been long boiling. With the impending Presidential elections of the world’s lone superpower – one whose involvement in the Middle East has been longstanding and massive – we may wonder where we’re currently headed. The final round of Presidential debates demonstrated, once more, the US’s naked bellicosity: as a vote-winning strategy, it’s a stance to which each candidate seeks to outdo the other. Predictably a major topic in Monday’s debate, Iran was presented by both candidates as a ‘major threat’ to US interests in the region. Neither questioned their own country’s right to reshape the region to further those interests, and to do whatever is necessary to stop a nuclear Iran.

Hopefully, we approach the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis with a deeper and renewed sense of the need for two things: the end of nuclear proliferation, and a cautious, considered, diplomatic strategy to achieve that goal. In reality, we have neither. Instead, we have a variety of nuclear-armed states keen to maintain their dominance by military and economic aggression. This is an appalling, hypocritical approach to ensuring the world’s safety from nuclear threat, and one that will anyway fail to achieve its goals.

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By Sam Tomlin

‘The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it…’

‘I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate, myself, and every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear. Somehow we must be able to stand up against our most bitter opponents and say: ”We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws and abide by the unjust system, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good, so throw us in jail and we will still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and, as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hour and drag us out on some wayside road and leave us half-dead as you beat us, and we will still love you. Send your propaganda agents around the country and make it appear that we are not fit, culturally and otherwise, for integration, but we’ll still love you. But be assured that we’ll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.”’ – Rev Dr. Martin Luther King

The history of non-violent resistance to oppression and injustice is a long one. As a Christian, the greatest expression of this, in my opinion, was of course Jesus himself, living under a brutal Roman occupation and speaking clearly of love for one’s enemy and the turning of the other cheek (which, as we will see, is not simply a passive resignation to oppression). There are surely many further examples long before Jesus’ time.

In recent times, Dr King, in the American civil rights movement, is perhaps the highest profile exponent of this philosophy or attitude, but there are almost endless examples of contemporary activists who peacefully risk their lives for justice and peace. His life and the quotes above, illustrate that there is a viable alternative, which not only exposes the myth of redemptive violence, but also seeks to win the oppressor back into relationship as a part of the justice for the wrong done. Read More

By Alexander Green

Lubanga: given fourteen years

The answer to this question might seem obvious, but in the wake of the Lubanga Sentencing Decision, which saw a sentence of just fourteen years for the organiser of a child army, it is important to reflect on where international criminal justice is going and why. This is all the more important when one considers that Lubanga will end up serving a maximum of only eight years due to time already spent in custody. Compare this to the United Kingdom, where a convicted burglar can receive up to fourteen years inside. Is sending unnumbered children to war really an equivalent crime to robbing a house by night? Surely it cannot be, so why are we even bothering to sentence war criminals to jail if the punishment is so lax?

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