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This week’s editor

Alex Sakalis, Editor

Alex Sakalis is associate editor of openDemocracy and co-edits the Can Europe Make It? page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

“We’re not just here to learn – we can lead too”: young women human rights defenders speak out

Young activists from four continents talk about their local struggles and what motivates them.

A view of the Kenyan elections

Kenya’s violence cannot be regarded as isolated events unconnected to how society negotiates the terms on which it will live together by accounting for gender, class and regional dynamics.

Horn of Africa: there are no quick fixes in ‘countering violent extremism’

An effective response to violence and harmful ideologies is important. But projects are failing to adequately engage with root causes.

Parliaments and the defence of democracy

National legislatures too frequently pass legislation limiting freedom and democracy. To change this requires not just training, but also an appeal to the personal incentives of individual MPs.

Will counter-radicalisation policies take the heat off Somalis in Kenya?

If Kenya’s new counter-radicalisation policies are to be successful, the first step must be in creating decent lives for Somalis living in the country.

The dangers of a blanket ban: ‘hawalas’ in Kenya

The closure of Somali remittance firms in Kenya, as a direct response to Al-Shabaab, only means cutting off one of the few pro-poor financial systems that exist.

After Garissa, Kenya needs to break the cycle

The massacre at a university in Kenya should lead the government to a recognition that repressive and discriminatory reactions, however tempting, have only fuelled such horrific violence.

Kenya’s Security Law Act: freedom of expression and media freedom

The measures risk deterring journalists from covering terrorism-related topics and may have a significant effect on the quality of public debate.

Violence and civil society on the Kenyan coast

Pessimism about the prospect of peaceful change was not shared by activists from the wide range of civil society organizations operating in Mombasa.

Kenya’s outlaw police

Developments in Kenya show what happens when “counter-terrorist” police and other security forces are not subject to public accountability.

Nairobi's solution to terrorism: blame the Somalis

Last week’s crackdown on Somali refugees reads like a show of force by a government that desperately wants to hide the cracks in its counter-terrorism efforts.

Is the success of M-Pesa ‘empowering’ Kenyan rural women?

The popular mobile money transfer service, M-Pesa, appears to improve the everyday lives of  rural women in Kenya. But a review of some of the current research indicates a need for further conceptualisation of what women’s empowerment means.

Why are women in Kenya still dying from unsafe abortions?

Kenya’s Constitution permits access to safe abortion, yet Kenyan women still resort to unsafe methods of termination with countless women dying as a consequence. Saoyo Tabitha Griffith analyses what the Kenyan government needs to do to affirm women’s rights to life and health.

Eviter l’étranglement financier de la société civile au Kenya

Le Kenya a présenté en octobre un projet de loi qui aurait plafonné le financement étranger des ONG et exigé que l'argent transite par un organisme gouvernemental. La loi semblait sonner le glas pour une société civile dynamique. Suite à une pression locale et internationale soutenue, le projet de loi a été rejeté de justesse. Mais le Kenya, et la région, ne sont pas encore tirés d’affaire. English.

In Kenya, averting a move to strangle civil society with the financial noose

In October Kenya introduced legislation capping foreign funding to NGOs and requiring that money be channeled through a government body. Though narrowly defeated, the law looked to be a death-knell for a vibrant civil society sector. But Kenya – and the region – is not out of the woods yet. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on Funding for Human RightsFrançais

New technologies cannot substitute political will

New technologies have the capacity to both emancipate and control individuals and their choices. Our pre-occupation should then concern the intrinsic moral values of users and their commitment to democratic citizenship and human rights.

"160 Girls": Making legal history in the fight against sexual violence

A landmark decision by the High Court in Kenya found that police inaction in dealing with rape cases brought by 160 girls had created a climate of impunity for defilement, which rendered the State indirectly responsible for the harms inflicted on the girls by their rapists

Fighting the good fight? Making sense of the Nairobi Westgate massacre

Avoiding youth radicalization begs for deeper thinking about the way in which the west conceives of itself with regard to the rest of the world and how it maintains and projects this image. 

Human rights in the vernacular

The road to greater ownership of human rights by emerging powers is a bumpy one. But it will lead to a more real, and less utopian approach. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on Emerging Powers and Human Rights. Español, 中国语文, العربية

Kenyatta in State House: what's next for Kenya and the ICC?

Kenyatta's election as president of Kenya could have important implications for the ICC process as well as Kenya's international relations.

Kenya 2013 elections: reflections on the Supreme Court ruling and the role of the judiciary in democratisation

The recent ruling by Kenya's Supreme Court of Kenyatta's presidential victory implies that democracy is taking root in the country. But were its actions simply to avoid more bloody conflict, rather than to promote judicial processes?

Power, politics and public monuments in Nairobi, Kenya

For the Kenyan novelist, playwright and essayist, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, power through cultural subjugation was the principal tool of colonialism. The monuments of Nairobi can be read as a history of cultural artefacts used by the coloniser to dominate and subjugate the colonised.

Kenya poll result reveals deep stress on democratic institutions

The reality is that the entire range of Kenya's democratic institutions is in crisis. The weight of the state was brought to bear on this election in a way never seen before.

Kenya, between hope and fear

The violent aftermath of Kenya's previous election is present in everyone's minds as Kenyans elect a successor to Mwai Kibaki. But the past five years have brought many other issues to the fore, says Daniel Branch.

Kenya’s elections: a make or break moment?

Critically, international election observers (including around 70 observers from the EU) must maintain a strong local presence throughout the election period. The international community must not be caught unprepared again. 

Five years on: identity and Kenya's post-election violence

As Kenyan citizens prepare to return to the polls in March this year, Valentina Baú looks at what made the Rift Valley one of the hotspots of the 2007/2008 violence. Although the country is calling for harmony during and after election time, ethnic tensions may be an obstacle to peace if not adequately understood and addressed.

Kenya: the women who stand to be counted

Women in Kenya's second largest slum, Korogocho, face forced evictions, domestic violence and rape as a weapon of gang war on a daily basis. Naomi Vulenywa reflects upon her experience of living in the slum as a women human rights defender.

A constitutional challenge to systemic discrimination

In the first case of its kind in Africa, a suit has been filed against Kenyan police for systemic discrimination in permitting the rape of young girls and in failing to enforce existing laws.  If successful the case could establish legal protection from rape for all girls in Kenya

US election: a Kenyan perspective

Kenyans look up to Barack Obama, whom they consider to be their most prominent "son" - but his first four years in office have fallen slightly short of their expectations.

Making sense of political-related violence in Kenya

Recent violence in Kenya is cause for great concern as we approach elections in March 2013. A history of political instigators of violence going unchecked has emboldened politicians looking for victory in a state Balkanized along tribal lines.

Masters of manipulation: how the Kenyan government is paving the way for non-cooperation with the ICC

A policy of non-cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC) will leave the victims of 2007/8 post-election violence without a legal remedy, and may prompt new violence in upcoming elections. It will also present a devastating blow to international justice if left unopposed.

Arab Spring south of the Sahara?

Why has the Arab Spring so far failed to spread south of the Sahara – and should some African leaders be looking over their shoulders?

Focus on tribalism in Kenya

Tribalism in Kenya is responsible for underdevelopment, corruption, the rigging of elections and violence. What can its background tell us about the future risks of Kenyan tribalism, and how to put an end to it?

The Somalia dilemma

Foreign intervention is not the answer, argues Josephine Whitaker. The solution to Somalia’s problems must be found at home.

Direct democracy in Kenya: a case to be made

While Kenya cannot be classified among the dictatorships or undemocratic nations that dot the African continent, a lot has to be done to solidify and strengthen its emerging democratic culture.
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