David Mepham https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/717/all cached version 09/02/2019 11:21:01 en Is David Cameron serious about curbing child marriage? https://www.opendemocracy.net/david-mepham/is-david-cameron-serious-about-curbing-child-marriage <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Prime Minister has stated his determination to combat child marriage globally, but he must use Britain's leverage more effectively in Bangladesh.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555395/9505808117_d0448b911c_z.jpg" alt="Image of a river in Dhaka, Bangladesh." title="Dhaka" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Dhaka, Bangladesh. Flickr/mariusz kluzniak. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>It was less glamorous than the Angelina Jolie-backed Foreign Office initiative to combat sexual violence in conflict, but the last British government was also active internationally on child marriage.&nbsp;This included a “Girl Summit” hosted last summer in London by David Cameron and attended by several world leaders, and a growing&nbsp;focus on child marriage&nbsp;in the programmes of the Department for International Development (DFID), championed by Justine Greening.</p> <p>If the government wants to build on this important work in the coming Parliament – and it should – Bangladesh is an absolutely critical country to focus on.&nbsp;First, it has the highest rate of child marriage under the age of 15 in the world (29 per cent).&nbsp;Second, the country’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made concrete and public promises to address child marriage at London’s Girl Summit. Third, the UK is the second largest government aid donor to Bangladesh, giving it important leverage.&nbsp;</p> <p>The enormity of the child marriage crisis in Bangladesh is revealed in <a href="http://www.hrw.org/reports/2015/06/09/marry-your-house-swept-away">a new report</a> published by Human Rights Watch on June 9.&nbsp;Based on interviews with scores of Bangladeshi women and girls, it highlights the main factors driving this phenomenon.&nbsp;Foremost amongst these is poverty. While Bangladesh is often cited as a development success story – with reduced overall levels of poverty over the last twenty years – millions of Bangladeshis have been left behind, struggling to meet their most basic needs, including for food.&nbsp;In the face of such grinding poverty, there are very strong family pressures for girls to be married off young, into a family that may be slightly wealthier.</p> <h2><strong>The role of climate change</strong></h2> <p>The poverty driving high levels of child marriage in Bangladesh is exacerbated by the country’s exceptional vulnerability to natural disasters, further compounded by the effects of climate change. It is well-known that Bangladesh’s geographic location and topography makes it prone to cyclones, floods, storm surges, earthquakes, droughts and tornadoes, and that the country is one of the most densely populated in the world.&nbsp;But our research suggests an important link between vulnerability to natural disasters and child marriage.&nbsp;Many of the girls we interviewed made this connection, explaining how exposure to natural disasters&nbsp;– particularly flooding and river erosion – has pushed their families further into poverty and led parents to seek early marriages for their daughters.</p> <h2><strong>Access to education</strong></h2> <p>Our research indicates a strong connection too between access to education and child marriage. Many girls said they were married off when their families could no longer afford to educate them.&nbsp;Even where schools are technically free, the added costs of exam fees, uniforms, stationery or transport are often prohibitive. Mariam, who spoke to Human Rights Watch three days after her wedding at age 15, is one of nine children born to farmers. “I studied to class five,” she said.&nbsp;“But to go to school for class six was too far away. I got married because I quit school.”&nbsp;Her experience is a very common one.</p> <p>Child marriage in Bangladesh is also driven by cultural norms, and by discrimination, prejudice and fear of violence.&nbsp;&nbsp;Some young girls spoke of social and family pressures to marry, in order to thwart sexual relationships outside of marriage. Even just the possibility that a girl may be involved in a romantic relationship was sometimes sufficient to prompt a rushed marriage. And several families described marrying a daughter out of fear, following threats of sexual violence or abduction. Unmarried girls who are nearing or have reached puberty are often targets of harassment and are seen by their parents as at risk.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>A source of shame</strong></h2> <p>Shockingly, to marry off a young girl to an older man is seen as a way to protect her, despite the multiple examples of violence and horrific abuse associated with child marriage.</p> <p>This testimony should be a source of shame for Bangladesh’s political elite, not least the country’s Prime Minister, who vowed at last year’s Girl Summit not merely to reduce but “to end” child marriage. Sheikh Hasina even outlined a series of steps to achieve this, including legal reforms and a national action plan. But she has so far failed on both counts.&nbsp;</p> <p>Moreover, our research reveals widespread complicity in facilitating child marriages by local government officials, who forge birth certificates to show girls as over 18, in return for bribes.&nbsp;And the Bangladesh government is now proposing –&nbsp;absurdly and dangerously –&nbsp;to lower the minimum age of marriage for girls from 18 to 16.</p> <p>The main responsibility for addressing child marriage in Bangladesh rests with its government, of course. But the British government has responsibilities and opportunities here too: to follow through on its own pledges,&nbsp;to re-orientate its work in Bangladesh to better address the economic, social and cultural drivers of child marriage, and to support those courageous individuals and groups within Bangladesh that are pushing for reform.&nbsp;</p> <p>As David Cameron said at the Girl Summit: “Politicians are very good at passing laws… but aren’t always good at following through and making sure that a change in the law leads to a change in culture and a change in practice.”&nbsp;He’s right. Action to combat child marriage in Bangladesh and elsewhere will require sustained engagement.&nbsp;The newly-elected British government should reaffirm its commitment to provide international leadership on this issue and match fine words with resources and concerted action.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><em><span>OurKingdom doesn’t have a billionaire proprietor telling us what to write - we rely on donations from readers like you. </span><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/donate"><span>Please support us</span></a><span> if you can.</span></em></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/simon-parker/child-detention-goes-on-and-on-in-uk">Child detention goes on and on in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openglobalrights/chris-jochnick/poverty-and-human-rights-can-courts-lawyers-and-activists-make-diffe">Poverty and human rights: can courts, lawyers and activists make a difference?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/david-mepham/putting-development-to-rights-post-2015-agenda">Putting development to rights: a post-2015 agenda</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> uk uk Civil society Culture Democracy and government Human Rights David Mepham Tue, 16 Jun 2015 08:11:48 +0000 David Mepham 93518 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Putting development to rights: a post-2015 agenda https://www.opendemocracy.net/david-mepham/putting-development-to-rights-post-2015-agenda <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A lesson of the last decade's work on the Millennium Development Goals is the need to rethink current approaches to development, says David Mepham, the UK director of Human Rights Watch. The key requirement is to see development not just as material improvement, vital though that is, but as a process with human rights at the very heart. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Before Tunisia’s popular uprising erupted in late 2010, many in the international community saw the country as a development success story. Economic growth was close to 4%, 90% of children went to primary school, and life expectancy was an impressive 75 years. </p><p>But for many Tunisians this progress was clearly not enough: higher incomes and better access to services did not compensate for the ills and costs of corruption, repression, inequality, and powerlessness. Nor did it satisfy aspirations for greater justice, freedom, and dignity. In January 2011, popular protests ousted Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from the presidency after twenty-three years in power.</p><p>While Tunisia’s struggle for rights-respecting democracy continues, its recent experience exposes the narrowness and inadequacy of many existing approaches to development. It also provides a compelling case for development to be reframed more broadly, not just as higher income (important as this is), but as the creation of conditions in which people everywhere can get an education, visit a doctor and drink clean water, and also express themselves freely, be protected by a fair and accessible justice system, participate in decision-making, and live free of abuse and discrimination. These are some of the basic economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights that governments are obligated to honor but deny to hundreds of millions of people.</p><p>Many of those who are most impoverished belong to society’s most marginalised and vulnerable social groups - women, children, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities, people infected with HIV - who often lack the power, social or legal standing, or access to decision-making that allows them to challenge their disadvantaged status or improve their circumstances.</p><p>For the most part, development policy and programmes have ignored the critical interdependence of economic and social rights with civil and political rights, and so have failed to challenge systemic patterns of discrimination and disadvantage that keep people in poverty. As a result, many poor people have been excluded, or have failed to benefit, from development programmes. More disturbingly still, people have been harmed by abusive policies carried out in the name of development: forced from their land to make way for large commercial investors, compelled to toil long days for low pay in dangerous and exploitative conditions, or exposed to life-threatening pollution from poorly regulated industries.</p><p>Development can also be unsustainable, achieved at considerable cost to the environment -including carbon emissions, soil erosion, pollution, depletion of fresh water supplies, over-fishing, or damage to biodiversity - which then damage people’s rights, including those to life, health, safe food, and clean water. </p><p>More than a decade ago, in 2001, world governments set about addressing such problems by agreeing eight <a href="http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview.html">Millennium Development Goals</a> (MDGs). Set for achievement by 2015, they included halving the proportion of people suffering from extreme hunger, reducing child and maternal mortality, and achieving universal primary education.</p><p>With this date fast approaching, a United Nations-led process is underway to agree successor goals. This is a crucial opportunity to change the daily reality for millions of people currently overlooked, disadvantaged, or damaged by development efforts. Despite growing civil-society support for rooting development in human-rights standards, many governments, especially authoritarian ones, remain hostile to them, and will seek to minimise and marginalise the role of rights in any new international agreement. </p><p>To counter this threat and build wider international support for rights, it is essential and urgent to show how their fuller integration can contribute to improved development outcomes - promoting a form of development that is more inclusive, just, transparent, participatory and accountable, precisely because it is rights-respecting. </p><p><strong>An unfulfilled vision </strong></p><p>The <a href="http://www.un.org/en/development/devagenda/millennium.shtml">UN Millennium Declaration</a> of 2000 was strong on human rights and democratic principles. World governments endorsed it in September 2000, asserting that freedom, equality, solidarity, and tolerance were fundamental values. Making progress on development, they said, depended on “good governance within each country,” adding they would “spare no effort” to promote democracy, strengthen the rule of law, and respect internationally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms.</p><p>Strong words. But the Millennium Declaration’s vision, and the important principles it contained, never found their way into the new Millennium Development Goals, which emerged from a UN working group in early 2001 and soon became the dominant framework for international-development cooperation. </p><p>While drawn from the Millennium Declaration, the MDGs were far more circumscribed. They prioritised an important set of economic and social issues, which were seen as less political and easier to measure, such as child and maternal mortality, and access to primary education. These issues were defined in technical terms rather than as a set of rights obligations. Nor did the MDGs set any goals or targets related to political freedom or democratic participation, equality for ethnic minorities or people with disabilities, freedom from violence and abuse in the family and community, freedom of expression, or rights to peaceful protest or assembly.</p><p>Despite these limitations, the <a href="http://www.unmillenniumproject.org/goals/">MDGs</a> have contributed to real progress for many people. They have embodied and helped generate substantial international consensus about the focus of development cooperation. And in many countries they have facilitated higher levels of public investment in health and education, contributing to significant increases in school enrolment rates and big reductions in child mortality over the last decade. Since 1990, for example, child mortality has almost halved globally, plummeting from 12 million to 6.6 million in 2012, while the number of primary school-age children out of school has fallen from 102 million in 1990 to 69 million in 2012. </p><p>But the neglect of human rights by many governments, donors, international institutions, and the MDG framework has been a serious missed opportunity, which has greatly diminished development efforts and had other harmful consequences for poor and marginalised people, as elaborated below. </p><p><strong>Unequal development</strong></p><p>Even before the MDG framework was established, many governments were unwilling or unable to address discrimination and exclusion in their development strategies and their broader social and economic policies. Authoritarian governments were obviously reluctant to empower restless minorities or disadvantaged groups that might threaten their grip on power, and were generally unwilling to address sensitive issues around ethnic or religious conflict. Such governments also often refuse to accept that women, girls, indigenous people, or other marginalised social groups deserve equal status under the law.</p><p>But development donors and international institutions like the World Bank also shied away from the more complex and politicised approach to development implied by an explicit emphasis on rights. The MDGs, with their stress on measuring development in terms of average or aggregate achievement of particular goals, for example on child and maternal mortality, did little to change these calculations, and meant marginalised communities continued to be overlooked.</p><p>Indeed, because it is often more difficult or expensive to assist poor and marginalised communities, the MDG framework may have actually worked against them, incentivising a focus on people who are easier to reach and assist, such as those living in cities rather than far-flung rural areas. </p><p>Nowhere is unequal development better documented and more visible than in the widespread and systematic discrimination against women and girls. Most development organisations have identified gender discrimination as a major obstacle to inclusive development and there is a growing international consensus on the need to tackle it. For example, the World Bank, the European Commission, and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-international-development/about">DFID</a>) have all made strong statements on the importance of combating gender inequality and empowering women and girls. As the World Bank’s chief economist Justin Yifu Lin <a href="http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:23003001~pagePK:64257043~piPK:437376~theSitePK:4607,00.html">put it</a> in 2011: “Blocking women and girls from getting the skills to succeed in a globalized world is not only wrong but economically harmful. Sharing the fruits of growth equally between men and women is essential to meeting key development goals.”</p><p>Nonetheless, development agencies often underreport or fail to address properly many forms of gender discrimination. In Bangladesh, for example, where considerable progress has been made (at the aggregate level) against some MDGs, <a href="http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2014">Human Rights Watch</a> has documented entrenched discrimination in the country’s Muslim, Hindu, and Christian laws governing marriage, separation, and divorce. These often trap women or girls in abusive marriages or drive them into poverty when marriages fall apart, contributing to homelessness, reduced incomes, hunger, and ill-health.</p><p>Our 2012 report <a href="http://www.hrw.org/reports/2012/09/17/will-i-get-my-dues-i-die-0"><em>Will I Get My Dues Before I Die?</em></a>, for example, documented the disastrous consequences of this discrimination for Shefali S., a Muslim woman who was abandoned by her abusive husband while pregnant and, according to the country’s laws, not entitled to maintenance from ninety days after notice of divorce. Without income, she was plunged into poverty and dependence, and forced to live with her in-laws who beat her.</p><p>Many of the 1 billion people with disabilities worldwide - 80% live in the developing world - also experience unequal development. <a href="http://www.hrw.org/">Human Rights Watch’s</a> research on education in Nepal and China has documented widespread discrimination against children with disabilities, who are much less likely to be in school than other children. This is despite the fact that both countries are states parties to the <a href="http://www.unicef.org/crc/">UN Convention on the Rights of the Child</a>, which affirms the right to education, and to the <a href="http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml">UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities</a> (CRPD).</p><p>Our 2011 report <a href="http://www.hrw.org/fr/node/101096"><em>Futures Stolen</em></a> documented how in one school in the far west of Nepal, a 16-year-old boy had to crawl to his classroom due to lack of ramps, and - unable to use the toilet by himself, and unaided by teachers - was forced to wait until he got home, or have another child run home to fetch his mother to assist him. Other children, afraid to sit near him, left him isolated in a corner. These patterns of discrimination are replicated across the world and explain why people with disabilities are disproportionately represented amongst the world’s poor people. And yet, the MDGs make no reference whatsoever to disability.</p><p>In Kenya, in our 2008 report <a href="http://www.hrw.org/reports/2008/12/15/question-life-or-death-0"><em>A Question of Life or Death</em> </a>we similarly documented barriers to treatment for women and children living with HIV, violating their right to health. Mothers and children suffered discrimination, abuse, and abandonment by husbands and relatives, and many lived in precarious conditions after being kicked out of their homes. In addition, HIV policies prioritised HIV care for adults, and HIV care for children was not widely available. Many children died as a result.</p><p>Ethnic and religious minorities also often experience serious discrimination, sometimes rooted in basic prejudice towards them on the part of other groups; at other times linked to hostility towards the political or separatist agendas of particular ethnic groups. This discrimination can worsen levels of poverty and prevent these groups from benefiting from development opportunities. The London-based Overseas Development Institute (<a href="http://www.odi.org.uk/">ODI</a>) suggested in a recent <a href="http://www.odi.org.uk/sites/odi.org.uk/files/odi-assets/publications-opinion-files/7873.pdf">report</a> that two-thirds of the world’s poorest people live in households headed by a member of an ethnic minority, with these families more likely to be sick, illiterate, and malnourished. </p><p><strong>Abusive development</strong></p><p>The neglect of human rights in many development strategies and programmes, as well as in the MDGs, has another serious, adverse consequence. Incongruous as it may sound - especially to those who view development as a uniformly benign process - large numbers of poor, vulnerable, and marginalised people around the world are harmed by policies carried out in the name of development. These abusive patterns occur because basic rights -including the right to consultation, participation, fair treatment, to join with others in a trade union, and to just and accessible legal processes - are missing.</p><p>In China, for example, the government maintains that its development progress is extraordinarily successful. Income poverty has indeed fallen very rapidly in recent years: with the UN estimating a decline in extreme poverty from 60% to 12% from 1990 to 2010. But the record is decidedly less impressive if development is defined, as it should be, to include freedom from fear, violence, ill-health, life-threatening environmental pollution, and abusive employment practices, as well as the opportunity to be protected from abuse, or seek remedy for abuse, through a fair and accessible justice system. </p><p>In our 2011 report, <a href="http://www.hrw.org/reports/2011/06/15/my-children-have-been-poisoned-0"><em>"My Children Have Been Poisoned"</em></a>, Human Rights Watch documented the devastating effects of lead poisoning on children who could no longer talk or walk, had stopped eating, or were constantly sick. This poisoning epidemic in four provinces - Shaanxi, Henan, Hunan, and Yunnan - is rooted in tension between the Chinese government’s goals for economic growth and its stated commitments and international obligations to protect its citizens’ health and wellbeing. Without institutions to protect their rights and hold local officials accountable for abuses, hundreds of thousands of Chinese children have had their right to health violated and have suffered appallingly, including from reading and learning disabilities, behavioural problems, comas and convulsions. Some have even died. </p><p>Aspects of Ethiopia’s development model have similar problems. The country has made commendable progress in relation to the MDGs on health and education. But other elements of its development strategy have led to serious rights abuses. Our 2012 report <a href="http://www.hrw.org/fr/node/104305"><em>"Waiting Here for Death"</em></a> documented rights violations linked to the “villagi<em>s</em>ation” resettlement program in Gambella region. Ethiopia’s government justifies the programme in development terms, and says it is voluntary. Some 1.5 million people in five regions are being relocated to new villages with the stated aim of giving them better infrastructure and services. But our research into the first year of the programme in one of those regions found people were forced to move against their will and that government security forces beat and abused some who objected. Moreover, new villages often lacked promised services and adequate land for farming needs, resulting in hunger, and even starvation. </p><p>Our 2012 report <a href="http://www.hrw.org/reports/2012/06/18/what-will-happen-if-hunger-comes-0"><em>"What Will Happen if Hunger Comes?"</em></a> also documented that the Ethiopian government is forcibly displacing indigenous peoples&nbsp; from southern Ethiopia’s&nbsp; Lower Omo Valley to make way for large-scale sugar plantations. The cost of this development to indigenous groups is massive: their farms are being cleared, prime grazing land is being lost, and livelihoods are being decimated. While failing to meaningfully consult, obtain their free, prior and informed consent, compensate or discuss with these affected communities, and recognise their rights to land, the Ethiopian government has used harassment, violence and arbitrary arrests to impose its development plans.</p><p>Workers are particularly vulnerable to abusive development. They include the more than 50 million domestic workers worldwide, most of them women and girls, who are employed as cooks, cleaners, and nannies. In many countries, such workers lack basic legal rights and protection. Yet their work provides essential services to households and enables the economic activity of others. Human Rights Watch’s research over ten years, in countries as diverse as Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Guinea, and El Salvador, has exposed many examples of abuse, including employers insisting on extremely long working hours; withholding or providing low wages; confiscating passports; and subjecting workers to beatings, verbal abuse, and sexual violence.</p><p>Similarly, millions of migrant workers in more visible sectors of the economy, like construction, suffer abuses. Ironically, these are often most egregious in the context of hugely expensive and high-profile construction projects intended to showcase economic achievements and encourage investment and tourism. In our 2012 report, <a href="http://www.hrw.org/reports/2012/06/12/building-better-world-cup-0"><em>Building a Better World Cup</em>,</a> Human Rights Watch documented pervasive abuses against migrants as they build sleek hotels, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and other glossy construction projects in Qatar linked to the 2022 World Cup. Abuses include arbitrary wage deductions; lack of access to medical care, and dangerous working conditions. A recent investigation by the UK’s <em>Guardian</em> newspaper found forty-four Nepalese workers died from work-related accidents in Qatar between June and August 2013, more than half of them from heart attacks, heart failure, or workplace accidents.</p><p>Human Rights Watch has also exposed the terrible abuses and right to health violations -including fevers, nausea, and skin conditions that leave fingers corroded to stumps, and flesh prematurely aged, discolored, and itchy - that many thousands of people suffer while working in tanneries in and around Hazaribagh, a neighbourhood of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka. Our 2012 report, <a href="http://www.hrw.org/reports/2012/10/08/toxic-tanneries"><em>Toxic Tanneries</em></a>, shows these abuses are occurring in what is the backbone of the country’s lucrative leather industry. The tanneries employ some 15,000 people - some as young as seven-years-old - and export millions of dollars’ worth of leather goods to around seventy countries worldwide. Our 2013 report on Tanzania, <em><a href="http://www.hrw.org/reports/2013/08/28/toxic-toil">Toxic Toil</a>, </em>documented similar abuses in Tanzania, especially affecting young children working in small-scale gold mines. Many are exposed to toxic mercury and vulnerable to mercury poisoning. </p><p><strong>Rights-respecting development</strong></p><p>Making rights integral to a post-2015 global development framework would have a number of clear benefits, not least by:</p><p>* <em>Ensuring focus on the poorest and most marginalised communities</em>. The MDGs include global targets for percentage reductions of child and maternal mortality and hunger. By contrast, a rights approach to development would need to set universal goals for providing effective and accessible healthcare and nutrition for all women and children, including the poorest and most disadvantaged, alongside specific targets for reducing disparities between social groups and improving the conditions of the worst off. Progress would be greatly aided and incentivised by disaggregating national and international data, making it possible to measure policy impact on different social, income and age groups. </p><p>* <em>Prompting action to address root causes of poverty - such as inequality, discrimination, and exclusion - by requiring legal and policy reforms and challenging patterns of abuse, as well as harmful cultural practices like child marriage</em>. Governments and donors should be obliged in a new development framework to bring their policies and practices into line with international standards on non-discrimination and equality. Concerted action is also needed to tackle formal, informal and cultural barriers that prevent women, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and indigenous peoples in particular from owning and having equal access to land, property, assets, and credit; inheriting and transferring property; and accessing education and health services.</p><p>* <em>Making people agents and not subjects of development by emphasising empowerment, participation, transparency, the rule of law and access to justice</em>. A rights approach requires that poor people are fully consulted about development projects or programmes that affect them. Indigenous peoples, for example, have the right to give or withhold consent to development projects on their traditional lands, before they are approved and after receiving all relevant information. Such safeguards would help prevent the kind of abusive, environmentally harmful patterns of development already cited. But abusive development also occurs in places like China because basic civil and political freedoms are not respected more generally and because the legal system is politicized and discriminatory. Commitments to civil and political rights should be integral to the post-2015 development agenda, including to freedom of speech, assembly and association, the ability of people to participate in free elections, and access to fair and effective justice systems. Transparency and free flow of information are critical too, creating space for informed debate about use of the national budget, exposing mistakes and environmental harm, and allowing communities to mobilize for social change and redress for abuse and malpractice.</p><p>* <em>Tackling corruption</em>. Each year, senior government officials or powerful private individuals steal hundreds of millions of dollars that were intended to benefit the poor through development programs in health, education, nutrition, or water. In our 2013 report on Uganda, <a href="http://www.hrw.org/reports/2013/10/21/letting-big-fish-swim-0">"<em>Letting the Big Fish Swim"</em></a>, Human Rights Watch documented a lack of political will to address corruption and the harmful consequences of this. Ugandan anti-corruption institutions have been crippled by political interference, as well as harassment and threats to prosecutors, investigators and witnesses. Most recently, $12.7 million in donor funds was discovered to have been embezzled from Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister. This money had been earmarked to help rebuild northern Uganda, ravaged by a twenty-year war, and to help development in Karamoja, Uganda’s poorest region. Rights-respecting development would help to tackle corruption of this kind by emphasising budget transparency, freedom of information, and free media; strengthening efforts to prosecute those responsible for corrupt practices, including the highest ranking members of the government; and supporting anti-corruption civil-society organisations. </p><p>* <em>Bringing rights standards into the work of business and international institutions</em>. In the debate about the post-2015 development agenda, there has been little discussion about the responsibilities of either the private sector or international financial institutions to protect, respect, and fulfil rights. Over the years, Human Rights Watch has documented many cases of corporate complicity with human-rights violations, including a Canadian mining company using forced labour, via a local contractor, in Eritrea; out-of-control mining operations fuelling corruption and abuse in India; and sexual violence by private security guards employed by a Canadian company in Papua New Guinea. Governments should introduce mandatory requirements for corporations to report publicly on human rights, and the social and environmental impact of their work. Similarly, international financial institutions such as the World Bank, which influence development in many countries by providing millions of dollars-worth of development assistance and loans, should have to respect human rights in all their work and be held accountable if they fail to do so, as set out in our 2013 report, <a href="http://www.hrw.org/reports/2013/07/22/abuse-free-development-0"><em>Abuse Free Development</em></a>.</p><p>* <em>Strengthening accountability</em>. Accountability is fundamental to rights-respecting development: rights are of limited value if no one is charged with guaranteeing them or if citizens whose rights are denied have no opportunity to seek redress or remedy. The post-2015 development agenda should therefore require all those involved in development-governments and international bilateral donors; international financial institutions; the business sector; private foundations; and NGOs - to be more accountable and transparent about implementing their commitments and the impact their policies have on the rights of the poor, including through feedback and complaints mechanisms and regular reporting at the local, national, and global level.</p><p>* <em>Affirming the universality of the global development agenda</em>. Low income is not an excuse for governments of poor countries to abuse their citizens’ rights, and many developing country governments have scope to make different choices about how they allocate national resources. Still, low income and limited capacity can make it harder for well-intentioned governments to meet their rights obligations. A post-2015 development agenda should therefore place two important obligations on the world’s wealthier governments: </p><p>- To do no harm, by ensuring that existing policies and practices do not directly or indirectly contribute to human-rights violations, unequal development, or abusive development elsewhere, through policies on trade, tax, investment, intellectual property, arms sales, and transfers of surveillance technology. These governments have an obligation to respect and protect human rights and to remedy any violations.</p><p>- To proactively help to advance rights-respecting development in other countries, including through support for inclusive development in areas like health, education, nutrition and sanitation, as well as support for the rule of law, and police, justice and security sector reform. </p><p><strong>Bringing rights to the fore</strong></p><p>How human-rights issues will be dealt with in any new post-2015 development agreement remains unclear. Support for rights emerged as a priority among civil-society participants in the UN-sponsored global consultations on post-2015 and there were strong references to human rights in the reports of the <a href="http://www.un.org/sg/management/hlppost2015.shtml">High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post-2015 Development Agenda</a> and the <a href="http://post2015.org/2013/08/16/report-of-the-secretary-general-a-life-of-dignity-for-all/">UN secretary-general’s report</a> on the same topic in June 2013.</p><p>But many governments remain hostile. With the process now at the stage of inter-governmental negotiations, we can anticipate serious efforts to marginalise the role of rights or chip away at progress that has been made. Some will no doubt continue to invoke the tired old argument that poor people care mainly about material improvements and that wider human-rights entitlements, like freedom of speech and association or access to justice, are not necessary to secure these.</p><p>But this position has been thoroughly discredited, not least by ordinary people's own actions and expressed preferences. Across the globe, people are striving for economic improvement - but also for an end to indignity and injustice, for their voices to be heard, and for the opportunity to shape their future.</p><p>As UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon <a href="http://www.un.org/climatechange/blog/2013/09/24/ban-ki-moon-invites-world-leaders-to-a-climate-summit-in-2014/">stated</a> in July 2013: “Upholding human rights and freeing people from fear and want are inseparable.” A post-2015 development agenda that embraces this essential truth will help promote development that is more inclusive and just, and advance basic rights and freedoms for all.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2014">Human Rights Watch - World Report 2014</a></p><p><a href="http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview.html">Millennium Development Goals</a> (MDGs)</p><p><a href="http://www.odi.org.uk/">Overseas Development Institute (ODI) </a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>David Mepham has been UK <a href="http://www.hrw.org/bios/david-mepham">director</a> of Human Rights Watch since April 2011. Before then he was a senior policy adviser in the UK's Department for International Development; associate director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and the head of its international&nbsp;programme; and head of policy and advocacy for Save the Children UK. He is co-editor of <em><a href="http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9780745641157">Progressive Foreign Policy - new directions for the UK</a> </em>(Polity, 2007) and author of many articles in the media</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/j-brian-atwood/human-rights-democracy-and-development-partners-at-last">Human rights, democracy, and development: partners at last</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/david-mepham/south-africa-rights-accountability-and-maternal-mortality">South Africa: rights, accountability and maternal mortality</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict-debate_97/hamas_reform_3229.jsp">Hamas and political reform in the middle east</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/globalization-institutions_government/article_2337.jsp">Accountability in Africa: whose problem?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/fateh-azzam/in-defense-of-professional-human-rights-organizations">In defense of &#039;professional&#039; human rights organizations</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/david-mepham/syria%E2%80%99s-guilty-men">Syria’s guilty men</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-africa_democracy/poverty_migration_3166.jsp">Make Poverty History? Make Migration Easy!</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/globalization-UN/summit_2851.jsp">A mixed-bag summit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/globalization/school_3788.jsp">Millennium Development Goals: back to school</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openglobalrights/hans-peter-schmitz/rights-based-approaches-to-development-from-rights-%E2%80%98talk%E2%80%99-to-joi">Rights-based approaches to development: from rights ‘talk’ to joint action </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/chukwu-emeka-chikezie/africa%E2%80%99s-development-global-bond">Africa’s development: the global bond</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/globalization-institutions_government/UN_leader_3860.jsp">The next United Nations leader: a time for transparency</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-africa_democracy/migration_development_4077.jsp">Migrants and development: a new era</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/development-in-a-downturn">Development in a downturn</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Civil society Democracy and government International politics institutions & government human rights Globalisation democracy & power David Mepham Tue, 28 Jan 2014 05:30:41 +0000 David Mepham 78815 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Getting to the truth about UK-Gaddafi ties https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/david-mepham/getting-to-truth-about-uk-gaddafi-ties <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Some say we should put Britain's complicity in torture and human rights abuse in Libya behind us. We cannot do so. Lessons have not been learned, victims still await justice, while the 'secret courts bill' would help ensure future abuses remain hidden.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><img class="image-left" src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/ok-friday-essay.png" alt="" width="80" /></p><p>The UK government&rsquo;s decision last month to pay &pound;2.3 million in compensation to Sami al-Saadi - following allegations of UK complicity in his rendition to Libya in 2004 and subsequent torture at the hands of Gaddafi&rsquo;s regime -&nbsp; made the pre-Christmas headlines.&nbsp; But few of the news and comment pieces properly situated this case in its wider context - the Blair government&rsquo;s active courting of Muammar Gaddafi during this period, linked to anti-terrorism and counter-proliferation interests, and the apparent willingness of some working for the UK government not just to overlook rights abuses committed by Gaddafi&rsquo;s thugs, but to facilitate them. While investigative journalists and organisations like Human Rights Watch have uncovered important cases of abuse, many facts surrounding UK relations with Gaddafi&rsquo;s Libya have yet to be revealed. Key figures within the UK government and the intelligence services are determined they never will be.</p> <p>Based on our research and that of others, this much we know.&nbsp; Throughout Gaddafi&rsquo;s 42 years as the leader of Libya, including the period of close UK-Libyan relations in the 1990s, the country had an extremely poor record on human rights.&nbsp; From 1969, when Gaddafi came to power, to the late 90s, the UK and other Western governments focused their criticism largely on Libya&rsquo;s very extensive support for violence and terrorism overseas. These actions included the arming of the IRA, the shooting of the UK policewoman Yvonne Fletcher in 1986 and, most spectacularly, the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, with the loss of hundreds of lives, on December 21, 1988.&nbsp; </p> <p>But alongside Libyan support for violence beyond its borders, Gaddafi&rsquo;s regime was responsible for large-scale domestic repression. The worst single instance was the Abu Salim prison massacre of June 1996, in which 1,270 men were gunned down following a protest about prison conditions. However, many other critics and opponents of Gaddafi were tortured and mistreated throughout this period. </p> <p>After three decades in which Gaddafi was ostracised and denounced by Western governments, the long road back to Libya&rsquo;s public rehabilitation began in the late 1990s. This story is well told by Channel 4 News&rsquo; International Editor, Lindsey Hilsum, in her excellent book on Libya, <em><a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sandstorm-Lindsey-Hilsum/dp/0571288030">Sandstorm</a></em>. On the Libyan side, Gaddafi and those around him began to recognise that the country&rsquo;s pariah status was harming it economically and that they needed to improve their image to get sanctions lifted and attract foreign investment. Gaddafi&rsquo;s second son, Seif al Islam, was a particularly strong advocate for changes in Libyan policy to end its isolation, including handing over the Lockerbie suspects for trial, expelling Abu Nidal&rsquo;s organisation and ending support for Hamas and Hezbollah, steps that helped secure the suspension of UN sanctions in 1999. </p> <p>The 9/11 attacks were also highly significant in triggering a reassessment of UK policy toward Libya. Gaddafi moved quickly to condemn the terrorist attacks on the US and exploited the moment to assert that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) was not just a serious threat to him but to the world, emphasising its links to Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.&nbsp; </p> <p>While there were links between the LIFG and Al-Qaeda, the former was focused, first and foremost, on the overthrow of Gaddafi&rsquo;s regime.&nbsp; But post 9/11, and in the context of the oversimplified &ldquo;war on terror&rdquo;, there was a tendency on the part of the UK and other western governments to treat groups like the LIFG as if they were part of a unified, global jihadi movement.&nbsp; Operating with this mindset the UK saw the benefits of substantive intelligence cooperation with the Libyans as part of their effort to combat Al Qaeda. So they began to countenance and then initiate joint actions with the Libyans, despite the Gaddafi regime&rsquo;s continuing and well-known repression of its opponents, including systemic torture in its detention centres.&nbsp; </p> <p>The dialogue quickly intensified. In 2002 the Libyans agreed to pay compensation to the Lockerbie victims, and a year later Seif al-Islam Gaddafi approached MI6 with a still more dramatic offer - to end Libya&rsquo;s chemical and nuclear weapons programme.&nbsp; Extensive negotiations ensued, involving Mark Allen of MI6, the CIA and the Libyans, including Gaddafi himself.&nbsp; UK, US and Libyan officials also firmed up proposals for practical cooperation around intelligence, including how the Libyans could help tackle the Al-Qaeda threat, and how the UK could assist Gaddafi in dealing with his domestic opponents. After much back and forth, agreements were reached and documents signed, allowing Tony Blair to announce publicly that Gaddafi was no longer viewed as an enemy.</p> <p>While these efforts to bring an end to Libya&rsquo;s nuclear and chemical weapons programme might seem like a reasonable justification for bringing Gaddafi in from the cold and for negotiation, the trade-offs that the UK and others appear to have made in respect of counter-terrorism and human rights were indefensible, contravening their obligations under international human rights law.&nbsp; The most unconscionable aspect of this cooperation involved extraordinary rendition, the practice of kidnapping Libyan opposition figures and returning them to Libya, in exchange for Libyan intelligence on other global terrorist suspects. The evidence also suggests that the UK provided intelligence to Gaddafi&rsquo;s regime on Libyan opposition figures living in the UK, even though some of Gaddafi&rsquo;s opponents living in the UK had previously been murdered, almost certainly at the hands of Gaddafi&rsquo;s agents. </p> <p>On the basis of a cache of unclassified documents discovered by Human Rights Watch researchers in Libya in 2011 and other information, we know that al-Saadi, his pregnant wife and his four children were forced onto a plane in Hong Kong, in a joint UK/US/Libyan operation in 2004.&nbsp; They were handcuffed, hoods were placed over their heads and their legs were tied up with wire. His wife and children were imprisoned for two months in Libya, but then released. Sami al-Saadi was held for 6 years and says he was repeatedly beaten, subjected to electric shocks and threatened that he would be killed.&nbsp; On his release, he reportedly weighed just 44kg and was close to death.&nbsp; While the UK government said that last month&rsquo;s &pound;2.3 million compensation payment for Sami al-Saadi was not an admission of liability in the case, the amount paid underscores the UK&rsquo;s moral culpability.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/sami al saadi : demotix : Amine LANDOULSI.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/sami al saadi : demotix : Amine LANDOULSI.jpg" alt="Sami al Saadi. Image: Demotix / Amine Landoulsi" title="" width="240" height="360" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sami al Saadi. Image: Demotix / Amine Landoulsi</span></span></span></p><p>In a similar case, another prominent Libyan opposition figure, Abdul Hakim Belhaj, was rendered to Libya with the involvement of the UK.&nbsp; A 2004 fax from Allen, MI6&rsquo;s head of counter-terrorism, to the Libyan intelligence chief, Moussa Koussa, was found by Human Rights Watch researchers after the fall of Tripoli. In it Allen says, &ldquo;I congratulate you on the safe arrival of (Mr Belhaj). This was the least we could do for you and for Libya. I know I did not pay for the air cargo (but) the intelligence (on him) was British.&rdquo;&nbsp; Like al-Saadi, Belhaj was imprisoned by the Libyan authorities and routinely mistreated and tortured. Belhaj&rsquo;s civil suit against the UK for its role in his rendition and torture is ongoing. </p> <p>A year later, in October 2005, in an act of great cynicism, the UK government drafted and agreed on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Libya. Designed to help expedite the return of opponents of the Gaddafi regime to Libya, the MoU asked the Libyans to give an undertaking that those returned would not be tortured.&nbsp; To their credit, the UK courts blocked any returns to Libya, saying that assurances from Gaddafi&rsquo;s regime were not reliable.&nbsp; </p> <p>Eight years after these events and following the change of government in the UK and, more dramatically, the overthrow of Gaddafi&rsquo;s dictatorship in Libya in 2011, some might suggest that we should put this period behind us and &ldquo;move on&rdquo;. Not so. Some extremely important issues relating to this whole period have yet to be resolved, as well as lessons for current and future UK government policy.</p> <p>First, the victims have still to see justice.&nbsp; The compensation payment offered by the UK and accepted by al-Saadi does not absolve the UK government and the UK criminal justice system of the responsibility to investigate what happened and for those involved in their abuse to be held accountable.&nbsp; Belhaj has said that he won&rsquo;t accept compensation, and the criminal cases relating to both men are ongoing. </p> <p>Second, there has been no proper investigation of the policy framework and the political and diplomatic decisions that led to these abuses during these years.&nbsp; The Cameron government set up the Detainee Inquiry under retired judge Peter Gibson in 2010, to look into these matters.&nbsp; But it was established with insufficient powers and without adequate independence. Human Rights Watch and other human rights organisations argued that it would not get to the truth and we declined to participate in the process.</p> <p>In the face of opposition from human rights organisations and those representing torture victims, the UK government dissolved the Gibson Inquiry last year. However, it has promised to initiate a fresh inquiry once the criminal investigations linked to the Al-Saadi and Belhaj cases are concluded.&nbsp; It is critical for an inquiry be established and for it to be given sufficient powers and the requisite independence.&nbsp; </p> <p>Although not a focus of Human Rights Watch's research, others have suggested that there may also have been an economic factor in UK decision-making towards Libya at that time, something which an independent inquiry could potentially throw fresh light on.&nbsp; It is certainly the case that the UK moved quickly to secure new deals with the Libyans on oil once Gaddafi's regime was brought in from the cold<strong>.</strong></p> <p>The UK&rsquo;s involvement in the torture and mistreatment of Libyans is not in doubt. But what remains unclear is whether Ministers at that time formally or tacitly sanctioned the involvement of UK officials and intelligence officers in actions that contravened international standards and involved complicity in ill-treatment and torture (something which those Ministers very strongly reject), or whether conversely, these officials acted independently, without the knowledge and approval of their political masters.&nbsp; Both scenarios are profoundly troubling and only an independent inquiry can establish the truth.</p> <p>Third, despite some breaks with the policy of its predecessor, the current UK government is proposing new legislation that would make the discovery of these kinds of abuses much harder. The government is pressing ahead with its controversial Justice and Security Bill, which would widen the use of so-called &ldquo;secret hearings&rdquo; in the civil courts whenever national security grounds are invoked. (<em>See Tim Otty QC's <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/tim-otty/slow-creep-of-complacency-and-soul-of-english-justice">detailed analysis</a>, and <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/yvonne-ridley/secret-courts-what-they-dont-want-british-people-to-know">Yvonne Ridley's piece</a> on the bill and its relevance to UK-Libya relations.</em>)&nbsp;</p> <p>The effect of the proposals would be to exclude the applicants and their lawyers from the courtroom, contravening a basic principle of justice &ndash; the ability to know the case against you.&nbsp; Parts of the judgement would also be kept secret, meaning that someone could lose a case without being told why.&nbsp; Another part of the government&rsquo;s bill would prevent the disclosure of material that reveals UK involvement in wrongdoing by other countries. If the bill passes, it is most unlikely that any further documents on the intimacy between UK and Libyan intelligence will ever come to light. The UN special rapporteur on torture has raised concern that the new law will undermine accountability for abuses in which the UK is complicit. </p> <p>The UK&rsquo;s relationship with Gaddafi&rsquo;s Libya in the early to mid-90s, and the abuses that arose from it, demonstrate why greater transparency and accountability are essential.&nbsp; If the UK government gets its way with this bill, future Libya-type cases will be held behind closed doors, with the victims and their lawyers, journalists and the public excluded.&nbsp; Far from drawing a line under the UK&rsquo;s involvement in rendition and torture - David Cameron&rsquo;s stated purpose when setting up the Detainee Inquiry &ndash; the Justice and Security Bill makes it more likely that further abuses will occur and less likely that they will be discovered and those responsible will be held accountable.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/yvonne-ridley/secret-courts-what-they-dont-want-british-people-to-know">Secret courts: what they don&#039;t want the British people to know</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/aisha-maniar/secret-justice-making-exception-rule">Secret justice: making the exception the rule</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/tim-otty/slow-creep-of-complacency-and-soul-of-english-justice">The slow creep of complacency and the soul of English justice</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> Libya </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> uk uk Libya UK Conflict Democracy and government International politics David Mepham Fri, 01 Feb 2013 14:46:02 +0000 David Mepham 70594 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Syria’s guilty men https://www.opendemocracy.net/david-mepham/syria%E2%80%99s-guilty-men <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The violent repression of citizens in Syria is escalating, and can now be linked to named officials of the regime. This reinforces the case for concerted international pressure to end the suffering, says David Mepham. </div> </div> </div> <p>The United Nations Security Council this week was given a briefing about the situation in Syria by the human-rights commissioner, Navi Pillay. She estimates that since the start of the popular uprising in March 2011, the Syrian security forces have killed up to 5,000 people.&nbsp;A new <a href="http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/12/15/syria-shoot-kill-commanders-named">report</a> published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) on 15 December names over seventy commanders and officials implicated in many of these deaths by giving orders to kill, as well as individuals responsible for unlawful arrests, beatings and torture. </p> <p>HRW's report is based on interviews with defectors from the Syrian military and intelligence agencies, whose evidence has been checked meticulously against other sources to confirm reliability and accuracy. It highlights violations in seven of <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/syria.htm">Syria’s</a> fourteen governorates: Damascus, Daraa, Homs, Idlib, Tartous, Deir al-Zor and Hama. Taken together, the abuses provide further evidence of a systematic and brutal crackdown by the regime against everyday Syrians demanding democracy, justice and the rule of law.</p> <p>All of the defectors i<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/hrw-syrian-officers-had-shoot-to-kill-orders/2011/12/15/gIQAZNQawO_video.html">nterviewed</a> by Human Rights Watch said that their commanders gave them orders to stop the protests by "all means necessary", a phrase universally understood as authorisation to use lethal force.&nbsp;Here are&nbsp;just two examples.&nbsp;"Abdullah" - a soldier with the 409th battalion, 154th regiment, 4th division - says that two high-level commanders, Brigadier-General Jawdat Ibrahim Safi and Major-General Mohamed Ali Durgham, ordered troops to shoot at protestors when his unit was deployed to areas in and around Damascus; and "Mansour" - who served in air-force intelligence in Daraa - says that his commander, Colonel Qusay Mihoub, gave similar orders in response to public demonstrations there. Many other cases are described in the report; about half of those interviewed say that their commanders gave direct orders to fire on <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-security/2011/1212/Syria-protesters-stage-nationwide-strike">protesters</a> and bystanders.</p> <p>Those named in the report should be held to account for their crimes. But responsibility for these killings goes right to the top of the Syrian regime. President Bashar al-Assad is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, yet in his extraordinary <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/International/bashar-al-assad-interview-defiant-syrian-president-denies/story?id=15098612">interview</a> with ABC’s Barbara Walters broadcast on 7 December he suggested that he didn’t control the Syrian army. Whether this is dreadful ignorance or wishful thinking, international law is clear: those in position of command are potentially criminally accountable not just for crimes they directly ordered but also for serious crimes committed by their subordinates in circumstances where they knew or should have known of the abuses but failed to take action to stop them. It defies credibility that President Assad is so ignorant of what is going on in his country or what is being <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-security/2011/1216/Syrian-Army-defector-We-were-given-killing-quotas-by-Assad-regime">done</a> by his forces.</p> <p>The violence in Syria is intense and the abuses chilling. Yet the international response so far has been shamefully weak and indecisive. True, the Arab League - in a break with much of its previous practice - has <a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,799070,00.html">condemned</a> Assad’s crackdown, suspending Syria’s membership of the league and committed itself to introduce tough sanctions. And three countries on the UN Security Council (Britain, France, and the United States) have pushed for tougher action. But Russia and China have repeatedly blocked this - and they have been supported by rising powers such as South Africa, India and Brazil, all currently members of the UNSC.</p> <p>These three countries' <a href="http://rt.com/news/syria-sanctions-division-un-455/">reluctance</a> over or even outright hostility to the idea of exerting greater pressure on Syria to end its repression is all the more worrying, since all have democratically elected governments whose leaders express commitment to human rights and the rule of law. The logic of their position, that such pressure is neo-colonial or a prelude to western military intervention, is mistaken. The real motive is to bring an end to the terrible violence from which so many Syrians are suffering and to show basic solidarity with them. South Africa’s leaders have every reason to make the connection with their own formative experiences in the struggle against the repressive apartheid system. </p> <p>For them and for others, Navi Pillay’s <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16151424">briefing</a> to the Security Council, and Human Rights Watch’s exposé of abuse and identification of those responsible, should be a wake-up call. The evidence of repression in Syria is beyond dispute. What is needed is plain and urgent: the referral by the UNSC of crimes against humanity committed in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC); the stopping of all arms sales to Syria, including by Russia; and the imposition of targeted sanctions against key figures in the Assad regime, to raise the cost to it of continuing violence. </p> <p>The crisis in Syria is worsening. There is no good reason to obstruct the concerted international action now needed to help end the brutal repression there. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.hrw.org/">Human Rights Watch</a></p> <p><em><a href="http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/12/15/syria-shoot-kill-commanders-named">Syria: 'Shoot to Kill' Commanders Named</a></em> (Human Rights Watch, 15 December 2011)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>David Mepham is UK director of <a href="http://www.hrw.org/">Human Rights Watch</a>. He was formerly associate director of the Institute of Public Policy Research, and head of policy and advocacy at Save the Children UK</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Syria Conflict Democracy and government International politics democracy & power middle east David Mepham Violent transitions Sat, 17 Dec 2011 07:41:33 +0000 David Mepham 63276 at https://www.opendemocracy.net South Africa: rights, accountability and maternal mortality https://www.opendemocracy.net/david-mepham/south-africa-rights-accountability-and-maternal-mortality <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> A study of the healthcare environment of expectant mothers in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa reveal severe problems that both the national government and overseas donors should address, says David Mepham. </div> </div> </div> <p>South Africa is a middle-income country and the richest in sub-Saharan Africa. It spends more on health per person than any other on the continent, and it provides this healthcare free, including services for pregnant mothers. And yet, the maternal mortality rate - the proportion of South African women who die in childbirth or from complications of pregnancy and birth - has <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Health/maternal-mortality-rate-quadruples-south-africa/story?id=14263372">quadrupled</a> in just over a decade. How is this startling and counter-intuitive trend to be explained?</p><p>It is possible that some part of the increase is attributable to more accurate reporting. The most recent government <a href="http://www.statssa.gov.za/news_archive/Docs/MDGR_2010.pdf">statistics</a> show the rate rising from 150 to 625 maternal deaths per thousand live births between 1998 and 2007. While this coincides with a period in which the collection of health data in South Africa has improved, the public-health experts are wary of overstating the contribution of better data and generally agree that the trend in maternal deaths is up, and substantially so.</p><p>The most commonly cited reason is the impact of HIV and Aids.&nbsp;South Africa has more people living with HIV than any other country in the world, an estimated 5.7 million South Africans (18% of the population).&nbsp;South Africa’s past failure to address HIV and Aids effectively has contributed to soaring infection rates, alongside the country’s horrendous levels of sexual violence. The opposition of previous political leaders to the use of anti-retroviral drugs, including for the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, was a substantial contributing factor.</p><p>Data from the South African National Committee on Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths (NCCEMD) <a href="http://www.hrw.org/reports/2011/08/08/stop-making-excuses-0">suggest</a> that 44% of maternal deaths could be attributed to HIV and Aids (between 2005 and 2007) and that the mortality rate for HIV-positive women was nearly ten times as high as for HIV-negative women.</p><p>But while critically important, the impact of HIV and Aids on maternal deaths should be viewed in a broader context. Similarly, the national and global debate on maternal health needs to move beyond its excessive focus on overall levels of health spending, and consider the range of factors that lead to poor health outcomes for pregnant women and new mothers. New research by <a href="http://www.hrw.org/reports/2011/08/08/stop-making-excuses-0">Human Rights Watch</a> - conducted in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province - suggests that poor quality and unresponsive care for mothers and health systems devoid of effective accountability to patients or the public are particularly important in shaping (and worsening) maternal-health outcomes.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>A pattern of abuse</strong></p><p>In the course of our research, women told Human Rights Watch that they were physically and verbally abused, including pinching, slapping and rough handling during labour. They also described treatment delays; nurses who ignored calls for help; and health facilities that failed to deal appropriately with pregnancy or childbirth-related problems. Women were also left unattended for long periods after delivery, discharged too soon or sent home without pain medication or antibiotics, sometimes after Caesarean births, and refused admission, even when they were clearly in labour.</p><p>Women also described widespread verbal abuse. They said that when they sought care for pregnancy, nurses taunted them about enjoying sex or berated them for getting pregnant knowing they were HIV-positive, or told them they did not deserve care because they were migrants. Others said that nurses ridiculed women when they said they were having labour pains or pleaded for assistance. Some also noted that hospital workers demanded bribes or gifts.</p><p>These testimonies reveal shocking disrespect and abuse of a large number of very vulnerable women in Eastern Cape.&nbsp;Their stories may also help explain the high and worsening levels of maternal mortality in Eastern Cape and elsewhere in South Africa. Ill-treatment drives women away from seeking care. Abuses also lead to delays in diagnosis and treatment, which feeds through into increased morbidity and mortality rates.</p><p><strong>A comprehensive response</strong></p><p>It is first and foremost for the elected representatives of the Eastern Cape and for South Africa’s national government to address these abuses. At the policy level, South Africa is now saying many of the right things, including a raft of sexual and reproductive health-related laws and policies and a constitutional guarantee of the right to health.&nbsp;But there is clearly a very large gap between law and stated policy and actual practice, as it is experienced by ordinary South African women.</p><p>The challenge for South Africa is to overhaul the current administration of many of its health facilities and to make them much more accountable and responsive to mothers and to other patients. This should include proper complaint systems, so that mothers feel empowered to raise their concerns, and health workers and those who run health facilities can actively solicit information from patients to improve the quality of care.</p><p>A far-reaching shift is needed if there is to be a real prospect of South Africa meeting its international commitment to reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters between 1990 (the base year) and 2015 (the target date). There are lessons here for donors too, like the UK’s department for international development (DfID), which plans to <a href="http://www.dfid.gov.uk/Documents/publications1/op/south-africa-2011.pdf">spend</a> £33 million ($53 million) over the next five years on reproductive, maternal and newborn health in South Africa.</p><p>If this is going to have&nbsp;real and lasting impact, DfID will need to focus more heavily on the quality of maternal health services, the rights and treatment of women during pregnancy and in labour, and the responsiveness and accountability of health systems to women, especially the poorest and most marginalised women. Without this more comprehensive approach, on the part of national governments and international donors, women will continue to die unnecessarily and tragically, not just in South Africa but in many other countries around the world.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.hrw.org/reports/2011/08/08/stop-making-excuses-0"><em>"Stop Making Excuses": Accountability for Maternal Health Care in South Africa</em></a> (Human Rights Watch, 8 August 2011)</p><p><a href="http://www.hrw.org/">Human Rights Watch</a></p><p><a href="http://www.doh.gov.za/">Department of health, South Africa</a></p><p><a href="http://www.hst.org.za/content/south-african-health-review-sahr-1"><em>South Africa Health Review</em></a></p><p><a href="http://www.sahistory.org.za/">South African History Online</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>David Mepham is UK <a href="http://www.hrw.org/bios/david-mepham">director</a> of <a href="http://www.hrw.org/">Human Rights Watch</a>. He was formerly associate director of the Institute of Public Policy Research, and head of policy and advocacy at Save the Children UK</p><p>Also by David Mepham in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>:</p><p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-vision_reflections/article_1957.jsp">David Held's missing links</a>" (9 June 2004)</p><p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-institutions_government/article_2337.jsp">Accountability in Africa: whose problem?</a>" (10 February 2005)</p><p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-UN/summit_2851.jsp">A mixed-bag summit</a>" (19 September 2005)</p><p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict-debate_97/hamas_reform_3229.jsp">Hamas and political reform in the middle east</a>" (1 February 2006)</p><p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-institutions_government/UN_leader_3860.jsp">The next United Nations leader: a time for transparency</a>" (29 August 2006)</p><p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-institutions_government/darfur_responsibility_3897.jsp">Darfur and the 'responsibility to protect'</a>" (11 September 2006)</p><p>"<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/gordon_brown_s_foreign_policy_challenges">Gordon Brown's foreign-policy challenges</a>" (10 August 2007) - with David Held</p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> South Africa </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> 50.50 South Africa Civil society Democracy and government International politics 'term-id:[26644]' democracy & power Africa David Mepham Thu, 11 Aug 2011 16:47:18 +0000 David Mepham 60869 at https://www.opendemocracy.net David Mepham https://www.opendemocracy.net/author-profile/david-mepham <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> David Mepham </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-firstname"> <div class="field-label">First name(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> David </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-surname"> <div class="field-label">Surname:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Mepham </div> </div> </div> <p>David Mepham has been UK <a href="http://www.hrw.org/bios/david-mepham">director</a> of Human Rights Watch since April 2011. Before then he was a senior policy adviser in the UK's Department for International Development; associate director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and the head of its international&nbsp;programme; and head of policy and advocacy for Save the Children UK. He is co-editor of <em><a href="http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9780745641157">Progressive Foreign Policy - new directions for the UK</a> </em>(Polity, 2007) and author of many articles in the media</p><div class="field field-au-shortbio"> <div class="field-label">One-Line Biography:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> David Mepham is UK &lt;a href=http://www.hrw.org/bios/david-mepham&gt;director&lt;/a&gt; of &lt;a href=http://www.hrw.org/home&gt;Human Rights Watch&lt;/a&gt;. He was formerly associate director of the Institute of Public Policy Research, and head of policy and advocacy at Save the Children UK </div> </div> </div> David Mepham Fri, 26 Mar 2010 13:12:27 +0000 David Mepham 51059 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Gordon Brown’s foreign-policy challenges https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/gordon_brown_s_foreign_policy_challenges <p>The opening weeks of Gordon Brown&#39;s premiership have brought a marked change of tone to the conduct of British foreign policy. The misconceived and counterproductive notion of a &quot;war on terror&quot; has been discarded, replaced by a new focus on winning &quot;hearts and minds&quot;. While Tony Blair&#39;s rhetoric on international affairs was often strident and evangelical, Brown&#39;s public statements since he became <a href="http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page12037.asp">prime minister</a> on 27 June 2007 have so far been much more measured. At his meeting with President Bush at <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/29/AR2007072901016.html?hpid=sec-world">Camp David</a>, for example, Gordon Brown stressed the importance he attached to the transatlantic relationship, but without any of the gushing praise for the president that became such a feature of Blair/Bush meetings over recent years. </p> <p class="pullquote_new">David Held and David Mepham are co-editors of <em>Progressive Foreign Policy </em>(ippr / Polity Press), on sale from 22 August 2007. To order, click <a href="http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9780745641140">here</a> <br /><br />Also on Gordon Brown in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>: <br /><br />Christopher Harvie, &quot;Gordon Brown&#39;s Britain&quot; <br />(<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/britain_3214.jsp">26 January 2006</a>) <br /><br />Anthony Barnett, &quot;What will Gordon Brown do now?&quot; <br />(<a href="/globalization-kingdom/constitution_4609.jsp">11 May 2007</a>)<br /><br />Tom Nairn, &quot;Not on your life&quot; <br />(<a href="/democracy-kingdom/not_life_4616.jsp">15 May 2007</a>) <br /><br />Neal Ascherson, &quot;Who needs a constitution?&quot; <br />(<a href="/democracy-kingdom/constitution_need_4636.jsp">22 May 2007</a>) <br /><br />Anthony Barnett, &quot;Gordon Brown: an intellectual without an intelligentsia&quot; <br />(<a href="/democracy_power/ourkingdom/gordon_brown">26 June 2007</a>) <br /><br />Paul Rogers, &quot;Gordon Brown&#39;s white elephants&quot; <br />(<a href="/conflicts/global_security/white_elephants">26 July 2007</a>) <br /><br />Don&#39;t miss too our new <a href="http://ourkingdom.opendemocracy.net/" target="_blank">OurKingdom blog</a> - a wide-ranging, multi-voiced conversation on the future of Britain</p><p>But while this change of language is welcome, the damage done to Britain&#39;s global reputation during the final years of the Blair government and the nature of the foreign-policy challenges facing Britain today require some substantive and <a href="/madrid11/article/brown_bush">not merely stylistic</a> breaks with the recent past. </p> <p>Although United States and United Kingdom policy in recent years has been carried out in the name of security and counter-terrorism, the world today is more divided, dangerous and unstable than it was before 9/11. The way forward for the UK should involve a rejection of some core elements of the <a href="/democracy-blair/foreign_policy_4215.jsp">Blair approach</a> to international affairs. In its place is needed a foreign-policy agenda based more explicitly and consistently on multilateralism and common rules, one that seeks order through international law and social justice, re-links security and the human-rights agenda and strengthens global institutions. </p> <p><strong>The middle east: a fresh agenda</strong></p> <p>Nowhere is a new approach more important than towards the broader middle east. Britain&#39;s standing in this <a href="/conflict-debate_97/hamas_reform_3229.jsp">region</a> has plummeted as a result of the Iraq war, Tony Blair&#39;s failure to be even-handed on the Israel/Palestine question and his refusal to condemn Israel&#39;s military assault on Lebanon in July-August 2006. A Brown government will <a href="http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/printarticle.php?id=7535">need</a> to make major changes in its policies here if Britain is to regain the trust of local parties and an element of influence over regional developments. </p> <p>The security and humanitarian <a href="/article/conflicts/global_security/iraq_high_summer">situation in Iraq</a> is horrific and the chances of avoiding a further escalation of violence look very slim. A reinvigorated international effort to help do so requires a wider group of countries, particularly from the region, to come together behind a shared endeavour to help stabilise Iraq, however difficult it would be to achieve. A <a href="/conflict-yugoslavia/dayton_3047.jsp">Dayton</a>-style conference would be useful here in helping to forge a common international position. Brown should promote this idea and challenge the unwillingness of the <a href="/article/conflicts/middle_east/washington_hizbollah">Bush administration</a> to engage seriously with either Damascus or Tehran over Iraq. The purpose of international pressure and support should be to help secure a new political compact and reconciliation process within Iraq itself. On the question of British troops, while Brown has rightly said that Britain will &quot;not cut and run&quot;, he has hinted to President Bush that these troops will not remain indefinitely and that Britain will make decisions that are consistent with British interests. It is critical that Brown upholds this policy and does not provide political cover for a failed US strategy elsewhere in the country.</p> <p><span class="pullquote_new"><a href="http://www.ippr.org.uk/aboutippr/staff/?id=32">David Mepham</a> is head of the international programme at the Institute of Public Policy Research (<a href="http://www.ippr.org.uk/aboutippr/staff/?id=32">ippr</a>) and a visiting fellow at the Centre for the Study of Global Governance at the London School of Economics. <br /><br />Also by David Mepham in<strong> openDemocracy:</strong> <br /><br />&quot;David Held&#39;s missing links&quot; <br />(<a href="/node/1957">10 June 2004</a>) <br /><br />&quot;Accountability in Africa: whose problem?&quot; <br />(<a href="/globalization-africa_democracy/article_2337.jsp">10 February 2005</a>) <br /><br />&quot;A mixed-bag summit&quot; (<a href="/conflict-debate_97/hamas_reform_3229.jsp">20 September 2005</a>) <br /><br />&quot;Hamas and political reform in the middle east&quot; <br />(<a href="/conflict-debate_97/hamas_reform_3229.jsp" target="_blank">1 February 2006</a>) <br /><br />&quot;The next United Nations leader: a time for transparency&quot; <br />(<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/UN_leader_3860.jsp">30 August 2006</a>) <strong><br /><br />&quot;</strong>Darfur and the &#39;responsibility to protect&#39;&quot; <br />(<a href="/globalization-africa_democracy/darfur_responsibility_3897.jsp">12 September 2006</a>)</span> </p> <p>Afghanistan is similarly <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/08/10/do1002.xml">challenging</a>. Despite the election of President Karzai, warlords remain dominant in many parts of the country, development progress has been extremely slow and, far from being defeated, the Taliban once again constitute a <a href="/conflicts/global_security/afghanistan_low_level_high_impact">serious threat</a> in the south of the country. Brown should press for a human-security agenda, a greater focus on human rights and the rule of law, higher levels of development assistance that are used more effectively, for more international troops to be deployed to the south, and a tougher line on the Taliban forces that operate brazenly across the Pakistani border. But <a href="http://www.britainusa.com/sections/articles_show_nt1.asp?a=46902&amp;i=60063&amp;L1=41012&amp;L2=60063&amp;d=-1">policy in Afghanistan</a> will have to be constantly reviewed because, in truth, a new policy shift may come too late to make a decisive difference. </p> <p><strong>Iran: avoiding war</strong></p> <p>It is the neighbouring state of Iran, however, that may well emerge as the single biggest foreign-policy test of Brown&#39;s premiership. This would be guaranteed if the Iranians withdrew from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (<a href="http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/library/treaties/non-proliferation-treaty/trty_npt_1970-03-05.htm">NPT</a>) or carried out a nuclear test, or if the US or Israel launched a pre-emptive military strike against <a href="http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Focus/IaeaIran/index.shtml">Iranian nuclear facilities</a>. There is a real possibility that one of these scenarios will materialise in the next year or so. Indeed, there has been recent press speculation that the US vice-president, Dick Cheney, is pressing Bush to act over the next twelve months. </p><p>While it would be extremely undesirable for Iran to acquire a nuclear-weapons capability, this outcome is best avoided through creative and sustained diplomatic efforts. More hawkish voices, particularly in the US and Israel, argue that diplomacy will not succeed and that military force should be used to prevent this. But military action would be incredibly <a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/blowback_4317.jsp">misguided</a> and dangerous. It would be most unlikely to destroy Iran&#39;s nuclear capabilities, but it would strengthen Iran&#39;s hardliners, provide a further stimulus to global Islamic radicalism and send oil prices through the roof. Brown should use all of Britain&#39;s diplomatic influence to dissuade the US and <a href="/conflict/war_proxy_3752.jsp">Israel</a> from adopting such a policy.</p><p><strong>Israel-Palestine: a new approach</strong> </p><p>A new approach is also needed in relation to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Following Hamas&#39;s <a href="/conflicts/israel_palestine/hamas_shortsighted_manoeuvre">takeover</a> of Gaza in June 2007, Britain initially appeared to be following the flawed US strategy towards the conflict. The US&#39;s &quot;West Bank first&quot; policy assumes that isolating and punishing Gaza while rewarding the West Bank and Mahmoud Abbas will lead to a decline in support for Hamas and an increase in support for Fatah, thereby enhancing the prospects for peace. Although this kind of approach might have made sense in 2005, when Abbas was elected Palestinian president with a landslide, it makes absolutely no sense today.</p><p><span class="pullquote_new"><strong>David Held</strong> is professor of political science at the London School of Economics. He is one of the most prolific and innovative thinkers in the study of globalisation. <br /><br />His books include <em>Global Covenant: The Social Democratic Alternative to the Washington Consensus </em>(<a href="http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9780745633534%20%28">Polity, 2004</a>) and <em>Models of Democracy</em> (<a href="http://www.polity.co.uk/modelsofdemocracy/toc.asp" target="_blank">Polity</a>, third edition, 2006) <br /><br />David Held&#39;s analyses have appeared on <strong>openDemocracy</strong> since 2001: <br /><br />&quot;Violence and justice in a global age&quot; <br />(<a href="/node/144">14 September 2001</a>) <br /><br />&quot;New war, new justice&quot; <br />(<a href="/node/143">28 September 2001</a>) - with Mary Kaldor <br /><br />&quot;9/11: what should we do now?&quot; <br />(<a href="/node/782">11 October 2001</a>) <br /><br />&quot;Globalisation: the argument of our time&quot; <br />(<a href="/node/637">January 2002</a>) - a major debate with Paul Hirst <br /><br />&quot;Davos: a view from the summit&quot; <br />(<a href="/globalization-institutions_government/article_272.jsp">13 February 2002</a>) <br /><br />&quot;Return to the state of nature&quot; <br />(<a href="/faith-iraqwarphiloshophy/article_1065.jsp">20 March 2003</a>) <br /><br />&quot;Globalisation: the dangers and the answers&quot; <br />(<a href="/globalization-vision_reflections/article_1918.jsp">27 May 2004</a>) <br /><br />&quot;What are the dangers and the answers? Clashes over globalisation&quot; <br />(<a href="/globalization-vision_reflections/article_2148.jsp">11 October 2004</a>) <br /><br />&quot;Building bridges: a reply to Anne-Marie Slaughter &amp; Thomas N Hale&quot; <br />(<a href="/globalization-vision_reflections/building_bridges_3155.jsp">23 December 2005</a>) </span></p> <p>Whether one likes it or not, Hamas is now a central part of the Palestinian political scene. Stabilising Gaza and the West Bank and creating a more cohesive Palestinian political entity that can negotiate credibly with the Israelis requires a Palestinian national-unity government. That means an end to international efforts to play off different Palestinian factions against each other, an immediate <a href="/conflict-debate_97/report_gaza_4632.jsp">lifting</a> of the economic boycott of the West Bank and Gaza and renewed efforts to secure a comprehensive Palestinian/Israeli ceasefire. It also means serious international pressure on Israel - of the kind that has been singularly lacking in recent years - to end its forty-year <a href="/conflict-debate_97/under_siege_4679.jsp">occupation</a> of the Palestinian territories. As a first step on the Israelis&#39; part, there should be a halt to ongoing settlement activity, house demolitions, land confiscations and targeted assassinations, and a willingness to enter serious negotiations with the Palestinians. </p> <p>The Arab League <a href="/conflict-debate_97/riyadh_summit_4480.jsp">initiative</a> (which calls for full normalisation of relations with Israel in exchange for its full withdrawal from the occupied territories) represents an important opportunity to reactivate a meaningful peace process. British influence should be exerted in support of this proposal and in support of local actors working for peace. While the Quartet&#39;s new middle-east <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/4e991c30-24d3-11dc-bf47-000b5df10621.html">envoy</a>, Tony Blair, is ostensibly tasked with helping to strengthen Palestinian institutions and while Gordon Brown has focused heavily to date on economic issues, progress will not be made on either without a re-energised political process that involves Palestinians and Israelis in substantive bilateral talks. </p> <p><strong>Darfur and the world: paths to progress</strong></p> <p>Darfur is another critical test for the Brown government. To Brown&#39;s credit, he has already acted swiftly on this. He has identified Darfur as the world&#39;s worst humanitarian crisis and, together with the French, helped secure a new <a href="http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/KHII-75X2XN?OpenDocument">UN resolution</a> mandating the deployment of a United Nations-African Union hybrid force to the region. But UN resolutions will amount to little without a willingness to enforce them (previous UN resolutions have also called for an international force to be deployed but these have not been implemented). This time, tough words should be matched with firm action. If the <a href="http://africa.reuters.com/top/news/usnBAN946098.html">Khartoum regime</a> seeks to block the deployment of the force (which is likely, given its track record), Brown should press for the immediate imposition of financial sanctions, an assets freeze and a travel ban on key members of the Sudanese elite. Comparable energy needs to be applied in support of new negotiations in Tanzania aimed at reaching a common position amongst the various <a href="/democracy-africa_democracy/darfur_conflict_3909.jsp">Darfur rebel groups</a>. </p> <p>On global development, the Blair government&#39;s record is quite impressive, and there is much here on which to build. Brown has already indicated that this issue will remain a priority for his premiership and in his speech at the UN on 31 July 2007 he made an <a href="http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page12755.asp">impassioned call</a> for greater international action to combat what he rightly termed a &quot;development emergency&quot;, and the world&#39;s collective failure to make progress towards the internationally-agreed <a href="http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/">Millennium Development Goals</a>. Getting back on track with these will require an enhanced international effort on issues of aid, debt relief and trade - areas on which Brown focuses heavily in his development speeches. But it will also require fresh thinking and action on the issues of violent conflict, poor governance, corruption, the mismanagement of natural resources and state failure, which are often the primary obstacles to <a href="/globalisation/africa/aid_evasion_raising_bottom_billion">development progress</a> in Africa and elsewhere. </p> <p>The other key issue crying out for a more decisive UK lead is <a href="/globalization-climatechange/debate.jsp">climate change</a>. While in recent years the Blair government played an important role in calling for greater global action on climate change, Britain&#39;s record on curbing its own greenhouse-gas emissions has not matched its rhetoric. Building on the analysis in the <a href="/globalization-climate_change_debate/tools_4211.jsp">Stern report</a>, a Brown government should be making really deep cuts in its own emissions and working for an effective multilateral agreement on climate change to follow Kyoto <a href="/globalization-climate_change_debate/kyoto2_4324.jsp">after 2012</a>. This agreement will obviously need to involve the Chinese, who are set to overtake the US as the world&#39;s largest greenhouse-gas emitter in the next few years. </p> <p><strong>The world&#39;s work</strong></p> <p>If these are some of the countries and issues on which the Gordon Brown-led government should focus its diplomatic efforts, with whom should Britain work to best advance these foreign-policy goals? Under Tony Blair, the relationship with the US took precedence over all others, with highly damaging consequences. Brown has already shown that he will stay close to the US, but in a way that is less <a href="/democracy-blair/relationship_hodgson_4401.jsp">subservient</a> and unconditional than was often the case under Blair. There is also evidence of a welcome pragmatism in Brown&#39;s approach towards Europe. The prospects of Britain exercising beneficial influence in various parts of the globe will often be enhanced by <a href="http://www.cer.org.uk/publications_new/752.html">working closely</a> with European partners. From the middle east to Russia, from the Balkans to China, and on issues like climate change and development, there is real scope for the European Union to play a larger and more progressive role, and Brown should commit to <a href="http://www.spectator.co.uk/the-magazine/features/77746/now-we-know-brown-is-a-european-not-an-atlanticist.thtml">help develop</a> this role. </p> <p>Britain under Brown should also forge closer political, economic and cultural ties with emerging powers like China, India, South Africa and Brazil. And it should work for effective multilateralism, including a stronger United Nations and a reformed set of global financial institutions. Effective and accountable <a href="http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/facts/international/institutions.aspx?ComponentId=14996&amp;SourcePageId=19546">global institutions</a> are indispensable for tackling a range of global problems.</p> <p>A broader challenge for Gordon Brown is to revive the idea of a values-based or <a href="http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9780745641157">&quot;progressive&quot; foreign policy</a> after the catastrophe of Iraq. A commitment to values in foreign policy does not require a rejection of the idea of interests. But it does demand new thinking about the concept of the national interest in a radically changed global context. In a world that is much more interdependent and interconnected, the national interest needs to be defined more <a href="http://www.politics.co.uk/news/foreign-policy/international-institutions/united-nations/brown-urges-un-and-world-bank-reform-$463666.htm">expansively</a> than previously, with a recognition that &quot;our&quot; interests - &quot;our&quot; security and prosperity, for example - are likely to be dependent on achieving greater prosperity and security for others. </p> <p>Nor should a commitment to <a href="http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/05/17/opinion/edslaughter.php">values in foreign policy</a> be misconstrued as naivety about the ease with which those values can be advanced or realised in particular contexts around the world. The world does not change for the better simply because we wish it would. To have a chance of making a difference, values need to be complemented by well-thought-through policies. These need to recognise the extent to which actions of individual governments, international institutions and others are constrained and shaped by existing <a href="/globalization-institutions_government/globalisation_inequality_4292.jsp">inequalities</a> of wealth and power. They also need to be rooted in a sophisticated understanding and analysis of the social, political, economic, cultural and historical context in particular societies. </p> <p>In this sense, a progressive foreign policy is one defined by values but grounded in a realistic understanding of the diverse world that it operates within. Such a policy is distinct from the <a href="/democracy-americanpower/article_1998.jsp">neo-conservatism</a> of the Bush administration, with its contempt for international law and global institutions, and from traditional conservatism, which tends to be highly sceptical of the idea that human rights and democracy have universal relevance or that it is our business or interest to promote them internationally. </p> Gordon Brown has been a central figure in the Labour government for over a decade, and a <a href="http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w070625&amp;s=kamm062607">supporter</a> of some of Blair&#39;s most controversial foreign-policy decisions, including Iraq. But his early actions and demeanour on the global stage have demonstrated a seriousness of purpose and a willingness to think creatively. He now has a real but brief <a href="http://www.spectator.co.uk/archive/69317/on-the-road-with-gordon-in-the-search-for-hearts-and-minds.thtml">window of opportunity</a> to shift the focus and some of the priorities of British foreign policy. Such a shift could help restore Britain&#39;s rather battered global reputation, as well as enhancing its contribution to tackling a diverse and pressing set of global issues. He should act without delay. democracy & power Globalisation ourkingdom institutions & government David Held David Mepham Original Copyright Fri, 10 Aug 2007 14:52:26 +0000 David Held and David Mepham 34314 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Darfur and the 'responsibility to protect' https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-institutions_government/darfur_responsibility_3897.jsp <p>At the sixtieth-anniversary summit of the general assembly of the United Nations in September 2005, the world&#39;s leaders <a href="http://www.responsibilitytoprotect.org/index.php/united_nations/398?theme=alt1" target="_blank">endorsed</a> an international &quot;responsibility to protect&quot;: an obligation to act to protect civilians in the face of war crimes or genocide, where the government locally was perpetrating these abuses itself or was unable or unwilling to stop them. </p><p>The continuing crisis in the Darfur region of western <a href="http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/africa/sudan_pol_1989.gif" target="_blank">Sudan</a> - and the woefully inadequate international response to it - makes a mockery of this commitment. While there is much talk about Darfur in the corridors of the UN and amongst international diplomats, this is yet to translate into concrete action. The world community continues to prevaricate while Darfur burns.</p><p>Since 2003, more than 200,000 people have been killed in the area and over 2 million displaced. While several of the various rebel groups have committed very serious human-rights abuses, and shown little interest in resolving this conflict diplomatically, primary responsibility for this human tragedy rests with the Sudanese government and the government-backed <em><a href="http://www.sundayherald.com/43939" target="_blank">janjaweed</a></em> militia. </p><p>But if the humanitarian situation over the last three years has been unspeakably bad, it looks set to get even worse. In July-August 2006 alone, UN humanitarian workers <a href="http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=34661" target="_blank">report</a> that a further 50,000 people were displaced and 200 women raped. There are also regular attacks on aid workers - twelve have been killed in the last three months. </p><p>On 28 August, the UN&#39;s humanitarian chief Jan Egeland <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=19647&amp;Cr=Sudan&amp;Cr1=Darfur" target="_blank">warned</a> that &quot;a man-made catastrophe of an unprecedented scale&quot; loomed within weeks in Darfur unless the UN Security Council acted immediately. These calls were <a href="http://www.garoweonline.com/stories/publish/article_4904.shtml" target="_blank">echoed</a> by Antonio Guterres, the UN high commissioner for human rights, and by the UN secretary-general Kofi Annan himself. </p><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b><a href=http://www.ippr.org.uk/aboutippr/staff/?id=32 target=_blank>David Mepham</a> is head of the international programme at the Institute of Public Policy Research (<a href=http://www.ippr.org.uk target=_blank>ippr</a>). His most recent report is <em><a href=http://www.ippr.org.uk/publicationsandreports/publication.asp?id=337 target=_blank>Changing States &#150; a progressive agenda for political reform in the Middle East</a></em> (January 2006)</b></p> <p>Also by David Mepham in openDemocracy:</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1957">David Held's missing links</a>" (June 2004)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2337">Accountability in Africa: whose problem?</a>" (February 2005)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2851">A mixed-bag summit</a>" (September 2005)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3229">Hamas and political reform in the middle east</a>" (February 2006)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3860">The next United Nations leader: a time for transparency</a>"<br /> (30 August 2006) </p> </div><p><strong>The road to hell</strong></p><p>Two related factors&nbsp;have brought the region to the edge of a new abyss. The first is the imminent departure of the African Union Mission in Sudan (Amis). Over the last two years, its valiant efforts have brought some limited relief from the worst excesses of this vicious war - but little more than that. With only 7,000 troops, poorly equipped and lacking a credible mandate, Amis has failed to provide effective civilian protection to the people of Darfur. Now, facing a financial <a href="http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/09/09/africa/web.0909darfur.php" target="_blank">crisis</a> and having alienated Khartoum, it will leave Sudan by the end of September, creating a security vacuum that Khartoum is only too eager to fill. </p><p>The second factor has been the Darfur Peace Agreement (<a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4978668.stm" target="_blank">DPA</a>), signed in Nigeria on 5 May 2006. While it was hoped that this would lead to the cessation of hostilities and the creation of a lasting peace, it has instead produced divisions and armed clashes between <a href="http://allafrica.com/stories/200609110215.html" target="_blank">various rebel groups</a>, the emergence of new groups (the Group of Nineteen and the National Redemption Front), and violence between these groups and government forces. The Khartoum government&#39;s response has been a major military mobilisation in an apparent attempt to resolve this issue once and for all. If, as looks likely, the violence escalates, the international aid agencies will pull out, cutting an essential lifeline for hundreds of thousands of Darfurians and possibly triggering another flood of refugees into neighbouring Chad.</p><p>Three <a href="http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?action=conflict_search&amp;l=1&amp;t=1&amp;c_country=101" target="_blank">years</a> too late, the UN Security Council passed <a href="http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/sc8821.doc.htm" target="_blank">resolution 1706</a> on 31 August 2006), assigning a 20,000-strong UN peacekeeping force to replace the AU mission. However, no one in New York or in key international capitals seems prepared to deploy UN forces without Khartoum&#39;s consent - and Sudan shows no interest in giving it. One suggestion at the UN, prompted by concern that the AU force would withdraw with no force to replace it, is to encourage the AU mission to stay on a bit longer. But in its current form this would be of little benefit. </p><p>There are no easy options left, but that is categorically not to say that nothing can be done. The 11 September <a href="http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/09/12/news/darfur.php" target="_blank">meeting</a> of the UN Security Council may prove to be the last real international opportunity to act to prevent further catastrophe. The council needs to apply massive pressure on Khartoum - diplomatic, political, legal and economic - to accept a UN force in Darfur. In 1999, international pressure of this kind compelled an equally recalcitrant Jakarta to accept foreign peacekeepers into the then occupied territory of East Timor. But maximising that international <a href="http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=3060&amp;l=1" target="_blank">pressure</a> requires help from China, Russia and the Arab states - countries that have previously blocked more decisive international action. </p><p>Russia and China abstained in the Security Council vote authorising the UN force, but they said that this was a question of timing rather than substance. There is room for movement here. The role of China is particularly crucial given the country&#39;s huge stake in the Sudanese oil industry. When Chinese premier Wen Jiabao meets Tony Blair on 13 September during his <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/china/story/0,,1870747,00.html" target="_blank">visit</a> to London, Darfur should be the number-one item on the British prime minister&#39;s agenda.</p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>Also in openDemocracy about Darfur: </b></p> <p>Stephen Ellis, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1950">Darfur: countdown to catastrophe</a>" <br />(10 June 2004) </p> <p>Lyndall Stein, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2230">Darfur journal</a>" <br />(18 November 2004) </p> <p>Suliman Baldo, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3581">Darfur's peace plan: the view from the ground</a>" <br />(24 May 2006) </p> <p>Alex de Waal, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3709">Darfur's fragile peace</a>" <br />(5 July 2006)</p> <p>17 September 2006 has been designated a Global Day for Darfur. For details, click <a href= http://www.dayfordarfur.org/index.asp target=_blank>here</a> </p> </div><p><strong>Never again ... again</strong></p><p>There is a major onus on Africans, too. The African Union&#39;s <a href="http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/index/index.htm" target="_blank">peace and security council</a> is also preparing to meet in New York to discuss the crisis. While the constitutive act of the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-africa_democracy/african_union_3221.jsp">African Union</a> recognises a right of intervention when war crimes are being committed, most African states are still reluctant to put real pressure on Khartoum. But African states have the most to lose if the Darfur crisis deteriorates still further - and the most to gain if the AU can demonstrate a greater willingness to condemn gross human-rights abuses and to hold the offending governments to account. </p><p>The AU should also press for resumed negotiations on a comprehensive political settlement acceptable to all parties. The DPA has clearly <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-africa_democracy/darfur_peace_3709.jsp">failed</a>, but that is an argument for re-energising political and peace negotiations, not abandoning them.</p><p>Finally, UN preparations should begin immediately to muster a rapid military-reaction force capable of providing civilian protection. To deploy military forces without Khartoum&#39;s consent involves enormous risk. It is manifestly better to avoid a non-consensual deployment of troops. But can this option really be excluded altogether or Khartoum given a veto over international intervention? If the last-minute diplomatic initiatives fail, some form of robust military deployment may be required to prevent still greater loss of civilian life. </p><p>Without decisive international action, things are set to get even worse for the long-suffering people of Darfur. After the Rwanda genocide of 1994 and in the UN declaration of 2005, the world&#39;s leaders said &quot;never again&quot;. Did they really mean it?</p></div> democracy & power Globalisation Africa 'term-id:[26644]' institutions & government David Mepham Creative Commons normal Mon, 11 Sep 2006 23:00:00 +0000 David Mepham 3897 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The next United Nations leader: a time for transparency https://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-institutions_government/UN_leader_3860.jsp <p>The biggest job in international diplomacy &ndash; the secretary-general of the United Nations &ndash; is up for grabs in the next few weeks. <a href="http://www.un.org/News/ossg/sg/pages/sg_biography.html" target="_blank">Kofi Annan</a> will officially leave his post on 31 December 2006, but the race to succeed him is fast entering the final straight. </p><p>In a thoroughly opaque process &ndash; not greatly dissimilar to the selection of a new pope &ndash; some of the fifteen countries on the UN Security Council have already put forward <a href="http://www.unsg.org/candidates.html" target="_blank">candidates</a> for consideration. In late July 2006, the council held its first straw poll. Each government signalled its preferences by marking on secret ballots whether it would &quot;encourage&quot; or &quot;discourage&quot; a candidate or offer &quot;no opinion&quot;. The second straw poll &ndash; seen as hugely significant in terms of the final outcome &ndash; is likely to be held very shortly. </p><p>Although many of the proposed candidates have impressive records of political and diplomatic service behind them, none of them is widely known beyond their home countries or outside of the UN system. The four main contenders are from Asia, a reflection of an existing unwritten rule that the top UN job should rotate and that this time is Asia&#39;s turn. </p><p>The marginal frontrunner to succeed Annan is <a href="http://www.korea.net/korea/html/C/01/cabinet_5.html" target="_blank">Ban Ki-moon</a>, minister of foreign affairs and trade in South Korea. In the July straw poll he received more &quot;encouragements&quot; and fewer &quot;discouragements&quot; than any other candidate. He has good relations with the United States (having served twice in the Korean embassy in Washington) and with China. Ban has been deeply involved in trying to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula, including a major <a href="http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/nation/200602/kt2006021416404411950.htm" target="_blank">role</a> in attempting to defuse the North Korean nuclear issue at the fifth round of the six-party talks on Korea, held in Beijing in November 2005. But ironically this may work against him. There are few people who appear to have the trust of the Chinese, the North Koreans and the other parties to this <a href="../articles/View.jsp?id=3445">process</a>, and there may be pressure to keep him in post. </p><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b><a href=http://www.ippr.org.uk/aboutippr/staff/?id=32 target=_blank>David Mepham</a> is head of the international programme at the Institute of Public Policy Research (<a href=http://www.ippr.org.uk target=_blank>ippr</a>). His most recent report is <em><a href=http://www.ippr.org.uk/publicationsandreports/publication.asp?id=337 target=_blank>Changing States &#150; a progressive agenda for political reform in the Middle East</a></em> (January 2006)</b></p> <p>Also by David Mepham in openDemocracy:</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1957">David Held's missing links</a>" (June 2004)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2337">Accountability in Africa: whose problem?</a>" (February 2005)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2851">A mixed-bag summit</a>" (September 2005)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3229">Hamas and political reform in the middle east</a>" (February 2006) </p></div><p>The current second favourite &ndash; but this author&#39;s tip for the likely winner &ndash; is India&#39;s candidate <a href="http://www.shashitharoor.com/index.shtml" target="_blank">Shashi Tharoor</a>. A rank outsider a few months ago, Tharoor&#39;s stock is rising fast. He has been a key ally of Kofi Annan, and as the UN under-secretary-general for communications and public information, he has overseen the reform of one of the UN secretariat&#39;s largest departments. He is also a gifted <a href="http://www.shashitharoor.com/STforSG/" target="_blank">communicator</a>, a serious intellect and is widely respected internationally. Although there are mixed views about him in the US, Washington&#39;s desire to forge a deeper relationship with New Delhi could work in his favour. But his appointment might be opposed by Pakistan and others in the Islamic world and he could suffer from being a UN &quot;insider&quot;. </p><p>A third contender is <a href="http://www.jayanthadhanapala.com/" target="_blank">Jayantha Dhanapala</a> of Sri Lanka. Dhanapala has worked in the private sector and the UN system, where he was under-secretary-general for disarmament affairs between 1998 and 2003 and is generally seen as having performed well. His proficiency in Chinese will go down well with Beijing. But against him is age (at 67 he is the oldest of the declared candidates) and the worsening situation in Sri Lanka, where he serves as chief advisor to the president.</p><p>The fourth candidate is Thailand&#39;s deputy prime minister <a href="http://www.nni.nikkei.co.jp/FR/NIKKEI/inasia/future/2004/2004pro_surakiart.html" target="_blank">Surakiart Sathirathai</a>, who received seven &quot;encouragements&quot; in the July straw poll and has the support of the Asian regional bloc Asean behind him. He has a strong track record of successful management reform and international negotiation and diplomacy. Set against this, however, is his closeness to the interim Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been criticised for his conduct during the abortive <a href="../articles/View.jsp?id=3304">general election</a> in April and his crackdown on Muslim communities in the south of the country.</p><p>These four individuals are the only ones to have so far declared an official interest in the position. But there is still a real possibility that an outside candidate could emerge victorious. Although not Asian, there is continuing speculation that <a href="http://www.undp.org/about/bio1.shtml" target="_blank">Kemal Dervis</a>, the former finance minister of Turkey and current and effective head of the United Nations Development Programme, will throw his hat into the ring. </p><p><strong>A time for reform</strong></p><p>The choice of Annan&#39;s successor matters hugely. The United Nations is at a critical moment in its history: badly divided by the Iraq war and the oil-for-food scandal, and still traumatised by the <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=19571&amp;Cr=Baghdad&amp;Cr1=bombing" target="_blank">attack</a> on the UN headquarters in Iraq on 19 August 2003 in which the highly respected <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/author/Sergio_Vieira_de_Mello.jsp">Sergio Vieira de Mello</a> and twenty-one others (mostly UN officials) were killed. Kofi Annan has steered the UN through these troubled times. He has also made progress in overhauling the UN&#39;s internal systems, although he has been stymied in that effort by the attempted micro-management of member-states and by the consistently destructive position of the US Congress. </p><p>Although the post carries limited formal power, the UN secretary-general has the responsibility and the opportunity to exert considerable moral leadership. Through quiet but effective personal diplomacy, Annan has become a respected international voice for decency and sanity in the international system. For example, Annan has been a strong advocate of the idea of a &quot;responsibility to protect&quot;: an international obligation to act in situations of acute humanitarian crisis like <a href="http://allafrica.com/stories/200608290011.html" target="_blank">Darfur</a>. He has also been a powerful voice internationally for development, human rights, the environment and international legality. His successor will need to be someone of exceptional ability and character that can build on these achievements, as well as developing an agenda of their own. </p><p>But the process for selecting him or her remains risible. As <a href="http://www.npg.org.uk/live/prelurq.asp" target="_blank">Brian Urquhart</a>, former under-secretary-general at the UN, argues in an article in the September-October 2006 issue of <em><a href="http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20060901facomment85503/brian-urquhart/the-next-secretary-general-how-to-fill-a-job-with-no-description.html" target="_blank">Foreign Affairs</a></em>: </p><blockquote>&quot;There is no formal procedure for searching for, nominating, or vetting candidates, nor, as yet, is there any provision for the Security Council to interview aspirants to this vital post.&quot; </blockquote><p>The decision will be taken behind closed doors with no opportunity to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates in the Security Council or in the general assembly. It is probably too late <a href="http://www.centerforunreform.org/sgelection/index.htm" target="_blank">this time</a> for it to be done any other way. But this should really be the last occasion in which the secretary-general of the United Nations is selected on this flawed basis. </p><p>In place of the horse-trading and secret deals, we need a radically revised <a href="http://www.unsg.org/role.html" target="_blank">process</a>; more transparent and professional, and truly commensurate to the importance of the job. Specific reforms should include a single term of six years, a proper process for nominating and selecting candidates, a clear manifesto statement from each of the prospective candidates, open hearings in the Security Council and the general assembly, and an end to the notion of regional rotation. We wouldn&#39;t select the secretary of the local sports club the way we choose the United Nations secretary-general. The UN and the world deserve something better. </p></div> Globalisation institutions & government David Mepham Creative Commons normal Tue, 29 Aug 2006 23:00:00 +0000 David Mepham 3860 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Hamas and political reform in the middle east https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict-debate_97/hamas_reform_3229.jsp The lesson of Palestine's election is that the international community should become more serious and sophisticated about political reform in the middle east, says David Mepham of the Institute for Public Policy Research.<p>Hamas's stunning victory in the 25 January <a href=http://www.elections.ps/template.aspx?id=291 target=_blank>elections</a> to the Palestinian Legislative Council raises three critical questions for international policymakers:</p> <ul><li>why did it happen &#150; that an organisation labelled as "terrorist" by the Israelis, the European Union and the United States manages to win the support of a majority of Palestinian voters?</li> <li>how should the international community now respond?</li> <li>where does Hamas's victory leave the cause of political reform and democratisation in the middle east?</li></ul> <p><b>The rise of Hamas</b></p> <p>Much of the immediate international commentary on the election result has focused on the failings of Fatah during the decade in which the movement held power in the Palestinian Authority (<a href=http://www.pogar.org/countries/index.asp?cid=14 target=_blank>PA</a>) &#150; including the rampant corruption of senior Fatah officials and the lack of meaningful democracy within the PA. There was also a sizeable positive vote for <a href=http://www.aljazeera.com/cgi-bin/review/article_full_story.asp?service_ID=10217 target=_blank>Hamas</a>. The organisation is seen by many Palestinians as untainted by corruption, and, unlike the PA, it has a good track record of providing health, education and other services.</p> <p>The other part of the explanation for the Hamas victory &#150; less discussed in the international media &#150; has been the failure of the "peace process" and the radicalising and impoverishing effects of the Israeli occupation. Under the premiership of <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3172">Ariel Sharon</a> since 2001, Israel has all but destroyed the infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority. Israel has also continued its policy of illegal settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, and it is in the process of building a "separation barrier". </p> <p>Israel is not building the barrier on its pre-1967 occupation border (which it would be allowed to do under international law). Rather it plans to build 80% of the barrier <a href=http://electronicintifada.net/bytopic/maps/386.shtml target=_blank>inside</a> Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory. This involves incorporating the main Israeli settlement blocs, as well as taking over Palestinian agricultural lands and water resources. This restricts Palestinian freedom of movement, and makes it much harder for Palestinians to access their schools, health facilities and jobs. </p> <p>These policies are oppressive and humiliating; they also have disastrous economic consequences. The United Nations <a href=http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/2745B027-5EA5-4557-91B7-BEA99E36EA07.htm target=_blank>estimates</a> that poverty levels have more than trebled in the last five years, that 60% of Palestinians are now living in poverty, and that unemployment is around 30%. These conditions have provided very fertile soil for the <a href=http://www.qantara.de/webcom/show_article.php/_c-478/_nr-391/i.html target=_blank>radicalisation</a> of Palestinian opinion and for the rise of Hamas. </p><p class="pullquote-right"><b><a href=http://www.ippr.org.uk/about/staff.php?id=116 target=_blank>David Mepham</a> is head of the international programme at the Institute for Public Policy Research (<a href=http://www.ippr.org.uk/home/ target=_blank>ippr</a>) and a visiting fellow at the Centre for Global Governance at the London School of Economics. He is the author of a new ippr report, <em><a href=http://www.ippr.org.uk/publicationsandreports/publication.asp?id=337 target=_blank>Changing States - a progressive agenda for political reform in the Middle East</a></em> <br />(January 2006)<br /><br /> Also by David Mepham in openDemocracy:<br /> -"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1957">David Held's missing links</a>" (June 2004)<br /> -"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2337">Accountability in Africa: whose problem? </a>" (February 2005)<br /> -"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2851">A mixed-bag summit</a>" (September 2005)</b><br /></p> <p><b>The short-term challenge</b></p> <p>Hamas's electoral victory presents the international community with a real conundrum. </p> <p>On the one hand, the "<a href=http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1051782172293 target=_blank>Quartet</a>" (the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations) is right to say that full-scale peace negotiations with Hamas will require significant movement on Hamas's part. Hamas does not recognise the state of Israel. It also supports violence, including attacks on Israeli civilians, as part of its strategy for Palestinian national liberation. Anyone expecting an immediate and formal shift in Hamas policy on these issues is likely to be disappointed. </p> <p>But intelligent international diplomacy can still make a difference. While they are reluctant to formally proclaim it, there is evidence that some senior Hamas leaders accept the reality of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. Moreover, on the question of violence Hamas has largely maintained a unilateral truce (<em>tahdi'a</em>) for the past year. Extending this truce, and working for a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire, should be the immediate focus of international diplomacy towards Hamas, if necessary through third-party intermediaries. </p> <p>The other critical international objective should be to avoid the collapse of the Palestinian Authority. Fatah's mismanagement and the disastrous consequences of Israeli occupation and closures have left the PA in a desperate state and entirely dependent on donor <a href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4664152.stm target=_blank>funding</a> to stay afloat. In 2005, the EU provided &pound;338 million, while the US contributed &pound;225 million. Cutting that assistance overnight would plunge tens of thousands of Palestinians into acute poverty, triggering social implosion and anarchy. But donors are rightly <a href=http://www.oneworld.net/external/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.un.org%2Fapps%2Fnews%2Fstory.asp%3FNewsID%3D17340%26Cr%3Dquartet%26Cr1%3DPalestin target=_blank>worried</a> about transferring resources to a government dominated by Hamas. </p> <p>One possibility would be to press for a government of Palestinian technocrats, without senior Hamas figures in key ministerial positions, and to rely on <a href=http://www.medea.be/index.html?page=2&lang=en&doc=1 target=_blank>Mahmoud Abbas</a>, the directly elected Palestinian president, as the main interlocutor for the international community. Something along these lines appears to command support amongst the Quartet. If the immediate economic situation can be stabilised, then there is at least a possibility of encouraging Hamas to move in a political direction through a policy of gradual, conditional engagement. Pressure on Israel to live up to its obligations under international law, for example by ending illegal settlement activity, would also help: persuading a sceptical Palestinian public that the world does care about their plight and is committed to a <a href=http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/mepp/ target=_blank>two-state solution</a>.</p> <p><b>The regional prospect</b></p> <p>While Hamas's victory has focused attention on the immediate crisis in the Palestinian territories, it raises wider questions about the process of political reform and <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3033">democratisation</a> in the broader middle east, a process advocated so publicly by the Bush administration. It is ironic, to say the least, that Hamas &#150; a group with which the United States refuses to deal &#150; should be the beneficiary of a free and fair election encouraged by US policy. Some will draw from this the conclusion that democratic reform in the middle east is a hopelessly misguided enterprise and one that should be abandoned forthwith. Small "c" conservatives, on all sides of the political spectrum, will feel vindicated in highlighting the risks of rapid political change and in pointing out the virtues of stability. </p> <p>It is true that political change carries risks, including the risk that radical Islamists like Hamas will be the major beneficiaries of <a href=http://www.qantara.de/webcom/show_article.php/_c-593/i.html target=_blank>political liberalisation</a>. While this is a reasonable concern, those who highlight it tend to overlook the diversity of political Islamists in the region, the special circumstances that account for the rise of Hamas, and the extent to which some Islamists have moderated their positions in recent years. Unlike Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Islamic Action Front in <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3014">Jordan</a> and the Justice & Development Party in <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=951">Morocco</a> all reject violence and have committed themselves to pluralistic politics. </p> <p>Nor do the critics suggest a better alternative for addressing the phenomenon of political Islamism across the region than the attempted engagement of Islamists in the political process. Repression of Islamists and their systematic exclusion from political institutions has been a recipe for instability and extremism, not moderation. </p> <p>There is obviously a strong critique to be made of the Bush administration's <a href=http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=15987&prog=zgp&proj=zdrl target=_blank>attempts</a> to promote political change in the middle east, not least the multiple failings of its policy in Iraq. More broadly, the US lacks credibility in the region as a force for democracy and human rights because of its largely uncritical support for Israel, and its military, diplomatic and often financial backing for many of the more authoritarian regimes in the region. Even when it is particularly outspoken on the need for greater democracy, for example in its recent dealings with <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3184">President Mubarak</a> of Egypt, the administration's anti-terrorism agenda consistently trumps its political reform objectives. </p><p class="pullquote-right"><b>Also in openDemocracy on Palestinian experience and politics: <br /><br /> - John Berger, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3176">Undefeated despair</a>" (January 2006) <br /> - Jane Kinninmont, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3165">Life after Sharon: Palestinian prospects</a>" <br />(January 2006) <br /> - Yasser Abu Moailek, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3206">Fatah's awkward &#145;independents'</a>" <br />(January 2006) <br /> - Lindsay Talmud, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3215">A provisional Palestine: road to nowhere</a>" (January 2006) <br /> - Yasser Abu Moailek, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3222">A Palestinian choice</a>" (January 2006) <br /> - Eóin Murray, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3223">After Hamas: a time for politics</a>" (January 2006)<br /> </b></p><p>If you find this material enjoyable or provoking, please consider commenting on it in our <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/forums/forum.jspa?forumID=115">forums</a> - and supporting <b>openDemocracy<b> by sending us a <a href="/registration2/donate.jsp">donation</a> so that we can continue our work for democratic dialogue</b></b></p><p>But exposing the folly and ineffectiveness of US policy is one thing; ditching the commitment to <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2593">political reform in the middle east</a> is quite another. The international community needs to strengthen not weaken its commitment to <a href=http://www.pogar.org/ target=_blank>accountable government</a> and human rights in the region. In thinking about political change in the middle east &#150; where the concept of a democratic culture is often very weak &#150; international actors need to give as much emphasis to "constitutionalism" as to elections, important though elections are. In this context, constitutionalism means a balance of powers, including checks on the executive, a fair and independent legal process, a free press and media, and the protection of the rights of minorities. </p> <p>It is important too for international actors to be realistic about what can be achieved in particular countries and over particular <a href=http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=3886&l=1 target=_blank>timescales</a>. In some cases, support for political reform might involve pushing hard now for genuinely free elections. In other cases, a higher short-term priority for political reform might be encouraging an enlarged space in which opposition groups or civil society can function, greater freedom for the press, support for educational reforms and cultural exchanges, and promoting more inclusive economic development.</p> <p>It is also vital to think more imaginatively about creating incentives for political reform in the middle east. There is a particular role for the European Union here. The experience of political change in other parts of the world suggests that countries can be persuaded to undertake very significant political and economic reforms if this is part of a process that yields real benefits to the ruling elite and the wider society. The way in which the prospect of EU membership has been used to bring about far-reaching change in eastern and central Europe is a good example of this. The process of <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2896">Turkey's accession</a> to the EU can be seen in a similar vein. </p> <p>A critical question is whether such a process might be used more broadly to stimulate political reform across the middle east, through initiatives like the European Neighbourhood Policy (<a href=http://europa.eu.int/comm/world/enp/index_en.htm target=_blank>ENP</a>). The ENP will provide participating middle-eastern states with a stake in EU institutions, in particular the single market, providing a powerful incentive for reform. It also allows for the EU to reward countries that make faster progress against agreed benchmarks for political reform. </p> <p>There are no simple answers to the current problems besetting the middle east. But the lesson to be drawn from the Hamas result is emphatically not that the international community should give up on the cause of political reform in the region. Rather it should become more serious and sophisticated about helping to support it. </p> Conflict israel & palestine - old roads, new maps conflicts middle east David Mepham Creative Commons normal Wed, 01 Feb 2006 00:00:00 +0000 David Mepham 3229 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A mixed-bag summit https://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-UN/summit_2851.jsp <p>Kofi Annan could barely conceal his frustration. In an unusually frank and forthright address at the start of the <a href=http://www.un.org/summit2005/ target=_blank>United Nations world summit</a> he lamented the failure of world leaders to rise to the challenge of UN reform. &#147;We have not&#148;, he said, &#147;achieved the sweeping and fundamental reform that I and others believe is required&#148;. He added that &#147;sharp differences, some of them substantive and legitimate&#148; (others presumably much less so) had prevented greater progress. </p> <p>The secretary-general&#146;s <a href=http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/showarticle.php?num=05POL150905 target=_blank>irritation</a> is widely shared. The outcome of the 14-16 September gathering fell well short of what was needed and expected (although expectations of what can be achieved in a single meeting are often too high). It was also a serious missed opportunity. <div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>openDemocracy writers <a href="/globalization-UN/debate.jsp">debate</a> the outcome of the UN world summit in New York:</b></p> <p><a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2835">Shashi Tharoor</a>, &#147;A United Nations for a fairer, safer world&#148; </p> <p><a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2836">Ian Williams</a>, &#147;It&#146;s the nations, stupid!&#148; </p> <p><a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2841">Julie Mertus</a>, &#147;The United Nations reform drive&#148; </p> <p><a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2845">Johanna Mendelson Forman</a>, &#147;President Bush discovers the world is flat&#148;</p> <p>If you find this material valuable please consider supporting <b>openDemocracy</b> by sending us a <a href="/registration2/donate.jsp">donation</a> so that we can continue our work and keep it free for all</p> </div><p>Over the course of the previous year, the UN High-Level Panel and the <a href=http://www.unmillenniumproject.org/ target=_blank>Millennium Project</a> had drawn up detailed proposals in the areas of security, human rights and development. Kofi Annan included the best of these ideas in his own March 2005 report, <a href=http://www.un.org/largerfreedom/ target=_blank><em>In Larger Freedom: Towards Security, Development and Human Rights For All</em></a>. </p> <p>The proposals on offer were thoughtful, pragmatic and carefully balanced. And, as <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2836">Ian Williams</a> notes in his <b>openDemocracy</b> article, they were presented as an implicit deal: measures on security, disarmament and anti-terrorism to please the developed world in exchange for a stronger commitment to the Millennium Development Goals (<a href=http://www.undp.org/mdg/ target=_blank>MDGs</a>), aid, debt and fair trade to win over developing countries. To placate the Bush administration, Kofi Annan also placed strong emphasis on reforming UN management, administration and budget systems. </p> <p>The <a href=http://www.un.org/un60/ target=_blank>sixtieth anniversary</a> of the United Nations invested the summit with tremendous symbolic importance, something Annan and his team sought to capitalise on. The UN was at a &#147;fork in the road&#148;; this was a &#147;make or break&#148; summit; it was &#147;now or never&#148; for reform. All these arguments and more were used to pile on the pressure. Their calculation was that the more recalcitrant countries would buckle, unwilling to be isolated from a growing international consensus.</p> <p>In the event, this was to put too much faith in moral suasion. The world&#146;s awkward customers refused to play ball. This group included more than the Americans (though the approach of the Bush administration was particularly destructive and short-sighted); it contained countries like China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Cuba and Egypt, which were equally difficult on particular issues. Together these states succeeded in diluting the summit&#146;s conclusions. The publication of the highly critical Paul Volcker <a href=http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticleSearch.aspx?storyID=64020+08-Sep-2005+RTRS&srch=volcker target=_blank>report</a> into the UN oil-for-food programme in Iraq on the eve of the summit also created a very unhelpful backdrop.</p> <p><b>Four points of light</b></p> <p>However, even in the context of a disappointing overall outcome, real progress was made or pledged in four areas &#150; although much of the detailed work has still to be done. </p> <p>The first and perhaps most significant breakthrough came in relation to genocide, <a href=http://www.crimesofwar.org/thebook/book.html target=_blank>war crimes</a>, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. For over a decade the international community has wrestled with the issue of when and where it is appropriate to use military force on humanitarian grounds. The failure to intervene in Rwanda in 1994 led to the loss of an estimated 800,000 lives. In Bosnia, the world only acted decisively when 7,000 Muslims were slaughtered at <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2651">Srebrenica</a> in 1995. And in response to the ongoing atrocities in <a href=http://www.api-network.com/cgi-bin/page?publications/books/185065770X.api target=_blank>Darfur</a>, western Sudan, the world&#146;s response is still too little and far too late. </p> <p>Now, for the first time, the world&#146;s leaders have endorsed the concept of an international &#147;<a href=http://www.iciss.ca/menu-en.asp target=_blank>responsibility to protect</a>&#148;: an affirmation that they will act to prevent massive human-rights abuses when individual national governments are unwilling or unable to do so. While further work is needed to think through how to operationalise this commitment in specific circumstances, it does represent an important normative shift.</p> <p>Second, the world summit agreed to establish a UN <a href=http://www.globalsolutions.org/programs/intl_instit/UN_ref/peacebuilding_commission.html target=_blank>Peacebuilding Commission</a>. Half of the countries that emerge from civil war fall back into violent conflict within five years, and the existing UN system lacks the capacity and organisational focus to properly assist such countries to make the transition from protracted conflict to sustainable peace. </p> <p>A Peacebuilding Commission &#150; planned to come into existence by the end of 2005 &#150; could help it to do so, although there is still a debate about how broad its mandate will be and whether it should act in a preventive role. A wide remit would allow the body to promote a more coherent international response to the needs of crisis countries: assisting with or coordinating economic reconstruction, rebuilding political institutions and the rule of law, aiding security-sector reform and demobilisation of former combatants. </p> <p>Third, world leaders acknowledged &#150; at least implicitly &#150; the absurdity of the UN human-rights status quo. The work of the <a href=http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/2/chr.htm target=_blank>UN Commission on Human Rights</a> has become increasingly discredited; it is hard to take seriously a human-rights body that has Saudi Arabia and Sudan as members and Libya as its chair. Indeed, some of the worst rights-violating countries have deliberately sought membership of the commission in recent years to pre-empt criticism of their own records. Thus, the proposed replacement of the commission with a new <a href=http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2005/09/13/global11735.htm target=_blank>Human Rights Council</a> is a move in the right direction &#150; although its membership, scope and focus is still to be debated and decided.</p> <p>Fourth, the establishment of a <a href=http://www.unfoundation.org/features/un_democracy_fund.asp target=_blank>UN Democracy Fund</a> was another positive outcome of the summit. The United Nations has become increasingly engaged in elections and support for transitions to democracy over the last decade, but it has lacked a reliable and adequate source of funds for this work. The new fund should provide those and give the UN&#146;s work in this area new coherence. </p> <p><b>Four empty spaces</b></p> <p>Against progress in these areas, the UN summit achieved little or no advance on four pressing global issues. </p> <p>The first is non-proliferation and disarmament; Kofi Annan was particularly scathing in his comments on this, accusing summit leaders of &#147;posturing&#148;. He was right to say that (following the review conference on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2563">May 2005</a>) the world has now twice failed to take seriously the scale of the threat posed by the spread of nuclear-weapons technology and capabilities.</p> <p>Iran&#146;s acquisition of nuclear weapons would be very undesirable, and the international community should take all sensible measures to avert this outcome, but the Iranians have a <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2765">point</a> in accusing the world&#146;s existing nuclear powers of double standards. The non-proliferation treaty calls on non-nuclear states to refrain from acquiring nuclear weapons, but it also requires the nuclear states to reduce and ultimately eliminate their own arsenals. </p> <p>Second, the summit was acutely disappointing on global development issues. On 7 September, the United Nations Development Programme&#146;s 2005 <a href=http://www.undp.org.in/hdr2005/ target=_blank>human development report</a> highlighted the continuing scandal of global poverty and misery in a world of material abundance. Every hour more than 1,200 children die away from the glare of media attention in the equivalent to three tsunamis a month; 10.7 million children do not live to see their 5th birthday. Most of them are victims of preventable disease, resulting from poor sanitation, lack of access to clean water and inadequate nutritional intake. </p> <p>The report also notes how far the world still is from achieving the Millennium Development Goals, endorsed by global leaders as recently as five years ago at the UN Millennium Summit. On current trends, these goals will not be met in <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2337">Africa</a> for a hundred years.</p> <p>To achieve the targets, developing countries themselves will need to manage their economies better, give priority to the needs of the poor, clamp down on corruption, and make their political systems more open and accountable. But it also requires the world&#146;s wealthier countries to enhance the quantity and quality of their aid flows, deepen debt relief, cut barriers to trade for poor countries, and help reduce violent conflict, including through tighter controls over arms transfers to the world&#146;s conflict zones.</p> <p>Nothing really new was agreed in any of these areas. Indeed, in some respects, the world moved backwards from the commitments made at the <a href="/content/g8_summit.jsp">G8 summit</a> in Gleneagles in July. Bob Geldof, criticised in some quarters for overstating what the G8 achieved, was closer to the mark in his <a href=http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-09-15T173125Z_01_KWA563029_RTRUKOC_0_UK-UN-SUMMIT-AFRICA.xml target=_blank>negative</a> assessment of the UN summit&#146;s outcome for the world&#146;s poor. </p> <p>Third, the world summit failed to reach any agreement on conventional arms transfers. While weapons exports and arms brokers from developed countries are fuelling and exacerbating violent conflict across the world, the summit declined to commit to curb this deadly trade. </p> <p>Fourth, the UN summit made zero progress on one of the hardest issues to resolve, <a href=http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,1564,1618479,00.html target=_blank>reform</a> of the Security Council. Every reform option is open to criticism and there is no perfect solution, but it is clear that either of the two proposals for reform put forward by the <a href=http://www.un.org/reform/panel.htm target=_blank>high-level panel</a> would be an improvement on the anachronistic and indefensible status quo where an exclusive club of five are permanent members. A broader and more accountable Security Council must come at some point, however tortuous the negotiations will be to get there. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>Also by David Mepham in openDemocracy:</b></p> <p>&#147;David Held&#146;s missing links&#148; (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1957">June 2004</a>) </p><p>&#147;Accountability in Africa: whose problem?&#148; (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2337">February 2005</a>) </p> </div><p><b>A single focus</b></p> <p>This combination of progress and stasis suggests that the summit was a mixed bag &#150; good in <a href=http://www.swissinfo.org/sen/swissinfo.html?siteSect=106&sid=6093582&cKey=1126947729000 target=_blank>parts</a> &#150; rather than a disaster. The challenge now is to take forward what was agreed on the responsibility to protect, the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council, and to redouble collective international efforts in other areas. </p> <p>Ian Williams suggests that the rest of the world should move ahead on these issues without the United States, if the US continues to be so <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2813">obstructive</a>. There are certainly areas of UN and wider international action in which this may be possible, but there are many others where the US&#146;s cooperation and goodwill remains important. Getting the US to play a more constructive role within the United Nations is an uphill, often thankless, task. But the world should persist with it.</p> <p>The United Nations is not and should never aspire to be a system of world government, nor does it require individual governments to jettison their vital national interests. On the contrary, it is about helping countries, including the strongest and most powerful, to see that those interests are often best secured through international cooperation and partnership. In a shrinking world, of common threats and porous borders, the United Nations remains an imperfect but indispensable means for achieving greater common security and prosperity. </p> </div></p> Globalisation a democratic united nations? David Mepham Creative Commons normal Mon, 19 Sep 2005 23:00:00 +0000 David Mepham 2851 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Accountability in Africa: whose problem? https://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-institutions_government/article_2337.jsp <p>The lessons Simon Zadek draws from his thoughtful <a href=http://opendemocracy.typepad.com/davos/ target=_blank><b>openDavos</b></a> blog from the World Economic Forum are cast in generic terms, without a strong geographical focus. But there are few areas of the world more in need of the meaningful accountability he describes than Africa. What are the prospects for this? Is this where the <a href=http://www.commissionforafrica.org/english.htm target=_blank>Commission for Africa</a> could make a difference or where the United Kingdom could use its presidencies of the <a href=http://www.eu2005.lu/en/presidence/la_presidence/rotation_presidence/index.html target=_blank>European Union</a> and the G8 to good effect in 2005? </p><p>Africa can be said to suffer from two accountability deficits: a lack of domestic accountability, with inadequate structures for holding Africa&#146;s governments accountable to Africa&#146;s people; and a lack of external accountability, an absence of mechanisms for holding rich countries to account for the impact of their policies on Africa. A disproportionate amount of the debate in the UK and other rich countries has focused on the first to the detriment of the second. <div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>openDemocracy</b>&#146;s articles on Africa include: </p><p>Osman Bah, &#147;I was a child soldier&#148; (January <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1685">2004</a>) </p><p>Harun Hassan, &#147;Somalia: exit into history?&#148; (February <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1727">2004</a>) </p><p>Victor Youmbi, &#147;Bad seeds&#148; (February <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1726">2004</a>) </p><p>Lyndall Stein, &#147;Darfur journal&#148; (November <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2230">2004</a>) </p><p>If you find this material valuable, please consider <a href="/registration2/donate.jsp">subscribing</a> to <b>openDemocracy</b> for just &pound;25 / $40 / €40. You&#146;ll gain access to easy-to-read PDFs of these and all our articles. </p></div><p>A critical part of the explanation for the condition of Africa does indeed rest with Africa&#146;s elites and with the state of politics and governance across the continent over several decades. </p><p>There have been many cases in which Africa&#146;s elites have pursued ruinous economic and social policies that have impoverished their people, widened inequality and increased injustice and discrimination (<a href=http://www.theindependent.co.zw/news/2005/February/Friday4/1611.html target=_blank>Zimbabwe</a> under Robert Mugabe is a classic modern example). </p><p>These elites have sometimes been blatantly predatory, amassing enormous wealth for themselves and their associates through theft and corruption (Zaire &#150; now the Republic of the Congo &#150; under <a href=http://www.frif.com/new2000/mob.html target=_blank>Mobutu Sese Soko</a> is an especially blatant case). </p><p>Despite the spread of democratic elections across the continent, in too many countries democratic institutions remain weak or non-existent (the military coup in Togo following the death of long-term dictator <a href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/830774.stm target=_blank>Gnassingbe Eyadema</a>, which brought his son to power, is a recent illustration). </p><p>Many of the worst cases of human rights violations on the continent have also been carried out by Africa&#146;s elites against a section of their own people (the genocide in Rwanda, the wars in Congo, and the massacres in the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1950">Darfur</a> region of Sudan are some of the more extreme examples). </p><p>Africa&#146;s reformers now openly acknowledge these profound failings in many post-independence African states, and the need to correct them by developing genuine mechanisms of accountability. The signing of the New Partnership for Africa&#146;s Development (<a href=http://www.nepad.org/en.html target=_blank>Nepad</a>) in 2001 signalled a clear intention on the part of a group of African countries to break with the mistakes of the past. The countries subscribing to Nepad are committed to good governance and accountability, respect for human rights, better conditions for private investment and trade, and action against corruption. They have also established the African Peer Review Mechanism (<a href=http://www.kituochakatiba.co.ug/Aprm.htm target=_blank>APRM</a>), whose signatories are expected to subject themselves to the scrutiny of their peers through a process involving consultations with African governments, NGOs and the private sector. </p><p>But if African governments should be held accountable for the impact of their policies, so too must the governments of rich countries and the international institutions that they largely control. Too often, Africa&#146;s development plight is seen as an exclusively internal phenomenon in need of an external remedy. Yet some of the policies currently pursued by rich countries are actually damaging Africa. </p><p><b>Four kinds of damage</b> </p><p>There are four areas in particular &#150; aid and conditionality, trade, arms transfers, corruption and conflict financing &#150; where this damage is felt. </p><p>Firstly, aid and conditionality. While Africa needs significantly more aid, not least to tackle the HIV/Aids pandemic and to help meet the <a href=http://www.developmentgoals.org/ target=_blank>Millennium Development Goals</a>, donor aid has sometimes served to strengthen local elites and done too little to improve the lives of ordinary Africans. Aid has also been used to promote the commercial objectives of donors through tied aid, or to leverage policy reforms through inappropriate conditionality that worsen the conditions of Africa&#146;s poor. And the way in which aid is delivered often imposes significant transaction costs on African societies. </p><p>Second, international trade rules. These rules are heavily <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1667">stacked</a> against Africa&#146;s interests. European Union and United States agricultural subsidies and the dumping of surplus agricultural produce is destroying the livelihoods of large numbers of African farmers. African exporters still have restricted access to rich-country markets. Many African countries also suffer the effects of tariff escalation, with countries like Ghana facing much higher tariffs on processed chocolate than on unprocessed cocoa beans when they try and export into rich country markets. Another trade agreement, on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (<a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agreement_on_Trade-Related_Aspects_of_Intellectual_Property_Rights target=_blank>Trips</a>), has the effect of increasing the cost of technology and other essential goods, including the price of drugs for treating HIV/Aids. </p><p>Third, arms proliferation. Rich countries are significant suppliers of weapons and military equipment to Africa. Some of these arms <a href=http://www.caat.org.uk/information/publications/countries/arms-to-africa-0202.php target=_blank>fuel</a> and exacerbate armed conflicts or strengthen repressive regimes or rebel groups in Africa. Weapons and ammunition are also transferred to Africa by arms brokers, traffickers and transport agents from rich countries, and their governments have still not put in place adequate controls to curb this deadly trade. </p><p>Fourth, corruption and conflict financing. Poor governance of the international corporate sector can damage and distort Africa&#146;s development prospects. Despite widespread bribery in Africa involving western companies, rich country governments have done far too little to implement their commitments under the <a href=http://www.oecd.org/document/21/0,2340,en_2649_34859_2017813_1_1_1_1,00.html target=_blank>OECD Convention against the Bribery of Foreign Public Officials</a>. For example, not a single G8 country has yet ratified the UN <a href=http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/crime_convention_corruption.html target=_blank>Convention against Corruption</a>. Nor has enough been done to tackle the role of rich-country governments and companies in financing conflict in Africa through the purchase of commodities like oil, diamonds or timber. </p><p><b>A year of opportunity</b> </p><p>The accountability deficit in these four areas reinforces what is often described as the &#147;policy incoherence&#148; of rich countries towards Africa. The key concern has been that rich countries should not take away with one hand what they give with the other, and that they should ensure that their broader economic and foreign policies are consistent with their stated objectives for international development. </p><p>True, it is not easy to implement &#147;policy coherence&#148; for development. All governments are trying to fulfil multiple objectives at any one time, and these objectives will often conflict. However, better processes of decision-making can make these choices and tensions more transparent. What is important is that these choices, and the costs of policy incoherence towards Africa, should be openly acknowledged and addressed. </p><p>This is not happening at present. Genuinely independent reporting, better analysis and a refined methodology for assessing coherence issues &#150; all these could help in better holding rich countries to account. However the real obstacles to improved policy towards Africa are not technical but political. Africa&#146;s interests, and the harmful impacts of rich-country policy towards Africa, need to be made a consistent focus of international political concern, partly by creating new mechanisms that can sustain that concern over time. </p><p>This is the opportunity of 2005. The British government, as president of the EU and the <a href=http://www.g8.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1078995902703 target=_blank>G8</a>, carries a particular responsibility; it has identified Africa as a priority for international action, and its Commission for Africa will report in March. Moreover, the United Nations review <a href=http://www.unmillenniumproject.org/press/index.htm target=_blank>conference</a> on progress towards the Millennium Development Goals in September will ensure that the needs of Africa are the subject of political attention in the global arena. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><a href=http://www.ippr.org.uk/about/staff.php?id=116 target=_blank>David Mepham</a> is associate director at the Institute for Public Policy Research (<a href=http://www.ippr.org.uk/home/ target=_blank>ippr</a>). A new ippr report, <em>Putting our house in order &#150; recasting G8 policy towards Africa</em>, is published in February 2005.</p></div><p>2005 also marks the twentieth anniversary of <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_Aid target=_blank>Live Aid</a>, and this shows signs of encouraging a much wider group of people to engage &#150; perhaps some for the first time &#150; with issues related to Africa and global justice. The imaginative and energetic NGO campaign, <a href=http://www.oxfam.org.uk/what_you_can_do/campaign/mdg/mph.htm target=_blank>Make Poverty History</a>, is one sign of this. </p><p>This growing public constituency for development and Africa is particularly critical. Serious campaigning by NGOs, policy networks, activists and sections of the media has already pushed aid, debt, and trade issues further up the political agenda. Continuing public pressure of this kind holds out the best hope that rich-country governments will be held to account and be persuaded to end those policies that currently damage and disadvantage the African continent.</p><p> </p></div></p> Globalisation Africa 'term-id:[26644]' institutions & government David Mepham Original Copyright Thu, 10 Feb 2005 00:00:00 +0000 David Mepham 2337 at https://www.opendemocracy.net David Held's missing links https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-vision_reflections/article_1957.jsp <p> David Held&#146;s <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1918">essay</a> on <strong>openDemocracy</strong>, &#147;Globalisation: the dangers and the answers&#148; is a timely, trenchant and wide-ranging analysis of the existing global order. It provides a particularly powerful critique of &#147;Washington-led neo-liberalism and unilateralism&#148; and the extent to which the policies of George W. Bush are damaging the prospects for global security, justice and ecological sustainability. </p><p> But Held does far more than this. He frames the debate about justice, legitimacy and governance in a broader philosophical and historical context. His is a persuasive defence of universal human rights, a staunch rejection of narrow nationalism and a strong reaffirmation of the values that motivated the founders of the post-second world war settlement. <div><div class="pull_quote_article">David Mepham is responding to David Held&#146;s essay, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1918">&#147;Globalisation: the dangers and the answers&#148;</a> (May 2004)</div><p> The political challenge that Held poses for today&#146;s progressives is also the right one: to develop national and global systems of governance better able to manage our more interdependent world to secure greater social justice, stability, sustainable development and human rights. And he makes a series of strong policy recommendations for doing just that. </p><p> <strong>National, transnational, global</strong> </p><p> But despite its ambition and scale, there are three significant gaps in David Held&#146;s <a href=http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=0745633536 target=_blank>overall argument</a>. </p><p> First, in respect of economic issues &#150; and in his explanation of global poverty and inequality &#150; Held focuses much more attention on reforms to <em>global</em> rather than national governance. It is absolutely the case that unfair global trade rules, tied aid or inappropriate conditionality set by the international financial institutions are damaging to the development prospects of poorer countries. But the destructive policies pursued by some developing country governments are also a key part of the explanation for their economic marginalisation and poverty. The current plight of <a href=http://www.zwnews.com/ target=_blank>Zimbabwe</a>, for example, is very largely a consequence of the grotesque mismanagement of its economy by the <a href=http://www.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,15410-1136554,00.html target=_blank>Robert Mugabe</a> dictatorship. </p><p> As the New Partnership for Africa&#146;s Development (<a href=http://www.nepadsn.org/entry.html target=_blank>Nepad</a>) has itself acknowledged, more effective development progress in Africa requires Africans themselves to take more responsibility for their own development strategies, and reform their governance systems to encourage increased economic activity, investment, trade and growth. </p><p> A similar point could be made about the economic conditions in many countries of the Middle East. The influential 2002 <a href=http://www.undp.org/rbas/ahdr/ target=_blank>UN Arab Development Report</a>, written by a group of distinguished Arab scholars, said that &#147;deeply rooted shortcomings in institutional structures&#148;, lack of access to education and weak observance of human rights, especially for women, are a central cause of poverty, inequality and unemployment in the region. </p><p> None of this is to suggest that global governance doesn&#146;t matter; there is indeed a justified critique of World Bank/IMF/WTO policy and of the Washington economic consensus, one that David Held makes very well. But alongside this, we need a deeper analysis of structures of governance within some developing countries, the extent to which these may hinder rather than advance the interests of poor people living there, and the relationship between external powers and local interests and dynamics. </p><p> The second gap in his argument relates to global economic issues, where Held has surprisingly little to say about the role of transnational corporations (<a href=http://www.fabianglobalforum.net/forum/article022.htm target=_blank>TNCs</a>). TNCs are a central driving force behind global economic integration through their production, trade and investment activities. Managed well, these investment flows can bring large development benefits, including to poorer countries. Managed badly, however, inward investment can distort local economies and contribute to human rights violations. </p><p> So far, the main way in which companies have addressed these issues has been in the context of their strategies for corporate social responsibility (<a href=http://www.socialdialogue.net/en/en_csr_intro.htm target=_blank>CSR</a>) &#150; a series of voluntary initiatives to enhance the social impact of corporate policies, on issues like labour standards, corruption and the environment. But while CSR has brought some benefits, it also has very serious limitations, not least because it is voluntary and there are few penalties for non-compliance. </p><p> Many of the most difficult issues surrounding the transnational corporate sector occur in poor countries with weak systems of governance. It is in these circumstances &#150; where local governments are either unable or unwilling properly to regulate the international private sector &#150; that the case for cross-border corporate accountability is at its strongest. </p><p> In the longer-term, we need a transnational legal and governance framework that applies to companies as well as to governments. In the short-term, developed countries should be urged to use the mechanisms already at their disposal to better hold TNCs to account. </p><p> The <a href=http://www.itcilo.it/actrav/actrav-english/telearn/global/ilo/guide/oecd.htm#Summary%20of%20the%20Guidelines target=_blank><em>OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises</em></a> are a good example of how this could be done. These contain a mechanism (reporting through national contact points) that allows governments to take action against companies that fall below agreed human rights standards. In October 2002, a UN expert panel on the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in its report to the UN Security Council, named over fifty OECD companies as being in breach of the <a href=http://www.oecd.org/document/6/0,2340,en_2649_34889_27217798_1_1_1_37461,00.html target=_blank>guidelines</a>. However, not a single OECD national or company has faced any penalty or legal action against them as a consequence of their actions in the DRC. The same is true on corruption: no successful prosecutions for bribery offences abroad have been brought under the <em>OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials</em> of <a href=http://www.oecd.org/document/21/0,2340,en_2649_37447_2017813_1_1_1_37447,00.html target=_blank>1997</a>. </p><p> <strong>The diverse sources of conflict</strong> </p><p> The third gap in David Held&#146;s argument relates to those roots of conflict that lie beyond Washington&#146;s direct responsibility. He provides a strong critique of what he calls the &#147;New Washington Security Agenda&#148;, and he is right to criticise the misconceived US-led war with Iraq and the dangers posed by <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=98">Bush&#146;s doctrine</a> of pre-emptive military action. He is also correct in saying that Bush&#146;s policy shows scant regard for international law and that other countries will use and abuse the precedent of unilateral action. </p><p> But as with economics, so with security, Held appears to overstate the degree to which the manifold security crises of today&#146;s world can be explained by reference to United States policy. US policy &#150; under this and previous administrations &#150; has often exacerbated conflicts, through financial and diplomatic support or arms sales to authoritarian governments or rebel groups. This was particularly true during the cold war, when both the US and the Soviet Union supported a large number of despotic regimes and proxy armies in various parts of the world. This continues today, although now under the banner of the &#147;war on terror&#148;. For example, despite its appalling human rights record, Saudi Arabia is a major recipient of US and UK <a href=http://www.politics.guardian.co.uk/foreignaffairs/story/0,11538,1233714,00.html target=_blank>military equipment</a>. </p><p> But if the US and other developed countries often make conflicts worse, sometimes very significantly so, their role can also be exaggerated. Not all of the problems of conflict and instability in today&#146;s world can be laid at their door. While in the 1990s, the US and the UK supported the <em>Mujahideen</em> in Afghanistan &#150; an immoral and foolish policy &#150; the rise of <a href=http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=2536&print=1 target=_blank>al-Qaida</a> and Islamic extremism cannot be explained merely by reference to this support, or even to US double standards in the Middle East. Developments within the Islamic world and in the Middle East are arguably more important in understanding the rise of this complex phenomenon. </p><p> As a general rule, most of today&#146;s wars and armed conflicts are taking place in the developing world, within rather than between countries. These often have complex local and regional causes and dynamics. External powers can be significant players, but neighbouring countries are often more so. </p><p> Many of these conflicts are rooted in extreme poverty, failures of development and weak governance. The World Bank has described such countries as low-income countries under stress (<a href=http://www1.worldbank.org/operations/licus/ target=_blank>Licus</a>); the UK government now talks of them as countries at risk of instability (<a href=http://www.policylibrary.com/jobs/380.asp target=_blank>Cri</a>). The appropriate policy response towards such countries fits closely with what Held calls the &#147;broad security agenda&#148; &#150; long-term engagement, a commitment to help build institutions and support development, and a serious attempt to tackle the underlying causes of conflict and terrorism and not merely their symptoms. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><strong>openDemocracy&#146;s</strong> attempt to understand the sources of global violence includes Fred Halliday&#146;s essays <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1865">&#147;Terrorism in historical perspective&#148;</a> (April 2004) and <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1900">&#147;America and Arabia after Saddam&#148;</a> (May 2004)</div><p> In the Middle East, this should mean a much more even-handed approach to the Israel/Palestinian conflict, helping to reduce the attraction of extremist parties and movements. In <a href=http://www.ippr.org.uk/research/files/team36/project238/Whatever%20happened%20to%20the%20African%20Renaissance%20-%20Parliamentary%20Monitor.pdf target=_blank>Africa</a> and other parts of the developing world, it should mean working with countries to help them build strong and accountable political institutions, in which poor people in particular have a bigger voice. And it should mean identifying those developed country policies &#150; unfair trade rules, tied aid, arms exports &#150; that are damaging to the development prospects of poor countries, and changing them (ippr is currently running a <a href=http://www.ippr.org.uk/research/index.php?current=36&project=238 target=_blank>research project</a> on this issue, looking at G8 policy towards Africa). </p><p> In exceptional circumstances, a broad security agenda should also include a preparedness to use military force in self-defence or to prevent massive human rights violations. Held refers to the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (<a href=http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/iciss-ciise/menu-en.asp target=_blank>Iciss</a>), whose December 2001 report <em>The Responsibility to Protect</em> is a first-class piece of work and the most serious attempt yet to define a set of criteria for intervening in other countries on human rights grounds. Building support for the ideas contained in the report should be a real priority over the next few years. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><strong>openDemocracy</strong> interviews Mary Robinson, founder of the Ethical Globalisation Initiative, about expanding the scope of human rights; see <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1627">&#147;Making &#145;global&#146; and &#145;ethical&#146; rhyme&#148;</a> (December 2003) </div><p> Progressives have sometimes been guilty of downplaying the importance of hard power in protecting democracy and human rights from those forces that have little or no commitment to either. After the Rwandan genocide such a stance is no longer <a href=http://www.genocidewatch.org/genocidetable2003.htm target=_blank>tenable</a>. But at the same time, progressives need to wrest back the initiative on security policy from the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1542">neo-conservatives</a>. We cannot tackle conflict, instability and terrorism without a more determined effort to tackle poverty and inequality and the denial of human rights, democracy and justice. David Held&#146;s essay provides an excellent theoretical framework and a radical but practical agenda for doing so. </p><p> </p></div></p> democracy & power visions & reflections David Mepham Original Copyright Wed, 09 Jun 2004 23:00:00 +0000 David Mepham 1957 at https://www.opendemocracy.net