The author stresses the importance of NGOs working collectively to reduce risks associated with nuclear weapons proliferation, and highlights how one program, the Strategic Concept for the Removal of Arms and Proliferation (SCRAP), can effectively create the needed synergy between all such NGO’s, while complimenting other existing campaigns to end the risks associated with nuclear weapons proliferation.
By Akhshid Javid,6th December, 2015
The Rise of the Global Movement for Disarmament
Since 1945, nuclear disarmament has been a concern for many organizations around the world. Moreover, there have been strong waves of public support for disbandment of nuclear weapons across the globe over the last 50 years.
For more than a half century, the United States has been able to help deter the use of force by China and Taiwan. Yet the new dynamic in the area surrounding Taiwan has increased the likelihood of use of force. How the United States responds will have enormous implications for both the Chinese, and the allies of the U.S. in the South and East China sea. To avoid the catastrophic impact of total war and the implications of abandoning an ally, the author examines one option between the two that the U.S. can adopt.
In an exclusive interview with InPEC, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees comments on the gendered environment that can confront women and children in a crisis situation.
By InPEC, 15th June, 2015
Abdulaziz: High Commissioner, thank you for talking with InPEC. The purpose of this interview is to highlight some of the gendered challenges facing some of the refugee women and children. We hope to hear your honest insights on how these challenges may be overcome, to help mitigate the suffering of the millions of people fleeing conflict zones.
Social Impact Bonds as an effective way to tackle the age-old problem of bonded labour in India.
By Dallin Van Leuven, 20th April, 2015
To pay off a family debt of only $50, 13-year-old Roghini was “mortgaged” to a family that made matchboxes in their home. Paid only 30 cents for every 1,500 boxes she made, Roghini worked alongside 20 other children for 11 hours a day just to try and earn enough to eat—though she often went hungry. The abusive treatment she received drove Roghini into such a deep depression that she tried to end her own life. Finally, three years after she was sold into slavery, a local group was able to pay off the debt and free her.
Millions of men, women, and children are working in India under similar conditions. India’s justice system has tried to free them for decades, to no avail. New strategies are needed where politicians and judges have failed. It is time for investors to step up. Continue reading →
Hundreds of Delhiites marched together on Sunday, the 30th of November to participate in the city’s seventh LGBTQ pride parade. Stuti Bhattacharya was there.
By Stuti Bhattacharya, 8th December, 2014
The Delhi Queer Pride Parade is an annual event that has been held in New Delhi every year since 2007. The parade is a festive event meant to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people, while protesting unequal treatment by law and society.
In India, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalises sexual activities “against the act of nature”, which is defined in a manner that effectively criminalises homosexuality (it also criminalises certain consensual heterosexual acts). The Delhi High Court declared this section to be unconstitutional in 2009. This judgment, however, was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2013. The Supreme Court maintained that only the parliament can repeal Section 377. That is unlikely to happen in the near future as the new government in India is led by the BJP, which is a right-wing conservative party. The BJP has explicitly spoken out against homosexuality.
This is the first pride parade since the Supreme Court verdict and since the new government took office.
An overview of the extent to which Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth offers a useful framework for understanding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
By Abdulaziz Khalefa, 06th December, 2014
Here I assess the situation in Palestine from Frantz Fanon’s perspective. I show that his description of the colonist and the colonized, a world which is Manichean and compartmentalized, reflects the current relationship between the Palestinians and the Jewish-Israelis. While a relationship based on ethnic dominance inhibits reconciliation, Fanon considers the use of violence a necessary and inevitable step towards overcoming oppression. I argue that the impact of violence must be assessed using a rational framework to determine whether it can help resolve the colonized people’s status.
In making the case for Kurdish independence, the author reviews the favorable prospects of the Kurdish state. He explains that “the West must support Kurdish independence to right the wrongs of the past and create stability in the Middle East.”
By Hawar Shawki, 22nd August, 2014
Straddling the borders where Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria converge in the Middle East, the Kurds constitute the largest number of people in the world without their own independent sovereign state. Long a suppressed minority, the wars against Saddam Hussein in 1991 and 2003 resulted in the creation of a semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the Federal Republic of Iraq. The KRG has inspired the Kurds elsewhere to seek cultural, social, and even political autonomy, if not independence. Kurdish history has seen many nationalist movements, but a fully independent sovereign state has yet to come to fruition and be recognised by the United Nations and other nation-states.
Writing about her visits to the West Bank, the author shares with us her impressions of the separation wall.
By Margaret McKenzie, 5th July, 2014.
It will have been a decade on July 9 since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) passed its advisory opinion saying Israel must cease construction of the Wall and dismantle sections, compensate for damage caused; and, return Palestinian property or provide compensation if restitution is not possible. The Wall has always been contentious with radically polarizing opinions, exemplified by the many different terms for the Wall depending on who you speak to – “Separation Fence”or “gader hafradeh” in Hebrew, “Apartheid Wall” or “al jidar al azil” in Arabic, are just a few terms used to describe the Wall separating the West Bank from Israel. The Wall depicted in the photos below around the West Bank is illegal under international law.
Compliant disobedience and remembered forgettings.
By Arvind Iyer, 20th June, 2014
The past: a new and uncertain world. A world of endless possibilities and infinite outcomes. Countless choices define our fate: each choice, each moment – a moment in the ripple of time. Enough ripple, and you change the tide… for the future is never truly set. -Charles Xavier, X-Men:Days of Future Past
Ma-Lo is an amateur short film in Malayalam released in 2012, and was well-received in the film festival circuit in the state of Kerala, widely considered one of the more socially progressive states in India. The film has for its setting the rapidly urbanizing and ambivalently modernizing contemporary Indian mindscape where sexual mores are in flux, forcing a reconsideration of default notions of commitment, fidelity and personal autonomy. The short-film, though admittedly not intended as an activist intervention, lends itself to a wider discussion of the autonomy of individuals and societies in lifestyle choices and policy-making. This discussion considers both the unexploited scope of such autonomy (which postmodernist critiques help bring to light), and also of some objective constraints on such autonomy (which no postmodernist reformulation can wish away). Here, archetypal ‘breakups’ and ‘regime changes’ are treated as illustrations respectively of the individual and collective exercise of human autonomy when faced with an ‘irrevocable past’. The presentation will be in a lounging format that has become popularly associated with the Slovenian cultural critic and translator Slavoj Žižek switching nonchalantly between ‘cultural theory’ and ‘geopolitical commentary’. Much of the article hereonward references the short-film, that can be viewed below.
In a piece prepared especially for the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), the authors look at the “South-South” relationship between China and Brazil to understand the extent, drivers and lessons from their technology cooperation.
By Hyosun Bae & Zoraida Velasco, 7th May, 2014.
Cooperation in the fields of technology is under the constant pressure of global competition. Countries are finding themselves in a race to increase their innovation capacity. This is particularly the case for emerging markets like Brazil and China. This race includes significant multi-dimensional commitments from government towards industry development and collaboration in an effort to develop mutually benefitting opportunities. Fully utilizing their growth in financial and technological capacity, Brazil and China have expanded their collaboration on renewable energy technology. Technology cooperation is a way to develop opportunities for reciprocal knowledge-sharing and investment. Through the use of case study and literature review, this paper analyses the bilateral cooperation between Brazil and China on wind power technology. It focuses on the public and private sectors’ research and development (R&D) of wind technology between the two countries.
We often use the phrases “Scheduled castes” and “Scheduled tribes” (mostly in the context of beneficiaries of the Indian Reservation system.) But how often do we actually think of the life of a Dalit or a Tribal? Taking nothing away from their sufferings of the past, the Dalit community has progressed since independence (a long way to go still though). But many Tribal communities of India are still untouched, the stories untold.
The author explores the ambitions of Russia in the context of its Eurasian Union idea.
By Richard Wallace, 28th February, 2014
Over the past few months, mass protests have erupted in Kiev, Ukraine in defiance of (now deposed) President Viktor Yanukovich’s 11th hour U-Turn on the signing of an EU Association Agreement that would have been the first major stepping stone to full EU accession. The protests had morphed into a vociferous backlash against the corruption of the ruling elite and its increasing repressive domestic policies. Much of this anger has been directed across the border, to Ukraine’s (not so) brotherly neighbour, Russia. Critics see the hand of Putin behind this policy reversal, a frosty hand that has been slowly but surely tightening its grip around Ukraine’s throat over the last decade in response to its warming towards the West. Yet Ukraine is merely one amongst many states in the region to be embraced by the broadly encompassing and expansionist Russian bear hug, which can in recent years be summed up in 2 dirty words on the streets of Kiev: the Customs Union.
In this essay, the author explores the role a state’s legal framework plays in curtailing social change.
By Sabina Yasmin Rahman, 27th February, 2014
“We must have a look at the society and culture at large in order to find the place of law within the total structure.” — E. Adamson Hoebel (1954)
State as a political entity has managed to sustain a curious pattern of existence. Depending on the level of complementarities [and often contradictions] that the state shares with the plethora of available discourses in and around it — individualism, socialism, secularism, postmodernism, neoliberalism, and post-development — all sheltered under the indisputable fact of democracy, makes it very tempting for us to think of legal innovation as effecting social change. In addition, our highly centralized political system, which functions by appeasing the masses on a daily basis through illusory experiences of access to a decentralized machinery, made increasingly seductive by advanced technology and communication apparatuses, fills us with enormous expectations of achieving near utopian social changes through the medium of law. Here, I would like to state a few reasons as to why one must caution oneself against the reality of law. I contend that it is important to recognize law primarily as an instrument of maintaining status quo rather than a revolutionary transformational force geared towards social change.
An overview of the Islamic state’s capacity to adopt the current human rights norms – the author holds that the globalization of human rights remains ineffective in transcending cultural barriers. Only when the philosophical ideology is translated into different cultures, as opposed to a more positivist approach, can the gap between globalized human rights and different nations be further mitigated.
By Shafeea Riza, 8th February 2014
In an increasingly globalising world, where international human rights law plays a dominating role in global politics, one cannot help but wonder whether globalisation of human rights law effectively translates into the domestic realms of the receiving state. I ask this question in relation to Islamic states. Islamic states have responded to the international human rights law norms in different ways. Despite the “universal” aspect of these human rights, and its somewhat adoption by Islamic states, what transpires foremost is the tension between these rights and Islamic traditions. Although there is general consensus of the international human rights law among Islamic states, insistence on holding on to Islamic values appear to be pre-dominant. Such an observation begs the question asked at the beginning of this paper: whether globalisation of human rights truly transcends cultural barriers?
Satellite mapping by the authorities forces India’s famous cannabis growers deeper into the bush.
By Shweta Desai, 10th January 2014 (Republished with permission)
Deep in India’s Himalayas, in the remote and isolated Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh, is the quiet village of Malana. When autumn arrives each year, Malana is enveloped in what was once a hopeful air brought on by the new harvest, as lanky cannabis trees bloom wild in panoramic fields and against scattered houses. Farmers and villagers begin cultivating in late September, rubbing the buds of fully bloomed plants between their palms to extract the brown hashish resin known mystically as Malana’s crème. Today this time of year carries with it the dark pall of police interference.
Rehyphenating the priorities of the developed and developing worlds.
By Arvind Iyer, 8th January 2014
Background : The Three Worlds theories of the early postcolonial era that might have served to usefully map the sharply polar geopolitics of the time, continue to circumscribe policy imagination as well as commentary in a manner that limits the genuine planet-wide globalizing of best-practices discovered in any of the erstwhile ‘worlds’. The narratives of newly liberated nations making their unique trysts with destiny or the ‘nationalizing’ of ideology as in socialism with Chinese characteristics are far from timeless or timely at this juncture when wars for self-determination are receding into history, thus precluding preoccupations with self-definition, or assertion of identity, or characterization of doctrines. This article treats an increasingly dominant strain of middle-class political attitudes and aspirations in emerging India as a case study of sorts to illustrate how policy pragmatism and catholicity rather than policy puritanism and conservatism maybe both enabled and necessitated in a world where the problems India shares with America are as pressing as the problems endemic to ‘Chindia’ or the BRIC bloc.
In this article, the author explores the nature of protests taking place in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
By Alejandro Marx, 26th November, 2013
The year 2013 has seen major protests around the world, including in Turkey, Brazil Romania and the ongoing ones in Bulgaria. The common thread that these protests have had was that they questioned the role of their elected representatives. Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has also seen protests, although they haven’t been adequately covered by the international media.
BiH experienced from June 6 2013 a succession of protests in Sarajevo, which later spread to other cities of BiH. The protests were a result of the frustration with the complex working of the State of BiH, created after the 1992-1995 Civil War. BiH is divided into two major entities, Republika Srpska (the Serb entity) and the Bosnian Federation (the Croat and Bosniak entity), plus the Brcko District with is under the control of the both mayor entities. Both entities have their own parliaments. On the national level, the Parliamentary Assembly, with its two chambers (the House of Representatives and the House of Peoples), represents the ethnic groups. Decisions are taken on the basis of an agreement between each of the 3 ethnicities. An ethnic group which considers that a law is against its vital interests can veto it.
Looking at the adverse effects of pesticide use on health and farmer yields in Erode, Tamil Nadu state in India, the author highlights the needed measures to bridge the gap between the remedies available to the government, NGOs and civil society on one hand, and the sustainable options for the farmers on the other.
By Camille Maubert, 23rd November 2013
India’s outstanding economic development following the Green Revolution (1960s) was characterized by a remarkable increase in agricultural production. In the past decades, India’s crop yield was multiplied by four through the use of enhanced crop varieties, fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals. However, despite such success on the global scale, concerns are emerging at the micro level regarding the sustainability if intensive agricultural exploitation. The biggest challenge facing farmers is the dramatic decrease in soil fertility. Indeed, after five decades of intense farming, some challenges have become alarmingly recurrent.
In this article, the authors provide an overview of the environmental challenges that India faces and how the civil society has stood up to the challenge.
by Tamanna Adhikari and Anusha Ghosh, 11th November, 2013
Society and environment are intricately intertwined, linked together by societal habits that determine the relationship between a certain community and the environment. With growing urbanization India has witnessed an increase in environmental problems such as land degradation, deforestation, air and water pollution and climate change. Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased between pre-industrial period and 2005. Air quality data has shown that air pollution and its resultant impacts can be attributed to emissions from vehicular, industrial and domestic activities. Air quality has been, therefore, an issue of social concern in the backdrop of various developmental activities. The total forest cover of the country, as per the 2005 assessment, constitutes 20.60 per cent of the geographic area of the country. Between 2003 and 2005, the total forest cover had decreased by 728 sq. km. With resource needs having remained unchanged, forests have come under increased pressure of encroachment for cultivation, and unsustainable resource use rendering the very resource base unproductive.
The latest round of leaks on the NSA could end the spying culture through major policy-shifts promised by President Obama though one should remain sceptical.
By Gulshan Roy, 5th November 2013
The average unemployment rate set to hit a record 12% in the EU; the growth rate stagnating at a dire 0.3%; the much fanfared recovery that never turned up; an ever-so-fragile eurozone: these are the major themes Angela Merkel would have nervously expected to debate as she appeared in Brussels last Friday for this year’s crucial EU summit. Instead, the meeting was (rather conveniently for her) foreshadowed then dominated by America’s intriguing secret curiosity for the contents her cell phone. In yet another round of blows for US National Security Agency (NSA), The Guardian revealed last week that the agency had been monitoring calls of 35 world leaders without their knowledge, let alone their consent. Edward Snowden has his president biting his nails once again for traditional allies of Washington are understandably outraged.