When Thai security forces recently raided the offices of the Working Group on Justice for Peace (WGJP) in the country’s insurgency-torn south, it may have been business-as-usual for a military with a checkered human rights record. But a report released last week by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) shows this is part of a disturbing global trend. The report (.pdf), “Assessing Damage, Urging Actions: Report of the Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counterterrorism and Human Rights,” argues that the Bush administration’s post-9/11 “war paradigm” has led to a globalization of extraordinary legal measures which result in an unprecedented corrosive […]

On Feb. 12, Iraq became the latest country to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. The country’s entry was especially important in light of the widespread use of chemical weapons by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein against his foreign and domestic enemies. Under Hussein, Iraq developed a major chemical weapons industry. During the 1980s, the regime killed thousands of people by repeatedly employing chemical weapons against both Iranian troops during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran War and its domestic opponents, most infamously in the March 1988 mustard gas attacks on the Kurdish village of Halabja. With Iraq’s entry, the CWC (as the Convention […]

CHILDREN APPEAL FOR END TO CHILD SOLDIER USE — Children from more than 100 countries recently appealed to world leaders to do more to end to the use of children as combatants in armed conflicts. Despite international protocols preventing the practice, an estimated 250,000 children around the globe are fighting as soldiers. Former child soldiers and young activists personally delivered their plea in the form of a petition featuring 250,000 red handprints to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Feb. 12, the fifth anniversary of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Child soldiers are still […]

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Thirty years after Pol Pot and his henchmen were driven from power, surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge have finally begun appearing in court after being charged with crimes against humanity. Kaing Guek Eav — more commonly known as Duch — on Tuesday became the first of the ultra-Maoists to stand before the bench of five U.N.-sanctioned judges for his role in the alleged torture and extermination of more than 16,000 people. Initially, the victims were held at the S21 detention center that Duch ran before being sent to the killing fields on the outskirts of […]

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“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” — Barack Obama, Feb 5, 2008. Reports of the demise of the Westphalian system are premature, but the shifting of the relative balance of power between states, threats to states, and the populaces these threats emerge from is undeniable. A “populace-centric” approach to foreign policy would recognize the emergence and enduring nature of popular power, and free U.S. interests from becoming mired in fleeting governments or threats. The Westphalian system […]

On July 12, 2006, highly-trained Hezbollah militants managed to kill several Israeli soldiers and kidnap two others in a carefully coordinated raid into Israel near the Lebanese village of Ayta ash-Shabb. Ever since Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah had sought to kidnap Israeli soldiers in order to then exchange them for Lebanese prisoners held in Israel. The 2006 operation was the first time since an initial effort in 2000, though, that it succeeded. The raid, whose fire and withdrawal plan suggested careful planning and rehearsals, was executed without the knowledge of the government of Lebanon. Even Hezbollah’s […]

State sovereignty can be likened to a living organism. It casts off meanings, sometimes splits, and reunites as it evolves in response to changing global values. Over the years, those global values and the subsequent meanings of sovereignty have often reflected the interests and preferences of hegemonic states. While a superpower like the United States cannot change the meaning or interpretation of sovereignty on its own, its political, economic, and military muscle give it a greater chance of mobilizing resources and support to influence the direction of the new meaning than a smaller country. States, multilateral organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and […]

According to a recent article in Global Security Newswire, President Barack Obama might seek an international agreement to limit weapons in space, reversing Bush administration policy. As noted on the White House Web site, the new administration is calling for “a worldwide ban on weapons that interfere with military and commercial satellites.” The president’s position on this issue is impractical and dangerous. Proponents of the ban argue that because the U.S. has the most space-based assets to lose in a future space war, it also has the greatest interest in restricting the use of space to peaceful purposes. An international […]

ROHINGYA FIND MORE CRUELTY AFTER FLIGHT FROM BURMA — Thailand’s indifferent and criminal response to the plight of hundreds of Rohingya refugees has stunned the human rights community and highlights the world’s continued failure to effectively protect the rights of refugee and asylum seekers. In the course of the last month, three boatloads of Rohingya males have washed ashore in Indonesia and India telling similar tales of beatings and abandonment by Thai authorities. Thailand has admitted rounding up the men and dragging them out to sea, but says its army did not torture them, and supplied food and water. Over […]