Experts in national security law watched with interest when France intervened militarily against Islamic extremists in Mali earlier this year. Would France detain individuals that it and Malian forces had seized and, if so, how would it treat them? Would it follow the lead of the United States by holding the prisoners as enemy combatants? If not, how would France, or its Malian partners, treat those captured during the fighting? France has thus far shown no desire to employ a Guantanamo-style solution. But it remains unclear whether prisoners will be prosecuted under Malian criminal law or handled in some other […]

Last Friday, as the extraordinary session of the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly stretched well into the night, Venezuelan Ambassador to the OAS Roy Chaderton announced that the balance of power in the hemisphere had shifted. “We’re in rebellion against this corrupt and pusillanimous system,” he said, referring to the Inter-American human rights system, whose fate was — and remains — under discussion. “Spring,” Chaderton declared, “is coming to the OAS.” The rebellion Chaderton referred to has been underway for some time, with Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia pushing for reforms to a human rights system that they […]

On March 11, the International Criminal Court (ICC) dropped charges against Kenya’s Francis Muthaura who, along with Kenyan President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta, was accused of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the violence following Kenya’s 2007 presidential elections. In an email interview, William Schabas, a professor of international law at Middlesex University, explained the problems the ICC has faced in prosecuting cases. WPR: What has been the conviction record at the ICC to date? William Schabas: The ICC has registered precisely one conviction to date; the case is still on appeal, although the conviction is unlikely to be reversed. […]

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On Wednesday, Syrian rebels seized 21 Filipino members of a United Nations peacekeeping mission from a disputed demilitarized buffer zone between Israel and Syria that has been monitored by U.N. forces since 1974. The border zone in the Golan Heights had been largely unaffected by Syria’s uprising until now, and the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has not experienced a similar incident in the decades since it was formed. The group claiming responsibility for the kidnapping said the peacekeepers would not be released until the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad withdrew from a nearby village where clashes occurred over […]

Diplomats are rarely dreamers or gamblers. The experience of grinding negotiations means that most ambassadors and their advisers dislike big ideas and unnecessary risks. But sometimes they have to take a gamble in pursuit of national goals. Two years ago, officials from Brazil, Germany, India and Japan — working collectively as the “Group of 4” or G4 — gambled on a drive to win permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council, despite the failure of several similar initiatives over the past decade. This time, too, they were unable to secure a U.N. General Assembly resolution endorsing their hopes. The […]

In late-February, Interpol concluded its first-ever international operation against illegal logging, a three-month operation in Central and South America that resulted in the arrest of almost 200 people and the seizure of some $8 million worth of timber. Duncan Brack, an expert on illegal logging at Chatham House, explained the scope of the problem and efforts to curb it in an email interview. WPR: What is the extent of the problem of illegal logging in terms of problem regions and financial costs? Duncan Brack: Illegal logging and the international trade in illegally logged timber are major problems for many timber-producing […]