Following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent rebuke of President Trump over a trade dispute, Canada has once again become the poster child for decency — a pastoral, brave, beautiful and welcoming land just close enough that if you reach out and hope, you might just grasp it.
Writing in the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik produced a hagiography enumerating the charms of the Great White North: polite but willing to stand up to bullies, trusting and brimming with social capital, the quiet guy at the bar minding his own business who you just know has your back if things get dodgy.
As flattering as the depiction is, the pet unicorn takes don’t resonate with everyone who lives there because they’re simply not accurate.… Seguir leyendo »
In recent years, Europe has made many mistakes in its approach to immigration. It has lost interest in Africa, allowed the tactical reasoning of internal politics to win out and has lacked strategic vision. In recent years, Italy has often acted alone, “saving Europe’s honor in the Mediterranean,” as European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker declared last year.
I have always said that faced with a person who is about to drown, our first thought must be to save them and only afterward to think of the effect on public opinion. Centuries of civilization have taught us that human life is worth more than a vote.… Seguir leyendo »
The “story” was classic Politically-Correct-Sweden-Gone-Nuts material.
The organizers of the largest youth soccer tournament in the world, the Gothia Cup held in Gothenburg, Sweden, had decreed that pork was “haram” (forbidden by the Muslim faith). Thus, pork would be “banned” from being served to players and coaches at the tournament, scheduled to begin July 15. The reaction from far-right, anti-immigration clusters on social media was quick and predictable. It was was yet another example of Sweden’s capitulation to “Islamic values” and further evidence of how Muslims simply cannot “integrate” into modern Western society, thus forcing Christian Europeans to give up their cultural heritage.… Seguir leyendo »
As we observe World Refugee Day this week, with 68.5 million people around the world uprooted from their homes, the worst humanitarian and migration crisis in the Western Hemisphere continues to deteriorate in Venezuela, spilling into South and Central America and the Caribbean.
More than 1.5 million Venezuelans are displaced — a number likely to grow after the contested election of President Nicolás Maduro, whose economic policies have caused severe food and medicine shortages as hyperinflation hits 13,000 percent. The average Venezuelan eats only one meal each day and has lost 24 pounds in the past year. A flow of migration has now put enormous pressure on neighboring countries facing their own economic and political woes.… Seguir leyendo »
Many observers believe democracy is in danger — both globally and in the United States.
Worldwide, free government is said to be in “recession,” “decaying,” “in retreat” or “beleaguered.” Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright considers fascism “a more serious threat now than at any time since the end of World War II.”
Closer to home, commentator Andrew Sullivan sees the U.S. system turning into “the kind of authoritarian state that America was actually founded to overthrow.”
How serious are the challenges to democracy today? One way to assess this is to examine historical experience, using the best global data available.… Seguir leyendo »
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia will lift its decades-long ban on women driving. But just weeks ago, its public prosecutor announced that 17 individuals had been detained for undermining the kingdom’s security, a move that targeted prominent women’s rights advocates. State-linked media outlets have since carried out an aggressive campaign portraying the arrested activists as “traitors” and “foreign embassy agents” working to destabilize the kingdom.
It is not uncommon for authoritarian regimes to use language about external threats — real or imagined — as a pretext for singling out and discrediting vocal activists. Yet given the significant loosening of certain restrictions on women in Saudi Arabia recently, why would the state engage in such behavior now?… Seguir leyendo »
Over the past four years, oil-producing countries have experienced a wild ride. After oil prices exceeded $110 per barrel for Brent crude in 2014, they suddenly dropped to $50 per barrel in early 2015 and to $35 per barrel by January 2016, leaving most producers unable to balance their budgets. Observers suggested that falling oil revenue could provoke political crises, as governments implemented spending cuts that could endanger their popular support. However, since last summer, oil prices have risen steadily. For the past month, Brent crude has surpassed $75 per barrel.
How have oil-producing countries navigated the recent price collapse? Most analysis has focused on Persian Gulf oil producers, such as Saudi Arabia, or the cautionary tale of Venezuela.… Seguir leyendo »
On June 7, Ukraine’s parliament passed long-awaited legislation establishing a special anti-corruption court. Our country took another important move forward on its path toward building a European state where all are equal under the law. This was not the first step in this journey, and it won’t be the last. But I believe it showed that our journey toward a genuine democracy is now irreversible.
Nobody would argue that our reform process has been easy. Over the past two decades, Ukrainians have become skeptical that there could be any progress in the fight against the scourge of corruption. Nevertheless, the Euromaidan Revolution of Dignity gave Ukrainians hope for a new future of accountable leaders and the rule of law.… Seguir leyendo »
On my first visit to this immense refugee settlement on Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar, I crossed a bamboo bridge that refugees had built. It spanned a stream and connected an old settlement, where Rohingya refugees from previous waves of forced displacement have lived for decades, to the new one, now a sprawling city where more than 600,000 have taken shelter.
The bridge is a vital artery for the refugees here. It allows them to carry jerrycans, blankets and solar lamps from a distribution point in the old settlement to their families in the much larger new settlement. The stream becomes a river when it rains; when the refugees first arrived, the only way across was to swim until they were able to suspend several stalks of bamboo just above water level.… Seguir leyendo »
Every June 20, on World Refugee Day, the headlines invariably focus on numbers. But numbers are not the issue; only about 0.3 percent of the world’s population are refugees. The real challenge comes from unequal geographical concentration.
Most refugees will never come to the United States or Europe. Around 85 percent end up in low and middle-income countries like Lebanon, Pakistan and Uganda, and just 10 such countries host 60 percent of the world’s refugees. This means refugee protection is primarily a developing world issue, and there is a lack of global responsibility-sharing.
Refugees stay in these safe haven countries for decades.… Seguir leyendo »
On Sunday, Colombians will choose more than a president — they will choose between two opposing national projects: the return of an authoritarian conservative movement that fiercely opposes a historic peace accord signed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, Latin America’s oldest guerrilla group; or a progressive economic and human-rights agenda that has the implementation of the peace deal at its core.
The candidate leading the progressive agenda is Gustavo Petro, a former member of the urban guerrilla group M19, known for storming the Palace of Justice in 1985. Although Petro did not participate in this military operation because he was behind bars at the time, people often assume he was responsible.… Seguir leyendo »
Four years as the U.N. high commissioner for human rights have brought me many luminous encounters and desperate struggles, much painful and shocking information, and some profound lessons that may take many years to fully assimilate.
I have constantly circled back to the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, where this story truly began. It was a time of slaughter and terrible suffering, with broken economies and nations emerging from the ashes of two global wars, an immense genocide, atomic destruction and the Great Depression. Finding solutions that could ensure global — and national — peace was a matter of the starkest kind of survival.… Seguir leyendo »
As the holy month of Ramadan ended yesterday, a prominent Muslim rights group called on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to pardon 54 soldiers imprisoned for mutiny. In 2014, the soldiers refused to fight the terrorist group Boko Haram, claiming they were not adequately supplied with weapons and ammunition.
The Nigerian soldiers’ grievances and subsequent mutiny are consistent with other mutinies in Africa, as detailed in this week’s book in the African Politics Summer Reading Spectacular: “Soldiers in Revolt: Army Mutinies in Africa,” written by Maggie Dwyer, a research fellow at the Center of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh.
Drawing on hundreds of interviews — 50 with former mutineers — and a systematic review of high-quality reporting outlets (e.g., Africa Confidential and Africa Research Bulletin), Dwyer identifies and describes what drives soldiers to mutiny.… Seguir leyendo »
Last month, Colombians went to the polls to elect the successor to President Juan Manuel Santos. The unpopular and Nobel Prize-winning outgoing president was the architect of a 2016 peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (the FARC), ending five decades of civil war.
On June 17, after months of bitter and sometimes violent campaigning among candidates across the political spectrum, two men will advance to a runoff: the right-wing Iván Duque of the Democratic Center party and left-wing Gustavo Petro of Humane Colombia.
This is a deeply divisive election
In a country still healing from decades of violence, this election pits the hard right and left against each other.… Seguir leyendo »
Over the past 20 years, U.N. peacekeeping deployments have increased by more than 600 percent. Currently, the United Nations manages 14 peacekeeping operations worldwide, staffed by more than 95,000 military personnel, police, civilians and volunteers.
For almost all of these, a common mandate is to protect civilians — which is important not just in immediately saving lives, but also in sustaining peace over the long run. Recent academic research has focused on how well peacekeepers do at reducing conflicts’ virulence and spread.
But do armed peacekeepers actually protect civilians from harm? That’s been debated lately. A recent report, delivered to U.N.… Seguir leyendo »
On Wednesday, Iran’s leading human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, was arrested again. It was a reminder that President Hassan Rouhani is failing to deliver on many of the key reforms he promised when he was elected in 2013.
Writing on his Facebook page, Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, announced that “a few hours ago Nasrin was arrested at home and sent to the court at Evin [Prison].”
This family has been through all of this before. “I once told interrogators in the interrogation room: ‘Of all the things the authorities should do for their country, you only know one, and that is arresting people,’” Khandan fearlessly wrote in his post.… Seguir leyendo »
Like so many people around the world, I am excitedly preparing for this year’s World Cup. But as an Iranian woman now living in America, I know this year will be different. It will be first time in my life that I’ll be able to enjoy the games freely, in public, wearing whatever I want with whomever I please. I’m going to celebrate this small victory by throwing a party at a bar. I will celebrate even if Iran loses.
I started watching soccer with my dad as a 5-year-old in Tehran. My first introduction to the World Cup was in 1994, when I was 10.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week, Jordan’s King Abdullah II appointed former education minister Omar Razzaz as the new prime minister after protests rocked the country. And Razzaz has already made several concessions to the protesters over taxes. But more interesting is that Razzaz said a “new social contract” will be a top item on his government’s agenda. What does a new social contract mean in the Jordanian context, and how would this help Jordan to overcome its persistent political and economic problems?
A history of short-lived governments
Dissolving the Cabinet and appointing a new prime minister is a traditional Jordanian response to popular dissent.… Seguir leyendo »
In Turkey, politics means everything. But football is life. So it’s hard not to take seriously the internal elections of one the most important teams in the country, Fenerbahce.
Ali Koc, a Harvard-educated businessman, thrashed Aziz Yildirim, the club’s chairman of 20 years and an ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a landslide.
Many Fenerbahce fans, especially secularists, saw this as a metaphor for Turkey’s elections on June 24. There is a peculiar reality about this upcoming vote. Even before the Fenerbahce defeat, Erdogan seemed more vulnerable than is usually understood outside of Turkey. Nearly everyone in the West thinks it’s a foregone conclusion that Erdogan, who had been running the country for 15 years, will win one way or the other.… Seguir leyendo »
Turkey recently called snap elections to be held June 24, even as it extended the state of emergency for a seventh time since a failed coup attempt in 2016. And in the wake of a 2017 constitutional referendum that vested extraordinary powers in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, observers warn that Turkey is on the fast track to authoritarianism.
While not part of the European Union, Turkey is member of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The court retains the force of law over contracting states and has previously ruled on contentious issues from prisoners’ right to vote to the treatment of terrorism suspects in custody.… Seguir leyendo »