The coincidence of two news items about Burma/Myanmar today demand brief commentary: 1) International Crisis Group is honoring President U Thein Sein at its annual dinner, and 2) Human Rights Watch released a damning report about assaults against Burma’s Rohingya minority.
The most common way that atrocities against civilians end is when the perpetrators themselves [...]Continue Reading →
Chinua Achebe, who died today at 82, was a giant amongst the world’s literary figures of the twentieth century. As someone who studies the effects of war on and intentional targeting of civilians, I find that at a certain point our theories, data and narratives simply cannot capture massive violence with equal precision as a [...]Continue Reading →
Not everyone will agree with this presentation of the challenges facing the field or how the field of genocide and atrocity prevention should respond to its challenges. However, the strength of a field is not measured solely by its points of consensus, but also the vibrancy of its debates. This paper attempts to outline both areas of consensus in the field and the knowledge base that informs it, as well as areas of contention. To this end, it aims to be provocative in highlighting debates that are already underway in the field of genocide and atrocity prevention. The questions raised in this paper do not lend themselves to easy answers nor necessarily to consensus, and this may not be desirable. Instead, it is a hope that they contribute to the field’s capacity for self-criticism and reflection, while also challenging it to reach out to other fields to share insights and join forces.Continue Reading →
The US Naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, GTMO, has been an integral part of American politics and policy for more than a century. Its foundation was laid in 1903, when the US exacted a lease with Cuba granting Cuba total sovereignty over the territory, but the US total jurisdiction – creating a “legal black hole” and laboratory for addressing unprecedented threats. The unique qualities of the site – its legal ambiguity, political isolation and geographic proximity, and architectures of confinement – have been used and reused to detain people who fall between the boundaries of legal protections and political imperatives. Its detention infrastructure was laid long before 9-11: for suspected enemy spies in the Cold War; for over 20,000 Haitian refugees subject to the first mass screening for HIV; for more than 30,000 Cuban rafters rescued at sea held while President Clinton renegotiated immigration laws. Today, facilities for new uses are now being constructed. The 1903 lease with Cuba grants the US total jurisdiction over the bay until both countries agree to end the arrangement. For better or for worse, then, GTMO is open and available for any future administration to use – in the War on Terror or otherwise. How did we get here? What should happen next?Continue Reading →
Discussions among the Coalition have suggested that memorials for human rights can seek to build a heritage of conscience: Such heritage would be based on a collective memory of moral acts and choices, of cruelty, compassion, and courage. Memorials could offer a space for the ongoing interrogation of the nature of those choices, the reasons for them, and what they suggest for the future. In other words, human rights memorials can develop a heritage of doing rather than being – an identity based in action. Not who we were in the past and who we are today, but what we did do in the past and what we want to do today.Continue Reading →
In North Maluku, the mass violence that followed democratisation officially ended in mid-2000. One year of successive waves of violence resulted in the displacement of over one fifth of the local population and killed an estimated 3,000 people.[i] As a result of the conflict, provincial elections were delayed until 2002, the government decentralisation process was halted until 2004, and provincial elections were postponed to 2007. During this interim emergency governance period, several important bureaucratic changes were made, aimed at restoring security and stable government.Continue Reading →
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