By Johan Galtung
Mohandas Gandhi invented the nonviolent approach to basic social change, Satyagraha, in South Africa in the early 20th century; Nelson Mandela presided over the birth of a one person-one vote democracy at the end of the century. Both were lawyers, trained in English Common Law; good in the sense of a keen consciousness of what is right and wrong, bad in the sense of a court process identifying who is in the wrong rather than solving underlying conflicts, and wrong in the sense of punishing the wrong-doer; violence rather than cooperation.
Both built on the positive side of law – the indelible rights of the people for whom they were fighting by comparing empirical facts with normative rights; immigrant Indians in the case of Gandhi, original inhabitants in South Africa, the Blacks, in the case of Mandela.
Gandhi (1869-1948) did not live to see equality between Indians and whites in South Africa, but in India, his mother-father land; Mandela (1918-2013) did. They won their struggles – but the societies that emerged still suffer from other and major ones.
A deep culture united them: the culture of law. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jonathan Power
Iran will find it easier to kill the nuclear bomb deal than will the Republicans in Congress. Why? Because the Republicans need some Democratic senators on their side to override a veto by President Barack Obama of a vote to bury the accord, whereas in Iran all that is needed is the decision of one man, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran is not a dictatorship – voters, parliament and president carry enormous weight but when it comes to the very big decisions it is Khamenei who decides. He has already said there is “no guarantee” of a final deal with the world powers, the US, the EU, Russia and China, who agreed the deal. President Hassan Rouhani, a liberally minded man, has also said that Iran would not sign up unless sanctions were lifted “on the first day” of implementation.
There is enough evidence around to suggest that Khamenei is unhappy with the Americans. Soon after the accord was publicized after the marathon negotiations in Lausanne, he tweeted, “Hours after the talks the Americans offered a fact sheet (of explanation of the terms of the agreement) – most of it was contrary to what was agreed. They always deceive and breach promises.”
To understand where Khamenei is coming from we have to separate the question Read the rest of this entry »
By Kamran Mofid
Here, this Blog, I am calling upon families, educators and community leaders worldwide to become as children and rediscover the benefits of paying attention to nature, and to take action to strengthen children’s connections to nature.
As adults, we should be opening the doors and providing the children and the youth opportunities that fully connect them to the natural environment so they can gain an understanding of the natural world in as many educational and recreational settings as possible. We cannot start too soon!
Today’s children and families often have limited opportunities to connect with the natural environment. Richard Louv called this phenomenon, ‘nature-deficit disorder’ in his influential book, The Last Child in the Woods, and opened our eyes to the developmental effects that nature has on our children.
By Jonathan Power
Last week democracy won a handsome victory in Nigeria. An election that had everybody on edge for fear of internecine killings involving militants from the two main competing parties, against a backcloth of the war of attrition waged by the nihilist, extremist, Islamist movement, Boko Haram, led pundits to fear the worst. It did not happen. Nigeria gave of its best.
Indeed, the real winner was the looser, the present president, Goodluck Jonathan. He graciously phoned the winner, Muhammadu Buhari, to concede the election. His attitude to his defeat kept the peace. Read the rest of this entry »
By Richard Falk
Responding to intense pressure from the usual sources William Schabas, a prominent and respected expert on international criminal law, recently resigned as Chair of the UN expert commission of inquiry into war crimes allegations arising from the massive Israeli military operations in Gaza during July and August of 2014.
These issues relating to international criminal accountability have also received recent prominence due to Palestine’s adherence to the Rome Treaty making it a party to the International Criminal Court, an initiative that generated an enraged punitive reaction on the part of Israel as well as an angry denunciation by Washington. On display in these instances is the struggle between extending the rule of law to international state crimes and the geopolitical resistance to such an effort whenever accountability to law is in tension with the pursuit of strategic interests.
Imposing international criminal responsibility upon political leaders and military commanders that occur in the aftermath of wars possesses a dual character from a geopolitical perspective: to vindicate major military undertakings of liberal democratic states and to ensure impunity for the leaders of these same states in the event that their behavior or that of their allies are alleged to be international crimes.
These efforts at vindication are associated with strengthening the global rule of law and validating the established order, while impunity is invoked to insulate powerful individuals and their governments from criminal accountability. The resulting pattern in international life is one of double standards at the level of implementation and hypocritical rhetoric about the importance of a global rule of law based on its universal applicability.
Contemporary experience with these issues is grounded in the aftermath of World War II.
In 1945 Read the rest of this entry »
By Miko Peled, TFF Associate
More than the threat of war on Iran, Netanyahu’s re-election is a call for war on Palestinians everywhere.
It is a call for war on human rights and international law. It is a mandate for the Israeli government to murder Palestinians. It gives Netanyahu license to continue Israel’s seven-decade policy of racism and apartheid towards the people from whom they stole the land.
It is also a call for people of conscience to impose boycotts and sanctions to divest and to isolation Israel. No more business as usual – it is time for outrage, for action, the type of action that brought down apartheid in South Africa.
It is a call to finally allow Palestinians to have their country back.
Continued reading in The Hill. Congress Blog