Monthly Archives: November 2008
The Enough Project’s Gayle Smith, David Sullivan, Andrew Sweet just released a new report, “The Price of Prevention: Getting Ahead of Global Crises,” which argues that rather than simply responding to crises as they arise, America’s foreign policy apparatus should be overhauled and focus on conflict prevention. Read the full report to see how doing so would save a lot of money and a lot of lives.
The report is part of the Center for American Progress’ Sustainable Security series. What is sustainable security? Gayle Smith explains:
As we noted earlier in the week, the small island state the Maldives is sinking. Or rather, rising sea levels threaten to literally wipe the Maldives off the map and the Maldive government is looking to purchase some terra firma should the worst happen. Over on Opinio Juris Duncan Hollis asks “what happens to the Maldives’ sovereignty and sovereign rights when its existing territory falls below sea level?” That’s a good question. Hollis continues.
Would islands cease to be islands under the law of the sea (see article 121 of UNCLOS)? That’s an important question regardless of their habitability since the existence of land territory dictates the scope of a state’s sovereignty over its territorial sea as well as its sovereign rights in an exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf, all of which may still contain valuable natural resources. UNCLOS Articles 60 and 80 allow for a state to construct artificial islands and installations within its exclusive economic zone, but that presumes that it still has an exclusive economic zone within which to build. Artificial islands and installations do not get the benefits of island status themselves. I assume that since the Maldives currently have an undisputed status as a sovereign state, they would not face the plight of sovereign-wannabees like Sealand. Still, the scope of their territorial sovereignty and sovereign rights would certainly warrant more careful study.
What about buying new land to replace land lost to rising seas? International law does not limit the ability of states to buy or own land in the territory of another sovereign state. One of my first jobs as an attorney-adviser at the State Department was to sell some $30 million in property the United States Government owned in Bonn, Germany as part of moving the U.S. Embassy to Berlin. Similarly, most diplomatic missions in Washington, D.C., are actually owned by the state they represent. But, contrary to popular conceptions of these properties as extensions of the territory of the sending state, they remain under U.S. sovereignty (albeit subject to certain privileges and immunities). So, I don’t see a problem with the Maldives’ government buying land in other countries where its residents could live if they lose their homes on their existing islands.
As other small island states –Vanuatu and Nauru come to mind — seek redress from climate change, I imagine these kinds of questions will become more commonplace. Frankly, it would only seem fair that the developed world, whose actions resulted in the disappearance of these islands, shoulder some of the responsibility for taking care of the resulting climate refugees.
(Photo from Flickr)
…are as scary as they sound. From the United Nations Environment Program
Cities from Beijing to New Delhi are getting darker, glaciers in ranges like the Himalayas are melting faster and weather systems becoming more extreme, in part, due to the combined effects of man-made Atmospheric Brown Clouds (ABCs) and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
These are among the conclusions of scientists studying a more than three km-thick layer of soot and other manmade particles that stretches from the Arabian Peninsula to China and the western Pacific Ocean.
The New York Times is on the story.
The byproduct of automobiles, slash-and-burn agriculture, wood-burning kitchen stoves and coal-fired power plants, these plumes of carbon dust rise over southern Africa, the Amazon basin and North America. But they are most pronounced in Asia, where so-called atmospheric brown clouds are dramatically reducing sunlight in many Chinese cities and leading to decreased crop yields in swaths of rural India, say a team of more than a dozen scientists who have been studying the problem since 2002…
The brownish haze, sometimes more than a mile thick and clearly visible from airplanes, stretches from the Arabian Peninsula to the Yellow Sea. During the spring, it sweeps past North and South Korea and Japan. Sometimes the cloud drifts as far west as California.
The report identified 13 cities as brown-cloud hotspots, among them Bangkok, Cairo, New Delhi, Seoul and Tehran. In some Chinese cities, the smog has reduced sunlight by as much as 20 percent since the 1970s, it said.
Rain can cleanse the skies, but some of the black grime that falls to earth ends up on the surface of the Himalayan glaciers that are the source of water for billions of people in China, India and Pakistan. As a result, the glaciers that feed into the Yangtze, Ganges, Indus and Yellow rivers are absorbing more sunlight and melting more rapidly, researchers say.
Via Change.org, Amnesty International is circulating a petition for the Security Council to approve reinforcements for the embattled peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Of course, what pressuring the Security Council really comes down to is pressuring key member states. For those of us in the United States, the petition gives the option of sending the following email/letter to Secretary of State Rice, US-UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Jendayi Frazer, and Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Brian Cook.
I am deeply concerned that the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. While a long-term solution is necessary, the priority should be reinforcing the capacity of the UN’s peacekeeping force, Mission des Nations Unies en Republique Démocratique du Congo (MONUC), to protect civilians and to ensure people have access to humanitarian assistance. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council the United States should utilize its leadership to support MONUC.
MONUC remains the only force capable of providing meaningful protection to civilians. The UN Security Council should send immediate assistance to MONUC in the form of additional troops, intelligence-gathering capabilities, air support and other equipment. Only then will the UN peacekeepers be able to forestall armed group attacks against civilian populations, safeguard humanitarian operations and enforce the UN arms embargo on the DRC, in line with its mandate.
It doesn’t get worse than this. Last week, 13-year old Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was stoned to death in Somalia by insurgents because she was raped.
Reports indicate that was raped by three men while traveling by foot to visit her grandmother in conflict capital, Mogadishu. When she went to the authorities to report the crime, they accused her of adultery and sentenced her to death. Aisha was forced into a hole in a stadium of 1,000 onlookers as 50 men buried her up to the neck and cast stones at her until she died.
When some of the people at the stadium tried to save her, militia opened fire on the crowd, killing a boy who was a bystander.
Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, issued a heated statement condemning the brutal killing, calling for the protection of children in Somalia. She said, “The incident highlights the extreme nature of violence against children and women in Somalia, which has been heightened by the increasing lawlessness.”
Coomaraswamy also raised concern of the increasing recruitment of children as soldiers, in which they are killed on a daily basis. But Aisha’s death not only serves as a reminder of the brutality towards children in the midst of war, but a reminder of the brutality towards women. This girl was raped, and killed, because she was female.
Elizabeth Dickinson of Foreign Policy has the goods. And while I’m on the subject, I just posted a new Delegate’s Lounge piece on the terrible nexus between refugees and Malaria. Even if the vaccine is successful, it will be some time before it reaches vulnerable refugee populations. A quick, cheap and effective way to stem the deadly scourge of Malaria is through the use of insecticide treated bed nets. $10 pays for one bed net that can cover a family of four for up to four years. Send a net. Save a life.
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.