In recent years, the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention has come under fire due to a lack of enforcement of the convention by member states. The most recent progress report undertaken by Transparency International found that the overwhelming majority of states have failed to meet basic treaty obligations, attaining “little or no enforcement” of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. Canada, surprisingly, is one of the worst offenders, as it remains the sole G7 country to be placed in the “little or no enforcement” category. According to Transparency International, 21 of the Convention’s 38 signatories fell under the “little or no enforcement” category, with only nine countries falling under the “moderate enforcement” category, and a mere seven having attained “active enforcement” status. As a result, Transparency International views the current position of the convention as “unstable,” interpreting these numbers as clear evidence of a “lack of political commitment.” Indeed, many view the future of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention as uncertain unless new processes are implemented to recover momentum and improve effectiveness.
Currently, the OECD publishes a series of country reports on the implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention containing peer-review examinations of each country. These reports have undoubtedly been useful in determining what legislative, administrative, and judicial actions have been undertaken by a given member country. Given the current enforcement levels, however, this reporting system may not do enough to stimulate and encourage enforcement on the part of signatories. The need for further guidance was addressed partially in efforts such as the 2009 OECD Recommendation for Further Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, which implemented the “phase three” reporting procedure focused on enforcement. Since 2009, however, Transparency International’s independent enforcement reports have seen little improvement in enforcement on the part of member states. Thus, the question remains: how can the OECD, as the convention’s administrator, continue to improve enforcement?
Over the last four weeks I have been, quite frankly, awestruck by the negativity of comments surrounding the Kony 2012 video campaign produced by non-profit organization Invisible Children. My sudden delight over the fact that friends (who don’t know the first thing about international human rights law and, for the most part, used social media to post baby pictures and talk about Hunger Games) were sharing the video and discussing the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was quickly stamped out following the Scrooge-like grumbling of my colleagues in the human rights field, many of whom are alumnae of postgraduate human rights programs, or currently work for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or inter-governmental organizations (IGOs). It was mind-boggling that so little good was being said of a YouTube video from a start-up NGO that had managed to introduce the plight of LRA victims to the general public on a scale that had never been seen before, despite two decades’ worth of attempts from better-funded and better-known NGOs, IGOs, and television networks.
In searching for an answer as to why anyone in the human rights field would disparage the success of a non-profit trying to raise money for LRA victims, I couldn’t help but feel that those of us familiar with the dialogue of human rights occasionally suffer from bouts of intellectual elitism, causing us to spew bitter criticism in a burst of condescending I-know-more-than-you-dos whenever one of the unassuming layfolk dares to take an interest in our sacred realm of expertise. We become threatened by sudden interest in a subject that has, for the most part, been ignored by the general public, and feel the need to assert our authority as, well, the authority, on all things human rights. Suddenly, our general knowledge on the LRA is commonplace, and in an attempt to make ourselves stand out, we begin nit-picking and forget to celebrate the bigger battle that has been won: namely, that people are starting to care about a humanitarian crisis that is happening a world away.
My intention in this article is to address six of the most common criticisms of Invisible Children and the Kony 2012 video in an attempt to make the case that the NGO is not, in fact, the wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing that some would have you believe. Continue reading →
Debating Human Rights recently had the opportunity to sit down with Franco-Iranian photojournalist Reza Deghati. Reza has been photographing and traveling the world for decades, sharing his insights into the places he photographs and the people he meets. More recently, Reza served as a consultant to the United Nations in Afghanistan and has turned to advocacy work. In 2006, National Geographic awarded him with a fellowship. We are grateful he has taken the time to share his insights with us about the changing world that is unfolding in such unpredictable ways.
What follows is an excerpt from our interview. In it, Reza explores the implications of the kinds of citizen journalism we are seeing in the Middle East and North Africa.
In the last few months, rumors have circulated about the possibility of offering Muammar Qaddafi amnesty if he steps down. While the rebel leaders have declared their opposition to the idea, it now seems that both France and the United Kingdom may be open to the idea of pardoning the estranged dictator. Perhaps from a political perspective, amnesty in exchange for Qaddafi relinquishing power would be a good deal since it would most likely mean that foreign troops (mostly British and French) would be able to withdraw from this conflict – one that has already extended far beyond anyone’s imagination when the operation was launched in March this year. However, from an international legal and justice perspective, offering Qaddafi amnesty would be highly detrimental. Amnesty would mean completely undermining the international community’s efforts to end impunity, it would thwart the interests of victims in receiving justice, and contrary to popular argument, it would not actually provide a long-lasting and stable peace. Furthermore, amnesty for the crimes of which Qaddafi is accused is a direct violation of international human rights law. Continue reading →
With the arrest of Goran Hadžić on July 20 this year and his transfer to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the last remaining war crimes suspect on the ICTY’s list will be brought to justice after seven years on the run. The tribunal will be able to close its doors after almost 20 years of working to prosecute those most responsible for the atrocities during the wars of the former Yugoslavia. The tribunal has endeavored to deliver justice to victims, and has served as a catalyst for the recent development in the area of international criminal law. Continue reading →
On 5 July, six days before the 16th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre that killed 7,000 to 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys, an appeals chamber in the Netherlands handed down an unexpected and historic verdict that for the first time found a state responsible for conduct in a UN peacekeeping mission. The case (Nuhanović v. The Netherlands) involved the deaths of three Muslim men handed over to Bosnian Serb forces by Dutch peacekeepers at the UN compound near Srebrenica during the 1992-1995 Balkan conflicts. The decision was celebrated by human rights groups but may have far reaching effects on the willingness of states to contribute troops to UN peacekeeping missions and may influence other cases involving UN and state responsibility for Srebrenica. In addition, the ruling brings to light larger questions about the accepted status quo of immunity for UN peacekeeping forces. Continue reading →
Debating Human Rights is is proud to welcome Mr. Matthew Gillett from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia as this week’s guest blogger
“Now, as a result of this disaster, lives have been lost, businesses have been decimated, communities that had already known great hardship now face the specter of sudden and painful economic dislocations, untold damage is being done to the environment; damage that could last for decades”
Press statement by President Barrack Obama following BP Gulf Oil Spill, 1 June 2010
The world faces an environmental threat of catastrophic potential. Climate change, deforestation, loss of biological diversity and pollution are increasingly ravaging the planet. President Obama’s words convey the destruction wrought on the American people and the local environment following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Irrespective of whether or not BP or its representatives could face criminal charges for that disaster, it demonstrates the destructive capabilities of mankind. One potential mechanism for addressing and seeking to curb examples of egregious damage inflicted on the environment is international criminal law. Despite the rapid development of international criminal law over the lasts two decades, prosecutions at the international level of those responsible for severe environmental destruction have remained rare and have not resulted in convictions. Nonetheless, with other efforts to address environmental damage stalling, it is worth considering the increased use of international criminal law as an additional tool to confront extreme cases of environmental damage of concern to the international community.
Debating Human Rights is proud to welcome Dr. iur. Philipp Ambach, Special Assistant to the President of the International Criminal Court as this week’s guest blogger.
One of the cornerstones of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (hereinafter “Court”) is the principle of complementarity. Contained in Article 17(1)(a) and (b) of the Rome Statute of the Court (“Statute”), the principle of complementarity stipulates that it is the duty of every state to exercise criminal jurisdiction over those responsible of international crimes, and more concretely perpetrators of the crimes enlisted in Article 5 of the Statute. Only when states fail to fulfil their duty in this regard will the court step in and exercise jurisdiction.
A Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (the ICC) housed in The Hague issued arrest warrants on Monday, 27 June 2011, for Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, his son, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, and chief of military intelligence, Abdullah Al-Senussi for crimes against humanity, including murder and persecution, allegedly committed in Libya between 15 February 2011 and around 28 February 2011. The chamber stated that there were “reasonable grounds to believe” that the three men committed crimes against civilians stemming from the uprising against Gaddafi in February.
This is only the second time the ICC has issued an arrest warrant against a sitting head of state. Previously, an arrest warrant was issued for Omar Al-Bashir, Leader of Sudan, for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide. Two other International Tribunals have also prosecuted leaders of state – Slobodan Milosevic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and former Liberian President, Charles Taylor, at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
The Libyan government was quick to denounce the issuance of the arrest warrants, calling it a “tool of the Western world to prosecute leaders in the third world.” Continue reading →
Debating Human Rights reviews current refugee issues and challenges readers to “Do 1 Thing” on World Refugee Day
Today UNHCR celebrates World Refugee Day to raise awareness of the plight of refugees and highlight the inequalities and imbalances of the current refugee protection regime. Through their new “Do 1 Thing” campaign, the organization is encouraging the public to engage in one simple activity to support refugees, either by learning about refugee issues, spreading awareness or donating money. The dynamic website accompanying the campaign includes a refugee simulation game and a video recorded by UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie amongst other materials. Continue reading →