Land Mines and Explosive Remnants of War: A Global Burden

Created by Benjamin D. Hennig, Creative Commons conditions (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Saturday, April 4th was International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. Global Currents would like to take this opportunity to talk about the history of land mines and current issues and efforts surrounding mines and explosive hazards.

When wars end, often the death and destruction lingers for decades in the form of unexploded land mines and other types of explosives. The people living in affected areas must deal with the effects of these remnants of war, which still kill or injure around 11 people each day around the world, despite massive worldwide efforts since 1997 to eliminate them.  In addition to death and injury, the cost of medical care, resulting unemployment, and loss of usable land have detrimental effects on communities as well.

The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, also known as the Ottawa Treaty, was adopted by the UN in 1997, and currently has 162 signatories. 35 United Nations States are not-party to the treaty, including the United States, Russia, and China. Terms of the treaty for signatories includes destruction of land mine stockpiles (except for a small number for training purposes), clearing of all land mine areas within the country within ten years of signing, and assistance to persons affected by land mines. The Ottawa Treaty does not include any provisions for cluster munitions, however, which can pose many of the same civilian risks as land mines.  The Convention on Cluster Munitions , as a result, was adopted in 2008 and is currently signed by 116 countries. This convention is similar to the Ottawa Treaty in its obligations – destruction of stockpiles, clearing of areas, and assistance to victims.

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) is the branch of the United Nations dedicated to addressing the problem of land mines and explosive hazards. The organization works in 40 countries and three territories on different aspects of mine action, depending on the area’s need. NGOs such as the The Marshal Legacy Institute, The Halo Trust, and the Landmine Relief Fund, cover a range of actions from demining efforts to public awareness to assistance for victims.

Despite the existence of these treaties and campaigns, land mines and cluster munitions remain a huge problem in many areas.  The International Campaign to Ban Land Mines produced the following major results on land mines and cluster munitions for 2013:

  • A global total of 3,308 casualties from land mines worldwide was reported, occurring in 52 states, 32 of which are state parties to the Ottawa Treaty. This number is a 24% decline from 2012’s 4,324.
  • In 2013, Syria had the highest number of cluster munition casualties for any nation, with around 1,000 casualties, 97% of which were civilians.
  • Casualties from cluster munition remnants occurred in nine states and one other area in 2013, including four state parties (Croatia, Iraq, Lao PDR, and Lebanon), five non-signatories (Cambodia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Vietnam), and Western Sahara.
  • Currently, only 11 states are identified as potential producers of antipersonnel land mines: China, Cuba, India, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam.
    • The United States was removed from this list because of a 2014 policy announcement that promised an end to the production and acquisition of antipersonnel mines.
  • “Sixteen countries continue to produce cluster munitions or reserve the right to produce in the future, but only three of these states are known to have used the weapon: Israel, Russia, and the United States.”

The latest reports show that progress is being made in eliminating the threat of land mines and cluster munitions to civilians, but policy and practice need to continue to move towards what ICBLM calls the “international norm against use – where use anywhere by anyone is considered abhorrent.”

To find out more about land mine action, please consult the resources below!

Web Resources

UN Libraries Research Guide – Mine Action

The Collaborative ORDnance data repository (CORD) enables web-based search of landmine and other unexploded ordnance data to assist humanitarian demining and ordnance disposal operations.

Landmine & Cluster Monitor – Country Profiles

Cluster Munition Coalition

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals and Databases)

ARCAND, J., RODELLA-BOITREAUD, A., & RIEGER, M. (2015). The Impact of Land Mines on Child Health: Evidence from Angola. Economic Development & Cultural Change, 63(2), 249-279.

Kirk, R. W. (2014). In Dogs We Trust? Intersubjectivity, Response-Able Relations, and the Making of Mine Detector Dogs. Journal Of The History Of The Behavioral Sciences, 50(1), 1-36.

Perez, J., Shortt, N., & Morton, J. (2012). Latin American Compliance with the Mine Ban Convention. International Journal Of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 6(11), 89-100.

WILLIAMS J. STOP USING LAND MINES AND CLUSTER MUNITIONS. Foreign Policy [serial online]. January 2013;(198):1.

Books (Available at UIUC Libraries)

Borrie, John. (2009). Unacceptable harm: a history of how the treaty to ban cluster munitions was won. New York : United Nations.

Bryden, Alan. (2013). International law, politics and inhumane weapons: the effectiveness of global landmine regimesAbingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

Tyner, James A.. (2010).  Military legacies: a world made by warNew York : Routledge.

Williams, Jody, Goose, Stephen D.Wareham, Mary. (Eds.) (2008). Banning landmines :disarmament, citizen diplomacy, and human securityLanham : Rowman & Littlefield.

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Net Neutrality: What’s New in 2015?

netneutrality

Last year, Global Currents reported on the history and current rulings relating to net neutrality. In light of recent decisions from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on this issue, this post will bring you up to speed on what’s happening now.

Net neutrality is the idea that all content on the Internet be treated equally. In other words, under net neutrality legislation, Internet service providers (ISPs) will not be able to give preference to certain websites, or allow for Internet “fast lanes” to companies who pay more.

We left off our last post on the issue when the FCC was opening a four-month window for public input before passing further legislation. At this time, the United States Court of Appeals ruling on Verizon vs. FCC held that previous rules pertaining to net neutrality produced by the FCC were not valid, because ISPs were not common carriers. This meant that ISPs fell outside of the realm of authority for the FCC, under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C.).  This is one of the important things that has changed in the past year.

In November of 2014, President Obama released a statement on net neutrality. Obama urged the FCC to reclassify the Internet as a utility, which would make it a common carrier and allow the commission to regulate ISPs.  He stated, “For almost a century, our law has recognized that companies who connect you to the world have special obligations not to exploit the monopoly they enjoy over access into and out of your home or business. It is common sense that the same philosophy should guide any service that is based on the transmission of information — whether a phone call or a packet of data.”

On February 26th, 2015, the FCC followed this advice and voted to reclassify the Internet as a common carrier. Along with this decision came the FCC’s new Open Internet Rules, which were released to the public on March 12th. The three rules are:

  • No blocking – ISPs cannot block any lawful content from consumers.
  • No throttling – ISPs cannot control the Internet speed for any content or services, regardless of the applications or devices being used.
  • No paid prioritization – ISPs cannot provide faster Internet service in exchange for payment. This means there cannot be any “fast lanes” of Internet content.

But, the FCC’s latest decision is not the end-all solution for net neutrality. The debate rages on as ISPs like Verizon and AT&T, and many (mostly Republican) lawmakers argue that the ruling places too much regulation on Internet service and will stifle innovation. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has been called to several meetings with lawmakers since the ruling, being forced to explain and defend the commission’s position.  The conversation on this issue is definitely not over, and it remains to be seen what will become of the FCC’s latest ruling.

The sources below will help you brush up on the net neutrality issue!

Web Resources

FCC.gov – Open Internet

What is net neutrality and what does it mean for me? – USA Today

How Net Neutrality Works (Video) – New York Times

The Open Internet: A Case for Net Neutrality

Government Docs

The FCC Rulings:

The Communications Act of 1934:

Verizon vs. FCC

Additional places to search for U.S. legislation:

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Chai Wai Series: The Future of the European Union: A Shared Vision?

Please join the International and Area Studies Library for the following event:

Slide1

The event will include members of the Chicago Consular Corps in a conversation related to issues affecting the future of the European Union.  In anticipation of this event, explore some of the important background information about the European Union, then join us for “Tea or something” on March 12, from 2:30-4:00 p.m. at the International and Area Studies Library, Room 321 Main Library to engage in the conversation.  The discussion is sponsored by the European Union Center, the Center for Global Studies and the University Library.

Origins of the EU

The European Union traces its roots to the aftermath of World War II, when the countries of Europe were seeking solidarity to protect against further discord and war. The economic fallout from the war was immense, and this was also a motivating factor in creating organizations to unite the countries of Europe. In 1949, the Council of Europe was created when ten states ( Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom) signed the Treaty of London. With the aim “to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress” (Statute of the Council of Europe), the Council became the first pan-European organization. The Council of Europe now includes every European country except for Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Vatican City.

The Three Communities

In 1950, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands founded the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which merged the coal and steel sectors of member countries, ensuring that none could create weapons of war to use against the others. In 1957, these same six countries signed the Treaties of Rome, which created the European Economic Community (EEC) and European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).  The purpose of the EEC was to merge the economic markets of member countries, and Euratom merged the atomic energy industries of member countries.  In 1967 ECSC, EEC, and Euratom joined to become European Communities. In 1973 Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom (with Gibraltar) joined the European Communities. These countries were followed by Greece (in 1981), and Spain and Portugal (in 1987).

By Kolja21 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

The EU is Created

In 1993, the Treaty of Maastricht officially created the European Union, which consists of three pillars: “the European Communities, common foreign and security policy and police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters” (Europa). The EU currently includes 28 countries. One goal of the Treaty of Maastricht was the creation of a common currency within the European Union. In 1999, the Euro became this common currency and the European Central Bank  was launched.

Financial Crisis

In September of 2008, the global financial crisis hit Europe and the rest of the world. Specifically, the financial recession affected the European Union by inciting what is known as the Eurozone Debt Crisis, wherein some member states were unable to repay or refinance government debts. This led some countries (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain) to receive bailouts from the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank. Some countries, such as Greece, are still suffering economic decline and possible default. The causes and effects of the Eurozone crisis are complex and still being debated today.

What’s Next?

Join the Chai Wai discussion on March 12 to explore some of the current issues facing the European Union. Check out the resources below to study up before the event!

Web Resources

Europa – Official Website of the European Union

Eur-Lex Access to European Law

European Press Room – Europa

European Union – News – Guardian

Euro Debt Crisis Explained – Economics Help

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals and Databases)

Demosthenes Ioannou, Patrick Leblond & Arne Niemann (2015) European integration and the crisis: practice and theory. Journal of European Public Policy, 22:2, 155-176.

Deutschmann, Christoph. (2014). The future of the European Union: A ‘Hayekian’ regime? European Journal of Social Theory, 17(3), 343–358.

Francis Cheneval, Sandra Lavenex & Frank Schimmelfennig (2015) Demoi-cracy in the European Union: principles, institutions, policies. Journal of European Public Policy, 22:1, 1-18.

Grecu, Silviu Petru; Margarit, Diana. (2014). The instability of the European Union? A quantitative approach. Eastern Journal of European Studies, 5(1), 21-37.

HUIDUMAC-PETRESCU, C., & POPA, A. C. (2014). WHAT WAS NOT RESOLVED BY THE ANTI-CRISIS STRATEGIES IN THE EUROPEAN UNION. Hyperion International Journal Of Econophysics & New Economy, 7(2), 369-377.

Books (Available at UIUC Library)

Toemmel, Ingeborg. (2014). The European Union: what it is and how it works. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York, NY : Palgrave Macmillan.

Baimbridge, Mark,Whyman, Philip. (2015). Crisis in the eurozone: causes, dilemmas and solutions. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York, NY : Palgrave Macmillan.

Champeau, Serge. (Eds.) (2015). The future of Europe :democracy, legitimacy and justice after the Euro crisis. London ; New York : Rowman & Littlefield International.

Chang, Michele,, Menz, Georg, Smith, Mitchell P.. (Eds.) (2015). Redefining European economic governanceLondon ; New York : Routledge.

Kelemen, R. Daniel,, Menon, Anand,Slapin, Jonathan B.. (Eds.) (2015). The European Union: integration and enlargement. Abingdon, Oxon, UK ; New York, NY : Routledge.

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Conflict Mineral Regulation in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Center for Global Studies is hosting the following event:

Disclosure Based Certification of Conflict-Free Minerals:

Update from the Democratic Republic of Congo

a talk by

Dr. Richard B. Robinson

Extractive Industries Technical Advisor

USAID, Kinshasa, DRC

Friday, January 30, 12:00 pm

GSLIS 131

Tantalum, Tin, Tungsten, and Gold. Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0

What are conflict minerals?

Conflict minerals include tin, tantalum, tungsten, (known as 3T) and gold which are mined under conditions of armed conflict. The mining of these materials at mines controlled by militant groups is usually associated with human rights violations because those doing the mining are either forced to work at gunpoint or are persuaded to work to protect families and loved ones. The mining of these minerals plays a major role in funding militant groups engaged in armed conflict.  In fact, the accessibility of conflict minerals to militant groups has been statistically linked to longer and more deadly conflicts¹.   Currently the country most affected by the mining and sale of conflict minerals is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where there have been an estimated 5.4 million deaths in civil conflicts to date.  Prior to 2010, it was estimated that conflict minerals provided $185 million per year to armed groups.

The Legislation

As part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act (Section 1502), the United States Securities and Exchange Commission now requires companies using any of the four minerals designated as conflict minerals to perform a “country of origin” inquiry on the materials. They must then report to the SEC their determination that the materials are either “DRC Conflict Free,” “Not Been Found to Be DRC Conflict Free,” or “DRC Conflict Undeterminable.” The law does not ban the purchase or user of products from DRC, but requires companies to report and publicly state their use of such products.

The Effects

The 2010 legislation has significantly impacted the mining economy of the DRC. A June 2014 report by the Enough Project, based on five months of field research in DRC, produced several findings, including the following. 1) Two thirds of the DRC’s mineral mines are free of the presence of armed groups. This is even more meaningful when compared to a 2010 (pre-Dodd-Frank) study by the UN Group of Experts, which found that in the Kivu province of the DRC, military groups controlled almost every single mineral mine. 2) Because the majority of companies buying minerals will only purchase “certified conflict-free” minerals, the price of non-certified minerals has shrunk by 30 to 60 percent. 3) Many electronics companies are investing in conflict-free mines, which has created up to 15 new certified conflict-free mines since 2011.

However, there are critics of the law who believe that, while something needed to be done to keep conflict minerals out of the hands of militant groups, the 2010 legislation was flawed. Reporting for the Washington Post in December of 2014, Sudarsan Raghavan discussed how the law has negatively affected many miners who relied upon mineral mines for their livelihood. Others, such as business law scholar Henry Lowenstein (citation below), criticize the legislation for delegating the enforcement of the law to the SEC, which was overwhelmed with regulatory tasks after the 2008 financial crisis and which had no prior experience in regulating natural resource imports and exports.

Come and Learn More!

Richard Robinson’s lecture on Friday will discuss the context of the Dodd-Frank conflict materials provision, as well as the effects of the legislation on international economic and development policy. Join us to learn more about this important issue.

Learn more on your own with the following resources:

Web Resources

Conflict Minerals 101 (Video) – Enough Project

Conflict Minerals – Global Witness

Sec.gov – Conflict Minerals Fact Sheet

Conflict Minerals Infographic – Sourceintelligence.com

Effects of Dodd-Frank Investigative Report – Enough Project

 

Books (Available through UIUC Libraries)

Bøås, Morten. (2015). The politics of conflict economies :miners, merchants and warriors in the African borderland. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Boulden, Jane. (Eds.) (2013). Responding to conflict in Africa: the United Nations and regional organizations. New York, NY : Palgrave Macmillan.

Gilpin, Raymond.Downie, Richard. (2009). Conflict-business dynamics in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Washington, D.C. : U.S. Institute of Peace.

(2013). The unintended consequences of Dodd-Frank’s conflict minerals provision: hearing before the Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade of the Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, One Hundred Thirteenth Congress, first session, May 21, 2013. Washington : U.S. Government Printing Office.

 

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals and Databases)

Carter, R. A. (2012). Conflict Mineral Regulations Cause Corporate Concerns. Engineering & Mining Journal (00958948), 213(9), 136-140.

Lowenstien, H. (2014). DODD-FRANK’S CONFLICT MINERALS RULE: THE TIN EAR OF GOVERNMENT-BUSINESS REGULATION. Southern Law Journal, 24(2), 189-219.

Nanda, V. P. (2014). CONFLICT MINERALS AND INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS: UNITED STATES AND INTERNATIONAL RESPONSES. ILSA Journal Of International & Comparative Law, 20(2), 285-304.

Veale, E. (2013). IS THERE BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS-FREE DEVICE?: EXAMINING LEGISLATIVE APPROACHES TO THE CONFLICT MINERALS PROBLEM IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO. Cardozo Journal Of International & Comparative Law, 21(2), 503-544.

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Charlie Hebdo: Freedom of expression, freedom to offend, and freedom from violence

Hannover rally in support of the victims of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting‎. Credit: Bert Ungerer, CCBY2.0

The violence in Paris between January 7th and 9th, where attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s offices and subsequent sieges led to the deaths of 17 victims, has sparked a worldwide outcry of support for freedom of expression. The magazine was targeted by Islamist extremists because of its depictions of the prophet Muhammad.

On Sunday, January 11th, powerful pictures hit the international press of world leaders (Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, French President Francois Hollande, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merke, European Council President Donald Tusk, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) standing arm in arm in Paris during demonstrations where an estimated 1.5 million people marched to show solidarity with the victims.

The phrase “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) went massively viral, showing up on Twitter, Facebook, on signs at rallies all over the world, and even displayed by Hollywood celebrities at last Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards. Cartoonists the world over have shown their support for the victims of the attacks with countless drawings and cartoons expressing sorrow, hope, and renewed commitment to the right of artists and journalists to express themselves without fear of violence.

Some journalists and commentators have used this tragedy as an opportunity to discuss the larger issues of censorship and press freedom, and as always, this is an extremely complicated topic. Millions of people worldwide are proclaiming the right to freedom of speech, but what if that speech is offensive to certain religions or ethnic groups? Salman Rushdie famously stated, “What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”

But some see a distinction between the freedom of expression and the “freedom to offend.” Some people have responded with a counter-slogan, “Je ne suis pas Charlie” (I am not Charlie). Roxanne Gay, in a piece written for The Guardian, stated, “Murder is not an acceptable consequence for anything. Yet it is also an exercise of freedom of expression to express offense at the way satire like Charlie Hebdo’s characterises something you hold dear – like your faith, your personhood, your gender, your sexuality, your race or ethnicity.”

Others have had more extreme reactions to the “Je Suis Charlie” demonstrations. Beginning on January 19th, counter-protests broke out in several predominantly Muslim countries.  While many of the counter-protests remained peaceful, several turned violent. In Niger, CNN is reporting that 10 people were killed during protests and several churches and homes were burned. In Pakistan, Algeria, and Jordan, protesters reportedly have clashed with police forces as well, although no injuries or deaths have occurred.

So, while the horrific events in Paris brought millions of people together to support free speech, they also revived a worldwide debate about what that freedom means. While some uphold that freedom of expression must include the freedom to offend, others disagree, feeling the need to defend their faith from speech and actions that they find offensive. These varying viewpoints will, hopefully, lead to respectful debate with the common belief that violence is not an acceptable response to artistic expression, no matter the content in question.


 

Want to learn more about this complicated issue? The UIUC Department of French and Italian and  the School of Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics and the European Union Center are hosting the following event:

Are We Charlie? – France, Europe, and the World after 1-11

A forum with brief remarks by special guests Nancy Blake (French & Italian and Comparative & World Literature), Maimouna Barro (Center for African Studies), Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi (History), Jean-Philippe Mathy (FRIT and CWL), and Yasemin Yildiz (Germanic Languages and Literatures).

Wednesday, January 21, at 4 p.m.
160 English Building


The resources below will help you with further research on these topics.

 

Books (Available through UIUC Libraries)
Amos, Merris., Harrison, Jackie,Woods, Lorna. (Eds.) (2012). Freedom of expression and the mediaLeiden ; M. Nijhoff Pub.
Grenda, Christopher S. (2014). Profane: Sacrilegious Expression in a Multicultural AgeBerkeley : University of California Press.
Hare, Ivan.Weinstein, James. (Eds.) (2009). Extreme speech and democracy. Oxford : Oxford University Press.
Radsch, Courtney C.. (Eds.) (2014). World trends in freedom of expression and media development. Paris : United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

 

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals and Databases)
DANCHIN, P. G. (2011). DEFAMING MUHAMMAD: DIGNITY, HARM, AND INCITEMENT TO RELIGIOUS HATRED. Duke Forum For Law & Social Change (DFLSC),2(1), 5-38.
Kyi, A. S. S. (2012). Word Power. Index on Censorship, 41(1), 28-31.
Pomerance, B. P. (2013). WHAT ARE WE SAYING? VIOLENCE, VULGARITY, LIES . . . AND THE IMPORTANCE OF 21ST CENTURY FREE SPEECH. Albany Law Review, 76(1), 753-756.
Veit Bader (2014). Free Speech or Non-discrimination as Trump? Reflections on
Contextualised Reasonable Balancing and Its Limits, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 40:2,
320-338.

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International Relations Spotlight: United States and Iran

1024px-Barack_Obama_on_the_telephone_with_Hassan_Rouhani

President Obama speaks with Iranian President Rouhani

In late November, negotiations between the group of world powers known as P5+1 (United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, and Germany) and Iran regarding limitations to Iran’s nuclear capabilities failed to produce an agreement by the deadline of November 24th. As a result, the interim agreement known as the “Joint Plan of Action” was extended until July of 2015.  This means that talks will continue in the coming months to attempt to reach a more final solution, but Iran will be held to the terms of the interim deal in the meantime.

So, what exactly would this nuclear deal contain, and how would its completion affect relations between Iran and the United States? Let’s start by breaking down a very brief history of U.S.-Iran relations over the past several decades. (For a more in-depth timeline, check out this one from the New York Times.)

The first important event in modern U.S.-Iran relations was the 1953 overthrow of Mohammad Mossadeq, Iran’s democratically-elected Prime Minister. Recently declassified government documents show that the CIA and the UK’s MI6 were behind this coup, with the justification that the Mossadeq was leaning towards a Soviet alliance.  After this coup, the Iranian shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, with support of the United States, was installed as monarch with broad powers. In the time between the 1953 coup and the Islamic Revolution of 1979, when the shah was overthrown, the United States and Iran signed several important nuclear agreements.  The 1957 agreement allowed the U.S. to lease enriched uranium to Iran for peaceful uses. In 1968, Iran signed onto the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  Finally, in 1975, President Ford published a directive which allowed the United States to share nuclear materials and technology with Iran, even allowing Iran to use an American-built processing plant to extract plutonium.
Iran_nuclear_illustrationGood relations between the two countries came to an end, however, with the 1979 Islamic Revolution, after which Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini became the leader of the new Islamic Republic. The U.S. State Department evacuated 1,350 Americans from the country, as Khomeini publicly declared, “I beg God to cut off the the hands of all evil foreigners and their helpers.”  Tensions rose between the two countries as a group of students supported by Khomeini seized the U.S. Embassy and took 52 Americans hostage.  The hostages were held in captivity for almost a year and a half. Finally, on January 20, 1981, the U.S. agreed to unfreeze Iranian assets and property and promised not to interfere militarily or politically with Iran in exchange for the release of the hostages.

For the next three decades, relations between the U.S. and Iran remained bumpy at best. Beginning in the mid-1980’s, the U.S. became involved in what is known as the “Tanker War,” the portion of the Iraq-Iran War that took place in the waters of the Persian Gulf. The U.S. became involved in the struggle to protect oil shipments through the area, and between 1987-1988, U.S. attacks resulted in the destruction of much of Iran’s navy as well as some Iranian oil platforms. During one of the skirmishes in the region, the U.S. naval vessel Vincennes accidentally shot down an Iranian civilian passenger plane, killing all 290 passengers. Throughout the Gulf War and into the late 1990’s, there seemed to be no inclination on the part of either country’s leaders towards diplomacy.

In 1997, reformist Mohammad Khatami was elected Iranian president, bringing in more than 70% of the votes.  Khatami reached out to the United States in an interview with CNN, calling for a “dialogue with the world.” However, no contact was made between U.S. and Iranian leaders during Khatami’s presidency. In 2002, the U.S. learned about a covert Iranian nuclear program, which led to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and eventually a temporary agreement for Iran to stop all uranium production.  However, after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a conservative known for his strong anti-western rhetoric, was elected Iranian president in 2005, nuclear negotiations stalled and Iran continued its nuclear enrichment activities. Ahmadinejad’s presidency brought tumultuous times within Iran and with Iran-U.S. relations.

Hassan_Rouhani_in_Bishkek

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

In 2013, Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, made a phone call to President Obama while at a UN forum in New York.  This phone call was the first direct conversation between leaders of the two countries in over 30 years.  The leaders both later expressed via social media that the two countries were ready to reach a deal concerning Iran’s nuclear program.  This led to the “Joint Plan of Action,” the short term nuclear agreement that is now in effect.

All of the P5+1 powers, the IAEA Board of Governors and the UN Security Council are in agreement that Iran should not be allowed to develop the capabilities for nuclear weapons.1 These international actors also believe that Iran was, in the recent past, actively working to develop these capabilities, which mainly hinge upon enriched uranium and ballistic missile production,2 and that’s the basic push behind the nuclear agreement. Iran denies these accusations, however, even claiming that the IAEA forged documents that prove that the country’s nuclear program has “possible military dimensions.”  These tensions are surely affecting the negotiations toward a nuclear agreement, but the completion of this agreement would be an important step in smoothing the turbulent relations that the United States and Iran have shared over the past 70 years.

Check out the sources below to learn more about this topic!

Web Resources

BBC News: US and Iran – A Brief Guide

US and Iran meet in bid to reach nuclear deal – Al Jazeera

Timeline of US/Iran Relations

Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals and Databases)

Attacking Iran’s Nuclear Project. (2012). World Affairs, 175(1), 25-38.

Ezeozue, C. (2013). THE UNITED STATES AND IRAN NUCLEAR PROGRAMME: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS. Journal Of Global Intelligence & Policy, 6(10), 114-123.

GOLDMAN, Z. K., & RAPP-HOOPER, M. (2013). Conceptualizing Containment: The Iranian Threat and the Future of Gulf Security. Political Science Quarterly (Wiley-Blackwell), 128(4).

Hildreth, Steven A. (2012). Iran’s Ballistic Missile and Space Launch Programs. CRS Report for Congress, Congressional Research Service.

Porter, Gareth. (2014). How U.S. Intelligence Got Iran Wrong. Middle East Policy, 21(3), 95-103.

Books (Available through UIUC Libraries)

Cordesman, Anthony H., Gold, Bryan. Coughlin-Schulte, Chloe. (2014). Iran: sanctions, energy, arms control, and regime change : a report of the CSISWashington, D.C. : Center for Strategic & International Studies.

Hobbs, Christopher,Moran, Matthew. (2014). Exploring regional responses to a nuclear Iran: nuclear dominoesBasingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan.

Krause, Joachim. (Eds.) (2012). Iran’s nuclear programme: strategic implicationsLondon : Routledge.

Maleki, Abbas.Tirman, John. (2014). U.S.-Iran Misperceptions: A Dialogue. London : Bloomsbury Publishing

Price-Smith, Andrew T.. (Eds.) (2015). Rising threats, enduring challenges: readings in U.S. foreign policyNew York : Oxford University Press.

 

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World Literature: Theories in the Context of Globalization

Photo by Greg Gershman via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Image credit: Greg Gershman via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

When we think of globalization and forms of entertainment, we immediately think of the Internet, social media, movies, or television shows.  But, contrary to popular belief, literature also holds an important place in the flow of entertainment media that is coursing through the veins of public consumption in our globalized world.  The technological advances that are connecting people worldwide through shared information are also serving as a medium to disseminate books across national and cultural boundaries.

The term “world literature” was first used by the German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, referring to the dissemination of literature from and to countries across the globe.  Goethe famously stated in letters to Johann Eckermann in 1827, “National literature is now a rather unmeaning term; the epoch of world literature is at hand, and everyone must strive to hasten its approach.”  World Literature, in the modern sense, refers to literary works that are translated into multiple languages and circulated to an audience outside their country of origin.

World literature is not a new concept, but as new media technologies explode, so do new ways of disseminating books across national boundaries.  And as new ways emerge of delivering world literature to readers worldwide, many scholars are examining the implications of translations on literature, the impact that literature has on culture, and the ways that cultures can transform books.  World literature can be an amazing tool for analyzing globalization because it provides a wonderful example of the ways that information is shared across languages and cultures.

Valerie Henitiuk, a professor of Literature and Translation at the University of East Anglia, in a compelling 2012 essay, explored the process of translation and the meanings that it holds.  She posits that “texts become successfully worlded only through interpretive acts of mediation profoundly bound up in aspects of culture.”  In other words, a text can never truly be independent of its translation.  As literature moves across boundaries of culture and language, it is, in a way, transformed into a unique cultural artifact.

While some believe that world literature gains value in translation, some scholars, such as Gayatri Chakrovorty Spivak, hold the alternate view that the study of world literature often ignores the power of a work in its own language.  Spivak believes that scholars must take care to avoid homogenizing cultures and languages when undertaking the study of translated texts, and that consideration must be given to protecting the diversity of languages and cultures present in literary works.

Image credit: John Blyberg via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Image credit: John Blyberg via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Venkat Mani, in an essay published in 2014, submits that world literature is best understood in the larger context of global media dissemination.  Mani points out that in the globalized world that exists today, the place of origin of a literary work does not necessarily define the cultural or national context of the work.  He believes that modern world literature is being created and disseminated in a public sphere, aided by new media technologies and the interconnected nature of the Internet and social media. Mani’s viewpoint mirrors Goethe’s statement that “national literature is now a rather unmeaning term,” but takes on new meaning as, almost 200 years later, the world is more connected than ever before through modern technology.

The study of world literature is a powerful tool for global studies because it encompasses so many themes that are important to understanding globalization.  World literature can show us how information is shared between cultures and nations. It provides insight into how cultural artifacts are transformed as they traverse languages and boundaries. It also can help us to understand the ways that new media technologies could be facilitating globalization by creating a public space for the transmission of literature and other information across the globe.

Want to delve deeper into this topic? Check out the sources below!

Web Resources

Top 100 Works in World Literature – InfoPlease

Into to World Literature – Penn State

Words Without Borders

Books Set In… – This service lets you search geographically for books set in particular regions, countries, and cities.  It even has a Google Maps feature that lets you browse the map for books from a particular area.

Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals and Databases)

Hamilton, Grant. (2014). On world literature: when Goethe met Boltzmann. Textual Practice, 28:6, 1015-1033

Henitiuk, Valerie. (2012). The Single, Shared Text? Translation and World Literature. World Literature Today, (86)1, 30-34.

Mani, Venkat. (2014). A Pact With Books: The Public Life of World Literature.  Global E-Journal. 8(1). 

Books (Available through UIUC Libraries)

Apter, Emily. (2011). The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature. Princeton : Princeton University Press.

Damrosch, David. (2003). What is world literature? Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, Soret, Frédéric Jacob, Oxenford, John,Eckermann, Johann Peter. (1901). Conversations with Eckermann: being appreciations and criticisms on many subjects. Washington, M.W. Dunne.

Haen, Theo d’. (2012). The Routledge concise history of world literature. London : Routledge.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. (2003) Death of a discipline. New York : Columbia University Press.

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World War I Remembrance – Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

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The First World War began on July 28, 1914 and did not officially end until the signing of a ceasefire that went into effect on November 11, 1918 at 11:00 a.m.  Over the course of this time, 888,246 soldiers from Britain and its Commonwealth were killed in conflict.  To commemorate this loss, Paul Cummins and Tom Piper were commissioned to create this impressive installation of ceramic poppies flowing out of the Tower of London and into the surrounding moat.  To put this into perspective, 116,378 American military personnel were lost in this conflict. (Leland, 2010)

In the United States, Armistice Day was first officially commemorated in 1918 through a Presidential Proclamation by Woodrow Wilson.  In 1938 an Act was passed to create a legal holiday, Armistice Day.  In 1954 in the United States, the word “Armistice” was changed to “Veterans” in order to recognize the sacrifice of American soldiers involved in all conflicts.  After being designated as a federal holiday on the fourth Monday in November in 1961 as part of the Uniform Holiday Bill, the official celebration was changed back to the original date effective in 1978 .  For more on the history of this holiday in the United States, the Veterans Administration provides a brief History of Veterans Day.

This fall, the University of Illinois remembers “The Great War: Experience, Representations, Effects” with a calendar of events.  Come learn more about the War to End All Wars.

 

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Ending Gender-Based Violence: Global Efforts

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November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the 16 days between November 25th and and December 10th are designated by Rutger’s University Center for Women’s Global Leadership as 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. These events put the problem of gender-based violence in the international spotlight and provide an opportunity to discuss the issue and how it is being addressed globally.

Violence against women and girls is a problem that reaches across national boundaries. It affects women of all ages, races, ethnicities, and religions.  Because gender-based violence is often a result of deeper, ingrained  societal discrimination, it is difficult to address and more difficult to eliminate. No matter what form the violence takes, it is harmful not just to individuals but to communities and societies at large. It is a human rights issue with wide-reaching implications that garners attention from the highest levels of international governance but will require fundamental change at the individual and community levels to stop.

Statistics

Here are some jarring global statistics about gender-based violence:

  • Up to 70 percent of women encounter some form of violence during their lifetime. (UN)
  • 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime. The abuser is usually a member of the woman’s family. (WHO)
  • Of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked across national borders annually, women and girls make up 80%.  A majority of these women and girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation. (WHO)
  • The number of women alive today who have undergone female genital mutilation is an estimated 100 and 140 million. (WHO)
  • In some parts of the world it is more likely that a girl will be raped than learn how to read. (WHO)
  • Women aged 15-44 are statistically more likely to be harmed by rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria. (UN)

What can be done?

The UN campaign UNiTE to End Violence Against Women outlines 16 steps that they believe are necessary to work towards ending violence against women.  These include adopting and enforcing laws, engaging the mass media, mobilizing men and boys, ending impunity towards conflict-related sexual violence, making justice available to women and girls, along with several more.  International and regional treaties are also an effective tool in mobilizing large-scale action to eliminate violence against women. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, defines discrimination against women as “…any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.” This widely-arching convention is a powerful tool for gender equality that calls upon UN member states to enact laws and create institutions to eliminate discrimination.

The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) has been proposed as a piece of legislation in the United States, supported by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other advocacy groups, that would address violence against women through United States foreign policy, implementing a set of best practices for preventing the violence and prosecuting perpetrators of such acts.  The act was introduced in 2011 to the United States Congress, but was not passed into law.  Critics, such as Wendy McElroy from The Independent Institute,  claim that the act would unfairly ignore male victims of gendered and sexual violence.  Some international agreements, such as the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention, address this concern, pointing out that the principles and framework of such rulings can be applied to “men, children and the elderly who are exposed to violence within the family or domestic unit.” It will remain to be seen whether formal legislation such as I-VAWA will be passed in the United States, but advocacy organizations hope that awareness events such as International Violence Against Women Day and the 16 Days Campaign will spur the creation of new legal measures and activism throughout the world to address this problem.

Check out the resources below to learn more or get involved!

Web Resources

International Violence Against Women Survey

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2014

Unite to End Violence Against Women

No1Nowhere Campaign

Women Thrive Worldwide

Violence Against Women FactSheet – UN

Books from the UIUC Libraries

Nakray, Keerty. (Eds.) (2013). Gender-based violence and public health: international perspectives on budgets and policiesAbingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

Nichols, Andrea J. (2014). Feminist advocacy: gendered organizations in community-based responses to domestic violenceLanham : Lexington Books.

Renzetti, Claire M., Edleson, Jeffrey L.Bergen, Raquel Kennedy. (2010). Sourcebook on Violence Against Women. Thousand Oaks : SAGE Publications.

Rose, Susan D.. (2014). Challenging global gender violence :the Global Clothesline Project. New York : Palgrave Pivot.

Stewart, Mary White. (2014). Ordinary violence: everyday assaults against women worldwideSanta Barbara, California : Praeger, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC.

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals and Databases)

Casey, E. A., Carlson, J., Fraguela-Rios, C., Kimball, E., Neugut, T. B., Tolman, R. M., & Edleson, J. L. (2013). Context, Challenges, and Tensions in Global Efforts to Engage Men in the Prevention of Violence against Women: An Ecological Analysis. Men & Masculinities, 16(2), 228-251.

Devries, K. M., Mak, J. T., García-Moreno, C., Petzold, M., Child, J. C., Falder, G., & … Watts, C. H. (2013). The Global Prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women. Science, 340(6140), 1527-1528.

Mason, C. L. (2013). Global Violence Against Women as National Security “Emergency”. Feminist Formations, 25(2), 55-80.

McFarlane, J., Nava, A., Gilroy, H., Paulson, R., & Maddoux, J. (2012). Testing Two Global Models to Prevent Violence against Women and Children: Methods and Baseline Data Analysis of a Seven-Year Prospective Study. Issues In Mental Health Nursing, 33(12), 871-881.

Šimonović, D. (2014). Global and Regional Standards on Violence Against Women: The Evolution and Synergy of the CEDAW and Istanbul Conventions. Human Rights Quarterly, 36(3), 590-606.

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Happy Birthday, United Nations!

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October 24th marks United Nations Day, the anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Charter in 1945.  The United Nations uses this day as an opportunity to not only celebrate the collaborative efforts of member nations, but also to reaffirm pressing endeavors of the organization and to lay out goals for the year to come. In his UN Day message for 2014, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stated, “At this critical moment, let us reaffirm our commitment to empowering the marginalized and vulnerable.  On United Nations Day, I call on Governments and individuals to work in common cause for the common good.”

One such common effort of United Nations member states will be the Post-2015 Development Agenda, a plan currently under construction to succeed the Millennium Development Goals as a framework for global development that will stretch to 2030. While the push to achieve the MDGs continues through the plan’s target date of December 2015, United Nations organs and agencies will immediately undertake the new development agenda after 2015.  As described in a previous post on Global Currents, the process of developing a post-2015 agenda for development has been underway since 2010, when the UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda was created, as well as a High-level Panel of Eminent Persons to advise on the post-2015 developmental framework.

In early October, the High-Level Panel released an interactive online report on the agenda, entitled  “A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies Through Sustainable Development.”  Through their research, which involved consultations on the individual, company, and national level through The World We Want, the panel developed 12 Illustrative Goals for global development based on Five Transformative Shifts. These goals build on the Millenium Development Goals and extend and transform them to satisfy the opinions of the public and the shifting needs of the world.  The Five Transformative Shifts are as follows:

  1. Leave no one behind.
  2. Put sustainable development at the core.
  3. Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth.
  4. Build peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all.
  5. Forge a new global partnership.

While the transformative shifts represent ambiguous, widely arching objectives, the 12 illustrative goals delineate just how the transformative shifts can be implemented in more specific, measurable terms. The Panel believes that if the 12 Illustrative Goals are reached, then these shifts will be accomplished. The UN hopes to use the momentum that was started by the Millennium Development Goals to keep member states and UN agencies moving towards worldwide improvement in areas such as poverty, hunger, water, sanitation, education and healthcare.

Consult the sources below for more information on Global Development and the United Nations’ Development Agenda:

Websites

Report on Post-2015 Agenda by High-level Panel of Imminent Persons

The World We Want 2015

List of UN Partners on MDGs

U.S. Agency for International Development

Human Rights Watch

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals and Databases)

Brolan, C. E., Lee, S., Kim, D., & Hill, P. S. (2014). Back to the future: what would the post-2015 global development goals look like if we replicated methods used to construct the millennium development goals?. Globalization & Health, 10(1), 1-15.

Cook, Sarah, Dugarova, Esuna (2014). Rethinking Social Development for a Post-2015 World. Development, 57(1), 30–35.

Slack, L. (2014). The post-2015 Global Agenda – a role for local government. Commonwealth Journal Of Local Governance, (15), 173-177.

Books

Black, Robert E.,, Singhal, Atul,Uauy, Ricardo. (Eds.) (2014). International nutrition :achieving millennium goals and beyond. Basel, Switzerland : Karger ; Vevey, Switzerland : Nestlé Nutrition Institut.

Dodds, Felix., Laguna Celis, Jorge.Thompson, Elizabeth. (2014). From Rio+20 to a new development agenda: building a bridge to a sustainable future. London ; New York : Routledge.

Haslam, Paul Alexander,, Schafer, Jessica,, Beaudet, Pierre,Haslam, Paul Alexander. (Eds.) (2012). Introduction to international development :approaches, actors, and issues. Don Mills, Ontario, Canada : Oxford University Press.

 

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