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Public Procurement of Food: Should Governments Buy Local?

By U.S. Department of Agriculture (CRYP Produce) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In all areas of the world, governments spend a lot of money on food.  Governments need food for schools, hospitals, prisons, universities, and many other types of public institutions.  According to a recent UN briefing, for example, the UK spends approximately $3 billion on public food procurement per year.  Governments also spend money on food for various types of food aid programs.  For instance, in 2010-2011, almost 3% of India’s federal expenditures went to food subsidies or direct food aid.  Almost all high-income countries have school lunch programs, and 70 out of the 108 low- and middle-income countries of the world have some sort of school food program.  Since governments purchase such large amounts of food, they have the ability to control not only the quality of the food purchased, but the source of the food.  This presents a great opportunity for governments to support local food producers, fight hunger, and ensure that the food provided in public venues is high-quality and nutritious.

Several nations are already taking advantage of this opportunity.  Brazil’s Food Acquisition Programme (Programa de Aquisição de Alimentos, PAA) is one example of how government procurement can benefit local farmers and provide food to those in need.  The program’s goal is to provide food to members of the population who are facing “food and nutritional insecurity.”   Between 2003 and 2008, Brazil spent $1 billion on locally-grown food for the program, and the food was donated to 16.8 million people.  This program, while not without challenges, provides local farmers with a sales venue for their crops, spurs production and consumption of local foods, and provides nutritious foods for those who might otherwise go without.

Another example of a successful local food procurement program is Rome, Italy’s school meal program.  Introduced in 2001, the ALL FOR QUALITY principles provide a guideline for food procurement that focuses on “best value” of the food companies contracted, rather than lowest price as is usual for U.S. public food contracts.  The Rome school system, unlike U.S. schools which generally contract to one large food company, contracts with several smaller local food companies, maintaining a competitive bidding system that ensures higher quality.  The contracts given to local food producers are based on a 100-point system.  51 points are allotted for price of food, whereas the other 49 are for infrastructural considerations that support food quality.  The quality of the food is based on place of origin, organic products, and fair trade.  This system not only supports local food companies, but has raised the quality of school food in Rome considerably by creating a competitive market for local food based on important aspects of food quality.  While Italy seems to be leading the way in locally-sourced school food programs, Scotland, Japan, the United States, France, and Canada all have deployed recent programs which utilize local producers and attempt to increase nutritional value in school food.

Local food procurement empowers local food producers, benefits programs that feed the hungry, and increases the nutritional quality of food served in public institutions.  But that’s not all.  Governments can use their food procurement powers to buy only from local suppliers who use sustainable food production methods.  Sustainable production methods are those that use low-carbon or low-external-input modes of production.  Also, buying seasonally and locally reduces the “ecological footprint” of food being produced.  So, local public food procurement can have a really positive impact on the environment in addition to its multitude of societal benefits.

Check out the sources below for more information on public food procurement!

News and Opinions

Third World Network – Public Procurement and the Right to Food

UK National Audit Office – Smarter food procurement in the public sector

The World Bank – A Decade of Learning: Building a Public Procurement Community of Practice

All Africa – Tunisia: Reform of Public Procurement System Under Focus

The Washington Post – Guess how many memos USDA sent to schools about healthy school lunches?

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC E-Journals)

Davies, I., & Riley, J. (2005). Drive to give farmers a slice of public sector food budget. Farmers Weekly, 142(10), 12.

He, C., Perez-Cueto, F., Mikkelsen, B. (2014). Do attitudes, intentions and actions of school food coordinators regarding public organic food procurement policy improve the eating environment at school? Results from the iPOPY study. Public Health Nutrition, 17(6), 1299-1307.

Morgan, Kevin. (2008). Greening the Realm: Sustainable Food Chains and the Public Plate, Regional Studies, 42(9), p. 1246.

Sonnino, R. (2009). Quality food, public procurement, and sustainable development: the school meal revolution in Rome. Environment & Planning A, 41(2), 425-440.

Books at UIUC Libraries

Biénabe, Estelle, Peppelenbos, Lucian Peter Christoph. (Eds.) (2011). Reconnecting markets: innovative global practices in connecting small-scale producers with dynamic food markets. Farnham : Gower.

Marsden, Terry. (Eds.) (2014). Sustainable food systems: building a new paradigmLondon, New York : Routledge.

McCullough, Ellen B., Pingali, Prabhu L., Stamoulis, Kostas G. (Eds.) (2008). The transformation of agri-food systems :globalization, supply chains and smallholder farmers. Rome : Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Morgan, Kevin, Sonnino, Roberta. (2008). The school food revolution: public food and the challenge of sustainable development. London : Earthscan.

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Net Neutrality: Past Rulings and Future Debate

This week, the FCC ruled 3-2 to release a new proposal on net neutrality, which will be opened for comment from the public.  In light of the lively debate that is already starting on this issue, it’s important to understand how the concept of net neutrality has been established in the United States over the past decade.

History of rulings on Net Neutrality

In 2005, the FCC agreed upon the following four principles of “open internet.”

  • Consumers have the right to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.
  • Consumers have the right to use the services and applications of their choice.
  • Consumers have the right to use their choice of devices to access the Internet, as long as said devices do not harm the network.
  • Consumers are entitled to competition among service, application, network, and content providers

The 2005 principles of “open internet” represent the basic tenets of net neutrality.

In 2010, the FCC released the Open Internet Order, which laid out rules for maintaining net neutrality.  The ruling established three important rules for Internet service providers:

  • Transparency – Network providers must make publicly available their network management practices, performance characteristics, and terms and conditions of their contracts.
  • No Blocking – Network providers may not block any lawful content from consumers.  This is important because it keeps network providers from blocking sites or applications from their users that compete with their services.
  • No Unreasonable Discrimination – Network providers cannot discriminate in transmitting network traffic, as long as it is lawful.

However, in Verizon v. FCC in January, 2014, two out of these three rules were rescinded.  Stating that Internet service providers are not common carriers, and therefore are outside of the FCC’s realm of authority, the ruling claims that the FCC cannot impose the rules of net neutrality on Internet providers.  This ruling is seen by proponents of net neutrality as detrimental to the principles of open internet.  While the ruling did not comment on the validity of the rules themselves, it made the 2010 Open Internet Order unenforceable by the FCC.

What’s happening now?

There has been a large public outcry against the Verizon v. FCC ruling, since it is seen by many consumers as a huge step backwards for net neutrality.  The January ruling has the potential to allow Internet service providers to essentially govern the Internet as suits their commercial interests.

The latest proposal by the FCC for creating new rules for net neutrality has also raised concerns that corporate interests are being placed ahead of the principles of open internet.  The proposed rules allow for “commercially reasonable” behavior by Internet service providers to regulate Internet content.  This provision could allow content providers to pay for “fast lanes” of service for certain content, which opponents say would discriminate against slower content.  The possibility that the newly proposed rules could allow for discrimination of Internet content by providers led to a rally of protesters outside of FCC offices as the ruling took place.  But those on the other side of the debate, namely the Internet service providers themselves, claim that the new proposed rules introduce too much regulation, and will inhibit innovation in the Internet industry.  The ruling has strong political implications in the Congress as lawmakers consider future action.

The encouraging part of the proposal for both sides of the debate is its designation of a four-month period to accept public comments on the issue.  Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the FCC, says that this call for comments is intended to open a conversation between lawmakers and the public to ensure that the new ruling upholds the tenets of net neutrality.  The next four months will surely see some lively arguments on the subject of net neutrality, and the forthcoming decisions by the FCC will be important to the future of Internet regulation in the United States.

Check out the resources below to learn more about net neutrality!

**Want to file a comment to the FCC on net neutrality? Here’s the FCC’s information on how to comment.**

News and Opinions

F.C.C. Backs Opening Net Neutrality Rules for Debate – The New York Times

Amid protests, U.S. FCC proposes new ‘net neutrality’ rules – Reuters

The real battle for net neutrality just began – The Verge

Demand Progress – Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality an Oxymoron as FCC Decides Winners and Losers – Bloomberg

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC E-Journals)

Bauer, J. M., & Obar, J. A. (2014). Reconciling Political and Economic Goals in the Net Neutrality Debate. Information Society30(1), 1-19.

Boliek, B. L. (2011). FCC Regulations Versus Antitrust: How Net Neutrality is Defining the Boundaries. Boston College Law Review52(5), 1627-1686.

Kramer, Jan, Wiewiorra, Lukas, Weinhardt, Christof. (2013). Net Neutrality: A progress report. Telecommunications Policy, 37, 794-813.

Pogue, D. (2014). The Great Net Debate. Scientific American310(4), 36.

Books at the UIUC Libraries

Guadamuz, Andrés. (2011). Networks, complexity and internet regulation: scale-free law. Cheltenham, UK : Edward Elgar.

Nunziato, Dawn C. (2009). Virtual freedom :net neutrality and free speech in the Internet ageStanford, Calif. : Stanford Law Books.

Stiegler, Zachary. (Eds.) (2013). Regulating the Web :network neutrality and the fate of the open Internet. Lanham: Lexington Books.

Zelnick, Robert, Zelnick, Eva. (2013). The illusion of net neutrality: political alarmism, regulatory creep, and the real threat to Internet freedomStanford, CA : Hoover Institution Press.

 

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Global Challenges for Gender Equality

UN Commission on the Status of Women

This week, the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58) coincides with International Women’s Day (which took place on March 8th), as well as Women’s History Month in the U.S.  These events present a great opportunity to discuss and examine the challenges faced by women and girls in today’s world.  Let’s focus on three key target areas for gender equality (UN Women, 2013).

Freedom from violence against women and girls

The World Health Organization reported in 2013 that 35% of women worldwide have experienced some type of violence  in their lifetime. This violence can have serious and long-lasting effects on women’s mental, reproductive, and sexual health (WHO, 2013). This issue is addressed in the UN Millennium Development Goals, and will undoubtedly be addressed by the post-2015 development goals.  UN Women works to encourage legal reform, create safe spaces for women, provide health services for victims of violence, increase awareness of the problem, and prevent violence by addressing the root causes. This cause has also been taken up by many private organizations, such as End Violence Against Women International and Springtide Resources. These organizations focus on education initiatives, prevention programs, as well as conducting research to guide efforts at reform.

Gender Equality in the Distribution of Capabilities

This area involves women’s access to education, healthcare, and opportunities such as land or work with equal pay.  The Millennium Development Goals Report of 2013 indicates that progress is being made in all of these areas, but this progress varies by region and demographic.  For instance, the report reveals that women tend to hold less secure jobs than men in developing regions.  The statistics for education reveal that in Northern Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia, the gender disparity in education still remains high (UN, 2013).  The World Economic Forum’s World Gender Gap Report also shows that the “Gender Gap” varies greatly depending on region and tends to be higher in developing areas(World Economic Forum, 2013).

Gender equality in decision-making power

This issue is about women holding positions of influence in public forums and government, but also in their own homes and families.  The number of women that hold parliamentary seats has increased in almost every world region since 2000, mostly due to the creation of legislative or voluntary quotas that require a certain number of female members. However, women’s decision-making power at home remains significantly lower than men’s in many regions of the world (UN, 2013).  These types of decisions range from money-related decisions, to women’s ability to visit friends and family, to decisions about women’s own health.  Family dynamics are greatly influenced by societal and institutional norms, and the hope of many organizations is that by increasing women’s access to education and work opportunities, these norms will begin to change in a direction that is less discriminatory towards women.

Why is gender equality so important?

In a recent report, the UK-based Department for International Development explains that economic stability and growth for developing countries is greatly boosted by improved gender equality.  It makes sense – if women and girls can gain access to improved education, they will eventually get better jobs and be able to better contribute to the economy. The same study shows that including women in political decision-making leads to more effective governance, since women’s presence in government brings greater diversity and different experience to the process (DFID, 2013). This makes the problem all the more pressing and important.  Gender equality is not only a significant concern from a human rights standpoint, but it will allow for the economic and political growth that developing nations need to make them competitive in world markets.

But on a more basic level, gender equality is about advancing human rights for all citizens of the world.

Check out the resources below to learn more about this subject:

Organizations

He for She

UN Women

Women Thrive Wordwide

International Labour Organization Bureau for Gender Equality (GENDER)

End Violence Against Women International

Springtide Resources

Women for Women International

 

Informative Websites and Web Articles

Timeline of International Agreements and Standards to End Violence against Women

Five Human Rights Issues for U.S. NonProfits on International Women’s Day - Non-Profit Quarterly

International Women’s Day: Mainstream Messaging For The Radical Cause Of Full Economic Empowerment - Forbes

 

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC E-Journals)

Corinne L. Mason. “Global Violence Against Women as a National Security “Emergency”.” Feminist Formations 25.2 (2013): 55-80. Project MUSE. Web. 14 Mar. 2014.

Hendra, J., FitzGerald, I., & Seymour, D. (2013). TOWARDS A NEW TRANSFORMATIVE DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: THE ROLE OF MEN AND BOYS IN ACHIEVING GENDER EQUALITY. Journal Of International Affairs67(1), 105-122.

Munin, N. (2013). NGOs, Multinational Enterprises and Gender Equality in Labor Markets: A Political Economy of Conflicting Interests?. Journal Of Multidisciplinary Research (1947-2900)5(1), 5-26.

Chant, SylviaSweetman, Caroline.  (2012). Fixing women or fixing the world? ‘Smarteconomics’, efficiency approaches, and gender equality in development. Gender & Development. 20(3), 517-52.

 

Latest Books at the UIUC Libraries

Joffe, Lisa Fishbayn.Neil, Sylvia. (Eds.) (2013). Gender, religion, & family law: theorizing conflicts between women’s rights and cultural traditionsWaltham, Mass. : Brandeis University Press.

Karamessini, Maria.Rubery, Jill. (Eds.) (2014). Women and austerity: the economic crisis and the future for gender equalityMilton Park, Abingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

Ringrose, Jessica. (2013). Postfeminist education?: girls and the sexual politics of schoolingLondon : Routledge.

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

Runyan, Anne Sisson,Peterson, V. Spike. (2014). Global gender issues in the new millenniumBoulder, CO : Westview Press.

Yarwood, Lisa. (Eds.) (2013). Women and transitional justice: the experience of women as participantsAbingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

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The Politics of Water

 

The Problem:

Water scarcity is one of the most pressing humanitarian crises facing the world today.  Access to water resources has far-reaching political and social implications, especially in areas where water is scarce. Natural water basins do not comply with man-made political borders, and as a result the allocation of precious water resources becomes a point of negotiation in transnational treaties and agreements.   Adding to the politicization of water is the connection between water and energy production.  Water is needed for all types of energy production, and energy is needed for the extraction and dissemination of clean water (UNIDO, 2014).

Water also affects social and cultural issues, such as gender and income inequality.  Since women are traditionally the family members responsible for the retrieval of water, women end up spending many hours of their day collecting water (many times still from polluted or unclean sources) for their family’s survival rather than working outside the home or pursuing education.  When people must spend such a large portion of their time procuring basic resources such as water, their ability to better their situation through work or education becomes even more limited.  This means that the poorest people in the world remain poor, as long as they are struggling daily to obtain water.

Probably the most heart wrenching aspects of the global water crisis is its disproportionate effect on children.   Unicef reported in 2013 that over 2,000 children die every day from diarrheal diseases, an estimated 1,800 of which stem from issues of water and hygiene. Sanjay Wijesekera, global head of UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene programme, puts these numbers into perspective, saying, “The numbers can be numbing, but they represent real lives, of real children. Every child is important. Every child has the right to health, the right to survive, the right to a future that is as good as we can make it” (UNICEF, 2013).

Solutions:

The UN’s Millennium Development Goals address the issue of clean water and sanitation. Target 7.C of the goals promises to, “Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation” (UN, 2013).  According to the UN website, this goal was met in 2010, five years ahead of schedule.  More than 2 billion people gained improved access to drinking water between 1990 and 2010.

How are these goals being met?  In addition to awareness campaigns such as World Water Day (which happens to be coming up on March 22nd!), there are countless organizations working to provide clean and accessible drinking water to the world’s poor and to manage and conserve freshwater resources.  Many organizations work to set up programs in water-scarce countries that provide financing to families and communities for setting up clean water and sanitation services.  Others directly provide wells, pumps, and latrines, as well as training for community members on maintaining the clean-water technology.  Organizations range from non-profits to institutional coalitions to for-profit companies that donate a portion of profits to the cause. These types of charities and organizations are making strides in bringing safe and clean water to world populations, but it is a massive undertaking and the effort will require cooperation across cultures and political borders.

Learn more about water! Check out the resources below:

Websites

FAO Legal Office – Water Treaties Database

UNESCO Water Links Worldwide

27 Water Crisis Orgs to Follow Right Now

World Water Day 2014

UN Millenium Development Goals

Selected Scholarly Articles (Accessed through UIUC E-Journals)

Ciampi, M. (2013). ‘Water divide’ in the global risk society. International Review Of Sociology, 23(1), 243-260.

Lall, U., Heikkila, T., Brown, C., & Siegfried, T. (2008). WATER IN THE 21ST CENTURY: DEFINING THE ELEMENTS OF GLOBAL CRISES AND POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS. Journal Of International Affairs, 61(2), 1-17.

Sivakumar, Bellie. (2011). Water Crisis: from conflict to cooperation, an overview. Hydrological Sciences Journal. 56(4), 531-552.

Trottier, J. (2008). Water crises: political construction or physical reality?. Contemporary Politics, 14(2), 197-214.

Latest Books at UIUC Library

Allan, J. A. (Eds.) (2013). Handbook of land and water grabs in Africa: foreign direct investment and food and water security. London : Routledge.

Chellaney, Brahma. (2013). Water, peace, and war :confronting the global water crisis. Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Groenfeldt, David. (2013). Water ethics: a values approach to solving the water crisis. Abingdon : Earthscan from Routledge.

Hughes, Richard. (2013). Religion, law, and the present water crisis. New York : Peter Lang.

Thielbörger, Pierre.. (2013). The right(s) to water: the multi-level governance of a unique human right.  Berlin : Springer.

Additional Resources from UIUC

Multimedia: 

How to Ensure Sustainable Access to Water for Food in a World of Growing Scarcity

Problematizing Production Potential: Water Scarcity, Access, and Borders in the 21st Century Agricultural Economy

 

 

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The World Watches as Protests Escalate

In the past weeks, mass protests have been swelling in Venezuela, Ukraine, and Thailand, sparking discussions among world political leaders over the rights of protestors and the nature of political dissent.  The world is watching as three different countries in three very different parts of the world struggle with opposition between government and civilian groups, and as the protests escalate from peaceful demonstrations to bloody clashes that verge on all-out battle.  Here is the run-down on what’s happening in each of these three countries.

Venezuela

In Venezuela, at least 4 people were killed and many more injured as government forces pushed back against protestors in the capital city of Caracas on February 12th.  Anti-government protestors are part of a movement led by Leopoldo López, leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, who has long been a proponent of grass roots political reform in the country.  According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2013-2014, Venezuela is the number three economy most damaged by violence.  The country currently has the highest inflation rate in the world, at 56.2%.  Protestors are calling for the ousting of President Nicolas Madura, who was elected after the death of Hugo Chavez in April, 2013.  Rallies have been held both in opposition to and in support of the Madura government.  The government has arrested many protesters and is holding them in custody, along with López, who turned himself in to the police on February 18th.

Ukraine

In the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, protesters took to the streets in November in response to President Viktor Yanukovych backing out of a trade deal with Europe in favor of closer ties with Russia.  Protests have spread to other cities in Ukraine, but Kiev remains the center of conflict.  Many demonstrators have been camping out in Independence Square in Kiev for months, determined to see the conflict through.  On February 18th, after parliament refused to pass a law limiting the president’s powers, protests surged and security forces took steps to quell them, resulting in violent clashes that left at least 25 dead and hundreds wounded.  Violence came from both sides of the struggle, with deaths and injuries on the side of the protesters as well as the security forces.  Protesters set fire to buildings, including the headquarters of the ruling Party of Regions.  The opposition headquarters, the Trade Union House, was also set afire and Independence Square resembled a battle scene on the morning of February 19th.

Although Yanukovych and opposition leaders sat down to a truce on February 19th, fresh fighting broke out in Independence Square on February 20th between protesters and police.  News outlets are reporting up to 100 deaths in these clashes.  The renewed uprising led to an extra-legal parliamentary takeover, after which Yanukovych fled the city.  Parliament set up an interim government and announced presidential elections in May.  Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko announced that he would be on the ballot for the May elections.  Ukraine’s new government announced on February 24th that Yanukovych would be tried for mass murder charges in connection with the deaths of protesters during clashes with police, but he remains on the run.  Meanwhile, the newly formed government of Ukraine is scrambling to avoid economic default, entreating the United States and European Union to pull together as much as $35 billion to get the country back on its feet.  The next weeks will be critical for the fresh leadership in Ukraine to avoid economic collapse and unite the differing opinions of a still-uncertain new government.

Thailand

In Bangkok, Thailand, protesters have been camped out since November calling for the removal of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the implementation of an unelected “people’s council” to push through reforms.  On February 18th, after Yingluck expanded the powers of police to disband protesters, attempts to clear protesters from government buildings in Bangkok led to violent clashes between police and protesters.  Five people were killed during this standoff, as both police and protesters fired guns.  Witnesses claim that protesters threw a grenade at police, injuring several. Thai authorities estimate that 15,000 people are involved in the protests, and nearly 200 protesters have been arrested.

 

Stay informed on these important events! The following sources will get you up to speed:

General Reference Resources

CIA World Factbook - provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities.

EIU Country Intelligence: Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) Country Intelligence provides users with reports and analysis about political, business and economic issues by country, category and subject.

 

News Sources

Venezuela

In Venezuela, Protest Ranks Grow Broader – New York Times

Most neighbors silent as Venezuela reels – CNN

Mercosur condemns violence in Venezuela and calls for dialogue. - MercoPress

17-year-old dies during Venezuelan protests. - CNN

Venezuela’s Maduro Holds Mass Rally to Reject Violence as Protests Continue. - Venezuelanalysis.com

Ukraine

The Guardian – Ukraine

Ukraine crisis: Vitali Klitschko says he will run for presidency – The Independent

Ukraine wants runaway president to face international justice – Reuters

EU, U.S. Scramble to Pull Together Aid for Ukraine – The Wall Street Journal

Thailand

10 questions: What’s behind the protests in Thailand? - CNN

Thailand police and protesters clash fatally in Bangkok – BBC News

Thai protests end in violence and deaths – Al Jazeera

 

Scholarly Articles (Full text available through UIUC E-Journals)

Venezuela

Denis, R. (2012). The Birth of an “Other Politics” in Venezuela. South Atlantic Quarterly, 111(1), 81-93.

Jefferson, A. (2013). Venezuela’s Bolivarian Democracy: Participation, Politics, and Culture under Chávez. Latin Americanist57(3), 108-110.

Kingsbury, Donald. (2013). Between Multitude and Pueblo: Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution and the Government of Un-governability. New Political Science, 35(4), 567-585.

Nadeau, Richard; Bélanger, Éric; Didier, Thomas. (2013). The Chávez vote and the national economy in Venezuela. Electoral Studies, 32(3), pp. 482-488.

Ukraine

Antoaneta Dimitrova & Rilka Dragneva (2013) Shaping Convergence with the EU in Foreign Policy and State Aid in Post-Orange Ukraine: Weak External Incentives, Powerful VetoPlayers, Europe-Asia Studies, 65:4, 658-681.

Dimitrova A, Dragneva R. Shaping Convergence with the EU in Foreign Policy and State Aid in Post-Orange Ukraine: Weak External Incentives, Powerful Veto Players. Europe-Asia Studies [serial online]. June 2013;65(4):658-681.

Thailand

Paul Chambers (2013). Military “Shadows” in Thailand Since the 2006 Coup. Asian Affairs: An American Review, 40:2, 67-82.

Sinpeng, A., & Martinez Kuhonta, E. (2012). From the Street to the Ballot Box: The July 2011 Elections and the Rise of Social Movements in Thailand. Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal Of International & Strategic Affairs, 34(3), 389-415.

Taylor, J. (2012). Remembrance and Tragedy: Understanding Thailand’s “Red Shirt” Social Movement. SOJOURN: Journal Of Social Issues In Southeast Asia, 27(1), 120-152.

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World Leaders Talk Disarmament at UN Conference

Photo: U.S. Mission by Eric Bridiers

On January 21st, the UN Conference on Disarmament opened in Geneva.  With members from 65 countries including the world’s leading military powers, the conference is designed to create multilateral agreements on arms control and disarmament.  The conference, which began in 1979, has resulted in some of the most important treaties on non-proliferation, such as the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon opened the conference with a speech urging member states to overcome differences and move past the stalemate that the conference has experienced in recent years.  Speaking of the Syrian chemical weapons incident of 2013, and the unified voice that came from United Nations member states against such weapons, he encouraged the conference to use structured discussions and draw out new non-proliferation treaty frameworks.

While non-proliferation has become a strong point of rhetoric for many nations, the steps taken to reduce nuclear arms have fallen short of many expectations in recent years.  In a 2009 speech, President Obama vowed that the United States would “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” (as cited in Karp, 2012).  Yet, in early January, the U.S. Defense Secretary announced a plan to upgrade the United States nuclear forces that will total $1 trillion in cost over the next 30 years. These discrepancies between ideology and practice are not limited to the United States.  Russia, China, and India are all taking huge steps to expand their nuclear defense programs as well (Wittner, 2014). The Conference on Disarmament could be an important forum for bringing these discrepancies to light and developing structured and open discussions about their meanings.  Hopefully, member states will heed the words of Secretary General Ki-Moon and overcome their differences to engage in these discussions.

You can learn more about non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament with the sources below!

News Sources

UN chief encourages Conference on Disarmament to live up to world’s expectations – UN News Centre

Interview with Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs

The Endless Arms Race: Despite Great Power Promises, New Nuclear Weapons Are On the Way – Huffington Post, Lawrence Wittner

 

Scholarly Articles

Doyle, J., & Streeper, C. (2012). Steps toward increased nuclear transparency. Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists, 68(2), 55-62.

Karp, R. (2012). Nuclear Disarmament: Should America Lead? Political Science Quarterly, 127(1), 47-71.

Lawrence Freedman (2013) Disarmament and Other Nuclear Norms, TheWashington Quarterly, 36:2, 93-108.

Tannenwald, N. (2013). Justice and fairness in the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Ethics & International Affairs, 27(3), 299.

Walker, P. F., & Hunt, J. R. (2011). The legacy of Reykjavik and the future of nuclear disarmament. Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists, 67(6), 63-72.

 

Books at UIUC Libraries

Chalmers, Malcolm. (2012). Less is better: nuclear restraint at low numbers. London : Rusi.

Jasper, Ursula. (2014). The politics of nuclear non-proliferation: a pragmatist framework for analysis. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

Kutchesfahani, Sara Z. (2014). Politics and the bomb: the role of experts in the creation of cooperative nuclear non-proliferation agreements. New York, NY : Routledge.

Warren, Aiden. (2014). The Obama administration’s nuclear weapon strategy: the promises of Prague. Abingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

 

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Copyright Week Sparks Discussion of Copyright in the Digital Age

This week, in a campaign spearheaded by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, numerous organizations including the American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries are participating in Copyright Week. The campaign calls attention to the main challenges of copyright in the digital age, focusing on a different principle each day. These principles include “Transparency”, “Building and Defending a Robust Public Domain”, “Open Access”, “You Bought it, You Own it”, “Fair Use Rights”, and “Getting Copyright Right.” The goal of the campaign is to allow for the exchange of ideas and opinions on how to adjust copyright law for the digital age without infringing upon the free and open nature of the Internet.

These concepts have garnered an increasing amount of attention since the widespread internet protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) two years ago, and are still being debated by lawmakers in the US and around the world. While the public’s massive show of opposition against SOPA and PIPA in 2012 led legislators to reject the bills, the issues are far from settled. Dialogues such as the EFF’s Copyright Week are important in finding a way to regulate online piracy and protect copyrighted works without infringing on users’ rights or encumbering the Internet’s immense potential for spreading ideas and knowledge. This year will bring renewed efforts at passing anti-piracy laws, including a chapter in a huge international trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is reported to include new legislation on the subject. A robust and active discussion of copyright and its implications in the digital age is integral to ensuring that legislation remains transparent, fair, and productive for the future.

Stay informed about copyright law! These sources are a great starting point.

Websites:

Copyright Week Official Website

Electronic Frontier Foundation

World Intellectual Property Organization

ALA Washington Office Official Blog

IFLA on Copyright

Books from UIUC Libraries:

Brousseau, Eric., Marzouki, Meryem.Méadel, Cécile. (Eds.) (2012). Governance, regulations and powers on the Internet. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.

Burri, Mira,Cottier, Thomas. (Eds.) (2012). Trade governance in the digital age: World Trade Forum. New York : Cambridge University Press.

Seiter, William J., Seiter, Ellen. (2012). The creative artist’s legal guide: copyright, trademark, and contracts in film and digital media production. New Haven : Yale University Press.

Travis, Hannibal. (Eds.) (2013). Cyberspace law: censorship and regulation of the Internet. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

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NSA Leaks Bring Surveillance, Privacy, Digital Security to the Forefront

The recent public discovery of massive NSA surveillance of U.S. citizens as well as foreign citizens and even foreign leaders has opened up a conversation about human rights, the “surveillance industrial complex,” (Gates, 2012) and the implications of the new age of surveillance on international relations.  In late October, the news that the NSA had been monitoring the personal cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel since 2002 sent shockwaves through the international community and prompted many governments to demand new rules for international intelligence gathering.  But the latest leaks from NSA documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the U.S. is not the only government with large-scale surveillance programs.  Reuters reported on November 2nd that “[s]py agencies across Western Europe are working together on mass surveillance of Internet and phone traffic comparable to programmes run by their U.S. counterpart” (Shirbon, 2013).

Clearly, international political leaders have much to discuss about how digital security and surveillance will be governed in the future. A new study by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs concludes that the surveillance activities that have been undertaken by the NSA, GCHQ, and other European intelligence agencies violate several European Union laws. The study recommends that the full nature of these intelligence programs be exposed for analysis and asserts that “A ‘professional code for the transnational management of data’ within the EU should be set up, including guidelines on how this code would apply to EU partners” The study also argues that “[l]arge-scale EU surveillance programmes also compromise the security and fundamental human rights of citizens and residents in the Union, in particular those related to privacy and effective legal protection” (Bigo et al, 2013).  Undoubtedly, European and U.S. policymakers will be discussing and debating these surveillance activities in the months and years to come, and the stakes will only rise as technology advances and as more of our lives take place and become documented in the digital realm.

Want to learn more about this topic? The sources below will get your started!

Scholarly Articles

Bigo, Didier, Carrera, Sergio, Hernanz, Nicholas, Jeandesboz, Julien, Parkin,Joanna, Ragazzi, Francesco, and Scherrer,   Amandine. (2013). Mass Surveillance of Personal Data by EU Member States and its Compatibility with EU Law. (Report No. 61) Brussels : The Centre for European Policy Studies.

Ball, K.S and D. Murakami Wood. (2013). Editorial. Political Economies of Surveillance. Surveillance & Society 11(1/2): 1-3.

Richards, N. M. (2013). THE DANGERS OF SURVEILLANCE. Harvard Law Review, 126(7), 1934-1965.

Books from the UIUC Library

Assange, Julian., Appelbaum, Jacob, Müller-Maguhn, AndyZimmermann, Jérémi. (2012). Cypherpunks: freedom and the future of the internet. New York : OR Books.

Ball, K.S. and Snider, L. (eds). (2013). The Surveillance Industrial Complex: Towards a Political Economy of Surveillance. London, New York: Routledge.

Gates, K. 2012. The Globalization of Homeland Security, in K.S. Ball, D.H. Haggerty and D. Lyon (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Surveillance Studies. London / New York: Routledge, 292-300.

Johnson, Emily M.Rodriguez, Michael J. (Eds.) (2012). Legalities of GPS and cell phone surveillance. New York : Novinka.

Luppicini, Rocci. (Eds.) (2013) Moral, ethical, and social dilemmas in the age of technology theories and practice. Hershey, Pa. : IGI Global.

Pimple, Kenneth D.. (Eds.) (2013). Emerging pervasive information and communication technologies (PICT) :ethical challenges, opportunities and safeguard. Dordrecht : Springer.

Rosen, David,Santesso, Aaron. (2013). The watchman in pieces: surveillance, literature, and liberal personhood. New Haven : Yale University Press.

Trottier, Daniel. (2012). Social media as surveillance: rethinking visibility in a converging world. Surrey,  England:  Ashgate.

News Coverage of NSA Leaks

Reuters

The Guardian

The Huffington Post

Al Jazeera

 

 

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