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Global Issues: Environment- Down and Out in Durban: End of the Line for Kyoto?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Durban, the city where the fun never sets, is about to host the lastest round on international climate change negotiations.  CFR has a useful article on its propects - click here!

As delegates from nearly 200 countries prepare to descend on Durban, South Africa next week for the seventeenth meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP-17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), pessimism runs high. Privately, the leaders of major established and emerging economies concede that no new climate treaty containing binding emissions reductions will be negotiated before 2016. And even if an agreement were reached, it would not come into force until 2020—eight years from now. This bleak outlook comes despite warnings from scientists and economists about the dangers of delaying dramatic action to mitigate the planet’s warming.

Humanitarian Intervention: When to hold and when to fold

Monday, November 21, 2011

Not too long ago humanitarian intervention while under the R2P doctrine was a theoretical possibility, after the complicated foreign intervention in Iraq in 2003, where the US broke the UN’s mechanisms for humanitarian intervention, became a practical impossibility.  To quote Harriet Martin, author of Kings of Peace, Pawns of War, “Humanitarian Intervention is dead, and we killed it”. However, the Arab Spring and Libya have reignited both the practice and the debate!

A few recent articles worth following are:
1. Review in the Economist of “Can Intervention Work?” By Rory Stewart and Gerald Knaus  to quote:

CAN we intervene in foreign countries and do good? Can we stop wars and genocides and get rid of evil dictators? Can we then build modern, democratic states that thrive in our wake? The answer depends on who you ask. An anti-Qaddafi Libyan will have nice things to say about NATO’s role there right now. But you will get very different views from an Afghan, an Iraqi, a Bosnian or a Kosovar.

So, does intervention work? As any Bosnian peasant may tell you, “maybe yes, maybe no.” It depends on the circumstances and requires modest ambitions. Muddle through with a sense of purpose, says Mr Knaus. Do what you can, where you can and no more, agrees Mr Stewart. In policy terms that sounds a bit like “yes” to Libya, “no” to Syria and so on.

2. Recent essay in latest edition of Foreign Affairs magazine has two conflicting articles on the subject.
Humanitarian Intervention Comes of Age - Jon Western and Joshua S. Goldstein

Despite the fall of the Qaddafi regime in Libya, humanitarian intervention still has plenty of critics. But their targets are usually the early, ugly missions of the 1990s. Since then—as Libya has shown—the international community has learned its lessons and grown much more adept at using military force to save lives.

The True Costs of Humanitarian Intervention - Benjamin A. Valentino

Intervening militarily to save lives abroad often sounds good on paper, but the record has not been promising. The ethical calculus involved is almost always complicated by messy realities on the ground, and the opportunity costs of such missions are massive. Well-meaning countries could save far more lives by helping refugees and victims of natural disasters and funding public health.

PM: David Cameron’s statecrafty revolution

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cameron’s statecrafty revolution - penned by Danny Kruger in the Guardian argues that The rumoured ‘rift’ between George Osborne and Steve Hilton is actually a creative divide that reflects the PM’s own character.  He asserts:

It seems unnatural. The intrigues, the partisan loyalties and betrayals of court life seem largely absent from David Cameron’s government. A number of backbenchers are grumbling, to be sure, with one even predicting a coup next spring. Yet at the top all is peace.

Worth a quick read for leading into the PM topic, and worth contrasting with Brown’s premiership where it is safe to say that towards the end it was toxic at the top.

E-Petition Fuels Commons Debate

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A petition of over 100,000 signatures has prompted a debate in the Commons about fuel duty. Many would hail this as a great example of people power. But a feature on the Guardian website examines who was really behind this petition.

read more...»

Parliament: Home Affairs Select Committee - It Teresa May toast?

Quick one on Select Committes, today the Home Affairs Select Committee meets to delve into border checks being relaxed at 28 locations which has caused a furore.  Nice example of Select committees in action and of clear import to the issue of the effectiveness of parliamentary scutiny of the executive.

Brodie Clarke, the former head of the UK Border Force, faces a grilling from MPs today as the Home Secretary revealed the pilot scheme to cut passport checks was implemented at 28 ports and airports. In written evidence to the Home Affairs Committee, Theresa May also claimed that she did not tell Brodie Clark to go beyond the parameters of the pilot scheme and that 10m people entered the UK during the pilot. The committee will also hear from Immigration Minister Damian Green and Rob Whiteman, chief executive of the UK Border Agency.

Follow up link in the Indepepndent:
Brodie Clark and the bravery that we need to encourage Stefan Stern, The Independent

Today Brodie Clark is appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee. He will finally get a chance to explain what he did or did not do in his senior role at the UK Border Force. It will be his day in the court of public opinion. But Mr Clark has already paid a high price to win the freedom to speak out. He has resigned his post after a long career. No amount of compensation for a constructive dismissal claim will make up for the shock of his sudden exit.

And Rachel sylvester in the Times:

Sir Humphrey has a lot to answer for. There is a tendency among ministers who get into power after a period in opposition to assume that the civil servants are out to get them. In fact, the first lesson they should learn in Whitehall is that politicians cannot afford to go to war with their officials.

From Politicshome’s running blog:
12.52 Lord West gave an interview on the Daily Politics today in which he described Theresa May as “toast” following Mr Clark’s evidence. PoliticsHome has a transcript of the interview for subscribers, but here are the key quotes:

“I think the Home Secretary is toast. I think she’s had it really, I’m afraid. It’s a shame because I like her, but this has been a complete and utter mess.”

“It is a dangerous thing to start picking on your senior civil servants, you’ve got to be very careful of your facts, I’m very surprised we haven’t seen anything of Damian Green who should be absolutely close up on this the entire time, it is his job to do that for the Home Secretary, I mean this is very disturbing I think. Now I’m sure the whole truth will finally come out, I know Brodie Clark, I find it extraordinary to think he’d go and do that, he’s not a sort of maverick, he doesn’t go running wild.”


Human Rights Act - Not just a fad

Monday, November 14, 2011

Shami Chakrabarti (Director of Liberty) has a hard hitting article in today’s Guardian entitled: Our human rights are not a fad. We don’t need this Botox bill
She asserts that replacing the Human Rights Act could lead to a permanent constitutional revolution rather than a statement of basic values. She writes:

While the coalition agreement was infused with the language of liberty and considerable substance in terms of scrapping ID cards, reviewing anti-terror laws and rationalising databases, one of the most progressive inheritances of the Labour government was not protected.

A must read for both the Constiution and Judiciary topics.

PM: Is Dave bionic?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Interesting and amusing article on the PM in the Daily Express entitled: TORY HIGH COMMAND AIMS TO BUILD BIONIC DAVID CAMERON

Worth a read, especially if you can remember Steve Austin the Bionic Man!  Quick snap shot of how powerful is the position of Cameron in relation to both his own party and coalition partners.

Judiciary: Judges becoming too politicized?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

British judges are becoming too politicised, inspired by Strasbourg’s European Court of Human Rights, according to the newest Supreme Court appointee. “How far,” asked Jonathan Sumption in a speech at Lincoln’s Inn, “can judicial review go before it trespasses on the proper function of government and the legislature in a democracy?”

Follow up on this story ion today’s Guardian: Supreme court appointee says role of British judges is too politicised

the article asserts:

Judges are becoming too politicised in their decision-making, encouraged by a European court of human rights which is progressively shrinking national sovereignty, according to the newest appointment to the UK’s supreme court.

In a critical assessment of the role of judges in a democracy, which will stir up debate on whether judges – not parliament – are making law, and the extent of the Strasbourg court’s powers, Jonathan Sumption QC implied that judicial reviews are in danger of trespassing on “the proper function of government”.


Global Issues: WMD ~ With Gaddafi Gone Libya is once again the West’s bogeyman

Thursday, November 03, 2011

With Libya seemingly sewn up the international spotlight is shifting back to one of our favourite ‘rogue states’ Iran and the fact that their attempt to acquire nuclear weapons is back on track.  Certainly the US’s reluctance to take a lead role over Libya can be seen in the light of the US having the prospect of facing up to Iran at some point over its nuclear agenda as an ultimately more pressing and ominous strategic priority.

Today’s Telegraph has a good article on Iran recent nuclear activity and attempt to proliferate: With Gaddafi gone, Iran is once again top of the West’s list of problems It asserts:

The drumbeat of war against Iran is set to beat much louder when the UN’s nuclear watchdog publishes the findings of its long-awaited report next week that the country is well advanced in its attempts to build a nuclear bomb.

For background - BBC Q&A: Iran and the Nuclear Issue

It might be worth cross referencing with a few earlier blog posts on Iran:
Global Issues: WMD and Rogue States - IRAN
Global Issues: IRAN SPECIAL - Masters of enrichment?



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