On wednesday 3. december, representatives from governments around the world signed the most significant disarmament treaty of the decade, banning the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions.
Les om klasevåpenforbudet på norsk hos Norsk Folkehjelp.
- This treaty shows what can be achieved when states and civil society act together, said Co-Chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) Grethe Østern of Norwegian People’s Aid.
- This is a victory because the treaty outlines clear obligations for states to help survivors, clear the land and destroy stockpiles so that the weapon can never be used again, Østern said.
18 of 26 NATO countries are signing the treaty, including the UK, France and Germany, as well as most African and Latin American countries, and some of the most contaminated nations, including Laos and Lebanon. However, some of the largest military powers in the world – such as USA,and Russia - have not been willing to sign. Neither have heavy users of cluster munitions such as Israel.
CMC Co-Chair Steve Goose, Director of the Arms division at Human Rights Watch hopes that the treaty will stigmatize the use of the weapon by all countries, even those who have not yet signed the treaty.
- This is a time to celebrate, but the work doesn’t stop here. It is time for countries to turn these binding words on paper into a reality on the ground, Goose concluded.Photo: John Rodsted
Advarsel: Herfra blir det bare teitere.
Vi har knapt gått inn i årets siste måned, men butikkene har allerede bugna¹ av juleskinke, julepølse, julebrus, julemarsipan og juledopapir i mange uker. Over det ganske land har redaksjonene allerede gjort seg ferdige med juleøltester, julebord og juletaxikøpølsekasting. 24 dager før jul har både journalister og avislesere forlengst nådd metningspunktet for julemat, juledrikke, juleunderholdning, julesex, julevold² og annet julestoff. Et samla pressekorps har skvist siste dråpe ut av julesitronen, og både produsenter og konsumenter er for mette, kvalme og dorske etter julekalaset til å gyve løs på skikkelige nyheter. Mens nyhetsåret ubønnhørlig går mot slutten og nasjonen synes å være på vei inn i en slags nyhetsmessig vinterdvale gjenstår det like fullt i underkant av 30 aviser som unektelig må fylles med et eller annet. Løsninga blir i mange tilfeller å tjuvstarte på neste høytid. Siden det er litt vel lenge til påske, betyr det at journaliststanden kaster seg manssterke over det første høytidelige halmstrået som kommer flytende: nyttårsstoffet.
Nytt år, gammalt nytt
Siden “Hallo i uken” er det foreløpig eneste nyhetsmediet her til lands som har guts til å gi oss nyhetene før de faktisk skjer, er nyttårsstoff i de aller fleste tilfeller egentlig synonymt med gammaltårsstoff. Slutten av desember og begynnelsen av januar er høysesong for tilbakeskuende journalistikk i form av oppramsinger, lister og ikke minst kåringer. Mens den kulørte pressen kårer årets best og verst kledde, leiter sportsidiotene etter årets fineste scoring og styggeste knockout. Litteratene kårer beste bok i et utall mer eller mindre tilfeldig valgte kategorier og musikknerdene ramser opp årets tolv viktigste utgivelser innen britisk lo-fi hardcore screamo og andre store, kjente og ikke minst selvforklarende sjangre.
Årets teiteste overskrift
Det er neimen ikke lett for en stakkars blogger å stå i mot listepresset. Sjøl har jeg forlengst latt meg rive med, og det begynner å bli lenge siden jeg havna på kåringskjøret. Selv om jeg liker å late som jeg er høyt heva over den slags nonsens, er jeg minst like glad i kåringer som den jevne tabloidjournalist. Løsninga har blitt å etablere min egen kåring der jeg får utløp for kåringsmanien samtidig som jeg kan drive uhemma harselas med (tabloid-)pressen: Årets teiteste overskrift.
For tredje år på rad inviterer jeg herved dere, mine kjære lesere, til å nominere de dummeste, mest upresise, usaklige og overdrevne overskriftene dere har lest i 2008. Kandidater kan nomineres i kommentarfeltet til denne posten, eller på e-post til sungames(a)gmail.com.
Reglene for kåringa er få, men strenge:
For at ei overskrift skal kunne nomineres, må den ha stått i ei riksdekkende norsk avis, enten i papir- eller nettutgaven. Reine nettaviser får ikke delta.
For at jeg skal kunne verifisere at overskrifta faktisk har vært brukt, må alle som nominerer huske å skrive når og hvor den nominerte overskrifta blei publisert.
Frist for nominasjoner er fredag 19. desember. En jury bestående av meg sjøl vil plukke ut flere enn fem og færre enn ti superteite overskrifter blant de innsendte kandidatene samt mine egne favoritter. Disse vil bli offentliggjort mandag 22. desember, og så er det opp til mine skarpsindige lesere å kåre en vinner³. Måtte den verste vinne!
Om ikke lenge pøses 7000 tonn papiravfall ut over det ganske land. Jepp, vi snakker om den fortidslevninga som går under navnet “telefonkatalogen”.
Å si at tida har gått fra papirutgaven av telefonkatalogen, vil være noe i retning av decenniets understatement. Etter at den farlege verdsveven blei allemannseie har papirkatalogen blitt en stor, tung og klossete dinosaur som raserer skog og har en svært uheldig effekt på omgivelsene¹. Dessverre nekter beistet å dø. Ifølge Naturvernforbundet går sju av ti utsendte kataloger rett i søpla. Likevel fortsetter Telenor – med samferdselsministerens velsignelse – å spy ut uønska papiravfall til det norske folk.
Heldigvis er det fortsatt mulig å reservere seg mot søpla, men det begynner å haste. I Oslo og Akershus er fristen for reservasjon 19. November². Selvfølgelig burde det strengt tatt ikke være nødvendig å reservere seg mot et produkt man aldri har bestilt. Selvfølgelig burde det være sånn at bare de som bestiller telefonkatalogen får den tilsendt. Likevel – eller kanskje nettopp derfor – er det viktig at så mange som mulig reserverer seg. Hvis mange nok reserverer seg, vil det ikke bare kutte ned på årets avfalsmengde og dermed spare miljøet på kort sikt. Det vil også være et sterkt signal om at dagens ordning er gått ut på dato. Vil du spare noen trær? Reserver deg i dag!
¹ I tilfelle metaforen er litt uklar: Omgivelsene = miljøet. Det er selvfølgelig svært miljøfiendtlig å bruke tremasse, strøm, trykksverte, (fossilt) drivstoff og andre ressurser på å produsere og distribuere ei svær, tjukk bok til en masse mennesker som uansett bare kaster den rett i søpla.
2 Frister for resten av landet finner du hos VGnett.
After 8 long years of Bush and the Republicans, the US and the world finally have a fresh start.
Time will show whether George W. Bush will be remembered as the worst president ever, or just one of the really horrible ones. However, seen from the Eastern shore of the Atlantic, Bush has been a disaster. 8 years of Bush has not only done great internal damage to the USA, but also dealt a devastating blow to American interests abroad and the relationship between the US and the rest of the world, and made the world in general a worse place to live.
I cannot speak for the African and Asian communities, let alone the American voters, but it is a well known fact that Europe has been desperate for a real change in the White House ever since Bush was elected. Norwegians, at least, believe – or want to believe – that Obama can be that change.
Can we believe in change?
Change, and the need for it, has been the cornerstone of Obama’s campaign since the very beginning. With taglines like “Change we can believe in” and “Stand for change”, Obama has focused as much on what he is not as on what he is. He is not Republican, he is not George Bush, he is not Four More Years. If we are to believe Obama and his supporters, he is Change.
Alas, politicians have a tendency to forget their taglines and campaign promises once victory is secured. Of course I am relieved that Obama won the election, and that the Republican siege of the White House is finally over. However, I cannot get rid of this nagging suspicion that Mr. Change might pretty soon turn out to be more like Mr. Same, same, but different.
I really, really hope that Obama will make good on his promises to sign a strong global treaty on climate change, close Guantanamo, end torture and fight poverty. However, I cannot quite bring myself to believe that he really will. I guess it cannot hurt to remind him that the world expects him to stand by his campaign commitments to
- Reduce the US’s carbon emissions 80% by 2050 and play a strong positive role in negotiating a binding global treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol
- Establish a clear goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons across the globe
- Close the Guantanamo Bay detention center
- Double US aid to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015 and accelerate the fight against HIV/AIDS and Malaria
- Open diplomatic talks with Iran and Syria, to pursue peaceful resolution of tensions
- Launch a major diplomatic effort to stop the killings in Darfur
- Invest $150 billion over ten years to support renewable energy and get 1 million plug-in electric cars on the road by 2015.
Update: Three steps in 100 days
On Wednesday November 12, Amnesty International launched their 100 days campaign. Since 9/11, the U.S. government has committed grave human rights violations in the name of countering terrorism.
Amnesty International claims that Obama must take important steps to end this assault on human rights immediately after taking office. There is much to be done, but for the 100 days campaign, Amnesty is focusing on three crucial actions Obama needs to take within 100 days after taking office:
- announce a plan and date to close Guantánamo;
- issue an executive order to ban torture and other ill-treatment, as defined under international law;
- setup an independent commission to investigate abuses committed by the US government in its “war on terror”.
Do not doubt the power of your action.The same grassroots energy that propelled Barack Obama to victory can now be the driving force behind America’s renewed commitment to human rights. On his campaign website, Obama asks us to believe, not just in his ability to bring about real change in Washington, but in our own ability to do so.
If you believe, in Obama and/or yourself, please remind him of his promises and sign the petition urging President-elect Barack Obama to demonstrate a commitment to human rights in his first 100 days in office. Let there be change!Photo: United States Senate / Wikimedia Commons
According to the Independent, an Afghan appeals court has quashed the death sentence imposed on Sayed Pervez Kambaksh for downloading information on women’s rights. However, the judges ruled that Kambaksh should serve 20 years in jail.
In January 2007, Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, a 24-year-old Afghan trainee journalist, was tried by religious judges without legal representation and sentenced to death after students at his university accused him of distributing material on women’s rights which “insulted Islam”.
During the appeals court hearing on 22 October 2008, one of the prosecution’s main witnesses, student Hamid Ali¹, withdrew his testimony against Kambaksh. According to CNN, Hamid Ali told the court he had been forced into making a statement against Kambakhsh by members of Afghanistan’s intelligence service and a professor.
The appeals court judges quashed Kambaksh’s death sentence, but instead sentenced him to 20 years in prison. Kambaksh’s lawyers insisted that this decision was unconstitutional and should be overturned by the country’s supreme court, as the appeals court had the power to uphold or set aside the death sentence, but no right to “arbitrarily” impose a jail term.
- The first thing I am going to do is challenge the 20-year sentence. This court had no right to impose that. This will take another few months, but at least they are not going to hang him and we now have time, said Mohammed Afzal Nuristani, one of Kambaksh’s lawyers.
Kambaksh himself had been hoping to be freed by the appeals court, but was nevertheless very relieved by the fact that he is no longer facing the death sentence.
- Hearing the judge say that long sentence was very surprising, but I now just want to continue with the legal cases and, hopefully, I’ll get freed, he told the Independent.
Strong support for Kambaksh
While religious fundamentalists may want to see Kambaksh dead, the support for the young student is strong, both in Afghanistan and abroad. Even the head of the jail where he is being held, General Taj Mohammed, has told the Independent that it was “very wrong” to sentence Kambaksh to death and that he should be freed as soon as possible.
Amnesty International appealed for Kambaksh to be freed as there are no legal grounds for either his conviction or his sentence, and Bob Dietz of the Committee to Protect Journalists even described the new sentence as “a step backwards for freedom of expression [in] Afghanistan”.
Hopefully, Kambaksh will not have to spend the next 20 years in prison. The massive support for Kambaksh gives reason to hope that he will soon be freed, either as a result of the international pressure, or through the actions of the Afghan Supreme Court.
- What happened [at the appeals court] was because there are still extremist people in this country who want us to stay at a dark time. The trial was very unfair and they came to a decision which all the lawyers tell us is illegal. We hope the Supreme Court will now take the right course and Pervez will be freed one day soon, Kambaksh’s brother, Yaqub Ibrahimi told the Independent.¹ Or Hamid Nabil? Afghan flag: Andrew Duhan / Wikimedia Commons
In preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Chinese authorities introduced new and more relaxed reporting rules for foreign journalists. On 17 October, just 15 minutes before the official expiry of the temporary rules, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao announced new regulations that “follow the major principles and spirits of the media regulations introduced for the Beijing Olympics”.
Les mer på norsk hos NRK.
The “Olympic” rules grant foreign journalists the right to move about freely in most of the country and conduct interviews without having to request permission in advance from the authorities. The exception is Tibet, for which special permission will still be needed.
- An effective liberalization policy implies real respect for the rights and interests of foreign journalists. These principles should apply at the local level, press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders state on their website.
A step forward
Since the relaxed rules were introduced in January 2007, they have been repeatedly violated by Chinese authorities. The Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) has been notified of 336 cases of interference in the work of foreign journalists since January 2007, ranging from surveillance and denial of access to arrests and physical attacks
The FCCC still welcomes the new rules.
- If properly implemented, we believe this will mark a step forward in the opening of China’s media environment, club president Jonathan Watts said .
- We urge the government to ensure that police and local officials respect the spirit as well as the letter of the new rules, he said, echoing the concerns of Reporters Without Borders.
Paying the price
Both organizations are also concerned about the confidentiality of journalists communications with sources, and the fate of Chinese journalists and interpreters employed by the foreign press is still precarious.
- The easing of controls for foreign journalists should not be achieved at the expense of putting more pressure on local sources, Watts warned.
Freelance writer Yang Tongyan is one of many Chinese writers, bloggers and journalists paying a heavy price for exercising their right to freedom of expression. The pro-democracy activist is currently serving 12 years in prison for ‘subversion’, for his writings in support of political and democratic change in China.
Amnesty International considers Yang Tongyan to be a prisoner of conscience, and the organization is calling for his immediate and unconditional release. Sign the petition to free Yang Tongyan here!
On 10 October 2008, World Day Against the Death Penalty, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP) calls on all citizens around the world to take action to end executions in Asia.
Every year on 10 October, citizens, national and international institutions and NGOs respond to the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty’s appeal and rally to oppose the death penalty. This year, the Coalition has decided to focus on Asia. According to the Coalition’s website, a recent study estimates that 85 to 95% of all executions take place in Asia. While 27 Asian countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice, 14 countries continue to carry out executions.
For the 6th World Day Against the Death Penalty, the WCADP has chosen to focus on six of these 14 for an appeal: India, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Pakistan and Vietnam. The Coalition calls on the Japanese government to end secrecy surrounding the death row inmates and the application of the death penalty, demand that the Pakistani government guarantees their citizens the right to a fair trial, and urges the Vietnamese president to reduce the number of offenses punishable by death. The WCADP campaign also calls on the governments of India, South Korea and Taiwan to declare moratoria on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.
Even if you do not read this on the World Day Against the Death Penalty, please take the time to sign the petition. It might very well save qute a few lives.