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The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and Its Ambiguities

The United Nations Security Council Chamber in New York, also known as the Norwegian Room/Wikimedia commons

Transnational crime has emerged in recent years as an important security issue on the international agenda, presenting considerable challenges to policymakers, researchers and agents combating these crimes. Governmental and academic actors have focused their discussions on the answer to the question “what is transnational crime?” with the belief that a more accurate and objective definition of the phenomenon would have a more effective impact. So, like many other categories of social sciences, defining “transnational crime” has become a constant challenge.

The UN, in 2000, through the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, tried to find an institutional response to this dilemma to solve the obstacle posed by the difficulty of a common definition across countries. It meticulously detailed every aspect of the category: “crime”, “organized”, “transnational” and its derivations or complements, such as “structured group”, “property”, “serious crimes”, “confiscation” among many others. This multilateral instrument proposed building an accepted homogeneous and global category for identifying and combating cross-border crime. From this first step of international recognition of a common threat, there should have followed an introjection of the parameters elaborated by the Convention in national laws and practices of law enforcement in each of the State parties. » More

Never Again to Genocide Trials

Srebrenica massacre memorial gravestones 2009

Srebrenica massacre memorial gravestones 2009. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

HEIDELBERG – Rarely does one read such hopeful news: in late June, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) acquitted former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić of genocide. That might sound like a bad thing: Karadžić, who once warned Bosnia’s Muslims that war would lead them down the road to hell, surely deserves to be sentenced for the acts of which he was just acquitted – murder, siege, and slaughter almost beyond naming. But for genocide? Better not.

In fact, we would be better off getting rid of genocide as a crime altogether. The legal concept of genocide is so incoherent, so harmful to the purposes that international law serves, that it would be better if we had never invented it. Karadžić’s acquittal – precisely because he is still on trial on other counts related to the same atrocities – is an opportunity to move toward the sensible goal of retiring it. » More

Serbia: Controversy Over Draža Mihailović’s Rehabilitation

Serbian officers in the company of a British nurse on the Salonika front. Lieutenant Draza Mihailovic (kneeling). Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Dragoljub Draža Mihailović was a commander of the Yugoslav Army in the Homeland, also known as the Chetnik movement, during World War II. In 1946, he was captured by the communist Yugoslav authorities, convicted of high treason and war crimes, sentenced to death and executed.

The tribunal for his rehabilitation, which began in June 2010 on the request by Draža’s grandson Vojislav Mihailović, is nearing the end now. Although the request has been supported by some academicians, professors and politicians, the public in Serbia is divided. For some, Draža Mihailović is an innocent victim, for others, he is a justly convicted collaborator of the occupiers, who committed crimes not only in Serbia, but in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia as well. » More

Peace Through ‘Good Enough’ Justice?

Celebration honoring the grand opening of a justice center in Nawa, Afghanistan. Photo: isafmedia/flickr

In his article ‘Why Developing Countries Prove so Resistant to the Rule of Law’, Barry Weingast notes that transplanting institutions and policies directly from developed societies into developing ones rarely helps to produce the long-term economic growth and rule of law that western donors want these countries to attain. As part of this week’s editorial plan focus on international public law in action, this blog will suggest that traditional justice systems can help build sustainable peace in post-conflict situations.

Weingast explains that the reason why western ideals of constructing fully fledged democracies under the rule of law fail to materialize lies in the fact that reform efforts do not understand the role of violence in structuring the ‘natural state’ (generally referred to as fragile state). In natural states – which most post conflict countries belong to – access to state privileges is limited to the elite, and the provision of services is limited to those that support the elite. Order and the absence of violence rest upon a system of rights and privileges that provides elites incentives to cooperate rather than fight. For those sections of society that do not belong to the elite, incentives like the provision of basic services are often used to quell unrest and maintain a semblance of stability. In such countries, the constitution is easily pushed aside for the sake of political leaders’ interests. » More

Would You Download a Weapon?

AR-15 lower receiver and ‘print file’. Images: Wikimedia Commons, Thingiverse

 

3-D printing, while unknown to most of the public, has been around for quite a while. Its industrial applications range from rapid prototyping and archaeological reconstructions to medical uses in implant technology and custom-fitted hearing aids. Now, the technology is becoming affordable for the average consumer: while an industrial-strength 3-D printer that can use materials like bronze-infused steel, or even titanium, still costs more than $10,000, desktop machines for printing hard plastics are being sold in kits available for little over $1000. » More

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