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Gay Rights Are Human Rights, Too

LGBT rights campaign poster/Photo: IGLHRC, Picasa

Twenty years ago, on 17 May 1990, the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Yet homophobia remains on the upswing in many parts of the world.

On the occasion of this year’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on 17 May, the ISN’s Special Reports week focuses on the plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in different parts of the world.

The Special Report contains the following content:

An Analysis by Sara Kuepfer Thakkar on the discrimination and persecution of gays and lesbians in the world, with a strong focus on the reported surge of homophobia in Africa.

A Podcast interview with Jason MacFarlane of JFLAG, focusing on LGBT people’s fight for human rights in Jamaica.

Security Watch articles on gay rights issues, such as the debate in the US about lifting the ban on lesbians and gays serving openly in the US military.

Publications housed in our Digital Library, including studies on the discrimination of sexual minorities in the employment sector in Hungary and Slovakia.

Primary Resources, including the “Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.”

Links to relevant websites, such as Wikigender.

Our IR Directory featuring various organizations dealing with LGBT rights issues, such as the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).

Web2.0 Revolución?

Hugo Chavez in Milano, courtesy of rogimmi/flickr

Recently, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez signed up on Twitter. I am sure that almost the whole IR community saw his appearance on the microblogging platform. Even though it was very surprising to see Chavez on what he used to call a “tool of terror” but now calls a “weapon that also needs to be used by the revolution,” no one took time to look thoroughly on what is going on on Chavez’s Twitter page.

The presence of Chavez on Twitter tells us the following facts about the Venezuelan’s president’s social media behavior:

  • He uses a Blackberry.
  • He’s following only five people: Diosdado Cabello R the Venezuelan secretary of Public Works and Housing, but also the country’s former interim president during the 47 hour-coup in 2002; Reflexiones de Fidel, the Cuban propaganda agency; his own political party PSUV; Tareck El Aissami, the newly appointed secretary of the popular power for justice whom father was the president of the Baathist party of Venezuela (and who, according to conspiracy theorists, has some ties with the Taliban); and Correo del Orinoco, the official press agency of the Venezuelan regime.
  • He has a ‘populist’ approach even on Web 2.0. His first tweets greeted his new followers. He has also engaged in strong political debate with some of his followers, which makes his Twitter page look more like an open forum than a Twitter account. Only six of his latest 40 tweets are actually proper ‘tweets’ and not reactions or direct interactions with other users.
  • His account is so popular that he has hired 200 “Twitter” specialists to manage it.

But if we look even closer the account, it is astonishing to see that he is interacting only with ‘new users’ or users that are only following him or other followers of Chavez. Plus these new users only interact with Chavez in a positive and eloquent way. A user even registered to warn him of a danger against his personal safety.

If we have this in mind and we are now aware that 200 specialists are there to ‘manage’ his Twitter account, it is realistic to assume that his team could be responsible for creating fake accounts and interacting with him in order to develop a positive and rather liberal approach of the use of Web2.0.

And if we quickly look at the numbers: 50,000 personal messages in 2 weeks mean that the specialists are handling approximately 17 messages per day. And I don’t believe that this is enough work for one person for one day.

So, Hugo Chavez on Twitter: Web 2.0 revolución or Venezuelan propaganda on a new platform?

The ISN Quiz: Sri Lanka – A Multipolar Path to Peace

We’re focusing on Sri Lanka’s long path to peace in this week’s Special Report. How much do you know about the nation that endured decades of civil war?

[QUIZZIN 19]

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Rethinking Nuclear Non-Proliferation

New York. The 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is underway at the UN Headquarters. Hundreds of representatives from states, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations have come together on the banks of the East River to discuss the regime that governs the containment of nuclear weapons on the one hand and the promotion of civil nuclear energy on the other hand.

How to save the non-proliferation regime? photo: Jean-David et Anne-Laure, flickr

Zurich. The International Relations and Security Network (ISN) presents hundreds of news articles, policy briefs, scholarly publications, weblinks and primary resources on the NPT and related topics. A few highlights:

  • In “Cost of War: NPT Enmity” Shaun Waterman comments for ISN Security Watch on the showdown between Iran and the US and the long-term impact of the review conference.
  • In the ISN Special Issue newsletter from March 2010, David Cliff asks whether the elimination of nuclear weapons is desirable, achievable and sustainable.
  • Nuclear Dangers“, an ISN Special Report from April 2009, examines two pressing perils standing in the way of a nuclear-free world: acquisition of nuclear weapons by emerging powers and smuggling of nuclear material out of former Soviet states.
  • Reviewing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty“, a new book by the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College (SSI), an ISN partner,  clarifies the NPT’s ambiguities by following its structure article by article.
  • NPT Briefing Books” published by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), another ISN partner, offer comprehensive background and reference material on the NPT and its associated regime. » More

Call for Applications: Junior Associates Program

The ISN is proud to announce the launch of our Junior Associates Program. The program brings together young professionals from Swiss-based institutions, companies and international organizations , as well as promising young scholars from Swiss universities, in a cooperative project that builds bridges and networks across the Swiss IR community.

Each program cycle will focus on a theme; this year, the topic will be

Europe and Islamic Countries – New Frontiers, Fresh Perspectives

The broad range of issues that may be explored under this thematic umbrella include:

  • Swiss/European policy toward ‘marginal’ Muslim regions, such as North Africa, parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia
  • Economic cooperation between Europe and North Africa
  • Population growth in the Arab world and the migration of young Arabs to Europe
  • Muslim perspectives on identity and place in 21st century Europe

Through collaboration, Junior Associates are expected to draft two Junior Associates Special Reports, to be published by the ISN in late 2010 and early 2011.

Junior Associates will also have the opportunity to attend an exclusive ISN Junior Associates event in Zurich in early October of this year. The event will feature high caliber speakers on this year’s topic.

For more information and to request an application form, visit the program’s website. Questions can be addressed to the program manager, Kaisa Schreck, or the program assistant, Jonas Rey, by sending an email to ja[at]sipo.gess.ethz.ch.

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