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ISN Insights – Week Ahead, Look Back

It's week 12 on our 2011 editorial calendar, Photo: Leo Reynolds/flickr

Coming up this week in our ISN Insights coverage:

  • The Jamestown Foundation’s Roman Muzalevsky takes a closer look on Monday at Kazakhstan’s growing regional ambitions evidenced in its increasing commitment to strategic dialogue initiatives.
  • On Tuesday Dr Harsh V Pant from King’s College London’s Department of Defense Studies examines India’s renewed Look East Policy  — particularly in relationship to Japan — as the country works to offset China’s growing regional prowess.
  • Wednesday, we examine Robert Mugabe’s new wave of violence against Zimbabwe’s political opposition in reaction to fears of an Arab-style uprising, courtesy of Professor Derek Catsam.
  • A Swiss Peace Foundation analysis from Dr Didier Péclard and David Lanz on Thursday explains the many challenges to the primarily endogenous process that is statebuilding.
  • We round out the week on Friday in a podcast discussion about the ICC with the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, Christian Wenaweser.

And in case you missed last week’s coverage, you can check it out here: backsliding on democracy in the Ukraine; China’s growing naval prowess; the status of Ethiopian Jews in Israel; a new multinational effort to fight transnational organized crime in Central America; and a podcast about evolving US foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific.

Bad Blood

Shhh! Secret Testing Facility. Photo: slurpiesandstraws☮/flickr

On Monday, 14 March 2011, seven Guatemalan citizens filed suit against US health officials over nonconsensual medical experiments – including the infection of some 700 Guatemalan prisoners, soldiers, mental patients and orphans with syphilis – carried out in the Central American country by American doctors between 1948 and 1964.

The Guatemalan study, which was never published, came to light in 2010 after Wellesley College Professor Susan Reverby stumbled upon archived documents outlining the experiments led by the controversial doctor John Cutler. According to the documents, American scientists persuaded prison and orphanage authorities to allow them to deliberately infect hundreds of Guatemalans with syphilis in order to test the efficacy of penicillin, in exchange for medical equipment like refrigerators, and medication to treat epilepsy and malaria.

Today’s Guatemalan lawsuit calls to mind the 1930s Tuskegee syphilis experiments in Alabama, where hundreds of African Americans were observed for over 40 years, without being told they had been infected and without being treated, even after penicillin became available. Needless to say, US government doctors at the time thought it perfectly appropriate to experiment on disabled people, minorities or prison inmates – practices all too familiar from Europe and East Asia in the 1930s. » More

Will Natural Gas Power the 21st Century?

How will we satisfy our demand for power in the future? Lightning - Courtesy of Hugol/flickr

The “Nuclear Power Renaissance” might be coming to an end before it has had the chance to flourish. In light of the current nuclear meltdown in Japan, people are growing increasingly suspicious of nuclear plants. Governments in several countries are thus postponing or reviewing plans to advance nuclear power as the keystone of their electricity supply.

In their search for alternatives, policy makers would be well advised to take a good look at natural gas. Recent developments in the market are likely to render it increasingly attractive for consumers.

Firstly, the geography of gas supply is currently being turned upside down. Technological progress has enabled the exploitation of gas reserves previously thought inaccessible in North America. As a consequence, the US has become the world’s main producer, overtaking natural gas giants Russia and Iran.

Europe, India and China, too, are thought to be sitting on vast gas reserves, which may now be exploited thanks to new drilling techniques. At the moment, it remains uncertain how soon, and to what extent, these gas reserves will become economically viable. Nevertheless, global supply of natural gas is expected to rise markedly in the long run. Increased supply coupled with current sluggish demand (due to the global recession) should keep prices low. Moreover, consumers will be able to boost energy security by diversifying their natural gas supply. » More

Geneva Peacebuilding Platform

Geneva Peacebuilbing Platform

The Geneva Peacebuilding Platform (GPP) has just launched its new website – have a look!

The platform was founded in 2008 as a hub for peacebuilding actors, resources and expertise in Geneva. Behind the initiative is the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), an ISN partner, as well as Interpeace, the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) and the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP).

GPP aims to serve as a forum for the development of innovative and practical approaches to peacebuilding. In their own words, it “works to build bridges across communities, to advance the practical understanding of peacebuilding and to provide a springboard for new ideas.

I recommend you check out the Peacebuilding Guide hosted on the website. It provides a database of over 70 organizations within the Geneva peacebuilding community with several interesting filters. You can search by sector or country of activities, or by entering keywords corresponding to the organisation’s mandate.

Interesting inspiration for the ISN’s own IR Directory!

Indecision and Justice in Kenya

Always a Sword in Hand. photo: rafaelmarquez/flickr

As the International Criminal Court (ICC) starts an investigation into its most high-profile suspect yet – Libya’s “Brother Leader” Muammar Gaddafi – politicians in a far more democratic country, 2,700 miles to the southeast, are also looking to evade the long arm of the law.

Kenya became the 98th member of the International Criminal Court in March 2005, when it ratified the Rome Statute. Over the past three months, the ICC has issued Kenya with summonses for the ‘Ocampo Six’: six individuals, both in and out of government, deemed by Chief Prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo to be those most responsible for the post-electoral violence that unfolded in 2007-08, leaving an estimated 1,500 people dead.

Is it really necessary for the ICC to be involved? Could Kenya not prosecute those involved on a purely domestic level? Yes, it could: but only with an adequate institutional framework in place. The Rome Statute provides for the legal principle of complementarity; that is, legitimate local efforts at justice enjoy primacy over international efforts. Politicians in Nairobi, however, have botched various attempts to establish a local tribunal, or to reform their judicial system. Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara has spearheaded the campaign to establish a local tribunal that would meet international standards – in essence, removing the need for ICC involvement. A copy of his bill can be found here. Three attempts to pass the legislative text – February 2009, August 2009 and February 2011 – were, however, defeated as a result of parliamentary infighting. » More

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