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Attack on Kampala

July 12, 2010

There is lawlessness in Somalia.

Without a strong rule of law system, terrorist groups and criminal organizations are able to go about their business openly and without challenge to their actions. The African Union is working to re-establish rule of law in Somalia; Burundi and Uganda have contributed troops to this force.

Sunday night during the World Cup Final, two locations in Kampala, Uganda were attacked by members of the terrorist group al-Shabab based in Somalia.

Why? Because Uganda is helping bring security sector reform to Somalia? Or because they are hosting the African Union summit this month? Or was Kampala attacked and 74 people killed because al-Shabab finds happiness in Ugandan’s sorrow? Read more about the attack here.

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Security Council Debates Rule of Law

July 9, 2010

My more recent post is up over at the SSR Resource Centre. This time I summarized a report of the Security Council published before their debate at the end of June over advancing rule of law, international justice mechanisms, and international peace and security.

For the full summary, click here.

SSR Assessment Framework

June 22, 2010

Yesterday my newest blog post for the SSR Resource Centre went up over there. This time I looked at the a new tool for SSR analysis. Tailored to meet Swedish conditions of SSR, the assessment framework developed by the Swedish National Contact Group for Security Sector Reform is available for use by any actor involved in SSR that needs to write-up an analysis of a current SSR effort. The framework provides the basis for a comprehensive and strategic report, ensuring that no SSR sector or question is left forgotten. Please click here to check out my full review.

Also, the Folke Bernadotte Academy has a great video on SSR which you can watch here.

Lost Generation

June 15, 2010
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Here’s a little piece about perspective. Enjoy.

Under Water Look at the Deepwater Horizon Spill

June 10, 2010

A quick follow-up to our discussion yesterday about oil spills. The video below is footage of the oil spill in the Gulf under the surface. The plumes of oil below the surface and the changes in activity of the underwater life is disturbing. There is so much damage. How can this type of spill be cleaned up? (BP wants to burn the oil – but just think of all the air pollution.) This is a lose-lose situation.

The World Capital of Oil Pollution

June 9, 2010

It is now over a month since the accidental destruction of the Deepwater Horizon rig which continues to leak gush oil every day. As the world watches BP and the United States blunder to repair the rig it should take time to look over to Nigeria where some of the best light crude oil is found in the world – but where most of it does not stay in the pipelines.

Environment editor for The Observer, John Vidal wrote an alarming piece in May about the large-scale problem of oil pollution in Nigeria and the lives it is affecting.

He starts by sharing a story about his experience in Nigeria a few years ago:

We reached the edge of the oil spill near the Nigerian village of Otuegwe after a long hike through cassava plantations. Ahead of us lay swamp. We waded into the warm tropical water and began swimming, cameras and notebooks held above our heads. We could smell the oil long before we saw it – the stench of garage forecourts and rotting vegetation  hanging thickly in the air. The farther we travelled, the more nauseous it became. Soon we were swimming in pools of light Nigerian crude, the best-quality oil in the world. One of the many hundreds of 40-year-old pipelines that crisscross the Niger delta had corroded and spewed oil for several months.

Several months. Informed after a few days, Shell did not act for six months. In May this year, Vidal reports, an ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured and spilled more than a million gallons of over seven days before being repaired. Thousands of barrels of oil spill when rebels attack the pipelines too. The Niger delta has 606 oilfields and these problems have gone on for over 50 years in Nigeria. A group of NGOs and the Nigerian federal government calculated a few years ago that up to 1.5 million tons of oil has spilled through that time. It is hard to say exactly how much has spilled because the oil companies keep it a secret.

People living in the Niger delta are losing their homes and livelihoods because of such rampant oil pollution. Vidal reports that “community leaders are now demanding $1bn in compensation for the illness and loss of livelihood they suffered [due to the spill in May]. Few expect they will succeed. In the meantime, thick balls of tar are being washed up along the coast.”

An area of swamp is cordoned off after being affected by an oil spill. Photograph by Marcus Bensasson.

No wonder oil prices are so high, this limited un-renewable resource going to waste because of the recklessness and impunity of the oil companies. Oil companies act as though they are beyond the law. Placing more international pressure on the oil companies must happen in order to see changes occur in the Niger delta before the environmental damage is beyond repair.

Read a summary of Nigeria in 2009 here, more on the oil spills and conflicts here and here, and Nigeria’s oil problems in perspective to the BP oil spill in the Gulf here.

Controversy and Outrage Surround Possible Resumption of US Military Training to Indonesia

June 8, 2010

My newest blog post about possible US-backed military training in Indonesia is up over at the SSR Resource Centre. A lot of controversy surrounds the upcoming decision to re-initiate support of the Indonesian armed forces. Past human rights violations that have not been brought to justice and the negative effect US-backed training will have on the progress of security sector reform are just two of the many concerns people following the situation are sharing. For the whole list of controversies surrounding this development, read the full blog post here.

Recently, American reporter Allan Nairn has uncovered that in 2009 the Indonesian armed forces secretly assassinated civilian activists. Below is part of his interview on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. Nairn and Goodman have been together in Indonesia in the past, and here Goodman recalls being caught in the cross-fire of the Indonesian armed forces and peacefully protesting civilians. Another story to read is Kristen Sundell’s account of being an election monitor in 1999 and her quick escape with the UN staff from the Indonesian Army.