Colombia and Mexico: The Wrong Lessons from the War on Drugs

Colombia and Mexico: The Wrong Lessons from the War on Drugs

Good-Bye Hegemony!

American international hegemony is a fiction created, sustained and propagated by policy makers and IR scholars to support a large defense establishment and a foreign policy reliant on power – identified with material (military) capabilities. This is neither good nor desirable for the global order, nor for America’s own interests. Today, real hegemonic functions are diffused through the international system and performed by a range of actors including the European Union, China and other powers. If the US does not understand how the international system works and what functions and abilities are necessary to pursue a constructive (even if self-interested) foreign policy, it may continue to be – as it has often been – a source of global instability.

Challenging and provocative as they may appear, these are the major ideas driving Good-Bye Hegemony! Power and Influence in the Global System.

If you wish to continue reading my Book Review, go to the Global Policy Journal website.

Book Review – The UN and Changing World Politics

«International media headlines regularly cover issues such as international negotiations on climate change; conflict and stabilization missions in Mali, DRC Congo, Afghanistan and Lebanon; nuclear negotiations with Iran or the collective failure to protect Syrian civilians. What all of these events have in common is the complex and sometimes overlooked matrix of actors and relationships evolving behind the scenes to set policies, and the processes through which those policies and responses eventually become norms.»

I have just published a book review of The United Nations and Changing World Politics, Seventh Edition, by Thomas G. Weiss, David P. Forsythe, Roger A. Coate and Kelly-Kate Pease. In this volume, the authors bring to the analysis their scholarly depth and practical experience to explain what the UN is – and what it is not – and how it operates. They also elucidate the systems of incentives and disincentives that facilitate (or hamper) processes and advances, and describe the relations with external actors ranging from states to NGOs and international organizations. It is in this realm of competition and cooperation among actors that world politics is shaped, created and re-created, and the UN is literally and symbolically placed at the centre of these endeavours.

The Book Review has been published by the Global Policy Journal. If you wish to read it complete, check here. And of course, if you are interested in world politics, do not miss the reviewed book.

Balance de un año intenso en América Latina

El día 30 de diciembre, en el programa Enfoque de Hispan TV, hicimos un balance de los hechos más significativos del año 2013 en América Latina. Desde la muerte de Hugo Chávez y el triunfo de Maduro en las urnas, que dieron continuidad al chavismo en Venezuela, pasando por el giro político en Chile a la izquierda y el regreso de Bachelet a la Presidencia, y las denuncias de fraude electoral en Honduras.

También abordamos las protestas en varios países, incluidos México y Brasil, y la emergencia de movimientos sociales. Y cómo no, las conversaciones de paz en Colombia. Son 25 minutos para resumir un año muy intenso en lo social, económico y político en América Latina.

Conduce Joaquín Mulén, y las invitadas somos Érika Rodríguez, socióloga de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia y coordinadora para América Latina de la Fundación Alternativas, y yo misma. Si os apetece verlo, éste es el enlace.

Enfoque: Balance de un año intenso en América Latina




Criminalizing dissent, undermining democracy

Thirty Greenpeace activists are held in preventive detention in Russia following a peaceful protest against oil drilling in the Arctic. They took action against a Gazprom platform because they know it is wrong to exploit melting ice to drill for more oil that is already warming the world.

The Arctic Sunrise was boarded and seizure in international waters. And the ‘Artic 30’, including a freelance photographer and a freelance videographer, were refused bail and charged with piracy. This accusation carries a maximum 15 year jail sentence. And they may wait a total of two months behind bars, before the trial.

An array of Russian jurists, and experts in International Law of the Sea, commented on the charges against the activists, and strongly rejected the application of the piracy charge.

Under the Russian Criminal Code, piracy can only be committed against a vessel, not against an oil platform, and only applies to those who use violence (or threats) to seize property. Not to peaceful protest. Similarly, the International Law of the Sea defines piracy as violent acts committed against ships or aircrafts for private ends.

The charge of piracy had most probably a double aim. Firstly, create a retroactive justification for the boarding of the vessel outside Russian territorial waters (this is one of the few grounds on which such a boarding is legally allowed). And secondly, prevent others from engaging in similar actions.

Yesterday Russia dropped the piracy claims. Now they are charged with ‘hooliganism’ and some of them, accused of using force against police.

In both cases, this is an extreme example of a growing trend: the criminalization of peaceful protest and of dissent worldwide. A recent report is really illustrative in this regard. Its title is Take Back the Streets: Repression and Criminalization of Protest around the World and has been crafted by nine civil rights organizations in diverse countries.

What this report and others show is a disproportionate use of State force to crackdown peaceful protests and demonstrations. This includes surveillance, infiltration and use of ‘agent provocateurs’; new weapons and powers for police forces; arrests grounded in unjustified charges; violence, and intimidation though the charging of grave crimes.

It is happening in Russia and many other countries. Even democracies are trying to restrict channels of expression, protest and political participation to a vote in elections. Other channels and forms of expression and protest are increasingly criminalized.

But the freedom of expression and the right to organize and protest are an integral part of what we call democracy. Civil society has a right to make its voice heard. Attempts to misuse Law (national and/or international) and use intimidation tactics to halt those voices are grave threats to the foundation of Law and democracy and all of us should be concerned.

Greenpeace is strongly pushing for the liberation of the Artic 30 and the Arctic Sunrise and to defend the right to peaceful protest. If you are concerned with this issue and want to help, just enter Greenpeace website and choose whatever action you prefer.

They are only activists.