Archive for June, 2010

Stanford Takes Lead on Conflict Minerals Issue: Trustees Adopt Groundbreaking Investment Policy

06/22/2010 Leave a comment

Stanford Takes Lead on Conflict Minerals Issue: Trustees Adopt Groundbreaking Investment Policy

Responding to a student-led initiative of Stanford STAND, Stanford becomes the nation’s first university to adjust its investment policy in light of conflict minerals’ role in the ongoing mass atrocities in the DRC.

Stickers were used as part of an awareness campaign on the Stanford campus


PRLog (Press Release)Jun 20, 2010 – Stanford STAND: A Student Coalition to End and Prevent Genocide and Mass-Atrocities is delighted to report that the Stanford University Board of Trustees has voted in favor of the adoption of a new proxy voting guideline regarding the “conflict minerals” that sustain armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as Stanford announced Friday June 18 at …. This vote makes Stanford University the first major institution to adopt an investment policy with respect to conflict minerals. Such early leadership on a major new investment responsibility issue is unprecedented in the University’s history.
The guideline states that the University will:

“…vote in favor of well-written and reasonable shareholder resolutions that ask companies for reports on their policies and efforts regarding their avoidance of conflict minerals and conflict mineral derivatives.”

The term “conflict minerals” refers to the minerals that come from illegally controlled mines in the eastern part of the DRC. Civilians are caught in the deadly middle as armed militias struggle for control of mines and smuggling routes. According to the International Rescue Committee, over 5.4 million deaths have occurred as a result of the conflict. What’s more, because of the widespread use of sexual violence against local populations as an intimidation tactic, the DRC has been called the rape capital of the world. Fueling this conflict is the lucrative process of mining and trading minerals like tantalum, tungsten, tin, and gold.

Innovative university policies brought on by STAND student activism


Diplomatic Memo – Value to Big Powers May Not Save Kyrgyzstan –

06/19/2010 Leave a comment

MOSCOW — A year and a half ago, the world’s great powers were fighting like polecats over Kyrgyzstan, a landlocked stretch of mountains in the heart of Central Asia.

The United States was ferociously holding on to the Manas Air Base, a transit hub considered crucial to NATO efforts in Afghanistan. Russia was so jealous of its traditional dominance in the region that it promised the Kyrgyz president $2.15 billion in aid the day he announced he was closing Manas. With the bidding war that followed, Kyrgyzstan could be forgiven for seeing itself as a global player.

And yet for the past week, as spasms of violence threatened to break Kyrgyzstan apart, its citizens saw their hopes for an international intervention flicker and die. With each day it has become clearer that none of Kyrgyzstan’s powerful allies — most pointedly, its former overlords in Moscow — were prepared to get involved in a quagmire.

Russia did send in several hundred paratroopers, but only to defend its air base at Kant. For the most part, the powers have evacuated their citizens, apparently content to wait for the conflict to burn itself out.

The calculus was a pragmatic one, made “without the smallest thought to the moral side of the question,” said Aleksei V. Vlasov, an expert in the politics of post-Soviet countries at Moscow State University.

“We use the phrase ‘collective responsibility,’ but in fact this is a case of collective irresponsibility,” he added. “While they were fighting about whatever — about bases, about Afghanistan — they forgot that in the south of Kyrgyzstan there was extreme danger. The city was flammable. All they needed to do was throw a match on it.” He referred to the city of Osh, which suffered days of ethnic rioting.

Kyrgyzstan might have unraveled anyway, but competition between Moscow and Washington certainly sped the process.

To lock in its claim on the base after the threat of expulsion, the United States offered President Kurmanbek S. Bakiyev $110 million to back out of his agreement with Russia, which had already paid him $450 million. Congratulating itself on its victory, Washington raised the stakes by announcing the construction of several military training facilities in Kyrgyzstan, including one in the south, which further irritated Moscow.

This spring, the Kremlin won back its lost ground, employing a range of soft-power tactics to undermine Mr. Bakiyev’s government. Mr. Bakiyev was ousted by a coalition of opposition leaders in April, and conditions in Kyrgyzstan’s south — still loyal to the old government — hurtled toward disaster.

“Let’s be honest, Kyrgyzstan is turning into a collapsing state, or at least part of it is, and what was partially responsible is this geopolitical tug of war we had,” said Alexander A. Cooley, who included Manas in a recent book about the politics of military bases. “In our attempts to secure these levers of influence and support the governing regime, we destabilized these state institutions. We are part of that dynamic.”

How inter-state conflict contributes to the failure of weaker states and sets off ethnic violence

Posted via web from Ted’s Nothing but Net Explorations

The Associated Press: Emerging Congo mini-state raises fears of conflict

06/07/2010 Leave a comment
Emerging Congo mini-state raises fears of conflict

KITCHANGA, Congo — The scarlet-lettered flag flaps atop a lush green hill in an apparent declaration of ownership. Here, a rebel movement turned political party collects taxes, appoints local officials and even polices a border post.

These former rebels are accused of populating the land they have grabbed with thousands of people from neighboring Rwanda to form a mini-Tutsi state. The state-within-a-state is emerging in the shadow of Rwanda’s genocide two decades ago, and is raising the specter of new violence in war-ravaged east Congo.

U.N. officials, legislators and traditional chiefs are already forming “pacification committees” to try and resolve the land conflicts.

“The situation is explosive,” Jean Baumbiliya Kisoloni, vice president of the provincial assembly based in Goma, said of Masisi, one of the districts under the new flag. “I am not really optimistic that this can be resolved without conflict.”

New states not always a good thing.

Posted via web from Ted’s Nothing but Net Explorations

…My heart’s in Accra » Explaining Erlinder? ginning up genocide denial charges?

06/03/2010 Leave a comment

Explaining Erlinder?

Filed under: Africa, Human Rights/Free Speech ::

On Friday, American lawyer and law professor Peter Erlinder was arrested in Rwanda. His alleged crime is “genocide denial”, one of a set of offenses prosecutable in Rwanda under the 2008 “Law Relating to the Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Ideology”. That law has been used to subject Erlinder’s client, opposition presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire, to house arrest since shortly after her return to Rwanda from the Netherlands. Erlinder knew that he was risking arrest in coming to Rwanda – he has been a fierce critic of President Kagame’s administration, is representing accused genocidaire Major Aloys Ntabakuze at the international tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania, and warned the US State Department and the Minnesota congressional delegation before making the trip.

Posted via web from Ted’s Nothing but Net Explorations

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