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Elections for Dummies: Why Do We Let Elections Legitimize Tyrants?

Every year the international community (meaning the developed Western nations, the UN and the European Union) spends millions of dollars bankrolling ballots in profoundly undemocratic places (1). Why do we bother? The recent Crimean “referendum” should have given us pause for thought about these expensive exercises in futility. Yet, we continue to enable deeply flawed regimes to conduct elections in places where there is neither free speech nor a free media to report what opposition politicians say. Despite evidence to the contrary, our diplomats go through the motions, pretending these votes confer credibility on corrupt and brutal monsters. Do we really have such faith in a swift dose of democracy? Or do we endorse the election…

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Nelson Mandela and the Stench of Hypocrisy

Politicians and journalists are falling over themselves to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela. Alas, the curse of having a good memory means recalling when the same politicians and journalists condemned the ANC leader as a terrorist. I went on my first anti-apartheid demonstration in 1976, the truly dismal days of the South African regime. Their security forces had opened fire on black children whose crime was to ask for the right to learn English at school. Yet, Barclays Bank gave the regime stalwart support at a time when a growing number of countries were imposing sanctions on South Africa. At other similar demonstrations that followed a surprising number of members of the public would denounce…

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Futility in a Blue Helmet

How should the world react when there are credible signs that a country is on the verge of genocide What can we do to stop another Rwanda happening? France has warned that the remote and desperately poor Central African Republic (CAR) is sliding toward genocide. A mostly Muslim rebel group called Seleka overthrew the CAR government in March, and anarchy reigns. Muslim gangs have been slaughtering Christians, and Christian defense militias are now retaliating. The UN Secretary General wants to send peacekeepers, otherwise known as Blue Helmets. But what if there is no peace to keep? And why send soldiers without robust enough marching orders to defend themselves and protect civilians? The UN’s peacekeeping efforts have…

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A GLIMMER OF HOPE IN THE HEART OF DARKNESS Finally, a reason to celebrate UN peacekeepers, and some simple lessons to learn

For years the United Nation’s peacekeeping efforts have attracted criticism bordering on contempt. Yet, finally, they have salvaged their reputation by defeating an insurgency in the heart of Africa. The rebel M23 group has just announced they are retreating to the negotiating table (1). Only a year ago the 17,000 UN force in Congo stood by without firing a shot as M23 invaded Goma, a city of a million people. The Congolese army they were supposedly supporting retreated, looting and raping their own people as they went. The peacekeepers, costing $1.5 billion a year, looked on (2). This disgraceful episode provoked the UN Security Council to adopt a tough new set of rules of engagement…

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The Golden Years are for Changing the World

Our sympathy should be with the millions of graduates forced to endure commencement addresses at this time of year. They must wish they had a set of noise-eliminating ear phones for each time someone over 50 tells them it’s now up to them to clear up the mess left by previous generations. “It’s your turn,” is a useful cliché trotted out by those letting themselves off the hook. Instead of being inquisitive lambs, they embrace sheep-like passivity, heading out to the golf course or the early bird special, when they should still be fighting for their values, utilising a life-time of experience and wisdom. It isn’t good enough to pass on the baton while you…

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Events

A Letter to President Obama

Download a letter to President Obama to encourage him to take action on Darfur. PresidentObama

PRACTICAL HELP FOR SURVIVORS OF GENOCIDE

Rebecca believes it isn't enough to be informed about genocide - we need to support the resilient and resourceful survivors of genocide who reject the label 'victim.' That's why she founded Network for Africa, a registered charity in the USA and UK. Please click here to learn about Network for Africa's practical projects offering a helping hand to survivors of the Rwandan genocide, and survivors of the Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda. Thank you.

Featured Articles

Elections for Dummies: Why Do We Let Elections Legitimize Tyrants?

Every year the international community (meaning the developed Western nations, the UN and the European Union) spends millions of dollars bankrolling ballots in profoundly undemocratic places (1). Why do we bother? The recent Crimean “referendum” should have given us pause for thought about these expensive exercises in futility. Yet, we continue to enable deeply flawed regimes to conduct elections in places where there is neither free speech nor a free media to report what opposition politicians say. Despite evidence to the contrary, our diplomats go through the motions, pretending these votes confer credibility on corrupt and brutal monsters. Do we really have such faith in a swift dose of democracy? Or do we endorse the election…

+

Nelson Mandela and the Stench of Hypocrisy

Politicians and journalists are falling over themselves to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela. Alas, the curse of having a good memory means recalling when the same politicians and journalists condemned the ANC leader as a terrorist. I went on my first anti-apartheid demonstration in 1976, the truly dismal days of the South African regime. Their security forces had opened fire on black children whose crime was to ask for the right to learn English at school. Yet, Barclays Bank gave the regime stalwart support at a time when a growing number of countries were imposing sanctions on South Africa. At other similar demonstrations that followed a surprising number of members of the public would denounce…

+

Futility in a Blue Helmet

How should the world react when there are credible signs that a country is on the verge of genocide What can we do to stop another Rwanda happening? France has warned that the remote and desperately poor Central African Republic (CAR) is sliding toward genocide. A mostly Muslim rebel group called Seleka overthrew the CAR government in March, and anarchy reigns. Muslim gangs have been slaughtering Christians, and Christian defense militias are now retaliating. The UN Secretary General wants to send peacekeepers, otherwise known as Blue Helmets. But what if there is no peace to keep? And why send soldiers without robust enough marching orders to defend themselves and protect civilians? The UN’s peacekeeping efforts have…

+

A GLIMMER OF HOPE IN THE HEART OF DARKNESS Finally, a reason to celebrate UN peacekeepers, and some simple lessons to learn

For years the United Nation’s peacekeeping efforts have attracted criticism bordering on contempt. Yet, finally, they have salvaged their reputation by defeating an insurgency in the heart of Africa. The rebel M23 group has just announced they are retreating to the negotiating table (1). Only a year ago the 17,000 UN force in Congo stood by without firing a shot as M23 invaded Goma, a city of a million people. The Congolese army they were supposedly supporting retreated, looting and raping their own people as they went. The peacekeepers, costing $1.5 billion a year, looked on (2). This disgraceful episode provoked the UN Security Council to adopt a tough new set of rules of engagement…

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