Monday, July 28, 2008

Transparency in emergency humanitarian aid delivery

The UN's IRIN news service reports on a call by the anti-corruption non-governmental organization Transparency International for increased transparency in the delivery of emergency humanitarian aid.

"There remains little knowledge about the extent or consequences of corruption in humanitarian assistance, little shared knowledge about preventing corruption under emergency circumstances beyond a few standard practices, and a degree of taboo about confronting it publicly", noted the TI, which researched the practices of seven major international NGOs.

The report states that problems range beyond simple financial misappropriation. These problems include many forms of “abuse of power”, such as cronyism, nepotism, “sexual exploitation and coercion and intimidation of humanitarian staff or aid recipients for personal, social or political gain, manipulation of assessments, targeting and registration to favour particular groups and diversion of assistance to non-target groups”.

The report added that humanitarian aid delivery is particularly vulnerable to corruption due to NGOs' difficulty in retaining institutional memory and the difficult circumstances in which such aid has to be delivered.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Seun Kuti

US National Public radio has an interview with Seun Kuti, son of the late Afrobeat legend and now lead singer of his late father's band.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Happy birthday Madiba

I am remiss for neglecting to post an entry marking
the 90th birthday of Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century.

It's probably a little happier now that the US government has finally figured out that he is not a terrorist.

At his birthday celebration, the Nobel Peace Prize winner made remarks calling for closing the chasm between rich and poor.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Sudan's dictator to be indicted on war crimes and genocide charges

Both the BBC and the Associated Press are reporting that Sudan's military dictator Omar el-Bashir will be indicted next week by the International Criminal Court. The Hague tribunal is expected to hand down charges of crimes against humanity and genocide related to massacres in Darfur, almost universally believed to be sponsored by the regime. Bashir's deputy is also expected to be indicted by the ICC.

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Who supports Mugabe and who opposes him

The reaction of African leaders to the Mugabe-made crisis in Zimbabwe is revealing. In most cases, the reaction is predictable based on the personal history of the leaders in question.

Bob Mugabe's election 'victory' has been denounced by leaders like Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga.

Sirleaf was cheated victory in 1997 in an election under very similar circumstances; one that was rigged and tarred by massive violence by thugs loyal to the 'winner' warlord (and later indicted war criminal) Charles Taylor.

Odinga was named prime minister of a national unity government following elections that he claims was rigged by the incumbent in which saw serious ethnic violence in which some 1500 people were killed.

Mugabe's 'win' was also rejected by neighboring Botswana, the only country in Africa that has been a democracy non-stop since independence.

Mugabe's betrayal was also criticized by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former South African president and political prisoner Nelson Mandela, two men who know more than a little about living under an undemocratic regime that commits massive human rights abuses and practices state terror.

While Mugabe and his apologists often invoke scapegoats like the British and American leaders, their smokescreen conveniently ignores the avalanche of criticism and disrespect he's receiving from Africans themselves.

By contrast, the African heads of state who endorsed Mugabe's state terror and fraud of an election tended to be those who engaged in such activities themselves.

The Zimbabwean tyrant was endorsed by one of his own: Gambia's Yayah Jammeh, a great patron of human rights. Of course, Jammeh's policy on AIDS has been about as effective as Mugabe's.

Even Senegal, once seen as a beacon of democracy in Africa, is towing the pro-Mugabe line. Not surprising since President Abdoulaye Wade's administration has been under heavy criticism domestically for its increasingly authoritarian tendencies.

Senegal's foreign minister imploed that the West should "leave us [Africans] alone and [that] we be left to decide our own destinies."

I'm sure the Africans in Zimbabwe would be thrilled for the privilege of being allowed to decide their own destinies, in much the same way the Senegalese did in 2000.

The main exception to this trend is, of course, the shameless appeasement of South Africa's Thabo Mbeki.

Something like 22 of the over 50 African Union heads of state came to power via un-democratic paths, so it's hardly surprising that Mugabe was greeted so warmly at the recent AU summit in Egypt (a country that's been under de facto martial law for 27 years).

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Western Sahara phosphates: the raison d’etre of Moroccan domination

A friend of this blog pointed out this interesting report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on the link between the illegal Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara and Australian agriculture.

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