Europe of regions in the making

As the European Union gets stronger, and national governments get weaker, ethnic groups are demanding more self-determination within a Europe of regions, argues Walter Mayr in the Der Spiegel online. See his feature here . “Scots, Catalans, Basques and Corsicans are eagerly following events in Belgium, partly out of curiosity over how the situation will unfold, and partly because the Flemings have managed to force their desire for a separate state onto the political agenda, even though their language was long derided as one spoken only by farmers and maids.”

Outside the law in Canada

“ Reports of abuse, maltreatment and violence are rife in Immigration detention centres where newborns, children and the elderly languish for months, sometimes years, without any avenue for release. “In recent years, Immigration Enforcement has taken to moving undocumented arrestees into provincial maximum security holding centres. Many of those held are refugee claimants that have just arrived, whose detention is actually illegal under the Geneva Convention on Refugee Rights.” - Mohan Mishra and Marika Heinrichs of No One Is Illegal-Toronto . See their article on Canada’s handling of asylum...

Egypt arms Libya’s rebels

Egypt's military has begun shipping arms over the border to Libyan rebels with Washington's knowledge, US and Libyan rebel officials told the Wall Street Journal . The Egyptian shipments are the strongest indication to date that some Arab countries are heeding Western calls to take a lead in efforts to intervene on behalf of pro-democracy rebels in their fight against Mummar Gaddafi, the paper said. "The Americans have given the green light to the Egyptians to help. The Americans don't want to be involved in a direct level, but the Egyptians wouldn't do it if they didn't get the green light...

EU court orders Spain to compensate Basque leader

Spain must compensate the radical Basque separatist leader Arnaldo Otegi after wrongly sentencing him to jail for insulting King Juan Carlos, the European court of human rights has decided. See The Guardian’s report here . The court in Strasbourg ruled that Spain must pay €23,000 in compensation to Otegi for breaching his right to freedom of expression after he accused the Spanish monarch of protecting police torturers. Otegi's remarks were "made in his capacity as elected member of and spokesperson for a parliamentary group …in the context of the recent closure of the Egunkaria newspaper and...

UN warns Bahrain on international law

The United Nations has warned Bahrain that its violent crackdown on anti-government protesters might be breaking international law. See Al-Jazeera’s report here . Bahrain’s security forces have fired on pro-democracy protestors and are reported to be preventing doctors from treating the injured. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon called King Hamad on Thursday to express his "deepest concern" about Bahrain's use of force, On Wednesday US President Obama called King Hamad and Saudi King to also express “deep concern” and urge “maximum restraint.” UN rights chief Navi Pillay said any takeover by...

France recognises Libya’s rebels as legitimate representatives

France has recognised the Libyan National Council, a rebel body fighting to oust Muammar Gaddafi, as the legitimate representative of Libya's people. "France recognises the National Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. There will be an exchange of ambassadors between Paris and Benghazi," an official told reporters. A French diplomatic source told Reuters: "It's a political signal of encouragement and we hope that the European Union will follow suit." See Reuters’ report here .

Libyan rebels seek support for armed struggle

A Libyan rebel fighter scrambles from a ditch to reach the battle against forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi, a few kilometers outside the oil town of Ras Lanuf on March 9, 2011. The rebel leadership is calling on the international community to back its armed struggle against Gaddafi with arms supplies and a no-fly zone. Photo Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images. The newly formed National Libyan Council (NLC), the apex organisation of the Libyan uprising has called on the international community to help their people "to continue their armed struggle against Gaddafi." Meeting with EU foreign...

What about those on ‘wrong’ side of a new border?

An often raised objection to secession as self-determination is what about people on the wrong side of border between two new states. The answer is blindingly simple, if the two new states behave responsibly. This is what US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson had to say about today's post-referendum Sudan : “Controversy over the status of as many as two million southerners in the North and smaller but significant numbers of northerners in the south is another major potential flashpoint that could be greatly diminished if both governments reached agreement on...

Protecting people from their states

“The language of R2P refers to state inability or unwillingness as the catalyst for the international responsibility to protect being activated. But often the state itself is the perpetrator of atrocity crimes when security forces, meant to protect people, are instead let loose in a killing spree .” - Ramesh Thakur , Professor of Political Science, University of Waterloo, was an R2P commissioner and a principal author of its report . See his comment on the Libyan situation here .

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