A Muslim woman prays beside the coffin of her relative among 534 victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. / REUTERS
As the nation once called Yugoslavia collapsed into a deadly maelstrom through the 1990s, the world largely stood mute in the face of unspeakable atrocities: ethnically-driven mass murders, concentration camps and rape as a weapon of war. Conventional wisdom blamed the Balkan nations for their own blood-soaked disintegration, which took more than 130,000 lives.
The principal stand against the horrors unfolding in the region came through the United Nations Security Council, whose members banned weapons sales to the region.
Now, nearly twenty years later, new facts are emerging that cast a different light on that narrative, and show that other nations had a hand in stoking the deaths and destruction that engulfed the Balkans. [Full Article]
A farmer in Uganda / REUTERS
It is being called the new “resource curse.”
Throughout the developing world, a global land rush is in full throttle. Agricultural companies, biofuel and timber concerns, investment groups and governments eager to insure food supplies for their citizens are driving a virtual frenzy to buy up rights to arable land, especially in Africa.
But the deals, while massive in scale, are coming under heavy criticism for a lack of transparency, and for spreading hardship and poverty instead of alleviating them. And the World Bank, which has been among the most eloquent critics of these deals, is at the same time midwife to many of them. [Full Article]
A 12-year-old Congolese girl, uprooted by war, holds her little brother. / REUTERS
Fifteen months after President Barack Obama hailed the Dodd-Frank Act as a mighty weapon against reckless excesses on Wall Street, the measure is sparking fierce debate for a far different reason: Its effort to clamp down on “conflict minerals” which are found in everyday objects, but which are often linked to brutal African conflicts and dictators.
It may seem a far stretch for a law aimed at cleaning up Wall Street to also take on the trade in minerals from the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. That it does is setting off fierce debate that pits human rights activists against some of the most powerful business interests in Washington.
In addition to its myriad regulations covering the banking and financial industries, the Dodd-Frank law also intensifies government oversight of the multibillion-dollar-a-year trade in oil, gas and minerals. It requires American oil and gas companies to publicly disclose payments to foreign governments. And it obliges companies in the extractive industries to demonstrate “due diligence” in determining whether or not the minerals they buy are linked to brutal conflicts in Congo and its neighbors in Central Africa. [Full Article]
Protesters target a land deal by the Prime Minister, benefactor of Lawrence Technological University in Michigan
Seven months ago, as Muammar el-Qaddafi moved to crush the first stirrings of democratic protest in Libya, the London School of Economics came under intense pressure to give back a $495,000 gift tied to the now-dead leader’s son, Seif al-Islam. The prestigious school’s director, Sir Howard Davies, stepped down in disgrace, apologizing for “an error in judgment.”
But a far larger donation from the Libyan government to American University in Washington, D.C. went largely unnoticed, as have multi-million dollar gifts to American and other universities from officials in Bahrain. That country has killed 42 pro-democracy protesters and arrested more than 1,600, about 500 of which still detained, in its own brutal crackdown so far this year. Saudi Arabia, which sent military forces to battle protestors in Bahrain and elsewhere, has also donated millions of dollars to American universities, including Harvard, M.I.T., Georgetown and others.
The donations, which U.S. institutions of higher education are required to report to the government, show that universities regularly accept gifts from leaders that brook no opposition and their family members, ignoring questions of corruption and human rights violations. Rather, universities appear largely unconcerned by the provenance of the money they accept. [Full Article]