The impacts of International Service Learning (ISL) on Adolescent Participants in Cambodia
Abstract: International service learning (ISL) programs in secondary and post-secondary education, often in the context of global citizenship education, have exploded over the past two decades; yet limited research explores the short-term impacts of ISL programs on adolescent participants, nor informs ISL curricular development. This study investigated the short-term impacts of the Cambodia Service Project (CSP) on adolescent participants. Twelve female and six male participants, ranging in age from 16-18 years, participated in the three-week CSP designed by Round Square (RS) in collaboration with a non-governmental organization (NGO) in rural Cambodia. Participants attended RS schools and represented seven countries: Australia, Canada, China, England, Germany, India, and Ireland. A case study approach was used and data was collected through participant reflections, interviews, and arts based methods. The research revealed participants were impacted in four areas which guide ISL curricular recommendations: relationship with self, relationship with others, relationship with culture and environment, and relationship with different perspectives, attitudes, and ways of knowing.
Keywords: international service learning, adolescents, short-term impacts, Cambodia, global citizenship
The right to education
Our current global reality consists of social, political, financial and environmental networks that permeate national borders, creating opportunities for effective collaboration, as well as violent conflict. It follows that managing interactions created through globalization demands an analysis of good governance that reaches far beyond state governments. This is particularly relevant when addressing environmental global governance, in which every man, woman and child at all levels of society has a vested interest in the outcomes; “the environment impacts human survival, well-being and dignity – all aspects of human security” (Khagram, Clark & Raad, 2003, p. 294). Weiss discusses global governance in the context of the dependence and intensification of economic and political ties: “with the increasing diffusion of authority and a corresponding loss of control, states and the intergovernmental organisations created by them are no longer always the only or even the most important players on the world stage” (Weiss, 2000, p. 810). Therefore, creating, developing, applying and adjusting an effective and ethical global governance model that can oversee environmental policy worldwide, requires contributors, implementers and evaluators at every level of society.
Timeline and Key Actors of Environmental Global Governance
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 by the United Nations Environment Programme and World Meteorological Association. IPCC assessments are the “scientific underpinning[s] of international negotiations” (UNFCCC, 2015) addressing the environment, while also providing leadership on extreme event and disaster management. The 1992 Rio Climate Change Summit saw near universal signatories (196 countries) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), and it was adopted in 1994. The world’s first greenhouse gas emissions reduction treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, went into effect in 1997, with ratification in 2001, but only entering into force in 2005 with the long-awaited ratification by the Russian Federation (The Climate Group, 2015). An annual series of global panels on climate change have followed, leading to a common goal of reducing global warming by 2°C (COP21, 2015), a measurement which is wrought with difficulties, not the least of which is an unclear pathway, an absence of accountability measures, and an outcome which is extremely challenging to measure.
In the discussion that followed the 2012 Rio Summit, nine major areas were identified that needed to be addressed for the well-being of all, which one could argue is the ideal result of good global governance. Three of them make direct reference to the environment, identifying the need for addressing green economies, environmental problems, ecosystem disturbances, as well as food, water, climate and energy issues (Jan-Gustav Strandenaes Stakeholder Forum, 2014).
There is a broad acceptance that a wide range of civil, financial, corporate and governmental agencies need to be involved to guarantee the effective governance of the environment. A diverse range of civil society groups have taken an active role in accessing and participating in global processes, creating frameworks to ensure environmental global governance is “transparent, accountable and effective” (WEDO, 2015). Khagram, et al. (2003) highlight the multilateral approach necessary to achieve good global governance in the environmental sector. “Community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, social movements, professional scientific and technical associations, private sector firms, religious groups and others that are considered part of civil society – at various level from the local to the global, are often champions for positive change” (Khagram, et al., 2003, p. 304).
The Paris Summit - December 2015
A major goal of the UN Paris Summit is to create climate change protocol or legal instruments applicable to all parties of the UNFCCC. “The stakes are high: the aim is to reach, for the first time, a universal, legally binding agreement that will enable us to combat climate change effectively and boost the transition towards resilient, low-carbon societies and economies” (COP21, 2015, para. 3). It is a daunting task, as the parties of the FCCC forces are aiming to create a framework for the overall plan including, mitigation, adaptation, technology and economics of addressing climate change (COP21, 2015). And there has been colossal failure in the past. The Copenhagen Summit in 2009 was viewed worldwide as little more than resulting in an agreement to agree in the future; it was a marked failure of the current environmental global governance community to take real action against climate change (Vidal, Strattan & Goldenberg, 2009).
Canada's Commitment and the Complexities of Environmental Global Governance
The 2013 UN climate conference saw Elizabeth May, a recognized advocate of the environment, Canadian Green Party leader and opposition MP, joining the Afghanistan delegation because then Prime Minister Harper disallowed her (and other MPs) from joining the Canadian delegation (Bryden, 2015). Thankfully, we have quickly turned that corner. Our new government, led by Justin Trudeau, is including Elizabeth May and other women leaders in the Paris Summit talks (Bryden, 2015). These fluctuations, however, are a clear demonstration that even democratic and economically advanced nations struggle with good governance and allowing women leaders to contribute and participate in an equitable and open way. Multiply that complexity by 196 national signatories to the IPCC, millions of economic, cultural, religious and social scenarios, and it is easy to see why finding common environmental ground has, to date, eluded us on a global scale.
In addition to ever-changing national leadership which inevitably results in varying levels and focus of funding and support, accountability and delegation of responsibility to the environment continues to be a central issue. Countries persist in diverting blame to others, near and far, and fail to meet internationally established environmental goals as outlined in the Kyoto Protocol. Or, they withdraw altogether, as was the case with Canada under Harper’s leadership. However, on a positive note, Trudeau is looking to take a strong stance at the Paris Summit so that “people know that Canada’s years of being a less-than-enthusiastic actor on the climate change file are behind us” (Bryden, 2015, para. 14).
Predicted or irregular adjustments in climate (ie. climate change of any type) necessitate adaptations by the affected community, regardless of if we can agree planet Earth is undergoing a process of human-caused environmental change. Those dependent on land for economic or food security, whether it be through subsistence farming or husbandry, have long been aware of the need to adapt to changes in temperature, precipitation, seed varieties, soil nutrients, wind and dust, etc... This ability to adapt, or lack thereof, that has a more direct link with the severity of the impact of climate change and thus with the connection to civil wars in the presence of resource scarcity.
The negative effects of higher temperatures on agricultural output have the potential to create and exacerbate human development issues surrounding food, water and health security. IRIN’s (2012) analysis shares O’Loughlin’s findings that “very hot temperatures were shown to increase the risk of conflict” (para.5). As Johnstone & Mazo (2011) suggest, those nations less dependent on their own production are by necessity more dependent on global food systems and thus the combined impact of climate change can become a “threat multiplier” in the presence of other security stresses. Johnstone & Mazo (2011) argue that food-price inflation caused by the poor wheat, soybean and maize crops leading up to the Arab Spring may have been an aggravating factor. It is important to note, however, that food prices are affected by a great number of political, economic and social policy factors including land use, population growth, nutritional changes, transport costs, trade agreements and national/local rationing systems. Sufficient national and local infrastructure to absorb fluctuations is thus essential to creating adaptive capacities, perhaps more so than the prevention or understanding of climate change itself. This thinking is reflected by social scientist, Corinne Schoch: “focusing on climate change as a security threat alone risks devolving humanitarian responsibilities to the military, ignoring key challenges and losing sight of those climate-vulnerable communities that stand most in need of protection” (IRIN, 2012, para. 15).
As much of Sub-Saharan Africa depends on subsistence farming and a high percentage of family incomes are directed to food security, this region has the potential to suffer greatly from climate change. If crops are down, the subsequent deleterious impact on an individual’s economic capacity has spiraling effects for personal health, access to education, land distribution/use and thus community relations. Due to these linkages, Burke, Miguel, Satyanath, Dykema & Lobell (2009) argue that warmer years lead to an increase in the probability of civil war in Africa. Burke, et al. (2009) also conclude that strong economic (national) growth and democratization are not likely to eliminate the negative impact of higher temperatures on the likelihood of conflict.
A variety of local resilience building, and thus perhaps conflict mitigating, suggestions arise that would create both regional stability and increased predictability in the global food market as a whole:
1. using crop varieties adapted to extreme temperatures (Black, 2009; Mertz, et al., 2009)
2. funding development of new technologies and irrigation infrastructure (Mertz, et al.,2009)
3. aiding distribution of farming knowledge and incentives (Burke, 2009; Mertz, et al, 2009)
4. development of government policies affecting social services, land and resource allocation (Odong, 2012)
5. diversification of production (Mertz, et al., 2009)
6. insurance schemes to protect from climate shock (Black, 2009; as discussed in Goslinga’s TED talk)
This UNEP 2006 account of the effects of climate change on natural and cultural heritage says nothing of the governmental policies which have allowed for the exploitation of the very same areas the United Nations is trying to protect in such countries as Belize, Egypt, South Africa and Mauritania. Accountability continues to be a global issue as countries divert blame to others near and far and fail to meet internationally established environmental goals as outlined in the Kyoto Protocol. Or, they withdraw altogether, as is the case with Canada.
Clearly, the impacts of climate change can have an effect on access to essential goods and services; stresses on food, water, personal health and community relations will impact human security, possibly in the form of conflict. Thus, the solutions to mitigating climate variability’s impact on conflict listed above are more immediate regional solutions. In addition, international collaboration and continued dialogue will be essential as social and environmental scientists continue to unveil the intricate web of cause and effect of climate change and national industries hopefully rise to meet a more sustainable approach.
Black, Richard. (2009, November 24). Climate 'is a Major Cause' of Conflict in Africa. BBC News.
Climate change: beyond the hype of 'climate wars.' (2012). IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis.
Burke, M.B., Miguel, E., Satyanath, S., Dykema, J.A. & Lobell, D.B. (2009). Warming increases the risk of civil war in Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(49), 20670-20674.
Johnston, Sarah & Mazo, Jeffrey. (2011, April-May). Global Warming and the Arab Spring. Survival, 53(2), 11-17.
Mertz, O., Mbow, C., Reenberg, A., & Diouf, A. (2009). Farmers’ perceptions of climate change and agricultural adaptation strategies in rural Sahel. Environmental Management, 43(5), 804-816. Retrieved from Proquest.
Odong, Jackson. (2012). Land conflicts are a threat to stability in the northern area. The Observer viewpoint.
I remember taking a “chicken bus” in 2001 from my hostel in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, to a remote surf spot about 20 minutes up a dirt road. The ride is fresh in my memory not for the stunning beauty of the deserted beach I arrived at, but for the endless pile of plastic waste that I saw in a dumping ground that covered a stretch about 500 metres wide and about four kilometres long between the road and the ocean...it was my first experience of ‘recycling’ in the South and it was the spark of questions around overproduction, waste management, education, ecological responsibility and environmental degradation. It was also the beginning of a philosophical question which has yet to be answered in my mind: why does human security prevail over environmental security? Will we ever find a sustainable model of development if we value environmental health less than we do human existence, as is the case today?
Globalization has and will continue to have major impacts on environmental and thus human security. “Increased population densities, lack of context appropriate knowledge, low levels of capital and weak institutional arrangements usually result in sever ecological damage.” (Khagram, et al., 2003, p. 295) Therefore, environmental health must take centre stage in our view of human security, as economic growth, global investments and trade liberalization, along with increase in production and consumption have created strong ripple effects in our global environmental pond.
Proponents of trade liberalization argue that long term economic growth will improve the institutions that govern environmental reform, while improving the governance structures that support them. (Dauvergne, 2005, p. 382) This argument is based strongly on the environmental Kuznets Curve (below), which suggests that as incomes rise, pollution levels will follow, until a crux is reached at which point global resources and institutions, technologies, regulations and ecological trade markets will ‘catch up’, allowing those countries in the first half of the curve to “tunnel through”, eventually decreasing pollution levels. (Dauvergne, 2005, p. 382)
This idea claims that free trade encourages efficient global production, transfer of technologies from the North to South and will result in higher environmental standards. It has many shortcoming, however, as it doesn’t accurately represent that trade barriers distort prices of natural resources, thus fuelling waste and overconsumption, that some environmental damage is irreversible and that international environmental protection policies need first to be put in place and subsequently followed and monitored in order to be successful.
Environmental Standards and Exploitation
There is evidence that trade can put pressure on corporations with low environmental standards to raise them to gain access to different markets, as was the case when the auto industry in Japan and Germany adjusted emission standards to compete with Californian standards (Dauvergne, 2005). However, on the flip-side restricting trade is sometimes necessary for protection of endangered species or control of use and disposal of chemical and other hazardous waste.
Some transnational corporations (TNC’s) operate at a higher standard than local laws call for a variety of reasons: partly because they have access to “more sophisticated technologies and management techniques; partly because of pressure from states, NGO’s, shareholders and consumers; partly because of internal codes of conduct and risk-management strategies; and partly because the resulting efficiencies can provide a competitive advantage.” (Dauvergne, 2005, p. 383) However, this is certainly not always the case and double standards are common. TNC’s are widely known to apply lower standards in countries with weaker laws, including General Electric, Ford and GM who operate in Mexico to avoid California’s emission laws, or Union Carbide, the American company responsible for a massive methyl isocyanate leak which caused the greatest chemical disaster in history, all because they were operating at a low standard in India. During this disaster in 1984, an estimated 2,000-5,000 people died immediately, with aid organizations estimating up to 15,000 died in the weeks following the accident. (Vince, 2009): “This is a tragedy that could so easily have been avoided. If cost-cutting officials at the plant had not shutdown the tank's regulatory pressurisation and refrigeration systems; if the valves had been maintained properly and not allowed to leak water into the gas tank, sparking a catastrophic runaway reaction; if the vapour absorption ("scrubbing") system had been in use, it might never have happened.” (Vince, 2009)
Critics of globalization claim that it distances production from consumption, thus removing the immediate ecological effects of individual actions and that trade can put a downward pressure on environmental standards in a “race to the bottom”. Free trade also often translates into patterns of exchange that exploit the labour and environments of the South, especially in mining, textiles and electronic factories in Latin America, Africa and the Asia-Pacific. In 2014, computer e-waste being transferred from Vancouver’s port to recycling facilities in Pakistan and Hong Kong was stopped upon arrival for being in violation of the Basel convention. (Pynn, 2014). The Basel convention was adopted in 1989 as “an international law designed to protect human and environmental health from dangerous recycling”. (Pynn, 2014, p.1)
It becomes clear from these examples that the effectiveness of environmental standards is dependent on the breadth and scope of the guidelines and the strength of the state and inter-state policies in place to support them. (Dauvergne, 2005, p. 387)
Technology Transfer, Consumption and Sustainable Use of Resources
In the Kuznets curve model, technology transfer from developed economies is argued to be one of the key tools to lift developing nations out of high pollution levels. However, that argument neglects the trend that overproductions and overconsumption (by the North) may override environmental gains, for example in the race for new computer technologies (and the subsequent tech waste that follows). There has been a fourfold rise in energy consumption since World War II and “the North, with about 15 percent of the global population, accounts for about three-quarters of global consumption” (Dauvergne, 2005, p. 384)
Trade liberalization also does not take into account resource capture which occurs when supply of a resources decreases, thus increasing demand and encouraging “the more powerful groups in a society to exercise more control and even ownership of the scarce resource, thereby enhancing their wealth and power.” (Khagram, et al., 2003, p. 295) Along with enhancing wealth and power, we know that putting resources into the hands of few can have a detrimental impact on the access to resources for the poor which then often spirals into unsustainable use and competition (possibly leading to conflict) over what resources are available. Overconsumption and other unsustainable uses of resources encouraged can lead to irreplaceable damage to biodiversity or species, eruption of mass ecological change, declining of one toxic substance leads to rise of another, and regional shifts that can sometimes mask negative environmental impacts (ex. shifting production offshore).
It is clear that left to insufficient or weakly held checks and balances, globalization and free trade liberalization do not inherently treat the environment as an entity worth protecting in its own right, rather, ecological security will result only from a conscious implementation of a complex interplay of factors: “new consumption patterns, innovative markets, technological advances, corporate ethics, and cooperation [are necessary] to ensure a sustainable global economy.” (Dauvergne, 2005, p. 386) I think Khagram, Clark & Raad said if perfectly: “efforts to protect nature will fail unless they simultaneously advance the cause of human betterment; efforts to better the lives of people will fail if they fail to conserve, if not enhance, essential resources and life support systems.” (Khagram, Clark & Raad, 2003, p. 289) The high rate of compliance with the international ozone regime is proof that multilateral action and global regimes can work, but the jury is still out on the success of collaboration on climate change, deforestation and water health.
A brief but clear overview of the current situation in Libya. As the internationally recognized government flees Tripoli, Fajr Libya, the Islamic militia, claims governance and occupies the capital as they take up arms against ISIS. Food prices are soaring, personal safety is frail and internally displaced peoples are left deprived of basic needs. UN peace talks between opposing sides are ongoing.
Putra & Sukabdri (2013) conducted a study aimed to discover the reasons behind Islamist terrorist actions in Indonesia, the concepts that explain those actions and the specific choice of targets. Forty male participants took place in the study; they were all part of JI or KOMPAK (an Islamic group based in the Sulawesi province linked to providing funding to JI); 27 of the 40 were incarcerated for terrorist activities, including the Bali bombing and the Ambon conflict.
The interviewees involved in the Bali bombing cited dissatisfaction with the Indonesian government, decrease in overall morality, and deteriorating social conditions in Indonesia as central reasons for the attack. They repeatedly refer to Christianization and attacks against their Muslim brothers in Palestine and Afghanistan as reason to combat; they perceive their country to be in a state of war against Muslim ideology, thus justifying Jihad. The activists believed it is forbidden to attack peaceful non-Muslims, but they question the existence of such people. They see their own president as a “representative of evil who supports America and its allies” (Putra & Sukabdri, 2013, p. 87).
The interviewees perceive Islam as under threat and Putra & Sukabdri (2013) argue this has led to fights against injustice and reduced individual compassion. Context is important; Islamic terrorism in Indonesia differs from other regions, such as Palestine or Lebanon, Putra & Sukabdri (2013) argue, partly because such actions are not as substantially supported by Islamic groups and even not always by families of the perpetrators. In addition, there is a weaker link between the described goals of terrorism and the acts put into play. Nasir Abas, a former prominent member of the Islamist group, JI (a group repeatedly linked to terrorism in Indonesia) claimed that a prominent goal of Indonesian terrorism is to establish an Islamic state. But, their actions in targeting civilian and foreign subjects (ex. Australian embassy, western communities in Bali) instead of government officials or institutions make the link between goal and action less clear; this is in stark contrast to the Islamic terrorist actions in Palestine, Egypt and India which Putra & Sukabdri (2013) identify as being more consistently against authority.
The connection, however becomes more clear as those interviewed identified strategic political views: one of the Bali bombers in the study stated the attack was a direct response to “atrocities committed towards Muslims worldwide by the USA and its allies” (Putra & Sukabdi, 2013, p. 88). He believed that America, as a superpower state, currently has the ability to stop the conflict between Palestine and Israel but chooses not to. Activists also believe that America should not interfere with Indonesian national affairs. This begs the question, as posed by Rob in the podcast, as to whether American power creates stability in the west while destabilizing other areas. Clearly, the ideological link for Indonesian extremist activists means that it does, but would an alternative Muslim state be more peaceful, more secure? Arquilla (2013) writes that “50 percent of the experts assert that the American relationship with Israel now hurts US national security more than it helps” (p. 72). Is this the case overseas, as well? The answer is unclear (at least to me)!
Approaching this study of Indonesian Islamist terrorism with the view of identifying a zone of possible agreement – one might ask how we can meet in the ‘ideological’ middle ground. Because such terrorists are willing to sacrifice this life for what they rationalize as justified defense of Islam, the religious, cultural and political counterparts that find such beliefs intolerable (whether it be a Christian community, or democratic nation) have shut down communications and have failed in finding a common ground upon which to move forward. How can we find a way of understanding the root of what others believe in order to find solutions to intractable conflicts?
“We learn how to believe before we learn what to believe. It is what we believe – the second stage – that is at the heart of many our current conflicts. We love and hate because of our beliefs; we make homes for ourselves and drive others out, saying that we have been here forever or were sent because of a vision of goodness or gold, or instructions from our gods; we go wandering, and we go to war. Whether Jew or Arab, Catholic or Protestant, farmer or hunter, black or white, man or woman, we all have stories that hold us in thrall and hold others at bay.” (Chamberlin, 2003, p. 2)
Some say we can’t negotiate with terrorists, but it’s possible we will not find solutions any other way. We negotiate regularly with murderers (something of which I am woefully reminded as Paul Bernardo’s name hits the papers again), despite the fact that we have deemed their actions deplorable by law. We find middle ground in order to move forward and keep society safe. We analyze possible causes and cures and I believe we must continue to delve into the rationalities of terrorist activists in order to find a way out; we must work to find ideological common ground in order to move towards a “zone of possible agreement”, as discussed by Burgess & Burgess (2003).
“The development of Islamist terror activists’ norms, beliefs, and ideology are rooted in a collective understanding of the Qu’ran verses and as-Sunnah” (P & S, 2013, p. 84). In other words, they are a result of a specific interpretation and application of words within a particular cultural, temporal, religious and political context. They are results of belief. Individuals have deemed certain words more valuable than life itself. And have disregarded the words, stories and songs of others. Is this unlike what happened in British Columbia during government land claims with the Gitksan in the 1990s? The government deemed the First Nations group did not have rights to the land because there was no written documentation to prove it. The Gitskan asked “if this is your land, where are your stories”. It’s a battle of words, of ideologies, of identity, of home. And though the pillaging of land from the Gitskan may seem far removed from the taking of life by a suicide bomber, I believe they are closely linked – the conflict arises from interpretations of context. “Stories give meaning and value to the places we call home; they bring us close to the world we live in by taking us into a world of words; they hold us together and at the same time keep us apart” (Chamberlin, 2003, p. 1).
Burgess & Burgess (2003, p.3) articulate three causes of intractable conflicts which can be identified in the case of Islamic terrorism in Indonesia: irreconcilable moral differences (reflected as the defence and expansion of the Islamic state), high stakes distributional issues (the perceived inequality of Muslim vs. Christian livelihood in Indonesia) and domination or pecking order conflicts (the belief that American ideology has taken over national interests in Indonesia, thus disregarding Muslim beliefs and the desire for syariah law to rule).
As Burgess & Burgess (2003) point out, “the enemy [in intractable conflicts] is not the other side, but rather the process of escalation ... [which] pushes them to act in increasingly extreme ways that would not, under other circumstances be considered remotely acceptable” (p. 4). I am inclined to suggest that in order to de-escalate terrorist activities and subsequent responses, we need to have a far greater understanding of the stories and beliefs of both sides so that we may find common ground on which to create new stories.
Arquilla, John. (2013, March 4). State of war. Foreign Policy, 199 (March-April), 72-73.
Burgess, Heidi & Burgess, Guy M. (2003). What are intractable conflicts? Knowledge Base Essay. Beyond Intractability Project, University of Colorado.
Chamberlin, J. (2003). If this is your land, where are your stories?: Finding common ground. Toronto: A.A. Knopf Canada.
Putra, I., & Sukabdi, Z. (2013). Basic concepts and reasons behind the emergence of religious terror activities in Indonesia: An inside view.Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 16, 83-91. Retrieved from Ebsco.
Through the lens of human security
Having just finished a two-week intensive residency at Royal Roads University in Human Security and Peacebuilding, my mind is filled with images, stories and theories that attempt to paint a picture of the root causes of human conflict in our world today. Here are a few highlights (in no particular order). Many thanks to my profs, Rob Hanlon and Lauryn Oates, and my cohort members who shared their stories openly and courageously and expanded my way of understanding the world.
1. Canadian mining company Barrick Gold: investigating human rights abuses in Papua New Guinea
I believe we have a national responsibility to hold Canadian companies to a high ethical and environmental standard, both at home and abroad. Resource extraction companies are taking advantage of operating in areas with poor governance structures. This allows exploitation of minority groups who have limited power over land use contracts, corruption and ensuring equal government economic distributions that support basic essential services. In certain cases, locals are displaced, experience rape and abuse, lose water and air quality, are forced to give up fertile land. They often experience market competition which leads to negative economic impacts. And we wonder why conflict arises?
2. Women: the centre of success
The solution can be as simple as providing bathrooms for girls at local schools in developing countries, many of which have no such thing. And it can also be as complicated as trying to remove armed insurgency groups from a girl's path to the classroom. Each situation is unique, but the core message is clear: "The very best predictor of a state's peacefulness is not its level of wealth, its level of democracy, or its ethno-religious identity; the best predictor of a state's peacefulness is how well its women are treated." (Hudson, 2012)
3. The Responsibility to Protect: International reactions to crimes against humanity
In 2001, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), which was funded by the Canadian government, released its report on called the Responsibility to Protect. It had a major impact on the discussions leading to the UN R2P document, which was formally proposed by Kofi Annan at the 2005 World Summit.
R2P is based on three principles, addressing the tools the international community has to address human rights violations. First, a state has a responsibility to protect its citizens from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. This reflects a change in thinking around borders and was seen by some to challenge the idea of state sovereignty, which viewed the state more as owner of the citizen, rather than being accountable to them. Second, the international community has the responsibility to assist states do be successful in protecting its citizens. In times of deeply entrenched conflict, the UN peacekeeping missions and other multilateral initiatives such as economic support from the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, can be employed. Lastly, if the state is not capable of maintaining human security or is the perpetrator of atrocity, the international community has an ethical and moral responsibility to intervene. There are many criticisms of R2P, not the least of which is its imperfect success record and political biases due to the veto power of the five permanent members of the UN Security Countil (China, US, UK, Russia, France). But, it is a shift in the international approach: we have recognized the necessity to consider human security, not simply state security.
4. Somalia: the Mayor of Mogadishu
The conflict in Somalia is rather unique in that it doesn't follow the predominant path of civil war: that of ethnic or religious conflict. Somalians largely speak one language and have one religion, forcing us to consider how to address differing angles of inequality. To find a solution, we must identify root causes and common ground. How does we do that? Each of us constructs our identity and our values and our vision of another's based on our cultural, religious, political, social, and economic experiences. To heal these deep conflicts, we must hear the other's stories, and we must tell our stories so that understanding can arise and we can begin to break down the barriers between 'us' and 'them'.
5. The Dragon Rises
The Chinese record of human rights violations is brought to light in The King and the Cobra: this story illustrates the increased Chinese partnership with the Zambian economy and questions if China can effectively monitor labour conditions imposed by its private sector on the African continent when it has trouble monitoring human rights at home.
These examples raise the underlying question: who is responsible for holding foreign investors accountable for their actions, the host government or the home government? The answer might obviously lead us to the host government...but what happens when a state does not have effective governance? If the host nation is not currently providing basic necessities for all of its citizens or there is evidence of deep-rooted corruption and ethnic inequalities, can we expect foreign investors to be held to account?