This Week in the World of Conflict… December 6th-12th, 2011.

  • Global Witness announced that it had left the Kimberley Process, an international diamond regulatory group, because it refused to address links between diamonds, violence and tyranny. Even if these certification schemes manage to address problems at mines, in many cases, the materials must pass roadblocks and pay “taxes” that directly line the pockets of warlords.
  • The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Office for Drug and Crime (UNODC) have launched an online training portal for justice professionals who deal with cases involving child victims and child witnesses of crime. The portal is open to law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, social workers, health sector workers, lawyers and informal justice providers.
  • The UN refugee chief called upon the international community to assume its shared duty to protect and assist millions of forcibly displaced and stateless people around the world during a two-day forum organized by the UN HCR. More than three quarters of a million people became new refugees in 2011, with global forced displacement figures at a 15 year high at the end of 2010.
  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted the importance of regional organizations to detect potential crises early and to mobilize coordinated international response. Ban called upon these regional organizations to share burdens, strengthen responses and reinforce joint messages.
  • The research analyst group Maplecroft has released its Human Rights Risk Index for 2012 and concluded that over 48% of the 197 assessed nations are at an “extreme” or “high” risk of human rights violations and that there has been a steady trend of deteriorating human rights situation.
  • On Thursday, Uppsala Conflict Data Program released new additions to its datasets detailing violence in Africa between 1989 and 2010 at the level of individual event of violence. They also released new data on external support in internal armed conflicts for the time period 1975-2009.
  • A discussion about the need to protect health care workers in war zone has some suggesting that a special protection force be set up to safeguard healthcare in war zones and that those who perpetrate attacks on health workers be brought before the ICC. The Red Cross estimates that there have been more than 650 attacks on medical staff and patients in 16 conflicts since 2008, in blatant contravention of international laws.
  • The UN High Commission for Human Rights said that human rights went viral in 2011 as people around the world used social media to protest against abuses on Human Rights Day. The IIGG program released its Public Opinion on Global Issues that showed a dramatic international consensus backing fundamental human rights such as free elections with universal suffrage; the right to demonstrate peacefully and express opinions freely; media freedom from government censorship; equal treatment of people—irrespective of religion, gender, race or ethnicity; and government responsibility to provide citizens with basic food, healthcare and education.
  • The UN Climate Change Conference (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa ended on Sunday with a wishy-washy agreement that all countries would work towards legally binding targets for reducing carbon emissions. The EU hailed the new deal as a “historic breakthrough”, while critics wanted it was not enough to slow global warming.
  • The forth UN Alliance of Civilizations Forum began on Sunday in Doha, Qatar, with more than 2,000 participants who will discuss how to improve relations across cultures, combat prejudice and build lasting peace. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged members to combat extremism and promote tolerance during his opening remarks.
  • International leaders met in the Hague for a two-day conference on Internet freedom sponsored by Google and the Dutch government this week. About two dozen nations called upon the adoption of a declaration of freedoms in cyberspace at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe conference, but the proposal has no chance of being adopted because the organization acts only on consensus.
  • The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence wrapped up on Friday. The 16 days is an international campaign that started in 1991 to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.
  • The Nobel Peace Award ceremony took place on Saturday. Among the winners were Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman.
  • A new manual to support self-training and teaching of qualitative research methods was launched by the Evidence for Action research consortium. The manual is intended for those conducting short-term training in qualitative research methods for applied health.
  • The UN General Assembly is considering designating October 11th as the International Day of the Girl Child. The organization Plan International pushed for the designation in order to highlight the unique challenges and issues faced by girls in “developing” countries.

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