Breakfast at Sodiam’s: The Central African Republic’s Diamond Nightmare

Civil war rages on in the Central African Republic for nearly three years now, with tremendous human suffering. The most recent figures put the number of displaced people at 800,000, with another 2 million in dire need of assistance. For a country whose pre-war population was close to 4.6 million people, these statistics attest to the chaos that has engulfed civil society. Before taking on its current magnitude, the conflict started with a quasi-routine coup d’état: President François Bozize was...
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“Beirut vs. Paris” – Careless Negligence, or Chronic Myopia?

On Friday night (CET), citizens around the globe were informed (and appalled) by the atrocious acts of terrorism in Paris of France. The following day, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for this series of mass shootings and suicide bombings that took away 129 lives and wounded several hundreds more. Soon after the attack took place, President Francois Hollande declared war against ISIL and pledged to "destroy" it. It felt much like the French "9/11" moment.  ...
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U.N. crowdfunding app helps feed Syrian refugees

On Thursday, the United Nations World Food Programme released a new crowdfunding app in order to help feed Syrian children in Jordanian refugee camps. ShareTheMeal, available for iPhone and Android smartphones, encourages users to “share their meals” with these young refugees by donating as little as $0.50, enough to feed a child for one day.  Those who log in to the app through Facebook can even compare their charity efforts to those of their Facebook friends -- a special gamification featur...
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The Worst Place on the Planet

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLp_2QU1nmY Over the past week, the Islamic State has made a push to overrun the Yarmouk Palestinian Refugee Camp in Damascus, Syria. The forces that protect the camp have been hollowed out by a devastating siege instituted by the Assad regime. Food and water are scarce; medical supplies and ammunition are nowhere to be found. Aid workers have repeatedly been denied access to the camp. Without some kind of intervention, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-M...
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How effective is the International Criminal Court?

On March 13, the International Criminal Court formally ended its case against President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, four years after Kenyatta was charged with inciting postelection violence. 1,200 people perished in the aftermath of the 2007 elections. Kenyatta was the first sitting president to appear before the ICC. The African Union heavily criticized the ICC investigation of Kenyatta, stating that the ICC targets Africa almost exclusively.[1] In the past 13 years, the ICC has spent more than $1...
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The Detention of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr

On October 15th, Saudi Arabia sentenced Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, an outspoken Shia cleric, to death on charges of, “disobeying the ruler,” “inciting sectarian strife,” and, “encouraging, leading, and participating in demonstrations.” Although it is still possible for the ruling to be overturned by appeal or royal pardon, the judgment has sparked a wave of unrest in the largely-Shia Eastern Province not seen since the heart of the Arab Spring uprisings. Al-Nimr is known for his candid and robu...
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Mexico’s Police Force: The “Plata o Plomo” Predicament

When it comes to fighting drug cartels and violence, Mexico’s police force is often “caught between a rock and hard place”. Mexico’s police force is frequently forced to choose between two ugly alternatives, which are commonly referred to as “plata o plomo”. “Plata o plomo” translates to “silver or lead” and describes the predicament that Mexico’s police force is caught in on a daily basis: accepting drug cartel bribes or being killed for carrying out justice. The former is the more common pract...
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Myanmar on the Mend?

Looking for an exotic travel destination? Myanmar—also known as Burma—is now “open for business”. Myanmar has long been isolated from the rest of the world on account of its former military junta that reigned from 1962-2011. The country—notorious for its human rights abuses—was closed off to international trade and to foreigners. However, ever since its ruthless dictatorship halted in 2011, there has been talk of Myanmar becoming the next “Thailand” of Southeast Asia. Now freed from economic sa...
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Children of Argentina's "Dirty War"

Last month, Estela Barnes de Carlotto announced that she had finally found her grandson, Guido, after 36 years of searching for him. Estela de Carlotto is the president of the Association of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo. She is 84 years old and is perhaps the greatest figure in the defense of human rights in Argentina. While pregnant, her daughter was snatched by Argentina’s brutal military junta, which lasted from 1976-83. Guido, who had been raised under the name Ignacio Hurban over 200 mile...
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Alyne da Silva Pimentel v. Brazil

In November 2002, Alyne, a 28-year-old Afro-Brazilian woman, was admitted into a private clinic complaining of nausea. Although the medical staff considered her to present signs of a high-risk pregnancy, she was discharged from the clinic. She returned to the clinic two days later, and the doctors discovered that her fetus had died and removed it. Alyne’s health continued to decline, and she was later transferred to the Hospital Geral de Nova Igaçu. Medical officials continued to delay her treat...
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