Crime & Justice

Sudan’s Conflict Needs Civil Society Solutions

It’s recently been reported that the two main protagonists of Sudan’s current conflict – leaders of the armed forces and militia at war since April – have agreed to face-to-face talks. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African body, announced the potential breakthrough – although Sudan’s foreign ministry has since claimed IGAD’s statement is inaccurate, creating further uncertainty.

Freedom, Equality and Justice Lead to Peace

Today we mark a milestone in history: the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As people around the world commemorate Human Rights Day, we must also deeply reflect on the meaning of this historic document and what it takes to achieve peace in the world.

Art and Climate Change

A dark cloud is hovering above human existence. It is a fairly illusory cloud haunting our minds and wellbeing, but also an actual, menacing, mostly invisible cloud that covers the Earth’s entire atmosphere. Saturated by greenhouse gases, this global threat increases with every year, threatening all life on Earth, causing increased flooding, extreme heat, draught, wild fires, rising sea levels, food and water scarcity, as well as diseases and mounting economic loss. This misery, caused by human greed, thoughtlessness, and self-aggrandizement, trigger human migration and armed conflicts.

‘War on Drugs’ Failed and Policies Need Major Overhaul – Report

A major advocacy group has demanded an overhaul of global drug policies as a landmark report is released showing how governments’ complacency has perpetuated a failed ‘war on drugs’ despite its devastating consequences for millions of people around the world.

Argentina Plunges into the Unknown

For many of Argentina’s voters the choice on 19 November was between the lesser of two evils: Sergio Massa, the minister overseeing an economy with the world’s third-highest inflation rate, or Javier Milei, an erratic far-right libertarian outsider promising to shut down the Central Bank, adopt the US dollar as the currency, cut taxes and privatise public services.

The Cries of Gaza Reach Afghanistan

On the morning of 11 November, Mohammed Abu Salmiya, the Director of Gaza's largest medical center, Al Shifa Hospital, sent out an emotional S.O.S. to the world through a television news interview and through the remaining charge on his mobile phone. His plea for an immediate ceasefire on behalf of a hospital under siege and its 700 critically injured and ill patients, 36 premature babies, 400 staff, and the 2000 vulnerable civilians. These people sheltering within the hospital and its garden were heard as far away as Afghanistan yet totally ignored where it counted most- with the men in Israel's war cabinet and Washington; they were busy executing and aiding an illegal war of choice on an unarmed, defenseless hospital and one of the poorest and densely populated places in the world.

Australia: Reconciliation Back to Square One?

Australia had the chance to take a step forward in redressing the exclusion of its Indigenous people – and chose not to. In a referendum held in October, voters rejected a constitutional amendment to establish an institution for Indigenous people to have a say on matters that concern them.

COP28: Climate Summit in Closed Civic Space

The need to act on the climate crisis has never been clearer. In 2023, heat records have been shattered around the world. Seemingly every day brings news of extreme weather, imperilling lives. In July, UN Secretary-General António Guterres grimly announced that ‘the era of global boiling has arrived’.

Forced Labor: Exposing Dark Web of Fisheries Labor Abuses

It is a terrifying life experience, cut off from the world and trapped in forced labour aboard fishing vessels, often in high seas or seas beyond the territorial waters of any state. The fishers are isolated under hazardous and horrific working conditions under limited regulatory oversight. More than 128,000 fishers were trapped in forced labour aboard fishing vessels in 2021 alone.

Hurricane Otis and the Indifference Toward the Children of Acapulco

Acapulco is a paradise. A port of golden sunsets, toasted sand, and deep blue sea. Its dream beaches captivated the hearts of Elvis Presley and Elizabeth Taylor. US President John F. Kennedy chose its shores to spend his honeymoon with Jackie Kennedy. Its luxury hotels and the untamed sea made it the most famous tourist destination in Mexico.

Women and War

In 1968, the tobacco company Philip Morris introduced a new cigarette brand called Virginia Slims. Under the slogan “You’ve come a long way, baby” it was exclusively marketed to women. The advertising campaign exploited the civil rights movements of the 1960s, indicating that those cigarettes were enjoyed by strong, independent, and liberated women. A blatant lie – why would “independent” women choose to poison themselves with a commodity which each year causes more than 480,000 deaths in the US alone – nearly one in five deaths? Another question arising from this deceitful ad is: “How far have women come on their way to independence and liberation?”

The Hamas-Israel Conflict

The world and the Middle East do not need another violent conflict. This is a region that has experienced far too much violence over the years. Hamas’ desperate attacks on innocent civilians was intended to provoke an Israeli overreaction that would, among other things, jeopardise Israeli diplomatic negotiations with the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia and create generalised anxiety within Israel. It was also aimed at demonstrating Hamas’ military capacity and vengeance for years of a humiliating blockade of Gaza. Kidnapping Israeli civilians was callous and brutal but part of a plan to use hostages as bargaining chips around the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

How to Defend the Environment and Survive in the Attempt, as a Woman in Mexico

The defense of the right to water led Gema Pacheco to become involved in environmental struggles in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, an area threatened by drought, land degradation, megaprojects, mining and deforestation.

Maldives Election: What Now for Civil Society?

Ahead of the presidential election, Solih faced accusations of irregularities in his party’s primary vote, in which he defeated former president Mohamed Nasheed. The Electoral Commission was accused of making it harder for rival parties to stand, including the Democrats, a breakaway party Naheed formed after the primary vote. The ruling party also appeared to be instrumentalising public media and state resources in its favour. Solih’s political alliances with conservative religious parties were in the spotlight, including with the Adhaalath Party, which has taken an increasingly intolerant stance on women’s and LGBTQI+ rights.

Where is India Heading?

Some time ago I watched the Indian blockbuster RRR (Rise, Roar, Revolt). It received universal praise for direction, screenwriting, cast performances, soundtrack (which won an Oscar) and thrilling action sequences. RRR is filled with gore; bodies beaten, pierced and torn apart. An overblown combination of Quentin Tarantino and Bollywood, far away from Satyajit Ray’s emotionally moving films, as well as Bollywood’s romantic comedies and mythological dramas. RRR never pauses for breath. The two male protagonists are supermen, not exposing many recognizable human traits, even if they might occasionally sing and talk about love. Hard to understand, since the few women of the story are cut-out clichés.

Bahrain’s Political Prisoners: Resistance Against the Odds

Maryam al-Khawaja’s journey home ended before it had begun: British Airways staff stopped her boarding her flight at the request of Bahraini immigration authorities. Maryam was no regular passenger: her father is veteran human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, in jail in Bahrain for 12 years and counting.

Iran: One Year on, What’s Changed?

It’s a year since a photo of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini – bruised and in a coma she would never recover from after being arrested by the morality police for her supposedly improperly worn hijab – went viral, sending people onto the streets.

The Case for Afghan Women and Girls: How an International Criminal Court Investigation Could Expand Human Rights

Two years have passed since the Taliban re-assumed power in Afghanistan, and women and girls have yet to return to work or school. Can the international justice system now come to their defense? Experts say a case for Afghan women and girls has the potential to change the way the legal community thinks about human rights abuses. Will it?

Halfway to 2030: Our 5 Asks at the SDG Summit

At the UN SDG Summit in New York, the Forus global civil society network is calling for decisive action on SDG implementation. Clearly, as we hit the midpoint towards the "finish line" of the Agenda 2030, progress is stagnating.

The Vast Potential of the Human Spirit

With hope and courage, we must rise to the challenges before us. We must rise to the challenge of a world set afire by climate change, forced displacement, armed conflicts and human rights abuses. We must rise to the challenge of girls being denied their right to an education in Afghanistan. We must rise to the challenge of a global refugee crisis that is disrupting development gains the world over. We must rise to the challenge of brutal and unconscionable wars in places like Sudan and Ukraine that are putting millions of children at risk every day.

Gabon: The End of a Dictatorship… and the Beginning of Another?

On 26 August, Gabon went through the motions of an election. Official results were announced four days later, in the middle of the night, with the country under curfew. Predictably, incumbent President Ali Bongo, in power since the death of his father and predecessor in 2009, was handed a third term. Fraud allegations were rife, as in previous elections. But this time something unprecedented happened: less than an hour later the military had taken over, and the Bongo family’s 56-year reign had ended.

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