Issue 28 “Ending Civil Conflict: How to create the Editor's Note

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Issue 28 “Ending Civil Conflict: How to create the
conditions for peace”
Editor's Note
By Priya Wakhlu
Welcome to Monthly Access Issue 28. Our topic for this month is Ending Civil Conflict: How to
create the conditions for peace. Given the recent developments in the Middle East, this topic is of
particular import, as many countries are struggling to establish basic tenets of a civil society. As
such we must evaluate what is necessary to create peace; and how the global community can
assist countries to reach these goals.
This month Sally Carlton looks at the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Nepalese
Government and the Maoist Rebels. Sally examines how the Agreement has failed its noble aims
of creating a peaceful society for the Nepalese.
In Women and Post-Conflict Reconstruction Processes, Alberto Tukstra considers how gender
equality can be improved during the reconstruction of post-conflict states. In particular how the
introduction of National Action Plans, which require nations to take into account gender when
providing assistance to post-conflict states, are improving the lives of women.
The ongoing crisis in Syria is dominating news across the world, and Nadia Vittoria looks at what
impetus would be required to encourage NATO to intervene in the escalating humanitarian
crisis. Sharna de Lacy looks at how the ongoing emphasis on defence spending is preventing
individuals across the world from attaining their basic human rights. In When Conflicts can improve
Peace, Nicholas Clarke highlights how conflict in North Korea could facilitate an improvement in
living conditions for its citizens.
The Topic for Issue 29 will be "Refugees: A Political Force in the 21st Century" and submissions
will be due on the 7th of August. Monthly Access is also looking for full time writers and an Editor in
Chief. If you have a passion for current affairs and writing, get in contact with the Editor so we can
get you on board.
Translating peace accords into peace rewards: The case of Nepal
By Sally Carlton
On 21 November 2006, the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) was signed by the Government
of Nepal and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist. This act brought the Maoists’ decade-long
insurgency, initiated in protest over the lack of democratic rights available to the majority of
Nepalis, to an end. The CPA as a document contains the theoretical foundations to establish real
and sustainable peace for Nepal, yet almost six years after its endorsement policymakers are still
struggling to translate its ideals into practice. The failure of the Maoist-led Constituent Assembly to
draft a Constitution by the 28 May 2012 deadline, despite four previous deadline extensions,
exemplifies Nepal’s difficult transition to peace. The case of Nepal demonstrates that wellintentioned and carefully drafted legislation does not necessarily facilitate the establishment of
peace after civil conflict.
The CPA is, as its name suggests, comprehensive. Clearly defined key terms minimise the
potential for misunderstanding, and several references to “both the sides” clarify the fact that the
Maoists and the other political parties together bear responsibility for implementing and upholding
the document. The CPA also outlines exactly what issues it plans to address. The document is in
this respect very transparent; great care was obviously taken when it was being drafted to
minimise misconception and maximise dual ownership and accountability.
The CPA outlines the terms which could create positive peace in Nepal. Firstly, it recognises most
of the underlying tensions and issues which led Nepal’s people to civil conflict, the most serious of
which are the inequalities rooted in caste, ethnicity, gender and religion. In this way, the document
explicitly draws attention to the need to instigate changes which will fundamentally alter the fabric
of Nepali society. The document, secondly, specifically mentions the Government’s aim to ensure
every citizen has access to education, health, shelter, employment and food security (Article 3.9),
which demonstrates an awareness of the need to guarantee these elementary human needs in
order to stabilise the potential for violent conflict. Thirdly, the CPA contains detailed information
relating not only to long-term, fundamental changes but also to the immediate concerns of the
post-insurgency phase including the administration of armies and arms. Dealing with such issues is
necessary in order to begin not only the process of reducing people’s physical capacity for violence
but also reversing the dehumanisation of the ‘Other’ which occurs during war. This attention to both
long-term and shorter-term change makes the CPA an extensive and inclusive document with the
potential to generate real peace in Nepal.
Nepal’s CPA recognises the elements within Nepali society which caused conflict to erupt. Yet
while the signing of the CPA initiated the country’s transition from war to peace, six years later the
ideals of the CPA have still not been translated from theory into practice. Thus while the CPA
document seems to demonstrate a thorough understanding of Nepal’s post-conflict context and
propose concrete suggestions for change, its implementation is proving incredibly challenging. This
difficulty is clearly visible in the Constituent Assembly’s failure to finalise the Constitution by 28
May; the majority of issues which prevented the political parties from reaching consensus stem
directly from the conflict. The difficulty of translating the Comprehensive Peace Accord into reality
means that for many Nepalis, the rewards of peace are yet to materialise.
Women and Post-Conflict Reconstruction Processes
By Alberto Turkstra
The immediate post-conflict period offers unique opportunities to rebuild a country’s institutions. It
also provides an excellent chance to achieve greater gender equality and inclusiveness. Despite
women accounting for the highest proportion of those adversely affected by conflict (the majority of
refugees and Internally Displaced People are women and children, for instance), women have all
too often been sidelined in processes of post-conflict reconstruction.
A 2003 World Bank Study examining the impact of gender inequality on the likelihood of intra-state
violence from 1960 to 1997 concluded that there is a strong and positive correlation between
gender inequality and the likelihood that a country will experience internal conflict. For these
reasons, there has been, in the last decade, a slow but gradual shift in the international
community’s thinking as numerous international organisations have sought to incorporate gender
issues into their agendas. The adoption, in 2000, of United Nations Security Council Resolution
1325, which explicitly acknowledged the importance of women’s participation in post-conflict
reconstruction and peace-building processes, is an important first step in the right
direction. Furthermore, a number of countries have published National Action Plans (NAPs) to
guide the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325. The NAPs outline how each country is
transforming its current national policies in the areas of development, foreign aid and diplomacy to
be more gender-sensitive and gender-inclusive. To date, however, only 37 countries have
published a National Action Plan (NAP) on Resolution 1325. Australia is the latest country to have
published a NAP, in March 2012.
Yet, progress has been slow. For instance, only nine women were part of the 71-strong
Constitutional Drafting Committee in charge of writing Iraq’s permanent Constitution in 2005. As
Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile and current executive director of UN Women (the UN
Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women), has acknowledged, ‘‘women’s
empowerment and their participation in public life are still not seen as essential to sustained peace
and democratization’’.
Yet, there are also success stories. In the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, Rwanda has become a
leading example of the importance of empowering women to transform its post-conflict
society. Following the 2008 parliamentary elections, women now hold 56 per cent of the seats in
Rwanda’s parliament. The country not only holds the world’s highest percentage of female
Members of Parliament, but it also is the first country where women have outnumbered men in
parliament. Aside from politics, the economic empowerment of women and the rise of female
entrepreneurism are remarkable. 41 per cent of Rwandan businesses are now owned by women,
which makes Rwanda the country with the third-highest ratio of female entrepreneurs in Africa,
behind Ghana and Cape Verde.
In short, there is a long way to go in effectively engaging women in the process of conflict
resolution. Women’s exclusion from public decision-making and positions of political responsibility
is one of the key obstacles to achieving long-standing peace. It is therefore vital that attempts to
resolve conflicts bring women into the process in all stages and levels of conflict management and
resolution in order to enhance the legitimacy and sustainability of the reconstruction process. This
will require moving beyond seeing women as primarily victims of war and conflict and re-examining
the roles they can play in actively pursuing and contributing to peace.
NATO and the Future of Syria
By Nadia Vittoria
With condemnation of the ongoing violence in Syria growing stronger by the day, it was only a
matter of time before someone would lose their patience with Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The
gunning down of a Turkish military jet, which had allegedly strayed into Syrian airspace, has set
the scene for the latest chapter of the Syrian conflict. This one event has brought with it an entire
shift in focus; from one concerned with grave humanitarian contraventions to a diplomatic dispute
of international proportions centred upon two neighbours. Syria and Turkey, once allies, are now
decisively and vocally at odds, with Ankara openly calling for the removal of the Assad regime.
However, the focus of the remainder of international community has been set upon ensuring the
success of the peace plan promoted by UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, coupled with
convincing Russia to remove its support for Assad. Nevertheless, this new development may bring
with it a new plan of action. Up until this point, the international community has done little to follow
up its condemnation of Syria with solid action. Meetings in Washington and Istanbul have offered
little progress except a sense of cautious optimism that everything will soon be resolved. And
yet, 16 500 people have been killed in the violence in Syria since March last year.
Turkey has expressed the first voice in international politics which has not employed polite
diplomatic begging to persuade both sides to end the conflict. Turkey has not sought to engage in
military retaliation for the downing of the jet, rather it has chosen to partake in a war of words and
ultimatums. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has explicitly warned Syria not to take
Turkey’s “common sense and cautious approach as a sign of passivity”. He went on to state that
Turkey’s friendship is valuable but “its wrath is just as strong”.
Arguably, Turkey alone is not enough to ignite fear in the Syrian government. However, Turkey
backed by its twenty-seven NATO allies may be. Thus, the question must be asked: can NATO do
what the UN Security Council has yet to achieve? Turkey, using its powers under NATO’s founding
treaty, has already consulted with fellow members over last month’s events. NATO’s Secretary
General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen emerged from that meeting stating that his members “stand
together with Turkey in the spirit of strong solidarity.” Despite this, Rasmussen has maintained that
any solution in Syria must be political in nature.
And with such statements history may still be determined to repeat itself. The response of the
international community towards the ongoing violence in Syria can be likened to its response to the
1992 Bosnian war. During that time, Russia and the West were in conflict over how to stop the
continuing violence. Secretary General Rasmussen has indicated that there are lessons to be
learnt from the international community’s response to the Balkans which can be applied to Syria.
He argued that Syria is heading for the same fate as Bosnia, unless the West and Russia agree to
send a “unified, clear message” to the Syrian government to cease the violence. In the end, it took
the international community five years and over a hundred UN Security Council resolutions to bring
the violence in Bosnia to an end. NATO has acknowledged that preventing such a reoccurrence
requires a decisive and consistent response.
However, unlike Libya, Syria is a major player in the Middle East, with powerful allies in Russia and
Iran. The conflict in Bosnia was on the very doorstep of NATO’s European members and today,
given the attention demanded by Europe’s economic concerns, the violence in Syria could be seen
as an entire world away. And thus, the role of Turkey materialises: taking that surreal and distant
world and bringing it back to NATO’s attention. Time will tell if Turkey is willing to use its political
advantage as a member to strengthen support for Syrian opposition forces. Ultimately, it would be
a repeat of the mistakes of the Balkans if the only steps the international community take occur in
the aftermath of the conflict. Decisive and cooperative action must be taken now to ensure that
seeking justice against those responsible for breaching international law is not the only proactive
contribution the international community offers in the resolution of the Syrian conflict.
Challenging the Military Complex
By Sharna De Lacy
Since the end of the Cold War, defence and security institutions have only expanded, become
more complex and more globalised. Having come of age during this unprecedented growth, young
people are responding by renewing the anti-war and anti-proliferation movement - and bringing
their law and human rights degrees with them.
Young people are rejecting many assumptions on how to secure a world free from violent conflict,
which have long been taken for granted at a policy level. That war and mass violence is inevitable
and the only path to mitigating this inevitability is to sign a blank cheque to defence spending and
weapons development. And that the maintenance of a bloated public and increasingly privatised
intelligence and surveillance industry is in the interests of the global public good.
It is worth reviewing what many of these assumptions have delivered. The proliferation of nuclear
weapons has been justified on the efficacy of the so called ‘deterrence posture’, which suggests
that the possession of nuclear weapons prevents major war. That WWIII remains the stuff of
science fiction tidies up this essentially circular proof. But it also fails to seriously consider that
since Hiroshima in 1945 the number of nuclear warheads has increased to
an approximated 23,300. The cost of production and maintenance of these weapons syphoning
hundreds of millions of dollars from social spending and infrastructure. It also disregards the proxy
wars that occurred across the developing world- and the foreign interventions in Latin America that
installed brutal dictators and obliterated the left and middle classes. These things occurred as the
result of an intense climate of tit-for-tat military expansion and desire for ideological hegemony –
and surely are not satisfactory evidence of ‘deterrence’.
A tiny fraction of the US$ 1.7 trillion spent every year on defence, (which continued to grow in real
terms throughout the Global Financial Crisis while aid budgets were ‘deferred’), would address the
US$30-40 billion short fall in funding for the Millennium Development Goals. It is worth noting that
the Millennium Development Goals aim substantially to reach the 87 per cent of the world's young
population who live in developing countries and are more vulnerable to the effects of grinding
poverty and socio-economic marginalisation, but lack the social power or knowledge of their
human rights to demand their inclusion in setting national development agendas.
The break neck speed at which the US defence and security institutions have been hollowed out
and the public funds shoveled off to private military contractors provides an illuminating example of
the globalisation of war. In just 10 years the industry has exploded, worth an estimated $US20-100
billion each year. The number of private contractors in comparison to U.S soldiers in the first Gulf
War was 1:55. Fast forward to 2006 Iraq and the ratio of regular armed forces to private security
staff is anastonishing 1:1. Public funds diverted to finance war at a profit. When the outbreak of
conflict and perpetuation of instability becomes a clear-cut business opportunity – it is evident that
we are overdue for a rethink.
The picture looks bleak, but there is evidence that we are emerging from the relative collective
slumber of the last few decades and putting war, weapons and peace back on the global agenda.
This month the United Nations member states are negotiating a global Arms Trade Treaty, in an
effort to regulate the sale and transfer of weapons and munitions at a global level. The present
absence of such a treaty may come as a surprise to many, particularly given the mandate of the
UN and Security Council to advance peace and security.
The push to fill this glaring regulatory black hole has been taken up by leading NGOs such as
Amnesty International, Oxfam, Control arms and the Women’s League for International Peace and
Freedom’s disarmament program reaching Critical Will. The size and momentum behind these
campaigns has been spurred by the support of young people globally, who demonstrating that they
are as savvy in social media activism as they are in traditional lobbying.
It should come as no surprise that so many of young people are directing their skills to peace
activism, as it is the young that have come of age during this unprecedented expansion of the
public and private security complex – at great human and financial cost. A comprehensive Arms
Trade Treaty will represent just one small step in introducing a degree of transparency and
accountability into the global war and weapons industry. But, with a new generation of young
people unprepared to defer their interest in security decision making to multinational CEO’s and
heads of state – the future is prepared for more reform.
When Conflict Can Improve Peace
By Nicholas Clarke
It is invariably difficult to argue civil conflict could propel a nation to become more peaceful. The
outcome could be a more tyrannical regime and even if the final destination was comparatively
more peaceful, the journey would involve hardship and unimaginable turmoil. Notwithstanding,
there are arguably circumstances where civil conflict is the only remaining option on the table to
reach a better peace.
At this juncture, nations such as North Korea: must consider whether or not striving for a better
peace and incurring turmoil along the way - outweighs allowing disenfranchisement to fester into
perpetuity.
Irrespective of how one defines peace, it is more than reasonable to suggest most people in North
Korea live in relative peace. Yet is there ‘peace’ enough, acceptable and/or long lasting? Given the
powers that be in Pyongyang are unlikely to relinquish their autocratic hold on power – a civil
conflict may be a desirable precondition to a peace that includes so much more than what they
currently know.
Although the opaque nature of North Korea makes clear conclusions problematic, all is not unclear.
The welfare of the nation’s populous is at the mercy of its leader. Albeit in a world where everything
is controlled like a big brother nightmare, which propels people to escape across the border to
China. This is a clear sign that peace there is not exactly rosy, despite the acknowledgment that it
is a nation in relative peace compared to the likes of Afghanistan. Under these circumstances,
whereby negotiation would most likely be futile, as suggested by the Sixth Party Talks and
Pyongyang’s flagrant disregard for Washington. Would a civil conflict be a precondition to a better
peace that is worth striving for?
Conflict is always the last option and a course of action that is the lesser of two evils. Yet how is
one to know North Korea will not continue to pedal policies that cause death (repercussions of
nuclear testing), stymie freedom (people cannot leave as they please) and control the fabric and
minds of society through continuous and ubiquitous propaganda campaigns. If a civil conflict
erupted, without overlooking the chance of a new brutal regime reigning supreme, is the mere
chance of a more democratic and peaceful existence worth fighting for?
There are many examples where nation’s circumstances suggest peace will evolve after civil
conflict is endured. Yet it is hard to determine when and how. Would the death of thousands in
North Korea, be a regrettable part of the nation’s evolution if it delivered a free and peaceful
society for millions? Even if the vast majority of people know no different, we are equally unsure if
such autocratic regimes will cause more deaths whilst continuing to perpetuate perilous societies.
Issue 24 “Global Media: a Tool of Empowerment or for Those in Power?”
Message from the Editor
Welcome to the second issue of MA for 2012, this month our theme is Global Media: a Tool of
Empowerment or for Those in Power? Living in an age where traditional media players are
fracturing, splintering and new bodies rising from their ashes, we need to consider how these
changes impact upon our understanding of the global landscape. This raises bigger questions
about not only the entities that target and manipulate information for our consumption but also our
own responsibilities as players in this media game.
In this month’s edition Katherine Flynn interviews the Head of the Palestinian Delegation to
Australia Izzat Abdulhadi. In the aftermath of Palestine’s failed attempt to have their statehood
recognised at the United Nations, Mr Abulhadi provides a unique insight into the Palestinian
Authority’s use of diplomatic channels to secure international recognition. Such a feat would
undoubtedly transform regional politics in the Middle East.
Andrew Lynch looks at the ongoing viability of the government’s Australia Network and whether the
failure to adapt to the new technological environment has made it increasingly
redundant. Meanwhile, Ghazi Ahamat focuses on how the role of news consumers has undergone
a radical transformation following the introduction of social media apps. Particularly whether giving
editorial power to individuals will result in increasingly skewered news landscape. Gaya Raghavan
also explores how individuals are shaping contemporary media content. By examining the
phenomena of I-reporters, Gaya highlights how a motley crew of young unqualified reporters are
changing the face of war journalism.
In Burma the recent success of Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party is indicative of the regime’s
relaxation of its authoritarian policies. David Hopkins considers how the Burmese media have
operated under the regime and how they are navigating through the current period of political flux
in a bid to protect basic human rights.
Sharna de Lacy and Ivo Bottcher consider how non traditional media players are shaping human
interaction in the 21st century.Sharna looks at how the internet is providing a democratic space for
many who have been previously shut out from the mainstream conversation. Ivo Bottcher
investigates how these new networks are changing disaster relief responses.
This month has been particularly busy for the AIIA, with the launch of the Australia’s Role in The
World Lecture Series. Keep an eye out on the AIIAV website for upcoming events focusing on the
biggest issues facing the world today.
Monthly Access wants to provide a space to get your voices heard, and are excited to be a part of
the Australia in the Asian Century Essay Competition. The commissioning of the White Paper
provides an opportunity for Australia to reconsider their role in the Asian Century and if you have a
view put pen to pad for the opportunity to win amazing prizes. Full details are contained within the
edition.
Monthly Access is also looking for regular contributors and we want you! If you have a passion for
current affairs and writing, get in contact with the Editor so we can get you on board.
Priya Wakhlu is Editor of Monthly Access. She is currently completing her Arts/Law studies at
Monash University, majoring in Politics and Indonesian.
For comments regarding this newsletter please write to [email protected]
Global Snapshot – April edition
By Rachel Hankey and Andrew Romanin
The April issue of Global Snapshot, which brings current international issues and news from
around the world.This month sees a series of presidential election campaigns occurring across
three continents, ongoing manhunts and a number of militant attacks.
Europe
Spain
Mass protests took place across Spain as thousands gathered in cities to protest the conservative
government’s new labour reforms that passed through parliament.
The reforms, which included cuts to severance pay and initiatives to make it easier for employers
to fire workers, were met by an estimated 500,000 in Madrid alone. In addition, Spain’s two largest
unions, the UGT and CCOO, organised marches in 60 cities. The government has conceded that
unemployment will continue to rise this year despite the reforms.
Middle East
Afghanistan
President Hamid Karzai has called for calm as recent rioting has spread throughout
Afghanistan. The already strained relations between the Afghan and US administrations has been
further tested after US forces admitted to inadvertently burning copies of the Koran at Bagram Air
Base. In the wake of the incident it was reported two Aghan and American soldiers were killed, as
well as two civilians. The Taliban later claiming responsibility for the attack. A further seven US
soldiers were wounded in a grenade attack on a training facility in Kunduz province.
Further igniting the volatile atmosphere in the country was the rampage shooting by a US soldier in
Kandahar province, killing 16 civilians and wounding five others when he opened fire in their
homes. US officials have apologised, but this latest incident has heaped further pressure to
accelerate a US-withdrawal from the country.
Yemen
A surprise attack, by fighters linked to al-Qa’eda, on a military base resulted in the killing of 185
Yemeni soldiers as violent insurgency threatened to envelope the country’s south. Thirty-two alQa’eda militants were also killed. Heavy weaponry and mortar shelling was deployed by the
militants.
The attack followed a twin suicide bombing on a military post in Zinjibar which killed six soldiers.
Islamist militants have controlled Zinjibar since last year after seizing control of the city as antigovernment uprisings ousted former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Opposition activists say Saleh’s
loyalists are helping to fuel the unrest with the aim of returning him to power.
Israel
A series of air strikes in the Gaza strip have left 25 people dead following escalated violence in
response to the assassination of high-ranking Palestinian militant, Zuhir al-Qaisi. The leader of the
Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) was killed after an Israeli drone targeted his vehicle.
Al-Qaisi and the PRC were believed to be planning a high-profile attack on the Egyptian border,
where they had previously inflicted Israeli and Egyptian casualties in August last year. Following
his assassination, militants in Gaza launched more than 240 rockets into Israel. Egyptian
negotiators have since mediated an informal ceasefire.
Africa
Uganda
The African Union is set to deploy up to 5,000 troops to South Sudan to join the hunt for Ugandan
warlord Joseph Kony. Following the viral internet video sensation released earlier in the month by
US-based child rights advocacy group Invisible Children, the atrocities committed by Kony’s Lord
Resistance Army have gained significant attention and media coverage.
The UN said this has acted to prompt the African Union to establish the Ugandan-led brigade.
Senegal
Presidential elections in Senegal have ended with defeat to the current sitting president Abdoulaye
Wade.
Wade conceded defeat to his former protégé and rival, Macky Sall, who secured a crushing victory
in the second round of polling. He intends to use this election win to usher in a “new era” for the
West African nation, promising to restrain lavish government spending on such things as statues
and monuments which have ignited discord among the country struggling population.
The election campaign experienced violent street protests in response to Wade’s attempt to seek a
third term in office despite the constitution only allowing for a maximum of two.
Mali Coup
On March 22, Mali’s President Amadou Toumani Toure was overthrown by the army, following a
mutiny at a military base. On April 6, the military junta announced that it would hand over power to
a civilian government, in return for an end to the sanctionsimposed on the country by neighbouring
states in West Africa.
Tuareg rebels, fighting to establish an independent state, have seized on the instability to further
their campaign. In January 2012 insurgents from the National Movement for the Liberation of
Azawad (NMLA) began an offensive to establish an independent Tuareg homeland in northern
Mali.
The rebels have been attempting to consolidate their power in the region, and in early April
declared the creation of an independent nation. On April 6 the NMLA announced that they had
formed a new state, in accordance with principles of international law and justice. The move has
been condemned by the international community, and the African Union has declared the
announcement to be "null and void".
Early in April Tureg rebels invaded the Algerian Consul in Goa, and kidnapped seven members of
staff, including the Algerian ambassador to Mali. There are fears that the presence of Islamists with
links to al Qaeda within the rebellion may lead to the creation of “a new rogue state threatening
global security.”
Asia Pacific
China
China’s seemingly inevitable shift to democracy took a small step as a Chinese village was allowed
to hold independent elections. The unusual concession by authorities permitted residents in the
Guangdong village of Wukan to elect Lin Zuluan, a local activist, to oversee a new village
committee. The elections came just two months after Zuluan led a rebellion against local officials
and police in response to unpopular corruption and land-grabbing activities by the government.
The ten-day rebellion ended after detained protesters were released and activist told they would be
granted the opportunity to stage the elections.
Timor-Leste
In recent presidential elections, Timor-Leste’s incumbent, José Ramos-Horta, was defeated after
failing to make the second-round run-off to be held on April 21.
None of the 11 candidates secured the required 50% majority in the initial round of voting in a year
that marks ten years of official independence for the nation. Leader of the opposition Fretilin party,
Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres, led the voting with 27%, followed closely by Taur Matan Ruak, former
chief of the armed forces, on 25%.
Ramos-Horta has announced he will step down in May when his current term ends. Meanwhile,
voters will return to the polls in June to elect a new government.
Burma Elections
Aung San Suu Kyi's party has won a landslide victory in Burma’s by-elections. The elections mark
the first free vote in the country since 1990. Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for
Democracy (NLD), won 95 percent of the vote. Some observers expressed concern that the NLD’s
success may alarm hardliners within the military establishment and damage the country’s
deomocratisation process. However, Burma’s President, former military leader Thein Sein, has
welcomed the results of the elections, and has vowed to continue the country’s liberal reform
programme.
The result has been welcomed by the international community, and America has announced that it
will take steps to ease sanctions against the country. ASEAN leaders have praised the result, and
has called for the lifting of sanctions, arguing that it would provide a positive contribution to the
democratic process and economic development in the country.
Americas
Guatemala
At a recent meeting of Central American nations, Guatemalan president Otto Pérez Molina
continued his push for the decriminalisation of drugs. His proposal aims to deter drug-related
violence in the region. The plan outlines a legal framework to regulate drug consumption and
trafficking, for which a regional court would be established. Compensation from “consumer”
countries, such as the United States, would be sought to fund police operations and control
initiatives.
Despite the lack of any formal agreement, the talks were hailed a success and paves the way for
continued negotiations.
Ecuador
Indigenous protesters in Ecuador held a two week long march across the country to campaign
again plans for large scale mining projects. Some 1,000 people marched from the town of El
Pangui to the capital Quito a distance of 700 km (430 miles). A Chinese company has been given
permission to begin developing a huge open-cast copper mine, in the Amazon's Ecuacorriente
Zamora-Chinchipe region.[21]
The main indigenous organisation in Ecuador, Conai - the Confederation of Indigenous
Nationalities of Ecuador – is campaigning against the decision. Conai claims that the mining will
cause significant damage to the environment and force entire communities off their land.
Ecador’s President, Rafael Correa, has defended the decision, claiming that the project will provide
funding for much needed development projects.
Q&A with HE Izzat Abdulhadi, Head of Palestine's Delegation to Australia
Interviewed by Katherine Flynn
HE Izzat Abdulhadi is the Head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, as well as
Ambassador to New Zealand and the Pacific. In this month's Q&A, we discuss the Palestinian
Delegation's activities in Australia, the recent acceptance of Palestine into UNESCO, as well as the
implications of the Arab Spring on the Palestinian cause.
For those who aren’t aware of the Palestinian Delegation to Australia, can you give us a
summary of what you do?
The most important priority for us here at the Delegation is to maintain a formal consultation
between Palestine and the Australian Government. We have already submitted a consultation
paper to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) with our objectives, expected
outcomes and process. This year we are very interested in having a discussion with them about
final status issues like Jerusalem and border security because the Australian position recognises
self-determination for Palestinian people but their position over final status issues and the quality of
the state is very vague.
A second task is to continue discussion with AusAID about supporting the Palestinian statehood
building process and supporting the establishment of vibrant, transparent and accountable
organisations. Last year, we succeeded in signing a five-year agreement with AusAID which will
provide $340 million (approximately $70 million annually) of aid to the Palestinian Authority to
support health and education services, refugees and Palestinian civil society. We are working with
AusAid to help observe and monitor the implementation of this agreement.
The third important task for us is to engage with Australian civil society organisations. This fits with
our vision of public diplomacy because, with the unique position of the Palestinian Authority, we
can’t just conduct traditional diplomacy with DFAT or government officials; we must also engage
with the public and establish good relationships with organisations such as churches and unions
who have constituency for advocacy. For example, the Delegation was involved in establishing
theAustralian-Palestinian Advocacy Network (APAN) which is an umbrella for the most important
civil society organisations here which are involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict and who would
like to establish peace and justice in Palestine.
Lastly, an important component of our work is to engage with the Palestinian community. We have
more than 25,000 Palestinians in Australia. We’d like to establish a close consultation process
between us and them to try to respond to their needs, either consular or political, and to engage in
their community development projects. But the most important thing is to encourage them to
integrate in Australia and to play an active role in lobbying decision-making structures.
Many countries around the world have been upgrading Palestinian delegations to official
diplomatic missions, including countries such as the UK. Why do you think Australia hasn’t
taken this step?
This is very unfortunate. The five-year agreement we signed shows Australia supports the
establishment of a Palestinian state. I think Australia’s bilateral approach and primary focus on
Asia-Pacific are reasons for this, but the biggest problem is their alliance with the United States.
But for the last two years there was a positive shift in Australian foreign policy under the leadership
of Kevin Rudd, who wanted Australia to play a global role. There was a desire to build relations
with the African Union, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and also the Arab League as
well as to play a more active role with the EU. The issue for Australia now is to continue this wide
line of foreign policy instead of focusing solely on relations with the UN and bilateral diplomacy. If
they focus more on this then Middle East issues including Palestine will be an important part.
Palestine recently applied and gained membership to UNESCO with 107 countries voting in
favour, 52 abstentions and only 14 opposed. Australia was one of the 14 countries who
voted against the admission of Palestine to UNESCO. How has this affected the relationship
between Palestine and Australia?
Let me first indicate that in the last 3 or 4 years there has been substantial development in
relations between Australia and Palestine. The ex-Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd visited Palestine
three times last year and this is an important indication of the interest of Australia in Palestine. The
most important thing is their general position which supports the right of Palestinians to selfdetermination. They support a two-state solution on 1967 borders and don’t officially recognise the
annexation of East Jerusalem to Israel. An important indicator was also their voting in favour of
Palestine in 5 UN resolutions last session. The latest poll showed 64% of Australian citizens
supported the establishment of a Palestinian state.
So, I think the vote in UNESCO was totally uncalculated. If they had abstained they would have
more credibility within the Arab World. This negative voting of UNESCO did not support the
concept of peace because this step aimed to support the peace process with the Israelis. The most
important thing for us is to preserve and protect our own inheritance, heritage, cultural and holy
sites. We submitted this proposal to UNESCO 10 years ago so it has nothing to do with our
attempt to gain statehood in the UN. That was a misinterpretation of the step. We simply want to
protect our heritage and culture. So unfortunately this was a big mistake by Australia. In addition, I
don’t think they served their own interests. Australia is a candidate for a non-permanent seat on
the Security Council in 2013 and of course they need to recruit Arab and Islamic votes so this step
was a political mistake. I don’t think it was bad news for us but bad news for them. Especially
because Luxembourg and Finland, the competitors for the Security Council seat, voted in favour of
the bid and that was a much smarter move.
With the UNESCO bid being so successful, do you think this could be a new strategy for
Palestine to gain international recognition outside of traditional peace negotiations?
Of course - we already started this strategy by submitting our bid to the UN Security Council for
statehood. After 20 years of bilateral negotiations the outcome is unfortunately zero because it has
been based on naked power. They are an occupier and we are occupied. We are not equal when
we are sitting around the table so they can dictate instead of negotiate and impose their positions
on us. I think bilateral negotiations alone were not sufficient to achieve Palestinian rights so going
to the UN is a new strategy. The UN is a multilateral framework which obliges all parties to adhere
to their responsibilities, in particular Israel. This will help the peace process because if we win the
bid things will change. We will be an occupied state and this will give us access to all international
and humanitarian law and all UN resolutions, so I think this serves the peace in the Middle East.
For us recognition is an accumulative process. We started with UNESCO but we will go to other
UN agencies. This is one component of a comprehensive strategy which includes the popular nonviolent struggle against Israel in Palestine itself, an active international advocacy and working with
the UN, the EU and the Quartet. As part of the accumulative process of recognition, it is especially
important that statehood is not subjected to negotiation. This is a right for Palestinians guaranteed
by international law. Final status issues are subjected to negotiations, such as borders and
Jerusalem, but statehood itself should not be subjected to any kind of negotiations.
The US has vowed to veto any bid for statehood. Has this made Palestine lose trust in the
US as a mediator?
Yes of course. We are very disappointed in Obama, particularly. We thought after his speech in
Cairo that there was a radical change in US foreign policy to better understand the Arab and
Islamic world and to develop a strategy which would enhance and promote relationships.
Unfortunately, we have been very disappointed by this policy and with the US Administration as an
honest broker between us and the Israelis. They are heavily influenced by the Jewish and Christian
communities in the USA and with this they have not served their own interests in the Middle East in
the long run. Still, we believe from a political point of view that the USA is a big player in the
political process and we will continue our relationship with them and try to lobby them and
influence them towards a more even handed and balanced position towards Israel and Palestine.
We’re not doing well in the USA. The Islamic and Arab lobby are fragmented and they don’t know
how to campaign and put all their energies together to develop an efficient and effective lobby
which has an actual impact on the American Administration.
What impact has the ‘Arab Spring’ had on the Palestinian quest for self-determination and
given the success of peaceful protest leading to regime change in North Africa, has it
changed the way Palestinians pursue their objectives?
Let me first of all say that for a long time, especially after 1982 when the PLO was defeated and
departed Lebanon, the theory of armed struggle has been weak. We realised that this strategy was
not effective at all. Instead, we started building institutions and providing services within Palestine
for our own people. This was a very peaceful, non-violent resistance. This strategy continued and
was strengthened by the first Intifada.
So it was only with the second Intifada that new powers like Hamas introduced violence and
suicide bombings. This was at a time when Israel was being very violent against the Palestinian
people. So people shouldn’t forget all those years of non-violent resistance and the first Intifada
where we adopted a comprehensive strategy of non-violence, including elements such as
strengthening local community, increasing local participation in resistance, popular education and
so on.
Now our strategy is non-violent. This is not because of the Arab Spring, but it has certainly
strengthened the concept within Palestine. Even Hamas, and this is one important impact of the
Arab Spring, has officially declared that they will only use popular, non-violent resistance and they
will not use military means against Israel and this was proven by the last Israeli assault on Gaza.
So I think the main PLO factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, are committed to non-violent
strategy because it is the most important and effective means to resist Israel and we will not go
back to armed struggle. We have a saying now in the Arab world that says “Al Qaeda was finished
and eliminated in Tahrir Square, not when Osama Bin Laden was assassinated” because there is a
realisation that power of people is stronger than weapons and terrorist activity. So I think Hamas as
one of the religious groups is impacted by this.
The second important impact is that people are empowered and cannot be controlled by regimes
anymore. People in the Middle East support justice and peace in Palestine and support the
application of international and humanitarian law. They are now in a position of power to pressure
their leaders to support the Palestinian cause. In the short term they are interested in their internal
issues but I think in the medium term we will have huge support from the Arabs.
The third impact is that there is huge interest from the international community in the Arab Spring
and this means they are interested in the Middle East area of which Palestine is the core. Even if
people are looking at Syria or Egypt now, Palestine is still the main cause in the Middle East so I
think this huge interest in the Arab Spring will also bring interest in the Palestine-Israel issue.
Do you see hypocrisy in the West’s reaction to the Arab Spring in supporting the rights of
Egyptians or Libyans to have self-determination and democracy while at the same time
denying this right to Palestinians?
Of course, this is very obvious. 14 countries voted in the Security Council to denounce illegal
Israeli settlements yet the USA alone vetoed it. Now they are threatening to veto our UN bid for
statehood. Not only that but they are conducting an international campaign to pressure other
countries to not support a Palestinian state. So I think this is really ridiculous and is double
standards and I think the USA should reconsider their policy in the Middle East, based on the Arab
Spring. The previous strategy of allying with authoritative leaders will not work now – people are on
the streets and want to decide their own destiny.
You mentioned Hamas and their change in strategy. What is the current status of the Hamas
and Fatah reconciliation and how important is it for the Palestinian cause that Hamas and
Fatah work together?
Well one other important impact of the Arab Spring is that Palestinian people have gone to the
streets to demonstrate and say they want reunification and reconciliation between Hamas and
Fatah. I think this is the first priority for the Palestinian agenda because this causes a lot of harm to
us internationally and locally and people want this unification. Unfortunately, we have failed up to
now to achieve substantial development but at least there is a breakthrough. People talk to each
other now; Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement and Hamas and Islamic Jihad
joined the temporary leadership within the PLO meaning they are participating in the decision
making process. Hamas has supported the establishment of a Palestinian state on 1967 borders,
and they support non-violent resistance and the conduction of elections, which is all very important
for the political process. But, there are still obstacles in the way of establishing a technocratic
government which was the agreement between Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), the President, and
Khaled Mashaal. However, I think with the achievements up to now there is a strong foundation on
which to continue the discussion. The people support this process so I hope the leaders respond to
the peoples’ needs and go ahead with the reconciliation process.
Katherine Flynn graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2011 with a First Class
(Hons) degree in Politics. She is currently a research intern at the AIIA National Office.
Weakening Signals: Public Diplomacy and the Australia Network
By Andrew Lynch
Contemporary discussions of ‘global’ or ‘transnational’ media are dominated by few regular figures
whose scale and brand recognition allow them to have significant influence over the
discourse. Whilst News Corporation, Time Warner, Google, Facebook and Disney feature
prominently in discussion of media power lost or forgotten is the ongoing role and influence of
state‐ sponsored international media such as the BBC World Service from the UK, The Voice of
America (VOA) from the US and from Australia, Australia Network (AN).
Though the corporate figures often come to stand as symbols for Western political and media
imperialism, state‐sponsored media organisations exist as direct mouthpieces for that nation’s
ideology. In official rhetoric this strategy is referred to as ‘public diplomacy’. Forty years ago it
would have been safely labelled ‘propaganda’. For these networks, the idea of the nation‐state is
central to both their message and their very existence.
But can (and should) this form of public diplomacy survive in an age of relentless and fragmented
media competition? And if so, is the state in the best position to provide it?
Across 2011 the Australian Government was forced to grapple with these questions as the $20
million a year contract for running Australia Network came up for tender. There was political
controversy around what became an extremely protracted tender process that was clumsily
shuffled between Stephen Conroy (Communications) and Kevin Rudd’s (DFAT) offices.
However most of the news media’s attention was focused on who had placed a tender.
The incumbent ABC faced a lone challenger for the contract in Sky News, a public company, one
third of which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp. However the idea of AN being run by a
commercial company is no less strange than the ABC being in charge.
The television broadcaster has been housed within the ABC since its inception in 1992 but lodged
somewhat uncomfortably. Unlike the rest of the ABC, which is governed and granted its editorial
freedom by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
(DBCDE), Australia Network also receives funding and editorial direction from the Department of
Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
It is this relationship with DFAT that has seen Australia Network positioned primarily as a billboard
for Australia’s wares to the Asia Pacific. It beams AFL matches, English Learning Programs (2
hours every day), Four Corners and Home and Away out to 44 countries from the Pacific to parts
of the Middle East. As Crikey’s Bernard Keane dryly pointed out, “it’s the broadcasting equivelent
of an Australian stall at the expo”.
DFAT’s close influence would also mean there was little room for NewsCorp to exert significant
influence over AN’s content anyway. Despite this, in the midst of the tender process the UK
hacking scandal exploded and made it politically risky to be offering a Government contract to
anything remotely related to Mr Murdoch.
Of course it is worthy to question whether Australia’s international public diplomacy effort should be
outsourced to an entity with little interest in Australia’s foreign policy agenda. But perhaps the more
substantial question is whether $20 million is a figure worth spending every year on a television
station that is predominantly watched by a small number of expats?
The requirements of the tender made clear that the successful bid would be one that was able to
most effectively reach the rising “middle class, decision-makers, young aspirants and students”
across Asia, especially in China. However the current programming schedule only vaguely reflects
that. Of its annual $20 Million very little is spent directly on creating original and regional specific
programming, with most of it allocated to transmission and syndication costs.
While television use is still increasing across Asia these figures are static in comparison with the
boom in mobile mediauseage. Most of AN’s programs are available online but the presence is
pathetic in comparison to the range of content offered by the Voice of America or the BBC who are
vying for a very similar audience.
Transnational, state‐sponsored broadcasting emerged strategically at a time in the 1930s when the
nation state was fundamental to the understanding of global politics. Against the ‘hard’ boundaries
of nations, broadcast signals were able to ‘flow’ over borders and reach citizens from other states.
In the networked 21st Century, this old model still appears to be the modus operandi of Australia
Network.
As people have more choice and more voices crying for their attention online what is going to
matter for Australia’s mediated Public Diplomacy is great content, not just a stable delivery. AN
does not have nearly enough resources to be an Australian version of the BBC, VOA or even Sky
News. Instead it needs to think more strategically and target populations more specifically, not just
beam its signals over their heads.
Andy Lynch is completing his Honours in Media and Communications at the University of
Melbourne.
Social Readers and Citizen Editors
By Ghazi Ahamat
In the past year a new wave of Social Reader apps have intertwined social media and journalism
like never before. Not only can anybody with a social media page and a story become a journalist,
Facebook users can now shape the content of which stories get told, becoming Citizen Editors.
With over 800 million members, and data suggesting that one out of every seven minutes online is
spend on Facebook, global media outlets have had to deal with the massive audience that this
social media site represents.
Instead of trying to beat Facebook in the ‘battle for eyeballs,’ several major media outlets have
embraced Facebook as a platform for delivering information. While some attempt to push content
to subscribers by posting on Facebook Pages, an increasing number of publications are
developing full-blown Facebook Apps such as the Washington Post’s Social Reader. Social
Reader Apps seamlessly integrate a user’s online reading of ‘old media’ with their Facebook
account. Rather than users browsing the web, and choosing to share particular links with their
Facebook friends, Social Readers keep track of what you read by default, while the apps use
Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol to push these stories to friends who are ‘close’ within their social
network.
The point of these apps is to harness the power of social networks, following the simple premise
that readers “want to know and read what your friends are reading.” This isn’t the first time that
networks have been used to measure the relevance of online content, with Google’s
PageRank algorithm revolutionising online search by measuring the relevance of sites by how
many other sites link to them. But this time, it’s personal: the algorithm relies on tracking the
‘strength’ of connections by how many recent interactions have occurred, from wall posts, to
sharing photos, to common interests.
After several months in operation, the Social Reader Apps have been widely adopted. The
Washington Post’s app being downloaded by 30 million times dwarfs the paper’s circulation of
approximately 500 thousand, and also links over 30 other blogs and publications to this wide
audience. Meanwhile The Guardian’s Facebook App has seen over 4 million downloads. Both
apps have seen readerships expand around the world, with the majority of App downloaders
located outside the US and UK respectively.
While these Apps bring more news content within the Facebook ecosystem, the more interesting
change these apps bring is that every reader is helping select what stories their friends are
reading, making every Facebook timeline a potential broadcast channel, and every Facebook user
an editor: selecting what stories deserve attention through their own reading habits. Creators of
these apps are conscious of this change, with the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Social app even
providing rankings and ratings of editors, and “elevating the role of people as the curators of
content.” But few readers recognise that their relationship to the news has changed. Nor do they
realise that they can easily mark stories as unread, which would prevent newsfeeds being clogged
with inane gossip or stories with enticing headlines but little substance.
The tracking of web browsing to provide recommendations also raises serious (if unoriginal)
concerns about privacy. But unlike many other concerns about social media privacy, this one is
optional as users choose to install these apps. Of course, that assumes they know what they are
signing up for. Meanwhile, these apps bring new concerns about ‘the filter bubble’ (which MA has
previously explored), where our browsing habits are steered by unseen filters into reading content
we already agree with.
These concerns are real, but instead of shutting off and refusing to participate, or only accessing
the internet anonymously, we can take our new relationship with news seriously. Through Social
Reader Apps, Facebook moves from keeping up with friends to sharing stories around the world,
and our reading habits can leave breadcrumbs for likeminded readers to follow. If this is the path
media will go down, readers should do so with their eyes wide open.
Ghazi Ahamat is the Chair of the ACCESS Network. He is currently completing
Honours study in Economics at the University of Melbourne. iReporter: A New
Generation of Tourist Journalists?
By Gaya Raghavan
It seems the smartphone has, once again, influenced the way we view the world. War reporters,
once revered as the bravest and most infallible of the media industry,are being upstaged by tourist
journalists who come armed with little more than a backpack and Instagram.
Taking on missions without any formal training, qualifications or recognised proof, these young,
self-styled photojournalists have been flocking to record the uprisings of the Arab Spring. Some
tourist journalists have boasted of being caught in the middle of gun battles whilst travelling with
militia.
Mobile technology and social media have created tools that allow just about anyone with a
passport to call themselves a citizen journalist, or better yet, a war reporter. Being tourists, these
individuals have no experience, no training and no contacts and hence have little to no resources
to rely on if they are captured or injured.
The more abstract danger, however, is less tangible. The outcomes of modern wars are often
shaped by media and public opinion. The media affects public opinion and vice-versa while both in
turn often affect governments’ foreign policy, especially in times of revolution or war.
This burgeoning trend of citizen journalists who use blogs, Twitter and iPhones instead of cameras,
flak jackets and satellite phones renders many independent war reports unreliable, depending on
where one looks for content. The nature of the social media that many of us are plugged into
exacerbates the immediacy with which we receive much of the unsolicited content citizen
journalists create. It is difficult for the average person to determine what is truth when so much of
this content is transmitted in the form of single images with little to no information in which to couch
its context.
These citizen journalists defend their craft by arguing that professional embedded war reporters
are fed information and news as they are dependent on the military units that they travel with to
take them to battle sites. This traditional style of war reporting has long been criticised for
producing news that is manipulated by the government or military.
The advent of the 24-hour news cycle has exacerbated these problems, with media producers
being accused of preferring entertainment value over truth and opinion over fact. Acclaimed
Australian journalist John Pilger explores this theory in his 2010 documentary The War You Don’t
See, citing the fact that the Iraqi city of Basrah was reported to have fallen 17 times over a 24-hour
period before it was actually taken over by Coalition forces. This points to a decline in truth and
context in what one would normally think of as the more trustworthy type of news source.
So it seems as consumers of war news, we are destined to choose between a lesser of two evils.
One might argue that it is silly to trust any kind of news coming from a source stupid enough to put
his or her life at stake with no training and no safety net. On the other hand, is it smart to trust
content that comes from a source that is increasingly notorious for producing sensationalised halftruths? The burden falls on the consumer to be discerning enough to separate truth from fiction
and attach context to everything he or she watches and reads. There needs to be greater
awareness of the different types of war reporting and the impact that our collective opinions have in
shaping foreign policy and the outcomes of wars that are not always on our doorstep.
Gaya Raghavan is in her final year of a Bachelor of Arts (Media & Communications) degree
at The University of Melbourne. Gaya was an intern with the AIIA in 2011-2012 and is
currently working on the Australia’s Role in the World initiative.
The Unshackling of Burma's Media
By David Hopkins
Prior to the official induction of President Thein Sein and his ‘civilian’ Union Solidarity and
Development Party (USDP) in March 2011, censorship and obstruction of the media in Burma was
routine. General Than Shwe, aided by his military cohorts in the Ministry of Information, patrolled
the country’s media landscape; suspending publications and arresting journalists who failed to
perpetuate the regime’s narrow convictions. The degree of media control sought by the regime was
apparent in the terse declaration of the notorious Press Scrutiny Board in 2008, that “the
publication of any photo, sketch, painting, article, novel or poem without being sent (in advance to
the censor) will be punished”.
Independent journalists in Burma responded to the threats, intimidation and surveillance, with
bravery and creativity. When Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in November
2010, a Burmese sports weekly attempted to circumvent the marauding and meticulous censors
by cloaking the defiant message, ‘Su Free Unite and Advance to Grab Hope’, in an otherwise
innocuous headline detailing results in the English Premier League (‘Sunderland Freeze Chelsea,
United Stunned by Villa & Arsenal Advance to Grab Their Hope’). Unsurprisingly, the subterfuge
was uncovered and the publication earned a two week suspension. 10 other publications
were suspended for brief periods for placing ‘too much emphasis’ on Suu Kyi’s release.
With the regime’s paranoia having seemingly receded under the leadership of the reform-minded
Thein Sein, draconian media restrictions are gradually being lifted. In June 2011 it was announced
that articles concerning sports, entertainment, technology, health and children’s literature could be
published without the prior approval of the censors. Previously blocked websites such as YouTube,
the BBC, the Bangkok Post and the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) have now been made
accessible. Prominent bloggers such as Zarganar and DVB journalists have also been released
from prison and reporters are being allowed more scope to publish critical or alternate views. As
Toe Zaw Latt of the DVB states, ‘You can say how poor the Burmese people are now... They were
never poor before’.
This sudden measure of freedom will also carry new and unfamiliar pressures for Burma’s
heretofore constricted domestic media. Increased focus will be attributed to their role as
international donors shift funding away from Burma’s exile media and enhance support for
domestic outlets. Aung Zaw, founder and editor of the Thailand-based Irrawaddy, laments the
current problem of ‘crony journalism’ in Burma; where media organisations are mired in ‘unholy’
alliances with officialdom and journalists are often ‘relatives and cronies of senior military officials’.
Zaw also identifies the opportunistic nature of many individuals who enthusiastically publish
photographs of Suu Kyi with the sole aim of boosting circulation. Perhaps there is an important role
for exiled Burmese journalists such as Zaw in returning to his homeland to help the country’s
established and emerging journalists decisively cast off the tentacles of a government accustomed
to asserting its influence.
Ultimately, the inevitable and essential question remains as to what extent these reforms are
sincere and ineradicable. When the Minister for Information, Kyaw Hsan, speaks of creating a ‘free
and responsible’ media in Burma, it is difficult not to sense that his employment of the latter term
may be invoked as a significant caveat for curtailing the former. Given the fanatical approach of the
censors operating under Hsan little over a year ago, such caution, and even pessimism, is not
unwarranted. The recent shift towards greater media freedoms is undoubtedly encouraging,
however, only genuine and extensive legislative reform will protect these gains. The outcome of
a new print media law, currently being drafted by the government, may illustrate whether, as Thein
Sein has repeatedly stated, the media will be upheld as an independent ‘fourth estate’, or whether
these latest reforms are simply a case of bigger cages and longer chains for Burma’s media.
David Hopkins completed a Master of International Relations in 2011 at the University of
Melbourne. He recently completed an internship at Asialink, focussing on Burma's relations
with China, Australia and ASEAN.
New Media Giving Youth a Voice
By Sharna de Lacy
The radical growth in online activity has affected our lives in a great many ways, but perhaps none
more so than in our ability to not just consume, but share and rapidly disseminate information and
news. As a public space, the internet has enabled users to be the authors of ‘new media’, not just
passive consumers. The growth of online community has made redundant the barriers to
participation presented by traditional media institutions, enabling previously marginalised groups,
including young people to have a voice.
Within two decades the internet has grown from a forum utilised by a privileged few to a vast virtual
space in which some 2.5 billion users, from even the world’s most remote locations, are able to
connect and participate in the global online community. This has proved a powerful platform for
young people to subvert traditional media, which may be state controlled, as in China, monopolised
by a wealthy minority, as in Australia, or which simply is not reflective of their views or experiences.
The potential of new media, and the importance of young people’s engagement with it, has been
no more powerfully demonstrated than by the events of the Arab Spring or the evolution of the
Occupy Wall Street movement. These events represent important junctures in contemporary
history, which we will no doubt continue to reflect upon for many decades to come. Beyond these
zeitgeist shifting events, the relevance of new media to young people on much smaller scales is
equally as important. This is because new media is not simply a platform for digesting news and
events, nor a forum for connecting like-minded individuals; it also links geographically distant
groups of people and introduces a plethora of previously unheard views, ideas and experiences
into our collective narratives. It facilitates collaboration and provides the opportunity to transform
the ideas expressed online into an organised protest, an awareness raising campaign or a
research project.
There are as many online networks as there are interested young people, AIIA Access being just
one of those. The AWID community enables young feminist activists to access news and publish
work, locate funding, post an event and connect to thousands of other women from all over the
globe. Tawasul, Arabic for ‘connecting,’ provides an online network for young journalists in Syria to
report and publish their experiences and opinions, an important platform in an environment where
‘new media’ has become one of the primary sources of information for the rest of the world. And in
Africa, the youth-led development forum, Africa Youth Human Rights Network provides a social
network for young professionals across the continent and links them with training and resources.
Alternatives to mainstream media have always been present, through university publications, street
zines and independent print publications. However, the internet has provided young people with
access to professional tools and resources, and has enlarged audiences to potentially millions of
users globally.
The value of ‘online space’ as a public space is readily understood by younger generations used to
rapidly evolving information technologies. For many who have been privileged by the dominance of
traditional media the emergence of new media is perceived as a threat. As with so many other
developments that have displaced established power structures, this perceived threat has led to
outright censorship and attempts to introduce much contested regulation. A notable example of this
was the astonishing attempts by the failing Mubarak regime to ‘shut down’ the internet in Egypt
during the 2011 protests.
The internet is a truly democratic space in which the well-informed expert, the amateur and those
with malicious intent have equal access to create and publish content. It captures the kaleidoscope
of human potential, which has never proved amenable to censorship or regulation. As
governments and large media corporations struggle to adapt to the changing nature of global
communication, the true value of this new medium will be borne out by young people and online
communities prepared to harness its potential.
Sharna de Lacy completed a Masters of International and Community Development from
Deakin University in 2010, and is currently employed with the Australian Department of
Human Services.
Interconnectivity and Integration in Crisis Response
By Ivo Bottcher
The former Dean of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School, Anne-Marie Slaughter, wrote in 2009:
“We live in a networked world. War [...] Diplomacy […] Business […], Media are networked: online
blogs and other forms of participatory media depend on contributions from readers to create a vast,
networked conversation. Society is networked: the world of MySpace is creating a global world of
“OurSpace,” linking hundreds of millions of individuals across continents […]". This picture is even
truer in 2012.
Our rapidly changing world with new tools to connect evolves. These changes can be found in
nearly every area such as the United Nations. In 2008, the UN established a formal integration
concept: “maximizing the individual and collective impact of the UN’s response”, also known as the
new philosophy of “one UN”. But the transition to “one UN” cannot be only made internally because
of the seismic shifts that were caused by the information revolution of the 21st century and the
increasing number of new actors – mostly informal.
One of the fields where we can see these shifts is in the international humanitarian disaster and
crisis response. Allowing thousands of citizens around the world to collaborate in voluntary and
technical communities (V&TCs) through Facebook, Twitter and social networks lead to neverbefore-seen information support. During the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, where over 85% of the
population has access to mobile phones, these new communities analysed data and information
from the affected Haitian population in nearly real-time. One example is the support by the Haitian
diaspora who translated messages from the affected population from their native Creole into
English. Unfortunately, the international humanitarian efforts were not able to use all the
information provided by V&TCs during the earthquake. The new two-way communication with the
affected population is a great opportunity but also poses a challenge. Challenges for traditional and
new actors include security, structure, information overload, limited capacities, translation as well
as reliability, accountability and consistency. One way to attempt to solve these problems is to
integrate these new actors into the existing international humanitarian system and to focus on the
added value of integration. The benefits for a further integration and institutionalization of V&TCs
into the traditional humanitarian response can strengthen the quality and delivery of information in
disasters and crises. Information as aid by itself is meant to change disaster and crisis
management profoundly.
The empowerment of new actors as well as the population through new technological tools lead to
the before mentioned two-way communication. Within the United Nations Headquarters the socalled CNN-effect currently plays an even more important role than it had in the ‘90s. The impact
and importance of Media reached new dimensions with the information revolution of the
21st century. The spread of valuable but also sensitive information within the first 24 hours of a
disaster or crisis is a great opportunity as the Haitian case shows. But can also be dangerous for
the stability in conflict regions while dealing with secret or classified information that can possibly
put an end to negotiations that have been on for years. As we could see in the mentioned case of
Haiti, the spread of information can support the international humanitarian response; especially in
the aftermath of a natural disaster where information are limited but essential.
These seismic shifts within the international community have lead to a new reality of empowerment
of new actors but also lead to undeniable challenges for traditional actors in this complex and fast
changing world we are living in. Integration and a better interconnectivity approach are necessary
to strengthen the international community and their response to disasters and conflicts.
Ivo Bottcher is currently completing his Masters degree at the Leibniz University, Hannover.
His thesis focusses on integrating V&TCs into the international humanitarian system. He is
also a research Intern at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.
Australia's Role in the World: Essay and Multimedia Competitions
With the rise of China and India in the last decade, it is well recognised that we are now entering
into the Asian Century. In response to this changing regional outlook the Gillard government has
commissioned the Paper on Australia in the Asian Century to consider how Australia should
position itself strategically, economically and politically in the 21st century. The AIIA has, in
conjunction with the Asian Century Taskforce, launched three online competitions to encourage
young people to get involved in this important policy discussion
Be Heard:
To become a part of the debate, you can submit a short essay, on one of the five different essay
topics available online. Winners will be chosen by votes from the public. Remember, the longer
your essay is online, the more votes it will be able to receive – so get in early.
How you see it
The AIIA would like students to show us what they think Australia in the Asian Century means to
them through images, video-clips or infographic presentations. Winners will be chosen through
votes from online polls, so get your entry in early to maximise views.
How would you like Australia to be represented through our international television network
or radio station?
Have a say in how you think Australia can improve its public image in Asia through Australia’s
international television and radio networks. Make a pitch to the Australia Network or Radio
Australia for a new program in video or audio format and upload them onto the AIIA website.
So get your creative juices flowing and submit your thoughts, views and images to the
AIIA. Winners of the competitions will have the opportunity to meet with members of the
Asian Century Taskforce or have their work published online. For all the rules, dates and
uploading requirements please see the website.
Issue 22 “Democracy and the Arab Spring”
Message from the Editor
Welcome for the final issue of MA for 2011. This month's issue looks at Democracy and the Arab
Spring. As one of the major events of 2011, the Arab Spring represented a hopeful moment for
democrats in the Middle East. However, as the months rolled on, the Arab Spring has settled into
mixed results. While largely successful in their uprising against the established regimes in these
countries, focus has now turned to the questions whether democracy will be the ultimate result.
This month Katherine Tranter and Katherine Hauser explore the role of women’s movements in the
Arab Spring uprising, as well the remaining challenges for women’s rights in Arab world. These
articles highlight some important progress that has been made in the region, but that there is still
much more work to be done. Meanwhile, Zeb Leonard highlights the state of Iran’s nuclear
enrichment, examining the possibility of current medical nuclear isotopes being enriched to
weapons-grade level, a worrying prospect given current turmoil in the region.
Contemporary Debate examines the relationship between values and democracy, with Andrew
Romanin exploring how the underlying values of societies shape their transition to democracy,
highlighting the significance of these issues for the Arab Spring. Nicholas Clarke also explores the
different ways in which ‘democracy’ is interpreted, focussing on the emergence of the ‘superficial
democrat’ in Chinese political culture. These pieces suggest that caution is necessary when
deploying the reforms necessary to make states more democratic, and that a one-size-fits-all
approach to democratic institutions are likely to lead to some ugly unintended consequences.
Meanwhile Amal Varghese and Benjamin Moles paint a more pessimistic picture, highlighting the
reassertion of control by established authorities, with any democratic upheavals leading to the
likely emergence of populist Islamism replacing less democratic, but more secular and pluralist
regimes. Meanwhile Sharna de Lacy highlights the ways in which the Arab Spring has led to an
increasing role for the military in Egypt’s economic and political life, making it unlikely that Egypt’s
polity will escape the control of the military.
Is the right way to approach the Arab spring a first step that needs to be pushed in favour of future
democratic reforms, a cautious rumbling that needs to be treated cautiously by ensuring that Arab
states have democratic values as well as institutions, or an uprising against existing regimes that
will be simply replaced with different authoritarian rulers? Only time will tell.
This month MA speaks with HE James Michel, the President of the Seychelles, about the role of
the Commonwealth as well as developmental challenges of small nations. We also
interview Natalie Sambhi and Nic Jenzen-Jones, who speak about their experiences as writing and
publishing analysis on defence and security issues, as well as their analysis of contemporary
security issues.
Monthly Access will be taking a break for summer, with the next issue to be published in March
2012. The topic for the March issue is Separatism and Self-Determination. We welcome
submissions of between 400 to 600 words on these topics, or any other issues in international
affairs. The deadline for submission for the March Issue is 23rd February 2012.
Ghazi Ahamat has recently completed his studies in Economics, Mathematics and Philosophy at
the University of Melbourne.
The Monthly Access team is:
Editor-in-Chief: Ghazi Ahamat
Deputy Editor (Interviews and Submissions): Evan Ritli
Deputy Editor (Contemporary Debate): Priya Wakhlu
Global Snapshot Columnists: Rachel Hankey and Richard Griffin
Interviewers: Amal Varghese and Roselina Press
Contemporary Debate Columnists: Andrew Romanin, Sharna de Lacy, Katherine Tranter and Nick
Clarke
ACCESS Event Reporter: Marla Pascual
For comments regarding this newsletter please write to [email protected]
Global Snapshot – December edition
By Rachel Hankey
The December issue of Global Snapshot, which brings current international issues and news from
around the world. November saw the economic turmoil in the Euro zone claim two Prime Ministers
and a G20 summit sominated by economic concerns, as well as an ASEAN summit that brings
Burma's regime out of the wilderness, as well as continued aftershocks of the Arab Spring in Syria
and Yemen.
Europe
New Greek and Italian Prime Ministers
The ongoing financial crisis in the eurozone has forced the resignation of two European Prime
Ministers. Greece's George Papandreou stepped down at the beginning of November, followinga
disastrous proposed referendum on a eurozone bailout. This was shortly followed by the
resignation of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Both Papandreou and Berlusconi
have faced months on criticism over their handling of their countries' financial crisis,and proposed
austerity measures have been met with strong opposition from the public.
The successors of both former leaders are financial experts, reflecting the growing concerns in
Europe about the rate of financial recovery and the ability of governments toadequately address
the issue. Papandreou was succeeded by Lucas Papademos,former vice-president of the
European Central Bank. Although Papademosis not a member of parliament, he will head an
interim government until elections take place in February. Berlusconi wasreplaced by Mario
Monti, an esteemed economist and academic, and former European Union regulator. Both
Papademos and Monti face an uphill struggle to implement measures to improve their countries
economies.
Turkey cracks down on Kurdish rebels
Turkey has reportedly arrested over 70 individuals in raids across the country targeting Kurdish
rebels.The raids were carried out simultaneously across the country, in 16 different provinces.
Last month a suspected Kurdish militant hijacked a ferry near the northwestern port city of
Izmit. Violent confrontations between security forces and banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)
are common, but reports highlighted that a hijacking would represent a change in tactics for the
PKK. The PKK started their armed campaign in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984,
sparking a conflictthat has claimed approximately 45,000 lives.
G20 Summit
The G20 summit took place in Cannes, south of France, early last month. The discussion was
dominated by the debate surrounding the ongoing eurozone crisis. The financial situation in Italy
was a key topic of talks, as fears emerge that the monetary meltdown in Greece may spread to
Italy, which is a much larger economy. Barack Obama lead calls for Italy to accept the surveillance
of their austerity measures by the International Monetary Fund.
Another significant outcome of the Cannes summit was the establishment of development as a key
issue on the G20 agenda. A number of development-friendly initiatives were announced, including
steps to boost global agricultural output and an agreement not to tax or restrict foodpurchased for
humanitarian purposes by the UN World Food Program. The development community praised the
initiative on agriculture, but remain frustrated about the lack of action on debt.
Asia
ASEAN Summit
The 19th Association of South-East Asian Nations(ASEAN) summit was held in Bali last month. In
his closing statement host Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono highlighted the
closeness of the ASEAN region, and the important steps towards building a more united ASEAN
community by 2015.
In a significant move, Burma was giventhe chair of the 2014 summit, apparently as a "reward" for
the hints of reformfrom its new government, following decades of military rule.The US had warned
that the move was premature, but the leaders of the ASEAN countries defended their decision. The
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said that "All leaders are in agreement that
significantchanges, significant developments, have taken place in Burma and those changeshave
made it more conducive for Burma to carry out this responsibility".
Flooding in Thailand
Thailand is slowing beginning a massive cleanup operation, following severe floods across the
country. Although the floodwaters have not completed drained away from the country,
reconstruction efforts are already underway.
Thailand's economy has been severely damaged bythe floods, as both small local traders and
multinational companies were affected. The floodwaters forced businesses to abandon seven huge
industrialestates. Thailand is a key producer ofcomputer hardware, manufacturing approximately
45% of the world's supply. It is expected that there will be a shortage of computer parts into 2012,
as key manufactures such as Toshiba and Western Digital were forced to close operations in
waterlogged plants. In addition to clearing the debris left by the floodwaters, manufactures need to
secure electricity and clean water supplies,with some manufactures suggesting that they will not be
able to resume production until February or March next year.
US troops in Australia
Last month Barack Obama announced plans to station US troops in the Northern Territory. From
next year 250 marines will bestationed in Australia, and over the next few years the force will be
increasedto 2,500. The move has strained relations between China and the US, as Beijing has
questioned the need for the US to strengthen its military position in the region.
Over the past year the US has increased its military connections in Vietnam,Singapore and the
Philippines. This has lead China to fear a policy of encirclement, as well as increasing tensions
over the rights to the oil-rich South China Sea. The US has denied that it is attempting to isolate
China, but Obama warned thatshould Beijing "not play by the rules", the US will send a "clear
message that they need to be on track in accepting the rules and responsibilities that come with
being a world power".
Middle East
Yemen's President steps down
Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh has resigned from office, following nine months of protest
against his rule. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) had sought to bring an end to the ongoing
violence by negotiating an agreement which would lead to Saleh's resignation. On three different
occasions, Saleh broke a promise to step down.
It is believed that he finally signed the agreement because he has lost the support of key
international allies. Saudi Arabia, which has supported Saleh for decades, had become
increasingly annoyed by his failure to restore stability to Yemen. Saleh had also lost the support of
the US, which had provided millions of dollars in aid to Yemen.
The international community had hoped that Saleh's departure would end the violent protests and
severe governmentcrackdowns that have been continuing for many months. However, on the
dayfollowing the announcement of Saleh's resignation, tens of thousands of democracy activists
took to the streets in cities all over the country to raiseconcerns about the terms of the deal. Under
the terms of the agreement, Salehand unspecified others in his circle will be immune from
prosecution. There arealso concerns about whether Saleh will honour his promise to step down.
Arab League takes action against Syria
In a significant turning point for effort toend the ongoing violence in Syria, the Arab League has
begun to take action against the government of the country. Early in November, the Arab League
voted to suspend Syria from the league. Themove prompted attacks on several embassies in Syria
and neighbouring countries,by pro-government supporters. Syria strongly objects to the League's
proposalto send 500 observers to the country, and argued for the number to be reducedto 40. This
proposed amendment was rejected by the 22-member league. The league had imposed a deadline
for Syriato end its crackdown on protestors; however this passed late last month, withno
improvement in the situation. The Arab League is now threatening to implement economic
sanctions against the Syrian government. The exact details of possible sanctions have not been
revealed.
According to estimates by the UN, 3500 people have been killed since protests began in March.
Syrian authorities continue to blame the violence on armed gangs and militants.
Iraqi prisoner enquiry
Over 100 Iraqi civilians who were taken prisoner by British troops in the years following the
invasion of the Iraq in 2003 havewon a court judgment, which may pave the way for an
independent enquiry into alleged mistreatment. A British court has ruled that the police inquiry
established by the Ministryof Defence to investigate the claims was "substantially compromised".It
has been revealed that some of the investigators charged with looking intothe allegations had
served with a military police unit which was originallyresponsible for detaining the Iraqi men.
There have been numerous allegations of torture and abuse by the British military during their sixyear posting insouthern Iraq, which came to an end in 2009. The most notorious case involved the
death of 26-year-old hotel receptionist Baha Mousa who diedwhile in custody at a British base after
being detained in a raid in Basra in2003. Earlier last month, American solider Calvin Gibbs was
convicted of murder, in relation to one of the worst cases of war crimes to emerge from the Afghan
war.
Q&A with Natalie Sambhi and Nic Jenzen-Jones, editors of Security Scholar
Interviewed by Roselina Press
Security Scholar is an Australian website which covers security, defence and foreign policy issues
concerning Australia, Southeast Asia and Afghanistan. Natalie Sambhi, the website’s founding
editor, is a Hedley Bull Scholar in International relations and a Masters graduate of the Asia-Pacific
College of Diplomacy at the Australian National University. Co-editor Nic Jenzen-Jones is a
freelance writer and a corporate liaison specialist for the private security and defence industries.
For those who haven't heard of Security Scholar, could you please tell us a bit about it?
Nic: Security Scholar is a website dedicated to analysing global security and defence issues from
an Australian perspective. We like to think that we are developing into more than just a blog.
Through our new Security Scholar Online Forum Series, our Security Scholar Synopsis series, and
our frequent interaction with readers through social media – predominantly Facebookand
our Twitter accounts, we hope to act as a broad-spectrum resource, facilitating engagement and
discussion. In the future, we are aiming to expand our services by conducting more ground-level
research in addition to secondary source analysis.
What motivated you both to blog about security and defence issues?
Nic: I’ve had a fascination with security and defence issues for as long as I can remember, and a
strong writing background from my business experiences, but it was Nat that convinced me to
publish some of my work in the public domain. Previously I had worked almost entirely on internal
documents, analyses and reports, so it’s nice to be receiving feedback, and contributing to global
debate.
Nat: I regularly enjoy debating with my friends and fellow scholars on such issues. Many of these
friends blog as well. I wanted to delve into a forum where I could put my ideas out for scrutiny. The
blog platform has a rather rewarding give/take quality; you provide information and discussion, and
receive inspiration and feedback from around the globe.
You've also begun hosting monthly online forums. Could you tell us a bit about this
project?
Nic: Our vision with the Security Scholar Online Forum Series is all about giving opportunities to
experts, practitioners, serving soldiers, and scholars to discuss current defence and security
issues. The format is designed to allow fairly casual, free-flowing engagement, which bridges the
gap between various professions. With a very busy month (Nat is travelling overseas), we’ve had
to delay our planned November forum, but we will be back up and running with our December
forum on ‘China’s Maritime Denial Strategy’ – stay tuned!
Security Scholar regularly covers the war in Afghanistan in depth. Conversely, substantial
coverage on the war in our mainstream media is usually lacking. Are blogs and online
media able to fill the gap, in this respect?
Nic: Definitely. Particularly when it comes to covering topics from a different angle, or covering
topics in a more academic or technical manner than is generally acceptable in mainstream media.
Also, quite frankly, a lot of coverage we see in mainstream media sources is dumbed down, or at
least highly abbreviated – blogs and other online media sources provide further reading for people
who may be interested in a more complete picture of what is happening. Many of our blogosphere
colleagues over at such blogs as Registan, Wings Over Iraq, and Ghosts of Alexander provide
excellent historical and operational knowledge on issues concerning how the Afghanistan conflict is
managed.
Big news for Australian defence recently is that women are now able to serve in any
position in the ADF, including combat roles. How much of a change can we expect to see,
following this decision?
Nic: This is something Nat and I have obviously been discussing at length over since the
announcement, and you can see some of Nat’s thoughts crystallised in her pieces on our blog, at
the Lowy Interpreter, and The Conversation, as well as some personal remarks in the Sydney
Morning Herald and The Age. Personally, I think it is about time the barriers were removed – but
how we manage this transition will be of the utmost importance.
Nat: In formal terms, the changes open up the last 7% or so of jobs to women serving in the ADF.
That may not seem like much, but there will be need to be considerable adjustments to
accommodate this. Of course, concerns about physical requirements will have to be carefully
managed but, more importantly, cultural changes that overcome prejudices against the place and
ability of women on the frontline need to be surmounted. This will certainly take more time and
sustained commitment from both the ADF, and Australian society more broadly.
What do you see as some of the more significant security issues concerning Australia, now
or into the future?
Nic: The so-called ‘rise of China’ is obviously the big one that everyone is talking about, but our
relationship with the United States, and how that develops vis-à-vis China, is the real story there.
Speaking of which, what are your thoughts on the planned stationing of US troops in
Darwin? How do you think Australia can balance its interests whilst maintaining close ties
to both the United States and China?
Nic: Firstly, I just want to point out that there are no plans to construct or operate a solely-US
military base anywhere in Australia. This is something a few commentators seem to have missed.
The current plan is for US Marines to be based at an Australian Army base, Robertson Barracks,
just outside of Darwin. The US and Australia have a long tradition of jointly operating military
facilities.
That cleared up, I don’t see maintaining our strong alliance with the US and pursuing a robust
trading relationship with China as incompatible or mutually exclusive goals. I also wouldn’t be
surprised to see our relationship with the US continue to strengthen over the coming years, with
more basing opportunities being considered. Areas to look to would be the Cocos Islands, and
perhaps even the North West.
Nat: I think Australia will have to manage this development with regional partners, Indonesia, in
particular. The base provides further opportunities for multinational exercises in the Asia Pacific.
With respect to China, maintaining dialogue and engagement will be important in reassuring our
most valuable economic partner that the development is not one of containment.
Finally, what do both of you work on, outside of Security Scholar?
Nic: Both of us are available as freelance consultants and technical editors for a range of topics. I
run my own business focusing on consulting to the private security and defence industries, as well
as writing on a freelance basis. I am currently looking at small arms identification in Libya, global
counter-narcotics units, and West African piracy. Nat freelance writes and researches, and is
currently working on research relating to people trafficking in Indonesia as well as counter terrorism
cooperation between Australia and Indonesia. She is currently travelling throughout Indonesia to
improve her Indonesian language skills and get a better ground-level understanding of the security
and political situation throughout the archipelago.
Roselina Press is undertaking a Masters of International Relations at Melbourne University
Q&A with HE James Michel, President of the Seychelles
Interviewed by Francis Ventura
HE James Michel has been President of the Seychelles since 2004, having previously served as
Vice President from 1996 to 2004. Mr Michel was in Australia for the Commonwealth Heads Of
Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in Perth from 28-30 October 2011. Mr Michel speaks about
the Diamond Jubilee Fund, the role of the Commonwealth in addressing development issues, and
the challenges faced by small developing countries in balancing development and sustainability, in
an international order designed by and for much larger nations.
Earlier at CHOGM, (British PM) David Cameron announced the establishment of a Diamond
Jubilee Trust Fund which will be established to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond
Jubilee. This trust fund will issue grants for people in need around the Commonwealth.
Given that anywhere between twenty and thirty thousand people die every year, or children
especially die from preventable diseases, and given the number of nations in the
Commonwealth, some close to you, Mozambique, Maldives etc rank among the lowest on
the United Nations Human Development Index, do you see or will you push for, a trust to
alleviate poverty within the Commonwealth?
President Michel: I think this initiative is a very commendable one, as we celebrate the Diamond
Jubilee of Her Majesty. This will provide the opportunity to really have something that is worthwhile,
that will benefit the children of some of the poorest countries. I think we’ll go a long way to give
these unfortunate children a better life. As these countries prepare and work towards building the
capacity themselves, to be able to ensure that they have the capacity to look after their children
and ensure that they eliminate poverty, they eliminate disease as much as possible and ensure
that every child has the right to live and become productive as they grow up. So, I would personally
welcome any initiative to ensure that children are first of all saved, and then have the possibility to
grow and become productive because I believe in the youth, because I believe in the future and
the future is the youth . In my country, in Seychelles, I do everything I can to put in place, as much
as possible, programs that empower the youth, empower the young generation to ensure that as
leaders of tomorrow, they will continue to sustain the growth of the country and continue to build
not only the wealth but also the capacity in everywhere, social, culture, security and ensure that
our country will continue to grow as prosper.
I remember you spoke in Melbourne about the incompatibility between consumerism and
environmental sustainability. You lead an economy which is a market-driven, capitalist
economy. However at the same time you’re also passionate about environmental
sustainability. How do you reconcile these goals, and what measures have you taken, to
promote the compatibility between the two, because that’s the reality for most countries?
I think compatibility is possible, it is a reality. We have proved it in Seychelles. We have
established a market economy. We are empowering our young people to become a nation of
entrepreneurs. To build, to depend on themselves in order to build their future, to create wealth for
the country. At the same time, we have educated them, from a very early age our children are
educated to appreciate the values of the environment, to appreciate what nature has given them
and also to appreciate the fact that nature doesn’t belong to us but we belong to nature. Therefore,
we have to preserve nature if we are to be able to benefit from what nature has given us and this is
why we have developed this policy of integrating the protection and the management of the
environment with development. As far as our tourism industry is concerned, we ensure that hotels
are built in such a way that the hotels are integrated in the environment and that the developers
participate and contribute to the protection and the management of the environment. This is
working very well. In the other sectors like fishing for example, we ensure that we have sustainable
fishing activity. On the continental plateau we ensure that it is reserved only for our fisherman, and
then we monitor the sustainability of the species that exist, and there are certain species where we
put a ban during certain periods of the year or a number of years to ensure that they reproduce
until they can be allowed to be exploited again. Even fishing the pelagic species, we monitor the
activities and any other activity that we do that is economic that is necessary for development and
the creation of wealth, that there is always sustainability to ensure that the environment is
protected. We have very strict environmental laws which ensure that. On some islands we have
strict rules that no development takes place above a fifteen metre contour line, to ensure that we
protect the pristine environment. So in that way, I think we are unique because we want to
preserve our country for future generations and the young people themselves, we are conscious of
that, so we can sustain our economic development and our livelihood for the future.
Your Foreign Minister Jean-Paul Adam, stated in 2010 to the United Nations that the ‘one
size fits all’ model of international development has not worked. How can development thus
be tailored in order to provide economic, political and social benefits to the people where
it’s being implemented?
This is the problem with most of the current international institutions. Most of these large
international institutions were created after the Second World War. I think the time has come for
rejuvenation and earlier atthe second session of CHOGM, we talked about a Charter for the
rejuvenation of the Commonwealth. I think it is important because without rejuvenation, we become
irrelevant, and today I think the Bretton Woods institutions, the United Nations have become
irrelevant in a way, or are becoming irrelevant because they do not represent the realities of the
new global economic and social environment. The world has changed, but the rules of these
institutions have not changed. Therefore, there is a need to relook at the rules of these institutions
and ensure that new guidelines, new rules new charters are conceived and worked out to be able
to fit the specificities of different countries or different economies, or different cultures because we
are living in a globalised world, but we have different countries with different specificities. Let us
look for example at the small island states. You cannot put us in the same bag as you put any big
country with different kinds of resources or more resources that small countries do not have. So
today, even if small countries work hard and strive to be able to make it to the middle-income level,
then they are penalised and they are no longer given access to concessionary credit and so on,
and what will happen is that they will slip back into becoming poor countries. So this is what I call
the ‘middle-income trap’ because once you’re there, once you’ve done well, you are penalised
because you’ve done well. This is because again, of the specific criteria created by the Bretton
Woods institutions after the Second World War, which has to change. All these institutions have to
be rejuvenated in the light of modern-day realities.
Fellow Commonwealth nations have very low positions on the 2010 United Nations
Development Index, including South Africa at 113, India at 132, Pakistan at 128 and Sierra
Leone at 161 (Australia is second). How can the Commonwealth, as a member-based
organisation better ensure greater diplomatic and economic cooperation amongst its
members to generate greater prosperity?
The Commonwealth itself, in terms of capacity to do things? There is no mandate to do that. But,
the Commonwealth can share ideas, can exchange views and come up with possibilities of what
can be done, and then the Commonwealth, as a bigger voice, share these ideas to the institutions
that can make things happen. I see the Commonwealth as an institution in which we have shared
values of course. These values, I think, are the foundation for growth, the foundation for stability
and unity, which is very essential for growth and for the creation of wealth of any country.
Francis Ventura is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and International Relations at
the University of Melbourne. He attended CHOGM as a Commonwealth Youth Correspondent.
Control of Industry and Now Politics by the Egyptian Military
By Sharna de Lacy
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has been ruling Egypt since the negotiated
resignation of President Hosni Mubarak on 11 February 2011. While attracting initial pubic support,
the military has attracted much criticism its for lingering political role, authoritarian practices and
resistance to genuine democratic reform.
Recent moves by SCAF to protect its influence in the domestic economy and curtail the
constitutional oversight powers of any newly elected government in regard to the military budget
has sparked renewed protests, calling for the military to immediately hand power to civilians.
The Armed Forces of Egypt have a long historical role in direct economic participation. As early as
the 1820’s the military was involved in the production of weaponry and uniforms, supplementing a
shortfall in funding enabling them to be self sufficient and independent from colonial forces.
Following the expansion of the state-led economy throughout the 1950’s, these activities grew from
the specific needs of the military to the manufacture and sale of civilian products.
Today the military has a considerable interest in the civilian Egyptian economy, through interests
held under the auspices of the Ministry for Military Production. The activities of the military are far
reaching from
small
arms
production,
to
childcare,
catering
and
pest
control. [P1] Estimates [Sd2] about the profitability and financial structure of military run companies
aredifficult to obtain, as the revenues derived from these companies are a subject to ‘national
security’. Because the economic extra-curricula activities of the military fall under the purview of
‘national security’, this leads to the creation of a ‘shadow budget’ that escapes standard
parliamentary and auditing scrutiny.
SCAF is currently taking steps that would ensure that not only off-budget activities but also its
official budget exempt from oversight. Draft constitutional principles put forward by SCAF would
guarantee the secrecy of the military budget and provide SCAF the power to reject any articles of
the new constitution that it objects to as the guardian of ‘constitutional legitimacy’. Joshua Stacher,
an expert on Middle Eastern Politics at Kent State University said of the proposal- "It essentially
builds SCAF into the political process as a sort of fourth pillar and one that is utterly and completely
unaccountable to the people"
The Egyptian press is forbidden from printing material that is critical of the military, and the Interim
Constitution has affirmed press censorship in ‘matters related to general safety or the purposes of
national security’. This protects the military’s economic interests not only from official examination,
but also from public scrutiny, undermining key oversight mechanisms which are central to
democracy.
Corruption has been a concern for the protest movement, however, due to the unquantifiable
nature of the military’s extensive economic interests it has largely escaped scrutiny. SCAF
responded to public outcry regarding official corruption and has pursued an array of former regime
elites on charges of corruption. However, there have been concerns that the SCAF leadership has
been utilising public pressure for prosecuting previous regime figures, in order to extend its own
economic influence and stifle potential for reform. SCAF has pursued influential liberal economic
reformists- forcing former finance minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali from his position and freezing the
assets of former trade minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid on allegations of corruption.
The military’s direct role in political rule may be short-lived. However, SCAF has been utilising the
transitional arrangements to influence the future direction of the Egyptian economic structure and
sure up its position as the de facto authority in the Egyptian political landscape. How the first
elected Egyptian government defines the constitutional role of the armed forces and addresses
military reform will be a balancing act that may have long standing implications not only for the
Egyptian economy, but for democracy as well.
Sharna de Lacy completed a Masters of International and Community Development from Deakin
University in 2010, and is currently employed with the Australian Department of Human Services.
Values and culture in Arab Democracy
By Andrew Romanin
A democracy is only as good as the values and culture that inform its participants.This fact is taken
for granted in established democracy, but can become a vital force in countries that are
transitioning to democracy.
Following the populist uprisings that have dotted the Arab world, the question of where to from
here has taken a much defined form of not hope or consideration for a transition to democracy
across the region, but one of expectation. With the West peering through their democratic
binoculars there is an expectation that the Arab world will fully embrace our democratic processes
and societies. Whilst the potential excites hope and optimism, the cultural and regional practices of
the Arab world will frustrate those who are keen to see swift change, prolonging the transition
period.
Mass scenes of protest during the Arab Spring where banners read “Freedom” and the crowd
shouts for “Justice” are indicative of a society embracing democracy. Whilst few would doubt they
are welcome scenes in a region that has suffered oppressive regimes and leaders, democracy is
not a one size fits all solution. There's a significant distinction to be made between a democratic
"process" and a democratic “culture.” The former may take the shape of free and fair elections; the
latter includes things like peaceful transfers of power, rule of law, inalienable individual rights,
minority rights, property rights, gender equality, separation of religion and government, and
freedom of speech for intellectuals.
It’s easy to mistake process with culture, and particularly for proponents of Western democracy
who will inevitably hang their hat on such achievements. Elections constitute a necessary
requirement of a democracy, but without a democratic culture, elections have the potential to fail in
empowering the right people.
The challenge for those Arab states which are now seeking to embrace democracy is the manner
in which incumbent rulers, opposition, and the citizen body, will respond to the unexpected
nuances of democracy that conflict with existing cultural norms. Put simply, the process for
instilling the aforementioned elements of cultural democracy will not be as easy for these societies
to adopt as they may have first thought, and will contribute to instances of conflict with Western
democratic principles.
A likely point of conflict is the role of women in Arabic societies. The low representation of females
in these nations’ public life is influenced by a number of context-specific factors, particularly the
underlying mentality that men and women should maintain traditional roles. This presents a
significant hurdle for the adoption of democratic institutions akin to those found in the West. Arab
societies have been united in their call for universal freedom and change, but for many, the
inevitable shift in the role of women that will be a precondition for transitory democracy will cause
anxiety and suspicion.
The presence of women in positions of power and in a more accessible education system will have
its opponents. These opponents will cause angst, and it is in such instances that the cultural
traditions of Arabic society will encounter a point of difference with democratic values. Arguably a
change of such magnitude that pervades all aspects of political, social and economic life will be
difficult to accept, requiring a period of adjustment.
Similarly, the reach of Islam in Arab societal life presents a challenge for the architects of these
proposed democratic states. The importance of religion in day to day life, and its current interplay
with the state would not be permissible under a secular democratic system. Again a realignment of
values and divesting religion of its privileged status is a major deviation from the cultural norm.
Admittedly, religion permeates the politics of many Western democracies to varying degrees, but
there is little comparison with the Middle East. The primacy of separation of religion and state in a
democracy must be upheld. Thus, informing a people that for centuries have understood and
accepted the link between religion and state, a move away from this will cause many to question
the motivations of democracy.
This is not to say that incompatibility with democracy exists in the current values and cultural
norms of the Arabic world. All emerging democracies have to begin somewhere, and all bring their
own ‘baggage’ along with them. The events of the Arab Spring demonstrate a potential for
democracy in the region. This alone has provided a strong a platform of consensus within society
that has initiated a move towards democracy. The existing values and culture of Arab society will
dictate the shape and form of democracy that ultimately emerges. It will not be identical to that of
the West, and nor should it. Those entrusted to lead the Arab world as it transitions will, however,
need to acknowledge and reconcile very real differences and conflicts between democracy and
traditional Arab culture and values, and find ways to harmonise these.
The real challenge now begins. The Arab citizen body is faced with the challenge of not only
building democracy, but understanding and learning it. The, as yet, unexpected and unknown
elements of democracy for the average Egyptian or Libyan individual will clash with long
established cultural norms and values central to daily life; it is such indifference that could
ultimately create the greatest obstacle to democratic transition. Moving forward, the values and
culture that states of the Arab Spring utilise to inform its participants will result in democratic boom
or bust.
Andrew Romanin completed a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History from the University
of Melbourne in 2009. He currently works as a Coordinator of Emergency Recovery with the Red
Cross.
Feminism in the Arab world
By Katherine Tranter
Much has been said about the potential of prospective democratic transitions following the Arab
Spring to deliver advancements in upholding women’s rights. Nevertheless, some Islamists have
asserted that as feminism is a Western construct it is inherently incompatible with Islam and would
lead to family and social breakdown. Further it has been argued that the push for women’s rights in
the Middle East is simply a Western-inspired attack on Islam. However, feminism has a long
history in the Arab world, which reflects prevailing societal values.
In Egypt, there has been a long history of women involved in activism, including organising labour
union strikes, protesting, and using their rights to free speech. Egyptian women played an active
role in struggles in 1919 and 1952, albeit with limited gains in equality and justice. Nevertheless,
the 1919 uprising created momentum for the women’s struggle and, as a result, the Egyptian
Feminist Union (EFU) was founded in 1924. Although radical changes have never been achieved,
in part due to persistent views about women’s role in society, Egyptian women have gained some
political and social advances. The recent uprisings have further enhanced their confidence to
campaign for equal rights.
However, the focus on the involvement of women in the recent uprisings by the Western media has
been criticised by some high-profile Egyptian women, partly because the focus has been hijacked
by the former regime. Prior to its ban in 1952, the EFU had been criticised for its links to the regime
and accused of representing only a small elite. Egyptian writer and feminist Nawal El Saadawi
highlights the recent relaunch of the EFU after a decades-long ban as a sign that the military is
merely giving the appearance of supporting women’s rights. The EFU’s recent calls for powerful
women to run in the election have been perceived as a ploy to gain support for the regime.
In Tunisia, feminism has also historically been sponsored by the state. Advances in women’s rights
– including equal citizenship rights, the abolition of polygamy, a ban on wearing the hijab in public
buildings, and gaining the rights to work and open bank accounts without male permission – have
all been implemented by the government, rather than domestic feminist pressure. The former
Tunisian government permitted the establishment of women’s rights groups, albeit only those that
did not challenge government policies. Independent women’s organisations were abolished, and
replaced by groups supportive of the state. Nevertheless, the greater degree of gender equality in
Tunisia than in other Arab states over the last 50 years indicates that calls for the recognition of
women’s rights preceded the country’s recent uprisings.
Furthermore, the argument that women’s rights are incompatible with Islam has been rejected by
some Muslim commentators. Iranian Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi recently argued that “if
Islam is interpreted and applied correctly we can have totally egalitarian laws for women and strike
punishments such as stoning and cutting hands from out of law books”. Retired professor and
author Dr. Aftab Ahmad Khan similarly states that the Qur’an upholds gender equality and the
status of women before the law, and argues that these teachings must take precedence over the
traditional customs of many Muslim societies which deny women equal rights.
However, concerns remain over whether the Islamist parties that have recently taken, or appear
set to take, power in bothTunisia and Egypt will ignore such arguments and continue to ignore
women’s rights. There have been concerns raised in Egypt that women are only being included in
the candidate lists of Islamic parties because of a requirement under the new constitution. Salafist
party al-Nour’s poster of a female candidate displayed a rose instead of her face as she wears
a niqab(full-face veil), and received much ridicule on social media websites. Many of the female
candidates are also Islamists, and their commitment to upholding women’s rights is as yet unclear.
Although the outcomes of the Arab Spring for women’s rights have so far disappointed some
feminists, women’s rights activists in both Egypt and Tunisia have shown a strong commitment to
promote their interests and insist on being heard. The notion that feminism is incompatible with
Arab societies is clearly contradicted by the actions of many women’s rights activists across the
Arab world.
Katherine Tranter completed a Masters degree in International Development at RMIT in 2009 and
is currently working as a Country Adviser for the Migration & Refugee Review Tribunals.
The Bumpy Road to Democracy
By Nicholas Clarke
“I don’t know what democracy means, but I know we need
The words of a poster held by a student protester, Tiananmen Square 1989)
more
of
it”
At the end of the Cold War, Francis Fukayama infamously claimed political development had
reached its zenith – encapsulated in his seminal work ‘The End of History’. With authoritarian
regimes toppling across the Eastern Bloc, the argument over political systems was over, and
democracy had won the battle of ideas. It would be only a matter of time before western
democracy would emerge worldwide.
But since the early 90’s, the world witnessed a variety of political upheavals in the name of
democracy. Russia’s perestroika in the early 90’s inadvertently highlighted the dangers of
liberalising a nation’s political system before its economy, culminating in their current ‘democratic’
elections and beckoning Putinism. Western interventions to promote democracy in the Balkans
(Kosovo) and the Middle East (Iraq) endure haphazardly. 2011 sees the spate of democratic
uprisings against authoritarian regimes in North Africa and the Middle East, which have been
dubbed the ‘Arab Spring’ of pro-democracy upheavals..
All of these events highlight that transitioning to a democracy is a bumpy road. Yet as the
‘democratic peace thesis’ claims, (the theory democracies do not go to war against each other) in
the long term this transition arrives at a desirable destination. However, there are many issues at
play regarding what a democracy is, how democracy should be promoted and whether or when it is
appropriate to do so.
As the primary victor of the Cold War, US foreign policy highlights these issues in their attitudes to
democracy. An important shift occurred when G.W. Bush arguably transformed Woodrow Wilson’s
“the world must be made safe for democracy” into making “the world democratic so the US could
be safe” by invading Iraq. The desire to prmote and/or enforce democratic norms is seen in the
‘Obama Doctrine,’ enunciated to the Australian parliament among other places, asserting China
must “play by the rules”. Aside from commercial rules though, what political-institutional rules
should China play by? Since Min Qi’s pioneering social political survey work, The Chinese Political
Culture, there has been a plethora of similar surveys conducted in China, from nationalrepresentative samples, such as Nathan and Shi’s Cultural Requisites for Democracy in China:
Findings from a Survey, to projects like the World Values Survey (WVS) and Asian Barometer
Survey (ABS). Several common themes persist that suggest how inappropriate, at least for now,
democracy would be in China.
All the surveys paint a picture of the ‘superficial’ democrat being a constant force in China’s
political culture. Although respondents view democracy as ‘good’, this is merely paying lip service.
For their view is typically a very misguided understanding of democracy, compared to how liberaldemocracy is conceptualised by political scientists. Findings from the WVS illuminate this
misconception.
To assess Chinese citizens understanding of democracy in 2007, WVS respondents were
presented with 10 different circumstances and asked to what extent each circumstance was an
essential characteristic of democracy or not. Respondents could choose from a scale of 1 – 10, ‘1’
meaning ‘not at all essential’ and 10 ‘absolutely essential’. Circumstances were diverse including
easily identifiable characteristics of democracy, ‘people choose their leaders in free elections’, to
blatant contradictions ‘the army takes over when the government is incompetent’ and some in
between, ‘the economy is prospering’.
In reference to ‘the economy is prospering’, most respondents viewed this as a highly essential
characteristic of democracy with 10.7%, 17.6% and 39.6% choosing 8, 9 or 10 respectively. This
displays confusion over what democracy entails and perhaps what is indicative of many
democracies. Moreover, with regards to ‘the army takes over when the government is
incompetent’, 21.5% of respondents chose 10. In fact, 53.4% of respondents chose 7 or above out
of 10 – making this, in their eyes, an essential characteristic of democracy .
At present, democracy in China would be a foolhardy development. Although democracy’s
complexity is taken for granted, a populace must at least understand its essential characteristics,
before it can be instilled.
Findings from the ABS shows that political culture in other East Asian nations paint a similar
picture of China’s ‘superficial democrat’. This notion of democracy is radically different to that of the
West, and will be of increasing significance as the Asian Century looms large.
What road will many transitional or quasi-democratic nations take? Among alternative pathways,
perhaps there will be a couple of bumpy roads to democracy with Chinese or Islamic signposts.
Fukuyama’s claim that the defeat of the Communist alternative to Western democracy would lead
to the End of History seems a little premature. If I could paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill; the rise
of nations with a radically different notion of democracy means that “ this is not the end... but, it is
perhaps, the end of the beginning”.
Nicholas Clarke has recently completed his Masters of International Relations at the University of
Melbourne.
The Role of Egyptian Women in the Arab Spring
By Katherine Hauser
The dust has settled on the Arab Spring uprisings, and it is important to now reflect on the diversity
among participants, the demands put forward and the opportunities and risks of democratic
transition. This article will explore achievements and the challenges faced by Egyptian women
during the Arab Spring and the transitional period.
In Egypt women stood on the frontlines of the revolution, in equal numbers to their male
counterparts. These women were calling for dignity and role in the construction of a new
democratic state. After a rocky transition period, Egypt's parliamentary elections are drawing
closer. The first round is scheduled for 28 November.
Pre-existing civil society networks were an asset to women in the post-revolutionary period. On 4th
June 2011 the Alliance for Arab Women, Association for International Civil Servants and a coalition
of Egyptian NGOs launched the Egyptian Women's Charter. The Charter outlines six key focus
areas for the advancement of women:
•
Political
representation
•
Commitment
to
international
rights
covenants
•
Advancement
of
economic
and
social
rights
•
Redress
of
discriminatory
legislation
•
The
establishment
of
a
national
women's
machinery
• The creation of positive media imagery
Gaining 500,000 signatures prior to its launch, many saw the Charter as the symbol for the coming
change in Egypt .
Since spring drew to a close Egyptian women have faced challenges on two fronts; ensuring equal
participation and safeguarding existing rights legislation. The legitimacy of laws on child marriage,
divorce and female genital mutilation are now being criticised due to the involvement of Suzanne
Mubarak. In order to sever ties with the old regime, the transitional authority has also closed the
Ministry of Women's Affairs and abolished the 64 seat parliamentary quota set aside for women.
Although the intention of these actions may have been to establish a clean slate, the disruption of
positive legislation has taken a toll on the status and mobility of Egyptian women .
Exclusion of women from the early stages of the democratic process is seen in a range of forms.
Following the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's constitution was suspended and a committee
was established to draft 10 transitional amendments. Despite the wealth of female legal and
constitutional experts in Egypt, no women were selected for this drafting committee . Women have
also been excluded from provincial governor posts on the grounds that they would be unable to
work effectively in the current security environment.
The setbacks faced by Egyptian women in the transitional period follow a familiar trend. When
faced with complex political, economic and sectarian issues leaders will often sideline the
importance of women's rights and equal participation or frame them as issues to be dealt with once
a stable state is established.
In recent years the role of women in peace building and democratic transition has gained greater
legitimacy. UN Security Council Resolution 1325 recognises the need to view women as partners
in transition and peace building, rather than victims of conflict. According to Valerie Hudson, "the
situation and status of women is a marker of the stability, peacefulness, prosperity and health of
the nation in which they live" . The role of women in the elections next week will be an important
test for the resilience of peace and democracy in Egypt. Over the coming months academics will
remain pinned to their screens, watching the latest chapter in the Arab Spring.
Katherine Hauser is a member of the Young UN Women Issues and Policy sub-comittee, and is
currently studying Political Science and Asian Studies at the University of Melbourne.
Arab Spring Falters as an Icy Chill Returns
By Amal Varghese
The last eleven months have blown winds of change across the Arab world not seen since the end
of colonial rule. Syria, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yemen and Iran
have all been affected in some way or another.
In Syria, over 4,000 people have been killed according to the office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) prompting harsh economic sanctions by the Arab League
on Assad’s brutal regime. In Yemen, long-time dictator of more than 30 years, Ali Abdullah Saleh
has signed a deal to relinquish the presidential office on the 23rd December 2011 after wide-spread
protests against his government. Libya’s Gaddafi was mercilessly killed by the opposition
movement during the NATO-backed operation and his heir apparent, Saif –al Gaddafi is due to
face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on crimes against humanity, provided Libya’s
National Transitional Council cooperates with the ICC. In Egypt, the military has been heavily
criticised for cracking down on civilians, particularly during the ongoing parliamentary elections, the
first ‘free and fair’ elections since Mubarak’s departure according to international observers.
Elsewhere in the Arab world, currents have not been strong enough to substantiate significant
political reform. Morocco’s king gave up some constitutional powers including the power to appoint
the prime minister who would appoint senior servants, diplomats, even cabinet members but would
still have to consult the king’s ministerial council. In any case, in both Egypt and Morocco, the
youth have criticised the parliamentary elections as window-dressing because major decisions
would continue to run through the King, in the case of Morocco and the army in the case of Egypt.
In the same way the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran changed the
geopolitical dynamics of the region, 2011 has the immense potential to be seen both as the year
democracy and optimism took hold in the Arab world or it may come to be seen as the year that
caused vast amounts of bloodshed in an already troubled region. For all the optimism that the Arab
Spring had promised, it has also caused significant loss of life and chaos in the region. Only time
will prove whose side history will be on, but either way history will be written and the status quo will
be revised. Now it’s a matter of who wins the largest portion of the spoils. It is clear that most of the
youth and liberal protestors that were at the core of the revolutionary movements will feel robbed
as the largest beneficiaries of the revolutionary movements’ to-date have been the Islamic parties,
particularly in Egypt where the Muslim brotherhood and even Salafist parties have gained a
significant portion of the vote. This will surely worry many Western observers who do not wish
Egypt to follow the Iranian example of an Islamic state.
There is an inherent tension in Western interests between the Mubarak and Zinadine-era stable
and secular states versus the newly democratically elected Islamic parties who may shun the West
in an environment featuring chaos and economic stagnation. The Arab Spring turned winter should
be viewed with caution particularly as Assad’s regime continues to quash dissenters in the streets
of Damascus and Homs. As Libya struggles to form a credible democratic government, the West
would be wise to restrain from supporting any further military action in the Arab world.
Amal Varghese is completing a Masters in International Relations at the University of
Melbourne, is the Melbourne Bureau Chief of the Asia-Pacific Youth Organisation,
Consultant for the Australia-India Youth Dialogue and a freelance journalist with The Drum
at the ABC.
Further Reading:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/after-the-hope-of-the-arab-spring-the-chill-of-an-arabwinter/2011/11/28/gIQABGqHIO_story.html
The Arab Awakening: America and the Transformation of the Middle East; Daniel Byman and
Kenneth Pollack, 2011
The New Arab Revolt: What Happened, What It Means, and What Comes Next by Council on
Foreign Relations/Foreign Affairs, 2011
Iran and Nuclear Proliferation
By Zeb Leonard
In light of recent developments in the Middle East, a considerable amount of attention has been
directed at the possibility that Iran may be close to the acquisition of a fission weapon. On 8
November 2011, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency issued to the
agency’s board of directors the Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant
Provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is yet to be
released to the public. Key to this issue is the concept of uranium enrichment.
Until recently, Iran’s level or uranium enrichment was around 3-5%. This refers to the percentage
of the lighter isotope uranium 235, which is ‘fissile’ or able to sustain a fission chain reactionrequired for an atomic explosion. In nature uranium is around 0.72% uranium 235. The material
has been produced at the Iran’s Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant. It was initially claimed that
enrichment began for the generation of electricity, which requires a level of 3-5% enrichment .
However in 2010 it was announced that Iran reached a level of enrichment of approximately 20%
with claims being made that this was required for research into the production of medical isotopes.
These are used in nuclear medicine for the treatment of illnesses such as various cancers.
According to Gregory Jones of the Non-Proliferation Policy Education Center, material at this level
of enrichment can be further enriched, within a short time frame, via a process known as ‘batch
recycling,’ up to the levels required to produce a nuclear weapon. It should be noted that Jones’
estimates of the timeline required for this level of enrichment have been disputed by
representatives from the Institute for Science and International Security, including former UN
weapons inspector David Albright. There has been a substantial ongoing debate regarding the
amount of enriched material Iran is able to produce, but Jones estimates the required ‘trigger
quantity’ of uranium to be around 20kgs at around 80-90% enrichment.
The reason for the variation in figures is that the chances of a full yield explosion increase with the
amount of sufficiently enriched material present. Jones also suggests that the technical difficulties
involved for Iran to produce an ‘implosion assembly’ would not be insurmountable. This is the
required method for building a nuclear weapon with the smallest possible amount of fissile
material. Though disagreeing with Jones’ assessment of Iran’s enrichment timeline, Albright has
also madestatements to the effect that Iran had the capacity to produce an ‘implosion assembly’ if
the requisite fissile material were available.
It is indeed the case that research reactors employed for peaceful applications like the production
of medical isotopes have at times made use of highly enriched fuel. For example, the Australian
Nuclear Technology and Safety Organisation website, in reference to their research
reactor OPAL states: ‘OPAL uses low enriched uranium fuel containing just under 20 per cent
uranium-235. In terms of security and nuclear safeguards, this is a distinct advantage over earlier
research reactors, some of which required enrichment levels as high as 95 per cent uranium-235
(weapons grade).’
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made statements to the effect his nation would be
willing to suspend its domestic enrichment program if suitable fuel be made available for its
research reactor. Currently, the US itself imports most of its medical isotopes. It would seem
prudent for Western powers to allow Iranian access to medical isotopes themselves, rather than
the fuel that could be used to produce them, given the possibility of clandestine ‘batch recycling’.
Zeb Leonard received his PhD from the University of Ballarat in May 2011. His thesis explored the
public debates surrounding British nuclear weapons testing in Australia.
The Arab Spring: Call me a pessimist but…
By Benjamin Moles
Thinking of spring evokes images of new beginnings and hope: a transition from the cold recesses
and darkness of winter to an awakening and optimism before summer.
The transformations apparent in the seasonal change from winter to spring seem somewhat
missing in retrospect from the so called Arab-Spring. One must remember the adage ‘one swallow
doesn’t make a summer’ and ask what has really changed. Is the 'Arab-Spring' not just been a
blindly optimistic term conjured up for a couple of warm days in July?
Tunisia held elections in October. However, controversy soon followed with troops having to
disperse violent protests in Sidi Bouzid, where the Arab-Spring originated, and concerns remain,
both inside and outside Tunisia, as to what can be expected long-term from the Islamist Ennahda
party. Can the issues that initiated the original protests be addressed?
The emerging buds of discontent in Bahrain were quickly trampled, largely by Saudi military boots.
Meanwhile Yemen, where Saudi funding has long-kept the Saleh regime buoyant, has been beset
by tribal fighting, power struggles, civil-war and the emergence of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula (AQAP) for a number of years now, the current popular discontent being linked to and
heightened by the Arab-Spring, not initiated by it.
As Mubarak awaits trial in Egypt, power has been temporarily assumed by the Supreme Council of
the Armed Forces. They look increasingly unwilling to relinquish that power and have the military
means at their disposal to attempt to hold onto it. Let's not forget that Mubarak’s fall was caused in
part due to his inability to muster the necessary backing of the military.
Syria, like Egypt, also witnessed an eruption in public demonstrations, which despite recent ArabLeague efforts to mediate, continue. However, unlike Murbarak, al-Assad has maintained his
monopoly on violence by securing the loyalty and support of the military and has been unflinching
in his willingness to unleash it.
Libya minus Gaddafi, the rebel movement’s unifying cause, has the potential to spiral into a
protracted civil-war, explaining both: why the National Transitional Council asked NATO to extend
its mission in Libya, and why NATO declined. In a country where tribal allegiances are key and
many factions are now extremely well armed, arguably the most difficult task lays ahead for the
NTC: preventing another Gaddafi emerging to fill the power vacuum.
Finally, what about the D word? Is the international community seriously ready for Arab democracy
and the myriad results that might eventuate from it? We should remember it was only in 2006 that
the United States refused to acknowledge the results of the Palestinian elections due to Hamas
being catapulted into the Palestinian driving seat over the pro-US Fatah. The Palestinians simply
voted for, and elected, the wrong party!
Perhaps as the dust settles and we begin to realise the mistakes marked by our own initial hubris
and enthusiasm for the Arab-Spring, the façade of democracy - the pledge of instituting change at
some yet to be determined stage in the future - will be enough.
Spring is a seasonal change marking a transition from winter. As we examine the Arab-Spring and
ask what has reallychanged, can it honestly be said that much? If there really has been change,
has it really been for the better? Is the initial optimism, marked by those early warm days back at
the beginning of the year, sustainable or is it starting to look like those might be dark clouds on the
horizon?
Call me a pessimist, but I cannot help but think that whichever way I look at it, it still looks like
winter to me.
Benjamin Moles has recently completed his Masters in International Security Studies at the
University of Sydney.
Event Report: Citizen Diplomacy
On Tuesday 8th November, Global Dialogue Foundation joined ACCESS at Dyason House to
present an event entitled, "Citizen Diplomacy: How Ordinary People can Change the World."
As an emerging topic, Citizen Diplomacy aims at empowering ordinary citizens to strengthen intercultural ties, raise awareness and promote worldwide cultural understanding to overcome
adversities. Unlike conventional diplomacy that involves state officials and not always the public,
this practice strictly involves people-people ties and is gradually being adopted in practice by the
United
Nations
and
other
organisations.
Ms Melissa Conley Tyler - AIIA's National Executive Director, introduced and defined the term
'Citizen Diplomacy'. "The reason Citizen Diplomacy matters is because we depend on others. How
others view us matters to our security, our prosperity. It matters broadly", she said.
Highlighting AIIA's activities in Citizen Diplomacy, including a Forum presented in Canberra on the
topic in June 2011 and October's Indonesia-Australia Dialogue, Ms Conley Tyler provided insightful
perspectives and further reasons for increasing citizen-citizen contact as a method for building
partnerships between countries.
As case examples of engaging organisations at the grassroots level, Mr Peter (Pece) Gorgievski CEO of the Global Dialogue Foundation presented initiatives developed with its partners under the
auspices of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizationsin both Australia and India, aimed at
promoting understanding among different cultures and contributing to strengthening ties between
the
two
countries.
"One of the main focus areas for Global Dialogue Foundation moving forward, is to develop civil
society chapters that work together under the umbrella of the Alliance, so that each culture and
community may represent its own voice, its needs, and find itself among organisations that are
like-minded and with similar objectives", said Mr Gorgievski.
The third speaker, Mr Ikani Taliai - Founder of Ovava Limited and also a Pacific Islands and
Tongan community leader, spoke about some of the issues faced by the Pacific Islands
communities in Australia.
Mr Taliai is one of the pioneers behind establishing United Pacifika Council of Victoria, a new peak
body that aims to support its communities to better organise and modernise, to establish local
partnerships, and to add greater value to the Australian society.
Expressing appreciation for the opportunities to bring his community into the discussion and to
have a presence through Global Dialogue Foundation with the United Nations Alliance of
Civilizations, Mr Taliai welcomed citizen diplomacy as a promising tool for stimulating discussion
among different cultures and communities and for further strengthening ties throughout the Pacific
region.
Citizen Diplomacy : How Ordinary People can Change the World was a GDF and ACCESS-AIIA
partnership event held at Dyason House in East Melbourne, on Tuesday 8 November 2011.
Issue 21 “Citizen diplomacy and non-state actors”
Message from the Editor
Welcome to the November issue of Monthly Access. In conjunction with an upcoming event hosted
by ACCESS and the Global Dialogue Foundation, this month's issue looks at the topic of citizen
diplomacy and non-state actors. The traditional view of diplomacy focusses on the relationships
between national governments, considering the state as the main actor in international relations.
However, the free flow of communications, trade, and people has led to a world in which a large
number of other organisations contribute to international relations.
From Non Government Organisations delivering aid across borders, to Multi National Corporations
reaching worldwide in their workers, suppliers and customers, to the internet and social media
building communities that totally ignore nationality, there is significant scope for ordinary citizens to
contribute to international diplomacy.
This month MA speaks to Peter Gorgievski, the CEO of the Global Dialogue Foundation, to explore
the meaning of citizen diplomacy, and the role of the UN Alliance of Civilizations.
In Contemporary Debate Katherine Tranter looks at the role of religious fundamentalism in building
interfaith dialogue, while Andrew Romanin looks at the role of sport in building diplomatic
relationships, as well as the role of an emerging citizen journalism in sharing experiences across
borders, providing a very alternative experience to messages through 'official channels'. Nick
Clarke reflects on the relationship between capitalism and NGOs, while Sharna de Lacy examines
the role of international humanitarian law to deal with violence and conflict that is increasingly intrastate and involving non-state actors.
Meanwhile this month's Q&A sees Rose Press interviewing Navdeep Suri,
Diplomacy in India. Mr Suri reflects on the rising importance of India's Foreign
relationships with citizens as well as governments. Amal Varghese interviews
Commissioner to India, Peter Varghese (no relation), who reflects on Australia's
India.
Head Public of
Service building
Australia's High
relationship with
Next month's issue focusses on Democracy and the Arab Spring. We welcome submissions of 400
to 600 words that explore these issues for an intelligent lay audience. Other general submissions
on issues of international affairs are welcome for consideration. Submissions for the December
issue are due 23rd November 2011.
Ghazi Ahamat is a 4th year undergraduate completing his studies in Economics, Mathematics and
Philosophy at the University of Melbourne.
The Monthly Access team is:
Editor-in-Chief: Ghazi Ahamat
Deputy Editor (Interviews and Submissions): Evan Ritli
Deputy Editor (Contemporary Debate): Priya Wakhlu
Global Snapshot Columnists: Rachel Hankey and Richard Griffin
Interviewers: Amal Varghese and Roselina Press
Contemporary Debate Columnists: Andrew Romanin, Sharna de Lacy, Katherine Tranter and Nick
Clarke
ACCESS Event Reporter: Marla Pascual
For comments regarding this newsletter please write to [email protected]
Global Snapshot – November edition
By Rachel Hankey and Richard Griffin
The November issue of Global Snapshot, which brings current international issues and news from
around the world. October saw the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the first elections in
the aftermath of the Arab Spring, the announcement of complete US withdrawal from Iraq, as well
as floods in Thailand and a Turkish earthquake.
Africa
Gaddafi killed in Libya
After months of searching, rebel fighters captured and killed Muammar Gaddafi last month. The
former tyrant was found hiding in a drainpipe in his birthplace Sirte.
According to Muslim tradition, the bodies of Gaddafi and his son Mutassim, should have been
buried within 24 hours of their death. However the burial of the former Libyan dictator had been
delayed amid rows about where he should be buried. Gaddafi’s body has been kept in a large cold
store in the market area of Misrata, with thousands queuing to see the body of their former
dictator. However, after four days the interim leaders ended the public display of his body.
The National Transitional Council (NTC) originally announced that Gaddafi had been killed in
crossfire, but there is currently much speculation that he was in fact executed. In response to
pressure from the international community, Libya’s NTC hasannounced an inquiry into the death of
the former leader.
The New York based Human Rights Watch has expressed concerns regarding the circumstances
Gaddafi's death, as well as a "trend of killings, looting and other abuses". Human Rights Watch is
reporting that 53 people appeared to have been executed in an area previously controlled by antiGaddafi forces in Sirte. Human Rights Watch Emergencies Director, Peter Bouckaert stated that
such a finding “requires the immediate attention of the Libyan authorities to investigate what
happened and hold accountable those responsible.” The NATO Secretary-General, Anders-Fogh
Rasmussen called on “all Libyans to put aside their differences and build a new inclusive Libya,
based on reconciliation, and full respect for human rights and the rule of law.” Rasmussen urged
the “National Transitional Council to prevent any reprisals against civilians and to show restraint in
dealing with defeated [pro-Gaddafi] forces.”
Tunisia Votes – The first election of the Arab Spring
The people of Tunisia went to the polls on October 24, making history, with what are considered
the country’s first free and fair elections. The BBC is reporting that provisional results suggest the
moderate Islamist party Ennahda will win the most votes, but will fall short of a majority. A
spokeswoman for the party, Yusra Ghannouchi, said: "Tunisians have voted in fact for those
parties that have been consistently part of the struggle for democracy and opposed to Ben Ali's
dictatorship. Tunisians are electing a 217-seat assembly that will draft a constitution and appoint
an interim president, who will choose the new government. US President Barack Obama released
a statement congratulating the millions of Tunisians who voted in “the first democratic elections to
take place in the country that changed the course of history and began the Arab Spring. Just as so
many Tunisian citizens protested peacefully in streets and squares to claim their rights, today they
stood in lines and cast their votes to determine their own future.”
Kenya sends troops to the Kenya-Somali border
Kenya has taken steps to protect its territorial integrity after a spate of recent kidnappings by
Islamist militant group, Al Shabaab, of foreign aid workers in the refugee camp close to the KenyaSomali border. Reuters UK reported that a "senior Kenyan official confirmed Kenyan troops were
on Somali soil, a day after Defence Minister Yusuf Haji said Kenya had the right to pursue the
enemy inside Somali territory" The Kenyan government is concerned about protecting its tourism
industry and preventing the spread of the influence of Al Shabaab along its border. A press release
from the US State Departmentconfirmed that "the United States is not participating in Kenya's
current operation in Somalia". However, the Washington Post reports that a Nairobi based
diplomat told the Associated Press that France was carrying out military attacks in Somalia, whilst
it confirmed that French officials in Paris have denied that was the case. The BBC reports
that France will provide military equipment to Kenyan soldiers near the Somali border.
The Americas
Argentina Votes
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner became Latin America's first female president to win a second
term when she sailed to victory in Argentina's elections. The Wall Street Journal reported that
“98% of polling places reporting, Mrs. Kirchner had 53.96% of the vote”. Argentina’s economy has
bounced back whilst the opposition forces remained divided. Fernandez also benefited from “an
outpouring of public sympathy” following the death last year of her husband, Néstor Kirchner, who
was President at the time. “Argentina's agrarian-powered economy has been growing at a 9% clip
this year, triggering a consumption boom that has made Argentinians willing to overlook annual
inflation estimated at 25%”
Brazil raises concerns about ‘currency misalignments’ with the WTO
MercoPress is reporting that the Brazilian government has urged the WTO to conduct a
“dedicated workshop” on the effect of exchange rate fluctuations on international trade. According
to the Wall Street Journal, which obtained a copy of a speech given by Brazil’s representative at
the WTO, Roberto Azevedo, the effects of movements in nominal exchange rates are not
noticeable in the long run, though in the short-term they can “alter relative prices and affect both
the allocation of resources between non-tradeable and tradeable sectors of international trade
flows.” Meanwhile, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that“manufacturers in Latin America’s
biggest economy are being hurt by a 29 percent rally in the real since the end of 2008, more than
all 25 of the biggest emerging market currencies tracked by Bloomberg except the Chilean peso.
Since October 2010 Brazil has also increased taxes on capital inflows and stepped up dollar
purchases to defend Brazil from what Finance Minister Guido Mantega has called a ‘currency
war’.”
UN General Assembly calls for an end to US embargo on Cuba
For the 20th consecutive year, the General Assembly adopted a resolution last month calling for
the lifting of the decades-old economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United
States against Cuba for the past half century. The text of the non-binding resolution received 186
votes in favour, 2 against (the USA and Israel) and 3 abstentions (Federated States of Micronesia,
the Marshall Islands and Palau).The UN News Centre reported that introducing the text, Bruno
Rodríguez Parrilla, Foreign Minister of Cuba, stated that the US has never hidden the fact that the
objective of the embargo – which he said has caused more than $975 billion in damage to the
Cuban people – is to overthrow his country’s government. “What the US Government wants to see
changed will not change,” he stated, declaring that the Cuban Government will continue to be “the
government of the people, by the people and for the people.”
Asia Pacific
Oil Spill of the Coast of New Zealand
New Zealand is currently facing the “most significant maritime disaster” in the nation’s history, after
a container ship ran aground 12 nautical miles off the coast of the North Island.
The Liberian ship 'Rena' has been leaking heavy fuel oil into the surrounding seas since early
October. The oil leakage is now heading toward the famous Bay of Plenty marine reserve. Over
300 tonnes of oil has already washed ashore on beaches, killing over 1000 sea birds.
From the outset, salvage operations have been hampered by bad weather. The captain of the ship
has been charged with "operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk".
Floods threaten Bangkok
Thailand’s worst floods in 50 years have now reached the capital Bangkok. So far the residents of
six of the city’s northern districts have been ordered to leave their homes.
South East Asia has been hit by monsoonal rain since July, damaging large areas of rice crops
and key infrastructure. In Thailand, over 350 people have been killed in the floods, and millions
have been forced to leave their homes. There are also great concerns about the long term
economic impact of the flooding; Bangkok accounts for 40% of the country’s economic output.
The Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has warned that the flood waters could remain for at least
a month, due to the huge amount of water that will need to be drained from the city.
Residents of the flooded areas of Bangkok are now also facing the threat of escaped farm
crocodiles. So far two crocodiles have been killed and another six captured.
Europe
Anti-capitalist protesters force the closure of St Paul’s Cathedral
The Occupy Wall Street protest has now spread to London. Protesters from 'Occupy London Stock
Exchange' are campaigning against "corporate greed and inequality". The biggest impact of the
protests so far has been to force the closure of the St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Approximately 300 protesters have been camped outside the cathedral for over a week and are
still refusing to leave. Along with the disruption to religious services, the cathedral is suffering
financially due to the closure. It is reported that the daily loss of income from visitor donations is
approximately £16,000.
The protest has now spread to Finsbury Square, as 200 protesters have set up camp near major
financial institutions such as Deutsche Bank.
Riots in Athens
As the European Union and the rest of the world continue to try a find a solution to the eurozone
crisis late last month, Athens was rocked by violence riots.
The riots were sparked by yet more austerity measures introduced by the Greek government, in an
effort to prevent the country defaulting on its debts. The International Monetary Fund and the EU
have threatened to withhold further financial support, unless the Greek government took steps to
reduce the country’s debt, with a package of cuts and tax rises. These measures have caused
divisions within the governing socialist party, and have proven to be very unpopular with the public.
Over 80,000 protesters gathered outside the parliament, but the situation quickly descended into a
“war zone”. Violent youths wearing helmets and masks clashed with a peaceful trade union-led
protest. Over 70 people were injured in the clashes, andone man was killed. The riots also
coincided with the 48 hour general strike by trade unions, which was in protest against the cuts.
Middle East
US troops to leave Iraq
President Obama has announced that all US troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of
2011. After nearly nine years since the start of the war, Obama declared that “the US leaves Iraq
with our heads held high.” The current deadline for the withdrawal of US troops was set by the
Bush government, but the issue of a full withdrawal has been a matter of ongoing debate both
within the US and between America and Iraq.
Approximately 39,000 US troops currently remain in the country; the peak of the US deployment
was 165,000 troops in 2008. According to the US Department of Defence, there have been 4,408
American military deaths since 2003.
The speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Osama al-Nujaifi, has expressed concerns about the meddling
of neighbouring nations in Iraqi affairs. It is feared that such actions would become worse if Iraq is
seen to be vulnerable after the withdrawal of US troops.
Earthquake in Turkey
The Van province in Eastern Turkey was hit by a deadly 7.2 magnitude earthquake late last month.
The earthquake caused widespread panic throughout the region, as residents spilled onto the
streets amid efforts by rescue workers to evacuate buildings.
Nearly 600 people are reported to have been killed in the quake, and another 4,000 have been
injured. It is feared that the total death toll could be closer to 1000, as there is still little information
from some of the more remote areas affected by the quake. The quake affected region is one of
the poorest in Turkey. So far nearly 1000 buildings have been demolished.
Earthquakes are common in Turkey, as the country sits on several fault lines. Within three hours of
the earthquake, US scientists had recorded eight aftershocks.
US Ambassador leaves Syria
The US has announced that it has withdrawn its Ambassador to Syria amid concerns for his
safety. Ambassador Robert Ford left Damascus late last month, after a US spokesman said that
there were “credible threats against his personal safety”.
Ford was an outspoken critic of the Syrian governments’ crackdown on protesters over the past 7
months. Ambassador Ford’s visit to cities such as Hama, and his presence at a funeral for a
protester, have made him a controversial figure in the country.
The US State Department has stated that Ambassador Ford was not being officially recalled or
withdrawn, which would be a more serious diplomatic step. Instead he is being recalled for
consultations and his return will depend on an ”assessment of the Syrian regime-led incitement
and security situation on the ground”
In response to the US action, Syria has recalled its ambassador from Washington for consultation.
Q&A With Peter Gorgievski on Citizen Diplomacy
Interviewed by Ghazi Ahamat
Peter is the co-founder of the Global Dialogue Foundation (GDF). His
greatest passion and focus is to create a culture of peace throughout the
world.
As GDF’s Chief Executive Officer, Peter has led the development of 'Unity in
Diversity' forums and events in Australia and India which were held under
the auspices of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. GDF has played a valuable role in
citizen diplomacy and further strengthening relations between Australia and India.
For 20 years prior, Peter was involved in the international freight and shipping business. He was
the Managing Director of DGX Asia Pacific. Peter has also held senior positions with Direct
Container Line in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Could you briefly tell us a little about what the Global Dialogue Foundation is, and what you
do?
Global Dialogue Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation and a pioneer in the field of citizen
diplomacy to promote intercultural understanding. Working under the auspices of the United
Nations Alliance of Civilizations, we are developing a number of practical solutions that promote
collaboration and understanding among cultures and communities.
Our inaugural Unity in Diversity Forum 10.10.10, which was held in October 2010, was the very
first UN Alliance of Civilizations affliated event in Australia. It engaged organisations aiming to
promote intercultural understanding from several countries in the Asia Pacific region. The event
illustrated how cultural diversity plays out differently in different regions of the world. Furthermore, it
confirmed the relevant role of the UN Alliance of Civilizations in raising the issue of cultural
diversity and intercultural dialogue from a global perspective, encouraging policy-makers around
the world to address it and facilitate the connection between government policy and innovative
practices at a grassroots level.
Following the success in Melbourne, GDF organised a Unity in Diversity Forum under the auspices
of the UN Alliance of Civilizations in Thiruvananthapuram, India. Several South Asian countries
were engaged, among them students and youth from all around the world. The topics were similar
to those discussed in Melbourne.
Both Forums highlighted the need for communities experiencing the ground-level realities, to be
part of the global intercultural agenda. Since then, GDF has organised a Unity in Diversity Lecture
in Mumbai on "Doing business in a multicultural environment", and a very recent event in
Melbourne on "Strengthening the role of communities, business and non-governmental
organisations in cross-cultural understanding", at which the UN High Representative for the
Alliance, H.E. Dr. Jorge Sampaio, former President of Portugal, addressed over 130 different
cultures, communities and organisations.
The upcoming event between GDF and ACCESS is on 'Citizen Diplomacy'. What does
citizen diplomacy mean to you?
To me, citizen diplomacy means 'regular' citizens from communities, non-governmental
organisations, clubs, and all members of civil society, working in an organised manner to represent
their cause or country. This could include the exchange of ideas, best practices and collaborating
towards common goals. Citizen diplomacy also creates first-hand opportunities for communities to
stimulate coordinated action towards creating inclusive (multicultural) societies, to strengthen their
collaboration with Local, State and Federal Governments and to find increasing levels of support. It
also aims to build strong civil society chapters that contribute to the mission of the UN Alliance of
Civilizations.
The way we look at International Relations has traditionally focused on State actors and
governments - hence 'International’ relations. What do you think citizen diplomacy can
accomplish that governments can't?
I think citizen diplomacy stimulates progress, especially when it is aimed at supporting official
diplomacy. It is an interesting question. I'd prefer to think in terms of the complementary benefits of
citizen diplomacy to official diplomacy and what is possible in building a better world in alignment.
Though, I think citizen diplomacy enables citizens, as the representatives of each culture, to
properly understand and express the needs of their communities. I don't think official diplomacy
can do this effectively on its own. Better yet, I think that citizen diplomacy can help resolve issues
in communities in a friendly and timely manner, or before they escalate into conflicts, violence or
terror.
The GDF recently hosted an event to launch the Australian Civil Society Chapter of the UN
Alliance of Civilizations. What is the UNAOC, and what will this Civil Society Chapter do?
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) is an initiative of the UN Secretary-General
which aims to improve understanding and cooperative relations among nations and peoples across
cultures and religions. It also helps to counter the forces that fuel polarisation and extremism. The
UNAOC was established in 2005, at the initiative of Spain and Turkey, under the auspices of the
United Nations and under the leadership of H.E. Dr. Jorge Sampaio, former President of Portugal,
as
High
Representative
for
the
UNAOC.
The civil society chapter is an initiative organised by GDF Unity in Diversity that connects
Australian non-governmental organisations active in the field of intercultural dialogue and cultural
diversity to the mission, programs and partners of the UN Alliance of Civilizations.
The main objectives of the civil society chapter are: to facilitate the exchange of information and
best practices; to build synergy between Australian organisations, the UNAOC and its partners; to
raise the profile and the visibility of the innovative policies and practices of Australian actors on the
global scene; to create opportunities for local Australian organisations to attend events organised
by the UNAOC and its partners; and to participate in programs such as the annual Forum, regional
and thematic programs, grants and competitions, and training programs.
As a pilot in Australia and India, the Civil Society Chapter is earmarked for world-wide
implementation. It is very unique in that it proposes to form the nucleus of a civil society through
which all cultures and civilisations can express their own voice at local and global levels - in the UN
system, through the UNAOC.
Why the name 'Alliance of Civilizations'?
As I understand it, the name 'Alliance of Civilizations' counters the claim [made by historian
Samuel Huntington] that the post-Cold War world will be characterised by a 'Clash of Civilizations'.
Following the Dialogue Among Civilizations, the Alliance of Civilizations has meant that not
everyone will easily use the motto, 'Clash of Civilizations'. As civilisations are a collective of
cultures, ethnicities, faiths, peoples, nationalities, etc., the Alliance incorporates all of these
components. This why it is so important to nurture it and why GDF's collaboration with the UNAOC
is at the highest of levels.
What do you think it takes for genuine understanding to happen across cultures?
This is a difficult question. At the very least, I think it requires working together through dialogue, to
maintain the identity of original traditions of each culture and civilisation. This includes safekeeping each and every individual heritage, traditional way of living, ethnic identity, characteristic,
language, eating habit, etc. Also, to foster the impact of each culture on the development of
mainstream society, not only for the benefit of humankind in terms of developing respect and
appreciation for each other, but to develop a culture of peace throughout the world.
ACCESS is hosting a joint event with GDF on ‘Citizen Diplomacy’ on Tuesday 8 November.
Ghazi Ahamat is a 4th year undergraduate completing his studies in Economics,
Mathematics and Philosophy at the University of Melbourne. Ghazi is Editor-in-Chief of
Monthly Access.
Q&A With Navdeep Suri, Indian Public Diplomat
Interviewed by Roselina Press
Navdeep Suri has served in the Indian Foreign service for nearly 30
years. In that time, he has worked in a variety of different capacities in
India’s diplomatic missions in Egypt, Syria, the United States, Tanzania,
the UK and South Africa. In his current role, Suri is the Joint Secretary &
Head of the Public Diplomacy Division of India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
Established in 2006, the Public Diplomacy Division seeks to promote greater understanding of
India’s national interests and foreign policy concerns, both within India and overseas. We spoke to
Suri about his division’s outreach activities, as well as his thoughts on citizen diplomacy.
What role does public diplomacy play in India’s foreign relations?
Well, the Public Diplomacy division of our Ministry of External Affairs is only 5 years old, even
though we have been practising public diplomacy for a lot longer than that. I think the creation of a
separate division was a signal of the importance that we now attach to the role of public diplomacy
in India’s foreign policy. I expect this role to grow significantly in the coming years.
Indian public diplomacy not only engages with a global audience, but with its own citizenry as well.
Are both equally important?
While our public diplomacy has traditionally focused on the global audience, we have started to
pay increasing attention to the domestic audience within India. This is because we see that a
whole host of foreign policy issues – World Trade Organisation (WTO), Climate Change, Nuclear
Energy, Terrorism and even relations with our neighbours – are now closely intertwined with
domestic political agendas. Also, in a lively democracy like ours, people tend to have fairly strong
opinions on major foreign policy issues and are seldom reluctant to express these – in print, on TV,
over the Internet and in private conversations.
From a public diplomacy perspective, we recognise the importance of an informed discourse on
foreign policy issues and we have taken several steps in this direction. Our ‘Distinguished Lecture
Series on India’s Foreign Policy’ has already taken substantive discussion on foreign policy issues
into university campuses around the country. Using the services of our retired ambassadors, we
have been able to organise as many as 37 lectures under this program since its launch in February
2010.
We have also organised and supported conferences in different parts of India that have focused on
regional aspects of India’s foreign policy. As an example, we did a major conference on
India’s Look East policy in the north-eastern state of Meghalaya because the view of Bangladesh,
Myanmar and even Thailand from the state capital of Shillong is quite different from the
perspective that you get in Delhi.
India’s Public Diplomacy Division has started using web tools and social media in its programs.
What benefits will there be in adapting for a digital audience?
We started a modest Digital Diplomacy section in our division last July when we first made our
foray on Twitter. Over the last year, we have worked to expand our presence
on Facebook and YouTube. The exercise has been extremely productive, helping us to engage
directly with think tanks, foreign offices, academics, bloggers and, in particular, with the younger
generation. It is also extremely cost effective and we are now trying to increasingly convert much of
our content into the digital format.
What are your thoughts on citizen diplomacy? Is there a place for citizen diplomacy to work in
partnership with public diplomacy?
I think public diplomacy works best through intelligent partnerships. Some of our best initiatives
over the last couple of years have come through partnerships with universities, think tanks, cultural
organizations, business chambers, NGOs and even with some private companies.
Our ‘India Is...’ global video contest, for instance, is being run by a Mumbai-based company where
the average age of the team is barely 24 years. These partnerships help us get outside our own
comfort zone and reach out into groups that would normally be beyond our range. Our social
media channels reach out to a large number of citizens directly and it is good to get their candid
feedback on a number of issues. It helps us stay grounded, and stay connected. So, yes I am a
great believer in the value of citizen diplomacy.
You’ve been a member of India’s Foreign Service for nearly 30 years. Have there been any
highlights in your career so far?
Every assignment, every place, every year seems to produce its own highlights. I cherish the work
that I was able to do as political officer in our embassy in Washington during the 1990s and later as
the head of the press office in London. From my stint as Consul General in Johannesburg, I recall
with pride that we created an annual cultural festival themed Shared Histories on a unique publicprivate partnership model and also worked with Wits University to help create a Centre for Indian
Studies, the first of its kind in Africa. And in my current job, we took a few initial risks to usher the
use of social media into our system and the rewards have been completely out of proportion to the
effort that we put in.
In addition to your diplomacy work, you are also a translator. Your book, The Watchmaker is an
English translation of a classic Punjabi novel, Pavitra Paapi, which was in fact written by your
grandfather, Nanak Singh. What inspired you to translate your grandfather’s novel?
My grandfather had little formal education but was a naturally gifted storyteller. He wrote over 50
books in his lifetime and many of them remain best sellers a good 40 years after he passed away.
But he wrote in Punjabi language, which has a relatively limited audience. By translating one of his
popular works into English, I wanted to acquaint a wider audience with his literary genius.
Roselina is undertaking a Masters of International Relations at Melbourne University.
A Level Playing Field: Diplomacy in Sport
By Andrew Romanin
Sport and the sporting arena has long been utilized as a platform for diplomacy.Can sport
overcome the challenges presented by professionalism and globalisation in order to remain an
effective diplomatic influence?
The acknowledged ceasefire in hostilities between city-states during the Olympic Games in Ancient
Greece attests to powerful role sports can play in reducing tensions between nation-states. While
cease-fires are no longer the norm, undoubtedly sport still plays a significant role as a diplomatic
tool; promoting values of respect, understanding, openness and communication between
opponents (nation-states) . However it must be queried whether the modern professional and
globalised era of sport has diluted the potential for sport as an influential diplomatic tool. Is the
idealistic analogy of athletes as ambassadors, the field of play as a forum for debate and
negotiation, and the rules of the game as the processes and conventions governing exchanges
between sovereign nations outdated?
The commercialization of sport is often labeled as a blight on the once virtuous nature of athletic
pursuit, and as an extension may be detrimental to the potential for diplomacy. The 1996 “CocaCola” Atlanta Olympic Games set the standard. Sport is now big business; it’s about advertising,
branding, and commercial growth and benefits for the host, governing bodies and its corporate
partners that plaster the stadiums with billboards, dominating our television screens. This heavy
saturation, it can be argued, shifts the focus of the local or global community away from issues of
political importance and concern, such as regional and global conflicts, human rights abuses and
political corruption. And realistically, many would argue that to some degree the true “spirit” of the
Olympics is often undermined and hijacked by such novelty commercialization. In saying this, the
opposite can also occur. Multinational corporations are becoming increasingly aware of the
interplay of diplomatic concerns associated with a sporting event and the potential brand damage
that may be inflicted as a result of their sponsorship. For instance, multinationals were
warned about assessing diplomatic controversies that could arise during the 2008 Beijing Olympics
in order to evaluate potential risks. To this end, companies such as General Motors Corp.
responded by actively choosing not to sponsor the Olympics.
Equally, the increasing corruption in sport threatens to invalidate its ability to address concerns of
international importance. The process for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups was widely
condemned as being riddled with illegal payments to officials and vote-buying following the
awarding of the tournaments to Qatar and Russia respectively. In the aftermath senior FIFA
officials have been found guilty. Naturally, this brings into question the efficacy of sport as a vehicle
for diplomacy. In the world of international relations this type of corruption or manipulation is not
unusual. It is however unacceptable. Having acknowledged the irregularities of the process, FIFA
has taken strong action to lay down a precedent to ensure the process remains fair and accessible
to all. Unfortunately, not all diplomatic platforms strive to improve their functionality and legitimacy
in the same manner as sport can.
In addition, accounting for the elements of corruption in sport, but not condoning them, it is a
positive sign that the Arab world and Eastern Europe will host such a prominent event. The key
here is that the universality of sport creates a playing field on which all international actors can
participate. The process may be dogged with emerging challenges, but in this case the awarding of
the World Cup to new territories should be acknowledged as a positive diplomatic act. In the case
of Qatar, this will act as one of the most important opportunities of the next decade to facilitate
understanding, awareness and dialogue with the Arab world, as well as a presenting a chance for
Qatar
to
manifest
its
own
national
identity
to
a
global
audience.
The appeal of sport as a great leveler, upon which people from vastly different backgrounds are
drawn together on peaceful terms is a powerful concept. The sight of a capacity crowd of all
colours, races and nationalities, or the genuine embrace of athletes from countries engaged in
bloody conflict creates stirring images that embody the role sport has to play. Closer to home, the
fledgling AFL International Cup boasts among its participants the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Team.
Having originally emerged in 2008 as an initiative of the Peres Center for Peace and Al Quds
Association for Democracy and Dialogue. The impetus for this team to come together is to
demonstrate that cooperation and dialogue between Jews and Muslims is possible. Regardless of
the relative insignificance of the competition the simple fact that sport creates a space conducive to
such an initiative highlights its worth.
Sport has never been, and never will be, a substitute for traditional diplomacy. But in facing its own
internal challenges, changing dynamics and evolution its continued ability to draw people together,
create unique opportunities for awareness, understanding and cooperation, and a platform for all
actors to leverage from is evidence enough to suggest its diplomatic influence has not been
diminished.
Andrew Romanin completed a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History from the
University of Melbourne in 2009. He currently works as a Coordinator of Emergency
Recovery with the Red Cross.
Q&A With Peter Varghese, High Commissioner to India
Interviewed by Amal Varghese (no relation)
Mr Peter Varghese, AO has been Australia’s High Commissioner to
India since 2009.This monthMA spoke with Peter Varghese about
Australia’s relationship with India, covering areas of strategic
relationships, trade and mining exports, international students and the
emerging range of common interests between the two countries.
Prior to his appointment, he was Director-General of the Office of National Assessments. Prior to
this, he was the Senior Adviser (International) to the Prime Minister. From 2002 until July 2003, Mr
Varghese was a Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. From 2000 until
2002 Mr Varghese was Australia's High Commissioner to Malaysia. He has also served in
Australian missions in Vienna (1980-83), Washington (1986-88) and Tokyo (1994). He served as
First Assistant Secretary of the International Security Division in 1997 before being seconded in
February 1998, to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as First Assistant Secretary of
the International Division.
The annual AUSMIN meeting has just concluded in San Francisco and concluded that a
trilateral relation between the US, Australia and India be built on common areas of interest
such as maritime security cooperation, disaster risk management and regional architecture.
Could this be the beginning of a new trilateral alliance between three key democratic
players in the Indian Ocean?
No one is talking about a formal alliance. India values its strategic autonomy and I do not think any
of the three countries are thinking in terms of an alliance relationship. But there is a growing
convergence of strategic interests among the US, India and Australia and that is something we
should build on.
Canberra still continues to lag behind other global players in pursuing more activist
policies towards building a greater economic partnership with New Delhi, to what extend
has the lack of progress on selling uranium to India affected this paradigm? Should they
instead focus on the sales of Australian exports of coal and gas as a precursor?
I would disagree with the premise of your question. The India-Australia economic relationship is
expanding very fast. We have seen bilateral trade grow by 20% a year for the last five years. We
have agreed to try and double bilateral trade in the next five years. Indian investment in Australia is
on a steep curve and could well be in the $10-15 billion over the next five years. These are hardly
the numbers of a lagging economic relationship. Add to this the start of negotiations for a FreeTrade Agreement and it is clear this is a vital relationship. Uranium is an area of difference but
neither side wants to hold the relationship hostage to a single issue. And I think India understands
that our uranium policy is anchored in the NPT. It is not an anti-India policy. It is a pro-NPT policy.
And Australia can make, and indeed is making a contribution to India’s energy security in other
ways by exporting coal and LNG.
The number of international students pursuing further education in Australia has dropped
significantly and can be attributed to safety fears, a high Australian dollar and increased
regulation in the tertiary sector. Is Australia the big loser in the game and if so, how can
policy reform incentivise Australia as a priority tertiary destination?
International students have dropped to a large degree due to a combination of those factors, but
are also a result of policy reform. The government has chosen to more clearly separate migration
and education. Previously the bulk of Indian students were students in private institutions training
in vocational skills. The government policy reform has been aimed at making education at tertiary
level the primary driver of international students in Australia. At the same time we are looking at
delivering more vocational education in India. Over time I think we will see a rebuilding and
strengthening of the education link between India and Australia.
According to the Lowy Institute, India and Australia’s relationship should be a ‘natural’ one
as two countries that share democratic values, defy jihadist enemies of open society and
are concerned about the strategic impact of a powerful China. Both are parties to the East
Asia Summit, to what extent do you think regional cooperation will benefit New Delhi and
Canberra in pursuing greater economic and security cooperation in this strategic
environment?
The Australia-India relationship is increasingly grounded in converging interests: geopolitical, multilateral and people-to-people. Security cooperation and regional cooperation are key elements of
this convergence. Australia and India are both countries that want to see stability in Asia endure
over what is likely to be a period of great strategic churn. We want similar things in terms of
regional architecture and outward-looking and inclusive regionalism. And our shared values as
liberal democracies are a further strong bond.
Amal Varghese is completing a Masters in International Relations at the University of
Melbourne
Non-State Actors and International Humanitarian Law
By Sharna de Lacy
Grave atrocities committed during violent warfare have mired human history. The Nuremberg and
Tokyo trials held in the aftermath of World War II marked the first attempt to hold perpetrators of
such atrocities to account within the international justice system. As Justice Robert Jackson noted
during the Nuremberg trial, the fact that the allies would “submit their captives to the judgment of
law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason.”
International law and the conduct of war have changed dramatically since the Nuremberg and
Tokyo trials. Intra-state conflict, waged between government forces and non-state armed groups, is
now the most widespread form of conflict. The tragedies of the Rwandan and Cambodian
genocides are evident of unconscionable crimes that can be committed by non-state actors.
International law has therefore needed to evolve to ensure these groups are held to account.
Almost 50 years after Nuremberg, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)
represents the first true international court established to deal with crimes committed in an internal
conflict.
Theoretically, states maintain a monopoly on the use of force within their borders. However, fragile
and failed states, unable to guarantee public order, often give rise to armed groups that may act
parallel to, or even in direct opposition of, the state. During the decades long conflict in the
Indonesian province of Aceh, the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Merdeka Aceh or GAM) had dual
military and political structures and undertook a range of administrative functions that would
typically be associated with the state, such as tax collection. As such, non-state armed groups may
attain a high level of institutional organisation and indeed local legitimacy.
The use of force is regulated through International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and international
criminal law primarily based upon the Geneva Conventions (1949). The Geneva Conventions
principally deal with the conduct of the state as the user of force. The rights and obligations of nonstate armed groups in situations of internal conflict are contained within Common Article 3 and
Additional Protocol II.
Common Article 3 binds non-state armed groups and has attained universal ratification. Protocol II,
adopted in 1977, makes finer distinctions between civilians and armed combatants, civilian objects
and military objectives and extends prohibitions on inhumane acts against civilians and those no
longer engaged in hostilities. The judgments of international courts including the Rwanda Tribunal
and the International Criminal Court have also recognised the application of IHL to noninternational conflict and non state armed groups. The decisions of these courts have also
significantly contributed to the prohibition of gender-crimes committed during internal conflict, such
as rape and sexual slavery, which had been ignored during the Nuremberg trails.
While the jurisprudence of the international courts has significantly contributed to the application of
humanitarian law for non-state armed actors, incorporating these groups into the international
system as bearers of international obligations has been challenged within the international
community.
Lingering notions of absolute sovereignty and non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other
states, as well as desire for impunity, represent a real challenge for the enforcement and
prosecution of IHL violations committed by state and non-state groups engaged in internal conflict.
According to the UN Panel Report, there is credible evidence that both the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan Military have committed serious violations of IHL during
the final stages of conflict between 2008 and 2009. Despite the seriousness of the allegations
against the LTTE and Sri Lankan government, rather than recommending referral of the matter to
the International Criminal Court, the report recommends that the government of Sri Lanka oversee
an investigation, with some oversight by the UN. The Sri Lankan government denies the
allegations against it and has thus far, resisted international intervention.
As the international legal system has developed, IHL and criminal law frameworks have enabled
the international community to hold the conduct of state and non-state actors to account for some
of the world's most violent atrocities. Further as noted by Sir Christopher Greenwood QC of the
International Court of Justice the body of law also "educ[ates] those who take part in hostilities
about what their rights, and more importantly, what their obligations are," thereby protecting future
communities from the horrors of war. We have seen the will of the international community united
against such crimes through the 'Never Again' intonations that initiated the Rwanda Tribunal. But
we have also seen justice lost, where the political resolve to seek justice is lacking.
Sharna de Lacy completed a Masters of International and Community Development from Deakin
University in 2010, and is currently employed with the Australian Department of Human Services.
Including 'Fundamentalists' in Interfaith Dialogue
By Katherine Tranter
Fundamentalists exist in many religious traditions. However, interfaith conferences have so far
failed to include fundamentalists – a neglect which could have serious impacts on the proposed
elimination of religious-based violence.
The membership of fundamentalist Christian churches in the United States is expanding, Islamic
extremism is spreading across Asia and Africa, and Hindu extremists in India have waged
an increasingly aggressive terrorism campaign in the past decade. Indonesia has seen a rising
number of fundamentalist groups, from both the majority Muslim and minority Christian
communities, resulting in numerous conflicts based on mutual suspicion of attempted conversions.
The Australian recently cited a private US study which found that “religious-linked violence and
abuse rose around the world between 2006 and 2009, with Christians and Muslims the most
common targets”. The highest rates of religious-based social hostilities, including terrorist violence
relating to religion, were found to have occurred in Iraq, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia,
Indonesia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Israel and Egypt. Terrorist groups with strong links to religion were
found to be active in more than a third of the 198 countries studied.
Religious fundamentalists who deliberately cause conflict often do so to emphasise difference and
reinforce distrust of the ‘other’. In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade
Centre, many people were forced to explore the relationship between different faiths, and consider
whether such differences were reconcilable. As such, the growth of organised interfaith dialogues
in recent years has attempted to emphasise universal values and encourage understanding
between faiths, in order to combat rising fundamentalist religious militancy. The importance of
interfaith dialogue in creating opportunities to increase respect and reduce prejudice between
different faiths is widely recognised.
Nevertheless, interfaith conferences primarily include religious moderates and exclude
fundamentalist groups. Dialogues rarely represent fundamentalists and their concerns, often failing
to recognise them as valued conversation partners. Furthermore, the numerous dialogues held
across the world have so far failed to significantly reduce conflicts and tensions between religious
communities. The value of these discourses in effectively combating the growing threat of religious
extremism has thus been questioned by a number of commentators. Indeed, countering the
growing trend of extremism requires that understanding and tolerance for different faiths be
encouraged in those who are principally responsible for religious violence. Fundamentalist groups
must therefore be included in any truly representative interfaith discussion.
The challenge of initiating discussions with fundamentalists lies primarily in their apparent desire to
eliminate competing religions, and destroy any attempts at interfaith dialogue. Dialogue with
extremists is therefore much more difficult, yet increasingly important. Religious moderates must
therefore attempt to engage in conversations with fundamentalists in their own traditions, and
encourage tolerance and understanding of various faiths. The value of education in ensuring that
interfaith dialogue reaches the grassroots level, and in preventing the further spread of extremism,
must not be ignored. The future of interfaith dialogue as a means of combating religious extremism
depends on its ability to engage effectively with fundamentalist groups, despite the challenges
involved.
Katherine completed a Masters degree in International Development at RMIT in 2009 and is
currently working as a Country Adviser for the Migration & Refugee Review Tribunals.
World Diplomacy: Does Citizen Journalism have a role to play?
By Andrew Romanin
The unrestrained nature of Citizen Journalism has played an affirmative role in the ongoing Arab
Spring. But it is does have its critics. A lack of regulation is argued to be detrimental to diplomatic
relations. This article looks at the unique opportunity Citizen Journalism presents to all peoples in
playing an active role in diplomacy.
Citizen Journalism is all the rage. The idea that the ordinary individual can comment on a blog,
create a Twitter page or upload a Youtube video at their own behest is, as we are now all aware, a
phenomenally powerful actor in the diplomatic sphere. The role that Citizen Journalism played in
the lightning emergence of the Arab Spring attests to its significance. Its largely unrestrained
nature has rendered it a crucial element in the series of ensuing events over the past year,
heightening the perception of it as a key diplomatic force However there are concerns that the
unrestrained nature of citizen journalism is dangerous. The ongoing debate over Wikileaks suggest
as much; is the limited regulation of Citizen Journalism already having, a detrimental impact upon
diplomacy? Or does its relatively unrestrained nature increase its positive influence?
Much of the controversy that surrounds Citizen Journalism stems from the lack of a uniform
definition. Appropriately enough, the most simple definition I have come across came from
a website set up to facilitate learning and development for Citizen Journalism. In this instance
Citizen Journalism is defined as any effort by people who are not trained or employed as
professional journalists to publish news or information based on original observation, research,
inquiry, analysis or investigation. Basically, it can be any piece of information observed and
recorded by a citizen, ultimately the masses.
Given such a broad definitional scope, it is perhaps understandable for established actors in the
diplomatic sphere to be nervous about the potential impacts caused by such activity. Even more
so, as international diplomacy has long been carried out behind closed doors, away from the public
eye and by a select few individuals deemed “qualified” to act on behalf of the global community.
Are the scathing attacks and condemnation that has seen Julian Assange and WikiLeaks become
polarising examples of this debate warranted? Recently, WikiLeaks was again upsetting the
diplomatic applecart, by releasing comments by Kevin Rudd describing Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a “loathsome individual on every level” and revealing that Australian
diplomats have been feeding information back to their US counterparts who do not have diplomatic
relations with Iran.
Like much of the secretive information that has sprung to light via the unrestrained WikiLeaks
machine this, on the surface, has the potential to be detrimental to Australia-Iranian relations.
However, another way to look at this debate is to question the accountability and transparency of
the diplomatic world, and the actions of those individuals within it. Whether or not one agrees with
the motives of WikiLeaks is irrelevant. Within the transient and malleable scope of Citizen
Journalism WikiLeaks has an affirmative role to play. All aspects of governance, particularly
international, require checks and balances. Citizen Journalism upholds this.
That Citizen Journalism is often argued to lack the objective pillar of traditional journalism is
essentially its greatest asset. Those masking as Citizen Journalists have a vested interest to report
and disseminate information and opinions that are of interest to them and which affects their
personal space. In the case that this publicises to a greater degree the diplomatic relations of
sovereign nations, can produce positive spin-offs; improved accountability, a higher quality of
diplomatic exchange and honesty, and the opening of the diplomatic arena to involve the masses creating active participation and engagement.
Politicians, and by extension diplomats, bemoan the lack of political and civil malaise in their
societies, particularly Western democracies. Citizen Journalism provides an opportunity for active
engagement. This mass involvement and its untamed nature creates a powerful, inclusive and
influential voice in the international diplomatic process. While caution is necessary, and scepticism
is inevitable, affirmative influence is undeniable: just ask the Arab world.
Andrew Romanin completed a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History from the
University of Melbourne in 2009. He currently works as a Coordinator of Emergency
Recovery with the Red Cross.
Apple's Gadgetry May Show Us the 'Essential Fruits of Life'
By Nick Clarke
Many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) create real change in contemporary society far
beyond the broad yet superficial change created by i-pads or pods.
Although Apple gadgetry has revolutionised the speed and accessibility of communication, it has
not changed its content or character vis-à-vis the way we fundamentally think or live. However, the
overwhelming widespread response to Steve Jobs unfortunate passing may guide us towards a
powerful paradigm that has the potential to enact real change akin to that of NGOs such as World
Vision.
The principles of free market capitalism are conceptually sound in terms of producing the fruits
that enable people to be alleviated from poverty. In spite of capitalisms strengths though, a major
problem resides in its fruits being misguided. For instance, why do certain people, such as
celebrities and sports stars, earn so much money? In part, because of the importance we place on
their prowess and the money this generates through ticket sales, merchandise and all manner of
endorsements. Could greater importance be placed upon people who are actually enacting real
change for the greater good? Would people’s wallets follow? The sheer number of people
heralding Jobs as a hero or person that really changed our lives poignantly illustrates this point.
Although Jobs was a genius innovator, he did not fundamentally change our day-to-day lives.
So, what might explain these misguided fruits? An oft-overlooked cyclical problem. People are by
and large educated to think superficial materialism and individualism are important in life. Most
educational institutions place enormous importance on students striving for individual excellence
and this causes capitalistic tunnel vision. Although personal excellence is great, should this tunnel
vision grossly outweigh what is really important in life? We might do well to educate people to
‘prosper with perspective’. We should address how you, I and most of humanity perceive what is
important in life because, among other things, money trails follow this perceived importance.
Is there any chance we could try and encourage people to admire those that fundamentally change
people’s lives in the hope this might stir up fanfare, admiration and financial support for NGOs?
NGOs, especially those that are apolitical and empowered by pragmatic marketing, are in a prime
position to spread the idea of ‘prospering with perspective'. A good strategy would target those
who will assume positions of influence in years to come, for instance university graduates. Yet,
before we get too idealistic, it must be said: life is to be enjoyed. You should go out with friends,
buy, invest and do things for yourself. It’s essential to ensure your survival in the jungle, and would
be unrealistic to think otherwise. Thereafter though – get out of the tunnel.
To paraphrase Jobs eloquent speech to Stanford University graduates in 2005, search for
something you love doing, don’t settle, and in following your passion the right path will unfold.
These are wise words, yet although simple seldom followed. Did Jobs (inadvertently) overlook
some key ingredients?
In paving your path, be fully aware how privileged you are to be able to do this. Be aware that from
birth, most have not indulged in the arts, competed in sport, nor explored or experienced new
frontiers along with the benefits of modern science. Put the big picture in perspective.
You may have a poster of Beckham, a Baywatch babe or Brad Pitt hunk on your wall. Why not
Adam Smith, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King or Tim Costello? Various aspects of our world,
such as financial rewards and the way people are portrayed in the media, greatly distort what is
important in life - the opportunity for people in the world to pursue their dreams. This perspective
enables life to be rewarding, enriching and, although I wanted to avoid saying it, beautiful. NGOs
should advocate this conceptually simple yet practically difficult notion.
Navigate a path of happiness in our wondrous world, with a pinch of perspective and dollop of
reality. The real heroes are the people who have afforded us the opportunity to pursue our dreams,
many whom we don’t know, and others we do. Remember this the next time you applaud the
‘heroics’ or grossly overpaid skills of Beckham, Pitt or Jobs. The ‘prosper with perspective’
paradigm, in coordination with the poverty alleviating, opportunity providing endeavours of NGOs
such as World Vision, may over time further enact real change.
Nick is currently completing a Masters in International Relations at the University of
Melbourne.
Event Report: Why Women are Key to a Better World
By Marla Pascual
On Wednesday, 19th of October 2011, ACCESS hosted Ms. Joanna Hayter, the Executive Director
of the International Women’s Development Agency, and Ms. Mina Barling, Manager of Policy and
Partnerships for Marie Stopes International Australia to discuss how gender equality and the
empowerment of women are key to a better world.
Ms. Hayter argued that women’s ‘participation and inclusion are the key to a better world’. The
Executive Director, who has 25 years of experience in the international aid and community
development sector, said the ‘only answer to global survival’ lies in creating a fairer, more balanced
world wherein both men and women’s aspirations, capabilities and responsibilities are perceived to
be equal.
“Women are not an issue. We’re not a project, not a programme, not an activity, not a vulnerable
marginalised group; we’re half of the population of the planet.”
Ms. Hayter illustrated the current obstacles women are facing today by drawing on her recent
experience in community development in East Timor. She suggested that in order to achieve a
sustainable society, women must be transposed into decision-making processes through better
rights, services and resources.
Similarly, Ms. Barling spoke about how foreign aid policy for women is ‘overly politicised’. She
discussed the mishaps in providing better maternal health and allowing access to contraception, in
the hopes of decreasing unsafe abortion services. She explained her experiences in Cambodia to
illustrate how women in other parts of the world are forced to be in ‘untenable environments’ and
how state policies undermine their own foreign policy goals.
Ms. Barling suggested that society must ‘rise above policy trends and fluctuations’ to develop more
sustainable development goals and in a broader scope, promote better healthcare for women.
As Executive Director of IWDA, Ms. Hayter’s vast international experience include being Country
Director for the Burnet Institute in Burma and for Save the Children UK in Vietnam, and is Regional
Director for Africa with the Overseas Service Bureau.
Ms. Barling has worked for both government and non-government agencies, leading the Women’s
Safety Strategy for the Office of Women and the Attorney General’s Department and managing the
establishment of The Australia Centre for Social Innovation.
The event was organised by ACCESS, the Australian Institute for International Affairs’ Network for
University Students and Young Professionals. For upcoming events and further information, please
contact AIIA at [email protected] or call (03) 9654 7271.
Marla completed her Bachelor in Arts (Journalism and History) in 2009 at Monash
University. She is currently undertaking a Masters of International Relations at Monash
University.
Indonesia and Australia Should Make Friends on Facebook
By Catriona Richards & Olivia Cable
Indonesians and Australians can help improve the relationship between their nations through the
use
of
social
media.
Speakers at the Indonesia-Australia Dialogue, held recently at the Four Seasons Hotel in South
Jakarta, pointed to forms of social media such as Facebook and Twitter as ways to improve
people-to-people links between the countries, thereby spurring better diplomatic and business ties.
“[Social media is] cost-effective and reaches younger generations,” said Ima Abdurrahim of
the Habibie Center, a foundation that promotes modernisation and democracy. Ima added that
online contact could address the “stereotypes that we both have to work on.”
Business, media, education, and science leaders attending the event concluded that contact
through social media could help diminish negative stereotypes on both sides by adding a human
element.
Speaking at the event, Rizal Sukma of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said
greater communication was essential for boosting bilateral relations.
“We need to continue the dialogue through our youth interacting with new technologies,” he said.
Communication, education and trade were identified as the most critical avenues for improving
relations.
While diplomatic ties between Indonesia and Australia remain stable, there are frequent rifts over
issues like people smuggling, terrorism and legal and humanitarian issues. These issues can
escalate because of cultural misunderstandings.
Speakers at the conference pledged to make the Indonesia-Australia Dialogue a regular event and
to organise additional smaller discussions.
By bringing together leaders in business, innovation and youth affairs, the inaugural dialogue
aimed to foster new perspectives in both countries and to spur discussion on how they could
expand their relationship into different sectors.
Educational exchange was singled out as an important element of the Indonesia-Australia
relationship. While Indonesian enrolment at Australian institutions remains high, Australian
students seem less interested in learning about their Asian neighbours than ever before. Speakers
warned that Indonesian-language studies could cease to exist in Australian schools within eight
years.
Trade was also a major focus, including the need to address problems of red tape on both sides.
Corruption and convoluted bureaucratic procedures were blamed for complicating trade, which
speakers attributed to a lack of trust resulting from cultural differences.
The dialogue was initiated in response to comments made by President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono during his address to Australia’s Parliament last year in which he urged both nations to
“expunge [the] preposterous mental caricatures” each held of the other.
The president said many Australians still thought of Indonesia as an authoritarian state, while many
Indonesians believed Australia still enforced a race-based immigration policy.
Speaking at this week’s event, former Australian ambassador John McCarthy said that the two
nations still had a long way to go toward reaching a mutual cultural understanding.
“The relationship between Indonesia and Australia will never be problem-free,” he said. “But if
there is a vibrant level of relationships between sectors, [it can prosper].”
Catriona Richards writes for the Jakarta Globe. Olivia Cable was at the Dialogue with the
Secretariat of the Australian Institute of International Affairs. This article first appeared in
the Jakarta Globe.
Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation - Can it be done?
By Zeb Leonard
From the very beginnings of the age of nuclear weapons there have been vocal commentators
advocating they never be used and that disarmament should begin. Although these voices have
been powerful, the bomb cannot be ‘uninvented.’
Attempts to control atomic weapons technology, beginning with the U.S. Atomic Energy Act of
1946, have been far from completely successful and it is known that nuclear weapons exist in the
arsenals of the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, and North
Korea. It is very strongly suspected that Israel is in possession of nuclear weapons and South
Africa is known to have had nuclear weapons but has dismantled them.
Efforts to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons, such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
(NPT), which first entered into force in March 1970, have largely been the responsibility of states.
However, the voices of civil society groups, such as NGOs, have also been influential on the
debate surrounding non-proliferation and disarmament. It would seem that advocating complete
disarmament (as in Australia’s official perspective as outlined by the ‘Canberra Commission') is a
noble but unfortunately unlikely goal. Nevertheless, prominent groups such as the International
Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament have as their
ultimate goal that all nuclear weapons be dismantled and no more are fabricated.
Yet it should be noted that the general design and function of first-generation nuclear weapons is a
matter on the public record. Furthermore, the horrendous destructive potential of even a small yield
nuclear weapon will, unfortunately, ensure they remain a desirable asset for those seeking
power. As Hans Morgenthau, to whom the concept of the ‘realist’ perspective to international
relations is attributed, stated ‘International politics, like all politics, is a struggle for power.’ Nuclear
weapons have become in themselves a symbol of power in modernity.
The interests of activists in the global community who desire disarmament would perhaps best be
served by promoting that declared nuclear powers undergo an agreed-upon reduction in nuclear
forces in stages, with efforts towards disarmament being matched by potential rivals. A salient
recent example of a step in this direction (at least in terms of reduction in what nuclear forces are
actually deployed) is the new START treaty between the United States and Russia, which entered
into force in February 2011.
The technology of a first-generation bomb can be replicated by developing nations and, perhaps
more worryingly, could be replicated by a well-funded non-state group. We should be thankful that
the fissile material required to bring about a nuclear explosion is difficult to obtain. It is unlikely that
a non-state group could construct the necessary reactors, centrifuges or particle accelerators to
isolate their own fissile material. However it should be noted it was the lifetime fear of former U.S.
nuclear weapons designer Theodore B Taylor the required material could be obtained via theft
from civil industry. Regardless of one’s individual stance on nuclear power, the nuclear industry is
vital to contemporary society for such things as the production of medical isotopes. As the nuclear
industry grows, activist voices in the global community may well be wise to direct their attention to
promoting officials to ensure that proper safeguards for fissile material are in place.
Ultimately, complete disarmament may never be realised, however members of the broader global
community can do much to promote that nuclear arsenals be scaled down and that potential ‘entry
level’ proliferators are carefully monitored.
Zeb Leonard received his PhD from the University of Ballarat in May 2011. His thesis
explored the public debates surrounding British nuclear weapons testing in Australia.
Vote 1 Managed Democracy!
By Cameron Dunne
Russia was once deemed to be “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”; according to
Sir Winston Churchill. Today it's still an enigma, the facade is this time democracy.
Former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill once said, “… that democracy is the worst form
of government except all the others that have been tried.” While that is true some countries don’t
help the democratic cause, instead they undermine it. For example the Russian presidential
elections are to be held on the fourth of March 2012. It will be another expose of Russian
democracy in action. Russia’s democracy is different to that of Australia for Russia’s democracy is
managed.
In political science parlance a ‘managed democracy’ is an autocratic government that is
democratically elected. So in other words, managed democracies will hold elections which will
legitimise the government. However, the contest isn’t as rigorous as pre-selections in Australia or
as competitive as the US primaries when it comes to selecting a presidential candidate.
Hence, Vladimir Putin was announced at the United Party’s conference on the 24th September
2011 to be its presidential candidate, while the token opposition contender will be Gennady
Zyuganov of the Communist party. The former president Dmitry Medvedev has declined to stand
again for the presidency, instead preferring to stand aside for the more experienced and popular
Putin.
Putin’s Russia has always had opportunities to make Russia a fully functional liberal democracy,
but decides not to. However, even if more political parties were able to run, Putin’s United party
would likely still win. There is little chance of the Communists being re-elected after their
tumultuous history of ruling the former Soviet Union or the fascist Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal
Democratic Party taking over the Kremlin anytime soon. Russia’s system of government has the
institutions for a liberal democratic government, but they are currently a joke. This was
demonstrated recently when a session of the Russian Federation Council was filmed as a vote was
taking place. Instead of the parliamentarians taking their seats and voting, a handful of United
Russia party members walked the aisles pressing the yes buttons so that the legislation could
easily pass the 178 member upper house. With a well ‘managed’ executive branch of government
and a shell of a parliament, Russia’s third branch of government, the judiciary, is reminiscent of the
Soviet People’s Court. The case that best represents this accusation is the Yukos Trial and the
imprisonment of Mikhail Khordorkovsky. Khordorkovsky rose to prominence by taking advantage of
the privatisation of Russia’s state assets in 1994, purchasing many of them for next to nothing. By
doing so Khordorkovsky, along with the likes of Roman Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky,
amassed huge fortunes and became household names.
Khordorkovsky is sitting in jail and not expecting to be released due to the way he attained Apatit, a
fertiliser company. He created shelf companies in order to bid for Apatit, making it look like it was
brought in a competitive market. The Russian government (read: Putin) were not too pleased about
this undermining of the privatisation process. However, you must remember that the 1994
privatisation process was dubious to say the least; it involved nepotism, corruption and
cronyism. To arrest Mikhail Khordorkovsky and charge him with deceit and corruption while other
oligarchs are enjoying the fruits of their bargains is all pretty rich.However, Putin can hang his hat
on some positive economic and foreign policy initiatives and should therefore be given credit. For
example, Putin has implemented liberal economic policies which have seen the implementation of
a flat tax as well as a value-added consumption tax which is praised by the Russian business
community. The same goes for his foreign policy initiatives which are pragmatic; he does not rely
on the West but deals with all different types of countries. For example he supports Iran having a
nuclear program, opposes the USA Defence shield, opposed the Iraq war and recently was critical
of the overthrowing of Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi. If only Russia’s Managed Democracy
could become a Liberal Democracy, Russia could become a positive beacon on the international
stage, but that might be hard to manage.
Cameron Dunne is currently completing his Masters in International Relations at the University of
Melbourne.
Issue 20 “The impacts of women in various aspects
of international affairs”
Message from the Editor
By Ghazi Ahamat
Welcome to the October issue of Monthly Access, which returns after a brief break. This month's
issue explores the impacts of women in various aspects of international affairs. The role of women
has been of increasing importance in several areas of international relations, development and
security. For example, the aid and development sector focusses on the opportunities for more
effective delivery of development aid, particularly in the development of microfinance
and targeted household delivery of aid (a topic previously explored by Monthly Access).
But there are many other ways in which the role of women has expanded in international affairs.
From Christine Lagarde's selection as the first female head of the IMF, to an increasing number of
senior female politicians and diplomats, to debates about increasing the role of women in front line
military forces, the role of women in global decision making brings an alternative set of
perspectives, priorities and experiences to bear on international affairs.
This month Career Spotlight focusses on two women with international careers: Rose Press
interviews Samah Hadid, a young Australian Human Rights Activist who was the 2010 Australian
Youth Representativ to the United Nations, while Emilia Bojovic interviews Assoc. Prof. Jane
Munro, an academic and experienced Asian Languages educator who who reflected on her career
experiences in a keynote adress for the International Careers Conference held by ACCESS in
September.
In this month's Contemporary Debate, Sharna de Lacy explores the different ways in which the
security sector has neglected the security needs of women, while Katherine Tranter highlights the
demographic time-bomb presented by the male bias in the worlds two largest countries. Amal
Varghese and Nick Clarke discuss the ways in which the emergence of more female leaders in
senior diplomatic and political roles may change foreign policy priorities at the highest levels. They
highlight that this phenomenon is complicated by differences in ideology rather than gender
differences alone.
Meanwhile for Q&A this month Amal Varghese interviews former British Diplomat Charles
Crawford, who reflects on the current situation in the Balkans, while Global Snapshot highlights key
events from around the world.
Next month's issue focusses on Citizen Diplomacy. We welcome submissions of 400 to 600
words that explore these issues for an intelligent lay audience. Other general submissions
on issues of international affairs are welcome for consideration. Submissions for the
November issue are due 23rd October 2011.
Ghazi is a 4th year undergraduate completing his studies in Economics, Mathematics and
Philosophy at the University of Melbourne.
The Monthly Access team is:
Editor-in-Chief: Ghazi Ahamat
Deputy Editor (Interviews and Submissions): Evan Ritli
Deputy Editor (Contemporary Debate): Priya Wakhlu
Global Snapshot Columnists: Rachel Hankey and Richard Griffin
Interviewers: Amal Varghese, Emilia Bojovic and Roselina Press
Contemporary Debate Columnists: Sharna de Lacy, Katherine Tranter and Nick Clarke
ACCESS Event Reporter: Marla Pascual
For comments regarding this newsletter please write to [email protected]
Global Snapshot for October 2011
By Rachel Hankey and Richard Griffin
The September/October issue of Global Snapshot, which brings current international issues and
news from around the world. This month sees the conflict in Libya move from war to the
establishment of a legitimate government, as well as typhoons in Japan, Euro-zone woes and the
trial of a former French President.
Africa
Libya’s National Transitional Council recognised by the international community.
The process of forming a government and legitimate ruling authority in Libya is beginning to take
shape. Libya's Transitional National Council has announced that they would resign when the
remaining supporters of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi were defeated in Sirte. This is a revision of
previous declarations, which suggested that a transfer of power would not occur until the country
was free of Colonel Gaddafi and his top aides. The transitional leaders are set to declare "full
liberation". The towns of Sirte and Ban Walid are amongst the last pockets of pro-Gaddafi forces
yet to be defeated. The interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril and the head of the National
Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, "plan to step down, having pledged to take no further part
in the country's future government."
Meanwhile, Libya's first crude oil cargo ship since the outbreak of hostilities sailed from Marsa el
Hariga on September 25 en route for Italy. "Libya's pre-war production was around 1.6 million
barrels per day (bpd) of oil. A senior source in the National Oil Corporation told Reuters last week
the OPEC member's oil production is set to reach 500,000 bpd by early October, helping to boost
revenues badly needed to kickstart the economy after seven months of war."
As the conflict nears resolution, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, the head of NATO's military
committee raised concerns that NATO had lost track of 10,000 surface-to-air missiles that had
been in Libyan army hands. Such weapons are particularly troubling, given the risk that such
weapons could "fall in the hands of al Qaeda militants and be used to attack civilian
airlines." NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that "in general, it is a matter of
concern….[but] it is the responsibility of the National Transitional Council to ensure that stocks of
weapons in Libya are appropriately controlled."
Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) has been making significant progress in asserting itself
as the legitimate governing regime in Libya by forging new diplomatic relations with the
international community. The African Union has just announced its recognition of the NTC as
Libya’s de facto government. President Obama has announced that the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli
will be reopened and the American ambassador will return to the country. The move is seen as
clear evidence of Obama’s support for the new government. Last month French President Nicolas
Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron visited the country to meet leaders of the NTC.
The European leaders, who lead NATO's involvement in the conflict, were met by cheering crowds
in Benghazi.
However, at the same time, it has been alleged that British intelligence agents were complicit in the
torture of Libyans by the Gaddafi regime. Human Rights Watch claims that documents found in
offices in Libya detail the involvement of British agents. The claims will be investigated by the
Gibson inquiry, which is also examining allegations that British intelligence agents were involved in
the torture of terror suspects in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
Somali violence spreads across the border with Kenya
Kenya is taking steps to upgrade its border security with Somalia, following the recent kidnapping
of two westerners by a Somali militia. The British government warned its citizens not to travel
within 150 kilometres of the Kenya-Somalia border, and stated that "beach front accommodation in
that area and boats off the coast are vulnerable." The rise of piracy and kidnapping of westerners
has raised concerns and hampered efforts to source and supply aid to Somalia. The threat of
terrorism in the region continues to be considered "high." On 4 October, a truck loaded with fuel
drums was detonated in downtownMogadishu, killing 70 people. The truck exploded outside a
government building and in close proximity to many students taking exams in the hope of receiving
foreign scholarships.The UN Special Representative for Somalia, Dr Augustine P Mahiga
hascondemned the attack "These actions are unacceptable. The murder of ordinary Somalis can
not be justified for any reasons."
Ivory Coast
Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Netherlands have given the ICC's
Prosecutor permission to conduct an investigation into the post-election violence in Ivory Coast. On
4 May 2011, President Ouattara expressed his wish for the Office of the Prosecutor to conduct an
independent and impartial investigation into the most serious crimes committed during the postelection disturbances. The Prosecutor, the Argentine, Luis Moreno-Ocampo has been charged with
the responsibility of preparing a report within the month on any additional information on crimes
committed between 2002 and 2010.
The country has struggled to unite post civil war, but has a bright exporting future and is already
the world's largest coca producer. But, on the path to economic and political recovery, Ivory
Coast hopes to increase its share of the world cocoa market to 50 percent. Currently producing
about 30 percent of global cocoa outpout, President Alassane Ouattara said that Ivory Coastwill
"liberalise the whole chain" of production and attract investment to process the cocoa in the
country.
Americas
Brazil's offshore energy boom leads to a submarine future
Brazil has announced that it is commissioning its first nuclear submarine to protect its vast offshore
oil deposits. "For the first time in decades, the emerging prize of global energy may be
the Americas, where Western oil companies are refocusing their gaze in a rush to explore clusters
of coveted oil fields." The American historian, Daniel Yegin suggests that "we're going to see a
new rebalancing, with the Western Hemisphere moving back to self-sufficiency." According to
OPEC "Share of World Crude Oil Reserves Data" from the OPEC Annual Statistical Bulletin
2010 Venezuela has more discovered reserves (24.8%) thanSaudi Arabia (22.2%). Brazil's
reserves are located 6,000 feet of water and salt beds, but Petrobas, seeking to become the key
player in the oil industry, is investing more than $200 Billion. The nuclear submarine programme,
commissioned by the former President, Luiz Inacio da Silva, will be used to protect the country's
offshore oil reserves, but may posed a problem for the United Kingdom, as Brazil is an "outspoken
advocate of Argentina's right to claim the Falklands Islands" according to the Daily Mail.
USA
Federal Chairman Ben Bernanke has warned Congress that the US economic recovery was "close
to faltering" and stated that Congress and the White House had a "shared responsibility" with the
central bank in producing a co-ordinated response. Mr Bernanke highlighted the slow response to
raising the debt ceiling and reducing the budget deficit. Appearing before the Congress' Joint
Economic Committee, Mr Bernanke called on Congress and the White House to develop better
policy responses and in particular, "jump start" the housing sector, trade and streamline the
complex tax code.
Asia and Pacific
Japan Typhoon
Only six months after Japan was hit by March's devastating earthquake and tsunami, the country is
now being lashed by typhoons.
Early last month Typhoon Talas hit the west of the country, causing flooding and land slides, and
isolating many remote villages. Over 100 people were killed or are still missing. The typhoon was
the worst experienced by the country in three decades, resulting in the highest death toll since
1979 when 110 people were killed by Typhoon Tip.
The 15th typhoon of the season, Typhoon Roke, was expected to cause further damage to the
areas affected by the tsunami earlier this year. There were fears that the typhoon would hit the
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where work to repair damage from March's tsunami
continues. Fortunately, the typhoon passed by the nuclear plant causing minimal damage. At this
time 13 people have been killed, and many more remain missing. The storm caused major
disruption across a large area of the country. The government had issued evacuation warnings to
over 1 million people, and many businesses and factories were closed. Transport services and
electricity supplies across Tokyo were severely affected.
The world 'ignoring' Pakistan floods
Flooding is once again bringing misery to the people of Southern Pakistan. Since heavy monsoon
rains began in August, flooding has killed 248 people and damaged 665,000 homes. A further 2
million people are believed to be suffering from diseases caused by the floods, whilst 7000 people
are being treated for snake bites.
Yet, according to some aid agencies, the world is failing to respond to this growing humanitarian
crisis. The response by the Pakistani Government has also been heavily criticised. It has been
claimed that more should have been done to prevent a repeat of last year's flooding.
The United Nations has now launched the Rapid Response Plan (RSP), asking for US$ 357 million
to provide support for the Pakistani Government’s relief efforts.
Europe
Former French President to Stand Trial for Corruption.
Jacques Chirac, former President of France, is currently on trial for charges of corruption dating
back to his time as major of Paris, between 1977 and 1995.
Chirac has been charged with “misappropriation of public funds” for allegedly creating fake jobs
which were paid for by the Paris town hall. If he is convicted, Chirac could face up to ten years in
jail. However, the likelihood of a conviction is slim. Late last month prosecutors asked for the case
to be dismissed, claiming there was insufficient evidence to prove that the jobs were indeed fake.
It is not the first time the former President has been accused of wrong doing, however it is the first
case to reach a court.Previously Chirac has avoided prosecution due to either the statute of
limitations or the presidential immunity he enjoyed until 2007.
Fresh allegations have now been made that Chirac, along with former Prime Minister Dominique
de Villepin, accepted large amounts of cash from African leaders. Lawyer Robert Bourgi, claims
that over a period of 25 years, Chirac and de Villepinfrequently traveled to African
countries including Burkina Faso, the Congo, Gabon, Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal, returning with up
to 15 million francs in cash. The allegations have been strenuously denied by Mr de Villepin.
Germany under pressure to bail out Euro Zone
The economic crisis continues to hit the eurozone, with widespread fears of a Greek default. After
meeting in Washington, the G20 leaders have indicated their intention to support the troubled
European state. The G20 group released a statementclaiming they will “commit to take all actions
to preserve the stability of banking systems and financial markets as required”, although they have
not yet set out a clear plan to achieve this. The Greek Government has introduced even more
austerity measures, including plans to axe 30,000 public sector jobs and reduce pensions, and has
warned that without future financial support the country will run out of money by October.
In recent weeks, much of the attention has focused on the question of how much support Germany
will continue to give to her ailing European neighbours. A poll conduced by ZDF television has
found that half of Germans do not believe that Greece should be allowed to default on its loans.
The majority of those surveyed also believe that if this did occur, it would damage the German
economy.
France issues first fines for niqab
French courts have issued the first fines to two women wearing niqabs in public. The controversial
law, which was supported by President Sarkozy, bans women from wearing full-face veils in public
places. Since the ban came into effect in May police have issued on-the-spot fines, but these are
the first fines to be issued by a court.
Amnesty International has condemned the decision by the French court, describing the ruling as a
"a travesty of justice and a day of shame for France.” John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's
deputy director for Europe and Central Asia, claimed that "Instead of protecting women's rights,
this ban violates their freedom of expression and religion."
The two women have vowed that they shall take their appeal against the ruling all the way to
the European Court of Human Rights.
Middle East
Yemen Protests Continue
Protests are continuing in Yemen against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is refusing to step
down. In recent days there has been an escalation of street battles in the capital, Sanaa, between
opponents of Yemen’s regime and forces loyal to the president.
The government’s handling of the protests has drawn condemnation from the international
community, amid concerns that many of those killed in the recent events have been unarmed
protesters. The UN has stated that in attacks late last month at least four children were killed, and
another 18 minors were injured.
There had been hopes of a ceasefire between the two sides that would allow both for reform to be
implemented and for President Saleh to retain power. However, only hours after a truce was
agreed upon to allow for discussions to begin, the ceasefire was broken and three people were
reportedly killed. The UN envoy to Yemen, Jalal bin Omar, has warned that unless a political
solution is reached soon, the country will be torn apart by the fighting.
US calls for sanctions against Syria
The UN reports that since the uprising began in Syria six months ago over 2000 people have been
killed. The Syrian government claims that hundreds of its personnel have been
killed. The protesters are now asking for international protectionin their fight against President
Bashar al-Assad’s oppressive regime.
The United States has called for the UN to impose sanctions against Syria. Addressing the UN
Security Council, President Obama claimed that "now is the time for the United Nations Security
Council to sanction the Syrian regime, and to stand with the Syrian people." The US and EU have
already imposed sanctions against President Assad, his government and family.
Turkey has just announced that it is also considering imposing measures against the regime.
Although Turkey has not yet revealed the nature of such measures, action taken by one of Syria’s
biggest trading partners is sure to hurt the regime.
Q&A with Charles Crawford
Interviewed by Amal Varghese
In this month’s Q&A we speak with Charles Crawford, former British
Diplomat with almost three decades of service in the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office. Having previously been Britain’s ambassador to
Sarajevo, Belgrade and Warsaw during post-communist rule. Mr Crawford
reflects on his diplomatic experiences in Balkans, as well as the current
state of affairs.
In the post Bosnian-war environment when you were posted as the British Ambassador to
Sarajevo, how would you characterize the post-conflict tensions in the region?
I arrived in Sarajevo some seven months after the Dayton Peace agreement was signed. By then
most of the remaining Serb community in Sarajevo had left the city, pushed by angry Bosniacs and
pulled by their own cynical leaders. Not long after I started my new job, I met Bosnian Serb leader
Momcilo Krajisnik, now serving a long ICTY sentence for war crimes. He did a good job in feigning
sorrow at developments following Dayton, saying that the two Entities in Bosnia were like
two sides of a jacket but without Sarajevo as the button holding the two sides together
At the time it seemed remarkable that the Dayton process was able to be implemented so
peacefully. NATO forces of course were there in strength. As one British general put it to a visiting
British Labour minister: "The basis for peace is simple. If they resist doing what we ask, we’ll kill
them". Yet despite this tough posture, I can't recall a single incident of a NATO soldier being killed
by local people opposed to the NATO presence -- the contrast with Afghanistan and Iraq is
extraordinary.
Looking back on it, I conclude that the whole conflict itself was more or less deliberately contrived
by various local elites to pursue specific nationalistic ambitions, and that the violence could be
turned up or turned down as if by a switch.
The Dayton deal stopped the conflict, but did not end it. The struggle transferred to petty bickering
within new constitutional structures:the symbolism of which building should host the meetings of
the new collective Presidency, or the seating plan for the three Presidency members at a small
round table.
Considerable progress has been made since then, not least because the malign personalities of
Tudjman and Milosevic have left the scene. Yet in key respects Bosnia remains dysfunctional and
disappointing. The "deep" problem lies in the constitutional settlement painfully agreed at Dayton,
which creates two Entities in a small country of three main communities. In effect the Bosnian
Serbs won too good a deal, and the Bosniacs/Croats got too little.
More importantly, European leaders have no answer which makes sense in terms understandable
for most of the former Yugoslavia to the following question: if it is okay for Kosovo Albanians to
break from a democratic Serbia, why is it is not okay for Bosnian Serbs to want to leave a
democratic Bosnia?
Given the wider problems now besetting the Eurozone , it is unrealistic to expect much serious
pressure for the time being on these various Balkan problems. What that means in practice is
unclear. But it is safe to say that the region is not going to experience much economic progress
and serious outside investment while these existential issues affecting borders drag on.
High Unemployment, financial hardship, changes in the social structure and weakness of
legal institutions are known triggers for conflict relapse. Following the fragile peace
agreements, to what extent did Bosnia face these challenges in the late 1990s?
Bosnia faced all those challenges and plenty more, which suggests to me that the supposed
triggers for ‘conflict relapse’ are not the whole story. Part of the explanation lies in the fact that in
Bosnia extended family ties and networks help take the strain when things are very difficult.
A great weakness in the Dayton process was a failure to strike out in a much more radical, freemarket way. Far too many people in Bosnia wanted to get back to the supposedly comfortable but
corrupt ways of Yugoslav communist self-management. Deregulation as an end in itself to free up
the talents of the mass of citizens was not considered. Nor was enough attention paid to creating a
robust, independent judiciary: this is hard enough in any country, let alone a small country where
the idea of any ‘independent’ institution is both unimaginable and unimagined.
The result now is an under-performing society in which far too many able people scrape a
subsistence living, passively accepting their fate. Not all social relapses take a dramatic, public
form.
As Director of South-Eastern Europe, did you find merit in EU enlargement policy to the
East as the best way to harmonize the region and bring peace and stability?
The steady rolling-out of modern European processes and standards to former communist Europe
brings many advantages, but also some disadvantages.
The core advantage is obvious. It gives the countries concerned specific legislative targets which
cannot be achieved without deep changes in the way state institutions work at all levels Extremist
demagogy, widespread discrimination, open interference in judicial processes and ethnic conflict
are thereby ruled out as policy solutions. This does have a helpful, calming effect: the way political
life in Poland has been simplified and normalised in the past decade has been a striking success
for Europe as a whole.
But there are disadvantages too. Local politicians can start to shirk responsibility and blame
‘Brussels’ for not being generous enough with funding. Some EU processes and ‘social Europe’
standards (eg for transforming the energy sector, or the odious Working Time Directive) are simply
too cumbersome and expensive to be implemented sensibly. Plus the complexity of applying for
EU funds is itself alienating and a source of new divisions or even corruption. The sheer scale of
outside involvement in Bosnia for well-intentioned reasons has created negative ‘assistance
dependency’.
All in all, the balance is clearly positive. The European Union has plenty of problems. Enlargement
is not a magic wand. But without the prospect of wholesale modernisation in favour of modern
European standards, the local former communist elites across the ex-Yugoslavia space and
elsewhere in former communist Europe would have had no incentive at all to drive forward
meaningful changes.
Amal Varghese is completing a Masters in International Relations at the University of Melbourne
The Security Needs of Women
By Sharna de Lacy
There is strong recognition that the sector must meet the different security needs of men and
women, but has been slow to respond to this evolving mandate. While women bear the greatest
cost in armed conflict, they are underrepresented in security sector institutions. As such, the full
integration of women in the security sector is a key challenge for the effective provision and
maintenance of security today.
The dynamics of contemporary conflict and warfare are overwhelmingly internal, rather than interstate in nature. Conflict is fought within civilian spaces, and often explicitly exploits civilian
populations for strategic purposes. Unsurprisingly, civilians are more likely to be victims of these
armed conflicts.
The nature of modern warfare has different implications for the security of women to that of men.
Women are overwhelmingly the target of ‘tactical’ sexual violence, abduction and also represent a
higher proportion of casualties and displaced persons. Conversely, men are far more likely to be
the victims of gun violence, be taken as prisoners of war, or coerced into bearing arms.
As the security needs of men and women have particular gendered dimensions, the security sector
must be sufficiently equipped, trained and staffed to respond. Yet the security sector (understood
as state institutions that posses the legitimate authority over the use of force) is overwhelmingly
dominated by men. In an effort to address this disparity UN Security Council Resolution 1325/
2000 (UNSCR 1325) requires that international and state actors must provide women ‘full
involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security’, and increase
their role in decision-making processes. As such, gender sensitive security sector reform requires
structural change to policy-making process, security institutions and recruitment of personnel.
Women’s inclusion in decision-making and oversight mechanisms is critical to prioritizing gender
specific security concerns and reforming institutional cultures that condone the violation of
women’s security. Women have benefited from initiatives such as gender-balance recruitment
policies and parliamentary quota systems, however women remain conspicuously absent from
security specific policy and oversight positions. The Pacific region has some of the lowest levels of
female political representation and employment in the world and also alarming rates of gender
based violence. The Pacific Islands Forum, has acknowledged that implementation of gender
sensitive security sector reform is vital in addressing this issue and to pertinent concerns such as
governance and conflict prevention.
Where the security sector fails to involve both men and women, all too often this results in the
perpetuation of insecurity, often at the hands of security forces themselves. The 1999 Kosovo
conflict saw unprecedented growth in the trafficking of women and girls into forced prostitution. In
their 2004 report ‘So does that mean I have rights?’ Amnesty International found that this growth
was driven by arrival of international peacekeeping forces, who drove demand for trafficked women
during the occupation and in some cases were implicated in organization of trafficking activities.
This legacy remains a key concern for post-conflict police reform efforts in Kosovo today, which is
still considered a major center for human trafficking.
There are also practical concerns for the provision of security more generally if women are
underrepresented in security forces. The security sector is increasingly involved in complex
peacekeeping and reconstructions efforts, which require much greater interaction and cooperation
with civilians. Without women in uniform on the ground, these crucial activities are severely
restricted. In Afghanistan women represent just 1 percent of police officers. The absence of female
officers at checkpoints means police are unable to perform searches of people dressed in burqas.
This has allowed the smuggling of small arms to continue unabated.
To date just 31 states have developed national plans for the full implementation of UNSCR 1325.
Despite this poor response, the Security Council Resolution has provided a catalyst for many
states, as well as international organisations to take steps to integrate women. Notably, in 2002,
NATO implemented gender mainstreaming, gender balance recruitment policies and has worked to
the full implementation of UNSCR 1325.
A noteworthy success story can be seen in post-conflict Rwanda, which has not only increased the
parliamentary representation of women, but translated their increased presence into meaningful
security outcomes, such as tackling gender based sexual violence, and increasing the female
presence in the police and military domestically and in international deployment. Other post conflict
nations, such as Liberia, Sierra-Leone and Timor-Leste have also advanced gender sensitive
security sector reform in response to endemic gender-based sexual violence. In particular these
states have targeted women for police recruitment, and developed specialized gender task units.
These are important and by no means insignificant steps and it is important that we derive lessons
from such success. However, women’s participation in the security sector still represents just a
fraction of that of men. The integration of women into the decision-making processes and service
roles across the security sector extends beyond an argument of ‘equal opportunity’. The efficacy of
security sector in the contemporary climate is dependent on its ability to respond to the varied
needs of women and men. This requires the integration of women at all levels.
Sharna de Lacy completed a Masters of International and Community Development from Deakin
University in 2010, and is currently employed with the Victorian Department of Human Services.
Career Spotlight: Jane Munro
Interviewed by Emilia Bojovic
This month Career Spotlight speaks with Associate Professor Jane Munro, head of International
House, a residential college at The University of Melbourne. Assoc. Prof. Munro was a keynote
speaker at the recent International Careers Conference, where she reflected on her experiences of
a fulfillingand varied international career.
With a formal background in Asian languages, Assoc. Prof. Munro has had a diverse career in
language education and international business. She has been a teaching fellow at Harvard
University, Convenor of the Advisory Council for the ABC, and an active member on the boards of
Opera Australia, the Melbourne Festival and the Sydney Institute.
To what extent have your significant achievements been part of a 'career plan'?
I didn’t start my adult life with a definite career plan, and many of the things that I have done during
my career have been things that have been spontaneous career choices or opportunities that
presented themselves which I decided to undertake. I followed what really interested me. I think
we all go through our career with many choices and we sometimes make a choice without even
being able to articulate why we made it.
When I was finishing secondary school, so when I was making a decision about my career, the
things that interested me were: understanding the world, going beyond the propaganda, and
wanting to leave the world a better place than I found it. So, that’s a very broad career plan. If I
have had a plan to become a university professor I would have become that, but I was interested in
a wider range of things. I am an Associate Professor now but throughout my life I have been
interested in a wide range of things that went beyond the purely academic.
What is your main role in your current position?
I work for the Council of International House. We are a semi-autonomous body of the University of
Melbourne, and my main role is to be the CEO of the college. At the same time my role is to be
academic leader. So, while the College, like the other colleges of the University of Melbourne, does
not give accreditation of all exams, we run an academic program and we see ourselves as a
community of scholars. My position entails educational leadership and educational
administration. It is a CEO role in an academic way.
How much interaction do you have with the students of the College and at what level?
We have 270 students at International House, and most of them are at the undergraduate level at
the University of Melbourne. We also have 16 residential tutors who are almost entirely doing
Masters or PhDs. I have quite a lot of interaction with all of those groups, either through structured
arrangements like our formal dinners or sitting in the dining hall randomly at any table among the
students. We have two formal, high table dinners a week, and those casual conversations in the
dining hall are invaluable.
I also interact with the students through the Student Club of International House. Every student in
the College is a member of the Student Club, and they elect their leaders, which is a Committee of
about 16 people, with a President and Vice-President. The President and Vice-President represent
the peak representative body of the students of the College, and they meet with me and my Deputy
Head of College once a week. That is a very important structured interaction that we have. Then
we meet regularly with the whole committee of the Student Club. In addition to that, I reside at the
College (with my husband and my dog), and am frequently walking around the grounds and have
many opportunities, either formally or informally to be in communication with the students. The
longer the students remain with us the better we get to know one another and it is always a
pleasure to be asked by a student to write a reference for them, and to be able to say so much
about the them because of the time spent with them.
When and how did your passion for Japan develop?
I come from an Australian-Anglo-Celtic background so my predecessors came to Australia mostly
from Britain. When I was growing up, after WWII, my father had managed to go to India during the
war, with the British Army. He brought back a lot of things from there which I found fascinating things that I had never seen before, different cultural objects. Nobody knew much about Asia at
that time in Australian schools as there was very little formal academic study of Asian countries. I
was studying modern history at school and was particularly interested in China, Japan and Russia.
I was good at languages and I was interested in studying any of those languages, but only
Japanese had a course which was very scholarly but enabled students to master the contemporary
language.
The driving force behind choosing Japanese was not only the nature of the course and the fact that
it would give me the opportunity to communicate in Japanese; more importantly, Japan had been
Australia’s enemy during the war. Each of my parents lost their own brother in that war – one in the
Changi Prison Camp and the other behind enemy lines in Malaysia. Whilst my parents were not
anti-Japanese there was so much anti-Japanese feeling in general in Australia and felt that I
wanted to see past the propaganda. I wanted to make my own decisions about who the Japanese
people were and how they acted and what drove them. So, it was great curiosity. All we knew
about Japan were the atrocities, and then on the other hand there is the cherry blossom softness.
There had to be something else to Japan beyond those images, and of course there is, and I was
able to see that because of the academic circumstances of that time in rational academic research
and teaching on Japan.
In addition to that, a lot of my friends said that I was mad for wanting to study Japanese because I
would never be able to master the language, and it is true that there were no decent text books but
that is what made me even more enthusiastic about learning Japanese. I also wanted to be able to
show others another part of the picture, and to help drag the debate away from extremism and
back to reality.
Out of Japanese, Chinese and Indonesian, Japanese has been the only language that has held up
in student numbers in Australia until about 5 years ago. And because we have had an active policy
of people-to-people relations between Japan and Australia, there has been a much better mutual
understanding among young people.
What would be the highlight of your career?
I will not be able to choose a single highlight. I was very lucky to study what really fascinated me
and be rewarded for that. For somebody who might have expected a purely academic career, a
surprise highlight was when I was Director of the Institute of Languages of NSW and we won the
contract to create and provide a teacher-training programme for teachers of English in China. This
was in the 1980s and until the early 80s Russian was still the second most studied language in
China. So there were hardly any English language speakers in China. The Australian aid
programme wanted to provide aid for this project worth $2-million. Any related institution around
Australia was eligible to put forward a tender for the project. I worked hard on this and went to
Canberra to find out what exactly was expected, and I did put together a program which I was able
to tailor specifically to the requirements of the project because of the resources we had. We won
that contract and that was utterly rewarding.
The other highlight would be the fact that I have been able to take on different kinds of things. I
have been Convenor of the Advisory Council for the ABC for the last 5 years, and although that
has nothing to do with language, it has a lot to do with communication, getting people together and
drawing on people’s ideas in different contexts. I do enjoy that outreach into different areas.
What is your advice to all those enthusiastic about a career in an international context?
There is not really any specific advice I could give but there are some important questions those
considering a career in an international context should ask themselves – Firstly, 'who are you and
what contribution can you provide?' Secondly, 'what is motivating you to work internationally?'
Thirdly, 'what kind of work do you want to do?'
I also think that a knowledge of history and culture is very important. If you know history well and
possess a good understanding of other cultures, you can make a significant contribution to work
internationally. Knowledge of foreign languages is important but it is not as compulsory as
knowledge and understanding of other cultures. People from other cultural backgrounds can make
a significant contribution to Australia’s international politics as they can bring a different perspective
into it.
Emilia was previously employed as a Department of Defence Graduate, and is currently
undertaking a Masters of International Relations at the University of Melbourne.
Missing Girls in India and China
By Katherine Tranter
The growing prevalence of female foeticide in India and China will have serious impacts on both
societies in the near future. Rising crime levels, an increase in the trafficking of women, and a
decrease in women’s participation in public life are all potential consequences of the severe gender
imbalance currently affecting these two superpowers.
Patriarchal structures within Indian and Chinese societies, together with economic considerations
such as dowry payments, the greater earning potential of sons, and the increased accessibility of
ultrasound scans have resulted in the rise of sex-selective abortions. In India, it is estimated that
annually half a million girls are victims of female foeticide. In China, the introduction of the onechild policy exacerbated the trend as the birth of a daughter would be at the expense of a son.
Sex ratios in India and China reveal glaring disparities between the numbers of girls and boys born
in recent years. Indian census data reveals that the number of girls for every 1,000 boys under six
years old decreased from 927 in 2001 to 914 in 2011. The north-western states of Punjab and
Haryana have the most troubling child sex ratios in the country – 893 and 830 respectively. It is
estimated that there are 7.1 million fewer girls than boys under the age of six in India today.
A similar picture can be painted for China, exacerbated by the one child policy in place since 1979.
Currently 121 boys are born for every 100 girls, a far departure from the natural sex ratio of 105
boys per 100 girls. These skewed ratios demonstrate prevalence of sex-selective abortions in
these countries. Despite the criminalization of sex-selective abortions in China and India, the
practice continues in the absence of adequate enforcement.
The severe gender imbalance may result in significant social problems. The most pressing concern
is that there will be a surplus of single men in both countries. Based on current figures,
approximately 15 to 20 per cent of men in north-western India, and between 10 and 20 per cent of
men in China, will lack a female counterpart by 2020. As a result, Indian men may be forced to
seek brides from distant states, with varying religions or cultures, lower economic backgrounds or
lower caste status. Such marriages may defy strict caste rules, and could require the use
of criminal organisations such as traffickers. It is also expected that the poorest men will be
disproportionately affected by the marriage bottleneck, intensifying class based tensions.
In China, there may be an increase in the trafficking of women from neighbouring countries.
According to China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission, female trafficking,
illegal marriages, and prostitution are rampant in areas that have excess numbers of men. Studies
conducted in India and China have also found that crime levels have risen as sex ratios have
become more distorted. The status attached to marriage and families in both countries leaves
young single men moreprone to violent and criminal behaviour as a means to improve their
situation.
Furthermore, women may increasingly be pressured to take on traditional family roles rather than
pursue a career or further their education. The withdrawal of women from participation in the
workforce and civil life is likely to reinforce their weaker political voice in public decision making.
Left unchecked, the rising gender imbalance will cause deep social tensions and have significant
consequences for women’s empowerment and development in India and China. The negative
effects, already evident in the increase in violent crime and trafficking of women, will only intensify
in the future if the issue is not addressed.
Katherine completed a Masters degree in International Development at RMIT in 2009 and is
currently working as a Country Adviser for the Migration & Refugee Review Tribunals.
Career Spotlight: Samah Hadid
Interviewed by Roselina Press
This month Career Spotlight speaks with Samah Hadid, a twenty-something human rights activist
from Sydney. She was selected as the 2010 Australian Youth Representative to the United
Nations, and in 2009 she became the first Australian to complete a Minority Rights Fellowship with
the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
She has held various advisory roles with the government and international organisations, including
Youth Representative on the Australian National Commission for UNESCO, member of Amnesty
International’s Diversity Steering Committee, Action Partner for Oxfam International Youth
Partnerships and member of the National Youth Roundtable. She was also a participant at Prime
Minister Kevin Rudd’s Australia 2020 summit.
As an Australian Muslim, Hadid understands first-hand the importance of better rights for
minorities, and she is interested in promoting the voices of indigenous and vulnerable young
Australians. She is currently completing her Masters in Human Rights Law at the University of New
South Wales.
What influenced your decision to be a human rights activist?
I suppose it’s a by-product of being a member of a minority group in Australia. You see that your
community group is discriminated against in media and in the public domain, and even on the
streets, so you’re compelled to make a difference. Through my community advocacy work I came
across other vulnerable groups in our society, such as refugee and indigenous communities, which
were also discriminated against, and on a greater scale. I felt a sense of duty to advocate for
changes to these inequalities and injustices. My journey in human rights activism just continued on
after that.
In 2010 you were the Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations. Can you tell us
about that experience, which took you all the way from Sydney to the UN in New York?
I was tasked with representing the concerns, profile and interests of young Australians at the world
stage of the UN. It was a very huge responsibility and an even bigger opportunity. I used this
platform to consult with young people in every state and territory across Australia as part of a 6
month national road trip. This ended in a 3 month stint at the UN General Assembly presenting a
statement on behalf of young Australians to the GA. I also negotiated human rights resolutions on
behalf of Australia and that was incredibly challenging but a good insight into how real decisions
are made at the UN. I met the most amazing and inspiring young Australians who were working on
indigenous rights, campaigning on climate change and alleviating homelessness and disadvantage
in their local communities.
You’re also developing a series of live art performances, called The Burqa Monologues. Can
you tell us a little bit about this project?
I’ve been dabbling in performance art and different forms of artistic expression. The Burqa
Monologues are an appropriation ofThe Vagina Monologues written by Eve Ensler. I wanted to
give women of colour and diversity a voice and an opportunity to share their stories through their
own creative avenues. It’s also a platform for Muslim women to tell their stories—so often, Muslim
women are spoken about, but they are never given the opportunity to speak for themselves.
What motivated you to use performance art as a medium to express your ideas?
It’s a creative means to express myself. So much of my work involves speaking or writing reports
and I wanted to share my ideas in unconventional ways. Performance art allows me to do that. It is
also about interacting with the audience in ways other performance forms don’t allow.
How important is it to you that young people from minority backgrounds, such as yourself,
are provided with avenues to engage in political dialogue in their communities?
It is incredibly necessary. When so much is said about you, reported about you and, more
importantly, policies are formulated which impact on your lives, you need to be consulted. In all of
my community roles I’ve tried to improve the way young people, particularly those from indigenous
and refugee backgrounds, are heard in policy and political decision making processes.
There are many young people who are looking to have a career in human rights advocacy,
on the local and international scale. Can you offer them any advice?
Engage in as much community service as you can, particularly volunteering with vulnerable groups
in society. Get involved in a human rights campaign or issue. Volunteer with a human rights-based
NGO, or apply for an internship with the UN or an international NGO. Most importantly, commit
yourself to a cause and raise awareness about that issue in any way you can, whether through
advocacy, writing or art.
What's next for you?
I’m writing a thesis on indigenous rights and also currently setting up a human rights network for
the Asia-Pacific region. Otherwise I’m just trying to raise awareness around human rights issues in
any way I can.
Roselina is undertaking a Masters of International Relations at Melbourne University.
Female US Secretaries of State
By Amal Varghese
It has often been argued that female leaders on the global stage lack the efficacy of their male
counterparts. This article looks at three prominent female leaders of our time who have occupied
the position of Secretary of State of the United States.
Since the accession of Madeleine Albright to the high-profile post in 1996, the role of Secretary of
State has been occupied by females ten of the last fourteen years. Many great diplomats who
served as Secretary of State carved their names on the walls of history through their senior roles in
the White House. Kissinger, the great American Nobel-prize winner famously opened America’s
borders to the People’s Republic of China in the late sixties.
So to what extend has gender affected US foreign policy through the emergence of female
Secretaries of State? Madeleine Albright, Condoleeza Rice and Hilary Clinton. Each brought a
different persona to the role and changed the course of history in their own right. Albright, the first
female Secretary of State used her gender and celebrity status to her advantage in pursuing
American foreign policy, particularly with respect to dealing with the Republican congressional
majority that disapproved of Clinton’s foreign policy.
Though studies show that women overwhelmingly favour soft power diplomacy over military
interventions to maintain peace abroad, neither Albright nor Rice met this preconception In fact,
Albright a staunch interventionist advocated for American military action in in the Balkans.
Rice,known as Bush’s ‘warrior princess’ and was famous for promoting the Bush Administration’s
anti-terrorism and Iraq war efforts. It is evident that none of the aforementioned Secretaries of
State held a neither dove-like foreign policy stance nor can their decisions be distinguished them
from other male Secretaries of State. In fact, Rice was a more vehement advocate for regime
change in Iraq than the former Secretary of State Colin Powell was.
These women join their counterparts Benazzhir Bhutto of Pakistan, India’s Indira Gandhi or Golda
Meier of Israel, in having established themselves in the in the foreign policy realm. The ‘gender
gap’ in foreign policy circles has been overstated for the most part and in the case of these three
high-ranking diplomats, gender played a minute role in the way they ran the State Department.
Take Hilary Clinton’s foreign policy ideology for example, the State Department has adopted
significantly less harsh rhetoric compared with her predecessor’s, though that shift has largely
been ideological, rather than because of her gender.
It is truly difficult to analyse the impact of gender in greater detail as there are overlapping
influences of party membership, personal temperament and directives of different administrations
and there isn’t any strong evidence to suggest that gender had any significant on representing
America at the highest level of office in foreign policy.
Amal is currently completing a Masters of International Relations at the University of Melbourne
Read more at:
Lasher, J. Kevin; The Impact of Gender on Foreign Policy-Making: Madeleine Albright and
Condoleeza Rice, September 2005
International Careers Conference 2011
By Marla Pascual
The ICC is an annual conference administered by ACCESS that shows university students ways
on how to begin international careers, giving them an insight into various international career paths
they may wish to pursue.
On Friday, August 26, 2011, ACCESS Youth Network for the Australian Institute of International
Affairs hosted the annual International Careers Conference, an all-day event at The University of
Melbourne. The ICC provided useful information for undergraduate and postgraduate students
about international careers in government and diplomacy, international agencies and services, and
international business. Through a number of insightful presentations from keynote speakers for
each of the three subcategories, participants are given constructive insights into requirements,
prerequisites and individual abilities to begin international careers that contribute to a general
global effectiveness.
The first keynote speaker, Associate Professor Jane Munro, the Head of College at International
House at The University of Melbourne, spoke about her own career path and shared her
experiences in educational administration. Her interest in Japan, its language and literature
allowed her to gain First Class Honours in Japanese at the University of Sydney. She also
attended Harvard University where she attained Masters and PhD degrees. Her interest in Japan
then broadened to learning about Japanese economic and management studies, and the
commercial and cultural relationship between Australia and Japan.
From the international business sector, Mr. Matthew Roberts from Price Waterhouse Coopers, Ms.
Narelle Crux from Rio Tintoand Ms. Charlotte Park from Hay Group each gave succinct accounts
of how they all started and subsequently prospered in their business careers. They spoke about
‘sustainable development’ as an integral key to executing successful businesses and the ability of
‘self-starters’ to implement business strategies and transform them into realities.
From the public sector, Ms. Heather White from Austrade, Mr. Russell Miles from AusAid and a
representative from Australian Secret Intelligence Service, imparted practical advice and discussed
the many opportunities for graduates in the public sector. Mr. Miles described how working
coherently with foreign governments, international agencies and non-government organisations
can help save lives, create opportunities for disadvantaged communities, improve economic
development and initiate more effective governance. All three speakers described how government
agencies value both opportunity and equity and how careers with the government are both
stimulating and challenging. Graduate programs are usually offered each year and applicants
come from diverse academic, cultural and social backgrounds.
From the international agencies and services sector, Mr. Andrew Hassett from World Vision, Ms.
Amber Earles from theAustralian Volunteers International, and Professor John Langmore, formerly
the Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development at the United Nations, spoke about
the various prospects and valuable experiences in working for such international bodies. Prof.
Langmore described how the UN operates, the sub-sectors it incorporates, and the diverse
opportunities it offers. Ms. Earles, an AVI training and development consultant, discussed the
benefits of working at AVI and explained how volunteering experiences not only effect global
change but also build character. Mr. Hassett talked about how long-term sustainable development
programs contribute to essentially ‘making the world a better place’. All three speakers stressed
how working for international agencies and services helps facilitate global change and ultimately
makes a positive difference to the world.
During the event two keynote speakers, United Nations representative Professor Ian Howie and
Deputy State Director of theVictorian Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ms.
Julienne Hince, further illustrated the benefits of international careers. Both speakers relayed
accounts of their own experiences and discussed the diverse ways in which students can get their
'foot in the door'. They explained how although academic credentials are important, personal
experiences and international exposure are also highly valuable. They highlighted the
competitiveness of the graduate programs within the three sectors but also stressed the rewarding
and challenging aspects of international careers.
The event was organised by ACCESS, the Australian Institute for International Affairs’ Network for
University Students and Young Professionals in partnership with the Graduate School of
Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Melbourne. For upcoming events and further
information, please contact AIIA at [email protected] or call (03) 9654 7271.
Marla completed her Bachelor in Arts (Journalism and History) in 2009 at Monash
University. She is currently undertaking a Masters of International Relations at Monash
University.
Will Women Define the Foreign Policy of the 21st Century?
By Nick Clarke
With so much of historical foreign policy driven by the decisions of men, will the emergence of
women in foreign policy bring hope for a more peaceful world? While the absence of female
thinking in realist foreign policy shows that this truth may be warranted, this question is not so
simple.
Will men, woman or a combination of both define this century? Wilson preaching “the world must
be made safe for democracy” and Churchill’s “blood, toil, tears, and sweat”[1] invoke moments of
twentieth century inspiration. However, the same subliminal flashback presents a mad-man’s
moustache, Mao’s little red book and nightmares from Pinochet to Pol Pot. Yet such nostalgia
commonly occludes female representation; if more women were in positions of political power last
century – would our world be different? Exploring a trend that has permeated international relations
for centuries, we see that woman’s influence in international affairs may remove such nightmares,
or arguably further propel humanity towards peace.
As there has never been a female tyrant, without overlooking the ‘Iron Lady’ and putting
opportunity aside – it might be assumed women are less likely than men, to lead their nation to
war? Or more inclined to negotiate and seek mutually beneficial outcomes? As our international
landscape evolves; from Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazil’s President Dilma
Rousseff; to Denmark’s first female Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Australia’s Julia
Gillard – this notion is becoming increasingly salient. Not to mention who the next President of the
United States (US) might be. Patterns of international affairs also suggest there may be oxygen to
this oestrogen driven proposition.
Some argue “women perceive the world differently than men”[2], and many theories (Realism,
Liberalism, Marxism, and Constructivism along with their off-shoots) help explore why and how
nations interact. Form alliances and/or devise unilateral versus multilateral strategies – from
security to economics, politics and beyond. For centuries Realism has been the dominant theory,
despite modern developments questioning its pre-eminence.
Realism has various colours, yet its Classical tinge (Machiavelli or Morgenthau), or Neo/Structural
complexion (Waltz) form its nucleus. The former is preoccupied with the notion that humans are
inherently evil and beset on maximising power, whilst the latter does similarly, yet from a structural
vantage point. Placing power dynamics and the distribution of capabilities amongst nations, as the
principle determinant of how a nation interacts with other nations. Yet irrespective of realisms
colour coordination, the entire rainbow assumes “the worst about human nature”[3], views the
world as anarchical, and international affairs as a zero-sum game. Here, my gain is inevitably your
loss. Realisy approaches centralise “military power”, as mostly men march to the beat of a
testosterone driven drum. The reason there has never been a female Hitler can be swiftly
dispatched by opportunity – yet why not a female Machiavelli? Although female realists exist –
when one considers the long list from Thucydides and Hobbes to Mearsheimer and Walt - women
are acutely underrepresented.
Will there be a female Hitler in the ‘Asian century’? Not all women are “peace-loving and antiwar” nor all men “warmongers”. However, considering the ‘great men’ of the last century and how
many conceptualise the world; without delving into woman playing the role of peace-makers with
their families and communities. This is worth pondering, particularly considering the tectonic shifts
across the Asia-Pacific, and the following scenario:
Given Australia’s new Ambassador to China, Ms Frances Adamson, and hope for future Politburo
member’s being female along with the next US President (Clinton please, humour me, side step
Palin/Bachmann). Is this a collection of promising prospects for peace? Before we get carried away
though, can individuals be so influential? Would, if at all, the rise of woman change the system or
vice versa? Like most issues and theories inhabiting the international arena, this is up for
contemporary debate – what’s your view?
Nick is currently completing a Masters in International Relations at the University of Melbourne.
Issue 19
Message from the Editor
By Rachel Hankey
Last month I spent a week camping in the Northern Territory, and found myself torn between the
horror of not having access to my email account, and enjoying freedom from the constant
bombardment of information which we now experience everyday. The advancements in
information and communication technology are undoubtedly one of the most significant
developments of the last decade.
Whilst increasing access to information has certainly brought many benefits, but there is also a
darker side to such progress. Last year the world was shocked both by the revelations of
Wikileaks, and the way in which the information was acquired. The recent scandal concerning
phone hacking by the British newspaper The News of the World, have once again highlighted the
vulnerability of our communication systems.
In this edition of Monthly Access we examine some of the advantages, practicalities and concerns
of living in The Information Age.
In Contemporary Debate this month, Sean Mackin questions the extent to which the News of the
World phone hacking scandal should be compared to Wikileaks.
Against the background of the Arab Spring and the recent fatal train crash in the Wenzhou
region, Priya Wakhlu examines the effectiveness and impact of efforts by the Chinese government
to censor online media.
Technology is increasingly becoming an important aspect of development work, and as Genevieve
Abbey reveals, one of the greatest impacts of such technological advances is in the use of mobile
phones to assist in the provision of health care.
In The Rise of the Filter Bubble Craig Butt questions whether greater use of the internet is in fact
limiting the availability of information, as social media sites and search engines increasingly filter
the content we receive.
Information technology and online media now influences almost every aspect of our lives, as John
Varghese reports in The Power of Online Media.
Whilst greater access to information online has many advantages, there are some aspects of this
which pose a threat to society. In Career Spotlight this month Eliza Nolan speaks to former
policeman Bruce McFarlane about cyber crime and the use of the internet by terrorist groups.
In Global Snapshot Richard Griffin and Marcus Burke take a look at some of the significant
events which have occurred around the world over the past month, including the famine in
Somalia, economic troubles in the USA and Europe, and a new report on cyber attacks.
In two Q&A interviews, Christian Habla speaks to Craig Butt and Daniel Wilson about the impact
of the online media on traditional forms of journalism, and the ways in which young people are
influencing future media.
In this month’s Media Analysis Marla Pascual reviews the documentary ‘Khodorkovsky’, in which
director Cyril Tuschi examines the prosecution of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head of Yukos
Oil Company.
Last month ACCESS hosted a debate on the question of whether aid or trade is the best way to
deliver assistance to developing nations. The ACCESS Press Room reports on the highlights from
the discussion.
This is sadly to be my last edition of Monthly Access as Editor-in-Chief, as I am returning to the UK
to study in London next month. It has been a wonderful experience, which I have enjoyed
immensely and also learnt a great deal. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the new
Editor-in-Chief, Ghazi Ahamat, who is currently studying at Melbourne University. I am confident
that Ghazi will use all his experience and enthusiasm to take the publication to new heights.
* Rachel is returning to the UK to undertake a Masters in International Conflict Studies at Kings
College London.
The Monthly Access team: Rachel Hankey, Ishita Acharyya, Evan Ritli, Sean Mackin, Priya
Wakhlu, John Varghese, Eliza Nolan, Richard Griffin, Marcus Burke, Christian Habla and Marla
Pascua. Guest columnists: Craig Butt and Genevieve Abbey
Monthly Access will be on hiatus for September and will return in October.
News of the World and Wikileaks
By Sean Mackin
Those with an interest in the 'information age' have been blessed in recent years with not one, but
two incidents grabbing global attention. The release of over a quarter of a million confidential
diplomatic cables by the Wikileaks group caused a mass uproar and, at the time, was considered
to be potentially leading to a diplomatic Armageddon.
While the release subsequently found little traction as a means to limit the candour of diplomats –
as recently displayed by British diplomats in Malawi – it was still a momentous milestone for the
information age. Then, months later, the general public found that the commercial parent of some
of the most virulent critics of the Wikileaks release, the Rupert Murdoch-owned News International
(a Murdoch paper, The New York Post accused Wikileaks founder Julian Assange of “open
collaboration with the enemy”) had been caught hacking into voicemail accounts in order to obtain
information for publication.
In the aftermath of the phone hacking scandal, an intriguing question has been posed by some in
the greater media – how are the two incidents fundamentally different? Bret Stephens argues that
“[a]t bottom, they’re largely the same story”; he holds contempt for those who find fault with the
actions of News International but hold Wikileaks up as a paragon of decency and journalistic
standards. Many in the media, however, have become so caught up in the swirl of ensuring that
they are first to ongoing stories, they have yet to stop and conduct any meaningful analysis of the
two events as they relate to each other. It would not be controversial either to infer that any
comparison between the Murdoch empire and a group that was lauded as an ally to the general
public would preclude certain media organisations from the opportunity to sink the boot in to
Murdoch and the News International group.
Stephens’ argument that these are ultimately the same story, that both are of “secret information,
initially obtained by illegal means, [which] was disseminated publicly by news organizations that
believed the value of the information superseded the letter of the law”, seems at least slightly
disingenuous. Stephens views the scandals through a prism of ‘public interest’ versus ‘interest to
the public’ and insists that he holds contempt for both Murdoch and Julian Assange. Stephens
ignores, however, the difference between the responsibility that governments have to their
constituents, and the interest that a news organisation has in the voicemails of public figures. The
Wikileaks release, however detrimental it was argued to be to international diplomacy, gave the
global public a glimpse into what was being said in their name – and ultimately it turned out to
demonstrate that the U.S diplomatic corps is unquestionably a talented group. It also caused, at
least initially, a rethink into the methods utilised to classify material at a time when information is so
readily available. Questions were rightly asked as to whether or not, rather than representing an
opportunity to tighten the security around government information, Wikileaks was instead an
opportunity to loosen security procedures. While it was indeed an illegal release of classified
information, comparing it with the phone hacking scandal is comparing apples and oranges.
One information scandal centred around admittedly over classified government information illegally
obtained and disseminated. The other information scandal involved the hacking into voicemail
accounts of, for example, victims of criminal activity in order to sell highly dramatized newspapers.
The question we need to ask ourselves living in the information age is what information should be
public and what deserves to remain private?
*Sean was formerly a soldier in the Australian Army, and last year completed his degree in
International Relations, Politics and Policy Studies at Deakin University. Currently undertaking
honours year to study R2P, Sean has been accepted to Birkbeck University, London to study the
MA/LLM program in 2011/12. In his spare time, Sean lobbies politicians worldwide as part of his
organisation, The Human Rights Project.
Online Freedom in China
By Priya Wakhlu
With the Arab Spring nourishing a thirst for freedom, one could easily imagine a 'winter of
discontent' settling over an increasingly uncomfortable Chinese regime.
After the self-immolation of a Tunisian vegetable seller acted as a catalyst for the destabilisation
and downfall of multiple regimes, questions ruminated about the next potential casualty, and
spectators turned their gaze to China.
Aware of the parallels being drawn between Tiananmen and Tahrir square, Chinese authorities
were determined to quash any dissent, particularly that of the “Jasmine Revolution” movement.
The internet was subject to increased scrutiny and censorship, with the Chinese characters for
Egypt and Cairo blocked by the authorities. Although a revolution may have been averted,
domestic concerns have shown the limitations of the 'Great Firewall of China'.
On July 23rd 2011, a fatal train crash in the Wenzhou region of China killed 39 people. The
government, desperate to avoid any recriminations, instructed the media that reports about the
incident should focus on “great love in the face of great tragedy”. By and large, the newspapers
toed the line, but China’s ‘netizens’ were not so compliant.
The role of netizens in the Wenzhou disaster signalled their latest triumph in upholding government
accountability and the rule of law. Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter became awash with
‘knits’ (tweets) condemning the incident and the government’s reaction, thus compelling the
government to respond to the virtual outrage. The strong criticism led to previous decisions to
hastily bury victims of the train crash and curtail victims’ rights to seek legal recourse being
reversed.
Despite the Chinese online community’s victories, it would be remiss to ignore the pervasive
network of censorship orchestrated by the Chinese regime. Phrases like “protest”, the “dalai lama”
and “falun gong” are blocked and the government, under the auspices of an anti-pornography
campaign, has closed down hundreds of websites which condemned the regime. Some also
suggest that the tolerance of microblogs, inconsistent with the regime’s overall policy, is only due
to the belief that Weibo and similar online communities usually act as valves, allowing citizens to
release their frustrations without causing serious harm to the regime.
While all websites and institutions are required to monitor and delete sensitive or overly critical
posts, recently public wi-fi service providers have also come under government scrutiny. Cafes,
hotels and other businesses are now required to install supervisory equipment so that users can be
tracked. Similar restrictions have also been recently imposed on university campuses.
Questions have been raised about whether the hacking is in order to monitor citizens, or part of a
more insidious trend to force foreign companies out of the Chinese market to maintain domestic
supremacy. In this way, aside from being a means to control the populace, the existing internet
policy is also an effective tool to advance the economic aims of the regime. Persistent interference
with foreign internet companies has resulted in their exit from the market, a boom for local
companies. For instance, Google’s decision to leave was prompted by interference and hacking
into its Gmail services.
Despite the ostensible potential for China’s online community to foster a democratic dialogue
between government and the populace, the reality indicates a less optimistic hypothesis. In a
recent article published by China’ state run Xinhua news agency, Weibo was praised for its ability
to “help those in need”. However, any optimism about the regime embracing new media, and its
role in developing an online public democratic sphere, must be tempered. The Xinhua article also
seemed to foreshadow the increased regulation of the micro-blogs, suggesting that the age of light
for China’s online community may be coming to a premature end.
*Priya is currently a 4th year Arts/Law student at Monash University, majoring in politics and
Indonesian.
Health Care 2.0: A New Frontier in Global Health
By Genevieve Abbey
Technology has fundamentally changed the way of life in first world countries and, increasingly, in
developing nations. Incorporating technology into development strategies is understood as
essential to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
With the explicit aim of working, ‘in cooperation with the private sector, to make available the
benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications’, the development sector
is encouraged to think broadly about possible uses of all forms of technology. While the use of
mobile technology is well-established in the developed world, its potential is becoming increasingly
obvious in developing nations as well, albeit in very different ways.
Today there are an estimated five billion live mobile phone subscriptions globally, and that number
continues to rise. Relatively cheap and easy to use, with more than 85% of the world covered in
some way by wireless connectivity, mobile technologies are a fitting tool for development. The
take-up of mobile phones in Africa has occurred at a much faster pace than more traditional
infrastructure development, such as roads, landlines, electrification, and the internet. Mobile phone
technology is, therefore, a prime tool to reduce huge inequality in access to health care
information.
'mHealth' (mobile health technology) utilises the strengths of mobile technologies to provide a costeffective way to disseminate and record information in health and health-related fields. Myriad
applications, including sending appointment reminders; community mobilisation and health
promotion; health call centres and emergency toll-free telephone services; management of
emergencies and disasters; recording of mobile patient records; patient monitoring, health surveys
and data collection; and surveillance and decision support systems, can be supported by mobile
phones.
While mHealth does not reduce the need for trained health professionals, drugs, or health
infrastructure in developing countries, it increases the effectiveness of what is available and
spreads existing resources further. For example, rural health workers can access information from
city-based doctors to provide real time help to patients in remote areas. A 2010 study in the
medical journal The Lancet found the effectiveness of a text message to remind patients to take
HIV drugs properly improved adherence to the therapy by 12%. Another study found a reduction in
the number of missed appointments from 15% to 4%. These simple but effective solutions utilising
behavioural psychology are at the forefront of improving health care in developing nations.
Notwithstanding its substantial benefits, the mHealth initiative faces significant challenges in
developing countries. It is important to consider the more limited electronic infrastructure of target
destinations. Mobile phone battery life is one barrier, particularly when reusing second hand
phones with diminished battery capability. Data security is also a concern. Although mHealth is an
effective mode of data collection - births and deaths can be recorded in a central database from a
specifically coded SMS - without solid security infrastructure, personal data is vulnerable.
Further, as with most aid, ensuring that the technology gets to the right people is vital. Women are
particularly at risk. Women’s health issues, such as maternal mortality, pose significant challenges
in the developing world. According to the World Health Organisation, the unacceptably high levels
of maternal mortality mean that at least 1000 women die from pregnancy or childbirth related
complications every day. Given the right health care, most of these deaths are preventable.
mHealth can offer women affordable and direct access to health care without requiring long
distance travel. However, to be effective, it must reach the women in need. As recently as last
year, Lank village in Northern India banned mobile phones for unmarried women, purportedly as a
measure to curb elopements. Access to mobile technology is unavailable to many women around
the world, and is symptomatic of widespread inequality and restrictions on women’s rights.
Understanding the social and technological challenges to mHealth will pave the way for innovative,
cost-effective health delivery models in the future. Positive results from existing trials, and the
emerging prevalence of sustainable public-private partnerships, make it clear that mHealth can
have an impact on health, both in developed and developing nations. Innovative technological
solutions need to be nurtured to ensure equality of access to health information and treatment for
all.
Further reading on mobile technology and health
Steven Overly, ‘FDA moves to regulate mobile health applications’ in The Washington Post Capital
Business
United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation’s 2011 Report ‘Mobilizing Development’
RT Lester et al. (2010) Effects of a mobile phone short message service on antiretroviral treatment
adherence in Kenya(WelTel Kenya1): a randomised trial
*Genevieve has graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts Informatics and
has a particular interest in ICT for Development. She is a member of the Young UN Women
Australia – Melbourne Committee.
The Rise of the Filter Bubble
By Craig Butt
Rapid technological change seems to be a fixture of our times. New ideas and innovations spring
up at a rapid rate, and what was once novel soon becomes an anachronism.
The tech industry is booming - Silicon Valley is increasingly been seen as one of America’s best
assets - and many of the biggest advances of the last fifteen years have been in the growing
ubiquity of the internet and its ability to redefine how we communicate, do business and access
information.
It is often said that we are living in an information age, and one of the immediate benefits of this is
that there is so much information instantly accessible to anyone with an internet connection. A
quick Google search will often help you find what you are looking for after just a few clicks of a
mouse, Wikipedia’s sheer scale dwarfs that of any printed encyclopaedia, valuable works of
literature, art and science can be found freely online and news unfolding on the other side of the
planet can be followed in real time.
But against this backdrop, virtually the only constant is the never-ending argument that technology
is somehow making us dumber, lazier, more violent, less empathetic, less social or some
combination of the above.
This argument has been brought to the fore again recently following contentions that the internet is
having a negative effect on the way we think and the efficacy of the information we are retrieving.
For example, Wikipedia has been criticised for the relative homogeneity of its contributors, and it is
being argued that this lack of diversity could be blinkering the website’s outlook and prejudicing
how it prioritises knowledge. Meanwhile, search engines are increasingly personalising results to fit
the user, so as Google becomes acclimatised to an individual’s usage patterns it is tweaking its
results accordingly. Additionally, with so much content out there vying for our attention, it can be
difficult to keep track of what is important, so it is no surprise that people are using their news
feeds on social networks like Facebook and Twitter as guiding lights to what is worth accessing.
Instead of broadening our horizons, the trend towards the personalisation of web content could
instead be constricting them, leaving us to occupy ‘filter bubbles’ of our own making. American
author Eli Pariser recently wrote a book on this subject, in which he relates how he noticed the
downsides of web personalisation first hand. For example, when he asked his friends to run
Google searches of ‘Egypt’ one friend retrieved news articles and analysis on the Tahrir Square
protests, while another was given information on Egypt’s tourist attractions. He also found that
while he has a mix of conservative and progressive friends sharing content on Facebook, he was
only served up links to progressive websites. When he investigated this further he found that he
was more likely to click on links from his progressive friends, which meant Facebook saw this as
validation of these connections and gradually muted competing content from his friends from the
opposite side of politics from his news feed.
While the above examples may well seem harmless, it is easy to see how a gradual diminution of
counter views being presented through searches and social media could lead to confirmation bias
and radicalized thinking. If anything, the ongoing debate proves a fundamental, yet often
overlooked fact - technology is and always has been a facilitator and that it is up to individuals to
work out how to use it to its full potential.
* Craig is the co-founder and editor of News Hit, an online publication dedicated to showcasing the
work of young journalists.
The Power of Online Media
By John Varghese
The internet and associated forms of technology have driven modern development, both at the
economic and social level.
The growing reliance on information technology for even the most basic of chores is a clear sign
that there is a narrowing gap between mankind's operational capacity and his access to modern
technology. From the herd-boy in a remote village in the Himalayan ranges in Nepal who keeps in
touch with his friends on Facebook, to the Stanford University professor tweeting the latest results
of his lab experiment, the information technology boom has fundamentally altered the method,
frequency and model of communication between individuals, businesses and governments.
Those who have harnessed this powerful tool have managed to build their careers from the
revolution. Consider a once immobile support base that was systematically and rapidly awakened
by the election campaigns of Barack Obama and Kevin Rudd through the use of online media.
More recently of course, there was Julian Assange; a poster boy for freedom of information. His
actions led to a culture of citizens being unsatisfied with previously held norms of government
secrecy and privacy. Online media has transformed social and cultural norms and has helped
establish a minimum standard for government accountability and transparency.
The Californian-based giants - Google, Facebook and Apple - have all managed to capture and
steer the market on a scale larger than even Bill Gates could have imagined. That Joseph Biden,
the Vice President of the United States, is less well-known around the globe than Facebook
founder Mark Zuckerburg is a clear sign of the shift of power from centralised bureaucracies to an
array of entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies.
Google’s decision to move its offices from mainland China to Hong Kong and the subsequent
diplomatic tensions that arose between the United States and China further strained an already
fragile relationship. That this episode had more impact on the relationship than Washington’s
decision to sell arms to Taiwan shows the growing might of online media and information
technology.
Information warfare now has the capability to influence world events on a scope never seen before
in history. In the military too, computer networks and modern technology have now become pivotal
to the advancement of military hardware and equipment culminating in greater military power.
The most recent episode to highlight the power of online media when the ‘Arab Spring’ turned into
the 'Arab Summer'. The lack of government control over social networking sites, including
Facebook and Twitter, prompted thousands of protesters on to the streets of Cairo, Benghazi and
Damascus. Governments have had serious trouble controlling the rapidly spiralling supply of antigovernment propaganda. This has resulted in many a dictator falling victim to this powerful and
often vicious medium of communication.
Naturally, there have been attempts by many governments, from Tehran to Beijing, to restrict
freedom of access to the internet, and many will probably succeed in doing so in the near future. In
the interim period, access to the internet has now beencategorised as a human right by the United
Nations. That the UN considers access to internet as important as the right to life, liberty and
security of person surely signifies a change in the social, economic and political culture with
respect to online media and contemporary forms of information.
The decline of traditional media coupled with increasing access to information technology through
a new generation of tablets, smart phones and hand-held devices mean that online media will
consume an even larger portion of the market in the near future. Retailers, media companies and
governments will battle it out for a piece of pie that is expanding exponentially.
* John is currently studying for a Masters in International Relations at the University of Melbourne
and is actively involved in the promotion of human rights through Amnesty International.
Career Spotlight with Bruce McFarlane
By Eliza Nolan
In Career Spotlight this month we talk to Bruce McFarlane about cyber crime, computer forensics
and the ways in which extremist groups are now utilising the internet for spreading propaganda
and recruiting new members.
A former policeman, Bruce McFarlane spent many years working in computer forensics, and is
currently writing a PhD about the use of the internet by violent extremists.
You have worked in a variety of investigative, computer forensic and online security intelligence
roles; just briefly, could you explain what these roles were and a little about what they entail?
I’ve been in the police force for 14 years and during this time I’ve been fortunate to have a variety
of investigative roles. These have included mainstream policing roles such as uniform policing,
which certainly provides a wide variety of investigative challenges, but also within specialist
streams such as serious fraud, computer forensics and more recently pro-active online child
exploitation investigations at the Internet Child Exploitation Team within the Sexual Crimes Squad.
I spent several years working in the UK, supporting government agencies in detecting various
fraudulent activities. I then moved into computer forensics, and then focused online investigations.
All investigation streams have their own unique demands, however I found online child exploitation
investigations to be the most challenging, yet at the same time, most satisfying of all these crime
themes.
What is computer forensics exactly?
Computer (or Digital) Forensics is the science of obtaining, preserving, analysing and presenting
digital information or evidence to a court of law, in a ‘forensically sound’ (legally acceptable)
manner.
Essentially, it is a crime scene contained on a hard drive, mobile phone or other digital storage
device or network. The great thing about a digital crime scene is that you can examine it,
whenever and where ever you like and it doesn’t change over time, unlike physical crime scenes
where you are limited by resources and time constraints of processing that crime scene there and
then, knowing that once you leave it you may never have a chance to re-visit it in its original state.
People often confuse computer forensic roles, with IT roles and I’m frequently asked by people to
provide assistance in removing viruses, software bugs or networking problems; they are surprised
when I haven’t got a clue about how to solve their problems. They are both very specific and
unique roles in their own right.
Are there many differences between Australia and the UK in regards to online security? Are we all
at risk of the exact same problems due to the internet being a global network?
There isn’t a great deal of difference between the two countries in terms of online threats. As
you’ve pointed out it’s a global network. However, I do think that Australia is behind in dealing with
these threats in areas such as protecting corporate infrastructure and IT security.
We routinely read about intrusion attempts into government departments, large corporate
companies or even individuals.
Individual online security is a major issue. People don’t realise that every website they visit and the
information they place online, leaves a trace that they have been there, how they got there and
generally where they go afterwards, commonly referred to as a ‘digital footprint’. The bigger the
footprint the easier it is for marketing companies, criminal elements or anyone to create an online
profile of your life and then exploit that information for their own needs. Social networking sites play
a large role in advertising this information, however your digital footprint can be reduced
significantly by understanding and applying the appropriate security settings. I can generally find
more detailed, accurate, updated and publicly available information on a person of interest online,
than I can by searching law enforcement intelligence holdings.
Do you think there are likely to be more problems requiring computer forensic and online security
intelligence and policing roles as the internet becomes further integrated and integral to our daily
lives?
As online technology becomes more integrated into our society it will continue to pose unique
challenges for law enforcement in terms of the quantity of digital devices that can provide digital
evidence, the increasing size of data storage devices and the increasing push toward cloud
computing, where all the digital evidence is held on multiple servers around the world. As society
relies more on this technology, so too will law enforcement to obtain evidence from this technology.
What are some of the heavier penalties associated with cyber crime?
I’ve predominately worked within the online sex offender investigative crime theme within Australia,
so I can only really comment on those online crime types. It’s also worth clarifying that online child
exploitation is a sexually motivated crime, differing from a cyber crime such as a network intrusion
(hacking) offence. The legislation in this area is quite clear; anyone seeking to groom or procure a
child for sexual activity via the internet can face jail terms of between 12 – 25 years depending on
the circumstances. The offender doesn’t even have to leave their house or actually physically meet
the victim for the offence to be completed. The law is very strict in this area, and rightly so.
Do you think law enforcement methods will have to change in order to effectively combat the
growing problem of crimes through new media? Have they changed already?
Most certainly. Law enforcement agencies in general have moved toward intelligence lead policing
for a number of years now, essentially working smarter and deploying assets more efficiently and
effectively.
Pro-active online child exploitation investigations are a good example of how law enforcement
agencies adapt to emerging online crime themes. We actively monitor a variety of online spaces
and interact, engage and pursue individuals who seek to sexually exploit children either in the
online or physical world.
Even in general fields of policing, law enforcement agencies are changing their investigative
techniques due to online communications. The theft of a mobile phone, for example, can result in
very quick and easy apprehensions. We have seen numerous cases this year of phones being
successfully tracked and located within a very short space of time via geographical reporting
applications that are now available. Traditionally, a police officer may have had to visit various
locations, take witness statements, view multiple CCTV footage - which may have taken several
days to complete depending on operational commitments - and then investigate the theft with little
chance of recovering the mobile phone. A Smart phone can now provide instant online tracking
facilities that can lead the officer straight to the door of the offender. All the previous avenues of
enquiry are still required, however it can be done post arrest and after the positive outcome for the
victim.
Where did you head straight after University? Did you always know you wanted to work
internationally and/or in policing?
I obtained my Bachelor degree whilst working in the police force. I studied part-time after work
which is quite demanding, however once you are in a routine of regularly studying after work hours,
it makes it that little bit easier.
I took a year leave without pay from the police force to travel to the United Kingdom, which turned
into three! It was a great experience and I’d encourage anyone who is in a position to travel to do
it, as it’s very easy to get into a routine of saying ‘I’ll do it next year’. I washed dishes for the first six
months which was ‘character building’, and then obtained employment working for various local
councils, private industry and government departments investigating fraud related matters.
I was fortunate enough to travel, work and complete my computer forensic training in the United
States as well as to travel extensively throughout Eastern and Western Europe and the Caribbean.
Having studied International Relations it was great to visit countries I had only previously read
about and it enhanced my understanding of historical events.
Upon my return to Victoria Police, I was mindful of bringing back as much experience as I could to
assist law enforcement in Australia, instead of just how to pull the perfect beer behind a bar. With
the computer and online skills I acquired whilst in the UK, the Internet Child Exploitation Team of
the Sexual Crime Squad was the obvious choice.
When did you become interested in your PhD topic? Have you been involved in many jobs relating
to online terrorism and can you elaborate at all?
Whilst completing my International Relations degree I became interested in the terrorism field.
After studying how States and State actors interact with each other, I found it fascinating how
asymmetric threats affect State stability and security. My interest in terrorism related studies
stemmed from there.
As discussed earlier, I have a strong background in computer forensics and online investigations
so it was only natural that I utilise these skills within my PhD. I applied for the PhD via Monash
University’s Monash Radicalisation Project, focusing on how violent extremist and violent extremist
organisations utilise the internet to facilitate terrorist acts.
Can you give me a brief overview of your PhD, or what you have so far?
My PhD thesis is currently titled, [email protected]: An Examination of Violent Extremist Literature and
New Media as a Measure of Radicalisation'. Essentially, I’m looking at the online behaviour of
violent extremists in order to determine if their online viewing habits can tell us anything about their
violent radical development over time. I’m also examining online literature and new media in terms
of its significance within this radical development stage. To date, there is little research data and
understanding within this field relating to violent extremist material and its impact on the end
consumer so I believe with this research I can make a significant contribution to this area.
It is widely accepted that violent extremist organisations utilise the internet and new media in six
general categories: 1) Dissemination of propaganda, 2) Recruitment, 3) Communications, 4)
Intelligence gathering, 5) Fundraising and 6) Cyber-terrorism/attacks; however, it should be noted
that to date there have been no recorded incidents anywhere in the world of a specific cyberterrorist attack. This is not to say that it will not happen in the future though. One further category
that has increased in significance is the use of the internet as a virtual training ground due to the
loss of traditional physical training grounds, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan for example, due to
increased military intervention in these areas.
It is also important to note that my research will include violent extremist organisations involved in
ecological, ethno-nationalist, State sponsored, animal rights as well as ideological/political/religious
based violent extremism.
Are violent extremists necessarily violent people? What makes a ‘violent extremist’?
Good question, complex answer and an answer which I can’t give you a definitive response to. I
think the case of 21 year oldRoshonara Choudhry highlights the issues surrounding violent
extremism and specifically online radical development. By her own admissions, Choudhry became
radicalised by viewing online lectures on YouTube and within six months, without any external
involvement, had discontinued her studies at Kings College, London, purchased several kitchen
knives, met with and stabbed UK MP Mr Steven Timms for his support of the allied invasion of Iraq.
I think it highlights the complexity of what law enforcement agencies and policy makers are faced
with in today’s modern society.
For my research purposes my definition of violent extremism is ‘any behaviour that encourages,
seeks, promotes or justifies the use of violence of any kind in furtherance of particular belief
systems.’ As to what makes a violent extremist, it comes down to a multitude of variables and
ultimately it’s an individual journey. It’s a question we’ll be asking for centuries to come.
Do you have any future predictions regarding the effects of terrorism and violent extremists’
facilitation of the online environment and new media?
I’m not too sure about future predictions, however there are certainly notable trends indicating an
increased use of online communication by violent extremists. In the same way that society in
general rely on and utilise the internet to socialise, communicate, network and to conduct our lives,
so to do the violent extremists and violent extremist organisations.
So, I believe the online component of violent extremist activities will only gain momentum in the
future and will provide law enforcement agencies and policy makers with significant challenges in
the near future. A further worrying trend is the decrease in age, globally, in which an individual
decides to join violent extremist organisations, or is willing to commit violent extremist acts. I
believe online technology and new media may play a role in facilitating this trend, however further
research is needed to identify why this is the case.
*Eliza is finishing the final subject of her bachelor of International Relations through her placement
with ACCESS and is also completing a Certificate IV in Financial Services and volunteering with
the AIIA.
Global Snapshot for August 2011
By Richard Griffin and Marcus Burke
A round-up of key events across the world over the last month.
Africa
Somalia
In the midst of the drought and a UN declared famine that is sweeping across Somalia, The New
York Times is reporting that the al-Shabaab Islamist insurgent group is blocking starving people
from fleeing Somalia, whilst setting up a containment camp for those captured trying to escape.
The group is widely blamed for causing the famine in Somalia by forcing out many Western aid
organizations. More than 500,000 children are on the brink of starvation. Aid groups are to
increase the size of their operations, and the United Nations has begun airlifting emergency food.
However, many experienced aid officials are very concerned about the situation, as one of Africa’s
worst humanitarian disasters in decades has struck one of the most inaccessible regions on earth.
The UN has declared a famine in five regions across Somalia. A famine can be declared only when
certain measures of mortality, malnutrition and hunger are met; at least 20% of households in an
area must face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope, acute malnutrition rates must
exceed 30%, and the death rate must exceed two persons per day per 10,000 persons. More
international aid is still required to put a stop to this humanitarian disaster. The United Nations
Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, has warned that “unless we see
a massive increase in response, the famine will spread to five or six more regions.”
Sudan update
Haile Menkerios, the former head of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), has been appointed to the
new position of Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan.
A South African national, Mr. Menkerios joined the UN in 2002 and became Assistant SecretaryGeneral for Political Affairs in 2007. He was Deputy Special Representative of the SecretaryGeneral for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from 2005 to 2007 and was the SecretaryGeneral’s special representative and head of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) from
March 2010 until last month.
The world’s newest sovereign state, South Sudan is looking to fast track the use of a new
currency. Reuters Africa reports that last month, South Sudan introduced a new pound, pegged
one-to-one with the Sudan pound. The Southern Central Bank has stated that it will allow
exchange of the old currency to the new currency from 18th July to 1 September. Outgoing head of
United Nations peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy, referred to January’s successful referendum in Sudan
as one of the successes of the ‘Blue Helmets.’ “Nobody a few months ago expected a referendum
to be on time, fair, credible [and] accepted by both parties with no fighting. Who made that
possible? The mission on the ground.”
Togo – A nutritious victory
A United Nations-European Union initiative to help Togo cope with high food prices and bad
weather has produced returns that are almost double the cost. The project provided support for
20,000 rural farmers, through the provision of seeds, fertilisers and other input.
Having endured floods in 2007 and 2009 and a spike in food prices at that time, the European
Union (EU) channelled €2.5 million through the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to help
over 20,000 of the most-affected Togolese farmers restart their production via the EU Food
Facility, the EU's worldwide response to the food price crisis of 2007-2008. The FAO estimates
that, two years on, the total value of what they have produced — 9,634 tonnes of maize, 675
tonnes of rice, 85 tonnes of sorghum, 3,522 tonnes of tomatoes, 350 tonnes of onions and 85
tonnes of green chillies — is €4.7 million, nearly double the amount invested by the EU.
The Americas
Brazil and Argentina working for nuclear disarmament
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has praised the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for
Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC) for its 20 years of working for nuclear
disarmament and non-proliferation.
According to a statement issued by his spokesman, the “ABACC has made a very substantial
contribution to regional nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation by providing for a sound
regional framework for the application of International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] safeguards
and facilitated the entry into force of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, (also known as the Treaty for the
Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean) the nuclear-weapon-free
zone encompassing of the entire Latin America and the Caribbean region.” The ABACC was
created after Brazil and Argentina signed a bi-lateral agreement “the Guadalajara Agreement for
the Exclusively Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy.”
Peru
Peru’s new President, Ollanta Humala, has committed to protecting reforms which have helped his
country become South America’s fastest growing economy over the last five years. The Miami
Herald reports that although “[a] former disciple of Venezuela’s radical Hugo Chávez, Mr. Humala
made an abrupt shift to the center to win election this year but many feared this was a mere
campaign strategy and continue to harbor doubts about his true intentions.” However, following the
announcement of the appointment of a “market-oriented economic team” led by Finance Minister
Luis Miguel Castilla and businessman Salomon Lerner, Bloomberg reported that Peru’s bonds rose
to a five month high.
The Finance Minister confirmed that the Government would focus on supporting the poor, whilst
ensuring economic security; "The big challenge is to reach those who do not see the presence of
the state, such as the elderly and those in extreme poverty, and in turn that these interventions are
effective." Half of Peru's budget is normally steered towards social spending, and despite a
decade-long economic boom poverty remains high.
Europe
European debts
Europe’s debt crisis has continued, with Italy ‘s finances now causing the most concern. Italy’s
debt now totals € 1.8 billion ($2.6 trillion), significantly larger than those of the other troubled
southern European economies. There remains concern thatItaly’s political response, including an
austerity package and tax increases, has been inadequate for the gravity of the crisis, with much of
the criticism directed at President Silvio Berlusconi.
Meanwhile Spain’s Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has announced an early election,
now scheduled for November (elections had been originally scheduled for March). He had
previously announced that he would not be running again as leader of the Socialist Party; with
unemployment running at 21% and protests continuing against government austerity measures,
polls predict that rightwing opposition People's Party of Mariano Rajoy will take government.
Middle East
Syria
Ongoing violence in Syria has continued to claim many lives – according to some reports
the number of deaths now approaches 2000. Recent violence has been centred around the city
of Hama, echoing the previous massacre in the city in 1982.
After much contention, the UN Security Council only issued a President’s statement on the
violence rather than a full resolution. The United States and United Kingdom had been pushing
for stronger condemnation of President Bashar Assad’s regime, and possibly referring the situation
to the International Criminal Court, however China and Russia, along with non-permanent
members Brazil, India, Lebanon, and South Africa opposed action, citing Libya as a
precedent. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has encouraged restraint from the Syrian government.
Palestine seeks full UN membership
The Palestinian Authority is making plans to apply for full membership of the United Nations, when
the General Assembly sits for its September session, and is currently looking for international
support for its declaration of statehood. The United States is expected to oppose the bid for
statehood, however there is disagreement in other states, including Australia, over the question of
supporting Palestine in its bid.
However whilst it seeks international recognition, the Palestinian government is also running out of
money to pay its employees.
Asia
ASEAN commitment to resolving conflicts in the region
ASEAN has sought agreement on resolving conflicts in the region at its annual Foreign Ministers
meeting, which may represent a greater willingness to deal with some of conflicts in region,
particularly in the South China Sea.
However conflicts continue over the Spratly Islands, with the Philippines provoking a reaction from
China after visiting islands that both countries claim ownership of. At the same time protest
continued in Vietnam over Chinese incursions into waters claimed by both nations.
ASEAN also now needs to deal with a new generation of leaders within its own ranks, with many
leaders increasingly being chosen by democratic processes and reliant on popular support, which
will lead to changing dynamics within the organisation.
International
Cyber Attacks
Internet security has become an international issue, with security company McAfee revealing in a
new report that a series ofcyber-attacks over many years have targeted governments, major
corporations and NGOs.
The attacks all came from a single nation, however the company refused to name the source
country. A Chinese government paper has denied that China was the source of the
attacks. However, an agency in China has reported that 2010 saw over500,000 cyber-attacks
against Chinese computers.
The latest ‘State of the Internet Report’ has also found an increasing number of attacks; China and
Burma were the two largest sources of cyber-attacks.
* Richard completed an Arts/Law degree from Monash University in 2008. He was worked for the
Prosecutor at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and is
currently a lawyer at Lander and Rogers Lawyers.
* Marcus is currently completing a Master of Diplomacy and International Trade at Monash
University. He also has a combined Law/Science degree from the University of Melbourne, and
has most recently been working in the IT industry.
Q&A with Craig Butt
By Christian Habla
In the first of our Q&A interviews this month we spoke to young journalist Craig Butt, about the
future of the media, and how traditional journalists are competing in an increasingly online world.
Craig Butt is a journalist and digital producer. He currently works for the Melbourne Press Club,
where he is responsible for overseeing the Club’s online and social media presence. He recently
graduated in journalism at Monash University. Whilst studying journalism he started a student
website with his brother, which has since grown to encompass a dedicated team of editors and
contributors. Craig has worked on a number of journalism websites and is currently developing
other new media projects. He is interested in new media, online and investigative journalism,
emerging technologies and the changing news landscape.
Could you please explain what form of media you predominantly work with?
I mainly work in online media. I’m a digital producer for the Melbourne Press Club (the journalism
organisation, not the restaurant!) and my role involves administering the club’s website, overseeing
its
social
media
presence
and
producing
written
and
video
content.
I also edit my own online publication, News Hit, a website I started with my brother while I was at
university. The site employs a team of volunteer editors and publishes a wide range of articles. We
have a syndication agreement with Access, so you might have seen some of our content published
in Monthly Access.
What
influenced
your
decision
to
work
in
journalism
and
the
media?
I guess it was something I always wanted to get into. I’ve always liked writing and am a bit of a
news junkie, so pursuing a career in the media made sense. Plus, with all of the changes that the
media industry is currently undergoing, it’s an incredibly exciting time to be working in journalism
and
online
development.
I
wouldn’t
want
to
be
anywhere
else!
What do you see as the most influential platform of the media (newspapers, blogs, etc) now
and
into
the
future?
I might be a bit biased, but I think online media is the most influential platform. More and more
people are getting their news online and this trend is only going to continue as the web becomes
more integrated. Using the internet you can follow news as it unfolds in real time, retrieve news
and analysis in an instant, compare reports from one organisation to similar reports from a
multitude of other sources, watch multimedia reports and interact with fellow readers and
sometimes even the journalists themselves. It really benefits consumers because they don’t have
to wait for the latest newspaper to land on their doorstep, or for the story they want to watch to
appear on a news bulletin, before they can access the information they want.
We’re also seeing the rise of social media, which is only going to get more influential in the future.
Most news organisations - be they print, radio or TV - have an active Facebook and Twitter
presence, which they use as a way of getting their content to their audiences. A lot of people are
using their Facebook and Twitter feeds as their own personalised news aggregators, with links to
what their friends have shared becoming a powerful recommendations tool. All of the ‘Like’, ‘Share’
and ‘+1’ buttons that have sprung up on news websites over the last couple of years are testament
to how influential social media has become and how much news organisations are trying to
harness
this
to
boost
page
views.
A really good example of online media’s influence is The Guardian newspaper’s recent list of
the 100 most influential peoplein media in the UK. The three most influential people on this list
were Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Jack Dorsey (Twitter) and Larry Page (Google), mainly
because their platforms are the conduits through which readers access online content. By contrast,
the director general of the BBC was fourth, Rupert Murdoch came sixth and the editors of the UK’s
top newspapers were even further down the list. I suspect the results would be very similar in
Australia.
How do you think journalism and its means of delivery will change and develop over the
coming
decade?
At its core I think good journalism will always be about telling good stories, pursuing the truth and
helping audiences make sense of complex issues. However, the process of journalism will certainly
evolve to integrate new news gathering techniques and distribution methods. For example, so
many stories are now unfolding within social media through tweets, twitpics and other user
generated content that sorting through all of this information and packaging it into clear narrative is
fast becoming an important journalistic skill. At the same time, journalists can connect with their
readers on a level that would have been unheard of several years ago, and I think over time we’re
going
to
see
journalism
become
even
more
social
and
participatory.
In terms of the means of delivery, it will be interesting to see how experiments with monetisation of
content online will succeed. A lot of news organisations have realised that they just can’t afford to
be giving out their content for free online. The Timesnewspaper put a 'paywall' in place one year
ago and since then The New York Times has also followed suit with its own version, which lets you
read 20 articles a month before asking you to pay for access. The News Limited papers in
Australia
will
soon
be
going
down
that
path
too.
But at the same time, setting up a paywall practically precludes content being shared on social
media, which will certainly cut into the potential readership for some of these sites. My theory is
that there will be a segregation of online content. On the one hand there will be the content that
aims to reach as many people as possible through social media sharing and other delivery
methods, while on the other there will be gated online news communities that offer premium
analysis
for
a
price.
Do you believe that online journalism and new forms of media are counteracting the
problems associated with the concentration of mainstream news ownership?
It’s definitely a lot easier to set up your own media presence these days. Until about twenty years
ago, if you wanted to get your point across or challenge a dominant narrative or editorial line in the
news, your only options were to write to an existing publication (and even then you had little control
over your message) or establish your own (prohibitively expensive) newspaper. Now, anyone can
set up a blog and a social media presence to get their voice heard. Obviously the average
blogger’s voice won’t be as amplified as someone who has a column in a newspaper or as widely
read as a report in a newspaper, but I think it makes for a much more vibrant media ecosystem.
We’ve also seen a lot of online media organisations - like Private Media (owners
of Crikey and Business Spectator) and New Matilda - spring up and become quite influential in
their own right. Just look at The Huffington Post in the US, it has grown into something that
employs more journalists than The New York Times and was bought out for $315 million earlier
this
year.
Will the traditional journalist and news organisation survive the growth of online media?
Yes, I think traditional journalists can survive the growth of online media, although there will be
pressure on them to augment their existing skills by, for example, learning how to put together
multimedia
packages
or
how
to
establish
a
social
media
presence.
As for news organisations, it depends on how well they adapt to it. I don’t think news organisations
can pretend that there hasn’t been a fundamental shift in the way that people access news. If they
don’t develop strategies that make digital development central then I think we could see certain
news
organisations
becoming
unsustainable.
Should
the
Australian
media
be
more
or
less
heavily
regulated?
This debate has really exploded in Australia lately because of the News of the World phone
hacking scandal in the UK. A lot of people are asking whether the unethical practices the British
subsidiary of News Corporation’s papers used to obtain stories could have been replicated by
News Limited’s Australian mastheads. However, I don’t think there’s any evidence that this sort of
thing happened here in Australia, and I think most of these calls for more regulation are coming
from people who are opportunistically trying to conflate what happened in the UK with their own
distaste for some of News Limited’s editorial lines. These are completely different things and it
should be the prerogative of any privately owned news organisation to adopt its own editorial
stance.
At present I think the current level of media regulation is sufficient.
What do you think are the major powers in international journalism today?
I think many of the traditional media outlets are still the major powers in international journalism
today, even though they aren't quite as dominant or as stable as they once were. There have been
some predictions that News Corporation might scale back its news interests and that the BBC will
further reduce its global media footprint because of the budget cuts, but it's a bit premature to
judge. Other non-Western powers are also beginning to emerge - Al Jazeera is going from strength
to strength, while I wouldn't be surprised if China's official news agencies start becoming more
extroverted to boost the country's soft power.
What role do younger people play in the world of journalism where more established journalists
with built-up audiences dictate the media landscape?
I'm sure this question has been asked for as long as there has been an established media. The
media landscape is in a real state of flux at the moment and there has never been a better time for
younger people to get their voices across and to experiment with blogs, podcasts, social media
and other platforms like YouTube. Many media organisations are trying to solve the problem of
why Gen Y audiences aren't engaging with their content, so maybe young people could solve the
problem themselves by creating their own media ecosystem.
* Christian is a Monash University student currently completing a combined degree in Arts and
Law.
Media Analysis: ‘Khodorkovsky’ by Cyril Tuschi
By Marla Pascual
A review of the documentary ‘Khodorkovsky’ by Cyril Tuschi. A link to the documentary website
and extracts can be found here.
Screening at this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival is Cyril Tuschi’s Khodorkovsky, a film
about one of Russia’s wealthiest men, a neo-capitalist oligarch, who became both an iconic
political symbol and a political prisoner. Mikhail Borisevich Khodorkovsky, the former head of
Yukos Oil Company, a Russian petroleum company, was arrested and imprisoned for charges of
fraud, tax evasion, embezzlement and money laundering. Tuschi gives his viewers a somewhat
detailed look at the sequence of events that led to Khodorkovsky’s imprisonment. However, he
allows his viewers to formulate their own analysis of the trial and, on a larger scope, of Russia’s
political system.
Through a compilation of interviews, news footage and 2D animations of paramount moments from
Khodorkovsky’s ascent to being Russia’s wealthiest man up until his imprisonment, Tuschi
conveys the intriguing story about a man who went through extreme lengths to fight for his political
beliefs. An aspect that was exquisitely striking was Tuschi’s use of black and white 2D animation
to illustrate Khodorkovsky. During the post-screening Q&A, he explained how he wanted to
stimulate the protagonist as a phantom-like character, since he was unsure of obtaining an
interview with Khodorkovsky. He must be commended for his perseverance and accentuated
efforts in creating this film. Cyril Tuschi worked on Khodorkovsky for five years.
For the most part, though informative, the first half of the documentary is slightly bland and tedious.
The string of interviews with Khodorkovsky’s mother, first wife, and a couple of his college peers
gave a succinct account of how Kodorkovsky, a chemistry graduate who turned into a lucrative
businessman, acquired his prominent standing as the richest man in Russia by 2004. In a country
where ‘the oligarchs were a product of the government’, the first half shows how he prospered with
Yukos while retaining the Soviet way of living: ‘to live modestly than you can afford’. Nevertheless,
one impatiently awaits the climax of the documentary.
The second half of Tuschi’s documentary suddenly transforms into a mind-gripping film through
footage of a televised annual meeting between former President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s
wealthiest businessmen. It might be safe to assume that it was this moment that sparked the
downfall and blemished Khodorkovsky’s name forever. Khodorkovsky spoke about the government
and political corruption, declaring that “we started the corruption process; we should end it”. By
October 25th, 2003, Khodorkovsky had been arrested, charged with fraud and tax evasion and sent
to a solitary prison in Siberia, some 5000 kilometres from Moscow.
By speaking about government corruption and being in favour of a more open political system,
Khodorkovsky instantly became a victim of injustice – imprisoned in Siberia before his trial and
charged for embezzling $27 billion worth of oil. Challenging Putin, who is assumed to be the most
powerful man in Russia to this day, Khodorkovsky created for himself a destiny that is far from
triumphant. Turning to politics and social action, and siding with the political opposition, resulted in
severe consequences.
Irina Yasina, former Director of Open Russia, a charity funded by Khodorkovsky, says in an
interview in the film that “to scare off a pack of wolves, you don’t have to kill them all; you just try to
kill the one – the most beautiful, the smartest, the fastest”. Tuschi subtly yet successfully illustrates
that within a neo-socialist regime, wealth becomes a mortal sin if one has political ambitions.
However, while he claims to provide an impartial account of Khodorkovsky’s consequent
misfortunes, Putin inherently assumes the role of the villain, able to exercise his limitless political
power at will. Although the majority of the interviewees were the protagonist’s family and friends,
the viewer is compelled to understand Tuschi’s obstacles in attaining interviews with the
opposition, namely Vladimir Putin and the like.
The director vividly illuminates Khodorkovsky as a distinct and politically remarkable hero who is
willing to endure all consequences to inordinately stand up for his moral principles and belief in
political reform. Nonetheless, the viewer is inclined to ponder on the logic and practicality of
Khodorkovsky’s actions. When asked in an interview in Berlin about what he found most intriguing
with Khodorkovsky’s character, Tuschi replied that it was the way “he acts illogically, although he is
very logical”. He evokes change as an omnipresent theme throughout his film, while
simultaneously implying that in the most unusual of cases, appeasement and compliance might be
the better options. In an interview in the film, Pavel Khodorkovsky, the protagonist’s eldest son
living in exile in the US, explicitly relays that his father was aware that returning to Russia would
result in his arrest and imprisonment. Yet he would rather argue his case in court than live safely in
exile like his former Yukos colleagues. Ultimately, Tuschi not only gives a concise account of
Khodorkovsky’s rise and predestined demise. He also paints a picture of Russian society wherein
the powerful prevails and heroism is only highly regarded in theory.
* Marla completed her Bachelor in Arts (Journalism and History) in 2009 at Monash University. She
is currently undertaking a Masters of International Relations at Monash, and since June has been
an intern for ACCESS.
Q&A with Daniel Wilson
By Christian Habla
In the second of this month’s Q&A interviews, Daniel Wilson discusses the role of young people in
shaping the future of the media.
Daniel Wilson is a freelance journalist and project manager. He has appeared in a variety of
publications from Wake Magazineto the Affairs of State serial Letters from Melbourne. He has a
Master of International Politics from the University of Melbourne. He is the outgoing Editor-in-Chief
of Quarterly Access, and continues to support the publication as time permits.
You were the founding editor of Quarterly Access. Why QA?
A small group of young AIIA members decided that students and recent graduates should have
more opportunity to publish their ideas. Particularly we felt that there was no opportunity to publish
lengthier in-depth pieces. I really believed in the project, was quite motivated, and so was elevated
into a leadership position.
I had just finished my Master of International Politics and had fresh memories of hanging out at the
graduate house, chatting to peers about their research projects. It was almost always fascinating
research with sometimes startling conclusions. But the only people that would read the thesis of an
honours or masters student were supervisors, markers, and close family members. I was keen to
create a space to share those ideas in a synthesised way that was more sophisticated than a
typical citizen journalism site, yet less daunting than an academic journal.
What role do younger people play in the world of journalism where more established journalists
with built-up audiences dictate the media landscape?
As news organisations shrink, it has become harder for young people to get a cadetship at a local
paper. So, young people are creating their own virtual space to publish. Perhaps even more
interesting is that young people are editing news by deciding which articles to share with their
friends on social networking sites. A decent portion of what I read nowadays has been
recommended by someone. Where this will all lead to is hard to say, I am just glad to see young
people as engaged and active participants in the public discussion.
Will the traditional journalist and news organisation survive the growth of online media?
The Pew Research Centre recently reported that 12% of Americans own an e-reader. That number
doubled in the first half of 2011, from 6 to 12%. I have a feeling the term ‘in print’ will go out of
fashion, although I don’t think it changes the newspaper fundamentally, and we can still speak of
the same medium. If I read The Australian online or in print, it’s the same news. Perhaps the
example of television is clearer, whether the content comes through the air or through the internet,
it is still TV.
Hopefully e-readers make news publications and so forth more popular again. Although it must
also be said that publications like the Economist and Wall Street Journal have been able to
consistently increase their readership over the last few years.
But a fundamental problem that news organisations simply have to accept is that advertisers can
now invade our social space and photo albums. Facebook is expected to generate US$1.7 billion
in advertising revenue in 2011.
What do you see as the most influential platform of the media (newspapers, blogs, etc) now and
into the future?
Recent studies have shown that television remains the most influential platform, and I don't see
that changing anytime soon. The only difference is I can watch the news online and on demand,
and skip forward any story I find boring. Also, I regularly watch Al Jazeera and other international
newscasts that stream online for free. I keep up my second language by watching German
newscasts and television programs. The quality necessary in online streaming has really only
come together over the last few years, and if anything it has made television more appealing to me
and
no
doubt
to
others
too.
How do you think journalism and its means of delivery will change and develop over the
coming decade?
Some journalists wield enormous influence over the public discussion. Andrew Bolt is a noteworthy
example of someone who publishes across several media. He has a television program, a column
and a blog. I think what counts is the content, and that it appeals to enough people. The advance
in the delivery of content is exciting and is perhaps even changing the rules of the game, but in the
end, the most influential people in the public discussion are the same as they were 50 years ago:
politicians, lobbyists, activists, and journalists; and by extension those that control them. They will
occupy all media, and I doubt any would be worth ignoring. Each has their unique appeal. Print has
more gravitas than TV, blogs are quicker and more interactive, TV more passive, and so forth.
Do you believe that online journalism and new forms of media are counteracting the problems
associated with the concentration of mainstream news ownership?
Australia has a limited diversity in media ownership. I would argue this is due to government
regulation which favours established players. This quasi protectionism has made Australian media
companies seemingly nonchalant when it comes to the quality and delivery of their content.
Citizen journalism and niche players such as Crikey have bravely claimed their spot in the media
landscape, but it is a small spot. Most of the news we consume online is generated by large
publicly listed or government sponsored corporation.
Should the Australian media be more or less heavily regulated?
It’s a complex issue without easy answers. By giving Australian media organisations quasi
protectionism in exchange for a minimum threshold of locally made content, it seems we have
made a kind of Faustian pact. Does Wagga Wagga really need a minimum threshold of local news
bulletins in the morning shows of their commercial radio stations? And at what cost would that be
ok? I don’t know how to measure that.
* Christian is a Monash University student currently completing a combined degree in Arts and
Law.
AIIA Victoria-ACCESS Press Room: Aid vs. Trade Debate
By Marla Pascual
On Tuesday July 19th, 2011, at the BMW Edge Theatre at Federation Square the ACCESS
network of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, held a debate on the topic of whether
foreign aid or trade better served as a more effective and efficient method in consolidating
international development.
Ms. Joanna Hayter, CEO of the International Women’s Development Agency, opened for the ‘aid’
side by outlining the importance of providing foreign aid to alleviate poverty in developing
countries. Foreign aid is a “process of empowerment” which can inculcate the idea of equity for
people in developing nations.
She went on to argue that to achieve sustainable development it is imperative that foreign aid
efforts are “inclusive and participatory”. She emphasised how most workers in developing countries
continue to live in poverty even when they have paid jobs. Further, she outlined the “unequal
power relations between men and women” and the private sector’s inability to “reach people on the
margins”. Ms. Hayter concluded that the effectiveness of providing foreign aid is a kind of
leadership that prioritises both equity and equal rights.
Dr. Tom Davis, from the University of Melbourne, began by explaining the complex relationship
between aid, trade, markets and governments.
“The current relationship between aid and trade is not working well and hasn’t been for quite some
time.” Dr. Davis suggested that a cohesive balance between aid and trade is critical to improving
international development. There is, he conceded, no “magic bullet” to the issue of development,
but government bodies and global markets should focus on structures to arrive at new innovative
solutions. Both non-government and corporate sectors should “engage in genuine partnership
dialogue” with those nations receiving assistance.
Dr. Julia Newton-Howes, from CARE Australia, began by reflecting on how foreign aid and trade
contribute to communities’ sustainability. Foreign aid, she argued, provides the “basic building
blocks” and ultimately “gives fundamental change” to nations that need it.
She accepted that economic growth is a component of poverty reduction, but emphasised that
international development is equally about outcomes and choices, and foreign aid recipients
should be allowed to “determine their own futures”. She defined foreign aid provision as allowing
developing countries to benefit from economic growth.
Mr. Andrew MacLeod from the Committee for Melbourne argued that developed countries should
use both trade and aid to give developing nations a lifestyle that the former would regard as
“normal”. He referred to a world “full of strong partnerships” in which the objective is not the level of
aid inputs, but its effectiveness.
He contextualised the idea of favouring “development investment rather than development aid”,
wherein funds are given with the expectation of prosperous results. Nevertheless, he referred to
trade as the “big kid on the block”, reiterating how many developing countries have received
billions of dollars in aid but still remain poor.
The CEO of the Committee for Melbourne described how “the aid world is far less effective or
efficient” than people wish to hope, realise or accept. He argued that the best aid to give
developing countries is jobs, which result in increased tax revenue paid to responsible
governments, and used wisely to enhance economic and social developments.
The debate was moderated by Rev. Tim Costello AO, the CEO of World Vision Australia, one of
Australia’s ‘Living Treasurers’ and the recipient of the Australian Peace Prize in 2008.
Ms. Joanna Hayter is CEO of the International Women’s Development Agency. She was also the
Country Director for Save the Children UK in Vietnam and the African Regional Director for the
Overseas Service Bureau.
Dr. Tom Davis is a lecturer on Public Policy at the University of Melbourne. He has worked at the
Department of Immigration as well as the Refugee Review Tribunal.
Dr. Julia Newton-Howes is the CEO of CARE Australia. She is a member of the Executive
Committee and Board of CARE International and of the Executive Committee of the Australian
Council for Overseas Aid. Previously, she was Assistant Director General with AusAID.
Mr. Andrew MacLeod is CEO of the Committee for Melbourne and the Foundation Chair of the UN
Global Compact Principles for Social Investment. He is also a member of the UN Expert Group on
Responsible Business and Investment.
The debate was organised by ACCESS, the Australian Institute for International Affairs’ Network
for University Students and Young Professionals in partnership with the Graduate School of
Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Melbourne. For upcoming events and further
information, please contact AIIA at [email protected] or call (03) 9654 7271.
Based on the ACCESS Aid vs. Trade Debate, held on Tuesday July 19th, 2011, at the BMW Edge
Theatre at Federation Square.
* Marla completed her Bachelor in Arts (Journalism and History) in 2009 at Monash University. She
is currently undertaking a Masters of International Relations at Monash, and since June has been
an intern for ACCESS.
Issue 18
Message from the Editor
By Rachel Hankey
More than ever, the efficacy of aid is a target of scrutiny. This is not only because of the current
economic climate but also because of the challenges of implementing aid effectively and because
of the tremendously nuanced contemporary development industry. Agents of development must
now contend with government agencies, NGOs, multinational corporations and global institutions,
while remaining true to the aspirations of the citizenry.
Despite these complexities, the Australian Government has reiterated its development priorities by
deciding to boost the aid budget to 0.5% of the GNI by 2015-16. As with other state aid programs,
the Australian aid program is allegedly premised on our national interest. Aid is intended to secure
our regional stability by addressing issues such as transnational crime, preventable disease,
economic instability and humanitarian migration. Australia is also increasingly looking to engage
with regions it has not traditionally engaged with, such as Latin America and Africa.
However, the Global Financial Crisis has made state and commercial aid donors wary of
contributing funds to international aid in the face of budgetary pressures. For Australia, the
Independent Review of Aid Effectiveness, released earlier this month, attempts to direct Australia’s
aid efforts to remain focused on reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development during
these challenging times.
The release of the aid review warrants not only an analysis of our national aid program and the
incentives that drive it, but also of the contentions that surround the effectiveness of various
development theories. For example, experts are now debating over whether the premises of aid
themselves are fundamentally sound, or whether trade and wealth generation bear more fruit.
In keeping with this month’s Access Debate, Aid versus Trade – what works and what doesn’t[1],
this issue of Monthly Access examines salient approaches to development; from whether aid or
trade is the superior approach, to the failures of microcredit, and to the surprising camaraderie
found within the slums of India.
In The microcredit crisis? Priya Wakhlu intimates us with the microcredit crisis in India, how the
program has failed to empower women and why it may result in a debilitating financial crisis for
rural workers.
From Indonesia, former MA editor-in-chief, Olivia Cable, details the obstacles to engaging more
meaningfully with Indonesia, our largest diplomatic posting, in Indonesia: Australia's gateway into
the Asia-century.
In this month’s interviews we explore the development challenges women, and the development
industry itself, face.
The International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA) provides lucid insight into the unique role
that women play in developing societies and the IWDA's current projects, in Eliza Nolan’s Q&A.
Agriculture specialist, Giles West, speaks with me about the changing nature of the development
industry and its implications in Career Spotlight.
Monthly Access column editors Richard Griffin and Marcus Burke translate the geopolitical
implications of aid as emerging economic powers vie for influence, the ICC-issued arrest warrant
for Muammar Gaddafi, and other global events in Global Snapshot July 2011.
Continuing our analysis of foreign aid versus trade, resident writer and human rights
campaigner, Sean Mackin, provides some first-hand accounts of how development aid can fail
in Development Aid – Theory and Reality in Timor Leste.
In the lead-up to our Access Debate, Aid versus Trade, the Access Press Room reports on last
month’s Access forum, Inside the Horn of Africa, and the need for Australia to engage in earnest
with the region and Australian-African communities.
Finally, Steven Burak summarizes the discourse between aid and trade – the contest and conflux.
This month we also introduce our newest section, Media Analysis, in which we analyse the media
discourse which permeates our understanding of global affairs. In our first edition, Marla
Pascual reviews the documentary, Slumming It, which takes the viewer on a journey through the
slums of Mumbai, while providing unconventional insights.
Until next month, Happy Reading,
Rachel Hankey
* Rachel is spending the year living in Melbourne before returning to the UK to undertake a
Masters in International Conflict Studies at Kings College London. She is editor-in-chief of Monthly
Access.
The Monthly Access team: Rachel Hankey, Ishita Acharyya and editors: Evan Ritli, Richard Griffin,
Sean Mackin, Marcus Burke, John Varghese; guest editors: Marla Pascual, Priya Wakhlu, Eliza
Nolan, Olivia Cable
For comments regarding this newsletter please write to [email protected]
[1] ACCESS’ debate ‘Aid vs Trade: What Works, What Doesn’t and Why?’ shall be hosted at 6.00
pm on the 19th of July at the BMW Edge Theatre, Federation Square. Moderated by Rev. Tim
Costello AO, the trade position will be advocated by Mr Andrew Macleod and Dr Tom Davis, and
on the foreign aid stance Ms Joanna Hayter and Dr Julia Newton-Howes. Entry is free.
Contemporary Debate: The Micro-credit Crisis?
By Priya Wakhlu
Few ideas have captured the imagination of the development community as strongly as microcredit. With claims that it couldhalve the rate of poverty by 2030, and the awarding of the Nobel
Prize to its architects Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank, it has become firmly entrenched
as a core component of most NGO programs. However, questions have begun to ruminate about
not only the practices of certain micro-credit organisations, but also whether micro-credit can
“actually undermine the process of sustainable poverty reduction and ‘bottom-up’ economic and
social development”.
Micro-credit is based on the principle that access to appropriate credit is integral for the selfempowerment of millions of the world’s poor. Traditionally, mainstream financial institutions, for
fear of default, would not extend their financial services to individuals living in extreme poverty.
Inability to obtain credit forced individuals to rely on predatory loan sharks or forgo opportunities for
growth. The Grameen Bank and its successors sought to break this cycle by providing small loans,
generally to women, to support enterprise and investment. Coupled with the grant, borrower circles
were established to encourage repayment. The 98% recovery rate of loans and higher rates of
school attendance by children of micro-finance recipients were touted by proponents as evidence
of the system’s success in breaking the poverty cycle.
The sheen of micro-credit began to fade in late 2010 when a spate of suicides in the Indian state of
Andhra Pradesh was attributed to local micro-finance organisations. The government responded
by imposing strict regulatory obligations on micro-finance organisations, which they accused of
making “hyperprofits off the poor”. Many borrowers, heeding the calls of local politicians, defaulted
on their payments leading to fears that the collapse of the Rs 225 billion micro-finance industry
could become India’s subprime crisis. The floating of SKS Microfinance on the Indian Stock
Exchange six months prior, and its valuation at US $1.5 billion, seemed to confirm the views of
industry detractors that micro-finance organisations had simplybecome 'for profit' organisations.
It has also been argued that contrary to assertions of micro-finance groups, micro-credit has been
detrimental to the empowerment of its female participants. The borrower groups, instead of being a
source of support, are said to force compliance through the threat of social ostracism from other
borrowers, who are often friends and neighbours. In addition, the male dominated banks rely on
verbal abuse and threats to demand repayment from the female borrowers. As women are unlikely
to respond with physical violence, they are placed in a position of vulnerability. However, critics
have questionedwhether it is fair to burden Grameen Bank and other micro-finance organisations
with the prevalence of domestic violence amongst their borrowers. Interestingly, the
commercialisation of micro-credit is expected to cause a shift away from the traditional female
orientated micro-credit model to a system that provides larger loans to small businesses, a field
typically dominated by men.
Whilst acknowledging that the rapid expansion of the industry has benefited rogue operators,
particularly in states like Andhra Pradesh, the heavy-handed approach of the Indian government
will have serious consequences for the viability of micro-finance. Even critics of the micro-credit
system have conceded that whilst its benefits do not necessarily align with those claimed by aid
organisations, it does provide necessary assistance to the entrepreneurial poor, and is a vital
avenue of support during times of economic hardship. The proposed measures in Andhra
Pradesh will cause prohibitive increases to the cost of lending, forcing individuals to once again
rely on loan sharks or the largely inefficient public sector.
The current crisis plaguing micro-credit in one of its largest markets should not be regarded as the
death knell for the industry but rather an opportunity for growth and reform. The introduction of
appropriate regulatory systems, potentially adopting the largely successful Peruvian Model, and
the expansion of financial services, particularly the provision of accepting deposits, will ensure that
micro-finance bodies will continue to play a vital role in the lives of the world's poor.
*Priya is currently a 4th year Arts/Law student at Monash University, majoring in politics and
Indonesian.
Indonesia: Australia's Gateway into the Asia-century
By Olivia Cable
Australia should place more value on an education in the Indonesian language. In 1994, former
Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating confidently declared “no country is more important to
Australia than Indonesia. If we fail to get this relationship right, and nurture and develop it, the
whole web of our foreign relations is incomplete”.
It is no wonder that Jakarta is Australia’s largest diplomatic post.
Indonesia was in Australia’s orbit long before Keating’s famous statement and today remains
a strategic, economic and political priority. Yet remarkably, current trends show that there will not
be a single Australian student in Year 12 learning Indonesian by 2020. This necessitates a need to
understand the long-term consequences of this decline.
A dead-end in education
Australia’s educational bilateral engagement with Indonesia appears to be rather unbalanced. As
Australia’s largest aid recipient, Indonesia received $452.5 million in 2009-10 and $2 billion
between 2005 and 2010. Education is a priority. Among a number of programs, the Australian
government aims to deliver better access to schools, improve education quality and train teachers.
Under the ‘Australia Awards’ scholarship program, $200 million is invested each year for
international scholarships, supporting over 300 Indonesian postgraduates to study in Australia. For
Australians, there are opportunities to study, research and undertake professional development in
Indonesia. The aim is ‘to promote knowledge, education links and enduring ties between Australia
and our neighbours’.
Easier said than done: no vision from Canberra
However, the Australian government’s commitment to such programs is questionable. Seemingly
unnecessary travel warnings issued by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
(DFAT) have prevented Australian teachers from in-country engagement with Indonesia. The
Endeavour Language Teacher Fellowship - established by the Department of Education,
Employment and Workplace Relations and now run by the Indonesia Australia Language
Foundation (IALF) – was designed to be an intensive summer course for teachers in Australia to
improve their proficiency in Indonesian. When DFAT issued a travel warning after the Bali
bombings in 2002 and 2005, the program was conducted in Australia. Although appropriate
immediately after the Bali bombings, the travel warnings still remain. The Endeavour Language
Teacher Fellowship was restricted until 2010, when the federal government decided for the
program to be conducted in Indonesia.
The education system is failing to prepare Australian students to enter the Asia Century. In
December 2008, the Australian Government announced the National Asian Languages and
Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP). With a budget of $62.4 million, to be implemented over
four years from 2008 to 2012, NALSSP aims to “significantly increase the number of Australian
students becoming proficient at learning the languages and understanding the cultures of our
Asian neighbours – China, Indonesia, Japan and Korea. It also aims to increase the number of
qualified Asian language teachers and develop a specialist curriculum for advanced languages
students”.
NALSSP has set a target that “by 2020, at least 12 per cent of school students will exit Year 12
with a fluency in one of the target Asian languages sufficient for engaging in trade and commerce
in Asia and/or university study”. To achieve this, it would require 24,000 students to study one of
the four languages in Year 12 in 2020, a 100 per cent increase in student numbers from 2008.
An increase in the number of qualified Indonesian language teachers is critical for this goal to be
achieved. Indonesian teachers in Australia range from those who have committed their lives to the
language and visit Indonesia regularly, to those who have never learned a second language
before. Importing Indonesian teachers would be a good start to filling the gap, and Indonesia
has plenty of qualified teachers. However, visa restrictions on Indonesians working in Australia are
stalling expansion. Australian students see little benefit learning Indonesian when taught by
teachers with limited exposure to the country.
China and Indonesia through Australian eyes
In the great geopolitical shift toward Asia, Australia has been intensively focused on China. We
have become mesmerised by China as either our economic saviour, or our strategic nightmare.
Public perception plays a large role in the decline of Indonesian in Australian schools. Indonesians
are seen through a ‘distorted lens’, inflated by the media. Reformasi has a long way to go, but
Indonesia’s transition to democracy has been a remarkable success – Egypt has sought
Indonesia’s help to implement democracy. Indonesia’s occupation of Timor-Leste resulted in three
horrific decades for the Timorese, but Indonesia was not alone. Indeed, there was covert support
from Australia and the US. Terrorism remains a problem, but Indonesia is not a country of Islamic
extremism. The vast majority of Indonesians do not accept radical views - they have a commitment
to democracy.
The fear of millions of Indonesians invading Australian shores simply has no merit. Prominent
Indonesian scholar Tim Lindsay might be able put some minds at ease: “An Indonesian officer with
whom I once discussed these perceptions expressed amazement. 'What about the threat from the
south?' he asked. 'You’ve got planes that fly and equipment that works. We haven’t'.”
The mistreatment of Australia’s live cattle export in Indonesian abattoirs has dealt another blow to
the Australian public's perception of Indonesia. Given the media’s craving to demoralise Indonesia,
Canberra’s politicisation of the event effectively diverted attention from the carbon tax and asylum
seeker swap with Malaysia.
Looking to the future
Australian students need aspirations to learn Indonesian. In a reply to Indonesian President
Yudhoyono’s address to the Australian Parliament in early 2010, former Prime Minister Rudd said:
“we are neighbours by circumstance, but we are friends because we have chosen to be friends”.
The more Australians eliminate stereotypical perceptions and embrace Indonesia’s diversity, the
better equipped we will be for the Asia-century.
*Olivia is studying a Bachelor of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Australian National University. She is
currently in Indonesia studying Indonesian at Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana, and climbing
mountains in Salatiga, Indonesia.
Q&A with International Women’s Development Agency: Part One
By Eliza Nolan
International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA) is an Australian non-profit organisation that
undertakes projects in partnership with grassroots organisations in Asia and the Pacific. These
projects are driven by needs which are articulated from the communities in which IWDA works and
are developed and managed by women who live and work in the communities themselves.
Partnerships are driven by local ownership and leadership, a strong emphasis on sustainability,
and a focus on capacity building of institutions, organisation, systems and individuals. IWDA
addresses development in Asia Pacific with a focus on equality and human rights and endeavour
to create a sustainable and just world for all. The holistic approach taken by IWDA reflects the
complexities of women’s lives and their communities and their motto is ‘when women benefit, the
community benefits’. The IWDA’s focus on women stems from the belief that inequality is
intolerable.
Monthly Access met with IWDA’s Heather Brown Program Manager for Solomon Islands, Emily
Miller Program Manager for Fiji and N’Deane Helajzen Program Manager for Papua New Guinea
for some further insight into the IWDA current projects and to discuss the situation of women and
development in the Asia Pacific today.
Part One of our interview examines the integral role that women play in developing societies, and
the unique challenges they face.
Part Two of our interview provides insight into the IWDA’s regional partnerships, and the state of
women in our direct region.
Part One: Women in the modern development context
What are the biggest challenges faced by women today and how do they impact on development?
EM: [There are] Issues of [gender-biased] leadership in Fiji, particularly in a country which is
currently not democratic, women [are] sidelined even further from participation in decision making.
Women’s safety and security is also an issue in Fiji as well as the rest of the Pacific and the Asia
region. A lot of our work focuses, if not directly, on safety and security.
NH: I think this is also where we got our thematic areas from, we really looked at the issues for
women in the Asia Pacific region and categorised them into these broad thematic and cross cutting
areas. Violence against women is a significant problem at all levels of PNG society, with high rates
of violent crime, ongoing tribal disputes in rural areas and widespread domestic and sexual
violence against women and children. Actual levels of violence are difficult to determine due to
underreporting but it can be said that violence against women in PNG is sever and pervasive.
Many women suffer physical injuries that result in permanent damage and disability, including loss
of sight, loss of hearing and harm to reproductive organs.
HB: I agree that within the Pacific violence against women, or gender based violence, would be the
most common challenge. It doesn’t matter if you are an educated woman or you’re quite
accomplished, you may be subject to gender based violence, and you are probably subjected to it
at the village level; it is very pervasive. It is actually an all encompassing, underlying issue to
everything. I think that is why it underlines all of our work because no matter what you’re working in
you have to consider the safety and security of the women first.
Do any of the challenges you face when implementing programs actually come from women? Do
you come across barriers or resistance from the women themselves? Are they very forthcoming, or
are they worried about the men’s reactions?
EM: We (IWDA) don’t implement any projects per se, we actually support national women’s
organisations to implement their projects.
NH: That is what we meant by partnership approach. We support our partners, who are local
community based organisations. We largely provide administrative support and organisational
capacity building, and our local partners implement [the projects]. We do not have large in country
offices with expatriate staff. While this can be challenging in my view this is the most sensible and
sustainable way of working.
HB: One thing I’ve been coming across is the issue of religion. There is culture and a whole
number of things that come out of culture, but tied closely with culture in Melanesia is Christianity.
There are conversations where women want equality, but they are confused by some of the biblical
teachings that say that they can’t or should not want it, that men are the head of the household. It’s
sort of like an internal barrier, where women think on one hand ‘yes, I’m entitled to this’ but then
they have a cultural context where maybe they are told that they are not. It is reinforced by the
church. So that is a real challenge that I keep coming across.
NH: there are significant challenges regarding religion and the importation of Christianity in PNG as
well.
In what ways are the development needs and challenges for women different to those of the wider
community?
HB: I think it’s access and control of resources.
HB: I think that is the main issue, and this is why we focus so much on ‘political participation’. But
its participation at every level because if there are development projects that are happening or
even government services such as health and education like Nadine’s talking about, if there’s no
access to decision making that’s a major issue for women. That’s why it has to be a focus, so
women can actually have that equal access to both public goods, like education, but also to
decision making and also economic resources. We haven’t talked about that much but women
have very little access to cash that isn’t controlled by their husbands or other men.
NH: If there is limited cash boys may be prioritised for access to education or health care for
example.
Equality between men and women is still a problem in developed countries, such as unequal pay in
Australia. How can we achieve greater equality for women in developing countries when we
haven’t really achieved it at home?
HB: Really it’s a global issue. You see some progress that is made in some countries and then you
can kind of leverage off that a little bit.
EM: Gender equality is not something that is going to happen overnight. I think if you look at
gender equality, really around the world no country has reached total equality. But, if you think
about equality as a journey along a scale of one to ten, some countries have journeyed along that
scale further In Australia, while we still absolutely have issues of inequality, i’d say we as a nation
have journeyed along that scale further than some other countries. But it’s an ongoing issue for
everyone.
EM: Globally though, there have always been strong drivers of gender equality in the form of
strong women advocates.
NH: Often when I’m facilitating gender trainings I talk about gender inequality in Australia. That
seems to be an effective strategy because otherwise our work may appear to be patronising. So to
highlight that there is an 18% pay gap in Australia, or some of the other inequalities that we face
here in Australia, helps to make the communities in which we work feel more reassured that
gender inequality really is a global issue.
EM: I think Australia also has... the mechanisms that can help support women towards gender
equality. The legal system and the infrastructure in Australia is much more supportive than the
legal and judicial system in Papua New Guinea or the Solomon Islands for example. This doesn’t
automatically bring about equality, but those structures when in place and when utilised and
supported, through police, through crisis centres, through community support systems, will slowly
start to make a difference.
NH: If there are no women leaders making decisions and men are making the decision on behalf of
women – then how can women’s needs be met? Policies become gender blind; because men are
making decisions for the whole community when they don’t really understand the needs of women.
In PNG women have limited access to political power. Men view politics as fundamentally a male
domain and women have largely been excluded from participating. In PNG there is currently just
one female parliamentarian out of 109 member Government and since PNG achieved
independence in 1975 there have only been four women ever elected to National Parliament. The
National situation often reflects the situation at the grassroots level where men hold the power and
women have minimal opportunity to participate in the community decision making processes.
Are women actively kept out of these powerful positions?
EM: I think cultural stereotyping and channelling of women into stereotyped roles is a subtle way of
actively keeping women out of that decision making space.
HB: There’s a whole electoral process that goes on. In Melanesia, talking about access and
control, being MP is the best job you can have; you get access to decision making and money. So
women are in every election, they’re in there and they are campaigning; they are trying to get into
the parliament, it’s not like they’ve given up, they are out there every single election really trying
and they are just not getting anywhere.
HB: And can you talk about temporary special measure (to the others in the room)?
NH: The PNG Government tabled a bill to create 22 reserved seats for women before the next
elections in 2012. It was, or rather is, a temporary special measure to get women into parliament,
where the provincial seat can be contested by both men and women, while the reserved seats is
only for women to contest. 22 seats represent one seat for each Province including the National
Capital District. Of course the bill was not supported in Parliament, with MP’s claiming that
affirmative action had no legal grounding and that because there is no election process behind it,
male parliamentarians claimed it was unfair, just because women ...
HB: …have been excluded for the entire history of the country.
NH: ...are not represented then they get given a seat. To date the bill has not been passed in
Parliament despite being tabled several times by the Minister for Community Development, Dame
Carol Kidu.
HB: Women are trying the same thing in the Solomons, it comes up to a vote and it’s like ‘oh no
one’s here today’ or ‘oh it’s been put off the agenda’, so it is not to say that women are powerless
in the situation or just accepting it. There are very strong women leaders in the Pacific who are
doing their best to gain access to decision making, and that’s the type of work we are trying to
support, but it is a long journey.
NH: I think in PNG it’s also really interesting that parliament house is actually built in the same
design as a traditional Sepik Haus-Tambarans, which is a house that only men are allowed to
enter. So women are quite petrified of that culturally. The very design of the National Parliament
House, has perhaps contributed to the lack of representation of women.
HB: That says a lot
Now, to micro-banking; As it has negative press lately, how does IWDA view micro-banking since
you seem to fund projects that are very grassroots level?
NH: One of the partners which we support is providing life skills training for village women who are
then using these skills to start up their own micro- enterprises to generate some income but I
wouldn’t call it, micro-banking or microfinance, it doesn’t have the same structures that the
Grameen Bank work does, we don’t provide any loans to communities or individuals. There are no
banking or savings clubs to support the micro enterprises.
HB: I’m working on a project [but] I prefer to talk about savings rather than [microbanking]. There
are two distinctions that need to be made, there is micro-banking or microfinance, and there are
things that get rolled into that which gets confused with income generation. This is what happens a
lot in the pacific and people go, ‘oh microfinance, loans’ in a culture that does not have access to
banking services at the local level. When we talk about these issues, about actual infrastructure,
there are no banks. There are no actual banking services at a lot of the community levels or even
at some of the provincial [levels]...there is nothing out there. So there needs to be these kinds of
small structures. There has been a challenging history with microfinance in the Pacific in that,
because there’s no banking and not a lot of income, there is not a lot of financial literacy, so people
will get confused about... interest, loan repayments and those kinds of things. Also, you are in a
communal culture where money, loans and property are quite fluid and saving is just not a
common concept. So you have to start at the beginning and that is why, within this project... what
we are focusing on is just savings, and doing some teaching around savings and how to save. One
of the program partners we are working with is West AreAre Rokotanikeni Association, they have
made an amazing manual with pictures of different jars, with ‘this one for schooling’ etc, just to get
this visual understanding of what savings is about. This organisation has done savings for five or
six years and now they are starting to go into loans.
HB: I think that is what happens, microfinance programs come from Asia, where there’s a high
degree of financial literacy and people have... experience with lending and trouble so Grameen is
very good alternative... but when that came over to [the Solomons] as a model it has had a real
challenge. So that is where we are at, just focusing on savings and income generation, small
projects to build up that savings and that financial literacy, just to get people just understanding the
concepts of money.
EM: Another reason why perhaps the income generating projects have some questions around
them is that there has been experience with women actually being at risk to higher rates of
violence when there is access to money. When husbands or partners know that there is an
income, there is potential for more violence to take the money off them. So there are situations
where women’s economic empowerment can actually sometimes lead to higher rates of violence.
That is something that we as an organisation are very conscious of around all of our projects that
involve a livelihood component or an economic component, because that is a reality and that is a
real risk for anyone working within economic empowerment or livelihoods.
It’s a vicious circle.
HB: Yeah it is. It’s not like women are the victims here. I just want to be clear, they face all these
problems, but a lot of women that we work with, they are resourceful, they are fighting this and they
are really active in trying to change these things. That is what we are trying to support because
when you look at all of these issues it can get very overwhelming, but there needs to be a real
focus too, on how resilient, resourceful and amazing a lot of these women are, and how
challenging it is for Pacific women to be working in these areas, and trying to promote
empowerment. We [IWDA] just try to find where these amazing women are and try to support them
and help them out.
*Eliza is finishing the final subject of her bachelor of International Relations through her placement
with ACCESS and is also completing a Certificate IV in Financial Services and volunteering with
the AIIA.
Q&A with International Women’s Development Agency: Part Two
By Eliza Nolan
Part Two of our interview provides insight into the IWDA’s regional partnerships, and the state of
women in our direct region.
What is the plight of women like in the region today? Are the development issues country specific
or region specific?
Emily Miller (EM): We are all Pacific program managers and I’d say that there are definitely
similarities with a lot of the development issues that are happening in the Pacific. Issues such as
violence against women and low political participation are common across Fiji, Solomon Islands
and PNG. But then of course, as with all countries, there are specific cultural contexts that
differentiate the issues in the Solomon Islands from Fiji for example. A development issue that we
are currently focusing on in Fiji is women’s civil and political participation. One of the programs we
are currently supporting in Fiji is looking at ways in which we can actually assist organisations to
open up that space for young women, in terms of intergenerational mentoring and training which
will hopefully, over time result in increased female representation at the local and national level.
One of the projects you have is a radio station; what are a few of the programs you’re running to
improve women’s issues?
EM: ‘Generation Next’ is a great project. It is run by an organisation called ‘Femlink Pacific’, a local
feminist media organisation. ‘Generation Next’ trains young urban and rural women in community
radio production and broadcasts interviews and educational segments on their local community
radio station femtalk 89.2fm. Generation Next aims to ensure that there are spaces in the
broadcasting sector to encourage greater public participation of women and girls on important
national issues. Through the use of community broadcasting, Generation Next provides an
alternative social and economic model that can broaden access to information and to freedom of
expression. This project provides a safe space for women to articulate their issues and concerns
about a variety of development issues, whether it’s safety and security, or participation in decisionmaking or economic livelihood concerns.
N’Deane Helajzen (NH): Papua New Guinea (PNG) is unique in its development
challenges. PNG’s population is geographically and culturally diverse; in fact it is the most
ethnographically diverse place in the world; with around 850 different cultures and just as many
indigenous languages. In contrast to Fiji which has a higher level of human development, around
42 per cent of PNG’s population lives in poverty, on less than $1 a day. Papua New Guineans
have low life expectancy and high infant and maternal mortality. In fact PNG is one of the few
places in the world in which the life expectancy for women is lower than that of men and the
maternal mortality rates have nearly doubled since 1996. PNG faces the highest HIV & AIDS rate
in the region. Service delivery is expensive and logistically challenging and communities have
difficulty accessing quality health care, education and adequate transport. Personally, I feel,
because of the level of diversity, there lacks a sense of National identity, with the Provincial area
you come from being your basis for identity. This makes working together and cohesiveness more
difficult. Some other unique challenges, of PNG relate to culturally specific beliefs such as
Wontok-ism – meaning those who speak the same language – one talk, the implication being that
the person is from the same local area. As every Melanesian is born with duties to their wantoks,
so wantokism can be called a form of ethnic identity that is a basis for favouritism. Some cultural
practices however, impact more specifically on women. Such as bride price, the payment when
you get married, which has over time perhaps been mis-interpretated from a traditionally symbolic
union of clans to the establishment of rights over a women leading to a feeling by men that women
are owned?
How does that impact on women specifically?
NH: I discuss as an example, the provision, or lack of health services and maternal mortality
above. In PNG, gender roles and the cultural expectations of girls and boys, are taught at an early
age. Gender identity is ascribed at birth, with the differential treatment of parents and caregivers to
boy and girl children. Children are taught their gender roles and socialised into expected behavior
for boys and girls. As children grow older, it is expected that they do specific chores, which is a
gendered division of labor you could say. Most cultural beliefs and practices have overarching
benefits for boys and men than for girls and women.
Are any programs in PNG trying to address these lack of services?
NH: The programs in PNG are concerned with sustainable livelihoods and natural resource
management and women’s safety and security. We currently support five projects and provide
gender technical advice to a large health project. I’ll talk about two of our local partners, Tulele
Peisa is an indigenous organisation based in Bougainville. The organisation was started by the
Carteret Atolls Council of Elders in response to the impact of rising sea levels and climate change
on the atolls which has forced the community to begin planning for relocation. While our partner
Tulele Peisa is coordinating a comprehensive relocation program IWDA does not support
infrastructure development, stopgap provisions or the actual relocation of this community. What we
are supporting are youth speaking tours which are an integral part of Tulele Peisas relocation work.
The youth tours are coordinated on both the Carteret Islands and mainland Bougainville. [These
tours aim] to encourage and enable young women and men to speak out about the impact of
climate change on their community and to sensitise and promote cultural understanding between
Carteret Islanders who need to relocate and Tinputz communities on mainland Bougainville that
will share their land with relocating communities.
We are also partnering with another local organisation called Wide Bay Conservation Association
in a very remote area called, Pomio District in East New Britain Province. Through this program we
support and work to build the capacity of this organisation; we aim to increase women’s
organisation, visibility and voice in discussions and decision making around their natural resources
in areas where resources are at risk due to unsustainable development practices. The project also
works to strengthen the East Pomio Women’s Association, bringing together women’s networks to
address land and environmental issues while providing basic life skills training. In the coming year
we hope to progress some of this work into small micro enterprises for women to enable the
generation of an income.
They sound like wonderful projects.
NH: IWDA works in four key thematic areas: Women’s Economic Empowerment; Women’s Safety
and Security; Sustainable Livelihoods and Natural Resource Management; and Women’s Civil and
Political Participation. And two cross cutting themes: Women’s right to education and information,
and Women’s rights to health and well-being. So all our programs fall under those areas, to
differing degrees. The Papua New Guinea program and all our programs are grounded in IWDA’s
premise that the development objective of equality between men and women, or gender equality, is
absolutely indivisible from wider development goals of real improvements in people’s lives, and in
the choices and opportunities open to them. Each of the thematic and cross cutting themes are
intimately related and must be addressed in an integrated way, including from a gender
perspective, keeping in mind the multiple cross cutting linkages among them. My projects focus on
sustainable livelihoods and natural resource management and women’s safety and security where
as other program managers might be working more in civil and political participation or leadership.
It depends on the most pressing needs as identified by the communities themselves. All our work
is driven by the needs of the community; they’ve approached us for support rather than being a top
down approach where we decide what we think they need.
So why are women so integral to development? Why do your projects focus on women?
Heather Brown (HB): Historically, when you look at development practice there have been a lot of
projects that have not included women. [There have been many] gender blind projects, ones that
just don’t take into account the actual impact that projects are going to have on women. One of the
projects IWDA is working on in the Solomon Islands, that is linked to some of the work in PNG, is
around natural resource management. Those are activities that have a negative impact women
and increase vulnerability of women. Women close to major natural resource projects, like logging
or mining, may end up being involved in sex work, which exposes them to HIV/AIDS and other
STIs, and exploitation. So one area we are working in is how to engage with those communities to
make sure that they have a better impact on women, that doesn’t leave them as vulnerable. At the
same time women are excluded from decisions about natural resource management projects
happening in their communities, because of cultural norms. One of the projects we are working on
in the Solomon’s aims to increase women’s participation in the decisions around these projects
and how the income from those projects are distributed in their communities.
EM: You would have seen our logo and catchphrase on our website, “When women benefit, the
whole community benefits”, and I think that’s something as an organisation that we really believe
in. When women do benefit from development they actually reinvest it into their communities and
into their families; which in some instances doesn’t happen when men benefit in the same way
from development. So the way in which the wealth and the benefit is shared is much greater when
women are involved.
It is also about human rights. We are a human rights based organisation so we believe women,
holding up half the sky as the Chinese proverb says, actually have a right to participate in
development and have a right to benefit from development.
NH: And equality. In the Asia-Pacific region, poverty has a women’s face, two thirds of the world’s
poor live in this region, the majority of whom are women. IWDA takes a gender approach, so we
work with women and men, but women are obviously less well off so they need more support to
bring them up to a level where there is greater equality between the sexes.
So you do actually do work with men as well?
NH: Not directly, but we involve them in our projects – how can you not? And the degree to which
we do this would depend on the cultural context in which we are working.
HB: In the Pacific we do some economic empowerment work with savings clubs, I wouldn’t go as
far as to call it microfinance, but rather savings. It has been found that if you completely exclude
the men, they resent it and they get angry and frustrated, which can negatively impact on the
success of that project or whether or not the women can participate. Everything has to be looked at
within the gender relations within a community or a country; to just go in and say we are only going
to work with women and not look at the interaction between men and women in that area may
again negatively impact what we’re trying to do.
Is there a son-preference in the Pacific like there is in China and India?
HB: I read a UNICEF report that said that in Melanesia there is a very big gender gap in schooling,
especially after primary school. It’s improving, but I think that is about financial resources, about
who you’re going to spend money on. When it comes down to economic decisions it will be the son
over the daughter who attends schooling for longer.
EM: I think it’s interesting because in Fiji when we talk about cultural issues there is a tendency to
always focus on indigenous Fijian culture but actually a large percentage of Fiji’s population is
Indo-Fijian, of Indian decent. Many Indian people were brought to Fiji by the British as indentured
workers and even today there are different cultural practices and structures, that of the indigenous
Fijian and that of the indo-Fijian. In Fiji, there is perhaps a social preference for sons, especially
within the Indian population, although in the urban settings this is changing.
So the family’s security rests in the male?
NH: To a degree, because the girls will get married and move to their husband’s village where as
the boys will remain in their birth village and remain close to their family. For this reason boys could
be seen as more of an investment.
HB: In the Solomon Islands it is usually the woman who goes to the husband’s other village.
Women can be vulnerable when they go into a village where they may not know the language, and
they are on their own unless they have other people from that place they know.
I think another issue with young girls dropping out of school early is their value in terms of domestic
work at home. They may actually be kept home and kept busy looking after other children and
doing domestic work. You see that in rural communities where young girls are just not going to
school because they’re working.
*Eliza is finishing the final subject of her bachelor of International Relations through her placement
with ACCESS and is also completing a Certificate IV in Financial Services and volunteering with
the AIIA.
Career Spotlight with Giles West
By Rachel Hankey
For this month’s Career Spotlight, we speak with Giles West, a tropical agricultural specialist, with
many years’ experience working in agricultural development.
He shares with us his insights into his own experiences in development, and the changing nature
of the development industry.
How did you first become involved in development work?
I applied to be a volunteer (Voluntary Service overseas) and went to Papua New Guinea for two
years (1979 – 1981). It is a great way to start working in other cultures and appreciate the social
and cultural differences, learning that different things drive different cultures. It helps you to start to
appreciate different expectations and drivers. Being a volunteer engages you with the society you
are working with at an intimate level, but even then its frustratingly shallow.
Which regions have you worked in, and what work were you doing on a day-to-day basis?
In Papua New Guinea, as a volunteer working on a YMCA school drop out program for squatter
kids (two years) . Then as a contractor to the Department of Primary Industries working on village
based horticultural projects with village groups to improve levels of production, with schools to
improve school food gardens and levels of nutrition, and with women’s groups (three years).
In Kenya, working on commercial Horticulture production for airfreight export to the UK (Flamingo
farms in Naivasha in the Rift Valley)(three years).
In the Solomon Islands, working with small holder farmers on cocoa and coconut production
improvement, and training local extension staff. Also, working with school nutrition and women’s
groups to improve food production (seven years).
In the Philippines, working on integrated rural development programs (9 months).
I've also worked on various rural development consultancies for the UK and New Zealand
governments. With AusAID, I have worked as a policy and program officer managing the
Cambodian rural development program and AusAID's early water multilateral programs in Fiji,
Nepal and China.
There are many different organisations working in developing countries - small projects and
charities which have been established by individuals, and far larger groups such as the Red Cross.
Which are the most effective?
A very big question! They all have their place and their impact and without the diversity of
approaches opportunities to move societies out of poverty would not be nearly so successful. The
development game has changed dramatically over the last thirty years as has the focus (from
agriculture to health, education, governance, gender, and now climate change). Often the best
outcomes for the money are obtained from small simple projects that allow incremental
improvements.
Did the work you were doing vary greatly from country to country, or were the issues and
challenges more region specific?
Yes, to a degree, but also through changing development focuses. Initially, there was a focus on
agriculture and extension, then large integrated rural development programs (agriculture, health,
infrastructure and training). Next I was working in commercial production and as a government
advisor, and finally as a country program manager and in policy work. The changes reflected more
the changing focus of international aid and gradual changes to the ways aid was delivered.
Which form of aid programs do you believe are the most effective - voluntary organisations, or
privately run companies?
Another big question. Volunteer organisations come in many guises. They may be NGOs or
government sponsored. They can be very successful and be cost effective but can also have
specific agendas, such as government policy, religion, or gender. These may be the underlying
reasons for their development assistance. Commercial companies can be very effective in
developing economies at all levels through generating jobs and wealth but exploitation is a real
issue. This question needs at least an evening and couple of bottles of wine.
You have many years of experience working in aid around the world. In what ways has the field
changed over that time?
There has been a shift in focus from agriculture and health to integrated programs including
infrastructure, education, gender and governance. There has been a gradual move away from
bilateral tied aid to multilateral aid and increasing focus on country-based solutions rather than
shipping in the expatriate crowd. Africa was a focus thirty years ago but was abandoned as civil
strife and corruption made development assistance too difficult to implement. The sheer scale of
the problems in Africa has refocussed efforts there. China and Vietnam have grown as economies
as has Thailand, they receive little aid these days. India has never accepted aid and after many
years is emerging as an economic force. Coping with the effects of climate change will be the next
great challenge.
What advice would you have for people who wish to work in development?
It depends on what you want to achieve. Driving policy change, looking after national interests,
improving governance or grass roots assistance and learning about what makes other cultures tick.
Everyone should be a volunteer at some point. It makes you humble. Do this first, get an idea what
peoples challenges are, understand what poverty looks like and how impossible it can be to get out
of then think about how you are going to tackle it. Good commercial companies can have great
positive impacts on development. Donor countries usually have vested interests in the
development money they give, but some good comes of it. The NGO world might be for you but it’s
getting very professional and slick, so watch for the hidden agendas.
* Rachel is spending the year living in Melbourne before returning to the UK to undertake a
Masters in International Conflict Studies at Kings College London. She is editor-in-chief of Monthly
Access.
Global Snapshot for July 2011
By Richard Griffin and Marcus Burke
A round-up of key events across the world over the last month.
Africa
The International Criminal Court (ICC) issues arrest warrant for Muammar Gaddafi
On the 27th of June 2011 the Pre-Trial Chamber I, composed of Judges Manageng (Botswana),
Steiner (Brazil) and Tarfusser (Italy) issued three arrest warrants, for Muammar Gaddafi, Saif AlIslam Gaddafi and Abdulla Al-Senussi. The ICC Prosecutor, Luis-Moreno Ocampo said that the
arrest warrants had been issued “for shooting civilians on the streets and persecuting alleged
dissidents in their homes as crimes against humanity.” He elaborated that “the Judges considered
that they have to be arrested to prevent them from using their powers to continue the commission
of crimes.” Although Libya is not a State Party of the Rome Statute (which established the ICC and
its powers), Ocampo insisted that as a member of the United Nations since 1955, Libya must
comply with the UN Security Council Resolution 10970 which called on Libya to ‘cooperate fully
with and provide any necessary assistance to the Court and the Prosecutor.’ In support of its
decision to issue the arrest warrants the court stated “the Chamber finds that there are reasonable
grounds to believe that, at all times relevant to the Application, Muammar Gaddafi had absolute,
ultimate and unquestioned control over the Libyan State apparatus of power, including the Security
Forces.”
It is as yet unclear who could execute the arrest warrants. The chances of a negotiated political
agreement involving Gaddafi living in exile are now significantly reduced. Al Jazeera’s Sue Turton
reporting from Libya said that “people are now questioning whether the arrest warrants could mean
the conflict will go on longer.”
Sudan update – Latest UN Security Council resolution
The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1990 authorising 4,200
Ethiopian troops to go into the Abyei region to defuse tensions in the lead up to South Sudan
declaring independence on July 9th. The Resolution was drafted by the United States and follows
a deal, which was agreed upon by the North and the South in late June, to de-militarise the Abyei
region and allow Ethiopian peacekeepers, known as the UN Interim Security Force, to patrol.
The New York Times reports that the Resolution empowered the peacekeeping force to take
“necessary actions” including using military force to protect civilians or in self-defense, whilst
the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof suggests that “The world capital for crimes against
humanity this month probably isn’t in Libya or Syria. Instead, it’s arguably the Nuba Mountains of
Sudan, where we’re getting accounts of what appears to be a particularly vicious campaign of
ethnic cleansing, murder and rape.” US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton stated that “while the
United States welcomes this Security Council resolution regarding Abyei, we remain deeply
concerned about the on-going crisis in Southern Kordofan. Tens of thousands of people have been
driven from their homes, and there are reports of very serious human rights abuses and violence
targeting individuals based on their ethnicity and political affiliation”.
China in Africa
The most obvious expressions of growing Chinese influence on the world stage often play out at
major international conferences or diplomatic occasions, but the role of China in Africa has caught
many off guard. For some time now, China has been actively engaged in the continent, securing
much needed resources in return for a very different style of aid.
Perhaps the best example of this dynamic relationship is in Zambia, a country of great mineral
wealth, but also, a country ranked 150 out of 169 in the Human Development Index. A study
commissioned by the African Economic Research Consortium in 2008 suggested that both China
and Zambia initially shared a struggle for national liberation and independence. In fact, China
began formal ties with Zambia on the day it declared independence from Britain in 1964. However,
as the Zambian minister of trade told the Guardian the Chinese aid offering is very different from
that of the West. “Chinese investments [in Zambia, are] currently estimated at US $2 billion, while
projections point to a surge to US $3 billion in the next two years.”
Americas
Chavez
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave a public address on the 4th of July after speculation that
he may have been battling ill health and struggling to recover from a recent operation in Cuba. The
BBC reported that the “normally loquacious Mr Chavez, 56, had been uncharacteristically
quiet since apparently undergoing surgery on 10 June in Cuba.” Mr Chavez, a regular “tweeter”
had not done so for 19 days following the surgery, but has since begun to “tweet.” Despite his
recent return, his quiet also forced the suspension of the meeting scheduled for 5th July for the
Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) which was to be hosted by Mr
Chavez in Venezuela.
Jamaica
Jamaica will soon celebrate its 50th Anniversary of political independence from the United
Kingdom, but The Gleamer is reporting that a recent poll of 1,008 Jamaicans found that 60% of
people think that Jamaica would be better off under British rule, with 17% of those surveyed saying
they thought Jamaica would have been worse off under British rule.
Queen Elizabeth II remains the head of state, but there is some suggestion that a move to replace
the head of state with a Jamaican citizen may be under consideration by the country’s politicians.
Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding told Parliament "I have long believed that if I am to have a
queen, it must be a Jamaican queen. I would not wish to see us celebrate 50 years of
Independence without completing that part of our 'sovereignisation', for want of a better word."
Crime and poverty continue to plague the Caribbean nation.
Chile: Puyehue-Cordón volcano
The Puyehue-Cordon volcano continued to spew ash into the air causing major disruption across
Chile and affecting air travel across the South America and the southern hemisphere, in particular
Australia and New Zealand. NASA imagery and simulation suggested that cold winds from the
south pushed the winds into the Pacific rather than directly across the Andes into Argentina.
The initial eruption sent a huge ash cloud 30 km (20 miles) into the atmosphere. However, since
then, the height of the cloud has shrunk to only kilometers. Chile’s chain of approximately 2000
volcanoes is one of the largest in the world, second only to Indonesia’s. Between 50 and 60 have
been recorded erupting, and another 500 are believed to be active.
Europe
The Former Yugoslavia
The trial of Ratko Mladic has begun at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia. Mladic proceedings for being disruptive; he has pleaded innocent to all charges. The
trial is expected to last at least 12 months.
It is thought that his arrest and transfer to the Hague may assist Serbia in its application to join the
European Union. Serbia has also reached a new agreement with Kosovo over basics such as
license plates. Croatia has been accepted to become a member of the EU.
In a separate case, a Netherlands Court has found has found the government of the Netherlands
responsible in Srebrenica. The judges found that the Dutch forces responsible as they had
effective control and were aware of the risks to the men. The decision may open up other claims,
however the Dutch government is likely to appeal the decision.
Turkish Election
Turkey conducted parliamentary elections, with Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and
Development (AK) party once gaining the largest bloc in parliament. The AK ran on a platform of
stability and the strong performance of the economy, which has been growing at rates as high as
9% per year. However the party did not receive a a sufficient parliamentary majority and will have
to govern with a smaller majority than in previous terms, which may mean that it needs to engage
in needs to engage in greater consensus building across party lines. Erdogan has stated that his
party will continue with its attempts to join the European Union, despite the stalled state of the
negotiations. The election also featured a stronger showing by independent Kurdish candidates.
Middle East
Change in the Middle East: Ongoing Turmoil in Syria an Yemen
In Syria, riots and unrest continued, particularly in the city of Hama, despite ongoing government
crackdowns. Diplomatic pressure from both the United States and Turkey has increased, as
thousands of refugees flee across the Turkish border. However, President Bashar al-Assad
continues to cling to power in Syria and retain the loyalty of the security forces in the country.
In Yemen, after 33 years in power, President Ali Abdullah Saleh fled the country after being injured
in an attack on the mosque he was attending.
There are ongoing concerns that the chaos will result in a strengthening of Al-Qaeda and its
allies in the region.
Asia
China
The territorial dispute between China and Vietnam over the sovereignty of islands in the South
China Sea has led to Vietnam requesting the assistance of outsiders including the United States.
Vietnam is protesting at the detainment of Vietnamese fishermen and the alleged cutting of an
undersea cable by Chinese forces. Other governments in the region have also been concerned
with the growing power of the Chinese Navy and its increased and wider-ranging naval patrols.
Thailand
General elections in Thailand have been won by the Pheu Thai Party, led by Yingluck Shinawatra,
the sister of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Yingluck will become Prime Minister
in a five party coalition. Supporters are hoping that the new government will bring to end almost
five years of political instability, which has significantly cost the Thai economy as well as costing a
number of lives.
* Richard completed an Arts/Law degree from Monash University in 2008. He was worked for the
Prosecutor at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and is
currently a lawyer at Lander and Rogers Lawyers.
* Marcus is currently completing a Master of Diplomacy and International Trade at Monash
University. He also has a combined Law/Science degree from the University of Melbourne, and
has most recently been working in the IT industry.
Development Aid – Theory and Reality in Timor Leste
By Sean Mackin
In a scene from the television show 'The West Wing', character Toby Ziegler looks exasperated
during a meeting between African leaders and pharmaceutical executives. Discussing reducing the
price of AIDS related medication, the executives argue that price reduction would be irrelevant.
Ziegler explains that those affected do not have wristwatches to measure the timings at which to
take the complicated cocktail of medication designed to fight the disease. Even in fiction, it seems
international development solutions are far more complex than they would appear.
From an affluent, Western perspective, the concept of international development aid would appear
to be beyond reproach. There are many on political fringes who advocate for a purely isolationist
stance. However, a sense of an unconscious collective humanity would appear to drive the
majority of those in well-off societies to devote a portion of tax payer funds to development
programs overseas. Whilst not always altruistic in nature, these programs are a key bridge to
providing opportunity to the third world. AusAID, for instance, has bilateral and regional
programs operating in no less than sixteen countries in the Asian region, “improving the lives of
millions of people in developing countries”. These programs have successfully eradicated polio
from the Pacific, and immunised 1.5 million children against polio and measles in Papua New
Guinea.
The developing world's perspective, however, seems altogether different. In many cases, aid is
seen as a political tool to be wielded in order to sustain, or consolidate, hard earned power. If that
means the destruction of the valued impact of aid, so be it. It may not even be politically motivated
destruction. In other cases, aid initiatives merely seem ill considered.
Australian soldiers in Timor Leste have previously spoken of the fate of a fleet of four wheel drive
vehicles donated to the state by the government of Japan in the aftermath of the INTERFET
mission of the late 1990s and early 2000s. According to these reports, within twelve months not a
single vehicle was operable. Instead, they were sitting as unsalvageable hulks by the side of the
road, stripped of all useful material by passers by. Locals drove these vehicles until they could no
longer function, neglected to repair them or maintain them due to a lack of know-how and
understanding, and thus abandoned them when they failed. These vehicles, left by the roadsides
of Timor, became a monument to those perhaps less well thought out development programs.
Then there was the Dili fire station. Soldiers spoke of times of political unrest, youth driven by
political masters to low level violence as public distraction tactics. Despite reasoned argument by
international police and armed forces with the perpetrators, the youth continued to burn down the
fire station in protest. The feeling of exasperation among those involved seemed palpable. Stable
and functioning government via international aid seemed distant when simply convincing the youth
not to burn down the fire station was proving to be a challenge.
This is not to say, however, that development aid is a pointless exercise. Whilst some would
appear to argue otherwise, development aid is not a zero sum game. Like most problems, merely
throwing money at it is not enough. Structured programs with local engagement, measurable
outcomes and reasonable monitoring measures seem a sensible starting point. It is not just the
funding, but the manner in which aid is distributed and targeted that matters.
*Sean was formerly a soldier in the Australian Army, and last year completed his degree in
International Relations, Politics and Policy Studies at Deakin University. Currently undertaking his
honours year to study R2P, Sean has been accepted to Birkbeck University, London to study the
MA/LLM program in 2011/12. In his spare time, Sean lobbies politicians worldwide as part of his
organisation, The Human Rights Project.
AIIAV-Access Press Room: ‘Inside the Horn of Africa’
By Marla Pascual
Australia has a bigger role to play in helping Africa to overcome its challenges, an international
affairs forum has concluded.
A panel of speakers representing the troubled Horn of Africa last month suggested a range of
measures that could help the people of the continent towards greater peace and prosperity.
Mr. Graham Romanes, Honorary Consul-General of Ethiopia, began by discussing Australia’s
ongoing relationship with Africa. He argued that Australia should not focus all of its attention on
African people living in Australia but instead “have much more direct focus on Africa itself”.
“The real voice of Africa is the voice of over 900 million people who live back in the continent.”
Mr. Romanes described how “Australia has been so thinly spread in its representation of Africa”.
He suggested that to consolidate its relationship with Africa, it is imperative for Australia to expand
its presence on the continent of Africa.
Mr. Romanes based most of his arguments on Ethiopia, “a country with an ancient civilization and
a glorious past”, but also synonymous with famine, poverty and war. He extensively highlighted
that in order to achieve greater unity within Africa, “Africans have to solve their own problems
within the continent’s borders”. He said the Horn of Africa is suffering a great economic and
political drought, which poses an obstacle to development. Mr. Romanes proposed that Ethiopia
must “take inspired leadership” as several factors come into play in African development and
transformation.
Mr. Peter Run, Secretary of the African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific
(AFSAAP), illustrated the notion of peace and the nature of settlement. He said issues surrounding
Africans in Australia are of “immediate concern” and there is “little consultation” between the
Africans in Australia and the African governments.
“It does not matter where we’re all coming from because we’re all part of the same society”.
Mr. Run described the prominent disparity between African people and the African governments.
He explained how open communication between the governments and the people would improve
developments of the continent. The Secretary of AFSAAP described how the settlement of African
refugees in Australia has two narratives: the social and the authoritative. He suggested that policy
makers should centralise on this divide and aim to “bridge the gap”.
Ms. Nyadol Nyuon, Board Member of the African Think Tank and The Ethnic Communities’ Council
of Victoria Inc, focused on the intellectual revolution in Africa. By using first hand experiences, she
explained how young people living in Africa were “used as a tool for war” and were accustomed to
believing that war is a part of life.
“You grow up with the perspective that this is how the world is supposed to be”.
She suggested that African governments should invest in education and institutions. Instead of
using young people as tools for war, they can instead be “future agents of peace”. She explained
that developing a “true political science in African perspective” is imperative for African
progression.
Ms. Nyuon believes Africa’s youth could help bring unity within the continent. Young Africans “need
to think about taking Africa [to] an international level”. She proposed that to construct a united
continent means to change the Africa that young people have become so accustomed to.
This forum was moderated by Dr. Berhan Ahmed, Founder of the African Think Tank and Victorian
of the Year for 2009.
Mr. Graham Romanes has been Honorary Consul-General of Ethiopia since 1997. He worked at
Community Aid Abroad (now Oxfam Australia) for 22 years until 2002.
Mr. Peter Run, Secretary of the AFSAAP, is also a PhD student and a tutor at The School of
Political Science and International Studies at The University of Queensland.
Ms. Nyadol Nyuon is a board member of the African Think Tank and The Ethnic Communities’
Council of Victoria Inc. She arrived in Australia in 2004 from Southern Sudan.
The forum was organised by ACCESS, the Australian Institute for International Affairs’ Network for
University Students and Young Professionals. For upcoming events and further information, please
contact AIIA at [email protected] or call (03) 9654 7271.
Based on the ACCESS event ‘Inside the Horn of Africa’, held on 29th June 2011 at Dyason House,
AIIA Victoria.
* Marla completed her Bachelor in Arts (Journalism and History) in 2009 at Monash University. She
is currently undertaking a Masters of International Relations at Monash, and since June has been
an intern for ACCESS.
Aid vs. Trade – A Summary
By Steven Burak
The recent examination of the Australian government’s aid programs in the 2011 Independent Aid
Review has prompted discussion about the most appropriate means of giving assistance to the
developing world. Questions have arisen about the efficacy of Australia’s programs, as well as the
development programs of Non-Government Organisations (NGO), foreign states and corporations.
Since the end of Colonialism, numerous development theories have been examined in terms of
practicability. The refinement of the subsequent results has produced two major approaches to
development; Aid and Trade.
What best sets a developing state on a path of sustainable and inclusive growth? Aid, trade or
a combination of both?
Muddled in the debate for efficient and effective development is the evolution of these separate
approaches.
Aid has evolved over time from a method of cash handouts to what is now complex communitybased development. Engaging the developing populace and the social periphery, in communitybased programs, has enabled individuals and communities to directly participate in their own and
their communities’ development. Such involvement and the subsequent ability to micro-prioritise
issues in specific communities facilitates change from the “bottom up”. At the forefront of this
approach are NGOs. NGOs have a variety of focus points, from specific towns and villages to
broad umbrella issues.
Much like aid, trade too has evolved. The “trickle down” approach has changed with the movement
of its sister, the market. Global and domestic markets’ evolution has secured assistance from
developed states and involved corporations. Methods of assistance such as infrastructure
development, foreign direct investment and market development have resulted, and continue to
result, from such institutional initiatives. The aims of trade are to assist the development of robust
political and economic institutions, which in turn secure the wealth and welfare of a populace.
While at times aid and trade may appear to be moving on different paths, they both address the
need for efficient and effective development. Their proponents attempt to infuse the principles of
both approaches, by incorporating capitalism and philanthropy to bring about development. More
and more organisations and institutions of either the aid or trade persuasion are borrowing
principles from one another, and in doing so placing themselves in this composite group.
ACCESS’ debate ‘Aid vs Trade: What Works, What Doesn’t and Why?’ shall be hosted at 6.00 pm
on the 19th of July at the BMW Edge Theatre, Federation Square. Moderated by Rev. Tim Costello
AO, the trade position will be advocated by Mr Andrew Macleod and Dr Tom Davis, and on the
foreign aid stance Ms Joanna Hayter and Dr Julia Newton-Howes. Entry is free.
A link to the 2011 Independent Aid Review can be found here.
*Steven is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Political and International Studies at
the University of Melbourne. He is also undertaking a Diploma in Languages in Arabic at
Melbourne.
Media Analysis: ‘Slumming It’, a documentary by Kevin McCloud
By Marla Pascual
A review of the documentary ‘Slumming It’, by British writer and presenter Kevin McCloud. A link to
the documentary online can be found here.
Kevin McCloud visits the Indian town of Dharavi, an area in Mumbai, to explore alternative ways of
having a better lifestyle. Interestingly, Dharavi is India’s largest slum - talk about redefinition of
‘unconventional’.
Upon arriving at Dharavi, McCloud is appalled to see the town’s living conditions. There are literally
boxes of dwellings underneath masses of rubbish, piled on top of each other. For a slum built on a
one-square-mile vicinity with a population of up to one million people, it undoubtedly appears to be
the “last place on earth to search for answers”. The average house, which is the size of a regular
lounge room in Western societies, houses around 20 to 25 people. This congested space is the
sole bedroom, a kitchen, a place to work and a space for prayer as well. McCloud observes that
within such a minuscule place, which offers no privacy whatsoever, “making room for yourself is
flexibility” – squatting the right way to eat so there is room for everybody else, for example. For
most of the Westernised world, large amounts of personal space is thenorm, but in Dharavi, every
centimetre is a prize.
There is also a river which runs through Dharavi. Riverside homes are often associated with
serenity, a clean environment or a relaxed ambiance but in Dharavi, it is a very different case. The
river is a still body of water, so full of rubbish that even its fish die. McCloud refers to it as a recipe
for dengue fever, cholera, and hepatitis. However, within the unhealthy, scarcely liveable place,
there seems to be a deep sense of community amongst the residents that is uncommon in most, if
not all, Western cities.
In a place where “disgust is followed by delight”, McCloud finds himself surprised beyond belief by
the immense sense of community that is attached to Dharavi. People are hospitable, welcoming
and everybody plays a part in another’s livelihood. Aesthetically, it is far from enticing, but its
people have transformed it into a home. McCloud discovers that residents can walk around the
town by themselves at 2am with no fear of being harassed or harmed. An astounding 85 per cent
of people in Dharavi are employed, with around 15,000 recycling (albeit illegal) factories and 300
bakeries in the area. Recycling plastic has become people’s livelihood in Dharavi, with 80 per cent
of plastic being recycled (McCloud highlights the UK’s recycling figure of a low 23 per cent).
Dharavi takes recycling to an entirely new level.
In his visit to Mumbai’s bustling CBD, McCloud explores the city’s redevelopment plans for
Dharavi. In theory, these plans could be the solution to Dharavi’s unhealthy and primitive living
conditions, but in practice they may not offer the best solution. Turning the town into “vertical
slums”, forcing the residents to live in multiple-story apartment buildings, will completely eradicate
Dharavi’s sense of community. MCCloud contends that it will only deprive people of the attachment
they have created with each other, and will thus become detached and impersonal. As it turns out,
India’s biggest slum, though extremely unhygienic, has endless layers of social connection and
belonging. It is ultimately an “embryonic city humming with human energy and determination” and
its residents are “hugely proud of where they live”.
McCloud’s two-week insight into Dharavi’s lifestyle proves that “pride of place and community
creates safe neighbourhoods”. That could be something for Western societies to learn from a
broken-back slum like Dharavi.
* Marla completed her Bachelor in Arts (Journalism and History) in 2009 at Monash University. She
is currently undertaking a Masters of International Relations at Monash and since June has been
an intern for ACCESS.
Issue 17
Message from the Editor
By Rachel Hankey
Amnesty International, in the 2011 State of the World’s Human Rights report, criticises Australia’s
record on the treatment of indigenous people and asylum seekers. In this edition of Monthly
Access we examine some of the key issues concerning the safeguarding of an individual’s human
rights, both at home and abroad.
The recent killing of Osama bin Laden has been declared unlawful by many leading experts.
In Q&A this month Dr Gideon Boas, of Monash University, explains some of implications of such
international action, and the ramifications for vulnerable groups in the region.
CEO and founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne, Kon Karapanagiotidis,
campaigns passionately to protect the rights of asylum seekers embarking on a new life in
Australia. In Career Spotlight Mr Karapanagiotidis tells us about his ongoing work to help asylum
seekers.
Global Snapshot looks at some of the key events occurring across the world over the last month.
John Varghese examines the origins of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and its role in preventing
future humanitarian disasters, such as occurred in Rwanda and Bosnia.
Freedom of speech is enshrined in the US constitution, yet this entitlement is at odds with the need
for secrecy in matters of state security. Timothy Lawson takes a look at the fate of two recent
whistleblowers, US solider Bradley Manning and Israeli journalist Anat Kam.
The Sydney Peace Foundation has awarded the 2011 Sydney Peace Prize to Noam Chomsky.
However, as Craig Butt explains, Chomsky is a very controversial choice for the award.
We say farewell to Julia Rabar and Sharna Thomason, who are going to pursue new projects, and
I would like to thank them for all their dedication and hard work. Over the coming months we are
looking forward to welcoming new contributors and editors to the Monthly Access team.
* Rachel is spending the year living in Melbourne before returning to the UK to undertake a
Masters in International Conflict Studies at Kings College London.
Q&A with Dr Gideon Boas
By Rachel Hankey and Eliza Nolan
Dr Gideon Boas is a Senior Lecturer at Monash University Law School. He was formerly a Senior
Legal Officer at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
As well as working as a consultant in international and criminal law, Dr Boas has extensive
experience in human rights, as a consult for the United Nations Development Fund and delivering
training to judges and lawyers on the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.
In a recent article you wrote for The Age, you described the killing of Osama bin Laden as
unlawful. Were bin Laden’s individual rights abused, or are the rights of an individual revoked in
such circumstances?
The right to life can only be denied under certain limited circumstances: acts of genuine self
defence, the operation of the death penalty in certain jurisdictions, or in the lawful use of force
within an armed conflict. Targeted assassinations are a violation of international law; despite the
use of this by certain countries who justify it on a broadly defined conception of self-defence, the
reality is that no properly applied principle of self-defence permits such killings. So yes, bin Laden's
individual rights were abused and he was killed unlawfully.
Since the targeted killing of bin Laden and Gaddafi is unlawful, what will be the ramifications of this
behaviour, if any?
There are a few elements to the unlawful killing of bin Laden. Firstly, the US operation was almost
certainly a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty. Saving a bilateral arrangement between the US and
Pakistan that gave the US broad rights of military incursion on Pakistan’s territory, the US has
committed an internationally wrongful act against Pakistan, for which it should provide reparations.
I do not understand the public position the US has taken on this point; insisting that it's killing of bin
Laden was lawful is a separate point to whether it violated Pakistan's sovereignty. It is clear that
neither any state, nor the UN, is going to take serious issue with the US assassination of bin
Laden, so there is unlikely to be any significant political or legal ramifications. Of course, the
prospect of increased terrorist activity in response may well be heightened, but no doubt that would
have been the case had he been captured and arrested.
The targeting of Gaddafi is a somewhat different matter. The fact that NATO countries are at war
with Libya might, on the surface, make Gaddafi's killing in that context lawful. He is the
Commander in Chief of the armed forces of Libya, and in a 'normal' war he would be a legitimate
military target. However, this armed conflict is somewhat different. The lawfulness of the use of
force is expressly underwritten by UN Security Council Resolution 1973, the terms of which are
quite limited: to establish a no fly zone and take necessary measures to protect civilians and the
civilian population. Nothing in the terms of the Resolution provides for the targeting of Gaddafi.
Depending on the circumstances of his successful killing (if that were to occur) questions about
legality may well be raised - they may well be raised already in relation to certain bombings by
NATO forces, particularly in Tripoli.
Do you believe that these actions will have any impact on Australia, either domestically or in the
international arena?
I doubt it. Although our leaders enthusiastically endorsed bin Laden's killing they had no real
involvement in it or knowledge of it prior to its execution. In terms of our exposure to the threat of
terrorism, I suspect our involvement in Afghanistan and, particularly, Iraq already increased that
prospect.
If the International Criminal Court is granted the arrest warrant for Muammar Gaddafi for crimes
against humanity, will this have a real affect on NATO’s action against Libya? Or is the most likely
outcome of the campaign the death of Gaddafi?
I am not sure the extent to which one will affect the other. I suspect the Security Council, and
NATO, would be content to see Gaddafi arrested, transferred to The Hague and tried by the ICC. It
carries with it far less complexity in terms of legal process and security concerns than the prospect
of the US arresting and trying bin Laden. It appears clear that, despite this not forming part of the
Security Council mandate, the plan is to remove Gaddafi one way or another.
In the long term, do you believe that the political change occurring in the Middle East and North
Africa will lead to improved human rights in this region? Or will the ‘fall out’ from the death of bin
Laden and on going situation in Libya, to name but a few, result in greater violence and
oppression?
It would be a foolish person who committed to an answer on this question. I think the dramatic
statement of French Foreign Minister, Alain Jupe before the Security Council that the SC resolution
would support ‘a wave of great revolutions that would change the course of history’, as people
throughout North Africa and the Middle East are calling for ‘a breath of fresh air’, for freedom of
expression and democracy is optimistic, to say the least. There is no guaranteeing that regime
replacement will have a more positive impact on human rights; local, regional or international
security; or even genuine democracy for these countries. There is a risk in intervening
diplomatically in Egypt, militarily in Libya, and hardly at all in Syria, Yemen or Bahrain, for example.
It is hard to get any intervention right, and even harder to know what the impact of any action will
be in the longer term.
To what extent do you believe America’s treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, and the
ongoing reports about the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners, is detrimental to their involvement in the
current situation in the Middle East?
I think the US has a significant legitimacy deficit in the Muslim world. It was rightly reluctant to
become involved in a war in another Muslim country but is now well entrenched, if tentatively. It is
still the global Superpower with a diplomatic status in the Middle East, as elsewhere, but no doubt
its own human rights record in these areas reduces any moral authority it might have.
In their annual State of the World’s Human Rights report, Amnesty International attacks Australia’s
poor conduct towards indigenous populations and asylum seekers. Do you believe that the legal
system provides adequate protection for the human rights of vulnerable groups in Australia?
I think the difficulty with Australia's legal structures in this area are two-fold. Firstly, a lack of a
powerful national human rights instrument means that there is lacking a legitimate internal
oversight of our treatment of vulnerable groups. We can see from the response of the UN Human
Rights Committee/Council to the plight of indigenous Australians and asylum seekers and the
indifferent response from Australian Governments, that there is little accountability in this country
for such groups. Secondly, our system for implementing treaty obligations in Australia means that,
without active federal legislation implementing specific rights and duties, ratification of core human
rights treaties provides little genuine and specific protection. One only has to look at European
countries and the powerful system operating under the European Convention of Human Rights, to
see how very far we are from a legal system that provides adequate protection for vulnerable
groups.
* Rachel is spending the year living in Melbourne before returning to the UK to undertake a
Masters in International Conflict Studies at Kings College London.
*Eliza is finishing the final subject of her bachelor of International Relations through her placement
with ACCESS and is also completing a Certificate IV in Financial Services and volunteering with
the AIIA.
Career Spotlight with Kon Karapanagiotidis
By Rachel Hankey and Eliza Nolan
Archbishop Desmond Tutu once declared that he was “not interested in picking up crumbs of
compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full
menu of rights.” This sentiment aptly describes the current Australian policy towards asylum
seekers.
The provision of a full menu of rights to asylum seekers is one of the fundamental aims of Kon
Karapanagiotidis, the CEO and Founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC). The
ASRC began as a small food bank in Footscray, and now boasts 800 volunteers and delivers
services to some 7000 refugees.
How did you originally get involved in Asylum seeker issues?
There are a handful of influences that got me to this point. Number one was obviously my own
culture, my own background. I grew up in a Greek family, with parents who came here in the 60s
as migrants. I grew up watching their experiences. Common experiences of all migrants - racism,
exclusion, discrimination, exploitation - very hard lives. I grew up in a little country town where you
would be called wog more than you would be called Kon. So at an early age I became sensitised to
the issues of racism and just the feeling of being excluded.
So you grow up working class, you grow up on a little country town, you grow up with parents that
you’re seeing are being exploited and having a hard time, and I’m not really finding a place that I fit
in anywhere in the world. When I turn 18 I go out and I start doing volunteer work… with a really
broad range of people.
Through my twenties I found a greater sense of connection and community with the people that I
worked with than I ever did in my own peer group. My peer group is privileged and spoilt. Most
Australians that are university educated are rich and spoilt, and most I think fail to appreciate how
lucky they are. I think for me, growing up in a family where neither of my parents got past primary
school because they had to leave to work to support their families, you understand the value of
education. Education is power, opportunity is a privilege; do something with it.
In that decade I worked in dozens of places in a whole range of social justice issues, from mental
health to survivors of sexual assault, just a really broad range. As I was doing this work, a nun at
the Red Cross asked me if I would see a young Turkish man who had been tortured. She knew I
was doing some free counseling, as one of my backgrounds is as a social worker. So I started
seeing him and then she sent me another one, and another one. Somehow I found myself working
with one of the most disadvantaged groups; people with no work rights, no income, no safety net,
basically no human rights, going through this really horrible system and they couldn’t even get
access to the most simple thing like food. I thought, “I need to do something about this”.
I found myself teaching at a TAFE in the western suburbs and I had a group of students who had
to do a practical class project. They had to go out and for a week do something real, and they were
struggling to find anything. I’d been thinking about the idea of setting up a little food bank for
people seeking asylum, and a friend who had a shopfront in Footscray said I could have it rent
free. So I said to my students, what do you think about setting up a little food bank in Footscray? At
first they thought I was joking. What I wanted them to understand was that even as students they
could change the world, that they didn’t need a piece of paper or a qualification to make a
difference. Eight weeks later the centre was born.
At the time I was 28 and still teaching. I had no idea of what I was doing, except I just knew I had to
do something, and that’s how the organisation started, and it eventually resulted in me being
sacked. Even though I had a lot of supporters, the university was very unhappy I had connected
them to what according to them was such a controversial issue.
That’s really quite shocking, if that was the attitude.
Well look, one of the things I always say when I talk about careers is that, I’ve been sacked from
every paid job I’ve ever had. Many of the jobs I’ve had at universities I’ve been sacked from, and
it’s one of those moments where they’re just issues of choice and principle. I think of all the jobs
I’ve had and the moments they ask you to toe a particular line, which is ‘just do what we’re telling
you to’ regardless of the human consequence to people.
One of the critical things… is I’ve held onto the principles that people tell you are the keys to
failure, which are in fact the keys to success. Hold on to your integrity and don’t compromise it no
matter what. Being principled is actually a beautiful and magical thing and don’t let anyone take it
from you. My idealism is what has actually made it possible to do what I’ve done… one thing is, the
minute you stop being idealistic and you stop being passionate you actually stop living and you
start living in the space of mediocrity.
The greatest key to my success has been taking risks. By risk I mean everything that I’ve done
from the time I started this, people thought, this is not possible, this can’t work, what are you doing
to. It’s thousands of little risks, not just myself but thousands of other people put into this to make
this possible. It’s that idea that a risk is just about backing yourself, to believe that what you really
want in life you can have. What’s really wonderful is that if you keep taking those risks you can’t
fail. Just like the organisation is founded on the principle that there is no such thing as a failed
human being or an illegal human being, that is, everyone has a right to care and to support. It’s the
same with this, about believing yourself and following your heart, how can you ever fail doing that?
You will get lots of kicks in the head, but thrive on that.
You said that the university wasn’t supportive, and lots of people were critical of what you were
doing. At what stage did you actually start receiving wider support for your organisation? Is it still a
battle?
I started on the 8th of June 2001 and August that year the Tampa crisis happened. So initially the
first couple months it was very quiet in terms of support. But once the Tampa happened it
dominated the news. There were lots of very angry people out there, and so we just suddenly had
people coming in off the street asking ‘what can I do?’
So the timing was right?
Yeah. People kept saying ‘I can’t keep screaming at the television’, ‘I need to do something’, ‘can I
help?’. People were just coming off the streets saying ‘I can teach English’, ‘I’m a lawyer’, I’m this,
I’m that. The way the organisation organically grew as well was that it started as a little food bank
and then people kept just turning up in desperate need; we had a little woman from East Timor
asking to learn English because no one would teach it to her, so we started an English program.
Parents turning up with sick children with no hospital or doctor that would see them because they
had no Medicare or income - we started the first health service in the state. People needing
lawyers - we started the first legal service. We now have 23 different services in the organisation
and it’s holistic and it’s organic; it’s a one stop sort of organisation.
It just grew out of necessity. Necessity is an extraordinary way to succeed in life because necessity
forces you to keep focused on the one thing we’re here for, and that is to bring freedom for the
people that we work with and to provide them with sanctuary.
Obviously you have achieved an awful lot. What are the big challenges that remain for asylum
seekers here in Australia?
The massive challenges on the human rights front … are in the details. Human rights, you can’t
find them in the dictionary, policy document, or law. You can sign all the treaties that you like in the
world, but they’re not worth anything if a country’s culture and spirit believe and carry those in its
heart.
The biggest challenge is actually getting the majority of Australians to actually understand that their
human rights, the human rights that they have, they should have to share those with everyone
else... People need to understand human rights are a lottery, that the entitlement we have here is a
lottery, and what we need is a genuine, new conversation in this country about the fact that we
continue to deny the most fundamental, basic human rights to so many of our most vulnerable
people.
So whether that’s our indigenous Australians who face a 17 year life gap expectancy, 12 times
over represented in the prison system, deaths in custody are up despite 20 years ago in the royal
commission, and the 54 recommendations of the bring them home haven’t been implemented. You
ask why, and you look now at a country that is about to send people to Malaysia, deliberately so,
knowing that they’re going to be physically tortured and caned, women and children are going to
be sexually abused in detention centers. They’re sending them to a country that is not a signatory,
for the sole purpose of knowing that what awaits them is brutality, to try and prevent people from
seeking asylum in this country.
The big challenges are, humanizing human rights, humanizing asylum seekers, getting everyday
Australians to realise that they are not illegal. They are actually human beings we are talking
about, they’re not breaking the rules. There a the hypocrisy and arrogance that Australians have
when it comes to humans rights; sadly many of them haven’t had a real struggle, unless you are an
indigenous Australian or a previous refugee, as we live such a privileged life in this country.
As a country, we need a conversation about human rights that actually gets Australians to stop and
ask, what if that really was me, what if that was me in the refugee camp, what if that was me on
that leaky boat, what if that was my family they were about to come and kill – what would I do?
Don’t stop the boats, because the boats are the only way that people are getting here without
dying; if there is no genuine alternative, and the boats are the only way of saving lives, how is it
any different from talking about the holocaust and most Jews survived because of people
smugglers.
This is not a political debate, this is a moral conversation. Human rights are a moral conversation.
They are about what it means to live in a free country. What are the obligations that come with
living in a prosperous country, that come with being in this great free land of ours? That’s the
conversation we need to be having instead of the sort of idea that we can own freedom. But how
can anyone own the idea of freedom, and the desire to be free, the will to be free, and the right to
be free; that’s what they’re are trying to do in this country right now. They’re saying, I’ve got it,
but I’m not sharing it with you and I don’t care what we have to do to stop you having what I’ve got.
And while I’m sitting there having that debate, and when we’re saying turn back the boats, we’re
actually saying send people back to their deaths.
It seems that the government produces anti asylum seeker legislation, such as the Malaysian
situation, and the press is providing a very negative coverage, and there Is a general consensus
that is anti-asylum seeker. So the public fuels public policy, which fuels the media; where does the
chain stop?
The thing is for all people with a passion for champion human rights to always know there is an
alternative. We sit here now, every morning when I sit with my volunteers in the morning at the
start of each day, and we see everything that is happening and it can feel very demoralising. We
need to be focusing on what we are achieving, what we are doing, and imagine what things would
be without us.
The political debate is the worst it’s been in the 10 years since I started the place. The broader
federal policies about how we deal with people coming by boat is the worst it’s been, mandatory
detention is the worst it’s been, but on the ground there is real change. Over the last decade we
have a genuine human rights movement in this country, we have tens of thousands of
people mobilized nationally to do something, we run an organisation where 800 people volunteer,
thousands more who come and donate on a monthly basis, time energy, support, ideas. We are
changing things. We might not have the power at the moment in the short term to end mandatory
detention or shut down Christmas Island, but on the ground, some of the things we’ve achieved we
would never have imagined. Just within our state we have got access to TAFE for asylum seekers,
access to the emergency public health system without Medicare, we have got access to
concession travel. That might seem minor in the scale of mandatory detention but what we are
starting to claim and win for people, are the basic rights to be free and equal like any other
Australian in this country.
We might be a minority but we are a powerful minority and what we are going to keep focusing on
what have we achieved; 7000 people have come through our doors and we have helped them.
There are thousands of people who won their freedom through our work and the work of many
other organisations, people who otherwise would have been tortured to death or rotting in a prison
somewhere for their beliefs.
We have got to keep having that conversation about what next, how do we do it better, what else
can we do, how can we keep changing things? Everytime one of us that does something to make
things better, we are changing the world. And it’s also knowing that there are bigger things that are
going to take longer, but we are going to get there. Now 10 years ago I couldn’t ever imagine us
still being here, 10 years ago I couldn’t imagine tens of thousands of Australians mobilised across
the country fighting for the rights of asylum seekers. Some of the changes that have happened I
couldn’t have imagined. I know some of them have been reversed but they were profound wins,
you know, getting rid of the things like temporary protection visas (I know they might come back),
getting rid of people being charged for being held in a detention center, doing away with the 45 day
rule that meant that if you didn’t apply within 45 days you would lose work rights. Now more people
have the right to work, more people have the right to health care.
But we need to keep fighting - human rights depends on people not losing hope. The people who
are struggling, all the people whose rights we are trying to defend, they are the ones really
pioneering and championing human rights, the people putting their lives on the line. We’re not
putting our lives on the line, but we are sitting there trying to make an ethical choice as a human
being about how to live a moral life. And we are sitting there trying to say to our country,
Australians are better than this, aren’t we? Aren’t we proud to be a country that believes in a fair
go? Then why don’t we actually give asylum seekers a fair go? We are a country that understands
that we are a nation actually built by boat people.
Is this not the slight irony behind it all?
Yes! [After the] indigenous Australians who had been here since dreamtime, we are actually a
country built by boat people, that’s the irony. The only difference is those people come by boat
were convicted criminals, while these people that come by boat are innocent people.
Amnesty International’s report, The State of the World Human Rights, is critical of Australia’s
record towards asylum seekers and indigenous people. How do you think Australia’s record
compares to other developing countries, such as Europe?
80% of the world’s refugees are in the developing world, and less than 20% are in
the industrialised world. Compared to the 44 industrialised nations that take asylum seekers and
have refugees I think we’re very poor.
We are the leaders in some areas but, I think we champion quite strongly the locking up of
children, we’re are pretty good at that. Italy is the only other country that has offshore processing.
We are the world champions of that. If you look at Europe and the numbers of asylum seekers
arriving in Germany, the UK, Greece, or the US and Canada, we are pretty pitiful. Last financial
year, based on wealth we are 77th in the world, but we are 15th in the world in terms of number of
asylum seekers. So we compare very poorly I think.
We are one of only 8 countries in the world that caps its refugee humanitarian intake, most
countries don’t set a cap. That’s why we often pretend that we are generous, because we are
number 2 of the 8 countries that put a cap, but most countries don’t cap it, because I know you
can’t actually cap the numbers for humanitarian intake.
If you really look at the number of refugees and humanitarian entrants we take as a percentage of
our migration program its actually the lowest it’s been since 1975. We are actually at a 36 year low.
* Rachel is spending the year living in Melbourne before returning to the UK to undertake a
Masters in International Conflict Studies at Kings College London.
*Eliza is finishing the final subject of her bachelor of International Relations through her placement
with ACCESS and is also completing a Certificate IV in Financial Services and volunteering with
the AIIA.
Global Snapshot for June 2011
By Sharna Thomason, Marcus Burke and Richard Griffin
A round up of key events across the world over the last month.
Africa
Nigeria
Nigerian leader Goodluck Jonathan of the People's Democratic Party has been sworn in on
29th May as President of Nigeria after winning the national elections by securing nearly 60% of the
vote. The ceremony was held amid extremely tight security, with the deployment of 10,000 security
personnel , mobile phone services cut and helicopters flying overhead. Jonathan’s nearest
contender, the former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari attracted nearly 32% or 12.2 million votes.
The BBC reports that Nigerian elections are usually about ethnicity, religion and regionalism, rather
than issues. This is the first time in recent history that the presidential election result has
highlighted the huge division between the mainly Muslim, Hausa-speaking north and Christian and
animist south. Goodluck Jonathan will need to unite the north and south and deal with tensions in
the oil producing Niger Delta
Tension in Sudan
Tensions continues to build in the Sudan-Southern Sudan border region of Abyei, as Sudanese
troops invaded and attackedthe largest town in the area, also called Abyei.
The incident has raised fresh fears that Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s commitment
to peace may be wavering. The fighting complicates the Obama administration’s strategy for
Sudan, which involves providing incentives, on the condition of the Sudanese government’s
commitment to achieving peace in the region.
During the negotiations to end the conflict, no agreement was ever reached about whether Abyei
should remain a part of northern-administered Sudan or be transferred to the south. It was
eventually agreed that a refurendum would be held, to allow the people of Abyei to decide their
future. The refurendum was scheduled to take place simultaneously with the main South Sudan
vote in January. However, the Abyei referendum never occurred, due to a dispute about who was
eligible to vote.”
ICC rejects Kenya’s bid to halt election violence protests
Kenya’s attempt to halt the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigation into the violent
protests that followed the national elections in 2007 has been rebuffed.
The Hague Justice Portal reports that the Judges responded to claims that suspects could be tried
in Kenya courts, by considering that the absence of such proceedings against suspects suggested
the national approach would be inadequate. The Pre-Trial Chamber II judges ruled that there was
“no concrete evidence of on-going proceedings before national judges” and that Government of
Kenya had “failed to provide the Chamber with any information as to the conduct, crimes or the
incidents for which the suspects are being investigated or questioned.”
The ICC will hold hearings in September to decide whether the men should stand trial. If convicted,
they could face life imprisonment.
Americas
Honduras welcomes former President
The former Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya returned to Honduras, two years after being
ousted by a military led coup. TheLA Times reports that “Zelaya was allowed to go home under a
"reconciliation" agreement brokered by the ideologically opposed governments of Colombia and
Venezuela. Under the agreement, which was signed in Cartagena, Columbia, Zelaya and his
supporters will be allowed to participate in Honduran politics. Zelya was expelled from Honduras
when proposed reforms to the constitution lead some parties to suspect that he was trying to
secure his own power indefinitely.
Zelya’s return is a condition to reinstating Honduras to the Organization of American States (OAS),
the regional body that jettisoned it as punishment for the June 28th, 2009, coup. The OAS voted 32
to one to readmit Honduras, with Ecuador as the only country to oppose the motion.
José Miguel Insulza, the Secretary General of the OAS, said that the arrival of President José
Manuel Zelaya in Honduras was a milestone in the process of reconciliation in Honduras.
Brazilian Amazon causing tension
The Brazilian Amazon is fast becoming the source of political tensions as the Brazilian congress is
in the final stages of reforming the Forests Code. The law stipulates that landowners in the
Amazon must keep 80% of their terrain forested, compared to only 20% in other parts of Brazil.
The proposals to amend the legislation have highlighted the differences in public opinion; some
people, including many farmers, view development and economic growth as the highest priority,
whilst others regard conservation as the key issue.
Yet, whilst politics prevails, the satellite images from Brazil’s space research institute show
that deforestation increased from 103 sq km in March and April 2010 to 593 sq km (229 sq miles)
in the same period of 2011. In an effort to combat the threat of deforestation, sixty-nine countries
around the world have already signed up to the reduced emissions from deforestation and forest
degradation program (REDD). Under the program, forest owners are effectively paid not to cut
down trees. Governments have already pledged approximately $5.5bn (£3.4bn) to the scheme.
But trees are not the only thing in danger in the Amazon; according to the BBC, three
environmental activists were killed last week, with one rural leader, Adelino Ramos known for his
opposition to illegal logging in the Amazon. The Rural Development Minister Afonso Florence said
the government will “intensify monitoring and investigation and strengthen actions leading to
sustainable development in the region.”
Asia/Pacific
Japan PM survives vote of no-confidence
Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan has won a vote of no confidence, despite earlier stating that he
would step down “once the post-quake reconstruction efforts are settled”. Naoto Kan became
Prime Minister one year ago, however after being criticised for his alleged weak handling of
information during the height of the nuclear disaster and his delayed efforts in the reconstruction
phase, the Liberal Democratic Party and two smaller opposition parties submitted a no-confidence
motion. Despite Prime Minister Kan’s Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) holding power in the lower
house, where the motion was submitted, many of the parties power brokers have expressed their
concern in his leadership, with some even publicly announcing they were not going to support him
in the no-confidence motion.
If the majority of the DPJ had joined the opposition by voting in favour of the no-confidence motion
it would have meant more than just the end of Kan and his Cabinet. It would most probably have
caused a split within the ruling party. In an attempt to save the party, Kan was given the
opportunity to retire as Prime Minister and to step down with dignity, rather than suffer losing the
no-confidence motion. Kan agreed to step down after a number of bills relating to the recovery
effort are passed, and his party colleagues agreed to support him in the motion. This was the
obvious choice for the DPJ power brokers who wanted to avoid Kan fighting his way out by calling
for a general election.
Kan is now expected to step down in July, with Japanese politicians already lining up the potential
next Prime Minister, with current Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda the most likely candidate.
Regional tensions topic of Shangri-La Dialogue
The 10th ISS Asia Security Summit, the Shangri-La Dialogue was successfully held in Singapore
at the start of June. Defence chiefs from 27 nations in the Asia-Pacific region met to discuss
regional security and defence issues.
Growing disputes in the South China Sea were a focus of the summit, with China’s defence
minister attending for the first time. However, General Liang Guanglie assured the other ministers
in attendance that China does “not intend to threaten any country with the modernization of [its]
military force”, despite increasing its military budget by 12.7% this year. It is this increase in military
spending that has caused unease throughout the region.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, a keynote speaker, supported China stating that the world
should not see the rise of China as a cause for concern but rather as on of optimism, further stating
that “it no longer makes sense for global powers to go to war: they simply have too much to lose“.
Middle East
Syrian protestors gunned down by helicopter
Protests in Syria continue, as does the military fighting against them. The latest in the ongoing
attacks occurred in the northern town of Maarat al-Numan near the Turkish border. Antigovernment protests were held across the country, the largest since the uprising began in March of
this year. Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Maarat al-Numan when security
forcesbegan firing on them with tanks and helicopters armed with machine guns. This is the first
reported use of helicopters to disperse and quell the protesters.
Witnesses report seeing at least five helicopters flying over, all of which began firing on the
protesters and continued for hours even after the majority of protesters had left to find safety under
bridges and in fields. Wounded protesters no longer trust the hospitals so are forced to seek out
secret medical assistance in their homes.
These events have prompted an exodus of refugees fleeing from Syria in to neighboring Turkey. A
tent city has been constructed with ambulances carrying the wounded to hospital and armed police
guarding the entrances. Turkish officials have stated they are preparing for the likely possibility of
even more refugees in the coming days following the latest attacks on protesters.
Live events are recorded on an Al Jazeera blog.
Formula One governing body sides with Bahrain Government
It seems the Formula One governing body is aligned with the Bahraini government rather than
acknowledging and condemning the human rights and political crimes that have taken place in the
country.
The first Formula One race for 2011 was scheduled to be held in Bahrain in March, however after
the political protests and subsequent unrest the race was postponed and was to be rescheduled
for October. The Formula One governing body released a report stating that the October race
would not go ahead, and they were now looking at again attempting to hold the opening race of
2012 in Bahrain.
In all the reports relating to the cancellation of the races the reasoning behind the forced
cancellations has never been attributed to the protests and civil unrest. Instead the calendar
scheduling issues have been to blame, with the governing body going so far as stating that civil
unrest in the country had stabilised.
Human rights organisations are outraged at this, especially as the clashes between protesters and
police continue, and the Bahraini government continues to deny any such events occur.
Europe
Accused war criminal Ratko Mladić captured and extradited
Ratko Mladić had been one of the world’s most wanted war crimes suspects for over a decade. As
army chief for the Bosnian Serb forces during the disintegration of Yugoslavia, he was believed
responsible for the massacre of at least 7,500 Muslim men and boys from the town of Srebrenica
in 1995. He was charged in 1995 with multiple offences, including genocide, complicity in
genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war. On 26th May it
was announced that Serbian police had arrested Ratko Mladić and would extradite him to face
these most serious of charges.
The charges were laid by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former
Yugoslavia (ICTY) , established by the United Nations Security Council in 1993. Prior to Mladić’s
arrest the ICTY had concluded proceeding against 120 suspects and had only two fugitives
unaccounted for. It was widely thought the Tribunal would soon be ready to disband, but with its
most important remaining fugitive now in custody, it will likely be in process for several more years.
French Presidential hopeful Dominique Strauss-Kahn arrested in New York
The Mladić incident was not the only arrest that rocked Europe in May. Dominique Strauss-Kahn,
the Managing Director of International Monetary Fund, was arrested by New York Police for
allegedly attempting to rape a hotel maid. A leading memberof France’s opposition Socialist Party,
Straus-Kahn had been a serious contender for the next Presidential election, and was described as
being “at the head of the 2012 Presidential field."
Strauss-Kahn strenuously denies the allegations against him, and as with any high-profile arrest,
controversy followed. Philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy attacked the US judicial system for taking
“him for a subject of justice like any other.” Others have argued that this is exactly as it should be,
with the Economist noting: “New York’s authorities have not shirked from arresting the head of one
of the world’s leading international bodies, nor from demanding that he be kept in jail on remand. It
is worth asking: would this have happened in Paris or Rome?”
International
World Peace Index
The 2011 Global Peace Index has been released by the Institute for Economics and Peace,
concluding that the world had become less peaceful for the third year straight. Iceland was rated
as the most peaceful nation, with Somalia replacing Iraq as the least peaceful. Overall, the report
estimates that conflict cost the world economy over $8 trillion in 2010. An interactive mapis also
available. Australia was ranked 18 out of 153 nations.
Robert Zoellick, the President of the World Bank, has argued that armed conflict continues to be
one of the most importantbarriers to development.
Future Economic Growth
The World Bank has released its Global Economic Prospects Report, which predicts continued
growth by developing countries over the coming years. The Bank estimates that developing
countries will grow by around 6.3% each year from 2011-2013, down from 7.3% in 2010, with highincome countries seeing growth of less than 3%.
However risks remain for the poor in many countries, in particular due to continuing high food
prices. High inflation in general is also a risk to a number of developing economies, whilst further
instability in the Middle East could also negatively affect growth.
East Asia and the Pacific is projected to be the world’s fastest growing region, with 8.5% growth
predicted in 2011 and around 8.2% in 2012-13.
Packaging and Intellectual Property
The implications of Australia’s proposed law on plain-paper packaging for cigarettes are now being
debated at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The Dominican Republic objects to the proposed legislation, on the grounds that it violates the
TRIPS Agreement on intellectual property. The Dominican Republic has received support from
Honduras, Nicaragua, Ukraine, the Philippines, Zambia, Mexico, Cuba and Ecuador, whilst the
Australian position has been supported by New Zealand, Uruguay and Norway.
Tobacco companies have threatened to support a challenge to the law at the WTO, but any action
through the WTO’s dispute resolution mechanism will need to be initiated by a member nation.
* Sharna graduated with a Master of Diplomacy and Trade from Monash University, Melbourne.
She is a passionate human rights advocate and is currently working for the Victorian State
Government.
* Marcus is currently completing a Master of Diplomacy and International Trade at Monash
University. He also has a combined Law/Science degree from the University of Melbourne, and
has most recently been working in the IT industry.
* Richard completed an Arts/Law degree from Monash University in 2008. He was worked for the
Prosecutor at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and is
currently a lawyer at Lander and Rogers Lawyers.
Human Rights and “The Responsibility to Protect”
By John Varghese
The human rights agenda has once again clawed its way into public discourse after a decade of
marginalisation and oblivion in the post 9/11 era. The Libyan crisis and the broader Arab Spring
have been met with fierce resistance by the authoritarian governments of the region.
In particular, the Libyan crisis was so stark that the international community was drawn into a civil
conflict between rebels in the East and Muammar Gaddafi’s troops in Tripoli. ‘The responsibility to
protect’ was invoked in principle, on the grounds that government forces were ready to
indiscriminately kill civilians in Benghazi. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) voted in
favour of a ‘no-fly zone’ so as to prevent a large scale slaughter, such as occurred in Rwanda.
The birth of the human rights movement began with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in
1948. Yet the politics of the Cold war blocked the UNSC from taking bold, decisive action when
faced with mass atrocity and genocide. The end of the Cold War allowed the Security Council to
engage in numerous peacekeeping missions abroad, and human rights activists were hoping for a
new dawn in the human rights agenda. However, its successes were short-lived with the failed
interventions in Somalia, the horrors of civil conflict in Rwanda and the murdering of innocent men,
women and children taken from UN ‘safe zones’ in Bosnia. The Rwandan genocide resulted in
over 800,000 deaths with millions displaced. There was a broad consensus that the failures in
halting genocide and mass atrocities in both Rwanda and Bosnia had a particularly sobering effect
on the international community.
With this hindsight, the Canadian government launched the International Commission on
Intervention and State Sovereignty(ICISS) co-chaired by Gareth Evans and Mohamed Sahnoun.
The aim of the Commission was to build political will for international action in the event that a
future crisis emerged. The concept of “the responsibility to protect’, which had been coined by
Francis Deng, the Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons,
was recommended by the Commission and would later be adopted by the United Nations. It would
allow for international action if a state failed to protect its citizens from mass atrocity including
genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Whilst there have been numerous
criticisms of the doctrine in recent times, it has been the basis of successful intervention in Kenya
where political violence following the 2008 election had threatened to escalate into a full-scale civil
war. The “responsibility to protect” has established a basic framework in dealing with future
humanitarian crises and is responsible for saving thousands of lives in the wake of the Libyan civil
war. As protesters in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen continue to be abused and systematically
targeted by their authoritarian regimes, it is time for the international community to act decisively to
protect these innocent civilians.
Suggested further reading about ‘Responsibility to Protect’
Bellamy, J. Alex, Realizing the Responsibility to Protect; International Studies Perspectives, 2009
pp.111-128
Evans, Gareth, The Solution: From “The Right to Intervene” to “The Responsibility to Protect”
Newman, Michael, Revisiting the ‘Responsibility to Protect’; The Political Quarterly, Vol.80, No.1,
January-March 2009 pp.92-100
Sharma, K.Serena, Toward a Global Responsibility to Protect: Setbacks on the Path to
Implementation; Global Governance 16, 2010 pp.121-138
* John is currently studying for a Masters in International Relations at the University of Melbourne
and is actively involved in the promotion of human rights through Amnesty International.
National security and whistle-blowing: a paradoxical tenet of democracy
By Timothy Lawson
On April 20th, 2011 alleged whistle-blower Bradley Manning was transferred to the Midwest Joint
Regional Correctional Facility, a new medium-security facility in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
The transfer has been welcomed by Manning’s supporters as he no longer has his clothes
removed at night, and is now in a cell with a large window and normal mattress. He is also able to
mix with other pre-trial detainees and keep personal objects in his cell.
Manning has been charged with copying classified military data and transmitting national defence
information to an unauthorised source; an additional 22 charges were submitted in March 2011.
Manning is currently waiting on a hearing to decide whether he will face a court martial.
In a historic address to the American Newspapers Publishers Association (APNA) in 1961,
President Kennedy espoused the contradictory nature of the need for secrecy in matters of
national security and the need for greater public access to the machinations of government.
Kennedy stated: “The very word secrecy is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are, as a
people, inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret
proceedings.” Kennedy’s words are as true today as they were in 1961 – the ideals of free speech
and a free press are enshrined in the American national consciousness.
The concern expressed by President Kennedy this speech is just as valid and relevant today as it
was fifty years ago. Two recent chains of events have brought this issue to the forefront of the
media spotlight; the actions of Anat Kam, and the alleged actions of Bradley Manning.
The ongoing furore over the Wikileaks scandal bears many similarities to the Anat Kam affair.
Kam, the young Israeli journalist, was accused of stealing over 2,000 military documents and
leaking them to Uri Blau – a reporter for Israel’s oldest daily newspaper, Haaretz. Her aim was to
expose war crimes committed by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) in the West Bank.
His aim was to expose war crimes he encountered during his military service. Manning has been
accused of leaking the highly controversial Iraq War video which showed the killing of several
Iraqis and two journalists via three air-to-ground strikes carried out by two US Army AH-64 Apache
helicopters in Al-Amin al-Thaniyah, in the New Baghdad district in Baghdad.
A major issue of contention raised in both cases is the lax security that allowed junior military
personal to access highly classified, and sensitive, military information.
Manning was stationed with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Contingency
Operating Station Hammer, Iraq. This posting gave him access to SIPRnet – the Secret Internet
Protocol Router network: used by the US Department of Defence to transmit classified information.
Kam has been accused of stealing the documents during her two-year compulsory military service,
between 2005 and 2007, during which she was working in the office of the commander of the
Central Command, which is responsible for the West Bank.
Justice Zeev Hammer, who presided over Anat Kam’s court hearings, described the security
failures at the GOC Central Command chief’s office as “astounding” adding that he was “shocked
to learn of these incomprehensible failures and negligent data protection”.
There are many that see the actions of Kam and Manning as treasonous.
I was fortunate enough to speak with Greer Cashman, an Israeli journalist from the Jerusalem
Post, and a board member of the Jerusalem Journalists Association (JJA), who stated: “I’m the
only person with a dissenting opinion on the board – whom all support Anat Kam’s actions – and
here’s why; at the time she copied the classified information, she was a soldier and not a civilian;
therefore her duty was to the military, and to the security of Israel. What she did was tantamount to
treason.”
I spoke with Julian Burnside QC, who supports Manning and whistle-blowing. He stated: “I suspect
one of the reasons that they are treating Bradley Manning so badly is that they want to break him
so that he will say, in substance, that Julian Assange encouraged or procured his leak of material.
If they did that, it would implement Assange in a crime for which the Americans could deal with
him.”
“Whoever took the material, is very likely guilty of an offence under American law. If that’s Bradley
Manning then he has a problem and the way they are treating him now — which I think is truly
scandalous — must have some purpose and I suspect the purpose is so they can use him to build
a fabricated case against Assange.”
Former US ambassador to the United Nations under the Bush administration, John Bolton, said
that if Manning did leak the intelligence he should be charged with treason. “Treason is still
punishable by death and if he were found guilty, I would do it”, Bolton said.
Contrary to this view there are many who see Bradley Manning and Anat Kam as heroes;
defenders of democracy. CBS journalist Chase Madar states: “U.S. Army Private First Class
Bradley Manning has done his duty. He has witnessed serious violations of the American military’s
Uniform Code of Military Justice, violations of the rules in U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10, and
violations of international law. He has brought these wrongdoings to light out of a profound sense
of duty to his country, as a citizen and a soldier, and his patriotism has cost him dearly.”
As elucidated by President Kennedy, the need for secrecy in matters of national security needs to
be balanced against the need for press freedom. President Kennedy’s address at the ANPA also
stated: “no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should
interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our
mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.” Surely
Kennedy’s words are still consistent with the current US ethos.
* Timothy is the editor of Lot’s Wife and also works as a freelance journalist.
Noam Chomsky – A controversial choice for the 2011 Sydney Peace Prize
By Craig Butt
American linguist and political commentator Noam Chomsky was awarded the 2011 Sydney Peace
Prize by the Sydney Peace Foundation last week. As is invariably the case, the Foundation’s
choice of recipient proved controversial, particularly among right wing commentators who claimed
Chomsky was undeserving of the award.
Quadrant editor Keith Windschuttle argued “Chomsky has a five-decade history of justifying
violence in the name of revolution by communist and terrorist organisations," while an editorial
in The Australian called the MIT Professor “an apologist for Bin Laden”.
Nevertheless, in a week that saw accused Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladić extradited to The
Hague, there was curiously little discussion of Chomsky’s role in downplaying one of the most
insidious human rights abuses of the 1990s, the Srebrenica Massacre.
The largest mass killing on European soil since World War II, the Srebrenica Massacre took place
in 1995, and led to the killings of over 8,000 Bosniak men and boys. In 2004 the International
Criminal Tribunal unanimously ruled that massacre constituted a crime of genocide.
Yet Chomsky was evidently unconvinced of Srebrenica’s enormity and aligned himself with authors
who downplayed these claims. He was among a list of signatories who defended a book by author
Diana Johnstone called ‘Fools Crusade’ that claimed the numbers had been exaggerated. “We
regard Johnstone’s Fools Crusade as an outstanding work, dissenting from the mainstream view
but doing so by an appeal to fact and reason, in a great tradition,” the letter claimed, which was
also signed by fellow Sydney Peace Prize winners Arundhati Roy and John Pilger.
However, Johnstone’s work has been largely discredited, and Chomsky’s ostensible defence of her
right to publish her opinions has often taken on an edge of tacit endorsement of her allegations.
For example, he said Johnstone “clearly demonstrates that a good deal of what has been charged
[in Srebrenica] has no basis in fact, and much of it is pure fabrication.” Chomsky also attacked
journalists who covered the events in Bosnia firsthand. After a now defunct magazine alleged that
stories of concentration camps in the region had been fabricated, he echoed these allegations
saying journalists had gotten “caught up in a story which is probably not true”.
Chomsky’s defence of Serbian atrocities seems to stem largely from his anti-Western view of the
world. In the line of thought of Chomsky and his ilk, as NATO intervened to contain Serbian
expansion it was therefore committing an imperialist act, which any self-respecting progressive
ought to oppose. While there are grounds for opposing Western interventions, to assign this motive
across the board is reductive. Likewise, deciding that any force opposing ‘Western hegemony’
must be championed obviates any complexity. In the case of Bosnia, it’s meant that war crimes
and an attempted genocide have been downplayed, trivialized or outright denied in order to prop
up and provide succour to a pre-conceived world-view.
In the past Chomsky has accused the media of being hypocritical in terms of how it frames
conflicts. For example, he has written that the media sympathises with “worthy victims” while
ignoring the plight of “unworthy victims”; Bosnians are seen as worthy while other groups such as
the Palestinians fall into the latter category. But if anything, it is Chomsky who is guilty of the
indifference that he assigns to the media. By downplaying Srebrenica and other human rights
abuses committed against the Bosnian people he is guilty of employing precisely the dubious logic
he seeks to deconstruct.
This way of thinking makes a mockery of the concept of universal human rights and reflects badly
on the Sydney Peace Foundation. As the trial of Ratko Mladić continues, one wonders how
Chomsky’s comments will fare.
* Craig is the co-founder and editor of News Hit, an online publication dedicated to showcasing the
work of young journalists.
Issue 16
Message from the Editor
By Rachel Hankey
The Global Financial Crisis has not been far from media headlines over the past few years. This
edition of Monthly Access explores the world's economic troubles, how they came about and what
the future holds.
In Q&A this month we talked to two leading financial experts about the Global Financial Crisis
(GFC). Financial journalist Alan Kohler shares his thoughts with us about some of the economic
issues facing the world today, and the ongoing debate surrounding the proposed carbon tax.
Professor Stephen King considers the impact of the GFC on Australia and the lessons learned by
the banking world.
Drawing on his experience as Dean of Monash Business and Economics, Professor Stephen King
also discusses the Australian tertiary education system in this month’s Career Spotlight.
In Global Snapshot we look at some of the key events across the world over the last month. The
death of Osama bin Laden has caused celebration in the US, while in other parts of the Middle
East links between Egypt and the Gaza Strip are opening up. South America’s war with drugs
continues, and there is growing speculation that Donald Trump will run for President. Scientists
have recently announced exciting developments in the battle against malaria. The UN predicts that
developing Asian countries will be the driving force behind the world economy in 2011.
The Global Financial Crisis has prompted many people to look more closely at the role played by
financial reporters. Craig Butt asks if financial reporters are in some way responsible, and provides
us with of some of the best examples of the journalism to emerge in the wake of the GFC.
The recent violence at Villawood detention centre has brought asylum seekers into the headlines
again. Timothy Lawson talks to Greens immigration spokeswoman, Senator Hanson-Young, about
the government’s new proposals to strengthen the immigration laws.
Kristian Lewis reports from the AIIA Victoria Press Room on the lecture ‘Defending Australia:
Getting it Right?’ by Mr Neil James.
* Rachel is spending the year living in Melbourne before returning to the UK to undertake a
Masters in International Conflict Studies at Kings College London.
Q&A with Alan Kohler
By Kristian Lewis and Gary Paul
In the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), new issues that affect the rebuilding of the
world’s economies arise every day. With natural disasters putting strain on struggling countries,
and local issues such as carbon taxes dividing populations, many are wondering how the world’s
financial situation will ever improve.
Alan Kohler is currently the Chief Executive of the Australian Independent Business Media Pty Ltd,
and has worked as a financial journalist for 40 years. He has worked at The Australian and has
been editor of both The Australian Financial Reviewand The Age. His company publishes
the Eureka Report, an online investment newsletter, and he can be seen frequently on
ABC’s Inside Business and ABC News.
What effect, if any, will the Japanese situation (2011 Earthquake and Tsunami) have on their
economy?
It’ll definitely have an impact on the Japanese economy, that is to say, it will be negative and then
it’ll have a positive impact as they rebuild. That always happens after disasters, even really bad
ones. The Japanese situation is complicated by the nuclear problem at the Fukushima plant. If that
gets worse then the effect on the economy is unpredictable because, obviously, it will have a
negative impact on all sorts of industries. But nobody knows what’ll happen, so it depends a bit on
how that plays out.
Will the US economy ever recover from Global Financial Crisis?
Ever is a long time. Arguably it has recovered now; the economy is growing again, so in that
perspective, in terms of economic growth, it has recovered. The recession is over, growth is back
to, broadly speaking, what it needs to be. The unemployment rate is still high, although it’s falling
now, down to 8.8%, but I think you’d expect it to continue to fall. The housing market is going
backwards again so that’s not going too well, and the home building business is also still recessed.
So parts of the American economy are recovering; manufacturing for example has recovered, the
finance sector is still recovering but is not in such great shape. The housing sector has not
recovered, so on that basis, it’s a bit difficult to talk generally about the US economy.
What do you believe are the current driving forces behind the financial situation in the world today?
The main driving forces are: firstly, the economic growth of the emerging nations such as China
and India, and secondly the liquidity that’s being pumped into the economies of the developed
world by their central banks.
Some economists are arguing that the crisis was caused by increasing demands for AAA credit
assets, not just the deregulation of the financial sector. Do you agree?
Well, I think you can argue that it was increasing demands for lower grade assets, in particular
mortgage. What sort of caused the crisis in many ways was an elevated demand for sub-prime
mortgages, which exploded in 2006. 2005 and 2006 saw a huge increase in demand for sub-prime
mortgages, which were being sold to people who couldn’t repay them, and in a way that was what
led to the issue. I’m not sure I agree at all with the fact that it was increased demand for AAA credit
assets, it was more a demand for sub-prime credit assets.
How do you think financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund have fared during the
recovery process?
Well they’ve been sidelined; really, I don’t think the IMF has been a big part of the scene. They’ve
kind of been a player in the European debt crisis, but the main resolution to European issues has
been the European Union itself, with its European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), which in a
sense replaced the IMF, in terms of bailing those countries out. Greece, Ireland, and now Portugal
are turning to the EFSF and the EU as opposed to the IMF. I don’t think any other countries really
have needed to be bailed out too much by the IMF, so I don’t think the IMF has been a central
player in what’s happened.
What do you think the political repercussions of the GFC will be on the EU in the long term,
considering Germany has had to be bear the brunt of bailout responsibility to countries such as
Greece and Ireland?
Well, there are a lot of people who think the GFC has exposed the fact that monetary union is
unsustainable. It’s not sustainable for countries that don’t have political union to have monetary
union, because they go in different directions. As we’ve seen in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain,
and to some extent Italy, they’ve all become less competitive over the past 17 years during the
period of European monetary union and that’s why they’ve got themselves into trouble. Germany’s
now had to bear the brunt of bailing them out, and Germany doesn’t want to do that either. So
countries such as Greece and Ireland want to devalue their currencies in order to improve their
competitiveness, but they can’t because they’ve got the Euro.
At the moment as things pan out they’re all prepared to stick with it, and so far so good. I think it’s
more likely that they’ll muddle along, that the monetary union won’t break apart; they won’t
reintroduce the Deutsche Mark and the Drachma, and the Lira. I think that they’re more likely to
continue on but it’s going to be difficult.
In Australia, what do you think of the politics around the proposed carbon tax scheme?
I think the politics around it are disingenuous, and full of spin and lies. A reduction in carbon
emissions of 5% from the level in the year 2000 is bipartisan policy in Australia; both the Coalition
and Labor have that policy. The Labor party has come out and said “the only way we’re going to
achieve that is by having a price on carbon”. They have proposed an emission trading scheme, but
in the short term (for up to 3 years) the carbon tax as a transitional process, and the Coalition is
using this as an opportunity to attack them over imposing a tax. The Coalition meanwhile has an
identical policy to reduce carbon emissions by the same amount. So I think that the Coalition is
being disingenuous. I suppose I think that the Labor party is trying to do the right thing; at the end
of the day all that matters is what happens at the 2013 election, and I think the government will
hold until then anyway.
What do you think about ex-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s startling admission about the role of
carbon trading in his removal from office?
I thought that everyone knew that it was a mistake for them to back off. I think it’s ironic that Rudd
lost his prime ministership because he turned his back on carbon trading, and now Julia Gillard is
under pressure because she’s trying to reintroduce it. I think that’s pretty strange. You’re damned if
you don’t and you’re damned if you do. I think it’s a reflection on the media really. Everyone is so
used to being lied to by politicians that when someone tells the truth it’s a big story.
* Kristian completed is Bachelor in Arts (International Relations) in 2009 and his Honours thesis in
2010. He is currently Events and Debates Coordination for AIIA-ACCESS.
* Gary is studying Journalism and Politics at Monash University. He hosts a radio show about
international news and works for the AIIA and ACCESS as part of their media team.
Q&A with Professor Stephen King
By Ishita Acharyya
The most recent federal budget has revealed that, while contending with the economic effects of
natural disasters, we are still recovering from the effects of 2008 Global Financial Crisis. In the
wake of the GFC, commentators and victims of the GFC eagerly sought explanations as to its
cause.
Many claimed that executive avarice and lax financial regulation were the culprits, while others
argued the inherent regulatory incentives within the financial system caused the financial
maelstrom.
Now, the focus has turned to how we recover from the GFC, and particularly, how the international
regulatory environment may guarantee against such crises in the future. Basel III has been
formulated in response to the GFC, to render the international financial sector more resilient.
However, there is concern that regulatory demands to hold high investment grade assets will be
even greater under this new regulatory framework.
Preeminent Australian economist and Dean of Monash Business and Economics, Professor
Stephen King, spoke with Monthly Access about the implications of the GFC for international
regulation.
Before joining Monash University, Professor King was a Member of the Australian Competition and
Consumer Commission (ACCC). He has also been a Professor of Economics and Management at
the University of Melbourne and Melbourne Business School. Professor King is also a Director and
founder of CoRE Research, and leading Australian economics blog, CoRE Economics.
Do you think the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) is over?
Two things - firstly, when you say GFC, it's important to remember it was really North-Atlantic;
we’re referring to Europe and the US. In Europe and the US, it's not over. A substantial number of
European economies are still in trouble - Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain. Ireland and Greece
are being bailed out, Portugal and Spain are teetering. Other countries, the UK, for example, are
still very depressed economically. Germany is probably the healthiest economy in the EU, but
they’re getting a bit sick of bailing others out. In the US, there are unprecedented levels of
unemployment, still up around 10%. Now 10% unemployment in the US was unheard of for
generations, the early 70s was the last time it was around that mark. They’re still struggling to get
out of their recession.
Throughout Asia though, China's booming again, India's growth is up, South-East Asia's going
well. That's reflected in the Australian economy, because, like it or not, we provide a large amount
of raw materials for the Asian economies, both, natural resources and educational institutions. We
provide an educated workforce, who go back to countries like China and feed into their economic
miracle.
Do you think Australia is still feeling any effects at all from the crisis?
The most obvious effect of the crisis is the fact that the Australian dollar is so strong against the US
dollar.
Are we feeling any effects.........we're probably slightly less resilient than we would have been five
years ago, when China had really taken off in terms of importing minerals, around 2006. 2004/05
was the turn-around, when China went from exporting, to importing coal. There was a big increase
in coal prices, iron ore prices and so on, which had an effect on Australia.
Australia’s probably a lot more dependent on China now than it was five years ago because the
European and US markets just aren’t as buoyant as they used to be. So, if there was a revolution
in China tomorrow, Australia would encounter significant problems in the short-term. Our dollar
would go down rapidly, our unemployment would go up rapidly, and so on.
There's probably less of a buffer there because, compare it to, say, the ‘97 Asian (banking) crisis,
when demand from Asia dropped for our products, our dollar dropped rapidly, and we replaced a
lot of Asian demand with European demand. So, all of a sudden Australian agricultural products,
for example, instead of going to Thailand, Malaysia, China, were going through to Europe.
So, we probably have less resilience now because that alternative market isn't available. Other
than that, I think we've been very lucky in getting through the financial crisis the way we have. We
depended a lot on China and we didn't have any significant banking crises here.
I think the bigger risk is that we don't learn the lessons from the financial crisis.
What are those lessons?
The most obvious one, and this is one I’ve blogged about, is that the rules of banking
internationally and in Australia have changed, whether we like it or not.
This goes back to the Wallis enquiry, which set up our modern financial structure in Australia, very
much premised on the idea that government regulated banks, but that the government did not
protect banks. That is, banks could go bankrupt and depositors could lose their money, if banks
were mismanaged. It was relatively conservative banking management that would underline and
protect our banking system in Australia.
We saw, of course, that as soon as the financial crisis started, the Australian government jumped
in and said, "oh, we're going to insure all depositors under a million dollars, we're going to provide
partial insurance for depositors above a million dollars.” When Bankwest, which is the closest bank
we’ve had to being in some kind of financial trouble because its owner HBOS in the UK actually did
need to be bailed out by the government, the Federal Government effectively intervened and
organized for the Commonwealth Bank to buy it.
So, we now know that despite what our official rules said, there's no way politically that a
government in Australia can allow a major bank to default.
It will protect the depositors, it will probably protect bond holders and probably equity holders. In
that situation, it's not very clear that we have an insured banking system. It’s just that the banks
don't pay for it. So, we're now in a comfortable situation where the banks know that the
government will bail them out, the government knows it has to, but they're both pretending that
doesn't occur.
My reaction to that is we need to rethink our banking rules to make the insurance that does exist
explicit, rather than implicit. Put it on the table, make sure there's a proper premium there and have
the government start acting like an insurer of the banking system.
We know politically that if a bank did something that was really stupid, even something the
government had decided against insuring for, politically, they’re going to come in and insure the
bank. That means that the government has to think about whether it should actually restrict
banking activities of the entities that are insured and say, "look, there are some things you simply
cannot do if you want a banking license in Australia. If you do them, we will revoke your banking
licenses and your senior executives will go to jail".
Now, that's not unprecedented, by the way. That’s exactly the sort of rules we had in Australia and
in most other developed countries between the early 1930s and about the 1980s, and we actually
got rid of them in the 1980s and 1990s. So, what we really need to learn is there was good reason
why we put these rules in place after the Great Depression.
And then 80 years down the track, we'll get rid of them again?
Probably, because remember the banks have an incentive to lobby to get rid of the restrictions.
They argue for profits. But, the taxpayer bails them out if the risk goes bad.
On this point, what do you think of Basel III?
Australia seems to have managed to get a lot of exemptions from Basel III.
Basel III, as far as I can tell, is mainly dealing with liquidity requirements on the banks. Some of
those liquidity requirements didn’t make a great deal of sense for Australian banks, particularly
relating to mortgages, and they weren't perhaps as subtle as they should be. A simple example
would be if banks lend into the housing market in certain states of the US, where if the home owner
defaults, they can walk away with no liability. It is very different to Australia, where banks can seize
the homeowner’s car or keep chasing them for the rest of their money.
Now... to try and come up with a set of rules for liquidity that covers all of those possibilities, and
that's just some simple examples, add another 50 or so countries with all their different rules on
what banks can and cannot do in terms of home loans, and you're going to come up with the
lowest common denominator liquidity-wise. That's sort of the problem with Basel III.
Basel III is probably a good start. I don’t think from Australia's perspective it can be the end-point.
We have the general, broad liquidity rules that we have to obey as part of the international banking
scene. But then, how are we going to constrain our banks in Australia?
From the perspective of the US financial sector, do you think Basel III addresses the issues of
high-grade capital requirements?
Again, it forms a base, but, both within the US and UK, there’s really a debate about how to go
further than this. I don't think anyone thinks they've solved the whole problem. And, I think it's that
extra bit that you need.
So, what's that extra bit?
It does come back to restricting the activities of banks. For example, Mervin King, governor of the
Bank of England, as I understand it, is supporting effectively the position that commercial banks in
the UK under the banking license should be restricted in the activity they can undertake. Paul
Volker, the former head of the US Federal Reserve, very early on after the financial crisis started,
advocated reintroducing the restrictions we got rid of, or similar restrictions.
In both of those jurisdictions we haven’t actually seen those restrictions reintroduced because the
banks are fighting them, sometimes with spurious arguments. It doesn't mean that exceedingly
risky profit-making activity won't occur. Somebody else will do it, but they just won't be insured by
the government. They wont be subject to bailouts.
The second point in terms of restrictions or regulation is that in general derivatives have received
bad press through the financial crisis. A derivative is just a fancy new financial product. They’re the
finance sector's version of the Iphone, or the Ipad 2. They’re just new products that do things that
old products couldn’t do, and there's a demand for them. So, there's nothing wrong with derivatives
as such.
Two things happened with the financial crisis. Firstly, there were securities, or derivatives being
issued before the GFC, which were effectively insurance products, that were being mispriced. They
weren't being treated like insurance products. Insurance in industry is regulated for good reasons,
and yet you had what were effectively insurance products being sold or marketed without the
regulation because nobody treated them like insurance products. That’s how AIG became involved
in the financial crisis. They were selling products that were effectively insurance products, but,
because they weren't treated like insurance products, they were being mispriced. And, when the
"bad things" occurred, they had to pay up and they actually didn’t have enough funds.
So, Basel III is a stepping stone, but I think there needs to be a closer look at a number of
regulations to see how they can be improved. Liquidity is part of the story, but it's not the whole
story.
* Ishita is completing her Honours in Economics at Monash University, having completed degrees
in Commerce and Arts, with majors in Economics and Political Philosophy. She is an academic coeditor with QA.
Career Spotlight with Professor Stephen King
By Ishita Acharyya
Leading Australian economist and Dean of Monash Business and Economics, Professor Stephen
King, spoke with Monthly Access about the Australian tertiary education system.
Before joining Monash University, Professor King was a Member of the Australian Competition and
Consumer Commission (ACCC). He has also been a Professor of Economics and Management at
the University of Melbourne and Melbourne Business School. Professor King is also a Director and
founder of CoRE Research, and leading Australian economics blog, CoRE Economics.
What was your first introduction to economics?
As an undergraduate I started doing forestry at ANU, and I had one option, of which the option
choices were ecology, physics or economics, and I had no idea what economics was. I enrolled in
economics because it didn't have a practical period and I got an extra afternoon off. I loved it and
did well at it.
Eventually after a couple of years I gave up forestry and swapped across to economics.
I had just gone off to Canberra to learn how to cut down trees.
I think there are a number of students in Australia who want to study overseas. What advice would
you give to students who want to study particularly at the top universities in the US and UK?
Being at one of the top Australian universities is a really good start. The top US and British
universities will take graduates from a handful of Australian universities, and Monash is one of that
handful. For graduate study in the US, you need honours with a first or 2A. A first is better. [The
availability of scholarships] is very cyclical with the economy.
I was very lucky, I applied to go over to the States in ’86, started in ‘87, and it was buoyant
economically and there were lots of scholarships. So, I had a large number of scholarship offers
from the States. I came back to Australia in the early ‘90s when there was a recession here and in
the US. As the economy picks up in the US, the scholarships are there, and the UK follows a very
similar pattern.
Apply to lots of schools; make sure you've got some good referees who understand the US or the
UK system, because there are different cultures in terms of writing references.
How do the Australian and US education systems compare (higher education)?
Once you hit PhD level and you're looking at the top 10 or 15 universities in the US or the UK, the
two big differences from Australia are that, firstly, you're looking at a concentration of academics in
your area which can’t be matched in Australia. We just don't have a big enough population to be
able to have the sort of diversity like a Harvard. As an economist going over there, there are
literally hundreds of people you can interact with as a student.
The second thing you'll find is that you'll learn as much from your fellow students as you will from
any of the professors, and that's where one of the top schools from the States, for example, has a
huge advantage. The people you study with as your fellow students will just be amazingly smart
people and you’ll just sit there and sort of go, "wow, I wish I was that smart". Great people to work
with and learn from.
Monash has heavily relied on international students, the numbers of which have declined, and are
predicted to further decline for this year in particular. How do you think this will pan out for Monash
and the Australian education system, particularly in terms of research?
For Monash it will have an effect, but we will be protected compared to some other universities.
There are two reasons for that. One is that there's a hierarchy of universities, so if you're an
overseas student, and you fly over to Australia, and you get into Monash, you're going to come to
Monash. In that sense, we're going to be an earlier choice. We’ll be a shock absorber on that side.
The other factor is that compared to some other universities, and even compared to some of the
other top Australian universities, Monash just has a better reputation overseas, particularly in Asia.
Why is that?
I think it's because Monash has been engaging with Asia for a long time. Certainly since the 1960s,
Monash was the first university to take Colombo-planned students from around the Asian region,
bring them to Australia on scholarships and to educate them. Much more than, I think, any other
Australian universities, we have alumni who are really important people doing amazing things
around the Asian region. For example, we had a delegation from Indonesia come through perhaps
a month ago. The Minister for Economic Development is Monash alumni, from this faculty. So, she
had come specifically to visit Monash, because she wanted to speak with the economists from the
Centre of Policy Studies.
One of the advantages of Monash, and the Faculty of Business and Economics in particular, is of
our size and variety; we can be pretty flexible in terms of what we do and how we offer things. Is
the average student going to see that there might be a small drop in international students? The
answer's no, it's not going to lead to any courses being dropped or anything like that.
In terms of PhD level, I just don’t think there’s going to be a drop. The big decline is going to be at
the masters/post grad level, probably somewhat at the undergrad level, where Australia is really
competing with a pretty broad international market for students.
But, once you start getting, particularly at that graduate level, Monash economics is probably not in
the top 10 or 15 in the world, but would be in the top 50, and so students will go for quality.
You've received a number of teaching awards from Melbourne University. What are your opinions
on academics teaching? Is there enough incentive for them to teach?
I’ve got a strong view that all academics, unless they’re in explicitly research-only positions, should
be teaching.
Are the incentives there? I think most academics take pride in their teaching. I find it difficult to
imagine why you'd be an academic if you weren't excited by teaching. If you didn’t want to inspire
students, why would you do it? You’d go outside of university; you’d work in the private sector, or a
government agency or something like that. I think the vast majority of our academics love teaching
and they see it as really a core part of their role as an academic.
I admit, I love teaching - “inspiring the next generation"...I received teaching awards for teaching
first year at Melbourne University. Teaching first year is great fun because that's where you get a
whole bunch of people doing economics only because they're forced to, and you try and convince
them that this is really exciting stuff.
So, the assumption is that people who go into academia are inclined towards teaching?
To be an academic at a top university, you’ve got to love research and love teaching. And, if you
don't fall into that category, you just do something else.
* Ishita is completing her Honours in Economics at Monash University, having completed degrees
in Commerce and Arts, with majors in Economics and Political Philosophy. She is an academic coeditor with QA.
Global Snapshot for May 2011
By Sharna Thomason, Marcus Burke and Richard Griffin
A round up of key events across the world over the last month.
The Americas
Columbian drug smugglers using submarines
Drug enforcement agencies in Colombia and the United States have uncovered the increasing
trend of using homemade submarines or semi-submersibles to traffic large amounts of cocaine
from Colombia to Mexico and other destinations. These submersibles make it even harder for
authorities to detect these large scale trafficking operations. According to the BBC, avessel
discovered in February by Colombian officials had a storage compartment in the bow of the
submarine capable of storing eight tones of cocaine. The UN reports that “Colombia remains the
main source of the cocaine found in Europe, but direct shipments from Peru and the Plurinational
State of Bolivia are far more common than in the US market.”
US storms
April was a record setting month in the United States with 453 tornadoes in a month, breaking the
record of 267 in 1974, while the average tornado count in April is around 163. Alabama was hit
particularly hard, with the path of devastation causing a number of fatalities and widespread
destruction. President Obama declared a state of emergency to assist the search and rescue effort
and toured the devastated state. The Wall Street Journal reports that the severe storms are the
likely result of a “rare collision of hot, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico with frigid Arctic winds
pushed down across five Southern states by global climate patterns.”
Donald Trump for President?
Billionaire businessman, Donald Trump caused a stir in US politics, announcing that he is
considering running for President of the United States in 2012. The host of the hit reality TV show
“the Apprentice” and real estate mogul told Fox News “Barack Obama has been the worst
President ever.” In contrast, President Obama used the White House Correspondents' Association
annual dinner to mock the reality TV star's presidential ambitions, claiming he would turn the White
House into a casino. The popular Donald Trump stated that he will announce his
intention “sometime prior to June [2011].”
Africa
Ivory Coast update
The majority of fighting has come to an end in the Ivory Coast with the incumbent President
Laurent Gbagbo having been placed under house arrest. After being captured on April 11 by
forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, AFP news reports that there are preliminary investigations into
crimes committed by the Gbagbo regime.
Human rights activists now point to the challenge that incoming President Ouattara faces to unite
the country with some form of reconciliation process whilst pursuing justice. This could be achieved
either through the Ivory Coast’s legal system or through an international tribunal. President
Ouattara is due to meet the former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Nobel
peace prize laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu to discuss the proposed Truth and Reconciliation
Commission, and learn from the post-Apartheid experience in South Africa.
Malaria
The BBC reports that scientists claim to closer to being able to change the DNA of wild
mosquitoes in an effort to combat malaria. In laboratory tests, scientists have witnessed an
engineered gene spread through a mosquito population, which could prevent the spread of the
malaria parasite. The World Health Organisation reports that there are 250 million cases and
nearly one million deaths of malaria each year. One in five childhood deaths in Africa is due to the
effects of the disease.
Dr Yeya Touré, of the World Health Organisation, said that the discovery was very important, but
cautioned that further studies must be carried out before the technology is used as a genetic
control strategy. The challenge will be getting the genes to spread from the genetically-modified
mosquitoes to the wider mosquito population across the globe.
Meeting of the BRICS
South Africa made its first appearance at a BRICS Leaders Meeting, joining leaders from Brazil,
Russia, India and China at the south China resort city of Sanya, where the leaders published the
Sanya Declaration. South Africa’s The Times reports that South Africa’s invitation to attend,
“should be seen as recognition of South Africa's strategic role on the continent and its ability to
"punch above its weight" internationally.”
The meeting raised concerns regarding the weakness of the US dollar and its role as the main
reserve currency as well as volatile food prices on the open market. However, the creator of the
term “BRIC” Jim O’Neil, of Goldman Sachs told the BBC it was a mystery as to why South Africa
had been invited to participate in their meeting, "South Africa is small compared to these countries.
South Africa is about half a per cent of global GDP.”
Asia Pacific
China cracks down on underground religious movement
Tensions between the Chinese government and the fast-growing underground Christian movement
increased last month, particularly in the lead up to Easter. More than two dozen Chinese Christians
were detained, with many more prevented from holding services over the Easter weekend.
The government said that members of the Shouwang Church were breaking regulations by
conducting services outside. Members of the Shouwang Church claim they were forced to hold the
outside services as they were prevented from acquiring the property in which they had planned on
holding the services. The Chinese government stated that the Church operates illegally as they are
not registered as a state-sanctioned operation. State-sanctioning includes the government
censoring certain religious material.
The government has, in the past, appeared willing to accommodate the underground
movement and even helped the church find a place of worship, despite the religion lying outside
the state-sanctioned system for religious worship. However, given the events of the past month it
seems unlikely that the government will compromise any further.
Members of the church are now living in fear, knowing they are being closely watched by the
government. They must make the decision to either worship in state controlled churches or
continue to worship outside of the government sanctions.
UN report: Asia-Pacific developing nations to drive global economy in 2011
A new regional report released by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the
Pacific (ESCAP) has found that developing nations in the Asia-Pacific region will continue to drive
the global economy in 2011. The report projects a strong economic growth rate of 7.3% after last
years 8.8%.
The report warns that the projected outlook is subject to certain risks, primarily the high food and
fuel prices as well as volatile capital inflows. The benefits of boosting intra-regional trade and
strengthening connectivity in specific areas are also highlighted.
Europe
Mugabe in Europe despite travel ban
There was outcry as Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe was among the thousands of people
who attended thebeatification of Pope John Paul II in the Vatican on May 1st 2011.
The outcry stems from the fact that Mugabe is subject to an EU-wide travel ban, as part of the
sanctions placed on the leader and Zimbabwe.
Although the Vatican is not a member of the European Union, Mugabe did have to travel via
Rome. Italy, as a member of the EU, should have enforced the EU-wide travel ban. In 2005,
Mugabe attended the Pope’s funeral, and has also attended United Nations meetings held in
Rome.
EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement to help Tsunami recovery
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has stated that the European Union should offer Japan a free
trade deal to help the Asian nation recover from the destructive earthquake and tsunami of March
2011.
Prime Minister Cameron believes this would give Japan a trade boost and aid its economic
recovery. The estimated rebuilding costs are over $300 billion. The International Monetary Fund
has stated that it believes Japan’s economy is strong enough to cover the rebuilding costs.
Middle East
Osama Bin Laden killed in Pakistan
The long hunt for Osama Bin Laden, which spanned almost 10 years is finally over. US Navy
SEALs under Operation Neptune Spear broke into Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan
killing him and taking his fourth wife captive.
Abbottabad is a military town, with the military academy located within metres of the Bin Laden
compound. This has raised questions about what Pakistan knew and why they kept the information
secret. Pakistani intelligence agencies continue to assert that they knew nothing about Bin Laden’s
presence until the US helicopters flew in.
Interestingly, an IT consultant living in Abbottabad unknowingly tweeted about the military
operation whilst it was underway. A number of computer hard drives, containing details of possibly
future attacks, were also taken in the operation. The US Department of Homeland Security
released a notice of a planned attack on the US rail network on 11th September 2011.
Gaza-Egypt border crossing to open
Egypt is to permanently open the Rafah border, the Gaza Strip’s only crossing which bypasses
Israel. Israel imposed the blockade on the Gaza strip in 2006 after Hamas took control of Gaza,
meaning the 1.5 million inhabitants have relied on a web of tunnels beneath the Rafah border for
their basic necessities.
Menha Bakhoum, a spokeswoman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, stated that Egypt is
“...opening a new page [and] resuming its role that was once abdicated”, with Egypt’s interim
Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi describing the support of the previous Egyptian government for the
blockade as disgraceful. Although the government remains an interim one, it is implementing
thegreatest shift in foreign policy for three decades. Egypt is now prepared to treat Hamas as a
diplomatic partner rather than a security threat, a sign that times are changing. Israel has raised
concerns over possible implications for regional security caused by opening the border crossing.
International
World press freedom declining
Freedom House this month released their latest report “Freedom of the Press 2011“ which found
that “only one in every six people live in countries with a Free press”. The report found declines in
press freedom in much of the Middle East and North Africa, along with parts of the Americas, in
particular Mexico. There were however, improvements in freedom in Sub-Saharan Africa. Of the
196 countries rated, 35% were rated Free, 33% were rated Partly Free and 32% were rated Not
Free. Trends included greater use of regulatory hurdles to hamper press freedom; more attempts
by governments to control new media; and greater violence against journalists in a number of
countries.
The country ratings saw Finland ranked as having the greatest freedom of the press, followed by
Norway and Sweden. North Korea was ranked as least free. Australia was ranked as equal 32nd.
In the Asia Pacific, there was a slight overall decline in press freedom. In particular, South Korea
moved from Free to Partly Free and Thailand from Partly Free to Not Free. Cambodia, Fiji, India,
and Vanuatu also recorded a drop in freedom. Bangladesh and the Philippines saw slight
improvements.
The world economy
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has release its latest World Economic Outlook predicting
world economic growth of 4.5% in 2011 and 2012, fuelled by continued rapid growth in developing
countries. However, the IMF noted that there are a number of significant risks to this growth,
including unemployment and large government deficits in developed countries; the rising cost of
food; and rising inflation in developing countries.
The World Trade Organisation has also released its latest world trade figures, which showed that
worldwide exports grew by a record 14.5% in 2010, but are expected to grow at the less rapid rate
of 6.5% in 2011. The large 2010 growth offset a decline of 12% in 2009.
Food prices fall... for now
The latest figures from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) show that food prices have
declined for the first time in eight months. Prices remain high however, and Foreign Policy
magazine is proclaiming that with rising demand and falling capacity due to climate change, “food
is the new oil”, and high prices may contribute to further political instability.
* Sharna graduated with a Master of Diplomacy and Trade from Monash University, Melbourne.
She is a passionate human rights advocate and is currently working for the Victorian State
Government.
* Marcus is currently completing a Master of Diplomacy and International Trade at Monash
University. He also has a combined Law/Science degree from the University of Melbourne, and
has most recently been working in the IT industry.
* Richard completed an Arts/Law degree from Monash University in 2008. He was worked for the
Prosecutor at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and is
currently a lawyer at Lander and Rogers Lawyers.
The best journalism to come out of the financial crisis
By Craig Butt
The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) has had a tremendous effect on America’s self-confidence.
Millions lost their jobs and many seemingly resistant industries were badly hit, while other long
established firms collapsed altogether.
American news organisations were among those badly affected by the crisis. Newspapers across
the United States were already struggling with declining revenues and shrinking editorial budgets.
The crisis further exacerbated these issues, and the result was that several centuries old
publications had to close their doors.
However, at the same time, the media itself was accused of being complicit in the Financial Crisis.
One criticism aimed at financial journalists in particular, was that they had gravitated too close to
the industry figures they were supposed to be covering. Instead of dispassionately reporting on
Wall Street from a safe distance in the public interest, it has been suggested that they had allowed
themselves to become absorbed in the ‘Masters of the Universe’ bubble, acting as cheerleaders or
emissaries for large concerns.
The courage of many newspaper mastheads was also challenged – was their relative silence over
the increasingly glaring problems which led to the GFC merely something they just happened to
miss? Or were they cowardly refusing to pursue stories critical of lending practices because doing
so would have implicated those in the real estate business, one of their major sources of stable
advertising revenue?
However, whatever criticisms there may be about journalists’ performance in predicting the crisis,
there is no denying that the GFC has provoked some excellent journalism.
We have compiled some of the best examples, which help to explain why the crisis came about
and how it has impacted ordinary Americans.
The Giant Pool of Money
NPR’S Peabody Award winning documentary is arguably one of the most well known examples of
journalism on the financial crisis. The 59-minute radio documentary does not presume that its
listeners are familiar with the complex world of business and finance, and succeeds in explaining
the factors which led to the subprime mortgage crisis to a general audience with clarity and depth.
Three follow up programs were later produced by the same team, which delve deeper into the
Financial Crisis, and they are also worth listening to.
From Wall Street to Main Street
The Washington Post’s interactive presentation incorporates photos, slideshows and audio to show
how the Financial Crisis originating in Wall Street affected Americans on Main Street. The blending
of old media and new media is incredibly effective, and it allows those affected by the crisis to tell
their own stories.
The Wall Street Money Machine
Pro Publica, an independent non-profit investigative newsroom, won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for
National Reporting for this series of investigative stories into the Financial Crisis. Reporters Jesse
Eisinger and Jake Bernstein looked deeply into the shady practices that led to the crisis, and the
unhealthy culture within financial institutions that lacked the vision and drive to prevent it.
* Craig is the co-founder and editor of News Hit, an online publication dedicated to showcasing the
work of young journalists.
Greens Senator slams new immigration laws
By Timothy Lawson
The Gillard government is foreshadowing new legislation to combat the recent spate of riots and
protests that have been occurring at Australian detention centres. Immigration Minister Chris
Bowen has proposed new laws that strengthen the immigration character test to make sure any
refugees convicted of a criminal offence while in detention would be denied a protection visa.
"These changes will remove any doubt around the character test and send a strong and clear
message that the kind of unacceptable behaviour we saw recently at the Christmas Island and
Villawood detention centres will not be tolerated," Mr Bowen said in a statement.
I spoke with Greens immigration spokeswoman Senator Hanson-Young who has slammed the new
legislation proposed by Mr Bowen.
“Based on what the minister has announced, I’m strongly opposed, I don’t think we should be in
any way going back to the failed policies of the Howard government. We shouldn’t be even
entertaining the idea of temporary protection visas (TPVs) and it’s very disappointing that the Labor
government, despite denouncing them, has now decided to back them and reintroduce them,”
Senator Hanson-Young said.
According to an April 29th National Vistas article, Scott Morrison, the Opposition Immigration
spokesman, described Mr Bowen’s new laws as just another form of TPV; adding that the minister
already has the power to punish wrongdoers.
Senator Hanson-Young speculated that the reason Mr Bowen is trying to bring forward legislation
to toughen the immigration character test is to present a position of strength: “The government
doesn’t actually need legislation to bring back temporary protection visas, he [Mr Bowen] can do
that anyway, but of course the justification, an excuse for bringing back temporary protection visas,
is that he wants to toughen up the character test.”
“He [Mr Bowen] wants all the papers to say he’s getting tough, he wants people saying that he is
taking this issue seriously. It’s not for any practical reason, it’s all for show.”
Senator Hanson-Young plans to subject the new legislation to intense scrutiny: “Once we do see it
[the new legislation], we’ll obviously go through it with a fine tooth comb. I’ll insist that it goes to a
senate inquiry so that we can actually have a good look at the legislation rather than simply
allowing the government to ram it through, which they sound as though they would like to do.”
“From what he [Mr Bowen] said it is all about taking away...the discretions of the courts. So,
currently [with] the character test you have to have to been convicted of a very serious crime, you
have to have done jail time for at least 12 months...It doesn’t specifically say that, but that’s the
principle – that it’s meant to be for a serious crime.”
Senator Hanson-Young believes that Mr Bowen is seeking to shield himself from potential future
legal proceedings: “What he [Mr Bowen] wants to do is to amend it to take away any strict
principle, because of course if he was to enforce the character test, as it is, somebody could
challenge it in court.”
“And you could challenge it because you could say well it doesn’t actually specifically say I had to
be convicted of this crime...the persons lawyer would be arguing that their client has no character
issues. They may have been imprisoned for a protest on the roof, but let’s understand the context
by which this took place: people’s applications are taking too long; they have been pushed to
breaking point, they are in desperation. They could argue that in a court of law.”
“The minister [Mr Bowen] would find it very difficult to justify his stance. So what he wants to do is
to ensure that it is any type of conviction, even if it’s a good behaviour bond, even if it’s a slap on
the wrist because somebody was protesting on the roof, even if it was because somebody was
involved in a fight that broke out and subsequently charged with assault – regardless of the
context. If the court had convicted somebody, no matter how minor the offence was, that would
automatically mean a failure of the character test. So then that person couldn’t challenge the
minister’s decision in a court.”
“Anyone who is convicted of absolutely anything...automatically fails the character test – he [Mr
Bowen] can write legislation to do that. Then the courts would find it very difficult to argue because
that’s the law; and there is no kind of grey and ambiguity in it.”
Mr Bowen has stated that once somebody has failed the character test they will be unable to
obtain a permanent protection visa (PPV) – even if they are found to be in genuine need of
protection.
“When their case for asylum has been assessed we won’t give them a protection visa, we will put
them on a temporary visa – with less rights; all the negative elements that come with temporary
protection visas of years gone past under the Howard government: no family reunion, probably
very limited work rights [and the constant fear of being sent back]”, Senator Hanson-Young said.
“The fear of being sent back is really even more compounding than the fact that they got a slap on
the wrist for getting into a brawl in an overcrowded detention centre with a bunch of 17 year olds in
Darwin; for example, a young...boy fears he will be sent back to Afghanistan and executed – so it’s
a life sentence”.
“Even though the courts decided when they convicted him, they know the context of the situation;
he’s not a bad person, he’s a young boy who has severe mental health issues, has been locked
up, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder etc. The courts take all those things into
consideration when they make these decisions about what kind of conviction or sentence
somebody should be given”. Senator Hanson-Young argues that “the minister [Mr Bowen] with his
announcement [of the new laws] wants to override all of that, it doesn’t matter what the court says,
he will make a decision by saying because you were given some type of conviction you will
automatically fail the character test – no questions asked”.
The new legislation will be backdated. In response to this, Senator Hanson-Young stated: “I don’t
think retrospectivity in law making is ever particularly smart. We don’t like it for a variety of reasons,
and on something like this when it’s meant to be a deterrent as the minister [Mr Bowen] argues, a
deterrent for people’s behaviour, why would you decide to implement it retrospectively. If it is a
deterrent then people need to know about it beforehand. To me, it just proves that this is not about
the principle of people who break the law being dealt with through the justice system, or indeed the
strengths and weaknesses of the character test, this is all about the government looking as though
they can compete with the Coalition on looking tough.”
* Timothy is the editor of Lot’s Wife and also works as a freelance journalist.
AIIA Victoria Press Room: ‘Defending Australia: Getting it Right?’ a lecture by Mr
Neil James
By Kristian Lewis
Last month Neil James spoke to the AIIA about how Australia is, and has been, defended. The
lecture discussed the predicaments facing Australia’s defence, how to potentially overcome them
and the purpose of the ADA (Australia Defence Association).
Mr James describes the ADA as an “independent”, “non-partisan” and “community-based”,
watchdog and think-tank for defence and wider national security matters. Founded in Perth in 1975
the association aims to provide a long-term defence strategy for Australia, as it views the
protection of the country as a civic duty and like the jury duty, “not someone else’s problem”.
The ADA spokesman outlined Australia’s past strategic defence prerogatives from the 1788-1942
British Empire period, 1942-45 Wartime U.S. Alliance years, 1951-75 ANZUS Treaty era, 19751999 Defence of Australia ‘dogma’ until 1999 and the present maritime strategy approach, as well
as their purposes.
He argued that the country’s defence strategy was entrenched in “outdated paradigms” of the
World Wars era, but that the U.S. Alliance is still central, but “not sustainable”. James stressed the
importance of ANZUS not just for defence and its significant historical connotations, but as a major
economic incentive, as without it Canberra may have to spend $18 billion annually to adequately
defend itself.
James’ most referenced case study in highlighting the severe limitations of the ADF’s capabilities
dates from 1999, when he proclaimed “Australia fluked East Timor.” The speaker elaborated on
how Timor, a tiny nation only 80 kilometres from Australia, pushed ADF resources to the limit, due
to Canberra’s ill-prepared supplies, insufficient troop rotations and other factors, which were
ultimately saved by U.S. diplomatic intervention.
Neil James attributed this near military disaster and humiliation to the broader issue of under
appreciation, and lack of long-term vision by successive Australian governments towards the ADF
and its capabilities. The speaker urged for an increase in defensive infrastructure and sound policy
strategy, which spans beyond current government terms in office, and focuses seriously on
defending Australia, which while defended by sea is not necessary safe.
The lecture was organised by the Australian Institute for International Affairs. For upcoming events
and further information, please contact AIIA at [email protected] or call (03) 96547271.
Based on the lecture ‘Defending Australia: Getting it Right?’ by Mr Neil James, held on 19th April
2011 at Dyason House, AIIA Victoria.
* Kristian completed is Bachelor in Arts (International Relations) in 2009 and his Honours thesis in
2010. He is currently Events and Debates Coordination for AIIA-ACCESS.
Issue 15
Message from the Editor
By Rachel Hankey
Terrorism has become the catchword of the 21st century, with its evolutionary and fluid nature
influencing many international political events. In this edition of Monthly Access we explore
elements of this dynamic phenomenon.
In Q&A this month Benjamin MacQueen shares his views on the uprisings in the Middle East. Dr
MacQueen discusses how the current events will affect terrorist groups in the region, and if political
activism is replacing terrorism as a tool for political change.
In Career Spotlight we talk to Kate Barrelle about her career as a forensic psychologist and her
work in the counterterrorism branch at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Ms Barrelle is
now conducting research to find out why people walk away from violent extremism.
In this month’s Contemporary Debate Julia Rabar considers the consequences of the
Responsibility to Protect doctrine in Libya, which was recently endorsed by the UN Security
Council.
Global Snapshot summarises the key events which took place in the world last month. Brazil’s
economy continues to grow, and the US Federal Reserve announced that it will become more
transparent. In Africa violence continues in Côte d'Ivoire and South Sudan. Violent protests have
occurred in London in response to the Prime Minister’s new austerity measures, whilst in Italy
Prime Minister Berlusconi faces corruption charges. Japan struggles to contain the nuclear plants
damaged in last month’s earthquake. India and Pakistan are using cricket to rebuilt relations
between the two countries. A new section of Global Snapshot provides an overview of other key
trends across the world.
We have a special report from Olivia Cable about terrorism in Indonesia. The trial of the radical
Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir is due to be concluded soon, and the outcome will have major
ramifications for the country’s efforts in counter terrorism.
The terrorist attacks in Mumbai occurred a little over two years ago. Anirudh Asher, who was a
media intern in the city at the time, gives an account of the course of events.
This month we have another new member joining the MA team. I would like to welcome Richard
Griffin, who will be contributing to Global Snapshot.
* Rachel is spending the year living in Melbourne before returning to the UK to undertake a
Masters in International Conflict Studies at Kings College London.
We would like make a correction; in the March edition Les Rowe was incorrectly referred to as the
former Vice President of the AIIAVIC. Mr Rowe is the current Vice President, along with Mr
Graham Barrett.
Q&A with Dr Benjamin MacQueen
By Gary Paul
Over the past months the uprisings in the Middle East have dominated the news across the world.
In a region that has long been the home of many terrorist organisations, how will the political
changes taking place affect these groups? What are the underlying causes of the uprisings and
what will the outcome be?
Dr Benjamin MacQueen is a Lecturer in the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash
University. His research interests include conflict resolution, politics and society in the Middle East
and North Africa, International Relations Theory, and US and Australian Foreign Policy. Dr
MacQueen was previously an Australian Research Council Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University
of Melbourne and Monash University.
How will the current events in the Middle East affect the terrorist groups in the region?
I see it as undercutting momentum to groups. If you take a traditional view of these groups, they’ve
largely been motivated by, articulated, and generated support in this narrative of regimes
supported by the West, leading to oppression. The current events have created new avenues of
opposition, and these movements have been oppositional movements, so it will diffuse popular
support for the terrorist groups and I think undercut a bit of their rationale.
Will Western involvement have an impact on terrorist movements?
Potentially. I’m quite supportive of the way the Obama administration, as one example, has played
this; they have kept distance, deliberate distance, from these protest movements. Even the
intervention in Libya, it’s been very hard for terror movements to turn around and label this as,
playing into that traditional narrative again.
In addition, the regimes that have fallen have been Western allies. There’s Ben-Ali, Mubarak.
Gaddafi is a bit of an exception but Britain moved very close to Gaddafi after 2004 and then it looks
like Saleh in Yemen, that his regime’s about to topple as well. So, Western intervention is
supporting the uprisings, and again its counterintuitive for terrorist organisations to try and make
hay out of this. They would have to change their story, basically.
Is the future terrorist threat from individuals or larger groups? Will we see resurgence in 'lone wolf'
terrorism, for example?
Well we haven’t really seen it in the Middle East. It’s been a group-based phenomenon in Egypt
going back to the 70s, with Islamic Jihad and Takfir wal-Hijra. Even the smaller groups, in Algeria
in the 1980s before the civil war you had the Boyali group et cetera, so it’s a group based
movement in the region. I can’t see that changing.
With the outbreak of revolution, has terrorism been superseded as people’s main form of activism?
Is terrorism relevant nowadays?
Terrorism, or political violence, was always justified, or looked at, or had some sort of resonance
as a vehicle for fighting oppression when there was no other form of opposition. Now that there are
new potential avenues of opposition, it might undercut this current of support for political violence. I
wouldn’t draw that conclusion yet, but I think that’s a very good question to posit, and explore as
events unfold.
Why has the Libyan narrative captured international attention and action, as opposed to the other
uprisings?
That is a tricky one. I would say the personality of Gaddafi in this cannot be underplayed; he is an
easy villain. The oppression during his regime, or the violence imposed after the uprising, is not
exceptional because we saw violence in Tunisia, and we are seeing violence in Yemen and Syria
at the moment as well. So there is violence there, but the difference is the scale of violence –
Syria’s using the army, but again it’s much more visible in Libya I think. I don’t subscribe to a
conspiracy theory that it’s all about oil, but that helps focus attention, it’s one of the factors. But I
would say the main factor is Gaddafi himself, and our desire to watch him and view him as
delusional, which helps justify our own actions.
What are the underlying grievances of the protests? Are they regional or only context-specific?
It’s a blend of both, and it’s a very academic answer I’m giving. A good example is Egypt, in that
there was a combination of factors: high unemployment, housing shortages, removal of food
subsidies. There were basic human economic needs which were motivating factors. But in Egypt
there was a more overt political angle to it, because of the presence of Mubarak, because of the
centrality of Egypt in the US strategic structure and the amount of aid going to Mubarak. That’s a
way the context-specificity overlays the more general cause. Similarly in Bahrain: low GDP, food
shortages, the economy’s not doing so well (it’s got a bit more cash than Egypt, but in term of the
Gulf it’s not doing that well) overlayed with the sectarian influence.
In Algeria, we see a similar thing. You’ve got the economy taking a downturn, but the country went
through a ten-year civil war during the 1990s. So a part of the reason why unrest hasn’t sparked
there, is because of a general war-weariness of the population and a wariness about what unrest
can bring. So it can work both ways, the context can work to amplify unrest, but it can also work to
deflate it. I think there are certainly ways of mapping it out, but those three key economic factors
(unemployment, housing shortages and food prices) are probably the main cause.
The other thing would be the age of the leaders. The leaders that are being challenged now are
older; you’ve not seeing as overt a challenge to King Mohammed in Morocco. Bashar al-Asad’s
Syria would seem like the prime candidate for a lot of this unrest, but he’s been able to deflect that.
Whether that’s some element of hope that with Asad being a young new ruler there is reform
coming. In Jordan, as well, the ruler has managed to deflect a lot of that attention. It is something
we’re yet to fully understand, but there are certainly region-wide factors that play through the
context specific factors.
Can you identify any self-interested motives on behalf of external countries for intervening in the
uprisings?
Well certainly, they want to be ahead of the game, once they sense that this is an inevitability, they
want to make sure. David Cameron going to Egypt with a delegation of arms dealers, that is really
ham-fisted evidence of such a process. These states [in the Middle East] are really important;
they’re critical strategically in terms of resources et cetera. We shouldn’t fool ourselves that the
western countries are acting through altruism, they are acting through national interest, and the
national interest may be to just make sure that these states function, that they’re relatively stable.
That in itself is sort of a selfish interest but it benefits the greater good.
Do you see the future of political Islamism as working within the democratic process, such as in
Turkey, or do you foresee Islamism’s future as similar to the Iranian model?
I see them in the short to medium term as working through the system. One thing there is they
haven’t traditionally been that successful in elections. Algeria was a bit of a different example, but
when you do get to cases where they are allowed to run reasonably freely, they don’t do very well.
I think it’s more a misconception on our part that we expect that there’s this natural reflexivity
towards ‘we vote for the Muslim Brotherhood because we are Muslims.’ That’s not the reality. With
regards to how the Islamist movements accept that, I’d like to be optimistic. I choose to be
optimistic, that they see a place for themselves in a pluralist political system. There are models
there like you said in Turkey. There are potential models in places like Morocco. The King has full
executive power but there is a parliament and the Islamists are part of that parliament. The same in
Jordan. It is not so much a party system in the Gulf, but people who sympathise with Islamist-type
causes participate there too. I’d like to be optimistic, and there’s a potential that going through the
system, the two reinforce each other.
* Gary Paul is studying Journalism and Politics at Monash University. He hosts a radio show about
international news and works for the AIIA and ACCESS as part of their media team.
Career Spotlight with Kate Barrelle
By Gary Paul
Kate Barrelle is a clinical and forensic psychologist, and worked in the counterterrorism branch at
the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She is currently writing a PhD with the Global
Terrorism Research Centre at Monash University, investigating why people move away from
violent extremism. Ms Barrelle is also co-founder of STREAT a foodservice social enterprise, which
helps homeless and disadvantaged young people.
Tell me a little about yourself. What have you done in your life so far?
I started out wanting to be a vet, ended up studying commerce and psychology at university.
Limped across the line with the commerce stuff, powered across the line with the psychology stuff.
Practiced that and did forensic psych for 15-odd years, private practice, lots of really interesting
stuff with criminal assessments, etc.
I did a class called forensic psychology a few years ago in Gippsland which was quite interesting. It
was behavioural studies, but condensed down from the criminalised behavioural studies course, so
arsonists, psychopaths, etc., and then it went into things like interviewing techniques. I think it was
designed for people who wanted to be police officers. It was a very interesting course and a great
summary.
It sounds like a summary of the interesting stuff, the sexy stuff. Being a forensic psychologist is
fantastic, but it's not quite like those shows on TV where everything gets wrapped up in an hour. If
you get one case like that a year you're doing pretty well and even then you don't solve it in an
hour, it's weeks and weeks of work. And most psychs don't want to touch it with a ten-foot pole.
Why is that?
It's confronting. It's the ugly underbelly of people. It really lets you see both the best and the worst
of people. So a lot of people don't want to see that stuff. Also traditionally psychs work helping
people, and some people have an idea in their mind that some people deserve help more than
others, and perpetrators need to be punished not helped.
I guess I've got a view that that's probably true, but that if you're going to change things that effect
lots of people, like violence or abuse, then it's one thing to help predict things but you've actually
got to stop the bleeding at the wound. You've actually got to go back and try to change something
for the people doing it as well.
So I did a lot of forensic work, which was great. That led into some work with the Department of
Foreign Affairs and Trade, the counterterrorism branch - which is really kind of makes sense when
you think about it from a psychological perspective - why do people do bad things in groups? And
why do people do bad things in groups to other people? And then the social psychology of that
becomes really pivotal. Identity theory or the inter-group stuff: in-group, out-group, why I hate
someone because of the group they belong to: it's the stuff that racism and stereotyping and all
that kind of stuff is based on.
That was really interesting for a number of years. I worked with DFAT for about 7 years. So to
come and do some research which was sort extension from that work was a fabulous opportunity.
DFAT is not a research organisation but they're obviously interested in that kind of research, so
there was some good professional support for that. It also worked very well personally, the other
reason I chose Melbourne was the Streat, the street youth project.
The thing that I particularly like about Streat is that I see it as a really good example of grassroots
counter-radicalisation. It's getting in before kids who are in a vulnerable cohort, a vulnerable group,
to make other decisions, other choices, before being drawn into ways of fitting in and other ways of
belonging. Other ways of getting on in life.
So essentially it's the start of what you were saying earlier - it's changing people.
It's going back and helping. That's not to say that the young people we have in our program are
future offenders - I don't mean to imply that for a second. But if you look at all the risk factors that
people who do offend - if you do a retrospective on it - then these young people are dealing with
many more issues than people their age should have to. So it's a really nice early-intervention
program. It fits well into what I'm interested in at the moment: the disengagement, intervention.
Can you tell me a little bit about your work at DFAT?
I was in a couple of different branches across the seven years, one of these branches was
counterterrorism. DFAT is not an operational organisation - they’re not like the AFP or intelligence
agencies who go and do stuff on the ground. They have a regional program which is very
supportive of capacity-building and resourcing programs in the region.
So it doesn't have a domestic focus; DFAT has a regional focus - Southeast Asia, Pacific, in
particular Indonesia. Our regional neighbours. And so we provide a lot of funding and support for
various programs there. They range from things like interfaith programs that build relationships at
that group level - the 'us' and 'them' stuff - through to supporting training and increasing
professionalism and skill levels in prisons in other countries as well. It kind of covers the full gamut
of that. It's really project management stuff, at that level.
So you say you've been working on terrorism - what are you doing at the moment?
Right here right now: in my professional life I do several things. One of those things is a PhD with
the Global Terrorism Research Centre into looking at why people walk away from violent
extremism, or if they get pulled away - if they are arrested or forced out for some reason - how that
disengagement process plays out. There has been a very small amount of research done into that.
There has a been much larger amount of research into why people become extreme in their views
and in particular in their actions. A huge distinction has been made between beliefs and actions. If
someone acts on a belief in a violent way, that's a problem; holding the belief in itself isn't the
issue. So a reasonable amount of research done on that. A very, very small amount of research
done on how and why people leave and whether there's any distinction on disengaging from
violent political activism and what they call 'de-radicalising'. They're changing their mind. So you
talk about 'changing their mind' or 'changing their behaviour' as you come out of it. So that's the
area that my research is in.
In the Australian context, I am looking at people who have been involved in radical, political
movements. So it's not just the Islamist movement, that's one of three groups I'm looking at. I'm
looking at an ethno-nationalist group as well. One religious group, one ethno-nationalist, and one
more issues based - radical environmentalists. People who have been as extreme as you do get in
the Australian context, and who have then been pushed out, pulled out, or walked away from that,
for whatever reason. And there's a whole variety of reasons that people do this voluntarily and
involuntarily. And then talking to them at a very personal level about the experience of leaving all
that behind: what it does for your identity, for your sense of self, your sense of purpose. How, if you
can, reintegrate or integrate, and reconnect with wider society. Do you want to be a part of it? How
do you see yourself?
So you interview all these people?
Yeah, it's not on a large scale, it's only PhD research, so it's only a three year project, but I'm doing
in-depth interviews hopefully with 20-25 people across those three different movements, really to
see if there are common factors that emerge, common themes for people who leave or are pulled
out of radical political activism.
Are the interviews ever confronting for you?
Well, yes and no. In the context of experience, I've probably interviewed over 5,000 people in total.
That's not to say I don't find that difficult, but there's not a lot that surprises me in it, and there's a
whole range of personal/professional techniques that psychs use to protect themselves from being
completely drawn into it or completely affected by it. That said, you also go in and have to be very
genuine, very present, very mindful, while you're in it, but also have your analytical hat on. That's
one of the main distinctions of forensic psychs: you've always got that analytical part of the brain
on. It's not just about connecting and empathising with the person - you need to do that, obviously,
to build the rapport, the relationship, and have the conversation (and people can tell in a flash if
you're not genuine) but at the same time, keep to the question and keep trying to understand why
and how this happens. And usually it's actually not extraordinary stuff that leads people to do
terrible things. When you add it all up, it looks extreme and it is extreme but all the steps that take
someone there are actually not extraordinary steps. Which is not to say that it could happen to any
person, but once you map out the pathway, it's actually completely understandable how they came
to be there.
I did a subject last year at Clayton about this sort of thing, and it does make sense - you can
almost see yourself thinking "if it is the last chance of political recourse..."
And people are genuine in their beliefs, as genuine as you are in yours and I am in mine. I haven’t
met anyone yet who is evil. I've met people who are completely committed in their beliefs whom I
might have quite different beliefs from. But no one who is amoral in the way they're going about
doing this. They are very invested in what their values are, very much so - probably too much for
anybody's good. But it's not a question of not having values, or a question of them being 'a
monster' or anything like that.
This is where the social identity and social psychology theory really helps to understand how
people think from the perspective of being a group member, not from the perspective of being an
individual. So when someone is very tied up in a belief or an ideology that connects to a group,
they operate as little prototypical members of that group. Which is not to say that they are mindless
or zombies or anything like that, they are just thinking with that social identity at the forefront and
then anyone they interact with they interact with on the basis of that group identity. So if you are
Group B and I'm Group A, I interact with you on that basis, and I don't really need to know anything
about you personally to interact on that basis. Take that to an extreme, and this is what happens.
Going back to the interviews - I'm interviewing people very much as individuals, and they're talking
to me as an individual.
Is this because they are separated from the group?
They're separated from the group at that point in time, because by definition they are out of it by
the time I'm interviewing them. So it's a sort of retrospective look at - I mean, we talk about how
they got into it, but we talk in great detail about how they got out of it, did they have any doubts,
and all of this kind of stuff, which is really interesting.
Do you find that they're aware of what their identity in the past when they look back now, or do they
not have any idea: wow, I did that?
People tend to have a better sense of it with hindsight than when they are in the middle of it. So
jumping to a different context: a number of people I interviewed when I was in private practice as a
forensic psych, who were in the middle of whatever was going on for them, and you know, there's
a court case going on and I'm interviewing them in the context of that court case. If they have not
left that behind, and created a new identity path for themselves, then that's when it's really difficult
for them to see what's going on.
Nowadays when I'm talking to this particular group of people, they're looking back on this as well,
and often they haven't looked back in this way before. People will often have conversations with
them about how they got in, and then 'why did you do this’ and 'how did become more extreme', it's
actually a rare opportunity for them to talk about how they got out. So in some ways it's quite
interesting for them, and in some ways some of them have done some of their thinking as they've
gone along, kind of looked back and realised things, but always with a pretty high sense of
awareness.
* Gary Paul is studying Journalism and Politics at Monash University. He hosts a radio show about
international news and works for the AIIA and ACCESS as part of their media team.
Contemporary Debate: Terrorism and Libya
By Julia Rabar
The UN Security Council (UNSC) endorsed the use of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine (R2P)
in Libya on March 11th in order to protect Libyan civilians from President Colonel Muammar
Gaddafi’s planned rampage of the eastern city Benghazi.
The mission was driven by France and the UK, and joined by an initially reluctant US, and criticised
from the sidelines by key UNSC abstainers, namely Germany and Russia. Implementing R2P has
raised questions about the parameters of the doctrine, including whether or not regime change is a
justifiable goal.
But a new issue is now coming to light, namely Al Qaeda emerging within the rebel forces. With US
President Barack Obama refusing to rule out arming the Libyan rebels, questions are being raised
as to who the coalition has jumped into bed with, and what the possible strategic ramifications
might be.
Libya under Gaddafi has sponsored and carried out several terrorist acts, including the La Belle
disco bombing in Berlin in 1986, which targeted US soldiers, and the 1988 bombing of Pan Am
Flight 103 over the Scottish town Lockerbie which caused 270 fatalities. Following the discovery of
a Libyan nuclear program in 2003, the Libyan government declared to the UN Security Council that
it had renounced terrorism, and agreed to pay compensation to victims of the Lockerbie bombing.
In response, the UNSC lifted its sanctions on Libya. Only five years ago the US removed Libya
from its list of states that sponsor terrorism.
Some analysts maintain that Gaddafi will not hesitate to resort to terror tactics if he finds himself
backed into a corner by the rebel and coalition forces. That said, he himself is not an Al Qaeda
supporter - he originally declared that the rebels had been infiltrated by Al Qaeda and had been
given drugs.
There seems to be very little known about the rebel group, which appears to be basically a
disparate, rag-tag group unified only by their desire to topple Qaddafi. A group called the Interim
Transitional National Council (LTNC) has been recognised by coalition forces as legitimate
representatives. But on the ground they don’t seem to have effective command and control.
Early this week a top NATO commander and US Admiral James Stavridis claimed that there were
‘flickers’ of Al Qaedaemerging in intelligence reports on the situation in Libya. Rebel leader Colonel
Ahmed Bani downplayed the connection, claiming that any rebels with links to Al Qaeda were in
Libya to fight for Libya. Their presence might well be marginal, but it cannot be ignored if there is
the possibility of coalition weapons making their way into Libya.
Of all the nationalities that compose foreign jihadists in Iraq, the Libyans are the second largest
group - and most of them from the east, where the rebels are strongest - according to a study
conducted at West Point in 2007.
Even US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has admitted that the rebels and the LTNC are yet to be
clearly understood. In order, perhaps, to minimise public concern about western involvement
reports have begun to surface in the New York Times that American and British intelligence groups
the CIA and the British Special Air Service (SAS) have been on the ground for several weeks
undertaking covert intelligence-gathering. This may be an effort to assure the public that the
situation is under control, especially in the recent wake of setbacks for the rebel forces, but there is
still very little public information on the makeup of rebel forces.
If the US decides to arm to the Libyan rebel forces it will need to proceed carefully, and understand
all possible ramifications that may come of that decision. If there are indeed Al Qaeda forces within
the rebellion, the US would essentially be providing arms (and perhaps training and logistical
support as well) to a group it has been fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2003.
However ultimately it is unlikely that a post-Gaddafi Libya will end up as an Al Qaeda-run state, as
argued by US Senator Lindsay Graham (R: South Carolina) in this CNN interview.
* Julia graduated from RMIT University in Melbourne with an Honours with Distinction in Arts
(International Studies) in 2009. She is currently a research intern at the Australian Strategic Policy
Institute Canberra, and is also a member of the editorial team of Quarterly Access.
Global Snapshot for April 2011
By Sharna Thomason, Marcus Burke and Richard Griffin
A round up of key events across the world over the last month.
Americas
Brazil’s economic power
US President Barack Obama completed a five day tour of Brazil, Chile and El Salvador in his first
trip to South America. The trip reflects that Brazil is now considered an economic power on the
world stage. In his speech, Obama drew attention to the fact that Brazil was both an economic
power and a flourishing democratic state; “Those who argue that democracy stands in the way of
economic progress must contend with the example of Brazil." Drawing on their common history as
lands that “became colonies claimed by distant crowns, but soon declared [our] independence,”
Obama called on the United States and Brazil to expand trade, investment and energy security.
Obama also met the newly elected Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, rather than waiting
on her to visit Washington, suggesting that the US is keen to strengthen the diplomatic
relationship.
The rising profile of Brazil may put further pressure on Brazil to accept its expanded role in the
global economy at the next Doha Round trade talks.
Bolivia prepared to sue Chile
Bolivian President Evo Morales claims “Bolivia is prepared to sue Chile in an international court
over its claim to a section of Pacific coast that it lost in a war more than 130 years ago” Bolivia has
consistently claimed the right to the coast, in what has become a patriotic cause for Bolivians.
Bolivia broke off diplomatic relations with Chile over the territorial dispute in 1978 and only
commenced ministerial level talks with Bolivia this year.
On Bolivia’s “Day of the Sea” President Morales stated that “Bolivia must go to international
tribunals and organisations to demand free and sovereign access to the sea." However the Chilean
President Sebastian Pinera responded by saying that "Bolivia cannot expect a direct, frank and
sincere dialogue while it simultaneously manifests its intention to go to international tribunals."
Peru resolved a similar issue with Bolivia by allowing Bolivia to build its own port on Peru’s
coastline.
US Federal Reserve
Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke has announced that he will hold four press
briefings a year to “present the Federal Open Market Committee's current economic projections
and to provide additional context for the FOMC's policy decisions”.
The briefings will be used to “further enhance the clarity and timeliness of the Federal Reserve's
monetary policy communication”. According to the BBC, the 98-year-old US monetary authority
has never been so open before, and until 1994not even interest rate decisions were announced.
By comparison, The European Central Bank president, Jean-Claude Trichet, gives a press
conference after every committee meeting, while the Bank of England governor, Mervyn King,
gives quarterly briefings to the press.
Africa
Violence in Côte d'Ivoire
The political stalemate in Côte d'Ivoire continues as the incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo
refuses to step down after losing the second round elections held in November 2010. The growing
tensions threaten to divide the North and South. The BBC reports that forces loyal to the newly
elected Alassane Ouattara say they are ready to march on Abidjan, the capital of Côte d'Ivoire.
A recent Human Rights Watch report says that “the three-month campaign of organized violence
by security forces under the control of Laurent Gbagbo and militias that support him gives every
indication of amounting to crimes against humanity.” The report details the use of executions, rape
and beatings against West African migrants and Ivorians thought to support MrOuattara as well as
attacks by pro-Ouattara forces.
The European Union has imposed sanctions on Côte d'Ivoire, including an arms embargo, a ban
on exports of equipment for internal repression and an import ban on diamonds. Whilst France and
Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States have called for the Security Council to
give peacekeepers more power to protect civilians and seize heavy weapons.
South Sudan
When the people of South Sudan voted to secede in the recent referendum in January 2011, even
the U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conceded that the situation in Sudan was a “ticking time
bomb”. But after two decades of violence there are still fears of reprisal attacks by the northern
army. There are still a number of outstanding issues to be settled before secession takes place in
July, including the distribution of oil revenues, borders, citizenship and debts. This week the AFP
has reported that the South Sudan army accused the northern forces of bombing two sites across
the border. The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is investigating the alleged attacks.
DRC rejects environmental assessment
The Democratic Republic of Congo government has rejected an environmental assessment
by SOCO International Plc(SOCO) an international oil and gas exploration and production
company. SOCO had bid to search for oil in the Virunga National Park, one of the most bio-diverse
places on Earth. The AP news agency reports that it is home to 200 of the world’s remaining 700
mountain gorillas.
The UNESCO Director-General stated that he welcomed the suspension of exploration activities,
supporting the decision as one which constitutes an “important step in preserving Virunga, a
remarkable site and unique natural habitat for endangered species.” The decision reflects the
Democratic Republic of Congo’s active implementation of the Kinshasa Declaration on Great
Apes aimed at ensuring the long term future for all great-ape species.
Asia Pacific
India and Pakistan rebuilding ties through cricket
India’s Prime Minister invited Pakistan’s Prime Minister to watch the cricket World Cup semi-final
with him in the hope that it will help rebuild ties between the two nations. Expected topics of
discussion include counterterrorism, forged currency and the drug trade.
Relationships between the two nations have been strained since the 2008 Mumbai
bombings, which saw more than 160 people killed. Pakistan will share with India the progress of
the investigation into the bombings.
Several meetings have been held over the last year, due mainly to increasing pressure from the
US, however no real progress has been made until now. The semi-final match will provide a less
formal environment and hopefully result in significant headway being made.
Japan struggling to contain radiation
An 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck of the east coast of Japan last month, causing a deadly
tsunami to crash into the country and wrecking havoc across the Miyagi prefecture. The
tsunami wiped out entire towns and has left more than 18,400 dead, 10,500 in the Miyagi
prefecture alone. A further 452,000 people are now living in shelters across the region.
In the aftermath of the tsunami, while the world stood still in shock, Japan suffered a third
debilitating event; explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Three of the four reactors have been
damaged and radioactive contamination has been spread across much of Northern Japan.
Power to the No. 3 reactor plant was recently returned in an attempt to restore the cooling systems
however, the issues continue to worsen. It was revealed that radioactive water was leaking out of
the plant and possibly into the Pacific Ocean. The current level of radiation is 330 times higher than
the average yearly dose per person in a developed country.
Europe
Berlusconi on trial for corruption
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has appeared in court faced with charges of corruption. It is
alleged that Berlusconi inflated the price paid to buy television rights and then used the excess to
fund his political activities.
Over the years Berlusconi has been a defendant in four trials, however he has not attended a court
hearing in more than seven years. He has stated that he will attend as many hearings as possible
in order to prove his innocence.
In March 2010, a law was passed giving the Prime Minister automatic legal immunity for 18
months, thus suspending all trials against Berlusconi. However this was later ruled to be
unconstitutional, allowing trials to continue.
London protests over Government spending cuts
Protests turned violent in London as 500,000 demonstrators took to the streets to protest against
proposed austerity measures and public-sector spending cuts. Prime Minister David Cameron and
the coalition government are proposing the spending cuts in a continuing effort to recover from the
financial crisis.
Protesters attacked police with light bulbs filled with ammonia and threw paint and bottles through
store windows. A breakaway group of 300 protestors targeted banks and stores throwing fire
bombs through windows and set off missiles in Trafalgar Square. 200 protestors remained in
custody two days after the protests. The government refuses to amend its economic policies.
Middle East
Human rights deteriorate in East Jerusalem
The United Nations has warned against the intensifying deterioration of human rights in East
Jerusalem.
In 2011, 96 Palestinian residential structures have been demolished leaving 175 men, women and
children homeless. UN officials have repeatedly called on the Israeli government to freeze the
expansion of the settlements, however this plea continues to be ignored.
For information on other recent events in the Middle East over the past month, see the Q &
A and Contemporary Debate in this Monthly Access.
International
Changing demographics in the World
The latest census in Russia has revealed that the Russian population dropped by 2.2 million
people in the last eight years, to now be 142.9 million (down from 145.2 million in 2002). Recent
figures suggest however, that the population may now have stabilised and possibly even slightly
grown in the last 12 months.
Meanwhile, the World Bank has released a report warning that Latin America faces a rapidly
ageing population, due to life expectancy increasing by 22 years in the past half century.
Last month in Paris there was Global Forum on Longevity to look at the issues and opportunities
associated with ageing populations around the world. The OECD has released a report warning
that despite reforms in many countries, including increases to the retirement age, more must be
done to retrain workers and encourage saving to keep up with rising life expectancies.
World trade negotiations crawl along
Negotiations continue at the World Trade Organisation in the Doha Round, with draft negotiating
texts due in April. However there are continued divisions over a number of critical issues, including
trade in services, lowering of barriers to non-agricultural products (including in emerging
economies), and trade in agriculture, particularly in relation to cotton and fisheries subsidies. WTO
Director-General Pascal Lamy has warned of the consequences of the failure of the round, which
has been continuing since 2002, but admitted that negotiators are not on target to meet April’s
deadline.
Nonetheless, despite the continuing lack of progress in negotiations, the value of world trade grew
by 17% in the last quarter of 2010.
Food prices continue to rise
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has reported a rise in basics foods prices in
February, the eighth month in a row. Rising prices are due to a range of factors, including high oil
prices (affecting the cost of transport) and reduced harvests, mainly due to droughts in Russia and
floods in Australia. Prices in real terms are now the highest that they have been since the FAO
began monitoring them in 1990. The continuing rise in food costs has been hurting the poor in
developing countries, with 29 countries requiring food assistance from the FAO. Price rises have
also been cited as a cause of unrest in the Middle East. Supply of key foods such as wheat are
expected to improve over the course of 2011, although prices will also be dependent on changes in
the price of oil.
On the issue of hunger, the Economist has argued however that more focus needs to be put
into providing micronutrients for the poor, rather than simply looking at overall levels of calorie
intake.
* Sharna graduated with a Master of Diplomacy and Trade from Monash University, Melbourne.
She is a passionate human rights advocate and is currently working for the Victorian State
Government.
* Marcus is currently completing a Master in Diplomacy and International Trade at Monash
University. He also has a combined Law/Science degree from the University of Melbourne, and
has most recently been working in the IT industry.
* Richard completed an Arts/Law degree from Monash University in 2008. He has worked for the
Prosecutor at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and is
currently a lawyer at Lander and Rogers Lawyers.
Indonesia and counter-terrorism
By Olivia Cable
The trial of the radical Indonesian cleric, Abu Bakar Bashir, has entered its final weeks in Jakarta.
Bashir is charged with providing material support for a terrorist training camp in Aceh that was
uncovered by the Indonesian police last year. The outcome of this trial will be critical for Indonesia,
its legal system and counter-terrorism efforts in Southeast Asia.
Terrorism continues to be a major internal security problem for Indonesia. Although the terrorist
group Jemaah Islamiyah has been disbanded, new groups and individuals have emerged to
challenge the Indonesian state. Abu Bakar Bashir and his son have successfully formed a new
group, Jama’ah Ansharut Tauhid [JAT], which currently has more than 3,000 members. Although
JAT is nominally a dakwah organisation, dedicated to teaching and proselytization, the Indonesian
police believe that it has become the new institutional hub for jihadist groups throughout Indonesia.
Most Indonesians have welcomed the government’s counter-terrorism efforts and support
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s hardline approach. However few Indonesians would be
aware that the Indonesian judicial system has systemic weaknesses, including the fact that very
few terrorism prisoners actually serve their full sentences. In some cases, prisoners are released
after only a few years detention for serious terrorism-related crimes.
Bashir’s trial is an important test for Indonesia’s legal system. Corruption continues to hamper
efforts to improve the rule of law. Recent high profile cases have shown that Indonesia has a long
way to go to eradicate all forms of political corruption.
Whatever the outcome in the Bashir trial, the implications for regional counter-terrorism efforts will
be critical. A successful prosecution would be a much-needed boost to the Indonesian legal
system, proving that the Indonesian government can target high-profile leaders like Bashir. A
failed conviction would be worse. Given the central drive of recent terrorism acts have been
against the state, Jakarta must be prepared for Bashir's followers to retaliate.
If Bashir is released, his status among the jihadi community is likely to grow. He will return to lead
JAT, potentially creating a larger and more dangerous organisation than it is today. As terrorism
prisoners transition out of the prison system, JAT will provide a convenient hub for their political
agenda of overthrowing secular democracy in favour of an Islamic state under Sharia law.
The main target of these jihadi groups will remain the Indonesian police and security services. In
these circumstances, further attacks against the Indonesian government and the police can be
expected. However Western governments, including Australia, will also remain a prominent focus
for their attention. For this reason, Australia has a great deal of interest in the outcome of this trial.
Continuing to assist the Indonesian government and police in their counter-terrorism efforts should
remain a high priority for the Australian government.
Also read:
For further information on JAT, see the International Crisis Group report Indonesia: The Dark Side
of Jama’ah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT).
* Olivia is currently in her final year of a Bachelor of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Australian National
University.
Mumbai: How a growing super-city was turned into a war-zone
By Anirudh Asher
A little more than two years after the biggest assault on Mumbai, the wounds and deaths caused
by the 26/11 attacks are still fresh in the minds of the Indian people. 166 people were killed and
293 were wounded, simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Historic sites such as
the old wing of the Taj Mahal Hotel were set alight; the flames could be seen from the verandah of
my own home. I could see and hear the Oberoi Trident hotel being attacked from across the
Queen’s necklace bay.
How ten youths with guns, ammunition and a seemingly limitless arsenal of grenades managed to
land ashore at a fishing village in downtown Mumbai, and then go unnoticed enroute to their
targets, is anyone’s guess. Despite feverishly filing complaints to the police, disbelief was the only
reaction the fishermen who witnessed the landing received from the authorities.
Mumbai was a soft target due to its blatantly high rates of corruption. The city is best viewed as a
large machine with various moving parts, each cog and wheel of which needs oiling before it
moves. No-one expected the police force to be able to fight well equipped and trained terrorists
when they were using equipment from another era and flawed bulletproof vests. The Mumbai
police on those three days lost many of their valuable, high ranking anti-terrorist department
officers. This was mostly due to the lack of timely action and planning.
On the first day of the assault, the terrorists split up into separate groups and headed to their
assigned targets: the historic Taj Mahal Hotel, a Jewish Chabad House and the Oberoi Trident
hotel. They massacred many people along the way, including unsuspecting patrons of Leopold
Café - a tourist hotspot popular with Australians - patients and personnel at a hospital, and
trainloads of travelers at one of Mumbai’s arterial train stations, the Victoria terminus.
Over the next three days there was as much bloodshed on the streets of the second most
populous city of the world as any warzone. The only terrorist to be caught alive, Ajmal Kasab, was
testament to the fact that the terrorists were trained in Pakistan and travelled to India via sea in
order to wreak havoc and destruction.
It is suspected that the same mastermind who initiated the 1993 bombings in Mumbai, Dawood
Ibrahim, planned the assault. The strange nature of the attack and the manner in which it was
executed still confounds investigators. Ironically the same bureaucratic obstacles that prevented a
dedicated team of commandos from reaching Mumbai on time, and kept the Mumbai police from
effectively taking on the threat, are now preventing the court system from deciding Kasab’s fate.
Mumbai is a growing city. The public sector is bloated, which results in the peoples’ loss of
confidence in the government. This was apparent from the resignation of the chief minister at the
time, Vilasrao Deshmukh. Though many died at the hands of terrorism, Mumbai has now begun
securing itself with better equipment such as high speed boats to patrol its shores, upgrading the
police’s arms as well as establishing a special a swift anti-terrorism force within the heart of
Mumbai. A great deal of action has already been taken by India to protect its financial heart, but it
must now to weed out the financers of terrorism within its corrupt internal departments. If these
changes take place, it is possible that Mumbai will be able to rid itself of its currently ingrained fear
of further attacks.
* Anirudh is a Communications student at Monash University and is New Hit’s Tech Editor. His is
from Mumbai, India, was working as a journalism intern when the 2008 terrorist attacks on the Taj
Mahal hotel occurred. It was his first day.
News Hit is an online publication dedicated to showcasing the work of young journalists.
AIIA Victoria Press Room: 'Achieving Peace in Afghanistan’ a lecture by Prof.
Richard Tanter
By Rachel Hankey
Prof. Richard Tanter, Senior Research Associate at the Nautilus Institute, spoke to the Australian
Institute of International Affairs about his proposed steps towards achieving sustainable peace in
Afghanistan.
Prof. Tanter claims that Australia must follow other members of the Coalition, the Netherlands and
Canada, and make a firm plan for a withdrawal of armed forces. Failure to do so will only prolong
the conflict; it is the Afghan people who must drive the peace process.
A key part of achieving peace is a reassessment of the UN’s approach towards Afghanistan,
although Prof. Tanter recognises that this will be a “bitter, difficult and complicated” process. The
current agenda is based on a now outdated resolution, and the result is a government which
neither the Afghan people nor the Coalition are fully satisfied with.
Afghanistan is a very poor country, and the need for economic support will play an important role in
the country’s reconstruction. Prof. Tanter proposes that conditions should be placed on economic
aid, which will help to ensure effective post conflict reconstruction in the region.
Based on the lecture ‘Achieving Peace in Afghanistan’ by Prof. Richard Tanter, held on 21 st March
2011 at Dyason House, AIIA Victoria.
The lecture was organized by the Australian Institute for International Affairs. For upcoming events
and further information, please contact AIIA at [email protected] or call (03) 96547271.
* Rachel is spending the year living in Melbourne before returning to the UK to undertake a
Masters in International Conflict Studies at Kings College London.
Issue 14
Message from the Editor
By Rachel Hankey
Welcome to our first edition of Monthly Access for the New Year. The coming year promises to
bring many drastic changes in the world, and we wait with baited breath to see the outcome of the
political changes taking place in North Africa and the Middle East. The impact of the global
financial crisis continues to be felt across the world, whilst at home the renewal of the carbon tax
debate has again shed light on Australia’s role in tackling climate change.
In the first edition of Monthly Access for 2011 we explore Australian Foreign Policy. Q&A this
month looks back at some of the highlights of the interviews last year. Hugh White shares with us
his views about Australia’s role on the world stage and Tony Walker gives his opinion about Julia
Gillard’s experiences in diplomacy. Mohammed El-Leissy, of the Islamic Council of Victoria, offers
an intimate perspective of the experiences of Muslims living in Australia. For this month’s Career
Spotlight I was very fortunate to speak with Les Rowe, the former Australian Ambassador to
Russia. Mr Rowe shares his experiences of 34 years in diplomacy, his thoughts about the future
direction of foreign policy and shares a few words of wisdom for those who are seeking to join the
diplomatic service.
In this month’s Contemporary Debate, Julia Rabar outlines Australia’s diplomatic challenge for
2011; balancing the demands of our ally the US, against the rising power and influence of
China. The report published by the Kokoda Foundation has reignited this increasingly contentious
debate about how Australia should best respond towards the rising power, and military might, of
China.
In Global Snapshot, Sharna Thomason and Marcus Burke report on the latest international events.
A wave of change is sweeping across the Middle East, whilst in the rest of the world, political
change is in the air in Germany as the Christian Democrats are defeated in elections in Hamburg,
and the EU is sued for alleged secrecy in trade talks. Violence continues in the Ivory Coast, and
also in Mexico with the recent killing of a US Immigration and Customs Officer. In America the
Candidates for the 2012 Presidential Election are being announced. The UN’s peacekeeping
mission to Timor Leste is to be extended and clashes occur on the Thai-Cambodia border. China is
officially named as the world’s second largest economy. Meanwhile, in Christchurch the recovery
effort continues in the wake of last February's devastating earthquake.
The continuing revelations of Wikileaks have cast a new light on international politics; this month’s
Access Press Room reports on the lecture ‘How Wikileaks Changed The World’ by Paul Barratt,
former Secretary for the Department of Defence.
We bid farewell to Olivia Cable, and express our gratitude for all her work and dedication to
Monthly Access. Olivia is currently completing her final year of a Bachelor of Asia-Pacific Studies
at the Australian National University and will continue as Emeritus Editor-in-Chief of Monthly
Access.
I would also like to welcome to Monthly Access our new interview team, Gary Paul and Kristian
Lewis.
The coming year promises to bring many drastic changes in the world, and we wait with baited
breath to see the outcome of the current events in the Middle East.
Rachel Hankey
* Rachel is spending the year living in Melbourne before returning to the UK to undertake a
Masters in International Conflict Studies at Kings College London.
Q&A: The Best of 2010
By Gary Paul
Each edition of Monthly Access has a special interview relating to the theme of the month. In this
edition of Monthly Access, we take a look back at some of the best responses in the Q&A section
in 2010.
Issue 7
In March 2010, Olivia Cable interviewed Professor Hugh White about Australia’s role on the world
stage. Mr. White, Professor of Strategic Studies and Head of the Strategic & Defence Studies
Centre at the Australian National University, gave these answers about the 2009 White Paper and
Australia’s role in Afghanistan.
Q. What were the major shortcomings of the 2009 Defence White Paper?
The most important strength was it correctly identified Asia’s changing power balance as shaping
Australia. Its weakness was that it did not address the implications of that for the kinds of defence
forces Australia desired. It raised concerns but didn’t provide a clear idea of how to meet them.
Q. How significant is Australia’s role in Afghanistan?
Insignificant. The contribution is insignificant in shaping Afghanistan’s future. Our contribution is too
small, and the wider coalition is too small to transform Afghanistan into the country we want it to
be. Our contribution in Afghanistan may also be insignificant to our future with the US.
Q. What has the conflict in Afghanistan taught us about modern warfare?
Good question. Two things. Firstly, to the extent that modern warfare focuses on the kind of
stabilisation in Afghanistan. Afghanistan had reminded us how hard it is for Western armed forces
to intervene effectively in unstable states with any hope of making a substantial difference. The
second lesson drawn from Afghanistan is that it may not be the only kind of conflict to worry about
in the future. Only if we were lucky enough for strategic partners to remain stable, operations such
as in Afghanistan will be the most important for conflict we fight in the future.
Issue 10
The theme was multiculturalism in August, and undergraduate student Kristoffer McKay
interviewed the Special Projects & Community Outreach leader for the Islamic Council of Victoria
Mohammed El-Leissly. He gave these answers to questions about how Muslims experience
“multicultural” Australia.
Q. The veil, I know this is a massive topic and we could speak about it for hours. What does it
stand for? Is it a sign of individuality, a fashion statement, male oppression or even something
else?
Firstly, the Quran does not say to put the veil on so men can control you. I always wonder why
Westerners have made this assumption. All the females in my family do it purely out of love and
devotion to God. I think people think, “oh my god it’s hideous, how can someone choose to wear
that?” I think it can be used as a form of oppression but that’s not why it’s there. Anything can be
used for female oppression, for example a mini-skirt, but I don’t think that’s why women put it on.
Q. What would your reaction be if the Australian government was to enforce laws similar to those
imposed in Europe?
I would be very disappointed. My stepmother wears the Burqa and when I walk down the street
with her it’s confronting, I hate it, you can feel the heat. But that’s her level of faith, she believes it
to be part of her faith and my father has never tried to impose on that. My sister, same thing, she
wasn’t wearing it and no one cared, and then one day she decided to start wearing it. Now to come
and rip that off her, do you have the right to do that? And for example, if Muslim men are forcing
females to wear it well isn’t that just as bad as you forcing them not to wear it? Men have no right
to tell women what to wear full stop. I understand it is confronting, but I find dogs confronting, I
absolutely hate dogs and I think they should be banned. Seriously, I was at the park yesterday and
I just love to sit there and lie on the grass and look at the sky and I can’t do this because there are
all these dogs who come and bark at me and I get petrified by that. But I’m not going to go around
calling for the ban of dogs. This isn’t viable, because dogs are an important part of people’s lives.
I’ve got this little saying I coined the other day to put things in perspective; their Burqa is louder
than their bite, because it looks scary but it’s not actually affecting you, unlike a dog. I mean it’s
scary, it’s confronting and sure even Darth Vader has more personality than a Burqa. [Laughs]
Issue 11
As Julia Gillard established her leadership in the Australian parliament, many began to discuss
how the domestic politician would act on the world stage. RMIT graduate Julia Rabar asked
notable journalist Tony Walker to give his view on Ms. Gillard’s diplomatic skills in September’s
issue of Monthly Access.
Q. How will the (self-declared) foreign policy inexperience of both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbot
impact Australia’s foreign policy in the next government?
Well, I think whoever prevails -- as happened with John Howard -- will go through a learning
process. It took Howard quite a long time to become confident and, frankly, take much of an
interest in foreign policy issues. It was only after Australia’s involvement in Timor and then the 9/11
experience that Howard became a foreign policy Prime Minister, or a national security policy Prime
Minister, actually. What we saw was the militarization of Australian foreign policy in Howard’s later
years, which was a mistake. In the case of an Abbott or a Gillard, they've got a fairly steep learning
curve because both of them are domestically focused politicians.
So I'm not sure that we can expect anything innovative from either of them in the foreign policy
sphere during the initial stages of their prime ministerships, whoever prevails. Rudd came to office
with quite firm ideas about what he wanted to achieve. He had experience himself, having been a
diplomat, having a background in China studies, and being able to speak the language gave him
significant advantages. In Rudd’s initial stages as Prime Minister, in fact in the campaign itself, he
framed what he believed our foreign policy approach should be: a country pursuing policy as a
middle power in a creative sense. I think that was a sensible approach. It was in contrast to
Howard’s approach which was to - in a sense - lock us into a very close embrace with the United
States. Rudd managed to detach Australia in a pretty constructive way from the sort of clinging
embrace we had with the United States.
History here is important. When Howard came to power in 1996, one of the things he sought to do
- with [Alexander] Downer then as Foreign Minister - was to differentiate the Coalition's policy from
that of the Labor Party under Hawke and then Keating, artificially, I believe. Hawke and Keating put
a lot of emphasis on relations with Asia - Keating with Indonesia in particular, but also with China.
In his efforts to (I think falsely) differentiate Australia’s political interests, Howard initially laid
emphasis on our relationships with Europe and America. A White Paper was prepared by DFAT in
2000, which outlined a traditional approach, emphasising relations with the region. Howard and
Downer sent it back to be re-written, re-cast, to make it clear that the United States was preeminent in our foreign policy preoccupations. It was that kind of re-positioning that took place,
which I'm not sure made a whole lot of sense. During the Howard-Bush period, I believe it led us
into becoming more closely identified with American policy than was necessarily in our interests.
Meanwhile, we had the continuing rise of China. I think Howard managed relations with China
satisfactorily, but he would have been better advised to have had a more balanced approach
throughout his Prime Ministership.
* Gary Paul is studying Journalism and Politics at Monash University. He hosts a radio show about
international news and works for the AIIA and ACCESS as part of their media team.
Career Spotlight with Les Rowe, former Australian Ambassador to Russia
By Rachel Hankey
In Career Spotlight this month Les Rowe gives us an insight into the world of diplomacy and the
future direction of Australian foreign policy.
Mr Rowe joined the diplomatic service in 1971, and over a period of 34 years he served in
countries across the world, before becoming the Australian Ambassador to Russia from 2003 until
2005. Former Vice President of AIIAVIC, Mr Rowe continues to be heavily involved with the
institute, and is currently a member of the Executive.
Q. How did you get into diplomacy? Was it a career that you had planned?
No I didn’t actually plan on it, and I don’t think that anybody should plan on it because it’s very
competitive. You make your case on the day and if you’re selected, you’re selected, and if you’re
not you’re not and you go and get on with the rest of your life. I didn’t plan it, but I knew from an
early period in my life that it was something that I wanted to do, and I worked out what would be a
reasonable academic path to take towards what might be acceptable by the then Department of
External Affairs [now called DFAT]. But that coincided with things that I was interested in anyway. I
did a Bachelor of Arts degree with honours, with a double honours major in history, a major in
economics and a single subject in Italian. It was a sort of generalist education that many people in
the department had had previously. I don’t know where I got the idea from, but I guess from about
the age of 15 or 16 onwards, as soon I knew that there were diplomats and as soon as I had an
idea of what they did, it appealed to me as something I might like to do.
Q. You spent a lot of time both abroad and in Canberra. Which did you prefer and how do the
postings compare?
One of the things that people contemplating a career in the foreign service ought to be aware of is
that the job does involve a lot of time in Australia and a lot of time overseas. The basic work of a
diplomat in Canberra is to prepare policy advice for ministers and cabinet to consider on issues of
important foreign policy concern. And in order to do that you have to obtain information from
overseas and that means being in touch with our posts abroad and asking for information about
things. You have to have a capacity to synthesize it, and you have to have a capacity to work
within the Canberra bureaucracy, to find out what other department’s interests are and how they
might be incorporated in whatever advice goes to ministers. You develop policy and you help in
providing consular assistance to Australian citizens abroad. We have just seen some fairly hectic
times for people working in Canberra, having to deal with the evacuation of Australians and the
concerns for their welfare in the Middle East and in Christchurch. There are a lot of things to do in
Canberra, and I found the work in Canberra often very stimulating.
On the other side of the coin is working in overseas countries where you are, either as an
individual or as part of an embassy family, the public face of Australia. It is your job to advocate
and pursue Australian interests with the government of the country you are in, or with the media.
You promote trade relations and work with your immigration colleagues who are present in the
embassy, or if they’re not, you might sometimes work on their behalf, in relation to visa issues,
migrant processing and refugee issues. A lot of the things you do in Canberra and overseas are
very much linked to one another.
There is a certain glamour about some aspects of it. And there is an adventure aspect. The thing I
think that most of us, all diplomats from all countries, find irritating is that people have a stereotype
of diplomats living in large houses, with big cars, going to cocktail parties and going to the opera in
white tie and tails. To some extent there is an element of truth in that, but you don’t have a big
house just to be given a big house. It is because your house will be used for entertaining people of
the country in which you are hosted and so that your family can live in decent conditions.
Q. You were posted to places such as Beirut and Jakarta during times of social unrest. How did it
feel to be working in such explosive environments?
It’s a combination of nerves and excitement. The day I left to go to Indonesia was two days after
the riots had taken place in the centre of Jakarta. They were directed against the Chinese centre,
the old Chinese city, and so a lot of Chinese were streaming out and there were terrible stories of
violence against them. I arrived on a Sunday and you could see the smoke still coming up from
the ruins. I arrived in a Boeing 747 with 6 people on board, and it left completely full. The next four
days was the period when Suharto decided whether he stayed or went, and eventually he decided
to go. But there was a lot of unrest and a lot of uncertainty about whether the army was going to
intervene on the President’s side, or against him. Nobody knew what was going to happen so you
were running on adrenaline.
Q. Did you have a favourite posting during your 34 years in the diplomatic service?
Most people have a soft spot for their first posting, as it’s the one where you go to learn what you
are doing, and I was posted to Ghana. I loved it, we covered ten other countries and I travelled
quite a bit. In the middle of it I was sent off to New York to help with the Australian delegation to the
UN, which was a marvellous experience. It was a really interesting time.
My time in Indonesia was perhaps the highlight. It was a time of great change in Indonesia and
everything that was happening was of interest to the Australian government and we knew that
everything we sent back would be read by a lot of people, including the Prime Minister. It was a
privilege, but we also had to be on top form, 100% of the time, and we worked very hard.
Q. Have you got any advice for people who are thinking about a career in diplomacy?
Go to university and study something that you are interested in and do it well. Demonstrate that
you have a good intellectual and analytical capacity, and go to the Department (DFAT) armed with
a good honours degree. On top of that, go to them with evidence of things that you have done at
university, or outside university, which demonstrate your interest in the wider community, or the
international community. It’s often difficult for people coming straight from university to demonstrate
these aspects, but if you have travelled, what have been your experiences of living in different
cultures? What have been your experiences of travelling and living in hardship? Show us your
leadership capabilities and your resilience; show us your cultural sensitivity, and your capacity to
work with others.
Q. Australia has a big influence in Asia, but where is the future focus of foreign policy going to be?
Well I think that in a sense, the priorities for the Australian diplomatic endeavour were set a decade
or so ago. Our largest embassies are in Beijing, Jakarta, Tokyo, Washington, New Zealand; our
immediate neighbours. Given the boom of Asia in the last decade, that has been very much
emphasised. But there is also a network of embassies is Europe, London Brussels, very significant
posts. So I think that given the way, particularly the Chinese economy is lifting the world economy
and getting to the point where finally china is going to be carving out for itself its very important
strategic and geo-political space we’re all going to be very much focussed on there.
Q. You referred to a 10 year period. Is that how far in advance foreign policy is planned, or is it
more reactionary?
No no, we did a review 15/20 years ago and worked out what were going to be the major posts,
where we should be putting our principal endeavours. The guidelines that were set out then, and
the emphasis laid down are still the same today. Asia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand are
all in our neighbourhood. East Timor is in our neighbourhood, and it is important to us, but it is not
in the same league as our relationship with China.
Q. There has been a great deal of press recently about Wikileaks. How do you think that Wikileaks
will impact upon diplomacy, and will it change the way countries communicate?
I think that ultimately where it will have an impact is on the degree to which the Americans
disseminate information within their own system. I don’t remember the precise number of recipients
of the cables, but they were huge by Australian standards. I think there is obviously a need still for
protected conversations, and for classified information to be protected. I don’t know what changes,
if any, have been made in the Australian system, but ours was much tighter than the American’s.
We have had leaks in the past, but nothing like this. And I think that in principal two things will
happen. One is that where information really needs to be classified and protected, it will be
guarded more so than it was in the past. And that really means that we can’t afford to have
countries like America showing this kind of information to a private soldier sitting at a computer.
People still have to have the freedom to provide clear advice and make frank assessments; there
is no point in making assessments that are not frank. The other thing is that people will look again
at the amount of information that needs to be classified, and how long it actually needs to be
classified for.
Q. There has been a lot of coverage in the media about the death of Australian soldiers in
Afghanistan. In the future will Australia seek to play a greater role in such operations, or scale back
our involvement?
We have had a very long tradition in peacekeeping operations, dating back to 1948. Our soldiers
were in Kashmir, we have had police in Cyprus for a very long time. So I think that we have that
tradition, and I think it’s a way that a country sees itself as a middle power. And we tend to see
ourselves as being a middle power, and therefore having a role to play in supporting the
international peacekeeping effort.
* Rachel is spending the year living in Melbourne before returning to the UK to undertake a
Masters in International Conflict Studies at Kings College London.
Contemporary Debate: Australian Foreign Policy in Asia
By Julia Rabar
Australia is set to engage with the Asia-Pacific region in 2011 under a Gillard government with
Kevin Rudd at the helm as Foreign Minister. Gillard is fortunate to be hiding in the shadow of the
tireless Rudd, as her own foreign policy expertise leaves much to be desired. Australia’s challenge
for 2011 is to negotiate a path in its immediate region that accommodates an increasingly
influential China, whilst continuing to pay tribute to its strongest ally, the United States.
Last year in this column I examined the debate in Australian newspapers prompted by Hugh
White’s Quarterly Essay, ‘Power Shift’. White argued that Australia would be able to negotiate a
peaceful rise of the Asian giant, as long as the US took steps to accommodate China as a future
equal power. White’s critics vehemently responded in support of the US, arguing that Australia
must stand by its most powerful friend and ally, and that any report of western decline was
misguided and imprudent.
Despite the US and its supporters forcefully denying the perceived decline, the issue has remained
a topic of strategic debate.
The trigger this time was a report published by the Kokoda Foundation authored by Ross
Babbage. Babbage, an advisor to the writers of the 2009 Defence White Paper, asserts that
Australia should hedge its bets against China’s rapid military modernization, in the event that
China’s intentions turn sour further down the track. Australia, as he has argued previously, should
be capable of “ripping an arm off” any adversary that may threaten our interests.
Babbage’s report exists at the pointy end of the US-China-Asia-Pacific debate. The 2009 Defence
White Paper made a big enough splash when it was first revealed, advocating an overhaul of
Australian military capabilities and drawing attention to the possibility of a Chinese threat.
Babbage’s report goes so much further; it borders on hysterical. It is, indeed, a maximalist wish list.
While he argues that Australian military planners ought to think ‘outside the box,’ surely seeking to
acquire a dozen nuclear attack submarines goes beyond this, especially considering our proven
inability to maintain our current naval fleet.
Former Deputy Secretary for Defence Paul Dibb writes with Geoffrey Barker in The Australian “The
proposals are ill-defined and not costed. They would almost certainly prove counter-productive, if
not downright dangerous”. They argue that China is simply acting to protect its sea lines of
communication and asserting itself “as rising powers have always done”. The report’s
recommendations are also simply not feasible for a government in which “maintaining a balanced
budget is the new Holy Grail of Australian politics and the chances of extra money being found for
expenditure on defence can now be reduced to a concrete number – exactly zero.”
Hugh White and Ross Babbage, on the other hand, appear to be in furious agreement on one
point: that Australia, whilst it should do all in its power to negotiate peace between China and the
US, should also insure against the possibility of a bad outcome. White has continued on the
warpath, declaring in an interview with the Chinese newspaper Xinhua that “Prime Minister Gillard
will be keen to maintain good links with China if only for economic reasons, while at the same time
she will feel a strong domestic political imperative to support the U.S. in Asia unquestioningly. This
will become harder to do over coming years.”
Our bilateral arrangements with China pose a more immediate challenge. Since Kevin Rudd
attended the Beijing Olympics as Prime Minister in 2008, there has been barely any ministerial
contact between Australia and China. This is despite the fact that trade with China is worth more
than $100 billion a year. Australia’s ambassador to Beijing is due to finish his posting in July this
year and his replacement will be an important player in guiding the relationship between our two
countries.
It is worthwhile considering that Australia’s interests may not be best served by arming ourselves
to the teeth in order to hedge against the slight possibility that great power conflict will re-emerge in
the 21st century. Furthermore, Chinese military might will always outstrip our own, no matter how
much money we throw at the problem. To best serve Australian economic prosperity and regional
stability, Australia ought to pursue, along with the US, a regional order that integrates China as a
responsible stakeholder rather than a future menace.
* Julia graduated from RMIT University in Melbourne with a Honours with Distinction in Arts
(International Studies) in 2009. She is currently a research intern at the Australian Strategic Policy
Institute Canberra, and is also a member of the editorial team of Quarterly Access.
Global Snapshot for March 2011
By Sharna Thomason and Marcus Burke
A round up of key events across the world over the last month.
Americas
2012 Candidates
In the United States, candidates for the 2012 Presidential election are beginning to line
up. Republican candidates may include former House of Representatives Speaker (and foe of
President Clinton) Newt Gingrich along with several candidates from previous elections
including Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Commentators have suggested that the Republican
field to take on President Obama looks rather weak, with candidates such as Gingrich and Sarah
Palin attracting significant support but also unfavourable ratings from a large part of the
electorate. An overly radical candidate may make it easier for Obama to be elected by driving
away centrist voters.
Mexico and the United States
A recent summit between Mexico and the United States has highlighted ongoing issues on the
border between the two countries. This followed the recent killing of a US Immigration and
Customs officer in Mexico, and 28 people killed in recent and ongoing drug-related violence.
President Obama promised greater assistance to the Mexican government to tackle the drug
fuelled violence, as well as to do more to address the issue of demand for drugs within the US.
At the summit, the two Presidents also announced the resolution of an ongoing dispute over
allowing Mexican trucks on American roads as part of the NAFTA agreement, a dispute which
dates back to the signing of the agreement in 1994. However progress on greater integration
between the two nations has been very slow. President Calderon of Mexico also stated that US
cables, released by Wikileaks, criticising the Mexican government’s fight against the drug trade
caused severe damage to the relationship.
Africa
Violence in the Ivory Coast
Ongoing violence in the Ivory Coast has led to concerns that the country may be drifting into civil
war. Alassane Ouattara initially claimed victory in the elections in late 2010, but the incumbent
President Laurent Gbagbo refused to hand over power and the Constitutional Court later ruled in
his favour, but most observers continue to assert that the election was won by Ouattara. In recent
days opposition forces have apparently taken control of several small towns, whilst violence
against their supporters in the capital has continued. As a result as many as 70,000 refugees have
fled over the border into neighbouring countries, with several hundred thousand internally
displaced.
Asia and the Pacific
UN peacekeepers extend mission in Timor Leste
The United Nations Security Council has extended the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission
in Timor Leste for another year, until 26 February 2012. There are currently 1520 uniformed
personnel on the ground in Timor Leste, including police, volunteers and civilian staff. The
peacekeeping mission continues its presence in the fledgling nation in order to consolidate peace
and the democratic system of government. Support is also provided in the lead up to the
presidential elections in 2012.
The Security Council also called on the small nation to strengthen the credibility of the police force.
52 police officers are currently facing criminal or disciplinary charges yet they all still retain their
positions. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and President Jose Ramos-Horta believe that
preventing a return to instability through the exemption of punishment is more important than
inflicting punishment and possible retaliation. Over 200 pardons, commutations and prison
releases have been authorised since 2007, including for the rebels convicted of the attacks on the
President and Prime Minister in 2008.
In his address to approve the extension of the mission, Prime Minister Gusmao acknowledged the
concerns of the Council but signalled that the mission was to leave the country after the
presidential elections. The UN advised that it wants to end the peacekeeping mission but is
cautious after the 2006 unrest, which was the catalyst for the current peacekeeping mission.
China named second largest economy
The latest data indicates that China’s economy is now the second largest economy in the
world, behind only the US, having surpassed Germany in 2009 and Japan in 2010. China’s
economy has averaged 10 percent growth over the past 20 years which has caused an
unequivocal change in the landscape of the nation.
This data however is based on GDP, a notoriously inaccurate statistic, rather than GDP per capita
which is more reliable. Based on China’s population of approximately 1.3 billion the average
income is $7,400 per month or a sixth of the average income in Japan. Thus, China‘s economy, in
GDP per capita terms, remains behind Japan.
Thai-Cambodia clashes
Fighting broke out again last month on the border of Cambodia and Thailand over an 11th Century
Hindu temple, the Temple of Preah Vihear. Soldiers from both sides exchanged fire for several
hours in the disputed area, killing at least five and injuring a number more.
Tensions first escalated in the region in 2008 following the inclusion of the temple on the World
Heritage List of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Sporadic
fighting has broken out over the years in dispute of whose country the temple is located in; this
dispute is yet to reach a conclusion.
Thailand's army chief, however, advised that the most recent clashes were all a misunderstanding,
with matters settled after speaking with Cambodia's army chief.
Christchurch earthquake shakes city to the core
On 22 February 2011 at approximately 12:50pm, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the New
Zealand town of Christchurch. Although a lower magnitude than the earthquake that struck the city
in September of last year, this one was closer to the surface, just four kilometers under ground,
and caused more wide spread damage, with buildings collapsing across the entire city and
surrounding suburbs.
With a confirmed death toll of 154, which is expected to rise to 240, emergency workers are still
sorting through the rubble and pulling out the dead. The central Christchurch Cathedral has been a
sight of interest, not only as it is considered the heart of the city, but because it was believed that
22 people were caught in the tower when it collapsed. The building has now been cleared and no
bodies were found. The list of the 22 missing people is now being reviewed.
As with most disasters, out of the rubble comes amazing stories of survival and hope, none more
so than the story of Ann Voss. Ann was trapped in the Pyne Gould building which collapsed like a
stack of pancakes one floor on top of the next, but luckily she was caught in an air pocket with her
mobile phone. Convinced she would not make it out alive, Ann phoned her children in Australia to
say goodbye, as well as speaking to a number of news outlets live on air before her phone battery
stopped. With no more contact available her family thought that was the last time they would hear
from Ann. Miraculously, 24 hours after the earthquake hit Ann was pulled out alive with only broken
ribs and cuts.
Another employee, working in the Pyne Gould building was saved by a team of Australian
urologists, who were in Christchurch for a medical conference. After crawling through the collapsed
building for five hours to reach the man, the doctors realized the rubble could not be lifted off the
man’s legs. They instead had to improvise, using a builders hacksaw and a Swiss army knife to
amputate the man‘s legs before rushing him to hospital were he is recovering well.
Christchurch is now a city in recovery. All the basics amenities, running water, sewage and
electricity are still down across the city and surrounding suburbs. In addition to the aftershocks,
which are reaching 5.3-magnitude and continuing to send fear through the community, many are
fleeing to New Zealand’s north island, predominately to Auckland, where the population is
expected to increase by up to 21,000 people. Many are staying with family and friends but
hundreds of others are desperately trying to find accommodation either in hotels or the temporary
centers the city has set up.
Europe
Political change is in the air for Germany
The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) suffered a
significant defeat this month with the loss of the Hamburg election to the Social Democratic Party
(SPD). With an unusual absolute majority of the seats, 48.3 per cent and 62 seats in the 121-seat
assembly, it was the best result for the SPD in a state election since 1998. Although the loss of
power was not a surprise for the CDU, who had been in power in Hamburg since 2001, it was a
shock that they lost half of the votes received in the previous election, from 42.6% in 2008 to
21.9%, the party‘s worst result since World War II.
The Hamburg election was won and lost on local issues, with 80 per cent of the vote being
determined by issues such as the failed education reform and controversial plans to dredge the
city‘s Elbe River. In addition, the unpopular outgoing Mayor, Christoph Ahlhaus, was deemed not
Hamburger enough, as he originates from Heidelberg.
Merkel and her party face six more state elections this year, with the most important being in the
state of Baden-Wurttemberg, a CDU strong hold since 1953, on March 27. The party’s popularity
has waned since protests over a controversial rail project, Stuttgart 21. A second defeat could
reverberate across the nation.
EU sued over secrecy in trade talks
The European Union has been sued by transparency campaigners for withholding documents
relating to the free trade negotiations with India. The campaigners are accusing the EU of breaking
transparency and democracy rules by not sharing details of how it plans to open Indian markets.
The free trade agreement between the EU and India is expected to be finalised this year. However,
campaigners are worried about the effects it will have on Indian labour rights and access to
medicines. It is understood that the EU is pressuring India to agree to measures that go beyond
the agreement on trade related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS). This would have
detrimental effects on the viability of low priced generic medicines in India.
This is not the first time the EU has been sued over transparency issues, having previously been
sued over secrecy when drafting the transparency law. EU institutions are now under increasing
pressure to lift the veil of secrecy.
Opposition parties in India are also demanding that the Indian government consult parliament
before signing the proposed agreement, given the effects it will have on the people. Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh has instead instructed his officials to speed up the negotiations in an attempt to
reach a conclusion before June 2011.
Middle East
Wave of change crushes regimes
Over the past few months the world has witnessed a wave of protests crashing along the shores of
nearly every nation in the Middle East. Some have secured policy reforms, others have forced iron
fisted dictators to flee their nation, while others still battle on for freedom.
The wave of protests began in Tunisia on 18 December 2010 when Mohamed Bouazizi set himself
alight in a defying act of public protest against the repressive government. Whilst Bouazizi was not
the first person to set himself alight as an act of protest, he was the first to capture the world’s
attention thanks to a video, shot by his cousin Ali and posted on Facebook. The video later aired
on Al Jazeera’s Mubasher channel. In the weeks and months that followed self-immolation became
a tool of the protesters with similar incidents occurring in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Mauritania, Morocco
and Saudi Arabia, all for the cause and in sympathy with Bouazizi.
Although the activists all utilised the same tools, relying heavily on Twitter and Facebook to
organise the protests and stream live footage around the globe, the outcomes of the events have
been very different. Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali stepped down and fled his country
leaving an interim government in place. However after further protests against the interim
government, most of whom were in power under Ben Ali, another two Ministers and the Prime
Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi also resigned. Jordanian King Abdullah dismissed his government
and formed a new cabinet only two weeks after the protests began. Yemeni President Saleh
refuses to resign, conceding only that he will not contest the next election in 2013, and nor will he
pass on power to his sons. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and his cabinet resigned,
however President Mahmoud Abbas has tasked Fayyad with forming the new government. In
Bahrain the government after cracked down heavily on protesters, killing at least seven. However
as a result of pressure from the US, the King has eased the violent retaliation against the
protestors and has fired a number of ministers.
Protesters in Oman secured an increase in the minimum pay; those in Algeria clashed with police
until the government cut taxes on sugar and cooking oil, while Iraqi protesters, who are demanding
better government services rather than trying to oust their leaders, are yet to receive the desired
outcome. Instead protests turned violent with government forces firing into crowds across most of
the larger cities.
In Egypt, after almost a month of violent protests, numerous refusals to step down and the sacking
of the government Hosni Mubarak resigned as President and handed power over to the army.
Travel sanctions were placed on former ministers, and Swiss and UK banking institutions froze
Mubarak’s assets. Egypt’s military rulers have promised to hand power over to an elected, civilian
government.
The focus then turned to Libya which continues to bare the brunt of the violence. Colonel
Muammar Gaddafi refuses to step down, instead declaring in a video that he will die as a
martyr. Urging his supporters to attack the protesters the Libyan leader vowed to use force, which
has so far resulted in more than 1,000 people being killed. The United Nations voted unanimously
to impose sanctions on the regime, which include referring Gaddafi to the International Criminal
Court for crimes against humanity.
As protests continue to rage across the region, the new fear is that the interim governments will not
step aside and call democratic elections as promised. The world watches and waits in the hope
that these citizens achieve democratically elected governments and a better life.
* Sharna graduated with a Master in Diplomacy and Trade from Monash University, Melbourne.
She is a passionate human rights advocate and is currently working for the Victorian State
Government.
* Marcus is currently completing a Master in Diplomacy and International Trade at Monash
University. He also has a combined Law/Science degree from the University of Melbourne, and
has most recently been working in the IT industry.
AIIA Victoria Press Room: ‘How Wikileaks Changed the World’ a lecture by Paul
Barratt
By Gary Paul
Speaking to the AIIA at Dyason House the former Secretary for the Department of Defence, Paul
Barratt AO, discussed the state of Australian foreign policy in the wake of the Wikileaks diplomatic
cable leak.
“Democracy demands openness.” Mr. Barratt discussed the effect of Wikileaks on Western
governments, commenting that many governments used the shelter of the national security
classification to “conceal from the public their real assessments and motives”. He stated that while
Wikileaks will have little effect on the modus operandi between administrations, it has made the
public aware of the “authoritarian side” of the Australian government.
Using examples such as Australia’s private promise to “support the U.S. in Afghanistan until hell
freezes over” despite public promises of withdrawal, Mr. Barratt described how the government’s
“deceptive conduct” might be the casualty of the cable leak. Remarking on the future of foreign
policy under a technology-driven news wire, Mr. Barratt said it will “greatly raise the political risk of
democratic leaders deceiving their publics”.
In his 40 years of experience in international relations, Mr. Barratt has been Secretary for the
Department of Defence, Secretary to the Federal Department responsible for mining, oil and gas,
agriculture, forestry and fisheries, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and
Trade, Special Trade Representative for North Asia, and Executive Director of Australia’s leading
business roundtable. Mr. Barratt is now an independent consultant, and a director of Australia 21
Limited. He has degrees in Physics, Economics and Asian civilisations, and has worked as an
intelligence analyst.
Based on the lecture ‘How Wikileaks Changed The World’ by Paul Barratt, AO, held
on Wednesday, 23 February at Dyason House, AIIA Victoria.
The lecture was organized by the Australian Institute for International Affairs. For upcoming events
and further information, please contact AIIA at [email protected] or call (03) 96547271.
* Gary Paul is studying Journalism and Politics at Monash University. He hosts a radio show about
international news and works for the AIIA and ACCESS as part of their media team.
Issue 13
Message from the Editor
By Olivia Cable
Our final publication for 2010 looks at Afghanistan.
In Q&A, Hekmut Karzai, nephew of President Hamid Karzai, shares his views on the current state
of the conflict in Afghanistan and the changes that have been made since the overthrow of the
Taliban.
In Contemporary Debate, Julia Rabar discusses the Australian parliamentary debate about
Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan. As a result of our involvement with training the Afghanistan
National Army in Uruzgan province, Australia – troops or not - will remain in country for another
decade. Whether this is the right decision for peace and stability is contested. Will the government
collapse if NATO forces depart? As Julia rightly points out, a deeper knowledge of cultural and
tribal relationships are critical for stability in Afghanistan. A reading list has been provided at the
end of Julia’s article for further information about the debate.
In Global Snapshot, Sharna Thomason and Marcus Burke report on the rise of violence in Haiti in
the wake of the cholera outbreak and the lead up to elections. The global financial crisis continues
to dampen confidence in Ireland, Greece and Portugal. In Iraq there are hopes a new government
will be formed, as the country has had no formal government since the elections in March this year.
A release from the Access Press Room reports on the lecture ‘Pakistan in crisis’ by Dr. Claude
Rakisits. The next couple of months are quiet in the events department at the AIIA, but don’t forget
to mark in your calendars for February 2011 ‘Global Issues of Current concern’ by US Ambassador
Jeffrey Bleich.
A final note of thanks to the Monthly Access team: Julia Rabar, Sharna Thomason, Marcus Burke,
Andrew Zammit and Rachel Hankey for their efforts in making the Monthly Access publication.
Have a Merry Christmas and travel safely,
Olivia Cable
* Olivia is studying Asia Pacific Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra.
Q&A with Hekmut Karzai
Interviewed by Olivia Cable
This is the second half of an interview with Mr. Hekmut Karzai, the nephew of Afghanistan
President Hamid Karzai. The interview was conducted at a regional counter-terrorism conference
in Manila, the Philippines.
Hekmut Karzai is currently the Director of the Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies (CAPS), one
of the leading research centres in Kabul, Afghanistan. Prior to this position, he served as a RMS
Fellow at the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore,
where his primary focus was the South and Central Asian regions. He conducted research in
development, security and conflict, and is considered to be an authority on Afghanistan.
Karzai teaches various courses on conflict and security, and serves as a non-resident Senior
Fellow at the East West Institute in Brussels. From 2004 to 2005 he served as an International
Fellow at the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University where he
conducted research on terrorism, militancy, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Al Qaeda
movement.
In May 2002, Karzai was appointed as the Head of the Political Department at the Embassy of
Afghanistan in Washington D.C. His duties included overseeing daily political and congressional
affairs. He also acted as a direct link to the diplomatic and political community, liaising with US
Congress and Executive Branch on policies, security, funding and other vital issues pertaining to
Afghanistan.
Q. Can you describe the current state of the conflict in Afghanistan?
HK: As you know, for a significant period of time, Afghanistan was the capital of international
terrorism and obviously all of that came to an end after 9/11. Since 9/11, there have been various
different countries trying to help Afghanistan develop into a stable state with functioning
institutions.
There are still some challenges, security problems and development issues. But at this stage, I
think that given the conditions, things are looking quite good and we seem to have political
progress.
Q. What changes have you seen in Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001?
HK: There have been extensive changes. I think if you looked at Afghanistan in early 2002, you
would have seen that there were absolutely no universities or schools, no health care system or
roads. But what you see now is that there are six million children going to school, and girls going to
school. You have major roads that connect Afghanistan from one end to the other. At one point I
remember going from my hometown of Kandahar to the capital and it took a day and a half. Now it
takes four and a half hours. These are remarkable changes for the lives of the people. In the cities
there is a massive economic boom where people are engaged in commerce. We had double-digit
growth for a few years. All of those things are quite positive.
We have trade with several different countries. For example, at one point, imports from Pakistan
were about $25 million. Now this figure has reached $1.1 billion and I think export value has been
raised by $200 million. So on all different levels, I think things are moving forward.
Q. Media reports reveal opium production has increased in Afghanistan, as has the heroin trade in
the West. How have these factors affected the conflict in Afghanistan?
HK: On so many different levels. The opium and poppy trade, particularly heroin, is one of the main
sources of funding for the insurgency. There is a symbiotic relationship between insurgents to
provide security and the drug barons to provide the resources, and they fund one another. The
main cultivation is in the areas where security is not very good. Fifty per cent of our drugs are
grown in Helmand Province, which is also the most volatile province, so there is a direct
relationship.
I think the problem is that we have not had a holistic strategy. You cannot tackle narcotics by just
going after the farmers. You have to look at supply and demand; 80 % of demand comes from the
West. So we also have to pay attention to where the demand is coming from. Just going after the
poor farmer, who probably receives five to seven per cent of the profit, is not going deal with the
problem.
Q. What progress, if any, have the Australian forces made in Uruzgan Province?
HK: Uruzgan Province is really tough terrain, and it is a tough environment. I’ve visited Uruzgan
several times. It’s one of the closest provinces to where I grew up, so I understand the dynamics of
the situation there. One thing you can be absolutely sure about is that the contribution that
Australia has made, and the contribution from Australian soldiers, is truly appreciated. There are
various different projects they have worked with and what is unique about their support is that they
are different from other forces in Uruzgan. The Australians are seen in a very positive way.
There are other countries that try to divide the different tribes, or cause fights between different
tribes. The Australians are not seen in this way. They are truly appreciated. The Australians are
one of the very few countries who understand the local context. They dress in the local style, meet
with the regular people, the Shura, the elders and try to hear the concerns of the people.
So on many different levels they have supported the local processes to maintain the local
dynamics and I think the people really appreciate that. This is why the insurgents have gone after
the Australians, because they see they are specifically supporting the Afghan people and the entire
process that is needed for stability and peace.
Q. Where is Bin Laden?
HK: The last internal reports that I have seen suggest he is somewhere in the FATA [Federally
Administered Tribal Area] region around North Waziristan. But then again, if we say he is in North
Waziristan why are we not going after him? That is a very good question.
At this stage we have not heard from him in visible terms but we have heard audio recordings
which question his health. According to a report from the US he is very close to the FATA region in
North Waziristan, but they have not narrowed this any further. He is alive and at least he is
contributing to the broad fight that is taking place at this stage.
* Olivia is studying Asia Pacific Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra.
Contemporary Debate: Afghanistan - the curtain call?
By Julia Rabar
Australians will recall that in the week preceding the Australian federal election in August the death
of three Australian soldiers in southern Afghanistan propelled the issue of Australian involvement in
the NATO-led war to centre stage.
Bipartisan support was immediately offered to the ongoing mission. Meanwhile the Australian
Greens called repeatedly for a parliamentary debate on the war. Following the July Wikileaks affair
– the publication of thousands of top-secret US military files dubbed the ‘Afghan War Diary’ –
public concern about the morality and ethics of remaining in Afghanistan simmered.
A parliamentary debate on the Afghanistan mission finally began on October 19th, culminating four
weeks later. After the first day of debate, Minister for Defence Stephen Smith expressed his
satisfaction with the bipartisan support for an exit strategy that is determined by success, or, as
Prime Minister Julia Gillard put it, “credible and conditions-based”.
On the final day of the debate, Prime Minister Gillard praised the passionate and poignant
contributions for and against the war. She reaffirmed that Australia – not, pointedly, Australian
troops – will remain engaged in Afghanistan for the next decade at least. The Australian’s political
editor Dennis Shanahan commented on Gillard’s “brutally frank” summary of our commitment in
Afghanistan, comparing it to former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s careful rhetoric, or even John
Howard’s limited commitment to the allied forces there.
Nevertheless, The Age scoffed at Gillard’s promise to remain in Afghanistan, arguing that if a
primary reason for Australia being in Afghanistan is loyalty to the US (as acknowledged by both the
Prime Minister and Opposition Leader during the federal debate), we are unlikely to remain once
the US has left.
Australia’s role in the exit strategy is training the Fourth Brigade of the Afghan National Army
(ANA) in Uruzgan province so that when the time comes for allied forces to leave the country, the
ANA is able to assume responsibility for maintaining security in the country.
The parliamentary debate unearthed big divisions between the coalition of the exasperated and
those in favour of seeing the mission through to a successful transition. Professor Hugh White of
the Australian National University (ANU), and a cohort of left-leaning politicians including the
Australian Green party and independent MP Andrew Wilkie, believe that Australia’s strategic
interests are no longer served by remaining in Afghanistan.
Others, such as Anthony Burke of the Australian Defence Force Academy and Andrew Phillips of
the ANU, believe that a hasty withdrawal would risk the collapse of government in Afghanistan, civil
war, and destabilization of the region. In an article in The Australian, their spiraling vision includes
the possibility of the government collapsing in nuclear-armed Pakistan, and the opportunity for
terrorists to acquire nuclear weapons. However, Celeste Gventer, a senior US foreign policy
adviser and associate director of the Strauss Centre for International Security, claims that
such “nightmare scenarios” are not inevitable. The real concern, Gventer argues, should be the
strategic value versus the cost of remaining.
Burke and Phillips employ a quote uttered following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 1996:
“Just how far out of the circle of human solidarity can people fall?” However, despite their token
reference to human rights in the conclusion, they fail to discuss in any depth the needs and desires
of the Afghan people.
Ehsan Azari, of Afghan-Pashtun descent, wrote in The Australian that despite the enormous ratio
of foreign troops and Afghan soldiers to each Taliban member, corruption is still rife and a hasty
departure would be detrimental for the Afghan people. Writing in The Age, Archie Law, chief
executive of ActionAid, emphasizes the need for ongoing consultation with the Afghan people and
independent oversight of military development activities in line with many non-governmental
organizations working in the area.
The counter-insurgency tactic of winning hearts and minds requires thorough training and
education of local populations as well as members of the Afghan National Army and police. In the
meantime, an escalation of conventional attacks in Afghanistan by NATO-led forces has seen a
shift away from US counter-insurgency tactics of winning hearts and minds in order to ensure the
most successful handover to the ANA in 2014.
An understanding of the history of foreign incursions in Afghanistan, and deeper knowledge of
cultural and tribal relationships within the country are critical to forging a path to stability. The
“internal power balance” within Afghanistan and the links between religious extremism and ethnic
nationalism are proving to be stumbling blocks for the Western forces.
Leaders of the NATO force met in Lisbon on 19th to 21st November to discuss the transition plans,
emphasizing the need for an irreversible process. There are currently 150,000 NATO-led troops on
the ground in Afghanistan. Although Australia provides the largest non-NATO troop presence
(tenth largest overall), the Australian deployment in Afghanistan, according to Paul Daley in The
Age, has come to be known privately as Operation Token Presence. Despite Australia’s ‘token’
presence, Prime Minister Gillard assured the Australian public on her departure for Lisbon
that Australia’s contribution was widely respected.
In Lisbon on 20th November, the Western allies and Afghan President Hamid Karzai agreed on an
exit strategy in which foreign troops will rescind their security role by 2014, but that NATO’s
presence will continue beyond the transition. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
stressed that “Afghanistan’s fight against terrorism is of strategic global importance” but echoed
other leaders in stipulating that the transition will be conditional. Indeed NATO’s civilian
representative in Afghanistan said the 2014 goal was ‘realistic but not guaranteed’, and a
Pentagon spokesman called it the goal aspirational. The need for a long-term political solution and
stable Afghan government is emphasized in the NATO document signed by Rasmussen and
Karzai on November 20, the NATO and Afghan Government Declaration on Enduring
Partnership. The document reinforces the need for “a robust, enduring partnership which
complements the ISAF security mission and continues beyond it.”
Meanwhile, support for the Afghanistan mission is waning in America, where a recent poll by
Quinnipiac University indicates that 50% of those surveyed think that the US should not be
involved in the country, an increase of 9% from a poll taken two months earlier. 54% of
respondents to a Lowy Institute poll published in earlier this year believed that Australia should
terminate its military engagement in Afghanistan.
Also read:
Stephan Fruehling and Benjamin Schreer, Australia and NATO: A deeper relationship? Lowy
Institute for International Policy, The Interpreter, October 2010.
Our interests in NATO go well beyond Afghanistan, The Australian, November 2010.
James Brown, Afghanistan: OK to be partisan, Crikey, October 2010.
Raspal Khosa, Australia’s commitment in Afghanistan: moving to a more comprehensive
approach, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, August 2010.
Graeme Dobell, Another decade in Afghanistan, Lowy Institute for International Policy, The
Interpreter, October 19 2010.
George Venturini, Debate on Australia’s presence in Afghanistan? What debate? On Line Opinion,
October 2010.
Scott MacInnes, Afghanistan and the duty of our representatives, Australian Broadcasting
Corporation; The Drum, November 2010.
Ben Eltham, Obscuring the truth about the war, Australian Broadcasting Corporation; The
Drum, October 2010.
* Julia is an Australian-based editorial assistant with The Diplomat. She graduated last year from
RMIT University in Melbourne with an Honours with Distinction in Arts (International Studies) and is
a member of the editorial team of Quarterly Access.
Global Snapshot for December 2010
By Sharna Thomason and Marcus Burke
Africa
Violence
in
Central
Africa
Multiple armed groups and factions, combined with a lack of government control have resulted in
continued violence and destruction in central Africa. Most prominently, the Lord’s Resistance Army
(LRA) - having been largely chased out of Uganda where it originated - is now operating across the
border in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as well as southern Sudan and the Central
African Republic. The United States may provide more resources to countries in the region for
action against the LRA, but for the moment the group still roams the border region with impunity,
despite its leader Joseph Kony being wanted by the International Criminal Court.
Further south, United Nations forces have launched a new military operation in South Kivu
province of the DRC to protect civilians from ongoing attacks. However the International Crisis
Group reports that military action in Kivu is failing.
Justice is slowly coming to some of those who were involved in the violence. The International
Criminal Court has begun the trial of former Congolese leader Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo for war
crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in military actions in the Central African
Republic in 2002-3. However, according the Economist, some nations are losing enthusiasm for
using war crimes trials as a solution to some of the world’s conflicts due to the costs involved, and
the need for such cases to be coupled with military action in order to be effective.
Western Sahara
Violent clashes have occurred in the disputed territory of Western Sahara, with some reports
claiming “dozens” of people killed.
Originally a colonial territory of Spain, a historic International Court of Justice advisory judgement
in 1975 on the status of the region recognised the right of self-determination for its people.
However, after Spain abandoned the territory, it was immediately subject to competing claims from
neighbouring Morocco and Mauritania, with Morocco eventually taking effective control, despite an
ongoing campaign by the independence movement Polisario. Negotiations over a vote on selfdetermination have dragged on for years, whilst thousands of Sahrawis have remained stranded in
refugee camps across the border in Algeria.
The recent turmoil came as a result of Moroccan forces breaking up Sahrawi camps, where
numbers have recently swelled due to the closure of refugee camps in Algeria. Despite protests in
Madrid to encourage Spain to place greater pressure on Morocco, peace talks have once again
stalled. A Human Rights Watch report has condemned some of the actions of the Moroccan forces.
Americas
United States debt
Mid-term elections in the United States have delivered significant gains for the Republican Party in
the House of Representatives and the Senate. These changes in the composition of Congress will
make it very difficult for President Obama to push through reform over the next two years before
the next Presidential election in 2012.
In particular, efforts to tackle the record deficit will be politically difficult to implement. President
Obama created a special Commission to outline potential solutions and its recent report set out a
range of recommendations, including a reduction in military spending, farm subsidies and social
security, many of which will be politically unpalatable. President Obama has recently frozen federal
pay in the lead up to negotiations with the Republicans.
Haiti – Cholera and votes
The cholera outbreak in Haiti has added to the misery of a population still recovering from
January’s devastating earthquake.The death toll from the outbreak is now approaching 2000,
whilst ongoing protests have disrupted the relief response.
Violence in the country also rose in the lead up the recent presidential elections. The result of the
elections is now being disputed by a number of the candidates amid allegations of voting
irregularities, incorrect voter lists and outright fraud. If no candidate receives fifty per cent of the
votes, a run-off election will be held in January 2011. Whatever the result, it is expected that
instability in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere will continue.
Asia
Inter-Korean tensions worsen
The war between North and South Korea continued last month with a very public and blatant
artillery attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeon. Although an armistice was signed by
both sides in 1953 the war was never officially over, with approximately 150 attacks between the
two nations over the decades. Furthermore, North Korea announced in March 2010 that is was no
longer bound by the armistice.
Military clashes have taken places in Yeonpyeon three times since 1999, with the previous fatal
incident an unconfirmed attack by North Korea on a South Korea submarine. A number
of explanations for the recent attack have been proposed, from North Korea trying to gain the
attention of the US, to attempts to keep the support of the North Korean public. Experts also
speculate that the recently appointed four-star general, Kim Jong-un, ordered the attacks to assert
his newly found power. In counter argument, North Korea, in domestic media, stated that “despite
our repeated warnings, South Korea provoked us by firing artillery shells into our territory”.
Despite all the speculation diplomatic efforts were stepped up in the region with China engaging
North Korea in dialogue in an attempt to calm the tensions. China’s engagement came after
increased pressure by the US and its allies, who want China to use its leverage over North Korea
(China is North Korea’s highest aid donor) to reach an agreement that no further military attacks
would take place. However, Chinese and North Korean relations might not be as close as expected
with a Chinese foreign Ministry official in leaked US diplomatic cables stating that “Pyongyang was
behaving like a spoilt child”.
Japan and the US have consulted with South Korea. Renewed calls for six-party talks between
North and South Korea, the US, Japan, China and Russia were received with great caution by
South Korea. China, who will play host to the talks, agreed with South Korea that the situation was
“worrisome”.
North Korea is yet
to agree to attend the six-party talks.
Despite the increase in diplomatic negotiations in the region South Korean and US forces carried
out a military drill which had been planned prior to the North Korean attack, further raising tensions
in the region. North Korea threatened retaliation and China publicly warned against any further
military attacks in its economic zone, directing its warning to the US.
Burmese Democracy leader reunited with son
After ten years, numerous visa applications and seven consecutive years under house arrest
Burma’s pro-democracy leaderAung San Suu Kyi was reunited with her younger son last month.
After learning of Suu Kyi’s release, Kim Aris applied immediately for a visa to enter Burma to see
his ageing mother. Initially refused, a visa was finally granted and Aris travelled to Burma from
Thailand where he had been staying ahead of his mother’s expected release. Aris plans to stay in
Burma for two weeks before returning to England where he now lives.
Suu Kyi, who has spent much of the past 21 years under house arrest, was released less than one
week before Burma’s first election in 20 years, which took place last month.
Eight Burmese publications have been suspended by the government for violating regulations after
they printed news and photos of Suu Kyi’s release.
Europe
€85 billion Irish Republic bail-out
Ireland is now the second EU-state to require a bail-out loan to prop up the nation’s economy
through its banking sector. Blame is being placed on the global financial crisis and subsequent
recession. The Irish economy had been supported by a huge property bubble and multinational
companies who have been attracted to the country due to a corporate tax rate of just 12.5%, half
that of Britain.
Having taken the €85 billion loan from the European Union and International Monetary Fund,
Ireland will now begin implementing the most severe austerity measures the nation has faced in
over 20 years. The Irish government must implement a four-year economic plan to cut public
spending, reduce public benefits and increase taxes, with the exception of the corporate taxes
which will not increase.
Although the bail-out will save the Irish economy, Prime Minister Brian Cowen will not be as lucky.
An early election is predicted for the beginning of 2011, with the Prime Minister expected to step
down if his own party do not remove him first.
Despite the bail-outs of both Greece and Ireland, the European Central Bank is now pressuring
Portugal to accept a €500 billion bail-out. However, the head of the European Commission Jose
Manuel Barroso has criticised those who are pressuring the Lisbon government to accept the
financial support.
Spain, Italy and Belgium are all being monitored very closely as they look increasingly likely to
need a financial support in the near future.
Russia to join WTO
Seventeen years after Russia began attempts to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO), it finally
looks like their bid will be accepted by the 153-nation organisation. Most memberships with the
WTO are negotiated within six to seven years, however despite the establishment of a working
party in 1993 and 30 subsequent meetings, Russia’s application has taken uncharacteristically
long. The principal reason for the delay was a lack of support for the application from officials in
Moscow.
The breakthrough came when both sides resolved issues regarding tariffs on the export of raw
materials. The lessening of tensions in the region also aided Russia’s bid with reconciliation
between Russia and Poland, along with better relations between Russia, Ukraine and Georgia.
In an attempt to create closer ties with Russia, US President Obama has publicly supported the
country’s accession to the WTO, and a spokesman for the European Commission called it “an
important milestone”. Western policymakers are buoyed by the accession, as it will commit Russia
to a series of international rules that are enforceable.
European proposals for an energy package have alarmed Russia, namely due to the proposal
that Russia hand over the transportation of gas. The gas pipes are owned by Russia and
Germany. Putin remarked that Europe was seeking to de-monopolize the market, which would be
both harmful and dangerous to the Russian and German companies involved. This may prove to
be the sticking point of the negotiations.
Further to the negotiations regarding the transportation of gas, and issues regarding intellectual
property rights are still to be negotiated. The accession will not be a certainty until these two issues
are resolved.
Pope consents to condoms
Pope Benedict XVI has caused simultaneous uproar and jubilancy across the globe due to
comments made in a book of interviews by a German journalist titled Light of the World: The Pope,
the Church and the Signs of the Times. In the book the Pope comments that for some people,
using condoms could be a first step in assuming moral responsibility where the intent is to reduce
the risk of infection.
In a press release Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS
(UNAIDS), welcomed the Pope’s comments, stating that it will “help accelerate the HIV prevention
revolution”. With more than 7000 new HIV infections every day, UNAIDS asserts that the “male
latex condom is the single, most efficient, available technology to reduce the sexual transmission
of HIV.”
While AIDS activists are calling the comments a breakthrough, members of the Catholic Church
assert that the comments have been misconstrued.They claim that as they are not part of the
official church teachings, they will not be accepted until a formal papal announcement is made.
Confusion over the comments made by the Pope is high, especially among Catholic Bishops in the
United States who are focused on upholding Catholic orthodoxy on sexuality and marriage. Going
even further, Phillip Lawlor, editor of Catholic World News, demanded the resignation of the editor
of the Vatican newspaper that first ran with the story, despite an embargo on the book.
The interpretation of the comments within Africa is being closely watched. Many AIDS care
programs are catholic run and currently implement the policy of not promoting or distributing
condoms as a form of HIV prevention. Although under the auspice of the Catholic Church many
priests, who are at the coalface of the epidemic, have stealthily approved the use condoms. It is
now hoped however that they will be able to preach openly about condom use.
Amid the confusion, there is one clear fact: the Pope has opened the lines of dialogue in relation to
contraception and HIV/AIDS.
Middle East
Iraq forced to form a government
Following the inconclusive elections in March this year, the Prime Minister now has 30 days in
which to create the new government. Setting a new world record, Iraq has been without a
functioning government since the elections in March. A power-sharing agreement signed on 10
November, saw the re-selection of Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, as President and Nouri al-Maliki, a Shia,
as Prime Minister along with the appointment of Osama al-Nujaifi from the Sunni-backed Iraqiyabloc, who has the majority of seats in parliament. Despite the difficult task ahead, this coalition
government hopes to create a government of partnership.
The power play for the important ministries, such as oil and foreign affairs, is now under way, with
senior leaders of both the Iraqiya-bloc and Kurdish alliance vying for the foreign affairs portfolio.
While the world waits and hopes that sectarian violence, which nearly tore Iraq apart in 2006-2007
does not occur again, suggestions that the power-sharing agreement has already been
violated are starting to emerge.
Egypt votes
After a campaign marred by violence, accusations of fraud and a crackdown on the opposition,
Egypt went to the polls on 28 November 2010. Unfortunately, the day of the election saw similar
events, with the denial of entry to polling stations for candidate representatives, independent
observers and voters.
This election was to be a pro-women election. In 2009, the government passed a law creating a
new quota system to ensure women control 12% or 64 lower house seats, up from just 9 seats in
the outgoing parliament. However, the quota system was not female-friendly, and in a nation
steeped in political cynicism it does not reach to the core of the problem.
Although one female quota candidate states that the quota system is an attempt to allow more
women to practice politics, critics of the system argue that the government is interested in one
thing only, power. Furthermore, critics, including the Muslim Brotherhood, assert that quota system
is simply a way to charm the international community without changing attitudes amongst the
voters.
Candidates for the Muslim Brotherhood, which has officially been banned in Egypt for more than
half a century, ran as independents so as to evade the ban. However, in the two weeks leading up
to the election 150 members were arrested and 12 private television channels were shut down
which critically stifled efforts to mobilize voters.
With the abolition of the opposition, President Hosni Mubarak will begin a new term. If Mubarak is
unfit to continue his Presidency - his health has been under scrutiny since surgery in March officials believe his son, currently a top party official, will move into the role.
* Sharna graduated with a Master of Diplomacy and Trade from Monash University, Melbourne.
She is a passionate human rights advocate and is currently working for the Victorian State
Government.
* Marcus is currently completing a Masters in Diplomacy and International Trade at Monash
University. He also has a combined Law/Science degree from the University of Melbourne, and
has most recently been working in the IT industry.
Pakistan in deep crisis - Dr. Claude Rakisits speaks
Pakistan is in deep crisis, according to Dr. Claude Rakisits, a senior lecturer in Strategic Studies at
Deakin University and director of the Strategic Studies programme at the Australian Defence
College.
Dr. Rakisits highlighted the high level of anti-Americanism in Pakistan; “unmanned drones are the
single most important factor for the rampant anti-Americanism in Pakistan”. Commenting on the
effect of precision drone attacks against insurgents and civilians in Pakistan’s tribal areas, Dr.
Rakisits described the complex ethnic, religious and historical factors that have caused instability in
the region. These factors have allowed the Taliban, who are seeking sanctuaries outside
Afghanistan, to gain a foothold in Pakistan’s northern mountain ranges. “The good news is that the
Taliban is not unified”.
To help illustrate the complexities of the relationship between Pakistan and the United States, Dr.
Rakisits outlined differences between competing Taliban and al-Qaeda organizations. He
commented on the intricate relationships between the Taliban groups and the Pakistani army,
noting that at times this placed stain on Pakistan’s relations with the United States.
Dr. Rakisits referred to high levels of corruption within the government and the omnipresence of
the state’s military as reasons why Pakistan could be considered a failed state. He described the
Pakistani police force as “corrupt, incompetent, badly trained”. He claimed these factors and the
recent disastrous floods are the main causes of instability in the fragile state.
Based on the lecture ‘Pakistan in crisis’ by Dr. Claude Rakisits, held on 6 th October 2010 at
Dyason House, AIIA Victoria.
Issue 12
Message from the editor
By Olivia Cable
In keeping with the 2010 Annual ACCESS Debate: has Australian democracy become too
conservative?, the topic for this month’s edition of Monthly Access is 'democracy'.
In Q&A Hekmut Karzai shares his view of democracy. The interview covers a number of issues,
such as whether a western style of democracy can be exported to Afghanistan, the changing
treatment of women in Afghanistan and negotiations with the Taliban. Karzai’s father is the Minister
for Internal Security and uncle is the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai. Don’t miss next
month’s publication about Afghanistan, for another interview with Hekmut Karzai.
In Career Spotlight we interview Tyrell Haberkorn about democracy, Thailand, academia and
activism.
In Global Snapshot, Sharna Thomason and Marcus Burke cover topics such as the controversy
around the UNESCO-Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for Research in the Life
Science, Canada’s failed attempt to gain seat on the UN Security Council, toxic flood devastation
in Hungary and the continuing threat of insecure food supplies for poorer nations.
This month we are advertising for four editorial roles for the Monthly Access publication. Please
see the editor positionssection.
For those interested in contributing to a Monthly Access publication, please see our submission
guidelines section.
Finally, the Victorian Model United Nations Conference takes place on 1st – 3rd December at RMIT
University, Melbourne.
Olivia Cable
* Olivia Cable is studying Asia Pacific Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra
Q&A with Hekmut Karzai
With Olivia Cable
The following article is the first half of an interview with Mr. Hekmut Karzai about democracy and
Afghanistan. Karzai’s uncle is the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai.
Hekmut Karzai is currently the Director of the Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies (CAPS), one
of the leading research centers in Kabul, Afghanistan. Prior to this position, he served as a RMS
Fellow at the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore,
where his primary focus was the South and Central Asian regions. He conducted research in
development, security and conflict, and is considered to be an authority on Afghanistan.
Karzai teaches various courses on conflict and security, and serves as a non-resident Senior
Fellow at the East West Institute in Brussels. From 2004 to 2005 he served as an International
Fellow at the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University where he
conducted research on terrorism, militancy, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Al Qaeda
movement.
In May 2002, Karzai was appointed as the Head of the Political Department at the Embassy of
Afghanistan in Washington D.C. His duties included overseeing daily political and congressional
affairs. He also acted as a direct link to the diplomatic and political community, liaising with US
Congress and Executive Branch on policies, security, funding and other vital issues pertaining to
Afghanistan.
Q: Is democracy consistent with traditional the Afghan tribal culture?
HK: I think we have different perceptions. We do not see democracy as a finite state. It is a
process.
I don’t think we should talk about Afghanistan in the context of democracy. Rather, I think we
should talk about its very serious values, whether that is human rights, or the rule of law. These
principles are the things that we should really focus on. These elements lead to a system that is
not based on personalities, but based on a process. These are the elements I think we all can
agree on.
We should not really judge Afghans or Afghanistan by the standards of Australia. Sometimes I
think there are snap judgements made, and people ask “why is Afghanistan doing this like this?”
But I think in certain ways this is the system which has been in place for thousands of years.
I think to specifically answer your question, the tribal system is a consultative process. You don’t
really make a decision unless it is a collective decision. So in its nature, that is what is considered
democracy; the majority wins. Yes, the modalities and the processes are different, but the outcome
at the end is similar to what is practised in a democracy.
Q: What has it meant for women in Afghanistan to be more active in society?
HK: Women have played a significant role in Afghanistan. I remember when I was a child, many of
my female relatives were teachers, and therefore they contributed to society. But unfortunately that
process has ended with the Taliban, and has been further hindered by international terrorism.
Fifty per cent of our population are women, and slowly they have resumed a lot of their former
roles. We have several female Ministers and women make up twenty eight per cent of our
Parliament. This is a direct result of voters wanting women in Parliament. Women are now taking
their rightful place in society, and this can also be seen in the increasing number of female
teachers and doctors.
However, there are still significant problems in rural areas. One of the greatest challenges is
education, because in certain rural areas, people do not think girls should go to school. However,
Afghans are optimistic and with time I believe we can overcome these issues.
Q: Media reports suggest that Afghanistan is about to go into political negotiations with the Taliban.
Is the Taliban a political party or an insurgency group?
HK: The Taliban’s ideal goal is to be seen by Afghans as a political movement rather than a
military group. At this stage, they are obviously regarded as an insurgent force.
The Afghan government has implemented various different strategies and policies in order to
potentially open up this dialogue. But what is needed from the Taliban’s side is peaceful discussion
and negotiations. I think that with the support of the international community, the insurgents particularly the Taliban - must be allowed to resume a dialogue with the government and directly
voice their concerns about an issue. These talks could take place in a foreign country, on neutral
ground.
At this stage, I think there is a great deal of confusion about what is going on, with so many
different players acting on behalf of their own countries and trying to find their own leverage.
Sometimes this is done in a hasty manner because many of these countries are tired of the conflict
and simply want to get out.
The long-term goal is for the Taliban to be part of the political process rather than being a military
force.
Q: How have NATO forces been received by the Afghan people?
HK: I think in Afghanistan we have had a variety of external forces come in for different reasons.
This can be traced all the way back to Alexander The Great, the British and then the Russians.
These empires came in as an invader, as an occupying force.
When NATO came in it was seen as a peacekeeper rather than an occupier. This is why almost
nine years later we still do not have open riots or revolts against the coalition forces. People would
say the perception is slowly changing, but at this stage still they are not an occupier, even though
the insurgents would like to tell you that Afghanistan is like an occupied state because all these
people are here.
But Afghans still believe the international community is here to help because they see a visible
impact on their lives. More specifically, they see that their kids are able to go to school. They have
roads, clinics and things like that. At one point our infant mortality rate was one of the highest in the
world, but because of various types of assistance, this has fallen significantly. Although Afghan’s
see the international community in some instances as making mistakes, at the same time, they see
a contribution to the wellbeing of the entire society.
Part two of this interview will follow in next month’s publication, themed ‘Afghanistan’.
* Olivia is studying a Bachelor of Asia Pacific Studies at the Australian National University.
Career Spotlight with Tyrell Haberkorn: a discussion about democracy,
Thailand, academia and activism
Interviewed by Olivia Cable.
Tyrell Haberkorn is a Research Fellow in the department of Political and Social Change in the
School of International, Political and Strategic Studies at the Australia National University (ANU).
Prior to her position at the ANU, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Peace and Conflict Studies at
Colgate University in the US from 2007 to 2009.
Haberkorn first travelled to Thailand in 1997 as an undergraduate student interested in
international labour solidarity. Since then, her academic and human rights work has been focused
on understanding and working against the recent violence in Southeast Asia.
She recently completed a book about farmers' tenancy struggles between 1951 and 1976 in
Chiang Mai and Lamphun provinces in Thailand entitled ‘Revolution Interrupted: Farmers, Law,
and Violence in Northern Thailand,’ which will be published by the University of Wisconsin Press in
early 2011. Her research interests include human rights, violence, sovereignty, arbitrary detention,
socialism and Southeast Asia (Thailand).
Haberkorn received her BA in Cultural Studies and Creative Writing from UNC-Chapel Hill (1999)
and her MA (2003) and PhD (2007) in Socio-cultural Anthropology from Cornell University.
Q: For you, what are the core values of democracy?
TH: Freedom of speech, a right to dissent without fear of repercussions and equal access to justice
for all people.
Q: How did you apply for, and what did you study during your Fullbright Fellowship?
TH: As an undergraduate student, I spent four months in Thailand working around labour solidarity.
I was very active in the student labour movement in the US and was interested in how to build
solidarity between North American activists and Southeast Asian activists. Much of the labour
solidarity work in the US at the time (in the mid 90’s) was concerned with justice for people who
were producing all the clothes and shoes for the US; most of the production was taking place
in Vietnam and Indonesia.
I decided the best way to learn how to act in solidarity – and I still believe this now - was to create a
relationship with the people who were working across lines of difference and space in order to
produce progressive change in labour justice. I decided the best way to think about solidarity was
to actually experience it. The four months I spent working with a Thai womens worker organisation
– in which I did whatever they needed me to do – was very transformative. I learned a lot and
wanted to go back to Thailand.
I was also very interested in how to be an academic and an activist at the same time. When I
wrote my Fulbright application I had a very simplistic idea – I would design a project that was half
advocacy work and half research. I was based in Chiang Mai and spent half of each week working
at a women’s studies centre at Chiang Mai University. The other half of each week was spent
working with women’s organisations. The entire time I was trying to figure out how to bring the two
spaces together – in my life as well as the research and advocacy work going on around me.
Q: And how successful was it?
TH: It was really hard, because ultimately the goals are different. The goals of an advocate and a
researcher are different. For me, this means that as a scholar I tend not to write about the present.
When I wrote about the present, I do it in reports for human rights organisations or in an editorial or
something else.
The situation has not changed and that is why my academic work is far more historical. I try to
keep some sort of a boundary between what I do as a scholar and what I do as an activist. I think
this is because I feel as though if I am going to write about violence and suffering in the present –
and ask people who are surviving or have suffered living in a repressive regime – then I cannot
stop at only writing about it.
One of the things I have found really nice about coming to Australia and the ANU is that there are
lots of people who are engaged in advocacy in some form and it is seen as OK. In the past I’ve
been asked “how can you be an objective scholar if you also have a political perspective?” I found
that to be a ridiculous question. Everybody has a political perspective even if one does not disclose
it. One is always writing in the service of something.
A few years ago I was asked “how can you hide your feelings from your students so they are not
swayed by what you think politically?” What a question! Why would one want to hide one’s
perspective? Students – and anyone who has been in the classroom knows this - are not going to
write in one political persuasion or another just because their lecturer does.
I was teaching in the US between 2005 and 2009, right when the tide was changing in terms of the
broad perception of the war on terror. In 2005, I was teaching about torture and what it means
democracies use torture against people they deem as less than human – a strategy used
repeatedly by the US as part of the so-called “War on Terror,” Particularly during the first few
years, the classrooms I was in were very divided, with a great number of students in support of the
use of torture. Given my own stance – that I think the use of torture is never acceptable -- it was a
little bit paradoxical that I helped people who agreed with torture to figure out how to argue their
perspective more effectively. But my job as a lecturer is to help people, whatever their perspective,
learn how to be better writers and how to articulate what they think.
Q: What were the highlights and lowlights of working in Thailand?
TH: The highlight has been, and continues to be, the opportunity to learn so much from people who
have experienced things I have not. My dissertation - which then became my first book - was about
Thailand in 1950 to the 1970’s. I talked to people who were part of a political movement, and had
they not been repressed, they could have changed the country completely. In some ways they did
change the country completely, despite the fact that the movement was crushed in 1976.
I found it really amazing to listen to stories about how people built alliances across class
boundaries and how they discovered themselves as new political subjects. I felt really lucky to
listen to these stories of transformation.
The lowlight, particularly over the last four years since the September 2006 coup, has been
watching a real culture of fear develop, and [myself feeling] very concerned about what that will
mean for the future. People are really afraid; they are afraid to express their views, afraid to sign
petitions. In some cases, people are afraid about their colleagues or neighbours knowing their
political views because there is a sense than anyone may be listening and there may be
repercussions. In terms of democracy, I really worry about what the effects of that kind of fear will
have on future prospects for democratic change and the emergence and consolidation of the rule
of law.
I am utterly frustrated that when people discuss Thailand so much emphasis is placed on elections
and the idea that as long as there are free and fair elections there is democracy. It seems to me
that what is missed when democracy is defined in this fashion is an analysis of how fear has
operated since 1932; extrajudicial violence and the constant stream of coups is a huge piece of
that. And how do you measure fear? That is one of those difficult analytic questions. There is no
unit of analysis for fear.
Q: What lesson did you learn from working in the Peace and Conflict Studies program at Colgate
University?
TH: All sorts of things. It was a wonderful program to teach in. It has been there since the 60’s but
changed very much in the early 2000’s. What was exciting about being part of the program was
that I was able to teach in a really inventive, creative structure. Students within peace and conflict
studies chose one of three streams in which to concentrate: collective violence, human security or
social movements.
The students were amazing; they were quite phenomenal. There were students from all over the
world with different perspectives and all had different reasons for being in the program. Lots of
students wanted to do development or humanitarian work. Some students wanted to be
teachers. The occasional student wanted to be an investment banker and saw the importance of
studying the growing climate of conflict in the world.
I found it really inspiring teaching there and it was an intensive experience. You are in a community
of learning. Colgate is in a really small town with 3000 residents and as a result your work and
social community are one and the same and that has its challenges. The pleasure of it is that you
get to watch people change.
I received an email from a past student this morning. I met her when she was a first year student
and she is now in her fourth year and about to graduate. She was born in Bosnia and her family
gained asylum in the US. She now wants to do her Masters in Human Rights. The best part of
teaching is that you meet people who are far more brilliant and amazing than you yourself ever are
or will be. That is the gift; you get to meet people who are undoubtedly going to change the world
profoundly. It is an honour to witness a step of that journey.
Q: How do you encourage students to be more active in promoting their democratic values?
TH: That’s a good question. As a teacher, it is very simple - we teach people how to articulate what
they think, whatever that is. Teaching students to take a stand, whatever that stand is. We are
lucky to live in a place where you can do that without fear of retribution.
Sometimes I think people do not appreciate or understand the significance of this. For example, if
someone lived in Thailand or China now and posted something online under a pseudonym, they
could go to jail, if the content was deemed to be threatening to the status quo. It is important to
promote an appreciation of the freedom we experience.
Q. For someone in the early stages of their career, what advice can you give to our readers who
may be interested in the field of human rights or in conflict resolution?
TH: To get involved, be persistent and learn what is happening in the world. I think it is important to
figure what is going on in the world and where we fit into it. There are so many ways that one can
be active in human rights or in ending conflict and supporting peace. I often say to students to
volunteer because when there is an opportunity for a paid position you are in a good position for
the job. Follow what is going on and think about what it means to be involved in human rights.
Look at your position in the world and think critically about that; I think about my own trajectory and
other peoples’ trajectories. There is the corollary of knowing where you are and what that means.
There is knowing what you can do and also knowing the limitations. There is a great deal one
cannot do. Sometimes stepping back and continuing to learn is really valuable.
I think there are often concrete ways of getting involved. I think of people who have done Asian
Studies at the ANU, who have fabulous language skills because the language requirement is
significant. That is a really useful skill and one can get involved by offering to do free translation for
organisations.
The other thing I think is useful is writing analysis about what is going on. There are so many
places to write and share one’s perspective and insight. There are an endless number of blogs and
news sites that are looking for people to write. So as soon as one starts doing those things, one
starts to then have the space to continue doing more work.
[Haberkorn reaches for a book in her bookcase.]
It is funny where this book comes from. I did a minor in studio art as an undergraduate. One of the
artists we learned about was Felix Gonzalez-Torres who died in the early 90’s of complications
from HIV/AIDS. He did some brilliant, amazing, confronting work about nationalism, disease and
sexuality. He wrote about the art world and it is something I think about a lot.
“I have always said, without any irony, that I love the art world. This is the world that I know; I am
an artist and proud of it. As Che Geuvara said during the 1960s, – whatever you do, that is your
trench. So this is my trench and I trust my agenda. People misunderstand this, thinking that for the
“revolution” to succeed, everyone must literally go into the trenches. But no, we need hairdressers,
bakers, carpenters, pastry chefs, artists -- not just guerrillas. As it is impossible to ever escape
ideology, maybe to only way out is to work with the different levels of contradictions in our culture”
He is not talking about the “revolution” per se, but I think there is something really valuable in that.
There are so many different ways to intervene in injustice and the failures of democracy. And some
are really obvious, like humanitarian aid. But then I think about things that are less apparent and
one can also make a change.
I think of my mother who is 72. She is a math professor. She teaches in a community college in the
US where the vast majority of students have been grossly underserved by the education system
and will likely not go on to a four-year college and maybe won’t even finish their degree. Her
perspective of taking people seriously as thinkers - who haven’t been taken seriously as thinkers
by the society around them – is a democratic act.
So I think there are all sorts of ways that one can act in a part of democracy, that people don’t see
on the list of more obvious things. There are all sorts of ways to foster democracy. I think about it
as a teacher all the time. How I treat students is a part of that process. It is not enough to teach
about democracy and justice and human rights. One has to figure out how to act in that way that is
democratic and just.
The source for the book is: Spector, Nancy. Felix Gonzalez-Torres. New York: Guggenheim
Museum, 1995, page 100.
* Olivia is studying a Bachelor of Asia Pacific Studies at the Australian National University.
Global Snapshot for November 2010
By Sharna Thomason and Marcus Burke
Africa
Elections in Egypt
As Parliamentary elections are approaching in Egypt, the Egyptian government has refused
demands to allow international election observers into the country. President Hosni Mubarak has
been in power since 1981 and is expected to continue to hold office after the Presidential elections
in 2011. Some observers suggest that he is grooming his son, Gamal, to take over the presidency.
Commentators have called on the United States to put more pressure on Egypt to accept election
observers and to uphold democracy in the country.
UNESCO Prize on Hold
The United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organisation (UNESCO) has announced
an indefinite suspension of the ‘UNESCO-Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for
Research in the Life Science’. The prize had sparked controversy, due to the human rights record
of President Obiang’s rule in Equatorial Guinea, as well as allegations of major corruption by the
President and his family. The decision has been welcomed by human rights organisations.
The Americas
Kirchner passes away
Nestor Kirchner, former President of Argentina and husband of the current President has died from
a heart attack. Kirchner was still a prominent and powerful politician in his own right and was
widely expected to run for the Presidency again, possibly alternating with his wife in order to avoid
term limits.
The Kirchners have been criticised for their attacks on the media and his death leaves the result in
next year’s presidential elections more uncertain. Although Kirchner experienced periods of great
popularity in the country, the Presidential couple have also been blamed for populist policies, such
as Argentina’s long economic malaise and continuing high inflation. Following the news, stocks in
Argentina rose in anticipation of more open economic policies.
Canada misses out on Security Council bid
Canada has failed to secure a rotating position on the United Nations Security Council for the first
time since World War II. Canada withdrew the bid after voting indicated that Portugal would win the
seat. Commentators have suggested that less internationalist policies by recent Canadian
governments on peacekeeping, the environment and cuts in the diplomatic corps contributed more
directly to the loss.
In securing a rotating seat in 2012, Canada and Australia are both part of the ‘Western Europe and
Others’ group.
Mid-terms in the United States
November will see mid-term elections taking place in the United States, with Republicans expected
to take control of Congress. The Republican Party has faced its own divide as Tea Party
candidates challenge many party-backed incumbents in primaries across the country. The Tea
Party has managed to defeat several mainstream candidates.
However, it remains to be seen how Tea Party candidates fare in a general election, where their
more conservative views may cause a loss of votes amongst Independents and moderate
Republicans. Many key races will be decided on issues such as health care reform and the
economy.
Asia
G20 Seoul Summit
The Finance Ministers of the nations of the G20 gathered in Seoul to finalise the agenda for the
G20 Seoul Summit, which takes place 11-12th November 2010. After much discussion about
current currency rates, the members agreed that the Summit should "refrain from a competitive
devaluation of currencies" and aim for a "more market-determined exchange rate systems”.
The US struggled to convince other nations to commit to a deal to cut the current account
surpluses
of
emerging
markets.
Furthermore,
the
US
came
under
fire
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE69L27Z20101022 from Germany and China for the weak
stance it has taken on its own monetary policy. Disagreements between Finance Ministers at the
summit have included the decision to implement marginal adjustments on quotas and voting rights
in the IMF. This decision is two-fold; current quotas held by IMF members are set to double, and
quota holding will shift in favour of emerging markets, namely China, Brazil and India.
Burma’s national election result a foregone conclusion
Burmese citizens will cast their vote on November 7, 2010 in the first national election in 20 years.
The last multi-party election in 1990, saw the National League for Democracy (NLD), lead by Aung
San Suu Kyi, win a landslide victory after securing more than 80 percent of the seats. However, the
NLD never took office and Aung San Suu Kyi has spent most of her time under house arrest.
The 2010 election has been carefully planned by the military ruler Senior General Than Shwe. With
25 per cent of the seats reserved for the armed forces, it would seem that the outcome of this
election has already been determined. The Election Commission, which has been appointed by the
government, announced in September that voting will not be held in 3,300 villages in the Shan
state, disenfranchising 1.5 million voters.
Over 2,000 prisoners of conscience continue to be detained in prison or under house arrest and
are thus neither able to vote nor allowed to be members of a party. With the possibility of further
arrests and more than 20 extrajudicial killings, the NLD, who refuse to run without its leader and
fear prosecution by the Election Commission if they do, have decided not to contest the election.
A report to the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, stated that the "election
result is a foregone conclusion" and the international community should begin to focus on Burma
post-election.
Despite only holding one multi-party election in the past 50 years, in his address to the 65th
session of the UN General Assembly, Burma’s Foreign Minister Nyan Win asserted “that the
Burmese government, with its ample experience and lessons learned in holding multiparty general
elections in the past, … is confident in its ability to conduct the elections in an orderly manner.” The
question of how much can be learnt from the one multi-party election held since General Ne Win
seized power in 1962 and in which the winning party never took office, remains.
Europe
Senate passes pension reform in France
With 177 votes in favour and 153 against, the French Senate passed a bill which will raise the
minimum pension age from 60 to 62 years and the full state pension age from 65 to 67.
Due to recent riots, protests and strikes across France, the government was able to speed up the
debate in the upper house by using a special constitutional clause. Opponents claim that this was
simply a way for the government to push through the reform with minimal debate and
amendments.
The opposition spokesman in the senate, Jean-Pierre Bel, asserts that the government has not
listened to the proposals put forth by the public and therefore acting unfairly. Of the 1,237
amendments submitted, only a minimal number were accepted.
The protests and strikes have been spearheaded by the unions, with the most significant impact
being felt by the blockading of all 12 oil refineries in France, some for as long as 10 days. This has
caused more than 2,000 petrol stations to run dry, and caused transport mayhem.
With two weeks of school holiday, and the passing of the bill, it was hoped that the protests will
lose momentum. The unions however continued to take a stand and had scheduled two further
days of protests.
Toxic floods in Hungary
On October 4, Hungary experienced the worst chemical accident on record when the banks of the
Ajkai Timfoldgyar plant dam burst, flooding villages with a 2 metre-high wave of toxic red sludge.
As a result, there have been 8 deaths and 2.5 million acres of farmland contaminated. More
concerning, however, is the danger to thousands of people living along the Danube River who
have been affected by this catastrophe.
Despite communism falling across Eastern Europe in 1989 the effects of the industrial legacy are
still being acutely felt. This legacy has left over 1,000 contaminated sites across Romania perhaps
many more that are unaccounted for.
Recycling methods exist, although for various political and social reasons they are not being
implemented. Secrecy about these issues now compounds the problem. Contaminated sites, such
as the Ajkai plant, remain unknown until they become the cause of widespread damage.
Moscow’s new Mayor
After the controversial ousting of the former Mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, Sergei Sobyanin has
been announced as the new Mayor. Prior to the announcement, President Medvedev reportedly
offered the position to Arnold Schwarzenegger as well asseveral rock musicians.
The appointment of Sobyanin, has fuelled speculation that Prime Minister Putin will run in the 2012
presidential election.Sobyanin is a former Chief of Staff in Putin’s office and has stated that
although “no longer a member of the Cabinet, he will remain a member of Putin’s team”. If Putin
does run in 2012, the votes of Moscow’s 10 million strong population are crucial to his potential
campaign. The Prime Minister has reserved comment so far.
Middle East
Dead Sea Scrolls Online
The Israel Antiquities Authority has entered into partnership with Google to document the entire
collection of the Dead Sea Scrolls online. Manuscripts of the scrolls will be digitised using the most
advanced and innovative technologies available. As well as giving the world access to the
manuscripts - up until 20 years ago only a tight circle of scholars had viewed the scrolls - the use of
infra-red light will create new research opportunities by rediscovering text which has faded over the
2,000 years.
The scrolls were discovered near Israel’s Dead Sea between 1947 and 1956 and contain the
earliest known versions of every book of the Hebrew Bible, except for the Book of Esther.
The controversial scrolls date from the third century B.C. to the first century A.D. and continue to
be at the centre of heated debate because their contents shed light on the history of Judaism and
early Christianity. The Dead Sea Scrolls will be available online in six months.
West Bank settlement freeze comes to an end
Jewish settlers in the West Bank are rushing to construct 600 homes in the West Bank settlements
before the building freeze is renewed. A 10-month moratorium, which was imposed to halt all
construction in the area, came to end on September 26, 2010. This has caused the surge in
construction as settlers fear Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will buckle under pressure from
the US.
Hagit Ofran, from Peace Now has stated that the increase in construction was anticipated as
settlers “have an estimated 13,000 old permits that were issued before the freeze." There has also
been a recent increase in damage and vandalism of Palestinian property and crops, with schools,
mosques and olive plantations all being targeted.
Largest US arms deal in history
The United States announced an estimated $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. One of the
largest arms deals in US history, it is not only aimed at dealing with Iran’s increasing military
arsenal but also enhances the support of an armed and US backed Saudi Arabia in the volatile
region.
Israel, who is traditionally wary of arms deals with Arab states, stated that they were not
pleased with the deal, but did not attempt to stop it. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat
Centre for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University says “Israel is moving toward a policy of ‘pick
your fights."
Iraq War leaked documents
The leaking of a further 40,000 classified documents by Wikileaks has drawn criticism from those
nations who have troops fighting in Iraq, astonishment from citizens fearing the safety of troops
and military strategy, and relief from Iraqis that “the truth they long suspected was finally made
public”.
The Pentagon and the UK government has condemned the publication of the documents by
Wikileaks, stating that the lives of the troops in Iraq have been put in danger and has made the
operations in Iraq even more difficult. The citizens of Iraq, who have witnessed abuse and death at
the hands of coalition forces, are relieved that the truth has finally come to light. It was the citizens
of the Western nations involved in the Iraqi war who seem to be the most shocked.
Following the leak, the UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has called for an inquiry into the
allegations in the documents. Clegg’s Liberal Democrats opposed the invasion of Iraq and called
the war “illegal”. The inquiry into the Iraq war continues in Britain with a report due later this year.
International
World Food Crisis
The threat of insecure food supplies continues for poor nations as the cost of food increases. Food
prices have risen significantly in the past five years, due to a combination of high oil prices,
increased demand in Asia, changing diets in India and China and the diversion of productive land
for growing bio-fuels.
According to a new report by the World Food Program, twenty-two countries are at risk of “long
lasting hunger crises” triggered by violence, drought and natural disasters.
Corruption Rankings
Transparency International has released its Corruption Perceptions Index for 2010, based on
surveys of business people. Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore ranked equal first as the least
corrupt countries, whilst Afghanistan, Myanmar and Somalia ranked as the most corrupt. Countries
that have improved their rankings since last year include Chile, Ecuador, Kuwait and Qatar,
whilst a number of countries hit by the global financial crisis, including Greece and the United
States have seen their rankings fall.
* Sharna graduated with a Master of Diplomacy and Trade from Monash University, Melbourne.
She is a passionate human rights advocate and is currently working for the Victorian State
Government.
* Marcus is currently completing a Masters in Diplomacy and International Trade at Monash
University. He also has a combined Law/Science degree from the University of Melbourne, and
has most recently been working in the IT industry.
Issue 11
Message from the editor
By Olivia Cable
The October edition of Monthly Access focuses on the rise of China, an issue that has
gained renewed attention after Hugh White's controversial Quarterly Essay, ‘Power Shift:
Australia’s Future between Washington and Beijing’.
In Q&A, Hugh White tells us why he wrote his Quarterly Essay and his thoughts on the strong
negative reaction to his essay.
In Your Feedback we revisit the 'burqa debate' and China's economic power.
In Career Spotlight, we interview Anthony Milner about his career in Track II diplomacy, his
dealings with China, and the Asialink Leadership Program.
Julia Rabar examines in depth the disputes surrounding Hugh White's Quarterly Essay, the South
China Sea conflict plus more in Contemporary Debate.
Our News Hit guest column this month collaborates with the Access Press Room to report on the
recent Access presentation by Jason Thomas, an international development worker returning from
eight months in Afghanistan.
In Global Snapshot, Sharna Thomason and Marcus Burke have produced a detailed report on
September’s world news: from Sudan to Russia, Belgium to North Korea.
Finally, our events section keeps you up to date with events at the AIIA Victoria and Canberra,
along with the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the ANU.
I'd like to welcome Marcus Burke and Rachel Hankey to our editorial team. Rachel has completed
a degree in Ancient History at the University of Durham and shall return next year to the UK to
begin a Masters in International Relations at Kings College. Marcus is currently completing a
Masters in Diplomacy and International Trade at Monash University. We are fortunate to have
them both on board.
As always, many thanks to Ishita Acharyya and Andrew Zammit for their continuing support.
Your Feedback
On great power rivalry and revisiting the burqa debate.
On crossing the river by feeling the stones
By Andrew Forrest
In his response to my article, ‘Crossing the River by Feeling the Stones: Beijing’s Balancing Act’,
Shekhar John (Your Feedback - August 2010 MA) rightly points out that China’s growing economic
power, relative to that of the United States and Japan, leaves it well placed to play an increasingly
prominent role in the region.
I reject his assumption, however, that this necessarily enhances China’s regional bargaining
strength when it comes to issues of strategic importance to China and the United States. Many
governments are deeply concerned about what an economically dominant China means for the
long-term stability of the region. If China’s economy keeps growing, its strategic weight will grow
too.
My point is that China’s strategists would be aware of this conundrum. It is fertile ground for those
seeking to make the argument that strengthening US-Japan security arrangements are a
necessary counterweight to a China that wants to exercise more power in Asia – whether China
wants to do so or not.
* Andrew is a Lowy Institute Intern and recently completed his PhD at the School of International
and Political Studies at Deakin University
A Veil of Hypocrisy
By Leigh Howard
In response to Antonio Cruz, (Banning the burqa - June 2010 MA). In 1993, a female solicitor
walked into a Victorian court sporting polka-dot stockings, an above-the-knee skirt and a bright red
ponytail. The judge, so dismayed by her appearance, threatened to stop the court proceedings and
leave the court unless she returned home and changed into appropriate business attire. The
judge's reaction led to widespread condemnation and spawned an Australian Law Reform
Commission inquiry into gender and the legal profession.
In 2010, the way a female chooses to dress in court has again grabbed the attention of the public.
This time however it is a little different. A witness who is to give evidence later this year in Perth
was intending to do so wearing a niqab headscarf, the Muslim headdress that covers everything
but the eyes. Late last month Judge Shauna Deane ordered that the witness was not entitled to
wear it, attributing her decision to the need of the jury to view her facial expressions when giving
evidence.
What these two women have in common is that they were merely trying to express themselves
through their dress. What these two women do not have in common is how the public has reacted
to their respective controversies. Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that the niqab ought to be
removed because the public interest compels it. Opposition leader Tony Abbot stated that the
niqab is "confronting" and declared his wish that fewer Australian women wear it. This reaction and
the subsequent decision of Her Honour is so out rightly hypocritical and intolerant that it beggars
belief.
Australian courts should be first in line to protect religious rights and freedoms; they rely on them
everyday. Every time a witness enters the witness box in an Australian court they are asked to give
evidence on oath. They are handed the Holy Bible and asked to Swear By Almighty God that their
evidence will be true. The court relies on the full thrust of God's power to deliver the truth to the
courtroom.
Australian Courts now carry a Koran for the benefit of Muslim witnesses. Moreover they are
prepared to go to great lengths in order obtain an oath under the Koran - there are stories of
female court staff having to locate male staff to administer an oath under the Koran after objections
to a woman touching the Koran. This is partly why some courts cover their Korans in cloth.
Yet, when a woman who wants to wear the niqab in the witness box it is a different story. Her
religion is no longer relevant. The court will use her religion in order to obtain the truth, but will not
let her express it freely. This is because, as Her Honour found, the jury should be able to see her
facial expressions to determine the credibility of her evidence. Few would argue that nonverbal
communication does not play a role in ordinary conversation. However, did the Judge consider
how her facial expressions would be affected by an order stripping her of the religious clothing she
has worn for nearly 20 years? Obviously not. It could only exacerbate the jury’s task of deciphering
her demeanor.
Psychologists have consistently pointed out (as have judges of other jurisdictions around the world
in regards to this issue) that the ordinary persons perception of what is a dishonest facial
expression is inaccurate at best.
However, these were not considerations of Her Honour. Instead she ordered that the niqab should
be removed. In doing so, Her Honour has made a mockery of the reliance placed upon religion by
our justice system, not to mention a mockery of the freedom that all Australian women ought to
have when deciding on what to wear to court.
Unfortunately for the woman concerned, there will be no widespread condemnation like her polka
dotted counterpart enjoyed in 1993. This clearly demonstrates why this country has a long way to
go when it comes to religious and ethnic equality.
* Leigh Howard is currently completing a double undergraduate degree in International Relations
and Law at LaTrobe University with Honours. His honours thesis is focusing on emissions trading
and international trade law.
Q&A with Professor Hugh White
With Olivia Cable
As China aspires for regional leadership, how will the future play out in Asia? China’s desire to lead
Asia depends upon the United States conceding to it. If the US sticks around, it will be very hard
for China to establish dominance in the region. In his recent Quarterly Essay ‘Power Shift:
Australia’s Future between Washington and Beijing’, Professor Hugh White, head of the Strategic
and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University, discusses why a ‘concert of
powers’ system (a shared leadership) is Australia’s best outcome for the future order in Asia.
Professor White is an expert in policy making – he was the principle author of the 2000
Defence White Paper, deputy secretary of the Defence Department and a senior advisor on the
staffs of Defence Minister Kim Beazley and Prime Minister Bob Hawke. He believes this is an
important debate Australian policy makers need to have, and that the potential for a negative
outcome will have consequences in every aspect of our national life.
What has prompted you to write your essay at this point in time?
HW: It seemed to me that the time was right for a big national debate on the way we respond to the
questions for Australian foreign policy that are raised by the rise of China. We must also consider
the way America responds to that rise, and the way in which Asia as whole is shaped as a
result. The issue has obviously been around for a long time but it seemed to me that over the last
year or so the urgency has become a lot more apparent and that this would not be a bad time to try
and get those issues on the table and encourage people to start discussing them.
What do you make of the strong negative reaction to your essay?
misinterpreted your argument?
Have other people
HW: The Quarterly Essay raises some very important and sensitive issues. I deliberately raise
them in stark terms because I do think they require urgent attention. I thought it was easy for
people to pay attention to them and debate them seriously if they were stated as plainly as
possible. So to that extent, I’m not at all surprised that there has been some strong and negative
reaction. I think I expected the kind of reaction that has arisen in some circles, both in its tone and
in its specific arguments.
I do think that many of the negative comments that have been made are addressed in the text of
the essay. It never makes sense to complain that your material has been misinterpreted. I think
what happens in the heated debate is that people simplify your position or tend to overlook the
parts of your argument that respond to their argument. I don’t mind.
One should never be surprised that one gets a bit emotional over these things. Defence, security
and foreign policy are inherently emotional things, they go very deep to our sense of ourselves as
a country, and people take them very seriously. So do I. That is why I work in this field. So I’m
not surprised or offended that people take them that way.
In particular, I have very deliberately and very starkly set out to oppose what I think are genuinely
very difficult choices for Australia and when people are faced with difficult choices they do tend to
respond very emotionally.
Power can be defined as the ability to influence others. Internationally, where is China influencing
others?
HW: Let me answer that in two parts. The first is what kind of power does China exercise at the
moment and the second is what power might China seek to exercise in the future. I think at the
moment one of the most significant things about the rise in that last three decades, and certainly in
the last 15 years, has been how modest China has been in seeking to exercise power.
For example, China has for a long time been such an important economic player for so many
countries in Asia that it had the potential to use that power to shape its Asian neighbours policies
on strategic and defence issues, although up until now it has chosen not to. When countries like
Australia say “we don’t have to chose between our alliance with the United States and our
economic relationship with China”, that is partly because China has not required us to choose.
If China said to us “we’d rather you didn’t support the US on an issue, and if you do, it would affect
your economic prospects” then Australia would have been under real pressure to accommodate
China, at least to a certain degree. Now, I’m not saying we would have submitted to that pressure
and I’m not saying that would have been cost-free for China. It would have been an unwise thing
for China to do and it would have cost them a great deal. For example, China would have to buy
its iron ore from somewhere else and possibly at higher prices. Having power does not necessarily
mean you have the capacity to exercise it without cost. There is always a cost to be paid for every
step, but I think China has the potential power to shape our conduct in numerous ways, although it
has chosen not to.
But now China is exercising it: you can see the way in which Alexander Downer regarded Taiwan
falling under the ANZUS treaty in 2004. You can see it in the way China has started to develop
political and military relations with our immediate neighbours, you can see it in China’s more
assertive approach in the South China Sea. These are exercises of power. We are already seeing
China exercise power; the key question is how will that evolve in the future. I think that the answer
remains very unclear.
We hope that China will exercise its power in ways that are consistent with the international system
- a set of expectations, norms - which look like the ones we are familiar with. One might say our
aim is to make sure the regional order evolves in which China uses its power in those terms. We
cannot take that for granted. That is what makes the present moment so challenging.
How has the US developed a national security policy to handle the shift in power towards China?
HW: I think core to that answer is that it [hasn’t] quite. I think one of the most distinctive features of
the last decade has been how strongly the United States has focused on terrorism and the
associated problems. The commitments the United States has undertaken as a result of terrorism
has been to the detriment of its capacity to face the challenges in Asia posed by China.
We have therefore seen a long decade of American administrations that have defined America’s
principal strategic challenges as those that flow from terrorism in the Middle East. I think that has
been wrong the whole time. That is not to say that what happens in the Middle East is not
important, nor that terrorism is not important. Nonetheless, China has always posed a much more
substantial long-term challenge for America’s position in the world than terrorism. The result –
history might judge – is that the most significant long-term impact of 9/11 is that it distracted
America from the threat posed by China. This occurred in the critical decade in which America
could have taken action.
So I think we now have a United States that is battered and bruised in the post-9/11 decade,
politically, economically and to some extent strategically. [America] is only now, this year, really
starting to understand the true extent of the long-term challenge posed by China. And [the US] has
hardly begun to work out how to respond. I think the risk is if the US does not think deeply about
how to respond, it will react without proper consideration. If it responds without through
consideration, it will respond by competing.
China’s military power is a big factor in this picture, and the increase in China’s military capability,
in particular its capacity to deny Western naval forces access to areas in the Western Pacific, is a
significant strategic shift. In a sense, that is only a symptom of a deeper shift towards a more
competitive relationship. So what really matters is not so much what armed forces are being built
or deployed where, but rather what expectations each has of the others policies and what
approach they take in order to respond to the other’s power.
My simple analysis is that America faces a choice between withdrawal in the western Pacific in the
face of China’s challenge, sharing power with China, or contesting their superiority with the
growing Asian power. China faces a parallel set of challenges. It can withdraw from the
competition and leave the field to the United States, it can agree to share power with the United
States, or it can compete with the United States. The decision each of them makes will depend a
lot on the decision the other one makes; they are in this together. My reluctant expectation is that
they are most likely to end up competing. It is that competition which will drive, for example, the
development of military capabilities on each side, rather than a military strike competition.
China’s defence force has no aircraft carriers whilst the United States has twelve. Can you
elaborate on their asymmetries?
HW: There is a lot of asymmetry in their position, capabilities and power. In addition, there is
asymmetry in their aspirations. The United States aspires to be – and is – a global
power. Therefore, when comparing the US to China, you’re comparing a regional power against a
global power. I don’t think China has any serious global aspirations; it has individual interests in
other parts of the world. I don’t think it intends to function as a great power beyond Asia, whereas
America does aim to function as a global power. So I think the strategic competition between
China and the US, is inherently unequal in that China is only playing on one board and America is
playing on five or six; this is a big advantage to China.
The second point is that China is the local power. America is the power that has to project force
into the Western Pacific. The US has to achieve sea control and project power around Asia. Its
strategic position in the Western Pacific depends upon its capacity to sustain military aspects of
sea control. China does not have to sustain sea control. China can neutralise the American power
in the Western Pacific by achieving sea denial, which is much easier than establishing sea control
in its own right.
So, why does China have no aircraft carriers? It doesn’t need one. Its not trying to project power
the way the United States is. That’s the essence of the asymmetry. China is not trying to do what
the United States is trying to do, so it doesn’t need the same type of force or the same amount of
money. The odds are stacked China’s way in this competition.
China’s hopes in leading [the region] depend on the US leaving. The US is too powerful for China
to dominate. If the US remains in the region they will both frustrate one another.
You close your essay by referring to Australia’s defence force, proposing that Australia has “not
taken defence seriously because any threat has seemed so unlikely and American support has
been so certain. The result is a defence organisation – military and civilian – which can scarcely
maintain and deliver many of the capabilities we have now…”. What must the government do
between now and 2020, in order to prepare for a potential switch in defence reliance from the US
to China?
HW: I’m not arguing we would switch our reliance from the United States to China. It is one
possibility, but the least likely. We need to be more careful to develop the capabilities we most
need, which will allow us to achieve our primary strategic objectives. We need to be much more
rigorous in how we think about the kinds of armed forces we need and the way we deliver
them. We need to define much more precisely the risks we think we’re worried about, what our
interests are, what features of the international system shape those risks, what our objectives are,
and what our operational priorities should be to achieve our objectives to protect our interests.
We then need to work out how to deliver those capabilities as cost effectively as possible.
* Hugh White is Professor of Strategic Studies and head of the Strategic and Defence Studies
Centre at the Australian National University. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute for
International Policy.
Career Spotlight with Anthony Milner
With Olivia Cable
Anthony Milner is a Basham Professor of Asian History at the Australian National University
(ANU). Prior to this position, he was Dean of Asian Studies at the ANU. Active in Track II
diplomacy with ASEAN-Australian relations, Anthony is genuinely passionate about Australia-Asia
engagement.
Anthony has been deeply involved at the AIIA, from research chair to President of the Canberra
branch. He was on the national executive of the institute for some years and is currently on the
editorial committee of the Australian Journal of International Affairs. He is also a life member of the
AIIA. Anthony was taught by John Legge at university.
How is studying in Asia today different from when you were studying in the 1960’s?
AM: I think in the 1960’s I was more concerned with disciplines than I am today, or more so than
people are today, and I still am. I think I regarded myself as an historian who was learning about
political science or anthropology. I think it was more a discipline-based understanding of the Asian
region. It’s about how knowledge is organised within disciplines and then the way in which one
gained from another. I still think that’s an advantage and maybe we neglect that at the moment.
I was a student at Monash, which was a really good centre for Southeast Asian studies. I’m now
here at the ANU, also a great centre for Asian studies. So I started my career and more or less
ended it at centres that are major area-study centres. But I suspected that at Monash the
discipline was more important and I think when I went on to be a student at Cornell University,
which I did for 4 or 5 years, again I was in a strong area-studies program – Southeast Asian
studies. What I remember most about it was the movement between disciplines; the probing of
anthropology and literary criticisms, and to some extent art history and relating them to history. We
studied Southeast Asia, but we had theoretical concerns all the time. I guess they’re there now, I
get the sense a number of students are more area oriented. At least here at the ANU.
You have obviously travelled to the Asian region many times. What changes have you seen
among Chinese communities?
AM: I focus very much on Southeast Asia. Of course they were there in the earlier decades of the
building of nations states, so perhaps it was inevitable it to see change. There was a time when
you had a strong communist China identifying and pushing revolutionary movements around the
region. Now I think there is much more of a sense of those Chinese communities being
comfortable with their ‘Chinese-ness’, identifying as being Chinese more explicitly.
With the rise of China and the reduction of the sense of a revolutionary state, that softening makes
it easier to be Chinese in Southeast Asia. Having said that, presumably there are new issues now
emerging. This increases the sharpening of Chinese identity in Southeast Asia. And one has to
ask what sort of problems that might lead to in the next few years, and I’m not sure. But clearly it’s
a change and an interesting change.
A second element to this is how do the Southeast Asians themselves rather than Chinese
Southeast Asians feel about the rise of China? There is some debate to the extent to which China
may become the paramount power in the region. How accepting are they of that? Some of my
colleagues have suggested they are very accepting of that, others suggest that there is some
anxiety about it. I think that there is some anxiety around. That’s one of the reasons why
Southeast Asian’s are rather interested in the United States relations and to some extent
Australian relations too at the moment. I don’t think this is a question of containing China, but
there is some sort of balancing going on and that is interesting.
Exactly what form of structure this region is going to take in the next few decades, I think this is as
yet unclear, and it is a really interesting question that we need to be thinking hard about, and it
must not take for granted.
You are a specialist in Track II diplomacy. Why are they important and in what capacity are you
working with the Chinese?
AM: The Track II diplomacy that I’m involved in is the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia
Pacific. Des Ball and I are co-chairs and have been for some years, and I have learnt a lot from
him. It is a security organisation that is Track II. It works primarily with the ASEAN Regional
Forum, which is a Track I organisation. The other thing I have been very much involved in is
Asialink. I cooperated with them when I was Dean at the ANU and continue to work with
them. Asialink has the ‘Asialink Conversations’. They have been held in Malaysia, Vietnam,
Cambodia and India and they are a lively Track II operation. I’m one of the organisers and
founders of that, and they involve some quite influential people who I think are really are
productive.
I have also been involved with the St. James Ethics Centre’s regional meetings, led by Simon
Longstaff; I think they are excellent. I am also involved with the AIIA, the Australia-Singapore
Dialogue, which I think was very worthwhile.
The big thing in the last three years was the development of the Australia-New Zealand-ASEAN
Dialogue. The third of these is coming up in late November this year. I think this is a very positive
thing and our government is being very supportive of it.
Now, why is this important? Because in this region, this is the way they do things. Track II
matters. It’s more informal. It’s a place where people throw around ideas, experiment with new
plans, exchange views about anxieties about one another’s behaviour. They just talk more freely
and yet Track II, unlike purely academic meetings, is in touch with government. The result is that
when an idea is thrown around, or the possibility for a new collaboration or cooperation is in the air,
this can be communicated rapidly to the governments concerned. So at times, Track II can be
quite useful to government.
It is also useful with regards to fully utilise existing interactions and communications. There may
be things going on in academia, medicine, or relating to disaster relief. These can be brought into
Track II and thus to the attention to governments; this can sometimes lead to governments making
good use of them or giving them practical assistance. So Track II is a useful process, which
bridges the gap between the broad community and the government. And of course Track II
involves the government in their private capacity. It’s a way of relating to government and relating
to the broader community. It goes in both ways. But most of all they do it in the ASEAN region so
it is part of the ASEAN way.
You have had a lot of experience working with Australia-ASEAN engagement. In your opinion,
how suitable is ASEAN as a regional architecture to accommodate a rising China?
AM: ASEAN gets a huge amount of criticism that it’s not institutionalised enough, that it does not
impinge enough, that it transcends the national sovereignty of the different constituent states in the
ASEAN region. People say that it doesn’t solve enough practical problems. I think there is truth in
that, but what we must take account of is that ASEAN really is a long-standing organisation. There
is a sense of an ASEAN community – admittedly this is all very preliminary, but some progress has
been made.
There is some spread of norms of behaviour and of cooperation. I think the region could be much
less peaceful that what it is today. It’s very hard to say how far ASEAN helps to soften the
tensions in the region. But when you look at the relations between Southeast Asian states, it is
clear that they are very artificial. They’re very much a product of the colonial period. So there is
potential for tension, for example, between Malaysia and Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia,
Malaysia and Singapore, Thailand and Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand, Vietnam and Thailand.
The potential for tension is enormous, and I think ASEAN and the ASEAN style of interaction has
helped to soften and reduce tension. I accept that is a hard thing to prove.
Secondly, it seems that the skills that ASEAN uses as an organisation to reduce the tension are
really valuable skills that I see them attempting to use when dealing with China. This makes good
sense to me. Again you can say, “what if China demands to get its way; it may just bash through
all of these ASEAN norms and the ASEAN way and demand obedience?” It is possible but having
said that, I can’t think of a better thing we can do through ASEAN to bring China more and more
into a regional society. One which is more or less multilateral in its dynamics. So I have hope for
ASEAN and am more positive about ASEAN than many of my colleagues are.
As the convenor of the Asialink Leadership program, can you explain the aims of the program and
who should apply?
AM: My perspective on it may not be the institutional perspective, but this program has brought
young Australians together. They may be corporate lawyers, rising accountants, gallery directors,
someone in the military, or young politicians. These are generally people who have not learnt a
great deal about Asian; people who have not done an Asian Studies degree. I think it means that
you get some really bright people going somewhere in their own particular fields, but who are then
brought together to think about Australia in its regional context.
For quite a few years now, I’ve run the Canberra Retreat. The young professionals come to
Canberra and they meet the diplomats. They meet people from the foreign affairs department, the
foreign minister and the shadow foreign minister and other minsters. Also, they have the
opportunity to meet Michelle Grattan and other people from the media. They meet key academics
with knowledge of Asian countries, security issues and economic issues.
The result is that they get a sense of the policy community in Canberra and how policy is
developed. Bill Farmer, who had just returned from his period as Australian Ambassador to
Indonesia came in to talk about what the job of an Ambassador entails. So there is a range of
people they get to meet and they think in real detail about Australia in its regional context. This
year there was a great deal of discussion about Hugh White’s Quarterly Essay on China-America
relations, and they listened to people respond to Hugh White’s essay, which had only recently
come out. So we try and link it to what is in the air at the moment in Canberra.
The young people do other things in Sydney and Melbourne and they meet other Asian specialists,
and diplomats throughout the year. But the retreat period in Canberra is particularly intense.
Who is it for? People who are moving somewhere in their career, who feel they will benefit from
the focus on Australia in its wider Asia context. Many people in Australia don’t. They think about
Australia in terms of its economic welfare, in terms of Australia in terms of the environment, or
Australia in terms of problems with indigenous Australia. But they don’t stand back to think of
Australia in terms of the big issue of how Australia operates in a big Asia environment and what it
means to be in this part of the world. That’s what we focus on.
Postscript:
AM: The Australian Institute of International Affairs was a founding organisation in Australia and
continues to be highly relevant. John Legge’s history of the institute is really important if anyone
wants to think about Australia’s developing role in the Asian regions. It is a very important history,
well worth study as the Institute has continued to play an important role as a major forum.
* For further details on the Asialink Leadership Program,
at Asialink. Applications for the 2011 program close on 18 October 2010.
contact
Julia
Fraser
* Olivia is studying Asia Pacific Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra
Contemporary Debate: Australia and China - the decision making process
By Julia Rabar
Since the culmination of the curious 2010 Australian federal election, foreign affairs have steadily
clawed their way back into focus. The future trajectory of Australia’s relationship with China has
emerged as a point of contention, sparking heated debates.
The trigger was an article in this month’s Quarterly Essay: ‘Power Shift: Australia’s Future between
Washington and Beijing’. Hugh White, author of the highly contentious article, is a professor and
head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University. He is a
visiting fellow at the Lowy Institute.
In recent years, Australia has sought to better understand the implications of Beijing’s rising power
in our wider region. The election of a fluent Mandarin speaker to the post of Prime Minister in 2007
suggested, for some, a rejuvenation of the Australia-China relationship. To the contrary, China
expert John Lee from the Centre for Independent Studies contends that former Prime Minister
Kevin Rudd left many Australia-Asia relationships in disarray.
As Foreign Minister in the new government, Rudd is yet to reveal whether or not he will reassess
his “too harsh” policy style towards the Asian giant.
Rudd may not be the only one reconsidering his approach towards China. A recent publication
by Andrew Shearer at the Lowy Institute suggested that China’s opacity regarding its strategic
decision-making, and expansion of its military power, are cited as major concerns for many
Australians. These concerns were reflected in the 2009 Defence White Paper that identified China
as a potential threat. Tension increased when China jailed Australian Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu
on charges of industrial espionage. In a broader regional context, China has been increasingly
bellicose on matters of regional, even global, concern. One principal flashpoint is the issue
of security and territorial boundaries in the South China Sea, in which China has been accused of
bullying tactics.
In these circumstances, Professor White has asserted that Australia must reassess its strategic
relationships, straddled as we are between our increasingly close economic relationship with China
and our traditional security partnership with the United States. In his Quarterly Essay, White argues
that Australia is emerging from a ‘decade of denial’ regarding China’s rise. He says we are coming
to realise that the era of uncontested US primacy in the Asian region is ending, and even if the
chance of confrontation between the two great powers is slim, it must be considered in our future
strategic planning. White concludes, in short, that Australia must tell the US to rescind its role as
uncontested leader and allow for “collective leadership” with China.
In a typically feisty response, Greg Sheridan at The Australian immediately condemned White’s
paper as “the single stupidest strategic document ever prepared in Australian history by someone
who once held a position of some responsibility in our system”. His criticism is based on what he
regards as White’s “startling lack of data or analysis” which has resulted in White’s mistaken belief
that in the event of the US rescinding primacy, China will amicably share its power. He bemoans
the whittling down of “the emerging geo-politics of Asia, so full of greys and nuances… to insane
binary choices” for Australia.
Bill Hayden, former Governor-General and formerly leader of the Labor Party in opposition,
retaliated against Sheridan’s “single dimensional view of foreign policy for Australia… [which is]
quaint but dated”. He lambasts Sheridan for being consistently uncritically deferential toward the
United States. Hayden maintains that he does not share White’s views, but acknowledges that
Australia will face a challenge negotiating between the US and an increasingly influential China,
and will furthermore have to address consequences of the rise of India.
Geoffrey Garrett, chief executive of the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney contends
that in this particular debate, only one underlying assumption has emerged; that balancing
Australian allegiance between the US and China is “no longer possible”. Nonetheless, Garrett
maintains that signs of US demise are overstated and that Australia should try to avoid having to
choose one way or the other. He encourages Australia to regard upsets between the US and
China “as useful pressure-release valves [rather] than as brushfires that threaten to burn out of
control”.
At the core of this impassioned debate are real events and potential risks worthy of consideration.
Take for instance, the issue of maritime security and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
Rory Medcalf of the Lowy Institute co-authored a paper on security challenges in the Asia region
published earlier this month, alluding to a ‘security dilemma’ emerging between China’s rising
power and US military dominance. Medcalf advocates the use of regional forums to reduce tension
by diplomatic means.
Tensions mounted earlier this year when China and the US declared the South China Sea a ‘core’
and ‘national’ interest, respectively. Inevitably, China retaliated, claiming that the US is interfering
in a regional matter. China claims ownership of the entire South China Sea, whilst five other
regional countries have also laid territorial claims to the fishing and energy resource rich area.
US interest is mainly focussed on keeping open the sea-lanes which are critical to global energy
transportation. According to a former US representative to the United Nations, Robert C. O’Brien,
in “attempting to do more with less around the world” the Obama Administration will require our
support in precisely issues such as keeping sea lanes open for the benefit of Western economies.
Expressing displeasure at US-Japan naval exercises undertaken in the East China Sea earlier this
year, as well as US arms sales to Taiwan, China suspended military dialogue with America. One
analyst compared the action to a childish fit of pique rather than a serious policy move.
Nevertheless, the lack of communication and potential for serious ramifications demonstrate
precisely the concerns expressed in the broader Power Shift debate.
Australia is likely to face critical diplomatic choices in the near future. The China Daily apparently
signalled its approval for the Gillard government’s stance on the South China Sea issue. The
approval followed a declaration by Australian Minister Stephen Smith that the conflict ought to be
handled bilaterally in contrast to US attempts to “internationalise” the issue.
ASEAN defence ministers and their dialogue counterparts are scheduled to meet for the first time
in Hanoi on October 12th. The approach the Gillard government is likely to adopt in order to
navigate between China, the US and maintaining peace in our wider region is yet to be
determined.
Also read:
National maritime interests in the South Asia Sea will need to be settled by addressing the context
of the issue, including the fact that territorial claims have often overlapped and China raised a
claim over the South China Sea as far back as 1947. China is also justified in its concern over
military activities in the Yellow Sea, even if they are intended as warnings directed to Pyongyang
rather than Beijing. ‘Solving South China Sea Spat’, by Shen Dingli, Executive vice-dean of
Shanghai’s Institute of International Affairs at Fudan University.
An overview of tensions in Sino-US relations from the 2010 Shangri-La Dialogue.
* Julia is an Australian-based editorial assistant with The Diplomat. She graduated last year from
RMIT University in Melbourne with an Honours with Distinction in Arts (International Studies) and is
a member of the editorial team of Quarterly Access.
Access Press Room with News Hit, “A scalpel rather than a sledgehammer”
By Gary Paul and Rachel Hankey
Jason Thomas, international development specialist, gave an insightful account of the current
situation in Afghanistan for the AIIA Victoria and ACCESS. Mr. Thomas said that our aim in
Afghanistan should be “succeeding, not winning”.
In order to achieve this, Coalition Forces must strive for “structure, safety, significance and
security” in the region.
With the war entering its ninth year, many Australians are questioning why this conflict has been
going for so long, and how long it will continue. Mr. Thomas suggested that the conflict in
Afghanistan is unlike any seen before.
He emphasised that the political discussion needed to go beyond military engagement and include
diplomatic
engagement.
“We cannot kill our way to victory.” Drawing on his experiences working with Afghan leaders, Mr.
Thomas asserted that in order to succeed in Afghanistan, a secure framework must be provided for
Afghans to create their own system of government. However, this task is complicated by both the
geographical,
cultural
and
psychological
landscape
of
the
country.
For success, Mr. Thomas stressed the importance of understanding that the Taliban are not are a
united group, and the ideals which it seeks to uphold are deeply ingrained in the tribal society of
Afghanistan.
“The
Taliban
are
a
state
of
mind.”
Mr. Thomas included several anecdotes of his time spent with the people of Afghanistan. He
described how little interaction there is between troops and locals, and how media reports of
military engagements often fail to reflect the real situation on the ground; he claimed that these
factors and others are hindering the Coalition campaign. He also highlighted that a resolution of the
situation would require engagement with Pakistan, a discussion largely unexplored in Australia.
* Gary is a journalism student at Monash University and former editor of News Hit, an online
student publication
* Rachel has completed a degree in Ancient History at the University of Durham and shall return
next year to the UK to begin a masters in international relations at Kings College
Launched in September 2010, the Access Press Room is an internship program with the AIIA
Victoria. Through the program, media officers report on events and current affairs exclusively for
the AIIA Victoria.
For more information about Access internships, positions and management opportunities, contact
the chair [email protected] , and regularly check our website for updates.
Global Snapshot of October 2010
Compiled by Sharna Thomason and Marcus Burke
Africa
South Africa: strike over… for now
In South Africa, a strike by the main public sector unions over pay rises threatened significant
damage to the economy and to the standing of the government. The strike lasted three weeks and
has called into question whether the African National Congress government will continue to enjoy
the large majorities it has won in national elections since the end of apartheid. Whilst a halt was
eventually called on the strike, negotiations are still underway and if the unions are successful in
their claim it may result in higher taxes or higher inflation. However, US retail giant Wal-mart has
expressed its confidence in the future of the economy with its attempted take over of South African
retailed Massmart.
Sudan: fears in the lead up to independence referendum
Concerns are mounting over violence and instability in Sudan in the lead up to the independence
vote for the South. After the long running civil war between the mainly Arab north and the
predominantly Christian and animist south, a ceasefire in 2005 set a January 2010 timeline for a
referendum on independence. The International Crisis Group has warned of the impacts of
potentially the world’s newest border running across the country. Depending on where the final
border is set, the new country in the South may take as much as 80% of Sudan’s oil reserves, but
would face massive challenges due to poverty, violence and an almost complete lack of
infrastructure.
Americas
Mexico: 200th anniversary a mixed celebration
September saw the 200th anniversary of the beginning of Mexico’s war of independence from
Spain. Amidst the celebrations, Mexico continued to be troubled by drug related violence, with
some estimates putting the number killed since a government crackdown on drug gangs began in
2006 at as many as 29,000. Recently, town mayors have alsobecome targets of attack and the
violence has continued despite the capture of several high profile drug lords. In commemoration of
the anniversary, the Economist this month featured a survey of Latin America, which was generally
optimistic of the economic and political future for the region, whilst acknowledging major
challenges around poverty and crime, highlighted by new reports of the killing of migrants in the
region.
Brazil: first female President?
Election campaigning continued in Brazil to find the successor for the extremely popular (but term
limited) PresidentLuiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva. His appointed candidate Dilma Rousseff is favoured
to win and become the first female President of Brazil. Described as a “dog-loving, Proustobsessed former Marxist rebel”, Rousseff spent three years in jail under the country’s former
military dictatorship. After the return of democracy she completed an economics degree, before a
career in public administration, culminating with positions as Brazil’s energy minister and then as
Lula’s chief-of-staff.
Questions have been raised, however, over whether Rousseff can continue the charismatic Lula’s
record of high growth rates couple with expanding social policies in the continent’s most populous
country, which according to the World Bank has seen the numbers living on less than $2 a day
drop from 21% to 12% between 2002 and 2008. However,investors remain very positive on
continued growth.
United States: China relationship in question
The United States and Chinese governments’ troubled relationship continues, with the
US threatening legal action over Chinese trade policies, including subsidies for green
energy. Such actions on trade and increasing pressure in the US for action on the Chinese
currency, may be symptomatic of a worsening of relations between the countries and a generally
tougher policy stance taken by the United States, in the wake of China’s lack of co-operation on
issues such as climate change and regional security.
Asia
North Korea: Kim Jong-il successor chosen
The expected successor to North Korea’s ruler Kim Jong-il was announced at the ruling Workers’
Party’s Central Military Commission. The leaders youngest son Kim Jong-un, thought to be in his
20s, will take over the family dynasty that has ruled North Korea since after World War 2 along with
his aunt and uncle . Until a photo taken of the representatives of the Workers’ Party’s central body
was published and this announcement, Kim Jong-un’s very existence had been kept secret, with
only one or two photos allegedly ever seen of him as child.
He has also been promoted to vice-chairman of the ruling party, and been given the rank of a fourstar general despite having no military experience. The1.2 million – strong military is reported to be
in charge of the country’s political process, thus rendering the swift military ascension
a prerequisite for governance.
Under the Kim family’s rule, North Korea’s economy has been in constant decline with its people
suffering from regular food shortages and abject poverty. Any potential policy changes will
be closely watched by regional powers, who will most likely have to deal with the predicted flood of
refugees, if North Korea’s economy is not bolstered.
Japan: first Asian nation to resettle refugees
Japan has become the first Asian nation to resettle refugees. 18 refugees from Myanmar arrived in
Tokyo to a welcome usually reserved for rock stars, with well-wishers applauding and television
cameras capturing the moment. These 18 are the first of 90 Myanmar refugees that will arrive in
Japan over the next three years.
Japan is the second largest donor of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). UNHCR’s
Japanese representative, Johan Cels, hopes that the resettling of these refugees is only the
beginning for Japan’s refugee policies and that it will prompt other Asian nations to follow suit.
Approximately 20,000 Myanmar refugees from the Mae La refugee camp in northern Thailand
have been resettled.
China: lifts exports ban against Japan
China has lifted the exports ban it imposed on Japan after a fishing boat incident in the East China
Sea. Although China denied imposing the exports ban, a Japanese trading company confirmed
that exports were being delayed by pre-shipment checks.
Japan captured a Chinese fishing boat captain after his trawler collided with two Japanese Coast
Guard ships. Despite releasing the trawler captain, due to increasing worries about the worsening
tensions, relations between the two nations had already been affected with China stopping top-
level diplomatic discussions, cancelling tour groups, detaining four Japanese nationals and
imposing an export ban on rare earth metals, essential for a number of products including car
electronics. Japanese trading officials stated that the country would have to look to other countries’
suppliers to minimise the potential risk of supply shortages.
Although the exports ban has been lifted, the four Japanese nationals are still being detained,
China claims their detention is not related to the fishing boat incident.
Europe
Belgium: protests against severe austerity measures
Thousands of demonstrators marched through European capitals to protest the recent austerity
measures that are being implemented across the continent. The Finance Minister for Spain has
called this the “most austere budget of recent times”, with governments cutting their spending in an
attempt to bring their debt-to-GDP ratios back to satisfactory levels.
80,000 workers descended on Brussels, home of many European Union institutions, to force
European governments to “put the people’s needs ahead of balancing budgets.” With reports that
the budget cuts are already causing deaths, as the public bear the brunt of the austerity measures,
there is fear that the acute circumstances as seen in Latvia, will be mirrored through other
Europeans states. Namely, salary cuts, pension reductions, hospital closures, increased mortality
rates particularly in the ageing community who could no longer afford to heat their homes during
winter threaten other states and are causing civil and political unrest.
While the protestors took to the streets, officials from the European Commission were proposing
tougher sanctions for governments that fail to cut their budget deficits.
Russia: President ousts Mayor
President Dmitri Medvedev has ousted the Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, who has held the
position for the last 18 years and is noted as one of post-soviet Russia’s greatest politicians.
The precise reason for Luzhkov’s dismissal is unclear, but further to the long endured scepticism
that Medvedev is former president and current prime minister Vladimir Putin’s puppet, Luzhkov
labelled Medvedev as a “weakling unfit to run the Kremlin”. Commentators report that it seems
Medvedev is finally using his presidential powers for the first time which may elucidate his
objectives leading up to the next presidential elections in 2012. However, Medvedev is also
receiving criticism for not removing Luzhkov earlier, with suggestions that the delay was caused by
Medvedev
seeking
prior
approval
from
Putin.
Luzhkov leaves behind a mixed legacy of successes and failures. He is accused of financially
favouring his wife’s multibillion dollar business, Inteko; he is responsible for the demolition of many
historical landmarks in Moscow and was strictly against the proposed public demonstrations for
gay rights. However, he is also credited with paying allowances to pensioners and cleaning up the
city of Moscow.
Middle East
Iran: US hiker freed
Iran released US hiker Sarah Shourd, 14 months after her and two other US citizens’ capture, after
they crossed into Iranian territory when hiking through Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Iran accused the
three of spying, initially stating that the three would be charged and trialled for espionage, - a
charge that carries a death sentence if proven.
It was only with the aide of Oman and Switzerland that Sarah Shourd was finally released, with
Oman reportedly posting the $500,000. The US government stated that they do not fund prisoner
bail and doing so would violate US sanctions. Due to the lack of relations between Iran and the US,
Switzerland represents US interests in Iran.
Shourd has since met with US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad to plead for the freedom of her two friends still in detention.
Pakistan: condemns NATO cross border warfare
Pakistan has condemned the US led NATO forces cross border attacks that killed 30 insurgents,
claiming the attacks are a violation of the UN mandate for the NATO force in Afghanistan. Alleging
self defence, NATO assert that they were targeting suspected insurgents within Afghanistan when
they were fired upon from the Pakistani side of the border and crossed over to return fire. Although
they failed to make contact until after the operation, the NATO-led International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF) insist they followed the relevant protocols and attempted to notify
Pakistan prior to the attacks. US led unmanned drone missile strikes have increased in Pakistani
territory with 21 attacks carried out in the last month; manned missions however, remain rare.
These latest attacks have strained relations between NATO forces and Pakistan, with
Pakistan suspending the movement of NATO supplies. Vehicles transporting nearly three quarters
of the supplies for NATO troops pass through Pakistan on their way to Afghanistan. Despite locals
numbering the delayed trucks in the hundreds this suspension should not have an immediate effect
on NATO supplies.
* Sharna graduated with a Master of Diplomacy and Trade from Monash University, Melbourne.
She is a passionate human rights advocate and is currently working for the Victorian State
Government.
* Marcus is currently completing a Masters in Diplomacy and International Trade at Monash
University. He also has a combined Law/Science degree from the University of Melbourne, and
has most recently been working in the IT industry.
Issue 10
Note from the editor
By Olivia Cable
If you thought July was an interesting month for Australian politics, August was a whopper. After
the almost complete lack of reference to Australian foreign policy in the Federal election, we
thought we should balance the ledger and use it as our theme this month.
At the time of launching this month’s issue, the results from the 2010 election are still unknown.
Should we have a hung parliament and have to return to the polls, I’m sure many would be happy
to watch another series of ‘Yes We Canberra!’
First some thank-yous. I’d like to thank Julia Rabar and Sharna Thomason, our two new
contributors to Monthly Access. In a compelling interview with Tony Walker, international editor of
the Australian Financial Review, he shares his views on how the foreign policy inexperience of
both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott will impact Australia, the importance of getting our defence
budget right, along with more defence contacts and exchanges with China.
Contemporary Debate discusses the neglected foreign policy implications of the election. We have
also put together some useful articles on topics that ought to be on the foreign policy agenda.
We interview Carl Ungerer in Career Spotlight and learn of his 20 years of experience working in
and around Australian foreign policy.
Global Snapshot this month is brought to you by Sharna Thomason and Ishita Acharyya. Read the
reporting on Iraq, Romania, Tunisia, Israel and elsewhere.
Our usual column by News Hit has been written by Christine Todd, politics editor of News Hit, an
online publication dedicated to showcasing the work of young writers.
A timely article has been received from Mehroz Siraj, providing a perspective on the devastating
floods in Pakistan.
Finally, as our readership widens into the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian
National University in Canberra, we have directed you to their September events, along with the
AIIA Victoria and Canberra events.
I’d like to acknowledge Julia Rabar and Sharna Thomason, our two new contributors to Monthly
Access, Andrew Zammit, Monthly Access correspondent, Michael Feller, editorial adviser and
Ishita Acharyya, Access chair. It is your support that keeps us all going!
We hope you enjoy our eleventh edition.
Olivia Cable
* Olivia is studying Asia Pacific Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra.
Q & A with Tony Walker of the Australian Financial Review, on Australian
foreign policy
With Julia Rabar
Tony Walker is international editor of the 'Australian Financial Review'. In the course of 30 years as
a foreign correspondent variously for the 'Financial Times', ‘The Age' and the 'Australian Financial
Review', Mr Walker has interviewed many notable figures who have shaped the world of the 21st
century. He has reported many historic events, and gained a first-hand feel for the ways of the
world from his bases in Beijing, Cairo, Washington, DC, and elsewhere.
How will the (self-declared) foreign policy inexperience of both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott impact
Australia’s foreign policy in the next government?
TW - Well, I think whoever prevails -- as happened with John Howard -- will go through a learning
process. It took Howard quite a long time to become confident and, frankly, take much of an
interest in foreign policy issues. It was only after Australia’s involvement in Timor and then the 9/11
experience that Howard became a foreign policy Prime Minister, or a national security policy Prime
Minister, actually. What we saw was the militarization of Australian foreign policy in Howard’s later
years, which was a mistake. In the case of an Abbott or a Gillard, they've got a fairly steep learning
curve because both of them are domestically focused politicians.
So I'm not sure that we can expect anything innovative from either of them in the foreign policy
sphere during the initial stages of their prime ministerships, whoever prevails. Rudd came to office
with quite firm ideas about what he wanted to achieve. He had experience himself, having been a
diplomat, having a background in China studies, and being able to speak the language gave him
significant advantages. In Rudd’s initial stages as Prime Minister, in fact in the campaign itself, he
framed what he believed our foreign policy approach should be: a country pursuing policy as a
middle power in a creative sense. I think that was a sensible approach. It was in contrast to the
Howard approach which was to -- in a sense -- lock us into a very close embrace with the United
States. Rudd managed to detach Australia in a pretty constructive way from the sort of clinging
embrace we had with the United States.
History here is important. When Howard came to power in 1996, one of the things he sought to do
-- with [Alexander] Downer then as Foreign Minister -- was to differentiate the Coalition's policy
from that of the Labor Party under Hawke and then Keating, artificially, I believe. Hawke and
Keating put a lot of emphasis on relations with Asia - Keating with Indonesia in particular, but also
with China. In his efforts to (I think falsely) differentiate Australia’s political interests, Howard
initially laid emphasis on our relationships with Europe and America. A White Paper was prepared
by DFAT in 2000, which outlined a traditional approach, emphasising relations with the region.
Howard and Downer sent it back to be re-written, re-cast, to make it clear that the United States
was pre-eminent in our foreign policy preoccupations. It was that kind of re-positioning that took
place, which I'm not sure made a whole lot of sense. It led us into what I believe, during the
Howard-Bush period, becoming more closely identified with American policy than was necessarily
in our interests. Meanwhile, we had the continuing rise and rise of China. I think Howard managed
relations with China satisfactorily, but he would have been better advised to have had a more
balanced approach right throughout his Prime Ministership.
So do you think that Tony Abbott is likely to react to the Labor government in the same way that
Howard did?
TW - What we've learned about Abbott in this later phase is that he's relatively flexible. While there
might be some concern we'll revert to a sort of Howard-era approach on foreign policy and
relations with the United States -- with emphasis on national security as opposed to soft power, or
diplomacy in a broader sense -- the world has moved on. American involvement in Iraq is now
winding down. Whether Iraq remains (in any way, shape, or form) a stable entity, who knows. But it
is unlikely America would go back in. Afghanistan is very problematical and it'll be a big headache
for either GIllard or Abbott, but our policy there is really locked in to what the Americans do. We
don't have much room to maneuver in Afghanistan. So I don't see under either a Gillard or an
Abbott approach a lot of difference in our foreign policy posture in this next period.
Some of the things Rudd did were good, including inserting us into the G20 process. Obviously, it's
in our interests to continue to pursue that vigorously. In terms of our engagement in various
ASEAN forums, there's nothing a Gillard or an Abbott would do to interrupt that. Relations with
China are so important that relationship will continue to be nurtured. In America we have an
administration in place which will coincide with the first part of any new Australian government.
America under [Barack] Obama views the world in a way which is not that different from the way
which we, at least under the Rudd Prime Ministership, viewed the world. If we have a conservative
President after 2012 things may change, but I wouldn't have thought substantially. America has
such deep internal problems in any case that its pre-occupations are going to be domestically
focused for the foreseeable future. I don't think we're going to see any more American adventurism
internationally.
Managing China is obviously going to be the big challenge for us and a big challenge for the world,
but China’s main preoccupation is with its own economic interests, and its need to keep growing its
economy and maintaining internal stability. We are seeing some promising signs as far as its
relationship with Taiwan is concerned (the beginning of direct cross-border exchanges). This is a
positive development. There are risks, of course. Competition in the South China Sea -- tensions
there between the US and China – are a concern. But I think that both countries have such a huge
stake in maintaining relations on a relatively even keel that problems will be managed.
Gillard would be advised, and Abbott, to work on relations with Japan and not give the Japanese
reason to believe that we think our relationship with China is necessarily preeminent. A mistake
that Rudd made in the initial stages was to give the appearance Japan was a secondary interest
and concern. It's important that we work on our relationship with the Japanese and reassure them
that they are an important part of our economic and security picture.
As far as Indonesia is concerned I don't think there’s going to be much of a difference of approach.
Especially as the government there seems relatively stable, and Indonesia is, from our point of
view, doing the things that correspond with what we hope will happen there, in terms of maintaining
progress on the democratic front.
So I'm not sure it will be a very exciting period from a foreign policy standpoint! But of course, the
unexpected can happen such as a meltdown on the Korean peninsula or conflict between China
and the US over Taiwan or some sort of internal disruptions in Indonesia itself.
Then there is our immediate neighborhood. Australia, as the metropolitan power in the South-West
Pacific, has significant responsibilities. Fiji is an issue that has to be managed and I'm not sure
what the answer is there. Complete disengagement doesn’t make a lot of sense. Maybe it's best
dealt with within the South Pacific Forum. Papua New Guinea is a concern for us. It’s still our main
aid recipient. It's a bit of a neglected issue here. Perhaps we should be paying more attention to
what's going on up there. It remains a responsibility and we should be engaged as much as we
can and as much is prudent to influence things there in a positive way. Not easy. There are all
sorts of governance issues, including endemic corruption. Australia has very sizeable economic
interests there and that, if nothing else, dictates that we should devote resources -- diplomatic and
other resources -- toward trying to influence things in New Guinea in a positive way.
The Greens are proposing a parliamentary debate about reviewing our involvement, after nine
years, in the war in Afghanistan. All other members of the 42-strong NATO-led coalition have
already held similar debates. What do you think will be done?
TW - It would be a good idea for us to have a debate about it, and for the government and the
opposition to put on the record exactly what rationale they believe exists for our continued
involvement. And also be required to give some idea what sort of exit strategies might be put in
place - what the end game might be. What the benchmarks might be for success. This is a serious
issue. Twenty-one Australians have been killed now, and more have been wounded. This requires
a significant expenditure on our part. It requires a commitment of men and materiel from other
areas such as our immediate region. I think we should be part of an international discussion about
where this is all going. And what pressures might be brought to bear on the Afghan regime itself, to
measure up. Because if they believe that we're just there indefinitely, then there's less incentive for
them to do the things that they need to do. And I would think, reading the signals from America,
patience there is diminishing. The Americans, as I've said, have economic constraints. So I think a
debate would serve a useful purpose. And I think the public, quite frankly, deserves to hear our
leaders debate this in a comprehensive way. I thought Abbott in the lead-up to the election made a
bit of a mistake. It wasn't seized upon by his opponents (I think partly because they feel it's in their
interests to give the impression that this is a bipartisan issue), but Abbott did say in a speech to the
Lowy Institute on national security issues that he thought that Australia should offer to take the
lead, or might offer to take the lead, in Oruzgan Province, after the Dutch withdrawal. He left open
the possibility that an Abbott government might increase our commitment there. I think that would
be a mistake. I think our commitment is appropriate. If you look at the number of casualties we
have taken, especially in the recent past, I don’t think anyone can question the fact that we are
engaged in frontline activities. I have reservations about our commitment. I think that we should
stay with it for the moment, but not make any indefinite commitments. Again, we are to a degree
locked in to what the Americans do. This is not an entirely comfortable position for us to be in.
How is the asylum seeker issue going to be resolved?
TW - I don't entirely understand why we can’t process arrivals on the Australian mainland. I know
there are legal constraints, but I don't feel comfortable with the fact that we are proposing to
outsource this responsibility to Nauru or possibly East Timor. And I'm absolutely not persuaded
that Gillard's proposal for an East Timor 'solution' makes a lot of sense. Even if the East Timorese
agreed to this, or we provided financial inducements for them to do so (or other inducements), I’m
not persuaded that this would be the wisest course. Because having a processing centre on the
doorstep of Indonesia -- virtually within the Indonesian archipelago -- might create more problems
than it solves.
What do you mean by that?
TW - I'm wondering if such a facility might not act as a magnet for people wanting to come to
Australia. They might feel that if they get to East Timor that they have gotten to first base. Such a
facility would become just another refugee holding centre.
Which is contrary to what they are hoping.
TW - Exactly. I'm just wondering if that might not just happen, which would cause problems for
Timor itself. It is a fragile democracy, a small country. As far as Abbott's approach is concerned, I
think it was a rather crude political gambit on his part. It was playing to a degree on people's
prejudices, this constant campaign slogan of 'stopping the boats'. It was an exercise in cynicism,
frankly, because no-one believes that the Australian navy is going to turn around a leaking boat full
of refugees, including women and children, on the high seas. This is simply not going to happen.
And if it did happen, then those who ordered it to happen would be rightfully condemned. I don't
think, whether it's a Gillard government or an Abbott government, that the boats will necessarily
stop coming. That depends to an extent on the situation in Afghanistan or Sri Lanka or other places
where there is instability. Obviously we have to be as active as we possibly can in trying to ensure
that people smugglers don't find it easy to operate in these places and do whatever else we can do
in a humanitarian sense to try and deal with the cause of these people transfers that are taking
place. But it's something that we have to live with, and I think it's manageable because the
numbers aren't so great that we can't manage them. But on the other hand, we should adopt a
pretty stringent policy towards this situation. People out there should not be able to feel that all they
have to do is turn up in Australian waters and they'll automatically be allowed ashore and be
absorbed into the Australian community. We can’t make it seem that the doors are open. So, it’s a
really tricky thing to deal with. It's a very tricky area. We are fortunate, frankly, that we are an island
and separated from the source countries by stretches of water. That's a disincentive for people to
come. If you look at the American situation, until recently up to a million Mexicans were coming
across the border every year. The problems that we have are manageable. Julian Burnside's figure
that it would take 20 years to fill the MCG makes a valid point. But I don't agree with some refugee
advocates that we have some sort of humanitarian obligation to facilitate the absorption of these
arrivals. I think border protection is a serious issue for us and it's one we have to devote resources
to, because preserving the sovereignty of our borders is a very important function of national
security -- whether it's seaborne or arrival by other means.
Let me say something about defence. I don’t want to sound too hawkish here. But I think what we
should acknowledge is that we are sitting on a very valuable piece of real estate here in an
environment that we can't be sure will always be benign. We do have responsibilities as the
metropolitan power of the southwest Pacific. We have to recognise that America faces its own
serious financial constraints, especially in this next period as it works its way through its financial
problems - there's an argument, and frankly quite a strong argument, for us to do more in terms of
our contribution to regional security in conjunction, obviously, with our allies, particularly the
Americans. This speaks to the need for us to increase our defence budget over time, not
dramatically, but certainly pay attention to our defence capabilities. If we look at our contribution as
a percentage of GDP, compared with others, America in particular, I think there is scope for us to
do more, in a smart way.
I'm not thinking specifically of our ability to project power, but certainly in terms of investment in our
capability to make a contribution to regional security whether it's in patrol duties, or surveillance,
reconnaissance activities, intelligence gathering, electronic or otherwise. We should have the
ability to assist the Americans in keeping sea lanes open, and so forth. Whether that requires
significantly additional expenditure is not something that I've studied in detail, but again I’m saying
instinctively that we should probably be prepared to do more, in conjunction with our allies.
How would that be received by China?
TW – This is an important point. I don't think it should be made to appear that this is part of a
containment exercise as far as China's concerned. As if Australia and its allies in the Tripartite
Alliance (the Americans and the Japanese) are building up to confront the Chinese. I think that
would send the wrong signal. In fact, I'm for joint exercises with the Chinese, and more defence
contacts and exchanges with the Chinese, so we better understand their concerns and
preoccupations, and they understand ours. I don't for one minute believe that conflict with China is
inevitable. You'll hear people argue that some sort of conflict with China is inevitable at some
stage, because empires rise and empires fall, and in the process, conflict becomes unavoidable. I
don't believe that needs to be the case at all.
But you acknowledge that it will be difficult to weave a route between the decline of the US and the
rise of China?
TW - Well, obviously, I think so. To get that balance right is a tricky thing, and the Americans find it
so themselves. You hear Americans talking about a 'hedging' strategy these days, regarding
China: engagement, while at the same time making sure that you maintain a security presence to
balance out China's ambitions, and particularly ambitions in the area of most likely conflict, which is
the South China Sea. This is why India is important in the scheme of things as well. India provides
something of a countervailing force. India is a significant military power in itself. So from our
standpoint, relations with India are extremely important. I'm not sure we haven't taken those
relations a bit for granted over the years, because we speak the same language and we play
cricket with them - we think therefore that we are more or less on the same wavelength. But I'm not
sure that we've invested as much time and effort in developing relations or nurturing or
understanding the dimensions of our relationship with India as we should. That's an area to which
either a Gillard or an Abbott government should devote more time and resources. Pre-occupation
with China, obviously -- because it's so important in the economic scheme of things – is
appropriate, but India's going to become more important, relatively speaking, as its economy grows
and demand for Australian raw materials grows.
* Julia Rabar is an Australian-based editorial assistant with The Diplomat. She graduated last year
from RMIT University in Melbourne with an Honours with Distinction in Arts (International Studies)
and is a member of the editorial team of Quarterly Access.
Career Spotlight with Carl Ungerer of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute
With Olivia Cable
Dr Carl Ungerer, Director of the National Security Program at the Australian Strategic Policy
Institute in Canberra has spent almost 20 years working in and around Australian foreign policy.
His career has taken him around the world, from Japan to Fiji, and Iran to Canberra.
Where did your career begin?
CU - As a 15 year old, my parents took me to southern Illinois in America where my father was
undertaking a sabbatical as part of his university career. Going to school in America in the midwest was an enlightening experience. My most vivid memory of that trip was a train ride from
Chicago to San Francisco. As we travelled past the plains of Montana, you could look out and see
hundreds of domed curves rising out of the ground. I asked someone on the train “what are they?”,
and the answer was, Minuteman Silos – America’s strategic nuclear missile force, aimed at the
Soviet Union. And from that moment on, I wanted to understand more about international politics,
nuclear weapons, global warfare and Australia’s place in the world.
What was your entry point into foreign affairs?
CU - While I was completing a Masters degree in Asian studies at Griffith University, I was
encouraged to apply for the graduate intake program in the Department of Foreign Affairs and
Trade. So I sat the public service exam, went to the interviews, and was one of 22 lucky
candidates out of 8,000 applicants to be offered a place in DFAT in 1993.
Have you had any overseas postings?
CU - My first overseas posting was a short-term mission to the United Nations office in Geneva
where I represented Australia at the UN Commission on Human Rights. I was subsequently posted
as Third Secretary (Political) in Suva, Fiji. Fiji is an important post for Australia in the region, and
was an excellent opportunity to learn about the form and conduct of Australian diplomacy.
After DFAT, where did you go?
CU - In 1999, I was recruited into the Office of National Assessments to work in the Strategic
Analysis Branch. My job there was to analyse and report on international security issues such as
WMD proliferation, ballistic missile defence and great power relations. One of the most interesting
aspects of working at ONA is the close cooperation we have with our intelligence partners in the
United States, Canada and the UK.
Subsequently, in December 2001, I was appointed by Simon Crean (Leader of the Opposition) as
his Foreign Policy and National Security Advisor.
This was around the time of turmoil in international politics. What were your most memorable
moments when working in Parliament House?
CU - Meeting world leaders such as Bush, Blair and Hu Jintao was interesting because it gives you
an insight into how politics is conducted at the highest levels. But the most challenging aspect of
that work was crafting a credible policy response to the major international security issues of the
day, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and an appropriate Australian response to the
global threat of terrorism.
Following Simon Crean’s loss of the Labor Party leadership, did you stay in government?
CU - On leaving Simon’s office I took up a position as a lecturer of International Relations at the
University of Queensland, where I taught courses on Asia Pacific security, Australian foreign policy
and arms control. During that time, I edited a couple of books; the first on nuclear non-proliferation
and the second on Australian foreign policy in the age of terror. When Labor won office in 2007, I
returned to the Canberra policy world to start up the new national security program at the
Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
As you can see, I have crossed in and out of the academic and policy worlds my whole career,
which has been a deliberate plan on my part to bridge the divide between the academic study of
international security and the practical realities of implementing policy.
* Olivia Cable is studying Asia Pacific Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra
Pakistan Needs Us
By Mehroz Siraj
Pakistan
has
suffered
immensely
in
recent
years.
Since the 2005 Kashmir earthquake that killed more than 73,000 people, the country has endured
economic recession, terrorism, insurgency and political violence.
Now, the devastating floods swamping nearly one third of the nation put the futures of the already
most vulnerable and needy, the stability of the nation and the international community’s moral
standing, in a precarious balance.
More than 21 million people, roughly the entire population of Australia, have been severely affected
and displaced as a result of massive flooding, which has so far affected an area the size of the
UK. At least 9 million of these are children, most at risk of waterborne disease, such as diarrhoea.
Although the floods have hit all the four provinces of Pakistan, the regions most affected have been
central and southern Punjab, northern Sindh and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa province (formerly
known as the North-West Frontier Province).
Punjab and Sindh were the breadbaskets of Pakistan. 90 per cent of Pakistan’s total agricultural
production takes place in Punjab and Sindh annually. Before the floods this was Pakistan’s
agricultural heartland, worth tens of billions of dollars. Now, a total of more than 3.2 million
hectares of agricultural crops, including 600,000 tonnes of wheat, at least 15 per cent of the
country’s cotton crop and around 200,000 acres of rice plantation lands have been damaged or
destroyed.
In northern Sindh, dairy farming was another major business for the subsistence farmers and small
business owners. Now, their farms have been flooded and nearly 200,000 cattle have been
destroyed.
The effect of the floods on employment will also be enormous. Cottage industries and the
agricultural sector in Pakistan employ more than 45 per cent of the nation’s total work-force, many
of whom are women who work extremely hard to support their poor families.
According to the World Bank, the estimated initial losses to Pakistan’s economy from the floods
were around US$ 1 billion. However, more recent estimates show that the short and long term
economic costs of the floods to be nearly $43 billion, and are widespread.
Most of the affected people lived predominantly in the rural areas devastated by these floods, and
have now lost their only source of earning.
These people were doing backbreaking work in their fields in which they had invested their entire
life savings. Many of these poor and working class farmers would have taken loans to fund their
businesses.
Not only have their crops been washed away, but also their hopes of a better future for themselves
and their children. The sad truth is the floods now risk confining many farmers to a life of abject
poverty
and
chronic
indebtedness
for
loans
that
cannot
be
repaid.
The poor and landless people are now totally reliant on assistance and relief provided by local and
international charities and NGOs
The sheer rise in the numbers of Internally Displaced People, IDPs, who require at least two meals
a day and clothing, now add enormous pressure on Pakistan’s depleted food resources, possibly
pushing up inflation tremendously.
Over the last week, a second wave of disaster has descended on flood victims – waterborne
disease including malaria and diarrhoea – a major killer of young children. Preventable diseases
such as cholera and gastroenteritis are being reported in many regions. In Sindh alone there are
over 10,000 reported cases of Malaria.
The international community needs to provide urgent assistance to the flood affected people of
Pakistan in order not only to relieve the suffering, but also crucially to ensure the longer-term
security of the nation. According to many media reports and speculation, aid relief has been slow
because of the negative press about Pakistan and the spectre of a corrupt government.
It is now time for the international community, which has always demanded that Pakistan ‘do more’
to tackle terrorism, to stand united with and support its people. At this critical juncture, we have a
responsibility to shoulder the sorrows and pains of our Pakistani brothers and sisters. This is now
the time to rise and work with them.
Australians should know that donations made directly to international humanitarian organizations
like Oxfam, Save The Children and UNICEF do help improve lives. These agencies have a long
and good reputation in my home country.
Ignoring these peoples’ plight invites grave risks. It could lead to the loss of confidence and trust of
an entire generation of young, talented and aspiring Pakistanis who aspire to bring peace in South
Asia, and the wider world in the spirit of the international community
* Mehroz Siraj is an International student from Pakistan at RMIT University, Melbourne.
Contemporary Debate: Australian foreign policy post-2010 election
By Julia Rabar
Much has been made of the fact that neither party has provided any insight as to what their foreign
policy will look like if they form government. Foreign policy has been mentioned a scant few
times, as remarked by Dylan Welch in The Age. Welch interviewed Professor Hugh White of ANU
who emphasised the ‘very slender credentials’ of both prime ministerial candidates.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has acknowledged her own lack of experience, but does not believe
that will be an obstruction to her handling the issues. Nevertheless, there remains the
question: who will be Foreign Minister in a Gillard government?Deposed Prime Minister Kevin
Rudd has been promised a senior cabinet position in the new government.
Neither party is likely to diverge from the bipartisan consensus on the major issues, namely the
future of the war in Afghanistan, the importance of the Australia-US alliance, or the need to build
and maintain regional ties. Despite, this, as Daniel Flitton has identified, there are slight differences
in the emphasis of each party. Labor will continue to emphasise the need for multilateral
engagement in order to achieve global cooperation and consensus on the major issues facing the
world, such as climate change and terrorism. The Liberal approach has a traditionally more
bilateral focus, emphasising the need for individual relationships with countries. Deputy opposition
leader Julie Bishop has underlined that focus in recent weeks.
China will command a large fraction of the policy framework of either post-election government.
China is Australia’s largest trading partner, accounting for $76 billion in two-way trade in 2009.
Hopes were high for an improved relationship between the two countries back in 2007 when
Australia elected their first Mandarin-speaking Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. Retrospective analysis
has established that Rudd’s linguistic credentials did not usher in an age of increased political
communication or understanding. Midway through the Labor government’s first term, Australian
mining executive Stern Hu was arrested in China on charges of corruption and industrial
espionage.
The two most critical global issues facing Australia are, in my opinion, climate change and the
future of our uranium reserves. I am deliberately avoiding the use of the term ‘nuclear
disarmament’, because of the way the disarmament agenda is often used to conceal Australia’s
real trade interests, specifically its uranium policies. Opposition leader Tony Abbott explained his
desire to sell uranium to India by proposing a ‘me too’ policy that mirrors the US-India 123
Agreement.
The new government is likely to face an increasingly complex foreign policy agenda and one that
requires sustained attention.
Read also:
See the recent debates between Andrew Shearer (Lowy Institute) and Carl Ungerer (ASPI) on the
foreign policy priorities of the next government. See former Foreign Minister Alexander
Downer’s cheeky response to the political argy-bargy in this debate.
Does China Matter?
By Gerald Segal (former Director of Research at the International Institute of Strategic Studies)
Written in 1999, his argument concludes that China’s importance was greatly exaggerated.
Although this link only provides the first page of Segal’s article, the full version is available on
JSTOR.
Does China Matter? The Economic Issues
By Stuart Harris
For an Australian perspective on Segal’s Does China Matter, Emeritus Professor Stuart Harris of
the Australian National University responds.
The following ‘election alert’ was distributed by the Lowy Institute on 20 August 2010:
Director of Studies Andrew Shearer on Australian public attitudes towards China.
International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf on the defence decisions that defy dodging.
Former Chief of Army Peter Leahy on the need to connect Australia’s parliament, media and wider
public to the reality of being at war.
Critical analysis of Labor and Coalition foreign policies
Insights into Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s worldview
Leading Chinese security scholar Shen Dingli with a provocative take on Australian diplomacy in
the disputed South China Sea
And Canberra insider Graeme Dobell on Australia’s strange ability to shut out the world as it votes.
News Hit Guest column: Third Wheel
By Christine Todd
There are several downsides to being a politics major. One, nobody else cares about politics
except you. A second downside is that you're often approached with vague political enquiries and
asked to explain them in basic terms. Like 'why are politicians so frightfully ugly?' and 'I keep voting
Greens, how come they're not getting into power?' It is this second question I will address today.
Answering it requires an explanation of the two-party system in Australia.The federal party system
in Australia can best be explained as a mutated two-party system. Two 'original' major parties have
maintained stable voter support, fending off minor party challenges by realigning their internal
mechanisms in tandem with community value change.
Despite this chameleon effort, support for minor party challenges to the system have remained
high. Dissatisfaction with the rigid and unchanging nature of the two major political parties has
seen citizens seek the splendours of a political alternative. Two of the most popular minor parties
in the past 40 years have been the Australian Democrats and the Australian Greens. These parties
developed strength following the surge in voter concern for social issues in the 1960s-1970s,
encompassing a range of issues from environmental sustainability to human rights. Reluctance by
the major parties to adapt to this realignment in the electorate gave rise to growing voter
disillusionment. To the average voter the two major parties had ceased to be representative of their
interests. The time had come, it seemed, for an alternate vision.
The benefits of being a minor party are obvious. It is easier to pitch for 'middle Australia' when your
existence isn't dependent on any one social or economic group. The Coalition have long had
commitments to business and religious institutions, while Labor has battled endlessly with its union
affiliates. By rejecting these commitments and doing away with needless ideological polarisations,
minor parties are better positioned to develop policies that are responsive to the public mood.
Hence the minor party tendency to latch onto issue-specific policies. The biggest problem with this
approach is that issue-specific policies have a short shelf-life. If the existence of one party is
entirely dependent on a few social issues, then as soon as those issues lose relevance the party
itself loses its way. Additionally, popular social issues are easily adopted by the major parties for
their own means, robbing minor parties of their foundation. This has been most evident in regards
climate change. Major parties have realised that their policy platforms must be relatively loosely
formulated so as to eliminate the need for 'middle-ground' minor parties.
Along with platform re-adjustments, major parties have introduced financial measures to ensure
their own survival, to the detriment of smaller political organisations. One such measure is funding
through first preference votes. Those parties receiving 4% or more of the formal first preference
vote within an electorate are entitled to a public funding rate multiplied per vote. As the party
system currently stands, this criteria could really only be met by the Coalition and the Australian
Labor Party (and perhaps the Greens, in a good year). The current public funding rate is roughly
$3.50 per vote for any party that meets the criteria.
Considering that the success of political parties is largely dependent on their resources, such
cunning measures ensure the stability of the two-party system in its current form.
There remains a real necessity for a two-party system with minor third and fourth party
contributions. With minor parties and independents rallying for the political middle ground, an
invaluable equilibrium point is created for the major parties to work around. The presence of
multiple parties within the Australian political system promotes electoral competition that protects
the nation against its own discontent. This competition, whether it presents itself as a likely threat
or not, forces major party leaders to tailor their objectives to the ever-changing middle ground for
which the third party influence represents. These internal and external policy shifts make the twoparty system virtually impenetrable but efficient in truly representing the interests of the nation.
Postscript: how will the Greens balance of power impact Australian foreign policy? Policy
experts debate this question at the Lowy Interpreter.
* Christine Todd is the Politics Editor of News Hit, and online publication for young writers
Global Snapshot of August 2010
Compiled by Sharna Thomason and Ishita Acharyya
Africa:
Rwanda: Kagame wins a second term, Rwanda looks to the future, and rumours abound
Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame has won a second seven-year term. Many attribute his
landslide victory in last month’s elections to his role in establishing stability in the country after the
1994 genocide and his vision to transform Rwanda into amiddle-income country by 2020. His
critics, however, purport that he is authoritarian and has stifled free speech over the years, and has
manipulated a traumatized nation for political power. In contrast, international investors are
attracted to the seeming stability of his leadership.
Meanwhile, reports of growing rifts within the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) present a threat
to the stability of government, with accusations of nepotism and graft. Exiled military and
intelligence leaders are also reported to sound increasingly “belligerent”.
Mozambique: riots over soaring bread prices
Suddenly soaring bread prices have led to riots in Maputo in which at least 6 have been killed and
280 injured, with protesters looting en masse and blocking streets. After an emergency cabinet
meeting, troops were deployed to clear the barricades. At least 6 people were killed on Wednesday
when troops opened fire on protesters. The possibility that the military presence may exacerbate
the situation is imminent, given memories of the 16-year civil war that only ended in 1992.
The government imposed 30% price hike has deeply angered people as 70% of the population
lives below the poverty line and the average monthly income is US$37. Despite
this, Mozambique’s economy remains one of the fastest growing in the region, with the IMF
predicting annual GDP growth of 7%.
Sudan: Obama to get tougher on Khartoum?
A letter calling for a tougher U.S. stance on Sudan, signed by 80 activist groups, has been sent to
Obama, as the January referendum on southern independence fast approaches. This follows the
recent announcement that the U.S. will be sending retired ambassador, Princeton Lyman, an Africa
expert, to consolidate its diplomatic presence in the region.
The letter encourages a commitment to the “incentives-only” approach in dealing with Sudan that
was announced last October. However, UN representatives seem to prefer a “balanced approach”,
with an emphasis on negotiation and not hegemonic posturing, to get preparations for the
referendum under way. This is also to address Sudan’s profound economic issues, particularly of
colossal international debt.
BBC World provides a brief explanation of Sudan’s 2005 US – backed Comprehensive Peace
Accord, which ended a brutal 20-year civil war.
Asia
Pakistan: 20 million flood victims in desperate need of international assistance
20 million people are in desperate need of international assistance in the wake of Pakistan’s
floods, but the international response has been slow. As waterborne disease grips the affected
population, the death toll mounts. Amidst this desperation, an ostentatious competition between
the Taliban and the West has ensued, to bring aid to the most desperate and to win their hearts
and minds.
The floods not only place in severe jeopardy Pakistan’s social and economic fabric, but also
compromise its political stability. Furthermore, the slow response of the international community
arguably betrays a political cynicism and the extent of ideological divisions.
In an unprecedented move,Pakistan has also accepted aid from India, at the urging of Indian Prime
Minister, Manmohan Singh, and US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
To donate to the flood victims, please visit Oxfam, Unicef, or Save the Children.
Timor Sea oil spill: fishermen migrate, or turn to people-smuggling
August marked the first anniversary of last year’s oil spill from an Indonesian oilrig off the coast of
Western Australia. What had started off as a leak lasted for 74 days, ending in a fiery explosion.
The spill has had severe effect on West Timor’s subsistence economy, which overwhelmingly
relies on fishing. Fish stocks have been drastically depleted and seaweed farms decimated,
leaving little choice for subsistence fishermen but to turn to other employment. People smuggling is
one such employment, as a last resort for desperate fishermen who are yet to be compensated for
their losses.
The Indonesian government is due to launch its compensation claim with the rig’s Australian
owner-operator in September. Meanwhile, fishermen are emigrating by the thousands.
Bangladesh: loan from India meets criticism
The leader of Bangladesh’s opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), has
criticized Sheikh Hasina’s government for accepting a $1 billion loan from India, describing the
decision as “suicidal”. The Opposition contends that paying off the 20-year loan imposes a dire
financial burden, and alleges that the interest rate would be seven times that of international rates.
The government rejects this claim.
Some commentators have observed that the BNP is particularly vocal in its criticism of India while
in opposition, contrary to its attitude when most recently in government.
The current government has hailed the loan as a strengthening of ties between Bangladesh and
its neighbor.
Americas:
Venezuela and Colombia: bilateral ties restored
Recently inaugurated Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, and Venezuelan President,
Hugo Chavez, have quelled regional tensions after the conservative Colombian government
accused Venezuela of harboring leftist rebels. Despite speculation that Venezuela and Colombia
were on the brink of armed conflict, the two governments have elected to restore bilateral ties. At a
bilateral summit on the 10th of August, the two Presidents committed to establishing five
commissions to investigate debt and trade relations, economic cooperation, social investment in
the border region, joint infrastructure works and security.
Venezuela has become Colombia’s second largest export market since the beginning of Chavez’s
presidency, however Venezuela effected trade bans between the countries in response the
previous Colombian President’s decision last year to give US troops unprecedented access to
seven military bases. Chavez’s administration has long maintained that the US poses a real threat
to Venezuela’s sovereignty. The trade bans led to a 70% drop in trade between the neighboring
countries.
Most recently, a Colombian court has pronounced the 2009 accord as unconstitutional. The new
government, which has a substantial majority in Congress, is alleged to be seeking approval for a
redrafted version of the accord.
US: How Iraq looks from China
The Chinese government and media are eagerly following the US withdrawal from Iraq, and
opinions are varied. One Chinese newspaper, the Global Times, speculates that the US will now
turn to exercising greater influence in Asia, particularly over China’s neighbors. Commentators
have expressed concern that these efforts will be directed toward destabilizing China’s regional
alliances and strategic position. However, the hegemonic dynamics within the international arena
have alteredsubstantially since the beginning of the Iraq War.
Over the last seven years, the relative political and economic strengths of China and the US have
diametrically altered. The Chinese reaction to the withdrawal has accordingly been seen as an
assertion of its growing international confidence and status. Nonetheless, some observers have
contended that in spite of the US’s need to focus on domestic matters, bolstering its clout in Asia
will also be domestically politically suave.
Middle East:
Israel: soldier poses in photos with prisoners on Facebook
An Israeli soldier has sparked outrage across the globe after posting photos of herself posing with
bound and gagged Palestinian prisoners on Facebook. The photos have brought the Israel
Defence Forces (IDF) into disrepute. Despite the IDF making efforts to prevent incidents such as
these from recurring, Breaking the Silence, an organisation that documents the abuse of
Palestinians by IDF soldiers, asserts that photographs like these are the norm rather than the
exception.
Iraq: US army out
After seven years, 150,000 Iraqi lives, 5,000 allied soldiers lives and US$700 billion Operation Iraqi
Freedom officially ended on August 31. As a sign of America’s new role the Pentagon has passed
responsibilities to the US State Department, with Consular Offices replacing military bases.
Although the Iraqi forces are well trained and the country should prosper, the Iraqi army chief of
staff wants American help until 2020.
American officers agree their job has not finished. Extremist infiltrators are common with more
bombings and deaths occurring recently than in previous years. Perhaps this is why, instead of
rejoicing in the streets, Iraqis have begun to worry that the country is not yet ready. Fears of a
sectarian war are rising, with trust between clans at a minimum and progress towards national
reconciliation non-existent. Five months after the latest elections Iraq still does not have a
government, with opposing parties deadlocked in negotiations. The question of whether Iraq ready
to “go it alone” still remains.
Palestine: third election annulled in less than one year
With the recent annulment of the third election in less than one year, and with no date set for when
voters will be returning to the polls, concerns have been raised about whether the Palestinian
Authority (PA), instead of building a democratic state, is on the verge of becoming another Arab
autocracy. The Western governments that fund the PA, however, seem unconcerned. Despite the
assertion that the current government is disorganised and Palestinian sceptics claiming they are
yet to see tangible evidence of promised policies, the West has applauded Prime Minister Fayyad
for his efficient rule. One European official has claimed that an election resulting in Hamas
regaining power in the West Bank would be perceived as most unfavourable by the West. They
would rather have no election than an election result similar to that of 2006.
Europe:
France: Romanian Gypsies forced out
French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced the dismantling of Romanian Gypsy camps last
month and expelled some 700 Roma out of France. Despite the French government asserting that
the returns are voluntary, with each adult receiving €300 ($425) plus an additional €100 per child,
the government has been criticized by human rights and anti-racism groups, led by the Committee
on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which issued a series of recommendations urging
France to avoid collective deportations. The French foreign ministry is working closely with the
Romanian government, which is a member of the EU - and thus Romanians can travel freely within
France, to ensure the Roma are successfully integrated into Romanian society. However, with
unemployment in Romania predicted to surpass 8.5% the French government acknowledges that
they will not be able to prevent the Roma returning to France.
European Union: remaining quiet on Tunisia’s human rights record
The European Union (EU) has remained unaccountably quiet on controversial amendments to
Tunisia’s penal code which further compound the country’s poor human rights laws. In an attempt
to make the Tunisian government uphold human rights and the rule of law, human rights
campaigners are lobbying the EU’s Spanish president to enforce stricter guidelines if Tunisia is to
win ‘advanced-partner status’ with the EU. In retaliation Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who has ruled
Tunisia since 1987, and his parliament passed a new clause which states that anyone deemed as
‘harm[ing] Tunisia’s vital interests’ including ‘sabotaging Tunisia’s efforts to obtain advancedpartner status with the EU’ will be jailed for 5 years.
Issue 9
Note from the editor
By Ishita Acharyya
July has been a dynamic month for Australian politics. The Gillard prime ministership has already
made an impact on Australia’s relations with its regional partners, demonstrated by the so far
unsuccessful attempt to establish a “regional processing centre” in Timor-Leste for asylum
seekers. The current government’s fiscal and population policy is also under intense scrutiny as we
approach this year’s federal election.
In this edition of Monthly Access we’re accordingly focusing on the asylum seeker and
multiculturalism issue, as a continuation of our Access forum in June, and as an acknowledgment
of its prominence in current social debate.
In an interview with Kristoffer McKay, Mohammed El-Leissy of the Islamic Council of Victoria
explores the concept of “home” and the role of Muslims in broader Australian society, in terms of
minority status and collective identity.
Kristian Lewis brings the focus to the West Papuan struggle for self-determination. In his article he
examines the legacies of the 1969 referendum, West Papuan national identity and whether there
are parallels with recent Timor-Leste history.
This issue of MA also marks our first time collaborating with website News Hit, an online student
publication. We’re excited at the prospect of building further ties with News Hit as both of our
organizations grow in reach and scope. News Hit’s International Affairs editor, Tim Lawson writes
in this MA about the former dictator of Panama going to trial in Paris and the prospective fruits of
this.
Thank you to those that have provided their opinions about current issues, and particularly to those
that have responded to our recent Quarterly Access publication - in this month’s MA you will find
opinions about China’s enhancing power status and the impending Australian election.
This month’s Contemporary Debate section focuses on national identity and provides reflections on
Samuel Huntington’s essay, The Clash of Civilizations.
We’ve provided a comprehensive Global Snapshot this issue, with alerts about elections in Guinea,
to updates about the continuing strategic consequences of the Gaza Flotilla incident.
A huge thank-you to our contributors for this issue, and to Andrew Zammit for his time proofreading
and gathering information. Also, a huge thank-you to Mohammed El-Leissy for his willingness to be
interviewed and thus encouraging Access members in our independent research endeavors.
Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Olivia Cable, the editor-in-chief of MA (who is on
leave this month), and Michael Feller, editorial advisor, as we celebrate our tenth issue and one
year since our launch. It is because of their commitment and vision that we have come so far.
Ishita Acharyya
ACCESS Chair
Access update
By Ishita Acharyya
Recent months have been particularly busy for Access.
The Great Immigration Debate, with speakers Kon Karapanagiotidis and Julian Burnside allowed
for a range of opinions to be expressed, particularly about Australia’s approach to human rights
and alleged xenophobia.
Professor Stephen King, dean of Monash University’s school of business and economics provided
an exemplary explanation of the causes of the Global Financial Crisis and the inadequacies of
Australia’s regulatory framework.
With the sponsorship of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, we also officially launched
Quarterly Access, along with its third issue. Daniel Flitton, diplomatic editor of The Age newspaper
and William Fisher, state director of DFAT, were kind enough to speak at the launch event, along
with editor-in-chief, Daniel Wilson.
On the 21st of July AIIAVIC in conjunction with Access hosted Tony Walker, international editor of
the Australian Financial Review. He provided an insight into international journalism, and the
synergies between political and economic events.
We're also quite busy on the social media scene, so keep an eye out for Access and the AIIAV on
Twitter and Facebook. Arunava Das and Ryan Alexander shall lead our social media team.
Thank you to all of you that continue to support Access and the AIIAV.
Ishita Acharyya
ACCESS Chair
Your feedback
Letters to the editor.
Thoughts on the upcoming election:
As the Australian federal election draws nearer, fear is beginning to play its part in political
discourse. There’s much consternation about “boats” and a “big Australia”, but very little policy
substance from the Government, and the Opposition. For how long will the electorate bear with the
insulting rhetoric of minority politics that obfuscates the truth, which is that both major parties lack
tangible policies? Since the new prime ministership we have heard nothing about Australia’s future
or prospective international agenda, economic policies, or debates about climate change. Once
again, during what will arguably become a perfunctory campaign period, we shall fall victim to
hackneyed political discourse.
Lilith Srinivasan
In response to Quarterly Access:
In Andrew Forrest’s article, Crossing the river by feeling the stones, in this most recent issue of
Quarterly Access, Forrest fails to mention that China’s bargaining strength as a regional power has
incrementally, albeit gradually, increased, particularly in recent times. Given Japan’s and the US’s
recent economic decline, China shall certainly be occupying more of centre-stage. At the most
recent Access event, Monash University’s Professor Stephen King pointed out that the United
States is severely in debt to China, and China has a superbly independent economy that
predominantly relies on domestic production. It has thus been protected from the salient
ramifications of the “Global” Financial Crisis and has had its position as an economic power further
bolstered. Considering such factors, it would seem that certain countries – the US, Japan and
Australia included – perhaps should not adopt foreign policy that is “anti-China” (as defined in the
article), or portrays a rising China as thoroughly antithetical to their strategic agendas. As a
member of the international community and as a credible economic power, China needs to be
more seriously included in international dialogue, for the sake of both regional stability and
potential domestic political and economic reform (in China).
Shekhar John
Q & A with Mohammed El-Leissy, Special Projects & Community Outreach leader
for the Islamic Council of Victoria
By Kristoffer Mckay
Uncertainty about the place of Muslims in the Australian nation-state has been a source of public
anxiety at times, particularly in the past decade. The recent recurrence of the 'Burqa debate' is a
sign of this. To gain an informed perspective on how Australian Muslims contend with media
misconceptions and public unease, Kristoffer McKay interviewed Mohammed El-Leissy of the
Islamic Council of Victoria.
Where were you born?
I was born in Melbourne. My parents are from Egypt. They’ve been here about 40 years. I grew up
in Canberra.
So you call Australia home?
Yes, absolutely.
Do you call anywhere else home? Or do you think of home as being a single place?
This question comes up a lot. I actually went to Egypt for the first time about 4 months ago, I’m 25
now. It’s always hard because you know, growing up in Australia, since 2001 when I was
seventeen and that stuff happened. Up until 2001 Australia was definitely home, I never
questioned that, until I think when a lot of the anti-Islamic sentiment appeared in the media and
talkback radio in particular, for example the recent discussion on banning the Burqa in Australia
and Pauline Hanson not wanting to sell her house to a Muslim. It’s really hard, even though you
are born as an Australian, you start to question, “is this really home?” There’s a house and then
there’s a home. I can say without a doubt that Australia’s a house, but is it a home? How many
people agree with Pauline Hanson? Do I belong here? I would love to belong here, but do people
accept me?
It’s sometimes hard to listen to talkback radio and think to myself “yeah I feel totally loved and
welcome.” Deep down I know that Australia is home, I mean I’ve been to Mecca, the heart of Islam
with 3 million other Muslims on the pilgrimage, and I still longed for Australia and whenever people
asked me where I was from I would quite proudly say Australia. Conversely, it was great to go to
Egypt because all of a sudden you can walk down the street and feel like you’re not being
discriminated against or judged. So, even though I couldn’t speak the language I still felt like I was
at home because I was accepted due to the fact that I was part of the majority. This is the big
problem the Muslims in Australia face – Muslims are desperate to belong, I think everyone is
desperate to belong, but it’s hard when you’re so desperate for that belonging but you’ve got the
abusive father that ignores you. If you’re not feeling the love, it’s hard.
Do you, generally speaking, feel accepted as an Australian?
I think in situations like being at the footy, I feel totally Australian, I mean total strangers hug each
other, and also the bushfires where we were all affected. However when it comes to negative
issues about Muslims that are dominated in the mainstream, it’s very hard then to avoid that sort of
side-glance from the general public.
Would you prefer people see you as solely an Australian? Or would you rather this identification to
include your religious identity as well?
That’s an interesting question. Especially because it brings up a contrast between the John
Howard approach, which I support, you can tell Susan that (laughs), which was sold rather poorly
and he came off as a rather racist person. He probably is, but I think the intention was right. On the
other side, I have some left-wing/PC friends and they’re all about my Muslim identity and
supporting minorities. This is actually something I’ve become quite distained about, why do they
always have to see me like this? They’re always bringing it up in conversation saying stuff like “oh
you’re Muslim can you eat this?” or “Let’s not go to a pub because you’re Muslim” so I feel pretty
much like a freak. I think the John Howard approach, and why he quite wrongly hated the
multiculturalism approach, is because of this sort of behaviour, meaning the tendency to treat
people like they were “special” – like we need a special Olympics for Muslims in Australia [laughs].
So, the John Howard approach was like “we’re all Australian, you know, you eat your halal meat
and go to your little mosque” and at the end of the day we’re all Australian- when I meet you, you
act like you’re Australian and you don’t want to blow me up [laughs]. Finally, I think there are two
schools of thought on this matter: Some Muslims don’t want to be treated as special as it’s
patronising. For me, I simply wanted to be treated as an individual, whilst at the same time be
respected for my freedom of choice when it comes to religious practice. So I definitely don’t want to
be seen as the Muslim candidate, or the Muslim bus driver etc. I want to be seen as me, a person.
What do you value? Do Muslims have different values to “mainstream” Australians?
I value individualism – people’s right to be whoever and whatever they want to be. I value my
freedom to practice my religion without breaking the law.
How much do you think the media has contributed to the misconceptions of Muslims that are
evident in Australian society?
It’s hard to judge public perception, I mean I knew a guy who wanted, after September 11, to go to
war and kill the terrorists, and he announced this right in front of me knowing that I was a Muslim,
however he was a great bloke and we were best friends. I think it comes down to the connections
made between Muslims and terrorists. This guy clearly didn’t hate Muslims because we were
mates, however in other situations in the general public, the confusion between Muslims and
terrorists can occur.
This misconception undoubtedly is encouraged by the media. They have a massive influence.
They play a huge part, because they bring these issues to our mind. So, I think the perception
about Muslims is that we live in a very strict, narrow minded, medieval system and that we are
backwards and treat women badly and that we want to take over the world….. I think it is also
important to note that the media is assisted by the fact most Australians have a lack of experience
with Muslims. Muslims make up 1.5% of the Australian population, so the chance of people
meeting you is quite minimal. So the media is huge and also politicians. I think politicians can
capitalise on Muslims.
Speaking of the media, I’ve heard of the ‘big scary Umma’, the big community which can come
together at the click of a finger and take over the world when the time is right. How scared should
everyone be?
[Laughs] That’s very good Kris. It’s an interesting concept. I think it’s funny because all humans
obviously have connections on some level, you know I could talk about a white Anglo Christian
Umma, because you look for example at the burkha debate, which starts in Belgium, automatically
makes its way to France and then on to Australia. Are these really separate entities or are they
connected by a common brotherhood? Lets not fool ourselves, of course there is a Muslim sense
of brotherhood in the world, probably which gets pushed more by things like being attacked as a
whole or things like being put on the front page. But I don’t think it’s anything more than a common
thread that connects all of us. I certainly know that Muslims can’t even organise a family barbeque
without somebody forgetting something, so to say that there’s a big possible new world order is
highly unlikely. [Laughs] I don’t deny that Muslims are very community orientated, but to somehow
think that Muslims are taking over is laughable. The notion that someone’s coming to get us is I
guess a human thing that results from fear of losing one’s identity. There may be Muslims who
would love a caliphate to occur however this is not a majority view.
The veil, I know this is a massive topic and we could speak about it for hours. What does it stand
for? Is it a sign of individuality, a fashion statement, male oppression or even something else?
Firstly, the Quran does not say to put the veil on so men can control you. I always wonder why
Westerners have made the assumption of this. All the females in my family do it purely out of love
and devotion to God. I think people think, “oh my god it’s hideous, how can someone choose to
wear that?” I think it can be used as a form of oppression but that’s not why it’s there. Anything can
be used for female oppression, for example a mini-skirt, but I don’t think that’s why women put it
on.
What would your reaction be if the Australian government was to enforce laws similar to those
imposed in Europe?
I would be very disappointed about that. My stepmother wears the Burqa and when I walk down
the street with her it’s confronting, I hate it, you can feel the heat, but that’s her level of faith, she
believes it to be part of her faith and my father has never tried to impose on that. My sister, same
thing, she wasn’t wearing it and no one cared, one day she decided to start wearing it. Now to
come and rip that off her, do you have the right to do that? And for example, if Muslim men are
forcing females to wear it well isn’t that just as bad as you forcing them not to wear it? Men have
no right to tell women what to wear full stop. I understand it is confronting, but I find dogs
confronting, I absolutely hate dogs, I think dogs should be banned, seriously I was at the park
yesterday and I just love to sit there and lie on the grass and look at the sky and I can’t do this
because there are all these dogs who come and bark at me and I get petrified by that. But I’m not
going to go around calling for the ban of dogs. This isn’t viable, because dogs are an important part
of people’s lives. I’ve got this little saying I coined the other day to put things in perspective; their
Burqa is louder than their bite, because it looks scary but it’s not actually affecting you, unlike a
dog. I mean it’s scary, it’s confronting and sure even Darth Vader has more personality than a
Burqa. [Laughs]
But seriously, where does all this stop? For Muslims it raises the alarm that ‘this is a war on Islam’
because when you got hard on us for terrorism, fine, that was a group of Muslims who actually
killed people, they were breaking the law – but the burkha’s not. The other things is - and this
shows how spineless these people are - women, in Islam, are the least problematic people, they’re
not the ones in gangs, they’re not the ones blowing up people. But the fact that you start your
crusade on what you see as voiceless, weak women, shows that you yourself [referring to the
senator] are a pathetic person, because he himself is oppressing the weakest link and someone
who has done absolutely nothing wrong. I think there is a real disregard for how these women feel,
for example my step mother has retreated to the house because this treatment has caused serious
mental and health problems for her. She doesn’t want to go out on the street anymore because
she feels there is now a conflict because she can’t be herself and wear her funny little religious
symbol. So, I was very disappointed with the announcement, especially when non-Muslim men
start going off at women, I’m like ‘you’re the most pathetic weak human being I have ever come
across’ because Muslim women are the least problematic, they have done nothing wrong.
Mohammed El-leissy is the Special Projects & Community Outreach leader for the Islamic Council
of Victoria
Kristoffer Mckay is a third year undergraduate student majoring in European Studies and
Linguistics at Monash University. He plans on completing further research relating to social
integration at postgraduate level next year.
West Papua’s struggle for independence gains momentum
By Kristian Lewis
The far eastern Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua have been the home of a political
and often violent struggle between Indonesian security forces and West Papuan resistance fighters
(OPM – Free West Papua Organization and TPN-OPM – its militant wing) since the 1960s.
The United States brokered the 1962 New York Agreement and the even more controversial 1969
referendum (Act of Free Choice), which saw the territory become officially recognized by some 84
states (including Australia) and the United Nations as part of the Indonesian Republic.
The 1969 referendum is of vital importance here as it is commonly noted as being “rigged”,
“farcical” and “not free.” This is due to the fact that of the 800,000 native inhabitants at the time,
only about 1,026 were handpicked for the vote between formal Indonesian integration or
independence. They are noted to have been threatened and coerced by the Indonesians, to the
point where they unanimously voted for the pro-Jakarta option.
Tensions have remained high ever since, not purely because of the cultural distinctiveness of the
Papuans, as they are Melanesian, but due to the severe repressive measures employed by the
military (TNI). The brutal tactics used in Papua resemble those of East Timor and this should be no
surprise considering that the same personnel are involved. The direct and indirect acts of state
terror have recently led to academics at Sydney and Yale Universities asking whether a gradual
genocide is being carried out against the West Papuans.
Sadly, even with the fall of Suharto, the granting of East Timorese independence and Acehnese
special autonomy, along with the impressive democratic reforms implemented under President
Yudhoyono, West Papua has seen little or no progress. While an Acehnese style special autonomy
law was drafted in 2001 and has the support of Canberra, the actual implementation of this reform
was strongly opposed by senior military figures and is yet to come to fruition.
On June 9-10 some 34 signatures gathered from numerous West Papuan societal groups were
presented to the provincial capital on June 14, in which it was claimed that special autonomy had
indeed failed. Four days later a large scale peaceful demonstration followed in which an estimated
2,000-6,000 people rallied in Jayapura, not just out of anger due to the failure of special autonomy,
but once again for a fair referendum and ultimately secession from Jakarta.
Days later Vanuatu broke new ground as the government announced that it would call for the
legality of the 1969 referendum to be reviewed by the International Court of Justice in September.
The resolution of conflict here is not only a priority for the indigenous people, but as we saw in
2006, following the arrival of 43 asylum seekers from the conflict zone, will have an often
downplayed but core role in Australia-Indonesia relations. To many it would appear that Canberra
has learnt little from the years of military collaboration and appeasement of Indonesia, which saw
the killing of some 200,000 people in East Timor, a country that was illegally invaded but is now
independent. The question remains, whether the once plausible theory of Indonesian disintegration
can reassert itself with the breaking away of West Papua from Jakarta.
Kristian Lewis is currently conducting his honours research on West Papuan independence at
Deakin University and also is an Access events coordinator.
Contemporary debate: The Clash of Civilizations
Samuel Huntington, Amartya Sen, Ayan Hirsi Ali and Mohammed Khatami.
By Ishita Acharyya.
Published as an article in 1993 in Foreign Affairs, and subsequently as a book, the ‘Clash of
Civilizations’ is Samuel Huntington’s renowned theory that the most significant source of conflict in
post-Cold War era would be along the lines of culture and identity, and that the “bloody borders” of
Islam could pose the greatest threat to Western civilization.
In June of this year Foreign Affairs magazine revisited this debate, publishing not only Huntington’s
original essay, but also the responses of critics and Huntington’s own replies. In answering his
critics, Huntington reaffirms the “need for a new model” to decipher the contemporary changes of
world politics and order, and posits his ‘Clash of Civilisations’ theory as the best model on the
market.
Critics of this theory include Amartya Sen, who, in his 2006 book, Identity and Violence, challenges
the absolutist definition of identity that Huntington’s theory rests upon. Amartya Sen posits that
although political violence is the result of dogmatic allegiance to nationality or ethnicity, they need
not primarily define individuals’ identities.
Ayan Hirsi Ali’s most recent book, Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through
The Clash of Civilizations, has once again brought the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ to the fore. It has
been classified by some as a tribute to Samuel Huntington’s theory. As always, Hirsi Ali stirs
impassioned debate with her critiques of Islam – that it is too conservative and places unrealistic
expectations on fallible people - are premised on the idea that Western culture and Islam are truly
dichotomous.
In keeping with this month’s theme, it is interesting to note that Hirsi Ali found the legality of her
immigration to the Netherlands and her Dutch citizenship to be the subject of scrutiny in 2006,
when the veracity of her application for political asylum in 1992 was in doubt.
In response to the Clash of Civilizations, the then President of Iran, Mohammad Khatami,
introduced an antithetical theory titledDialogue Among Civilizations in 2000. Khatami contended
that cultural and moral exchange between “civilizations” was perhaps more important for the
integrity of politics than the sensationalized notion of the inevitable “clash” between civilizations.
By Ishita Acharyya.
News Hit guest column: Travails of a former dictator
By Timothy Lawson
Former Panamanian President Manuel Noriega, 76, went on trial in Paris following his extradition
in April this year. In July he was found guilty and sentenced to jail for 7 years, and still has charges
to face in Panama. Given the failures of Noriega’s previous attempts to avoid jail, the future looks
bleak for the former military dictator.
Noriega ran Panama with military control up until he was deposed by the US armed forces when
they invaded in 1989. Noriega was detained as a prisoner of war and taken to the United States.
In April 1992, Noriega was tried and convicted by a US court on a number of charges – including
money laundering – relating to his cooperation with the Medellin drug cartel, a prominent criminal
organisation which operated primarily throughout the 1980s. Noriega helped the cartel, letting them
ship large amounts of cocaine through Panama to the U S in return for financial compensation.
Noriega, whom was contracted by the US Central Intelligence Service (CIA) in the 1950s and
worked with them up until the 1980s, failed to convince the court that his crimes were part of his
work for the CIA and was subsequently sentenced to 40 years in prison; this was later reduced to
30, of which Noriega served 17.
Noriega also claimed to have found God, proclaiming himself a born-again Christian while awaiting
his 1992 trial in the US. "I received Jesus Christ as my Saviour the 15th May of 1990 at 11 A.M.,"
Noriega was quoted as saying. While awaiting his US trial, Noriega met with Clift Brannon, a
preacher and former attorney. After their visit Noriega wrote to Brannon saying:
“On completing the spiritual sessions that you as a messenger of the Word of God brought to my
heart, even to my area of confinement as Prisoner of War of the United States, I feel the necessity
of adding something more to what I was able to say to you as we parted. The evening sessions of
May 15 and 16 with you and Rudy Hernandez along with the Christian explanation and guidance
were for me the first day of a dream, a revelation. I can tell you with great strength and inspiration
that receiving our Lord Jesus Christ as Savior guided by you, was an emotional event. The hours
flew by without my being aware. I could have desired that they continue forever, but there was no
time nor space. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your human warmth, for your constant and
permanent spiritual strength brought to bear on my mind and soul. – With great affection, Manuel
A. Noriega.”
The latest trial is a result of Noriega having been accused by France of laundering $3 million of
Colombian drug money through French bank accounts during his reign as leader of Panama from
1983 through to 1989.
In June 1999, Noriega and his wife were both sentenced to 10 years in prison and were fined $33
million for money laundering. Under French law, defendants convicted in absentia are entitled to a
new trial.
Noriega was sentenced to 7 years of jail at the end of this trial, but that will still not be the end of
his saga.
Following the approval of France’s extradition request in April, current Panamanian President,
Ricardo Martinelli, announced that Panama will request that after being tried in France, Noriega be
extradited to his home country. "We are not going to allow Noriega to spend one day not serving
his sentence in Panama, after he serves his sentence in France," Varela told AFP reporters.
Noriega was convicted in absentia on murder charges in Panama in 1995, receiving a 20 year
sentence.
Noriega’s legal team appealed for his release on the grounds that France will not honour his legal
status as a POW. Noriega’s lawyers have also appealed to the humanitarian organisation, the Red
Cross, contending that their client’s prison conditions were unsatisfactory because the prison was
decrepit, the General was deprived of his uniform and his medals and that he was denied access
to a Spanish-speaking doctor. They also pointed to the 76-year old’s deteriorating health; making
mention that he was partially paralysed by a stroke he suffered four years ago.
Noriega’s proclaimed spiritual enlightenment, old-age, deteriorating health and loss of his rank,
medals and POW status, have not proved sufficient to keep the ex-dictator out of prison.
Timothy Lawson is a student of journalism at Monash University and also the international editor
on student journalism websiteNews Hit.
Global Snapshot for July 2010
Compiled by Ishita Acharyya and Andrew Zammit
The Americas
USA and Mexico – The Great Immigration Debate across the seas:
For the first time since the 1920s there is a greater number of illegal immigrants entering the USA
than legal ones, in particularly through the US-Mexico border. However, this year’s Mexican
census has revealed that fewer Mexicans are electing to make the dangerous journey to the US,
not only because of the danger, but importantly because of the US’s ailing labour market. Debates
about the political, social and economic implications of both higher rates of immigration, and a
higher Hispanic voting population, continue to feature in US media and society.
For insight into the community bodies that drive the debate:
The Centre for Immigration Studies recently published that “illegal aliens” are responsible for the
decline in US teen employment. It also contend that high rates of immigration make it “harder to
achieve such important national objectives as better public schools, a cleaner environment,
homeland security, and a living wage for every native-born and immigrant worker”.
The Migration Policy Institute has published recently that an increase in migrants – particularly in
the skilled labour section – results in lower inflation and has “a small, but positive impact on the
income of average Americans”, and examines the short-term impacts on immigration of a
depressed labour market.
Venezuela and Colombia – tensions at the border:
Hugo Chavez has boosted the military presence at the border shared with Colombia as the new
Colombian finance minister has been sworn in. Chavez – a leftist - has responded after being
accused by the conservative Colombian government of allowing leftist Colombian rebels establish
bases there.
Although observers say that real conflict is unlikely, the recent troubles have brought regional
relations to a new low. Other Latin American states are attempting to diffuse the situation through
diplomatic means.
A virulent critic of the US, Chavez has rejected the US’s judgment of Venezuela as “petulant” and
has threatened to cut off oil supplies to the US.
The Middle East
Iran – How close to a bomb?
US President Barack Obama approved a new round of sanctions aimed at forestalling the Islamic
Republic of Iran’s nuclear program. However, there is disagreement not only over whether this is
the most effective approach, but over how close Iran is to developing a nuclear weapon.
Joseph Cirincionne and Elise Conners of the Ploughshares Fund recently argued that developing a
nuclear bomb is more difficult and time consuming than you’d think.
Lebanon – Mass mourning follows death of leading Shia cleric:
Lebanon’s top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, died of natural causes
on July 4th. The Lebanese government declared a national day of mourning, and Shia political
figures throughout the Middle East payed tribute, including the leaders of Iraq and Iran.
Fadlallah was not only a religious leader in Lebanon but played a key political role. He helped
mobilise Shia Muslims in Lebanon against their marginal position in Lebanon’s stratified political
system, and also against the Israeli military presence which lasted till 2000.
He was widely regarded as the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, resulting in him being designated a
terrorist by the US. Nonetheless, relations between Fadlallah and Hezbollah became strained in
recent years, with Fadlallah’s views being more moderate and liberal in comparison. The BBC has
more on Fadlallah’s death, as well as a useful backgrounder on Hezbollah.
More recently, Hezbollah has stated that it expects some of its members to be indicted for the
assassination of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005. The Lowy Interpreter looks at the effect this
could have on Lebanon’s fragile political system, and the region more widely.
Israel and Turkey – Strategic alliance potentially at an end:
The consequences of the Gaza convoy incident are still playing out, mainly through the
dramatically deteriorated relations between Israel and Turkey. Turkey, a NATO member and
Israel’s only ally in the region, has been threatening to cut off security cooperation if Israel does not
apologise for raiding the Turkish ship carrying activists who were attempting to break the blockade
of Gaza. Israel has refused, arguing that the raid was a necessary act of self-defence. Jean-Luc
Renaudie examines what effect this breakdown of relations could have on Israel.
Africa
Guinea - “First free election” no outright winner:
After forty years of military rule, Guinea held what has been dubbed as its “first free election”, but
with no outright winner. A run-off presidential election is scheduled for later in July.
Despite some allegations of voting fraud, a lack of infrastructure and “democratic tradition”,
observers have thus far assessed the electoral process as having been smooth. This challenges
the conventional wisdom that a “democratic tradition” is needed for a country to successfully adopt
democratic institutions.
See Al Jazeera English for more info on the election and the candidates.
Guinea’s interim government recently banned protests against election fraud, but in spite of this
a peaceful demonstration was successfully conducted on the 5th of July.
Nigeria – Efforts to attract investment:
Foreign investors are in talks with the Nigerian government about potentially investing heavily in
Nigeria’s minimal power sector – under the condition that a comprehensive regulatory framework is
first implemented. This would obviously massively boost the country’s economic development, but
there may be other implications of foreign investment for domestic markets.
South Africa - Former police chief convicted in anti-corruption program:
Debate rages amongst commentators about whether South Africa is sufficiently addressing
corruption, while the South African judicial system produces ironic evidence that it is. Jackie Selebi,
former police chief, has been convicted of accepting briberyand has been described as having
‘“complete contempt for the truth” during the trial.’
Asia
Nepal – PM resigns to “end deadlock”:
Nepal’s PM has been forced to resign by the Maoists - the largest party in the country - after
having been appointed to lead a 22-party coalition in May of last year.
Who are Nepal’s Maoist rebels? The BBC has a useful summary on a movement that cannot be
written off as an anachronism.
Amidst such political turmoil, issues like poverty and education remain inadequately addressed. In
June’s Quarterly Access, Dale Jasper provides an insight into Nepal’s recent political past and
novel ways that the Nepalese community is dealing with their stark realities.
India – Fuel prices hiked, resulting in strikes:
Fuel prices have been hiked in India in an attempt to decrease deficits and subsidies. These have
prompted some of the most vociferous strikes, instigated by the Opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP). Businesses were shut down; people took their protests to the streets, particularly in states
ruled by leftist governments and the BJP:
What will the economic and political impacts of the fuel price rise be?
According to Reuters, given the upcoming election, this could result in the governing Congress
party losing popularity in key areas and could also garner support for a seemingly lost Opposition.
Economically, state subsidized oil companies could lose market share, while private competition
may be given a boost and incentive to enter the market:
China – Anniversary of ethnic violence in Urumqi:
China’s stock market has plunged as Chinese security forces have been deployed to Urumqi,
exactly one year after the violence between China’s Uyghur Muslim minority and Han majority.
Uyghur Human Rights Project reports that there is resentment within the Uyghur community about
a lack of redress and independent investigations into last year’s riots and bloody violence.
China – Claims of an inferiority/superiority complex:
After suffering “one hundred years of national humiliation” China is attempting to cultivate a more
“cosmopolitan” international image, in spite of the ethnic conflicts within its own borders:
Europe
Eastern Europe – Hilary Clinton sends a reminder:
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently toured former Soviet satellite state in Eastern
Europe, such as Poland, the Ukraine and Georgia. The trip appeared to be aimed at reassuring
those countries that had come to fear their sovereignty was threatened by an increasingly assertive
Moscow.
On her tour Clinton spoke on the importance of democracy, made allusions to the Cold War,
promised potential NATO membership to the Ukraine and described the Russian troop presence in
Georgia as an occupation. However, throughout the trip Clinton was always careful to not overly
upset Russia, which remains a country of huge strategic importance for the US. The BBC
has more on this balancing act.
EU: Sri Lanka denied trading access on human rights grounds:
Coinciding with Prime minister Gillard has lifting the moratorium on processing humanitarian visa
applications of Tamil asylum seekers, the EU has stated that it regards that the Sri Lankan
government is responsible for human rights violations that are allegedly still continuing today.
The EU has responded by suspending the country’s “preferential trade access”. The Sri Lankan
government has countered that the attempt to force it to make a pledge to improve its human rights
record is a breach of its sovereignty and an example of Western hegemony.
Kosovo – Danger and decisions:
Two violent incidents in the past month have renewed tensions between Serbia and Kosovo. A
member of the Kosovo parliament, who belong to the ethnic Serbian minority, was recently shot
and taken to hospital. Some days afterwards a bomb attack occurred against a rally held by Serbs
in Kosovo, killing one and injuring many.
The violence has led to heated exchanges between Serbian and Kosovar representatives at the
United Nations. AlertNet provides a detailed backgrounder to the situation.
Meanwhile the International Court of Justice issued a ruling that Kosovo’s declaration of
independence was not against international law. This challenged claims made by Serbia, which
does not recognise Kosovo as an independent state. The ruling was opposed by Russia and
China, wary of independence movements within their borders, and supported by most EU states.
Political science blog Monkey Cage analyses the reasoning behind the decision.
Issue 8
Message from the Editor
By Olivia Cable
Welcome to Monthly ACCESS. This edition marks the opening up of our readership, from ACCESS
members only, to the wider audience of the AIIA membership and students of the Australian
National University.
The ACCESS team have been busy organising two events for June. On 3 June, don’t miss the
‘great debate’ with QC and human rights activist, Julian Burnside, and CEO of the Asylum Seekers
Resource Centre, Mr Kon Karapanagiotidis. On 21 June, Professor Stephen King, a renowned
economist from Monash University, will present on the ethics and efficacies of government
bailouts. Also at Dyson House in June we have Professor Greg Barton speaking about the nature
of Indonesia’s democratic transition – a timely event as Australia’s ‘Asia illiteracy’ debate continues
– and the recently returned AIIA study group will host a night to discuss their trip to East Timor.
In this edition of Monthly ACCESS, we were fortunate to again interview Professor Hugh White
from The Australian National University. Hugh White comments on the viability of Prime Minister
Kevin Rudd’s ‘Asia Pacific Community’ proposal. Meanwhile, in our new segment ‘career spotlight’,
we meet the remarkable Lucy Bradlow. Following an internship at the United Nations International
Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Lucy founded the One by One Foundation. Lucy lives by the theory
that “ending poverty in Africa is not a hopeless cause and that each person can make a
difference.” Read her in-depth interview with Monthly ACCESS below.
Finally, following on from last month’s ‘contemporary debate’, we have an article by young
economist Antonio Cruz, on the burka debate. And in this month’s edition, we provide insight into
two controversies in North Asia: the legality of Japan’s whaling program and the sinking of South
Korean vessel Cheonan.
If you’d like to contribute to Monthly ACCESS newsletter, we’re looking for people to interview and
worthy websites relating to debates and issues in the international realm. Our e-mail address
is [email protected]
Olivia Cable
*Olivia is studying Asia Pacific Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra.
Your feedback
From ACCESS members and our readers
There has been increased pressure on Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in recent
weeks. Israel is one of three nations never to have signed the agreement, alongside India and
Pakistan. This comes after revelations of a South African nuclear weapons deal with Israel in 1975,
in which it is reported that Israel’s President Shimon Peres promised the apartheid state warheads.
Mr Peres denies any such arrangement.
In more hot water, an aid flotilla to the Gaza strip, organised by Turkish pro-Palestinian supporters,
has recently been boarded by the Israeli Navy. The high-profile flotilla included a crew of European
delegates and a Nobel laureate. More people were due to board in its final leg in Cyprus but were
prevented by maritime officials as it docked. Israel has vowed to stop the fleet reaching Gaza,
while Hamas officials have prepared a warm welcoming party choreographed by leaders in Gaza's
hard-line ruling faction.
* Sarah Norgrove is studying Security Analysis at The Australian National University in Canberra.
Q&A with Hugh White
With Olivia Cable
In 2008, Rudd proposed a new institution, the Asia Pacific Community (APC), which can be
seen as a response to major global economic and geo-strategic changes. Appointing
Richard Woolcott as Special Envoy, he visited 22 countries, consulting leaders of the
highest level; ministers, senior officials, academics and those involved in think tanks in the
region. As Rudd said, he wanted “to begin a conversation” and strengthen cooperation in
the Asia Pacific region. What has been the general consensus to date?
HW: That this is not an attractive idea. Just look at what was proposed; the speeches, the
conference in Sydney, what the government convened.
Rudd’s speech articulated two reasons why he thinks the region needs a new institution. Firstly, to
better manage the problems the region faces today, climate, change, pandemics, people
smuggling. Secondly, the region is changing fundamental shifts in economics, therefore strategic
weight. We need to manage this process strategically.
Rudd proposed two different arguments. One was about the present order and another was about
building new order. These are very different kinds of arguments. Like the difference between
writing law and constitutions; one is writing, the other is building.
In my mind, it failed- as I think it has – because the two different interpretations of what its about
are incompatible. You can’t trust the same instrument for two different things.
The real purpose of the APC is the second one [changes in strategic weight]. To rebuild order,
membership will be exclusive not inclusive. With only big powers involved, the less credible it will
become.
There were structural problems from the outset [of the APC]. The handling of it diplomatically was
completely wrong.
A shifting balance of power is challenging the hegemonic position of the United States by
China and India. How can Rudd help Obama understand China’s growing power and to
minimise strategic competition between the two superpowers?
HW: Key question. It’s critical, because it appears that the Americans find it hard to take seriously
the scale of China’s challenge. The most important, useful thing Australia can do is make clear to
the US what Australia thinks - that we see China’s growing power as transformational and we see
US primacy cannot be sustained if China keeps growing.
There is no particular reason that the US will respond just because Australia says that. Australia
sends mixed messages and when you hear mixed messages, you hear what you want to hear.
They [the US] pick out what they want to hear.
The 2009 White Paper, it said two different things. One; that China’s growing power is
transforming the region, and two; that the US would remain a global power for as long as we can
see.
If Rudd wants to be able to persuade Obama he must be brave enough to tell him what he thinks,
and he must tell Australian’s first, which so far he’s been reluctant to do.
If Rudd’s APC works, what will happen to existing institutions such as ASEAN, APEC and
the EAS?
HW: They would be some less significant. His principle aim is to prevent it the APC from dying. As
long as it is out there and discussed, he’ll be able to pretend to himself that it’s going somewhere
They have their place [and] some strategic issues can be addressed through current institutions.
[Although with] a shift in the fundamental power of relativities, that’s not something you do
multilaterally.
Are multilateral institutions the right tool to use in Asia when addressing economic and
strategic issues? What sort of tool should Rudd have used in order to maximise our
opportunities and minimise our threats in the region?
HW: A very good question. There was a debate between bilateralists and multilateralists. I always
thought the debate was stupid, but they’re both important. It’s like you need the right size spanner
for the right sized nut.
Without the strategic challenges, I don’t believe multilateralism forums will make a difference. New
order is created by the way individuals see their interests.
Australia should have the conversation with the US to respond to China’s growing power, by
sharing rather than competing. In order to do that safely, the US needs to remain active in Asia.
We need to set some standards around what is acceptable by China, which needs to be
conservatively set, giving China room to work - to be prepared to work in the international order,
getting the boundaries clear.
It has been the most challenging piece of diplomacy in Australia’s history. It’s not going to be done
by sitting in a hotel with 20 countries. It needs to be one-on-one.
It first involves talking to Australians. Rudd can’t engage in creating a new strategic order until
Australians know what is at stake, what’s good, what’s not, what we need to purse. Until he has
credentials at home, he can’t go overseas.
Editor’s note: The following link to articles on Rudd’s Asia Pacific Community from the East Asia
Forum Quarterly provides further reading.
http://epress.anu.edu.au/eaf/vol1/02/index.html
Graeme Dobell’s commentary in the Lowy Interpreter also provides invaluable reading.
http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2010/04/28/Rudd-to-ASEAN-You-win.aspx
* Hugh White is Professor of Strategic Studies and Head of the Strategic & Defence Studies
Centre at the Australian National University. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute for
International Policy.
Career Spotlight with Lucy Bradlow
With Olivia Cable
In 2008, Lucy Bradlow undertook an internship at the United Nations International Criminal
Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. During her time in Arusha, Lucy endeavoured to do
some non UN related volunteering to engage with Tanzanians. Through volunteering at an
orphanage in Arusha, Lucy met Carley Andrews, an Australian who started Ujamaa volunteer
hostel in Arusha.
Together Lucy and Carley started the Ujamaa Children's Home. Upon returning to Australia, Lucy
founded the One By One Foundation as the fundraising organisation for the home. Since starting
the One by One Foundation, it has branched out to include a scholarship program as well.
A native South African, Lucy lives by the theory that “ending poverty in Africa is not a hopeless
cause and that each person can make a difference.”The One by One Foundation allows
Australians
to
make
a
difference,
one
child
at
a
time.
The One by One Foundation is hosting a fundraising event on 19th June 2010.
http://www.theonebyonefoundation.org/index.php?id=9
How many children is The One by One Foundation currently assisting?
LB: The One by One Foundation currently assists 6 children in different capacities. We currently
have 5 children in the Ujamaa Children's Home- 4 year old twins Ali and Halima, brother and sister
Kalven and Irene (8 and 10), and 13 year old Sabina. The Ujamaa Children's Home aims to be as
much like a family home as possible, hence why we have two sets of siblings. The age range
means that not only are the children cared for and loved by their wonderful housemother Gloria
and cleaner Rose, but they care for, and love, each other.
The One by One Foundation scholarship fund currently has one student- Verynice Kitali. Verynice
came to me through her father who was my taxi driver when I lived in Arusha. She is a very bright
girl with an excellent grasp of English which allowed her to be accepted to the Edmund Rice
School in Arusha, an excellent selective High School. The One by One Foundation has contact
with the headmaster of Edmund Rice and receives regular emails from Verynice discussing her
excellent progress. Her name is a perfect summation of her person!
Although we would like to help all the impoverished children in Tanzania, the One by One
Foundation emphasises giving fewer children the best possible care, so all the children we care for
through the Ujamaa Children's Home and the One by One Foundation scholarship fund can grow
to have their own children who do not need to rely on aid programs.
What difficulties do you face when raising money from the international community?
LB: What is most interesting to me is that since I started the organisation I have received
enormous support from the International Community. As soon as I started the organisation I had 8
gorgeous girls from Melbourne sign up to help out. It is easy for me to be committed to the
organisation as I have been there and I know these children, but for them they just did it because
they are good people who really want to help in some way. Last year we held a Mother Daughter
(and special friend) lunch in Melbourne that raised over $10,000. This year we hosted a movie
night and are hosting the lunch again. The generosity of people around me has been both
astounding and touching.
The greatest difficulty with foreign charities, particularly charities that operate in Africa, is that
people's initial reaction is 'oh no, not another African charity'! A lot of people see it as yet another
organisation started by some idealistic, spoilt, 20 something who wants it to look good on the
resume and has no intention of properly overseeing it and most of the money will probably be
misappropriated anyway! There is definitely an element of truth to this reaction. I there are a lot of
reasons people start charities in Africa and I know there are a lot of organisations where 5 cents to
every $1 ever reaches anyone who needs it. But I think once I explained to people that this is a
small organisation and we aim to keep small enough so that we can effectively manage it
voluntarily for a long time to come, people become more interested.
I think there is actually a real desire in the international community to help break the poverty cycle
in some way, most people just don't know how to do it, or have tried in the past and have become
cynical about it. This is easy to do and I have definitely been there myself at times. But I really
believe what the One by One Foundation is doing is important and that there are truly incredible
people in Tanzania like Carley Andrews who are committed to making change. If we harness the
good work of these people through organisations like the One by One Foundation, we really can
make a difference.
How does The One by One Foundation differ from other aid organisations?
LB: I guess this relates a lot to my answer above. The One by One Foundation is absolutely
committed to being completely voluntary. This means that no matter how quickly the wind takes us
we will never grow to a point where we can't stand by our original goals and aspirations- a
voluntary organisation that provides children with the best possible chance at a future.
Because we advertise ourselves as really small and volunteer based, it is also extremely important
that we are totally transparent. The One by One Foundation tries to make it as easy as possible for
donors to see exactly where their money is going, so they can log on the website and see that we
made $4,500 at the movie night and see exactly what it was spent on like $70 for electricity and
$2.50 on vegetables! I think this really separates us from a lot of charitable organisations, not
necessarily because they are misappropriating the money, but because it is too much effort. If we
keep the organisation small, it will stay manageable.
Was it difficult to establish this foundation?
LB: Legally it is a nightmare to establish a foundation and I am a lawyer! There are a lot of
requirements to fulfil and a lot of admin and it is near impossible to get the god-like status of
Deductible Gift Recipient (which we are still trying for). But practically, no, it was very easy. When I
found something I wanted to fundraise for I just sent out an email asking anyone if they wanted to
help and off we went! People were very generous last year and we hope again this year with their
time, money and other donations. We had an amazing raffle at the lunch, which we will hopefully
get again this year.
I think the foundation is much more difficult to administer on the other side, i.e. in Tanzania, and
that is why I have such great admiration for Carley. The stark truth of the matter is that many
Tanzanians are desperate and without effective monitoring of everything that goes toward the
home money can easily disappear. We are lucky in that we have an incredible housemother Gloria
who has basically run the home for free for a long time and we can really trust her. She is an
absolute gem!
The scholarship side of the foundation has been very painless. Technology these days means that
I can be in contact with the headmaster of the school in Arusha via email and electronically transfer
him the school fees. Verynice, our first sponsored student, is a very self-motivated little girl so she
went off herself and organised to write the entrance exam and then organised to be in the boarding
school. It is great to sponsor a student like her because you know that she values her education so
much and that she is making the most of the opportunity.
What are the dangers for Tanzanians of people establishing aid organisations?
LB: People talk a lot about the dangers of aid organisations for Tanzanians, but to be honest I have
not really been too involved in that debate. There is certainly an element of truth to the neocolonialism debates about Africa in that because of aid organisations the white man still holds an
element of control over Africans. I also know that there are many arguments to say that aid merely
makes people rely on aid and not strive for anything themselves. But like I said above, I look at
Verynice and Gloria and really they have done (and continue to do) most of the work themselves
and I don't see it as us providing them aid, but providing them a chance to take hold of an
opportunity. I know that most of the things I have done in my life have been possible because my
parents have had the resources to make it possible but that does not mean I have not worked hard
to have the opportunities, or gained a great deal from them.
The real buzzword now is development rather than aid. Everyone is about 'teaching a man to fish'
rather than giving them a fish, and I think ideas like this are tremendous in many situations. But
with children it is really hard to teach them to fish when they have no idea what fishing is and have
no opportunity to use their fishing skills once they have been taught. Orphaned children need aid.
They need someone to provide them with a home and a bed and food to be able to be at the point
where we can teach them to fish.
We are very careful about not interfering in their lives too much as well. While we want the children
to grow up to learn about some important things, like equality of the sexes, we are careful that they
are brought up in a Tanzanian way. Their housemother Gloria is the best person in this sense
because she is a wonderful, strong Tanzanian woman who is teaching them Tanzanian values but
also leading by example. I really don't think that us providing the funds for her to do so is of any
disadvantage to her or the children.
How do you see the future of The One by One Foundation evolving?
LB: The primary aim of the One by One Foundation is to be able to grow in a way that allows it to
remain an entirely volunteer based organisation. We therefore aim to grow slowly and carefully,
ensuring that we can support our current projects to capacity before taking on new projects.
Our primary project is, and will continue to be, the Ujamaa Children's Home. The Ujamaa
Children's Home aims to provide the best possible level of care to all its children. That does not
mean Ujamaa Children will not grow, but it means that growth will depend on each child already in
the home having their needs catered for. The growth for the home will then be based on the
following factors:
The Children: Ujamaa Children's Home believes that to provide optimal support to the children,
we will limit intake to 10 children for now. We would want to provide each of these children with a
full private education in the best possible schools; ensure each child has a full and healthy diet and
optimal health care, which may include psychological health care if needed; and to provide
opportunities for the children to be children - more outings, birthday parties and rewards. We also
intend to be able to support the children well into adulthood, so if they chose tertiary education or
vocational training they will have a support system until they are able to support themselves.
The Home: We are currently renting a house for the children to live in, but it is our goal to buy a
plot of land to build a permanent house. This house will have the potential to house 20 children,
however, we know that as children grow their needs change and as such our house will have
different areas for different age groups. There will also be space for staff, play areas, learning
areas, lounge areas and the sense of a home. For environmental and health reasons, we aim to
have a garden in which we can grow our own produce, solar panels to cut down electrical costs
and the creation of other programs to enable to home to become more of a self-sustaining project.
The Staff: Ujamaa Children's Home has wonderful staff and as our resources grow we would like
to be able to provide greater recognition to the staff for their hard work and generosity. This would
not only mean more staff with better wages, but also opportunities for the staff to have education
and further training, and to be able to provide greater support to their families.
As well as the Ujamaa Children's Home, the One by One Foundation has a small scholarship fund
for children in Arusha known to One by One's directors who are unable to afford high school.
Currently we have one child, Verynice Kitali, who we are paying to attend the Edmund Rice School
in Arusha. We see the One by One Foundation Scholarship Fund developing in the following ways:
The 'School for School Fee' program: The One by One has been in touch with a number of
schools across Melbourne and has introduced a program whereby a school, a house within a
school or a year level within a school, can sponsor a child's school fees for the year. The
sponsoring school will receive photos and information on the student and will be able to follow the
student's progress. For only $600 a year, a school group will be able to offer a Tanzanian student
the opportunity for an education that they may take for granted.
Partnership with the Umoja Centre: The One by One hopes to work with the Umoja vocational
training centre in Arusha to put children who have left school for a variety of reasons back into
senior school. Such a partnership will mean that Umoja can send more children back to school and
One by One will know that their is someone on the ground monitoring the children's progress.
Partnership with the Edmund Rice school in Arusha: Currently Verynice Kitali attends the
Edmund Rice school in Arusha. Edmund Rice is a very good, selective school that offers boarding
opportunities to its students. We have been in touch with the Headmaster of Edmund Rice and
hope to develop a relationship with the school that allows us to send more students there and in
return the school will be assured of payment of fees.
www.theonebyonefoundation.org
Global snapshot
What’s been going on around the world?
North America
As Jamaican drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke hides from police in Kingston, Jamaica. 26
civilians have lost their lives from being caught up in the crossfire.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/26/jamaica-violence-security-forces-kingston
The worst environmental disaster in US history, see this interactive timeline on efforts to plug the
well. As efforts continue, it may not be until August that BP contains the spill.
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/05/28/us/20100528_GULF_TIMELINE.html
Asia
It seemed ABC’s “Lateline’ was lucky to steal an interview with Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra, but did Shinawatra hang up on Tony Jones?
http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2010/05/26/2910366.htm
Also on Thailand, Journalists Without Borders reports on restrictions on information and their
reliance on social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter.
http://en.rsf.org/a-second-journalist-killed-in-19-05-2010,37509.html
Not only has Australia qualified for the soccer World Cup in Germany 2011, but so has North
Korea.
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/sport/matildas-hold-nerve-to-clinch-asian-cup/storye6frg7mf-1225873266707
South Asia
While taxi driving in India is an exclusively male occupation, efforts by the Azad Foundation may
change this.
http://www.guardianweekly.co.uk/?page=editorial&id=1573&catID=17
The Taliban has been blamed for the bombing of two mosques in Lahore on Friday 28 May.
Here’s what happened.
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/05/2010528923401784.html
Europe
Economics, at the best of times, is difficult to explain and the sovereign debt crisis in Europe is no
exception. This series of maps from the New York Times, however, should provide a clearer
picture.
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/04/06/business/global/european-debt-map.html
For those who prefer the written word, Australia’s Business Spectator has a special section on the
crisis.
http://www.businessspectator.com.au/sovereign-debt
And, direct from the statistician’s office, you can find the data here.
http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/government_finance_statistics/introduction
http://www.economicsnetwork.ac.uk/links/data_free.htm
Britain meanwhile elected a new coalition government of the Conservatives and Liberal
Democrats. Prime Minister David Cameron shares his agenda at Downing Street’s official website.
http://www.number10.gov.uk/
But who will be Britain’s chief mouse catcher?
http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/05/19/miaow-prime-minister-the-bureaucats-of-downing-street/
The Middle East
As sanctions in Gaza continue, a flotilla of eight boats carrying thousands of tonnes of aid sets sail
from Turkey to Gaza.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/25/gaza-flotilla-aid-attempt
The United Nations says the blockade Israel has imposed on Gaza punishes the local people
unfairly. Israeli officials claim however that ships don’t help.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/turkey-to-israel-lift-blockade-of-gaza-1.292157
And click here to follow the flotilla’s progress.
www.witnessgaza.com
Africa
The 2010 World Cup kicks off this year in South Africa
http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/
And World Vision meanwhile launches a campaign to kick child labour out of soccer balls
http://www.worldvision.com.au/issues/Human_Trafficking___Slavery/WhatIsOurResponse/Kicking
_child_labour_out_of_socce
Banning the burqa; does it address women’s rights?
By Antonio Cruz
South Australian Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi is the most recent high-profile political figure in
Australia to have called for a national ban of the burqa. His call was made following a report that a
man wearing a burqa and sunglasses was involved in an armed robbery in a Sydney car park.
The Senator wrote on his blog that “the burqa is no longer simply the symbol of female repression
and Islamic culture, it is now emerging as the preferred disguise of bandits and ne'er do wells.”
A great degree of cynicism should be directed toward the motives of those who endorse the
banning of the burqa in Australia, especially when the mainstream debate is driven by non-Muslim
Anglo-Australian male politicians and media commentators.
One does not need to delve too deeply into the arguments of these commentators to discover they
are less concerned with the freedom and equality of women in society but are rather targeted to
the politics of fear and intolerance.
Only a very small proportion of women wear the burqa in Australia. Despite this, conservative
commentators have created a strong negative stereotype around it. It is not surprising therefore
that in mainstream media the burqa is portrayed as an affront to Australian society and our way of
life.
An online poll by UMR Research released in The Age on 26 May, 2010 found that three in five
Australians would support a ban on Muslim women wearing the burqa. Although a ban is not
current policy of either of the two major parties there is a sense that neither party are actively
dissuading the debate.
The most perplexing issue about a potential ban on the burqa is how society can enforce freedom
and equality if freedom of choice and expression of individuals in our community is denied.
Non-Muslims cannot understand the full cultural significance of the burqa, however given the
gender specific nature of the garment, its position in Islamic cultures is subject to significant debate
amongst Muslims worldwide. Ultimately, this is where the debate most appropriately belongs.
It is not to say there is no place for people to try to defend the rights of women nor address gender
inequality in our society but our attention should not be restricted to a very small proportion of
Australian Muslim women who choose to wear the burqa. Rather, it should concentrate on
addressing the gender imbalance in other more significant areas.
It is important to remind ourselves that Western societies have been equally unsuccessful in
promoting women to positions of political and economic power.
* Antonio is a young economist based in Melbourne, with degrees in political science and
economics.
Contemporary debate: controversy on the high seas
The issues that are shaping our world
Fighting whaling in the courtroom
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s move to take Japan to the International Court of Justice is a risky
move, considering the diplomatic and economic stakes.
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/rudd-risks-the-anti-whaling-cause/story-e6frg6zo1225872711955
Trevor Wilson, Australian Embassy Minister in Tokyo from 1996-2000 and participant of
negotiations on Japanese agriculture policy, meanwhile finds that a mutual solution “seems more
remote than ever”.
http://www.asialink.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/28491/wilson_essay1_2010.pdf
Not only are Japan’s policy makers puzzled by Australia’s love of whales, they’re also concerned
with the Australian media’s relationship with whaling and the bilateral relationship.
And fighting in North Korea without going to war
Seoul is going to the United Nations Security Council following the torpedoing of its navy
vessel, Cheonan, by the North. But why sink a South Korean ship and then claim you didn’t do it?
And does North Korea really pose a threat to the United States?
http://www.nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=23432
Elsewhere, Professor William Tow of the Australian National University reports on North Korea’s
attack and the ongoing regional uncertainty. Tow recommends what Australia can do to help
resolve the Korean dilemma.
http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2010/05/18/north-koreas-test-of-resolve/
Finally, what does the sinking mean for the six-party talks?
http://www.rsis.edu.sg/publications/Perspective/RSIS0512010.pdf
Britain, America, Australia: a tripartite concert of leaders
By Ronald Li
Britain, America, Australia. These three countries shares common histories and identities. They are
common law democracies and traditionally friendly to migrants and multiculturalism. They are also
associated with the Anglo-Saxon culture and civilisation.
Would it be any more surprising to say that they could have been sharing in the past decade, a
common electoral cycle and characteristics of their governments?
In the early 2000s we had the Howard-Blair-Bush coalition. They were in many ways similar, being
pro-business and pro-war. They were also more or less in power together in that same duration,
sharing a minimum of 2 Presidential and Prime Ministerial terms.
With the political fallout from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, they too were linked to or held
responsible for scandals such as being party to ‘torture’, and were subsequently removed from
power in the same cycle.
Then we have the second generation of leaders, post-war leaders. We have in the coalition, RuddBrown-Obama. The common threads binding these leaders together are that they ascended to the
pinnacle of power by capitalising on the currency of hope and promises.
They brought back some sense of moral righteousness to a rapidly jaded world. Indeed, with
smiling faces and words of assurances, and the blossoming financial crisis, people from all walks
of life rallied to them. There was a sense of relief that the worst was over.
Fast forward to today, these promises have mostly been broken. For the few promises that they did
manage to wrestle through, those were severely compromised or produced unsatisfactory
outcomes. Few could blame them for failing to do so as it seems they oversold themselves to the
public.
With the amount of change promised by these second-generation leaders left in the bank as they
handed out bailouts, public sentiment against these leaders were on the rise and the first casualty,
Gordon Brown has already been handed his retirement keys.
Rudd has managed, over just the past few months to completely flip his cushy advantage in
ratings, to become immensely unpopular as the media and opposition homes in on mistake after
mistake. The pressure is building up and the election has to take place within the year.
Obama finds himself in a similar situation, with the meltdown of multiple key institutions and the
financial crisis severely limiting his options. Losing his filibuster-proof majority in the Senate further
crippled his ability to pass through important election promises and the recent oil spill crisis seems
to hammer the last nail on the coffin.
Are we then likely to see a third-generation of leaders in these three countries take power at the
same time and share similar characteristics? Is the time for hope and peace, the Gen-X generation
who took over the baby boomers, over as well?
One can only imagine if it is true that a Gen-Y generation of governments assume leadership. On
one hand Gen-Y has long been linked with laziness, being spoilt brats and rolling stones. However
they are also the savviest and most enterprising generation. They also spend a lot of time
networking and being connected to each other.
Will this be reflected in their governments of the future? If so, we can expect a tripartite of
governments that are keen on further promoting global governance and institutions; governments
that aren’t afraid to break old moulds and invent new solutions. Only time can tell.
Issue 7
Message from the Editor
By Olivia Cable
Welcome to back to the Monthly ACCESS newsletter for May. The ACCESS team has been busy
travelling and researching new projects in Southeast Asia, some of which were bring here to you in
this edition. Plans are in place to create an ACCESS event for later this year focused on
international terrorism.
Skipping April’s edition only means that May’s newsletter is choc-a-block. This edition examines
the issue of terrorism from several different angles. We have a fascinating interview with Sidney
Jones of the International Crisis Group, two articles by Andrew Zammit and Annalies Engwerda on
the failed car bombing in New York and NATO's campaign in Afghanistan respectively, plus two
new features: Contemporary Debate and Global Snapshot.
We also have several letters from our readers plus an exceptional list of events for you to mark in
your diaries. Don’t’ miss our ACCESS run event The Great Immigration Debate – asylum seekers,
multiculturalism and the Australian identity on 3 June, with Mr Julian Burnside AO QC, barrister
and author and Mr Kon Karapanagiotidis, from the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre and refugee
lawyer.
If you’d like to contribute to Monthly ACCESS newsletter, we’re looking for letter’s to the editor,
opinion pieces and worthy websites relating to debates and issues in the international
realm. [email protected]
Keep in touch,
Olivia Cable
*Olivia is studying Asia Pacific Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra.
Your feedback
From ACCESS members and our readers
To ACCESS, Thanks for a great new publication! I particularly enjoyed the Q&A with Joel
Fitzgibbon and Hugh White (Monthly ACCESS newsletter, March 2010, Q&A). It was very
interesting to compare the government’s official perspective with that of a true expert. White’s point
that the ADF lacks purpose and leadership was ironically supported by Fitzgibbon’s careful and
ultimately empty answers. It was a pity that the interviews were not longer and it would be great to
hear more from Hugh White in the coming issues. Thanks.
* Tasman Vaughan, Bachelor of Arts/Asia-Pacific Studies, the Australian National University
Perhaps the Defence Department will always struggle for clarity because of politics (Monthly
ACCESS newsletter, March 2010, Q&A). The Department is ultimately subservient to the
government of the day, and is therefore pulled in different policy directions for reasons of political
expediency, varying perceptions of Australia’s relationship with the world from one government to
the next.
* Jono Singline, ACCESS member
In response to Alex Horwood, ‘Israel and the Elusiveness of Neutrality’ (Monthly ACCESS
newsletter, March 2010), a terrorist is seduced into his craft, not forced. Addressing all the
grievances in the world will not address terrorism. The modern terrorist is an entrepreneur. It’s an
exciting undertaking, deciding on a target, building a team, sourcing and building the weaponry,
sometimes rather sophisticated weaponry as Hamas has shown with its several replica US style
Raven Drones.
A very small group can enter the annals of history by defeating mighty military powers, such as
Spain (2004), The Netherlands (2005), Portugal (2005) and Italy (2006). This year Germany and
the Netherlands look likely to withdraw from Afghanistan; luckily Australia and others will prevent it
from falling into the hands of terrorists.
Perhaps the answer to dealing with terrorists, is dealing with terrorists, which fewer and fewer
countries these days are willing to do.
* Daniel Wilson, editor-in-chief of ‘Quarterly ACCESS’
Q&A with Sidney Jones
With Olivia Cable
Sydney, April 2010
What are the current objectives and strategies of Islamist Jihad in Indonesia?
SJ: There are three streams within Jemaah Islamiyah [JI – the most well known Jihadi group in
Indonesia]. The ‘violent’ stream is focused on the Al-Qaeda line of attacking the United States and
its allies. The second stream is doing Jihad for Jihad’s sake, with the ultimate goal of an Islamic
state. The third stream is made up of former leaders of JI who have renounced violence, believing
they are now too weak to actively engage in Jihadi operations.
Of these, the Noordin Top line was to wage Jihad now and work toward the establishment of an
Islamic state through military operations. The other two groups though are meanwhile reaching out
through preaching and Da’wah [to summons, or invite], saying ‘unless we use force, an Islamic
state won’t come. It’s an obligation to wage Jihad to win’. JI is telling members to ‘hold on, don’t
engage in force now, we’re too weak’.
A new Jihadi generation is being trained in Indonesia. What does this fourth generation
look like?
SJ: Not sure. All we know is that from one of these three groups, they are putting Jihad on hold
and instead focusing on systematic indoctrination. They’re being trained in fifteen JI schools. It is
not yet clear though whether the institutional network for the training of that generation exists.
Criminals are being recruited by Jihadi’s inside Indonesian prisons. What de-radicalisation
programs are in place and have they been effective?
SJ: De-radicalisation is not trying to prevent radicalisation, it is trying to take people who have
already joined movements. Police still need to work out how to stop radicalisation in Indonesia’s
prisons. However, on its own terms, religious counseling is successful in helping Jihadis disengage
from their use of violence.
Recruitment of criminals hasn’t been a huge problem, but certainly we have seen the recruitment
of drug dealers detained in the same cells as Jihadis. They see Jihadi membership as a way of
atoning for past behaviour and putting their skills to good use. It is useful for terrorist groups to take
criminals on board. It is not a big problem, but it is a subset.
The biggest problem in prisons is that there is no control over communication among the Jihadis.
People communicate from one prison to another by mobile phone, and new groups are formed in
prison by people who are recruiting through Jihadi-run programs. There is no control of convicted
terrorists.
* Sidney Jones is a senior adviser for the Asia Program at the International Crisis Group in Jakarta.
Her areas of expertise are terrorism and Islam in South East Asia. She was formerly Asia Director
with Human Rights Watch, Indonesia-Philippines researcher with Amnesty International and
program officer with the Ford Foundation. The International Crisis Group is an independent, nonprofit, non-governmental organisation committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict.
Homeland secure? The Times Square incident and current debates on terrorism
By Andrew Zammit
The recent car bombing attempt in New York City, and the questionable claim of responsibility
which followed, has relevance to an ongoing dispute amongst terrorism specialists.
In 2008 leading terrorism researchers Marc Sageman and Bruce Hoffman disagreed bitterly over
the danger posed by Al-Qaeda, particularly over its ability to directly instigate attacks in the West.
Hoffman characterised Al-Qaeda as an ever-growing threat, being very much “on the move”, while
Sageman argued that Al-Qaeda was “on the run”, and that the danger came largely from
autonomous homegrown terror cells.
Recently, both specialists published articles updating their assessments of Al-Qaeda.
In Sageman’s recent article he presented data suggesting that 78% of all Jihadi terrorist plots to
take place in the West over the past five years were perpetrated by autonomous homegrown cells
that were not under the control of Al-Qaeda. This, he argued, showed that the direct importance of
Al-Qaeda to the terrorist threat in the West was exaggerated, with homegrown Jihadi extremism
being far more important.
He therefore stated that “again, Al-Qaeda is on the run and not on the move.” For good measure
he mentioned Hoffman by name, adding: “After the Fort Hood tragedy of November 5, 2009, even
those who had previously believed that homegrown terrorism was a myth admitted to the press
that they had changed their minds about it.”
Meanwhile Hoffman’s recent contribution to the debate examined Al-Qaeda’s role in the escalation
of terrorist plots against the US. Pointing to the attempted bombing of a US airliner on Christmas
Day 2009, and the suicide bombing of a CIA base in Afghanistan, he argued that a “terrorist
movement ‘on the run’ does not pull off two separate incidents less than a week apart and call into
question the effectiveness of our entire national-security architecture.”
To Hoffman, “it is the United States and not al-Qaeda that appears to be on the run.”
The recent failed car bombing in New York City does not neatly fit either portrayal of the threat.
This attempt, described by police as “amateurish”, to use propane and fireworks to set off an
explosion in Times Square initially seems to support Hoffman’s analysis, as it does not appear
homegrown.
A Pakistani born US citizen has been charged, and seven others have been detained in Pakistan,
allegedly linked to the attack. A movement allied to Al Qaeda, Tehrik e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP),
took credit, and threatened more attacks to come.
However, terrorist groups regularly try to exaggerate their capability by falsely claiming
responsibility. In 1986 the US space shuttle Challenger tragically exploded shortly after take-off
due to mechanical failure; a Palestinian terrorist group known as the Abu Nidal Organisation
immediately claimed that they had planted a bomb on it.
Sageman's article of late last year pointed out that TTP was one of many terrorist groups that
regularly claimed responsibility for events which it had absolutely no connection to. In 2007 it took
credit for a power shortage in several US cities and in 2009 it took credit for shootings in New York
perpetrated by a deranged individual who had nothing to do with any global Jihad.
TTP’s attempt to claim this attack could well be just as fraudulent. New York City police stated that
there was no evidence that TTP was behind the recent car bombing attempt, and none of those
detained in Pakistan have yet been linked to this organisation. Even if it does turn out to be
involved, it may not be smart to take credit for a plot that so clearly failed.
The eagerness of this Al-Qaeda linked group to claim responsibility suggests its capability to
instigate attacks in the West is far less than it would like.
Returning to the dispute over how to characterise the current terrorism threat, no firm conclusions
can be drawn from a single incident. It is also worth remembering that despite the intense focus on
the threat these groups pose to the West, they pose afar greater danger to people in Pakistan and
Afghanistan, who are usually left out of the debate. Also, the views of Hoffman and Sageman do
not need to be as mutually exclusive as they have become, and a host of lower-profile terrorism
specialists see merit in both sides.
Nonetheless, while the attack so far appears not to be homegrown, this highly doubtful claim of
responsibility by TTP actually lends weight to Sageman’s argument. It suggests that the direct
threat Al-Qaeda and associated groups pose to Western countries is not as great as Hoffman
fears, and it is certainly not a sign of being on the move.
* Andrew Zammit is on the editorial team of ‘Quarterly ACCESS’
Things fall apart: NATO and the Dutch retreat from Afghanistan
By Annalies Engwerda
Since 2006, the Dutch Government has stationed troops in Afghanistan as part of the NATO
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The troops were originally due to return home in
2008, but when no replacement was found, NATO requested their service be extended to August
2010. The young government of Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende consented. When
NATO recently requested that the Dutch Government again reconsider bringing its troops home,
irreconcilable cracks emerged within the coalition parties of the Dutch government.
On February 20 the Dutch Labour Party withdrew from the Coalition. With no party able to form a
majority, fresh elections will be held within the coming months. Wouter Bos, leader of the Labour
Party, bitterly opposed the extension of the service in Afghanistan. Prime Minister Balkenende
supported keeping a reduced number of troops there for another year. In either case, by the end of
2010, all Dutch troops are due to return home, making the Netherlands the first country to withdraw
all troops from the Afghanistan mission.
The Netherlands has contributed almost 2,000 troops to Afghanistan, most of whom have been
serving in the southern province of Uruzgan alongside Australian troops. Twenty-one Dutch troops
have been killed in service, which has contributed to the growing unpopularity of the mission at
home. The 30,000 US troop increase announced by President Obama is set to replace the Dutch
troops upon their withdrawal.
Nevertheless, concerns remain that the Dutch withdrawal may set a dangerous precedent amongst
other donor countries.
The Obama Administration has made repeated requests for extra troops and equipment from allied
countries, many of which have gone unheeded. The most recent requests have come to some
fruition, with European countries pledging an additional 9,000 troops. However, these numbers are
overshadowed by the contributions made by the US.
The primary challenge for the mission in Afghanistan is waning public support inside many NATO
and contributing donor countries.
The forthcoming elections in the Netherlands looks set to be dominated by the right-wing Freedom
Party led by Geert Wilders, which campaigns heavily on issues such as immigration cuts and antiIslamism. Wilders’ opposition to the extension of troop service has increased his popularity. His
party triumphed in last year’s European parliamentary elections, winning four of the seats set aside
for the Netherlands.
Despite polarising Dutch society, his frank and candid opinions have resonated with a large portion
of the population. Many other European countries face similar discontent at home, and with
national elections looming for at least half a dozen other European countries, many parties will no
doubt be keen to position themselves on the popular anti-war platform.
The potential for further troop withdrawals from other donor countries comes at a bad time for
President Obama. The recent Afghan elections have been marred by allegations of fraud and
corruption, and growing numbers of Afghan civilians are killed in NATO operations.
The first of Obama’s 30,000-strong troop surge have nevertheless begun arriving in Afghanistan
for duty. Although the US troops also have a tentative return date – commencing in July 2011 –
more troops are needed for operations such as the recent offensive in the Marja district.
How the collapse of the Dutch government will affect the wider NATO mission in Afghanistan is
currently anyone’s guess. The Netherlands only contributes a small portion of the total number of
troops serving in Afghanistan, and whilst any withdrawals are detrimental to the mission, the
mission will of course strive ahead regardless. The political repercussions it could have across
Europe will be far more interesting, as disenchantment with the war increases.
The Obama Administration plans to begin withdrawing troops in 2011, the speed of which will
depend on conditions on the ground. For the sake of the success of the NATO mission, he will be
hoping that the Dutch experience does not replicate itself in many other countries before that time.
* Annalies Engwerda is a former volunteer at the AIIA. Currently working at the Parliament of
Victoria, she completed her BA with Honours in Politics at Melbourne University in 2008.
Global snapshot
What’s been going on outside
North America
The nuclear security summit in April brought together 47 heads of state to discuss President
Obama’s plan to secure the world’s nuclear materials from rogue states and terrorist organisations.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/communiqu-washington-nuclear-security-summit
The Washington Summit was merely a prelude however to the review conference of the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty, which began on 3 May in New York.
And although Obama may succeed in keeping nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists,
there is still enough fissile material in the world to make more than 150,000 nuclear weapons!
http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2873363.htm
Asia
Thailand’s ‘red shirts’ continued their protests in Bangkok. An International Crisis Group report
outlines what needs to be done.
http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/publication-type/media-releases/2010/conflict-risk-alert-thailand.aspx
Europe
Europe’s airlines were grounded last month from an unpronounceable Icelandic volcanic eruption,
which spewed thousands of tonnes of ash across the continent (perhaps in some kind of freaky
revenge for attacks on the Icelandic kroner and the reputation of the island nation’s financial
institutions).
Stories abound of passengers making their making their way by boat, car, rail and dolphin skis.
‘The Daily Show’s’ John Stewart reports on volcano Eyjafjallajökull.
http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-april-19-2010/volcanolypse-2010
The Middle East
The peace process in Israel-Palestine stalled again, failing to regain momentum after US VicePresident Joe Biden’s visit. Such occurrences are regrettably common in this conflict.
However, one genuinely new development has occurred in the region. In the Gaza strip a group
called ‘B Boy Gaza’ attempted to organise the territory’s first ever hip hop concert. It was shut
down by HAMAS, but Joshua Asen from Foreign Policy Magazine, has more on the growing
potential of Arabic hip hop.
http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/05/03/the_arab_league_of_hip_hop
Africa
It may now be that the biggest economic investor in Africa is not any Western country, but China.
Experienced journalist Howard W. French takes a look at this development for ‘the Atlantic.’ He
examines whether China may have come across a better way of promoting prosperity, or if Africa
is in for another round of exploitation.
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/05/the-next-empire/8018
But China’s far from the only country that can be suspected of ulterior motives when it comes to
Africa. Jenny Hayward-Jones in the ‘Lowy Interpreter’ looks at the connections between Kevin
Rudd’s 40% aid increase to the continent, and Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations
Security Council.
http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2010/05/04/African-gold-rush-Aid-and-UN-votes.aspx
Contemporary debate: banning the burka
The issues that are shaping our world
Should we respect a woman’s right to wear what she wants, even if it oppresses her? If the burka
has long been a symbol of male oppression, but what would be the effect on women of banning a
piece of clothing? Virginia Hauseggar, Julie Posetti and Shakira Huessein debate on ANU
Channel.
Should we ban the burka?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOfNf8Hn--U
“It's quite simple really: there is no place in our world - or any world for that matter - for a custom
that requires women to throw a heavy shroud over herself such that she can't walk, see or hear
properly, or participate in public life in the same way as men”, Virginia Haussegar.
An Iranian cleric meanwhile says that women who wear immodest clothing and behave
promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/20/world/middleeast/20briefs-Iran.html
Elsewhere, a German politician has come out saying that full body veils should be banned across
Europe, following the Belgian parliament’s recent passing of a ban. And is this an issue of human
rights or domestic security?
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/breaking-news/german-mep-silvana-koch-mehrin-pushesfor-europe-wide-burqas-ban/story-fn3dxity-1225861070500
Issue 6
Message from the Editor
By Olivia Cable
Welcome to the first Monthly ACCESS newsletter for 2010. After much deliberation and analysis,
we want to respond to our readers. Monthly ACCESS, a forum for expression, insight and dialogue
into contemporary debates and issues in the international realm, continues to value our reader’s
feedback we received over the past few months.
Our Q&A this month reflects our approach to more direct contact in debating with key
commentators. We hear from The Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon and Professor Hugh White on the Defence
White Paper and the (in)significance of Australia’s role in Afghanistan. An essay by Ross Cottrill,
Visiting Fellow at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy, ANU, meanwhile strikes a chord how
Australia is not on course in gaining wider recognition as a great power. “The Defence White Paper
2009 is a reminder of what we can learn from Teddy Roosevelt”, Ross writes.
Emerging journalist Susan Wilson has returned from working in Cambodia and found how an editor
in chief of the Phnom Penh Post got his job. Elsewhere, ACCESS member Alex Horwood conveys
how the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh should not go without investigated or unpunished.
And don’t miss the inaugural Foreign Affairs writing competition. Those still afloat after the global
financial crisis will surely put the $500 prize money to good use! This year’s topic “what is likely to
be the most interesting development in international politics over the next decade?”
We’re in the process of establishing our Quarterly ACCESS publication as a credible forum for
sophisticated and substantiated debate. Visit our website (click here) to read the latest edition of
Quarterly ACCESS.
If you’d like to contribute to Monthly ACCESS newsletter, we’re looking for opinion pieces and
worthy
websites
relating
to
debates
and
issues
in
the
international
realm. [email protected]
Keep in touch,
Olivia Cable
*Olivia is studying Asia Pacific Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra.
Welcome to ACCESS 2010
By Ishita Acharyya, ACCESS Chair
A very happy (albeit, belated) new year to you all. Here is a quick run-down of the plans for this
year.
Introducing ACCESS-AIIAVIC Mentorship Programme – to be launched in April.
To be launched in April, the ACCESS-AIIAVIC mentorship programme aims to provide those that
are driven and intuitive with a programme for professional, academic and personal development.
ACCESS mentees shall be given the opportunity to be mentored by some of our exceptional AIIA
members, development professionally and academically through ACCESS and consolidate
leadership and networking skills. It shall be a selective programme – please refer to our website in
the coming weeks for information about applying and about the programme itself.
Quarterly ACCESS:
Relaunched last year with the able direction of Daniel Wilson, editor-in-chief, we have a stellar
publication on our hands. ACCESS aims to render QA a lasting presence in the academic realm.
We’re excited by the calibre of submissions, and grateful for the support of the broader ACCESS
and AIIA community. Keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming issue, and for QA to make a grand
appearance at your universities and institutions.
Monthly ACCESS:
Olivia Cable has established a brilliant monthly publication for ACCESS – as is evidenced by the
sheer calibre of submissions to our newsletter and impressive interviews. We encourage you to
submit articles and interviews to MA. Expand your own network by forming meaningful connections
with those from whom you feel you can learn. We have excellent ideas for this year’s format – keep
reading!!
ACCESS website:
We’re really excited about this – a new, far more interactive and dynamic website is currently under
development. Look out for it in the near future.
ACCESS events:
As usual, our project teams are putting together various events that facilitate rigorous intellectual
discussion. Be a part of the dialogue – we urge you to attend our events. Planned events include
forums on immigration and asylum seekers, the global financial crisis and the utopian free market,
professional development seminars, terrorism, and more.
Opportunities at ACCESS:
We are looking to build an organization with an earnest organizational ethic. ACCESS functions
with various project teams – along with academic and intellectual engagement, we aim to develop
professional skills such as management and networking (among others).
If you are interested in any of the following areas, please send us an email. Also, we’ll be updating
the website in the coming weeks with more detailed information pertaining to these areas.
-
Monthly ACCESS team:
1. If you’re interested in editing and “reporting”, team work, and believe in the importance of
informed dialogue, contact us to be a part of our MA team.
-
ACCESS events:
1. What events would you like ACCESS to host this year? Is there something that particularly
enthuses you? Along with academic pursuit, are you keen to develop your networking,
presentation and management skills? ACCESS presents opportunities for project
management and team work – project managers and officers work in teams to bring to
fruition various events and other ACCESS plans.
-
Quarterly ACCESS team:
1. If you’re interested in joining our dynamic promotions and marketing team, please send us
an email. We have a particular focus on relationship development and earnest networking.
-
ACCESS committee:
1. Volunteers coordinator:
 Interested in masterminding and executing a volunteer programme at AIIA and earning a
position on the ACCESS committee? Keen to get involved in extracurricular activities and
international affairs? Send us an email with your details and experience listed.
-
Trusts and Grants Officers

If you’re interested in learning how to convince people and communicate effectively,
working in a dynamic team of driven individuals and being a key part of the ACCESS
family, apply to join our Trusts and Grants team. We are looking for people who can write
compellingly (well) and are intuitive. All members of the Trusts and Grants team will be
trained in how to apply for grants.
Any queries? Please email [email protected] . Apologies in advance for delays in
response.
* Ishita is chair of ACCESS and is a commerce/arts student at Monash University.
Q&A with the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon and Professor Hugh White
With Olivia Cable
The Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon
What were the major challenges you faced as Defence Minister?
JF: My biggest challenge as Defence Minister was to respond to a strategic assessment which
calls upon the ADF to do more, while keeping Defence spending within the growth parameters
Government had set. The only way to do so was to establish and drive a massive savings program
– the Strategic Reform Program. That is, finding internal savings for re-investment in higher-order
Defence projects and programs.
At the time of the 2009 Defence White Paper, media speculation was around China's
reaction to Australia's defence plans. Was this all a furphy?
JF: The 2009 Defence White Paper identified big shifts in global distribution of power including
significant changes in our own region. The White Paper acknowledges those changes and the
risks they could pose. Responsibly, the White Paper recommended a force which represents
adequate insurance against such risks. That force is not aimed at any particular nation state.
What themes are you currently focusing on?
JF: I’m trying to enjoy the freedom of the backbench for the time being. Doing plenty of committee
work and keeping myself busy in my electorate. I watch Afghanistan very closely and I believe our
decision to focus more on training and capacity building was the correct one.
What are the key issues for the next election?
JF: Education, health, the environment and economic management will be the big issues and the
Government’s record should serve it well.
* The Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon, Federal Member for Hunter, NSW, served as Minster for Defence in
the first Rudd Government between December 2007 and June 2009. Prior to the 2007 Federal
Election, Mr Fitzgibbon positions including Shadow Minister for Small Business, Shadow Minister
for Resources, Shadow Minister for Mining, Energy and Forestry, Shadow Minister for Banking and
Financial Services, Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Revenue, Shadow Minister for Small
Business and Competition and Shadow Minster for Defence.
Professor Hugh White
What were the major shortcomings of the 2009 Defence White Paper?
HW: The most important strength was it correctly identified Asia’s changing power balance as
shaping Australia. Its weakness was that it did not address the implications of that for the kinds of
defence forces Australia desired. It raised concerns but didn’t provide a clear idea of how to meet
them.
How significant is Australia's role in Afghanistan?
HW: Insignificant. The contribution is insignificant in shaping Afghanistan’s future. Our contribution
is too small, and the wider coalition is too small to transform Afghanistan into the country we want it
to be. Our contribution in Afghanistan may also be insignificant to our future with the US. In the
future, if Asia was more contested, the quality of alliance is dependent more so now than in recent
decades. What we do and how we do things in Asia is more significant than in places like
Afghanistan.
What has the conflict in Afghan taught us about modern warfare?
HW: Good question. Two things. Firstly, to the extent modern warfare focuses on the kind of
stabilisation in Afghanistan. Afghanistan had reminded us how hard it is for Western armed forces
to intervene effectively in unstable states with any hope of making a substantial difference. The
second lesson drawn from Afghanistan is that it may not be the only kind of conflict to worry about
in the future. Only if we were lucky enough for strategic partners to remain stable, operations as in
Afghanistan will be the most important for conflict we fight in the future.
Why can’t Defence deliver capabilities within its budget?
There are lots of problems within the Department of Defence. It all boils down to a basic failure of
purpose and leadership. In any organisation, having a clear idea of what you want to achieve is
essential to efficiency. The core problem with Defence is they don’t know what the Australian
Defence Force is for.
* Hugh White is Professor of Strategic Studies and Head of the Strategic & Defence Studies
Centre at the Australian National University. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute for
International Policy.
Israel and the elusiveness of neutrality
By
Alexandra
Horwood
The killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh should not go without investigated or unpunished. Neither
Australia's historic alliance with Israel nor facile accusations of anti-Semitism should allow what
was almost guaranteed to be a Mossad assassination be swept under the diplomatic carpet.
Without getting into the sordid history of Agreements, Treaties and Mandates, it is clear that almost
since the establishment of Israel in 1948, neither Israel nor Palestine has had clean hands or moral
authority. Even civilians are responsible for a fair chunk of abhorrent behavior, most notably in the
current situation with illegal Israeli settlers encroaching on the West Bank. Therefore, in a situation
where legality, blame and justice are so murky, it is imperative that outsiders try and maintain
some semblance of objective moral authority.
Australia has long been an ally of Israel, and of course our most important ally is Israel’s sugar
daddy. In the US and Australia, any criticism of Israel is often automatically branded as antiSemitic. The converse to this is not enunciated – that any supporter of Israel must therefore, by the
same logic, be anti-Muslim. Why are observers not allowed to be impartial?
The January assassination of senior Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel is
alleged to be the work of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency. The operatives in the assassination
used fraudulent passports, three of which were forged from people with dual citizenship; Australian
and
Israeli.
This has caused tension in the diplomatic relationship between Australia and Israel. While usually
supporting Israel at the United Nations, Australia recently abstained from a vote about whether to
investigate allegations of war crimes during Operation Cast Lead from December 2008 to January
2009. Although Prime Minister Rudd denies it, this has been interpreted as a slap on the wrist to
Israel
for
using
our
passports
in
their
underhand
activities.
Whenever there is any serious allegation of war crimes or crimes against humanity, especially in a
central conflict such as that between Israel and Palestine, there should be a multilateral
investigation. Our support (or lack of opposition) should not depend on our friendship with the
parties involved. This may seem like naïve idealism, but it also seems realpolitik that
fundamentalist
Islamic
terrorism
feeds
on
aggrieved
populaces.
If unfair and unjustifiable situations are remedied, this removes legitimate grievances that terrorists
can use to justify their existence and actions, and they will lose support amongst sensible civilians.
Alliances are crucial on the international stage for maintaining a peaceful world order, but should
not be at the cost of blindness to the transgressions of our allies. Israel should be forced to submit
to a war crimes investigation, and there should be a full investigation into the alleged Mossad
assassination
in
Dubai.
The Australian Federal Police have begun investigating the forged Australian passports, but it
seems as though they will receive little assistance from Israel. Extrajudicial killings might go
unnoticed in Palestine, but this murder was in the full glare of both CCTV and the world press.
Despite the fact that al-Mabhouh was certainly no Mahatma Gandhi himself, the world in the 21st
century should be a time to prioritise due process of law, accountability and global justice for all.
* Alexandra Horwood (treasurer of ACCESS Victoria) recently finished her Honours in Political
Science at the University of Melbourne. She is currently undertaking her
Juris Doctor.
Career Spotlight with Seth Meixner, Editor in Chief at the Phnom Penh Post
With Susan Wilson
How did you end up in Phnom Penh?
I began my career as a journalist about 15 years ago as a police reporter for a small newspaper
upside of Washington D.C. and worked my way up from that to court reporter, county reporter, and
eventually ended up there as the city editor. From there, I changed gears fairly radically and took a
job at the Cambodia Daily in Phnom Penh. And simply through rapid attrition, found myself as the
managing editor there and remained at that job for nearly 4 years.
After that I took a job at the French wire service, L'Agence France Press, that was in Hong Kong,
where I was on the regional desk which was responsible for handling copy for about 24 bureaus
from Kabul to Fiji. After working on the desk in Hong Kong for three years, I was posted back to
Cambodia, as bureau chief at AFP, where I remained for a further three years, and then in early
2008, left AFP to come to the Phnom Penh Post, with the mandate to take it from a fortnightly
publication to a daily newspaper
Did you always want to be a journalist?
No. I don't think I knew what I wanted to be. In high school I actually studied fine arts and graphic
design, but I was doing it at a time when the industry was moving away from physically creating
images and graphics to using computers to do so, and my school just didn't have those kind of
capabilities.
I got a journalism scholarship to university and that's how I ended up here.
What is different about working as a journalist in Phnom Penh compared to working in the
States?
There are similarities in the sense that the pressures of a daily newspaper are going to be the
same, fundamentally the same. Here it's a bit different because you're dealing with a dual
language publication, so you've got cultural sensitivities, you obviously have language barriers,
communication issues, not just in the language but in the way perhaps we've been trained to be
journalists and the way Cambodian journalists are trained to be journalists.
You also have reporting differences in the sense that Cambodia is obviously very different from the
States or say, western countries. As an emerging country, the government may not be so receptive
to a western style press. Sources don't understand what the role of the press is and they're more
suspicious of what you're trying to do. But at the same time, the opposite can be true. Whereas in
the west, someone may shut you down much more quickly, here it's oftentimes very easy to disarm
the person you're trying to deal with, or to have access to much higher levels.
What are some of the ethical problems you face, covering news in Cambodia?
In general, in a place like this, a lot of times you're dealing with interview subjects who are either
corrupt, government officials, local administrative officials, or people who are distraught,
impoverished, or otherwise in a disadvantaged way, so often times what's happened here is that
people have said, "right, I'll talk to you if you give me money". You know, for example, a municipal
or ministerial official. Sometimes we'll be approached by NGOs working with say, people who have
been evicted from their homes and they'll come and say, we'll let you talk to these people who've
lost their homes, but it would be nice if you gave them some money for the interview so. I don't
know if that's an ethical dilemma or if that's something that's common practice.
The next big challenge?
Extricating myself from Cambodia and getting back out in the field. And I think the sector now is
such that it's not as easy to do as it was when I was in the field. What I did then, was get hired by a
news
wire
and
they
sent
me
all
over
the
world,
it
was
great.
How do you reach that goal in today's media environment? I'm not sure.
* Seth Meixner is the editor in chief of the Phnom Penh Post, Cambodia.
Susan Wilson is a journalist, and has recently returned from the UK doing an internship with the
BBC in London and Cambodia with the Phnom Penh Post.
Issue 5
Message from the Editor
Our final newsletter for 2009 captures a variety of topics. Meet Dr Boaz Ganor in our Q&A section.
In Melbourne for the Australia-Israel Leadership Forum, Dr Ganor is one of Israel’s leading
counter-terrorism experts. He discusses with us the importance of dialogue between the two
nations, why he gave up his life-long ambition of being a pilot and the motivations for groups to
launch
violent
attacks.
For this month’s feature articles, Kurt Winter writes on nuclear diplomacy between Australia and
India. and Joanna Shuurman draws attention to Australia’s complex refugee crisis.
For the statistically-challenged, this month’s selected website, Gapminder, exposes the sheer
beauty of statistics for a fact-based world view. www.gapminder.org. We also profile Left Right
Think-Tank, a youth-run not-for-profit organisation, when Kurt and Joanna hold offices.
We continue to encourage our readers to send in 200-500 word articles on their travel, work or
university related experiences. Or, if you’ve got a Q&A to send in, we would love to hear about it!
I would like to thank the following people for their assistance and input over the last six months;
Daniel Wilson, Ishita Acharyya, Stuart Harridge, Alex Horwood, Jono Singline, Pha Phorn, Peta
McDermott,
Markus
Gorondi,
Emily
Jackson
and
Chris
Mullen.
Finally, extraordinary thanks to our editorial advisor Michael Feller for his continuous support.
We’ll be taking a break over the university holidays, but you’ll also soon receive Quarterly Access,
an even-bigger newsletter from ACCESS to keep you well-read over the break.
Until
March
Olivia
2010,
Cable
*Olivia is studying international business at RMIT and is currently on exchange at the ANU in
Canberra
Q&A with Dr Boaz Ganor
With Olivia Cable
Counter-terrorism expert Dr Boaz Ganor was in Australia for the Australia-Israel Leadership
Forum. This annual dialogue between the two nations aims to foster closer relations on matters
such as security and the environment.
Dr Ganor is Deputy Dean at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy, founder
and Executive Director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) and the Head of
Homeland Security Studies Programs at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya, Israel.
Dr Ganor served as advisor on counter-terrorism topics to the Israeli Ministry of Defense, the
Israeli counter-terrorism coordinator at the prime minister’s office, Israel’s national security council
and the Israeli Ministry of Transportation during the peace talks with Jordan.
How important is the Australia-Israel Leadership Forum for Israel?
I think we should not measure this event in terms of importance. I’ll explain myself. For us Israelis,
it’s quite unique to find ourselves sitting down with friends, to discuss subject matters (where) we
don’t always see eye to eye but in other cases sometimes other matters that we do. To sit in a
friendly surrounding and have intelligent discussions, this is precious.
In many cases, in many forums we go to, we find ourselves all the time on the defensive side. Of
course, this cannot build productive discussion that will lead to something positive. From my point
of view, this is the essence and importance of this (forum), of sitting together with people who I
believe care for Israel’s future and are genuinely Israel’s friends, discussing mutual challenges with
them. That’s the importance.
You have strong credentials. How did you get to where you are now?
Like every Israeli youngster, I was drafted to the IDF, the Israeli Defence Force. We have a
compulsory service. My wishful challenge was to be a pilot. I was lucky enough to be accepted to
the pilot course, but after a while, I became a great danger to the air force. They dismissed me. (I
am joking). I wasn’t a good pilot. Then I found myself, by coincidence, in military intelligence, in the
department which deals with counter-terrorism analysis. As a young officer I was fascinated with
that subject. And I still am, because this is the most interdisciplinary phenomenon that one can
think of. Think about any academic discipline – psychology, biology, sociology, law, criminology,
medicine computer science – all have to do with terrorism, directly or indirectly. So if you want to
be an expert on counter-terrorism, you need to know something about all of those disciplines, or at
least to be able get the information.
You (definitely) need a multidisciplinary or really broad perspective as a person, which I believe
suits my personal characteristics (and interests). So I had to choose between being a terrorist and
a counter-terrorist in my early life. I decided to be a counter-terrorist because a terrorist spends
their life in a trench in Afghanistan and counter-terrorists in 5-star hotels around the world. It was
an easy choice.
How are global terrorist threats evolving?
Terrorism is an outcome of a very simple mathematical formula; motivation plus operational
capability. When a certain organisation has both, motivation to launch violent attacks, this certain
kind of violence is called terrorism, and they have the operational capability, then a terrorist attack
or terrorist campaign will occur. That’s the simple formula of terrorism.
You can therefore conclude what should be the formula of counter-terrorism? Counter-terrorism is
either lowering the motivation or lowering the operational capability. Why do I say ‘or’? Because if
one factor is missing, you are not going to suffer from terrorist attacks. If you have a group of
people who have a high operational capability but no motivation you are not going to suffer, and
vice versa. Both of them are temporary solutions for terrorism. The only solution is dealing with
both factors at the same time. Easier said than done.
We have the boomerang effect, the Australian contribution to this concept. Once you try to lower
the operational capability of a terrorist group, there is only one to do that, which is attacking the
capabilities – arresting them, killing them. But once you do that, you raise their motivation to
retaliate. This is the boomerang effect. So in my view, the whole art of counter-terrorism, is finding
the balance (without turning) a blind eye.
In many cases, you need to be proactive. Thwart terrorist attacks by lowering the capability of
terrorists is crucial because the enemy is quite strong and spread all over the world. But you have
to bear in mind you have to think and work towards counter-motivation. Unfortunately, in most
cases, I meet with political leaders that only understand one side of this equation. This is the most
challenging element of counter-terrorism
How broad are motivations?
This brings me to the question of what is terrorism. The definition is very short, simple and precise:
terrorism is the deliberate use of violence aimed against civilians in order to achieve political ends.
That’s it. There are so many other definitions of terrorism, I know about 109 definitions. Many are
very long and sophisticated. But they do not serve as an objective, effective platform for
international discussion and cooperation.
When I say terrorism is violence against civilians, attacks against military personnel and targets
should not be regarded as terrorism. It’s violence, but it’s not terrorism. An attack against an
American soldier in Iraq, or an Australian soldier in Afghanistan, or an Israeli soldier in Gaza, it’s
not terrorism; regardless, by the way, if they used tactics like suicide attacks. I don’t refer to that as
terrorism. That is guerilla warfare.
In most cases, the same organisations conducting terrorist attacks and guerilla attacks don’t differ
between groups. I don’t know why they don’t differ. Some of it is because we don’t differentiate
with punishments, reactions and legitimisation. I think this is something that has to be done, in
order to detract them from attacking civilians into attacking military target. This is an achievement
in counter-terrorism if we are able to do that.
I go back to your question. I used the definition to explain that terrorism is aimed to achieve
political ends. That’s the common denominator of all terrorist organisations worldwide. They differ
about what the political aim is. We see terrorist groups motivated by social and economic
grievances, by nationalistic grievances, by extreme ideologies, communism, fascism, archaism,
Nazism, and we see those political groups motivated by religious grievances. If you take al-Qaeda,
then no doubt the root cause of their activities is religion, extreme Islam. Still it’s a political goal,
because their ultimate goal is to change political regimes all over the world and create an Islamic
radical caliphate state to be governed by Sharia law. This is a political goal.
You were on the advisory team of the New York Police Department. What was your role there?
New York City was suffering more than any other city from modern terrorism – the atrocity of the
World Trade Centre is incomparable to any other type of attack. By the way, it was not the first
case, eight years ago in 1993, the same elements, the Afghan veterans, the nucleus group that
created al-Qaeda, were trying to do the same thing to the World Trade Centre, by infiltrating a truck
with manufactured explosives into the parking lot and demolish the building. So New York City, it
was clear to them, was the eye of the storm.
The city represents the strengths of the United States, regarded by the global jihadists and other
elements like Hezbollah as the Great Satan. So New York City and Manhattan is one of the worst
in their eyes, let alone having many Jews there, which multiplied the reason it as a target.
So immediately after 9/11 it was clear to the leaders of the city, the community, the police
department and others, that they (the police) had a huge responsibility to deal with. With all due
respect for other security services like the CIA, FBI and others, at the end of the day the burden
was on their shoulders.
So the chief of police, the head of the New York Police Department (NYPD), created a model of a
police department that is aware of the immediate terrorist threat. This is a model that has been
imitated by other big cities. The NYPD created a very big counter-terrorism department, including
intelligence gathering and analysis. (Prior), the FBI was responsible for bringing in information and
they would do whatever they thought was needed.
Now they (the NYPD) do everything; collect and analyse intelligence, create their own policies and
they try to prevent terrorist attacks. The local community was also aware that they needed to
develop those skills, and there is a gathering, an NGO called the Manhattan Institute (which)
contributes to the NYPD by bringing to the table experts from around the world, to share
experiences. And this is the way I was indirectly asked to share my views with the NYPD
Australia and India: A new partnership in nuclear diplomacy?
By Kurt Winter
During his recent visit to India, Prime Minister Rudd made a significant diplomatic overture,
proclaiming his desire to build a “comprehensive, enduring strategic partnership between India and
Australia”. Despite past differences, Rudd argued that India and Australia were “natural partners”
with mutual interests in both the region and the world.
Recent negotiations have focused on issues of natural partnership such as trade, defence,
education and energy. Yet a partnership with India should also be seen as an effective strategy in
revitalising the international non-proliferation and disarmament agenda.
In May 2010, world leaders will come together to negotiate the future of the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty (NPT). Australia has already sought to play a leading role, evidenced by
Rudd’s establishment of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and
Disarmament, a joint initiative with Japan, aimed at reinvigorating the NPT and engaging countries
outside the treaty.
Nevertheless, as former Australian diplomat Rory Medcalf has emphasised, in order to make
significant progress Australia also needs to invest in regular ‘first track’ or government-togovernment diplomacy. In this vein, a strategic partnership with India should be at the forefront of
Australia’s diplomatic efforts.
India is of critical importance to a comprehensive solution.Because India exploded nuclear devices
in 1974 and 1998, it does not qualify as a nuclear weapons state under the treaty. The NPT
created a system of nuclear “haves” and “have-nots”, defining a nuclear weapons state as one
“which manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive devise prior to 1
January 1967”. Medcalf aptly describes the problematic grand bargain as a commitment on the
part of the then nuclear powers that “if you don’t start smoking, I’ll quit”.
On face value, India appears an unlikely partner on this issue, given its development of a nuclear
deterrent outside the NPT. On closer analysis, however, India has similar aspirations to Australia
regarding disarmament and non-proliferation. At the United Nations in October, India set nuclear
disarmament as a top priority and argued that non-proliferation objectives should be achieved
through a concerted international effort.
And beyond the rhetoric of establishing a strategic partnership, Australia needs to also deal with
the decisive issue of uranium exports. India’s strategic outlook is focused on securing uranium for
energy use. Given that Australia possesses the largest known reserves of uranium, selling uranium
to India could transform the relationship into an indispensable partnership.
The difficult question is under what conditions would Australia pursue such a deal? In August 2007,
following the watershed US-India agreement to supply India with uranium, the Howard government
announced its ‘in principle’ decision to export uranium to India “subject to very stringent safeguards
and conditions”.Former US State Department senior scientist, Peter Zimmerman however
condemned the decision arguing that it would undermine the integrity of the NPT and
subsequently, the Rudd government overturned the move by Howard.
Yet Australia would be better served by pursuing a more nuanced diplomatic path. In Australia’s
ongoing negotiations with India, the promise of uranium sales should be used as a bargaining chip
that seals the deal for a strategic partnership. Such a partnership could then be used to spearhead
progress in reforming the global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime.
Though difficult, such an initiative will serve Australia’s long-term national interest. As Ron Walker
of the Australian National University argues, the global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament
regime “continues to erect significant obstacles to would-be proliferators” and in Australia’s
experience, it prevents the nightmare scenario of a regional nuclear arms race. Walker also makes
the point that, in light of Australia’s geo-strategic weight, the country has “a vested interest in a
norm-based international system built on the equality of states and in uniformly applied rules”.
The present discriminatory system cannot be sustained. A strategic partnership between Australia
and India presents an opportunity to lead this vital reform agenda.First and foremost, as Medcalf
argues, Australia should recognize nuclear security “as a priority national security issue”, that is the
whole nuclear arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament agenda, including its interaction
with nuclear energy.
Australia should then invest significant diplomatic capital into transforming the relationship with
India into a fruitful partnership. Given Australia’s key role in the establishment of the nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament regime, Australia has both the interest and credentials to pursue
such a strategy.
*Kurt Winter is a Policy Offer at Left Right Think-Tank, Australia’s first independent and nonpartisan think-tank of young minds
Reflections across the water: What our asylum seeker policy says about
Australia
By Joanna Schuurman
Prime Minister Rudd’s refugee policy has struggled to take form, the recent Oceanic Viking
scenario clearly catching him off guard. In his words, Australia’s response should be “tough, hardline, humane, fair”. What this actually means is hard to decipher and obviously riddled with
contradiction.
However, this does not so much represent a failure in government policy. Rather, it is a reflection
of the difficulties we face as a nation trying to grapple with this complex policy challenge, further
hindered by damaging, meaningless and narrow debate on both sides of politics.
Whether Rudd is “too soft” or “too hard”, as the standoff draws to a close, we must determine the
direction of Australia’s refugee and immigration policy in a meaningful manner. An open discussion
informed by facts and thorough reflection is required, not responses based on fear, panic and
political gain.
What we have seen over the last few weeks is a highly politicised and emotionally-driven debate
over what is a critical matter to Australia’s foreign and domestic policy.What we have not seen is a
meaningful discussion, informed by facts and figures or any kind of understanding and reflection.
The government has been under intense scrutiny by the media, opposition and the public – rightly
so – but has acted far too hastily.
Prime Minister Rudd’s refusal to allow the recent arrival of Sri Lankan refugees access to
Christmas Island resulted in an almost four-week standoff and to the detriment of IndonesianAustralian relations.Now events are coming full circle, with the offer of a “special deal”, which will
almost certainly see some Sri Lankans brought to Christmas Island in an anything but “nonextraordinary” conclusion to the saga.
And all of this will no doubt drop off the radar in a matter of weeks, perhaps without having made
any meaningful progress on this very important issue. But what can be achieved in public policy
when we have a Prime Minister who is stubbornly attempting to stand right in the middle of the
debate, no doubt trying to please all sides but who ends up being both “too soft” and “too hard”?
What can we achieve in public policy when our government has no idea where we stand and for
that matter, when we have no idea, thanks to a debate that is politicised and ill-informed?
In such times we look to the parliamentary opposition to offer us meaningful input. Instead we have
a response that is completely bereft of policy and unity and furthermore, a response that hints at a
play for xenophobia. Tony Abbott and his party are attempting to ride on the popularity of Howard
through the promotion of recycled policies like long-term detention, the so-called “pacific solution”
and the unpopular temporary visa protections. This is teamed with a familiar focus on an alleged
“refugee crisis” and the need to deter future asylum seekers to “prevent an assault on our borders”.
The Liberal Party is offering yet more politically-motivated rhetoric aimed at igniting some of the
community’s most shameful sentiments.
Nonetheless, the scrutiny of Rudd’s policy is not reminiscent of the Howard era, suggesting that
Australia is perhaps more educated on the facts of immigration. We are indeed now aware that
more asylum seekers arrive here on planes rather than boat; that conflict in Sri Lanka and
elsewhere has forced millions to flee their homelands; and indeed that Australia has an obligation
to lend out a hand.
Some of us are also aware that in UNHCR reports at the beginning of 2009 there were 16 million
refugees in the world, plus another 26 million people who were displaced within their own country.
Furthermore, a measly 5,000 applications for asylum or refugee status were lodged in Australia,
compared to a total of 80,000 applications lodged around the world, and only three per cent of
those seeking asylum in Australia arrived without authorisation by boat.
For many of us then, the idea that Australia is facing a “refugee crisis” understandably falls on deaf
ears. But these facts must inform and translate into meaningful and reflective public policy.
While Rudd carries on his precarious juggling act in attempts to appease both sides of the debate,
and the opposition maintains its panic-invoking charade, this multifaceted issue shows us the need
for a meaningful discussion that considers all aspects.
There are so many shades of grey to consider, like what is best for those on board the vessel; our
fragile relations with Indonesia; the messages we send out to others wishing to come ashore
Australia; protecting our quality of life; and the image we want to project as a country, now and in
to the future.
As Radio National presenter Peter Mares rightly points out: “to propose and defend a humane
perspective is the responsibility of groups and individuals within the community. If we finish with a
popular but brutal policy towards asylum seekers, we need to reflect on our own shortcomings as
citizens and not simply blame the government”.
Narrowly-focussed arguments intent on merely exposing the government’s failures or a lack of
morality offer very little substance. Indeed, this complex issue, which is neither purely political nor
moral, invariably forces us to look at who we are as a nation, where we are going and where we
want to end up.
*Joanna Schuuman is a Communications Officer at the Queensland Branch of Left Right ThinkTank.

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