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The African Union is Failing South Sudan

David K. Deng argues that the African Union is failing South Sudan after deciding that the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS) should not release its report:

On the evening of 29 January, African heads of state gathered in Addis Ababa for a meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC). Among the items on the agenda was a presentation by the chairperson of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS), former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo. More than a year after the African Union (AU) announced its investigation into violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in South Sudan, the AUCISS was set to formally present its final report to the AUPSC.

Instead of Obasanjo, however, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, who doubles as the chairperson of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), walked to the podium and raised a motion to defer consideration and publication of the AUCISS report until peace is achieved, saying that it would jeopardise the ongoing IGAD-led peace process. President Jacob Zuma of South Africa seconded the motion, followed by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. With that, the matter was closed and a public release of the AUCISS report was put off indefinitely.

The AUPSC’s decision not to publish the AUCISS report casts doubt on the prospects for justice and accountability in South Sudan. It also raises questions as to whether the AU and IGAD are genuinely committed to ending the impunity that they themselves acknowledge to be a driver of violence in the country.

The AUCISS was formed in December 2013 with a mandate to “investigate the human rights violations and other abuses committed during the armed conflict in South Sudan and make recommendations on the best ways and means to ensure accountability, reconciliation and healing among all South Sudanese communities.” Over the course of six months, from March to September 2014, the AUCISS interviewed hundreds of South Sudanese across the country and in the diaspora. Rumor has it that the report provides a detailed account of war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by all sides in the South Sudanese conflict. It is even said to include a list of people responsible for atrocities, including senior figures from both sides.

Boko Haram Kills at Least 81 Civilians in Fotokol, Northern Cameroon

Northern Cameroon border, where Boko Haram operates

Northern Cameroon border, where Boko Haram operates

On February 4, Boko Haram conducted a particularly gruesome attack on the town of Fotokol in Northern Cameroon, right across the Nigerian border. Hundred of civilians are feared dead, 81 confirmed so far by the Minister of Defense. Local Human Rights Organization believes that close to 370 civilians were killed. Local testimonies mention scores of bodies in the streets with their throats slit.  The town of Fotokol has been subjected to battles between Boko Haram and Camerronian and Chadian armed forces recently: March 2014, August 2014 and October 2014. Cameroonian Blogger Noelle Lafortune reports that the attack signals that Boko Haram might be losing ground in the region:

Au front, la peur est en train de changer de camp. L'entrée en scène de l'armée tchadienne en appui aux armées camerounaise et nigériane semble être décisive, eu égard à la panique qui s'est emparée de Boko Haram.  La puissance de feu des forces coalisées a mis en déroute Shekau et sa bande. 

On the frontline, doubt might be switching sides. The emergence of the Chadian army in support of the Cameroonian and Nigerian military appears to be decisive, given the panic moves that has seemingly gripped Boko Haram. The firepower of the coalition forces routed Shekau (head of Boko Haram) and his gang.

VIDEO: How Palm Oil is Causing Environmental Destruction in Indonesia

The team of Coconuts TV went to south Sumatra in Indonesia to document the impact of the burning of peatlands and forests to make way for the expanding palm oil plantations. The burning of forests in Sumatra is causing the displacement of endangered species in the island; and it also creates a deadly haze that affects Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Updates on the 18th SAARC Summit On Social Media

The ongoing summit of the The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was covered by international media with different perspectives. However non-official initiatives such as 18th SAARC Summit blog, Facebook account, Twitter and Google+ account are aggregating updates on the summit for easy archiving.

Here are some examples:

Dominican Republic Found Guilty of Discrimination Against Haitians

According to reports from Spanish newspaper El País, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CIDH) found the government of the Dominican Republic guilty of discriminating against Haitians and descendants of Haitians born in the country in a ruling issued on Wednesday, October 22. 

The CIDH, based in San José, Costa Rica, understood that the Dominican government had violated the right to nationality of hundreds of thousands of descendants of foreigners following the 2013 decision by the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic declaring that all people born to immigrants who entered the country illegally since 1929 are foreigners, which affected several generations. 

The CIDH ordered the Dominican government to make reparations and rescind any regulations that arbitrarily deprive a person of his or her right to a nationality. 

Niger Youth Defiant Following Boko Haram Attack in Bosso and Bombing in Diffa

Niger youth

Young men in Niger – CC-BY-2.0

For the first time, Boko Haram conducted an assault on Niger's territory and the youth of Niger will not stand for it.
Boko Haram assaulted Bosso and Diffa, two towns in southeast Niger at the border with Nigeria but was repelled by Niger and Chad's army. Boko Haram lost an estimated 100 combatants in the clash but a suicide bomber detonated explosives in the city a few hours later, killing 5 civilians. The youth of Niger was prompt to react to the attacks. Niamey (Niger's capital) High school students got together to condemn the attacks on their country and express in Hausa their support to their troops fighting at the border:

Malaysia Launches New Logo as Chair of ASEAN 2015

Malaysia is the new chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for the year 2015. This year is crucial for ASEAN as the region takes steps to achieve full integration as a united community. The new logo represents “harmony, close partnership and aspiration of the people from the ten ASEAN countries aimed at achieving the shared vision” of the community.

asean logo

A March in Solidarity with Migrants Who Perished Trying to Reach Europe

Human Chain in Strasbourg (Photo Suzanne Lehn)

Signs at the March in defense of migrants in Strasbourg (Photo Suzanne Lehn)

“Europe is fighting its own make-believe enemy”: This is the message that a dozen of associations in defense of migrants wanted to convey when they organized a human chain between the tramway station “Droits de l'Homme (Human Rights)” and the EU Parliament station in Strasbourg on November 26. In order to put Human Rights back at the core of Europe” and oppose the policy adopted by the European Agency of Border Control Frontex, protesters held signs that narrate the tragic plight of migrants trying to reach Europe. For the past 20 years, more than 20,000 migrants have died or disappeared trying to make the journey from their hometowns into Europe.   

Here are a few photos of the event :

chaîne humaine migrants

The Human chain in front of the EU Parliament in Strasbourg (photo Suzanne Lehn)

Les participants attendent leur tour de parole avant de se diriger vers le Parlement européen (photo Suzanne Lehn)

Protesters are taking turn speaking up as they move toward the parliament (photo Suzanne Lehn)

Dans le fond, la Cour Européenne des Droits de l'Homme (photo Suzanne Lehn)

In the background, the European Court of Human Rights (photo Suzanne Lehn)

VIDEO: How a Laos Dam Project Could Endanger Communities in Cambodia

EarthRights International has uploaded a video about the threat posed by a mega dam construction in Laos to communities situated along the Mekong River in Cambodia. Laos and Cambodia are neighbors in the Southeast Asian region.

One Westerner's View of the “Global War on Terror”

As the United States-led international coalition forges ahead with its fight against ISIS, the Al Qaeda offshoot which has come to control large parts of Iraq and Syria using brutal and violent tactics, Bermudian blogger catch a fire shares his thoughts about this “new war”, which he believes will only compound the problem:

It [...] seems rather hypocritical that the West is suddenly taking action against ISIS, but failed to take any actions against Israel with their recent war crimes, but I digress…

Waging a new war only creates new martyrs, fertilising a while new generation of extremists who bastardise Islam. It does nothing to address the causes of this extremism in the first place – a lack of hope, economic and social collapse and the lack of democracy [...] If we really wanted to defeat ISIS [...] we need to address these root causes; we need to address poverty and stop supporting authoritarian regimes on the basis of Western interests.

The post goes on to list a number of alternative ways in which to handle the situation.

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