Human Rights Policy and Nonprofit Organizational Development

Archive for January, 2009|Monthly archive page

Policy Blog: Inter-American Human Rights Commission heralds closure of Guantanamo

In Policy Blog on January 27, 2009 at 10:13 pm

The Inter-American Human Rights Commission has released a statement expressing its approval of President Obama’s  decision to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.  A brief portion of the statement is below.  The rest of the statement references past calls by the Commission to close the detention center and to investigate rights violations allegedly taking place there.  It is so good to see the U.S. finally taking some of its international obligations seriously.



Washington, D.C., January 27, 2009 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its deep satisfaction over the decision by the President of the United States, Barack Obama, to close the detention center at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base within a period of no later than one year and to prohibit cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment in interrogations of detained individuals.

President Obama made these decisions on January 22, 2009, with the signing of the executive orders entitled “Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities” and “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations.” These decisions order government officials to immediately review the status of all individuals detained at Guantánamo and to ensure that the conditions of detention comply with all applicable national and international laws, including the Geneva Conventions. The constitutional privilege of habeas corpus of all detained individuals is also recognized, and the detention center at Guantánamo is ordered to be closed within a period of no later than one year. 

[The rest of the statement is available here.]


Policy Blog: Mexico City Policy OUT

In Policy Blog on January 26, 2009 at 3:16 am

Well, he didn’t do it as his first act, but Barack Obama has repealed the Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule.  This is wonderful news for reproductive justice, and will mean that organizations “promoting or providing” abortion services can again receive USAID funding.

Inauguration Day

In Policy Blog on January 23, 2009 at 11:53 pm

This photo essay on the Boston Globe’s website gives a taste of the importance of Obama’s election and presidency.  I especially love the photo of hundreds of thousands of people gathering in Washington D.C. to be there during the event:


And this one of people in Obama’s father’s home village in Kenya watching it on T.V.:


Policy Blog: The good stuff begins

In Policy Blog on January 23, 2009 at 8:57 pm

The Obama administration has promised to make a lot of positive changes, and so far it’s doing pretty well.

President Obama has answered the call of the human rights community and people of conscience the world over in issuing an executive order to close Guantanamo.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked Global AIDS coordinator and abstinence-only education fan Mark Dybul to step down.

Obama has taken important steps toward making the U.S. the leader that it should be in Human Rights and Humanitarian Law by ratifying four Law of War protocols.

BUT, our new president has yet to repeal the Global Gag Rule.  He “intends to,” but Bill Clinton repealed it as as his first executive act, and Bush II brought it back as his.  An opinion piece on U.S. News and World Reports chalks Obama’s failure to act to his “annoying tendency to try to please everyone.”  

Let’s just hope that all this good stuff continues… people all over the world are counting on it.

Article published in Theoria

In Policy Blog on January 19, 2009 at 4:28 am

My article, “Reproductive Justice for Women in Mexico,” was published today in the journal Theoria: A Journal of Feminist Theories and Practice.  The journal is published by colleagues in Korea who are building a global feminist network.  A link to the English text is available on the Publications page.  I’m not sure that their website is up yet, but here is the link.

Policy Blog: Mexico on the verge of collapse!

In Policy Blog on January 16, 2009 at 1:53 am

I posted here about drug violence in Mexico– It’s still going strong, now accompanied by some good old-fashioned vigilanteism.  In San Diego, the violence has even prompted military commanders to limit the ability of their charges to carouse in Mexico.

The violence may also be threatening Mexican stability, according to the U.S. Joint Forces Command on worldwide security threats.  A recent report says Mexico is vulnerable to “a rapid and sudden collapse,” rivaled only by the instability of Pakistan [Reported in the El Paso Times].  I myself think there are graver threats to Mexican stability, like deep poverty and the demise of electoral democracy.  If there is indeed a threat of Mexican collapse, what are viable options for the U.S.?  We are already pumping in billions of dollars in security assistance, but as usual that money is unfettered and likely to create more problems than it solves.  I am not ready to believe that drugs are really the issue here.

Gaza Update: UN building hit

In Policy Blog on January 15, 2009 at 4:17 pm

The New York Times reported today that Israeli forces hit a UN building in the Gaza strip– the Relief and Works Agency in Gaza City.  This comes after a UN relief convoy was hit last week.  

Here’s a map of the Gaza strip that identifies major military points:

gazanytGraphic from the NYT.

Gaza Update: Subcomandante Marcos gets in on the game

In Policy Blog on January 14, 2009 at 4:52 am

It seems like such a hallmark of the modern age that a hero of the Mexican leftist revolutionaries spoke out on Gaza (here).  The craziest thing to me is that it didn’t even get that much play.  The last time Subcomandante Marcos spoke I was living in Oaxaca and it seemed to me that he got a lot of media attention )although maybe only in the Mexican press).  Maybe that’s because the U.S. is tired of old Marcos, or maybe it’s because we are ready for the crisis in Gaza to slip from the main cover story to second-page news.

Coverage of the situation in Gaza

In Policy Blog on January 11, 2009 at 1:15 am

Two more sources for ongoing coverage of the Israeli attacks on Gaza: 

Updates from the Israeli paper Haaretz— Isreal’s oldest newspaper; considered to be analytical and highly influential with intellectuals and the political class.

Updates from Al Jazeera— A regional news network broadcast all over the Middle East, mostly in Arabic.

Both relatively moderate and well-respected news sources.  It is interesting to see the way the unfolding events in Gaza are reported and the different angles on stories.  I was really struck by the use of images by the two sites.

Update 13 January 2009:  NYT points out that Al Jazeera has the distinct advantage of having people on the ground.

Policy Blog: Sanjay Gupta possible Surgeon General nominee

In Policy Blog on January 9, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a possible pick for Surgeon General in Obama’s new Administration.  Dr. Gupta is most famous for being CNN’s medical correspondent, but also reports for other media outlets and works the speakers’ circuit.  Here’s a pretty good article on his background from AARP’s website.  In addition to limited political experience, he has a lukewarm record on reproductive rights.

My strongest memory of Dr. Gupta is his attack on Michael Moore’s fact-checking for the movie Sicko, and I’m not the only one.  Another concern I have is over his background– what makes a commentator an appropriate choice for public office?  On the other hand, perhaps his fame (and People Magazine Sexiest Man status) can revive the office, which has taken a backseat role for several administrations.

On another note, Obama has nominated Dawn Johnson as the head of the Office of Legal Counsel.  Looks like she will be a strong proponent of the balance of powers.  According to Jodi Jacobson over at RH Reality Check, this is a good sign for reproductive rights.

Update: Here’s The Nation’s take on Dr. Gupta.