Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Another Step Towards Peace in the Ivory Coast?


The changes in the Ivory Coast are moving along rapidly. Earlier this month, a new peace agreement was signed in Ouagadougou between the government and the rebel forces in the north (the Forces Nouvelle). On Tuesday, more progress was accomplished as the leader of the Forces Nouvelle, Guillaume Soro, was appointed prime minister. President Laurent Gbabgo has approved the appointment and will sign the decree in the next few days. Gbagbo even stated, "The war is finished. The crisis is finished. Soon we will have a new government." Although both the government's and the rebel force's spokespeople sound confident in the new arrangement, political scientist Francois Koassi reveals the skepticism that is likely to be found in many of the Ivory Coast's citizens. He points out that "this decision will not change much at all because it is only a deal between two people." He fears that a deal has been negotiated between the sides that might negatively impact the people. Will Soro's appointment lead to enduring peace in the Ivory Coast? It seems unlikely since the article points out many other rebel groups have complained about the new peace agreement. Some will refuse to disarm unless they are invited to talks about (and are allowed input about) the new government. Whether or not the hope of the leaders or the skepticism of the people will ultimately prove accurate remains to be seen. Unfortunately, the Ivory Coast may be a ticking bomb, just waiting for another rebel force to stir up violence.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Should Britian Formally Apologize for its Role in the Slave Trade?

Britain marked the 200th anniversary of the laws abolishing the British slave trade this past Sunday. The commemorative event was held in Ghana at the Elmina Castle, which was the first slave-trading post in sub-Saharan Africa. Prime Minister Tony Blair attended the event and remarked that the UK's role in the slave trade is a matter of "deep sorrow and regret." These comments come after the Archbishop of York. Dr. John Sentamu, has called on the UK to formally apologize for its role in the slave trade.

Although the president made a number of strong statements recognizing the inhumanity of the slave trade, many people believe that he did not go far enough. Sentamu agrees, arguing, "A nation of this quality should have the sense of saying we are very sorry." A spokes person for Blair responded to requests for a further apology, by stating, "We must now look to the future."

It is important to note on the 200th anniversary of the UK's Laws Abolishing the British Slave Trade, modern slavery still exists around the world. Human trafficking, forced labor and present day genocide, like the Transatlantic slave trade, are all crimes against humanity.

Is a formal apology for something that happened 200 years ago necessary? or, Is it time to concentrate on what we can do in future? Perhaps we should do both. It is time that we learn from our history and prevent these crimes from happening again.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Pressure Point on China

China plays a big role in the general deadlock the Darfur problem is experiencing. China is Sudan’s largest economic partner. It has also declared that it would veto any sanctions against Sudan. Therefore, in order to pressure Sudan, countries should pressure China.
What other way to do this than to suggest boycotting China’s upcoming Beijing Olympics? This is exactly what a French presidential candidate did at a pro-Darfur rally. China has invested colossal amounts of money for these games to be successful and Francois Bayrou knows just that.
France’s Olympic delegation is one of the biggest in the world and it would definitely send a strong message if they boycott the games. However, for this to work, more countries will have to use the same pressure point, something that even the official French government isn’t ready to do.
But I think that this presidential candidate brings up a very good point. If countries truly cared about the people in Darfur, they should all be taking such a radical stance. They should all demand that China stop protecting Sudan and start using some of its influence to solve the Darfur problem. Or else, they would hit China where it hurts, the Beijing Olympics.

This crisis calls for action, not for more fancy words.