Dr . Payam Akhavan, is a former UN Prosecutor at The Hague, he advised the Ugandan Government on the LRA case before the ICC as part of a broader strategy of isolating and defeating Kony in 2003-2005. He is now a professor of international law at McGill University n Montreal. I have known Payam for a few years. Here is what he told me about KONY2012
“The video is ten years too late. Watching it, one imagines that nobody was ever involved in this struggle before they started filming. Back in 2003, we devised a brilliant strategy with highly competent Ugandan officials on how to eliminate the LRA by depriving them of rear-bases in southern Sudan. Within two years, the war in Uganda was over and Joseph Kony’s force of several thousand was reduced to a few hundred fugitives in the Congo.
The failure to capture him thus far has nothing to do with lack of funds. It is a complex intelligence operation against a cunning and ruthless adversary who knows how to survive in the jungle. The millions in funds gathered so far are needed for rehabilitation of former child soldiers and their communities, not to pay overhead for NGOs in America. The video may be useful for public education since the world is woefully ignorant about Africa. But its content is at best uninformed and at worst deceptive. Exploiting other people’s suffering for self-promotion is unethical.
Had the Ugandan communities directly affected been consulted, the video would have had a very different focus, and the millions of dollars in funds too would have reached those that need it most.”
Just a few days ago, the Invisible Children campaign to arrest Kony hit social media. A number of people have provided excellent critiques. Check out Fellow Rosebell Kagumire’s responses: she recorded a great video blog here and followed up with a number of articles here and here. I also posted my own critique here and followed up with a few other articles.
Thoughts and commentary welcome!
Fellow Rosebell Kagumire has some interesting new posts on maternal health care in Uganda:
International Forum for Young Leaders – Global Conference on Democracy, Human Rights and the Fragility of Freedom – March 2013
Deadline: April 13, 2012
The Global Conference on Democracy, Human Rights and the Fragility of Freedom will be held at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, March 21-23, 2013. This will be the third Echenberg Family Conference on Human Rights. Before each of these conferences, a Young Leaders Forum is held; Alumni of each Young Leaders Forum become McGill Echenberg Human Rights Fellows and remain active in a vibrant community of human rights professionals around the world. This third conference will provide a unique networking opportunity for like-minded young leaders from around the world, allowing them to engage with each other and work with some of the Conference’s distinguished speakers.
The Young Leaders will address key issues around democratic citizenship, the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, including the violent repression of democracy and economic and social rights, as well as the role of transnationalism, globalization and foreign policy in democracy. Young Leaders will have the opportunity to develop practical skills in human rights advocacy, including in the use of social media and community-building to effect change.
One of the main goals of the International Forum for Young Leaders is to share practical tools and experiences while engaging with these Conference themes.
We now invite applications from young professionals and scholars who can speak to the promotion of democratic issues and human rights, both in their own countries and in the international arena.
The application form is available here.
This event will be followed by an evening panel discussion & cocktail at the McGill Faculty of Law:
Stopping Genocide: A Panel Discussion on Mobilizing International Intervention in Case of Mass Atrocities
Wednesday, February 8th 2012 – 18:00PM – Moot Court – 3644 Peel St, McGill Faculty of Law
The event will be followed by refreshments.
Discussion moderated by: Prof. Payam Akhavan
With the participation of: Kyle Matthews (Senior Deputy Director, Montreal Institute for Genocide Studies) and Rebecca Hamilton (Author of Fighting for Darfur: Public Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide and McGill Echenberg Fellow).
Sponsored by the Human Rights Working Group International Justice Portfolio, the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, and the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre’s Human Rights Committee.
Fellow Jina Moore has been busy! Check out some of her newest stories and projects.
Some combination of way too much work, too much travel, and too few hours in the day has made me neglect this little nook of the Internet. Sorry for that. But I’m more sorry for barraging your email box with fake blog posts yesterday when I was trying to do some site maintenance and set up a new page. How unfun.
As a New Year’s present to myself, I finally updated the home page to reflect actually new work, including three cover stories I did for the Christian Science Monitor — on leadership and the American maverick, on the world after oil, and on social media and the Arab Spring. Those stories stretch way back to last spring… I’ve also featured my Pulitzer Center collaboration on peacebuilding on the homepage, because it won an award in December, and I’m happy to draw attention again to a story I think is important, and which took a big commitment of time and resources by a lot of people. So go home already.
Last week, the Dart Society published the second issue of Dart Society Reports. The magazine’s founding committee had this second issue well underway when I was hired as editor in November, but it took an even wider range of talent and commitment to bring the magazine into the world. Our second issue is about American prisons, with a focus on solitary confinement. The issue also includes some wonderful shorter print and multimedia pieces about Shakespeare productions in a Kentucky prison, the death penalty in Iraq, andreturning to L.A. after doing time. Journalists also reflect on witnessing an execution, on corresponding with a death row inmate, and losing sources.
I’ve got some work from Zambia coming online soon, and a few other projects slowly making their way into the world, so stay tuned.
Check out the latest issue of Dart Society Reports. Fellow Jina Moore is an online editor with the e-zine.
The mission of the Dart Society is to connect and support journalists worldwide who advance the compassionate and ethical coverage of trauma, conflict and social injustice. Visit our website at www.dartsociety.org.
As the year 2011 closed, December 7 marked a historic day in international justice. The first former head of state Luarent Gbagbo appeared before the International Criminal Criminal for crimes allegedly committed during the Dec 2010-April 2011 post election violence in his country Cote d’ivoire. Gbagbo had take over and retain power by force and trickery. Over 3000 people died in Cote d’Iviore.
He faces four charges of crimes against humanity, including murder and rape. Throughout the conflict I had kept in close touch with friends in the country and their distress was beyond what I could imagine. Everyday Africa was treated to the drama of two people claiming to have won an election. Many thought Ivory Coast could head in the direction of Kenya and Zimbabwe, where compromise had to be reached because Africa’s old men didn’t wish to leave.
Coming from Uganda where we have never had a free and fair election in my adult life, the circus was very familiar. The influence that a sitting president has on those announcing the results is enormous. In 2008 I had watched, with my jaw dropping, as the president of Kenya made a mockery of the bible swearing as the legitimate leader. His sticking to power and the subsequent violence had taken lives of about 1200 Kenyans while many took refuge in my country Uganda. In Kenya too, the ICC had come and it was a few months before that we had watched the prosecutor submit his case to Pre-Trial Chamber seeking to bring the 6 men of Kenya to trial. The ruling on whether they will be tried or not is due next week.
On December 05 2011, when I had gone to the ICC to attend the first appearance of Gbagbo as part of my trainging with the Asser Institute and RNTC. It was out of luck that my training in international justice took place at the same time as Gbagbo was appearing. I watched the proceedings from the public gallery.
The photo of Gbagbo I had last seen was when he was captured by what he told would that day tell court were French troops. It was almost unbelievable to watch a man that months earlier had appeared on television with his authoritative speeches and lack of compromise even to the barking African Union. Seeing him standing with a guard next to him was what some Ivorians wanted and what many in countries in Africa with dictators would love to see. It may not be the ICC but the trail of a powerful man that never listens or respect his people.
There was a section of Ivorians in gallery, at first it was difficult to tell which side they were on but as the Judge announced a date for Gbagbo’s next appearance 18 June 2012, his supporters rose up and sang the Ivorian national anthem.
Gbagbo looked up and with a half smile and waved to them. The 66-year-old former president, his supporters yelled was not the person to be standing trail. Later this year in June, the court will decide if will stand trial or not. This was a historic event, for 25 minutes I watched international justice take another step. Whether to right direction or not depends on which prism one is viewing it. Of course many call this victor’s justice and that Alassane Outtara should also be answerable yet in that court I saw a man who could have saved his nation from destruction and ethnic hatred. I saw one of the old men from my continent that stubbornly refuse to accept that they are not the nation.