Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ivory Coast : UNOCI mandat prolonged until 30 June 2011

At 20 December 2010 the United Nations Security Council (SC/10132) extended the mission in Cote d’Ivoire until 30 June 2011, strongly condemned attempts to usurp the will of the people and urged respect for the election outcome : Alassane Ouattara, a former prime minister, banker and leader of the opposition, has been recognized as the winner of November’s election by the United Nations, the African Union, the United States and the European Union. The incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo has resisted repeated calls for him to cede the office.

According to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (SG/SM/13325) the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) will continue to fulfil its mandate and to monitor and document any human rights violations, incitement to hatred and violence, or attacks on UN peacekeepers.

In Geneva, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed deep concern over the growing evidence of massive violations of human rights taking place in Côte d'Ivoire since 16 December, and reiterated her determination to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions. On December 23, the United Nations deputy high commissioner for human rights, Kyung-Wha Kang, said that UN human rights monitors had reported 173 killings, 90 cases of torture or abusive treatment, 24 forced disappearances, and hundreds of arrests between December 16 and December 21. At least 20 people were killed and scores seriously injured when Gbagbo's security forces opened fire on demonstrators during a December 16 march by Ouattara supporters.

President Gbagbo ordered United Nations and French peacekeepers to leave the country immediately. The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva unanimously adopted a resolution on December 23 condemning abductions, executions, and enforced disappearances in Côte d'Ivoire, and pledged to take further action if the situation deteriorates.

Whether the (new) government is able to come up to the responsibility to protect the civilian population against human rights violations and international crimes remains to be seen. Even now the 10,000 United Nations peacekeepers are trying to protect the election outcome and defend the electionwinner Ouattara in his hotel in Abidjan there's still a serious risk of an escalation, turning the country into civil war. Ivorian leaders who order and encourage grave human rights abuses could be held accountable by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC statute prohibits attacks against international peacekeeping missions as long as they are operating as peacekeepers.

Fortunately there are other scenario's:

Relevant external links

Côte d’Ivoire: Pro-Gbagbo Forces Abducting Opponents (Human Rights Watch report, 23 December 2010)

Official website UNOCI -- United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire

Relevant press articles

UN News Centre : UN chief underlines warning against attacking peacekeepers in Côte d'Ivoire

Ivory Coast President Orders U.N. to Leave (New York Times, 18 December 2010)

France, U.N. reject Gbagbo demand to quit Ivory Coast (Reuters, 19 December 2010)

BBC News Africa : UN crisis meeting as violence escalates in Ivory Coast (23 December 2010)

Voice of America (VoA) U.N. Human Rights Council Condemns Violence in Ivory Coast (23 December 2010)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Facebook and the individual in the global village

The end of the year is approaching, 2010 is almost over. This is a good time for some reflection. It has just been announced by TIME Magazine that Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is the ‘person of the year.’ Facebook does not need an introduction here; everybody knows what it is and offers. In 2004, when Facebook was tiny and Zuckerberg a nineteen year old student, the online service was described, by the founder himself, as ‘an online directory that connects people through social networks.’ This description can easily be used to describe the global, highly successful, Facebook of 2010.

Not everybody is equally delighted by the success of Facebook. In her 2009 Christmas address, the Queen of the Netherlands warned about the increasing individualism in Dutch society. According to the Queen, there is a real danger that the Dutch are slowly alienating themselves from the local community, from the warm bonds of neighborliness, and instead turn into isolated, cynical, and cold-hearted individuals. And the social networks on the internet, Facebook included, only accelerate this process, said the Queen, because they replace ‘real’ connections with ‘unreal’, or virtual connections.

The Queen’s speech has been criticized, especially for not taking into account the negative aspects of neighborliness. Indeed, one of the proudest achievements of the Netherlands is the level of tolerance that has been achieved. There is no ‘neighborhood watch’ anymore, to comment on other people’s lifestyles. This personal freedom is something to cherish, and to defend, because it is extremely fragile. We see how fragile it is at the moment, when various incidents have led people to argue that some of our privacy, and some of our tolerance towards irregular behavior of others, should be sacrificed.

This restriction of people's privacy for the sake of keeping the community together and safe is a global trend. One of the most topical books of recent times is the book by Simon Chesterman, One Nation Under Surveillance: A New Social Contract to Defend Freedom Without Sacrificing Liberty. He predicts that governments will collect more and more information about their own citizens, and that these citizens will increasingly accept that their government will collect this highly sensitive information.

And perhaps this is not such a bad thing. Perhaps a restriction of privacy will bring back the isolated individuals into the warm bonds of neighborliness. In literature, it has already been pointed out that the freedom that comes with increased privacy and tolerance does not always lead to happiness. In other words, to be free is not only to be selfish, it can also be a lonely state of existence. Perhaps a 'neighborhood watch' could be helpful, if it does not limit itself to commenting on other people’s lifestyles, but tries to integrate everyone into the life of the local community.

But is Facebook really a danger to such a process? In a way, Facebook itself is doing the same thing, by collecting data of its users, and using the collected data to bring people with similar interests together. Those that cherish their privacy will not be happy about this, and Facebook does offer an opportunity for them to block the sharing of their personal data. However, it is indicative that not all of the Facebook-generation see this collection and use of personal data as an unwarranted invasion of their privacy.

Perhaps then, the Queen has mischaracterized Facebook. Perhaps Facebook is the foundation of a true ‘global village,' where people do share interests, hobbies, etc. Of course, in the end Facebook cannot replace the warmth of a local community. But must Facebook be considered a threat to local solidarity and neighborliness, as the Dutch Queen has suggested? Merry Christmas and a happy 2011!!

Peace Palace Library Keywords

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Central Europe’s airspace, totaling 1,713,442 km2, has one of the highest traffic densities in the world. Currently this area handles about 6 million flights a year, both civil and military, which equates to 55% of all European air traffic. By 2018 the number of flights for this area is forecasted to go up to about 8 million flights a year. During a flight, air traffic has to deal with numerous national air traffic control systems and some 410 military no-go air space areas. Europe as a whole has over 650 air traffic sectors which are controlled from 50 en route units or air traffic control centres. In practice this means that air traffic has to zig-zag its way to its destination, which as a consequence extends flight distance and duration and raises fuel consumption, costing airlines about €1 billion a year and burning 12% more CO2.

Although having much older roots, the European Commission took the initiative in 2004 to restructure the European airspace by launching the Single European Sky (SES) programme. The backbone of the programme consists of dividing up the European airspace in functional airspace blocks (FABs) extending over several countries by integrating national air traffic control systems and unifying sets of air traffic control rules. Because air traffic flows will no longer be constrained by national borders greater efficiency is attained in the use of European airspace with many beneficial effects in other policy areas. The aim of the European Commission is to have all FABs operational by 2012. But in all probability this aim will not be met because of national security risk concerns and resistance of air traffic controllers’ unions.

After a feasibility study on a Central European FAB (FABEC) carried out in 2008 in which it showed that improved air traffic management in the area could handle a 50 per cent increase in air traffic volume by 2018 at the same high level of safety and considerable CO2 emission reductions, with a potential benefit for airspace users of € 7,000 million by 2025, several Central European countries have taken matters in their own hands. In the same year the six States of Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the Netherlands (FABEC States) signed a Declaration of Intent with Annex to commit themselves to build a functional airspace block. A treaty containing the main institutional framework for the construction and implementation of FABEC was drawn up and scheduled to be in force by 2012. Owing to its size and central position in Europe, the FABEC will form a cornerstone of the SES programme.

On 2 December 2010, the Treaty relating to the Establishment of the Functional Airspace Block Europe Central setting up a common airspace at the heart of Europe and to organize air traffic management irrespective of national borders will be signed during a ceremony with a joint press conference in Bruxelles. Once in force and operational the Treaty will be of benefit to airlines, travellers and last but not the least, the environment.


European Commission, Mobility & Transport: