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5 Best Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

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5 Best Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

Posted by Enough Team on August 14, 2009

5 Best Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

Here at Enough, we often swap emails with interesting articles and feature stories that we come across in our favorite publications and on our favorite websites. We wanted to share some of these stories with you as part of our effort to keep you up to date on what you need to know in the world of anti-genocide and crimes against humanity work.

No one knows more about the crisis in Congo than Anneke Van Woudenberg, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. In a segment for NPR’s "All Things Considered" this week, Van Woudenberg discussed the crisis in eastern Congo and argued in support of greater efforts to prevent and end the region’s rampant sexual violence. She notes, "I think much more of the money needs to go to stopping rape. That means ensuring that there’s justice. It means better protection mechanisms for women and girls. We shouldn’t just be helping the victims. We need to ensure that there are less victims in the future."

Enough’s Policy Advisor Colin Thomas-Jensen appeared this week on PRI’s The World radio show to discuss the increasingly hot topic of "conflict minerals" in Congo–that is, how the illicit trade in minerals mined in eastern Congo are used in electronic products, the sale of which continues to stoke the flames of the world’s deadliest war since World War II. Colin covered the basics of how the illegal trade of conflict minerals functions and persists, emphasizing, "The best way to put pressure on any industry is through consumers and I think what we’re starting to see, and it’s early yet, what we’re starting to see in the United States a growing number of people who are aware of the situation in eastern Congo, appalled by it and who are learning about this connection between the trade and conflict minerals and consumer electronics." At the same time, as PRI’s Jeb Sharp made clear in the interview, the strategy that Enough is pushing is not to boycott minerals from eastern Congo, but rather to reform the industry so that it can benefit the Congolese population. Well worth a listen.

Human Rights Watch issued an important statement this week in response to the alarming violence in southern Sudan’s remote, armed, and tense Jonglei state. HRW is right on in calling for both the Government of Southern Sudan and the United Nations Mission in Sudan to beef up their efforts to protect at-risk populations throughout the South–the site of increasing communal violence that has already resulted in the deaths of more than a thousand people this year.

The State Department recently released the results of its investigation into the department’s Africa bureau. The takeaway is that the bureau is woefully understaffed and operating at a very limited capacity as a result. Current Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, who had just started in his new position when the inspector general finished conducting the assessment, fares fine, but the report does not reflect well on his predecessors. It is technical in places, but is fascinating reading.

Marking the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger issued this moving statement reflecting on the progress made since World War II, but also warning that the changing nature of warfare is placing civilian populations at ever increasing risk.  Although 194 countries have ratified the Geneva Conventions, Kellenberger emphasized that, like any international treaty, the Conventions are only as strong as member states empower them to be:

“[L]ack of respect for existing rules remains, as ever, the main challenge. I hardly need to remind you of the catalogue of flagrant violations of [International Humanitarian Law] frequently witnessed in armed conflicts around the world today. This situation – sadly – is compounded by a prevailing culture of impunity.  (…) I make a heartfelt plea to States and non-state armed groups who are also bound by their provisions, to show the requisite political will to turn legal provisions into a meaningful reality.”