Human Rights

Human Trafficking Policies: Ships Passing in the Night

Nearly every five to ten years the U.S. overhauls its immigration policies, sometimes giving illegal aliens a fresh start through legalization programs. What is novel about the current, serious discussion of a new illegal alien legalization program, is that it is taking place within the context of a much greater awareness of and concern over the expansion of human smuggling into the U.S. and around the world.

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U.S. Policy on the UN Conference Wrong

The United States, the self-described leader of human rights, effectively decided to boycott the UN conference against racism in Durban, South Africa. The U.S. could have made a strong, positive impression by sending its African-American Secretary of State, a descendent of slaves, and making a forceful stand against racism. Instead, it chose to send a low-level delegation.

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Making a Statement in Durban

Some 200 nations are gathered in Durban, South Africa from August 31 to September 7 for the UN World Conference Against Racism (WCAR). Unfortunately, America’s official conduct leading up to the conference has not been its finest hour. Rather than deal with its own sorry legacy of slavery, discrimination, and racism, the Bush administration has chosen at the highest level to deny that historical matters and redress have any place on the agenda. It has withheld support and threatened to stay home.

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Palestine in Durban: Sideshow or Main Event?

The black and white-checked scarves, known as kafeeyyehs, symbolizing the Palestinian resistance, were everywhere among the 6,000 delegates to the UN Non-Governmental Forum that preceded the governmental portion of the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR). Soon they were joined by white t-shirts exhorting participants to “fight racism, not Jews.” As predicted, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has loomed over both the NGO Forum and now the main event, given mega-prominence by the refusal of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to attend while statements equating Zionism with racism are anywhere on the table.

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Indonesia: Aceh Arrests Could Portend Increased Polarization, Violence

The detention by Indonesian police on July 20 of 15 human rights activists and six negotiators for the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka or GAM) could portend a polarization of the conflict between government and rebel forces at the height of the political crisis in Jakarta over President Abdurrahman Wahid’s impeachment and the taking office of the new president, Megawati Sukarnoputri.

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Justice for Some: The Geopolitical Reality of Impunity

The extradition of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic to The Hague could be seen as a triumph for the worldwide movement for human rights. Never before has a sitting head of state been indicted for war crimes–nor been subsequently put to trial before an international tribunal.

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