“Damned if you speak up, damned if you don’t” the dilemma faced by humanitarians when they seek to help the victims of egregious crimes against humanity. Dr Tedros, the head of WHO decided to speak up on the catastrophic situation in Tigray, Ethiopia – setting an example to the leaders of other international organisations.
The civil war in Tigray, Ethiopia is a year old. It is the biggest active armed conflict in the world with millions blockaded and denied humanitarian aid, even as massacres and sexual violence abound, and famine is getting established. Distinguished scholars and researchers from around the world appeal for the blockade to be lifted as prerequisite for negotiations and eventually peace.
Faceless victims get forgotten and faceless offenders go unpunished. That is how justice is truly blinded. That is also why egregious human rights abuses including mass atrocities and genocides need a face.
What is the long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on what were once the universal and benign values of health? Our health is now a matter of national security and we are all conscripted as soldiers.
When the world is not able to travel, distances of the heart grow faster than bodily distances. And we understand less and less about places not visited. Terrible atrocities can then flourish so easily behind closed borders. Worst of all, as our worldview shrinks, we stop caring and growing ourselves. The sooner the world re-opens, the better for both our sanity and our common humanity.
When confronted by egregious human rights abuses, or war crimes and crimes against humanity including genocide, does speaking up make any difference? Especially if words are not followed by action? There are at least four reasons why it is still crucial to speak out, and how doing so can be effective. Also what matters is the pedestal of the speaker. The higher that is, the greater their responsibility to speak out. Of course,the rhetoric-reality gap is often vast and it is easy to get cynical. But silence or ambivalence kill and destroy much more. So, speak up clearly and loudly to wake up even the dead.
Internet shutdowns and censorship diminish scope for meaningful conversations. A world muted in this way is a dangerous one
The old Silk Roads went everywhere but today’s version – the Belt and Road – leads only to Beijing Those seeking quick no-questions-asked prosperity by rushing along it should open their eyes wider, the closer they get to the destination. They should also expect the ride to get more bumpy.
Hindsight 2020 and Foresight 2021 are much the same. This critical “review of reviews” analyses the true state of the world at the end of this tumultuous year and posits that the next year will be much the same. Can #COVID19 be fully blamed for all the world’s afflictions? Before the pandemic the world was already crumbling fast and progress on all fronts of development, environment, health, humanitarian and human rights had faltered or regressed. To make future progress self and collective delusions have to be torn away to grip the sad realties most people are mired in and the tough challenges we face
18 October 2020 – Mukesh Kapila The recent award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the World Food Programme (WFP) triggered mixed reactions. WFP’s humanitarian efforts certainly deserve applause. At the same time, questions arise. Do already privileged organisations doing their mandated jobs need such affirmation? More fundamentally, should humanitarian and peace efforts be confounded?Continue reading “Peace continues to elude the Nobel Prize”