27 February 2007
The recent verdict of the International Court of Justice about Serbia raises, I believe, an interesting question. We read the word genocide quasi every day in the press, we hear it on radio and tv, but I am not too sure that people realise what it exactly means. So the rage of Bosnian demonstrators after the verdict might be very understandable, but not very well directed. The Court was asked to tell the (international) law, and it did it remarkably well. So the question is "What is exactly genocide?" What does it cover? Who can be responsible for genocide? And obviously who can be guilty of not preventing genocide, or worse, accomplicity?
It is not as an easy question as it may seems. Genocide is a very vast word, but it has a very precise legal meaning. According to this article, the only space left to debate is about the extent. Where does genocide begin and where does "simple" massacre ends? The legal definition speaks about partial or total destruction of a group because of its religion, ethnicity, etc. So there is a jurisprudence about what constitutes a part big enough to qualify for genocide. The Tribunal for ex-Yougoslavia stated that, to qualify, a group of victims must be significant in absolute numbers, relatively to the size of the total group but also relatively to the reach of the perpetrator. And of course, the organisation (system) and intent must be proven.
In the case of Sebrenica, genocide is clear: perpetrators systematically killed all male population (effectively preventing the reproduction of the targetted group part), the part was significant in absolute value (several thousands) and relative numbers (a region is a significant part of a country). There was a very systematic effort and organisation: the perpetrators organised the deception of the population to help their murderous effort, organising convoys that would lead some to their deaths and others to exile (after systematic rape).
But what the Court showed in yesterday's decision is that Serbia as a state did not organise such an act. Serbia certainly helped, or at least did not prevent the genocide in local Sebrenica. But Serbia as a state did not organise the genocide of all Muslim and ethnic Kroatian populations. Local Bosno-Serb authorities did. No one in Belgrad had theorized ethnic cleansing. It was Radovan Karadzic who did in Bosnia. Serbia aimed at dominance over ex-Yougoslavia, not extermination. Belgrade, in few words, was guilty of non-prevention and certainly of dictatorship. But not genocide... Serbia did little worse than China or the Arab League with Sudan (relating to Darfur) or than France with Rwanda.
That doesn't tell much about China and France, does it?
20 February 2007
No politics today, no two cents philosophical comments. And no picture...
I am just too busy looking for a new job. So if you know a company looking for a good market analyst, or better, if your company needs a team manager in an intelligence section, I am the right man for the job. I have good project management experience, studied International Relations, can speak Dutch, French and English (and I can learn more if you want to...) and I have worked in the maritime, insurance and agro-food sectors. I don't mind working hard, travelling or even moving to a new country, as long as the pay is decent and the job interesting.
And yes, of course, I have a CV ready if you are interested. You can ask me by e-mail here. ;-)
16 February 2007
I was reading this article on Al Jazeera in English today and I thought I'd like to share this pearl of hypocrisy with you. Not hypocrisy from the part of Al Jazeera, but from the part of certain members of the US administration. Basically, the USA have "discovered" that their operations in Iraq had caused, since 2003, the emigration of millions of Iraqis. And guess who is taking the brunt of these numbers? Iraq Arab neighbours, obviously, which are already deep into social, political and economic problems themselves... And who is paying for the influx, the logistical nightmare, the food and shelter? Well, the fleeing Iraqis themselves, of course, as well as the UNHCR obviously. Which means in the end you and me, as the UNHCR is funded (indirectly) by our taxes.
So of course, in the last four years, Iraqis and their families have desperately tried to leave Arab countries where they are not always welcome, to say the least, and fled to Europe, where they are ending "en masse", in our ports, stations, public social shelters, etc. And what has the US administration done about this? Well, last year they have accepted 202 of these refugees (mainly people working for them in Iraq and who were threatened) and they propose to take about 7000 this year. And they might spend some money in Arab lands to pay for the costs of some of the other ones. That's so nice and charitable... I am sure the Iraqis will appreciate the gift to its true value. So, here we go, let's destroy a country in the name of regime change, under false pretenses, plunge it deep into chaos, mismanage it and exploit its resources. And when people get so desperate that they take what they can of their belongings and families and run away, let's just give them a couple of dollars and tell them to stay around. And please, don't come and bother us in our Brave New World... We are way to busy enjoying our wealth, our SUV, our freedoms (ooops...) and our way of life!
14 February 2007
Nothing special today. I am just enjoying a free day to work on my CV, search a new job, all this hassle. Well, yes, of course it is Valentine's day. Honestly, I have been guilty of forgetting it many times in the past, leading to horrible scenes with girlfriends.
Today is different. Today, I would like to wish a happy Valentine's day to someone I miss terribly. I don't even know if she reads me from time to time or not. So my dear, if you read this, know that distance is not always soothing everything and that time is not always a filter. They can also sharpen pain and enhance memories.
May the sun shine on your life and may fate or the circumstances (whichever we believe in the most) make us join again together.
07 February 2007
Only 24 hours after my previous post below, about mating parrots in winter, snow began to fall heavily over Zuid Holland, and pretty soon it was all covered in cold white. Animals, unlike the day before, were not really happy with it, such as this tiny rabbit under my office window, trying to get some food in a worker's garden. The contrast with the previous day was so big, it is a shame that I couldn't take pictures of the parrot so as to support my message.
But anyway, it doesn't change anything to the fact that the weather is really getting weird and that animals are the first ones to suffer...
05 February 2007
There was last week a major conference in Paris about climate change and global warming. It is certainly an alarming situation that was described in the final report, but we all know the most catastrophic effects will be "enjoyed" by our children, most probably. This said, some effects can be felt already, according to some climatologists. Apparently, some of the very warm weather we had in the last years could be linked to our own activities. Quite scary, I believe. But some of these effects are actually quite nicer...
I had a good example today when I looked outside the window. May I remind you that this is Netherlands, and definitely winter time. Some years qgo, at the same date, canals were frozen and people were ice skating safely... Well, this year, forget about canal ice skating. There were a whole bunch of green parrots, in full mating parade, flying and tumbling all around the building. I know parrots can be adaptable birds, and we have had many of them in the Netherlands for some time, mainly in bigger cities. But this is not even a city centre and they were actually mating at the heart of winter!
They said it all, guys and gals, the weather is getting all crazzy. And birds too... ;-)