Political

The Question of the Rights of Aid Workers and Journalists in Conflict Zones

Traditionally aid workers have been considered as neutral by all sides in times of conflict, something that has been codified numerous times in international law.

Geneva Conventions

  • The Geneva Conventionsand their Additional Protocols are a form of international humanitarian law, coving the rights and protection of non-militant individuals involved in conflict situations.
  • This specifically includes civilians, medics, chaplains, aid workers and journalists, as well as people who can no longer fight (wounded, sick and shipwrecked troops, prisoners of war).
  • The Conventions and their Protocols call for any people who deliberately attack or harm these people to be tried and punished by the government, and asks governments to actively enforce measures to prevent aid workers and journalists from being harmed.
  • The Geneva Conventions have been acceded to by 194 States and enjoy universal acceptance.

UN Security Council’s Resolution 1502

Political

UN Security Council’s Resolution 1502, adopted in August 2003, condemned violence against humanitarian workers and called upon all states to ensure that these incidents were treated as war crimes and punished as such.

  • 2013 was the most dangerous year so far for humanitarian workers, with 155 killed, 171 seriously wounded and 134 kidnapped.
  • In total of 251 separate attacks involving 460 humanitarian workers occurred in 30 countries last year, however three-quarters of them took place in just five countries: Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, Pakistan and Sudan.

Potential courses of action:

  • Aim for acceptance by both the communities that they are working in and with and the government of the state they’re in.
  • Further funding for UN military personnel to protect their staff and equipment.

 

The Question of the Formation of a Trade Treaty between the United States of America and the EU

The government says the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will create jobs and economic growth by reducing tariffs, harmonising regulations and generally making it easier for EU businesses to trade with the US.  Tariffs are already as low as 4% on average, so the emphasis will be on forming non trade barriers (NTBs).  The EU could benefit by €119bn a year, the US by €95bn, with a spill over €100bn onto the wider world economy.- Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR).

Main concerns:

  • The international Investor State Dispute Settlement process (ISDS), which allows companies to sue sovereign countries through an international arbitration tribunal in the case of large amounts of investors’ money being lost due to their actions. Does this give too much power to companies? They could abuse this if they simply don’t like a country’s policy.
  • Potential loss of jobs, or decrease in labour law standards. The Austrian Foundation for Development research suggests anything from 400,000 to 1.1 million jobs could be lost in the ten year transition phase while TTIP comes into effect.
  • Conflicts over foodsafety, emissions standards and data privacy etc. – other beneficial EU regulations may be abandoned such as the restriction of the use of growth hormones in meat.
  • Concerns about the ‘encirclement of china’- the US is already establishing a parallel Transpacific Partnership (TPP), with Japan, Australia and Singapore. By alienating the countries china trades with most and trying to make a global set of standards, they may be trying to force them to accept a series of regulations (safety, environmental, consumer) that they currently ignore.
  • May disadvantage developing countries in that they are excluded from this new increase in trade. It could potentially decrease EU trade with developing countries by 3%, providing a clash with their anti-poverty goals.

 http://useu.usmission.gov/ttip.html

http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/in-focus/ttip/index_en.htm