Women in Public Sphere: Space for Improvement and Endless Strides

 

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife,” the famous first sentence of <Pride and Prejudice> which establishes the superiority of men in the nineteenth century marriage custom in England. Regarding the matter of gender inequality, I – not only as a young woman but also as a human who views the world to have room for improvement – would like to delve into the matter of women’s “underrated” competency and capability in the globe, particularly in the public sphere. Despite the vast improvement in women’s rights, it cannot be denied that women still lack representation of themselves although they constitute more than half of the world population.

Prior to proposing solutions to solve gender inequality, it is much more imperative to face the truth that only 22.8 percent of all national parliamentarians were women as of June 2016. Surprisingly, Rwanda has displayed the highest women participation in national politics by having 63.8%. Although cases might differ from countries to countries, having an overview of Rwanda’s strides to gradually achieve gender equality is necessary.

Rwanda undertook an exhausting process to draft a new constitution, shortly after genocide against Tutsi has ended. These strides, however, were not the only products of the government of Rwanda. Cooperative behavior taken by both neighboring and distant Non-Governmental Organizations contributed to the establishment of the groundwork for women parliamentarians and the Ministry of Gender and Women in Development. Since the genocide, innovative electoral structures have been introduced to the public in order to both raise public awareness towards the matter of education and to encourage women to step out in politics. As women are being more empowered and inspired by improving constitution and laws, Collect if Pro-Femmes has been actively for further enhance in women’s rights and lives.

In Korea, many women face barriers in terms of promotion within companies because there is a rampant social belief that married women will soon be pregnant and even that unmarried women have the potential to get married due to the social atmosphere that focuses on marital obligation of women. There is a serious discrepancy between what people say about how the society should treat women and what those people actually do to women. Male-dominated power structures implant gender discriminative understanding in women. Considering the fact that Korea has been a Confucian society for several hundred years, remnants of gender discrimination still remain in blind corners. Yet, gender discrimination can never be embraced in any cultures. It is paramount for every human being to be guaranteed with basic human rights for a more ‘civilized’ society for every individual regardless of one’s gender.

 

http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/leadership-and-political-participation/facts-and-figures

http://www.idea.int/publications/wip2/upload/Rwanda.pdf

http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/68/184&Lang=E

Written by Da Eun Lee

Human Rights at Stake: Burundi

 

The Rwandan Genocide took the lives of 500,000 to 1,000,000 people in 1994. Though more related to political corruption rather than an ethnic divide, the mass human rights violations in Rwanda’s neighboring nation Burundi is just as grotesque and unjustified.

On April 26, 2015, Brudundians gathered at the streets Bujumbura, the capital, in protest against President Nkurunziza’s third term bid for re-election, a violation of Brudundi’s consitution. On the same day, Jean Nepomuscène was shot by a police officer after returning from church for “(raising) his arms in the air between the dissenting districts of Ngagara et Mutakura.” Jean wasn’t the last student to die. 24 year old Justin Kwigomba, friend of Jean, fled to Rwanda after he was targeted by the Imbonerakure (the youth wing of the CNDD-FDD, the ruling party). Notorious for gang rape, torture, and murder, the Imbonerackure is just one part of the systemic human rights violations conducted by the government today. The Report of the UN Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB) states that the “gross human rights violations (in Burundi) amount to crimes against humanity.” According to the UN Human Rights Office, 564 cases of executions have been verified between 2015 and 2016, and have been initiated without proper due process of law. International Business Times (IBT) elaborates on other findings.

The use of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment against opponents. Ill-treatment included attaching weights to testicles, crushing of fingers and toes with pliers, detention in a closed container, forcing families to stay next to the dead body of a relative, forcing the victim to sit on acid, broken glass or nails, gang rape of a mother in the presence of her children, injections of a yellow liquid in the testicles and other parts of the body leading to paralysis, knife and machete stabs, lashes using preheated electric cable or iron bars, progressive burning with a blowtorch or gas cylinder, progressive electrocution, pulling a cord attached to the testicles, tightly tying a person’s arms in the back for several days, insults and humiliating speech, including an ethnic dimension, poking of fingers in the eyes of the victim, tying the victim up by the feet upside down (known as “Amagurizege” in Kirundi)

Alarmingly, the UNIIB report warns that “no one can quantify exactly all the violations that have taken place and that continue to take place in a situation as closed and repressive as Burundi during the period covered by UNIIB’s mandate.” The situation is ever more dangerous as the conflict has a potential overspill effect into other regions. The UNIIB investigators note that “(they) are gravely concerned about the general trend of ethnically divisive rhetoric by the government, as well as others, which may carry a serious potential of the situation spiraling out of control, including beyond Burundi’s borders.”

Nevertheless, the ruling party and the president have denied all allegations. Though, witnesses include 12 upper echelon members of the government’s security forces, the President’s Communications Chief Willy Nyamitwe has recently tweeted that “@UNHumanRights did not respect the usual rules by releasing the report without the response of @BurundiGov.” Though Burundi government has tried to corroborate its claims by setting up commissions of inquiry, the recent UNIIB report has claimed that the government has “blatantly (failed)” to investigate.

In November of 2015, the UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the violence in Burundi. The UNIIB has stated that “if the violations continue and the Government continues to fail to prevent abuses, invocation of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which authorizes the UN to deploy a force to restore international peace, may be necessary.” Aljazeera reports that “the experts urge the Burundian government, the AU, the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Security Council and other international actors to take a series of robust actions to preserve the achievements made in the Arusha Accord and in the 2005 Constitution.”

<References>

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/09/probe-finds-gross-human-rights-abuses-burundi-160920193304827.html

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/burundi-you-are-young-must-fight-how-rebel-touts-manipulate-young-men-toward-armed-conflict-1514228

http://reliefweb.int/report/burundi/report-united-nations-independent-investigation-burundi-uniib-established-pursuant

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/21/un-report-accuses-burundi-government-human-rights-abuses

Written by Han Sung Lim

 

Refuge for Freedom and Respect for Democracy

In the recent defection of an elite North Korean politician, Tae Young Ho, to South Korea, there is a dearth of guarantee that the North Korean government to remain stable. Minister Tae of North Korean Embassy in London seeking asylum has already been a pronounced fact among his few acquaintances. When minister Tae met BBC correspondent in Seoul, he had asked about the life in Seoul, South Korea, exposing his interest towards moving to a third country. Although his term was about to end this summer and was planning to go back to North Korea, he prioritized the education of his children and his desire towards freedom and democracy. His decision sets its origin on the great economic burden on himself and his family.

According to a research paper “Commentary on North Korean Study” by Korea’s National Intelligence Service, it has been shown that North Korean diplomats are going through a hard time, by being paid between 700 and 800 US dollars for a monthly salary. Despite this monthly pay, expediency fund or monetary support for diplomats and their families other than official salary do not exist. This would be the fundamental reason of North Korean elites in a foreign country withdrawing North Korean nationality.

Not only Minister Tae, but three more North Korean citizens have escaped the country in the beginning of 2016. This defection is itself a reflection of the terrified North Korea, where the one and only tyrant has an ultimate power and control over the rest of the country. Defection of North Koreans, however, is not limited to aristocratic people, but rather is dissolving into the public.

The North is once again facing economic challenges like it did 20 years ago. The country consistently marked a minus value for the growth rate and this rate plunged, especiallly in the food production statistics and agriculture. Moreover, the trade sanctions is slowly penetrating the lives of civilians. Along with this, the value of mineral resources started declining sharply, and therefore was not able to export enough to earn a living for the country.

The profiles of defectors began diversifying in 2010 as it ranged from diplomats and soldiers to artists and athletes. Although North Korea regards these refugees as notorious criminals, desire of these people are not evading the pathway to freedom. A few refugees actively take part in a joint panel to share their journey in search of mental and physical freedom. In addition to the refugees’ effort to seek their own freedom, the South Korean government is consistently striving to cooperate with those refugees.

There are quite a plenty of non-profit organizations willing to achieve, step by step, liberty in North Korea. LiNK, or Liberty in North Korea, is a well known NGO that rescues North Korean refugees without cost or condition by steadily garnering information about escape routes through China and Southeast Asia. These organizations are extremely pivotal to gain freedom among North Koreans and the repressive regimes around the world as a whole since international attention has focused on nuclear weapons and the Kim family when a quarter of children in North Korea are chronically malnourished. It is inevitable that the totalitarian North Korean regime will collapse within a short period of time, but the world’s goal, consisted of nations supporting democracy, is to accelerate that transformation for the innocent people in North Korea.

 

<Reference>

http://theseoultimes.com/ST/?url=/ST/db/read.php?idx=13157

http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20160726000877

http://www.libertyinnorthkorea.org/rescue-refugees/

 

Written by DaEun Lee

Gender and Violent Extremism

  1. Why gender matter?  

Preventing and countering violent extremism is an essential topic on the policy agenda of many governments over the world. However, understanding the gendered dimensions of violent extremism, concerned with preventing and countering violent extremism has fallen short. We need to pay greater attention to the impact of gender on identities, roles and relationships between men and women in society. The gendered roles of men and women in any given society are not static and change over time. Globalization, violent conflict and periods of transition often alter prescribed gender roles. During political transition, the roles for women are often a site of contention. In the case of extremist groups, gender ideals for women limit their human rights, mobility and empowerment. For example, many of the extremist groups that call themselves “Islamists” call for a return to traditional values and clearly sex-separated roles, whereby men occupy and dominate the public space and women inhabit the domestic and private space while being subservient to men.

 

  1. About resolution 1325

It was adopted by women and peace and security on 31 October 2000. The resolution reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. Resolution 1325 urges all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all United Nations peace and security efforts. It also calls on all parties to conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, in situations of armed conflict. The resolution provides a number of important operational mandates, with implications for Member States and the entities of the United Nations system.

 

  1. The Political Economy of Sexual Violence

Here is a story about a girl name Bangura . As a source of financing, sexual violence has become a key tool in the “political economy of terrorism,” She said. Yet the treatment of women remains a “collateral issue rather than a central concern” in fighting it. “Protecting women must be at the heart of any global counter-terrorism response, this is a security imperative.” On a recent trip to Iraq, Bangura heard devastating stories of sexual violence from Yazidi women who escaped their captors in ISIS, also known as ISIL or by its self-adopted moniker “Islamic State.” One teenager had been forced to marry 15 men, some for as few as three days. Some were soaked in gasoline and burned for refusing to cooperate. A girl sold as a sex slave in the markets of the Syrian city of Raqqa, the capital of the self-declared Islamic State, is likely to change hands five times, she said. A Christian or Yazidi girl aged 10 to 20 fetches $120, according to an official ISIS price list Bangura cited. Her U.N. office is working on a multi-faceted strategy to address sexual violence in the Middle East. The approach includes mobilizing international political commitments, ensuring women a central role in developing counter-terror strategies, and designing frameworks for prosecuting aggressors.

Despite gaps in understanding of why individuals turn to ideologically driven violence, research suggests empowerment of women pays off in the context of countering violent extremism, said Robert Berschinski, deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.  Resolution 1325 doesn’t mention the issue but the peace and security agenda it embodies, calling for protection of women from sexual violence in armed conflicts and women’s participation in politics and peace processes, ties directly to women’s roles as victims and perpetrators, supporters and inhibitors of violent extremism, he said.

“Whether seeking to make peace agreements more durable, or stopping radicalization before it begins, addressing root causes and legitimate grievances matters a great deal,” Berschinski said. “You can’t do that if you exclude women, and more broadly civil society, from these discussions.”

Anwarul K. Chowdhury, who led the campaign for Resolution 1325 as Bangladesh’s ambassador to the U.N. when the country held the Security Council presidency, argued that “we would not have to worry about countering extremism if women had equality in decision-making’’ on how to prevent it. He pressed the case for pushing more of the 193 U.N. member states to join the 48 that have approved the National Action Plans called for in Resolution 1325 to outline how a nation intends to meet the goals of the measure.

  1. Militarism to Impose Views

Militarism and militarization are deepening in the region, while a fluid global arms trade makes it easier for extremists to impose their views. “It is a reality that politics and, more so, security are a man’s world,” Chowdhury said.

Carla Koppell, the chief strategy officer at USAID, said the 15th anniversary of Resolution 1325 is the first chance the U.S. government has had to update its National Action Plan by evaluating and building on progress in integrating women, peace and security objectives across the full range of conflict-related programs. That provides a “perfect entry point” for thinking about gender issues as applied to countering violent extremism. Here are her takeaways:

  1.     Develop and adopt stronger protections and support for women and girls who are vulnerable to and victims of extremist and insurgent groups.
  2.     Expand and enable counter-insurgent networks among vulnerable women and youth.
  3.     Expand research on better protection strategies and on how women can systematically provide early warning, help de-radicalize former extremists and join in hindering recruitment.
  4.     Involve women in the security sectors of government and international bodies.
  5.     Leverage better social media that elevates women’s voices.
  6.     Bangura framed the human dimensions of the challenge:

“Imagine a young lady, very religious, father [a] professional working 16 hours a day. Her mother is a housewife. She comes from school, goes into her bedroom – [she’s] not allowed to go into places her peers go. She has a computer in her room, access 24 hours a day. We’ve all been young girls. She wants adventure, she wants to do something that counts, she wants to be doing something. A lot of time, these are the girls recruited. They are lonely. They are caught between two worlds, and the family wants to keep them in the old [one]. When we look at root causes — why is it educated girls from good backgrounds are joining — they want adventure. This is what ISIS promises.”Bangura continued, closing the loop to the West’s response: “ISIS has a policy to bring brilliant women from around the world. They will spend six hours a day online to recruit a woman. They understand how critical it is to have women. They have deployed smart women, and we are still talking.”
<Reference>

http://www.usip.org/publications/2015/08/03/women-and-violent-extremism-growing-threat-demands-concerted-action

http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/files/Women-Preventing-Violent-Extremism-Charting-New-Course.pdf

http://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/wps/

photo : https://intouchwithja.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/vlcsnap-2014-12-09-08h58m43s189.png

 

United Nations: Taking Action on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by Peacekeepers

In the spring of 2014, allegations that international troops serving in a peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (“CAR”) had sexually abused a number of young children in exchange for food or money, were simply called “allegations.” The alleged perpetrators were mostly from a French military force known as the Sangaris Forces, which were operating as peacekeepers under authorization of the Security Council but not directly under UN command. On the interview with a Human Rights Officer (“HRO”) working for the UN mission in CAR, with local UNICEF staff, from six young boys, they reported that they had been subjected to sexual abuse by international peacekeeping troops or that they saw other children being abused. The French Sangaris Forces were mostly the alleged perpetrators. In exchange, they gave the children small amounts of food or cash. All of the incidents happened between December 2013 and June 2014, near the M’Poko Internally Displaced Persons Camp in Bangui. The witnessed children reported detailed information about the perpetrators, such as their names and certain distinguishing features like tattoos, piercings, and facial features. For instance, some of the children described the rape of other child victims (who were not interviewed by the HRO).

 

It is not sufficient for the UN to report on acts of sexual exploitation and abuse perpetrated by peacekeepers. It must actively seek to ensure that the perpetrators of such crimes are identified and prosecuted. In CAR, HRJS had a particular responsibility not only to investigate violations and protect individuals at risk but also to follow up on human rights violations and assist in bringing perpetrators to justice. Unfortunately, neither the SRSG of MINUSCA nor the head of HRJS considered the UN to have a duty to pursue the accountability process. As a result, they took no steps to inform the French government of the Allegations. Moreover, UN agencies failed to support legal proceedings initiated by the French government as a result of the allegations. For example, in response to the initial request by the French government for cooperation in its investigation, the UN’s internal services declined to recommend to the Secretary-General that he waive the HRO’s immunity to allow her to participate in the French legal proceedings. Exchanges between the French Permanent Mission and the UN, including with their respective senior officials and legal offices, took weeks for each round of communication. Finally, in July 2015, almost a year after the investigators arrived in CAR, the Secretary-General waived the HRO’s immunity and agreed to transmit the unredacted Sangaris Notes to French authorities. This approach was unnecessarily prolonged and bureaucratic. A balance must be struck between the need for the UN to pursue its mission and to promote accountability.

 

Peacekeeping missions are often a measure of last resort to protect civilians in circumstances of extreme conflict and play a critical role in allowing both governments and communities to rebuild and move forward. The importance of such works and the personal sacrifices that individual peacekeepers make to achieve them should not be underestimated.  Indeed, in the case of CAR, peacekeepers—including the French Sangaris Forces—very likely prevented the death of thousands of innocent civilians. Yet, the persistence of serious crimes against local populations committed by some of the very individuals charged with protecting them puts at danger the sustainability of peacekeeping missions in the longer term. Indeed, the fact that the problem persists even though several expert reports commissioned by the UN over the last ten years only serves to exacerbate the perception that the UN is more concerned with rhetoric than action. If the UN and the TCCs are to rebuild the trust of victims, local civilian populations, and the international community, deliberate, effective, and immediate action is required. The first step is to acknowledge that sexual violence perpetrated by peacekeeping troops is not merely a disciplinary matter, but also a serious human rights violation and may amount to a crime. This recognition will trigger a number of obligations on the UN and the TCCs to respond in a meaningful way to incidents of conflict-related sexual violence, regardless of whether the troops are operating under UN command. It is important that all peacekeeping troops understand, even before deployment, that sexual exploitation and abuse of local populations constitutes a human rights violation and may be met with criminal prosecution. The UN must take immediate action when it receives reports of sexual violence by peacekeepers to stop the violations and hold the perpetrators accountable. They must take meaningful steps to bring perpetrators of sexual violence to justice in a manner that allows victims and the local community to see that troops cannot commit crimes with impunity. Victims also require immediate access to protection, including medical and psychosocial care. Above all, UN staff and agencies must end the bureaucratic cycle in which responsibility is fragmented and accountability is passed from one agency to another. While this change will require a cultural shift both for the UN and for TCCs, such a shift is consistent with and required by, the UN’s Human Rights Up Front initiative. But the UN cannot do it alone. TCCs play a critical role. Unless both the UN and the TCCs are truly committed to zero tolerance, this goal will remain as an illusion and the future of peacekeeping missions will be put in a big risk.

 

<Reference>

http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/centafricrepub/Independent-Review-Report.pdf

http://www.cfr.org/human-rights/united-nations-taking-action-sexual-exploitation-abuse-peacekeepers/p37563

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/17/un-gross-failure-sexual-abuse-french-troops-central-african-republic

https://ippjournal.wordpress.com/2016/03/15/united-nations-security-council-addresses-sexual-exploitation-and-abuse-by-un-peacekeepers/

photo : http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/world/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2016/02/peacekeepers07v3.jpg