Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Congratulations Nick Clegg!

This has made my day!

Congratulations Nick and commiserations to Chris Huhne who, it is fair to say, ran a strong campaign.

At long last the Liberal Democrats have a vigourous new leader who gives us a real chance of transforming Britain into a country reflective of it's liberal and Liberal instincts.

British politics is now about to get very, very interesting indeed.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Take It Easy Guys!

Today, sadly, has seen time run out in the negotiations over the status of Kosovo.

Regrettably it has not been possible for a deal to be struck which would satisfy both sides. This is sad but unfortunately inevitable given the strength of feeling that exists on both sides.

It would be wonderful to dream that Kosovar Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo could share a future together but sadly there is such a gulf between both sides as can readily be seen on a visit to Mitrovica. The River Ibar might as well be an ocean. There is genuine fear on both sides of the ethnic divide and frankly a considerable amount of misinformation.

I enjoyed meeting people from both communities when I had the privilege of working there this summer. The gulf between the groups was very clear at the start of the training I gave but I felt that it was beginning slowly to close.

I can understand the frustration of Kosovar Albanians. They have been through hell to be frank. I can also see the point of view of the Serbs in Kosovo who feel that a part of them has been taken away with the loss of Kosovo. Milosevic must bear a huge responsibility for his appalling treatment of the Kosovar Albanians leading to the terrible violence and enduring hatred that exists. He escaped justice for his crimes but he failed Serbs who have to bear the stigma of his crimes.

What will now happen is inevitable but I plead for the Kosovar Albanian leadership under Thaci to show good sense and restraint. A hasty unilateral declaration of independence will not serve the interests of anyone. It will create violence, play into the hands of extremists and invitably the losers will not be the politicians but the ordinary people of both communities.

Just take it easy guys!

Happy Birthday Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Today, 10th December, marks the 59th Birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sadly in our world today, the Declaration is observed more in the breach but it provides a call to action for all of us on this planet who believe in the principle that human rights are universal and fundamental and should not be compromised.

For the next 30 days I plan to publish an article of the original declaration in both English and Chinese with a short personal commentary on what the articles mean for me. I am happy to publish comments made as long as the author is prepared to name themselves or can provide me with a legitimate reason why they should remain nameless (idiots/trolls need not apply).

The source of the texts is the United Nations Department of Public Information.


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, therefore,

The General Assembly,
Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

TP: An interesting marrying of both negative and positive freedoms. T.H.Green would be proud as would a number of British Social Liberals such as Beveridge and J.M. Keynes.

Article 1
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

TP: Noble and valid sentiments. Alas, how often do we see such a statement ignored. South Africa for years, Zimbabwe (both before and after colonialism), Bosnia, Kosovo, Sudan and especially Dafur, China?, the Soviet Union and now Russia is moving backwards. This article holds the world's leaders (including our own) up to higher standards.

1948 年 12 月 10 日, 联 合 国 大 会 通 过 并 颁 布《 世 界 人 权 宣 言》。 这 一 具 有 历 史 意 义 的《 宣 言》 颁 布 后, 大 会 要 求 所 有 会 员 国 广 为 宣 传, 并 且“ 不 分 国 家 或 领 土 的 政 治 地 位 , 主 要 在 各 级 学 校 和 其 他 教 育 机 构 加 以 传 播、 展 示、 阅 读 和 阐 述。” 《 宣 言 》 全 文 如 下:
序 言

鉴 于 对 人 类 家 庭 所 有 成 员 的 固 有 尊 严 及 其 平 等 的 和 不 移 的 权 利 的 承 认, 乃 是 世 界 自 由、 正 义 与 和 平 的 基 础,

鉴 于 对 人 权 的 无 视 和 侮 蔑 已 发 展 为 野 蛮 暴 行, 这 些 暴 行 玷 污 了 人 类 的 良 心, 而 一 个 人 人 享 有 言 论 和 信 仰 自 由 并 免 予 恐 惧 和 匮 乏 的 世 界 的 来 临, 已 被 宣 布 为 普 通 人 民 的 最 高 愿 望,

鉴 于 为 使 人 类 不 致 迫 不 得 已 铤 而 走 险 对 暴 政 和 压 迫 进 行 反 叛, 有 必 要 使 人 权 受 法 治 的 保 护,

鉴 于 有 必 要 促 进 各 国 间 友 好 关 系 的 发 展,

鉴 于 各 联 合 国 国 家 的 人 民 已 在 联 合 国 宪 章 中 重 申 他 们 对 基 本 人 权、 人 格 尊 严 和 价 值 以 及 男 女 平 等 权 利 的 信 念, 并 决 心 促 成 较 大 自 由 中 的 社 会 进 步 和 生 活 水 平 的 改 善,

鉴 于 各 会 员 国 业 已 誓 愿 同 联 合 国 合 作 以 促 进 对 人 权 和 基 本 自 由 的 普 遍 尊 重 和 遵 行,

鉴 于 对 这 些 权 利 和 自 由 的 普 遍 了 解 对 于 这 个 誓 愿 的 充 分 实 现 具 有 很 大 的 重 要 性,

因 此 现 在, 大 会, 发 布 这 一 世 界 人 权 宣 言 , 作 为 所 有 人 民 和 所 有 国 家 努 力 实 现 的 共 同 标 准, 以 期 每 一 个 人 和 社 会 机 构 经 常 铭 念 本 宣 言, 努 力 通 过 教 诲 和 教 育 促 进 对 权 利 和 自 由 的 尊 重, 并 通 过 国 家 的 和 国 际 的 渐 进 措 施, 使 这 些 权 利 和 自 由 在 各 会 员 国 本 身 人 民 及 在 其 管 辖 下 领 土 的 人 民 中 得 到 普 遍 和 有 效 的 承 认 和 遵 行;

第 一 条

人 人 生 而 自 由, 在 尊 严 和 权 利 上 一 律 平 等。 他 们 赋 有 理 性 和 良 心, 并 应 以 兄 弟 关 系 的 精 神 相 对 待。

TP: Perhaps Beijing would like to consider the meaning of these words in the run up to 八八 and meet their promises?

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Kosovo and the Russians

Sadly it seems that the West has now "lost" Russia. Putin's shameful sham election strongly points to a slide to new authoritarianism and the trend over the past few years of his Presidency suggest that he will establish a strong "new authoritarian" block with the Chinese out East.

Russia has also been stridently opposed to the Ahtisaari proposed settlement in Kosovo which would lead to a "supervised independence" under the UN. Frankly it has undermined any possibility of a shared future for Kosovar Albanians and Serbs in the province through it's strident support of the unsustainable Serbian position which would only consider "autonomy" within Serbia for the province.

Far from preparing Serbs in Mitrovica and other parts of northern Kosovo to accept the need to fight for a shared future with equal rights under the law, Putin has helped to stoke continued mistrust between the two communities (during my time in Mitrovica as a trainer the Serb participants were anxious about crossing over the bridge from Northern Mitrovica due to security concerns) and helped to create a climate where renewed violence is a real possibility this month.

To then discover that Putin has decided to dispatch an 11-ship aircraft carrier group to the Mediterranean suggests that Putin is prepared to back the Serbian intransigent position with force. Why else should they be there?

I enjoyed my time in Prishtina and Mitrovica in Kosovo working with both communities and genuinely hope that they will be able to avoid violence and create a shared future where ALL citizens are able to participate in society and the legacy of hatred is laid to rest.

Russian macho politics does not help and Putin needs to be stood up to by the West, both for his sham election (which requires diplomatic sanctions of some kind) and regrettably it is increasingly looking like we will need to do so militarily as well.