The University of Edinburgh’s Global Academies have announced their Autumn 2014 Ebola Series in response to the current global crisis. In this short post, Dr Harriet Cornell from the Global Justice Academy reflects on how the global response to Ebola has unfolded in the press, and criticisms that have been voiced by experts in the field.
This evening’s Ebola headlines are divided between pleas for world help from Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and blame for the spread and devastation of the outbreak been laid squarely at the doors of the world’s supranational bodies: the World Health Organisation, and the United Nations. Then there is the intersect between the outbreak of the disease in West Africa, and the western media response, with The Guardian running a comment piece entitled ‘The problem with the west’s Ebola response is still fear of a black patient’.
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This guest post is by Nicaylen Rayasa. Nicaylen is studying for a Bachelor’s degree in Meteorology and Environmental Studies at Ohio University. Along with fellow GJA-blogger, Janice Brewer, Nicaylen took the ‘Place-Making and Making-Places’ summer school module at the University of Edinburgh during July 2014 – you can read more about the group and their investigations of Global Justice here. In this post, Nicaylen considered the rise of Islamic State and how this intersects with climate change.
This past winter in the Fertile Crescent was particularly harsh for farmers, in what is usually the wettest part of the year. It ended up to be the hottest and driest winter on record.
While prolonged droughts and record heat have been commonplace for many parts of the world, the Iraq-Syria region brings an interesting political dynamic to the climate regime.The region’s climate is based historically on dry summers and rainy winters. However, climate change and the uptick in temperatures has transformed land use and increased desertification during extended droughts. Extreme versions of hot, dry summers have been more prevalent.
The Iraq-Syria conflict in the Middle East has been a growing regional issue for years now. ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), the Sunni Jihadist organisation responsible for the newfound violence in the region, arose earlier this year. Their emergence coincidently occurred during the hottest March-May period on record in Iraq.
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This guest post is by Dr Ewan Stein, Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Edinburgh. A longer version of this post will appear as an article in the journal Afkar/Ideas, published by the Institut Europeu de la Mediterrània, Barcelona.
By the time of the 2010-2011 Arab uprisings Al Qaeda was a peripheral actor in regional politics. It now finds itself in competition with a new, perhaps more powerful, jihadist actor in the Islamic State (IS). But IS and Al Qaeda pursue complimentary, rather than divergent, strategies and the IS phenomenon represents a logical evolution for global jihad.
Following 9/11 and the destruction of its Afghan stronghold Al Qaeda had become a decentralised network of affiliates. The uprisings initially pushed global jihad as a strategy to improve the plight of Muslims in the Middle East even further to the margins, and the death of Osama bin Laden in June 2011 registered as a footnote to the much larger political convulsions of the time.
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This guest post is by Dr Alice Gritti. Alice holds a PhD in social psychology from the University of Milano-Bicocca. Her research focuses on gender studies and international aid workers. She arrived at the University of Edinburgh as a visiting researcher in 2013.
It has already been a month since the kidnapping of two female Italian aid workers in Syria last August. It was striking how the media reported the news of Greta and Vanessa, and how the world of social and the industry insiders commented on it. Before that of a respectful silence, it took the shape of a blame game, with only a few speaking up in defence of the two aid workers, admiring and sharing their values, while many were blaming the two with judgemental comments, and often sexist. Yes, of course. The two at issue are indeed “two girls”, and their female identity was what the “accusers” mostly made relevant in their notes: “two young girls”, “very young and inexperienced”, “naïve”, “the blonde and the brunette”, “they should have played with Barbie when they were little instead of playing at the little humanitarians”, and so on.
Greta Ramelli (L) and Vanessa Marzullo (R). Source: ANSA.it
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In this second guest post, Janice Brewer investigates the tomato industry in the US and what common practice means for agricultural workers and social justice.
As summer rolls through, tomatoes flourish in all sorts of varieties, colors, sizes, and tastes. As I sink my teeth into an heirloom German tomato, grown 100% organically by Green Edge Gardens in Athens, Ohio, I am blown away by the flavour. I grew up hating tomatoes! So why was this tomato so special?
Tomatoes are thought to have originated in the Northern Andes Mountains where the weather tends to be warm and wet creating an optimal growing climate for tomatoes. When the Spanish invaded these areas they became intrigued by tomato and brought it back to Europe. Being apart of the Nightshade family – a wide group of flowering plants generally containing alkaloids – the tomato was originally thought of as poisonous and unfit for consumption but it later developed the name of the “love apple” and “golden apple” given by the French and Italians. In addition to it’s growing popularity in Europe, then North America, the tomato was found to have countless health benefits.
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This guest post is by Janice Brewer. Janice is studying for a Bachelor’s degree in Specialised Studies at Ohio University, in Sustainable Food System Planning and Development. Janice took the ‘Place-Making and Making-Places’ summer school module at the University of Edinburgh during July 2014 – you can read more about the group and their investigations of Global Justice here. In this post, Janice recalls her visit to Eigg and what she learned about sustainability in an island setting.
While awaiting the Ferry in Mallaig I glanced across the blue waters to a special outline of an island I would soon visit.
The Inner Hebrides is sprinkled with over 30 inhabited islands, each with its own history and charm. Located just to the south of the Isle of Skye sits the Isle of Eigg stretching only 5.6 miles by 3.1 miles. Eigg is decorated with “Singing Sands” beach, dramatic climbs, and sheep Xing with every step. This seemingly “just another island” is pioneering is way out of the ordinary; 17 years ago the – now 83 – inhabitants bought the land and the island became community owned. On 1st February 2008 the island switched off the grid. Eigg is the first of its kind to develop an electricity system powered only by wind, water and solar energy. Electricity would become available 24 hours a day for the first time in this islands history. The community won first place in the Big Green Challenge to tackle climate change and received £300,000 from National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).
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Dr Laura Jeffery is a Lecturer and ESRC Research Fellow in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh, specialising in forced displacement, migration, the environment, and human rights. Her academic profile can be viewed here.
In this guest blog, Laura considers how WikiLeaks evidence has been used in courts and whether documents obtained by WikiLeaks are admissable as legal evidence.
UK government policy is to ‘neither confirm nor deny’ (NCND) the authenticity of unauthorised leaked documents. The rationale for NCND is twofold: firstly, authenticating a leaked document could compound any damage already caused by the leak and secondly it rewards those involved in leaking documents. NCND is applied as a blanket policy because selective commentary would give rise to the supposition that leaked documents whose authenticity was not explicitly denied are implicitly authenticated.
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Harriet Cornell is the Development Officer for the Global Justice Academy. In this guest post, she reports on the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma, and the state of the death penalty in the United States.
In 2005, this memo was posted next to the death chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. Credit: AP File Photo
The state of Oklahoma executed Clayton Lockett at 6pm local time on Tuesday 29 April 2014. Or, according to widespread news reports and a statement from Robert Patton (Director of Oklahoma Department of Corrections), the state attempted to execute Lockett but failed, and he died 43 minutes later from a massive heart attack. Charles Warner was due to follow Lockett to the gurney at 8pm, but has been granted a 14-day stay by Governor Mary Fallin, pending an investigation into what happened in that execution chamber. » Read more
This post by Christine Bell, Prof. of Constitutional Law and Director of the Global Justice Academy, first appeared on The Future of the UK and Scotland blog.
The UK government up until now has clearly stated that it is not going to ‘pre-negotiate’ the break up of the Union. Yet to-day apparently the UK Chancellor George Osborne, along with support from the Labour party, is to rule out in advance a currency union.
In response the Scottish government has raised that they have a card to play: a possible refusal to take on a share of the UK’s national debt.
So what is going on?
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Observations by Christine Bell, Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Edinburgh, and Director of the Global Justice Academy. She is course organiser for the new LLM in Human Rights degree, available from September 2013 at Edinburgh.
At the start of this week, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing has released her report into the country visit she made to the UK which investigated the right to housing across the UK, and in particular considered it against the background of current welfare reform including on the bedroom tax.
The report can be accessed in English here. Two matters are interesting to highlight.
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