time to start telling it like it is in the DRC

So the UN just accused the DRC and Rwanda of directly helping the rebels in the conflict in Eastern Congo which continues to kill, main or dislocate hundreds of thousands of people. I say it is about time. This has been the Great Lakes Region’s worst kept secret. I could have told the UN this months ago. I wonder what took them so long to see this for what it is and say so in the media. But better late than never, now that the cat is out of the bag it is time for someone to take some action.

(CAUTION: I know this is a gross simplification of the conflict, I just wanted to highlight the gist of it)

I must say that I am deeply disappointed in Paul Kagame. Why did he have to get bogged down in this mess again? Why not concentrate on getting aid money and making Rwanda the IT capital of the continent? Why get involved with the criminal Nkunda? Is the coltan that attractive?

As for Kabila, I have no regrets. This is a man who has failed to show leadership or the guts to run a country as large as the DRC. He seems to still believe in the outdated notion that if you control the capital you control the country. Kabila, wake up and smell the coffee – or whatever it is you drink when you wake up. Does Chad, Sudan and Mauritania ring a bell. These situations should inform you on what happens when you allow rebel activities within your territory. Sudan and Chad may have survived but their governments continue to face existential threats as long as the rebels are allowed to exist. So grow a pair Kabila and take the fight to Nkunda, and if you can’t own up to your weakness and negotiate for some decentralisation arrangement. Your country is too big to be as centralised as it is anyway.

I am pleased by the UN’s move. It now remains to be seen what it will do about its claim. Sanctions on both governments? Not likely. Perhaps a slap on the wrist and a threat of cessation of aid. (Don’t you just hate the bullshitting that goes on in New York?) In the meantime Congolese women and children will continue to be killed, raped and denied a normal livelihood as Kabila, Nkunda, Kagame and all the other clowns involved in this mess continue in their little dance of guns, dollars and coltan.

the state of global human rights

“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.”

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

These are quotations from articles I and III of the declaration of human rights, that famous document that was adopted by the United Nations on 10th December, 1948. It has been 60 years since the declaration was made, in an attempt to guarantee humanity to all peoples of the world. The sad thing, however, is that not much has changed since then. Hitler’s concentration camps are no more but Guantanamo still exists. Fascism no longer poses a global threat but millions of human beings – mainly in the third world but in the so cold first world as well – continue to live under the yoke of oppressive governments.

The liberal ideas and hopes for the demise of the all-powerful nation-state to usher in a post-statist human rights respecting new world order have all died. Instead, the state has become more and more powerful as humanity tries to grapple with 21st century problems of terrorism and the economic uncertainties associated with too much integration in the global economy – as is being seen in the current global financial crisis.

The 1948 declaration set the ball rolling, and we should celebrate this great achievement. However, we should forever be vigilant against the emergent challenges to society that have managed to push the respect for human rights to the back seat. The war on terror has brought about enormous challenges to the idea of universal human rights. Should terrorists be accorded these rights? what about those merely suspected of being terrorists? and how about corrupt regimes that help in the “war on terror”? should millions of third world citizens be condemned to a life of misery simply because their unworthy leaders are cooperating in the “war” to save Westerners from attacks?