Climate Justice Doesn’t Start With Politicians. It Starts In The Streets

Jennifer Morgan, Executive director of Greenpeace International – Photo: Greenpeace

The outcomes of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) continue to be debated across the globe, although a clear consensus has emerged among activists that it was largely a failure. There may be some hope down the road, however, as coal appears to be on its way out and grassroots pressure to transform climate policy is on the upsurge.

Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, attended COP26 and witnessed personally the power of protests in the streets, which, she says, was the real leadership on display in Glasgow. In this exclusive interview with Truthout, Morgan shares what transpired in Glasgow, what mechanisms can be implemented to end fossil fuel use, and how the end of the fossil fuel economy has the potential to challenge capitalism.

C.J. Polychroniou: I want to start by asking for your thoughts on COP26. What did it accomplish, and is there any reason to believe that leaders will make good on the pledges made?

Jennifer Morgan: Glasgow was meant to deliver on firmly closing the gap to 1.5°C and that didn’t happen. The final text was meek, weak and the 1.5°C goal is only just alive, but a signal has been sent that the era of coal is ending. And that matters. While the deal recognizes the need for deep emissions cuts this decade, those commitments have been delayed again until next year.

There was progress on adaptation, with the developed countries finally beginning to respond to the calls of developing countries for funding and resources to cope with rising temperatures. There was a recognition that vulnerable countries are suffering real loss and damage from the climate crisis now, but what was promised was nothing close to what’s needed on the ground, and this issue must be at the top of the agenda for developed countries.

Even though the mention of phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies is weak and compromised, its very existence is a breakthrough. The call for emissions reductions of 45 percent by the end of this decade is in line with what we need to do to stay under 1.5°C and brings science firmly into this deal. But what we actually need is for companies and governments to take meaningful and tangible action toward it.

Unfortunately, while some of the worst bits have been removed, the offsets scam still got a boost in Glasgow, and there are still risks that this deal will support a greenwashing scam for the biggest polluters, with loopholes that are too big to tolerate, endangering nature, Indigenous Peoples and the 1.5°C goal itself. The UN Secretary General announced that a group of experts will bring vital scrutiny to offset markets, but much work still needs to be done to stop the greenwashing, cheating and loopholes giving big emitters and corporations a pass.

What COP26 showed was where real leadership is. The only reason we got where we did in Glasgow was because the youth, Indigenous leaders, activists and countries on the climate frontline forced concessions that were grudgingly given. Without them, these climate talks would have flopped completely. Young people who’ve come of age in the climate crisis won’t tolerate many more outcomes like this. We need to urgently mobilize to create irrepressible pressure for world leaders to act.

Those at the forefront of the fight against the climate emergency say we have to stop with the further expansion or exploitation of fossil fuels. Through what policy mechanisms can this be realized, and what is the role of Greenpeace International in helping to make this happen?

The breakup with fossil fuels is not only a necessity but also inevitable. Case in point, the compromise in the Glasgow Climate Pact on phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies is definitely not where we want it to be, but we have to acknowledge that it is a small victory in the sense that it’s the first time a call for coal reduction appeared on a COP final text.

But as this is a fundamental systemic change, we need all of the governments to be on board to make sure that this extractive and exploitative business of fossil fuels is well and truly choked off, and we transition as quickly as we can to sustainable sources of energy — in other words, no more money should be allowed for dirty investments.

Between the adoption of the Paris agreement in 2015 and 2019, 33 major global banks collectively poured $1.9 trillion into fossil fuels. The world needs $90 trillion in the next decade to achieve the goals set by the Paris agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Fossil fuel supply still attracts nearly three times more investments and subsidies than the solutions. Just 10 percent of these regressive subsidies could pay for the transition to a clean energy revolution — only 10 percent of the money we are dumping into outdated fossil fuels. This is why the governments must create, then properly and effectively implement policies so that no amount of money — subsidy, funding or bailout should ever reach the fossil fuel companies again.

Fortunately, as more governments are realizing the true gravity of our climate situation, they are taking more action. In East Asia and Southeast Asia, we’ve been running campaigns against state-backed public development banks (PDBs) in China, Japan and South Korea to shift their overseas energy investments, and all three countries have announced [they will] either end or phase out overseas coal investments by the end of the year.

And through our latest Money for Change campaign, we’ve been targeting the European Investment Bank — the biggest public lender still financing fossil gas projects and some of the dirtiest companies in Europe while funding motorway expansion — by denouncing their hypocrisy and greenwashing.

But most importantly, we need to ensure that all policies have just transition at heart, and make sure we’re moving toward a more sustainable economy in a way that’s fair and inclusive for everyone. So, just as we’ve always done, Greenpeace will continue to put unyielding pressure on leaders all around the world to quit putting profit over people and the planet, as there is no money in a dead world.

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The Purchase Of The Farm Braklaagte By The Bahurutshe ba ga Moiloa – Whose Land Is It Anyway? (1908-1935)

Pisani1

Basking in the early morning sun
Photo: Michelle du Pisani

Braklaagte, registered as farm number 168 on the Transvaal farm register (the number was changed in the second half of the twentieth century to JP-90), was 3,152 morgen and 529 square rood in size, which is equal to 2,700.5441 ha in metric measurements.

The first title deed to the farm was registered in October 1874 in the name of Diederik Jacobus Coetzee. Ownership of the farm was transferred several times to other white farmers. W.M. Beverley was the last white owner before the farm was bought by the Bahurutshe ba ga Moiloa.

In 1906 a dispute arose in the Bahurutshe ba ga Moiloa tribe of Dinokana in Moiloa’s Reserve between Abraham Pogiso Moiloa and Israel Keobusitse Moiloa. When Abraham’s father, Ikalafeng, had died in 1893 he was a minor and Israel, Ikalafeng’s younger brother, would for a number of years act as regent. When Israel had to hand over the bokgosi (chieftainship) to Abraham in 1906 differences arose between them. A section of the tribe, led by Israel, moved eastward and settled at Leeuwfontein.

Already in 1876 Leeuwfontein had been bought for the tribe by chief Sebogodi Moiloa of Dinokana at the price of 200 head of large cattle, equivalent to about £1,000, but the transfer of the farm to the tribe had not yet been effected. ‘Quite an exodus’ of the Bahurutshe ba ga Moiloa took place from Dinokana to Leeuwfontein and by 1907 the majority of Israel’s adherents had settled there.
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The Kingdom Of The Netherlands In The Caribbean ~ Introduction

StatuutzegelThis book occupies a special place among the numerous publications and events marking the 50th anniversary of the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is critical, steers clear of platitudes, and opens up new prospects: rather than losing themselves in reminiscences, the writers set out to define the tasks that lie ahead. Repairing the Kingdom, globalization, imagination, reforming and reinventing the Kingdom of the Netherlands – those are the watchwords – linking the contributions to this book. Without losing sight of historical realities (including the distressing fortunes of Suriname) the writers are more concerned – strikingly so – with the future. And they naturally avoid fixing their gaze narrowly on the islands themselves; instead, they take in the ocean that washes their shores, as it were – an ocean that links them to continents near and far and that has in a sense given the Caribbean island communities their open identity. Any comparison of the relative prosperity and well-being of the islands in the Caribbean demonstrates that those in a constitutional relationship with a larger country overseas are doing far better than the independent island states.

Autonomy as watchword
Even so, during the period in which the Kingdom Charter came into being, the primary aim was to maximize the autonomy of the Netherlands Antilles and of Suriname – which at that point had yet to achieve independence. Until 1955 the Kingdom of the Netherlands found itself under heavy pressure in the United Nations to comply with its obligation to decolonize. At the end of that year, exactly twelve months after the signing of the Charter, the Kingdom’s reporting obligation was lifted, in recognition of the decolonization of Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles.[i] In this context, it makes perfect sense that the Charter was seen first and foremost as a document enshrining the autonomy of these territories. The enumeration of Kingdom affairs was construed as exhaustive, although scope was created for adding policy areas in mutual agreement, and for regulating certain matters jointly in Kingdom acts. The Charter also provides a broad framework for statutory or voluntary cooperation in arranging matters that, in principle, fall within the scope of the autonomy of the three countries of the Kingdom. This made the Kingdom of the Netherlands into an asymmetrical federal state, one of whose constituent parts or ‘countries’ – the Netherlands – accounted, and still accounts for the vast majority of the Kingdom’s population, its economic potential, and its institutional structure. In spite of this disparity, the equality of the Netherlands Antilles, Suriname (until 1975) and Aruba (since 1986) as other countries of this Kingdom is engraved in stone in the Charter.

A changed world
Fifty years on, the Charter remains almost unchanged but the world about it has been transformed. A world of separate national societies divided by heavily guarded borders in which independence was cherished as the highest ideal has given way to an acknowledged interdependence among states, from the largest to the smallest. This new pattern of international relations is still evolving. The old system of sovereign states as the supreme political structures ‘cannot cope’ with numerous transnational problems, some concerning garden-variety crimes (transnational mafias and cybercrime) and many concerning non-security related issues (environmental degradation and pandemics that know no borders).[ii] But new modes of international governance are still in development.

One of the most noteworthy changes is in the relationship between people and the multiplicity of dimensions of their everyday world. The formation of nation states was the result of a process of demarcation that involved not just the state and its laws but also the people subject to them. The 1950s witnessed, on the one hand, the formation of national states taking the place of colonial administration, and on the other, the first efforts to transcend states – preoccupation with borders which was often rooted in hostility – for instance, the founding of the European Communities.[iii] The Charter exhibits traces of both these trends: on the one hand, the autonomy it grants to the overseas territories appears to be a giant leap towards independence; on the other hand, the decision to link the three countries in an enduring confederation indicates that separatism is not necessarily the overriding force. A year before the Charter’s adoption, the Dutch Constitution had been amended to permit the transfer of certain powers to international agencies and to accord priority to applicable legal norms originating in the international arena. Read more

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My Story ~ 24. The Older I Get, The More I Enjoy My Life

China-and-Australia-150x150“Draw wisdom from the spring of life and you can taste its sweetness.”

I was born in 1957; however, at the age of 40, I split my life in two different hemispheres – China, the northern and Australia, the southern. At my age, I can treat these two different countries in a mature way and not discard either of them. Normally, people at this age are reluctant to leave home for a foreign land, but I did, and after growing older I began to consider the whole world as my home, and the older I get, the more I want to travel. Yes, though old, I am never satisfied. I want new and different experiences.

I was born in a small village in Linjiang, Zhejiang, a place where all villagers possess the same surname. This is quite unique in China which only shows that in the long peaceful life here, from one generation to the next we never left our village. There’s clearly a bond between this piece of land and me, my ancestors, our blood. My name was actually given to me by a female Commission Secretary, it means hardworking and simple, expressing both the reality of material shortage in 1957 and the great ideal of “thrifty for the country and home”. Then I began my schooling days relying on the spirits of endeavor which was quite unique at that time, and I left my village for a big city. What followed was graduation, working, marriage and having children, all stages of life that Chinese people did in those years, unhurried and in an orderly fashion.

I lived in Hangzhou which is one of the ancient capital cities and boasts beautiful scenery and also beautiful legends including the love story of Whitesnake. Also located in the downtown area is a famous lake – West Lake which has stimulated thousands of poems and tears. My wife and I worked in a university at that time and we would go to West Lake in our spare time. Compared with cities of today, Hangzhou at that time was a small city with a population of only several million. Not much industry, no excessive construction, this small city was actually quite clean and beautiful. I still remember that I would ride a bike, with our little daughter in the front and my wife in the back seat, to the Lake during holidays. There would be lots of tourists in fine weather, all contributing to a lively, free and comfortable atmosphere. Yes, this is the main leisure activity in Hangzhou. During those days, I had no idea of what my life would become.

My wife was transferred to Australia in 1995. It was at that time that the idea of immigration came into her mind and she also encouraged me to consider doing the same. However, I rejected the idea. What I was thinking was that I was nearly forty years old and it was really a major decision to fit into a new environment. Actually, the biggest difficulty would be the language. You can’t imagine what it is like to live and communicate with others if you don’t know English. Besides, I lived pretty well in Hangzhou. Going to Australia meant I had to abandon all that I had accumulated after years’ of effort and start all over again, like a young man, which would be a big challenge for me. So what I planned then was to wait for several years after I had retired. Read more

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我的故事 ~ 24. 越老越没活够

China-and-Australia-150x150只要你能低下头,就能尽情畅饮。”

我,1957年生,却以40岁为分界将生命的前后分为横跨不同半球的两截。前半部分在中国,后半部分在澳洲。四十岁才开始的转折如此的平均,使得无法割舍其中的任何一端,四十岁的分割又如此理性,可以用成熟开放的心态来看待这两个不同的国家,四十岁出走的又这样特别,中国人越老越留恋故土,我却越老越把世界当成故乡,还想等再老一点到处走走,越老越看不够!

我出生于浙江临海下面的一个小村庄,整个村子的人同一个姓,包括村名。这样的村庄在中国很常见,这既表明在漫长的平静农村生活中,我们祖先大概有很多年没有离开这片土地了,同时也是我和祖先、土地、血脉至今无法割舍的勾连。我的名字还是当时的一个女区委书记起的,寓意“既勤且俭”,既暗示着57年建国初期物资匮乏的现实,却又激荡着那个时代“勤俭治国、勤俭治家”的伟大理想。就这样上学、上学,依靠着当时并不多的奋进的渠道,我一步步从乡村来到了城市,毕业、工作、结婚、生子,就如当时身边的大多数中国人,不紧不慢、一步一步地走入预定的轨迹。

我当时所在的城市是杭州,这里曾经生活过痴情的白蛇、伟大的文豪、神圣的帝王,在这个城市最中心还有一个可能是中国历史上最有名的湖——西湖,文人墨客的诗句和离人的泪水从没有间断过向湖水中倾注。我和妻子当时在大学工作,空闲时间就在这个美丽的城市中游玩,和今天的城市比起来,当时的杭州还仅仅是一座小城市,仅有几百万人口,也没有太多的工业,也没有到处大兴建设,所以城市很干净、很漂亮,空气也很好。至今最深的记忆就是在假日里我骑着自行车,前面坐着当时还小的女儿,后面坐着妻子,十分钟就骑到了西湖边,在天气好的时候,湖边有着各种各样的游客,热闹、自在、闲散又舒适。这就是当时杭州人的最主要的休闲方式。就在这样自在的生活中,我完全没有意识到生活会在后来大变样。

在1995年的时候,妻子被学校公派到澳大利亚工作,也就在那时,她就有了移民到澳大利亚的打算,她自己在准备的时候,也鼓动我到澳大利亚来,我却立马拒绝了。我想的是,自己年龄也不小了,当时三十好几快四十岁了,完全习惯了当时的生活,还要下这么大决心去一个完全陌生的地方。其实最主要的困难在于我完全不懂英语,无法想象到澳洲怎样生活、怎样和人交流。况且当时在杭州生活条件还不错,如果下定决心到澳大利亚,就要抛弃自己努力多年的成果,和年轻时一样从头打拼,这让我很难接受,所以当时的打算是,再在中国工作几年,等到退休时来澳大利亚就不用这样犹豫和牵挂了。 Read more

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Multatuli online

Lithografie naar portret van Multatuli door César Mitkiewicz

Multatuli – pseudoniem van Eduard Douwes Dekker (1820-1887) – wordt beschouwd als de belangrijkste schrijver uit het Nederlands taalgebied. Zijn invloed op de Nederlandse literatuur, de koloniale politiek, het feminisme en de arbeidersbeweging is baanbrekend geweest. Het Multatuli Genootschap/Stichting Multatuli Huis wil de belangstelling voor deze schrijver en denker levend houden door op multatuli.online zijn volledige werk en correspondentie en alle documenten (zoals teksten, afbeeldingen, archivalia) die op hem betrekking hebben digitaal en in samenhang te publiceren. De website is bestemd voor belangstellenden en onderzoekers maar ook voor wie hier kennismaakt met Multatuli.

De realisering van dit project zal stapsgewijs plaatsvinden. Op dit moment zijn alle zelfstandige publicaties van Multatuli aanwezig, alle bewaard gebleven correspondentie (ca. 5000 brieven), een biografie (door Dik van der Meulen) en het complete voor deze website gedigitaliseerde Multatuli Archief (eigendom van het Multatuli Genootschap en bewaard door Allard Pierson, De Collecties van de Universiteit van Amsterdam).

Daarnaast bevat de website een Multatuli Encyclopedie, een Multatuli Atlas, een Multatuli Lexicon en toegang tot een ruime hoeveelheid secundaire literatuur. Waar mogelijk wordt gewezen naar eerder gedigitaliseerde werken en documentatie, zoals te vinden bij de Koninklijke Bibliotheek (de Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren en Delpher) en het Huygens Instituut.

Het colofon vermeldt alle personen en instellingen die tot nu toe een bijdrage hebben geleverd. Om een zo compleet mogelijk beeld van Multatuli’s werk en levensloop tot stand te brengen kunnen we de hulp van kenners en geïnteresseerden gebruiken. Wie over documenten – brieven, beeldmateriaal of secundaire literatuur – beschikt die hier niet mogen ontbreken of wie anderszins een bijdrage wil leveren aan multatuli.online (financieel of in natura), wordt van harte uitgenodigd om zich te melden bij de redactie van de website. Ook onjuistheden of suggesties voor verbetering kunnen aan de redactie worden doorgegeven.

Deze website is een initiatief van het Multatuli Genootschap en de Stichting Multatuli Huis. Door (fiscaal vriendelijk) donateur te worden ondersteunt u het werk van het genootschap en de stichting en verzekert u de instandhouding van deze website.

Bovenaan iedere pagina van deze website worden delen van de Multatuli Collectie getoond – brieven, documenten, manuscripten, foto’s, afbeeldingen en meer – om een indruk te geven van de rijkdom en de verscheidenheid van die collectie.

Bezoek de site: https://multatuli.online/home

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Religiously Based Political Parties In Democracies. The Case Of The Netherlands

Foto: tweedekamer.nl

Since the Netherlands became a full-fledged democracy in 1848 political parties of diverse ideological backgrounds competed for the vote of the electorate, be they Christian parties, liberal parties, socialist parties, and more recently populist parties. Religions claim that their values are God given and therefore immutable. In a democracy with several ideological streams seeking representation in Parliament, it is in most cases difficult if not impossible for one party to obtain more than 50% of the votes, and that poses a challenge to those religious parties that claim to base themselves on ‘universal’ God given values[i]. They have either the choice to stay in an oppositional role in Parliament and continue giving voice to their opinions. The other option is that they seek alliances with parties to which they resemble in order to form a government. But that last strategy implies that they must be prepared to reach compromises with other parties, thus possibly renouncing in cases the ‘eternal’ values the parties claim to represent. The preparedness to compromise goes by the way as well for secular parties that claim ‘universal truths’, but the difference between religious parties and secular parties is of course that religious parties claim that their values are of a higher nature, i.e. coming from God.

This article treats how the mechanisms of compromise work in the Dutch political system, focusing in particular on religious, in the Dutch case, mostly Christian political parties that enter coalition governments with other -often- secular parties. The article first presents a description of the Dutch political system and its Constitution, and the coming to being of the Dutch Nation State. Then it goes into the subject of how governments are formed in the Kingdom. Following, the article treats the specific case of how the 2017 Dutch coalition government was formed and how it treated the highly sensitive issue of euthanasia law in its coalition agreement, where an orthodox Christian party and a secular party had to come to terms on this issue. I use this case as to show how a religious party can function in a democracy with, in the Dutch case, mostly non-religious parties.

1 The Dutch Political System and Constitution
The Netherlands form since 1848 a constitutional Monarchy in which the King functions as a symbol of the unity of the people of the Netherlands but he does not hold any political power. The government, consisting of the Prime Minister and the Ministers, exercise power and are held responsible for their acts in Parliament. The Dutch Parliament consists of two Chambers. The Second Chamber is elected directly by the people and consists of 150 seats. The electoral system is of a representative nature, implying that the total number of valid votes in elections is divided by 150. The Netherlands does not have constituencies like the United Kingdom and France have. The First Chamber consists of 75 seats and is elected indirectly by the representatives of the 12 provinces the country counts. The country has a tradition that in elections no party ever obtained an absolute majority in Parliament and therefore coalition governments always ruled the country[ii].

The first article of the Dutch Constitution reads as follows[iii]:
‘All persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on any other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted’.

This first article stipulates that all persons that live in the Netherlands are to be treated equally in equal circumstances. The fact that one is a man or a woman, that a person has Dutch roots or German, Chinese or any other root, that a person has conservative political opinions or progressive opinions, that a person is heterosexual, homosexual or transgender and that a person is a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim or an atheist, does not make a difference in their treatment.

Article 6 of the Constitution concerns the freedom of religion or belief and it is formulated as follows, in two parts[iv]:

– Everyone shall have the right to profess freely his religion or belief, either individually or in community with others, without prejudice to his responsibility under the law.
– Rules concerning the exercise of this right other than in buildings and enclosed places may be laid down by Act of Parliament for the protection of health, in the interest of traffic and to combat or prevent disorders.

Interesting in article 6 is that it mentions not only the right to profess freely one’s religion, but also one’s conviction (my italics). Conviction explicitly refers to non-religious beliefs, not necessarily religious ones. So, people with religious and non-religious, or secular, convictions have the right to profess these in Dutch society.

The present Constitution of the Netherlands is based on its first draft that dates to 1848.

2 The genesis of the Dutch nation state
In 1789 the French revolution took place. The world would soon learn to know the new French regime based as it was on the principles of the Enlightenment. The French revolution would be the cradle of modern democracy and France would soon spread the revolution over Europe. French revolutionary troops occupied the Netherlands in 1795 causing the ruling prince Willem V to flee to Germany[v]. In the Netherlands there were at that time already citizens, referred to as ‘patriots’, who supported the principles of the Enlightenment, opposing the prince and the nobles that wanted to stick to the old rule. The Netherlands knew until 1795 a decentralized government in which the several provinces enjoyed great autonomy. With the French and patriots taking over, the country formed a National Assembly that set itself in making a Constitution based on the principles of the French Revolution: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. This was though no so simple. The Netherlands was until 1795 basically a country where the Protestant church was dominant and where the two other religious denominations, i.e. the Catholics and the Jews, were second rang citizens that never got positions in the local and provincial boards. The 80-year war against Spain (from 1568-1648) led to throwing of the yoke of the Spanish (and Catholic) occupier and although the Dutch Republic was at that time a relatively tolerant power in Europe when it comes to religious freedom, the Protestant church was dominant, and all other religions were subordinate to it. And now the new State had to develop a constitution that would guarantee liberty and equality to all citizens, including the Catholics and the Jews. It took a long time before the debates in the National Assembly led to a Constitution and laws that foresaw in the principle of equality for all but in the end, it managed to do so[vi][vii].

The French occupation ended in 1813. The French troops left the country to assist Emperor Napoleon in the last battles he fought and which he ultimately lost. The country looked back at 18 years of French presence. From 1806-1810 Napoleon had changed the country into a Kingdom with his own brother Louis Napoleon on the throne. Louis Napoleon was not a bad king. He tried to develop the country as much as possible in the spirit of the French revolutionary principles. When the French left, the country had a constitution that foresaw in the equality of all its citizens. The paradox of the period after the French left is that the Dutch nation state remained built on the principles of Enlightenment. There were voices in society that called for a retour to the situation before 1795 but the enlightenment ideology was stronger than the conservative forces. The Netherlands kept a constitution based on the enlightenment. The son of the late prince Willem V came back to the country to become the future King Willem I, and he as well submitted to the new order. The country wet itself in developing as a modern nation state, centrally governed, investing a lot in infrastructure and education.

In 1848 a reform of the constitution took place making the country more democratic than before. One of the major changes was that the King lost the political power he still had. A government that was democratically elected without any interference of a hereditary sovereign should rule the country. The King protested but accepted his limited role as head of state only.  The principles of liberty, equality and fraternity had in the end led to a society, which not only legally foresaw in equal chances for all, but also in reality[viii].

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The Current Hardships Facing Palestinian Refugees


The United Nations’ Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)—known as the main international relief and human development organization for Palestinian refugees—defined Palestinian refugees as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” However, most notably, Palestinians displaced because of the 1967 war, and subsequent hostilities, are not referred to or registered as refugees by the Agency, but they are eligible to receive services by UNRWA. Despite this fact, within segments of the international community, Palestinians who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1967 war, and subsequent hostilities, are also regarded as refugees.

In the five areas where UNRWA is in operation, namely, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), the hardships faced by the Palestinian refugees has worsened in recent history.

Most recently, with respect to the coronavirus pandemic, the Palestinian refugee population is increasingly in a vulnerable position with little-to-no access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Within the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank, COVID-19 cases are surging with more than 2,236 fatalities and 16,000 active cases in these areas (including East Jerusalem). Meanwhile, Israel has been internationally lauded for carrying out the world’s speediest vaccination drive, with over 90 percent of Israelis above the age of 50 having been fully vaccinated as of February 2021. However, Israel has denied Palestinians living within the occupied territories significant access to the vaccines as Israel argues that the Oslo Accords places responsibility on the Palestinian Authority regarding issues of public health. But even under the Oslo Accords, Israel does have a commitment to help Palestinians living in the occupied territories fight the pandemic. Article 17, stipulation 6 of the Accord states: “Israel and the Palestinian side shall exchange information regarding epidemics and contagious diseases, shall cooperate in combating them and shall develop methods for exchange of medical files and documents.”

Moreover, given that Israel is the occupying power—under international law, namely, the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, Israel has a responsibility to ensure the welfare of the population which it is occupying—namely, the Palestinian people in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. The West Bank remains occupied by Israel which “controls entrance and egress, much of the infrastructure, the roads, the currency…in short, all the means of Palestinian independence”—as pointed out by Mitchell Plitnick, the former US director of the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem. In the case of Gaza, Israel since 2007 has imposed a land, air, and sea blockade of Gaza. Most notably, the effects of Israel’s blockade, coupled with Israel’s routine bombing of Gaza, has crumbled its infrastructure, led to massive poverty, food insecurity, and resulted in less than 4% of the water in that territory, consisting of nearly 2 million people, being fit for human consumption. Israel thus, in addition to the West Bank, also continues to occupy the Palestinians living within the Gaza Strip, and therefore, Israel as their occupier has a responsibility to vaccinate Gazans. In February 2021, Palestinian officials condemned Israel for blocking the entry of 2,000 coronavirus vaccine doses into Gaza to assist its health workers. Despite evidence to the contrary, even if Israeli claims with respect to the Oslo Accords is valid, this is irrelevant, as stated by scholar Yara M.Asi, “the [Geneva] convention specifies that no agreement between the parties supersedes its protections while occupation continues. This would include the Oslo Accords, signed in 1995 as an interim agreement.” Furthermore, Israel, instead of firs seeking to vaccinate Palestinians in the occupied territories, pledged to provide its spare vaccines to foreign allies such as Honduras and the Czech Republic.

In areas outside of the occupied territories, such as Lebanon which is home to an estimated 207,000 Palestinian refugees, according to UN figures, it has been reported that “Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are three times more likely to die with COVID-19 than the population as a whole.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations’ Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), responsible for providing healthcare and education to millions of Palestinians living both inside and outside the occupied territories, was “recognized as a major contributor to the containment of the COVID-19 virus”—having quickly adapted its provision of services in compliance with the World Health Organization recommendations. UNRWA implemented remote education curriculum practices, adopted door-to-door delivery of food and medicines, as well as innovative health and psychosocial support hotlines which have been regarded as a significant lifeline to the refugee population during the pandemic. Moreover, UNRWA is also responsible for waste disposal and sanitation services to Palestinian refugee camps across the Middle East — “this includes disinfectant treatments to roads and installations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
However, due to the United States’ complete termination of funding to UNRWA under President Trump in 2018, the operations of the Agency were almost brought to a complete halt.
When the pandemic broke out, UNRWA was operating on a shoestring budget with Elizabeth Campbell, UNRWA’s director in Washington, stating in May 2020 that due to America’s termination of funding, “We are basically operating on a month-to-month basis. Right now, we have funding to pay our 30,000 health care workers until the end of this month.”

Even once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, it does not appear that there will be any end in sight to the suffering faced by Palestinian refugees. The hardships faced by Palestinian refugees will continue until the central issues of contention are fully addressed within a final settlement to the conflict. The central issues of contention as it pertains to Palestinian refugees is, firstly, the right of return, secondly, the right of Palestinians for compensation from Israel due to the destruction of Palestinians’ homes, and their livelihoods as a result of the 1948 war, the 1967 war, as well as further hostilities, and the third issue of contention is the assimilation and resettlement of refugees in different countries. Most significantly on the first two points, there is serious doubt as to whether right of return and compensation (both issues which are notably embodied within United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194) is politically feasible and there is doubt as to whether there are legitimate frameworks within international law that firmly allows stateless Palestinians to successfully advocate for the right of return and compensation.

The Taba Summit is widely regarded as perhaps the closest instance that a final settlement to end the longstanding conflict was almost reached between the Israelis and the Palestinians. At the time of the Taba Summit, the Israelis expressed an understanding on the issue of compensation, with Israel advocating that an international commission be created to gather, verify, and pay individual compensation claims. However, at that time, you had a government in Israel that, at least, gave the public impression that it was willing to negotiate on key issues required to reach a permanent settlement to the conflict. Presently, however, the center-left parties in Israel, such as the Labour Party, are a shell of its former self and a significant segment of the population in Israel strongly supports Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right Likud Party, which has been expanding Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, further jeopardizing any viable solution to the conflict. There is also disunity among the Palestinians with friction between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. Lastly, unless the United States is willing to apply meaningful pressure on Israel to seriously negotiate a final settlement with the Palestinians, an end to the protracted refugee crisis will not be possible.

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Max Brod On Franz Kafka (English Subtitles)

This is an interview with Max Brod, Kafka’s longtime friend and literary executor.

After Kafka’s death, Brod refused to comply with Kafka’s instructions to burn most of his work, instead seeing many of Kafka’s texts to first publication.

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Essay Essentials Forensic Expertise. About the Ideal of an NFI – Handbook on Forensic Expertise

“Alfa-Bèta-Circle”, Ills. Hans Jakobs, 2020

Introduction

This essay [1] is an unorthodox attempt to write a handbook on forensic expertise [2]. My intention is to bring about a real improvement of understanding for all criminal justice professionals, the “users of forensic expertise” in criminal procedure; in my opinion a timeless and very useful ideal.

In the light of my recent attendance at trials of 24 Dutch criminal cases it has become clear to me that, in almost every criminal case, a greater understanding and clearer explanation is desirable of natural sciences as practiced in technical laboratory research and executed on traces within the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) in the truth-finding process in criminal law. The name for this kind of research into traces as part of the criminal process is Criminalistics.

Criminalistics is the natural scientific aspect of the forensic sciences. It focuses on natural scientific research on evidence on behalf of truth-finding in criminal law. And It is directed towards the significance of the results of such research for that truth-finding. [3]

The explanation of an expert in court (art. 339, paragraph 1, sub 4), and the expert’s report, the written documents (art. 339, paragraph 1, sub 5 ) are the two different kinds of legal evidence, regarding the expert. Limited to these and combined with the judge’s own observations, the declarations of the suspect, and the declarations of a witness (art.339, paragraph 1, sub 1, 2, and 3), these five constitute the – limited – means of legal evidence as recognized in the Dutch Code of Criminal Procedure.
Even though forensic research is also carried out by other authorities, such as the Police, (semi) private institutes, – laboratories, – individuals and Universities, I have decided to take the NFI as my starting-point, for two reasons:

1. In 2020 the lion’s share of the forensic research concerning traces in connection with criminal offences in the Netherlands is still executed – on a high scientific level – by the NFI.
This research is commissioned by the Public Prosecution Office at the stage of investigation and prosecution, at the request of the examining magistrate / inquiry judge, the judge and, in some cases, also at the request of the defence.

2. In 1995 I had the privilege of being allowed to initiate and draw up a book of reference [4] about forensic expertise as practiced then by the predecessors of the NFI, called ‘The Forensic Laboratories’. I distinguished at the time 31 areas of expertise, and in close cooperation with 31 experts a powerful source of knowledge was created at the service of the sitting and standing magistracy, and recommended as literature for the Police Academy.

After 25 years, in my view, it is now the right time to redefine the current conditions for a better understanding of the forensic kinds of expertise in the shape of:
A Blueprint, describing the essentials of background-knowledge, theory, practice and science, for each field of expertise.

In order to illustrate the importance of a systematic composition of a reference book and a textbook about forensic expertise, I have arranged the arguments into four groups.
A. Why? Finding reasons,
B. What? Table of contents, strengthening the beta-sciences and techniques,
C. How? Method, describing essentials in the connecting Blueprint,
D. What for? Improving the understanding of the target audiences and thus enlighten the criminal procedure.

A. Why? Finding reasons.

Signals from the Dutch criminal trials  2014-2019

From the end of 2014 to 2020 Ir. Huub Hardy [5] and myself were present at 24 heavy criminal cases in Dutch courts and tribunals [6] [Appendix 1 Dutch Criminal Cases]. We made an inventory, a close analysis and minutes of the cases. These criminal cases were selected on the basis of the role of the experts in the proceeding. In such trials, more often than not, the judicial experts were physically present and made declarations in court.

My focus in these cases was on the communication, i.e. the dialogues between experts and lawyers, as I heard them in court and saw them with my own eyes. I made notes from which lawyers’ needs in practice were found and from which lawyers’ wishes could be distilled.

In 9 of the 24 criminal trials (almost 38 %) judges, public prosecutors and barristers asked clearer literal explanations from the experts, specifically linguistic, such as: ‘no jargon please’, ‘clearer terminology’, ‘layman language please’, ‘what is the meaning of’, ‘report is hard to read’, ‘what precisely do you mean’, ‘closer explanation please’.

In 17 of the 24 criminal trials (almost 71 %) experts turned up in court. Judges, public prosecutors and barristers asked them intensively, not only about their use of language, but also, at length, about the significance of working methods and skills, and about the professional background and experience of the expert.

The lawyers, usually alpha-trained, put many probing questions to the forensic experts (who had usually been trained in beta science or in technique) such as:
* what is the background-science of this expertise?
* how do the various methods of expertise / research operate?
* how do the underlying instruments and apparatus function in this expertise?
* can you explain the difference in research on the source-level [7] and on the activity-level [8] ?
* what is the meaning of contamination [9] and secondary transfer [10] ?
* what is the background-science of this expertise ?
* explanation new – recently developed- forensic techniques?
* explanation of Bayes Theorem [11] with the use of hypotheses, formulated in the conclusions of the forensic reports,
* what is the training, the experience, the background and the CV of the expert?

Read more

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