a cademic j ournal for the
editorial note Dearest reader, Welcome to the kick-off of what we hope to be a highly successful series of products from the Media Team of Amsterdam 2013. In your hands, you have our academic journal. Why putting in so much effort to produce this? Itâ€™s very simple. This journal is going to make your life a lot easier. How? Even more simple. By taking an incredible amount of unreadable content from many different sources - that call themselves experts - and translating all of this into something as digestible as yoghurt. Use this journal wisely and you will love it. From the fishes to the mob, from Palestine to Afghanistan and from obesity to animal welfare. Name it and we have it. Have you ever questioned Europeâ€™s maths? Our journalists will show you that you should. Every topic has a place in this journal and it might just save your face in General Assembly or give you that genius insight during Committee Work. Now, what are you waiting for? Come on, go on! Turn the page and get ready for some magic. Yours truly, Alex Nompilakis, Charif van Zetten & Tim Keegstra
AFCO: 27 + 3 + 1 = 31?
LIBE: “I would rather go back to Afghanistan”
CULT: Sports through a microscope
AGRI: Beasts & CO
ENVI: Obesity, choice or disease?
SEDE: The thin line between safety and privacy
PECH: To fish or not to fish: that is the question
AFET: The balance between self-determination p. 18-19 and compromising. Can Israel and Palestine really do it?
27+3+1=31? How our weird little coccyx almost unites the EU. by Yannick Louwerse
Nothing is ever as it seems
In the EU, all commonly known principles fade. Such is the case with the European Economic Area (EEA), the construction that ignores the fundamental principle of adding up. It allows three countries to somewhat become a member of the European Union (EU), yet not quite fully. Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland, that make up the EEA, are the EUâ€™s weird little coccyx, from times when Europe was all but united.
In the late 1980s several countries began looking into the option of joining the European Economic Community (EEC).However, President of the European Commission Jacques Delors, was hesitant about enlarging the EEC. It was feared that doing so would hamper improved European integration. Instead the European Economic Area was formed, which included the EEC and the countries in the European Free Trade Organization (EFTA). Switzerland rejected the EEA agreement in a referendum. Since then, most of the EEA countries left an instead joined the EU. The three remaining countries have a close relationship with the EU. They adopt part of EU law, they support and fund EU projects, in particular, Central European countries and they are included in the European Single Market. Since its formation, the necessity and effectiveness of the EEA has been heavily debated and it is definitely worth taking a look at the arguments raised.
To begin with, upon formation, most of its members went and joined the EEC almost immediately, pioneering country Sweden among those. This heavily hampered the credibility of the EEA, and that was not unjustified. The most apparent reason for forming the EEA was, after all, the ECâ€™s hesitation about too many countries joining in, and now everybody was suddenly allowed in. It is not difficult to find a possible reason for this. Soon after the formation of the EEA the Cold War ended, and with it the Iron Curtain fell. In other words, less economically stable countries re-joined the European economy. One might argue that this was not the regulated single market it is now, but an economy is always, per definition, ahead of regulations and as such economic integration increased heavily. In that perspective, it was only logical for the EEC to let countries such as Austria, Sweden and Finland join in shortly after this event in order to bolster their economic stability to counteract the liability these newly added countries introduced to the market.
Freedom at a price
At first sight, the EEA countries pay a hefty price for their non-membership of the EU. They are not in any way involved in EU institutions or decision-making. However, they do have to adhere to a large part of EU legislation. In other words, they are in what has been called a “fax democracy”. They receive the laws by fax, whenever they are agreed upon by other countries. Also, these countries are not eligible for any sorts of EU grants or subsidies; had Greece been a part of the EEA, it would have defaulted. There are, however, many benefits to being strictly an EEA member. To begin with the countries have open borders; the four freedoms persons, goods and services are in effect which allows the countries to have the same amount of trade for the same price as, for example, the UK. The next benefit is that agricultural and fishery laws, the Customs Union, the Monetary Union and more of these are not included in the EEA agreement. Specifically the second part, Fisheries Policies, is important to note; Iceland still sets its own fishing quota. Lastly, these countries do not have to pay the fee associated with EU membership. This may at first seem unfair, however, the countries do contribute greatly to the European Single Market. Especially, since Norway is heavily involved in funding EU projects in Central Europe.
A working heartbreaker The EEA, as it is now, is an intricate web of trade-offs for both the participating countries as well as the EU. It has not yet proven to be a reason of great concern, but as we have seen, nothing is certain in the continent of Europe. Experts often conclude that the European Economic Area works, but some might say it is a downright heartbreaker. This just proves the point of how much of a double-edged sword this is. The only thing that can be said with certainty is that it is worth taking another critical look at this 20-year-old institution.
Emerson, M. and Woolcock, S. (2002). Navigating by the stars: Norway, the European Economic Area and the European Union. Retrieved from books.google.nl. Harper, M. (2008). The European Economic Area – a real heartbreaker. Retrieved from www.neitileu.no.
“I would rather go back to Afghanistan” The Dublin Agreements: a fair migration system or a piece of legislation that contradicts the EU’s core values like human dignity and freedom? by Titus Verster
One of the consequences of being a prosperous continent is the great attraction to migrants from less favoured countries. Each year, over one and a half million people flee their country to enter the European Union, making migration one of the main points on the EU’s agenda. In order to regulate this huge influx of immigrants, the EU drafted the Dublin Agreements that force immigrants to stay in the country of their first entry into the EU. As a result, Southern European countries such as Greece and Italy have to cope with huge amounts of fortune-seekers. To increase the burden on the shoulders of these crisis-struck countries, most northern European countries have used the Dublin Agreements to deport illegal immigrants back to the countries where they crossed the EU borders. However, authorities are incapable of providing these immigrants with accommodation, social security, let alone
work. Even worse, the countries in question often do not even have a working system of social security to fulfil the needs of their native population. Consequently, governments often focus on finding a solution to their nation’s own problems, rather than aiding asylum seekers in accordance with humanitarian standards. In Italy, for example, refugees from Tunisia, Libya and other African countries are being detained on the small island of Lampedusa, awaiting their application for political asylum. However, “Italy’s decision to detain migrants and asylum seekers on Lampedusa for the duration of processing, rather than transferring them to the mainland has had a severe impact on their human rights,” says Nicolas Berger, director of Amnesty International’s EU office. The EU is not able to adhere to their core values such as justice, freedom and security in a situation like the one refugees on Lampedusa are facing. Even if the immigrants are recognised as political refugees, a better future is still not in sight. According to Lê Quyên Ngô Dình, director of Caritas, one of the biggest charity organisations in Italy, it is only a matter of luck whether you will or will not get a place in one of the refugee centres. As Italy only has accommodation for three thousand refugees, most are likely to end up on the streets of Rome and Naples.
Subsequently, many political refugees end up leaving Italy and Greece to apply for asylum in northern European countries such as Norway, the United Kingdom or Sweden. Unfortunately, to no avail. Endorsed by the Dublin Agreements, countries like the United Kingdom bring thousands of refugees back to the country of first entrance each year, where they end up sleeping on cardboard boxes in the streets of Rome and Athens. The horrendous conditions the refugees have to live in for years have led to negative statements about the EU. “I’d choose to be illegal in England, than to be legal in Italy,” says one of the refugees in Rome. Another one adds that after trying to apply for asylum in the UK without result again, he will ask the authorities to bring him back to Afghanistan, rather than to Italy. Some even take desperate measures and burn away their fingertips, in order to apply for asylum in the UK as a ‘new person’. These circumstances seem to contradict the EU’s core values as stated on its website: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and the respect for human rights. Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile. Furthermore, Article 22 reads that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services. Both articles seem to heavily conflict with the current situation in Lampedusa, and the living conditions in the streets of Rome.
Cecialia Malmstström, EU commissioner for home affairs, offers a new perspective. She calls on national governments to see the immigrants as potential employees, entrepreneurs, consumers and investors, as well as a key factor in solving the EU’s demographic problems. Taking Cecilia Malmström’s opinion into consideration, it is time to redefine the Dublin Agreements. Is a policy that causes immigrants to burn away their fingertips one the EU should carry out? Should we prioritise our economy over respecting human rights? Should we not acknowledge immigrants as a potential key factor in the development of our economy? And most importantly, how can the EU offer refugees a dignified life? http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2011/ oct/07/rome-homeless-refugees-europeanlaw-video A short documentary by the Guardian reporters on the Dublin Agreements, and the effect it has on the lives of north African immigrants in Rome. It gives a very good image of the situation the refugees find themselves in. The reporters achieve to very clearly depict the disappointment the refugees feel after having left their home countries in search of a better future, only to find themselves living on the streets.
Sports through a microscope Sport, defined by our most reliable source, Wikipedia, is all forms of competitive physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and provide entertainment to participants. by Matteo van Dijl
When keeping in mind the recent scandals, the first thing that pops into my head is that already old-school song “Where is the love” by the Black Eyed Peas. How is it possible that it has come so far? Let us go back in time, some 2500 years. We are in ancient Greece, the cradle of our modern society. The Greeks viewed sport as a way to deepen themselves. Like a Roman poet once said: the perfect man, the homo universalis, should have a “mens sana” in a “corpore sano”. Winning one of the several games that the different Greek city-states organised was the perfect way to gain honour and fame. Honour and fame were also the only reasons why one would want to win these games - that as well as nice kettles and beautiful women. There were no commercial interests. Now, let us go back to our present day. Sport is not seen as a personal enrichment anymore but as a profession. Competitions are purely a mean for advertisement; it has become its own independent economic sector. This has led to corruption under the form of match fixing, illegal betting and money laundering. Very recently Europol has published the results of a European investigation of match fixing. They uncovered an extensive criminal network involved in the match-fixing of over 380 professional football matches, involving a total of 425 match
officials, club officials, players and serious criminals. These activities have generated over 8 million euro in betting profits and involved over 2 million euro in corrupt payments to those involved in the matches. Due to the international character of this corruption, the EU has received new competences in this field with the Lisbon Treaty. However, as different Member States have different legislation and definitions, solving the problem of corruption is not as easy as one would believe at first.
International cooperation, like Europol for instance, is already a good start and as recently proven, it is also effective. Nevertheless, we do not only have to fight corruption in sports, we also have to prevent it. After all, match-fixing is the opposite of fair play and we want sports to maintain its integrity and credibility. If we want to fight this kind of corruption, then we need strict measures on several domains: (legal) betting, player transfers, advertisements… These measures will be very hard to come up with, keeping in mind that these criminal organisations are very well established. A rather popular example would be the fight that has been going on for many years, between clans of organised crime, such as the Camorra and Italian government.
Personally, I believe that we do not only need a change in the corruption fight but also in the way we look at sports in general. Why do we still have this Roman ‘bread and games’ vision on sport? Marx said that religion was the opium of the people, I believe that a more modern version of this famous quote would be that sport is the opium of the people. It is this fascination, another famous song, which forms the foundation for this commerce around sports. I am of course realistic and I know that there is not much we can change. If we could only go back to the times of the ancient Greeks… Fingers crossed, I will be proven wrong soon!
BEASTS & Co “They looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” - George Orwell, Animal Farm by Marie Poupinel
In light of an ever-growing population, resulting in escalating needs and bolstering demand, it is essential to find a way to reconcile meeting these needs and ensure food security, alongside putting equal emphasis on safeguarding animal welfare. We have become a society of abundance that harbors a mentality of excessive consumption, ravenous desires and insatiable appetite. This pattern of consumption embedded in our societies since the wake of the industrial revolution has laid the preconditions for the food industry to thrive, undergoing surging growth, expanding in scale and scope by dint of intensive farming procedures. Agriculture’s mechanics follow the scheme of profit-making businesses detaching itself from its traditional small-scaled subsistence model. All in aimed at augmenting yields, boosting production conjointly depressing prices in the perspective of maximizing profit. This predominant paradigm enshrined in the EU production chain echoes an issue underscored throughout the Grapes of Wrath, the pursuit of competitiveness with the aim of minimizing prices. “Only the least cost producer survives in the food sector.” Exploitative, coercive tendencies prevail in this monopolistic, cutthroat ecosystem as small producers are driven out of business, stifled by prosperous corporate groups imposing their hegemony.
Fifty years ago in Europe, intensification of animal production was perceived as the road to national food security. This has driven Member States to adopt intensive methods to increase output increase yields and production where the introduction of improved farming techniques limited the reliance on imported meat. Many have advocated resorting to high stocking density farming as inevitable due to its wide ranging benefits such as acute efficiency, low monetary costs and so forth. Yet, behind the crafted, polished appearance of food companies vaunting the merits of their products, leaving visions of well-fed and well-treated animals, concealed behind an inconspicuous glass of milk or mouth-watering piece of meat looms the dark recesses of animal abuse. Unveiling the dark facets of our food chain stems from a general clamor, an increasing demand emanating from queasy consumers concerned about the barbarous treatment of the animal condemned to finish on their plates. Animal ethics have resurfaced. This clamor of discontent, pressure to cast light on the dark areas associated with a shady food industry is undeniably the outcome of enhanced consciousness revolving around the inhumane, barren conditions animals reared in factory farms dwell in. A sense of urgency on the matter has been instilled as more and more consumers express a worried interest over the welfare of farmed animals, as underlined by The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Adding up to the numerous objectives Member States are deemed to address by undertaking measured, concrete actions to deter the use of inhumane
treatments. Indeed, in response to rising consumer interest in the well-being of animals the EU redefined several aspects of agricultural policies. These take into consideration the reinforcement of animal welfare standards alongside implementing a variety of indicators evaluating feeds based on multiple criteria. In general, the EU has instituted measures designed to curb inappropriate farming practices alongside the dire environmental impact. An example is outlined in The Amsterdam Treaty which enshrines the belief claiming that animals are sentient beings. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” once stressed by Gandhi. Hence, the EU’s skepticism of factory farming and earnest commitment to embarking on a challenging path, dedicated to provide both secure supplies of high quality food whilst contributing to environmental protection and renewable energy. Arrays of incentives have been deployed, including “green payments” to encourage the adoption of various forms of sustainable, environmentally benign farming practices. This seems to demonstrate the EU’s awareness of the implications of a defaulting system, as the real costs of the food supply chains entail nefarious implications, directly or indirectly, jeopardizing environmental, economic and social stability. Yet, despite the gradual implementation of stringent regulations, such as the banning of battery cages and the docking of pig tails, several occurrences have been reported, illustrating the breaches still prevalent as companies continue to bypass the law.
Obesity, choice or disease? Are governments responsible for reducing obesity as a threat for public health or is it a lifestyle the government should keep their hands off? by Eliane Zwart
Research of the United Nations has shown that 12,5 percent of the world’s population suffers from starvation. Each year 2,5 million children die from a lack of nutrition. In Europe we face a whole different problem. People are getting fatter and fatter. In the past 20 years, the rate of obesity in European countries doubled. Almost 8 percent of deaths in Europe are attributed to excess weight. Obesity means having too much body fat. Someone’s weight is higher than what is thought to be healthy for someone’s height. It can be caused by eating more food than your body needs, drinking too much alcohol or a lack of exercise. The number of obese adults as well as obese children is rising higher and higher. In Europe 1 out of 7 children weighs too much. Many people blame the computer and television. Children do not have to go outside anymore to find amusement. The same applies to adults. Most people take the car to the office, the elevator to their room and work sitting all day. The current living conditions in Europe made half of its inhabitants overweight, with the consequent repercussions. This statement of Mark Hyeman (the developer of the Blood Sugar solution) shows the situation obese kids find themselves in: “Children with obesity and diabetes live harder, poorer lives, they often don’t finish school and earn much less than their healthy counterparts.”
In addition to causing physical disabilities and psychological problems, such as a lower selfesteem, obesity causes an extreme reduction in life expectancy due to higher risks of cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. The consequence is that obesity is responsible for 6 percent of the European Union’s health care costs. This amounts to 59 billion euro a year. To reduce these costs and improve public health, governments and organizations such as WHO (World Health Organization) are trying to reduce obesity rates. Many people believe the State should not do anything about obesity since being fat is your own choice and, therefore, your own responsibility. In that case, why not introduce a fat-tax. If you choose to smoke cigarettes, which are known to be bad for your health, you also pay higher taxes. However, is becoming fat always a choice? A part of your weightcontrol is in your genes. The speed of your metabolism determines whether you gain or lose weight easely. Also, eating habits on an early age will influence you the rest of your life. What you eat, when and how much. In terms of obese children we could accuse the parents. Alongside parents we have the consumption society to blame. Without knowing, we get temporarily addicted to crisps the moment we start eating them because they contain added flavor enhancers. In all our food you will find sugar, while we actually do not need added sugars at all. The EU eats at least 10 percent of the world’s sugar output while EU citizens represent less than 7 percent of the world population. Prehistoric sculptures of the female body were all obese. Being fat meant being fertile. The ancient Greeks, on the other hand, recognized
having overweight as a disease. Hippocrates, often referred to as the father of western medicine, once wrote: “Corpulence is not only a disease itself, but the harbinger of others.” In the Middle Ages and Renaissance being fat used to be a status symbol, indicating wealth and prosperity. It meant you had more than enough food and did not have to do any manual labor, which generally results in weight loss. Nowadays, due to the extremely low prices of fast food we find the highest rates of obesity at the bottom layer of society. In order to achieve a change of attitude, collaboration among all areas of society is required. The government, the manufacturers, advertising agencies, schools, health institutions and consumers. David Suzuki (science broadcaster and environmental activist) describes the necessity of this change by saying: “We must pay greater attention to keeping our bodies and minds healthy and able to heal. Yet we are making it difficult for our defenses to work. We allow things to be sold that should not be called food. Many have no nutritive value and lead to obesity, salt imbalance, and allergies.” Whether becoming obese is your own choice and responsibility or not someone has to put an end to the increasing number of people with overweight. Our generation is fatter than the previous, and if this trend continues the next generation will surpass ours.
h t t p s : / / w w w. y o u t u b e . co m / watch?v=LWEYPmmBt-c Rising of obesity in the UK.
The thin line between safety and privacy With improved means to fight crime come improved ways of losing your privacy. by JoĂŁo Moreira
â€œNo one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.â€? - Article 12 - Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We live in troubled times. Some say that safety is an illusion and that no individual can be completely immune or shielded from harm. Society and crime walk hand in hand since the beginning of mankind. So long as there is man, criminality is sure to follow. Contemporary crime is smoothly settled into the undergrounds of our society and its capacity of adaptation and mutation is comparable to that of a virus. From simple vandalism to terrorist attacks, from small thefts to money
laundering, from corruption to espionage, crime is everywhere, either subtle and smoothly evading our perception or brutally visible on a world scale. We live in a world with limited resources and too many different people using them. These factors are the root of all evil, crime included. There is no denying or escaping it: crime is as certain as the human need to breathe. Not all is darkness though... As crime evolves, so do the means to prevent and fight it, in the everlasting battle between good and evil, as some call it. Constant new technological advances, deep studies of criminal behavior and patterns, a more solid international cooperation between countries and the huge flow of information that the mass media provide the population with, are factors that greatly contribute to the lowering of crime rates from all around the world.
It sure is not easy to be a criminal nowadays. On a small scale, the common citizen is increasingly aware of our world’s dangers and takes its safety very seriously. It is not overly expensive for an individual to install house alarms, CCTV cameras or even buy a gun for safety in some countries. On a larger scale, States take the security of their territories and people even more seriously and are constantly learning improved ways of ensuring the safety of its citizens, both against inside or outside threats. These ways range from improving police forces and specialized units, to surveilling and monitoring an increasingly greater part of public areas and even creating databases of people’s DNA. Well, this obviously comes with a cost though, for not all that glitters is gold. Safety, defense and protection often come with control and control often comes with a lack of privacy. According to numerous opinion polls, concern over privacy violations is now greater than at any time in recent history. Nearly every country in the world recognizes a right of privacy explicitly stated in their Constitution. At a minimum, these provisions include rights of inviolability of the home and secrecy of communications. Most recently-written Constitutions also include specific rights to access and control one’s personal information. People care about privacy and do not tolerate abuses of this a primal right, the right to a private life, “the right to be left alone”. Now, where does this collide with safety? Two examples are the use of CCTV cameras and DNA databases. Although there is no denying that they bring enormous benefits to society, they most definitely also come with strings attached. Did you know that with more than 10,000 state
funded cameras, and thousands more privately funded, the average London citizen is caught on camera 300 times in a normal day? Or that, in addition to providing an individual’s identity, DNA databases can also provide medical characteristics, physical attributes, information on relatives, criminal history and other personal information? And that these can perpetuate discriminatory practices, crime framing/ incrimination or political/social discredit of people when in the wrong hands? Is it all just an excuse for governmental control? Is it like Noam Chomsky stated, “The more you can increase the fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people”? It is almost impossible not to be seen or recorded when you go out on the streets nowadays. If one with the power to do so wants to know where you are, one will know and can easily track you down. Many governments are planning to implement mandatory national DNA databases, which means every citizen must submit a DNA sample to be processed and stored into an electronic system. Indefinitely. Is it true that if you have nothing to fear you have nothing to hide? Or is it more like Richard Perle puts it, when he says that “Law-abiding citizens value privacy. Terrorists require invisibility. The two are not the same, and they should not be confused”? What do you most value? Security? Or privacy? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmCgfU1w_ Ks (A new crime fighting app for police forces raises
“TO FISH OR NOT TO FISH; THAT IS THE QUESTION” The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), or stated by some as the “legal verdict towards sea life destruction,” is again in the spotlights with the upcoming 2014 reforms that shall endure for the following 10 years. by Juan Estheiman Amaya Camposeco
The title phrase could easily apply to the current enigma, that involves a huge number of agents, but to which no one finds a suitable solution to. What makes the CFP so controversial? And first of all, what is the Common Fisheries Policy? Back in 1970, in light of European integration, the six founding members of the former European Community found the need of creating a common strategy plan to develop, promote and decide upon the fishing activity within European boundaries. Several years later, the concept of Total Allowable Catch (TAC) was introduced into the CFP. The main objective of the TAC was to limit and distribute fish stocks equally among the Member States. In order to so, it obligated fishermen to dump excess fish back into the sea (dead), when the established quotas of quantity or species were surpassed. This led to the first controversies and contradictions regarding the CFP. While at first the problem lay with lacking incentives to pursue fishing activities, the modernization of fishing fleets through the European Marine and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), quickly escalated to posing an ecological threat. For this reason the EU has been progressively ordering governments to decrease fishing activity and the size of their fleet.
Indeed, numbers also support the need for a more sustainable European fishing system. According to the WWF, two thirds of the European fish stocks are currently being overfished. Without drastic countermeasures, 9 out of 10 stocks will be unsustainable by 2022. In terms of social repercussions, according to Scottish statistics, some towns such as Fraserburgh or Peterhead (Scotland) employ up to 40% of their population in the fishing sector. Furthermore, it is stated that the 4.304 million euro budget of the EMFF between 2007-2013, has been primarily “invested” in “technological reforms.” This translates into newer and bigger boats that increase productivity instead of solving the “small problem” of looking after sea life.
Still, one of the most discussed issues regarding the CFP and its future reforms rely on who must lead and decide upon its policies. The cake is split between those who promote a more regional and, therefore, decentralized system and those that stick to a centralized one. The first defend that it is the seamen and small family fleets (with the advice of external biologists and scientists) who will have the responsibility for reaching sustainable quotas. By doing this, those populations who have benefited from this activity for hundreds of years could still be maintained and the new regulations could be applied in a much faster way. The others, however, stick to the idea to give the funds directly to the fishing industry. As such they can be directly monitored by the EU and promote employment and industrial growth. The question remains unanswered.
Anyway, we have to stick to common sense, it is not a question on whether immediate measures must be taken or not, but of which measures are to be implemented. It is time for the EU to realize that there is more beyond mere economic profits. That we should cease the exploitation of our depleting resources and put our greed aside to save the beauty of our nature. It is not only about fish in this article, but includes all the other areas where we have to prioritize what we want for our future, what we want to have and what we want to be. “To fish or not to fish” that is the question. “Stop bankrupting our oceans” by the WWF. A brief comparison of the current world economic crisis and our behavior in terms of sea life exploiting: h t t p : / / w w w. y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? f e a t u r e = p l a y e r _ embedded&v=53H3zMRd2-8&noredirect=1
AFET THE BALANCE BETWEEN SELF-DETERMINATION AND COMPROMISING. CAN ISRAEL AND PALESTINE REALLY DO IT? Welcome to the land of milk and honey, where two nations oppress each other, while desperately wanting to live on the same lands, where exclusion is justified on the basis of maintaining ethnical purity, where milk and honey is available only to a selective group. by Zephyr Brüggen The conflict between Israel and Palestine has been going on for longer than 60 years. In November 2012, a important step was taken with Palestine’s UN-status upgrade. What does this upgrade exactly encompass? How will the Palestinians benefit from it? And what are the reactions from the rest of the world? Zionists around 1900 wanted to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine, driven out of Europe by increasing anti-Semitism. The indigenous population naturally did not appreciate this move. The conflict between the Arabs and the Jews arose and the violence increased. In 1947 the UN decided to intervene, but rather than adhering to the principle of “self-determination of peoples,” they chose the strategy of an external power dividing up other people’s land. The UN wanted to give away 55% of Palestine in order to create a Jewish state. Years of war followed, in which the Israelis conquered threequarters of the Palestinian territory. The areas now envisioned to be the state of Palestine have been occupied by Israel ever since the six-daywar of 1967. Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir once said: “There is no such thing as a Palestinian.” The Palestinians have made many attempts to achieve statehood over the past 60 years. In 1974, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation
(PLO) was granted observer status at the UN, which it holds to this day, allowing it to take part in General Assembly sessions. That is, without having the right to vote. Hence, the PLO never participated at the UN in its capacity of the official government of the State of Palestine. The Palestinian Declaration of Independence, unilaterally drawn up in 1988, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Palestine. In 1993 things seemed to go forward with the Oslo Accords, when Israel and the PLO agreed on Palestinian interim self-government and the withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from the Gaza strip. Only two years ago, in 2011, president Abbas took the step of applying to join the UN as a full member state. The bid failed because of a lack of support from the Security Council. So far, Palestine had not been regarded as an independent state internationally.
Then, finally, on November 29th of 2012, the UN General Assembly passed ‘Resolution 67/19’ with a 67,9% majority, upgrading Palestine from an ‘observer entity’ to a ‘non-member observer state’. Therewith, they recognized the PLO’s sovereignty. Also, the resolution recognized Palestine’s boundaries as they were before the 1967 war. The new status is equal to the one that Vatican City has in the UN. Needless to say, all the Palestinians threw a big party that night. However, the status upgrade had a symbolic rather than a practical nature. Not much will change for the Palestinians, except for the fact that they are now allowed to start proceedings at the Criminal Court of Justice against Israel’s illegal occupation in Gaza. The reason for the Palestinians to go to the UN and request the status update was internationalization of the recognition of their suffering. It was a shout-out to the world: “We exist!” Vuk Jeremic, the President of the General Assembly, said that the vote “would achieve what was envisaged in 1947, a two-state solution” and expressed hope for a return to bilateral negotiations. Nonetheless, Israel and several other countries, amongst which is the US, do not recognize the existence of an independent Palestinian state. Benjamin Netanyahu thinks that the establishment of such a state can only be determined through direct negotiations between Israel and the PLO. Currently, he continues, there are too many obstructions to succeed in doing that, such as the question of where to place borders, access to scarce waters, access to historical or religious sites in Jerusalem, the right of return of Palestinian refugees and the question whether Israeli settlement should expand. Netanyahu labelled the UN’s decision as unilateral and immediately approved further settlement expansion. According to Phyllis Bennis from the Institute for Policy Studies Washington “it [the settlement expansion] was designed to punish the Palestinians for having the audacity of going to the UN, something that ironically the Israelis call a unilateral act, when of course, going to the UN is the perfect example of a multilateral act. This settlement construction that has gone on for many years in the occupied West Bank: there are now 600.000 illegal Israeli settlers
living on occupied territory, which means they are breaking the law just by waking up.” Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the PLO also rebuked Israel for failing to “save the peace process,” based on the recent ‘Operation Pillar of Defence’ by the IDF in Gaza. He added that Palestine did not seek to “delegitimise a country created here many years ago,” but to save the peace process. All he demanded was that Israel accepted Palestine as an independent state, with East Jerusalem as the capital and all the pre-1967 boundaries. The EU supports this view, as confirmed in the Berlin Declaration of 1999. The right to a sovereign Palestine state was declared ‘not subject to any veto’. Then there is America, Israel’s strong shoulder. US taxpayers give Israel an average of $8 million per day. President Barack Obama advised Palestine to confine their campaign for statehood to Israel, threatening with a veto if they would not. This, however, is a slight contradiction with past American support for Palestinian self-determination. The US, if they do not want their politics to be contradictory , should ensure that Palestine’s voice is also to be heard within the UN. In conclusion, we should be well aware of the fact that consensus was not reached at the UN meetings. In fact, the two countries that are most important in reaching consensus with Israel and its big partner across the ocean, voted against. The road to ensuring peace and a fair recognition for both Israel and Palestine is one of the hardest of our time, but we have taken the first steps. It is important to realize that previous direct negotiations between both countries were not actually possible, because Israel and Palestine were not on the same UNlevel. Now that changes have begun, the two parties can take the next steps, with the help of the US and the EU.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljotR4zo-44 Noam Chomsky’s solution to the conflict http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y58njT2oXfE a short animated introduction on the conflict