Terror attacks on France and Tunisia are much more than a security issue

Rosa Freedman, University of Birmingham

‎As details emerge about an attack at a factory in France in which one person is dead and several injured, comparisons with the Charlie Hebdo killings in January are inevitable.

Following an explosion at a gas factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, near Lyon, the body of a local businessman was found alongside a flag bearing Islamic inscriptions. Several suspects have been arrested, one of whom was thought to be known to police. Read more

New push to protect ‘family values’ is a brazen attack on human rights

Rosa Freedman, University of Birmingham

Once again, the Human Rights Council has been hijacked to promote the agendas of states who are trying to undermine the very same human rights the UN is supposed to protect.

A recently circulated draft resolution on “protection of the family” looks likely to be passed by the council, even though the text clearly plays into the hands of countries trying to make it legitimate to oppress individuals based on their gender or sexual orientation. Read more

The UN’s 15-year goals ignore LGBT rights yet again

Rosa Freedman, University of Birmingham

Negotiations on the UN’s 15-year development strategy, which involve all 193 member states, have at last produced a set of ambitious Sustainable Development Goals. These focus on social justice, poverty, human rights, development, and other related areas that require concerted effort over the coming years.

The goals incorporate strategies to protect and ensure the equality of individuals belonging to vulnerable groups – all individuals, that is, except those who belong to sexual orientation or gender identity minorities.  Read more

French peacekeeper abuse scandal fits an old pattern of impunity

Rosa Freedman, University of Birmingham

EDITOR’S NOTE: After this article was published, it became clear that the report it mentions is not about UN peacekeepers. It is about the French forces based in CAR, part of the French-led military operation known as Operation Sangaris. They were authorised by the UN Security Council in December 2013, but do not operate under the leadership of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). The article has been updated to make this distinction clear.

The article also originally stated that the report had been leaked to the advocacy group Aids-Free World. This was inaccurate, and has been corrected.

It has emerged that a UN senior humanitarian aid worker has been suspended for leaking an internal report on child abuse committed by French peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR).

The details that emerge from the report, Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces, show that once again, UN-sanctioned forces have abused their position and power to prey on vulnerable individuals in the most horrific circumstances. Read more

Hillary Clinton announces presidential campaign: expert reaction

Inderjeet Parmar, City University London; Clodagh Harrington, De Montfort University; Rosa Freedman, University of Birmingham; Russell Bentley, University of Southampton; Scott Lucas, University of Birmingham, and Tom Packer, University of Oxford

Former secretary of state, senator and first lady Hillary Clinton has announced her long-awaited 2016 presidential campaign. With the race for the presidency now truly underway, our panel of experts unpack what Clinton’s announcement really means.  Read more

Leaked report details UN peacekeepers’ sexual exploitation and abuse

Rosa Freedman, University of Birmingham

The NGO, Aids Free World, has released a copy of a report on sexual violations committed by UN peacekeeping personnel.

The UN’s opaque nature means that rather than address the points made by the independent experts, the report was not circulated – but copies of it were leaked to Aids Free World, which sent it to the ambassadors and permanent representatives of every UN member state. Read more

Instead of prosecuting those responsible for FGM, we went after a doctor doing his job

Rosa Freedman, University of Birmingham

The verdict has been returned on the first prosecution for female genital mutilation in England and Wales – and the defendant has been found not guilty. This is a damning indictment for the Crown Prosecution Service, for our police forces – and for our society. A jury took less than half an hour to find Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena not guilty of FGM, and rightly so.

The FGM legislation is not aimed at doctors who treat previously mutilated women during and after childbirth. It is aimed at the practitioners of FGM who perform the initial mutilation of girls and women and at the parents who seek out, collude in and enable this grievous bodily harm to take place. Read more

Five years after Haiti quake, a new setback for cholera victims

Rosa Freedman, University of Birmingham

January 12 2015 marks five years since Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake. Countless victims were killed, homes destroyed, and vital infrastructure reduced to debris.

Already one of the world’s poorest and most fragile countries, Haiti was particularly vulnerable to the effects of a major natural disaster. But perhaps the most deadly and destructive event that year was the introduction of cholera into Haiti for the first time in over a century. Read more