The Duck of Minerva

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Meanwhile, Outside of the Caucasus…

August 12, 2008

Rodger and Peter remind us that many things are happening out there besides the commotion between Russia and Georgia. For example:

Canada has dispatched the naval frigate HMCS Ville de Québec to the waters off the Horn of Africa, in the hopes of stemming pirate attacks that have in recent months drastically curtailed the delivery of humanitarian aid to Somalia’s war-affected masses. It’s unclear whether a single additional vessel will be up to the task, even if its mission is to rather single-mindedly protect World Food Programme shipments, rather than to police the waters more generally. Still, it’s heartening to see Canada’s open securitization of maritime piracy: see the long quotation by Rear-Admiral Dean McFadden in Daniel Skeritch’s post at Modern Day Pirate Tales.

Relatedly, the Dallas News reports on Somalia’s humanitarian crisis, now characterized as the “worst in the world.” (Some helpful perspective: compare the “catastrophe” of between 10,000 and 30,000 refugees in N. Ossetia to the following:)

“The United Nations estimates that at least 14 million people in the Horn of Africa are in urgent need of food aid due to conflict, dramatic rises in food costs and severe drought.

Two countries most threatened by this crisis are Somalia and Ethiopia, where 2.6 million and 4.6 million people, respectively, face severe food shortages.

Somalia is already in the grip of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. It has been without an effective government for nearly two decades – but since 2007, the situation has declined sharply. Conflict, failed rains and hyperinflation have made staple foods such as rice and corn unaffordable for many.”

Finally, while two nuclear-armed superpowers step up increasingly belligerent rhetoric in the UN Security Council and beyond, it makes sense to mention the recent passage of the 63rd anniversary of the bombing of Hirsohima. Peace groups commemorated the event last week, and the mayor of Hiroshima asked the US to back a ban on nuclear weapons. Hmm. Might be an auspicious time to think about it.

The Human Security Report’s News Service provides a helpful roundup of other key stories.

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Charli Carpenter is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is the author of 'Innocent Women and Children': Gender, Norms and the Protection of Civilians (Ashgate, 2006), Forgetting Children Born of War: Setting the Human Rights
Agenda in Bosnia and Beyond (Columbia, 2010), and ‘Lost’ Causes: Agenda-Setting in Global Issue Networks and the Shaping of Human Security (Cornell, 2014). Her main research interests include national security ethics, the protection of civilians, the laws of war, global agenda-setting, gender and political violence, humanitarian affairs, the role of information technology in human security, and the gap between intentions and outcomes among advocates of human security.