openDemocracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/ en Job: OurBeeb editor https://www.opendemocracy.net/opendemocracy/job-vacancy-ourbeeb-editor <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p dir="ltr">openDemocracy is looking for a skilled editor to help shape a public debate about the future of the BBC.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">Application deadline: May 31st 10am (GMT)</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <h3><strong>Who are we looking for?</strong></h3><p dir="ltr">openDemocracy is looking for a skilled editor to help shape a public debate about the future of the BBC. Your role will be to lead openDemocracy's OurBeeb section, to commission and publish articles, develop partnerships and help expand the projects’s readership and impact. This is a part time role, working three days a week.</p><p dir="ltr">We need someone with excellent editorial and communication skills and knowledge of the BBC and its history. You must have a nuanced understanding of the challenges and opportunities for public service broadcasting in the 21st century and ideas about how the sector might be transformed in the near future.</p><p dir="ltr">This is a key position in a small team, and you will join the project at a critical and exciting moment. The BBC's Charter renewal period will be entering its final stage, with huge ramifications for British media and cultural production. We will be publishing into the online project and also putting together a book, 'What do we want from the BBC?' to broaden the debate at this crucial moment. We may even be in the aftermath of a Leave vote, looking at how public service media might adapt in a UK outside of the EU.&nbsp;</p><h3><strong>What is the ourBeeb debate?</strong></h3><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/" target="_blank">OurBeeb</a>&nbsp;is a debate on the nature and future of public service broadcasting across Britain in all its forms and media. As the Charter Renewal process goes on largely behind closed doors we will be asking: How can we ensure public service media are creative and accountable to the public? How can the BBC itself be felt to be 'ours', by the public who fund it and whose many voices it claims to represent?</p><p dir="ltr">Funded by 95% of British homes via the licence fee, the BBC belongs to the people, not the government. OurBeeb is independent, non-partisan, and aims to ensure that the discussion about the future of British Broadcasting Corporation is in the hands of the British people.&nbsp;</p><h3><strong>Main responsibilities of the role:</strong></h3><p dir="ltr">· Commission, edit and publish pieces</p><p dir="ltr">· Further the project’s impact; build its social media presence</p><p dir="ltr">· Identify and build relationships with new contributors</p><p dir="ltr">· Represent OurBeeb at media events</p><p dir="ltr"><span>·</span><span>&nbsp;L</span><span>ook into potential for ourBeeb offline debates.</span></p><h3><strong>To Apply:</strong></h3><p dir="ltr">Please send a covering letter outlining how you are suitable for the role and a brief CV to&nbsp;<a href="mailto:recruitment@opendemocracy.net" target="_blank">recruitment@opendemocracy.net</a></p><p dir="ltr">The deadline is: Tuesday 31 May 10am (GMT)</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> OurBeeb uk openDemocracy News openDemocracy Fri, 13 May 2016 11:00:12 +0000 openDemocracy 95105 at https://www.opendemocracy.net BTS explainer: what is the International Labour Conference? https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/ilc/bts-editorial-team/bts-explainer-what-is-international-labour-conference <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This will be the 105th session of the International Labour Conference, but how many people know what it is and why it’s important?</p> </div> </div> </div> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/8005511021_50f062cd67_h_920.jpg" width="100%" /> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">A garment factory in the Philippines. ILO/Flickr. (CC 2.0 by-nc-nd)</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/how-the-ilo-works/international-labour-conference/lang--en/index.htm">International Labour Conference</a> (ILC) is the annual assembly of the <a href="http://www.ilo.org/global/lang--en/index.htm">International Labour Organisation</a> (ILO). The ILO is the ‘labour arm’ of the United Nations and its job is to set the rules governing the world’s working conditions. Almost every country is a member, and each national delegation is split into four different representatives – two from government, one from labour and one from capital. Each representative has the right to vote independently on whichever measures are adopted, and all votes carry equal weight.</p> <p>The ILC can therefore be understood as like ‘a world parliament of labour’. It adopts instruments ranging from ‘conventions’ to ‘recommendations’. These are part of the rulebook governing the world economy (along with things like trade treaties and the rules for membership of the World Trade Organisation). Recommendations are guidelines for the application of conventions or for national government action, while conventions are binding international laws that are incorporated into national legal frameworks whenever a country signs up and ratifies them. They relate to things as fundamental to everyday life as the freedom of association, abolition of forced labour, labour inspection, and social protection. So the basic labour rights you do or don&#39;t enjoy will always be traced back to the discussions that take place at the ILC.</p> <p>And these discussions are very political! Often workers will want one thing and employers the opposite. Sometimes both unite against the governments. The balance of forces between these three constituents, and the success of business and social justice activists mobilising outside, will determine a great deal. The ILO Secretariat – which works like a national civil service – prepares an initial report on a key social or political issue, which workers, employers, and governments spend months positioning themselves around. Next, the ILO will produce a draft text that takes into account these expressed positions. And then all parties will meet in Geneva to fight paragraph by paragraph over the final text. </p> <p>At times, the text on the agenda is the draft text of a convention or a recommendation. But at others – like this year – the text is a background document that will prepare the ground for the potential drafting of a future convention. In that case, the struggle at the ILC is over whether or not the issue being discussed will eventually require legal action. </p> <p>Why is ILC 2016 so important? Because for the first time since much of the world economy was re-organised into global supply chains, the ILO will feature a discussion about how that economy should or shouldn’t be regulated in the interests of decent work and social justice. What is discussed and decided at this year’s ILC will thus set the stage for the next year (or two) of struggle within the international labour movement and between the labour movement and representatives of the status quo. Unions and social justice activists want major corporations to face legal accountability for labour standards in the supply chains that their economic power means they shape. They, of course, do not. The lines are drawn.</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/ilc/neil-howard-genevieve-lebaron/making-supply-chains-work-for-workers-2016-international">Making supply chains work for workers? The 2016 International Labour Conference and beyond</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/ilc/andreas-r-hmkorf/ilo-report-on-decent-work-in-global-supply-chains-much-ado-about-noth">The ILO report on ‘decent work in global supply chains’ - much ado about nothing?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/nicola-phillips/what-has-forced-labour-to-do-with-poverty">What has forced labour to do with poverty?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/kendra-strauss/role-of-labour-market-intermediaries-in-driving-forced-and-unfree-labou">The role of labour market intermediaries in driving forced and unfree labour</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery BTS Editorial Team Governing global supply chains? BTS at the ILO Mon, 30 May 2016 00:36:29 +0000 BTS Editorial Team 102538 at https://www.opendemocracy.net DiEM25 in London https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/yanis-varoufakis-mary-kaldor-zoe-gardner-james-schneider-paul-hilder/diem25-in-lo <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A video of the DiEM25 breakout session at the Another Europe is Possible Event in London.</p> </div> </div> </div> <iframe width="460" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5xJC8gyrAzo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/diem25/democracy-in-europe-diem25-in-rome-with-yanis-varoufakis">Democracy in Europe: DiEM25 in Rome with Yanis Varoufakis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/diem25/our-fragmenting-europe-and-diems-response">Our fragmenting Europe and DiEM&#039;s response</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? UK Mary Kaldor James Schneider Paul Hilder Zoe Gardner Yanis Varoufakis DiEM25 Mon, 30 May 2016 00:22:22 +0000 Paul Hilder, James Schneider, Zoe Gardner, Mary Kaldor and Yanis Varoufakis 102537 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Making supply chains work for workers? The 2016 International Labour Conference and beyond https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/ilc/neil-howard-genevieve-lebaron/making-supply-chains-work-for-workers-2016-international <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Employers, worker’s organisations and politicians are gathering to discuss decent work in global supply chains. Today, BTS launches three months of multimedia analysis asking how – if at all – we can guarantee it.</p> </div> </div> </div> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/10987601513_67d535754f_k_920.jpg" width="100%" /> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top: 0px; padding-top: 0px;">Ando International garment factory. Aaron Santos for the ILO/Flickr. (CC 2.0 by-nc-nd)</p> <p>Chances are, you’re reading this on a laptop. If so, you’re sitting at the end of a long and winding <a href="http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---relconf/documents/meetingdocument/wcms_468097.pdf">global supply chain</a>. The typical computer contains a memory chip from Malaysia, a battery from Indonesia, a screen from South Korea, RAM from Germany, and a hard drive made in Thailand. This all before it was assembled in China and then bought off a shelf in Buenos Aires, New York, or Vienna. The reality is that most products are now made by a global workforce fragmented across dozens of national boundaries, worksites, and employers. </p> <p>Transnational retail and manufacturing companies like Apple, Walmart, Tesco, and Unilever organise large swathes of global production across these complex, multi-national networks. The <a href="http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/wir2013_en.pdf">United Nations Conference on Trade and Development</a> estimates that they encompass 80% of all world trade. The transnational corporations (TNCs) sitting at the top of them source goods through commercial contracts across thousands of arms-length supplier firms, each of which is a discrete legal entity employing its own workers. This allows products to be made cheaply and quickly, but it also distances TNCs from legal responsibility for the labour and environmental practices associated with their production. </p> <p class="mag-quote-right">While transnational corporations create the rules of the game, they bear little responsibility for its outcomes.</p> <p>The reorganisation of production, investment, and trade into global supply chains represents a decisive break in the history of global capitalism. And many claim that it’s a positive development. The World Trade Organisation, for example, <a href="https://www.wto.org/english/res_e/booksp_e/world_trade_report14_e.pdf">estimates</a> that developing countries’ engagement in global supply chains caused their share of world trade to rise from 33% to 48% between 2000 and 2012. Economists argue that TNC investment helps lift the poor countries where suppliers firms are located out of poverty. And business leaders often claim that working conditions in global supply chains are better than they are anywhere else in the local economy. </p> <p>Of course, it’s no surprise to hear them tout the virtues of global supply chains since TNCs derive vast profits from this business model. <a href="http://pcic.merage.uci.edu/papers/2011/value_ipad_iphone.pdf">One recent study</a> estimates that Apple retains 58.5% of the value of every iPhone as profit, while the workers who make it take home only 5.3% as wages. Global supply chains allow big brands to hoard <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2015/07/22/investing/apple-stock-cash-earnings/">record amounts of cash</a>, but as suppliers scramble to get goods to them on time and for low costs, workers are often left underpaid and unprotected. </p> <p>Recent incidents – such as the discovery of “<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-31438699">bonded servitude</a>” amongst Apple’s factory workers; rampant “<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jun/10/supermarket-prawns-thailand-produced-slave-labour">forced labour</a>” in Thailand’s prawn industry; and reports of <a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/03/11/work-faster-or-get-out/labor-rights-abuses-cambodias-garment-industry">criminally abusive</a> conditions in Cambodia’s garment factories (which make clothes for Marks &amp; Spencer, Gap and Adidas) – have focused the world’s attention on the dangers that global supply chains can pose for workers. Disasters such as <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Savar_building_collapse">Rana Plaza</a> have done the same, and workers’ organisations, consumer activists, and academics now routinely ask whether the current structure of global supply chains can ever guarantee <a href="http://asia.floorwage.org/workersvoices/">worker safety</a> or <a href="http://www.oxfam.org.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2016/01/62-people-own-same-as-half-world-says-oxfam-inequality-report-davos-world-economic-forum">social justice</a>. In one recent and hard-hitting <a href="http://www.ituc-csi.org/frontlines-report-2016-scandal">report</a>, for example, the <a href="http://www.ituc-csi.org/">International Trade Union Confederation</a> claim that the rules governing global supply chains (or, rather, their absence) allow TNCs to accumulate historic levels of wealth and power <em>precisely</em> by taking both from everybody else. </p> <p>One of the key challenges from a workers rights and social justice perspective is that while TNCs create the rules of the game, they bear little responsibility for its outcomes. Top-tier firms like Nike or Adidas pay <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/jul/02/british-farmers-supermarket-price-wars">fiercely low prices</a>, demand goods too <a href="http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/07/16/efforts-to-clean-up-fast-fashion-supply-chains-face-a-tough-road">quickly</a>, or chronically <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/feb/05/tesco-faces-investigation-over-how-it-pays-suppliers">delay their payments</a>, but it is up to suppliers to cope with these dynamics without cutting legal corners. Yet ample evidence shows that corners <em>are</em> often cut, through practices like unauthorised subcontracting, under- and non-payment of wages, excessive and involuntary overtime, or the use of exploited, under-age, or illegal labour. Suppliers often claim that they have no alternative if they wish to stay in business. </p> <p>For their part, workers have little recourse against the TNCs whose products they are producing, since legal liability for labour standards and the responsibilities of ‘employment’ are fractured across supplier firms and intermediaries (like recruiters or temporary labour providers). Whereas once a Ford employee could have picketed his factory in Detroit if he wished to pressure his manager for better pay or safer working conditions, now the workers in Guangdong have no such option when it comes to the contracts they work on for Apple in California. And this is <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/rachel-wilshaw/what-would-loosen-roots-of-labour-exploitation-in-supply-chains">made worse</a> by the fact that many poor governments choose not to enforce minimum labour standards in a desperate attempt to attract footloose foreign capital. </p> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/8249606100_3c1c62bc74_k_920.jpg" width="100%" /> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top: 0px; padding-top: 0px;">A garment factory in Sri Lanka. M.Crozet for the ILO/Flickr. (CC 2.0 by-nc-nd)</p> <p>As calls for corporate accountability for labour standards have intensified, companies have claimed that they can respond meaningfully by using voluntary corporate social responsibility programmes (CSR), such as certification schemes, ethical auditing, or codes of conduct. Governments like those of the US or UK have given these programmes credibility by <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/30/contents/enacted">mandating</a> that industry report on their voluntary efforts to prevent and address forced labour, human trafficking, and other forms of exploitation within their supply chains. But after almost two decades of such efforts, activists, workers, and consumers are wondering whether CSR can ever really be enough, or whether a new approach is needed to promote corporate accountability for supply chain labour standards. </p> <p>It is in this context that the <a href="http://www.ilo.org/global/lang--en/index.htm">International Labour Organisation</a> (ILO) has taken the watershed decision to put global supply chain governance on the agenda for its annual <a href="http://www.ilo.org/ilc/ILCSessions/105/lang--en/index.htm">International Labour Conference</a> (ILC), which begins today in Geneva. For the first time in history, and amidst much political contestation, the leaders of the world economy will gather at the ILO’s seat to begin discussing whether and how global supply chains can <a href="http://www.ilo.org/ilc/ILCSessions/105/reports/reports-to-the-conference/WCMS_473699/lang--en/index.htm">ensure decent work</a> for all their workers. </p> <p class="mag-quote-center">For the first time in history the leaders of the world economy will gather at the ILO’s seat to discuss whether and how global supply chains can ensure decent work.</p> <p>Workers organisations, social justice activists and concerned citizens all want the ILO meetings to be a first step on the road towards binding international accountability for labour standards in supply chains. Noting the limited scope and effectiveness of national regulation in resolving these issues that plague ‘decent work’, workers organisations have <a href="http://asia.floorwage.org/workersvoices/reports/precarious-work-in-the-gap-global-value-chain">called</a> for the ILO to “move towards a binding legal convention regulating [global value chains]”. But businesses and many governments see it differently, arguing that regulation is unnecessary and perhaps even counter-productive. </p> <p>Whose voice will triumph? What is fair? And who or what should be responsible for guaranteeing that supply chains bring us the good without the bad of globalisation? These questions are of critical importance for decent work and social justice in the twenty-first century, and the ILO’s ILC is a key opportunity to begin addressing them.</p> <h2>Our coverage of ILC 2016 and beyond</h2> <p><em>Beyond Trafficking and Slavery</em> will be reporting live from the ILC 2016, with comment, analysis and real-time reflection on what promises to be an important moment in the history of international labour relations. We’ll also continue to focus on supply chain governance right throughout the summer, since what happens in Geneva certainly won’t be the end of this conversation. </p> <p><strong><a style="font-size:110%;text-align:center;" class="pullquote-right" href="https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/bts-editorial-team/bts-explainer-what-is-international-labour-conference">BTS explainer: what is the International Labour Conference?</a></strong></p> <p>Our coverage will kick off today in tandem with the ILC. For the ILC’s first week, we’ll be giving readers a ‘primer’ on the key issues and debates. Articles from a renowned group of experts, activists, and policy-makers will think about what exactly decent work in supply chains means, how it can be guaranteed, what obstacles exist to it, and what the ILC may or may not achieve. We will feature case studies of corporate or governmental failings, profile the demands and desires of some of the key actors, and give voice to the workers who are so often silent at the bottom of the supply chain ladder. If this isn’t enough, readers can work through our <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/info/bts-short-course#2"><em>Short Course on Forced Labour in the Global Economy</em></a> for an accessible but academic take on all of the key questions. </p> <p>During the ILC’s second week, from Monday 6 to Friday 10 June, BTS will be on the ground in Geneva to cover events live from there. We’ll tweet from inside the ILO, talk to key actors involved in the ILC negotiations and discussions, and profile the social justice campaigners and workers rights activists camped outside. Our daily progress updates will give readers an on-the-ground idea of what is happening and where to go for more in-depth reading, while our video interviews and a number of further articles will highlight key stories, contributions from those involved, and why this is all important. </p> <p>The ILC meeting itself is of course no more than a start to this conversation. And in many ways, what happens after it will be far more important. So after the dust settles in Geneva, we’ll be preparing a wave of analysis and reflection that looks forward to the future. This will begin with a roundtable that includes a heterodox mixture of grassroots activists, global unions, major corporations, analysts of global supply chains and key government actors like the UK’s anti-slavery commissioner. Each participant will answer core questions about how we can ensure decent work in global supply chains and who is responsible for doing so.</p> <p>For the weeks that follow, we’ll commission reflection pieces from a number of interested observers. These will look at what the ILC meant and what its outcome means for the future. We’ll also have a full week of video testimony from voices that are often marginalised in the supply chain debate, and these will allow us to put human faces to the stories that are so often ignored.</p> <p>BTS’ coverage will continue beyond this right throughout the summer. One of the highlights will be a high-level debate that we’re convening on the future of decent work in supply chains. This debate will bring together a select group of major players from the international business and policy community and will put them in conversation with workers, activists and scholars. Will they agree on where we go? Or will supply chain workers be left none-the-better because the powers-that-be couldn’t agree on what to do? Join us for the coming months to find out!</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/ilc/andreas-r-hmkorf/ilo-report-on-decent-work-in-global-supply-chains-much-ado-about-noth">The ILO report on ‘decent work in global supply chains’ - much ado about nothing?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/andreas-r%C3%BChmkorf/global-supply-chains-role-of-law-role-for-law">Global supply chains: the role of law? A role for law!</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/zuzanna-muskatgorka-jeroen-beirnaert/2014-ilo-protocol-new-standard-but-will-states-ma">The 2014 ILO protocol: a new standard, but will states make it real?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/rachel-wilshaw/what-would-loosen-roots-of-labour-exploitation-in-supply-chains">What would loosen the roots of labour exploitation in supply chains?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/ilc/bts-editorial-team/bts-explainer-what-is-international-labour-conference">BTS explainer: what is the International Labour Conference? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Genevieve LeBaron Neil Howard Governing global supply chains? BTS at the ILO Mon, 30 May 2016 00:20:02 +0000 Genevieve LeBaron and Neil Howard 102536 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The ILO report on ‘decent work in global supply chains’ - much ado about nothing? https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/ilc/andreas-r-hmkorf/ilo-report-on-decent-work-in-global-supply-chains-much-ado-about-noth <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The background report for the International Labour Conference 2016 raises important questions about supply chain responsibility, but does not provide enough answers about the way forward.</p> </div> </div> </div> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/10987484006_640f9cf11b_k_920.jpg" width="100%" /> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">Aaron Santos for the ILO/Flickr. (CC 2.0 by-nc-nd)</p> <p>Given that labour conditions in global supply chains have been in the public spotlight for over two decades, it is no surprise that the topic ‘decent work in global supply chains’ is on the agenda of this month’s 105th session of the International Labour Conference (ILC). However, it can be argued that the <a href="http://www.ilo.org/ilc/ILCSessions/105/reports/reports-to-the-conference/WCMS_468097/lang--en/index.htm">accompanying report</a> is a missed opportunity. Whilst it is a thorough assessment of the status quo regarding labour rights and working conditions in global supply chains, it does little to move the debate forward.</p> <p>It is a well-known fact that western companies at the top of the global supply chain tree (called ‘lead firms’) not only outsource their production through global supply chains, <em>but also their potential legal liability</em>. They therefore reduce both their costs and their responsibilities. </p> <p>Global supply chains increasingly consist of complex networks of different tiers of suppliers and sub-suppliers who are only linked with each other through contracts. The structure of these chains poses major legal challenges for holding the lead firms (i.e. the western transnational corporations) legally accountable for labour violations that occur lower down and throughout their supply chains. </p> <p>Often these violations occur at the bottom of the chain, at factories of sub-contractors in countries with weak laws and/or weak law enforcement mechanisms. The reason why the western transnational corporations operate with impunity is the existence of ‘governance gaps’, as the report rightly acknowledges. In particular, the combination of the separate legal personality of companies and the territorial nature of law makes it difficult to translate the moral responsibility of western transnational companies into legal liability.</p> <h2>Filling the gaps</h2> <div style="width:230px;float:right;padding-left:10px;"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/ilodecentworkcover_460.jpg" width="230" /><br /><span class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;"><a href="http://www.ilo.org/ilc/ILCSessions/105/reports/reports-to-the-conference/WCMS_468097/lang--en/index.htm">Access the report</a></span></div> <p>The ILC discussions about supply chain responsibility need to focus on how these gaps can be filled in order to move the debate and the legislation forward. But this <a href="http://www.ilo.org/ilc/ILCSessions/105/reports/reports-to-the-conference/WCMS_468097/lang--en/index.htm">background report</a> really <em>only</em> describes the status quo. Following a detailed outline of the structures, uses, and functioning of global supply chains (chapter two), it assesses the ways in which lower-level actors in global supply chains can benefit from their participation in the chain (through a process called ‘upgrading’ –chapter three). It then reviews the existing regulatory approaches towards working conditions throughout global supply chains in chapter four.</p> <p>Here, the discussion of private governance and private compliance initiatives does correctly identify many existing problems, such as the lack of accountability, flaws in monitoring systems, patchy coverage, and dependence on the lead firm’s commitment. Unfortunately, however, the subsequent discussion on ‘closing the governance gap’ only describes three (weak) examples of how improved governance could be applied to promoting decent work. This is a major missed opportunity. The report does not sufficiently discuss how existing governance gaps could be closed in <em>new</em> ways, nor does it explain how an international labour standard for global supply chains could contribute towards closing governance gaps. </p> <p>The fact remains that in the absence of a (desirable) binding international human rights framework on corporations, and in the presence of weak laws and/or law enforcement mechanisms in the host states (i.e. the countries where the labour rights violations at supplier factories occur), the world has to begin designing effective mechanisms to disrupt the status quo. The absence of these at a global level is what has now led some western countries (i.e. the countries where the transnational corporations – the lead firms – are based) to pass legislation that affects supply chain governance. But these will only ever be a ‘second best’ solution.</p> <p>In summary, then, the report provides for interesting reading about the functioning and structure of global supply chains and existing governance approaches. However, whilst it identifies the governance gaps, it does little to move the debate forward. A discussion of human rights due diligence imposed on transnational corporations (currently debated in France) as well as the possible contribution of an international labour convention on supply chains is missing. Therefore, the danger is that rather than kick-starting a genuine debate, the report presented at ILC 2016 will see this crucial global discussion stillborn.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/ilc/neil-howard-genevieve-lebaron/making-supply-chains-work-for-workers-2016-international">Making supply chains work for workers? The 2016 International Labour Conference and beyond</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/andreas-r%C3%BChmkorf/global-supply-chains-role-of-law-role-for-law">Global supply chains: the role of law? A role for law!</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/jens-lerche/ilo-campaigns-missing-wood-for-trees">ILO campaigns: missing the wood for the trees?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/zuzanna-muskatgorka-jeroen-beirnaert/2014-ilo-protocol-new-standard-but-will-states-ma">The 2014 ILO protocol: a new standard, but will states make it real?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/rachel-wilshaw/what-would-loosen-roots-of-labour-exploitation-in-supply-chains">What would loosen the roots of labour exploitation in supply chains?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/ilc/bts-editorial-team/bts-explainer-what-is-international-labour-conference">BTS explainer: what is the International Labour Conference? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Andreas Rühmkorf Governing global supply chains? BTS at the ILO Mon, 30 May 2016 00:00:34 +0000 Andreas Rühmkorf 102533 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Carry on flying: why activists should take to the skies https://www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/jem-bendell/carry-on-flying-why-activists-should-take-to-skies <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Protesting against air travel might displace attention away from the actions required to reduce carbon emissions at the necessary scale.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/crojem4cropped.jpg" alt="" width="460" /></p><p class="image-caption">Credit: <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2231665">Wikimedia Commons</a>. <a href="http://www.af.mil/photos/index.asp?galleryID=22&amp;page=2">Original image cropped by Gralo</a>. Public Domain. </p> <p>I’m writing this at 35,000 feet above the Bay of Bengal, on my way to lecture in Malaysia at <a href="http://help.edu.my/">HELP University</a> on <a href="http://iflas.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/innovation-leadership-public-talk-in.html">Innovation Leadership</a>. Just before take-off, I received some emails from <a href="http://lifeworth.us9.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=c58fbb0d721b1e5f3e4787bdf&amp;id=f6f98efd16">subscribers to my newsletter</a>, questioning my international speaking schedule: “You’re a <a href="http://www.iflas.info/">Professor of Sustainability Leadership</a>, so how can you justify all that flying?” was the gist. “You should lead by example” and encourage everyone to fly much less. </p> <p>My travel this year means that my carbon footprint will be approximately double that of the average person in Britain, which is around <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/may/27/why-india-is-captured-by-carbon">14 tonnes of CO2</a> or its equivalent per annum. Like many readers of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/transformation"><em>Transformation</em></a> I believe that we should seek to align our daily lives with our political views and values. So is it hypocritical of environmentalists to fly? </p> <p>Not necessarily: in fact I’ve come to see critiques of flying as sometimes misguided and even counter-productive. That's because <em>not </em>flying isn’t an effective way for me to combat the causes of environmental degradation and climate change. Here are three reasons why. <strong></strong></p> <p><strong>Beyond the ideology of 'one by one'</strong></p> <p>The assumption of most current environmental advocacy is that the best way to reduce carbon emissions is through changes in our personal behaviour. But significant reductions can only come about through political activity that transforms the economic systems that drive up pollution. The limited impact of voluntary action by individuals is highlighted by household electricity consumption in the UK, for example, which has been targeted by government, charities and business. These emissions account for about <a href="http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/publications.php?id=367">seven percent</a> of the UK total. </p> <p>Comprehensive measures to reduce electricity consumption could bring these emissions down by <a href="http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/publications.php?id=367">30 percent per household</a>. But despite strong efforts over two decades, only a small percentage of people have achieved this target, and <a href="http://www.wwf.org.uk/wwf_articles.cfm?unewsid=2224">research shows</a> that about half of them spent the money they saved on products or activities that had similar or even bigger carbon footprints. So the net impact on UK carbon emissions is probably less than one percent. That’s why we need more emphasis on policy frameworks that reward investments in renewable energy, more efficient electrical appliances, and taxes that increase the costs of producing energy from fossil fuels like coal.</p> <p>My argument isn’t that there’s no point in reducing personal carbon emissions, nor that in some unknown way such personal actions wont positively <a href="http://charleseisenstein.net/project/the-more-beautiful-world-our-hearts-know-is-possible/">affect a ‘collective field</a>’ as author Charles Eisenstein puts it; it’s that focusing on this approach can distract attention from exploring other solutions that really matter. And that takes me to reason number two: it’s not how much carbon you use but what you do with it that counts. <strong></strong></p> <p><strong>So what do you <em>do</em> with your carbon?</strong></p> <p>At the heart of the claim that it’s hypocritical to fly is the idea that everyone should have the same carbon footprint, but that makes no sense. What about ambulance drivers, or firemen, or members of the armed forces?</p> <p>If flying is acceptable for them, then why not for activists? My own work focuses on promoting more effective leadership on sustainable development, including the systemic drivers of climate change like misplaced investments and destructive <a href="http://www.greenleaf-publishing.com/content/pdfs/TNT_bendell.pdf">monetary systems</a>. The travel I do is crucial for that work. </p> <p>Hypothetically, I might even spend a year on a jumbo jet if it would help to secure a global agreement on carbon taxes that could be connected to trade treaties and enforced by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), since that could shift personal consumption patterns dramatically. If phased in while other taxes on income are reduced, a carbon tax would dramatically raise the price of air travel and thus have an overall impact on emissions in that sector.&nbsp; <strong></strong></p> <p><strong>The need to think as citizens not consumers </strong>&nbsp;</p> <p>Third, the effects of green critiques of flying may actually be insidious, because they frame environmentalism only in terms of restraints. Think of ubiquitous messages to turn off lights, separate your rubbish, and avoid eggs from factory farms. These are all good things, but the dominant theme is very clear: everyone should discipline themselves for the greater good.</p> <p>The most sophisticated expressions of this view applied at a societal level are found in books on the ‘steady-state’ economy like <a href="http://steadystate.org/discover/enough-is-enough/"><em>Enough is Enough</em></a>, but such arguments aren’t so useful in helping us to get there. That’s because their underlying message is about limits, rather than achieving greater personal expression or new collective freedoms. It’s these more positive and liberating messages that are missing from mainstream environmentalism, and that’s important because they are what’s required to trigger transformation. </p> <p>To renounce worldly goods and experiences is an interesting spiritual path for some, but throughout human history it has been adopted by very few. Mass political movements nearly always mobilise around securing greater freedoms for more people. So what might a freedom-based environmental activism look like in practice?</p> <p>Through my <a href="http://www.greenleaf-publishing.com/content/pdfs/TNT_bendell.pdf">own work</a> on contemporary capitalism I’ve come to see that people are restrained from harmonious living with each other and the environment as a result of the economic systems they inhabit. We all experience the fundamental ‘un-freedom’ of having to compete for scarce bank-issued money in order to service our unending debts. Viewing environmentalism as a struggle by citizens for greater freedom from mainstream monetary systems and the delusions they propel holds much more promise than a movement of guilty consumers who quibble over the details of carbon footprints. </p> <p>The seeds of such a movement are already present in groups like <a href="http://www.grassrootseconomics.org/">Grassroots Economics</a>, which is creating autonomous local currencies in slums across Africa that help to insulate low-income families from boom-bust financial cycles; in the <a href="http://www.unrisd.org/sse">‘social’ and ‘solidarity’ economies</a> that are spreading across many countries; and in ‘intentional communities’ that offer the potential for <a href="http://gen.ecovillage.org/">living together</a> without the need for large salaries and inequalities.&nbsp; </p> <p>In <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-Opqi-2UgY"></a><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-Opqi-2UgY">a recent</a><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-Opqi-2UgY"></a><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-Opqi-2UgY"></a><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-Opqi-2UgY"> lecture</a> I describe activities like these as forms of “freedom with” rather than “freedom from,” responding to the reality that we must work together if we are to liberate ourselves from exploitative systems. But this aspect of freedom through collective action is often marginalised in public discussions because individualist notions of freedom as self-expression are so dominant in liberal societies. </p> <p>To be effective, these seeds of environmental freedom have to grow dramatically. And that may require <em>more</em> flying, not less, so that people can learn from, support and connect with each other. Even participants in the <a href="http://gen.ecovillage.org/">Global Ecovillage Network</a> recognize the value of such exchanges, with some members meeting in an international conference every year. </p> <p>Just as those driving to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-35651166">protest a new runway</a> at Heathrow Airport don't turn back because of the carbon that’s involved in their journeys, most people understand that they are public beings, citizens engaged in change and not just responsible consumers. Reviving our self-identity as <a href="https://newcitizenshipproject.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/this-is-the-citizen-shift/">active citizens</a><a href="https://newcitizenshipproject.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/this-is-the-citizen-shift/"></a> is a key challenge of the times.&nbsp; <strong></strong></p> <p><strong>Authenticity is not always obvious</strong></p> <p>On the face of it, criticising those who fly is an obvious target for those concerned with climate change. But protests against flying <em>per se</em> can displace attention away from actions that could transform societies and reduce carbon emissions at the necessary scale. They may reinforce assumptions that changing personal consumption habits is a more important goal than working together as politically active citizens for fundamental changes in our political and economic systems. </p> <p>Does this mean that we should <em>not</em> seek to reduce carbon emissions in our own personal lives? No—so long as we’re aware of the things that would have most impact, like having fewer children in the West or choosing a job that doesn’t promote relentless consumption. Carbon reduction initiatives from employers are also welcome, including those from travel. But even the best of these actions shouldn’t be allowed to distract attention away from the broader and deeper shifts that are required for systemic, long-term change. </p> <p>I was triggered to reflect on these issues by private criticism, but their implications should be a matter for public debate on the ethics of flying that explores both the intention of the flyer and the outcome of the flight. It should also explore the ethics of a growing discourse <em>against</em> flying among activists, in particular the consequences of those critiques. As the <em>New Internationalist</em> <a href="http://newint.org/features/2008/03/01/flying/">once wrote</a> “What would happen to a world in which the only people who travelled by plane were those most committed to its rapacious exploitation?”<a href="http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/glbj/jcc/2015/00002015/00000060/art00004"></a><a href="http://www.iflas.info/"></a><a href="http://www.leadingwild.com/"></a> </p> <p>In my case, the conclusions that I've reached on whether or not to fly create more self-scrutiny, not less. Is my theory of change good enough? Am I making a tangible impact? If my doubts on these questions increase, then an authentic response will be to slow down, stop flying and allow a new approach to emerge in my life.&nbsp; </p> <p>But for now, deluded or not, I'll fly. If you’re creating alternative economic models or self-sufficient communities, then please fly when you need to. And if you’re challenging exploitative corporate and banking power that stretches across international borders? Carry on flying.<a href="http://www.twitter.com/MAS"></a><em></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/jem-bendell/future-of-climate-debate">The future of the climate debate</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/transformation/shannon-biggs/no-surrender-responding-to-new-breed-of-climate-change-inactivists">No surrender: responding to the new breed of climate change in-activists</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/carolyn-baker/welcome-to-planetary-hospice">Welcome to the planetary hospice </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Transformation Transformation global warming climate change Jem Bendell Environment Mon, 30 May 2016 00:00:00 +0000 Jem Bendell 102531 at https://www.opendemocracy.net "More and better mandarins!": lessons from my adventures as a government minister https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/marco-biagi/more-and-better-mandarins-lessons-from-my-adventures-as-government-minister <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Government is weird. And other thoughts after stepping down as Scotland's minister for local government and community empowerment.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Marco Biagi.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Marco Biagi.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Marco Biagi - Scottish government</span></span></span></p><p>I once asked a former minister in jest whether <em>The Thick Of It </em>or <em>Yes, Prime Minister</em> was the truer reflection of life in government. Quick as a flash came the response – <em>The Thick Of It</em>, because in <em>Yes, Prime Minister</em> the civil servants knew what they were doing. My own ministerial experience was very different, with top class people working in every team I dealt with. But the joke brings home just how dependent I was on that apparatus, and I can imagine the howling abyss that the job would have been if my teams had been less ruthless efficiency and more Terry Coverley. A minister spends more time with their civil service private secretary than their own family, and every action or decision runs through that person.</p> <p>Beyond them, you have basically no control over who you have working on your priorities or how their teams are structured. As a government minister you are not a chief executive. The civil service has one of those, the ‘Permanent Secretary’. Nor are any of you the chair of the board. That’s also the Permanent Secretary. It’s hard to find a parallel with any comparable structure anywhere. There is instead a strange relationship where you take high-level decisions that you can be publicly crucified for, and others take a whole swathe of operational decisions – that you can also be publicly crucified for. It’s a wonder our political system has any semblance of working at all.</p> <p>And work it has to. In Scotland 22 men and women now bear the responsibility of implementing the agenda on which their minority government was elected through this system. Third terms are for political parties what second albums are for breakthrough artists. Difficult. By now the bold promises conceived in opposition have all been delivered or found to be impossible, while events unforeseen have arisen and the administration tested in their response. All involved are left with the question ‘what now?’.</p> <p>The SNP manifesto presented to the people three weeks ago was more exciting than anyone – including the SNP campaign itself – made it out to be. Hidden away in there are complete overhauls of how our public NHS, schooling and local government systems work. A new Scottish Social Security Agency will take over from the hated DWP with an express mission of differentiation. Participatory democracy will expand in budgets with spending of almost £200m per year will be opened up to grassroots decisions. And there was a rare personal commitment by a head of government to judge her on a clear, identifiable and tangible factor – substantial and measurable improvements in Scotland’s education system over the course of a parliament.</p> <p>Nicola Sturgeon was in bullish form when she put her manifesto to the new Scottish Parliament this week in her first speech as First Minister. There may be a larger and emboldened Conservative party than ever before in Holyrood, but they are there with a lower share of the vote than the SNP received in the 2003 debacle that was the party’s worst defeat of the devolution era. The conservative forces in parliament, commentariat and wider establishment can align together openly rather than continue the unlikely and unholy alliances of the past, but the political space a Scottish government needs to and will occupy remains the same.</p> <p>All the individuals who have to take this forward are human beings. They have finite attention, energy, time. Indeed – that’s why they those need private secretaries. Choosing what to do with those resources is important but so is the choice of tone – whether to be bold and pushing forward or to govern with caution and the minimum of risk. Civil servants will always offer caution because that is their role – to take the hare-brained schemes politicos dream up, try to fashion them into something workable and legal and ensure both the ups and downs are presented to the minister that had previously been so enthusiastic about an idea that she was blind to its disadvantages. But in my experience they also look for leadership and respond in kind. Big, bold ideas are far more interesting to implement than softly-softly.</p> <p>For those civil servants are people too, and limited in all the same human ways. And there are ever fewer of them even as the Scottish government’s powers expand. Even the best people can be stretched too far. “More and better mandarins” may sound like the sales pitch of an independent grocer off Byres Road but it is a rallying cry with which many former ministers would agree, and which matters if real changes are to happen in Scotland over the next five years – not least in the education system that carries the personal First Ministerial assurance. Would be Clement Attlees with bold programmes of reform need more than a Bevan and a Morrison in their cabinet, they need a top-class apparatus to make that reform a reality. </p> <p>So while I go off now to political research and academia it is not that discipline that I would say has the desperate need to be applied to the top levels of our government, it is anthropology. Those researchers who try to understand human societies would be enthralled by the tangled webs of relationships, rituals, habits and expectations. Because the debate in politics overlooks the simple human dimension – that at the heart of everything going on there are individual people taking decisions based on their own experiences and surroundings, and trying to work together in ways and situations that are, to put it bluntly, weird. And so instead of the reason that was given to me that – and that alone – is why I would give the same answer to the original question. Definitely <em>The Thick Of It.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/marco-biagi/bringing-power-to-people-through-statute-book">Bringing power to the people, through the statute book</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Marco Biagi Sun, 29 May 2016 23:00:01 +0000 Marco Biagi 102513 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Will Brexit impact on borders and the control of immigration? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/monish-bhatia/will-brexit-impact-on-borders-and-control-of-immigration <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>There is now an ever-growing need for immigration and border criminologists to focus on the harms inflicted by racist state policies and practices, and strengthen strategies of resistance.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-25698944.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-25698944.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Migrants are blocked by French riot police in a makeshift migrants camp near Calais, France, March, 2016. Jerome Delay / Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><blockquote><p>&nbsp;“… clearly the point that is being made here is that should we leave the EU then some of these other arrangements that we may have with other countries … could be called into question … [if] those controls cease to exist, then you have potentially thousands of asylum seekers camped out in Northern France who could be here almost overnight…if we leave the EU the Jungle camp in Calais will move to Folkestone. That is not something people want”.</p></blockquote> <p>-&nbsp; David Cameron, Prime Minister, Anti-Brexit</p> <blockquote><p><em>“[We] have no idea whether these people are genuine refugees or asylum seekers, or economic migrants, or terrorists operating under the cover of either</em> … [if Britain remains in EU, these people] <em>will have an absolute right to come to the UK - and we won't know who they are either</em>… they might be crossing the borders both to work, or <em>coming to do us harm”</em></p></blockquote> <p>-&nbsp; <em>Liam Fox, Former Defence Secretary, Pro-Brexit</em></p> <p>The campaign to leave and remain in the EU are broad in their scope, involving various parties from across the political spectrum, highlighting a wide range of issues<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> and approaching each of these issues in a different manner. </p> <p>Despite such nuances, it is the strong anti-immigration wings of both campaigns that have remained dominant and gained publicity. The pro-Brexit camp has argued that, leaving the EU will result in a tightening of ‘porous’ borders, a drastic reduction in immigrant numbers and a consequent decline in crime. Whereas, the Prime Minister’s anti-Brexit camp has warned that leaving the safety and protection of the EU will result in a weakening of borders, a huge influx of ‘illegal’ immigrants coming into Britain, and consequently a rise in crime. </p> <p>Both discourses on anti-immigration have attempted to outmaneuver each other by presenting extreme, ideologically biased, misleading, and faulty scenarios - lacking robust research, evidence and substance. </p> <p>What is perhaps most striking is the pejorative portrayal of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants who are constructed as a larger army of ‘illegal’ people waiting to invade resource rich Britain, whose entry will threaten the social fabric, prosperity, stability and peace of the country.&nbsp; The campaigns have used the so-called ‘illegality’ of migrants (for example: ‘failed’ asylum seekers, those living with irregular status and people in Calais jungle camp) to misrepresent the ‘risks’ they pose, and have emphasized the need for stronger enforcements. The age-old divisive politics of insecurity and fear are constantly played out in these debates; constructing the immigrant ‘other’ as ‘bogus’, ‘criminal’ and a ‘foreign enemy’, who needs to be <a href="http://sls.sagepub.com/content/17/2/199.abstract">controlled and excluded</a>. <span class="mag-quote-right">In the event that Britain exits the EU, it is more than likely that its cooperation agreement with Europol will continue to exist, taking into account the mutual interest of developed nations in keeping out the ‘dangerous’ classes.&nbsp; </span></p> <p>Over three decades ago, <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Power-Mystification-Tavistock-Studies-Sociology/dp/041504572X">Steven Box</a> (1983) argued that the depictions of ‘crime’ and ‘criminals’ are grossly manipulated and shaped by those in power, creating distortions and “mystifications”. For quite some time, migrants and criminals, two entirely different categories, have become inextricably connected in public minds, contributing to the processes of mystification that Box demonstrates. As a result, there are high levels of opposition to immigration and consistent calls for tougher restrictions, which is captured in various opinion polls and social attitudes surveys (see: Ipsos Mori webpage and <a href="http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/briefings/uk-public-opinion-toward-immigration-overall-attitudes-and-level-concern">Migrant Observatory Report</a>). </p> <p>Regardless of whether Britain leaves the EU or remains a part of it – such opposition will stay intact due to the reasons mentioned above, and the then government will continue to gain legitimacy for systematically expanding policing measures and implementing further criminalizing, punitive and exclusionary policies and procedures against asylum seekers and undocumented migrants. Therefore, in this piece, I will discuss more broadly these measures and most importantly answer the question – is Brexit going to have any impact on borders and the control of migration? </p> <p>The <a href="http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/routledg/gpas/2004/00000014/00000003/art00001">policing of migrants</a> have now spread to numerous “sites of enforcement”, other than the ever-expanding physical borders. Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic proliferation of measures (carrier sanctions, visas, biometrics etc.) and cooperation between various domestic, national and European crime control bodies such as, various regional police forces, Border Force, National Crime Agency and European Police Office (Europol) – all created to deal with ‘illegal’ migration, terrorism and organized crime. Certain countries like Switzerland and Norway, who are not part of the EU, have an <a href="https://www.europol.europa.eu/content/page/external-cooperation-31">agreement with Europol</a> to cooperate in the fight against ‘crime’. In the event that Britain exits the EU, it is more than likely that its cooperation agreement with Europol will continue to exist, taking into account the mutual interest of developed nations in keeping out the <a href="http://samples.sainsburysebooks.co.uk/9781134943159_sample_516771.pdf">‘dangerous’ classes</a>. &nbsp;</p> <p>Britain has remained consistent in its attempts to block safe and ‘legal’ channels for migrants to travel. Those who make perilous journeys and arrive without proper documentation are viewed with suspicion and considered ‘dangerous’. Similarly, those who live without documents and irregular status, are subsumed under a discourse on the harms of ‘illegal’ migration, and treated with political contempt. </p> <p>The current government has embarked on an overzealous drive at a national level to ‘crackdown’ on ‘illegal’ migration, which is evident in the recent Policing and Crime Bill (currently awaiting conversion into an Act of Parliament or law). Under this Bill, law enforcement officers are to be granted “maritime enforcement powers”, inspired by <a href="http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/CICrimJust/2010/25.html">Australian border control</a> policies, and they will be able to intercept vessels, and divert them to a port in England and Wales or anywhere else in the world, detaining them there<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a>. </p> <p>These powers could be used against vessels suspected of containing asylum seekers and those in need of international protection; thereby, risking violation of the Geneva Convention and obligation to protect vulnerable groups, including minors and those fleeing war, torture, persecution and other threats to life. Taking into account the Conservative Party’s anti-immigration stance and lack of will to accept the refugee quota set by EU or help relocate people in Calais, such measures should not come as a surprise. &nbsp;</p> <p>The stop and search powers are already used disproportionately and aggressively against Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and individuals who look ‘foreign’. However, the UK’s Policing and Crime Bill proposes to introduce a new set of measures, requiring individuals to prove their nationality upon arrest. This is somewhat a replication of the infamous <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10439463.2011.614098">xeno-racist laws of Arizona</a>, granting police and immigration officers powers to order people who have been arrested to state their nationality and produce identification documents (for example, a passport) – possibly justified by an individual’s appearance, colour of skin and accent. The failure to produce documents within 72 hours will become a criminal offence, with a penalty of up to one year of imprisonment for lack of compliance. A lack of documents and/or ‘illegal’ status would inevitably result in detention and/or deportation.</p> <p>The Home Secretary (Theresa May) has made her ambition clear on creating a “hostile environment” for so-called ‘illegal’ migrants. This hostility is very well demonstrated in the recent Immigration Act, 2016 passed by the parliament, which significantly expands internal border controls, making ordinary citizens into border guards. <span class="mag-quote-left">This hostility is very well demonstrated in the recent Immigration Act, 2016 passed by the parliament, which significantly expands internal border controls, making ordinary citizens into border guards. </span></p> <p>For instance, the act has intensified the existing measures to restrict access of irregular migrants to bank accounts, driving licenses and rental accommodation. New powers have been granted to landlords and agents, and they can evict tenants who lack immigration status. However, landlords and letting agents who rent out properties to migrants with irregular status can be imprisoned for up to 5 years and/or heavily fined. Also, there is an obligation imposed on banks to carry out immigration status checks on their current account holders, and immigration authorities can close/freeze bank accounts. </p> <p>Further, immigration<strong> </strong>officers are granted enhanced police-like enforcement powers, including to search for, seize and retain evidence of 'illegal working' or 'illegal renting', and search for and seize nationality documents. There is a new offence of ‘illegal’ working created under the act - those found guilty can receive a custodial sentence of up to 51 weeks and/or a fine, and their paid wages (now considered as proceeds of ‘crime’) can be seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Similarly, those convicted of driving offences while living ‘illegally’ face up to 51 weeks’ imprisonment and/or a fine. Once again, detention and deportation will become a looming spectre for migrants, and this trend will continue irrespective of the Brexit. </p> <p>Needless to say, there is a rapid and irrevocable merger of immigration and criminal laws taking place, expanding the category of <em>immigration crimes</em>. The violation of immigration laws were previously considered as an administrative matter and dealt with in civil courts; however, increasingly such infringements are considered <a href="http://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1274&amp;context=aulr">as a criminal offence</a>, giving a strong indication of the hyper-exclusion and marginalisation of migrants. </p> <p>Over the past decade, eighty-four immigration offences <a href="http://tcr.sagepub.com/content/16/4/417.abstract">have been created</a> (excluding the ones mentioned above), which includes deception intended to circumvent immigration enforcement measures, false representation by asylum claimants, and a failure to produce a passport or cooperate with deportation/removal procedures. Offences such as, possessing fake identity documents (passport, ID card or any other documents), are also used against those who break immigration laws and are prosecuted in criminal courts. Such laws have serious repercussions for migrants and ways in which they are treated by the system. </p> <p>In <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/immigration-detention-a-tale-of-two-reviews/">my recent article</a> I explored how asylum seekers and irregular migrants who committed ‘crimes’ by breaching immigration laws were consequently labelled and treated as ‘dangerous criminals’ by various state authorities. This article narrated their experiences of and on-going suffering inflicted by the British immigration and criminal justice systems. I noted that, in many cases, destitution/homelessness was one of the key factors behind committing such ‘crimes’, and restrictive immigration policies and procedures were increasing their vulnerability, and pushing them to commit (what are now constructed as) offences. </p> <p>This takes me to the final point on destitution, detention and deportation. Over the past few years, drastic restrictions have been imposed on asylum support, due to the prevailing rhetoric that ‘bogus’ migrants are attracted to Britain because of generous welfare provisions and need to be deterred from coming here. Consequently, the hostile Immigration Act 2016 has implemented further measures to restrict support, and use destitution as a policy lever to compel ‘bogus’ migrants to depart from the country. This has and will continue to drive vulnerable asylum seekers, especially those whose claims have been turned down, to work ‘illegally’ in the underground economies, where <a href="http://www.pafras.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/The_Wages_of-Fear.pdf">they could be subjected</a> to further harms and violence. <span class="mag-quote-right">A lack of documentation, an ‘illegal’ status and the threat of deportation, are used as a coercive tool by employers to degrade, abuse, and exploit migrants.</span></p> <p>It is <a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsereviewofbooks/2016/04/14/book-review-precarious-lives-forced-labour-exploitation-and-asylum-by-hannah-lewis-peter-dwyer-stuart-hodkinson-and-louise-waite/">widely noted</a> that a lack of documentation, an ‘illegal’ status and the threat of deportation, are used as a coercive tool by employers to degrade, abuse, and exploit migrants. Such ill-informed policies will continue to victimise those who are already victimised, prolonging their suffering and trauma. Further, the Act has also extended the “deport first appeal later” policy to all immigration cases. According to the government: “<em>The main benefits of these clauses [in the new Immigration Act] would be dealing with those who should not be here, by rooting out illegal immigrants and boosting removals and deportations.” </em><em>Migrants are constantly portrayed as a ‘threat’ to ‘security’, and one that needs to be banished from the community – as opposed to those who desperately need protection and security. Lastly, the time limit on detention for all</em><em> is rejected, making Britain the only country in the Europe which still maintains <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/immigration-detention-a-tale-of-two-reviews/">the unjust practice</a> of indefinite detention.</em></p> <h2><strong>EU referendum</strong></h2> <p>The referendum will have certain implications for borders and the control of immigration. For example, Britain currently takes part in the Dublin Regulation<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a>, and is <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Dublin_statistics_on_countries_responsible_for_asylum_application">able to deport</a> (more) asylum seekers to the appropriate Member State (as opposed to receive). Leaving the EU would ultimately result in not being able to use this system, and taking responsibility for asylum cases. However, it has recently been reported that the “first country rule” in Dublin Regulations could be scrapped and subsequently <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/d08dc262-bed1-11e5-9fdb-87b8d15baec2.html#axzz40B50JsgE">linked to the new system</a> based on a refugee relocation scheme. </p> <p>If Britain remains in the EU, it is very unlikely that it will consider remaining as part of the Dublin system and/or accept a refugee quota. In either scenario, such changes won't significantly alter the current political trajectory of criminalisation, expansion of policing and surveillance powers, the intertwining of immigration and the criminal justice systems, enforced poverty and the proliferation of punitive and harmful policies – which will continue to remain and/or grow over the coming years. </p> <p>This trajectory is an outcome of a strong and deep-seated antipathy towards the racialised ‘other’. There is now an ever growing need for immigration and border criminologists to focus on the harms inflicted by racist state policies and practices; to draw upon the narratives and testimonies of vulnerable groups, to uncover the suffering and injustice meted out to vulnerable people and to contribute/develop strategies of <em>resistance from below</em> that can challenge the harms of the powerful and de-mystify ‘crime’.</p><p><em>The original version of this article was published in the British Society of Criminology bi-annual newsletter.</em></p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> For instance, the Scottish National Party and Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign to remain in the EU have taken a different approach when compared to the Prime Minister’s campaign (which has repeatedly highlighted the harms of migration).</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> The maritime powers are also granted to the immigration officials under the Immigration Act 2016. </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a> The purpose of Dublin Regulations is to determine which Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application – normally the State where the asylum seeker first entered the EU – and return asylum applicant back to that State.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heaven-crawley/migration-beyond-what-people-think">Migration: beyond &quot;what people think&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/brexitdivisions/steve-ballinger/who-will-offer-winning-vision-of-immigration-after-referendum">Who will offer a winning vision of immigration after the referendum?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/brexitdivisions/hugo-dixon/britain-benefits-from-free-movement">Britain benefits from free movement</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/brexitdivisions/steven-woolfe/migration-it-s-why-british-people-will-vote-for-brexit">Migration: it’s why the British people will vote for Brexit</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Equality International politics Brexit Chasms Brexit2016 People Flow Monish Bhatia Sun, 29 May 2016 15:44:59 +0000 Monish Bhatia 102532 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Iran’s military objectives in Syria and Russia’s contradictory positions https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/amir-basiri/iran-s-military-objectives-in-syria-russia-s-contradictory-positions <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As the US and Russia speak of a mutual agreement over Syria, Iran and Assad are continuing their ruthless slaughtering of the Syrian people.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/PA-24849982_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/PA-24849982_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Political and military officials in Iran insist they are maintaining an advisory role in Syria, and that members of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and Iran’s regular army dispatched to Syria are not directly engaged in fighting Syrian opposition groups. However, aside from the IRGC, Shi'a Iraqi militias and Afghans of the Fatemioun Division – all associated to the IRGC – are deeply involved in Syria alongside members of Iran’s regular army. Recently five members of Iran’s Special 65th Commando Brigade were <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleppo_offensive_(April_2016)">killed</a> south of Aleppo.</p><h2><strong>Conflicting remarks from Iran’s army</strong></h2><p>Iranian army commander General Attaolah Salehi emphasized army members killed in Syria were advisors. He didn’t make it clear which entity was responsible for dispatching these&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2016/05/09/world/middleeast/09reuters-mideast-crisis-syria-iran.html?_r=0">army members</a>, yet he did claim a number of army forces had “volunteered” for the fight in Syria.</p><p>General Pourdastan, commander of the army ground forces, also <a href="http://en.trend.az/iran/politics/2522572.html">referred</a> to the fact that the army has no 'unit presence' in Syria. As the remarks made by these two army commanders clearly show their reluctance to deploy forces to Syria, the IRGC-affiliated <em>Fars</em> news agency reminds this is a “duty,” adding according to the law, “the army must stand ready to cooperate with the Revolutionary Guards.” It appears army soldiers are dispatched to Syria in the shadows of previously-sealed arrangements, that army commanders are forced to abide by.</p><h2><strong>Insisting on “advisory presence”</strong></h2><p>Despite the&nbsp;<a href="http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/M/ML_SYRIA?SITE=AP&amp;SECTION=HOME&amp;TEMPLATE=DEFAULT">deaths of 13 IRGC members</a>, 21 others wounded and at least 6 taken captive in the strategic village of Khan Touman (15 kilometers southwest of Aleppo), Iran continues to emphasize that its military, IRGC and militias dispatched to Syria are acting as advisors; whereas deputy IRGC commander Hossein Salami <a href="http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941001001285">said</a> “Iran’s military advisors” are present in Syria “in four different categories of strategic, operational, tactical, technical and medical activities.” From January 2012 to February 2016 Iran has <a href="http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/iranian-casualties-in-syria-and-the-strategic-logic-of-intervention">lost</a> at least 342 IRGC members, according to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.</p><p>According to London’s <em>Daily Telegraph</em>, to this day 700 military and militia forces dispatched by Iran have been <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/10/almost-700-iranian-troops-killed-in-syria-to-preserve-bashar-al/">killed</a> in Syria, and according to the London-based International Strategic Research Institute around <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/10/almost-700-iranian-troops-killed-in-syria-to-preserve-bashar-al/">2,000</a> IRGC Quds Force personnel are present in Syria. Of course these are all official numbers, and Iran has no clean sheet for truth-telling.</p><h2><strong>Iran’s objectives and strategy in Syria</strong></h2><p>Iran entered the Syria conflict in 2012 with a number of experts believing Syria would become Iran’s Vietnam. Others believed that similar to post-2003 Iraq, Iran in Syria would strengthen its influence in shaping political developments. To this day we have witnessed Syria evolving into a dangerous quagmire for Iran.</p><p>During the past four and a half years, Iran has provided significant financial and military support for the Assad regime, along with rallying a large number of Iraqi Shi'a militias, Afghans, Pakistanis and the Lebanese Hezbollah into the Syria campaign. The Syrian people and their opposition have so far taught a hard-learned lesson to Iran and its proxies, and it seems sure that the mullahs of Tehran will witness darker days to come in the Levant.</p><p>Russia does not insist on Assad remaining on the throne, and any agreement with the US that recognizes Moscow’s security, intelligence and strategic interests in Syria would be acceptable. However, Iran is seeking a full-blown victory over all opposition forces, expanding its influence over Damascus and the future of Assad across Syria, or at least the western sectors of this fragmented country.</p><p>The most important objective for Iran in Syria is for the Assad regime to maintain power, securing an open path for the delivery of weapons and equipment to the Lebanese Hezbollah, and upgrading the influence of its associated Shi'a militias in Syria, mirroring its initiative in&nbsp;<a href="http://canadafreepress.com/article/the-story-behind-iraqs-iran-backed-shiite-militias">Iraq</a>. Despite suffering many casualties, there are no signs of Iran downgrading its presence or stance in Syria.</p><h2><strong>Contrary stances: Russia and Iran</strong></h2><p>Recently, Ali Akbar Velayati, foreign policy advisor to supreme leader Ali Khamenei, emphasized that Assad remaining on the throne is a&nbsp;<a href="http://ncr-iran.org/en/news/terrorism-fundamentalism/20314-iran-regime-admits-high-casualties-in-aleppo-battle">red line</a>&nbsp;for Iran.</p><p>On the contrary, however, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has made it clear “Bashar Assad” is <a href="http://sputniknews.com/politics/20160504/1039060941/assad-russia-ally-lavrov.html">not</a> Moscow’s ally, adding that Assad's Syria has never been such an ally as Turkey is to the United States.</p><p>According to various Russian media outlets, Moscow and Tehran lack a unified position on Syria, and Assad, counting on Iran’s support, resists demands made by Moscow. The Kremlin has <a href="https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/154de18cfe9c6288">called</a> on Assad for more cooperation to end the war based on an agreement sealed between Russia and the US back in February: releasing detained dissidents and seeking tangible flexibility in negotiations in response to demands raised by the opposition.</p><p>According to these media outlets, Russian officials have informed their American counterparts that they can provide advice to Assad, but cannot ultimately control him. These officials have said Russia’s relationship with former Syrian dictator Hafez Assad was much deeper and more far-reaching. There is, however, no such bond between Moscow and Bashar Assad.</p><p>In response, Velayati <a href="http://eng.iran.ru/news/analytics/278/Velayati_in_Moscow_towards_the_axis_Moscow_Tehran">rejected</a> the agreement reached between Moscow and Washington, furious over being left out of any such negotiations and seeing no share of the end results allocated to Tehran.</p><h2><strong>Assad relies mostly on Iran</strong></h2><p>Iran’s peremptory support for Assad and its interests in maintaining him in power have encouraged Assad to rely solely on Iran. Even prior to the Syria civil war Assad was permitting Iran to use its airspace and ground routes to provide military hardware for Lebanon's Hezbollah. </p><p>Currently, Hezbollah are providing support for Assad’s troops in battle, parallel to the vast financial/military/logistical support delivered by Iran and the presence of IRGC, army, Iraqi and Afghan militias joining hands to maintain Assad in power. However, these forces will not be able to make any advances without Russian air support carpet-bombing Syrian opposition. The truth is, these forces, in line with Assad’s troops, are the boots on the ground for the Russian Air Force in Syria.</p><p>Retaking the city of Aleppo from opposition groups is a major priority for Iran and Assad, which has led to deadly airstrikes and ground attacks back and forth south of Aleppo.</p><p>At a time when US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart speak of a mutual agreement over Syria and continue their diplomatic efforts to reach a political solution to end the civil war, Iran and Assad are continuing their ruthless slaughtering of the Syrian people, leaving no hope for a quick resolution of this war raging in the Levant.&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/12/world/middleeast/death-toll-from-war-in-syria-now-470000-group-finds.html?smid=tw-share&amp;_r=0">Over 470,000 deaths</a>&nbsp;and millions of internally displaced people and refugees abroad should be enough for the international community finally to stand alongside the Syrian people and their legitimate opposition by providing the tangible political and military assistance they need to bring an end to the Iran-Assad dictatorship in Syria.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/maria-rossall/syrian-constitution-by-august-by-whom-for-whom">A Syrian constitution by August: by whom and for whom?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arab-awakening/salih-dogan-emre-turkut/is-there-any-hope-for-peaceful-result-to-geneva-talks-on-syri">Is there any hope for a peaceful result to the Geneva talks on Syria?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/marwa-daoudy/syrian-lives-matter">Syrian lives matter</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arab-awakening/fernando-betancor/outside-box-sunni-endgame-in-syria-iraq">Outside the box: a Sunni endgame in Syria, Iraq?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/pavel-kbaev/russia-s-policy-in-middle-east-imperilled-by-syrian-intervention">Russia’s policy in the Middle East imperilled by the Syrian intervention</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arab-awakening/cristina-casab-n/paradox-of-syrian-conflict-and-its-politics"> The paradox of the Syrian conflict and its politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/russia-in-syria-and-flawed-strategy">Russia in Syria, and a flawed strategy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Iran </div> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> <div class="field-item even"> Russia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Arab Awakening Arab Awakening Russia United States Iran Syria Conflict Democracy and government International politics middle east Arab Awakening: violent transitions Violent transitions Amir Basiri Sun, 29 May 2016 06:30:00 +0000 Amir Basiri 102438 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ISIS and Israel on the Golan Heights https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/sam-brennan/isis-and-israel-on-golan-heights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Yarmouk Valley is run by ISIS – and left alone by Israel. This is a testament to the complex, cynical and calculated machinations of the actors in this conflict.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/PA-14467901.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/PA-14467901.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mohammad Hannon/AP/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>There is a strange relationship between Israel and a small sect of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) based next to the Golan Heights. The very presence of a group like ISIS so close to Israel poses many questions. </p><p>Firstly why has ISIS not attacked Israel –&nbsp;<span>a country they have sworn to destroy –&nbsp;</span><span>from said base? Similarly why has the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) not attacked this small and weak group of extremists on their border? The answers to such questions show the truth behind the rhetoric all actors use in this conflict. &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p>The Yarmouk valley is wedged between Jordan, Syria and the Israeli-occupied territories of the Golan Heights. The valley consists of a few small towns, the majority of which are now controlled by the ISIS affiliated&nbsp;<em>Liwa Shuhada al-Yarmouk&nbsp;</em>or the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade (YMB). This group was established by Mohammad al-Baridi, known by his nickname 'The Uncle' in 2012 in southwest Syria. The group started off relatively moderate, with a close alliance to the Free Syrian Army. But the moderation quickly dissipated during the course of the Syrian civil war.</p><p>The start of 2013 saw the YMB gain power in the Yarmouk Valley. The YMB in 2013 started to have military clashes with Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian al-Qaeda group who held the power in the Daraa governorate (the southwest governorate of Syria). This led to the <a href="http://www.thenational.ae/world/middle-east/20160116/the-uncle-the-life-and-death-of-isils-man-in-southern-syria">assassination</a> of al-Baridi by al-Nusra in November 2015. During this time, the group carved out a small area for themselves on the fringe of the Daraa governorate next to the Golan Heights. YMB continued to distance themselves from al-Nusra, while still promoting conservative Islamic laws.</p><p>The YMB in 2015 began implementing Islamist reforms through the&nbsp;<em>islah&nbsp;</em>policy. The policy was implemented under al-Baridi and sought to ‘correct’ the policies of the previous regime. This included the creation of an Islamic court and police force. YMB also changed the name of its department of governance to&nbsp;<em>Diwan al-Hisba</em>,&nbsp;<em>Diwan</em>&nbsp;translating to the regional name for ISIS. The group even changed their logo to incorporate the ISIS flag. By the end of 2015 YMB became a sub-group of ISIS, only a stone’s throw away from Israel.</p><p>The YMB alliance means that ISIS now shares a border with Israel, yet they have not acted on this. In one of al-Baghdadi’s <a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/dec/26/abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-isis-leader-threatens-west-is/">speeches</a> he discussed Israel, however he only referred to the area as 'Palestine', probably in an effort to avoid indirectly acknowledging statehood through using the term 'Israel'. Al-Baghdadi reminded the Jews in 'Palestine' that ISIS “has not forgotten you.” Such messages from al-Baghdadi are very rare; this one was presumably made due to internal pressure in ISIS to reaffirm its anti-Israel stance. He then went on to say that “with the help of Allah, we [ISIS] are getting closer to you [Israel] every day." This is puzzling, for ISIS has an armed group of fighters next door to Israel, to get any closer would mean they would be literally inside the country. So why has ISIS not followed through on their threats and invaded?</p><p>ISIS are significantly more likely to attack the weak then the strong. While there are some reports that the YMB have an armoured division looted from campaigns in Daraa they still predominantly use small arms and homemade explosives. ISIS is currently being pressed on all fronts; if they have to choose between attacking Israel and attacking a largely civilian area in the already decimated Deir ez-Zur province, historically they have picked the latter. Yet that does not explain Israel’s reaction to ISIS' possession of such a threatening territory.</p><p>The YMB have already provoked international outrage. In 2013 the YMB kidnapped some 20 Filipino United Nation peacekeepers. They held them for two weeks before releasing them. However YMB kidnapped these peacekeepers from inside&nbsp;<a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/03/2013389546362137.html">Israeli occupied territories</a>. While YMB was only loosely affiliated with ISIS in 2013 there have been no repercussions for an Islamic militant group infiltrating an Israeli buffer-zone and kidnapping UN peacekeepers. Israel has shown in the past it is willing to attack groups on its borders that it perceives as a threat.</p><p>Israel has during the Syria civil war authorised airstrikes in Syria multiple times. These airstrikes however have aimed not at ISIS, nor al-Nusra or other Sunni jihadist groups. These strikes have overwhelmingly been targeted at the assets of Shia-affiliated groups,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/11/report-israel-strikes-target-in-syria/415446/">predominantly&nbsp;<em>Hezbollah</em></a><em>.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em></em>Israel in September 2014 also <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/23/israel-says-shot-down-syrian-jet">shot down</a> a Syrian Air Force fighter jet for straying into Golan airspace: the first time since the 1973 Arab–Israeli war that the IDF has attacked Syria’s official military. Israel has shown during the Syrian civil war that it is willing to attack those who threaten its territorial integrity – but not ISIS.</p><p>The YMB has entered Israeli-held territory, yet there has been no reported conflict between the two groups. In fact there have been reports by&nbsp;<em>Foreign Policy Magazine</em>&nbsp;claiming that far from fighting the militias on the Golan boarder, Israel has been&nbsp;<a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/06/11/exclusive-israel-is-tending-to-wounded-syrian-rebels/">providing health care</a>&nbsp;to the militants. Around 1,000 Syrians within fourteen months have been given treatment, according to Lt. Col. Peter Lerner. The Lt. Col. went on to say, “we don’t do any vetting or check where they are from or which group they are fighting for, or whether they are civilians.” </p><p>There seems to be very different treatment for rebel groups on the south of the Golan Heights border than for those in the north. But why would Israel, which authorised multiple bombings on Syrian militant groups, take such a relaxed view towards ISIS on their doorstep?</p><p>Israel is focused not on ISIS and Sunni groups, but on the Shia groups in Syria. Israel's airstrikes have hit Assad’s Shia-backed regime and&nbsp;<em>Hezbollah</em><em>,&nbsp;</em>not ISIS or al-Nusra.&nbsp;<a href="http://graphics.wsj.com/hillary-clinton-email-documents/pdfs/C05791550.pdf">Correspondence</a>&nbsp;between the then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and political advisor Jacob Sullivan about Israel’s aims in the region tried to rationalise why Israel ignores ISIS. </p><p>In 2012 at the start of the conflict, Sullivan <a href="http://graphics.wsj.com/hillary-clinton-email-documents/pdfs/C05791550.pdf">said</a> that there was “a positive side to the civil war in Syria.” This so-called ‘positive side’ to a war that has cost some 400,000 lives was that, “if the Assad regime topples, Iran would lose its only ally in the Middle East and would be isolated.” This would please Israel, which under the Netanyahu government has&nbsp;<a href="http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2014/10/02/netanyahu-finds-himself-increasingly-alone-on-iran/">fixated</a>&nbsp;on the perceived Iranian threat. A war which destabilizes Iran’s ally, Assad, would benefit Israeli interests. This Machiavellian belief could explain why ISIS is not focused on. The Iranian backed Shia militias are the biggest concern for Israel, not extremist groups such as ISIS.</p><p>A senior Israel military advisor when asked about Israeli policy in the Syrian civil war apparently quoted Sun Tzu, saying “he will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.” This is a sentiment that is followed by ISIS and Israel alike. ISIS knows it is too weak to fight Israel and Israel is concerned with enemies it thinks are worse. The Yarmouk Valley is on one of the most contested borders in the world, controlled by one of the most aggressive and disliked military forces, and is next to a country notorious for being extremely conscientious about its border security, all taking place in a warzone where violence is expected. </p><p>Despite all this, the Yarmouk Valley is still run by ISIS, left alone by Israel and is a testament to the complex, cynical and calculated machinations of the actors in this conflict.&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Arab Awakening Arab Awakening Palestine Israel Syria Conflict Democracy and government International politics middle east Geopolitics Violent transitions Sam Brennan Sat, 28 May 2016 22:53:49 +0000 Sam Brennan 102304 at https://www.opendemocracy.net