Radio Silence

Hey there. Howzit?

So we’ve had a bit of radio silence here on the blog, relatively speaking. Apologies for that. (Or, for some of you, you’re welcome.)

It’s been a bit busy around here lately and there are a number of updates in the hopper, but their reporting may be delayed and you’ll just have to wait for them to trickle out over the next couple of weeks.

Here’s the deal:

This week I am participating in a course on human rights law in Africa as part of my involvement with the Centre for Human Rights. While it’s fun to be back in the classroom, it’s my first time trying to keep up with professionals trained in international law, so right now I am treading water.

Besides gaining a better foundation in human rights principles as applied to Africa (and as developed within Africa), I am fortunate to be among lawyers and NGO staff from South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Turkey, Sweden, Italy, France, Germany, Hungary and Denmark (by way of the UN in New York). I am the only Evil American, so I enjoy being the target of criticisms re: US refusal to participate in the International Criminal Court or to ratify conventions aimed at eliminating discrimination against women (CEDAW) or to promote the rights of children (CRC).

Tomorrow morning we have a miniature moot court exercise concerning a quasi-hypothetical case of human rights violations in Zimbabwe. I am on a team representing the complainants, 50 women who attest to being sexually assaulted because they are members of an opposition political party. It will require more than even my hundreds of hours of watching Law & Order can provide.

Among the many, many interesting discussions, which have thus far ranged from human needs vs. human rights to polygamy to so-called “sexual cleansing”, is the debate regarding whether there is such a thing as “universal human rights.” The basis for most international human rights law evolved from western ideologies (Locke, Hobbes, Kant, Hume, Rousseau, Montesquieu, et al.). Where/How do African cultures and traditions (Ubuntu) fit? A fascinating set of questions.

Anyway…

As time permits, I will churn out updates on my visit to the school, library and crèche in Ivory Park and some important work being done there (including ways you can help the kids!), as well as on the tens of thousands of Jacaranda trees currently blooming in a now purple Pretoria.

In the meantime, tell us what you want to know. What do you want to hear about? Jenny is busy, too (as always), but maybe you can convince her to pony up a few paragraphs…