The right to life and the progressive abolition of the death penalty (Prof Christof Heyns and Dr Thomas Probert)
In New York yesterday, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launched the UN’s latest publication on the global status of the death penalty. The book, Moving Away from the Death Penalty: Arguments, Trends and Perspectives, includes a chapter co-authored by UN Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns and CGHR Research Associate Thomas Probert on ‘The right to life and the progressive abolition of the death penalty’.
The chapter begins from an understanding of the place of the death penalty within the scope of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (discussed in detail in CGHR’s study on Unlawful Killings in Africa). The authors briefly survey the global decline of the practice of the death penalty, before describing the evolving treatment of the question within international law.
[G]iven the shift that has taken place in state practice, it seems accurate to say that the mandate of the special rapporteur is at least progressively abolitionist. For the same reason, it is no longer necessary to state in an unqualified manner that the death penalty per se is not contrary to the requirements of international law. Over the past several years, the perspective has emerged that international law requires the progressive abolition of the death penalty. This is not to say that it requires immediate compliance, as is usually the case with civil and political rights. Instead, the drafting history suggests that international law requires at least the gradual, progressive abolition of the death penalty, as is often the case with socio-economic rights.
In general, the collection launched by the UN today conveys very much the same message. As the Secretary General said, “I will never stop calling for an end to the death penalty… This book contains a great deal of information – but it makes no prediction on when the death penalty will be abolished globally. That is up to us.”
Read the UN Secretary General's statement here.
Read the e-book here.
Media Practitioners and Public Opinions on Interactive Shows in Kenya (Dr Okoth Fred Mudhai and Professor Winnie Mitullah, DW Akademie)
'Media Practitioners and Public Opinions on Interactive Shows in Kenya: The Case of Citizen TV’s Power Breakfast/Cheche', an article by PiMA researchers Dr Okoth Fred Mudhai and Professor Winnie Mitullah, has been published in Kenya's Media Landscape: A Success Story with Serious Structural Challenges (DW Akademie).
The publication provides a supplement to the presentations and discussions held at the fifth annual DW Media Dialogue in Bonn May 2014. The collection of essays by participants from Kenya, the UK, Switzerland and Germany offers academic insight into key research findings on the challenges and opportunities that Kenya's media practitioners face nowadays. In-depth analysis and profound expertise of Kenya's historical and cultural background allow for a comprehensive and multi-layered assessment of the current development of the country's media landscape.
Kenya's 2010 Constitution guarantees press freedom in a way the country has never previously seen. However, the concentration of media ownership and pending consensus on new media legislation are tarnishing the triumphs of Kenya's media liberalization and development. Regulation of news content, including hate speech and political bias, as well as journalistic standards are also issues provoking discussion and sullying the image of Kenya as a role model for other East African countries.
First Contact with the Field: Experiences of an Early Career Researcher in the Context of National and International Politics in Kenya (Njoki Wamai, Journal of Human Rights Practice)
The piece focuses on the various identity dilemmas and challenges faced during fieldwork within the context of the ongoing international human rights-related trial and investigation process of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Kenya, which is the subject of Njoki's doctoral research. In the note, Njoki discusses how safety can be assured and access negotiated in the field, especially in the context of the ICC trial which has shaped human rights-related research in the counties that are the focus of her work.
The full article is available to read online here.
Advocacy Organizations’ Evaluation of Social Media Information for NGO Journalism (Dr Ella McPherson, American Behavioral Scientist)
Dr Ella McPherson's article 'Advocacy Organizations' Evaluation of Social Media Information for NGO Journalism:
The Evidence and Engagement Models' has been published in the July edition of American Behavioral Scientist journal.
More information about Dr McPherson's three-year ESRC-funded research project, Social Media, Human Rights NGOs, and the Potential for Governmental Accountability is available from the Social Media and Human Rights website.
Mapping and Analysing Hate Speech Online: Opportunities and Challenges for Ethiopia (Dr Iginio Gagliardone, PCMLP, Oxford and Addis Ababa University)
Former CGHR Research Associate Dr Iginio Gagliardone has co-authored this working paper, which seeks to provide a framework through which hate speech which emerges and is disseminated online can be identified and analysed, with a specific focus on Ethiopia.
Published by the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy (PCMLP) at the University of Oxford, in collaboration with Addis Ababa University, the report offers a set of innovative conceptual and methodological tools to address the emergence and proliferation of hate speech online.
The working paper is available to download from the PCMLP website here.
In his recent piece for the journal African Affairs, CGHR Associate Dr Iginio Gagliardone discusses the relationship between new media and the Ethiopian government's state- and nation-building efforts. The piece, 'New Media and the Developmental State in Ethiopia', is available to read online; the abstract can be found below.
The Ethiopian government, led by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), has developed one of the most restrictive systems for the regulation of new media in Africa. So far, most discussion has focused on the measures employed by the EPRDF to prevent the Internet and mobile phones from becoming tools for opposition forces to challenge the regime. Much less attention has been paid to the strategies pursued in order to make new media work in support of the government's ambiguous but ambitious attempt to make Ethiopia a developmental state. Examining the period between 1991 and 2012, this article explores how the EPRDF gradually moved from a simple strategy of information control towards incorporating new media into its state- and nation-building efforts through large-scale projects such as Woredanet and Schoolnet. Larger trends at the international level, including the securitization of development and the growing significance of China in Africa, have legitimated the use of the media to serve development outcomes, and have facilitated the spread of the kind of ‘developmental media system’ that has emerged in Ethiopia. The article concludes that only by engaging with these systems on their own terms and “going with the grain” can we develop a better understanding of how they work and how to change them.
Negotiating violence: Sudan's peacemakers and the war in Darfur (Dr Sharath Srinivasan, African Affairs)
The journal African Affairs recently featured an article by Dr Sharath Srinivasan. The piece, 'Negotiating violence: Sudan's peacemakers and the war in Dafur', highlights the problems of peacemaking in Dafur, addressing the war's brutal beginnings, its strategic depolitization by peacemakers and how this fed into escalating violence and a cumulative failure in the international response.
Bits and Atoms: Information and Communication Technology in Areas of Limited Statehood (Dr Sharath Srinivasan, Oxford University Press)
This volume, published in December 2013 by Oxford University Press, includes Dr. Sharath Srinivasan's piece, 'FrontlineSMS, Mobile-for-Development and the 'long tail' of governance', which sets out a typology of dominant use cases of the innovative and highly popular open source software FrontlineSMS and argues that the software, albeit idealising the grassroots user, is less a tool for community 'self-governance' than for institutionalised actors who 'co-govern' with or substitute state governance. The book is available to buy online here.
Complementarity in the Line of Fire: The Catalysing Effect of the International Criminal Court in Uganda and Sudan (Dr Sarah M. H. Nouwen, Cambridge University Press)
Of the many expectations attending the creation of the first permanent International Criminal Court, the greatest has been that the principle of complementarity would catalyse national investigations and prosecutions of conflict-related crimes and lead to the reform of domestic justice systems. Sarah Nouwen explores whether complementarity has had such an effect in two states subject to ICC intervention: Uganda and Sudan. Drawing on extensive empirical research and combining law, legal anthropology and political economy, she unveils several effects and outlines the catalysts for them. However, she also reveals that one widely anticipated effect - an increase in domestic proceedings for conflict-related crimes - has barely occurred. This finding leads to the unravelling of paradoxes that go right to the heart of the functioning of an idealistic Court in a world of real constraints.
The book is available to buy online here.
You can also read more about how Dr Nouwen returned to the field to deliver copies of her work to those who had helped her with her research in her piece for the University's website, here.
Routledge have just published the volume of essays, Online Journalism in Africa:Trends, Practices and Emerging Cultures - co-edited by PiMA Associate Dr Fred Mudhai. The collection also features the article 'Immediacy and Openness in a Digital Africa: Networked-Convergent Journalisms in Kenya' by Dr Mudhai, which originally appeared in , available here.
ICTs and radio in Africa: How the uptake of ICT has influenced the newsroom culture among community radio journalists (Dr Claudia Abreu Lopes, Telematics and Informatics)
CGHR associate Claudia Abreu Lopes has co-authored an article with Goretti Linda Nassanga of the Makere University, Uganda and Linje Manyozo of London School of Economics and Political Science, England, which is now published in the Journal of Telematics and Informatics.
This article highlights the influence that new ICTs and Computer Mediated Communication is having on the newsroom cultures among community radio journalists in Africa, especially the use of mobile phones and the internet. The discussion is based on findings from a research study that investigated the impact of ICTs on community radio using regional case studies from three African countries – Mozambique, Uganda, and Mali. Article access (gated) here.
Peacebuilding, Power, and Politics in Africa is a critical reflection on peacebuilding efforts in Africa. The authors expose the tensions and contradictions in different clusters of peacebuilding activities, including peace negotiations; statebuilding; security sector governance; and disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration. Essays also address the institutional framework for peacebuilding in Africa and the ideological underpinnings of key institutions, including the African Union, NEPAD, the African Development Bank, the Pan-African Ministers Conference for Public and Civil Service, the UN Peacebuilding Commission, the World Bank, and the International Criminal Court.
The volume is available to buy online here.
Civic Engagement, Digital Networks, and Political Reform in Africa (Dr Fred Mudhai, Palgrave Macmillan)
PiMA Associate Dr Fred Mudhai has published a monograph on new media and democracy: Civic Engagement, Digital Networks, and Political Reform in Africa (2012).