Tag: United Nations

Critique of President Barack Obama’s inauguration speech delivered on January 21, 2013

Barack Obama has a reputation as a skilful and fluent public speaker. His address to the nation on the occasion of the inauguration of his second term in Presidency underscores this reputation.  But style is one thing and substance is another.  The crux of his message was for American people to expect no radical changes to the general direction of policies. Although delivered in all eloquence and with a sense of importance, a careful scrutiny of its content would reveal its vapidity.

But looking at the speech as an artefact of creative writing, there is some skill in the writing and delivery. For example the organization, punctuation and rhythm of the speech, there is merit to be found. The phrasing, pauses and iterations were so conceived as fitting to an oral presentation.  In this regard the speech worked well with the large audience at the Capitol Hill.  One can witness members of the audience hooting, nodding or clapping in approval during pauses in the speech.  The . . . Read More

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Is the U.S. and U.N. doing all they can to assist and protect victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM):

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is an ongoing practice among many primitive peoples of the world.  Rooted in religious doctrine and mysticism, this practice is a form of abuse against women, for it deprives them of attaining full sexual pleasure.  Both the United States and the United Nations are powerful political entities that can do something about this problem.  The United Nations, as part of its pledge to uphold principles stated in the UN Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) document, has been at the forefront of efforts to curb this practice.  The United States, on the other hand, has also chipped in with funding and lobbying efforts to eradicate FGM.  But these efforts have not been sufficient to significantly reduce the occurrence of FGM.  The rest of this essay will foray into the successes and failures of the US and the UN in protecting victims of FGM and also in preventing it.

The United Nations has brought up the issue of FGM under its broader program for . . . Read More

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What are the major determinants of economic growth and how far the costs of economic growth outweigh the benefits

The promise of impressive economic growth has been a staple of electoral promises ever since the inception of parliamentary democracy in the UK.  In recent years, this phenomenon has only gathered pace with both the Tories and the New Labour leadership claiming the ‘economic growth’ mantle as their own.  Here, the implicit assumption is that economic growth per se is a good thing for the country and its citizens.  But there are economists and intellectuals who would argue that other parameters of human development should also measured alongside economic prosperity.  The rest of this essay will delve into some of their arguments and also attempt to ascertain the major determinants of economic growth and how far their benefits outweigh their costs.

Various economic theories differ in their emphasis on key determinants of economic growth.  But some of the determinants appear more frequently than others, helping them gain recognition as factors contributing to economic . . . Read More

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The most important criteria for assessing the performance of an economic system

The phenomenon of globalization has become ubiquitous in the new neo-liberal world order of the last few decades.  This particular form of capitalism has steadily replaced socialistic and communistic forms of economic arrangement in many countries in the world.  While proponents of this global economic model argue that this is the best possible system, there are also those who strongly oppose various aspects of this system.  Taking a historical perspective, we see that the events of the two centuries are shaped and defined by the practice of capitalism.  In a way, the peaking of European colonialism coincided with the consolidation of capitalist economic theory, which ultimately replaced it.  In other words, the power and influence wielded by large multinational corporations today (which are the façade of global capitalism) is nothing short of a variant of imperialism.  While conceding that concentrations of power and finance in and of themselves do not lead to oppression and . . . Read More

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Is global warming a genuine threat to the planet Earth?


The issue of global warming has taken center stage in political discourse over the last few years. Along with economic issues such as the growing disparity between the rich and the poor of the world and international military conflicts, the issue of global warming is one of the most important issues at present. This makes it imperative that anthropologists and other social scientists, at both the theoretical and the applied levels, “give serious consideration to the impact of global warming because it has and will continue to impact upon peoples who we historically have studied, be it the Inuit of the Arctic, cattle pastoralists in East Africa, horticultural villagers in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, Andean peasants, Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders, and peoples who we have been more recently studying, such as urbanites in both the developed and developing worlds” (Hans Baer, 2008). While the concern regarding . . . Read More

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The importance of a civil government for protecting the rights and liberties of individuals

There is little doubt as to the necessity of a civil government in order to protect the right and liberties of individuals. As long as the government remains loyal to its founding objective, namely that of serving the interests of the general population, its need and importance cannot be contested. On the theoretical front, there are many proposals and underlying rationales for structuring the government in a variety of ways. As early as the seventeenth century, nearly a century before the French Revolution, the British political philosopher John Locke had deliberated upon the function and role of government in civil societies. His Second Treatise on Government, in particular is a comprehensive collection of essays on various aspects of social organization. But theories do not always translate into practice and so governments always do not fulfill the purpose for which they were conceived and formed. We should also remember that electoral processes and democratic institutions that . . . Read More

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Criminal Justice: Preventing rape as a weapon of war

The association between rape and war goes as far back as recorded history. Among all evil actions that human beings are known to commit, rape is only next to murder in terms of its barbarity and cruelty. It is also a sad fact that irrespective of widespread acknowledgement of the tendency of human beings to indulge in rape, no significant progress is made to prevent this social evil. Most instances of rape tend to coincide with war and its immediate aftermath. This has parallels in the animal kingdom when males of most species combat with each other to win access to females in heat. But the crucial distinction to be applied in this regard is that the animals are acting as per their nature. In the case of humans, they have a developed mental faculty that is capable of applying ethical principles to their actions. Hence there is no justification in mimicking animal behavior while at the same time undermining the faculty of reason and justice that is so uniquely human. While it is . . . Read More

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Is it possible to distinguish a ‘human right’ from other ‘legal’ rights? A case analysis of ‘The Nights Mary Poppins Died’

The distinction between universal human rights and jurisdiction specific legal rights has existed from the earliest days of formal justice.  The story ‘The Nights Mary Poppins Died’ provides a useful context for elucidating this distinction.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the founding document of modern human rights doctrine. Framed in the aftermath of the Second World War, “it was composed by an international committee of experts representing a great range of ethical traditions. Although its members never lost sight of the political dimensions of their assignment, they made an extraordinary effort to understand each other and to identify common ground” (Beitz, 2003).  While ‘human’ rights is meant to represent what is common among all peoples across the world, ‘legal’ rights on the other hand were narrower in scope, representing the local political and cultural sensibilities.  This essay will attempt to do the same by way of discussing the rights . . . Read More

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The problem of starvation: Possible solutions

Food, alongside air and water, is an essential resource for human survival. While these natural resources keep us alive and help life to grow, when they are not available, it would lead to starvation and even death. Sadly, at the turn of the twenty first century, a large number of people are on the edge of starvation. According to United Nations Human Development Report, each year millions of people lose their lives as a result of starvation. In continents such as Asia and South America, which have several developing nations, starvation, which leads to malnutrition and disease, pose a huge challenge to their development. The situation is much worse in Africa, where the societies have not emerged from the exploitation suffered during the colonial period. Having said so, the advanced nations are not completely free of starving people. A small but significant percentage of the population in North America and Europe has very low or no income, which puts them below poverty line. These . . . Read More

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Are we all better off in a world where the Internet does not affect states’ control of what happens inside their borders?

The issue of regulating internet content is highly significant, given the exponential growth in the use of this medium for commercial and informational purposes. When the internet was thrown open for commercial use during the mid 1990s, most of its content originated from the United States of America, making English the dominant language in the Internet. This phenomenon was a reflection of the fact that the content was directed at a universal audience located across geo-political borders. But, gradually, the complexion of the Internet undertook a process of change, making its content more relevant to local political and cultural conditions. The flip side of this localization is that the Internet is no longer the vehicle of free-speech and expression that it once was. Jack Goldsmith and Timothy Wu argue in their book ‘Who Controls the Internet? Illusions of a Borderless World’ that this transformation of the cyberspace is for the better, where as Milton Mueller disagree with this . . . Read More

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