Latest activities of group Combating Transnational Crime DRC Gold Trade Pipeline Now Heading to Swiss Court2013-11-05T13:55:27Z<p><a rel="nofollow" href=""> </a><br /><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" title="The Gold Trade Pipeline" src="/s3/cache%2Fae%2F8c%2Fae8c84f3e9624aec0628f8d5dd6cb957.jpg" alt="Trial Campaign Against Pillage" width="600" height="335" /></p> <blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">To many observers&rsquo; surprise, the Swiss Federal Prosecutor has opened a criminal case against Argor Hereaus, a major Swiss Gold refinery company, immediately after TRIAL, the Swiss based anti-impunity NGO along with the Conflict Awareness Project and the Open Society Justice Initiative, held a press conference in Geneva to announce that they had just submitted a criminal denunciation against Argor to the Swiss Federal Prosecutor. The investigation and the evidence gathered indicated that Argor might have refined almost 3 tons of illicit gold between 2004 and 2005. These 3 tons were part of the gold trade pipeline exporting the looted natural resource from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) through Uganda in violation of the embargo imposed by the UN Security Council in 2003.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">The work done by <a rel="nofollow" href="">TRIAL</a> has been challenging in order to bring enough evidence for the denunciation to the Swiss Federal Prosecutor. TRIAL&rsquo;s investigation shows that the Swiss private company knew the origin of the gold, and could not ignore several facts: this gold would bring additional financial means to the militia operating in DRC, it would help forcing people and children to work for them, and maintain the incentive driving the criminals. As early as January 2005, the UN experts officially identified the Swiss company as part of the gold illicit trade pipeline that was fully traced &ndash; at every single stage - by their investigation all the way from the mine in Ituri (DRC) to Switzerland. At the time, Argor - who took over the job of refining this gold from a South African refinery that stopped in 2004 doing this business over concerns with the Gold&rsquo;s Congolese origin and the UN monitoring - was immediately contacted by the experts trying to obtain contradictory views from the Swiss and British companies involved. &ldquo;Very early on, we had internal discussions with the UN Security Council, remember Kathi Lynn Austin, one of the experts who kept working on the case since then. &ldquo;As a UN group, we were not prosecuting any individual or company, but simply trying to investigate and document violations of the UN resolution banning from any support direct or indirect to the radical rebels and criminals operating in DRC. Argor was clearly one of the violators named in the list, an information that was published in the UN report and therefore recommending to the UN Security Council to take sanctions such as for example, setting an asset freeze against Argor. But the decision taken by the Security Council was only to put the African companies or individuals on a UN targeted sanctions list for these illicit activities. One of the reasons for that was because the UK and Switzerland were powerful allies that would protect their national corporations. The Swiss and British authorities, responsible under the UN regime to prosecute any author of UN resolution&rsquo;s violation, never called upon the UN experts group to bring their evidences, and never launched a formal prosecution.&rdquo; Indeed, at the time, the Swiss mission to the UN in New York, then represented by Peter Maurer - today chairman of the International Red Cross - went on to support Argor, mentioning the already devastating effects of the media coverage against the Swiss refinery, and supposedly affecting its activities. Maurer should not have worried too much, as Argor posted in 2006 a &ldquo;2005 best profit in years&rdquo;.&nbsp; When ultimately in May 2005, the Swiss authorities decided to enforce the sanction regime, weeks after Argos had officially claimed it had stopped refining the Ugandan gold &ndash; or to be precise the one from the pillage in DRC- and therefore would not be exposed to prosecution.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">According to TRAIL, the Swiss refinery knew or should have assumed that the gold resulted from pillage, a war crime, not to mention the fact that Uganda gold production is notoriously close to nothing, not to mention the fact that the South African refinery drop the job in 2004 due to its awareness of the origin of the gold.</p> <p>Kathi Lynn Austin, now director at the Conflict Awareness Project comes today with additional evidence of the crime, on top of what the UN report already disclosed to the UN Security Council back in 2005, all of which has been delivered to the Swiss justice. Even though it was unpredictable whether the Swiss Federal Prosecutor would accept to open the case, the story was going to be difficult for Argor. &ldquo;Even if Argor-Hereaus SA was able at the time (2005) to escape UN sanctions under the embargo, that does not mean that it did not violate Swiss Law&rdquo; said B&eacute;n&eacute;dict de Moerloose, the lawyer in charge at TRIAL (Track Impunity Always).</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">For Philip Grant, director of TRIAL: &ldquo;it is unacceptable that pillaged raw material that are feeding violence in a brutal and horrific war should be refined and prepared for marketing in Switzerland, with total impunity. This should serve as a reminder that corporations are subject to the law and must also be held accountable&rdquo;.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Whatever national identity they have, indeed.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Jean-Christophe Nothias</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p> <p><a rel="nofollow"> </a></p> <p>&copy;The Anti-Pillage Campaign / TRIAL&nbsp;</p> <p><a rel="nofollow"></a><a rel="nofollow" href=""></a></p> <p><a rel="nofollow" href=""></a></p> <p><a rel="nofollow" href=""></a></p> <p>&nbsp;Also: &ldquo;Corporate War Crimes&rdquo; by James G. Stewart, The Open Society Institute, 2012.</p>"Don't detach yourself from society" - Adela Navarro Bello 2012-05-18T18:00:42Z<p><img style="vertical-align: top; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" title="Adela Navarro Bello " src="/s3/cache%2F7e%2F82%2F7e8291e6d388e0b5dc34dfdbfc8e6676.jpg" alt="Adela Navarro Bello " width="580" height="538" /></p> <blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">Mexican journalist Adela Navarro Bello&rsquo;s message to global leaders is: &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t&nbsp;detach yourself from society! As a journalist, I must listen to society,&nbsp;particularly when it is voiceless, when it is victim to governments&nbsp;or criminals. The political, economic and social actors sometimes forget&nbsp;about the societies in which they live. May they never."</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #800000;">How did you become a journalist?</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;">At first, I wanted to become a lawyer. But in the 1980s, lawyers in Mexico, my country, had a very poor reputation. I always liked to write. I discovered that journalism could provide me with the best of both worlds. Through journalism, I could work towards social justice, open a window for those who are victims of injustice and publicly denounce what was happening to them. When I decided to study journalism at university, I had finished my first semester and I started to look for a job. I analyzed the various media in the state where I lived, Baja California. Zeta was the one which offered me most freedom and independence to be the journalist I sought to be &ndash; that is, one who contributes to social justice.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #800000;">Why an interest in drug trafficking?&nbsp;Was it imposed on you by Zeta&rsquo;s work or was it a choice of investigation?</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The question of drug trafficking came only after I started at Baja California. In the 1980s, there was much social injustice, caused by members of the government. They were all part of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party), and were the only ones who ever won the elections in Mexico. People were abused and pressured to do what the party wanted. But I perceived social justice as respect for human dignity and the everyday lives and work of citizens. Drug trafficking became an issue in the first part of the 1990s. That was when we started to recognize the structures of organized crime. It was the role of journalists &ndash; and therefore my task as a journalist for the weekly Zeta &ndash; to go from writing about abuse and corruption in the government, to the direct connection between governmental corruption and drug trafficking. We started off through investigative journalism into the causes of governmental corruption. Unfortunately, the phenomenon is still present; if anything, it has increased.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #800000;">What is, according to you, the role of an investigative journalist, particularly at a time of free and global access to information? </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Actually, in the case of my country, Mexico, there is no transparency in the exercise of power, and there is no access to information for civilians. Thus, the role of the investigative journalist is precisely this: to bring information to the citizens, the governed, especially the information that the government is concealing because it is corrupt, abusive, inefficient or incompetent. We are the messengers of society.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span><em><a rel="nofollow" href="">The rest of this insightful interview is available on our webshop as an individual issue or subscription package.</a></em></span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #808080;">By Julie Mandoyan</span></p>Bolkovac Stands Up Against the ''Whistleblower Improvement Act''2012-02-10T12:24:36Z<p style="text-align: justify;"><img style="vertical-align: top;" src="/s3/photos%2F2012%2F02%2Fca3261e93498734.png" alt="Kathryn Bolkovac" width="591" height="415" /></p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Kathryn Bolkovac has raised concerns over the &lsquo;&rsquo;&nbsp;Whistleblower Improvement Act &lsquo;&rsquo; by joining&nbsp;the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) in advocating for the safeguard of the rights and protections of whistleblowers. POGO, an independent nonprofit organization investigating federal government conduct, has strongly criticized the proposed legislation and its consequences for corporation liability and accountability as well as safeguards for whistleblowers.&nbsp;In a letter addressed to her local Representative, Bolkovac, former employee of the private security contractor DynCorp International for the International Police Task Force in Bosnia (and whose story inspired the blockbuster "The Whistleblower"), expressed her concerns about the consequences of the bill on the protection program currently in place for whistleblowers in the United States.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The ''Whistleblower Improvement Act'' was initially sponsored by the U.S. Congressman Michael Grimm. If passed, it will lead to an amendment of the &lsquo;&lsquo;Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act&rsquo;&rsquo;, the&nbsp;financial and corporate regulatory measures adopted last year. The new legislation would result in major changes; for example, whistleblowers would be&nbsp;required&nbsp;to report violations initally&nbsp;to their employer, through an internal compliance mechanism, instead of directly addressing the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Such an amendment could seriously undermine the whistleblower's ability to report violations for fear of reprisals and retaliation by the employer. In addition, the proposed bill determines that whistleblowers who are guilty of wrong-doing may not be eligible for a financial reward. This important assurance for whistleblowers, and incentive&nbsp;to come forward with allegations of&nbsp;fraud and criminal activity, could then be undermined. According to&nbsp;Bolkovac's campaign letter, the ''Whistleblower Improvement Act'' will dissuade potential whistleblowers from reporting fraud and corporate crimininal activities.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">In December 2011, the House Subcommittee on&nbsp;Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprise approved the proposed amendments. The bill will next be reviewed by the Financial Services Committee. Supporters of the proposed legislation and its sponsor Rep. Michael Grimm assure that it will help the SEC deal with whistleblowers' allegations more efficiently. According to a press release published in July 2011 by &nbsp;Rep. Michael Grimm's office, ''The overreaching provisions in Dodd-Frank make these internal programs obsolete, open the floodgates of claims to an already overburdened SEC, and delay action on escalating crimes within a company.'' Hence the need for new legislation.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Despite Republican and the financial industry's support for the new legislation, Kathryn Bolkovac firmly believes the ''Whistleblower Improvement Act'' will have&nbsp;harmful consequences, and she expressed her doubts about the bill by sending POGO's campaign letter to her local congress. In the letter, Bolkovac transcribed POGO's clear message: ''Wrapping these destructive policies in the guise of protecting whistleblowers is a cruel joke to all the whistleblowers who risk their careers and livelihoods to report wrongdoing and save investors billions of dollars. This bill would push back important and hard-won whistleblower protections and make it easier for institutions to defraud investors, taxpayers and the government." &nbsp;</p>The Devil in the Details2012-02-07T14:49:52Z<p><img title="The Devil in the Details" src="/s3/photos%2F2011%2F10%2Fbd5092a59b816f11.jpg" alt="Guantanamo cage" width="600" height="450" /></p> <blockquote> <p>Guant&aacute;namo Bay&nbsp;and the future of legal &ldquo;black holes&rdquo;.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">When one nation (or clan or tribe or ethnic group) covets the land of another, the result, throughout history, has usually been aggression. It is conceivable that this cause/effect may even be hard-wired into human nature. But at the end of the 19th century, a more pragmatic approach &ndash;territorial leasing&ndash; began, spontaneously and sporadically, to appear. Under a territorial leasing agreement, the leaser pays to use and exercise jurisdiction over a territory while the lessee retains sovereignty. Wherever it has been tried, territorial leasing has proven to be much less disruptive and quite a lot cheaper than war.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Michael J. Strauss first got interested in the question of territorial leases when he was a wire service journalist in Europe and learned about a little known agreement between France and Spain that had quietly put to rest over 500 years of bloody dispute. Concerning several valleys in the Pyrenees, the lease ensured Spain&rsquo;s sovereignty while giving French farmers the right to graze their flocks there. Strauss would use the story as the basis of his doctoral dissertation in international relations, turning up other examples (Tin Bigha on the Bangladesh/India border; Tiwintza between Ecuador and Peru; Naharayim/Baqura and Zofar/Al-Ghamr in Israel/Jordan) where territorial leasing has resolved intractable conflict over land.</p> <p style="text-align: right;">To read the full article, order a copy of the&nbsp;<a rel="nofollow" href="">magazine</a></p> <p style="text-align: right;"><span style="color: #808080;">by Sarah Meyer de Stadelhofen</span><br /><span style="color: #808080;">photographs by Edmund Clark</span></p> <p style="text-align: right;"><span style="color: #808080;"><br /></span></p>#82 - International Centre for Transitional Justice2012-01-23T12:37:04Z<p><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Check out if International Centre for Transitional Justice is in The Top 100 NGOs 2013 Edition!</a></p> <p><img style="vertical-align: top; margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px;" title=" International Centre for Transitional Justice" src="/s3/cache%2Ffc%2F43%2Ffc43e673cf4a5b5dcf57b9f6abb80ae2.jpg" alt=" International Centre for Transitional Justice" width="580" height="392" /></p> <blockquote> <p>Restoring trust&nbsp;in post-conflict societies.</p> <p>Projects undertaken in 31 countries.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">In contrast to human rights organizations&nbsp;focused on documenting abuses or lobbying to&nbsp;influence behavioral change, the <a rel="nofollow" href="">International&nbsp;Centre for Transitional Justice</a> was founded&nbsp;10 years ago with the aim of helping societies&nbsp;heal by accounting for and addressing past&nbsp;crimes after a period of repressive rule or&nbsp;armed conflict. A highly respected body of&nbsp;experts working to sow civic trust and rebuild&nbsp;splintered community relations, the New&nbsp;York-based organization provides technical&nbsp;assistance to policy makers and institutions,&nbsp;works with victims and activists, and studies&nbsp;the successes and failures of transitional&nbsp;justice methods to promote best practices.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">In this sense the efforts of the International&nbsp;Centre for Transitional Justice are a marriage&nbsp;of past and present &ndash; working to remove&nbsp;perpetrators from positions of authority and see&nbsp;that victims are compensated &ndash; paving the way&nbsp;for stable societies in the wake of collective&nbsp;trauma. The organization also encourages&nbsp;domestic courts to adjudicate cases of human&nbsp;rights abuses, realising their effectiveness in&nbsp;fighting impunity and ability to circumvent the&nbsp;limited capacities of the International Criminal&nbsp;Court acting alone.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">With the wave of popular revolutions toppling&nbsp;repressive regimes across the Middle East&nbsp;and North Africa, the International Centre&nbsp;for Transitional Justice has already begun&nbsp;providing technical assistance and advice&nbsp;to local actors on the delicate path ahead.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #888888;">(Photo &copy;&nbsp;&nbsp;International Centre for Transitional Justice)</span></p>#16 - Transparency International2012-01-23T12:33:22Z<p><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Check out if Transparency International is in The Top 100 NGOs 2013 Edition!</a></p> <p><img style="vertical-align: top;" src="/s3/photos%2F2012%2F01%2F847c4e2e446b6c46.JPG" alt="Bribe payers Transparency Index 2011" width="600" height="424" /></p> <blockquote> <p>Fighting&nbsp;corruption worldwide.</p> <p>Active in over 90 countries.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">In his past life as head of the World Bank&rsquo;s&nbsp;office in Nairobi, Peter Eigen witnessed&nbsp;first-hand the devastating and pervasive&nbsp;effect of systemic corruption on development&nbsp;initiatives throughout East Africa. Recognizing&nbsp;the limited capacity of governments and&nbsp;international institutions to regulate, shape&nbsp;and control the increasingly globalized world&nbsp;economy - lending corruption an apparent&nbsp;&lsquo;inevitability&rsquo; - the organization he founded,&nbsp;<a rel="nofollow" href="">Transparency International</a>, is committed&nbsp;to raising awareness, lobbying for reform&nbsp;and devising practical strategies to expose&nbsp;and fight this practice in all its forms.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">In less than 20 years, Transparency&nbsp;International has put corruption on the map,&nbsp;via a coalition-led approach bringing together&nbsp;governments, businesses, civil society&nbsp;actors and the media. At the time of the&nbsp;organization&rsquo;s inception in 1993, it was still&nbsp;legal in most countries to pay bribes abroad.&nbsp;Taking the fight to the OECD, Transparency&nbsp;International scored an early victory in ensuring&nbsp;that all member states now have national anti&nbsp;corruption legislation. Similarly, Transparency&nbsp;International has been instrumental in the&nbsp;passage and drafting of all three major&nbsp;international agreements on corruption&nbsp;currently in force.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The organization&rsquo;s work in the public domain&nbsp;has also been credited with catalyzing a&nbsp;normative shift globally &ndash; its annual publication,&nbsp;the Corruption Perceptions Index, has become&nbsp;the leading comparative measure of corruption&nbsp;worldwide.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #888888;">(Photo &copy; Transparency International)</span></p>#85 - International Bridges to Justice2012-01-23T12:32:28Z<p><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Check out if International Bridges to Justice is in The Top 100 NGOs 2013 Edition!</a></p> <p><img style="margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; vertical-align: top;" title="International Bridges to Justice" src="/s3/cache%2F90%2Fc2%2F90c2b45ff98072169ddab1d6c38f0b6a.jpg" alt="International Bridges to Justice" width="580" height="435" /></p> <blockquote> <p>Working to reform&nbsp;criminal justice systems.</p> <p>JusticeMakers fellows in 25 countries.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;"><a rel="nofollow" href="">International Bridges to Justice</a> began with&nbsp;a simple &ndash; but challenging &ndash; premise.&nbsp;As a graduate student in divinity studies&nbsp;at Harvard, Karen Tse aspired to set up an&nbsp;organization to support defendant rights in her&nbsp;parent&rsquo;s homeland, China. Founded in 2000&nbsp;as the collaborative result of interested lawyers,&nbsp;academics and business leaders, her non-profit&nbsp;rights group now works to guarantee citizens&nbsp;the right to competent legal representation,&nbsp;due process, freedom from torture and other&nbsp;punishments, and the right to a fair trial&nbsp;in seven countries in Asia and Africa.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">To this end, International Bridges to Justice&nbsp;focuses its energies on three primary goals:&nbsp;providing direct technical support and training&nbsp;to emerging legal aid organizations, building&nbsp;international communities of conscience, and&nbsp;advocating for the prioritisation of just and&nbsp;effective criminal justice systems in the field&nbsp;of international human rights and legal&nbsp;development. In short, goals Tse hopes&nbsp;will ultimately lead to a &lsquo;quiet human rights&nbsp;revolution&rsquo; &ndash; not via naming and shaming,&nbsp;but by working constructively in-country&nbsp;to achieve systemic change.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Results to date have been impressive.&nbsp;In Cambodia, International Bridges to Justice&nbsp;projects have almost totally eliminated&nbsp;investigative torture. Its innovative&nbsp;&lsquo;JusticeMakers&rsquo; programme, meanwhile, has&nbsp;developed into a global platform utilised by over&nbsp;6,000 lawyers and human rights defenders.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #888888;">(Photo &copy;&nbsp;International Bridges to Justice)</span></p>#88 - International Commission of Jurists2012-01-23T12:29:07Z<p><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Check out if International Commission of Jurists is in The Top 100 NGOs 2013 Edition!</a></p> <p><img style="margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; vertical-align: top;" title="International Commission of Jurists" src="/s3/cache%2Fdd%2Fef%2Fddef8373b83f039f9321633659839e48.jpg" alt="International Commission of Jurists" width="580" height="388" /></p> <blockquote> <p>Strengthening human rights&nbsp;standards for 50 years.</p> <p>Presence in over 70 countries.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">For over five decades, the <a rel="nofollow" href="">International&nbsp;Commission of Jurists</a> has played a seminal&nbsp;role in establishing international human rights&nbsp;standards and working towards their&nbsp;implementation. Conceived in a divided&nbsp;post-war Berlin, the organization was founded&nbsp;by a collection of lawyers as a means to defend&nbsp;human rights during the Cold War era through&nbsp;the rule of law. Over time, however, it has&nbsp;reached greater prominence as an evolving&nbsp;standing group of 60 eminent jurists from&nbsp;around the world dedicated to the development,&nbsp;promotion and clarification of international&nbsp;standards. &nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Supported by a secretariat based in Geneva,&nbsp;the International Commission of Jurists&nbsp;undertakes advocacy and policy work aimed&nbsp;at strengthening the role of lawyers and&nbsp;judges in protecting and promoting human&nbsp;rights. The organization&rsquo;s current projects&nbsp;are focused on the &lsquo;justiciability&rsquo; of economic,&nbsp;social and cultural rights, the human rights&nbsp;impact of counter-terrorism legislation, the&nbsp;role of human rights in international corporate&nbsp;responsibility, and mechanisms to address&nbsp;rights violations based on sexual orientation&nbsp;or gender identity.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Alongside these thematic programmes, the&nbsp;International Commission of Jurists &ndash; including&nbsp;through its national chapters and affiliates&nbsp;in over 70 countries &ndash; works carefully at&nbsp;a regional level to provide technical assistance&nbsp;to governments and civil society actors, whilst&nbsp;building local capacity in the justice sector.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #888888;">(Photo &copy;&nbsp;International Commission of Jurists)</span></p>#93 - TRIAL2012-01-23T12:20:21Z<p><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Check out if TRIAL is in The Top 100 NGOs 2013 Edition!</a></p> <p><img style="margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px;" title="Trial" src="/s3/cache%2F5e%2F9a%2F5e9a17da857e7d31ceace10dde85d4c8.jpg" alt="Trial" width="580" height="436" /></p> <blockquote> <p>Ending the impunity&nbsp;of war criminals.</p> <p>60 ongoing cases serving 170 victims.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">Founded by a group of lawyers, torture victims&nbsp;and human rights activists when the Rome&nbsp;Statute establishing the International Criminal&nbsp;Court entered into force in 2002, the Geneva-based&nbsp;<a rel="nofollow" href="">TRIAL</a> (Swiss Association Against Impunity) is&nbsp;committed to wielding the law in support of&nbsp;victims of international crimes like genocide,&nbsp;crimes against humanity, forced disappearances&nbsp;and torture.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">As the head of TRIAL, Philip Grant, has&nbsp;emphasised, the deterrent effect of&nbsp;international criminal law depends on states&nbsp;&lsquo;heed(ing) their international obligations&rsquo; and&nbsp;actually prosecuting alleged perpetrators.&nbsp;Working with a shoestring staff in Switzerland&nbsp;and abroad, the organization seeks to ensure&nbsp;these obligations are met via a multi-faceted&nbsp;approach. The Advocacy Centre TRIAL actively&nbsp;fights impunity by lodging complaints with&nbsp;international human rights bodies charged with&nbsp;adjudicating individual cases, while the 'Fight Against Impunity in Switzerland' program pursues&nbsp;litigation in Swiss courts against individuals and companies present on federal territory suspected of&nbsp;international crimes.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Complementing this caseload (on behalf of 170&nbsp;victims and their relatives in 2010), TRIAL also&nbsp;pursues a number of public advocacy projects,&nbsp;including &lsquo;Trial Watch&rsquo; &ndash; a substantial online&nbsp;resource offering easy access to over 750&nbsp;ongoing or completed international criminal&nbsp;proceedings. Finally, the organization&nbsp;passionately lobbies at both the Swiss and&nbsp;international levels&nbsp;to protect the&nbsp;integrity of the&nbsp;Rome Statute and&nbsp;the subsequent&nbsp;alignment of&nbsp;federal laws.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #888888;">(Photo &copy; TRIAL)</span></p>Preparing for the Cyber Wars of the Future2011-11-11T18:52:48Z<p>The UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) presented a preliminary assessment (August 24) of the state of organization among UN member states when it comes to dealing with the possibility of cyber attacks.</p> <p>The report, &lsquo;Cybersecurity and Cyberwarfare&rsquo; identified those states which include cyber threats in their military planning and those where there is no public information available. The score was nearly an even split.</p> <p>The US is at the top of the list with the creation of a &lsquo;Cyber Command&rsquo; in 2009 which has both defensive and offensive missions: to secure national networks and to prepare offensive capabilities. China, North Korea and Iran are among the nations known to have military cyber organizations in the planning stage. There was no information available on Russia or Cuba.</p> <p>The UNIDIR sees its role as providing an early warning system for trends that could emerge as serious threats to international peace and security. In February 2011 it started a project on the legal framework, transparency and confidence building needed to ensure &ldquo;against unacceptable effects of cyber conflict.&rdquo;</p> <p>Despite the title of the draft report, several speakers at the public session in Geneva noted that &lsquo;cyber warfare&rsquo; is a misnomer just like &lsquo;ocean warfare&rsquo; since both are simply tools. &ldquo;We need to know if the threat is greater than a teenager out there with Internet skills,&rdquo; said one participant, &ldquo;A serious threat needs to have three things: doctrine, organization and skills.&rdquo;</p> <p>Meanwhile, China&rsquo;s state television (CCTV) recently presented a surprisingly candid picture of cyber hacking attacks launched by the country&rsquo;s military despite long-standing denials of such activity. &nbsp;Footage showed Chinese software apparently launching a cyber-attack against the main website of the Falun Gong spiritual organization.</p> <p>The real threat from cyberspace at the moment, however, may be as much for economic purposes as military. The US Internet security firm McAfee has uncovered evidence that an unidentified government has for the past five years been hacking into the computer networks of thousands of companies and governmental organizations, stealing proprietary information but also military and state secrets.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>