Friday, 6 July 2012

Nuclear Iran will mend Iran-Israel Tensions

By Nicodemus M. Minde
The acclaimed neo-realist theorist Kenneth Waltz is of the view that Iran should go nuclear. He believes that a nuclear Iran will bring nuclear stability in the Middle East region. There have been historical enmity and callous relationship between Iran and the US and her ally Israel. The tensions have been recently been exacerbated by Iran’s nuclear ambition. The West has responded to these attempts by slapping Tehran with numerous sanctions and trade embargos on her goods. The implications of Iran’s nuclear ambitions have been written and widely argued on how dangerous such a move will be. Most US, European and Israel commentators and policymakers warn that a nuclear-armed Iran would be the worst possible outcome of the standoff on uranium enrichment in Iran. A number of avenues have been postulated on how to deal with the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program. As noted earlier, sanctions have been used to punish Iran but they have relentlessly pursued the desire for nuclear technology.  Analysts have seen this measure as futile since Iran is determined to pursue her security agenda by possessing nuclear technology, just like the other world super powers. By the look of things, Iran is not willing to drop its nuclear ambition. The implications of such a move can also be interpreted with a positive touch. Israel’s regional nuclear monopoly, which has endured for close to five decades now, has long fueled instability in the region. Regional balance of power in the Middle East can be stabilized with a nuclear Iran. Kenneth Waltz has argued that the fear of a reprisal attack on Israel by Iran is grossly exaggerated. This has completely distorted the positives of such a move by Iran. There have been misjudged arguments that the Ayatollahs and whole Iranian system is irrational and will hit Israel after acquiring a bomb. On the contrary, Iran as a state wants to compete with other developed nations around the world. History has shown us that when countries acquire nuclear arsenal, they feel increasingly vulnerable and become acutely aware of the dangers posed therewith. In 1991, the historical rivals of India and Pakistan signed a treaty agreeing not to target each other nuclear facilities. The two, by virtue of such an agreement respect each other and brought about balance of power in the region. It’s for this reason that Waltz argues that a nuclear Iran will bring about more stability in the Middle East region. A nuclear Iran will bring stability and possibly mend relations with Israel. Who knows?   

There is no need for expanding the ECJ’s jurisdiction

By Nicodemus M. Minde

The East African Court of Justice (ECJ) as it is presently constituted and with its stated jurisdictional reach sufficiently meets the East African Community’s (EAC) integration goals. The EAC envisions an integrated approach to regional development through widening and deepening economic, political, social and culture integration in order to improve the quality of life of the people of East Africa through increased competitiveness, value added production, trade and investments. The East African Court of Justice (the Court), is one of the organs of the East African Community established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. The Court’s major responsibility is to ensure the adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the EAC Treaty. Based on the EAC’s mission and vision of continuous regional integration on social-political and economic aspects, it is intriguing why there are calls for the Court to expand its jurisdictional reach.

Recently, the EAC Heads of States met in Arusha with a view of expanding the ECJ‘s jurisdiction to also deal with issues of Human Rights and Criminal jurisprudence. The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) which is the de jure legislative organ of the EAC had also deliberated on expanding the jurisdiction of the Court to also touch on issues of Human Rights and criminal legislations. The drafters of the ECJ intended the Court to function as a regional judicial organ that deals with legal disputes arising from state parties and to ensure the adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the EAC Treaty. The functions and duties of this Court can be compared to those of the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ). When the world saw that there was need to develop a permanent international criminal tribunal, they did not expand the jurisdiction of the ICJ but opted to hold an inclusive interstate plenary to draft the Rome Statute which gave rise to the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

The ICC is a criminal tribunal with universal jurisdiction and power to try and punish individuals for the most serious crimes of international concern. The attempts to expand the ECJ’s power to accommodate human rights and criminal legislations can only be interpreted as a political move and not legal as most of the EALA legislators and regional politicians would want us to believe. The pretext used to see the expansion of the ECJ’s jurisdiction is the Kenyan case at the ICC. 

There have been futile attempts to challenge the admissibility of the ICC regarding the Kenyan case. It started with the “shuttle diplomacy” by Kenya’s Vice President who went around lobbying for a deferral of the Kenyan case. The African Union (AU) is on a relentless drive to push for the same. What is astonishing is the lack of understanding and utter disregarding of certain international (criminal) law tenets by a cross-section of local and regional politicians. It is said that a drowning man will clutch at a straw. This is what seems to be happening with the recent quest by EALA legislators and EAC Heads of States to call for the expansion of the ECJ’s jurisdiction. The ICC, which all EAC partner states with the exception of Rwanda are parties to, should work towards promoting and cooperating with it. If there are truly genuine efforts to expand the jurisdiction of the ECJ, then it should be based on candid legal intentions and not misguided political motives.           

Thursday, 5 July 2012

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"Pilot and Technical Error" The Causes of the Air France Crash

Technical failure and human error led to the loss of an Air France flight over the Atlantic in June 2009 and the deaths of 228 people, according to the final report into the crash.

See:  for more details.

Kenya-Iran Oil Deal

Kenya’s move to buy Iran Oil is welcomed.

The move by the Kenyan government through the Ministry of Energy to buy Iranian oil is a welcome move. Under President Mwai Kibaki, Kenya has approached new alternative foreign policy goals with a more pragmatic economic agenda. Kenya’s foreign policy has focused more on economic diplomacy under Kibaki. This move to buy oil from Iran, a country suffering from illegal and callous sanctions from the West is testament to these new alternative policy approaches.

Iran has been under a series of economic sanctions which have targeted their oil exports. The European sanctions have among other things, placed a ban on imports of Iran oil by European Union States. This has made it difficult for other countries to trade with Iran. The US, which has been the architect of the sanctions, is now finalizing a new package of sanctions aimed at further reducing oil and other revenues used by Iran to further its nuclear program. International politics is intertwined with economics and all these factors don’t operate in a vacuum. This been said, the relations between Iran and the West should entirely influence the relations between Iran and other states and vice versa. National security and national interests are the principal categories in which strategic goals are conceived. Kenya’s strategic interests of securing long term fuel supply from Iran should be seen as sound policy goal.  Under the proposed Kenya-Iranian contract, Tehran could give an extended credit facility of 90 days, saving the country millions of shillings currently used to import expensive crude oil through overdraft facilities. This will be a long term strategic interest for Kenya and further a reorientation of her policy from the traditional West to emerging East.

Nicodemus M. Minde