Held six decades ago in Bandung, Indonesia, the 1955 Afro-Asian Conference (also known as the Bandung Conference) was a landmark event in the history of decolonized countries and those aspiring for independence from colonial rule. The Conference was organized by Indonesia, Pakistan, Burma, India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and was unique in that there was no official western presence. It was attended by the great leaders of that time: Zhou Enlai and Ho Chi Minh, Nehru, U Nu, Tito, Nasser, Ben Bella among others and seasoned diplomats like Prince Waithayakow of Thailand, Fatin Zorlu of Turkey and Carlos Romulo of the Philippines. For The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, the Bandung Conference has a very special significance because our founding Secretary, K. Sarwar Hasan, went to Bandung to organize the Conference on behalf of the Government of Pakistan. He recorded his impressions of the Conference in this unpublished paper, Bandung Memories.
The Asian-African Conference, held in Bandung from 18 to 24 April 1955, was undoubtedly the largest gathering of the kind held on the soil of Asia or Africa. Twenty-nine governments participated, many of them represented by their prime ministers or other leading statesmen. Arrangements for the Conference were made by a Joint Secretariat of the five sponsoring powers, the so-called Colombo Powers, namely, Burma, Ceylon, India, Indonesia and Pakistan. Continue reading
Several new constitutions have been written in Muslim countries in the past decade; Afghanistan and Iraq wrote new constitutions after American-led invasions; Egypt wrote a new constitution after the ouster of Mubarak (and again after the military coup against Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Morsi) and Tunisia enacted a new constitution recently; several countries – such as Yemen and Libya have attempted to write permanent constitutions but ensuing chaos did not allow this to happen. Each of these constitution-making situations was very different and each country is a product of very different histories, cultures and socio-economic and societal foundations. Yet, one issue has been consistently highlighted: the status of Islam. To what degree will Islam be privileged in the constitution? Will new popularly elected governments be constrained by Islamic law? Will courts be able to set aside laws if incompatible with Sharia?
Many constitutions in the Muslim world contain clauses that recognize the Islamic character of the state. Yet, to date, there was little data on the landscape of Islam in constitutions. Separate research projects I collaborated on with Tom Ginsburg, Professor and Deputy Dean at the University of Chicago Law School and Moamen Gouda, Assistant Professor of Middle East Economics at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies sought to fill this gap. Our analysis showed that roughly half of all Muslim majority countries have some Islamic feature in their constitution. Continue reading
In his post, Abdulkadir Suleiman makes some very good points. He correctly underscores the rise of anti-Islamic rhetoric in the far-right of European politics. He correctly notes the backlash against multiculturalism which has emerged in the post-9/11 Europe. However, it is in the other things claimed that his argument is undermined.
To me the concept that Europe’s intolerance is rooted in its colonialism is bizarre. It would be a similar claim to say that Turkey’s present political crises were based in its invasion of Austria, or that the US’ neo-conservatism is based on its decades of war against Great Britain. Europe has changed so significantly and thoroughly in the last two hundred years that it is near unrecognisable from the continent which once saw Napoleon march on Moscow and the Germans butcher one another over religion. Culture changes, and causal chains can only last so long. Suleiman seems keen to note other fundamental changes which have occurred since then whilst ignoring others.
It is indeed well known that Europe has been pursuing a culture of tolerance since the Second World War, Continue reading
“How can we have peace if we don’t build relationships?” The plea and key to life beyond war emotes from African Ikenna Ezeibe in the new 2012 film, Dialogue in Nigeria: Muslims & Christians Creating Their Future. Ezeibe was among the 200 adversaries — courageous young women and men who united successfully in Jos, central Nigeria, the centre of recent brutal violence that echoed worldwide.
Refusing to be enemies, they were together during days and evenings of the 2010 International Conference on Youth and Interfaith Communication. Crossing lines of religion, economics, tribe, and gender, they transcended the status quo and discovered empathy for each other. Listening-to-learn, they dignified themselves and the “other” realizing that “an enemy is one whose story we have not heard”. Face to face in small circles, they began with ice-breakers and continued in depth, discovering one another’s equal humanity – fear, grief, needs, hopes, and concrete plans for a shared future.
A link to a video of Dialogue in Nigeria on U-tube can be found below: Continue reading
Somali people argue that rather than anything else illegal fishing and dumping toxic waste into Somalia’s seas are the root causes of piracy. Yet regardless of the originality and authenticity of this claim, piracy remains an international phenomenon discussed at global meetings. In relation to piracy, there is both good news and bad news for Somalia. The good news is that the number of pirate attacks in the Somalia seas has substantially diminished in this year and the last quarter of previous year. So Somali pirates seem to be defeated. And the bad news is that there is still another untold story about a new type of piracy (which is illegal fishing) where foreign vessels are sucking away Somalia’s natural resources. These foreign vessels have lost 6 billion dollars since the outbreak of piracy according to maritime sources.
Since the anti-piracy maneuvers undertaken by NATO forces were commenced, the piracy rate has diminished sharply, as it was mentioned in last year’s report of International Maritime Bureau. Notably, not only NATO forces, local people (through their own methods and motivation) are also fighting against pirates. Continue reading
The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women was set up in September 2008 in response to Cherie’s experiences meeting women around the world and her realisation that, with the right support, women could overcome the challenges they face, and play an important part in the economies and societies in which they work and live. Today the charity invests in women entrepreneurs, so they can build and expand their businesses – and in doing so benefit not only themselves but also their families and communities.
Her Foundation focuses its efforts on Africa, South Asia and the Middle East, in countries where women have made strides in education and have the potential to succeed in business, but lack the necessary support. We caught up with Cherie and found out why investing in women isn’t just good ethics, it’s sound economics…
What inspired you to get involved in supporting women’s rights?
I was inspired because of my background, both personally and professionally in my legal work, and my experiences when my husband was at Number 10. I have learnt that you never know what is around the corner and if, as a woman you don’t have financial independence and the ability to support yourself, life can become very difficult. Continue reading