International News/Politics

80:80 World Refugee Day 20 June 2011


Deadly Discrimination – not just a case of sexist tea-making policies 

Did you know: 80% of the world’s refugees are women and children fleeing violence, persecution, starvation, slavery and sexual exploitation. What’s more, the poorest nations are hosting 80% of the world’s forcibly displaced population, while richer countries close their borders. So, on World Refugee Day 2011 I thought it apt to resurrect an article I wrote back in 2003, regarding the plight of women around the world (the tea-making refers to my own battle at the time, where the female teachers in the Japanese staff rooms were always expected to jump up and make tea).

Environmental threat to Mekhong River


Since 2007, Ch. Karnchang, one of Thailand’s largest construction companies, has been preparing plans to build a massive 1,260 MW dam on the Mekong River’s mainstream at the Kaeng Luang rapids, 30 kilometers from Xayabouri town. This dam would affect thousands of local people directly, and millions more indirectly due to its impact on the Mekong River and its interconnected ecosystems.

Amnesty International update on Roma abuses


 â€œThey came with trucks and police and vans. We all had to leave in 20 minutes. I lost…everything. I wasn’t even there when the house was taken down”. Tomica, Belgrade

Since 2009, Roma communities in Belgrade, Serbia, have been living under the constant  threat of forced eviction by the authorities. Some, like Tomica, have already lost their homes. This is a violation of their right to adequate housing.

International Women’s Day


To mark the centenary of International Women’s Day events are taking place globally to highlight not only the outstanding achievements of women over the past 100 years but also the work that still needs to be done for women who are desperate to have their voices heard, who are living with the daily threat of violence and rape, or who simpy wish to attend school or control their own fertility.

Human Rights Perspectives: ‘Have we seen the emergence of post-national forms of citizenship?’


Post-national citizenship – J Sykes MA paper 2005

Double Standards of a Superpower – China Vs the US


Double Standards of a Superpower (April 2003) 

China’s president Hu Jintao was on a four-day tour of America last week, which was hailed as the most important state visit from China in over 30 years. The Obama adminsitration planned to use this time to heal the rift which has developed between the two world powers, along side raising concerns about nuclear energy and currency protection and broaching the terrible human rights record of the Chinese government, highlighted by the protests outside the White House by supporters of the persecuted Falun Gong and a ‘Free Tibet’ for example.

Human Rights Perspectives: ‘The objectives of European asylum systems are about control not humanitarian obligations’


European asylum systems – J Sykes MA paper 2006

Human Rights Perspectives: Roma in an Expanding Europe Union – UK Perspectives


Roma in an Expanding Europe Union – J Sykes MA thesis 2006


‘Roma are the largest pan-European minority, with a significant presence in every major European state’ (Oakley 2005, pp.2) existing at ‘a level of destitution almost indescribable’ (Refugee Council 1999, pp.37) and yet until recently they have been largely ignored by European institutions and the international community.

Haven’t mastered ‘nihongo’ yet? Get news from Japan in English


To read a Japanese newspaper they say you need to know at least 2000 kanji charaters – and more like 4000 if you really want to ‘get it’. I lived in Japan for two years and learnt by heart two of the three alphabets: hiragana – used for basic Japanese words, and  katakana – to capture foreign words or ideas. I also committed to memory about 200 kanji – nowhere near enough to read a magazine but I could read roadsigns, bus timetables, and more importantly, menus and cocktail lists.

Victory again for girl-political-power in Latin America


Costa Rica has sworn in its new president, Laura Chinchilla, in front of leaders from Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia and Georgia. Unfortunately, this triumph for parity in politics will taste bitter sweet for campaigners for abortion and gay rights in the central American country.

Did you know: there are currently 12 women presidents/prime ministers in office around the world!