19 February 2014
© Sochi 2014 Olympic Logo
The 2014 Winter Olympics are in full swing. The games, which take place in the Black Sea coastal city of Sochi, should have been a prestige project of huge importance for Russia’s image at home and abroad. Instead, they are turning out to become the most criticized games ever. The controversies surrounding the Sochi games are many: flagrant discrimination against the gay community, forced evictions of homeowners to make way for Olympic venues and infrastructure, environmental destruction of the surrounding land and, of course, the staggering costs of the whole enterprise, totaling an estimated 50 billion dollars. An issue that has received far less media attention is the abuse of migrant workers on whose backs the Olympic sites are built.
The transformation of Sochi from a quiet subtropical resort into a winter sporting paradise required the influx of thousands of workers from Central Asia, the Caucasus and other places. Dozens of these migrant workers were subjected to a range of abuses and exploitation, or so Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports. It claims that “employers cheated workers out of wages, required them to work 12-hour shifts with few days off, and confiscated passport and work permits, apparently to coerce workers to remain in exploitative jobs”. Since a host of different actors was involved in construction activities in and around Sochi, this blog post inquires which of these actors can be held responsible for their part in violating the rights of migrant workers. Let the Blame Games begin! (more…)
17 February 2014
This is our News Items Overview of 16 January 2014-15 February 2014, a summary of recent news relating to shared responsibility. (more…)
23 January 2014
Lion status in West African protected areas within lion range.
© P. Henschel, L. Coad, C. Burton, B. Chataigner, A. Dunn et al. (see footnote).
A recently published study showed that the lion in West Africa is now critically endangered and faces extinction. From one angle, this would be just one of the large (though unknown) number of species that has previously faced extinction or has even become extinct. But the risk of extinction of some species give more reason for pause than others. Surely the lion – a cultural icon for cultures across the world since time immemorial – deserves a moment of reflection.
The cited study describes how the lion was once the most successful large carnivore. Its range extended from South Africa, across Eurasia, and into the southern United States. Today, the lion’s range is restricted to Africa, with a population of the Asiatic sub-species in India. Lions in Africa have lost 75 percent of their range in the last 100 years. (more…)
20 January 2014
On 16 December 2013, the fourth SHARES Debate entitled Protecting the Arctic area – a responsibility of the Netherlands? was held in Amsterdam. The panel consisted of three speakers: Louwrens Hacquebord, René Lefeber, and Daniel Simons. André Nollkaemper acted as moderator. This blog post highlights the main parts of the debate.
Background – changes and threats
Through the melting of the ice of the Arctic, as a consequence of global warming, new economic opportunities for states and businesses arise. Areas that until recently were covered in ice are now opening up, creating, for example, permanent navigational routes between Asia and Europe, and enabling the exploitation of oil and gas resources that had been previously located in inaccessible areas. The Netherlands, as well as companies incorporated in the Netherlands, are among the many actors that want to capitalise on these new opportunities. The increase of economic activities can pose significant risks to the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic. This raises a fundamental question: who is responsible for the management, use and protection of the Arctic area? In this complex situation, question arise over the role and responsibility of the Netherlands and other actors, including Dutch companies such as Van Oord, Boskalis and Shell. (more…)
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17 January 2014
Central American regional relations don’t often hit the international news headlines. Yet for those of us with an interest in shared responsibility it would be worth keeping an eye on Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Their often tempestuous relationship touches on many of the issues raised by the complex socio-political and historical contexts, involving interconnected and interdependent realities and a multiplicity of different actors, in which the law of international responsibility is asked to do its work. Accordingly, this blog reflects upon shared responsibility in three areas; the environment, immigration and development, in light of the role played by states and by non-state actors from international organisations as diverse as the Ramsar Secretariat and the World Bank to organised armed groups and multinational corporations. (more…)