European countries must work together to solve the asylum crisis

Today marks World Refugee Day, which aims to raise awareness of the plight of the 42.5 million people worldwide who remain forcibly displaced due to conflict and political persecution. The UNHCR’s Global Trends report, released earlier this week, shows how during 2011 major conflicts in Ivory Coast, Libya, Somalia and Sudan caused several major refugee crises, forcing more than 800,000 people into neighbouring countries, the highest in more than a decade, and internally displacing a further 3.5 million within the borders of their own countries.

Yet with world leaders focusing on the fate of the eurozone, the plight of the world’s most vulnerable people is in danger of being overlooked. As well as working together to solve our economic troubles, it is vital that we help the millions of men, women, and children who have been forced from their homes and had their lives thrown into a state of fear and uncertainty.  Continue reading

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What next in Syria?

The deaths of two Western journalists in Homs on Wednesday 22nd February appear to have been a critical turning point in the Syrian conflict. The Assad regime’s continuing refusal to halt its relentless shelling of the city are now leading to growing clamours for intervention in the Western media, and US and EU leaders have unanimously called for action. As every day brings yet more civilian deaths, and the specific targeting of reporters stokes fears that an imminent massacre is being planned, the pressure to act is rapidly growing. Continue reading

ACTA Protests: “Government of the People, by the Lobby Groups, for the Corporations”

European officials probably thought that no-one would take much notice when they signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) on 26th January, on behalf of the EU and 22 of its member-states. Two weeks later, mass protests erupted in cities all across Europe against the controversial treaty, criticising the secretive nature in which it was negotiated and claiming it will lead to a significant curtailing of internet freedom. Continue reading

China, the EU and the new race for Africa

In Luanda, the capital of Angola, Chinese construction workers are relentlessly putting up another skyscraper, one of many which have been popping up like mushrooms all over the city over the past few years. Back in 2002, this was a barren, impoverished place, ravaged by decades of civil war. Now it is the centre of one of the fastest growing economies on the planet, with new infrastructure and construction projects rapidly transforming the face of the country. Continue reading

The Internet Strikes Back

After SOPA and PIPA: the Entertainment Industry Needs to Adapt not Resist

The 18th January saw the Internet rise up and rear its head in an unprecedented show of force, with online giants such as Google, Wikipedia and Reddit leading a massive campaign against SOPA and PIPA, the planned anti-piracy bills being debated in the US Senate and Congress. Perhaps most hard-hitting, especially to students, was the terrifying ‘black-out’ of Wikipedia, which asked hapless users to “imagine a world without free knowledge.” Social networking sites soon began to buzz with talk about the dangers of the planned piracy bills, and by the end of the day political support for the bills had crumbled. American lawmakers and politicians began to realise just how much they had underestimated the power of the internet. Continue reading

Debating the British Bill of Rights: Shami Chakrabarti at Europe House

The European Parliament’s  office in the UK recently held a debate at Europe House as part of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2011. The topic was centred around the controversial British Bill of Rights, proposed as an alternative to the current system based on the Human Rights Act Continue reading