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Russia, the use of force and self-defence – The continued relevance of Public International Law

June 1, 2022

In a speech delivered by Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, justifying his invasion and attack on Ukraine on 24 February 2022, he claimed that he was lauching a 'special military operation' in self-defence due to the expansion of NATO eastward, and the increasing military, technology and other capabilities of Western states posing a security threat to Russia (Putin, 2022). He also argued that the Russian Federation was acting in collective self-defence with the Ukrainian regions: Donetsk and Luhansk, which had declared independence earlier in Feburary 2022 and had been unilaterally recognised by Russia. Without providing evidence Putin claims, that the Russian-speaking population of Donetsk and Luhansk are "facing humiliation and genocide, perpetrated by the Kyiv regime" (Putin, 2022). He alleged that the 'special military operation' was not an occupation, nor did it intend to interfere with the interests of the Ukrainian people, but rather that it was a response to the hostage-taking of Ukraine by neo-Nazis and Western powers. It should come as no surprise that the West's perspective is the exact opposite, accusing the Russian Federation of violating international law and the rules governing self-defence (Kerr, 2022). In the face of Russia's unjustified use of for against Ukraine, and the apparent inability of the international community's mechanisms and institutions to reign, Putin, in the continuined relevance of international law needs to be reviewed. To determine whether public international law is still alive and well, it is first necessary to look at the relevant law that governs the situation, the context and actions of the relevant stakeholders, and the enforcement mechanisms of the United Nations. Of course, it has become clear that the Russian Federation has committed violations of international law beyond the use of force prohibition in their armed attacks in Ukraine, which is beyond the scope of this article.

Gun rights groups set new lobbying spending record in 2021

May 16, 2022

On Saturday, an 18-year-old gunman entered the Tops Friendly Supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. He killed 10 people, injured three others and left a community reeling. Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas), who has received more funding from gun rights groups than any other politician since he was elected to Congress in 2012, condemned the racially-motivated mass shooting as "profoundly anti-American."But mass shootings are an increasingly common facet of American life. There have been 198 mass shootings in 132 days in 2022. The Buffalo massacre is the deadliest this year so far.Powerful gun rights groups including the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Gun Owners of America have poured millions into lobbying, campaign contributions and outside spending to advocate for the right to bear arms. At least 81.4 million Americans owned guns in 2021. Gun rights groups spent a record $15.8 million on lobbying in 2021 and $2 million in the first quarter of 2022. These organizations have invested $190 million in lobbying efforts since 1998. Gun rights advocates spent more than $114 million of that total since 2013.Lobbying by gun rights advocates nearly tripled in 2013 after a gunman murdered 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14, 2012. The following year was the closest the Senate has come in the last decade to passing meaningful gun control legislation.

Seeking Accountability and Justice for Crimes Committed in Ukraine

March 29, 2022

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a clear violation of the U.N. Charter and threatens to upend the rules-based international order established after World War II. With each passing day, there are a growing number of reports of indiscriminate attacks by Russia that likely constitute war crimes. Global outcry over Russia's alleged atrocities has included war crimes accusations at the highest levels, with President Joe Biden calling Russian President Vladimir Putin "a war criminal."To ensure accountability for crimes committed—and to attempt to deter future ones—it is imperative that the international community act swiftly to pursue justice; establish accountability mechanisms where needed for those committing crimes in Ukraine, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression; and enforce penalties. While these steps are unlikely to alter Putin's current course, if Russian soldiers and lower-level leaders see that there is a unified and determined effort to ensure they will be held accountable for atrocities committed against the Ukrainian people, they may change their calculus in carrying out Putin's orders. The international community's message must be clear: Russia's acts of aggression and any human rights violations against the Ukrainian people will not go unpunished.

A Democratic Norm Endures January 6th: Congress and Deference to States’ Election Certifications

March 26, 2022

The U.S. Congress rarely overturns elections to either of its chambers. Legislators tend to follow a norm of deference to election results lawfully submitted by states. This longstanding norm is the product of the Constitution, federal law, and habit. Yet, on January 6, 2021, the national legislature flirted with violating that norm and denying the presidency to Joseph Biden based on spurious claims of electoral fraud. Fortunately, legislators from both parties forged strong majorities to uphold the norm and subsequently reaffirmed it during Congress's review of a disputed Iowa congressional election. Viewing these events closely reveals both that those who sought to discard or uphold a norm argued from within the American democratic tradition and that partisan calculations were paramount.

Information and Resources for People Fleeing the Conflict in Ukraine

March 8, 2022

This guide is for people of all nationalities who have fled the war in Ukraine. If you are a citizen of Ukraine, you can enter countries in the Schengen area, or Romania or Moldova, without a visa. You can stay in these countries for up to 90 days. Information about entering these countries is below. If you are in a country in the European Union, you will be able to apply for temporary protection status, which will allow you to stay longer in that country. More information about this status is below.If you are not a Ukrainian citizen but are fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, you can also enter the below countries that neighbor Ukraine. This admission may be temporary (for example, to allow you to arrange to return to your home country). You may also be able to apply for a longer-term status, like temporary protection or asylum, if you had residency in Ukraine or are unable to return to your home country. This depends on what your legal status was in Ukraine and whether you are able to return to your home country. More information about temporary protection status is below. If you do not want to return to your home country, you may want to seek legal advice from one of the organizations below.

Abortion travel within the United States: An observational study of cross-state movement to obtain abortion care in 2017

March 3, 2022

Background: In the United States, abortion access is often more limited for people who live in states with few abortion facilities and restrictive abortion legislation. Pregnant people seeking an abortion thus often travel to access care.Methods: We calculated state-specific abortion rate (number of abortions per thousand women ages 15 to 44) and percentage of patients leaving for abortion care using CDC 2017 Abortion Surveillance data, the Guttmacher Institute's Abortion Provider Census and Pregnancies, Births and Abortions in the United States report, and US Census data. We categorized percent leaving by abortion policy landscape using the Guttmacher Institute's classification of state abortion laws, and by facility density (number of abortion facilities per million women ages 15 to 44), calculated using Census and Guttmacher data. We ran correlational tests between each of our variables (percent leaving, facility density, and policy environment), as well as between percent leaving and facility density within policy environment.Findings: In 2017, an average of 8% of US patients left their state of residence for abortion care. Percent leaving varied widely by state: 74% left Wyoming, 57% left South Carolina, and 56% left Missouri, while 13 states had fewer than 4% of patients leaving. States with more restrictive laws averaged 12% of patients leaving, while states with middle ground or supportive laws averaged 10% and 3% leaving, respectively. Pairwise correlations between percent leaving, facility density, and policy score were all statistically significant, though correlations between percent leaving and facility density within policy environment were not.Interpretation: Many patients travel across state lines for abortion care. While patients may leave for a range of reasons, restrictive state-level abortion policy and facility scarcity are associated with patients leaving their state of residence.

What the European Union and United States Need to Do to Address the Migration Crisis in Ukraine

March 1, 2022

As the United States and other countries formulate military and diplomatic responses to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, they should also be focusing on how to protect the growing number of people who are being forcibly displaced because of the conflict. Since the invasion began, more than 500,000 people have fled Ukraine into nearby EU member states, including Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania. That number will undoubtedly continue to rise.The number of people in Ukraine who are vulnerable to displacement ranges widely—from 1 million to 5 million—and could be the largest forcible displacement in Europe in the 21st century. This article provides recommendations for how the European Union and the United States can respond to this migration crisis.

Why Immigration Relief Matters

February 1, 2022

Undocumented immigrants make significant economic contributions and are integral members of communities across the United States; immigration relief is necessary to continue growing the economy and strengthening communities nationwide, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Child Access Prevention Laws and Firearm Storage: Results From a National Survey

February 1, 2022

IntroductionChild Access Prevention Negligent Storage (CAP-NS) laws seek to reduce pediatric firearm injury by imposing sanctions on gun owners if children gain access to unlocked guns. Whether these laws affect the storage behavior they aim to encourage is not known because historical panel data on firearm storage do not exist. As a result, assessing how much, if at all, firearm storage changed because of CAP-NS laws requires an indirect approach.MethodsData for this study came from a web-based survey conducted by the research firm Ipsos from July 30, 2019 to August 11, 2019. Respondents were adult gun owners drawn from an online sampling frame comprising approximately 55,000 U.S. adults recruited using address-based sampling methods to be representative of the U.S. population. The primary outcome was the proportion of gun owners in CAP-NS versus non-CAP-NS states who had ≥1 unlocked firearm. Estimates are presented by CAP-NS status, for gun owners overall and for those who live with children, before and after adjusting for potential confounders. Data were analyzed in 2021.ResultsIn adjusted analyses, gun owners in CAP-NS states were no more likely to lock firearms than were those in states without these laws. In addition, most gun owners reported not knowing whether they lived in a state with a CAP-NS law.ConclusionsCAP-NS laws have at best modest effects on firearm storage. If the storage effect is as small as this study indicates, the mortality benefits previously attributed to CAP-NS laws are overstated. As such, developing interventions that effectively reduce firearm mortality by reducing access to firearms remains an urgent clinical and public policy priority.

Racial Equity in Local Food Incentive Programs: Examining gaps in data and evaluation

January 19, 2022

Since 2002, over 60 local food procurement incentive bills for schools and early care sites have been introduced in state legislatures, and 23 have passed. While these bills promise benefits to children, schools, and producers, limited data collection and evaluation make it difficult to assess the true impacts of these policies' implementation. Data and evaluation focused on the equity impacts of these bills are especially sparse. In this commentary, the authors provide recommendations for improving data collection and evaluation of these local food incentive bills in order to inform and advance more equitable farm-to-school policy and programs.

New Orleans and the Hollow Prize Problem: Structural Limits on Black Political Power

January 10, 2022

Mayors in the United States often have more influence on the day-to-day activities of residents within their unique jurisdictions thanany other elected office. While each U.S. president holds significant power as Commander-In-Chief, the primary direct interface mostcitizens have with the U.S. Government is either through its taxing function or by receiving some form of financial benefit such as SocialSecurity or Medicaid. Each governor has wide powers in determining state funding priorities for highways, healthcare, and education,but not all citizens rely on these services to the same degree. Mayors, however, have a say in the provision of the services that residents use every single day. This includes water, sewerage, electricity, sanitation, roads, and drainage, to name a few.1

Disaster displacement and zoonotic disease dynamics: The impact of structural and chronic drivers in Sindh, Pakistan

December 8, 2021

Projected increases in human and animal displacement driven by climate change, disasters and related environmental degradation will have significant implications to global health. Pathways for infectious disease transmission including zoonoses, diseases transmitted between animals and humans, are complex and non-linear. While forced migration is considered an important driver for the spread of zoonoses, actual disease dynamics remain under researched. This paper presents the findings of a case study investigating how disaster displacement affected zoonotic disease transmission risk following the 2010 'superfloods' in Sindh province, Pakistan. We interviewed 30 key informants and 17 household members across 6 rural communities between March and November 2019, supported by observational studies and a review of secondary data. Results were analysed using the ecosocial theoretical framework. Buffalo, cattle and goats were often the only moveable asset, therefore livestock was an important consideration in determining displacement modality and destination location, and crowded locations were avoided to protect human and animal health. Meanwhile however, livestock was rarely included in the humanitarian response, resulting in communities and households fragmenting according to the availability of livestock provisions. We found that rather than a driver for disease, displacement acted as a process affecting community, household and individual zoonotic disease risk dynamics, based on available resources and social networks before, during and after displacement, rooted in the historical, political and socio-economic context. We conclude that in rural Sindh, disaster displaced populations' risk of zoonoses is the result of changes in dynamics rooted in pre-existing structural and chronic inequalities, making people more or less vulnerable to disease through multiple interlinked pathways. Our findings have implications for policy makers and humanitarian responders assisting displaced populations dependent on livestock, with a call to integrate livestock support in humanitarian policies and responses for health, survival and recovery.