Isobel Coleman

Democracy in Development

Coleman maps the intersections between political reform, economic growth, and U.S. policy in the developing world.

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Showing posts for "Human Rights"

Women Leaders Under Attack

by Isobel Coleman
Shukria Barakzai campaigns for 2005 parliamentary elections in Kabul, August 22, 2005 (Courtesy Reuters/Zohra Bensemra). Shukria Barakzai campaigns for 2005 parliamentary elections in Kabul, August 22, 2005 (Courtesy Reuters/Zohra Bensemra).

In Afghanistan earlier this week, another female leader came under attack. Shukria Barakzai, an outspoken and high-profile member of Afghanistan’s parliament, narrowly escaped death when a suicide bomber rammed her armored car as she headed to work. At least three people were killed and many injured, but Barakzai escaped with only minor injuries. No stranger to death threats and assassination attempts, Barakzai has experienced several near misses during her many years as an activist and politician, and she readily accepts the personal risks she faces on a daily basis. Read more »

Debating Hillary Clinton’s Legacy as Secretary of State

by Isobel Coleman
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (2nd R) meets with Afghan women during a Civil Society roundtable discussion at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul October 20, 2011. From left are Selay Ghaffar, Maria Bashir, Fawzia Koofi, Clinton and Dr. Sima Samar (Kevin Lamaruqe/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (2nd R) meets with Afghan women during a civil society roundtable discussion at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul October 20, 2011. From left are Selay Ghaffar, Maria Bashir, Fawzia Koofi, Clinton and Dr. Sima Samar (Kevin Lamaruqe/Courtesy Reuters).

In light of the ongoing controversy over Benghazi, the New York Times’ Room for Debate asked contributors to weigh in on Hillary Clinton’s record as secretary of state. Read more »

Remarkable Women of 2012

by Isobel Coleman
Pakistani students stand next to a portrait of Malala Yousufzai as they attend a meeting organized by South Asian Women in media to mark "Malala Day" in Lahore, Pakistan, November 10, 2012 (Mohsin Raza/Courtesy Reuters). Pakistani students stand next to a portrait of Malala Yousufzai as they attend a meeting organized by South Asian Women in media to mark "Malala Day" in Lahore, Pakistan, November 10, 2012 (Mohsin Raza/Courtesy Reuters).

Among the many compelling stories of 2012 have been those of remarkable women fighting for rights and opportunities—for themselves, their communities, and their countries. In this post I highlight several such women and their courageous struggles. Read more »

Observing the International Day of the Girl

by Isobel Coleman
Students hold a placard during a rally in Peshawar, Pakistan on October 11, 2012 to condemn the attack on schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai (Fayaz Aziz/Courtesy Reuters). Students hold a placard during a rally in Peshawar, Pakistan on October 11, 2012 to condemn the attack on schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai (Fayaz Aziz/Courtesy Reuters).

Today is the United Nations’ first ever International Day of the Girl. The UN’s designation of this day reflects the growing awareness of the special challenges girls face around the world. It comes at a sober moment: just this week, the Taliban in Pakistan shot a 14 year-old schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, for her outspoken advocacy of girls’ education.  Although Malala survived the attack, she is in critical condition and the Taliban has vowed to finish the job if and when she leaves the hospital. Read more »

Iran’s Embattled Women

by Isobel Coleman
Schoolgirls attend the Iranian parliament in Tehran on November 15, 2009 (Morteza Nikoubazl/Courtesy Reuters). Schoolgirls attend the Iranian parliament in Tehran on November 15, 2009 (Morteza Nikoubazl/Courtesy Reuters).

In his speech at the UN General Assembly this week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tried to scale the blustery heights achieved in previous years–with predictable swipes at the European Union, Israel and the United States. Instead, he came across as a has-been bloviator, unable to escape his lame duck status and myriad problems at home, where he has his hands full with a deteriorating economy (hurt in no small part by tightened international sanctions), persistent internal political divisions, and continuing public disaffection, particularly among women. Read more »

Women, Free Speech, and the Tunisian Constitution

by Isobel Coleman
Women carry banners and shout slogans during a demonstration in Tunis on August 13, 2012 (Zoubeir Souissi/Courtesy Reuters). Women carry banners and shout slogans during a demonstration in Tunis on August 13, 2012 (Zoubeir Souissi/Courtesy Reuters).

The path to democracy hardly begins and ends with elections. There is necessarily a lot of heavy lifting along the way to ensure that a full set of human rights are protected. In the reconstituted Arab states of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, balancing conservative religious beliefs and social mores with minority rights, women’s rights, and freedom of speech is already proving to be a hard challenge indeed. Read more »

Missing Pieces: The Resource Curse, the Swelling Middle Class, and More

by Isobel Coleman
Afghan Mining Minister Wahidullah Shahrani speaks during a conference on Afghan mining opportunities in London, June 25, 2010 (Paul Hackett/Courtesy Reuters). Afghan Mining Minister Wahidullah Shahrani speaks during a conference on Afghan mining opportunities in London, June 25, 2010 (Paul Hackett/Courtesy Reuters).
In this edition of Missing Pieces, Charles Landow reviews items on resource wealth, the global middle class, international justice, and demography. Enjoy the selection as always.
  • The Resource Curse: With oil, gas, and minerals being found from Afghanistan to Mozambique to Papua New Guinea, the question of how to make natural resources a blessing instead of a curse remains crucial. CFR’s Terra Lawson-Remer takes it on in a new Policy Innovation Memo. To help countries counter corruption and boost transparency and accountability, she suggests extending the International Finance Corporation’s Sustainability Framework to bilateral as well as World Bank investments, boosting support for civil society in resource-rich countries, “internationaliz[ing] extractive-industry transparency requirements” across the world’s main stock markets, and strengthening monitoring of the Equator Principles for banks. CFR’s Stewart Patrick reviews the memo and the broader context on his blog. Read more »

Libya’s New Election Law: Part III

by Isobel Coleman
Residents protest against the presence of weapons inside the city of Tripoli in December 2011 (Ismail Zetouni/Courtesy Reuters). Residents protest against the presence of weapons inside the city of Tripoli in December 2011 (Ismail Zetouni/Courtesy Reuters).

On Wednesday, Libya’s interim government announced that it had finalized an election law to govern the choosing of a new 200-member National Assembly. The election, to be held prior to June 23, will be Libya’s first in more than four decades. In addition to managing the country’s affairs over the next year, the National Assembly will also be responsible for drafting the country’s new constitution. Read more »

“Vigilauntie” Reveals Deepening Tensions Between Liberals and Conservatives in Pakistan

by Isobel Coleman
Protesters hold up placards during a demonstration against the killing of journalists outside the headquarters of Pakistan's paramilitary force, the Pakistan Rangers, in Lahore in December 2011 (Mohsin Raza/Courtesy Reuters). Protesters hold up placards during a demonstration against the killing of journalists outside the headquarters of Pakistan's paramilitary force, the Pakistan Rangers, in Lahore in December 2011 (Mohsin Raza/Courtesy Reuters).

In media markets around the world, liberals and conservatives are duking out their positions – often in increasingly vitriolic terms (the U.S. is a case in point.) Pakistan’s media is increasingly coming to look like the front line in their protracted battle between liberals and conservatives, too often with dangerous consequences. As the Committee to Protect Journalists reports, being a Pakistani journalist has become increasingly dangerous, especially for those reporting on the touchy subjects of politics and war. The number of Pakistani journalists killed for their reporting has quadrupled in recent years. In one high profile case last summer, Syed Saleem Shahzad was killed after investigating a story on links between the Pakistan military and Al Qaeda. Just this month, Mukarram Khan Atif, a freelance reporter who sometimes worked with the Pashto service of Voice of America was killed – this time by the Taliban. Read more »

Faezeh Hashemi and Women’s Sports in Iran

by Isobel Coleman
The Iranian women's national soccer team before a qualifying match against Jordan for the 2012 London Olympic Games in June 2011. FIFA banned the Iranian team from the match (Ali Jarekji/Courtesy Reuters). The Iranian women's national soccer team before a qualifying match against Jordan for the 2012 London Olympic Games in June 2011. FIFA banned the Iranian team from the match (Ali Jarekji/Courtesy Reuters).

In recent weeks, the Iranian regime has cracked down on journalists and activists in the lead-up to parliamentary elections in early March 2012. In another instance of the regime eating its own, Faezeh Hashemi, the prominent daughter of former president Ayatollah Akbar Rafsanjani, was one of the activists targeted. On January 3, she was sentenced to 6 months in prison for spreading propaganda about the Islamic Republic. The charge is related to comments she made in April 2011 to an opposition news source accusing the regime of being run by “thugs and hooligans.” Hashemi herself was harassed by security forces on several occasions. As part of her sentence, she has been banned from any political or organizational activity for 5 years. She can appeal, but clearly the regime wants to keep her – and by extension her father – quiet in the run-up to the March elections. She’s a de facto hostage. Read more »