Opinion: The U.S. Can And Needs To Regain Trust Through Cloud

In July 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) struck down the 2016 EU-U.S. Privacy Shield. The Privacy Shield was designed to protect European data transfers to the U.S. With this ruling, one thing becomes clear. The U.S. must respect the rights of foreign citizens to preserve and grow its leadership in the cloud sector. U.S. surveillance regulations like FISA 702 and the CLOUD Act undermine its own economic interests and breed mistrust between the U.S. and its allies. Leading U.S. cloud providers will lose ground because of these regulations. America needs to take a hard look at how it can maintain global trust in its cloud services.

Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, three leading U.S. cloud providers, all fall under the definition of ‘electronic communications service providers.’ This means that they must comply with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), enacted to regulate U.S. surveillance of communications for foreign surveillance purposes. Specifically, Section 702 of FISA authorizes the acquisition of foreign intelligence about non-U.S. persons located outside of the U.S. FISA 702 also has no territorial limitations, meaning servers operated by U.S. cloud providers in the EU fall under its purview. In other words, personal data of non-U.S. citizens may be subject to surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies, understandably causing concern for EU regulators. In its ruling to shutter data transfers between EU entities and U.S. cloud providers, the CJEU declared that there is a clash between EU privacy law and U.S. surveillance law, citing FISA Section 702 as evidence. It mandated that EU entities using U.S. cloud services must switch “service providers” to those in the EU or in a country with “adequate protections.” This mandate effectively put an end to the transfer of EU data to U.S. cloud providers. Currently, the top 4 cloud providers in the EU are all American (AWS, Microsoft, Google, and IBM), and shuttering their services in the EU would be catastrophic for their business, especially considering their major infrastructure investments into the EU.

To remedy their privacy concerns, the EU has embarked on an ambitious cloud project called Gaia-X. The project is a collaboration between the European Commission, Germany, France, and various other organizations. While not designed as a direct competitor to U.S. clouds, Gaia-X hopes to create a unified ecosystem of cloud services protected by European data laws. This initiative is especially promising for EU homegrown cloud services and companies wishing to lower their GDPR and the CJEU ruling compliance costs. Prior to the July ruling, Gaia-X was not considered a serious contender against well-established U.S. cloud providers. However, the recent mandate has spurred much momentum to its development, showing just how noxious U.S. surveillance regulations are to its interests.

In data privacy negotiations between the U.S. and the EU, debate over U.S. federal privacy laws and surveillance oversight has been a hot topic. Several op-eds have already commented on how the U.S. should respond to the CJEU’s ruling, ranging from aggressive U.S. government pushback to the “immediate negotiations on a successor agreement.” It is a delicate balance between allowing EU citizens to have redress against U.S. surveillance versus tipping off terrorists. But whatever future transatlantic agreement may hold, it must respect the rights of citizens of another sovereign nation–the absolute basis of cooperation and collaboration. National security concerns over intelligence collection may be paramount, but they are empty without trust between allied nations. Pragmatically, a future model where U.S. technological prowess in cloud computing is not lorded over the rights of foreign citizens may not only help U.S. cloud providers find better success in expansion, but also foster more bilateral cooperation in counterterrorism. It is the perfect opportunity for the U.S. to solidify its leadership in cloud, embodied with the good faith necessary to handle personal data.

The economic benefits bestowed by leading the cloud revolution are vast – its potential benefit to U.S. foreign policy are enormous as well. The July ruling to strike down the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield serves as a wake-up call to re-examine how the cloud fits into U.S. diplomatic designs and furthers important national missions like counterterrorism. The U.S. is well positioned to regain the trust lost after the Snowden revelations. It is also capable of doing much more.  


Tianjiu Zuo is from Hong Kong and is studying Public Policy and Economics.

Be Careful With What You Say About The President: The Philippines’ New Terror Bill

What is the Anti-Terrorism Act? 

In early 2020, the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 was introduced in the Philippines as a replacement to the 2007 Human Security Act. The Act includes a broad definition of terrorism, including acts “to provoke or influence by intimidation the government or any of its international organization… or seriously undermine public safety…” It also includes dissent under the conditions that “it creates a serious risk to public safety.” Aside from the broadened definition of terrorism, human rights groups foresee issues due to the Act creating an Anti-Terrorism Council made up of members selected by the president who can call in specific people for questioning at their discretion.  

Furthermore, the 2007 Act required authorities to take suspected terrorists to a judicial official within 3 days of their apprehension but, this new law gives authorities the ability to hold suspected terrorists for up to 24 days before obtaining a warrant for their arrest. Another important change from the 2007 Act is the lack of reparations for anyone who is falsely detained upon their acquittal. According to Menardo Guevarra, President Duterte’s Justice Secretary, the costly damages for false arrests deterred prosecution under the 2007 Act. Different components of the Act remove safeguards provided by the judicial system.  

Why are People Worried if They are not Criminals? 

The prevailing fear from opponents of the Act is the uninhibited expansion of government powers. In 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte entered his office with the promise of conducting a “War on Drugs” and killing off 100,000 criminals in his first year of office. He did not fulfill his promise to kill such a high number of criminals, but the Philippines is now the focus of United Nations investigations into the extrajudicial killings of drug war victims. Despite international scrutiny of his administration, President Duterte continues to support the lack of police accountability and labeling of human rights groups as terrorist organizations. In September 2019, he publicly warned drug users, “Even with the United Nations listening, I will kill you, period.” This Act could facilitate the many threats President Duterte has given to both suspected drug users and his dissenters. 

Many have viewed Duterte’s zeal for the bill as a push to limit the human rights of all Filipinos in opposition to the current administration and legitimate the arrests of media members who have published reports against the administration. Just this year, Duterte supported the shutdown of ABS-CBN, one of the country’s major networks, by having his government’s telecommunication agency promptly request that they close after Congress refused to renew their broadcast franchise. Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo, who is not a member of Duterte’s political party, vocally opposes Duterte’s War on Drugs. She questioned the motives of the Act asking, “is terrorism really the focus of the Terror Bill? Or is it just interested in giving the state the powers to call anyone a terrorist?” Her question is of importance since the Act would allow the Duterte administration to target activists who are speaking up against the extrajudicial killings of the state once they lead protests which can be seen as “influencing the government by intimidation.” Additionally, the government has made use of Facebook and Twitter rants as evidence to charge teachers with inciting to sedition during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

#JunkTerrorBillNow Protests 

While Americans focused on Black Lives Matter protests, Filipinos found themselves on the streets to protest the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. The bill spawned heavy opposition from human rights groups, celebrities, and civilians who created petitions and organized opposition to the bill. Even Taylor Swift, an American pop star and critic of U.S. President Donald Trump, posted an Instagram story urging her followers to educate themselves on the fight against the bill with links to different petitions and ways to donate. The rallying call of protests was “aktibista, hindi terorista” (“I am an activist, not a terrorist”) to highlight the main issue with the bill. Despite dissent from around the world, President Duterte signed it into law on 3 July 2020. 


Vanessa Real Williams is from Angeles City, Philippines majoring in Public Policy with a Human Rights Certificate.  

Scotland’s Three Verdict System: a Look into “Not Proven”

If you ever find yourself in a Scottish court, you may be surprised to find that each trial can end one of three ways, instead of the traditional two-verdict system found in most courts around the world. In Scottish courts, there are three verdicts that can be called at the end of a trial: guilty, not guilty, and not proven. While there is no official definition of “not proven,” it is used instead of not guilty in cases where the jury cannot find enough evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict or acquit. The verdict of “not proven” comes from a historical Scottish criminal law practice in which the jury decided if each factual issue was adequately “proven” or “not proven.” Based on the jury’s findings, the judge would then determine if the proven facts were sufficient evidence to convict the defendant guilty of the criminal charge. In the 1700s, court dynamics shifted and juries began to decide if the defendant was guilty or not guilty, depending on if they were convinced by the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the option to return the verdict “not proven” was never withdrawn in Scotland and as a result still remains an option in Scottish courts today.

Nowadays, the verdict of “not proven” is associated with a “’second class acquittal” in instances where the jury clearly doesn’t view the defendant as innocent, but cannot convict him or her with confidence. Further, there are no legal consequences for a conviction of “not proven” as compared to “not guilty.” However, when a juror votes “not proven,” their vote goes towards an acquittal, giving the verdict of not proven identical legal effects to that of “not guilty”.

The result of this mirroring legal effect has made it much more difficult to get convictions in certain trials, especially rape trials. In one particular case this past October, a woman by the pseudonym Miss M sued her rapist after he was acquitted under the verdict of “not proven” in criminal court for rape. Miss M’s civil action case acted as a turning point in Scottish rape cases, as often the verdict of “not proven” is found when rape is taken to trial and rape victims are left without justice against their offenders. Rape trials are unique in that the majority of evidence is known as “he said, she said,” and often it can be difficult for the jury to decide who they believe and who’s story sounds more accurate. Scotland’s third verdict of “not proven” allows juries to come to a safer conclusion without making rash judgements on either side and assuming a defendant’s innocence or guilt. However, this verdict often leaves victims unresolved and in the same place they started.

Miss M’s civil action suit is significant because it marks the first instance in Scottish legal history in which a defendant is sued after being acquitted in a criminal trial. Many more women seem to be following suit in the trend of suing their perpetrators after their acquittal in Scottish courts. Miss M subsequently launched a campaign that seeks to end the verdict of “not proven” in Scottish courts. Her campaign is fueled by the fact that rape has the lowest conviction rate of any crime in Scotland at only 39 percent. Furthermore, almost 30 percent of acquittals are “not proven” in rape trials whereas only 17 percent of acquittals are “not proven” for all other crimes and offenses. Miss M argues that there is no reason to have the “not proven” verdict because it has the same impact as “not guilty” and produces the same, distressing effect on a victim whose perpetrator is declared “not proven.” One of her primary concerns is that the verdict of “not proven” provides an easy way out for juries to avoid a tough decision in rape cases, where there is so much doubt. The campaign claims that the verdict of “not proven” and juries’ usage of it “contributes to guilty people walking free,” and should be abolished.

However, there are some who advocate the positive aspects of “not proven,” including the Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament’s claim that it acts as a safeguard against wrongful convictions. If “not proven” is taken away as an option, juries may be quicker to judge whether a defendant is guilty or not guilty, even if there is not enough evidence to determine either way. Additionally, supporters of the three-verdict system argue that the verdict of “not proven” brings nuance to the courts and ensures that convictions are backed with confidence and adequate evidence.. While some victims find the three-verdict system pointless, leading to less convictions, others take comfort in the verdict of “not proven” since it can produce more satisfaction for a victim than calling their perpetrator “not guilty.” However, as shown by Miss M, sometimes a verdict of “not proven” is not enough to get the satisfaction that comes with a guilty verdict.

Advocates for the third verdict are far outnumbered by critics, and there are more efforts than just Miss M’s campaign that aim to abolish the verdict of “not proven.” The Scottish government conducted a consultation which surveyed people on their thoughts about Scotland’s third verdict. The majority of respondents indicated that they would like to see the “not proven” verdict abolished based on three main reasons, the  first being that the existence of “not proven” confuses juries and there is inadequate explanation of the verdict’s implications beyond acquittal. Further, since it holds the same legal implications as “not guilty,” respondents view “not proven” as unnecessary. Secondly, the not proven verdict is “incompatible with the presumption of innocence.” Respondents believe that it is incomplete of the legal system to release a defendant with lingering doubts over their innocence, and that rather, the court’s duty is to decide whether a person is innocent or guilty. The last main reason that respondents want the abolishment of the third verdict is because it strips the justice system of some of its credibility. Some emphasize that the concept of not proven should be taken into consideration when deciding on a verdict, but shouldn’t be an option for a verdict.

With all of the controversy surrounding the third-verdict system in Scottish courts, it is possible that the Scottish government will reconsider the structure of their court system. While the three-verdict system keeps an aspect of Scottish legal history alive in criminal courts, it puts certain victims at a disadvantage in their cases and victims are left feeling unsatisfied and untrusting of the justice system. While the three-verdict system is an interesting differentiation from the traditional court structure, its repercussions can at times cause more harm than good, suggesting that it may be time for a shift in structure.

Chloe Meyers is a sophomore at Duke from Los Angeles, California. She is studying Environmental Science and Policy and Psychology.

Uighur Man in Demonstration

Forced Internment of Uighurs in Xinjiang, China

In Xinjiang, the north-west region of China, up to one million Uighurs are being detained in internment camps that have been legally recognized as legitimate re-education camps by the Chinese government. Uighurs are a predominantly Turkish speaking and Muslim minority in Xinjiang. Since the implementation of an anti-terrorist campaign in Xinjiang in 2014, the number of Uighurs arrested and detained has increased substantially and continues to grow. Although the existence of these internment camps was initially denied by the Chinese government, the government now recognizes and legitimize the camps as “vocational skills and educational training centers” through updated legislation. This new form of legal recognition and substantiation for the region of Xinjiang’s actions marks a shift in the Chinese government’s attitude towards the camps, suggesting a sense of ownership rather than shame. Yet, the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China calls these camps “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.”

Initially, the Chinese government denied the existence of these internment camps, instead replying to international criticism that they were sending petty criminals to “education and training centers.” However, there had long been international skepticism that the Chinese government is detaining hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and believes that they are associated with extremist actions and terrorism. Recently, the Chinese government updated their legal policy to officially legitimize and recognize these camps, affirming the skepticism of international human rights organizations. However the government has yet to fully admit the true purpose of the camps or what actually occurs inside the confines. Additionally, the government declined to release information regarding both the number of camps in existence as well as how many people are currently being held in the camps, although the number of people in the camps is estimated to be around one million.

These internment camps, also known as re-education camps according to the Chinese government, were created for Uighur Muslims specifically in Xinjiang who the Chinese government believe are influenced by extremism. The camps are heavily secured through prison-like surrounding walls, security fences, extensive surveillance systems, watch towers, and are guarded by armed forces, none of which suggest that these camps are merely education centers. Recently, a Chinese TV station gave a look inside the camps. The propagandist TV program revealed students studying a variety of nationalistic topics such as Mandarin, job-relevant skills, and China’s various legal codes. Additionally, a young woman who was interviewed in the video testified that she didn’t know where she’d be if she wasn’t at the camp, and that she perhaps “would have followed those religious extremists into a life of crime.” No other source of media has been allowed inside the camps. Detainees who have been released from the camps describe them differently, reporting forced activities such as listening to lectures and singing hymns praising the Chinese Communist Party in order to remove any devotion to Islam. Some sources have also suggested that there is both physical and mental torture in the camps, and that those who do not follow the rules exactly or cannot remember the words to a hymn are deprived of meals. There are also testimonials of former detainees who have testified to the brainwashing and humiliation, along with torture, that occurs in the confinements of the camps.

Chinese legal authorities have now updated legislation to legalize these re-education camps and in doing so have openly admitted to the existence of these camps. This revision, issued by the regional legislature, recognizes the camps’ usage as part of the Chinese government’s overall efforts to eliminate “religious extremism” in Xinjiang. Examples of behavior included in the new legislation that could result in detainment include practicing the Islamic concept of Halal to areas outside of diet, refusing to watch state TV channels and listen to state radio, as well as preventing children from receiving a state education. There have been laws in the past that have also pushed this anti-extremist agenda to suppresses the Uighur population of Xinjiang, including a ban in 2017 on men growing “abnormally” long beards or wearing veils in public locations. Further, there have been laws which ban the promotion of religion, which extend to something as simple as having an unusual name.

The scope of the human rights violations occurring in Xinjiang hasn’t been seen in China for over 50 years since the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The occurrences in Xinjiang have gained attention from the United Nations, specifically the UN Responsibility to Protect. The UN Responsibility to Protect, or R2P, is a commitment by the United Nations to “end the worst forms of violence and persecution,” specifically by helping populations at risk for genocide and taking action against war crimes and crimes against humanity. R2P doesn’t seek to impose upon another state’s sovereignty, but rather aims to protect populations against human rights violations when the state’s ability to do so is incapacitated or if the state itself is the one committing human rights violations. It is difficult to determine the degree to which the internment of Uighurs in Xinjiang falls under the purview of R2P, as well as if other states can and should intervene in the situation. However, with enough global and social pressure and the possibility of external investigation, the Chinese government could potentially close the camps to uphold their international reputation. Through China’s new legalization and public recognition of the camps, more social pressure, both from the public eye as well as the international humans rights community, will be placed on the Chinese government to end the oppression of Uighurs in Xinjiang.

Chloe Meyers is a sophomore at Duke from Los Angeles, California. She is studying Environmental Science and Policy and Psychology.

Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan

UAE Anti-Terrorism Policy: A Step In The Right Direction

In efforts to comply with UN anti-terrorism policy and show a commitment to anti-terrorism, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) passed a law to curtail money laundering and terrorism financing on October 23. This piece of legislation comes after many decades of the UAE being scrutinized in the international sphere for aiding terrorists and having a lax militant financing policy, and serves as a fundamental pillar for countering terrorism in an area which has never seen such a law passed. The UAE expects this law to decrease militancy and paralyze international terrorism funding.

UAE Terrorism History

The United Arab Emirates has an unfortunate history of involvement with terrorism. Though there have been no official links to state sponsored terrorism, the nation has long been  used by investors to raise money in support of militants in the Middle East. Despite efforts by the UAE government to enforce a zero tolerance policy on terrorism financing, there have been investors who slipped through the cracks.This policy criminalized the intentional provision or collection of funds to finance terrorism and asked United Nations General Assembly member states to uphold this policy, but many member states violated their obligations. Despite this policy, it is widely believed that the UAE has close ties to the 9/11 attacks and is linked to funding the terrorism cells that were involved, having been singled out for money laundering. However, the government adopted an antiterrorism mission in April 2015.

The UAE armed forces trained and equipped about 60,000 Yemeni forces in May of 2018 to fight Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). This was the first official counterterrorism mission in the nation, albeit controversial. Both civilians and militants have been killed in the fight, including one particular strike which killed 44 school children in a bombing, causing some to question the mission’s legitimacy. Nevertheless, the UAE has been able to damage the AQAP in Yemen to such an extent that its ability to export terrorism internationally is now almost negligible. Still, there are many questions about the legitimacy of this mission, as the Associated Press in Yemen announced the the UAE was actually there to cut secret deals with Al Qaeda. These secret deals were rumored to pay off terrorists to leave certain cities, allowing Al Qaeda members to keep their lives and strengthen their regime with the newfound funds. The UAE has dramatically transitioned from a place that fostered terrorism to one that actively opposes it, though historical precedence implies that this transition may not be entirely effective or successful.

Anti-Terrorism Law

An undisputed step in the right direction for the UAE’s fight against terrorism came in the form of Federal Decree No. 20 of 2018. This law equips relevant agencies to detect and counter money-laundering crimes through the creation of a financial information unit to receive and investigate all reports submitted by financial institutions and other corporate establishments regarding suspected illicit financial activity. This unit will also share the information with relevant law enforcement agencies.  Through changing the definition and the severity of money laundering, the UAE magnifies the offense as a prevention mechanism in the nation.This law redefines money laundering as “deriving money from a felony or misdemeanor, and intentionally committing  one of the following acts: transferring proceeds of crime with intent to conceal the illicit origin” and stipulates that any person charged with money laundering will in addition, be charged with the predicate offense. This is coupled with the establishment of an independent branch of the central bank, with the sole purpose of receiving and investigating reports of alleged money laundering both domestically and internationally. These two facets to the law are aimed not only at eliminating domestic money laundering used for terrorism financing, but also for uprooting international money laundering, marking a step in the right direction towards the fight against state sponsored terrorism.

Eliza Farley is currently a freshman at Duke from New Canaan, Connecticut. She is studying economics and entrepreneurship.

Renewable Energy

Germany’s Environmental Policy: A Deeper Look

On May 11, 2011, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Germany would be phasing out all nuclear energy and shutting down all seventeen of Germany’s nuclear power stations by 2022. This monumental and groundbreaking decision put Germany in the spotlight and called attention to Germany’s overarching emphasis on environmental policies. Throughout history, Germany has proven to be one of the most environmentally friendly, if not the most environmentally friendly, countries in the world both through their policies and their citizens’ commitment to sustainability.

Germany has several environmental laws that set them apart from the rest of the world and elevates their commitment to the environment. A few notable policies include the Renewable Energy Act, the Eco-tax, the Cogeneration Act, the Energy Conservation Act, the Energy Conservation Ordinance, and the Ecodesign Directive (ErP).

The Renewable Energy Sources Act

The Renewable Energy Sources Act is probably the most essential aspect of Germany’s nuclear phase out and has proven to be a vital part of Germany’s Energiewende strategy, which loosely translates to energy transition. As stated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, “renewable energy is the most important source of electricity for Germany,” so much so, that renewable energy is one of the “central pillars in Germany’s energy transition.” The Renewable Energy Sources Act aims to transition all created energy and consumed electricity towards renewable sources. There are a few main mechanisms through which this is done, including the integration of electricity from renewable energy sources into the electricity supply grid and the direct sales of electricity from renewable sources. Additionally, the price of renewable energy-generated electricity is determined through auctions and is always kept low to encourage market sales. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy notes an impressive progression in renewable energy through the aid of the Renewable Energy Act, which has increased renewable energy by 30 percent from 2000 to 2017. Overall, the Renewable Energy Act has proven to be the most successful tool for boosting the growth and usage of renewables in Germany.

Ecological Tax Reform

In 1999, Germany introduced the eco-tax, a three-stage reform plan that attempts to reduce fossil fuel consumption. The first stage, implemented in 1999, put a tax on gasoline, heating fuel, natural gas, and electricity. The second stage was implemented from 2000 t o2003, and increased taxes that were instituted during the first stage. The third stage maintains the 2003 period tax levels, however requires the government to continue comprehensive studies, evaluating the effectiveness of these taxes.

The implications of this tax require that the federal finance ministry reports on their penetration of biofuels as well as the price developments of biomass, crude oil, and automobile fuels every two years. This requirement ensures that all prices are transparent to the public. Another implication of these taxes are the increased prices of fossil fuels, which have led to competition in the renewable energy technology field. These increased taxes have actually incentivized companies to create more environmentally friendly energy sources and to do so in the most efficient way possible.  

The Cogeneration Act

The Cogeneration Act, also known as the Heat-Power Cogeneration act, was adopted in 2002 in an effort to shift 25 percent of Germany’s power supply to come from cogeneration units by 2020, which combine heat and power to generate electricity and usable heat, simultaneously. By establishing this act, Germany plans to increase their power and heat efficiency through paying bonuses for each kilowatt-hour of power produced by a cogeneration unit. The only major requirement for receiving these bonuses is that the cogeneration unit must effectively reduce at least ten percent of primary energy consumption, while also accounting for the energy lost from primary energy consumption. The Cogeneration Act was updated in 2017 with two major revisions: the bonus was increased from 5.41 euro cents to 8 euro cents and the time frame for the act was changed from 10 years to 60,000 operating hours of cogeneration energy.

Energy Conservation Act

The Energy Conservation Act sets up the legal framework for promoting energy transition in the building sector. Its purpose is to implement the German Federal Government’s decisions about energy and the act is based on overall European guidelines. The act’s last amendment, enacted in 2013, specifically provides the legal basis for the Energy Conservation Ordinance. It also introduces an energy standard requirement to new buildings which involves reducing their energy consumption to nearly zero, coined as a “nearly zero-energy building.” This is done by having the building generate just as much energy as it consumes within a year.

Energy Conservation Ordinance

The Energy Conservation Ordinance was introduced in 2014 and has several key amendments that create a framework for the energy of buildings. One of the key amendments included in the ordinance is a higher efficiency standard applied to new buildings built from January 1st onward. This standard requires an approximate 25 percent reduction of energy consumption per building and 20 percent reduction of heat transfer loss. Another amendment included is the obligation to disclose important energy information and figures, when advertising real estate. The ordinance also includes an amendment clarifying and enforcing the obligation to present an energy performance certificate either to potential buyers and tenants when evaluating real estate or to the public in buildings that are frequently visited by the public. These amendments work in effort to increase transparency in the energy system and encourage “good” performance ratings to display.

Ecodesign Directive (ErP)

The Ecodesign Directive is a European directive set in 2005 that states minimum requirements for creating environmentally friendly and ecologically considerate product designs. It has been utilized by Germany often, in order to aid the sustainability of design in Germany and  drive the competition in the eco-design field. At its height of success, the Ecodesign Directive can strengthen and stimulate the market so that it is filled with environmentally friendly and sound products, while furthering incentivizing sustainable designs.

There are many other laws and policies, such as the Renewable Energies Heat Act, that act as important players in German environmental policy, aside from those described above.

Germany’s current state of environmental superiority is a testament to the real environmental improvement that may occur when all of these laws, acts, ordinances, and other regulations work in conjunction and are followed by the German people. German environmental policies can, and should, act as a guideline for other countries to follow in suit when trying to increase sustainability and decrease harmful emissions, such as fossil fuels. Additionally, it is the effort and the devotion of the German people towards the environmental cause that puts Germany’s commitment to the sustainability above and beyond all others.

Chloe Meyers is a sophomore at Duke from Los Angeles, California. She is studying Environmental Science and Policy and Psychology.


Malaysia to Abolish Death Penalty

Malaysia’s Chief Minister announced on October 3rd, that the nation will abolish the death penalty for all crimes, and will nullify all pending executions. This comes after a push from human rights activists and organizations, including but not limited to Amnesty International. Malaysia has been known for keeping their death row prisoners in the dark about their execution dates as well as the results of their appeals. The country is also notoriously strict about enforcing the death penalty, as it is a mandatory punishment for a wide range of crimes, including charges such as drug possession. In fact, there have been tourists in the country executed for such crimes, despite backlash from western nations. Such an instance occurred in 1986 when two Australian citizens, Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers, were found with heroin on their person. The harsh Malaysian government had just newly prescribed death for anyone possessing over 15 grams, so these men became the first westerners to be executed in Malaysia under this rule. These executions reverberated in the international community, straining political relations with Malaysia and causing major public outcry.

History of Malaysian Capital Punishment

Capital punishment in Malaysia came about from a mixture of the common law system inherited by the British and Islamic cultures. The amalgamation of many ethnicities and religions in the nation led to a unique governmental view on crimes, highly emphasizing the death penalty. This resulted in hundreds of executions in the past decade alone, and over 1,200 people on death row. However, NGOs, lawyers, political societies, and activist groups have been calling for the repeal of this easily given death penalty. Many Asian politicians express their distaste for it as well, stating they would rather step down than sign a death warrant. Despite the opposition, there is a deep regional history in the death penalty that makes the government hesitant to change. 95 percent of the death sentences commuted worldwide take place in Asia–why should Malaysia be the one to eliminate it? In context, all member states of the European Union have abolished the death sentence, while 24 states in Asia maintain it.

Malaysian Repeal

Malaysia has been reviewed twice by the United Nations Human Rights Council, in 2009 and 2013, in which their statistics on their use of the death penalty did not line up with the law. While Malaysia cited that the death penalty was only used for the most egregious crimes, the majority of inmates on death row were actually there for drug related offenses. The nation was found to be very lenient with its death penalty sentences. Malaysia’s membership on the Human Rights Council ended shortly after these reviews.

Against the odds, Malaysia’s government announced on October 3, 2018 its desire to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, and halt all pending executions. This is a monumental decision, not only because they have always relied so heavily on capital punishment, but also because of the high volume of people currently on Malaysia’s death row. However, this is just the beginning for human rights development within the nation, as the Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has made promises to bolster human rights and eradicate corruption. In fact, the 1948 Sedition Act, is to be imminently abolished simultaneously, and will allow for greater free speech throughout the nation.

Although this is not a solution for all the corruption and human rights issues within Malaysia, it is certainly an optimistic step towards more humane punishment. The abolition of the death penalty has given the people of Malaysia hope for the future of their nation, and has eased some tensions within the international community.

Eliza Farley is a current freshman at Duke from New Canaan, Connecticut. She is studying Economics and Entrepreneurship.

The Aquarius in 2017

The African Refugee Crisis: Claiming Asylum in the European Union

This past summer, the Aquarius Migrant search and rescue ship run by Doctors Without Borders landed on Italy’s coast carrying 629 migrants. The migrants came from 26 countries in Africa, and includes 123 minors, 11 small children, and seven pregnant women. All of the migrants were rescued by the Aquarius from six boats that were overcrowded in the Mediterranean. Aquarius currently monitors the area between the coast of Libya and Italy, as many refugees coming from sub-Saharan Africa pass through Libya on their way to Italy.

Italy’s far-right Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, refused the ship, saying “Rescuing lives is a duty, transforming Italy into an enormous refugee camp is not. Italy has stopped bowing its head and obeying.” Italy directed Aquarius towards Malta, claiming that the ship was closer to their coast. Malta also refused the ship, deferring responsibility back to Italy. After being stranded at sea for a week, Spain’s new socialist prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, finally welcomed the ship. “It is our duty to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a safe port to these people, to comply with our human rights obligations,” President Sanchez said.

This reignited an ongoing debate about a country’s responsibility to give asylum to refugees. Africa, particularly the sub-Saharan region, hold over 26 percent of the world’s refugee population. Many seek refuge in Europe, but as the situation with the Aquarius ship demonstrates, there are still many systems in place that prevent them from seeking better lives. These systems include the process of migrating and the challenges refugees face once they reach a European country, such as receiving asylum, and coping with xenophobia and economic inequality.

Here’s what you need to know about the African refugee crisis.

Where most refugees are from:

Many sub-Saharan refugees seek asylum because of violence stemming from internal conflict. Those from Central African Republic escaped a civil war that has been going on since 2016, displacing over a million people. About 280,000 Somali immigrants live in Europe, largely due to the multiple civil wars the country experienced, including the current war between the Somali government and various opposition groups, such as al-Shabaab. Other regions that have produced asylum seekers because of internal conflict are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, and Sudan.

In addition to conflict, economic instability is another primary motive for immigration. The average income in Africa is $2000, which is $1625 less than in other areas of the developing world. In the United Nations Development Programme which measures human development based on life expectancy, adult literacy, and purchasing power, Sub-Saharan Africa has 14 of the 17 refugee-producing countries in the bottom fifth of the index.

Their journeys to Europe

Like the sub-Saharan African refugees on the Aquarius, many sub-Saharan refugees go to Europe from Libya and cross the Mediterranean on overcrowded boats. They hire smugglers to get them through the Sahara desert to Libya, where many are subject to abuse by smugglers upon arrival. Sabha, a city in the south of Libya is filled with corpses from migrants who either were murdered or died from thirst and hunger. There is also the general fear of getting sold into a slave market in Libya, as displayed by videos of African refugees being sold in a slave auction in 2017. Many claim that European countries, such as Italy, is contributing to the abuse of the African refugees on their journey to Europe. Some critics of the European Union say that through tightening borders, the EU is ‘outsourcing’ responsibility to countries like Libya and Niger. However, Libya and Niger aren’t as well-resourced, and don’t have the same human rights standards as European countries, which puts refugees in danger.

European Union’s Policy on Asylum Seekers

The European Union currently has the Common European Asylum System, which states that migrants who qualify as refugees due to safety concerns may be granted asylum. Undocumented economic migrants, which are migrants who do not face an immediate threat of danger, are required by the EU to be deported to their country of origin. An immediate threat of danger is measured by whether a person, who is deported to their country of origin, will experience the same situation that they were escaping from. Many member states, such as Italy, have violated the Common European Asylum System, and abused the “Dublin” regulation, which states that EU member states can deport asylum seekers to their first country of entry. The “Dublin” regulation is controversial, especially among states that are common first points of entry, such as Greece.

In general, there aren’t many consequences by the European Union for when a country doesn’t follow the Common European Asylum System or international law. Italy violated the International Convention for the Safety Life at Sea, which states that any stress at distress in sea must be helped by the country it’s closest to, but didn’t received repercussions from the EU. Nor are there any consequences for countries, like Greece, where abuse of refugees persists.

Furthermore, the Common European Asylum System doesn’t have a clear set of regulations for how countries are supposed to treat asylum seekers. There has been more pressure in the past to make the regulations more specific to hold the countries more accountable. However, this remains incredibly controversial to countries that don’t want many refugees. In fact, the proposal for a set of new regulations in the Common European Union system has been noted as a primary motivation behind England’s Brexit. Nearly 75 percent of British people who voted in favor for Brexit, stated that immigration was the main factor in their decision.

The African refugee crisis does not seem to be ending anytime soon, as economic and political instability still persists in many parts of the continent. However, the mistreatment of refugees by the European Union doesn’t only apply to sub-Saharan African refugees, but also refugees coming from parts of the Arab world, such as Syria and Jordan.

The case with the Aquarius begs the question of how much power the European Union wields over member states. Do sovereign countries have a right to dictate who enters their borders, or do they relinquish that right when they become a part of the EU? Furthermore, who ought to be holding these smugglers, slave market organizers, and other abusers of refugees, accountable?

Nora Benmamoun is a first year undergraduate student from Champaign, Illinois and plans to major in psychology and public policy.


Indefinite Solitary Confinement Ruled Unconstitutional in British Columbia

Summary: The Supreme Court of BC has classified indefinite solitary confinement as a form of torture and a breach of Canadian prisoners’ rights.

On January 17, 2018, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled Canadian prisons’ use of indefinite solitary confinement unconstitutional. The court ruled that the practice of allowing the wardens to place an unjustified expiration date on prisoners’ time in solitary was equivalent to torture and placed them at an increased risk of self-harm and suicide. Justice Peter Leask wrote in his decision that this indefinite administrative segregation violated the rights afforded to prisoners under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically the right to not be deprived of the security of life and the person protected by this section. While this section does clarify that these rights are subject to seizure in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice, Leask did not believe that this practice was necessary to carry out proper justice. He based this decision on the belief that indefinite administrative segregation does not succeed in preparing inmates to be returned to society and, instead, produces more violent and damaged inmates. Leask also feared that the practice was being used to discriminate against the “mentally ill, disabled, and First Nations.”

This case was brought before the Court by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the John Howard Society of Canada. Mirroring a similar ruling in Ontario, the ruling caught the attention of the Public Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale, who has helped introduce a bill before Parliament that intends to place limits on how long inmates can be placed in solitary confinement. The ruling comes on the heels of multiple tragic deaths of inmates as a result of the administrative segregation program. One inmate, Edward Snowshoe, took his own life after spending five months in solitary at two different institutions.

The topic of solitary confinement has become highly politicized in the push for prison reform. The United Nations has even become involved. In 2011, the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment claimed that any form of solitary confinement of the mentally ill and any solitary confinement lasting longer than 15 days is to be considered a form of torture in their eyes. However, as the Convention currently stands, countries face no consequences of ignoring this decision other than receiving a condemnation from the UN, which will do little to incentivize any further action on the topic, considering that over 25 of current members of the UN engage in some form of solitary confinement longer than 15 days.

The Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, opposed the BC ruling, claiming that administrative segregation was not torturous or as bad as it has been made out to be since inmates placed under administrative segregation have “daily opportunity for meaningful human contact,” as opposed to disciplinary segregation, which has very little human interaction and is capped at a maximum of 30 days. In response to the ruling, the Minister of Justice asked for a twelve-month suspension before the practice could be ruled illegal in order to allow for the government to prepare the proper legislation to make the necessary changes.

Hunter Snowden is a junior majoring in Political Science and Philosophy from Dallas, Texas.


“Violence Begets Violence”: Addressing Chile’s Anti-Terrorist Laws

In recent address to the Mapuche indigenous population, Pope Francis implored the community to refrain from violent demonstration. Before the papal address, he was received with the firebombing of three churches with no recorded injuries. This week hails the return of a presidential administration known for aggression, while the past several weeks illustrate the reignited conflict surrounding the Chilean government’s use of anti-terrorist tactics to prosecute demonstrators. In the South of Chile, urges for peace collide with outcries for change.

The Araucanía Region hosts this conflict. The region is composed of subsidized tracts of land purchased by private developers disputed by the indigenous populations.  The commodification of this territory followed the administration of  General Augusto Pinochet. His regime was toppled in 1990. The Chilean economy has since grown to be heavily extractive at great cost to the Mapuche, according to Silverio Loncopán, a community leader in a region adjacent to the Trancura river. As the first Latin American country to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Chile maintains a forestry industry that makes up thirteen percent of the national gross domestic product alongside sustainability initiatives targeted to rivers like Trancura.

Notably, the current presidential administration of Michelle Bachelet has already mapped plans for expropriating land for 115 Mapuche communities in the past year. However, in public address, it was revealed that these plans were halted due to the tripling of prices touted by the current landholders.

The most recent demonstrations of protest have come in the wake of almost a half-century of resistance that federal authorities formulate as criminal economic sabotage and terrorism. Associated acts include intentional burning of property, land occupation, use of explosives, and organized public demonstration. Chile’s urban sectors have popularly condemned the activism as violent, following an emblematized prosecution of eleven Mapuche community members charged with the killing of an elderly couple in 2013. These defendants were acquitted last October, but popular dissent for these actions pervades.

Courts in Chile have been imposing anti-terrorism measures in the prosecution of the indigenous since 2001, but the contemporary legislation is merely amended from the same violent military regime of decades before. These constitutional statutes repeal due-process protections for the accused. A subsequent report from Human Rights Watch itemized the violations. Last year’s arrest of eight Mapuche activists without formal warrant or charge other than “illicit terrorist association” substantiates the report’s findings. The defendants face extensive pre-trial detention, secret investigations from the public prosecutor, and faceless testimony, among other restrictions.

The Mapuche conflict is not isolated to Chilean borders. An expanse of territories blanketing the South of Argentina introduces even more variability for understanding this struggle. In 2012, the neighboring congress approved legislation that effectively doubles the sentences served by defendants deemed to hold “terrorist intent.” The motivations for this remain unclear and lack explicit, official address. Argentine officials are deliberating on a modernization of the decade old law, but it is unlikely to bode well for the Mapuche due to a wave of public sentiment following the death of several nationals inside the US.

Recently, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has gone on record saying that “[c]riminalization [in Latin America] is really about using the justice system to stop indigenous peoples from pursuing their own activities and their own actions against projects that are destructive to them.” Despite repeated condemnation from organizations like Human Rights Watch , Amnesty International, and United Nations’ special counsel, the current administration has not taken significant action.

Having undergone its presidential elections in December, a familiar administration headed by former right-wing president Sebastián Piñera will take office in at the beginning of this week. It is unlikely the vicious anti-terrorist statute will find reform and may, in fact, worsen as Piñera has gone on record stating, “the terrorists should not be given even a millimeter of advantage; they must be combated with all the rigor of the law.” Following Piñera’s victory, US President Donald Trump extended an invitation to the White House to discuss “issues of mutual interest.” It is vital to note Trump has demonstrated explicit harm toward native populations within the US. The most noteworthy example is the violent militarized tactics used against indigenous and environmental activists following his approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline in 2017. If these actions set a violent precedent inside the United States, an open discourse between the White House and La Moneda Palace (the Chilean presidential residence) may warrant concern for the Mapuche.

In a site visit to the Trankura, Silverio emphasized that the insular Mapuche culture is heavily community-oriented, with appropriately scaled markets that serve to bolster the collective well-being without detriment to the surrounding resources.

The papal visit offered a less-than critical analysis of the Mapuche conflict. When initiatives for sustainable development undermine that economic and cultural autonomy, a framework built on “casting of the first stone” fails. In consequence, we can not expect resolution in the coming political climate while centralized violence remains.

Joshua Smith is a Junior from Johnson City, Tennessee studying Political Economy at Duke University.

Katie Nelson Photography;