Friday, August 30, 2013
Is the 1925 Geneva Protocol a dead letter, if nobody is willing to enforce it?
Written during the time of the ill-fated League of Nations, the Protocol outlawed first use of chemical weapons, and is still being ratified in various places - Syria ratified it in 1968, Moldova in 2010. It was widely accepted as applying to use anywhere, including domestically, although some signatories weren't entirely happy to share that view.
The Protocol was written in a simpler time, when technology limitations meant that access to chemicals was restricted, the means of delivery were few, and pretty obvious, and the idea of using such weapons against your own citizens was almost unthinkable. Besides, they weren't very accurate, being vulnerable to wind shifts and the like.
The world is a much more complex place now, and delivery of chemical weapons much simpler, so the idea that only sovereign nations might use them is a flawed one. That has implications for enforcement, and I'm not convinced that existing international bodies are best suited to dealing with the new environment.
So, if it is to be assumed that last night's vote rules out British involvement in Syria in the near term, does this mean that we have effectively chosen not to enforce the Protocol?
I hope not. But perhaps if the United Kingdom finds itself in a position to bring the UN Security Council together to address the question of treaty enforcement in an era where sovereign states are not the only players, this may be an opportunity gained, rather than one lost.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
In Ros's new role as Chair of a sub-committee of the EU Select Committee, she is heading up an enquiry into the new Common Fisheries Policy, and I wondered out loud as to whether or not meeting some fishermen might not be interesting and informative. After all, Lowestoft isn't that far from home, and I'd never been. Ros agreed, and a meeting with the Lowestoft Fish Producers' Organisation was arranged.
The sun was shining as we headed for the coast, and we arrived in good time to meet the Chief Executive and the Chair at their office, filled with pictures of trawlers and of the port in its heyday. Then, the dock was crammed tight with fishing smacks, and fresh fish was distributed far and wide from the railway depot across the street. Now, sadly, there are just a dozen or so trawlers using Lowestoft as a base.
A number of local fishermen had come to meet Ros, who was keen to talk to them about the impact of the proposed discard ban. The more we talked, the more it became apparent that the mechanics of combining a discard ban with quotas are potentially very difficult, and that for smaller vessels, matters could be very tricky indeed. The science of fish survivability rates remains uncertain too, as factors such as technique used, water depth and air temperature all impact.
There was talk of spurdogs (spiny dogfish), which cannot be landed, but are very difficult to safely return to the sea alive, and the problems caused by bans on the catching of some types of skate but not others. It began to feel as though, in an attempt to address the problems created by huge seaborne fish processing factories, the European Union and the member states are applying an inflexible regime.
And yet, small trawlers offer relatively high levels of sustainability and low levels of discards, something to be encouraged, not buried in regulation and hedged in by unnecessary restrictions. In ensuring the survival and regeneration of fish stocks, we risk killing off an industry as a by-product.
All in all, it was a very enlightening meeting with a group of people I might never have met otherwise, on a subject I knew virtually nothing about previously. It does make me think that supporting a local industry by buying fish from local suppliers is worthwhile, and encouraging supermarkets to do the same might help. But, most of all, designing a fisheries policy towards sustainability of both fish stocks and local, small vessel, fishing fleets, might be the greatest thing of all.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Monday, August 19, 2013
That leaves the question, does the perceived cost to the community overcome a broader need for secure supplies of energy? With the apparent crisis in energy supply looming ever larger, to what extent should local concerns trump a possible greater good?
These are difficult questions, especially for small communities, where any such debate can become potentially rather personal. We can only wait and see how it will turn out...
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Friday, August 16, 2013
- Ability - demonstrable competence at doing your job.
- Benevolence - a concern for others beyond your own needs or motives.
- Integrity - adherence to a set of principles, such as fairness and honesty, that are acceptable to others.
- Predictability - a consistency of behaviour over time.
Saturday, August 10, 2013
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
On Thursday July 25, MS Power Projects met with members of the local community and delegates from both Creeting St Peter and Creeting St Mary Parish Councils at a public exhibition. All the members of the local community and delegates of the respective councils were invited to attend the public exhibition, which was held at the Church Hall in Creeting St Peter.