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International Religious Freedom Report for 2013

July 28, 2014 Comments off

International Religious Freedom Report for 2013
Source: U.S. Department of State

In 2013, the world witnessed the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory. In almost every corner of the globe, millions of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and others representing a range of faiths were forced from their homes on account of their religious beliefs. Out of fear or by force, entire neighborhoods are emptying of residents. Communities are disappearing from their traditional and historic homes and dispersing across the geographic map. In conflict zones, in particular, this mass displacement has become a pernicious norm.

In Syria, as in much of the Middle East, the Christian presence is becoming a shadow of its former self. After three years of civil war, hundreds of thousands fled the country desperate to escape the ongoing violence perpetrated by the government and extremist groups alike. In the city of Homs the number of Christians dwindled to as few as 1,000 from approximately 160,000 prior to the conflict. Elsewhere, in the Central African Republic, widespread lawlessness and an upsurge in sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims reportedly resulted in at least 700 deaths in Bangui in December alone and the displacement of more than one million people throughout the country during the year.

Anti-Muslim violence in Meikhtila, Burma, led to up to 100 deaths and an estimated 12,000 displaced residents from the area in early 2013. This event showed that mob violence against Muslims was no longer confined to western Rakhine State, where over 140,000 persons have also been displaced since 2012. Although the government’s overall human rights record continued to improve, organized anti-Muslim hate speech, harassment, and discrimination against Muslims continued, exploited by those seeking to divide and pit Buddhist and Muslim communities against one another, often for political gain.

All around the world, individuals were subjected to discrimination, violence and abuse, perpetrated and sanctioned violence for simply exercising their faith, identifying with a certain religion, or choosing not to believe in a higher deity at all.

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Department of State Announces Online Publication of 2013 Digest of United States Practice in International Law

July 8, 2014 Comments off

Department of State Announces Online Publication of 2013 Digest of United States Practice in International Law
Source: U.S. Department of State

The Department of State is pleased to announce the release of the 2013 Digest of United States Practice in International Law, covering developments during calendar year 2013. The Digest provides the public with a record of the views and practice of the Government of the United States in public and private international law. The official edition of the 2013 Digest is available exclusively on the State Department’s website at: http://www.state.gov/s/l/c8183.htm. Past Digests covering 1989 through 2012 are also available on the State Department’s website. The Digest is edited by the Office of the Legal Adviser.

The Digest traces its history back to an 1877 treatise by John Cadwalader, which was followed by multi-volume encyclopedias covering selected areas of international law. The Digest later came to be known to many as “Whiteman’s” after Marjorie Whiteman, the editor from 1963-1971. Beginning in 1973, the Office of the Legal Adviser published the Digest on an annual basis, changing its focus to documentation current to the year. Although publication was temporarily suspended after 1988, the office resumed publication in 2000 and has since produced volumes covering 1989 through 2012. A cumulative index covering 1989-2006 was published in 2007, and an updated edition of that index, covering 1989-2008, was published in 2010.

Publication of U.S. Department of State Data on ForeignAssistance.gov

June 20, 2014 Comments off

Publication of U.S. Department of State Data on ForeignAssistance.gov
Source: U.S. Department of State

The Department of State is pleased to announce its first release of foreign assistance obligation and disbursement data on ForeignAssistance.gov. This is a significant milestone for both the Department and the U.S. Government, and delivers on key U.S. commitments in the U.S. National Action Plan for the Open Government Partnership, a network of 64 countries and civil society organizations dedicated to improving transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement, as well as commitments to the multi-stakeholder International Aid Transparency Initiative. With the addition of the Department of State’s financial data, users can access the website to examine detailed foreign assistance spending for nine agencies through ForeignAssistance.gov.

ForeignAssistance.gov serves as a mechanism for users to view foreign assistance data from across the U.S. Government and provides a wide variety of stakeholders with a tool to analyze, examine, research, and track U.S. Government foreign assistance investments. Foreign aid transparency can help recipient governments and interested stakeholders ensure more efficient use of aid, coordination among donors, and reduce opportunities for waste, duplication, and corruption.

Just Released — Trafficking in Persons Report 2014

June 20, 2014 Comments off

Trafficking in Persons Report 2014
Source: U.S. Department of State

“We each have a responsibility to make this horrific and all-too-common crime a lot less common. And our work with victims is the key that will open the door to real change—not just on behalf of the more than 44,000 survivors who have been identified in the past year, but also for the more than 20 million victims of trafficking who have not.

As Secretary of State, I’ve seen with my own two eyes countless individual acts of courage and commitment. I’ve seen how victims of this crime can become survivors and how survivors can become voices of conscience and conviction in the cause.

This year’s Trafficking in Persons Report offers a roadmap for the road ahead as we confront the scourge of trafficking.” — John F. Kerry, Secretary of State

Audit of Contractor Compliance With and Department of State Oversight of the Process Required for Vetting Local Guards

June 13, 2014 Comments off

Audit of Contractor Compliance With and Department of State Oversight of the Process Required for Vetting Local Guards (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of State, Office of Inspector General

Because of growing security threats at posts worldwide, the Department of State (Dep artment), Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), has augmented security at overseas posts through the Local Guard Program (LGP), which engages security contractors to provide local guard force (LGF) personnel to secure access to post s and provide building and residential security . Before any local guards are cleared to begin work at an embassy , the LGP contract requires the security contractor to complete vetting requirements on every prospective guard and submit the results for review and approval by the regional security officer (RSO) or assistant regional security officer (ARSO), as the contracting officer ’s representative (COR) for the LGP contract. The vetting requirements generally include a “police check covering criminal and/or subversive activities, a credit check, proof of successful previous employment with supervisor recommendations, and a personal residence check. ”

In response to the increased role of the LGP, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted this audit to determine whether security contractors had complied with LGP contract requirements for vetting the suitability of local guards at posts overseas and whether RSOs had performed adequate oversight of the local guard vetting process.

OIG found that none of the six security contractors selected for review fully performed all vetting requirements contained in the LGP contract. Inadequate oversight of the local guard vetting process places embassies and personnel at risk.

For example, security contractors did not always comply with LGP contract terms requiring the full vetting of the local guards prior to employment. Nor did the security contractors maintain the personnel files for local guards in accordance with LGP contract requirements ; therefore, OIG could not verify that all vetting requirements had been fulfilled.

Release of Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Volume E-15, Part 2, Documents on Western Europe, 1973-1976

May 12, 2014 Comments off

Release of Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Volume E-15, Part 2, Documents on Western Europe, 1973-1976
Source: U.S. Department of State

The Department of State released today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume E-15, Part 2, Documents on Western Europe, 1973-1976.

This volume is part of a Foreign Relations subseries that documents the most important foreign policy issues of the Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford administrations. The focus of this volume is on the relationship between the United States and Western Europe during the Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford administrations from 1973 until 1976. It begins by examining the relationship from a regional perspective, focusing on the Year of Europe initiative, U.S. relations with its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies and with the European Communities, and issues such as the rise of Eurocommunism. The volume then explores U.S. bilateral relations with nine countries: Canada, Portugal, Iceland and Norway (paired in a single Nordic countries chapter), Spain, the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, and Italy, which will be added when it is cleared for publication.

Although the volume is meant to stand on its own, for the most comprehensive picture of U.S. relations with Western Europe during the years 1973 to 1976, readers should read this volume in conjunction with several other Nixon-Ford subseries volumes covering the same period, including Greece; Cyprus; Turkey (volume XXX); Foreign Economic Policy (volume XXXI); Energy Crisis, 1969-1974 (volume XXXVI); Energy Crisis, 1974-1980 (volume XXXVII); and European Security, 1969-1976 (volume XXXIX).

State Department — Country Reports on Terrorism 2013

April 30, 2014 Comments off

Country Reports on Terrorism 2013
Source: U.S. Department of State

On April 30, 2014, the State Department submitted Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 to the U.S. Congress as required by law. This report, available on http://www.state.gov/j/ct, provides the Department of State’s annual assessment of trends and events in international terrorism that occurred from January 1 to December 31, 2013. It includes a strategic assessment, country-by-country breakdowns of counterterrorism efforts, and sections on state sponsors of terrorism, terrorist safe havens, and foreign terrorist organizations.

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