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Exchange in Stellenbosch: Feeling Alive!

As the exams are drawing to a close, and more and more students are leaving this little town for greener (and considerably warmer) pastures, Stellenbosch surely is a different place than it was a mere month ago. At the moment, I’m snuggling up in my bed with a cup of hot chocolate, because the rain has been pouring down for ... Read More »

Eight Weeks With Ebola

Letters of Andrius Slavuckis Sierra Leone, 2014 September-October Source: Intelligent Life, 2015 April, Nr. 3 (30) Week I As I presented my passport to the frontier-guard I was kindly asked to state the reason of my arrival. Without any further explanation I showed her the MSF – Médecins Sans Frontiéres – sign on my jacket and I was greeted with ... Read More »

UNEA: from economic to sustainable development

At first glance “UNEA” appears as just another agency of the international community with an abbreviation that hardly anyone recognizes. However, a second look reveals a new development in the international arena. UNEA, the United Nations Environmental Assembly, was held for the first time in June this year. The newly constituted body is a child of the UN Environmental Programme ... Read More »

The Failure of the ‘War on Drugs’: Drug Trafficking in West Africa

As the West Africa Commission’s on Drugs (WACD) report asserts, since the mid-2000s drug offences have ‘taken on a dimension that threatens the security, governance and development trajectory’ of the West African countries. The convergence of international drug cartels and diverse West African criminal networks has played a major role in political upheavals, such as those processed in Guinea-Bissau and ... Read More »

“White Gold”- changing symbol of wealth and power?

 Nature has repeatedly been portrayed as the enemy of human, which has evolved into the civilized urban environment. The common narrative follows along the line “First humans lived like savages in forests and caves hardly different from apes and other animals. But then, we started to think and invent technology to assist in our daily life. We learnt how to ... Read More »

The Life of a Diplomat: Assassination in Khartoum

On March 1, 1973, a terrorist attack led by the Black September Organization took place at the Saudi Arabian embassy based in Khartoum, Sudan. Five diplomats were taken hostage, of which only two survived. Jan-Willem Bertens, who was not only a diplomat in Uruguay, Costa Rica and Sudan, but also the party leader of D-66 in the European Parliament, and ... Read More »

Life of a Diplomat: Bridge Over River Nile

‘There is an Arab saying which claims that ‘When Allah created Sudan, he laughed’. Of course, it is impossible, Allah cannot laugh, because nobody saw his face!’, exclaims J. W. Bertens, when he remembers his assignment in Sudan. This is the second part of Checks&Balances’ interview with Jan-Willem Bertens, who was not only a diplomat in Uruguay, Costa Rica and ... Read More »

Move Over Somalia, here´s Africa´s Next Failed State

After 20 years of bloody conflict and several failed international interventions, Somalia finally seems to have turned the tides and to be heading towards stability. Although Al-Shabab is still a serious threat, it is losing ground to the troops of the African Union. This of course is great for Somalian government, the African Union and the Somali people in general, ... Read More »

African Terrorism With Global Ambitions: The Story of Al-Shabab

6 October 2013- In the poverty-stricken rural areas of central and southern Somalia, farmers pay taxes for owning land and transporting rice. They do not give this money to the Somali government, but to those responsible for the attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi. Islamic terrorists control most of the rural areas in Somalia: they exploit farmers, hunt elephants ... Read More »

Coptic Christians Accused of Egypt´s “Coup d´État”

August 14, 2013, a wave of violence is spreading through Egypt. In the city of Minya, in the north of Egypt, a Coptic church is destroyed and set on fire by a crowd of aggressive militants. Later that day, sunlight shining through the broken windows shows the black smouldering ash that covers the remnants of the floor. The surrounding streets ... Read More »