Posts by Idahorner:

    Power of balance in EU decision making

    October 6th, 2012

    By Ida Horner


    The balance of power is a simple concept that argues that no one power should be predominant in any relationship. The assignment therefore considers the meaning and usefulness of the concept of power in the decision making process within the European Union (EU).

    In the European Union balance of power can be examined within institutions that have responsibility for the decision making process and for that reason that assignment considers reasons how and why nations form institutions and highlights the key institutions in the EU’s decision making process. Finally the assignment provides a practical example of the decision making process in the EU as it applies to the Common Foreign Policy and alternative concepts that could explain the decision making process within the European Union


    A balance of power involves a particular distribution of power amongst states of that system such that no single state and no existing alliance has overwhelming or preponderant amount of power Dina Zinnes (1967:272) cited in Sheehan M: 1996)

    Historical background

    The threat from America to pull its army base from Europe meant that was there was no sovereign power to defend weakened the European state against Russia if it invaded. With this in mind France, German and the Benelux countries came together to balance Russia’s power. The agreement or terms of reference came in the form of treaties as well as various instruments for economic integration (Rosato: Spring 2011)

    France and German are credited with European integration due to the effort that the two countries have put into the process but some have argued that this was a ploy on France’s part to tie German into Western Europe because German had emerged as a monetary and industrial power in Europe. France was concerned that German would become powerful and act independently as had been the case in the Second World War. German agreed that it would not be in Europe’s interest if hegemony existed between France and German (Kohl 1996 cited in Webber D: 1999).

    This desire for France to balance German’s power is said to be responsible for France and German’s cooperation in Europe’s integration as well as the integration projects such as the European Council, the Single European Act and the Maastricht Treaty which introduced the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Monetary Union (Bocquet 1997:5, Mazzarelli 1997, Klaiber 1998:39, Moravcisk: 1991 cited in Webber: 1999)

    Why do nations build Institutions?

    The balance of power concept is about ensuring that no single power becomes greater than that of the rest in a system.

    When a great power emerges its power must be balanced to maintain equilibrium within the system. Where there is no other great power to balance this power, small and weaker nations may decide to cooperate or form an alliance in order to balance the great power. Having pooled all their resources the small states may still be much weaker than the great power and it is at this stage that small nations seek ways to maximize their resources by ensuring that they are organized under a single authority (Rosato: 2011)

    Because this has implications for sovereignty and security nation states have to weigh up their options especially what alternatives might be available to them. Once the decision to integrate is taken the terms of reference are agreed and these set out what is and isn’t acceptable behavior from members, as well as expectations. Institutions are then formed to ensure that the group’s Resources and efforts are coordinated and managed effectively under a single authority. The duration and transformation of these institutions will be dependent on the distribution of power within the institutions (Rosato: 2011).

    Institutions in the European Union

    European Union institutions have been developed by member states to oversee governance and policy making within the European Union.

    Key Institutions within the European Union

    1. European Council   – provides political direction within the EU, is responsible for decisions on enlargement, integration and the economy. The Council’s decisions are made by consensus but have not framework within the EU but provide a framework for community legislation
    2. European Parliamentis responsible for the EU external relations as well as the democratic scrutiny within the EU and its powers stretch over administration, legislation, the budget, external agreements as well as appointments
    3. European Commissionis the Centre for policy process within the EU with a legally recognized President. Its powers are cross cutting and stretch over, administration, legislation, implementation and enforcement of EU treaties.
    4. European Court of Justicehighest court in the European Union responsible for correct interpretation of the law as it relates to EU treaties, settling disputes between EU institutions and member states as well as ensuring that EU institutions do not exceed their power and that member states comply with EU legislation. (White B: 2001)

    The decision making process of the EU

    The various EU Treaties guide decision-making by the EU Institutions and decisions are voted on by member states using a Qualified Majority Voting (QMV). However in practice decisions are made by consensus. But sometimes decisions are taken the other way i.e. where a decision should be taken by consensus a QMV is used as in the recent financial bail outs, presumably this was to ensure that a desired outcome. According to Baldwin and Widgren this is because member states go through a mental process that Baldwin and Widgren have termed “shadow voting”. This process sees member states making decisions as to their likely success should they vote in a certain way and if they are unlikely to succeed members opt for consensus instead of QMV (Baldwin and Widgren 2003).

    Attempts have been made by the EU to improve the decision making process through the Maastricht Treaty. However Baldwin and Widgren point out that this is simply about enabling the EU to act such as during the Yugoslavia conflict. The reason for this Baldwin and Widgren argue is because it is not possible for the EU to be efficient in it decision-making given the fact that membership of the EU changes constantly and so do the decisions that have to be taken. The enlargement of the European Union is gradual process, which pushes through changes, for instance the Common Agriculture Policy where transitional arrangements have to be applied to new members (Baldwin and Widgren 2003).

    Decision making in practice

    It was hoped that agreements at Maastricht would bring coherence to the Common and Foreign Security Policy policy area.  However as in the Common Agriculture Policy this policy area has been impacted by enlargement. Under the European Political Cooperation (EPC) some items that member states found sensitive were left of the agenda such as the situation in Northern Ireland in the case of Britain, but under Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) introduced by the Maastricht Treaty everything was up for discussion (Haseler et al 2010)

    The launching of European Security Defense Policy (ESPD) crisis management operation provides a good illustration of the decision making process. The ESDP is an instrument of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy  (CFSP) European Security  (Bjorkdahl and Stromvik: 2008)

    Prior to the launching of such an operation an item has to be placed on the agenda but this isn’t as straight forward as it seems and at this stage we can observe how EU institutions are structured to avoid any one of them becoming too powerful or subverting the agenda of the member states. If we take the Commission and the Council as an example, the Commission has responsibility for setting the agenda and decides what goes before the Council in doing so the Commission is said to be very powerful since the Council can only decide on matters that have been put in front of it. For its part the Council has the power to veto any item placed in front of it and the fear of this veto means that the Commission only puts forward agenda items that are likely to go through. (Baldwin and Widgren 2003)

    The next stage is identifying resources. The resources required here are money and personnel where personnel include both military and civilian. This process involves the lobbying/sounding out of individual member states to establish if they would be willing to contribute resources to the operation should the initiative go ahead (Bjorkdahl and Stromvik: 2008)

    Because ESDP is an instrument of EU common policy the implications for decision-making at this stage are that members cannot veto but have the option not to join the operation but it also has implications for coherence as it means that Europe cannot speak with one-voice examples of this are

    1. The Balkans, German wanted independence for Croatia whilst France and Britain did not agree to the breaking up Yugoslavia,
    2. The Iraq operation, France and German did not agree to Europe’s involvement in the war, whilst Britain, Spain and Italy did,
    3. In Libya France and Britain led the operation whilst German refused to participate. The stance of the EU major powers within respect to Libya was divided but since German is not influential in military affairs the operation went ahead anyway.

    Once the resources are identified the formal decision-making process starts and this involves assessment of the availability of sufficient capabilities for the action being proposed, obtaining relevant permissions United Nations Security Council (UN). If there is agreement in the council to take action then the working paper is adopted as the legal basis for the operations or Joint Action (Bjorkdahl and Stromvik: 2008)

    What complicates decision making in this area is the fact that each stage involves different Treaties, EU departments and procedures all of whom have different and perhaps conflicting interests (Baldwin and Widgren 2003).

    Alternative concepts

    As well as the balance of power there are alternative concepts that explain the decision process. These concepts are useful because they explain the behavior of the actors (States and Institutions) behind the decision making process within the EU


    An intergovernmental arrangement in which states strategize and cooperate to get what they want and a balance of power emerges due to the effectiveness of the decision making process that ensures that everyone gets what they want Institutions are seen as agents of member states in a system where States remain in control and delegate powers to Institutions that they have formed (Schmitter 1996). This has been demonstrated by the recent financial bail out of those EU member states facing financial difficulties such as Greece. In this instance member states have set side rules laid out in EU treaties.

    Institutions are believed to become powerful over time and seek to control States, for instance decisions taken by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) impact the legal process in member states, member states who do not comply can be referred to the ECJ as was Britain in relation to the EU’s working directive. A question arises therefore as to who is in charge of the EU.  In order to ensure that EU Institutions do not subvert the member states agenda they have been designed in such away that enables them to “keep an eye” on each other(Baldwin and Widgren 2003).

    Neo- Realism – Sovereign states as the key actors in hostile and anarchic environments. Whilst states can cooperate with other states they do so only to protect and or enhance their interests and the EU is an Intergovernmental organization as it recognizes the authority of member states (Schmitter 1996) .

    Social Constructivism- although nations come together because of material interests they are changed and or shaped by interacting with other nations. According to this concept a convergence of norms and ways of behaving are internalized by actors based on the durability and profound detailed interaction.  A balance of power emerges and the effectiveness of the decision making process ensures that everyone gets what they want (Schmitter 1996)  .

    Liberal Intergovernmentalism– advanced by Moravcsik who argues that states seek to advance national interests and that national interests are a result of states interacting with each other.

    Moravcsik argues too that there exists a hierarchy of power in the national governments that make up the EU and that the there largest countries France, German and Britain have the ability to influence the outcome of any European Union negotiations by using their veto. In addition that the real bargaining happens between these three giants of Europe and that the smaller nation states can be bought off (Moravcsik 1991 (cited in Webber 1991)

    This is contrary to the balance of power concept and simply explains the reality of politics in international systems where nations with more resources wield a lot of power over those without.

    For instance the current financial crisis has demonstrated France and German’s ability in particular to shape the financial policy of Euro Zone using the newly proposed Fiscal Pact, which would ensure that all member states comply with EU rules whilst formulating and implementing their budget. On the other hand Britain has argued that that what is being proposed is not in its national interests and in using its veto it has ensured that that EU Institutions cannot be used to enforce the Fiscal Pact because Britain believes the new rules are not within EU law and such are an intergovernmental agreement (BBC News)


    The balance of power a simple concept that argues that no one power should be predominant in any relationship. The reality of world politics means that in and of itself, it cannot help us understand the decision making process within the European Union(EU). This is because the issues on which the EU has to decide on are constantly changing because the integration process of the EU is a gradual process. The admission of new members brings with it new challenges and has implications for decisions taken previously.

    In addition it is not easy to establish who is charge as the Institutions that member states have set up to coordinate their efforts and resources at times appear to be powerful than the member states. Moreover member states have different interests and therefore enter into inter-state bargaining in order to get what they want. The hierarchy that exists amongst member states mean the three large powers of Europe, German, France and Britain dominate the decision making process contrary to the concept of the balance of power.

    They are alternative concepts that can help us understand the decision making process and this is because they help us understand the behavior of the States and Institutions of the European Union.

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    Human Rights for Gay people in Uganda in the light of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

    September 11th, 2012

    By Ida Horner.


    Human rights are universally recognized moral guarantees that should be protected by everyone. The essay considers whether human rights are a western idea or are capable of transcending culture through a case study of the of human rights of gay people in Uganda in the light of the anti-homosexuality bill. It sets out the situation in Uganda in great detail, specifically the current law on homosexuality in Uganda, the proposed anti homosexuality bill. The essay considers relevant philosophic arguments for and against human rights including the African understanding of humanism and concludes with a question: Who is responsible for ensuring human rights for all?

    What are human rights?

    Human rights are defined as moral guarantees for everyone by virtue of the fact that they are human and as such are said to be universal.

    Human rights identify fundamental requirements that enable an individual to live a minimally good life and these include the rights to health care and rights not to be tortured (Fagan 2005).

    Human rights were conceived in western civilization and can be categorized in three concepts: ancient, modern and contemporary. Whilst ancient rights emphasise the right of an individual to be treated with dignity, modern and contemporary rights recognize the rights to speech and freedom. Similarly ancient and modern rights are distinguished by their communal or dependency nature (Butler :p4, p7 and p25:2008).

    But how does this translate in practice and who is responsible for ensuring human rights for everyone?

    The Anti Homosexuality Bill- Uganda 2009


    The Anti-homosexuality Bill 2009 is a private members bill brought by MP David Bahati. Bahati is part of the ruling party the National Resistance Movement that came to power in 1986. Bahati has argued that homosexuality is alien to Uganda’s cultural and religious beliefs and is a threat to the traditional family. In addition that whilst homosexuality is a human right in the Western World, it is not so in Uganda and any one engaging in it is committing a crime. Moreover, that the current laws are insufficient because whilst they deal with Unnatural acts offences, there is neither provision for aggravated homosexuality nor provision for penalizing the promotion or dissemination of literature and materials promoting homosexuality.

    Current Legislation on homosexuality in Uganda

    The law governing homosexuality in Uganda is contained within Uganda’s penal Code Act 1950 (ch120 as amended) and is a remnant of the British Colonial administration of the 19th Century. The relevant sections are, Section 145 addresses Unnatural Offences, Section 146, addresses the attempt to commit Unnatural Offences whist Section 147 addresses indecent practices whether committed in public or the privacy of one’s home including the procurement of such services. The punishment of such acts is a seven-year prison term.

    This law as it stands makes consensual sex amongst same sex couples illegal, because it singles out individuals on grounds of same sex conduct for discrimination contrary to International law. Under the Vienna declaration of 1993 human rights and freedoms are guaranteed for all human beings but often — as in the case of Uganda — national governments disregard the provisions of international instruments in the name of morality. It is however interesting to note that the national court in Uganda recognizes the universality of human rights and seeks to enforce them (ICJ 2010).

    An example of this is the ruling by Judge Arach in the case of Victor Mukasa and Yvonne Oyoo Vs The Attorney General 2008. The Police and local authorities entered the homes of Mukasa and Arach without warrants, as well as searching their homes illegally they arrested them and their respective guests. Once in custody they were tortured and sexually violated. Judge Arach ruled that the actions of the authorities amounted to an invasion of the parties’ privacy, a violation of their basic rights and equal protection under the Uganda’s Constitution as well as under Articles 1 and 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (ICJ 2010).

    Notwithstanding this ruling Uganda’s MP Bahati has sought to introduce tougher laws on homosexuality since 2009.

    What’s in the anti homosexuality bill?

    The bill calls for a ban on same sex relationships, the promotion or recognition of such relationships especially within public institutions and government agencies. Life in prison is proposed for anyone found guilty of homosexuality offenses whilst the death penalty for anyone found guilty of aggravated homosexual acts. The citizens of Uganda would be required to report any incidents homosexual behavior within 48 hours of being aware or face punishment and proposes as prohibition of the ratification of International treaties that are contrary to the proposed Act.

    The bill has five parts and 19 clauses, which are grouped as follows

    Part 1- Interpretation of words and phrases used in the bill

    Part 2- Prohibition of homosexuality
    The key points in this section are the offense of homosexuality and aggravated homosexuality, which cover homosexuality acts on persons under 18 years of age and repeated offenders. The bill proposes life in prison for homosexuals and repeated offenders and a death sentence for those charged with aggravated homosexuality.

    Part 3- Related offenses and penalties
    The key points in this section are aiding and abating homosexuality and failure to disclose homosexuality. The bill imposes a duty on Ugandan citizens to report acts of homosexuality to authorities or face prosecution and prohibits the promotion of homosexuality

    Part 4- Jurisdiction
    The key point in this section is the fact that the Act will be applicable to Residents of Uganda and Ugandans that engage in homosexuality acts whilst outside of Uganda. In particular it proposes to extradite such offenders back to Uganda in order that they be tried under Ugandan law

    Part 5-Miscellaneuos provisions
    This section deals with the position on International treaties and protocols that are seen to be protecting the rights of homosexuals; in particular it proposes the nullification of such treaties and protocols.

    If passed into law this bill as currently presented breaches all five categories of substantive human rights codified within the body of human rights: rights to life, rights to freedom, rights to political participation, rights to protection of the rule of law as well as the rights to fundamental social economic and cultural goods (ICJ 2010).

    Human Rights, Moral Relativism and the Anti Homosexuality Bill in Uganda

    Bahati the MP whose private bill the anti homosexuality bill is, he has argued that homosexuality is deviant, abominable in Ugandan and/or Africa culture and peculiar to western culture. In addition that homosexuality has nothing to do with human rights but instead a desire on the part of the a few individuals to corrupt the moral compass of the youth by enticing them with money. He has in particular defended the death penalty for what he calls aggravated homosexuality stating that there is a current law against child molestation and he is simply extending those provisions into the anti homosexuality bill. Bahati is however mistaken in his assertion, the rights of individuals to form relationships and privacy are a basic human right protected by international law and recognized under the Vienna Declaration on human rights of 1993 (ICJ briefing paper 2010)

    Other politicians such as the Minister for ethics Simon Lokodo have advanced similar arguments and to demonstrate his argument he reportedly stormed a Gay workshop with armed Police and forced the participants to close the workshop down contrary to Article 20.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which provides the rights to peaceful assembly and association as well as well as rights to freedom. On a broader level this type of behavior denies this group of people access to information that is vital for their sexual health.

    Given the point of view of the Ugandan politicians and the stances taken by some in Uganda, we need to ask the question of whether Human rights is a western idea or a human idea that can be made sense of by other cultures. For an answer we turn to Fagan’s 2005 essay on human rights — specifically his examination of Moral Relativism as a philosophical critique of human rights. According to Relativists human rights are not universal but instead are socially accepted principles that are peculiar to those societies where they originated. Fagan argues that the Moral Relativist critique of human rights focuses on the individualistic nature of human rights and argues that human rights are biased towards individualistic societies and cultures at the expense of communal societies such as those of Asia and Africa. Whilst Fagan recognizes the implications of imposing the western version of human rights and the potential risk of cultural and moral imperialism, which he says, arises by replacing one civilization by another he also reminds us that
    “Relativists’ arguments are usually presented by the ruling elite whose systematic oppression of their peoples has attracted the attention of advocates of human rights” (Fagan 2005)

    Are these political elites in Uganda therefore using the doctrine of Relativism to cover up something much bigger within the Ugandan society? This view is certainly held by some Ugandans as well as some in the international society, there is a feeling that this is detraction from much bigger societal issues and certainly explains some citizens are puzzled to as to why the issue of homosexuals in Uganda has occupied Ugandan politics in such a way when homosexuals have always been part of Ugandan society. Moreover, Uganda is grappling with issues such as disease and poverty which require urgent government attention. As one Ugandan journalist told me, “We have always known about the existence of homosexuals in our society, so why legislate for something that is a none issue”

    According to Fagan (2005) the fact that there is growth in the number of grass root human rights activists and organizations in countries such as Uganda where human rights are supposedly incompatible with human rights tell us that human rights are universal and that there is a possibility that these “home grown” relativists are simply using the doctrine of Relativism to cover up oppressive regimes. He concludes that, “Whilst human rights remain philosophically founded with an individualist moral doctrine, there can be no doubt that attempts are being made to adequately apply rights to more communally oriented societies”

    In summary therefore Bahati’s argument that homosexuality is not a human right because it is incompatible with the communal nature of Ugandan culture is contrary to the rights of individuals to form relationships as well as freedoms recognized under the Vienna Convention of 1993. In view of Bahati’s argument we will now look at the African philosophy of Ubuntu that gives Africans an understanding of what it is to be human.

    African Humanism (Ubuntu) and the Anti Homosexuality Bill in Uganda

    Ubuntu is a Zulu word that explains African humanism and is found in Bantu (people) speaking Africans. In western Uganda it is Obuntu whilst in central Uganda it is Obuntu-bulamu. According to this philosophy a person is person through others and as such the expression, “I am because we are and because we are therefore I am.” (Eze 2010) In other words the human person needs others as the point of reference and to reaffirm one’s existence.

    Ubuntu prescribes and articulates a way of being that is about caring and respect for the person as well as your elders, human dignity, compassion, non-discrimination, reaching out to others at times of sorrow and happiness, respect for your elders, being charitable towards those that have less than you do and “If you lack Ubuntu then you have no humanity (Eze 2010).

    Ubuntu subordinates the individual to the community as the rights of the community come before those of an individual. According to Ubuntu whatever happens to the individual happens to the community and vice versa, and this is demonstrated at times of celebration (birth of a child or a wedding) and at times of sorrow (death) when the community handles such matters as one. Ubuntu calls for consensus among peoples and individuals have a right to speak and be heard (Louw 1998). This being the case, how then do we reconcile Ubuntu with the anti- homosexuality bill in Uganda? The killing of people because of their sexual preference or because they are “different” is contrary to the Ubuntu philosophy and as such invalidates Bahati’s argument in relation to human rights of homosexual people in Uganda.

    The philosophy of Ubuntu holds important values of understanding what it means to be human as well as compassion for the other however by virtual of its communalist nature and the desire to reach consensus it means that it can be coercive. This happens when an individual is expected to conform to community norms in spite of what he wants. An individual must not elevate his needs over and above those of the community. If he does he risks sanctions and punishment from the community (Louw:1998).

    Ubuntu can therefore be used to oppress the individual as his rights come after those of the group/community. Eze (2010) has argued that Ubuntu is exploited by political elites to oppress citizens and cites the instance of the Rwanda genocide and Mugabe’s land reforms. Eze asks whether Ubuntu is peculiar to Africa or whether it can be claimed by other cultures too.

    In reference to human rights aspects of Ubuntu can be observed in the ancient concept of human rights “right to dignity and fellowship as a rational being along with all such beings” (Bulter p4: 2008) can be closely associated with Ubuntu ideology of a human person needing others as a point of reference as well as respecting the dignity of the other. Ubuntu seems to confirm the Moral Relativism critique of human rights in as far as human rights being held individually and have no place in communal societies.

    With respect to the anti homosexuality bill in Uganda it would appear that the legislators or political elites have departed from the virtues of Ubuntu, respect for the individual and human dignity in proposing this bill. The Bill prescribes the type of punishments that will be meted out to citizens who do not report acts of homosexuality as well as those who are gay, the reason that the politicians have advanced is that this is contrary to Ugandan culture and what they really mean here is homosexuality does not conform to the communal values of Ugandan society. Because Ubuntu is about the human person and how they relate to others it is useful at this point to turn to the reactions of the Ugandan people to the anti Homosexuality bill.

    The people of Uganda appear to be divided on this matter and you will get a different answer depending on whom you are talking to. Uganda is a very conservative and religious country and the degree of religious and cultural convictions appear to influence individual reactions on the matter of homosexuality. The general consensus appears to be that Uganda has always had homosexual people and society knew who they were and they were never vilified. This is the aspect of Ubuntu that Eze says should be promoted because it acknowledges the individual person and the rights of that individual within a community.
    The bill appears to have divided people in Uganda along class lines too, in other words one’s class appears to impact their reaction to the bill. The well travelled, well educated and young middle class people appear to take a liberal stance whilst the working class and rural folk have taken a conservative stance and some have gone as far as calling for the death penalty for convicted homosexuals
    The Liberal’s stance appears to be that an individual should not be vilified for their natural instincts in this instance, homosexual instinct. This is in line with Thomas Hobbes idea of Natural Rights which deals with the right of an individual to do that which comes naturally (Bulter p25:2008) They have argued that the campaign against homosexuals is a government ploy to avoid addressing real issues that are polarizing society. More importantly they are concerned about the impact that passing a bill would have on Uganda internationally.

    This group of people has great concerns about the rights of an individual and the power of the state. Their stance is contrary to the communalist nature of Ubuntu, “the individual must not put his needs before those of a community” but recognizes the rights and freedoms of a human person in line with universal human rights. There is therefore confusion as to why the spotlight has been cast onto them especially when the country has much bigger problems that affect the ordinary man on the street. The casting of the spotlight onto homosexuals has implications for their safety in a society that is broadly regarded as conservative. Indeed some in society have already voiced that fact the public display of affection amongst homosexuals offends them

    The Conservative stance appears to be that homosexuality is an unnatural act that has no place in Ugandan society and should be punished either by imprisonment of death. This group has lobbied their MPs heavily and urged them to support the bill currently going through parliament and have held street rallies against homosexual people. This group has accepted wholesale the evangelical and politicians explanation that it is necessary to pass the anti homosexuality bill into Ugandan law because homosexuality will impact Uganda and lead to the degeneration of morals within Ugandan Society. This group’s stance gives us an insight in the dark side of Ubuntu and according to Louw (1998)

    Because of extreme emphasis on community, Ubuntu democracy can be abused to legitimize what Sono (1994 xii, xv) calls the “constrictive nature or tyrannical customs of a derailed African culture, especially communalism, which frowns upon elevating one beyond the community.

    In summary therefore whilst Ubuntu philosophy provides a way of being that has due regard for human dignity, but — because one can only be human in reference to others — it is very subjective in nature as it subordinates individual freedoms to those of the community taking away the very essence of being a human person. It is a contradiction in terms since it can be used by the community to oppress individuals in that community whilst recognizing the need for cohesiveness in a community.

    Because human rights are universally recognized we will now consider the reaction of the international community to the anti-homosexuality bill and the sanctions that are available should Uganda pass the bill into its law?

    The anti-homosexuality bill and the International community

    The international community has been outraged by Uganda’s anti homosexuality bill and so far the United Kingdom (UK) and United States of America (USA) have responded by threatening to withdraw Development Aid should the bill be passed into Uganda’s law. This is what is called Political Conditionality — donors give Aid, on grounds that a country improves its governance, human rights record and the rule of law. The country in question would ordinarily have its record checked by an independent inspector who would submit a detailed report on the country’s performance to an international institution such as the United Nation’s Commission for Human Rights (Holland: 2002 pp119-124).

    Uganda is a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and in the last inspection report the independent expert Bernard Mudho noted that there was not sufficient provision for human rights activists and civil society to participate in budget formulation. Furthermore there should be explicit linkages between development goals and human rights as well as the rule of law, the Constitution and the international treaties on human rights Uganda has ratified (UN Commission on Human Rights 2004).

    It is unclear how the international community and or donor agencies balance their foreign policy interests against good governance, the rule of law and human rights in another country or indeed why they choose to intervene in some countries and not others as we have recently witnessed in the case of Libya vs. Syria and indeed apart from calling on Uganda to improve its human rights it is unclear what if any action has been taken by the international community.

    Amnesty International (AI) a respected Human Rights organization has condemned the anti-homosexuality bill calling it inherently discriminatory and a threat to broader human rights which include: rights to freedom from discrimination, freedom of expression, life, privacy healthy liberty and security of a person, right to a fair trial, freedom of conscience, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom and Association and rights of a child. AI argues that as well being guaranteed under Uganda’s constitution, Uganda is a signatory to several international human rights instruments and treaties such as the African Charter of Human rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that guarantee Ugandan citizens these rights. AI has called on the Ugandan government to reject the bill in the wider interest of universally recognized human rights (Amnesty International 2010)


    We do not know yet if the anti homosexuality bill in Uganda will pass into law as it is still being debated in the Ugandan Parliament but for now we can agree that the bill as presented breaches the human rights of homosexual individuals in Uganda.

    This raises the question: whose responsibility is it to ensure human rights for all?

    If we agree that Human rights are universal moral guarantees that must be upheld by everyone, questions arise as to what an individual can do if the state impinges his or her human rights. We have seen that legislators can impinge individuals rights to privacy, rights to life, rights to freedom, rights to political participation, rights to protection of the rule of law as well as the rights to fundamental social economic and cultural goods by introducing laws that are contrary to internationally recognized individual rights. However national courts are stepping in to protect citizens against the state. There is an increased number of citizens groups that stand up for human rights at grass root levels which invalidates the Moral Relativists critique of human rights in as far as communal societies of Africa and Asia are concerned.

    If the legislators in Uganda tell us that homosexuality is not about human rights and is a western invention, does the African philosophy of `Ubuntu help us understand human rights from the African point of view? We have seen that Ubuntu as a philosophy is limited in this regard, because whilst it recognizes the rights and the dignity of a human person it subordinates the rights of an individual to those of a community.

    There are questions about the international community and its role in enforcing human rights in other countries and whether the interests of the international community get in the way of protecting human rights of citizens of other countries.

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    The European Union and its Integration

    September 4th, 2012

    By Ida Horner.

    The EU has almost reached the limits of its feasible territorial expansion – discussion.


    The European Union (EU) has evolved from six member states in 1951 who came together for commercial reasons, to nine members in 1973, twelve members in 1981-1986, fifteen in 1995, twenty five in 2004 and twenty seven member states in 2007. It would appear that we are not yet there, as six more countries; Croatia, Iceland, Turkey, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro are waiting in the wings.

    There has been an increased interest in EU enlargement since the end of the cold war. Enlargement of the EU has become a key political process, especially as part of the EU’s foreign policy towards the European continent (Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier 2002 p.500). It however comes with several risks to both the EU, member states and incoming countries, and these are considered within the essay by posing specific questions:
    Who can join the EU?
    Why does the EU let them in?
    Why countries choose to join the EU?

    The essay concludes that given the current economic turmoil in the Eurozone, the EU has indeed reached its territorial limit, because the internal deepening of EU institutions is not deep enough to absorb populous or very poor countries that require development aid to restructure their economies.


    Enlargement is defined as a gradual and formal horizontal institutionalization of organizational rules and norms (Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier 2002 p.502)

    Who can join the European Union?

    Those countries wishing to join the European Union (EU) must in the first instance satisfy a prescribed criterion that is set out in Articles 6 and 49 of the Treaty on European Union, and these state, that any

    European country can join the EU so long as they adhere to the founding principles of the EU: respect for human rights, democracy, rule of law, respect for minorities constitutional freedoms, general principles of community law.

    Whilst the Copenhagen Agreement of 1993 outlines conditions that Central and Eastern European countries had to fulfill prior to being considered for accession to the EU, and these include, stable institutions that guarantee democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for the protection of minorities, a functioning market economy, capacity to cope with competition and market forces within the common market, ability to accept EU membership obligations and adhere to the political, economic and monetary union and all  this would be dependent on the EU’s own capacity to absorb new members, while maintaining the momentum of European integration by both the existing members and candidate countries. (Bulletin of the European Union June 1993 Cited in (Soetendorp 1999, p.125)

    But how does this work in practice? Will the EU simply let in every European country that meets the above criteria, and if not, why not? There is no straightforward answer to this question, because although according to the treaties and the guiding principles of enlargement, the answer is, yes. Mattli and Plümper (2002 p.551) remind us that there is no clear prescription of what the EU boundaries should be, which raises questions over whether a country as far south as Turkey falls within the “natural” boundaries of the EU, yet Delhey, 2007 p.257 cautions against geographical expansion because it is a barrier to trust, a key ingredient to cohesion in any community.

    Enlargement is dynamic and transformative as it takes the EU into new physical territory, and with that comes new opportunities as well as challenges for the decision making process, EU resources and existing regional policies. As such, existing members have to weigh up reasons why to let new members in, whilst potential candidates have to decide whether joining is in their best interest (Schimmelfinnig and Sedelmeier 2002 p.501).

    In deciding to enlarge the EU faces challenges in its decision making process, as it is easier to reach a consensus with fewer views to take into account, but with enlargement, the diversity of views increases, and this had to be taken into account in discussions on admitting ten member states from Central and Eastern European Countries (CEE). Consideration had to be given to the weight attributed to member state votes, and a system of Qualified Majority Voting was introduced to some but not all policy areas. This round of enlargement would also have implications for the Commission, as there would not be enough jobs to go round the increased number of Commissioners. (Soetendorp 1999, p.125 see also Baldwin and Widgren 2003 pp.2, 3)

    Enlargement impacts existing members interests and not all members were happy about the prospect of ten CEE countries joining. Southern states and France were worried about the EU budget with respect to the Common Agriculture fund, as CEE countries are mostly agricultural, there were also concerns about structural and cohesion funds for Portugal, Spain and Greece, as well as commercial competition from CEE countries in areas of textile, steel and coal. All this meant that these countries lobbied against EU enlargement eastwards, as they did not see any advantages that served their interests, while Germany, Denmark and Britain all lobbied for enlargement, for either commercial reasons, or less deepening in an enlarged EU in the case of Britain. The result of this was a delayed decision on enlargement as the EU sought to resolve its internal affairs by restructuring its policies in preparation for the new members, as well as placating existing members (Schimmelfinnig and Sedelmeier 2002 p.507, Soetendorp 1999, p.123).
    We now turn to the question of why the EU seeks enlargement.

    Why does the EU let new countries in?

    As part of its foreign policy with respect to Europe, the EU has led the transformation of CEE countries from planned to market economies, (Soetendorp 1999, p.121) but why does the EU engage in an activity that, according to Delhey 2007 p.274, weakens the opportunity for deeper integration?

    According to Mattli and Plümper (2002), the EU weighs up the costs of not letting such countries in, versus the benefits. Some of the consequences of not letting such countries in, they tell us, include increased immigration into the EU, which threatens the EU’s stability. By integrating such countries into the EU’s economic system Mattli and Plümper (2002) argue the negative externalities of these countries are diffused through increased living standards. The EU is seen as protecting its interests here, in preventing a spillover of social unrest from its neighborhood (Mattli and Plümper 2002 pp.552-555).

    Could the EU simply offer these countries trade agreements or development Aid in order to mitigate some of those issues? Soetendorp (1999 p.274) argues that the EU has an interest in spreading its political institutions and norms eastward as part of its wider foreign policy on the European continent. The EU’s strongest policy instrument in this regard has been the promise of full membership in the EU for candidates that fulfill the pre-accession requirements. As discussed above, enlargement eastward has not been straightforward, due to the vested interests of existing members who could use their veto to prevent it, and there was a lot of bargaining between existing members on a number of issues prior to an agreement being reached, Soetnedorp 1999 p.127, Mattli and Plümper 2002 p.556)

    Cited in Mattli and Plümper (2002) Brancati (2001) advances a theory that enlargement into Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is pushed by Multinational Corporations (MNC) or Transnational companies (TNC) who have business interests in the CEE, but that there are risks associated with doing business in CEE. A similar view is held by Holman 2001 who has argued that, enlargement eastwards has been influenced by the powerful European Round of Table of industrialists (ERT). According to ERT, its members had met obstacles whilst doing business in CEE countries, and that these obstacles could be removed by enlargement eastwards. The MNCs are as such, interested in creating a properly regulated business environment, such as that found inside the EU, in addition to a skilled labour force with the right attitude to work in within which they can operate confidently. In summing up Holman argues that the Pre-Accession strategy is a means of disciplining CEE countries in terms of a free Market economy (Holman 2001, See also Bieler 2002 p.591).

    But a question arises as to why Turkey has not been let in, in spite of 60 years of negotiations. The question of Turkey’s suitability as an EU member state raises issues of the geographical limits of the EU as well as the identity of the EU with respect to its enlargement strategy. Indeed Delhey 2007 p.260 has suggested that community cohesion is affected by similarity as well as proximity, and whilst measuring degrees of trust amongst the 27 EU member states, it transpired that Southern and South East enlargement weakened cohesion within the EU (Delhey 2007 p.265). Moreover as a less developed, culturally different to the EU, and with a population of 73.7 million in 2010 Turkey is less trusted (Delhey 2007 p.272 and, p.279 and trading Economics).

    The EU is predominantly a Liberal Democratic Christian organization, founded on the values and norms of Christianity, and as such, this raises concerns as to how a predominantly Muslim country like Turkey would fit into such an organization. Therefore, although an applicant country could never be turned down for reasons of religion, Turkey appears to present a challenge for the EU at several levels, such as norms, values, religion and demography and whether or not these can be overcome is an unknown quantity, as according to Schimmelfinnig and Sedelmeier 2002 p.515, an organization expands its institutions to outside states to the extent that these states share its collective identity, values and norms (see also Inglehert 1991 cited in Delhey 2007 p.279). In summary therefore the EU seeks enlargement in order to mitigate elements that threaten its stability as well as accessing new markets.

    Why do countries want to join the EU?

    Not all CEE countries or indeed the European Free Trade Areas (EFTA) have jumped at the opportunity to join the EU, and this section will consider reasons why countries seek to join the EU.

    The break up of the Soviet Union empire left behind economically disabled countries in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) which have sought to rebuild their economies and guarantee their security by reestablishing links with Western Europe and its institutions such as the EU for economic reasons and NATO for security. The demand for membership was particularly driven by political elites in conjunction with external entities such as international academics and the International Monetary fund motivated by the prospect of joining the EU. In turn the EU demanded that the CEE countries “adapt EU rules and therefore measures of liberalization and deregulation” (Bieler, A, 2002 pp 588-590).

    In their assessment of demand for EU membership, Mattli and Plümper (2002) point out that not all CEE countries found the prospect of membership appealing and only the  more democratic countries found it easier to meet the EU’s conditions of accession, whilst the least democratic countries did not. Mattli and Plümper (2002) argue that these countries are attracted to the generosity of the EU’s development programs that include technical assistance (Mattli and Plümper (2002 p.557).  Schimmelfinnig and Sedelmeier 2002 p.520, add that “CEE countries policy is to cast off the eastern identity” and consequently this made the offer of joining the EU attractive.

    Access to Foreign Direct Investment as well as extending their market reach was attractive to political elites in CEE countries, but also suited MNCs and the EU (Bieler, 2002, p.590). But what about the more affluent European countries, where does their motivation to join the EU lie? Schimmelfinnig and Sedelmeier (2002 p.517) and Bieler (2002 pp582-588) have argued that the end of the cold war, oil crisis and globalization of the economy, as well as the deepening of EC integration had implications for both Austria and Sweden forcing to consider and consequently apply for EU membership. In Austria’s case, the country’s protectionist production policies threatened to isolate it economically as the EU contemplated changes to internal markets, whilst in Sweden’s case, the relocation of the MNC’s inside the EU deprived Sweden of much needed revenue and jobs, which greatly affected the credibility of the government of the day and forced the political elites to look towards joining the EU (Bieler 2002 pg582-586).

    In their article on Theorizing EU enlargement, Schimmelfinnig and Sedelmeier 2002 p.515 have made a useful comparison between Austria and Sweden vs. CEE countries to join the EU. Whilst Sweden and Austria’s reasons can be explained as rationalist, the CEE countries’ motivation conforms to both rationalist and constructivist, but heavily weighted to values and norms.


    The EU has grown from six countries in 1951 to twenty seven in 2007, however this has come at a cost, and the EU must therefore consider whether it has reached its feasible territorial expansion. Political Elites in candidate states, Transnational companies, some EU member states and the EU all have reasons for wanting to enlarge, and these boil down to weighing up of costs and benefits. MNCs and political elites might argue for more widening of the EU, however enlargement has implications for the decision making process, regional policies and EU resources and this impacts deepening within the EU and has implications for cohesion within the community. Whilst enlargement eastwards has served to reintegrate the people and economies of the CEE countries into the global economy, the jury is still out in terms of the impact of loss of jobs to MCN as well as the migration into western Europe by CEE citizens now that there are no restrictions on them to do so.

    It has been argued that trust levels among member states are very low and that expansion to the South East will have a detrimental effect especially in the case of Turkey, a populous, less developed and culturally different country that scores poorly amongst member states when it comes to issues of trust.

    I would argue that given the current economic turmoil and resentment this has aroused amongst EU citizens, that the EU has indeed reached its territorial limit for now. There is certainly a case to pose and reflect on the impact of further widening of the EU specifically the concerns of those member states that object to further enlargement must be addressed if only for the sake of cohesion within the EU. This is because the integration of institutions within the EU is not deep enough, to deal with the Greek situation for instance which is seen as lacking a competitive edge within a capitalist project and yet this is seen as one of the requirements of joining the EU. It is my belief too that the wish for EU member states to retain a degree of autonomy over certain policies, means that the deep integration will never be achieved, and allowing in more member countries would compound the current situation.




    1. Baldwin R and Widgren M: Decision Making and the Constitutional Treaty: Will the IGC discard Giscard? Centre for European Policy Studies Policy Brief No.37 August 2003


    1. Bieler, A, 2002: The struggle over EU enlargement: A historical materialistic analysis of European integration, Journal of European Public Policy, 9:4, pp.575-597.


    1. Copenhagen Criteria, December 1993.


    1. Delhey, J, 2007: Do Enlargements Make the European Union Less Cohesive? An Analysis of Trust between EU Nationalities. JCMS, 45 (2) pp.254-273.


    1. Holman, O. 2001: The enlargement of the European Union towards Central and Eastern Europe: the role of supranational and transnational actors’, pp161-84 -in Bieler, A and Morton, A.D (eds), Social Forces in the Making of the New Europe: The restructuring of European Social Relations in the Global Political Economy, Basinstoke: Palgrave


    1. Mattli, W. and Plümper, T, 2002: The demand-side politics of EU enlargement: democracy and the application for EU membership. Journal of European Public Policy, 9:4, pp 550-574.


    1. Schimmelfennig, F and Sedelmeier, U, 2002: Theorizing EU enlargement: research focus, hypotheses, and the state of research. Journal of European Public Policy 9:4, pp 500-528


    1. Soetendorp B (1999) Foreign Policy in the European Union Pearson Education Ltd  Essex


    1. Trading Economics.


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