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Sunday, January 21, 2007

My Favourite Song #3

This song has one of the most beautiful guitar solos I've heard. So simple but so heartfelt. It's by the ex-guitarist of PULP. Have a listen.


Baby You're My Light - Richard Hawley

Other Artists that you should be investigating if you want to still be friends with me.
  • Swan Lee
  • Blue States
  • Beth Gibbons
  • Sufjan Stevens

Monday, January 15, 2007

Politics v Law: The Game of the Century.

I'm currently going through a dilemma as to which field I would like to assert myself in professionally. International Law or Politics ? That, my dear friend Mr Shakespeare, is the question. When I talk of Politics I mean everything policy driven outside Law. That is, everything that is based on diplomacy and inter-governmental negotiation. When I talk of law I mean international law, international treaties and the struggle for realistic internationally applicable, binding and "upholdable" rights.

I feel like I am at the stage where I have learnt a bit (not enough) about both, and I can see the impact that both have and it is now up to me to choose a path. I want that choice to be based on ensuring that what I do with my life can have a maximum impact in bringing about the possibility of real global change at a high level. I think globally beneficial change is most possible through political negotiation, but is most probable through law, if you follow what I'm saying.

What I mean is that, global change, for better or for worse, is ultimately brokered through political negotiation. However, political negotiation or "realpolitik" will always be based around notions of power. Those with power will rarely if ever negotiate themselves out of power and will rarely if ever make concessions that might give more power to those without power. In this sense, "unchecked" politics leads to a self perpetuating hierarchy of state power.

Law, on the other hand, can guarantee fair negotiation, but perhaps not effectiveness. That is to say, whilst law can provide a fair process, and demand equal standards for its players, law is often determined/interpreted/dictacted/violated/or just plain ignored, by real politik. The Rule of Law is often at the mercy of the hierarchy of power created by politics (and is thus weakened in its effectiveness).

So the choice is between:

Law, a system that is slow, little respected, often unrealistic but wholly binding and the sole tool that can, in theory, enable true equality of arms in negotiations between all states.


Politics, a system which is by its very nature based on power relations and thus a system that will always be wholly biased towards powerful states, but a system that nonetheless determines the world in which we live.

To break it down, for me, the difference between politics and international law is this:

International Law is like a cricket team that has great potential, a team which (if adhered to) would obliterate the best side in the world, a team which everyone in the world would be proud to watch and call their own. But for some reason International Law is a cricket team that continues to turn up to play in a park cricket competition in Mudgee on Saturday afternoons rather than playing in the international arena. Predictably, International Law always wins its matches against the Mudgee Bears 4th grade team, but it's a hollow victory, and those who watch them play (a dedicated bunch of supporters who call themselves The International Lawyers) always have the feeling that they're watching a side show, rather than the main stage. Sometimes, late at night, when The International Lawyers are really honest with themselves, they realise that hardly anyone has heard of their team, and quite frankly, probably never will.

Politics, is the cricket team's manager. It realises that it could make a lot of money if it entered its cricket team into the international arena instead of forcing it to play in Mudgee. But for the moment, Politics is making more money by running a gambling syndicate at Mudgee race course. Unfortunately, the syndicate is rigged. The members of the syndicate don't have an equal share, so the wealthier members always win more than the poorer members. The wealthy members aren't completely unreasonable though. They often offer to pay for all the poorer members' beers whenever they go to the races, provided of course the poorer members, with their significantly inferior cut of the winnings, buy cocktails for the wealthier members next time.

Politics sometimes feels a tinge of guilt about running its rigged gambling syndicate, most especially, when it sees the poorer members rifling through the bins in front of the local RSL looking for money to pay for the mounting number of cocktails they owe. Be that as it may, although Politics feels that its gambling syndicate membership may not be the best thing in the long run, just for the moment, it can't argue with the odds.

For me the choice is about what offers us the most hope. And it's there that I get confused.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Bienvenue chez moi a DEN HAAG!

Hey all,

Sorry I have been a bit slack with the old blog. I have arrived safely in The Hague, a place so important it needs two capital letters. After the first week of my internship here at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia I have to say that the work is really interesting, the people are really nice, and generally things are going pretty well. If only the weather were better! It has rained pretty much non-stop since I got here. And when it's not raining, it's windy and cloudy, or windy, cloudy and rainy...
I've attached a solitary photo which is taken from the front balcony of my apartment and shows my street. My apartment is pretty well situated. I'm about ten minutes bike ride from the tribunal in one direction and about ten minutes bike ride from the city centre in the other. Having lived at least an hour from school and work in Sydney, it is a real pleasure to be home in ten minutes after leaving work at night. (Note: that's ten minutes of rain time)
One of the great things about these internship experiences is that you tend to meet a lot of really interesting people and that has certainly been the case here. Most of the other interns have already completed or are in the process of finishing a masters or Phd in international law and have plans to work in the international law field. The melange of cultures is really stimulating and I've been trying to benefit as much as possible from this unique opportunity to speak, listen and learn about ways of approaching global justice from a global perspective.
If you would like to get in touch with me here my address is:
Van Diemenstraat 94
2518 VE Den Haag
The Netherlands

I also have a new mobile number (for those of you who had my french number I will be keeping it for when I return to Paris so don't delete it) My home phone is communal so please, no 3am phone calls and lame "oh I'm sorry I couldn't work out the time difference" excuses. ; )

Mobile: +(31) 6 16 837 049
Phone: +(31) (070) 355 18 63

More to come soon...

Five things you don't know about me...

I was tagged by my cousin Andrew to write five things you don't know about me. So here goes..

  • I used to have epilepsy.
  • I once sang in front of 15,000 people on the Sydney Opera House forecourt as part of a Sydney Festival show I was in called "Kelly's Republic" in 1997. I have a video of it which my parents have often threatened to play in front of my friends.
  • I once pierced my ear for grand total of three days. I was on holidays with my mate Andrew in Italy and it seemed like a good idea... but somehow an earring didn't go with my personality.
  • I would love to act in a cult film (think The Big Lebowski) but I would hate to have to be in all the hopeless dud films recquired to get famous enough to finally get cast.
  • I can often cry when watching slow motion sport montages set to emotional music with the original commentary in the background... (Steve Waugh's 100 at the SCG or Kieren Perkin's swim are dead certain tear jerkers).

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Skiing in Switzerland

With food supplies having been packed (literally) into the back of the trusty german-made volkswagen golf, I was off to Switzerland, as you do, to "get in a spot of skiing", with some (8) of Cecile's friends, one of whom's aunt had a chalet in Switzerland.
On the way we managed to make a stop in Geneva and I got to slip in the mandatory shot of me in front of the UN (sporting my new beanie - Christmas present). I didn't intentionally mean it to look like I am handcuffed.
We were staying at a small Chalet in a picturesque town called Charmey, tucked away in one of the valleys of the Swiss Alps. There wasn't a lot of snow, but having never skied before I couldn't really tell whether that was just by Swiss standards or by Perisher standards. All the French people we were with looked more comfortable on skies than they did without them. In my opinion, when it comes to skiing, the phrase "it's easier than it looks" could not be
more inappropriate. Cecile spent her time trying to teach me the "chasse neige" or snow plough technique which is used for stopping and turning. There's nothing more humiliating than falling over, not being able to get up, trying to regain equilibrium, and as you writhe around on the ground like a small child caught up in the bed sheets, getting skied on by an 8 year old going about 150km/hr down the slope... without any ski poles. Anyway, by the end of the five days I was "chasse neige"ing the hell out of everything... ok, so maybe not... but I do remember on the fifth day as I was "skiing" down one slope I managed to break from the focus on my skis, look up and realise how beautiful the mountains were.
The Swiss Alps reminded me of my time trekking in Nepal where you were surrounded by a huge awe-inspiring, wholly dominating range of mountains. Strangely you could go a whole day without really realizing they were there. They just sort of seeped into the skyline. It was only later, when you looked back at the photos that you took that you realized just how beautiful they were, and how much you miss them.

Christmas at the Bordes

Yes, I did take photos of the food. What can I say?! It was yummy. Little Octave, Cecile's nephew helped hand out the pressies. He was pretty impatient to open them as well.

Around the table are Cecile's mum and dad, her brother Augustin and his wife Eleanor and Cecile's friend Marie Pierre.
Hope you all had a ripping Christmas.

Panorama from Charmey - Switzerland