Monday Headlines

Can Iran Deal Open Door To Improved Human Rights?
With a few exceptions, most of the debate following the announcement of a final agreement over Iran’s nuclear program has centered around its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, little has been made of Iran’s poor record on human. Gissou Nia of The Cairo Times believes the companies that will benefit financially from the end of international sanctions on Iran have an opportunity to apply pressure that will result in improved human rights.

“While the terms of the nuclear deal do not tie human rights reform to the lifting of sanctions, the opportunity to do so in another way remains. Corporate actors looking to invest in the country can be as responsible for encouraging and upholding human rights as governments. And governments, ultimately charged with the monitoring and oversight of corporate actors under their jurisdiction, should establish and enforce the regulation needed for model corporate behavior,” suggests Nia.

After Five Decades, Flag Flies Over US Embassy In Cuba
On Monday, Cuba and the U.S. entered a new phase in relations when they formally upgraded their mission in the other’s country from a special interests section to an embasssy, the first of several steps toward normalization of relations.

Raising the flag will be the easy part, something which even the Cuban regime recognizes.

“A new stage will begin, long and complex, on the road toward normalization, which will require the will to find solutions to problems that have accumulated over more than five decades and hurt ties between our nations and peoples,” said Raúl Castro last week speech before the National Assembly.

The renewed outreach to Cuba, as well as to Iran, comes weeks after the U.S. State Department placed the island nation on its list of serial human rights abusers.

“The principal human rights abuses included those involving the abridgement of the ability of citizens to change the government and the use of government threats, extrajudicial physical assault, intimidation, violent government-organized counter-protests against peaceful dissent, and harassment and detentions to prevent free expression and peaceful assembly,” said the State Department in its report.

Human rights activists continue to stress to the administration that they must maintain pressure on Cuba to improve its record.

“In Iran and Cuba, the United States needs to leverage its diplomacy to look at human rights issues and not separate its diplomacy to either look, in the case of Iran, solely at the importance of nuclear peace – or in the case of Cuba, treating diplomacy as an end in itself,” said Mark Lagon, president of Washington-based Freedom House, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 16.

“The U.S. decision to plow forward, full speed ahead, with the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba just as 100 peaceful activists were being detained sends troubling and mixed messages,” Lagon added.

In Fighting Global Disease, Faith Organizations Play A Role
A recent event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) examined the contributions of faith leaders and organizations to global health efforts, identifying some of their unique strengths and challenges.

The contribution of faith-based groups was underscored in a recent study published in the journal The Lancet.

“Religious groups are major players in the delivery of healthcare, particularly in hard-to-reach and rural areas that are not adequately served by government,” said Edward Mills, the author of the study and a senior epidemiologist at Global Evaluative Sciences in Canada, according to Medical Daily.



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