Nagorno-Karabakh was an autonomous region in Azerbaijan that USSR’s leader Joseph Stalin took from Armenia during the Sovietization of Transcaucasia in the early 1920s, in an attempt to placate Turkey. The citizens of the region predominantly identified as Armenian (approximately 76%) and this also corresponded to a religious identification where Armenians are predominantly Christian while Azeris are predominantly Muslim.
Uganda in East Africa has a large rainforest area, the Mabira Forest, that has been protected since 1932. In 2007 Ugandan President Yoweli Kaguta Museveni announced a plan to hand over one-third of the Mabira rainforest to the Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL). The plan was to turn the forest into land for growing sugarcane.
On December 1, 1960, just after a rally in San Francisco, ten members of the Committee for Non-Violent Action marched out of the city, intent on marching across the country, all the way to Moscow in the Soviet Union. Their chances for success were slim. Despite the backing of the (admittedly small) CNVA, marching most of the way around the world is a monumental task. Even if the distance were not an issue, the Soviet Union was notoriously unsympathetic to peace groups or protest action in general. Breaching the Iron Curtain would not be easy.
In 2002 the provincial government of Chubut granted a gold mining concession to Meridian Gold, a Canadian mining company based out of Reno, Nevada, for a large open-pit gold mine just 7 kilometers from Esquel, Argentina. The local population was strongly opposed to this, due to the environmental impact that the mine would have, and decided to protest the action.
Argentina and Uruguay have a history of friendly diplomatic relations, with their countries sharing similar heritages, mutual alliances and significant cultural and political ties. However, following the 2005 announcement of the construction of two paper mills on the Uruguayan side of the Uruguay River (which serves as a boundary between the two countries), Argentina and Uruguay experienced their first significant diplomatic tensions since the 1970s.
To South Africans and Australians alike, rugby is not just a sport, but a cultural symbol. In the 1960s and early 1970s, it was also a unifying force between apartheid South Africa and its “white neighbor by the sea”—Australia. At the time, Australia had in place many racist policies that discriminated against Aboriginal peoples and the Australian public was only beginning to gain an awareness of both the domestic and international issues of human rights at stake.
The anti-sweatshop movement was the largest student activism movement in the United States since the South African divestment movement over ten years before. Students all around the country pressured college and university administrators to adopt strict labor codes that guaranteed that merchandise bearing the college’s logo was not made by people working under unacceptable, “sweatshop-like” conditions.
Belize formally became an independent nation in 1981 and quickly established itself as a parliamentary democracy with a high degree of electoral participation and a Constitution that guaranteed basic rights and freedoms to all citizens. In 1998, the People's United Party won a landslide victory and party leader Said Musa was sworn in as Prime Minister - a position he held until 2008.
The mass demonstrations of 1963 in Durham were the culmination of a local black freedom movement that had slowly gained momentum over the preceding years. Durham had been the site of a thwarted sit-in at the Royal Ice Cream Parlor in 1957, limited desegregation of schools, and the long-standing lunch-counter sit-ins in 1960 (see “Durham students sit-in for U.S. Civil Rights, 1960”). Throughout the next few years, civil rights activists continued to attack segregation in theaters, schools, motels, and restaurants as well as demand increased employment opportunities for blacks.
In the spring of 1985, campaigns against apartheid in South Africa mobilized on campuses across the United States. Students at University of California Berkeley became aware of these campaigns and were moved to act. On April 10, two student groups—the UC Divestment Committee and the Campaign Against Apartheid—began organizing daily rallies at Sproul Plaza, a main gathering place on campus. Nancy Skinner led the Divestment Committee and William Nessen headed up the Campaign Against Apartheid, but the student coalition made decisions through the consensus of all members.
Greenham Commons outside Newbury, England was purchased in 1939 by the Newbury District Council for the public use of Newbury inhabitants, including the collection of firewood. In 1941 this area was requisitioned by the Air Ministry for an airfield, which was later decommissioned. Despite the decommissioning of the airfield, public ownership of the land was not fully restored. Then in 1979 NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization ) bought the land from the British government for the building of a military base that would house 96 Tomahawk Ground Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCMs).
During the second half of the 20th century, Chinese society experienced profound and tumultuous changes. Communist rule was declared in 1949, and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s resulted in much social and economic upheaval. Students were particularly hard hit by the changes made during the Cultural Revolution as university funding decreased and education quality deteriorated. Student resentment towards the Communist government was further exacerbated by the practices of nepotism and profiteering among party officials.
In 1983, the UNC-Chapel Hill Endowment Board agreed to stop investing with firms that rejected the Sullivan Principles, a code of business practices of foreign companies that wished to treat South African workers fairly which was developed by the Rev. Leon Sullivan, a civil rights activist.
By the mid-1980s, the Apartheid regime had been in control of South Africa for nearly 40 years. The country was in the midst of a national crisis, had declared a state of emergency, and over 5,000 people had been killed by the violence. Despite the African Nation Congress’ requests for international aid, specifically in the form of divestment, the United States (as well as many other powerful countries) resisted.
On April 4, 1985, seven students at Columbia University, members of the Coalition for a Free South Africa (CFSA), chained closed the doors to Columbia’s administrative building, Hamilton Hall, and sat on the steps, blockading the entrance. They were there to protest the University’s investments in corporations that operated in Apartheid South Africa. Soon after, a march coordinated by other members of CFSA passed by Hamilton Hall. When the marchers saw the small blockade on the steps, they rushed to join in.
In 1972, Matthew Coon Come, a young Cree student, happened upon a newspaper article that proclaimed Quebec’s ‘hydroelectric project of the century’. Looking at a map attached to the article, Matthew realized that his community’s lands in northern Quebec were to be submerged by the proposed dam. It was in this way that the Cree learned of the upcoming assault to their land that had been commissioned by the Quebecois government. The Cree are an aboriginal people that reside in northern Quebec, around the mouth of James Bay.
Famous for its ecological wildlife, tropical rainforests, beaches, mangroves, and coral reefs, the Talamanca region of southeastern Costa Rica is one of the most biologically rich areas in the world. It has gained protection as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and ecological conservation efforts have helped spur the region’s flourishing eco-tourism industry. In addition to fishing, coffee, and banana exports, eco-tourism is a major source of income for local communities and indigenous groups, which include the Bribri and Cabecar.
In May of 1940, the Netherlands was occupied by the Nazi war machine. At that time, the Netherlands had a total area of 33,000 square kilometers, and only approximately nine million people living there. The country was also relatively flat, with little natural features that could contribute to an armed resistance against the Nazis. The Netherlands had a policy of neutrality and had no recent experience with outside invading forces. In addition, Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch royal family refused to accept the Nazi offer for protection under the Reich and instead fled to London.
Residents of Junin faced the first assault on their land in the early 1990s, after the Ecuadorian government signed a contract with Bishi Metals, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi. The contract allowed the mining company to prospect in and around Junin, a community in the mountainous region of northern Ecuador. Junin and its surrounding region, Intag, have exceptional biodiversity and rich water resources. Junin also happens to be rich in metals—copper in particular. The arrival of Bishi Metals raised immediate concern among Intag residents.
Working conditions and wage levels in England in the early 19th century generally made laborers unable to support themselves and their families. According to the estimates of the Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum, the average laborer needed about fourteen shillings a week in order to pay his rent and purchase enough food for his family. Wages of nine or ten shillings “reduced families to starvation levels” unless wives or children were able to work as well. In the 1830s, however, the rate of pay for laborers in Tolpuddle, in Dorset County, England, was seven shillings a week.
The first wave of anti-sweatshop movements developed in the 1980s and focused on U.S. economic policy in South America. It was not until 1996 that the anti-sweatshop movement gained national media attention with the revelation that the actress Kathie Lee Gifford’s clothing line for Wal-Mart was sewn in Honduran sweatshops. The media coverage this received greatly increased awareness on U.S. outsourcing policies.
In Houston, the largest cleaning companies paid their janitors an average of $5.25 per hour and did not provide health benefits. Meanwhile, in other cities the average salary for a janitor position was between $10-20 an hour and family health benefits were provided. The Service Employee’s International Union (SEIU), under the leadership of its president, Stephen Lerner, utilized the Justice for Janitors Campaign, which involved over 200,000 janitors in more than 28 cities across the United States, to fight to improve the working conditions and benefits for these workers.
The political atmosphere in Japan in the 1950s was anything but calm. Still reeling from the Second World War, citizens were coming to terms with their newly democratic leaders—politicians who, before the war, had been ardently fascist. A growing nationalist movement was forming, as well as strong leftist political factions. These two movements opposed Japan’s strong ties with the United States, and disagreed with the American military presence in their country.
The Jewish and Palestinian territorial claim to the same area of land has resulted in one of the most protracted conflicts in recent history. Stemming from the Zionist demand for a Jewish homeland in the historic state of Israel, a homeland that would serve as a sanctuary for this persecuted and globally displaced people, large influxes of Jews into the former British mandate of Palestine have and continue to displace millions of Palestinian residents.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the political atmosphere in Kenya was characterized by brutal government repression and terror. Under the single-party rule of President Daniel arap Moi, any form of political dissension was swiftly met with government interrogation, detention, and torture. Many students, journalists, lawyers, and human rights advocates were among those imprisoned for perceived anti-government statements, ideas, and actions.