Sunday, January 29, 2017

On Justinian von Welz who died in Suriname

Groessel, the German editor of Welz's writings, comments,

'Thus died Justinian von Welz, lonely and forsaken, a sacrifice to his own self-elected calling, an enlightening model for all time of faithful courage and joyful readiness to give all - even one's life - for the sake of Christ.'

Probably in Groessel, Justinianus von Weltz, der Vorkaempfer der lutherischen Mission

Saturday, January 7, 2017

De Levende Minerva van Utrecht

Het boek Eucleria wordt in veel artikelen en boeken die ik inmiddels over dit specifieke onderwerp gelezen heb, opgevat als de verantwoording van Anna Maria van Schurman's radicale keuze tegen de wetenschap en voor de sectarische beweging van Jean de Labadie. Een lezing die mij vanaf het begin niet kan bekoren. Intuitief voel je aan dat er ergens iets niet klopt. Er moet een betere verklaring zijn voor Anna Maria van Schurman's keuze voor Jean de Labadie en een meer inhoudelijke beoordeling van haar verantwoording in het boek Eucleria.

Het zeer lezenswaardige reisverslag van Jasper Danckaerts en Peter Sluyter in Amerika laat zien dat de labadisten wel degelijk aansluiting bleven zoeken bij de gereformeerde kerken. Ook de lovende woorden en correspondentie van Campegius Vitringa, de gerespecteerde hoogleraar uit Franeker, met zowel Jasper Danckaerts als Pierre Yvon, bewijzen dat de 'labadisten' zich wel degelijk, ook wetenschappelijk, bleven ontwikkelen.

Enkele dingen vallen op als je over haar leest. Het feit dat ze op een voetstuk geplaatst wordt door Voetius. Ze mag als een 17de eeuwse Pindar een gedicht schrijven bij de opening van de Universiteit van Utrecht. Ze wordt door Daniel Heinsius, de eerste hoogleraar poezie en politicologie in Leiden, geprezen als de levende Minerva van Utrecht. Ze lijkt vooral een onbereikbaar symbool of Mascotte van het 17de eeuwse burgerschapsideaal te moeten worden.

Tegelijkertijd heeft ze een innige vrienschap met de befaamde theoloog Andre Rivet en zijn nichtje Marie du Moulin. In het verslag dat Marie van het sterfbed van haar oom geeft, wordt ook Anna Maria van Schurman met naam en toenaam genoemd. De vriendschap tussen deze twee lijkt soms enigszins erotische trekjes te vertonen. Marie du Moulin lijkt in ieder geval haar vriendin, via oudtestamentisch realisme uit haar Grieks mythologische dwangbuis, in het hier en nu te willen trekken.

Een vraag die onwillekeurig opkomt als je nadenkt over de periode voorafgaand aan haar radicale keuze voor Jean de Labadie, is waarom ze zo befaamd werd. Wat was haar concrete bijdrage aan het wetenschappelijke debat? Waarom was men zo tot haar aangetrokken?

In plaats van een afrekening met haar verleden, gaf ik er daarom vanaf het begin de voorkeur aan Eucleria als een explicteren van en logisch voortbouwen op haar denken dat zich ontwikkeld heeft in de loop der jaren. Als ze zich voorneemt het voorbeeld van Paulus te volgen, dan resoneert daarin mee haar dichterlijke reputatie als de Minerva van Utrecht. Zelf zou ik liever zeggen, de Pindar van Utrecht. Het dagboek en leiderschap van Jasper Danckaerts doet in dat opzicht dan ook sterk denken aan Eucleria. De nadruk op het vormen van sterke, onafhankelijk, mondige burgers, als voorwaarde voor een stabiele samenleving, deelt ze met Jean de Labadie. De Labadie, voormalig decaan van de Academie in Montauban, formuleerde al in Orange een alternatief tegenover de door Hobbes geformuleerde visie in Leviathan. Haar rol als 'levende minerva' heeft ze haar hele leven willen blijven spelen. Wat dat betreft reflecteert ze precies datgene wat de grondleggers van de eerste universiteiten van Nederland voor ogen stonden. Wat betreft de politieke rol die zij voor zichzelf opeist is er continuiteit en geen breuk wanneer ze zich aansluit bij en uitspreekt voor Jean de Labadie.

Haar Eucleria doet mij dan ook sterk denken aan het boek Life of Lady Grey van de Italiaanse predikant in London, Michelangelo Florio, dat aan het begin van de zeventiende eeuw ook in Nederland gedrukt is (in Zeeland bij Richard Schilders). Bekend is in ieder geval dat Lady Grey een sterke indruk op haar gemaakt heeft. In een passage op bladzijde 52(Hoofdstuk 2 van Eucleria) van haar Eucleria lijkt zij te verwijzen naar Lady Grey als ze over een  bloedgetuiginne spreekt.Tegelijkertijd schijnt dit boek van Michenagelo Florio niet zozeer een biografie te zijn, maar een theologische verdediging van het begrip predestinatie. Het komt mij voor dat Anna Maria van Schurman met Eucleria iets vergelijksbaars beoogt.

In plaats van een afwijzing van wetenschap, is het boek een verdediging van haar opvatting van wetenschap zoals zij die in de loop der tijd ontwikkeld heeft. Een curieuze verwijzing naar Exodus 3:14 in Eucleria kon ik na een eerste lezing niet goed plaatsen. Maar via een studie over De uniciteit van God en de relationaliteit van de mens De relevantie van Augustinus voor de hedendaagse theologie door Maarten Wisse, kwam ik op het spoor van een interessante mogelijkheid. Deze bekende passage uit Exodus 3:14 speelt namelijk een belangrijke rol in het denken van Augustinus. En dat brengt ons bij de controverse rond Descartes die op Nederlandse universiteiten zo'n grote rol gespeeld heeft in de zeventiende eeuw. Brita Rang's schrijft in het boek 'Choosing the better Part' in het artikel 'An exceptional mind' bijvoorbeeld:

'This is not the place to discuss the fact that Van Schurman's friend Colvius exchanged ideas with
Descartes about similarities between 'cogito ergo sum' and a passage in St. Augustine.'

Herlezing van het bewuste hoofdstuk bevestigt mijn vermoeden dat Anna Maria van Schurman zich hier nadrukkelijk mengt in een epistemologische discussie. In plaats van zich terug te trekken of er voor weg te lopen, lijkt haar Eucleria daarom juist een eerlijke en heldhaftige poging van Anna Maria van Schurman om haar positie te bepalen in het debat dat zich rond Descartes heeft ontsponnen, en dat zij daarbij nadrukkelijk aansluit bij Augustinus. In haar Dissertatio benadrukt Anna Maria van Schurman nog het belang van talen, rhetorica, logica en physica voor het bestuderen van de Bijbel. In haar Eucleria rekent ze hier nadrukkelijk mee af. Zou je dit niet ook moeten lezen als een afrekening met de Aristoteliaanse opvatting over filosofie die door Voetius werd aangehangen? Het lijkt erop dat ze tot de conclusie gekomen is dat de Aristoteliaanse filosofie geen afdoend antwoord gaf op de vragen die Descartes stelde en daarom een eigen alternatief antwoord ontwikkelde, waarbij ze nadrukkelijk aansluit bij Augustinus. Het zou volgens Brita Rang mogelijk kunnen zijn dat Anna Maria van Schurman in haar positiebepaling ten opzichte van Descartes, aansluit bij de opstelling van Andre Rivet. Roothaan schrijft dat Anna Maria van Schurman noch als Cartesiaan, noch als Voetiaan kan worden omschreven.

Het loont daarom de moeite voor kenners van het werk van Augustinus en Descartes om de Eucleria eens vanuit deze invalshoek te benaderen. Temeer omdat de invloed van Augustinus op het werk van Descartes, direct of indirect, de afgelopen 50 jaar in Frankrijk een flinke hoeveelheid aandacht gehad heeft(W. O Neill). Etienne Gilson doet een aantal zeer interessante uitspraken in dit verband. Een quote in een boek van Stephen Menn over Descartes & Augustin uit 2002:

Gilson continues to insist that the systematic expression of Descartes' thought, although not its animating spirit, is influenced by Augustine, and by the Augustinianism of Descartes' Oratorian friends: he thinks that Descartes made use of the Oratorians' Augustinian metaphysics, but that he transformed it radically in using it for his own ends.'

Stephen Menn's summarizes:

'Augustinianism is essenetially incomplete, and its value is not in any scientific contributions but precisely in reminding us of the incompleteness of human reason. Augustinian philosoph is valuable for its "spirit", as a discipline of intellectual devotion, but when it lives aside this "spirit" and sets itself up as a precise scientific system, and thus as a rival to Thomism, Gilson is quick to denounce it as a corruption.'

'The conclusion of Gilson and Gouhier, that Descartes' thought is radically anti-Augustinian, follows directly form their interpretation of Augustinianism as a certain "spirit," as Christian devotion expressing itself through reason.'
Dat er een sterke relatie bestaat tussen de volgelingen van Augustinus(de Jansenisten) in Frankrijk en Jean de Labadie is vrij gemakkelijk te achterhalen. Een interessant artikel dat de tegenstellingen en overlap samenvat tussen Jansenisme en Cartesianism: What has Cartesianism to do with Jansenism?

Friday, November 18, 2016

Are not Two Sparrows Sold for a Penny?


'Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care.'
The temptation to use this well-known metaphor of Jesus in Matthew 10, comparing his disciples to sparrows, as an easy admonition against those who worry about their daily struggle in life, obscures an important structural aspect of the gospel of Matthew in general and chapter 10 in particular. This structural element of the gospel according to Matthew can be found in chapter 28; the great commission:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Chapter 10 of the book of Matthew takes on its meaning within this framework. It is no longer the history of just Jesus appointing disciples and sending them out. Through the metaphor of the twelve apostles, it becomes the story of the church that is thrust into the world.

The discussion of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well comes to mind as a helpful tool to understand what Jesus does not mean when he tells his twelve disciples to not worry here in Matthew 10, and in Matthew 6 where he encourages them, and us, to look at the birds:
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life”
While it is in chapter 4 of Jean that Jesus says to his disciples, and by extension to us:
“I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
Another metaphor that is easily misconstrued into an admonition to worry less about earthly things or at least cast suspicion on those who focus on earthly things like eating, drinking, working and feasting. Or, to translate it into the broad terms that are (again) hotly debated since Trump won the Presidential elections: community, belonging, identity and focus on the common good of society.

But if we place Jean 4 and Matthew 10 in the framework of the great commission, this alleged rejection of earthly joys and earthly delights tilts completely. To be precise, the joy of Jesus wasn't just some obscure inner secret, it was fully based in the here and now:

'Already the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may rejoice together....So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days.'
It's this great commission that gives meaning to the admonition to not worry while participating in that great commission as Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew chapter 19:

'And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.'
The kingdom of heaven is near, literally! As Jesus says in the high priestly prayer:

'My prayer is not that you take them out of the world'
A phrase that, again, takes on its correct meaning within the framework of the great commission. Jesus prayer is that He takes them into the world!


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pallas

'Pallas, drawn by hand is the glory of our Leiden, And as Goddess, she thinks she is safe because she is painted. A contrast she is to the living Utrecht Minerva; the will of the painted pallas is that she holds the greater power' - Daniel Heinsius

One could also argue that the intellectual content of Pindar's Odes is best seen not as centered around a key idea or motif but as the confrontation, expansion, and reconciliation of various opposed ideas, or "polarities". Thomas K. Hubbard jstor article

Sunday, February 7, 2016

John Kasich Threading the Needle Between Trump & Rubio

When I listened to Tim Scott's endorsement of Marco Rubio as the personification of the American dream it occurred to me how offensive this narrative sounds to those who live the reality of everyday struggle to survive in the United States.



Realize how counterproductive and damaging this narrative is for Marco Rubio if he wants to reach out to the traditional Republican base. It reminded me of a phrase in an excellent analysis of Donald Trump's appeal by Alastair Roberts:
"The American white working class—to which a disproportionate number of evangelicals belong—are well aware that they are hated and pathologized by upper middle class coastal liberals, who dominate key institutions in American life."
Through his extreme realism Donald Trump succeeds in channeling this anger and frustration, while Tim Scott only fuels it with the lie that every American can become a US Senator. History teaches us that a successfull Republican candidate for President will need to find a path that engages both today's realists and today's idealists.

With a little abstraction one can see how the approach proposed by Governor John Kasich could create this path to victory by threading the needle between these two extremes. On the one hand putting the hard work into engaging the voters, with compassion, dedication and fun. In stark contrast to Marco Rubio who visited New Hampshire only a few times until recently. And on the other hand boldly rejecting the harsh rhetoric on immigration reform, and health care reform.

After last night's debate, for which debate coach Todd Graham gave Kasich an A for his balanced performance, it looks increasingly likely that his strategy could pay off. A consistent debate performance from the start in Cleveland with a laser focused strategy built on the premise that Donald Trump would lose Iowa might hand him New Hampsire. Could the Ohio Governor be the one who will write, in the words of GOP founder Salmon P. Chase, 'Resurgam' on the tombstone of a disintegrating GOP? Several observers in New Hampshire are reporting the first signs that this is indeed the case:






Friday, August 7, 2015

John Kasich Won The Debate

The day had started great after his surprise late entrance into the FOX debate, welcoming his fellow debate participants in his home state of Ohio, the birthground of the Republican party, with these words:
"I am glad to welcome my fellow debate participants to our great state" 
And it got even better, he won that debate!




Perfect timing, perfect location and perfect rhetorical balance. I wouldn't be surprised to see John Kasich take his candidacy all the way to the 2016 RNC in Cleveland Ohio. I hadn't noticed it till today, but John Kasich is actually THE candidate that has a potential of beating Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee, both in Iowa and New Hampsire. As others drop, he moves up(Clark Judge). He emerged as a top tier candidate. He made Ted Cruz look Effete (Camille Paglia). An undecided Republican said "John Kasich is crushing it tonight. He'll see a huge bump tomorrow." He was the 'big winner' (John Kraushaar, National Journal). But people are still figuring out why. The answer is actually quite simple. He was able to appeal in an authetic way to both moderates and compassionate conservatives at the same time. Which is a rare accomplishment. A surprise to everyone.



He has been compared to John Huntsman, but he is actually a much more viable candidate because of his authentic appeal to traditional Republicans. As NPR writes:
'His parents became more conservative and eventually joined an Episcopal church. Then, in 1987, they were killed by a drunken driver while pulling out of Burger King after a coffee run. That accident spurred Kasich on his faith journey, as he detailed in Every Other Monday. He described how he had gathered a Bible study group that had been his rock for more than two decades. Kasich now attends an Anglican church.'

I disagree with William A. Galston of the Brookings Institute who writes:
'Overall, however, the debate did little to expand the appeal of the Republican brand. With the exception of Bush’s advocacy of immigration reform, the candidates offered little that would make their party more palatable to the portions of the electorate—especially women, young adults, and minorities—where they have struggled in recent presidential elections.'
Exactedly on those core issues John Kasich succeeded in linking them to his convictions in a convincing way. As several observers noted:
Rob Frost, Chairman of  the Cuyahoga County Republican Party (Cleveland) said this (audio) after the debate:
"John Kasich showed tonight that he is the strongest conservative with the broadest appeal and that he is ready to lead the United States."
Ed Lee, senior director of debate in the Barkley Forum Center for Debate Education at Emory University, wrote on the CNN website:
"I expect Kasich's poll numbers to skyrocket after this performance."
His performance suggests he could be a serious alternative to Jeb Bush.(Linda Killian WSJ) Forget Trump: John Kasich is the real dark horse Jeb Bush should be worried about(Josh Voorhees, Slate July 10th),  and Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig(New Republic) made an accurate prediction when she wrote: John Kasich’s Compassionate Christianity Could Raise Hell in the GOP Primary(july 21st).  "John Kasich seems to understand why he is running and how it fits within the Republican consensus"(Henry Olsen, National Review June 23). When he dropped out of the primaries in 1999 he himself said "Iowa and New Hampshire haven't seen the last of John Kasich"

He was right!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Barbeyrac's Practical Leadership of the Polarized Huguenot Diaspora

This blogpost is my initial attempt to piece together the ideological background of Jean Barbeyrac, a thinker I discovered through my focus on the emergence of Glasgow and the important role it played in forming presbyterian ministers from England, Scotland and Ireland after the 1707 Act of Union. The correspondence between Gershom Carmichale and Jean Barbeyrac takes on increased meaning in the context of the emergence of the presbyterian church in America around that same period. My first thoughts and collection of sources for further investigation and creative reflection. Some information on his family background can be read in the Nobiliaire universel de France. Fabrizio Lomonaco writes in the Berlin Refuge, 1680-1780: Learning and Science in European Context:
'However, Barbeyrac deviated from leaders of the Huguenot party - such as Jean Claude and Pierre Jurieu-, through his intention to re-examine the problem of freedom of conscience in the light of natural law.'
'Jean Lecler, Locke's closest disciple and the principal early carrier of his ideas into continental discussion.' Barbeyrac declared that he agreed with the theses of his friend Le Clerc and quotes in particular Parhassia which contains 'Pensées sur la nécessité et su la manière d'étudier, pour les personnes qui ne font pas profession de lettres.' (This book is mentioned in the context of the thought of Jean Jacques Rousseau as well.) I disagree however with Lomonaco when he says that the dominant feature of Barbeyrac's work is juridical and not theological. Mark Goldie & Robert Wokler, in their history of 18th century political thought, cut to the core when they write:
'In attempting to meet the challenge of the French king's assertion of a right to sovereignty over his subjects' religious beliefs, Huguenot opinion had polarised.'
And propose Barbeyrac as the mediator between the two extreme positions of Jurieu and Bayle:
'The focus of these debates was conscience. Barbeyrac's importance lay in analysing this concept in order to rebut Bayle's scepticism and reach a more prudent political standpoint than Jurieu's.'
Tim Hochstrasser makes the same argument in his article 'The claims of conscience: Natural law theory, obligation, and resistance in the Huguenot diaspora'. This reconciliatory approach reminds immediately of the reconciliatory aims of Antoine Barbeyrac, Jean's father, in a january 1688 sermon on Corinthians 13:13. In this sermon Antoine Barbeyrac wades into the 'french prophet' debate alluded to by the Jesuite historian Leon Ménard in his history of Nimes like this:
'Tels furent les torts du monarque; ils n'auraient peut-etre pas suffi pour exciter la guerre civile, mais les ministres protestants exilés ne purent pardonner au gouvernement qui les avait bannis. il firent jouer tous les ressorts d'un aveugle fanatisme. Desécoles de prophétie s'éleverent; on osa prédire la chute de l'église catholique et la ruine de la monarchie francaise; des émissaires soudoyés soulèrent les peuples;...'
His father subsequently presided over the important conference of March 23 1688 in Lausanne to determine how to find places of refuge elsewhere. When Antoine Barbeyrac died in 1690 and his mother in 1691, Jean survived on funds for refugees in Lausanne.
Raúl Pérez Johnston agrees with Tim Hochstrasser that Barbeyrac's Huguenot affiliations are underappreciated in the quest towards the understanding of his thought. Johnston argues
 'that one of the keys to understanding the particular trajectory of their thought was the position they occupied in the Huguenot Refuge, who had sought to define the social space that could be allocated to rights of conscience under absolutist rule'
On the one hand I agree with Tim Hochstrasser that Jean Barbeyrac needs to be 'securely sited within the context of Huguenot theology after the diaspora.' On the other hand I disagree with Hochstrasser when he immediately adds 'within whose paradoxes he remained trapped.' The importance of Antoine Barbeyrac's role in his son's education not just as Jean's tutor in Montagnac, but also as a top leader of the Refuge, eloquently illustrated by Antoine's role at the 1688 conference in Lausanne and in the above quoted sermon, has sofar received little to no attention.

Sandra Pott in her book 'Reformierte Morallehren und deutsche Literatur von Jean Barbeyrac'
mentions an anonymous author who sees a direct link between Antoine's sermon on first Corinthians and Jean's writings! Extremely interesting subject indeed. Sandra Pott herself writes:

'In einer Predigt, die er kurz nach der Revokation hält, entfaltet er jenes einfache Christentum als moralische une religiöse basis für die Gemeinde der Flüchtlinge ebenso wie für die Bürger der Stadt Lausanne'
Connecting the development of Jean Barbeyrac's political thought to his father's role in the Refuge might be an important key to understanding the history of Calvinism in the early 18th century. It might very likely uncover the strategic practical goal(s) Barbeyrac aimed to serve. Instead of trapping himself in the paradoxes of Huguenot theology after the diaspora, I see a picture emerging of a refugee aiming to serve the Huguenot Refuge living across Europe under constant threat of expulsion and/or xenophobia, by providing practical leadership. As Mark Goldie & Robert Wokler argue:
'The Lutheran philosopher's work had been adopted as an ally by leading Huguenots in the debates about their perilous situation after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, as is apparent in Gershom Carmichael's Glasgow lectures of teh 1690s and in his edition of Pufendorf's De officio hominis et civis (On the Duties of Man and Citizen). The crucial link was Jean Barbeyrac...'
His book Les Devoirs de l'Homme et Du Citoyen inspired a number of Reformed thinkers in Switzerland and the Netherlands. It was Barbeyrac's 
'Lockeified Pufendorf that continental audiences came to enjoy, and it was to become a central source for the language of 'natural and inalienable rights' that the American and French declarations of human rights later in the century were to solidify'.
That Jean Barbeyrac aimed for practical leadership is confirmed also in the article 'The Natural Jurisprudence of Jean Barbeyrac: Translation as an Art of Political Adjustment' by David Saunders who writes:
'This stance is provoked by the profound challenge that Pufendorf's radical post-Westphalian secularizing of civil authority posed for a Huguenot: how to grant that the state had legitimate authority to regulate all external conduct, but at the same time preserve an inviolable moral space for the exercise of individual conscience.'
Janet Glenn Grey wrote the article 'reformed protestant academies impact life in Berlin' in which she writes that several pastors and teachers at Berlin's Collège Francais were graduates of the Academy of Saumur, for example Pastor Jacques Abbadie and pre-Enlightenment figues Jacques Lenfant and Issac de Beausorbe. Here she investigates the content of the curriculum at the Academy of Saumur which impacted the French University in Berlin through the Huguenot diaspora. She writes:
'Calvin saw to it that a statement on eduction was included in Geneva's new ecclesiastical ordinances of 1541 which says: ...that we establish a college to instruct the children to prepare them for both the ministry and civil government'
Would William Penn have met some of these pastors in Berlin as fellow students when he studied in Saumur himself?

Puffendorf's Law of Nature and Nations with notes by Barbeyrac appears among a list of books proposed by Madison's committee purchased for the library(..) is printed as it appeared in the journal of the continental Congress. Craig Yirush in his book on the roots of early American political theory writes:

 'The Impact that Barbeyrac's editorial interventions had on the reception of natural law theory in the Anglo-American world in the eighteenth century remains to be studied.'
And :

'Barbeyrac was particularly concerned in drawing the reader's attention to the superiority of Locke's theory of resistance as well as his theory of property over those of Pufedorf.'

Barbeyrac's book 'An Historical and Critical Account of the Science of Morality; and the Progress it has Made in the World..' owned by Thomas Jefferson.

Andrew Fitzmaurice thinks 
'Like so many seventeenth-century natural law writers, Barbeyrac lived with the instability and danger caused by the Reformation and he sought the principles of a political order that would address those troubles.'
The introduction into the Refuge litterature might be a valuable resource as well. The book on Henri de Mirmand is certainly a must read to get a feel of the atmosphere and context in which Barbeyrac wrote his book. Many of the major players, like Charles Brousson and even Jean Claude have a link to Nîmes.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Presidential Termlimit & Burundi's Constitution

On thursday Paul Seger, the President of the Peacebuilding Committee for Burundi of
the United Nations, said that the third term which Pierre Nkurunziza wants is in the first place a concern between the people of Burundi. The concern of the United Nations, according to Paul Seger, is that Burundi will remain at peace. 

Does the constitution of Burundi give room for a third Nkurunziza term? Let's read article 96 of the Burundi constitution:
The President of the Republic is elected by universal direct suffrage for a mandate of five years renewable one time."

It comes close to what US Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Russ Feingold, said at the end of 2014(at 35:10:
"We indicated the United States position that the Arusha Accords were unambiguous in its intent, that this be two terms for one person. And we urge that the presidential election be consistent with the spirit of the Arusha Accords. The Arusha Accords have been the foundation of a decade long period of relative peace and stability in burundi. We do acknowledge that there is a constit provision that could possibly be interpreted  to permit a third term for the current president but our view is that would run counter to the language of the Arusha Accords which states quote 'that no one may serve more than two presidential terms' unquote. So the goal here is to not (sort of) get into some sort of legal debate but get to the bottom line, which is that stability and good governance will effect international perceptions and investors confidence in burundi. And so the spirit of Arusha needs to be followed in order to have that kind of benefit for burundi. And that we  still think that the Arusha Accords remain key to maintaining a still fragile stability in Burundi in the near term."

Stef Vandeginste at the University of Antwerp thinks it is very unlikely that the CENI will reject Nkurunziza's candidacy before the elections. This would mean that the constitutional court would only deal with the question after the elections. The Burundi constitution says however in article 95 that the President:
"is the guarantor of the national independence, of the integrity of the territory and of the respect for the international treaties and agreements"
After talks in Bujumbura with Ban Ki-Moon, Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza wrote on his website that he will organize elections:

 'in strict compliance with the Constitution and the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement.'  
This can only be interpreted as a confirmation that Pierre Nkurunziza sees himself as the guarantor of the respect for the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in conformity or at least analogical to what is stated in article 95 of the constitution.
 
On the executive branch of government the Arusha Agreement says in Article 7.3:
"She/he shall be elected for a term of five years, renewable only once. No one may serve more than two presidential terms."
In other words, the constitutional question might no longer be limited to an interpretation of article 96 of the constitution. Vandeginste does not discuss the articles 95 and 96 of the constitution, or the legality of a third term, but even if the constitutional court would not rule before the election, President Pierre Nkurunziza himself can't escape his responsibility of guaranteeing strict compliance to the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. As stated by the parties to the Arusha peace and reconciliation agreement:
 "stability, justice, the rule of law, national reconciliation, unity and development are the major aspirations of the people of burundi."
Or as the Chairman of the EAC, President Kikwete of Tanzania, recently said in his State of the EAC speech in Bujumbura:
“I appeal to the citizens of the country to adhere to the constitution of Burundi, the electoral laws and the Arusha Accord”

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Open letter to Bloomberg News re Loretta Lynch and the ICTR

TO: Bloomberg News and Bloomberg News writer Del Quentin Wilber

RE: Bloomberg News Report, Rwanda Tribunal Taught Loretta Lynch Real Power of Prosecutors

News outlets have been praising Loretta Lynch's credentials as a former Special Counsel to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR). Whatever else Loretta Lynch's qualifications may be, this is not a credential to praise or take pride in. Those who know the disgraceful history of victor's justice at the ICTR, and its service to the predatory US/NATO agenda in the Global South, are aware of this. See my KPFA News produced with CIUT-Toronto host Phil Taylor and published on the San Francisco Bay View website, for a start, "Phil Taylor: ICTR celebrates 20 years of establising impunity."

For in-depth documentation and analysis, read "Justice Belied: The Unbalanced Scales of International Criminal Justice," by ICTR defense attorneys Sébastien Chartrand and John Philpot, from Baraka Books.

Thanks for your attention and I hope you may take this into account in future reporting on the ICTR and/or Loretta Lynch's role there.

No justice, no peace,
Ann Garrison, Independent Journalist

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Dull Winter in Brussels

Winter hasn't yet hit Brussels. At least, we have not seen snow, for now. Often a welcome distraction that pulls you and those around you out of the daily struggles for survival. Of course, many will label it an unwelcome mess. A boring nuisance. Especially in a city like Brussels where taking yourself from place to place by foot and by subway is the easiest.

But not for those who live on the streets of the capitals of Europe and depend on the Soup-counters or food distributors across the city. Beggars in the city, they are there. The homeless. Occasionally you see a report on tv about their plight and their stories. I remember a recent tv report from Liège where the city government had made a 'beggar zone' regulation. Staring in the ugly face of their daily struggle, their history.

And if the weather is boring, at least the terrorist threat has increased police and army presence across the city. Some say it would make more sense to deploy some soldiers to Central Africa. I don't know. I note. And sip my Marie Dufau wich, by the way, does NOT improve in the bottle. For a splitsecond I imagine myself a Bolchevik at the Winter Palace in 1917, "I know it is kinda cold outside".



Whether we are longing for a good storm to ride out, or just hunting for the right café or some cheap restaurant in Bruxelles I, regretting our bad choices or cursing our fate, there still are lessons to be learned, excentrics to be observed. Will we be able to discover Brussels?

We still have a race to run and a battle to win. Not a war against exotic ennemies far away. No heroic greek struggles against imagined beasts of mythical proportions. No high waves of wild seas that threaten to throw us on unknown shores. No! We are in a fierce battle to pierce the surface, to embrace opposition as true friendship. Will we engage, will we build our working concept. Will we feel the excitement? It is not a given. It is never a given. Will Providence guide us? Will we be able to acknowledge, when this dull winter is over, that this race is not to the swift? And that this battle is not to the strong?