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Welcome to THE BEACON.

This website was launched over two years ago with the aim of presenting articles on international topics that were topical and interesting but also factual and reliable in their content. THE BEACON is intended to be a valuable asset to anyone seeking a balanced view of on international issues, recent international events and international institutions. Several years on in time, these aims and intentions remain true to THE BEACON’s purpose.

What has slightly changed since the launch of THE BEACON is the intended content. It was originally envisioned that this site would cover a multitude of international subjects including the environment and international finance. Due to informative and thorough coverage elsewhere, these subjects are not covered here. At the same time, the diversity of articles found on THE BEACON is large. The majority of articles appearing on this website are written by experts in their field of work. The subjects currently found on THE BEACON include child soldiers, the role of community-based Afghan tribes in forging a peace in Afghanistan, abolishing the use of certain cluster munitions, piracy on the high seas, the illegal use of torture and other abuses under President George W. Bush, conflicts surrounding Africa’s natural resources, Israeli conflicts with Palestine and with Lebanon, plus viewing terrorism through the human rights lens. Future articles will be on the use of sexual violence in armed conflicts, changes to U.S. military trials, reviewing the Charter of the United Nations along with any other relevant and timely topics.

It is noted that several articles found on THE BEACON were written more than three years ago. They continue on the current ARTICLE list because their content remains relevant today. We continue to expand the BOOKS section and the VIDEOS section. A new tab, ART, appears for the first time as an added facet of international issues. Please send us any recommendations you may have for any of these three sections. The extensive LINKS section is checked regularly to ensure each link is working although a 100% success rate can be elusive.

Finally, we very much hope that you continue to visit THE BEACON for reliable information and recommendations. We are here solely to present information and clarify issues for everyone who has the curiosity and desire to learn more about the world.

  • The View From Here

    SEVERAL ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR 2013

    First, The TALLINN MANUAL ON THE INTERNATIONAL LAW APPLICABLE TO CYBER WARFARE (the "Tallinn Manual") has now been completed by a group of legal experts. The general editor for the Tallinn Manual is Professor Dr. Michael N. Schmitt. While THE BEACON has only been allowed a link to the draft manual, from February 2013 the Tallinn Manual will be available from the Cambridge University Press.
    A book link for the purchase of the Tallinn Manual is being prepared for this site.

    Second, a comprehensive and extensive site covering the law of armed conflict/international humanitarian law has been developed by the U.S. Naval War College's International Law Department. This site, the STOCKTON E-PORTAL, provides links to treaty law, case law (international and domestic), military and legal manuals, investigations into recent armed conflicts and to a multitude of professional and governmental sites. The STOCKTON E-PORTAL can be found on this page in the LINKS tab under the first section titled "International Law & Educational Sites".

    Third, to announce that on November 2012 the General Assembly of the United Nations voted to hold another conference in the Spring of 2013 to conclude the negotiations which were started in July 2012 on a new global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). With a majority of states agreeing to reconvene and finalise the ATT, the dates for the new conference are 18-28 March 2013. China, U.S., France, Germany and the U.K. were among the states supporting this conference. While no state voted against the resolution, Russia abstained from voting. Please see the column below which was written for the earlier July conference on the proposed ATT. As mentioned below, the ATT will cover only the international export trade of arms. Citizens of the U.S. who believe they have a Constitutional right to carry legal fire-arms will NOT be effected by the ATT.

    NEGOTIATIONS BEGIN ON AN INTERNATIONAL ARMS TRADE TREATY

    A historic meeting is taking place right now at the United Nations headquarters in New York to regulate the international trade by governments of conventional weapons. Representatives of 193 countries are meeting from 2-27 July 2012 to finally develop a regulatory scheme for the arms trade. Up until now, the sale of conventional weapons from warships and battle tanks to fighter-jets and machine guns has been poorly regulated. There are currently no internationally agreed standards to ensure arms are only transferred for appropriate use.

    One only has to reflect on recent civil struggles including those in Albania, Egypt, Libya and Syria to understand the huge numbers and diversity of arms being sold to both sides of these conflicts: the besieged governments and the opposition fighters. On 12 June 2012, the New York Times reported that Russia was sending attack helicopters to President Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian government although Russia insisted that it only provided Syria with weapons to be used in its defense. The article also reported that the Syrian opposition forces recently received powerful antitank missiles from Turkey with the financial support of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

    The major arms dealers in the world are the governments of the United States, Russia, China, France, Great Britain (all the permanent members of the Security Council) and Germany. These countries supply some 74% of the world’s weapons. Since 1991, the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) has kept a UN Register of Conventional Arms which tracks the arms exports and imports as regularly reported by many countries in the world. The UNODA believes that such transparency of exports and imports of arms builds confidence between countries and can help to determine when excessive or destabilizing accumulation of arms is taking place.

    Setting strong standards and conditions for all future international trade deals in an Arms Trade Treaty will go a long way in helping to control present armed conflicts and in preventing future ones.

    Please see the U.N. information site: http://www.un.org/disarmament/ATT/
    See a well-made video on global arms trade: http://www.controlarms.org/home

    Americans who wish to carry guns should know that a future Arms Trade Treaty governs international government trade and will NOT affect any U.S. domestic law including the Constitutional right to carry guns.
    16 July 2012

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