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Humanitarian Crises and International Relations (1959-2013) – Le Houerou April 2014 [Part 3 of 3]

In some aspects, Darfur presents some similarities with the Congo crisis. In the western province of Sudan, Darfur was the theatre of mass killings between militia (Janjawids) and rebellious tribes since 2003. The international community was very silent at the beginning and very slow to react. UNAMID Peace keepers arrived in Darfur in late 2007.  Sudan was seen as a “rogue state” and the public opinion had only shown their concern after the publications of the NGOs bulletins about the killings in Darfur. The reports circulated widely on the internet and created awareness in the civil society. Darfur crisis was also manipulated by the Bush administration to make a diversion on the invasion of Iraq. He claimed on CNN in 2005 that the “People in Darfur loved America”. The Darfur crisis had nothing to do with US interest but it was connected to a pro-American strategy of communication in a time of very dire crisis in Iraq. The Iraq issue created “America phobia” in the Middle-East, Africa and the Arab World in general.. To support Darfur was a way for the US diplomacy to tell the world “we aren’t that bad!”


Darfur was an internal conflict mainly motivated by Khartoum’s refusal to share the benefit of oil and the Darfurian secession movement aimed to be independent just like South Sudan. The crisis was a combination of competition for water, land, oil with the addition of climate stress. The thirst for petroleum opposed Khartoum to the regions where oil was present. The money from the oil was used by the government to eliminate the insurgents. There was no sign of US interest in this remote area, where China remains the first Sudanese economical partner. The collective effort to monitor a cease fire started only in 2007 after an ethnocide that raged for 4 years. The international community was pushed to move by the ideals of a civil society. Afro-American lobbies, North American students, Western NGOs had an impressive impact on the western audience. The civil society was a pushing factor for the western diplomacies to take action. If the civil society didn’t manage to provoke a huge movement of solidarity, it is very probable that the US diplomacy wouldn’t move an inch   like during the Rwandan genocide.

It is obnoxious to paint a caricature of humanitarian action only limited by the US quest for dominance. Our complex societies, in democratic countries, have an impact on diplomatic action. Darfur is an example of the weight of the civil society on the government, complicating the “imperialist” theory explaining every western movement from a hegemonic point of view. The ethnocide in Darfur was presented by the western press as “evil Arabs” persecuting “genuine Black” – a false and dangerous picture which does not match the ethnic reality in Darfur. Caricatures of the conflict in Darfur led to a racist western lens of the events. I personally made a film based on hundreds of interviews (Darfur Voices) and conducted field research in Darfur. My view was that the crisis could not be juridically categorized as genocidal because the conflict was not motivated by racial hatred. The source of the crisis could be attributed to the complex system of desertification. Growing droughts over decades led to unprecedented impoverishment of the soil.  This   process has incredible consequences on tribal identities and coexisting harmonies. Darfur was a war “of climate change” and certainly not a simple ethnic and racial competition as the western press (and Hollywood) portrayed it. The Darfur crisis stresses the importance to have a multidisciplinary approach connecting ecology, geography, sociology, anthropology, political science and history. A multidisciplinary approach is important to understand complex crises because it gives the researcher different tools of analysis.


The counter example of Darfur are the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Two wars decided clearly as a global project to impose an American unipolar order. The war on terror had a very important impact on humanitarian action. The War on terror has associated humanitarian efforts to military action, blurring the lines between aid and territorial security. The US army published different texts expressing that to win the war you had to win the hearts and minds, Instrumentalizing aid for military purpose. It is un-ethical to use solidarity as a military tool. The global war on terror damaged the UN image. Humanitarian Action definitely contends as a force-multiplier. (Minear, 2002, de Torrente, 2004, Vaux, 2006, Hoffman and Weiss, 2006). Aid was, therefore,  an instrument in a counterinsurgency strategy. The US army and marine corps presumed that basic security and the provision of public goods could cause populations to withdraw support from insurgency. The increased preeminence of humanitarian intervention since 2000 has transformed it as a military strategy exhibiting its black side. This trend should not be allowed to mask the bright side of humanitarian solidarity based on unconditional assistance produced by the civil society. Graces and disgraces intimately co-exist expressing how uneasy it is to built-up a theory of “Humanitarian Action” limited to the US quest for dominance even though the US hegemony is an uncontested truth since the nineties. Civil wars and secession conflicts all over the globe are largely rooted in the colonial empires and in the incapacity for nations- in ex-colonial territories to build inclusive nations uniting different ethnic groups. Post-colonial ethnical wars weren’t invented by a US neocolonial surge after Bretton-Woods leading a western block.


The western governments are responsible for what is a schizophrenic attitude towards foreign policy. Public opinion is largely influenced by non-violent argumentations and genuinely committed to “Aid” programs. Meanwhile, global interests drive a diplomacy following aggressive ends. Jihadist Taliban and Al-Qaeda followers have perfectly understood this lack of coherence and continuously defeated the West using its inner oxymoronic weaknesses. Betting on public opinion detains ascendancy in our democracies and we are unable to truly challenge our geostrategic choices when defending our values.


These different crises pointed at the instrumentalization of the concept of genocide. All massacres are not genocidal. For the international organizations, such as the UN and NATO, the term genocide has political consequences and justify military action under chapter VII of the UN charter related to the right to use force in order to protect civilians and aid workers. Chapter VII has been applied in most crises such as in Yugoslavia or more recently in Darfur (UN Security Council resolution 1769).  When the term genocide meets western interests the diplomacy use “the right to protect” in a manner corresponding, in reality, to a “justification to attack”. When there are no political interests to intervene, western diplomacies euphemize the crises and reduce the crimes in the concept of civil-wars such as those that happened in Rwanda. The notion of genocide is, then, a weapon to prepare an intervention and should be avoided by Social Science researchers. Journalists should equally be cautious in the choice of words when reporting on a conflict. Words can be used to justify aggressive ends and military intrusion.


Dr. Fabienne Le Houerou,

Chercheur (IREMAM- UMR 7310-CNRS/Aix-Marseille-Université)


About the Author:

Dr. Fabienne Le Houerou is a social science researcher working in the French National Center For Research (CNRS), Institut de Recherches et d’Etudes sur le Monde Arabe et Musulman (IREMAM) and the author of the e-book ‘Humanitarian Crises and International Relations 1959-2013‘ published by Bentham e-books, in March 2014. The book explores the sophisticated ways the International Community exploits the genuine ‘good feelings’ of the world’s Societies in order to impose an order. Fabienne Le Houérou stresses how the use of ‘honey language’ can hide a ‘vinegar reality’ in our multipolar international system.

[For Part One, click here]

[For Part Two, click here]

Humanitarian Crises and International Relations (1959-2013) – Le Houerou April 2014 [Part 2 of 3]

The Somalian crisis – after the fall of the Berlin Wall – was more or less alike the   Ethiopian scenario. The country was divided among factions and in 1991, the corrupt government of Siad Barre was contested. Why did the US step in Somalia in 1992 and not in Ethiopia in the late 1980s? The US diplomacy declared that the American interests were to stop the escalation of the civil war started in 1991. The primary objective was to monitor the first ceasefire of the Somali war. Prior of the collapse of the Somali state in 1991, 4 major oil petroleum companies had agreements with Somalia to receive concessions. Media reports have stressed that Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Philips were lobbying the Bush administration to intervene in Somalia to protect their investments. In reality, a large reserve of oil was tapped in North Somalia. In 2012 it was notoriously projected that the reserves might go up to 4 billion barrels of oil. Oil exploration has begun in the arid northeast of the country after two decades of civil war, in the semi-autonomous Puntland region where the drillings stand. Ironically, Puntland is relatively stable compared with other parts of Somalia.

What did the US really made in Somalia in 1992? What were the ends of the bloody Battle of Mogadishu?


Why did the US never care about the 30 years of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea and suddenly show concern about preventing the collapse of Somalian State? Why were the Americans so obsessed to catch general Aidid and get trapped in a man hunt with the UN? Didn’t the US create, partly, the chaos they were supposed to solve?  It will be short to accuse the US for Somalian turpitudes and internal anarchy but the reasons for US intervention are not clear and the pretext of delivering food to the population could be an excuse for other ends.


In Rwanda the “crisis” was a real genocide meeting the juridical concept of genocide of the 1948 convention. It was the quickest and most murderous genocide in Africa in the twentieth century. In a 100 days, almost 800,000 Tutsi were barbarically slaughtered by the pro-governmental Hutu militia. The international community did not take action to protect the Tutsis in Rwanda. It is the Tutsi military forces of Paul Kagamé that stopped the genocide. Where were the promoters of  humanitarian action?


There is a consensus among scholars to that everybody knew what was going on in Rwanda in 1994. The French organized the most ridiculous Operation Turquoise, indirectly assisting the Pro Hutu regime. President Mitterrand would say that it was just another African crisis. The US deliberately ignored the Tutsi genocide. They decided to bury the information about the killings. A human rights activist, Mrs. Des Forges, recognized that the US administration felt nervous to use the word “genocide” because it would demand action. The US fiasco in Somalia in 1992 was a like a “ghost” scaring the US diplomacy to make the mistake again with another intervention. The “Mogadishu line” was a mark in the History of intervention, a point not to by-pass. Journalists mentioned that Rwanda was a small country with no minerals or strategic value. Bill Clinton later apologized on a visit in Kigali, in 1998, for the US failure in stopping the genocide but declassified documents highlight this defense of ignorance. When they intervene the US are accused of being a global empire but when they do not move they are also accused of “non assistance to people in danger”.


In Yugoslavia, the nation collapsed under the peripheral forces dividing the country in small ethnic-units. The story of disintegration, similar to, the above examples started in 1991. The western media presented Serb nationalism as the evil force to crush down. Slobodan Milosevich, like Aidid in Somalia, and after Sadam Hussein in Iraq, wasportrayed as an evil despot imposing atrocities on ethnic minorities.

Yugoslavia, like Somalia, was presented as a failed state incapable to protect the whole populations on its territory. NATO Bombardments in Yugoslavia, according to Chomsky, fabricated the humanitarian crisis. He pointed out that in Kosovo, killings and atrocities did not precede but followed the NATO Bombings. (Chomsky, 2007: 96).  Brendam Stone (Global Research, 29, 2005,, in a paper, defended the idea that NATO had economical and geostrategic interests in the Balkan. The Western regimes had planned to transform the valuable Trepca mining complex into a western corporation. The Caspian region is supposed to be one of the richest for oil,gas and gold reserves. The region might produce 6 millions of barrels of oil per day by 2020.

The Congo crisis was named the “First African War” because many West African states were committed in the war since 1996. The first Congo war in 1996 will be followed by a second one in 1998. The early stage of the conflict can be described as a Tutsi revenge in Zaire. The war was a prolongation of the Rwandan genocide in Congo territories. The revenging game played by Hutu refugees in Congo forced the Tutsi government of Paul Kagamé to make an intrusion in Congo in early 1995. The Congo crisis is a paradigm of the post-colonial state’s failure: the inability for different ethnic groups to co-exist inside an inclusive nation. Post-colonial nations have inherited the frontiers traced artificially by the colonial powers. Unnatural demarcations never met the distribution of the ethnic groups on the territorial space. At the genesis of back-to-back wars in Congo, there is the brutal Belgium colonial experience. Congo was the private property of king Leopold II. He ruthlessly imposed one of the most violent, bloody, autocratic, rule involving slave labor. The death rate in Congo was terrible during the colonization but remained higher during post-colonial Congo wars. Since 1996, and the aftermath of the the conflict 5. 4 million people have been killed. The number of victims is more important than in the Rwandan or Darfur genocides. The country had lost almost 8% of its population of 66 million. There is still a debate among specialists over how to estimate war-related deaths but it is recognized by consensus that it is one of the world’s deadliest crisis. Despite the death toll, the West and the UN resolutions remained inefficient. Reports indicatethe tight connection between the plunder of Congo’s resources and the pursuit of the conflict especially in the Ituri region. Copper, coltan, cobalt, diamonds and gold are the precious minerals the neighboring countries are fighting for.

Congo’s crisis illustrates the Paul Collier theory which defined rebellions as predations motivated by greed. Ironically, the abundance of resources has not served as fuel for growth or reconstruction. Instead, the resources have been used to fuel the war and became the source of impoverishment and exhaustion of the environment.


Dr. Fabienne Le Houerou,

Chercheur (IREMAM- UMR 7310-CNRS/Aix-Marseille-Université)


About the Author:

Dr. Fabienne Le Houerou is a social science researcher working in the French National Center For Research (CNRS), Institut de Recherches et d’Etudes sur le Monde Arabe et Musulman (IREMAM) and the author of the e-book ‘Humanitarian Crises and International Relations 1959-2013‘ published by Bentham e-books, in March 2014. The book explores the sophisticated ways the International Community exploits the genuine ‘good feelings’ of the world’s Societies in order to impose an order. Fabienne Le Houérou stresses how the use of ‘honey language’ can hide a ‘vinegar reality’ in our multipolar international system.

[Read the first part here]

[Stay tuned for the last part]

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Contribution by Indian Authors in BSP’s Journal: Central Nervous System Agents in Medicinal Chemistry


1. Prophylaxis with Bacopa monnieri Attenuates Acrylamide Induced Neurotoxicity and Oxidative Damage via Elevated Antioxidant Function

Author(s): George Kunnel Shinomol, Narayanareddy Raghunath, Muchukunte Mukunda Srinivas Bharath and Muralidhara

Affiliation: Department of Neurochemistry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), No. 2900, Hosur Road, Bangalore-560029, India.


Acrylamide (ACR) is a water-soluble, vinyl monomer that has multiple chemical and industrial applications. Exposure to ACR causes neuropathy and associated neurological defects including gait abnormalities and skeletal muscle weakness, due to impaired neurotransmitter release and eventual neurodegeneration. Using in vivo and in vitro models, we examined whether oxidative events are involved in ACR-mediated neurotoxicity and whether these could be prevented by natural plant extracts. Administration (i.p.) of ACR in mice (40 mg/kg bw/ d for 5d) induced significant oxidative damage in the brain cortex and liver as evidenced by elevated lipid peroxidation, reactive oxygen species and protein carbonyls. This was associated with lowered antioxidant activities including antioxidant enzymes (catalase, glutathione-s-transferase) and reduced glutathione (GSH) compared to untreated controls. Similarly, exposure of N27 neuronal cells in culture to ACR (1-5 mM) caused dose-dependent neuronal death and lowered GSH. Interestingly, dietary supplementation with the leaf powder of Bacopa monnieri (BM) (which possesses neuroprotective properties and nootropic activity) in mice for 30 days offered significant protection against ACR toxicity and oxidative damage in vivo. Similarly, pretreatment with BM protected the N27 cells against ACR-induced cell death and associated oxidative damage. Co-treatment and pre-treatment of Drosophila melanogaster with BM extract protected against ACR-induced locomotor dysfunction and GSH depletion. We infer that BM displays prophylactic effects against ACR induced oxidative damage and neurotoxicity with potential therapeutic application in human pathology associated with neuropathy.

2. Effect of Withania somnifera Supplementation on Rotenone-Induced Oxidative Damage in Cerebellum and Striatum of the Male Mice Brain

Author(s): Mallaya Jayawanth Manjunath and Muralidhara

Affiliation: Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, CSIR- Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore- 570020, India.


Withania somnifera (WS) an ayurvedic medicinal herb is widely known for its memory enhancing ability and improvement of brain function. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that WS prophylaxis could offset neurotoxicant-induced oxidative dysfunctions in developing brain employing a rotenone (ROT) mouse model. Initially, we assessed the potential of WS oral supplements (100-400 mg/ kg b.w/ d, 4wks) to modulate the endogenous levels of oxidative markers in cerebellum (cb) and striatum (st) of prepubertal (PP) mice. Further, we assessed the induction of oxidative stress in cb and st of mice administered with ROT (i.p. 0.5 and 1mg/ kg b.w, 7d). ROT caused significant elevation in the levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), malondialdehyde (MDA), hydroperoxides (HP) and nitric oxide (NO) levels in both brain regions. Further ROT caused significant perturbations in the levels of reduced glutathione (GSH), activity levels of antioxidant enzymes, acetylcholinesterase and mitochondrial dysfunctions suggesting a state of oxidative stress. In a satellite study, we examined the protective effects of WS root powder (400mg/ kg b.w/ d, 4wks) in PP mice challenged with ROT (0.5 mg/ kg b.w/ d, 7 d). WS prophylaxis significantly offset ROT-induced oxidative damage in st and cb as evident by the normalized levels of oxidative markers (MDA, ROS levels and HP) and restoration of depleted GSH levels. Further, WS effectively normalized the NO levels in both brain regions suggesting its antiinflammatory action. Furthermore, WS prophylaxis restored the activity levels of cytosolic antioxidant enzymes, neurotransmitter function and dopamine levels in st. Taken together, these findings suggest that WS prophylaxis has the propensity to modulate neurotoxicant-mediated oxidative impairments and mitochondrial dysfunctions in specific brain regions of mice. While the exact mechanism/s underlying the neuroprotective effects of WS merit further investigation, based on our findings, we hypothesize that it may be wholly or in part due to its ability to enhance GSH, thiols and antioxidant defences in the brain of mice.

3. Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors from QSAR Point of View: How Close are We?

Author(s): Anuradha Sharma and Poonam Piplani

Affiliation: Rayat-Bahra Institute of Pharmacy, Hoshiarpur, India.


In view of the large libraries of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AChEIs) that are now being handled in organic synthesis, the identification of drug biological activity is advisable prior to synthesis and this can be achieved by employing predictive biological property methods. In this sense, Quantitative Structure–Activity Relationships (QSAR) or docking approaches have emerged as promising tools. The intention of this review is to summarize the present knowledge concerning computational predictions of AChEIs and AChE.

4. Semicarbazone Analogs as Anticonvulsant Agents: A Review

Author(s): Mohamed Jawed Ahsan

Affiliation: Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Maharishi Arvind College of Pharmacy, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302 023, India.


Semicarbazones are synthesized by the condensation of semicarbazide and aldehyde/ketone. The literature survey revealed that semicarbazones had been emerged as compounds with diverse biological activities including anticonvulsant, antitubercular, anticancer, and antimicrobial activities. The anticonvulsant activity of semicarbazones is mainly attributed due to the presence of an aryl binding site with aryl/alkyl hydrophobic group, a hydrogen bonding domain and an electron donor group and they are suggested to act by inhibiting sodium ion (Na+) channel. Dimmock et al., reported an extensive series of semicarbazones and reported 4-(4-fluorophenoxy) benzaldehyde semicarbazone (C0102862, V102862) as lead molecule. In MES (oral) screening C0102862 showed protective index (PI > 315) more than carbamazepine (PI 101), phenytoin (PI > 21.6) and valproate (PI > 2.17). This review briefly describes the information available about semicarbazone analogs and their anticonvulsant activity.

5. In Silico Validation and Structure Activity Relationship Study of a Series of Pyridine-3-carbohydrazide Derivatives as Potential Anticonvulsants in Generalized and Partial Seizures

Author(s): Reema Sinha, Udai Vir Singh Sara, Ratan Lal Khosa, James Stables and Jainendra Jain

Affiliation: Department of Pharmacy, RamEesh Institute of Vocational and Technical Education, 3, Knowledge Park I, Greater Noida, Gautam Budh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh, India-201310.


A series of twelve compounds (Compounds RNH1–RNH12) of acid hydrazones of pyridine-3-carbohydrazide or nicotinic acid hydrazide was synthesized and evaluated for anticonvulsant activity by MES, scPTZ, minimal clonic seizure and corneal kindling seizure test. Neurotoxicity was also determined for these compounds by rotarod test. Results showed that halogen substitution at meta and para position of phenyl ring exhibited better protection than ortho substitution. Compounds RNH4 and RNH12, were found to be the active analogs displaying 6Hz ED50 of 75.4 and 14.77 mg/kg while the corresponding MES ED50 values were 113.4 and 29.3 mg/kg respectively. In addition, compound RNH12 also showed scPTZ ED50 of 54.2 mg/kg. In the series, compound RNH12with trifluoromethoxy substituted phenyl ring was the most potent analog exhibiting protection in all four animal models of epilepsy. Molecular docking study has also shown significant binding interactions of these two compounds with 1OHV, 2A1H and 1PBQ receptors. Thus, N-[(meta or para halogen substituted) benzylidene] pyridine-3-carbohydrazides could be used as lead compounds in anticonvulsant drug design and discovery.

6. Psychomotor Seizure Test, Neurotoxicity and in vitro Neuroprotection Assay of some Semicarbazone Analogues

Author(s): Mohamed Jawed Ahsan and James P. Stables

Affiliation: Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Maharishi Arvind College of Pharmacy, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302 023, India.


In continuance of our search for anticonvulsant agents, we reported herein the synthesis, characterization and anticonvulsant evaluation of some newer semicarbazone analogues. A few compounds were also screened for neuroprotection assay. Some of the compounds showed significant anticonvulsant activity. Compound 4a showed 25% (1/4, 0.25 h), 75% (3/4, 0.5 & 2.0 h) and 100% (4/4, 1.0 h) protection against 6 Hz psychomotor seizure test at 100 mg/kg devoid of any neurotoxicity. Compound 4d showed neuroprotection activity with 26.3 ± 2.3 percent of total propidium iodide uptake at 100 μ M and IC50 of the compound was calculated using dose response curve by probit analysis and was found to be 149 ± 1.22 μ M.

For details on the journal, please visit: Central Nervous System Agents in Medicinal Chemistry

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