The GFF Tracks Global LGBT Rights

By Tom Galloway · April 3, 2012

The GFF's Work on LGBT Rights

The Galloway Family Foundation charts the increasing anti-LGBT legislation around the globe. 76 countries currently classify homosexuality as a crime, and five of those apply the death penalty.

The Foundation focuses attention on LGBT rights violations by highlighting the recent President Obama directive mandating that US agencies work to support LGBT rights abroad.  In his Presidential Memorandum Obama directed “all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.”

The work of the Foundation examines how these policy ideas will be translated into action on these fundamental rights issues. Using the directive as a lens, the GFF’s reporting and analysis will shed new light on severe violations against LBGT people, raising public awareness of the problem. In addition, on its website GFF collects the best media coverage on LGBT issues from around the world, whether it is about human rights abuses towards LGBTs, discriminatory laws, or the secondary effects of anti-gay legislation. The slow progression towards equal rights for LGBTs is also highlighted, whether it is U.S. states that support same-sex marriage legislation or brave activists and organizations in developing nations that speak out for equal rights for LGBTs.

Over fifty representatives from different nations walked out of a recent UN meeting on LGBT violence, rejecting the idea that LGBTs have the same rights as other citizens, stating, “We note with concern the attempts to create controversial ‘new notions’ or ‘new standards’ by misinterpreting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” When it comes to this extreme violence against the LGBT, some world leaders deny the most fundamental human rights of those who happen to be gay, lesbian or transgender.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon countered, stating, “where there is tension between cultural attitudes and universal human rights, universal human rights must carry the day.”

Equally disturbing is the shallow media coverage of LGBT issues. The U.S. media rarely examines the complexity of LGBT struggles in developing nations. For example,  it ignores the legacies of western colonialism that often lead poor countries to reject attempts by the international community to interfere with what they see as their sovereign rights to cultural differences. American anti-gay organizations that have tremendous influence on hatred in homophobic countries are also frequently overlooked. Such complexities can explain in part the difficulties in attempting to universalize human rights standards surrounding gays and lesbians.

The GFF’s Work on Threats to Labor Rights

By Tom Galloway · April 3, 2012
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The Galloway Family Foundation is deeply committed to focusing attention on the plight of international workers negatively affected by free trade agreements. Though FTAs have become uncontroversial among the Washington elite, human rights groups and trade unions are virtually unanimous in their opposition to such pacts. Writes Human Rights Watch: “[H]istorically, the enforcement of US free trade agreements’ labor rights requirements has been terrible…we fear that the United States will continue a strategy that purports to protect such workers’ rights but fails to do so in practice.” Making matters worse, the U.S. media has generally failed to shine light on the conditions of workers following the enactment of FTAs. Instead, the press primarily focuses on the implications of such agreements for American politicians and horse-race politics. “Obama gets win as Congress passed free trade agreements,” from the Washington Post, is a typical headline.

The Foundation’s work is designed to combat such shallow coverage. On our virtual pages, we highlight the most important and substantive coverage and analysis of workers’ rights. Our subject pages provide an overview of the most important issues involved in free trade agreements, such as forthcoming FTAs and workers’ rights; FTAs and multinational corporations; and existing FTAs and workers’ rights. The Center’s website provides essential resources for the best information on the web from the most trusted non-governmental and nonpartisan organizations in the world on such issues.

To that end, the Foundation has begun funding and producing journalism designed to focus attention on workers’ rights.  Jordan Smith and L. Thomas Galloway wrote a dispatch for GlobalPost (reproduced below) on workers in Guatemala and South being concerned about the free trade agreements recently enacted by their countries and the United States.

In addition, the Foundation is keenly observing the legislative side of the equation. We are closely watching the Congressional Monitoring Group on Labor Rights to Colombia, which is designed “to ensure that progress is made on labor rights in the coming months.” The Group was formed by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and features seven key members of Congress: Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee; Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), the ranking Democrat on the Way and Means Committee; Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT); Rep. James McGovern (D-MA), a veteran advocate for human rights in Latin America; head of the House Trade Working Group, Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME); and Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) and Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY). The Group puts pressure on the Obama administration to ensure Colombia honors its obligations to workers under the FTA.

In November 2011, the Congressional Monitor Group on Labor Rights in Colombia sent a letter to Colombian President Juan Santos noting the steps taken by the Colombian government to improve workers’ conditions; but also serving noticed that much more needs to be done, including reducing violence against workers, making progress on prosecutions of anti-union violence, and ensuring that Colombian law protects workers’ ability exercise their core rights. “As Members of the U.S. Congress who voted both for and against the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, we are united in our commitment to help the working people of Colombia and to help you in your efforts to make progress for your country,” the letter reads. “This critical work squares fully with your own stated priorities to end Colombia’s culture of impunity, promote human rights, strengthen democratic institutions and reduce Colombia’s grave inequities.”

In the coming months, the Galloway Family Foundation will be increasing its advocacy and journalism efforts to keep workers’ rights at the forefront of the American agenda.



For US Free Trade Partners, Threats to Labor Rights

Published on GlobalPost’s Rights Blog
By Jordan Smith and L. Thomas Galloway

The Free Trade Agreement between Korea and the United States that went into effect on March 15 has gotten little media attention in America — but it has been the most controversial political issue of 2012 so far in South Korea.

Thousands of protesters have filled the streets criticizing the agreement, and minority party politicians have asked voters to cast their ballots against any candidate who favors the agreement. The main opposition party, the United Progressive Party, has promised to repeal the deal if elected in the general and presidential elections (set for April and November, respectively). Repealing the accord “won’t jeopardize national confidence” because under the agreement “any of the two countries could nullify the deal,” Rhyu Si Min, a leader in of the United Progressives, said in an interview with a Korean television station.

Driving the protests have been the agricultural and labor constituencies, says Scott Snyder, a Korea expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“They’re concerned with the investor-state provision, and concerned that the dispute mechanisms favor multinational corporations,” says Snyder. Investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms allow US investors to file grievances with Korea in the courts of a third country. The opposition argues this would work mostly in favor of the US because it has such significant influence over the international judicial system.

Read the rest of this entry »

The GFF’s Analysis on Drones and the US Right to Kill

By Tom Galloway · February 22, 2012
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Under the Obama administration, the United States has begun to rely heavily on drone strikes to combat Al Qaeda elements and the Taliban, launching lethal strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Drones – remotely-controlled, pilotless aerial vehicles armed with weapons–have proved appealing to American leaders wary of putting U.S. troops into dangerous and difficult areas, particularly after a decade of costly wars. But drones carry risks of their own—legal, moral and political—and we had better consider them as drones become among the most widely used weapons in our arsenal. Thus far, American and international media coverage of drones primarily focuses on aspects such as the secretive nature of the program within the U.S. government and civilian casualties in Pakistan and Yemen. While certainly important, there are also many areas that have not received deserved attention. The Galloway Family Foundation is committed to emphasizing and covering these underplayed aspects of drone analysis.

While unprecedented in their use today, drones are actually not new. First employed by the Germans in World War II, drones were also used in by Israel in the 1982 Lebanon War and by the United States in the first Gulf War. Only after 9/11, however, have they become an indispensable tool in the U.S.’s campaign against anti-American terrorism. While winding down ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama has dramatically increased the use of drones (for both surveillance and lethal targeting) around the world. Though the program is barely acknowledged by government officials, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has tracked a minimum of 444 strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia (none of which the U.S. is officially engaged with in an armed conflict). The most recent strike occurred in Yemen in mid-December 2013—at least 10 people were killed while traveling as a convoy to a wedding. Most of the dead were civilians though some in the wedding party were identified as al Qaeda members. U.S. surveillance drones have been used in various countries in Africa, South America and Asia.

Drone strikes received more public attention in 2013 than they probably ever have, culminating in a May speech by President Obama on U.S. counterterrorism policy that directly addressed and defended the use of drones. The drone debate also coincided with another of the most important stories of the year—the NSA surveillance leaks. Government transparency and accountability became hot button issues, and Americans were made aware of how much is hidden from them in the U.S.’s ongoing war on terrorism. The NSA leaks also brought attention to the concept of “secret law”—an entire body of law created by executive decrees and confidential court decisions that is kept confidential. The Administration’s legal justification for the right to kill is not public knowledge, and the only related document that is available is a leaked white paper from the Department of Justice outlining only its specific reasoning for killing a high-level al Qaeda operative when that person is also a U.S. citizen away from U.S. territory (i.e. Anwar Awlaki). Drones also occupied international headlines. In Germany, drones became an election issue after the public was made aware of a thirteen-year surveillance drone program that cost a half-billion dollars and was subsequently cancelled by mid-2013. China flew its first stealth drone in November 2013. The drone program and civilian deaths are consistently cited as factors fueling rampant anti-Americanism in Pakistan and Yemen.

Drones can and do provide valuable services in both civilian and military environments. For example, drones were used to collect information on damage following the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in 2011. Lethal strikes have also been an important part of a broader military strategy that has largely destroyed the core al Qaeda group in the AfPak region. But they also have important consequences and long-term implication that cannot be ignored. Drones will be one of the most important features of the 21st century military, and a key test for both the government and the public will be how to balance the useful and legal aspects of drones with the dangerous and counterproductive ones.

The Galloway Family Foundation seeks to provide a comprehensive analysis on the use of drones and the right to kill by exploring several related areas of interest in close detail. Currently, we have identified over thirty topics and sub-topics that we believe thoroughly examine the myriad issues in the debate on lethal drones while raising even more important questions on their legality and efficacy. Please visit the links below to explore these topics:

The Right to Use Lethal Force

What is “armed conflict”?

Self-defense and preemption

The role of the courts

Al Qaeda and its “associates”: Who can be killed?

Who is a “terrorist”?

After al Qaeda?

Lawful use of drones by non-state actors

Automating the decision to kill

The nature of the “threat” and the right to kill

Jus in Bellum: The Way Force May Legally Be Used

Imminence and the window of opportunity


Detain vs. Kill

The right to kill in another state’s territory

The “distinction” doctrine

The U.S. “kill list”

Signature Strikes

Killing U.S. citizens

Using doctrine against the United States or its allies

Method of kill: Special forces vs. drones

Tolerance levels for lethal action

Transparency and Accountability

International vs. U.S. Law: The “blank check”

Applying conventional rules of war in modern battlefields

Evolving views on targeted assassinations

U.S. views on the right to kill of other states

U.N. views on the right to kill

Drone Proliferation: The Threat and the Law

Rapid pace of proliferation

Technology and its effects on the kill decision

The future of drone technology and the law

Drone usage

Political contributions and the financial benefits of drone proliferation

The GFF Examines the ICC

By GlobalPost · February 21, 2012

One of the most biting critiques of the ICC is that it selectively chooses which cases it will pursue, targeting only cases that have little or no political ramifications and bypassing likely culpable suspects with ties to powerful governments. For example, while the ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo charged Lubanga for recruiting child soldiers in the gory DRC wars in which over 5 million people were killed, he also bypassed many key, and likely culpable, officials in the DRC.