By mentioning the term the Middle East’, one recollects various pieces of information he/she has heard about this region. Oil, conflict, war, geopolitics, culture, religion, environment, and Islam are on top of the list of the issues that have made the Middle East the centre of focus. Owing to these multifaceted issues, the relationship between the US and the rest of the Middle East has for a long time been under scrutiny. These two entities have many differing views exceptionally limited unifying factors. In most cases, the Middle East opposes USA’s international policy and they have always rubbed shoulders.
The course materials have highlighted the region and its global connections. They have examined the nomenclature and delimitation of the region, its distinctive tri-continental junction, its major strategic waterways, its cultural significance (as the birthplace of monotheism and the cradle of civilization), its petroleum and natural gas resources, and its relations with the United States (the region straddles USCENTCOM, USEUCOM, and USAFRICOM). This paper analyzes how the current readings have shaped my understanding of US-Middle East relations.
The Middle East has unique environmental and cultural patterns that include desert environment, Mountain ranges Major river systems, Ethno-linguistic groups, Major languages, Major religions, Historical geography and Critical natural resources like Water resources/problems and Oil reserves/politics. Islam, Christianity and Judaism are the key religions in this region. Being located in a desert area, there is constant competition over scarce resources such as water and a historical and religious difference between the varying groups complicates peace mediation, for instance, conflicts over water between Israel and Palestine.
On the other hand, Oil is a significant resource in the Middle East. The US imports a significant quantity of its oil from the Middle East. For that, purpose, it has to trade carefully so that it remains in good terms with its suppliers or else, risk being denied this vital economic resource. Different views from various sources require the US to limit its reliance on the Oil form the Middle East. For instance, The American Jewish Committee argues that if the U.S. continues to increase its reliance on foreign sources of oil, our dependence on OPEC member nations and rogue states (overlapping categories that include the nations with the largest share of the world’s proven oil reserves) will increase . The American Jewish Committee, therefore, urges that the United States sets as a primary national goal a comprehensive energy policy aimed at a substantial reduction in U.S. dependence on imported oil, with the potential for energy flexibility and near independence in the longer term.
During is inauguration, President Obama stated that Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred . and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. This is in agreement to what Obama’s predecessor has said in 2007 Let us build on the work we have done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next ten years — thereby cutting our total imports by the equivalent of three-quarters of all the oil we now import from the Middle East (President Bush) (John & Stephen, 2007).
To protect its sovereignty and allies in the Middle East, the US has a strict international policy. This policy played a critical role in the determination of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The Iraqi war is believed to have been in the interest of Israel’s security (Jimmy, 2006).
Christians and Muslims have for a long time been involved in conflicts on religious basis. These differences seem from the differences in the doctrines of these two religions (Wexler, 1990).
Muslims base their religious teachings on their holy book, the Quran, while Christians, adore the Bible as their holy book. The current course materials have revealed some of the differences in these two holy books as well as differences Islam and Christianity beliefs, which explain the current standoff between these two religions. In addition, they have provided a basis for terrorism.
To begin with, the reading materials began by showing the similarity in the common prayers practiced by the two religions: the Lord’s Prayer (Christians) and the Opening prayer (Muslims). Here are excerpts of the two prayers (Wexler, 1990):
In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy!
Praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds,
The Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy,
Master of the Day of Judgment.
It is You we worship; it is You we ask for help.
Guide us to the straight path:
The path of those You have blessed, those who incur no anger and who have not gone astray.
The Lord’s Prayer (Christians)
This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. `
From these two prayers, Muslims and Christians are taught on how to pray, and there are strong connections with respect to how both prayers value God. Both prayers show sincere worship to God, and request for God’s protection and love. However, differences emerge when deeper teachings of the Quran and Bible are examined closely. From these teachings, it is evident that the Christian belief in Jesus as Son of God, (2) the Muslim belief in Jesus as a Muslim prophet, and (3) the Jewish non-belief in Jesus (Wexler, 1990). There has been one of the causes of religious differences and the reading materials have highlighted in detail how these differences crop up. Proponents of every religion believe that their teachings are correct.
It is hard to convince Muslims that Jesus is the Son of God according to the teachings in the Bible. Likewise, it is hard to convince Christians that Jesus is a Prophet and not the son of God. Both Muslims and Christians believe there is one God; Christians believe in God the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, but Muslims believe only in God and Jesus as the Prophet of God; they do not agree with Christians that Jesus is the son of God and that there is a Holy Spirit. As a Western religion, Islam gives priority to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and perceives Jesus to be a holy prophet (Wexler, 1990).
In The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature, Tarif Khalidi brings together Islamic primary sources about Jesus from the eighth to the 18th centuries. Included are mystical works, historical texts about prophets and saints and, of course, the foundational words about Jesus in the Qur’an. “As a whole,” Khalidi explains, these writings “form the largest body of texts relating to Jesus in any non-Christian literature.” Khalidi pays particular attention to the literary quality of the texts and the role “the Muslim Jesus” has played in both Muslim piety and Muslim-Christian relations.
Due to globalization, the American Muslim population continues to grow. As many people move to the US in search of Greener pastures, and putting into consideration that the US society is exceptionally civilized, a significant number of these people end up becoming Muslims (Billon, 2006).
Recent studies, according to the reading materials, have shown that most Mosques in the USA have diversity in terms of race/ethnic affiliation. While it is generally accepted that most Muslims are Arabs, other ethnicities such as African Americans, Europeans, and Native Americans have also turned to Islam though the USA is dominated by Christians (Billon, 2006).
These learning materials have illuminated the hostility that exists between Arab Americans and Americans. The atrocities that have been committed against the US by Muslims/Arabs in the name of Islamic teachings have angered a significant number of Americans who cannot tolerate Islam or Muslims are any given point (Billon, 2006).
Let us examine the teachings of the Quran on justice. The Quran says,
You who believe, uphold justice and bear witness to God, even if it is against yourselves, your parents, or your close relatives. Whether the person is rich or poor, God can best take care of both. Refrain from following your own desire, so that you can act justlyif you distort or neglect justice, God is fully aware of what you do. Quran 4:135.
However, its teachings on people of other religions is sometimes misquoted by Muslims:
God may still bring about affection between you and your present enemiesGod is all powerful, God is most forgiving and merciful 8 and He does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with anyone who has not fought you for your faith or driven you out of your homes: God loves the just. 9 But God forbids you to take as allies those who have fought against you for your faith, driven you out of your homes, and helped others to drive you out: any of you who take them as allies will truly be wrongdoers.
According to the Quran, those who have been attacked are permitted to take up arms because they have been wrongedGod has the power to help them (Wexler, 1990). On the contrary, Christianity does not encourage revenge. It encourages those who have been wronged to pray for the wrong doers so that God can forgive them. Now, this is where the battle line is drawn. This is catalyzed by Jihad war whereby Muslims are ready to surrender their lives in the fight for their religion. This teaching has been misquoted by instigators of terrorism. They believe that those who have been attacked (Muslims) are permitted to take up arms because they have been wronged i.e. by Americans (political reasons) and Christians. Owing to this interpretation, the US has made its international policy on terrorism clear; it will defend its sovereignty whether it is within or beyond its borders. This is not readily welcomed by the Arab communities in the Middle East, and it has been the basis of the long-standing conflict between the US and the Middle East.
From these reading materials, my understanding of the US-Middle East relations has widened. To begin with, I learnt that the US has had to implement a strict international policy. This policy has played a significant role in determining the relationship between the US and the Middle East. The US is not at war with the rest of the Middle East. It has managed to secure allies who are essential in the execution of international policy on the Middle East. The US still relies on the Middle East. The US relies on some of the oil from the Middle East and as such, it has to maintain good relationship with its suppliers so that access to this vital economic resource is not denied. On top of that, the US has stuck deals with friendly Nations such as, the UAE, Qatar among others for political and economic reasons.
Religious differences are the leading causes of hostility between various ethnicities in the US and the Middle East. In the US for instance, hostility between Arad Americans and other Americans stems from the atrocities committed against Americans by Muslims of the Arab decent. Proponents of terrorism in particular, misquote the teachings of the Quran during the planning and orchestration of terror attacks. They claim that they are doing it in accordance with their religion. In addition, since the Middle East is in a desert area, there is completion over scarce critical resources such as water. Differences emerge on the basis of religion and ethnicity when it comes to allocation of those scarce resources. A good example is the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
On top of that, the current course materials have shown that the differences in these two holy books as well as differences Islam and Christianity beliefs, which explain the current standoff between these two religions. Both Muslims and Christians believe there is one God; Christians believe in God the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, but Muslims believe only in God and Jesus as the Prophet of God; they do not agree with Christians that Jesus is the son of God and that there is a Holy Spirit. As a Western religion, Islam gives priority to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and perceives Jesus to be a holy prophet.
Due to globalization, the American Muslim population continues to grow. Recent studies, according to the reading materials, have shown that most Mosques in the USA have diversity in terms of race/ethnic affiliation. While it is generally accepted that most Muslims are Arabs, other ethnicities such as Asians, African Americans, Europeans, and Native Americans have also turned to Islam been though the USA is dominated by Christians. These learning materials have illuminated on the hostility that exists between Arab Americans and Americans. The atrocities that have been committed against the US by Muslims/Arabs in the name of Islamic teachings have angered a significant number of Americans who cannot tolerate Islam or Muslims are any given point.
Billon, Y. (2006). The curse of oil Jean-Pierre Beaurenaut; English Visual Material: Videorecording: DVD video 1 videodisc.
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�Wexler, P. (1990). The Schizoid Nature of Modern Hebrew: A Slavic Language in Search of a Semitic Past. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.
CRITICAL THINKING 6
Running head: CRITICAL THINKING 1
Living In the City Vs Living in the Countryside
Life in cities and the countryside is different. This is irrespective of the similarities city dwellers and those living in the countryside share. Nonetheless, where and how one lives depends on preferences and availability of opportunities (Brown 32). This essay compares and contrasts the way people live in the countryside and in the cities.
In both cases, there are challenges and it is impossible to pinpoint one area that people live comfortably without challenges. However, these challenges vary from one region to the other. City dwellers and those living in the countryside own houses even though not all of them. They access healthcare facilities and educational facilities irrespective of where they live. Their lifestyles tend to be the same depending on their levels of income (Schell 7). Nevertheless, the decision as to the way one lives and where one stays depends on one’s decision and the level of income.
In cities, people tend to live with their families in rented rooms and houses that are usually overcrowded. However, this depends on one’s level of income. Therefore, families with low incomes tend to lead poor lives with poor sanitation, unclean water and poor waste management unless city councils provide these services. On the contrary, rich families tend to live comfortably with good sanitation, clean water and good waste management. In the countryside, people live differently, and although they do not afford comfortable lives as the rich families living in cities, they enjoy good sanitation, clean water and they manage their wastes properly. At the same time, people live in their own houses with very few or none living in rented houses (Galea and Vlahov 156). As a result, people do not live in overcrowded houses in the countryside.
Communication is usually a challenge in the countryside than it is in the cities. The high level of technology facilitates communication in the cities. As a result, city dwellers connect to the internet with ease than those living in the countryside. This is because of the low level of technology in the countryside that only facilitates communication to a certain group of people. Others who do not own various forms of communication have to travel long distances to ease the challenge of communication (Bonaker 4). At the same time, people live far from each other in the countryside thereby complicating the process of communication. On the other hand, shopping becomes a problem in the countryside because one has to travel or walk long distances to shop. According to Flores et al., anything out of the ordinary in the countryside requires one to go to large towns, but in the cities, shopping is an enjoyable experience because people do it a few meters away from their houses (Flores et al. 209).
The lifestyle in the countryside and cities is also different. City dwellers usually experience air pollution, traffic jams and in most cases, they lack the usual connection with their communities. As a result, some city dwellers do not observe their cultural practices even though they may be good for purposes of diversity (Brown 32). Nonetheless, city dwellers usually lead luxurious lifestyles and better lives than them living in the countryside. They enjoy access to educational facilities, healthcare facilities and more job opportunities than those living in the countryside (Marans and Stimson 376). On the other hand, people living in the countryside rarely experience air pollution and traffic jam. They also maintain a close connection with their communities meaning that they observe their cultural practices regularly (Sayer 185).
Based on the above contrasts, the way people live in the countryside is different from the way people live in the cities. At the same time, both regions have their merits and demerits. However, the decision to live either in the countryside or in the cities depends on one’s level of income and opportunities.
Bonaker, Alva. Between Village and City. S.l.: Europaischer Hochschulver, 2012. Print.
Brown, Kristine. Essential Skills: English Workbook. Glebe, NSW: Pascal Press, 2000. Print.
Flores, Magdalene et al. The new dimensions in learning English: a series for philistine secondary schools. Sampaloc: Rex bookstore, Inc., 2003. Print.
Galea, Sandro, and Vlahov, David. Handbook of Urban Health: Populations, Methods, and Practice. New York, NY: Springer, 2005. Internet resource.
Marans, Robert, and Stimson, John. Investigating Quality of Urban Life: Theory, Methods and Empirical Research. Dordrecht: Springer, 2011. Print.
Sayer, Karen. Country Cottages: A Cultural History. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000. Print.
Schell, Lawrence. Urbanism, Health and Human Biology in Industrialised Countries. Cambridge [u.a.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999. Print.
Allowing the English class to self-select the teams they will work in
Teachers and instructors should allow students to make their own independent decisions regarding various aspects of the learning environment. For instance, they should allow students to group themselves into teams or groups of learning, rather than grouping them. This is in line with modern approaches to the process of learning, which advocates for the need to introduce a social learning environment. Interaction between students in their self-selected groups, as well as collaborative learning, has far-reaching benefits that extend beyond the learning environment. Students are able to build their confidence levels and communication skills, which prepares them for the career world.
Students will tend to group themselves into teams based on their social interaction and levels of friendship. Therefore, they will be able to understand one another regarding strengths and flaws in education. This will help each other to build on their strengths and overcome their flaws. This is one of the advantages of the self-selection of teams among students.
Self-selection of teams among students helps in avoiding problems of non-cooperation that may arise when teachers select teams for students. Teachers and instructors do not understand the social relationship between students, which may affect the process of interaction and learning. The social constructivism theory of learning proposes the creation of a social environment of learning as one of the ways of fostering understanding among students. The theory also suggests that teachers and instructors should enable students to relate classroom experiences with reality, which increases their understanding and performance. Self-selection of teams is an effective method of enhancing the social role of education. It contributes to improved understanding among students, which prepares them for various life tasks and responsibilities. This is because students are able to relate what they learn in class with real life issues, through the process of interaction.
Interaction between students in their groups of choice also enables them to develop other skills beyond those related to education. For instance, through the teams, students are able to gain courage, as well as improve their communication skills. This prepares them for various life experiences and the career world. Such teams help students to identify the weaknesses of one another and invest in helping them to overcome the weaknesses. This is unlike in teams selected by teachers/instructors, where the students fear one another and limit the nature of their interaction.
Additionally, self-selected teams comprise of students of diverse academic understanding levels, which helps them to share information and help one another accordingly. Most teachers use performance in class to constitute team membership, which disadvantages students who perform poorly.
Nevertheless, despite these advantages of allowing self-selection of students into teams, the process has various challenges that affect its implementation. For instance, lazy students may take advantage of the teams to avoid class work. They will use the teams to further their self-interests at the expense of education. It is also possible for the teams to divert from their core objective of facilitating learning outside the classroom environment. Since the teams involve members of the same age/peers, it is highly likely that the members may sway away from education and discuss other irrelevant issues. In most cases, students use such forums to discuss their interests, such as entertainment. Therefore, teachers have a role to play in the implementation of self-selection. They should act as mentors to control the whole process. This will help in avoiding the challenges related to allowing students to self-select their teams.
Running head: ENGLISH 1
Thank you for being my teacher
I am glad for an opportunity to write an appreciation letter because it helps me show my gratitude to you as my instructor. Your taking me through this online course has been a very thrilling experience for me because throughout the course I have been able to learn a lot of things, including how to use correct paper formats and grammar. Before taking this course, I made many grammatical mistakes and my English was very poor, but with your guidance and corrections, I have greatly improved. You also taught me how to use tenses and punctuation marks, and using the course material and the lecture notes, I learnt new vocabulary that I can use to improve the quality of my essays. Below is a number of other way in which I benefited throughout the online essay writing classes that I had during this course.
I feel more confident about my writing now than I did before joining this course.One of my favorite essays during the course was SOLDIER because in it I wrote about myself and my family, and how I conquered my fear of becoming a soldier. As I wrote the Soldier essay, I learnt that my writing skills have greatly improved because I had a better command of the language and I could write in proper English,even though it is not my first language.I am glad to say that there is no essay withwhich I was least pleased during the course because to me, all of the essays weremeant to challenge me into becoming a better writer.
I also liked the way this class was organized, which enabled me to get the best out of my lessons. Despite being an online class, the experience was very homely due to the high level of interaction between the student and the lecturer. The online quizzes allowed me to assess myself on and know which aspects of writing I am weaker in, thus enabling me to balance my studies and improve my writing.Furthermore, I found the text book used for the course very resourceful to me as a learner of essay writing. This is because it was full of different essay samples that had been written as a guide for the reader, most of which I read and applied to my own writing. In addition, it contained a list of grammatical mistakes that most students often make in their writing thus allowing me to know what not to include in my essays. The text book will be my reference point even after the course since I downloaded it and saved it on my personal computer. In fact,I did the same with all the course material that I was sent throughout the course because I know that learning is a continuous process.
All in all, I wish to appreciate you very much for being a patient and understanding instructor throughout the course. Without your guidance I could not have been able to learn all that I have learnt within the short duration of the course. The corrections you made on my essays also showed me my mistakes and helped me to improve on my literary skills. Your flexible time schedule alsomade it possible for me to be able to attend other personal duties while at the same time, finding time to digest what I had learnt from the previous lessons. I would gladly come back to you for further studies in future and I will recommend you to my other colleagues who wish to take online essay writing lessons.
College transfer essay
For a long period of time, I have been interested in studying international relations. My interest in pursuing this field arose from more than a few factors which have affected me. First, I have been opened to the elements of international affairs right through my life. I bear in mind how people reacted towards the news on the sinking of Cheonan in 2009, when South Korean Navy Ship was attacked by the North Korean Torpedo. Anxious, breathless, and shocking, I could not take my eyes off from the TV News for even a second. I have grown up under the shadow of these inter-nations affairs. Secondly, I am mesmerized by history, economics, and diplomacy. I trust that through the study of international relations I can successfully satisfy my interest in these fields. Thirdly, patriotism is really shaping my curiosity in international relations because I think I would not only have the prospect of serving my country, but also have the option to help link gaps involving my country and others.
Having a background of mixed culture, that is Korean and American, I have the understanding of looking for differences to conciliate and the similarities to amalgamate in order to stabilize different cultures and this has ultimately made me aspire to become an International Relations Expert with expertise in conflict resolution and enhancement of peace, not only in the affected East Asia, but the whole world at large. As a result of this, I felt the need to further my higher education on the international security issues especially East Asian Areas. With this major, I will learn many advanced subjects such as Diplomacy and Intelligence and also, I will be able to understand the complex Asian culture, history and society. Once the course is over, I know I will be in a position to research and deeply study more about East Asian issues.
At Santa Monica College, particularly in our later years, we are given the free will to choose from a vast collection of classes. Using this freedom, I selected classes which have personal importance to me, in spite of difficulty. I have maintained the perfect G.P.A. but Santa Monica College neither provides professional research opportunities nor higher-level courses that could help me in fulfilling my dream thus limiting my academic passion. Therefore, I want to transfer to a more academic environment where I can study the subject in depth with Interdisciplinary approach because of the presence of world class students. I am confident I can challenge myself at your college because I have a great adaptability to new environment and I am very versatile in mingling with people of different cultural background.
My visualization for the future is developing and for as long as I can keep in my mind what I want to do, I have never become coward. One year from now, I can imagine myself in the classroom discussing deep international relations issues that are affecting international security, Writing a paper on the ‘role of the United States for the peace management in the Korean Peninsula’ that will make me feel as if I was seated with international leader chosen to mediate the peace in the two Koreas. If I am successful in this application, I am convinced the ‘light of hope’ at the end of the tunnel will be realized. Thank you.
Beowulf is the modern title of an archaic English epic poem composed by a Scandinavian poet and regarded as one of the cornerstones of Anglo-Saxon literature (Frantzen 69). Beowulf reflects the culture of pre-Anglo-Saxon communities in Scandinavia prior to the migration. The story existed in German oral literature even before it was compiled although it is regarded as the creation of a single poet. In addition, the story was based on Scandinavian history but its narrator was from England. The poet provides a historical account of the culture and norms of an already gone era although some of its remnant practices were still alive when the poet was writing the story (Liuzza 16). During the Beowulf era, governance was based on feudal relations where weak tribes sought the protection of strong kings. These kings relied on the loyalty and bravery of their worriers to provide protection in return for treasures captured in battle. Mead-halls used as gathering grounds for worriers to celebrate victory acted as places of refuge as fear of attack never left the minds of the Scandinavian society during this dangerous time as the story reflects. This essay provides a deeper exploration of Beowulf based on its main characters and themes.
Beowulf’s actual position in English literature is quite complicated due to its unique history. The story was put together around 700 A.D (SparkNotes Editors para 1). By that time, there had been many oral narratives bearing much of its material and these had been in existence for many years. Several centuries before the story was written, Scandinavians and Anglo-Saxons had settled in the island of Britain. Their Germanic languages evolved into what was known as Old English. The context of Beowulf and its characters are based on the conditions of the island around 500 A. D.
Some of the poem’s characters including Danish and Swedish nobles directly reflect the actual historical situation (Baker xiv). Before the 6th Century, the Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon invaders were pagans but later during the sixth century, they became Christians in large numbers. As such, the Beowulf was a pagan story despite the fact that its composer was Christian. Indeed, the poet attempts with great difficulty to make his pagan characters appear Christian and this has increased the differences between the actual Beowulf and the Beowulf told today. Although the tension between Christian and pagan ideologies is not a novel subject in Anglo-Saxon Christian literature, cases of a Christian narrating a pagan story are rare hence making Beowulf quite peculiar. Throughout the narrative, it is evident that the cultures of the poet, the characters, and the poet’s ancestors differ significantly from one another (Frantzen 69)
In this story, Beowulf is a model of a perfect hero. He fights and kills Grendel, a demon who frequently invades King Hrothgar’s warriors in Heorot and kills many of them. In addition, Beowulf defeats Grendel’s mother who confronts him to avenge her son’s death. These are the main victories Beowulf accomplished in his youth. After fifty years of his rule as king, Beowulf, now an old man, fights and kills a dragon that had brought fear throughout his kingdom. These acts reflect the Scandinavian code of honor. However, Beowulf’s heroism can be divided into youthful and mature heroism, which represents two distinct models of virtue. As a youth, Beowulf commanded greatness as a worrier by performing acts of courage such as competing with Breca in swimming. His mannerisms of loyalty, pride, and courtesy are part of the Germanic heroic code (Frantzen 79). Through defeating Grendel and his mother, Beowulf proves himself a true hero.
Despite his unmatched heroic acts as a youth, Beowulf does not ascent to the throne immediately. He spends many years learning from his mentor Hrothgar how to rule wisely. Nevertheless, it was evident from his achievements that he would become a king. Although the second half of the story concentrates on the last heroic act of Beowulf without providing much information regarding his leadership as king, it is evident that Beowulf was a man who respected authority and loyalty. For instance, after King Hygelac died, Beowulf remains calm and supportive to Hygelac’s son who was the heir apparent to the throne. By so doing, he proves that he is a loyal and respectful person hence he qualifies to rule (Hall 75). As the poem ends, Beowulf is compelled to fight the dragon that he conquers although he dies in the process. This reflects the king’s duty to prioritize the good of the public over his own interests and do what must be done to achieve it. In this episode, Beowulf offers himself as a sacrifice for his people. Although this might be viewed as unwise since the death of the king revived the fear of attack from external enemies, it can also be argued that the king had no choice but to fight. As an exemplary worrier, the king could not continue sitting on the throne and watch his worriers lose their lives to the dragon.
Grendel being a monster and depicted as having the appearance of an animal, represents adversity or an enemy of the people. The term monster meant a birth defect (Hall 89). However, his inner personality resembles that of a frustrated human driven by emotional impulses to revenge. Grendel lives in lonely swampland as an outcast, a descendant of the Biblical Cain (Hall 5). He is excluded from the celebrations in the King’s mead-hall and this could explain why he is very bitter. Grendel represents a bad omen or an evil spirit in the Danish backyard. His wondering nature reflects the cursed Cain. The march-stepper which means a boarder-stepper (Gordon 3). This interpretation depicts the fear that the society had for the borders especially now that their enemy, Grendel was already within their own boarders. While Beowulf is depicted as the savior of humankind, Grendel provides a perfect contrast for him by representing an evil that must be destroyed by an equally strong force.
Hrothgar plays an important role of preparing Beowulf to become a wise ruler. As an old hero himself, Hrothgar is more knowledgeable than Beowulf about what it means to be a hero. As a result, he is much more reflective as he teaches Beowulf how to be a mature leader. His mentorship is based on lessons learnt throughout an entire lifespan of heroism and leadership. These qualities and his willingness to mentor Beowulf enable him to transform Beowulf from a mere youthful hero to a mature leader.
Although Unferth casts doubt on Beowulf’s heroism, his underlying jealousy and bitterness against Beowulf help us to see Beowulf’s heroism more clearly as the two characters are direct opposites of each other. Through the failure of Unferth to discourage Beowulf from fighting Grendel by his negative talk, we see the warrior character of Beowulf more clearly. This becomes clearer when Unferth surrenders his sword to Beowulf during the fight with Grendel’s mother, further revealing Unferth’s cowardice (Hall 50).
Wiglaf bears the traits of a hero as depicted by his willingness to challenge the dragon while other worriers retreat (Hall 89). Risking his life, and his determination to save his king from the dragon reveals his conformation to the heroic code. Wiglaf reflects Beowulf in his youth and represents the kind of worriers required to usher the kingdom into future victories. His fearlessness, valiance, strength, and loyalty make him the only source of hope for the people who are already in fear as the news of their fallen king continues to spread.
The recurring themes in Beowulf include means of obtaining identity, the clash between values within the same value system or between different value systems, and the differentiation between a good warrior and a good king. These themes are each discussed in detail in this section.
Heroism is the main idea driving the poet in writing Beowulf. The poem identifies two sources of identity: heroic deeds and ancestral heritage. Male figures are referred to as their fathers’ sons. For instance, Beowulf is called ‘Ecgtheow’s son” (Hall 49). Characters in the poem always mention their lineage when introducing themselves hence revealing the existence of strong kinship relationships. This explains why the poet begins by describing the ancestry of King Hrothgar. King Sheafson is depicted as fatherless, perhaps to create an impression that the poem had a definite starting point. Further, heroic characters are emulated and highly regarded and they inspire the characters into attempting to achieve feats similar to their. Although heritage is the main provider of identity, a heroic reputation is required to consolidate that identity. For instance, the founder of Danish dynasty, Shield Sheafson was an orphan who constructed his identity predominantly through his acts of bravery.
Beowulf’s heroic deeds seem to have been his main hope of being remembered after death. Apart from killing the three monsters, Beowulf had heroic oratory skills, a major component of the heroic code (Frantzen 79). Since writing had not evolved much, oral narratives were the main means of preserving history hence the need for oratory mastery. This is evident when Beowulf announces his intention to fight Grendel, which is met with subversive remarks by Unferth. Beowulf had no one to turn to since his heroic past was unknown to the audience hence he had to boast openly about his accomplishments to defend his reputation. This strategy was not merely a random reaction to a situation that was getting out of hand but a deliberate attempt to claim what was rightfully his—reputation on account of his accomplishments. The episode thus demonstrates further the association between one’s reputation and heroic acts.
These standards for heroism automatically meant that women could not qualify to be heroes. In fact, the demands that the society placed upon women could not allow her to be accorded similar status with men. When Beowulf returns to his homeland and visits his king, the queen is depicted as well-behaved, ready to serve men and always loyal to her husband (Hall 66). Beowulf’s society is thus highly dominated by men and a place where violence, honor, and destruction characterize governance. Women are thus portrayed as objects for marriage and peacemaking.
Christian and Germanic codes
The poem articulates the Germanic heroic code, which expects worries to be strong, courageous, and loyal, kings to be hospitable, generous, and skillful, women to be ceremonious, and all people to be of good reputation (Frantzen 79). As the story begins, the standards for evaluating heroism according to the heroic code are presented. The basis for evaluating Sheafson’s heroism is the number of tribes he had conquered. This makes sense since the code required that the conquered clans must pay tribute to the king. Thus, the more the tribute the king received, the stronger he was. The Germanic code unfolds further when Beowulf meets king Hrothgar and they both recount the story behind their relationship. The story reveals how the two families were held under duty by the code to be loyal to each other. This was in fulfillment of the requirement of the wergild, a price paid in compensation for a fallen warrior whose purpose was to end feuds and prevent the imminent cycle of retaliation.
Despite the fact that the blood relationship between Hrothgar’s family and Beowulf’s family might have motivated Beowulf to come to Hrothgar’s rescue, the poet portrays it as purely an act of bravery rather than fulfillment of his obligation under the code. The concept of blood feud and retaliation is further depicted in the episode where Grendel’s mother attempts to avenge her son’s death, hence demonstrating a cycle of retaliation that the code attempted to mitigate by offering a provision for compensating for a fallen warrior to end feuds between close families or tribes. Beowulf confirms the central position of vengeance in the heroic code of honor when he said, “Grieve not, o wise one! For each it is better, his friend to avenge than with vehemence wail him” (Hall 49). The value for vengeance explains why Grendel’s mother is justified or at least her attack is not as condemned as that of her son. In addition, she is not described with much detail to depict her as being as evil as her son although both of them are clearly alien creatures. Further, in such a patriarchal society, the depiction of Grendel’s mother as the only strong force behind Grendel provides a perfect contrast to the cultural norms of the Geats and Danes who identified themselves with their fathers.
The warriors provided protection for the king’s treasures. Rewarding of warriors with treasures was also a demonstration of heroism and goodness to the community. As such, the poet refers to Sheafson as a good king (Hall 4). Similar honor is accorded King Hrothgar for building a mead-hall for his warriors. Although this code is traditional, it is relevant to warrior societies as a source of guidance on how to relate with others and protect themselves from external threats. In this sense, the code is the basis for judging the characters’ actions and moral standing.
However, the code appears to suffer from internal instabilities due to conflicting values. For instance, the marriage between Hildeburh and the Frisian King results in a double tragedy for Hildeburh whose Frisian son and Danish brother are killed in a war between the Frisians and Danes (Hall 69). In this case, the code seems to lack mandate to prevent such incidences. In addition, the confrontation between Unferth and Beowulf represents a clash of values although subject to varying interpretations. Unferth is infuriated at Beowulf’s claims and dismisses him as a villain. Ironically, Unferth turns out to be the villain as his jealousy is exposed. Unferth went against the code by dishonoring a guest, and Beowulf’s retaliation, though boastful, can be justified as means of defending his reputation.
Further, the codes values contradict those of mediaeval Christianity. The code creates an impression that humans can only obtain honor through their earthly deeds while Christians hope for glory only in life after death. Christians are taught to forgive those who wrong them. On the contrary, the concept of forgiveness is not quite developed in the code. Instead, vengeance takes its place. Although the tension between Christian values and the Germanic code may not bear much weight considering that the poem’s world was essentially pagan, it reveals the narrator’s own attempt to distance himself from the culture represented in the poem. Indeed, the depiction of Germanic heroic code and Christian values as competing value systems is a common theme in early English poetry (Cavill 141).
A Warrior versus a King
There is a clear progression from being a brave young warrior to a mature wise king on the part of Beowulf. Each of these phases is governed by different values, as the transition process appears to be a deliberate approach to maturation. Beowulf and king Hrothgar represent these values clearly. Beowulf, being young and having little to lose, is passionately seeking personal fame while Hrothgar, who understands the cost of being a hero and a king, chooses to protect his people rather than seek personal glory. This however does not represent a battle of personalities; instead, it is result of a deliberate attempt by the society to define the particular roles for both the warrior and the king. The society’s expectations for warriors are clearly captured in the heroic acts of Beowulf. However, the king’s roles are evident only in scattered episodes. For instance, it is a requirement by the heroic code that the king gives his worriers an opportunity to celebrate and receive gifts as a form of appreciation and recognition (Hall 3). This was the idea underlying the establishment of mead-halls.
The king’s speeches reveal the importance of providing protection in the midst of fear and the king’s responsibility to establish diplomatic relations with other tribes and his own warriors. Beowulf demonstrates similar values by refraining from taking over power after the death of Hygelac (Hall 74). However, his rush into fighting with the dragon during which he dies and leaves his people without protection appears to contradict with King Hrothgar’s restraint as well as his own restraint earlier on. However, the fact that all pagan kings started out as valiant worriers, it is difficult to imagine the roles of warriors and kings as completely independent of each other.
Although the narrator may have been guided by Christian beliefs and values in narrating Beowulf, a purely pagan story, the story still provides important insights into the pagan life of the Scandinavians and Anglo-Saxons in the pre-Christian medieval ages. Adherence to the Germanic heroic code as illustrated in the poem shows how valuable this value system was among Germanic societies during A.D. 500. Not only was it relevant at that time, but also some of its elements such as loyalty and bravery are still highly valued in some societies. The poem captured the patriarchal nature of the society during this period by attaching great importance to heroism and ancestral identity, which women could not master. This shows how the value systems of ancient societies encouraged male-dominion and subordination of women to their husbands and men in general.
Baker, Peter Stuart. The Beowulf reader. London, UK: Routledge. 2000. Print.
Cavill, Paul. Maxims in Old English Poetry. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: D.S. Brewer, 1999. Print.
Gordon, R. K. Beowulf. New York: Dover Publications, 1992. Print.
Frantzen, Allen J. Speaking Two Languages: Traditional Disciplines and Contemporary Theory in Medieval Studies. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991. Print.
Liuzza, R M. Beowulf. Peterborough, Ont: Broadview, 1999. Print.
SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Beowulf.” SparkNotes.com. Web. 26 Jan. 2012. http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/beowulf/context.html
Hall, Lesslie. Beowulf: an Anglo-Saxon epic poem. Web. 26 Jan. 2012 http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16328/16328-h/16328-h.htm
Reflective Report– Critical Thinking Skill
Critical thinking is the ability of deducing consequences from what one knows, as well as the knowledge of making use of such information in solving of problems, and seeking relevant information sources in informing others. Effective skills of critical thinking are vital in all forms of careers whereby we need to communicate ideas, analyze, make decisions, and solve problems. The Kolb Model as used in this paper has a high potential of fostering an improvement in my critical thinking skills in a continuous mode as well as facilitating effective learning from experience achieved via this reflection by enhancing performance in both current and future tasks. Therefore, cultivation of sound critical thinking should form a core aim of education.
Critical thinking, according to Watson and Reissner “Is a deep, reflective, and independent sort of thinking, which seeks to understand the assumptions and thought structures behind an argument.” (2010, p. 42) It is an intellectually disciplined process, which skillfully and actively conceptualizes, applies, analyses, synthesis, and evaluates information collected from, or else generated by experience, observation, reasoning, communication, or reflection, as a guide towards belief and action (Young & Paterson 2007, p. 562; Elder & Paul 2008, p. 58).
There exist some reasons illustrating the importance of reflection in reflection practice. It is important in that it fosters practice knowledge generation, helps in the development of satisfaction and individuals self esteem, assists potential of adaption of new situations as well as help in the development, valuation, and professionalization of practice (Baird & Winter 2005, p. 156). According to Siviter (2004, p. 165) reflection entails gaining of self-confidence, learning from an individual’s own behavior or mistakes, identifying improvement’s prime time, self-awareness, looking at other individuals perspectives, as well as learning ones past in order to foster a future improvement. In this assignment, my desire is reflecting on the situations that occurred in course of my learning (critical thinking) for the development and utilization of the critical thinking process in my present and future tasks.
My reflection report shall follow Kolb Experiential Learning Model, which is a widely recognized framework and fits my reflection task. The Kolb Model consists of four stages, which completes one cycle of reflection. It has a high potential of fostering an improvement in my critical thinking skills in a continuous mode as well as facilitating effective learning from experience achieved via this reflection by enhancing performance in both current and future tasks. Concrete experience marks the commencement of the Kolb Model and paves way for the reflective stage (second stage), which reflects about the experience(s) identified in concrete experience level. The abstract conceptualization stage comes third and encompasses models, metaphors, strategies, and paradigms’ application towards the experience’s results. Active experimentation is the final stage of this model/cycle and entails putting the concepts into practice hence generating new concrete experience. The Kolb’s model is summarized in figure 1.
After my ordinary level education, I enrolled for a degree in the US whereby English language is the official language of communication and instruction. I was the only Arabic speaking student in the class as all the others came from the US or other English-speaking nations. In our first lecture, the lecturer introduced “critical thinking” process and gave the students some time to discuss this concept. We formed groups of three and I found that many students were avoiding teaming up with me, simply because they presumed that I could be of no use towards the group as I was non-English speaking student. The lecturer had to come to my rescue as he understood why the others were avoiding me. Throughout the discussion, I could not offer any suggestions since critical thinking was just but a new vocabulary to me. From the group, I learnt that critical thinking is a reasonable reflective thinking process, which is focused on making a choice of what or what not to do or believe.
The lecturer noted my weakness in English language in the first lecture day and thus encouraged me to seek his assistance when need arose. The trend became similar with the other lecturers but they were all willing to assist me every time I needed their assistance. Since all our subjects and courses had to be done in English, our “critical thinking skills” course lecturer required all the students (through the groups) to present role-plays to develop and strengthen our critical thinking skills. The students had to embark on intensive practice sessions before the final day of presenting our plays. I used this time to gather significant feedback from both my lecturer and colleagues, as they were observers of my practical sessions. It emerged that I had difficulties expressing myself when asked rather simple questions due to lack of critical thinking skills. All along, it was hard for me to accommodate my colleagues’ challenge since my English is far below average. From this, I experienced the dire need of developing effective critical thinking skills. It starts with formulating questions within ones mind, generating a perspective of the same and finally proceeds with formulating a way of presenting it through an orderly sequence while avoiding confusion to ones listeners or readers of a presentation.
After attending some classes on critical thinking, I took some good time reflecting on the class proceedings and it dawned on me that critical thinking as a learning outcome has numerous diverse functions. For example, I developed a deep interest of knowing why my fellow students had varied views regarding the essence of critical thinking in every day life. My efforts of understanding critical thinking led to my interaction with many students to help in improvement of my grammar as well as critical thinking. The students were very cooperative and assisted me in many ways and I looked forward to being a leading columnist in the local print media publications once I went back to my home country. I in fact developed a more positive attitude towards critical thinking course and I enjoyed all my classes as I aimed at being an effective communicator. Thus, I will take this course as a platform for training to become an outstanding future communicator in any potential field.
Due to the challenge I got concerning the application of critical thinking in tasks, I rated my critical thinking skills on 1-5 scale at 3 (see figure 2). The chief reason for this rating is the fact that I studied in an education system different from the current one. The system back at my country does not lay much emphasize on critical thinking and thus, I have the belief that I am relatively weaker in the critical thinking process in comparison to my colleagues who got exposed to critical thinking earlier on. In addition, my native language has been Arabic in which we read from the left to right; all my previous education has been in the Arabic language. Therefore, the need for critical thinking in the English language is quite a challenge presently especially with the fact that I have just enrolled for just one year in an institution in which I am learning the English language. At this institution, I am pursuing my degree whereby English language is the only language of instruction and calls for effective development of critical thinking skills.
Critical thinking is an ability of thinking rationally and clearly and consists of the ability of engaging in independent and reflective thinking. An individual with effective critical thinking skills has the ability of understanding the logical links between ideas, detecting common mistakes, and inconsistencies in reasoning, and identifying, constructing, and evaluating arguments. Such a person should also solve problems systematically, reflect on justification of an individual own values and beliefs, as well as identify the importance and relevance of ideas (Thomlison 2009, p. 128). Thomlison argues further that critical thinking is an effective communication skill, which involves three main factors in its learning. These factors are theory, practice, and attitude.
I established that critical thinking has nothing to do with accumulation of information. It is rather the ability of deducing consequences from what one knows, as well as the knowledge of making use of such information in solving of problems, and seeking relevant information sources in informing others (Bammer 2010, p. 179). Effective skills of critical thinking are vital in all forms of careers whereby we need to communicate ideas, analyze, make decisions, and solve problems. Thus, it is an effective domain-general thinking skill, which enables an individual to think rationally and clearly in whatever one chooses to do. Critical thinking also fosters the process of transformation and self-evaluation hence leading a meaningful life as well as planning for ones future calls for one to, honestly and carefully, think about self (Lau 2011, p. 2). Lau further argues that sound critical thinking is the foundation of democracy and science. Science needs rationality in testing theories and designation of experiments. A progressive and vibrant democracy needs the citizens to think objectively concerning the political and social issues and this helps them to avoid prejudices and biases. Therefore, cultivation of sound critical thinking should form a core aim of education.
From my reflection, I have noted that I need to develop my ability of critical thinking by discovering my thinking as well as taking an intellectual charge of it. I have discovered the importance of focusing on my communication skills to foster my preparedness for sound critical thinking. This shall be achieved by increasing my interaction with the other students, as I believe that “practice makes perfect.” In addition, I shall read materials about critical thinking to gather wide information about the requirements for critical thinking. I will also approach my other colleagues in class to form a debate and discussion group, in which I will be able to give my views on various issues of interest. These will help me in improvement and development of effective critical thinking skills. My personal development plan for the next three years of my course is captured by figure 3.
Critical thinking is the ability of deducing consequences from what one knows, as well as the knowledge of making use of such information in solving of problems, and seeking relevant information sources in informing others. The Kolb Model used in this paper has a high potential of fostering an improvement in my critical thinking skills in a continuous mode as well as facilitating effective learning from experience achieved via this reflection by enhancing performance in both current and future tasks. Effective skills of critical thinking are vital in all forms of careers whereby we need to communicate ideas, analyze, make decisions, and solve problems. Therefore, cultivation of sound critical thinking should form a core aim of education.
Baird, M & Winter, J 2005, Reflection, practice and clinical education in Rose, M. and Best, D. (2005) Transforming Practice through Clinical Education, Professional Supervision & Mentoring, Elsevier Churchill Livingstone, Philadelphia.
Bammer, G 2010, Dealing with uncertainties in policing serious crime, ANU E Press, Sydney.
Elder, L & Paul, R 2008, The thinker’s guide to intellectual standards: the words that name them and the criteria that define them, Foundation Critical Thinking, New York.
Lau, JYF 2011, An introduction to critical thinking and creativity: think more, think better, John Wiley & Sons, London.
Siviter, B 2004, The Student Nurse Handbook, Baillere Tindall, New York.
Thomlison, B 2009, Family assessment handbook: an introduction and practical guide to family assessment, Cengage Learning, New York.
Young, LE & Paterson, BL 2007, Teaching nursing: developing a student-centered learning environment, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, London.
Figure 1: The Kolb Model
Figure 2: 1-5 rating scale
Figure 3: Personal development plan.
Enroll for a communication and interpersonal skills course
Reading of a wide range of communication materials
Watching and listening to
English presentations and programs
Day time 1: Mon, Wed, Thur, 8-9pm, reading of communication materials
Day time 2: Tues, Fri, 6-7am, practicing learnt techniques about critical thinking skills
Start date: 1/1/2012
Short term goal: 31/1/2012
Long term goal: 31/12/2014
Practicing being decisive and assertive via suggesting of ideas or making decisions in the weekly meetings, and requesting permission to lead some organizational projects
Engaging in group discussions and debates to foster critical thinking skills
Day time 1: Mon, Wed, Sat 9-10am, engage my group members in debates and discussions
Day time 2: Fri 3-4pm, practice assertiveness in the organizational weekly meetings
Short term goal: 28/12/2012
Long term goal: 31/12/2014
Librarianship Growing or Dying Profession
Among the people who can tell you that librarianship profession has no future are the graduates seeking jobs within the library sector. In the 2010 October Library Journal issue, it was noted that most individuals who graduate from library schools find it quite challenging to secure actual jobs within the boundaries of their career. The journal further observed that library profession is harder to break unless one has some connections or the required experience. According to Kimscotta, the author of the article “Librarianship- A dying profession” in November 2010, most libraries are not employing new staff to fill in the gaps left by retiring librarians, instead they are either freezing the positions or eliminating them, thus a clear indication that librarianship profession does not have a future.
Actually, most libraries are preferring to employ part-time clerks to fill in the various positions within the libraries, and therefore professional librarians who demand higher salaries because of librarianship is their profession are finding it quite challenging to secure job opportunities. Moreover, those working within library sector do treasure their jobs, and actually that is why they chose careers in librarianship, thus they seldom apply for early retirement and even those who are already of the age of retirement, they still endeavor to hold on to their jobs, thus newly developing librarians finds limited opportunities for employment.
Librarianship: Dying or Growing?
A number of stakeholders within the librarian profession perceive that librarianship does not have a future: They feel it is an eventually graying profession, which people desiring to join should trend with extra caution. The October 15 2009 Library Journal had an article dabbed “A Losing Game”, which portrayed novel grads from 2009 class in Musical chairs game, ardently attempting to extricate the competition, the longtime librarians who have refused to leave their positions. However, it was evident that they were not having much luck owing to the fact that this game had been rigged. Francine Fialkoff observed that this is the way novel librarians perceive the job market (2010, para. 1-2).
The new librarians did what was required of them to become librarians: They secured loans to assist them in payment of tuition, they pursued the careers they had a passion for, they worked hard to pass, they took internships within the library field hoping to secure jobs related to their careers and often, they jockeyed jobs and school to pay for their needs and settle their bills. Then after all these, the librarianship graying career trumpeted them and never materialized. With all these efforts to become a librarian and the consequent failure, they are justified to perceive librarianship profession as one of those professions which would not see the light of the next century (Fialkoff, 2010, para. 3-4). With the current trend of events within the profession, many people, even those who have a passion of working within the library sector are bound to seek alternative careers, not because they have developed revulsion for librarian profession, but because they are not assured that even with the necessary qualifications and evidenced by their certificates, they will be able to secure jobs within the field of librarianship.
Most of the individuals who pursue librarian career do so knowing very well that librarianship is graying, but they hope they are among the few people who shall take over the responsibility of reviving it and securing its future. However, with the advance of technology, they are not likely to be competitive enough. Today, whenever one needs to study about a certain subject, rarely will they go to the library shelves and take almost an entire day trying to secure a book that has their subject matter. With the internet readily available within the reach of many people, checking for the information online becomes an easier and thus a better alternative. It takes an individual just some few minutes to secure an online book or article that has the piece of information they are interested with thus the visits to libraries are minimized, thus further threatening the future of librarianship profession.
The statistics of 2009 placement and salaries survey have observed daunting trends of placements and decrease of salaries among librarians in addition to reduced employment opportunities. The survey further observed that of the approximately 2000 class of year 2009 grad who reported about their jobs’ statuses, 7.8% are unemployed, 10.6% are working in temporary positions, 19.4% are working within non-professional employment and 22.8% are working in part-time positions (Fialkoff, 2010, para. 5). This is an indication that with continuity of such trends within librarian profession, it s true that there is no much hope about the future of librarianship.
Fialkoff (2010) has observed that despite the distressing trend within the librarianship field, one might not expect floodgates of opportunities to open but that does not imply all hope of librarianship rising again is gone. He has argued that there are some few bright spots that those passionate for the field could hold unto. Stephanie Maatta has pointed as some potentially burning specializations that include digital libraries and archives together with intellectual copyright as well as scholarly communications. Other categories outside the library sector have continued to grow, thus accounting for about 27% of the 2009 placement, with jobs in hospitals, societies, private industry and state agencies (para. 7).
However, this is not an enough consolation for individuals working within academic and public libraries. Yet, their skills are needed the more in there. For those librarians who desire to secure jobs without much struggle and within the fields of their passionate librarianship profession, they must add to their profession some technological skills and public service expertise; with such they shall be able to fit in diversified sectors but within the librarianship profession, thus prevent libraries from being wiped out.
According to Nelson V. Waste, libraries have less than twenty-five years of importance. To him, in about 25 years, they will become unnecessary, which he perceived as a good thing as opposed to being a tragedy. He posited that libraries ought to embrace the fact wholeheartedly shifting librarian professionals’ mission from the contemporary working within libraries to preparing individuals for world that has no libraries. Just as geologist and economists speak of peak oil, which is the point at which humans extracts half of the petroleum on the earth’s deposit, Waste posited that somewhere around 1982, the world reached what he dabbed “Peak Libraries” a phase where the demand of libraries had lowered by about a half. He argued that where the demand for library contents took several thousand years, the world has been experiencing an increase in library contents over the past few decades just as it happens before peak oil, which will eventually culminate in an inevitable lowered demand to zero (Steve, 2010, para. 7).
Waste observed that in his long career working within a library, he had observed a trend of increasing change from searching libraries as the most probable place of accessing credible information to being the last place people seek authentic information. Things that were once treasured such as cataloguing, metadata and collections are losing value and importance even as public service, which includes instruction and reference have increasingly become irrelevant. He observed that he has noted that collections have increasingly become paradoxically privatized, and at the same time opening up. Librarians were unwilling and unable to assemble the necessary capital (which includes credibility, cash, and chutzpah) for undertaking a project of scanning collections en masse.
According to his argument, only private entities such as Google have the potential of taking over the work as well as the risk involved in such an endeavor. However the results of such private projects are not disastrous locking up the world’s information and literature, but rather opening vaults, where the previously unknown, unloved and invisible literature works are accessible upon conducting brief search. He further argued that it is just a matter of time prior to libraries realization that the most expensive subscriptions to the full-text historical archives have become unnecessary in this Google age (Steve, 2010, para. 9-10).
Drawing from the works of Waste, Steve (2010) observed that in relation to academic journals, the world has a paralyzed position. There has been an increase on the number of journals that are published and availed online. He noted that a significant number of these journals are freely distributed and for those that access is limited, with just a user name and a password to certain libraries; one can have an access to the journal articles and retrieve the required information. With the contemporary trends, almost all universities in 25 years time shall have a department that is entrusted with the responsibility of paying bills to various online sites that allow their students to access information and literature (which include online books and journal articles), thus reducing the essence of having a library to almost unnecessary, which eventually lead to the closure of these libraries (Steve, 2010, para. 11).
According to Brian’s article on the dying profession of librarianship, it is evident that the number of teacher librarians has been decreasing at an alarming rate. Today, most stakeholders in the field are alarmed that if something is not done to redefine the purpose of libraries and to raise their standards so that they could compete with the other emerging competitors such as Google, the future of libraries and librarianship profession are threatened. It has been observed with much concern that today, very many schools do not have teacher-librarians, and those that have do not have sufficient number to handle the population. This has been contributed by the fact that the profession is gradually dying and thus not many teachers want to pursue a career on a profession whose future is not guaranteed, thus threatening their means of livelihood. The reduction of the number of teachers also has an effect on the number of students who are pursuing librarianship profession as their career; with no teachers to take them through the subject, they opt for alternatives, consequently contributing to threatening of the career’s future (2010, para. 2-5).
Many librarians assume liberation or a liberal position in relation to information. The strong supporters of the limited copyright, free public services and Open Access libraries among others believe that information ought to be free. The term free in this case means “gratis” as well as “libre” further positing that individuals ought to be empowered so as to find the use of the information that is freely accessible. Steve has argued that what librarians do not see is that their position within the field is contingent as opposed to being necessary (2010, para. 14). Steve further argued that librarians are often reduced to creation of novel reasons for their existence, reasons which have virtually no connection to library qua library. He posited that when libraries are spoken of as a places, what one should understand is that they have reached tipping point, which implies that they are almost ready to admit that libraries have little use anymore other than a sleeping place for the homeless and an avenue used by college students in checking their social networks such as Face book accounts. Majority of the individuals who visit public libraries include the unemployed, the homeless, the socially inept and children who just seek to have something keeping them busy as opposed to exploring libraries’ contents for the purpose of enrichment in terms of knowledge.
When an idea of death of libraries surfaces, librarians have a tendency of pointing at the library users as the root of the problem, noting that many library users still find it challenging to find the desired information in the libraries and thus they require experts guidance to navigate hazards if space and information. Librarians have the concerned stakeholders believe that this is definitely a maternal impulse such as that of a lioness towards her cubs. However, they advise that library users should see it in predatory instincts such as that of a lioness towards a gazelle.
Steve argument is that stakeholders are first approaching a position where librarians require the users more than the users require the librarians. Thus, librarians are scared of the same, thus have to work harder to keep ignorant and docile, happy in becoming complicit in the vendors information plan for obscurity, balkanization as well as compartmentalization. A number of factors will lead the vendors to establish smoother interfaces and therefore streamline searching, organizing, finding, publishing and creating. Steve argues that it is the right time to bring an end to Munchausen epidemic by Proxy within the public service libraries. As an alternative, he has suggested the need of acknowledging that the patrons that are patronized cannot walk without assistance. To him, it is because of continuous kicking of them that keeps their kneecaps (2010, para. 13).
Lancaster has observed that one of the most common questions in relation to the field of libraries is why people continue to build more libraries while the advance of computer and telecommunication have eventually been replacing books. Most concerned stakeholders’ opinion is that with the contemporary trend, it is given that computers will eventually put both the librarians and their libraries out of business. However, Lancaster’s opinion is that people shall continue to make use of libraries even when computers and all technology are fully advanced in use by the larger population. He posited that “To my thinking, that is the bottom line. The issue is not whether librarians and libraries, it is whether the voter and the taxpayer (one and the same) like and use libraries, and they do” (p. 30). According to his argument, in 1988, about 77% of the San Francisco voters affirmed this by voting for the novel library.
The fact was also confirmed through a subsequent survey among the citizens of San Francisco, which indicated that 90% of the persons that were interviewed perceived tax funds ought to be spent establishment and equipment of public libraries rather than in city services. Together with the Westin survey, the survey reaffirmed that people are still interested with the traditional services such as checking out books, story hours, reference assistance and programs among other services availed by a library (Lancaster, p. 30). Thus, basing from the surveys, all hope for librarianship profession is not gone, there are still some people who deem library services as important and thus shall continue to be clients to various private and public libraries in an endeavor to gather information.
However, Lancaster noted that this did not mean that people were disinterested with the contemporary technology. He noted that the 1988 survey had 86% of the San Francisco population desiring to have the high technology at their disposal and 2/3 of the Westin sampled population also wanted to have modern technology availed for them. According to the study, most people could understand the source of the debate between books and computers: They wanted both. Thus, in regard to the question of whether thirty years to come libraries will be there, the response is simply “Yes” reason being people still want them and thus the future of librarians is not threatened as many stakeholders have posited.
Among the greatest concern that have been raised in the academic world with the advance of telecommunication and computers is whether there is a future for librarianship profession. With the emergence of technology such as the internet, many people who are interested in seeking information are no longer visiting libraries for the same, but rather they are opting to use online materials such as e-books, online journals, online magazines and news papers and other online publication to seek for the desired information. Consequently, librarians and those pursuing careers within the field are concerned whether their profession is fading out or there is any future for them.
Various stakeholders hold diversified opinions in relation to this debate. As some of the stakeholders deem the advance of technology as a good enough reason and threat to the future of libraries and librarians, the optimists of libraries perceive that even with technology, significant population will still be in need of libraries and thus they posit that librarianship profession has a long life ahead and thus those desiring to pursue the career should not withdraw or pull back. However, there is enough evidence that those who have pursued careers in librarianship are either struggling to secure job opportunities related to their careers or are working in fields that are not related to their careers whatsoever. Thus, it is advisable to trend with extra caution because from evidence, librarianship profession is fading out.
Brian. (2010). Teacher-librarians: a dying profession? Retrieved on December 5, 2011 from: http://larvatusprodeo.net/2010/09/19/teacher-librarians-a-dying-profession/
Fialkoff, K. (2010). Editorial: Sold on a Graying Profession: New librarians struggle for jobs. Retrieved on December 5, 2011 from: http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/home/887165-264/editorial_sold_on_a_graying.html.csp
Kimscotta. (2010). Librarianship- A dying profession. Retrieved on December 5, 2011 from: http://kimscotta.blogspot.com/2010/11/librarianship-dying-profession.html
Lancaster, W. (1993). Libraries and the future: essays on the library in the twenty-first century. New York, NY: Routledge.
Steve, L. (2010). Guest Post: Libraries are Dying (And That’s A Good Thing). Retrieved on December 5, 2011 from: http://stevelawson.name/seealso/archives/2010/07/guest_post_libraries_are_dying_and_thats_a_good_thing_.html
Response essay: social studies instruction
The extent to which social studies as been neglected in elementary schools and high schools is overwhelming (Passe 189). This has presented many challenges to teachers and minimized their capability and enthusiasm towards finding better instruction methods and approaches to teaching the subject. The subject also suffers from challenges affecting research in the area, which is a worthwhile concern since research is the key to finding new knowledge to solve problems. This essay is a response to observations and ideas that have been shared concerning the problem facing social studies with particular attention to instructional challenges and social studies research.
Challenges that Confront Improvement in Social Studies Instruction
One of the main challenges facing social studies instruction in elementary and high school curriculum is the perceived low status of social studies compared with other subjects. Many teachers do not considers social studies as significant as sciences, languages and mathematics hence they lack motivation to improve their teaching methodology and assessment strategies. In a study of over 1000 elementary social studies teachers’ perception of social studies, over 50 percent of the participants felt that their schools were not doing enough to facilitate social studies instruction not because they lacked the means to do so but they did not regard it as meaningful (McCall, Janssen and Riederer 134). At the same time, nine in ten of the schools represented considered languages and math as the most important subjects. To make matters worse, the low ranking of social studies is also recognized at school district level. This is demonstrated by lack of policies to encourage social studies teaching at the district level yet such policies exist for math, reading and science subjects. Passe noted that the problem of neglecting social studies is not new since the subject has always trailed others in terms of priority (189). Lack of prioritization of social studies in schools is also reflected in timetabling which in most cases relegate social studies to the afternoon while deliberately leaving nearly all morning lessons to math and reading. This is disadvantageous to improvement of social studies instruction because teachers and students are quite exhausted in the afternoons hence cannot input much in the subject.
Another challenge facing social studies instruction, which may be considered a derivative of the low ranking of the subject in the curriculum, is dedication of lesser amount of time to social studies teaching compared to other subjects. In elementary schools, the time for teaching social studies can be as low as 90 minutes per week, which translates to less than 20 minutes per day (McCall, Janssen and Riederer 135). Whereas mathematics and language arts are taught every day in most schools, many schools teach social studies only three or two days in a week. Others prefer an integrated approach wherein social studies are combined with other subjects for integrated instruction. This further diminishes the important of social studies as a subject and contributes to students’ lack of enthusiasm towards the subject. This reduction in instruction time for social studies has been accompanied by increase in the amount of time devoted to math and reading in some schools. Even when school district leadership sets a threshold amount of time for social studies instruction, there is no cooperation at the school level, as many teachers still do not follow such guidelines (Passe 189). This means that, school administrators are at the forefront in promoting the flourishing of negative attitude towards social studies among teachers and students. To a certain degree, the school administrators and teachers are not the only ones to blame for the problem. In fact, the emphasis of school districts on programs for improving performance in other subjects other than social studies implies to schools that social subjects do not deserve much attention.
The serious neglect of social studies at the elementary level has greatly complicated social studies instruction in secondary schools. Many students have problems benefiting from any initiatives for improving performance in social studies in high school because they lack basic skills and concepts that they were supposed to learn in earlier grades. For instance, on many occasions I have had to put aside my lesson plan to teach social studies concepts that students should have learnt earlier but did not. The immediate negative results of such a situation is a major cut back on the time allocated for covering the syllabus. The shortage of time limits the depth of covering some important concepts hence compromises the entire course outcomes.
Another challenge for social study instruction concerns preparation of teachers. Many teachers teaching the methods module for social studies are not experts in the field. In one survey, nearly half of the social studies methods instructors who participated admitted they were not specialists in social studies (Passe 190). From personal observation, although many applicants avail themselves to fill vacancies for social study teaching, very few of the graduates have appropriate college degrees. It is thus not surprising to conclude that financially constrained colleges would prefer to hire instructors who are lack expert knowledge of social studies to teach social studies methods.
Testing is also one area, which has affected social studies instruction quite significantly. The overemphasis on competence tests in high schools has reduced the teachers’ commitment to the teaching of higher orders thinking skills in social studies in favor of lower order cognitive thinking such as knowledge and comprehension. However, elementary schools appear to be most affected since competence tests are not mandatory. This, coupled with the increased attention to teaching language arts and math subjects has threatened to eradicate social studies from the school curriculum (Passe 189).
Challenges of social studies research
One of the challenges facing social studies research is lack of emphasis on self-studies or action research. Although self-studies have been utilized in other subject areas, they are not common in social studies. However, they are indispensable to teachers and leaders in education because they aim at improving teacher practice. In addition, these studies are more concerned about justice and social organization issues, which are also major concerns in social studies. The potential benefits of action research are felt in all levels of the education system including elementary, high school and college. Action research is concerned about the teacher as a researcher, meaning that the teacher deliberately studies his or her own instructional approach (Barton 58). Johnston argued that although action research and self study are somehow related, self study is more of personal evaluation while action researchers utilizes available evidence to provide insight into a specific area of concern (57). Action research involves a systematic approach to answering a specified question emanating from an individual’s teaching practice. Its validity as a social studies research lies in its emphasis on collection of data, analysis and discussion of the results. The discussion of findings leads to discovery of new areas of research making the process continuous. Action research is applicable to all aspects of classroom instruction such as curriculum, teaching strategies, and implications of social issues on curriculum, student issues and teaching methodology.
Despite the potential benefits of action research, emphasis on participating in research training and practice in teacher training colleges and universities is lacking (Ukpokodu 77). This is unfortunate considering that teachers are expected to be specialists who are adept in relating research to their instructional practices. They are also need to share new knowledge through having their studies publicized. Ersoy and Cengelci noted in their review of literature that teachers ought to be good researchers for them to be effective in their tasks (544). Lack of thorough training of teachers on how to conduct research makes them encounter problems when they attempt to do so during actual practice. Teachers also lack inspiration and support to engage in research. This is a serious obstacle considering that conducting a quality research is costly and time consuming. Another challenge is insufficient training in research methodology for pre-service teachers. This problem does not only affect teachers, but also other researchers in other fields.
Using Education Research to Improve Social Studies Teaching
Knowledge from educational research can be used to develop more effective methods of teaching social studies. Brophy, Alleman and Knighton noted that social studies research emphasizes the importance of proper methods of teaching that promote comprehension, valuation and practical application of social studies (24). The current scenario is that most teachers rely on texts to teach social studies hence encouraging routine memorization and to some extent, comprehension. This approach has also been characterized by ineffective assessment methods such as fill-in-the blanks tests. In other words, teachers of social studies do no adopt techniques that encourage learners to develop higher order thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis, judgment and evaluation (Passe 189).
By pointing out the areas in which social studies teaching is failing such as decline of teaching social studies in some schools, reduction in time allocated for teaching social studies and lack of prioritization of social studies by schools, teachers and school districts, researchers raise awareness of the problems and challenges facing this field hence open doors for alternative solutions. Education researchers have started describing ways in which social studies instruction could be improved by developing research-based approaches to help learners and teachers focus on understanding the material being taught rather than merely memorizing it. Apart from developing strategies for effective social studies instruction, published research findings especially those that are based on natural rather than experimental settings are useful to teachers and education administrators who see the need to improve social studies by guiding them into choosing the best strategies based on evidence of efficacy. For instance, Brophy, Alleman and Knighton found that many schools have embraced some of the instructional approaches described in research including emphasis on diverse learning tasks such as group discussions, simulations, participation in projects and exposure to variety of resources to promote higher-order thinking as opposed to the typical rote learning and questioning methods (25).
Most of the studies that have received significant attention in the search for solutions to the challenges surrounding social studies instruction advocate for a move towards teaching of thoughtfulness, problem solving, evaluation and other higher level cognitive abilities especially in high schools. These skills are important in validating social studies since knowledge and comprehension levels are not enough for the learner to tackle real life problems effectively.
Barton argued that the basic importance of educational research is that it contributes to the knowledge pool for social studies (2). Research helps teachers and school administrators to understand students’ attitudes and their effect on learning, their worries and concerns as well as the circumstances leading to the development and sustenance of these attitudes. For instance, there is evidence supporting the notion that children in elementary schools are capable of using primary sources of information to create coherent historical accounts and this ability is enhanced by proper instruction. Another example is the finding that children who belong to conservative religious backgrounds are able to explain the torture of Jews by Germans during the Holocaust in terms of religious teachings as opposed to the common view that the persecution was inspired by racist ideologies. Although findings of individual studies have little influence considering the perverseness of the problem concerned, Barton argued that none of these studies is isolated; rather, they simply represent the ever-expanding research-based knowledge pool (3). In addition, research in social studies provides knowledge regarding teachers’ approaches to making decisions relevant to teaching and learning and the influence of cultural and social forces on the school curriculum. This is relevant since students are more likely to appreciate social studies when taught with reference to real life situation. For instance, the goals of teaching history in England must be different from the goals of teaching the same subject in another country such as Belgium. Such differentiation in goals is essential because although some cultural and social issues cut across an entire continent or region, most are unique and context specific.
Therefore, curriculum developers must be sensitive to such factors when making decisions to improve social studies instruction. Research work focusing on students and teachers not only provides empirical evidence of how educational processes affect an individual but also provide incentives to validate or discard longstanding assumptions and beliefs hence enable them to see new opportunities for improving instruction in social studies. From a general point of view, social studies research contributes equally to creation of knowledge as other studies in sociology or psychology hence should be considered valuable. Practically, research in social studies necessarily contributes to the understanding of human thinking and behavior. Perhaps the reason why people tend to disregard social studies research is its limited scope of application compared with other behavioral sciences such as psychology. However, for us teachers, we have particular regard for social studies research because by understanding how our decisions influence teaching and learning, we can know the areas to improve on. Knowledge of how students perceive social studies help us to modify the curriculum to meet emerging needs, adopt better assessments and design appropriate instructional methods. By enabling people to have a comprehensive view of the contribution of individual subjects to solving real life problems, research would also help them to have a more refined ideas on how to redesign the subject.
Areas of interest in social studies
I am particularly interested in teaching history, a core social studies subject in the K-12 system. Although subject specific challenges exist, history is not spared from the general challenges facing social studies instruction. They include competition for time with the more favored subjects such as math and reading, emphasis on rote learning and lack of commitment towards developing higher order cognitive abilities in these subjects. From observation, history teachers as well as other social studies teachers often have some of their lessons taken up by other activities when need arises such as guidance and counseling talks, HIV/AIDS education as well as drug education. The problem with colleagues in the history department is the failure to recognize the opportunities that the subject offers for learners to develop complex problem solving and higher level thinking skills. Since history consists of varieties of texts and narratives, students must be assisted to develop the ability to critically interpret information and gain insight rather than memorize dates and sequences of events.
Being relatively new in teaching, I found it quite difficult to break away from the traditional approaches of teaching history, which emphasize on recall, overreliance on textbooks and teacher-centered instructional approaches. The huge volume of facts presented in the history subject usually lower students morale and enthusiasm towards the subject especially when teaching methods and assessment techniques that emphasize memorization are used. The narratives also present a challenge to learners especially when they fail to relate past events such as the World War II with current happenings. I find it particularly wise to lay aside the texts at times and brain storm on the issues arising from the narratives through group discussions. Anyone who has taught history will concur with me that it is a demanding subject and any notion that other subjects deserve to be treated more seriously is deceiving. To understand history concepts, learners must be equipped with cognitive abilities, reading skills, experience-based knowledge and other competences most of which continue to develop as the student progresses. Learners require critical thinking skills to enable them to derive meaning from text and arrive at meaningful conclusion rather than settle for literal interpretation of narratives.
Although I have not yet discovered a specific instructional technique to overcome these challenges, I find it interesting to use a combination of techniques including group discussions, debates, videos, and interviews. For purposes of emphasis, technology is quite helpful as the use of computers motivates students and offers them such capabilities as access to important tools such as the Timeliner, which helps them to organize historical data, ability to retrieve information and construct knowledge, analysis and synthesis skills demonstrated through graphical representation of information and PowerPoint presentations. However, the main obstacle in the use of multiple teaching methods is lack of sufficient time to plan, complete learning tasks and learn additional skills associated with the use of certain resources such as computers.
Most of the challenges facing social studies instruction can be attributed to the perverse tendency to despise the subject, dismissing it as less important than other subject categories such as languages, science and mathematics. Such an attitude, and the resulting neglect of the subject in elementary schools just when the foundation for learning is being laid, has had detrimental impact on student attitudes and teacher’s morale towards the subject. Although it might seem as if nothing is being done about this problem, the growing body of research indicates that there is a reason to hope for alternative solutions. Since knowledge expands human capabilities to solve problems, the least that can be expected from the ongoing research on social studies is the acceleration of the process towards obtaining lasting solutions for the problem. However, there is need to support social studies research as well as help teachers to access these studies and put knew knowledge into practice. Particularly, pre–service teachers need thorough preparation to enable them to participate in action research, which holds great potential to transform teacher practice.
Barton, Keith C. Research Methods in Social Studies Education: Contemporary Issues and Perspectives. Greenwich, Conn: IAP – Information Age Pub, 2006. Print.
Brophy, E Jere, Alleman Janet, and Knighton, Barbara. Inside the social studies classroom. Taylor & Francis, 2008 Print.
Ersoy, A. Figen, and Tuba Çengelcı. “The Research Experience of Social Studies Pre-Service Teachers: A Qualitative Study.” Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice 8.2 (2008): 541-554.
McCall, Ava L., Janssen Brenda and Riederer Kathy. “More time for powerful social studies: when university social studies methods faculty and classroom teachers collaborate.” Social Studies 99.3(May/June 2008): 135-141.
Passe, Jeff. “New Challenges in Elementary Social Studies.” Social Studies 97.5 (2006): 189-192.
Ukpokodu, Nelly Omiunota. “The Challenges of Teaching a Social Studies Methods Course from a Transformative and Social Reconstructionist Framework.” Social Studies 94.2 (March/April 2003): 75-80.
What Are the Immunities Given To the UN (United Nations) and Why?
Table of Contents
UN Immunities Background3
UN Immunities: Theoretical Explanation8
History of UN Immunities10
UN Immunities Argumentation12
On 17, April, 1984, some demonstrators gathered outside Libyan People’s Bureau in London protesting against the practices and the regime of Muammar Qaddafi back in their home country Libya. The Officials of British government had previously been warned that if such a demonstration was permitted to take place, the government of Libya would not be responsible for the consequence of such a demonstration. Suddenly, as the demonstration continued, machine gunfire erupted with shots coming from the side of the embassy of Libya towards the demonstrating crowd. In the process, one police officer was killed, Constable Yvonne Fletcher even as some eleven more people became injured. The tragedy triggered the injuring of diplomatic relations between the two countries; however, no one was prosecuted for the killing and injuring of demonstrators.1
The incident outside the embassy of Libya demonstrates how diplomatic immunity protects culpable from local laws as well as from liability. Even as significant number of scholars and other stakeholders deem international diplomatic immunity as undesirable and unnecessary, sometimes, the immunity is necessary for the diplomats to be able to realize their official duties within their regions of jurisdiction. United Nations immunity endeavors at facilitating success in fulfilling the mandate and the responsibilities assigned to them within diversified nations. The immunities go as far as protecting the property, activities and staff of United Nations during their official duties.
UN Immunities Background
The UN immunities are provided within the “UNITED NATIONS (PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES) ACT, 1947 ACT NO. 46 OF 1947”2 This Act is meant to give effect to Convention on the Immunities and Privileges of the UN. Whereas the Act is expedient to giving the Convention on Immunities and Privileges of the UN, it also enables similar enjoyment of the immunities and privileges by some other international organizations as well as their officials and representatives. Thus the Act is enacted as:
The Act is dabbed “United Nations (Privileges and Immunities) Act, 1947.”3
Conferment on the UN and its officers and representatives of certain immunities and privileges
Without contravention of
any other law, this Act’s provisions set out within the schedule
of the Conven
tion’s privileges and Immunities
through the adoption of the UN General
on February 13, 1946 to have force of India law.
The Central Government
might, by notification within the Official Gazette, from time to time, do some
changes on the Schedule
but in conformity with
, accordingly made and adopted on
the provisions of the Conven
tion set within the Act.
Power to confer
on the other international organizations as well as their
officers and representatives
Where in the presence of any other international convention or agreement or even any other instruments, it is imperative to provide any international organization together with its officers and representatives immunities and privileges within India similar to the ones contained within the provisions set out within the Schedule, Central Government by notification, may within the Official Gazette declare the provisions that are set in the Schedule shall be subject to some modifications as it might be deemed expedient or necessary giving effect to the agreement, convention or any other instrument, apply the mutatis mutandis to the specified mutandis International organization that is specified within the notifications as well as its officers and representatives and thereupon those provisions will apply accordingly together notwithstanding anything to contrary contained within some other law, will in such application entail the force within the law.4
Power of making rules
The Central Government may
through notification within the Official Gazette
formulate rules for
the purposes of the Act.
rule that is made under the Act
will be laid
er it has been made before every
House of parliament
for a period of 30 days that may be comprised of
of the session
after the aforesaid successful
both Houses consent in making
within the rules of both Houses agreeing
that the rules ought
to be made
and have effect thereafter,
only in such modified features
or have no effect
as case might be:
Thus however, that any such
with no previously done validity’s prejudice under the rule.
Section one posits that United Nations shall be in possession of juridical personality, thus shall have the capacity of contracting, acquiring and disposing property, and institute legal proceedings.
Section two posits that UN together with its assets and properties irrespective of where they are located shall enjoy tax immunity and waived from other legal processes. Section three posits that UN premises shall be inviolable: Immune from activities such as requisition, expropriation, and confiscation. Section four states that all UN documents will be inviolable wherever located. Section five allows UN to hold funds, gold and currency with no financial controls. It shall also transfer the same with no financial regulations and controls. Section six permits UN to pay anybody without in any nation without detriment interests to UN. Section 7 of Article II exempts UN assets and incomes from direct taxing, custom duties and shall be exempted from restrictions and prohibitions on export and import. The final section of the Article also exempts UN from taxes. 6
This article has two sections: Section 9 and 10:
Section nine allows UN to enjoy the territory of every member state for the official communication treatments, which should not be lesser than favorable that is accorded by the government to the other diplomats. Section ten gives UN a right to use codes, dispatch and receive correspondences via courier, which have immunity privileges.
This article has sections 11 to sixteen:
Section eleven protect UN members and representatives from arrest, seizure or detention during their stay in member countries, documents inviolability, right to use and receive correspondences, exemption from immigration restrictions, respect of exchange currency, respect of personal baggage, and exception from custom duties. Section 12 provides UN conveys freedom of speech, irrespective of the nation they are in, while section 13 protects the UN representatives from paying any form of tax. Section fourteen states conditions under which the immunities might be waved from a representative of UN. Section fifteen explores the people who are covered by the UN immunities.7
This article covers section 17 to 21 and it covers the officials of United Nations.
Section seventeen states that “The Secretary-General will specify the categories of officials to which the provisions of this article and article VII shall apply. He shall submit these categories to the General Assembly”.8 Section eighteen shield UN officials from legal process for spoken or written words, taxation, national service obligation, immigration restrictions, and shall be provided with repatriation facilities during crisis and have right to import their effects and furniture to country of post duty free. Section nineteen requires UN officials to be provided with diplomatic envoys while section twenty gives Secretary General Duty waive. Section twenty-one is on facilitating justice.
The article has two sections: Section 21 and 22.
Section twenty-two is on UN staff immunities during mission from personal arrest, legal process of a country, papers and documents inviolability, revealing purpose of communication, and provides them with respect for personal belongs. Section 23 explains the coverage of the immunities.
The article covers section 24 to 28 and it covers “United Nations Laissez-Passe”. Section twenty-four covers on issuance with laissez-passer, section twenty-five is on visa application and UN officials benefits in such, section twenty-six is further explanation of section twenty-five, while section twenty-seven provides the privileges of travelling Secretary-General, Directors and Assistant Secretaries-General and final section is on expansion of Article 63 of UN Charter.9
This article has explored on dispute settlement. It has two sections: 29 and 30
Section 29 explores the role of UN in settling disputes arising from contacts and among UN officials while section 30 is on the differences that arise in interpretation and application of the contemporary convention.
UN Immunities: Theoretical Explanation
Even though state and international organizations’ immunity appear to have similar operation platform, the two are in fact very different from each other as they are differentiable with the respect to fundamental grounds upon which they are established as well as in relation to the extent to which their respective immunities are recognized. There are a number of theories that can help understand the differences as well as the United Nations’ immunities. Among them is the legal theory: All sovereign states are perceived as having equal international legal rights and capacity and thus are bound by international law and are generally accepted as the principle laws. According to Peter Neumann, neither the substantial increase in sovereign states’ numbers over the last half of twentieth century nor advent and recognition of some microstates that have less than 100,000 inhabitants caused changes of these assumptions.
Neumann has further observed that as far as the international organizations are concerned, the numbers have increased dramatically; at a higher rate than states, thus such organizations presently outnumber the states. Variety of international organizations such as UN are quite wide; They have membership ranging from the sub-regional, regional to global arena and their mandate as well as legal capacities vary from sector-specific to policy-oriented or even technical or/and comprehensive to limited. While the differences are related to respective official activities, even specific organization has immunity grounds appearing different based on respective capabilities and legal capacities.10
The functional necessity theory also endeavors at explaining the need and justification for having immunity established for some international organizations such as United Nations. Under the functional necessity theory, immunities and privileges ought to be limited to the ones that are necessary in carrying out their official duties and facilitating the fulfillment of their roles. Without these immunities, some diplomats would be hindered from doing what they are employed to do, roles which are sometimes contravention to the laws of the nation of operation. For example, the case that was tabled in the introductory section of this paper shows how the Libyan embassy protected its staff working within the embassy from demonstrators by even shooting at the demonstrators and killing one person. In UK, such demonstrations are permissible, but simply because the government of Libya does not seem to agree with that, the embassy, which is immune under the United States Convention, takes an action that it deemed right, whether contravening UK’s local laws or not, and thus no body was prosecuted.11
History of UN Immunities
When the UN was set up, it was deemed imperative to have it enjoy a legal person’s status under the member states’ domestic law. Such a legal personality stands as a perquisite for the international organizations in effectively managing numerous practical needs such as contracts procurement, acquisition of property as well as capacity to pursue the private rights in the presence of the national court. The United Nation’s Charter only responded to the needs via provision of Article 104 which states “The Organization shall enjoy in the territory of each of its Members such legal capacity as may be necessary for the exercise of its functions and the fulfillment of its purposes.”12
A similar operational concept was adopted in relation to the question of immunities and privileges that United Nations ought to enjoy. Article 105, in the first paragraph posits that “the Organization shall enjoy in the territory of each of its Members such privileges and immunities as are necessary for the fulfillment of its purposes.”13 The functional personality principle and the functional immunity were therefore firmly established within the UN founding document. However, the abstracts rules demanded for some more detailed explanations so as to become workable, thus helping the UN officials and the national judges in determining whether the UN should be perceived capable of entering within immunity from particular lawsuit that is directed against it or a specified legal transaction. In a similar manner, it was not clear to what extent was United Nations officials and the representatives of the Member States to the UN should enjoy the immunities and the privileges of the UN. In the second paragraph of Article 105, the drafters of United Nation’s Charter yet again opted for an operation or functional concept that stated “Representatives of the Members of the United Nations and officials of the Organization shall similarly enjoy such privileges and immunities as are necessary for the independent exercise of their functions in connexion with the Organization.”14
At the UN Charter’s adoption time, there were just but a few legal frameworks which could provide a platform for achievement of what was intended by the Charter. The June 28, 1919 Covenant of the League Nations merely provided for the diplomatic immunities and privileges of the employees as well as the inviolability of the League’s properties. Only a subsequent agreement, modus Vivendi, with the host states of the League stipulated that this League was in possession of international personality as well as capacity, and thus could not be sued in the presence of the Swiss Courts without the League’s consent. Thus the immunities and the privileges of international organization were by largely uncharted territory.15
It was against such a background that the Convention of Immunities and Privileges that the General Convention of the United Nations was negotiated and consequently adopted, which was an immediate aftermath of setting-up the UN. As it has been clearly stipulated in the third paragraph of United Nations Charter Article 105, the privileges and immunities Article was adopted in the first session of the General Assembly in February 1946 on the basis of United Nations Preparatory Commission draft. This Charter entered into force during the same year, September 13, 1946 and it was registered with Secretary General on December 14 of the same year. This was one of the first treaties published in the UN Treaty Series.16
UN Immunities Argumentation
In the first article, section 1 of ACT No. 46 OF 1947, the functional personality of UN is defined as juridical personality that encompasses some specified capacity, which includes to contract and to acquire as well as dispose movable and immovable properties, and also to institute legal proceedings. The provision calcified that UN should be in a position to enter day-to-day operations governed by the private law. The core provisions of the Convention in regard to jurisdiction’s immunity is found within the second section of the second article, which follows as: “The United Nations, its property and assets wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall enjoy immunity from every form of legal process except insofar as in any particular case it has expressly waived its immunity. It is, however, understood that no waiver of immunity shall extend to any measure of execution.”17 The resultant absolute immunity from UN suit has been largely respected within most nation states, even though some national courts have endeavored to limit the immunity scope of the organization along the traditionally envisaged functional immunity. During application, this has sometimes led to restrictive State immunity principle, thus denying commercial activities immunity.
The United Nation’s de facto absolute immunity is mitigated by the very fact that Article VII, Section 29 of the Convention requires that the UN make provisions for appropriate modes of settlement of: (a) disputes arising out of contracts or other disputes of a private law character to which the United Nations is a party.”18 The obligations of the General Convention to provide settlement for disputes in case of immunity of organization from some legal processes could be regarded as acknowledgement of the UN rights to access courts as contained within all the fundamental instruments of human rights. The private contracts that are entered by the UN regularly encompass clauses of arbitrations. In the cases of tort claims like the ones that result from the harm that is suffered because of vehicular accidents or peacekeeping operations, the UN normally consents on similar dispute resolution forms. Staff disputes with UN are settled via an internal mechanism functional within UN Administrative Tribunal that was established back in 1949 in the General Assembly resolution.
In addition to being immune from suit, General Convention provides United Nation’s property and premises inviolability, which basically implies that they are immune from any requisition, search, confiscation, requisition or some other forms of administrative, executive, legislative or judicial interference. This very inviolability applies to the UN archives. The most significant privileges that are conferred to United Nations by General Convention are fiscal. The most significant are the seventh section of the second article that exempts UN from every direct as well as indirect tax and even from quotas on good that UN officials use together with all customs. The Convention requires that in case of some important purchase for any official use, the country concerned shall make the suitable administrative arrangements to facilitate tax reimbursement.19
The General Convention contains immunities and privileges for 3 categories of people crucial for work within the organization: (a) Member sates representatives, (b) Officials of United Nations (c) Experts on United Nations’ missions. While the representatives of the member states enjoy some modified diplomatic immunities and privileges, the UN officials, who include staff employed on permanent basis, they enjoy functional immunity that was defined within article V on eighteenth section, as immunity from the legal process respecting the words written or spoken and every act that is performed by these persons on official capacity. The fifth article on the section 20 emphasizes that “Privileges and immunities are granted to officials in the interests of the United Nations and not for the personal benefit of the individuals themselves”20 and that the UN’s Secretary General has a responsibility of waiving United Nations’ staff where the course of justice can be waived with no prejudice to UN officials immunity. Moreover, the jurisdictional immunity of the UN officials are not taxed to the salary that they receive from UN, and they also enjoy several travel, fiscal and residential immunities and privileges. It is only the Secretary General and assistance secretary general who enjoy full diplomatic immunities.
The General Convention has played a significant role over the years in facilitating the development of subsequent treaties that deal with the immunities and privileges of the international organizations. In November 21, 1947, General Assembly approved the privileges and immunities Convention of the Specialized Agencies. The Convention became a force in December 19848 and is applied to international organizations related to United Nations that have entered into a special agreement with the UN pursuant of Article 63 of the UN Charter such as World Health Organization, International Civil Aviation Organization, Food and Agricultural Organization, United Nations Education, International Monitory Funds, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and Scientific and Cultural Organization among many other international organizations. Some examples of similar immunities and privileges are the Council of Europe General Agreement Immunities and Privileges of 1949 and the Privileges and the 1949 Agreement of the Organization of American States. Numerous seat agreements and headquarters have been under the influence of the General Convention.
United Nations immunities are the protections and the shield that have been established through the 19467Act 46 on Privileges and Immunities of UN. The Act has five articles and thirty sections. Article I is on juridical personality, Article II on Property, Assets and Funds, Article III on facilities in relation to communication, Article IV explores on the members’ representatives, Article V is on UN officials immunities, Article VI on experts on United Nations missions, Article VII is on United Nations Laissez-Passer and the final Article is on disputes settlement. All these articles are clearly stipulated in the Act and practiced within all the member states across the globe.
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