Friday, April 23, 2010

Never Trust a Marsupial

It’s finally over! The past week, I’ve been studying like a dog. Not that dogs probably study a lot, but I like the way it sounds. A lot better than saying that I’ve studied like a student, or like a marsupial. Students are notoriously bad at studying, and very good at procrastinating. I’m good at procrastinating too, I consider it one of my special talents, but this time I actually did study. Marsupials could probably be good at studying, but they seem a little unreliable. Hence, I’ve been studying like a dog. So much, in fact, that I haven’t even prepared a suitably good Friday post for you, so instead of something funny and witty, you’re getting these incoherent ramblings about studying and exams. You should go back to where you came from; this isn’t going to get any better.

Can you see the intelligence in his eyes? He’s done a lot of studying in his time. Just don’t trust him with a secret.

Today actually started on a bad note with a bunch of snow on the ground, just when I thought spring had finally decided to grace us with her presence. What a bitch. After that, today didn’t get much better when I realized I had only dreamt that the exam was over and I was actually going to have to go to school and take it all over again. Then I got to school and saw the questions and today got just a little bit worse.

For your pleasure, I’ve written down the questions:

1. Discuss the Charter based protection of human rights within the United Nations.
2. Civil and political rights compared with economic, social and cultural rights: Similarities and differences in the nature of these rights as well as their international supervision.
3. The legal significance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
4. Provide a schematic comparison of the African regional human rights system with the Inter-American and European human rights systems with focus on substantive norms and monitoring mechanisms.
5. Discuss the issue of sexuality and children in the light of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

Are you asleep yet? If not, did you know the answer to any of those? If you did, where the hell where you earlier today?? I spent almost four hours scratching my head, making shit up, swearing to myself and writing until my wrist bled. Here’s to hoping I passed.

After that, today actually did get a lot better. After a minute of after-exam related anxiety, I realized that there was nothing more I could do about the exam, and I was finally able to relax my poor overworked brain. M left for yet another karate camp and will be gone all weekend, and everyone knows what that means. More popcorn for me! I had no idea a bowl of popcorn could last this long. Oh, the things you learn when the boys are gone.

Then mom called and asked me how the exam went, and told me to relax and have a glass of wine. And I think I’m going to do just that. Because when mom tells you to do something, you do it. I'll be back tomorrow with something interesting and witty. Or not. I'm a lot like a marsupial in that way. *


  1. Wow Ziva, I wish you would have told me about this exam earlier. I could have helped you out! I was just telling my man this morning that the fact that the political and moral importance of the Declaration from the very beginning outweighed its concrete legal significance invited intriguing scholarly reflections on the symbolic dimension of the document. Despite early sceptical voices about its legal and moral value, international lawyers welcomed and reaffirmed its significance during the 1960s and 1970s. While attention turned to human rights treaty law in the 1980s, the Declaration embodied the hope for a new era of human rights protection after the end of the Cold War. Throughout the 1990s a new scholarly defence of the universal character of the Declaration could be observed, later being accompanied by new insecurity and soul-searching in the face of institutional limitations. In general, the Declaration became synonymous with the turn to individual rights in international law, and whenever there was a sense of crisis because of institutional blockades or challenged foundations, the Declaration received new and increased attention. It symbolized unity in an increasingly fragmented and contentious institutional and political environment for international human rights protection. The story of its scholarly reception is therefore also a story of the failed and perhaps unattainable attempt fully to institutionalize international human rights in a cosmopolitan legal order.

    BTW, cute koala.

  2. Yeah, what Nicky said.


    I'm sure you did well.

    My cat is complaining that his rights have been violated. His dry morsels were too dry tonight. He prefers grilled marsupials. I could not find our local possum.


  3. All those exam questions made my head hurt. Ha! RF. My dogs like cat poop and cats in general, anything furry that runs. Although, they also like chasing deer and venison. I won't go into the gory details. Dogs have larger, sharper teeth than cats and are always barking up the wrong tree at a cat that is out on a limb.

  4. Ziva, Nicky is scaring me a little. Or a lot. She does sound very intelligent, though. I wonder if she wears nerdy glasses under those nerdy sunglasses?

    Well, I must say that you and I are having very similar weeks. It also snowed here on Friday, for example, after about 1.5 weeks of beautiful spring weather. Shocking.

    And I've been struggling to finish my schoolwork, just like you. I have a huge project due in two weeks, and it's killing me with boredom. I'd really rather just hang out with my pet koala, eating eucalyptus leaves and just kind of looking around at the sky and other koalas very, very slowly. Curiously, I spent about 10 hours this week learning all about the national and international protections for the rights of participants in scientific research, which seems similar to what you were studying. I no longer care about human rights as a result, and hope everybody just dies and leaves me alone with my koala.

    So I feel for you. Enjoy your wine. I'll be having whine myself.

  5. Wow, Nicky, I'm very impressed! You only forgot to mention that even though the Declaration itself is not a formal legally binding document, as e.g. international treaties, the Declaration has in fact received a certain legal significance. This is due to the fact that many of the rights and freedoms expressed therein have with time reached the level of customary international law, which, as I'm sure you're aware of, is in fact legally binding in much the same way as other primary sources of international law. The Declaration is therefore to a certain extent applicable, not only in international human rights courts, but also in other monitoring bodies and even national courts and other judicial organs. That said, can I come live with you and your man?

    ReformingGeek - We can't have cat's rights being violated - take my koala, I don't need it. Don't grill it too long, though, it gets dry really fast. Must be the eucalyptus.

    Lauren - Those questions made my head hurt too. Your dogs seem really nice. Hardly dangerous at all. Maybe they'd like to play with cat.

    MikeWJ - Nicky's scaring you? She's making me kinda hot. I'll be writing my master's thesis on participatory rights in environmental matters, so this summer I'll be spending a lot more than 10 hours learning about that. Yuck. Right now I'm just going to focus on the 20-page essay I have to write for my Human Rights and Terrorism class. Maybe we should both just travel to Australia and become one with the koalas and lead slow, happy lives.

  6. Well of course I left that part out! I didn't forget about it, it's just that the conversation then naturally turned to the 3 regional systems for the protection of human rights in the world today, as you know, the African, Inter-American and European systems. I was trying to make my man see that regional systems for the protection of human rights have become an important part of the international system for the protection of human rights, and a rich source of jurisprudence on human rights issues, also on the domestic level. For some reason, he just doesn't get that. I explained the schematic exposition, attempting to make it possible for an easy comparison of the most salient features of the 3 systems in existence today. I even drew it out for him with Crayola markers. I must admit, the rainbow colours did help him follow along. I think he was really motivated by the fact that you want to move in with us. And that I make you hot.

    You can go take a cold shower now. I'll wait.

    Actually MikeWJ, under my condom dress and red sunglasses, I'm a cat with a huge hairy spider on my back and nerdy glasses....haaackk...sorry, just coughed up a squirrel.

  7. Damn it Ziva, I knew you were beautiful, did you have to go and be brilliant too?

  8. Nicky, you have to stop doing this to me, I get all hot and flustered and start having weird thoughts about purple body condoms.

    But you are absolutely right, regional human rights systems do represent a very important source of jurisprudence regarding human rights issues, and perhaps the European Court of Human Rights most of all. The Inter-American system, although in theory at the same level as the European, has yet failed to really reach as many people as the European system with its highly efficient system. (Although, the Europen Court of Human Rights has almost been brought to its knees with the huge amount of cases brought before it every year.) Now, the African system, that's the interesting one. Still in its infancy, the African system has yet to provide an effective monitoring mechanism for the Banjul Charter and other African human rights instruments, but perhaps after it merges with the African Court of Justice it will see an increase in the amount of cases brought before it. Also, I find the salient features of the African system fascinating. Justiciable socio-economic rights, individual duties, peoples' rights, claw-back clauses... Amid some negative features, there's some truly innovative thinking that the European system never knew, what with being so influenced by the UN treaty-based protection of human rights and all.

    I need another shower now. So, when can I come live with you?

  9. Linda - I'm sorry to tell you this, but whoever told you I was beautiful lied through their teeth. I actually have three arms, and viewed in a certain light, my skin is green. But I actually did manage to learn English, so I can't be completely stupid, right?

  10. It's not surprising to any of us who follow the international human rights debate closely that the African system has yet to provide an effective monitoring mechanism for the Banjul Charter and other African human rights instruments. And you're correct that the situation may improve after it merges with the African Court of Justice. Of particular interest to the African continent and its observers, of course, are the many cultural issues surrounding the longstanding practice of circumcision, including flaying circumcisions and other various forms of genital mutilation, which affect both men and women in many tribal cultures in Africa, particularly in the northwest region of the continent. Amongst other human rights, the UDHR enunciates certain fundamental human rights of every human being which are which are of special interest in the study of the ethics of circumcision. They are the rights to security of person, to freedom from torture and other cruel and unusual treatment, and to privacy. Motherhood and childhood have a right to special protection. These rights are clearly enunciated in sections 2,3,5,18,25 and 29 of the UDHR, but are still widely overlooked or ignored by the indigenous peoples of the area.

    Anyway, I'm very impressed by your passion for this topic, and sincerely hope all of you will join me in supporting the UDHR, and in taking a hot shower together, perhaps with a bottle or two of baby oil. Purple and green are complementary colors, and go well with pale white, which is the color of my boney frame, as you can see.

    Golly, I must say that human rights' studies get me so hot and bothered it's almost a little embarrassing. Actually, little isn't the right word. It's HUGELY embarrassing. Really huge.

  11. MikeWJ - You raise an interesting question, Mike. I do, however, believe that it would be better to view such extreme treatment in light of a binding treaty, such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights or the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Curiously, the right to privacy is not explicitly recognized in the Charter, but the other rights are indeed recognized and are enforceable even though the complaints mechanism isn't in frequent use yet.

    Now, I think between Nicky, you and myself, we might have scared away all my other readers who prefer to come here to relax their minds, so we better move this conversation to the showers. Huge, you say?

  12. Ziva, I had a crush on you before, but knowing now that you have 3 arms and greenish skin, well, if I may be so bold...I think I love you. You can move in whenever you like.

    Oh Mike, I'd tell you to get a grip on yourself but, well, you know...

  13. I'm sure people are mighty scared at this point, but are also returning every few minutes to see how far this heavily academic but oddly erotic tale of human rights is going to go.

    I think that what I've really learned from all of this is that the fallout from nuclear accidents like Chernobyl isn't necessarily a predictor of bad things. Nor is the lack of radioactive fallout a predictor of good things. You, for example, grew up with the fallout and have three arms and greenish skin and yet are extremely attractive, especially to Nicky, partly because you're so brainy, partly because she stylish enough to successfully pull off the purple condom look, which is very rare. On the other hand, I have no skin at all, only two arms (well, sort of) and was never exposed to radiation, but despite being ultra-brainy I'm being told to get a grip on myself, if possible (not possible). So in our statistical sampling, which is admittedly small, radiation's effects are surprisingly neutral.

    Anyway, this discussion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is absolutely fascinating to me, partly because of its legal ramifications, of course, but also because the budding relationship between you and Nicky has put a very real and human face on the topic with a salacious girl-girl twist that most academic discussions sadly lack, except when I drift off in class and my imagination takes over, forcing me to remain seated long after everybody else has left the classroom. Personally, I believe more people would take greater interest in their studies if they were all more like this.

    I'm off to the showers now. Again. For the third time today.

  14. Nicky, I'll start packing right now!

    Mike, I think you might be on to something here. If there were more girl-on-girl action in adacemic discourse, more people would definitely show a genuine interest in the topics at hand. No pun intended.

  15. I feel dirty. It's not an entirely unpleasant feeling.

  16. Ziva, green, three armed ladies rock my world. Yeah, it's like that.



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