Cornerstone Global Associates


Conflict Orphans in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Posted by: simona on: February 3, 2013

Simona Ross, Cornerstone

“When there is not love for a child to remember,

Then there is nothing for the child to remember except the hate.”

— Roger Dean Kiser

Violent conflicts have devastating consequences for the entire population.  A change in the characteristics of conflict has made civilians more susceptible to the devastation from conflict. Today, a majority of combat related deaths are civilians. Armed conflict mostly affects women and children; orphans are the most vulnerable.  Young children lack the capability to take care of themselves and depend on external support for survival. A child that lost its parents to conflict and is not enjoying the care of a third person is deemed to die. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), suffering from civil conflict for several decades, has produced multiple generations of orphans. To achieve long lasting and sustainable peace, orphans have to receive the education that enables them to integrate themselves into society, ensures employment, and promotes reconciliation.  The future is going to ask for a next generation of environmental aware leaders that have the skills to address climate change and natural resource management.  Hence, orphans in the DRC have to benefit from a comprehensive approach, combining the provision of basic needs, education, environmental skills development, and peace building. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by: simona on: January 23, 2013

Simona Ross, Cornerstone

"There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed."

~Mohandas K. Gandhi

Sustainability can be defined as a long-term, cyclic process of a value adding system independent of additional external input, aiming to preserve and conserve our ecosystem, while pursuing intra- and intergenerational parity. The ecosystem includes all aspects of our natural environment and human society, such as cultural heritage, social arrangements, norms and beliefs, resources, biological organisms, security, and psychological and physical health. The definition of sustainability has two key concepts: (1) the cyclic process of a value adding system, and (2) sustainability is long-term. An essential component of a value adding system, a mechanism that drives the development of human society, is a cyclic process that ensures constant progress. Sustainability from a holistic perspective has to include social sustainability, political sustainability, economical sustainability, cultural sustainability, and environmental sustainability. To ensure the well-being of present and future generations, development has to be attainable, equitable, viable, and bearable for all elements of the ecosystem. Subsequently, the ultimate goal of sustainability is to achieve a long-lasting increase of the quality of life for all members of the society, while preserving the ecosystem and granting evolving prosperity for the present and future generations. If applied properly, sustainable living ideally faces no limitations, as it ought to be based solely on renewable energy, without the addition of non-renewable elements. However, this would require all of us to recognize the vulnerability of our planet and to accept its finite amount of resources. Thus, the primary objective should not be limited to the preservation of our nature, social arrangements, and traditional cultures and knowledge, but rather include the aim to contribute to the well-being of our society. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by: simona on: January 12, 2013

Simona Ross, Cornerstone

Brazil’s economy highlights the interconnectedness of the world we live in today.  In the late 1990s, globalization was already so far advanced that events on the other side of the world have wide-ranging implications for a single country.  In the case of Brazil, it was the Asian financial crisis of 1998 that had a trickle down effect and brought the Brazilian economy into turmoil.  On the other hand, Brazil also benefited from a more globalized world. The creation of the regional trade agreement ‘Mercosur’ granted Brazil greater access to its numerous neighboring countries, and helped the country achieve vast regional economic growth.  Brazil gained from its strong trade ties to the United States, Canada, Europe, Russia and China. Still, Brazil faced trade barriers that were targeting goods where the country had a comparative advantage.  Given that Brazil’s main export has been coffee, it was strongly dependent on global coffee prices and had a limited capacity to cope with an economic shock that was induced by a sudden fall in coffee prices.  One of Brazil biggest obstacles was its gigantic amount of foreign debt, which absorbed a great share of Brazils income.  Brazil’s objective to repay its debts led to policies that were primarily focused on an increase in GDP and disregarded the needs of its large, poor population, and failed to protect the environment and indigenous traditions.  The country’s political environment further hindered economic growth.  Resistance from Congress made necessary reform difficult and resulted in fruitless economic policies and a lacking social security system.  As an outcome of this, Brazil is marked with bad fiscal health.

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Obama’s secret wars

Posted by: simona on: July 3, 2012

Simona Maria Ross, Cornerstone

This article is about Obama’s foreign policy strategies and his struggle to keep up in this fast moving and diffuse world. A world where criticism seems to be louder than support, but idealism never vanishes.

The Obama Doctrine announces that the administration is willing to use unilateral force in case of an immediate threat. Conversely, when the threat is minimal and the decision to act is based on a moral ground, as it was the case in Libya, the Obama administration is reluctant to step in. NATO leaders were surprised because they expected the United States to take a lead in addressing this conflict. After the resolution of the Libyan conflict, the international community seems to be frozen in its actions towards Syria. So far the Obama administration resisted in over-selling the Doctrine. Nonetheless, Obama will now have to protect his Doctrine and justify why he does not intervene in Syria. Crucial foreign policy decisions have to be reestablished in every single case. For instance, the decision to intervene in Libya was based on two historic events. First, the horrifying Genocide in Rwanda. In Rwanda, disengagement had devastating consequences and resulted in almost one million deaths in less than 300 days. Second, the military intervention in Afghanistan, where everyone wished the United States never chose to put their boots on the ground. Read the rest of this entry »

Simona Maria Ross, Cornerstone

In 2009 at the G8 Summit in L’Aquila, leaders from all around the world agreed to “act with the scale and urgency needed to achieve sustainable global food security.”1 As a result of continuing underinvestment in agriculture, the devastating impact of the financial crisis and unevenly favoring of world trade regulations, millions of people suffer severe poverty and hunger. Thus global leaders called for attention and increased investment for food security and agriculture. Read the rest of this entry »

(Photograph by the author)

Leonie Timmers, Cornerstone

The judgment has been praised by inter alia the European Union and several NGO-s for representing “a milestone for international criminal justice”, since it “demonstrates that perpetrators cannot act with impunity”.1 Certainly, the importance of this judgment and the work of the ICC should not be underestimated; however, to argue that this one judgment “demonstrates that perpetrators cannot act with impunity” is not realistic for several reasons. Read the rest of this entry »

What does the Lubanga conviction mean to the world?!

Posted by: simona on: March 20, 2012

Simona Maria Ross, Cornerstone

On March 4, the fight for children's rights celebrated a small victory. The conviction of Thomas Lubanga at the International Criminal Court (ICC), has not only been the first successful trial at the ICC, it is also the first time that someone accused of recruiting child soldiers has been convicted. Read the rest of this entry »

Simona Maria Ross, Cornerstone

Senator Mark Warner belongs to the Democratic Party and acts as the current Senator of Virginia. However, people also like to speak of him as a leader of the ‘Gang of Six’. The ‘Gang of Six’ is a bipartisan group, consisting of three democrats and three republicans. Together they assembled to solve the US budget crisis and drafted a plan, which the President agreed on without hesitation. Ironically, as Mr. Warner jokes tiredly, ” That was the worst outcome we could have had, because whenever the President is in favor of something, the rest of the House [of Representations] will be against it.” Read the rest of this entry »

Somalia’s future and what we have to know about its past

Posted by: simona on: February 27, 2012

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(Photograph by the author)

Simona Maria Ross, Cornerstone

As leaders from around the world met at the London Conference on Somalia, it becomes imperative to understand the root causes of the conflict. Over 40 governments and multilateral organizations came together with the aim of delivering a new international approach to Somalia. The main issues have been security, political process, counter-terrorism, piracy and the current humanitarian situation.i Furthermore, we have to ask whether there will be any progress achieved by June, when the next conference on Somalia will be held in Istanbul. Read the rest of this entry »

Simeon Stylites (must fall off his column)

Posted by: msomos on: February 23, 2012

(Photograph by the author)

Mark Somos, Cornerstone

The deaths in Syria, and my friends there, make me want to go. But if you're committed to one place, why not to others? And if to all, what can you do? "Thus conscience does make cowards of us all," and you become a coward or much worse: a self-righteous coward, with an argument.

Nearly fourteen years ago I spent months in Syria, visiting castles and world-class understudied archaeological sites for my BA. Trips to Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, France and Great Britain over six years rounded out a comparative survey of ruins and customs. In Syria I made many friends, and have kept in touch with many over the years. The stories I can tell.  Read the rest of this entry »