Passport

Russia, China, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan introduce proposed Internet 'code of conduct'

This unlikely quartet of countries has introduced a resolution to the U.N. General assembly, calling for the establishment of "international norms and rules guiding the behaviour of States in the information space."

Nate Anderson of Ars Technica has the details:

The code demands that countries show respect for “human rights and fundamental freedoms” and pledges support for “combating criminal and terrorist activities that use information and communications technologies, including networks.” States would also pledge not to use Internet tools to “carry out hostile activities or acts of aggression.”

But the document commits its signatories to “curbing the dissemination of information that incites terrorism, secession-ism, or extremism, or that undermines other countries' political, economic, and social stability, as well as their spiritual and cultural environment.”

Governments will also have the responsibility to “lead all elements of society, including its information and communication partnerships with the private sector, to understand the roles and responsibilities with regard to information security.”

This is all quite general, but it's not hard to see how curbing information that undermines “social stability” is going to lead to problems; indeed, the generality of the wording is part of the problem. Would other signatory countries be asked by China to start cracking down on pro-Falun Gong posts, for instance?

Uzbekistan and China are both labelled "internet enemies" by Reporters Without Borders. Russia is designated as "under surveillance". Eurasianet's David Trilling sighs:

If nothing else, this initiative offers at least one reason for hope: Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, who often look on the verge of war, have actually agreed on something. 

Passport

Calderon: Drug consumer countries 'morally obliged' to cut demand; consider 'market alternatives'

It turns out Mexican President Felipe Calderon's statements on U.S. television hinting at drug legalization this week were a preview of his UNGA speech, in which he suggested "market alternatives" to drug interdiction and singled out the United States specifically. A full text isn't posted yet so these quotes are all from my rushed transcription.

After discussing the Arab Spring, Calderon pivoted, saying, "We have to be aware that organized crime today is killing more people and more young people than all the dictatorial regimes in the world."  

He continued: 

"More than ever, consumer countries, where drugs are consumed, must take effective action to radically cut demand. I will be told that this is not possible. That the demand for drugs continues to rise, as indeed is the case here in the United States, where nearly 30 percent of young people consume drugs. What is the solution?[...]

Consumer countries are morally obliged to reduce the vast economic demand. If you can’t cut it, cut the economic profist. You have to find how to staunch this this demand. Seek out all possible options, including market alternatives, so that drugs trafficking ceases to be a source of violence in Latin America and the Carribean and several African countries.

As if noted before, Latin American heads of state including Calderon's predecessor Vicente Fox tend to become born-again legalizers after they leave office, perhaps since they're no longer feeling the pressure from up north. 

A sitting, center-right Mexican president making a speech in New York calling for "market alternatives" to combating drug trafficking would seem to be a pretty major development.