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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 19th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

OCTOBER 19, 2007, A report by the International Action Network on Small Arms, Saferworld, and Oxfam International, states that Armed Conflict Costs Africa $18 Billion Each Year.
Between 1990 and 2005, 23 African nations have been involved in armed conflict. The list includes Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan and Uganda.
During the past 15 years, almost $300 billion has been squandered on armed conflict in Africa, capital that could have been used to lift the continent out of extreme poverty and to prevent continued disease epidemics, a new study revealed.

The estimated $18 billion per year “is a massive waste of resources—roughly equivalent to total international aid to Africa from major donors during the same period. It is also roughly equivalent to the additional funds estimated to be necessary to address the problems of HIV and AIDS in Africa, or to address Africa’s needs in education, clean water and sanitation,” the report stated.

In effect, 38% of the world’s armed confrontations take place on African soil.

In addition, the report highlighted that “the average annual loss of 15 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) represents an enormous economic burden—this is one and a half times average African spending on health and education combined.” “This is money Africa can ill afford to lose,” Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf stated in the introduction of the report.

“The sums are appalling; the price that Africa is paying could cover the cost of solving the HIV and AIDS crisis in Africa, or provide education, water and prevention and treatment for TB and malaria. Literally thousands of hospitals, schools, and roads could have been built, positively affecting millions of people. Not only do the people of Africa suffer the physical horrors of violence, armed conflict undermines their efforts to escape poverty.”

President Johnson-Sirleaf understands the huge loss it represents for the continent, including her own country. Since 1991, Liberia has been one of the African nations that has been the target of armed combat and widespread civil strife. Although conditions for peace in the country were established in 2003 after President Charles Taylor left office, Liberia continues to experience political and economic perils, including the challenge of accommodating thousands of Liberian refugees who have returned to their homeland since the war ended.

However, it is not only robbed human lives and financial resources stolen in conflict that continue to cause the most damage to the continent, but the intangible daily mental and physical effects felt by the people themselves—and in some cases, other nations around them not directly involved in the conflict itself.

According to the report, African countries involved in conflict have, on average, “50 per cent more infant deaths, 15 percent more undernourished people, life expectancy reduced by five years, 20 percent more adult illiteracy, 2.5 times fewer doctors per patient, and 12.4 per cent less food per person.”

In the report, experts conclude that the majority of the problem lies in poor regulation of arms movement across borders—approximately “95 per cent of Africa’s most commonly used conflict weapons come from outside the continent.” These include the Kalashnikov assault rifle, more commonly known as the AK-47.

Also of primary concern is the tendency for regionalized conflicts to be magnified into international ones. According to the report, the situation in Darfur has already “drawn in neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic,” and other clashes in the area have caused similar situations.

Additionally, the economies of countries in armed skirmishes become intertwined. “In 2002, when fighting in Cote d’Ivoire made access to the key Ivorian seaport of Abidjan virtually impossible, foreign trade was disrupted in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger,” the report stated. And in Somaliland and Mozambique, “informal economies that provided a basic means of survival in wartime have been partly responsible for the collapse of formal rural market networks and have been an obstacle to post-conflict resolution,” the report said.

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Source: MCT

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UN alters plans for EU military operation in Chad.

By Lisbeth Kirk, August 17, 2007.   UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday (16 August) unveiled a revised plan for UN presence in the troubled east of Chad and northeast of the Central African Republic.

According to the new plan, the European Union is to field a military force and the UN to focus on training police and civilian areas such as human rights and the rule of law.

Both countries have received thousands of refugees from Sudan’s Darfur region leading to increased tensions and fears of a possible breakdown in law and order.

Chad has repeatedly asked for international assistance to manage the refugees but raised concerns about a UN military presence in the area.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is now proposing an EU military force instead, which he said has already been accepted in principle by Chad’s president Idriss Deby.

A meeting between Mr Deby and French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner in June paved the way for agreement, according to the UN chief.

“This force [the EU], which would be responsible for protecting civilians and ensuring humanitarian assistance can be provided, would operate for 12 months from deployment, with follow-on arrangements to be determined later”, a UN press release said.

“The UN, the EU and the Chadian authorities would have to coordinate their work very closely, starting from the mission planning stages, if this revised model for a UN presence is to be successful,” the Secretary-General stressed.

Dafur – largest peacekeeping mission in the world.
Earlier this month the UN Security Council adopted unanimously a resolution to create a 26,000-strong hybrid UN-African Union peacekeeping force in an attempt to halt more than four years of massacres in the Darfur region of Sudan. This will be the largest peacekeeping mission in the world.

By the end of the year this new force is to take over from the existing Africa Union, (AU) mission in Sudan, which has been deployed across Darfur since 2004.

The AU mission has failed to stem the violence in Darfur, while the Sudanese government has for several months resisted attempts to have UN troops replace them.

But China, an ally of Sudan, has signalled that it may be willing to provide peacekeeping troops. China buys two thirds of Sudan’s oil and could face calls for a boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympics if it is seen as not applying enough pressure on the Sudanese Government over Darfur.

UN officials have repeatedly described Sudan’s western region of Darfur as the scene of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

The fighting has engulfed the Darfur region on Sudan’s western flank since 2003, when local rebels took up arms. The government in Khartoum responded with the support of the militia known as the Janjaweed.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2 million others have been displaced.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 2nd, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Fool’s Gold
By Stephan Faris, Posted July 2007 on Foreign Affairs.
You may not have noticed it, but Africa is booming. Yet just when the world’s poorest continent is finally starting to see real economic growth, the resource curse threatens to snatch it all away.

Things seem to be looking up for Africa these days, and especially in sub-Saharan Africa. For the third year in a row, the region’s economy has grown 5 to 6 percent. The recent commodity boom has improved its allure to potential investors, particularly China. And the world is relying increasingly on the continent’s petroleum; last year, Africa surpassed the Middle East to become the largest exporter of crude oil to the United States, providing 22 percent of imports. Even everyday African citizens, their views usually lost amid gloomy economic statistics, are feeling better about their lot in life.

A recent poll conducted by the New York Times and the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that most sub-Saharan Africans say they are better off than they were five years ago, and that life will continue to improve for the next generation. They’re right, at least for the near future. Economists predict that economic growth will inch up to 7 percent in 2007, mostly because of higher production in oil-rich countries.

But the blessing of oil might turn out to be a curse in disguise. In a study published earlier this year, Paul Collier, a professor of economics at the University of Oxford and former director of development research at the World Bank, examined the historical relationships between commodity prices and economic growth in Africa to understand what the ongoing resource boom means for the world’s poorest continent. “Generally these increases in commodity price produce short-term effects that are positive,” says Collier. “And then the long-term effects are just dreadful.”

Collier’s model shows that producers of oil, timber, and minerals would on average see their gross domestic products rise by 10 percent in the first seven years, only to have them crash two decades later to only 75 percent of where they started. Sudden cash flows in unprepared countries, he says, lead to unsustainable public consumption, rising inflation, soaring inequality, trade protectionism, and a real danger of civil war.

Take Nigeria, for example, where the country has lost nearly $400 billion, by one government estimate, to waste and corruption since it began pumping oil in 1960. (By comparison, Western aid to all of Africa during the same period amounts to roughly $650 billion.) In the oil-producing Niger Delta, schools and hospitals are crumbling. Much of the region is better navigated by boat than by its beat-up roads. Oil spills are common, and flaring natural gas lights the skies in nightlong artificial sunsets. “The result is prodigious flows of cash with very, very little to show,” says Stephen Morrison, director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The disparity between the wealth underground and the poverty above has fanned anger into full-scale revolt. Militant groups have launched attacks on Nigeria’s oil sector. By bombing pipelines and kidnapping foreign workers out of bars, restaurants, and hotels, they’ve shut down a third of the country’s oil production. Their speedboats have struck as far as 40 miles from the coast, demonstrating that offshore production is also at risk. Shortly after national elections in April, gunmen bombed the riverside home of the vice president-elect, killing two policemen. Each operation sends tremors through the international oil market. “Oil is a curse, and not just in Africa,” says Morrison.

Further east, Chad may be headed for a similar implosion. Seven years ago, Chad’s new pipeline promised to forge a new standard for oil development in Africa. Carefully designed to protect the environment and lift the country out of poverty, the $4.2 billion project came with a series of safeguards to protect the oil money from corrupt politicians. Revenues would be kept in a London account, where 10 percent would be held for future generations. Four fifths of the remaining income would be earmarked for development, spent on education, infrastructure, health, and social services.
But the optimism surrounding the project was short-lived. Since construction on the pipeline began in 2000, Chad has dropped from 167 to 171 on the United Nation’s Human Development Index. Rebels based in neighboring Darfur have twice threatened the capital. President Idriss Déby used the first $4.5 million from his signing bonus from the pipeline deal to buy arms, including two helicopters. Then, two years ago, Déby simply rewrote the laws. He abolished the London account, scrapped the fund for future generations, and added “security” to the list of development earmarks.

If Collier’s projections pan out, Chadians may find that despite all the safeguards, they would have been better off if the wells had never been tapped. “If a type of country like that, a dictatorship, wants to weaken rules, it doesn’t matter how cast-iron they are,” says Robert Goodland, who oversaw the World Bank’s environmental and social assessments of the project.

If even a country as geopolitically weak as Chad can’t be forced into spending its money wisely, what can be done? One approach is to continue to throw lifelines to reformers within the governments. Accordingly, human rights campaigners have made transparency—the disclosure of payments by oil companies to governments—a centerpiece of their efforts.

Another approach is to focus on the oil companies themselves. “Twenty years ago with apartheid, the strategy was disinvestment,” says John Sealey, the provincial assistant for social and international ministries in the Wisconsin Jesuit Province, a religious investor that has championed a shareholder resolution calling on Chevron to develop a comprehensive, transparent, and verifiable human-rights policy. “Our strategy now is more like investment. If you don’t have a seat at the table you don’t have a voice.”

Surprisingly, it’s the oil-poor countries that might want to count their blessings. When Collier looked at other commodities—studying rises in the prices of sugar, coffee, cocoa or cotton—he found the boom without the bust. “One big difference is that agricultural money goes to farmers,” says Collier. “It’s revenues that are running through governments that seem to matter.” But aside from government control over revenues, the key difference between oil and the other commodities is that sugar, coffee, cocoa, and cotton can be ecologically sustainable; someday the oil will run out.

In which case, the top standard for oil development in Africa may turn out to be Gabon. The small West African country has largely avoided civil strife, but oil production peaked in 1997 and reserves are dwindling. The best thing that four decades of pumping petroleum has given Gabon is an industrial and agricultural sector so undeveloped that the country boasts some of the most pristine rainforests on the continent. If the Gabonese couldn’t benefit from oil, perhaps they will profit from tourism.

Stephan Faris, a freelance journalist, is writing a book about the political, economic, and strategic impact of climate change.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 28th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Minister named as Darfur war crimes suspect. Reported for THE INDEPENDENT of London, from Hague, by Alex Duval Smith, February 28, 2007.

In a move aimed at ending the impunity enjoyed by killers in Darfur, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has named a Sudanese government minister and a militia commander as suspects of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

While human rights campaigners welcomed the announcement in The Hague, doubts remain over whether the step – should it lead to a trial – will help to end the killings.

In naming the Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb and Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ahmed Harun, the chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo signalled he had evidence to prove a chain-of-command link between the government and killing squads in Darfur.

“Our work sends a signal: those who commit atrocities cannot do so without impunity,” Mr Moreno-Ocampo said, adding that investigators were continuing to monitor Darfur and overspill from the conflict into Chad and the Central African Republic.

Khartoum pre-empted the release of the report by saying the ICC had no jurisdiction in Sudan. “All the evidence the prosecutor refers to is lies given to him by people who bear arms against the state, bear arms against citizens and kill innocent citizens in Darfur,” the Justice Minister Mohamed Ali al-Mardi said.

Even though Sudan is not a signatory to the 1998 treaty that established the ICC, Mr Moreno-Ocampo is acting on UN Security Council instructions.

A panel of judges at the ICC is expected to decide in the next three months whether to issue arrest warrants against Mr Harun and the Janjaweed commander Ali Muhammad Ali Abd al-Rahman, whose nom de guerre is Ali Kushayb.

The UN estimates that 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million others driven from their homes in Darfur since the conflict worsened in 2003. Khartoum says 9,000 people have died.

Human rights groups welcomed yesterday’s announcement, particularly as it targets a minister, the first government figure the ICC has named as a suspect after focusing on rebel leaders in other investigations into Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. “The clear message from these prosecutions is that the world is watching, and the high and mighty are not immune,” Gareth Evans, of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, said.

But this form of international justice – in which crimes can be prosecuted as a conflict continues – is untried. The ICC has learnt to its cost the danger of issuing arrest warrants before a conflict is settled.

The court has requested the arrest of the top five leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which is in talks with the Ugandan government aimed at ending a 19-year conflict. However, the talks have stalled in the past few months amid a call from the LRA that the arrests warrants be lifted.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo disagreed that issuing arrest warrants can be counter-productive. “Since the arrest warrants were released – but also since other international efforts – the LRA has lost its safe haven and has been forced to the negotiating table,” he said. However, the LRA leadership is not yet under arrest.

Mr Harun, who was interior minister in the 2003-04 period investigated by the ICC, is accused of putting in place, funding and helping to run militia groups in all regions of Darfur. Mr Moreno-Ocampo said: “Harun personally delivered arms to militias. In early 2003, in Mukjar, Harun met privately with Kushayb and afterwards made a speech. He said that since the children of Fur had become rebels, all the people and their possessions had now become booty.”

Ali Kushayb was the “colonel of colonels” in the Wadi Salih locality of west Darfur and is accused of leading attacks that claimed hundred of lives at Kodoom, Bindisi, Mukjar and Arawala. He is facing trial in Khartoum over other charges being investigated by Sudanese courts.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo said: “At Kodoom, civilians were fired on as they fled. In Arawala in December 2003, Ali Kushayb personally inspected a group of naked women before they were raped by men in military uniform. A witness – victim – said she and the other women were tied to trees and repeatedly raped.”

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The following is from the Press headlines Prepared for the UN Spokesperson. We bring it up here because we wonder – how long will the UN continue to watch genocide in slow motion – or what Mia Farrow called at a UN Press Conference – Rwanda in Slow Motion. Will this not end up discrediting the UN so that it gets an irretrievable blow? Will Sudan and its friends of the Ahmedi-Nejad kind, its oil business partners – of the oil-hungry China kind, plain Islamic extremists – of the Al Qaeda kind, be given the run of the UN? Is there no “Never Again” concept about genocide at the UN? Does the UN think that by honoring dead Holocaust victims – 60 years later – and by celebrating the memory of Sinti/Roma victims, the world can accept present day genocide?   People really starved in front of our TV cameras – victims from countries that have no intent in honoring the highly tooted new UN concept of the “Responsibility To Protect” that a UN accredited Government has towards its own citizens?
 www.SustainabiliTank.info comment)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 18th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

“THE REGIONAL DIMENSION OF THE DARFUR CRISIS – THE CANNES DECLARATION ON DARFUR” – February 18, 2007 – at the conclusion of the 24th Conference Of The Heads Of State Of Africa And France.

At the initiative of Jacques Chirac, President of the French Republic, a working meeting on the regional dimension of the Darfur crisis was held in Cannes on 15 February 2007, bringing together:

o The President of Sudan,
o The President of Chad,
o The President of the Central African Republic,

Hereinafter referred to as “the participants”,

Under the chairmanship of the President of Ghana, Chairman of the African Union and in the presence of:

o The President of Egypt,
o The President of Gabon,
o The President of Congo,

Whereas relations between Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic have deteriorated in recent months,

Resolved to encourage an active political dialogue with a view to strengthening regional stability and fostering good neighbourly relations,

Referring to the relevant provisions of the Darfur Peace Agreement (Abuja, May 2006), the agreement to settle the dispute between the Republic of Chad and the Republic of Sudan (Tripoli, 8 February 2006), the minutes of the meeting between the authorities of Chad and Sudan (N’Djamena, 25 July 2006), the high-level conclusions between the African Union, the United Nations Organization and the Government of Sudan (Addis Ababa, 16 November 2006), the communiqué of the 66th meeting of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (30 November 2006), the statements by the President of the United Nations Security Council (53rd of 15 December 2006 and 55th of 19 December 2006), the letters from the Secretary-General of the United Nations to the President of Sudan (18 December 2006 and 24 January 2007), and the written response from the President of Sudan to the Secretary-General of the United Nations (23 December 2006),

The participants declare as follows:

1) We reiterate our commitment to respect the sovereignty of each country and not to support the armed movements in conformity with the Tripoli agreement.

2) We call for the establishment of active consultation bodies bringing together Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic.

3) We support continued engagement of the United Nations Organization and the African Union.

The participants: Mr. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, President of the Republic of Sudan, Mr. Indris Déby, President of the Republic of Chad Mr. François Bozizé, President of the Central African Republic

Under the chairmanship of Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana, Chairman of the African Union, Mr. Jacques Chirac, President of the French Republic, Mr. Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mr. El Hadj Omar Bongo, President of the Republic of Gabon, Mr. Denis Sassou-Nguesso, President of the Rep

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www.SustainabiliTank.info comments: The above Declaration does nothing more then rubber stamp the Sovereignty of Sudan and the two bordering States – Chad and The African Central Republic. It supports the engagement of the UN and the AU, but it does not mention at all the Human aspects of the problem – the ongoing genocide in Sudan, that is a main reason for refugees crossing the border to the two neighboring States, with the Sudanese in hot pursuit. Reading this declaration it becomes obvious that one cannot expect that the AU will get involved just to save human lives – they will get involved only to avoid war between the States – this in order to keep on the image of the sanctity of borders that were inherited from the colonial powers. This may be the essence of diplomacy as understood at the UN – but it flies in the face of human decency – if the human aspect is not even being taken into consideration. There maybe something in some of the old documents quoted by title – but even the fact that so many documents are already in existance, says that the genocide was not, is not, and will, not   be dealt with..

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 15th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Harsh climate hurting tourism in Africa.
By Samuel Otieno, for the Standard of Nairobi, Kenya.

Adverse climatic changes in Africa are threatening to hamper agricultural and tourism sectors.

The two sectors are also Kenya’s economic mainstay.

A new report indicates that economic benefits of Africa’s tourism, which accounts for three per cent of the world’s tourism, may change with climate change.

According to the report, African tourist places of interest, including wildlife areas and parks, may also attract fewer tourists under marked climate changes.

The report of the fourth assessment of the Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) bureau further warns that continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming.

The report says increased warming will induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century.

The threat of flood risks and water pollution-related diseases in low lying regions and coral reef bleaching due to climate change could impact negatively on tourism.

In some national parks in Sub-Saharan Africa, about 10-15 per cent of the species are projected to fall.

It is also estimated that by 2080, parts of arid and semi arid lands in Africa are likely to increase by five to eight per cent. The report to be submitted to the IPCC predicts that wheat production in Africa might disappear by the 2080.

Crop net revenue is likely to fall by as much as 90 per cent by 2100, with small-scale farms being the most affected.

It is estimated that by 2100, parts of the Sub-Saharan Africa will experience agricultural losses of between two and seven per cent of the GDP.

In Kenya, losses for three crops – mangoes, cashew nuts, and coconuts – could cost almost US$500 million with 1m sea-level rise.

It is predicted further that the costal agriculture could be at risk of inundation and soil salination.

Projected sea level rise would increase flooding, particularly on the coast of Eastern Africa.

At the same time, anthropogenic climate change will negatively impact on human health in Africa.

A five to seven per cent potential increase in malaria distribution is projected, with little increase in the latitudinal extent of the disease by 2100.

Previously malaria-free highland areas in Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi could also experience modest changes to stable malaria by the 2050s.

It is estimated that by the 2080s an additional 80 million people will likely be at risk of malaria.

According to the report, climate variability and change may also interact with other background stresses and additional vulnerabilities such as HIV/Aids.

Climate change is expected to also affect both pathogenic and vector habitat suitability through changes in moisture and temperature.

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WE MARK THIS ALSO FOR THE UN, and the CSD BUTTONS OF OUR WEB – BUT THIS IS ONLY IN THE SENSE THEY SHOULD HAVE LOOKED INTO THIS TOPIC. THE FACTS ARE THAT THEY NEVER LOOK INTO – “AFRICA THE VICTIM OF CLIMATE CHANGE.”   IN EFFECT, FOR A LONG TIME THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ACTUALLY DENIED THAT THE JANUARY-FEBRUARY AU MEETING IN ADDIS ABABA WAS ABOUT JUST THIS. TO THEM ALL OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES WERE RELEGATED TO THE NAIROBI UNEP OFFICE – AS IF IT WERE NOT ALSO AN AFRICAN HIGHLY POLITICAL ISSUE.  

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 24th, 2006
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UN INCOMING SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON ON ABC’s “THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS” – in a five minutes interview:   He said that he sees Lebanon and Darfur as the initial main issues he will be facing. Asked how he will deal with Darfur, he said that through dialogue.

Moving on to Iran he said the nuclear issue with Iran has global implications and I suggest negotiations.

North Korea’s nuclear issue – “I am best placed with experience of 16 years on the issue.”

Iraq – “We are very concerned about the security situation – the most important is to support the government so they can build an economy.”

By now Stephanopoulos got a bit impatient and said something about Mr. Ban avoiding direct answers by not answering him if he thinks that the war was illegal, as the outgoing Secretary-General said according to a tape shown by ABC. Mr. Ban quietly answered that at this time what is important is the future of Iraq – “I, as a new Secretary-General am not looking to the past.”
He added that he was a “media friendly person.” Stephanopolous retorted – “but you are as elusive as it may be needed.” “Are you prepared to make enemies as UN Secretary-General?”
asked Stephanopoulos.

The answer: “You should know, when it was needed I made decisive decisions.”

The question: “What do you say to the US people about the impression the UN is corrupt?”

The answer:   “That is why, in my campaign, I turned on clear words as a harmonizer that will clean-up.”

On Kennedy – “as a poor high-school boy in a village in Korea, I asked myself what I can do for my people.”
“I like to be remembered as a Secretary-General who has devoted his best efforts to see the UN reborn, and who contributed to peace and prosperity throughout the world.”

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GEORGE CLOONEY on Wolf Blitzer’s “Reliable Sources” on CNN, on the subject of his campaign for Darfur: “We as Americans are very good at coordinating things – the UN will put something together.”

Blitzer tried in vain to trap him to say something bad about President Bush, but Clooney, like Ban Ki-moon, was more diplomatic then the interviewing journalists were.

Clooney said that Senators Brounbach and Obama are the two leaders in Congress on this, and they do not agree among themselves on many things. (the implication that what is important is that they agree on the need to help Darfur, and President Bush is also of the opinion that a way has to be found to help the Darfurians. In the meantime “China gets free range because they get oil without having to compete with America right now.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 23rd, 2006
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


FUTURE generations will not understand why today’s great powers chattered away at the United Nations over the genocidal annihilation of hundreds of thousands of African villagers in Darfur, but took no effective action to stop it. And now, in this holiday season, attacks on aid workers in that region of Sudan and the spillover of horrors into neighboring Chad raise the specter of millions of new victims perishing in the near future. For this is surely what will happen if the great powers go on lamenting the Darfur massacres while refusing to rescue the men, women, and children who are marked for death in the coming year.


The diplomatic gestures of the UN concerning Darfur are an elaborate pretense. A Security Council resolution from last August, softened by China to require approval by the National Islamic Front regime in Khartoum, calls for UN peacekeepers to join the ineffectual contingent of 7,500 African Union monitors currently in Darfur. The new peacekeeping force is supposed to total 22,500 and to have a mandate to protect civilians and relief workers.


But even this minimal intervention has been rebuffed by Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, the ultimate authority behind the use of military planes to bomb tribal villages in Darfur and the ensuing raids by Arab gangs known as Janjaweed. Riding in on horseback and camelback, these proxies for Khartoum murder men and boys of the bombed villages and rape the women and girls.


With China running interference for Sudan on the Security Council, Bashir has been able to thwart the dispatch of UN peacekeepers, denouncing them as forerunners of a Western scheme to recolonize a Muslim land. As Bashir’s government continues its policy of exterminating African farmers in Darfur, China’s motive for enabling him is purely capitalist: to protect Beijing’s $10 billion investment in Sudan, primarily in that country’s oil reserves.


Ironically, however, one consequence of Beijing’s shielding Sudan has been to expand the violence in Darfur westward into Chad and eastward to the Abu Jabra oil field, which rebels seized at the end of November and held for a few days. For China, this was a worrisome precedent. If China’s petroleum assets are at risk, decision-makers in Beijing may find it is in their interest to have international peacekeepers in Sudan to protect Chinese investments.


But if China persists in its complicity with the regime in Khartoum, grass-roots groups around the world ought to brand the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing as the genocide Olympics, as professor Eric Reeves of Smith College recently proposed on the Globe op-ed page. Future generations will understand the protesters’ reason for disrupting the ceremonial serenity of the Olympics.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 16th, 2006
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Clooney002sm.jpg

Clooney003sm.jpg
photography by Pincas Jawetz  SustainabiliTank.info)

George Clooney is a hero, here at www.SustainabiliTank.info since his coming out with Syriana, a movie we reviewed on December 31, 2005 –“The ‘Sopranos’ – “Munich’ and ‘Syriana’ On To Petrocollapse – ???

We realized immediately the stress on Middle East oil in these movies. We posted a second article mentioning “Syriana” on May 30, 2006 -“Hollywood – US Secret Weapon?”

Then following a meeting organized by Ambassador Bolton, we discovered Mr. Clooney’s attempt to do something about the people of Darfur. We had already noted in our postings that Darfur is just one more case of misery created by the curse of oil – this time it was China’s interest in Sudan’s oil that gives safe heaven to the Khartoum effort to rid itself of people, among its own citizens, whom they detest and whom they wish to see vanish. We printed Ambassador Bolton’s remarks, and our comments, as “What More Has To Happen For The Security Council To Recognize The Misdeeds of Sudan in Darfur?” which we posted on www.SustainabiliTank.info on September 15, 2006. There we see how Mr. George Clooney and Nobel Peace-Prize Winner, Professor Elie Wiesel, took on the case of the Darfurians. It was clear that they stepped in where the UN displayed impotence in its incapability to take of its blinders of “member-states sovereignty” making a mockery of its highly tooted “Resposibility To Protect” principle. (Please read the three above links.)

Now we learn that the very active “SAVE DARFUR COALITION” has linked with Mr. Clooney and had him organize a mission that took a delegation to Beijing and Cairo, with him at its head, and we are quite excited of the choices that were made, and which, as we shall see, remained under-reported at the UN.

The Coalition’s Executive Director is David Rubinstein who helped found the coalition in 2004 and has worked since to raise awareness about the crisis in Darfur, and the misery in the neibouring Chad, the African Central Republic, and Uganda. With him works former US Ambassador, Mr. Lawrence Rossin, who leads the outreach to governments and NGOs.

George Clooney visited Darfur in April 2006, then in September 2006 appeared before the UN Security Council in the meeting that was suggested by Ambassador Bolton, and now organized the trip to Beijing and Cairo with the participation of Mr. Rubinstein, Ambassador Rossin, and David Pressman, a human rights lawyer and former aide to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The other stars in the delegation were: Ms. Tegla Loroupe, a Kenyan Olympic, World Champion, and record holder distant runner; Mr. Joey Cheek, American speed skater and Olympic gold medal winner; and Mr. Don Cheadle, the Academy Award nominee for “Hotel Rwanda.”

This delegation was perfect for its pupose. The involvement of the Olympians, at a time Beijing is preparing to host the world at the 2008 Olympics was not just an NGO mission – but a rather highly political mission. The Olympians can tell beijing that they will be at the cross-hairs of global public attention – obstructionism in Darfur will be amplified like with a megaphone, and misdeeds for African oil will be viewed with magnifying glasses.

The participation of Mr. Cheadle, as expected, did address us, the folks at home, with his reminding us of our inaction on Rwanda.

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At request, the delegation has available:

footage taken of Darfurian Refugees in Chad at www.savedarfur.org/pages/multimed…

and Joey Cheek’s Heisman Humanitarian Award dinner Acceptance Speech at dl.nmmstream.net/media/darfur/che…

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The meetings at the UN on December 15, 2006 were requested by the UN Mission of the Goverment of Canada.

These included an early meeting with the outgoing UNSG, Mr. Kofi Annan, and a Photo opportunity with him offered to the UN Press at 9:00am, followed by a Press Conference at 9:45am with the presence of the full delegation, but the active participation of only the four “cellebrities,” while Mr Rubinstein and Ambassador Rossin were available for interviews latter in the day.

All of the above was going on in New York, while in Geneva, on the previous day, the UN Information Service, Geneva, released a “2007 Work Plan for Sudan” that was just a routine UN funding of “Humanitarian & Recovery Assistance” request for US$ 1.8 billion worked out between the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and Sudan’s so called Government of National Unity. This, as if money alone could solve the problem. Our hurting comment comes, that even though we clearly realize that the people of Darfur must be helped, we nevertheless clearly do not believe that help will, or can, come via goodness of Khartoum.

The agreement between Manuel Aeanda da Silva, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General for Sudan, and Al Tighani Salih Fedail, Minister for International Cooperation of Sudan, mentions that some
US$ 300 million were already funded. The paper says that $563 million will be needed for “recovery and development.” I did not find there any indication that life for the Darfurian will be Sustainable and assured before expenditures can start. Though it seems that in South Sudan the peace process has led to improvements and people started to return to their localities, but this is not the case in the larger Darfur region.

Journalists in Geneva asked: “Why, as a major oil producer, Sudan was in dire need of funds to finance the peace process in South?” Mr. Da Silva pleaded that Sudan was not a major oil producer yet, but it was on the verge of becoming one. When he took up his post, three years ago, production in Sudan was bellow 200,0000 barrel a day. By December it would be 500,000 and in three years probably over 1 million barrels a day. That is why he was stressing that his proposal was a short-term investment.”

The tune was that there was banditism in Darfur, but in the areas controlled by the government there was peace – but really – those were not the areas that one was called to help!

To a direct question on whether the Government was aiding and abetting the militias in Darfur, the Sudanese Minister said “the Government was committed to respecting to the letter the peace agreement signed in Abuja. In Darfur the problem was not forces or the lack of numbers. “LOOK AT IRAQ.” he said, “With the thousands of US soldiers and Iraqi police they could not assure peace.” The problem was a political one. What had to happen was respect the signed peace agreement and to ensure that others did so. What do people mean by Janjaweed? There were people with arms in Darfur for a hundred years now. To carry arms was a social question. But for the last ten years the circulation of arms had skyrocketed and they could now buy Kalashnikows. There was an international black market in arms in the region, and it had to be stopped.”

Mr. Da Silva said, that in 2005 in Darfur they had 80% access, or they could reach about 80% of the 4 million they wished to reach. This November, they had 62% access in Darfur. In West Darfur they could not move freely on 95% of the roads. What they did was they used escorts, moved via private commercial trucks or flew in assistance. It increased the cost of the operation and decreased resources, but it did not mean that people would die tomorrow. He felt that the reporting coming out of Darfur was very superficial. The situation was truly complex and the reporting did not reflect that. Simplicity in reporting on Darfur could be very dangerous, he said.

We at SustainabiliTank.info believe that Mr. da Silva has half a point. The other half is that he does not mention that life in Khartoum is very well – thank you – and he, in UN diplomatic fashion, does not talk about the lack of real co-operation he gets from the Sudanese – so how can one talk of Recovery & Development that involves Khartoum, when all one can do is to try to save human life?
The International Criminal Court, finally, is ready to look now into the Darfur Attrocities, as presented these last few days by Mr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo before the Security Council. He announced on December 14, 2006, that he “is preparing evidence to specify individuals who appear to bear the greatest responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity including persecution, torture, murder, and rape.” The UNSC referred the situation in Darfur to the Prosecutor in March 2005, and his first case focuses on incidents from 2003 and 2004, as he said: “Perhaps most significant, the evidence reveals the underlying operational system that enabled the commission of these massive crimes.” The Prosecutor announced that he is requesting the Government of Sudan to facilitate a visit by his Office to the Sudan in January 2007 to interview individuals that Sudan is holding in custody upon his rquest.
December 15, 2006, France admitted that its Mirage F1 fighter jets raided towns bordering Sudan’s Darfur region in order to prevent regional chaos. They have attacked and scattered a rebellion in north-eastern Central African Republic (CAR) that had probably also a devastating impact on civilians.

The French claimed that they are trying to prevent the “Somalization” of the region. “The region is crucial and we want to put a peace force in Darfur” said the spokesman for the French Defense Ministry.

After the opposition from the Sudanese President Omar El Beshir, the Un axed plans to put 20,000 UN peacekeepers in Darfur. It seems that troops from Chad and Gabon are helping the small French garison already stationed in CAR.

With above in mind, what can Gerge Clooney and his athletes expect to achieve?
The first fast answer is – that with their notoriety they attract the pubic’s attention to the problem.

The second, and deeper answer is that they had actually the capacity, from their own personal backgrounds, to try to talk sense to the Chinese and the Egyptians that received the delegation.

In effect they have actually a higher moral ground to stand on, then the UN officials that have achieved very little in years of talking about the problem, so their discussion partners may see a new angle that provides for benefits and an exit strategy also.

I will mention as a starter something that even the UN reporting found of value: The UN News Service
writes: “Mr. Cheadle, who was nominated for an Academy award for his performance in the film Hotel Rwanda, said the battle to protect Darfur’s civilians had reached a crucial stage, with the number of attacks on humanitarian workers and AMIS staff members rising sharply in recent months. In Rwanda there wasn’t anything done until there were bodies clogging up the rivers and the streets. That’s when the world decided it could no longer be ignored… By then. of course, it was too late.”

Ms. Loroupe called on AU and African Governments to become much more aggresive in protecting civilians, and “to see that this is taking place in their house. Darfur is in their house and they have to clean their house,” she said.

Mr. Cheek said that in their visit to Beijing, “they stressed to Chinese officials that the world would be watching their actions extremely closely in the lead-up to the 2008 Summer Olympics, which will be held in the Chinese capital. I hope that Arab States and the likes of China and maybe even Russia will see that this is something in which we must all get involved to stop the crisis, and not see it as a Western ulterior motive,” he added.

Now even more to the point: The delegation went to China because China does a lot of trade with Sudan, obviously, Clooney of Syriana knows of the trade that buys oil and how this can destroy the population of the oil cursed country. Egypt has a long history with Studan – the neighbor “up the Nile river” that at various points n their common history was part of Egypt. Both countries, China and Egypt, have the most solid relation with the Sudan – China because of its developing the oil resource that provides the money to keep afloat the Sudanese rulling folks, and Egypt, a close Arab-Moslem country with common heritage with a part of the rulling Sudanese establishment.

Interesting, George Clooney remarked that both – in China and in Egypt – people told them that with the UNSG, Mr. Kofi Annan becoming available at the end of the year, he could be very effective to deal with the problem on the invitation of the Government of Sudan. So here we have the suggestion, which Clooney mentioned that he already discussed with Sudan, that if Sudan invites Mr. Annan to take over the mediation between the various interests, China and Egypt would back the idea.
George Clooney said also that “there are talks and more talks, on whom is to be blamed, but we believe that everyone we spoke to wants the killings to end.” Here Clooney gave a slap to the UN, but expressed diplomatically that he saw hope with China and Egypt. Obviously, this is no reference to Sudan.

He said it is not really important if 200,000 were killed or the number is two million – it is obviously beyond 9,000 and this is too much.
Further – “everyone agrees that when you survive meningitis, malaria, and other deseases, and walk through the desert to the refugee camps, you should be safe there.” This is humanitarianism if people are ready to think in humanitarian terms, pity that this is not the general case with all cultures, and we are not ready to accept this beyond saying that we wish it were true.
Reuters wanted to know what about the Arab nations? Will they back a force? and Clooney said that what he can say is that both, China and Egypt would back a UN force, The questions are “what helmets, who would be in charge, who would pay.” He added that recently a convoy of supplies was attacked, but Egypt has access to the region and will not be fired upon. He suggested a colaboration of forces from China and Egypt – we think – not a bad idea at all. Sudan is dependent on China and Egypt anyway – so what the problem? We should really think of the 2.5 million people – the number of potential victims if we do not take some drastic step.

SustainabiliTank wanted to know from Mr. Clooney if he brought up in Beijing the question of the impact of the oil money on these events. He answered me correctly that he did not go on a political mission – that is for others to do. Their mission was rather an attempt to increase the goodwill of the Chinese by showing to them that it is in their interest to cooperate in trying to save lives. I accept this judgement in full.

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From the UN transcript – the follow up Press Conference with the Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, the normal “Dayly Noon PC” following the above meeting with the Clooney team – there were the exchanges as quoted here:
“Question: At the Darfur briefing this morning, we were told that Egypt and China would like Mr. Annan to become some kind of peace envoy to Darfur, or to appoint one. I would like to know what Mr. Annan would think about that? Also, if you could give us a read out of the meeting this morning.

Spokesman: From the meeting this morning, the Secretary-General listened very closely to what Mr. Clooney and his delegation had to say. He very much encouraged them to continue with their efforts to raise awareness for Darfur, which is in line with his efforts to reach out to the NGO communities and non-traditional players, to continue raising the importance of the need for a solution to Darfur. As for the Secretary-General’s future plans, as he’s said a number of times, he plans to go underground for a few months as soon as he leaves office on 1 January. And then once he re-emerges, he will decide what his priorities are and what he wants to do.”

Question: Follow-up; there was also concern expressed about the transition. When Mr. Annan leaves, the impetus behind getting a solution in Darfur. Any comments on how the UN will continue?

Spokesman: Without wanting to speak for the next Secretary-General, I think the main issues on the agenda of the UN will not disappear on 31 December. The Secretary-General has briefed his successor on those issues, obviously including Darfur, and I think the Secretary-General-designate spoke to you about his priorities for next year. But we very much hope that there will be continued engagement on that front.

Question from SustainabiliTank.info: Also, on the George Clooney team. My impression of what was said in the press conference was that he didn’t go there as an NGO, but he went as a group of interested people who were trying to show how much, for the Chinese, it would be important to do something before the Olympics. He also pointed out that Egypt was a ruling power in Sudan in the past. So he, in effect, went to talk to two Governments who have the strongest power over Sudan. So is there anything in that direction, not just as an NGO involvement, but something that opens the way to a political involvement that the Secretary-General picked up from his meeting with Clooney and his team?

Spokesman: All I can tell you is that the Secretary-General encouraged Mr. Clooney to go on with his efforts. And if you look at the statement the Secretary-General made about two weeks ago at the Human Rights Watch event, he was very clear, in that those countries with strong political and economic ties with Khartoum should use their influence in a positive way.

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The problem with bringing George Clooney in as a speaker on Darfur, as we could see even at the press conference at the UN, is that some of the ladies, be they even salted correspondents from serious media,
is the celebrity aspect – bordering with idolatry – and there was at the UN in effect an unusual competition for the right to ask questions from him. To show this aspect I bring here what METRO had to say today:

Clooney001.jpg

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 21st, 2006
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

October 20, 2006 AP news still said: “Sudan Willing to Discuss U.N. Support,” as per ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU from Khartoum.

The Sudanese government is willing to discuss United Nations support for the African Union’s struggling peacekeeping force in Darfur, a senior government official said Thursday.

The government in Khartoum staunchly opposes a U.N. Security Council resolution to replace the 7,000-strong AU force with some 20,000 U.N. peacekeepers, saying it would violate Sudan’s sovereignty.

The ill-equipped and underfunded AU force is struggling to bring peace to Darfur, a vast region of western Sudan where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in three years of fighting.

Instead of replacing the force with U.N. peacekeepers, the Sudanese government appears to be pushing for a stronger AU force to counter Western accusations it is letting the situation in Darfur deteriorate. Aid groups say the humanitarian crisis is edging toward an all-time low.

“We are not averse to the idea of discussing what kind of support the AU can receive in terms of troops, material and funding from the U.N.,” said senior adviser to the president Ghazi Saladdine after meeting with U.S. special envoy to Sudan Andrew Natsios.

“Ultimately, we want to have an effective force in Darfur,” said Saladdine, one of the hard-liners of the ruling National Congress Party.

Natsios, due to leave Khartoum on Friday, held talks with several high ranking officials during his one-week visit but did not meet with President Omar al-Bashir. He did not speak to the media.

Several Western officials, including Jan Pronk, the head of the U.N. mission to Sudan, view a reinforced AU mission as one way to overcome the diplomatic deadlock on how to solve the Darfur crisis.

Steps to improve the mission’s efficiency have already been taken, and about 150 U.N. military and logistical advisers are due in Darfur in the coming week to reinforce the African force, said Sam Ibok, the AU’s chief negotiator for Sudan.

The AU has also planned to send several thousand more troops to Darfur, but has been struggling for weeks to fund this move. Chronic lack of cash has left some soldiers without pay since August, while some patrols can not go out because of the lack of fuel.

Ibok said, however, that at least 1,200 new troops from Rwanda and Nigeria would arrive in Darfur by the end of October.

Ibok said the AU would soon solve the problem of its unpaid soldiers, and had received pledges from the Arab League and other international backers for more the $50 million.

“We currently have enough funds to continue the mission until the end of the year,” he said by telephone.

Initially due to finish in September, the AU mission has been prolonged until the end of the year, and many observers say it should continue beyond that date to avoid a dangerous security vacuum.

Ibok said a possible extension would be discussed during an African Union summit in November and would depend on international support.

The talks come amid increased fighting in northern Darfur, where 350,000 people are deprived of humanitarian support because the violence makes it too dangerous for aid workers to operate.

A United Nations assessment released Thursday found that adequate access to food for those living in displacement camps in Darfur declined from 36 percent last year to 14 percent in 2006.

A new coalition of rebels backed by forces from neighboring Chad recently inflicted severe losses on the Sudanese army, which is now massing troops and militia in what many fear could become major fighting after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan ends next week.

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Here another area that Ban Ki-moon will have to deal with in his first month in office at the UN, as its Secretary-General. Playing it up to the sovereignty of Sudan does not save lives, and watching genocide in action simply destroys the UN. Doing the right thing will put him at cross purpose with the Arab League, but not doing the right thing will cause the rage of the NGOs. What will he chose?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 12th, 2005
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

This was sent to the editor of the “New York Press” weekly that printed a review article written by Mr. Causwell of the Petrocollapse Conference, then the following week had several follow up letters.
Dear Editor, the New York Press, Dear Mr. Causwell
Regarding your Halloween issue cover reporting on the petrocollapse, and the following week’s “Soapboxing”, I would like to contribute notes regarding what Mr.Causwell missed (New York Press, October 26 – November 1, and November 2-8, 2005).
The Conference was not a monolith, while recognizing something that your reporter also recognized — fossil fuels are finite and that this dooms our suburban life-styles — there were differences in the views of speakers regarding further implications.
I am writing for www.SustainabiliTank.info and I have there three pieces relating to the October 5, 2005, Petrocollapse Conference:

I approached the subject from its environmental side – something your reporter missed altogether (please see the October 4 piece). I argue that THE REAL COST OF FUEL IS CLIMATE CHANGE. I was speaking of the Katrita effect – our understanding that the Katrina and Rita Hurricanes tell us we must start decreasing CO2 emissions. My argument is thus that eventually we will understand that we must start using less oil even before we are forced to do so because of decreased supply. I spoke of changes of life-style and our learning to live less energy demanding existences. I mentioned my recent trip to Bhutan in order to learn what the King of Bhutan means by “Gross National Happiness”. I advocated that a major part of the reduced energy needs should come from renewable sources of energy.
My reporting from the meeting includes my disagreement of 25 years with Professor David Pimentel, who also spoke at this Conference. He does not believe in biofuels and in renewables while I, and most scientists who try to soften our addiction to oil, see in them the way to provide the residual energy needs after we have brought ourselves to our senses and reduced our needs for energy. There are no sound technological answers that will allow us to continue to waste energy – we are speaking about ways to keep us “happy” by answering for the reasonable needs. By doing the right things we can avoid the predicted effects of petrocollapse and the fate of being a Katritastan, but we can not avoid change.
Again, please look at www.SustainabiliTank.info and let us avoid empty exchanges in favor of practical positive new ways. The above web-site was established in order to provide for a media think tank on Sustainable Development – the concept that was officially placed on the international negotiation table in 1992 at the UN Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Jan Lundberg, after leaving the oil industry, also joined the advocates of Sustainable Development and was with me in Kyoto in 1997 – we even shared a room – present at the birth of the Kyoto Protocol. If his actions now may seem extreme to Causwell, this may simply be a result of the slowness of our leadership in grasping the seriousness of the problem. This is no laughing matter; I would say it deserves further serious analysis and coverage in the Press. People must understand that drilling for oil in Alaska is a fake answer, believing that this is not so will indeed bring us to petrocollapse.
Sincerely yours, Pincas Jawetz New York City www.SustainabiliTank.info

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