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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 11th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Matthew Russell Lee reports from the UN that Amid Sahel Standstill, UN Committee Asks Why Prodi Is Based in Rome.

 

UNITED NATIONS, May 10, 2013 — When Romano Prodi, ostensibly the UN’s envoy on if not in the Sahel, became a candidate for the Italian presidency, the UN of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made excuses, telling Inner City Press the question of conflict of interest was “moot,” because Prodi lost.

 

  But the UN Advisory Committee of Administrative and Budgetary Questions is not so forgiving. Their report on Prodi’s office says that Prodi’s fundraising

 

 

“does not necessarily require the headquarters of the Office to be located in Rome, or a large share of the staffing of the Office to be located outside the Sahel region. The Advisory Committee …believes that closer proximity to or its placement in the region would allow the Office of the Special Envoy to fully engage and coordinate with the numerous United Nations offices/entities and international actors present in the countries of the Sahel dealing with similar issues.”

 

 

  And so, “the Advisory Committee recommends that the General Assembly invite the Secretary-General to review the current arrangements for the Office of the Special Envoy and to consider alternative locations of the Office in the Sahel region. In developing his proposals, the Secretary-General should be requested to take full advantage of the opportunities for realizing synergies with the other United Nations entities present in the countries of the region, and avoid all duplicative activity.”

 

   Why is Prodi allowed to be based in Rome? And what has he accomplished?

 

———————————

 

We post this because this is a point well taken when reviewing the wasteland called the UN – but we do not intend this as an attack on Mr. Romano Prodi whom we know from years past. He is an Italian politician who understood the issue of climate change and the problems of reliance on Middle East Petroleum. He surely can do a lot of good under UN employment, but then the UN must hire him in ways that do not allow for mistakes, or even reasons for criticism like the above.

 

The Sahel is the black Africa arc just south of the Muslim Arab Maghreb and Egypt – the region that includes Sudan, Chad, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Senegal. A  region that knows the effect of climate change causing drought and conditions that push the region to get involved in the Affairs of the North Africa Arab arc and its Arab awakening from one set of dictators and moving into the arms of Islamic extremists. This while European States like Spain, France, and Italy, with past colonial ties to the region, may thus be not the ideal moderators of the budding new debate of Arab Nationalism at the time of effects of drought caused by climate change. The whole issue needs much more serious UN review then the UN has shown up to now. Would Dakar be the right place to seat Mr. Prodi?

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 24th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)



NIGERIAN LEADER PROPOSES CREATION OF UN CONFLICT MEDIATION COMMISSION

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan today proposed to the General Assembly the creation of a conflict mediation commission within the office of the United Nations Secretary-General to develop strategies for the resolution of disputes across the world.

Such a commission would be tasked with collating information on conflicts, identifying the parties to them and developing rules of engagement, including the sanctions that would apply to those who obstruct efforts to resolve disputes peacefully, Mr. Jonathan told the Assembly’s annual general debate in New York.

“For the world to move from a culture of response after conflict to that of a culture of prevention, the international community must muster the political will to promote preventive diplomacy, in particular through mediation,” said Mr. Jonathan.

He said conflicts were also linked to the proliferation of small arms and pledged that Nigeria remains committed to the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty that addresses the problem of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

Mr. Jonathan also voiced concern over the increasing incidence of piracy and maritime crime in West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea and expressed his support for the Secretary-General’s proposal to send a UN assessment mission to the region to study the situation and explore possible options for UN support and action.

He pointed that Nigeria had in the recent past faced an upsurge in incidents of terrorism, including the suicide bomb attack on UN House in the capital, Abuja, on 26 August that claimed the lives of 23 people, including 11 UN staff, and said his country will continue to work with the world body and other partners to combat the scourge.

He announced that the UN Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) will launch its first project in Abuja in November intended to prevent conflict and counter the appeal of terrorism to youth through education and dialogue.

* * *

AFRICA THE FOCUS AS UN CHIEF HOLDS TALKS WITH TANZANIAN AND ERITREAN LEADERS

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with the leaders of Eritrea and Tanzania today to discuss some of the many political and humanitarian challenges confronting Africa.

In a tête-à-tête with Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki, held on the sidelines of the General Assembly’s annual general debate, Mr. Ban discussed peace and security issues in the Horn of Africa, particularly Somalia, Sudan and the long-standing border demarcation issue between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Separately, the Secretary-General also met Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete and offered his personal condolences following the boat accident off the island of Zanzibar on 10 September that claimed the lives of nearly 200 people.

Mr. Ban and Mr. Kikwete also discussed Tanzania’s constitutional review process, as well as regional peace, security and development, including the situation in Somalia.

* * *

HOME-GROWN METHODS OF MEDIATION WORK BEST, RWANDA TELLS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Conflict mediation efforts will be far more successful if they are home-grown and harness the capacities of young people and regional groups or institutions, Rwandan President Paul Kagame told the opening of the General Assembly’s annual general debate today.

Speaking at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Mr. Kagame warned that traditional methods of diplomacy can frequently take a toll on the people they are supposed to help.

“Too often, while resolutions are being debated and refined, people are dying,” he said. “And sometimes when those resolutions are eventually adopted, enforcement is slow, or they only halt the conflict for a short time but with no sustainable solutions.”

The theme of this year’s general debate is the role of mediation in resolving conflicts and the Rwandan leader stressed in his remarks that national ownership of the process remains vital.

“Mediation efforts must be based on an over-riding desire to bring conflicting parties to resolve their differences. But this should not be confused with supporting one side in the conflict, or imposing a solution in the interests of the mediators.”

He said the most effective way to prevent conflict from even arising was to empower citizens, particularly young people, so that they feel they have an important stake in the management and stability of their community or country.

“This generation carries less historical and political baggage, and is more inclined to getting the most out of this global village we all find ourselves sharing.

“With social and communication tools, they are key innovators and thought leaders not only of tomorrow but right now. We have an important responsibility to empower them.”

Mr. Kagame said mediation processes must be based on “specific cultural and political contexts. In Rwanda, for instance, we have seen this produce long-lasting solutions and tangible results on the ground because they are home-grown.

“It is also important to involve regional and sub-regional players, who have ample knowledge of the often complex regional dynamics of the conflicts in the mediation efforts. These organizations should be supported expeditiously, before disputes escalate into intractable conflicts.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 14th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008, The Japan Times online.

Regarding The Trips to Libya – “Oily Moves to Compensate” by Gwynne Dyer from London.

Libya was the diplomatic crossroads of the planet last weekend: Condoleezza Rice made the first visit by a U.S. secretary of State in 55 years (to discuss a murky deal involving payments to American victims of terrorist attacks allegedly sponsored by Libya); radical Bolivian President Evo Morales showed up (to beg for money or cheap oil); and Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi arrived to promise Libya $5 billion in compensation for the brutalities of Italian colonial rule.

The U.S. Congress was not impressed. Last Monday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee postponed hearings on the confirmation of Gene Cretz as the first U.S. ambassador to Libya since 1972.
What bothered the senators was Libya’s delay in paying a promised $1.8 billion in compensation to the families of 180 Americans who died when Pan Am Flight 103 was brought down by a terrorist bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, and of the American soldiers targeted in a 1986 attack on the West Berlin nightclub La Belle (one killed, scores injured).
Western intelligence services blamed both those attacks on Libya’s leader, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi. U.S. aircraft bombed Libya after the 1986 attack, killing some 30 Libyans including Gadhafi’s adopted daughter. Yet the evidence for Libyan involvement is distinctly shaky, and Libya never officially admitted its responsibility. Instead, Libya finally signed a “humanitarian” deal that gives the American families $1.8 billion, but also includes an unstated amount for the Libyan victims of the American air attacks. How very curious.

Details of the deal have been left vague, and nobody will say where the money for the Libyan victims of U.S. airstrikes is coming from. If it is coming from the U.S. government, that would be an interesting precedent. But everybody knows what is really at play here.

The United States worries about the security of its oil supplies and Libya produces oil, so Washington has been seeking a way to end its quarrel with Colonel Gadhafi for a long time. Gadhafi wanted that too, because the U.N. sanctions imposed at Washington’s request were hurting his regime. But since neither government ever apologizes, it took a while.

Gadhafi’s key move was to dismantle his fantasy “nuclear weapons program” — he never really had more than bits and pieces — in 2003. This let President George W. Bush claim that his “war on terror” was scaring the bad guys into behaving better, so the mood music improved immediately. Even before that, Libya sent a couple of low-level intelligence agents to face an international court over the Lockerbie bombing (one was acquitted, one was convicted, and the Libyan regime was scarcely mentioned).



The final compensation deal was signed last month. Condoleezza Rice was in Libya this month partly to show that Gadhafi was no longer in the doghouse — and partly to ask where the money was. That is bothering the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, too, but they shouldn’t worry. Libyan banks take more than a month to transfer even thousands of dollars abroad, let alone billions.

The history behind Silvio Berlusconi’s deal with Gadhafi is much clearer, and so are the motives behind it. Italy conquered Libya, formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, in 1911, and ruled it until 1943. Tens of thousands of Libyans who resisted were killed, many more had their land confiscated and given to Italian settlers, and the country was run for Italy’s benefit, not that of its own people. Italy owes — but why is it paying now, half a century later?

The answer is partly oil — a quarter of Italy’s oil and a third of its gas come from Libya — but also illegal immigrants. Italy is the destination for a growing stream of economic migrants from Africa who use Libya as a jumping-off place for their trip across the Mediterranean, and Berlusconi needs Gadhafi’s cooperation to stem the flow. So Libya gets $5 billion of Italian money to compensate for all the wrongs of the colonial era (and Italy’s compensation will come later, in apparently unrelated deals).

“It is my duty . . . to express to you in the name of the Italian people our regret and apologies for the deep wounds that we have caused you,” Berlusconi said in Benghazi, bowing symbolically before the son of the hero of the Libyan resistance, Omar Mukhtar.

It’s a generous apology, too: $200 million a year on infrastructure projects for 25 years, and if Berlusconi’s cronies in the Italian construction business get the contracts, what’s the harm in that? But we will probably not see him making a similar apology in Mogadishu or Addis Ababa anytime soon.



Libya got off lightly. Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea, Italy’s other African colonies, suffered far more from its rule, and are owed far more in compensation. But they have no oil, they are not close to Italy, and they are not going to get it.

If you calculate the amount owed by other former colonial powers at the same per capita rate as Italy did for Libya — around $1,000 per head of the ex-colony’s current population — then France owes Algeria $30 billion, the U.S. owes the Philippines $75 billion, and Britain owes India $1.1 trillion.

But the victims’ heirs shouldn’t spend their money until they actually have it in their hands, and they shouldn’t hold their breaths while waiting.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 26th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

EYE ON THE UN: For Immediate Release – May 26, 2008 – The US Memorial Day.

Contact: Anne Bayefsky
(917) 488-1558
 anne at hudsonny.org

UN Racism Conference to be held in Geneva April 20-24, 2009 – Ironically over Holocaust Remembrance Day.

May 26, 2008

The next UN racism conference – known as Durban II or the Durban Review Conference – will be held on UN premises in Geneva from April 20-24, 2009, a UN preparatory committee decided today.

Anne Bayefsky, editor of EYEontheUN.org, said “holding the meeting at a UN venue on European soil will essentially guarantee funding from the UN regular budget for the conference, and that the European Union will fully participate and not follow boycott plans of Canada, the United States and Israel.”

The European Union had been insisting on a shorter session in New York, but the African Group refused to agree on the New York venue and wanted a 5-day conference. The idea floated by some states of again holding the conference in Durban, South Africa fell through when South Africa withdrew its offer to host the event. Throughout negotiations the African group was tightly controlled by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, with Egypt acting as their spokesperson.

Bayefsky noted “Ironically, the Durban Review Conference will take place over Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah on April 21, 2009.

Jews all over the world will be remembering the 6 million murdered in the worst instance of racism and xenophobia in human history.

At the same time, the United Nations will be discussing whether the Jewish state, created in the wake of the Holocaust and standing as a bulwark to ensure it is never repeated, should be demonized as the worst practitioner of racism and xenophobia among nations today.”

Durban II is intended to promote the implementation of the 2001 Durban Declaration, which singled out only Israel and labeled Palestinians as victims of Israeli racism.

————-

For once South Africa showed the courage to stand up and be counted among the Nations – the rest of Africa – we must note – is nothing but a rug at the feet of the Islamic world – Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibuti, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Marocco … all countries were black Africans suffer from the Egyptian led OIC intrusions on their continent. The UN is just a conduit for making the world pay the bill.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 3rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

CHAD, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, DARFUR MUST BE TACKLED TOGETHER – BAN KI-MOON SAYS.

The Observation Seems Right – but it just does not cover the UN nakedness.

The flare-up of civil strife, cross-border tension and displacement involving Chad, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Sudan should be addressed in a unified manner that is outside the mandate of the mission currently being deployed by the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a report released today.

In his report on the Mission in CAR and Chad, known as MINURCAT, Mr. Ban writes: “The internal crisis in Chad, the situation facing refugees and internally displaced persons [IDPs] in eastern Chad and the Central African Republic, the tensions between Chad and the Sudan and the situation in Darfur should be addressed simultaneously.”

This should be done, he adds, in a coordinated effort that takes into account the root causes of the internal conflicts and the regional dimensions of those problems.

“To date, however, neither MINURCAT nor EUFOR is ideally mandated to address these issues,” he says, with the latter acronym referring to the European support force.

The innovative, multi-dimensional MINURCAT was set up by the Security Council last September to help protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian aid to thousands of people uprooted due to insecurity in the northeast of the CAR and eastern Chad and in the neighbouring Darfur region of Sudan.

It was mandated to comprise 300 police and 50 military liaison officers, as well as civilian staff, focusing on the areas of civil affairs, human rights and the rule of law. The strength as of 1 April stood at 163 national and 64 national staff.

Deployment was delayed when Chadian rebels advanced from the area of the border with Sudan in a bid to take Chad’s capital, N’Djamena in early February. Though the rebels were eventually driven out of the city, street fighting left many dead and UN staff were evacuated.

Also in early February, about 10,000 people from West Darfur sought refuge in eastern Chad following a series of deadly air and land attacks by the Sudanese Government and its allied militia.

In addition, the Prime Minister of the CAR resigned in January and in the subsequent period many thousands fled their villages due to raids by armed groups, with many making their way to Chad.

These problems are complex and all require comprehensive solutions worked out between the many parties involved, Mr. Ban notes in the report.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 4th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Based on an article on JPost.com , Jan 3, 2008 20:37           Israel gets seats on United Nations agency panels, the original by Herb Keinon of The Jerusalem Post.


While Israel won a four-decade battle in 2000 to get accepted into one of the UN’s regional groupings critical for full incorporation into the world body, only now, sixty years since the UN helped legitimize the State   of new Israel, its full integration into the UN system is slowly taking place as Israel is finally participating in regular deliberations of UN agencies dealing with the environment and human settlement.


In May 2000, after a long struggle, Israel was accepted into one of the five regional groupings that make up the UN: WEOG, or the Western European and Others Group.
Until this time, Israel was the only country at the UN that was outside a regional grouping, and as a result was barred from membership on such UN organizations as the Security Council, UNICEF, UNESCO and numerous other UN bodies and agencies. Why WEOG and not Asia, where it belongs – that please ask the Arabs at the UN, and the UN managers that had no backbone when it came to mention the UN Charter.

The reason was simple: membership in those bodies was allocated according to regional groupings, and Israel was not a member of any such group. Asia, Israel’s geographic home, would not accept it.

But finally gaining entrance into WEOG was not the end of the battle, because this meant that Israel could be voted onto the governing bodies of organizations, but it did not give it the right to take part in their consultations. Another selection process inside WEOG was necessary to send Israel to those meetings.

In this selection process, certain WEOG countries objected to Israel taking part because they did not think Israel should be involved in discussions in which issues related to Israel and the Palestinians were raised. Since being chosen for those bodies needed a consensus of all WEOG state, it was always enough for one country to object to block Israel’s acceptance.

Since 2000, Israel – according to Roni Leshno Yaar, the director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s UN and International Organizations Division – has been trying to get into these consultations.

Last month Israel was voted by WEOG to represent the grouping in consultations for two UN agencies: HABITAT, the UN Human Settlement Program, and UNEP, the UN Environment Program. Both these agencies are based in Nairobi.

Calling the move a “significant breakthrough,” Leshno Yaar said, “This is an important step for Israeli diplomacy in the direction of normalizing Israel’s status in the UN, and recognizing Israel’s ability to contribute professionally to the regional UN bodies.

Now, to us at www.SustainabiliTank.info these news have a very special meaning. Also please remember that a year ago Israel was elected for a two year’s period on the UN Commission on Sustainable Development – UN CSD. The above three UN bodies, as well as UNDP, UNIDO, WMO, UNESCO, FAO are   the UN bodies most important to the area of our interest – in Sustainable Development with its implications to the development of alternate sources of energy (mainly renewable energy), global warming/climate change, water resources, agriculture and forestry with use to biomass for energy, the sustainable development of arid and semiarid land….and other very practical issues of keeping earth a livable planet.

And you know what, Israel’s own existence as a small country carved out from a climatically inhospitable land-mass next to the deserts of Egypt, Arabia, and Syria, could have been the catalyst for the development of the whole region inhabited by its Arab foes. Israel has helped in many countries of the world – in effect it does business with the Arab countries of the region, by far more business then with Jordan and Egypt, the only 2, out of 22 Member States of the Arab League, and many more members of the Organization of Islamic States – but this is under-the-table business through intermediary countries thanks to the propensity of Arab leaders to shoot at their own countries’ feet.

 

Anyway, the intent of this article is to celebrate the official entrance of Israel to two more UN bodies that deal with environmental issues that include subjects of pollution from the use of fossil fuels. As oil is the main weapon of the Arab States that are unfriendly to Israel, it is Israel’s self interest to help the world to develop alternatives to the use of oil – be these better material that allow conservation of energy, systems that allow less energy wasting life-styles, and technologies for renewable sources of energy. For years we advocate that Israel could do well for itself by giving away know-how, even for free, when it comes to ways how to be less dependent on oil. These methods include high-tech and communication technologies Israel has excelled in – we just posted two days ago an article about UCI lauding Israel’s achievements in those areas. So, will the Israeli Government take up now the challenge of this new opportunity and do the right things for the world – this thanks to its own clear self interest? Did the Europeans in WEOG, place Israel on the three UN bodies they participate in now officially because they had all this potential in mind – thinking also on the “Road From Bali to Copenhagen” that clearly will also path through Nairobi, the seat of UNEP and Habitat?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 22nd, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20071222a1.html
Saturday, Dec. 22, 2007, WRONG APPROACH TO AFRICA, by David Howell, former UK Minister and Now Member Of The House of Lords, for The Japan Times.

LONDON — An acrimonious summit meeting between EU leaders and the leaders of African countries ended last week in Lisbon. The EU was trying to offer the Africans a new trade deal, but many of the African representatives argued that the deal would make them worse off, not better off. They denounced European efforts as a continuation of colonialism that would “amputate” African state budgets and ruin African industries.

The atmosphere was further soured by the presence of Robert Mugabe, who has brought his own nation of Zimbabwe to its knees in a frenzy of repression — a living symbol of human rights abuse who ought never to have been invited to the gathering. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stayed away from the event in protest.

It was not meant to be like this. The declared intention of the European Union policymakers in Brussels was to wash away postcolonial guilt, forge a new strategic partnership and open a new development chapter for the peoples of 76 former European colonies, 40 of them former British colonies and the others mostly part of the Francophone group.

The central idea was to offer these countries better preferential tariffs on their exports into EU states than what they’ve enjoyed for more than 40 years and, in return, to require the African economies to cut their tariffs on the import of European goods. The new deals were to be presented as so-called Economic Partnership Agreements.

This stuck in African throats. They did not see the concept as one of partnership, and 10 of them refused point-blank to sign up, including major participants South Africa, Nigeria, Zambia and Senegal. For them it was tantamount to exposing their infant industries to fierce European competition and, in the words of one leader, “slamming the door on development.”

Poorer countries of Africa, they insisted, with their weak and fledgling economies, need more protection, not less. They also claimed that the EPAs would damage African trade with Pacific countries.

Behind the European approach was a deeper fear — namely that Europe is losing its influence on the African continent to the Chinese. The Chinese are indeed everywhere in Africa these days with ready cash and no strings attached, “sweet” and easy agreements to provide infrastructure, as well as weapons and military support. Their products are also highly competitive with European goods.

As one delegate put it “For the price of one European car, you can buy two Chinese cars.”

Why was the European approach so clumsy? At root are two major flaws in EU policy. The first is to push the theory of absolutely free trade too far and too fast and to ignore the practical realities of development in very impoverished economies. A belief lingers in official minds in Europe that protection in all circumstances is bad and must be swept aside. Inequalities in trade relations, they appear to believe, can be compensated for with large aid packages.

This completely overlooks the fact that much of Europe’s own industry grew under cover of protective tariffs and that without a certain amount of well-focused tariff protection, the infant industries in Africa’s struggling economies will just never take off. It also overlooks the glaring fact that most of Europe’s agriculture is still protected by high tariffs, subsidies and quotas.

The second and much deeper fallacy is that Africa is a bloc or that Europe is a bloc, and that by putting the two together, face to face, trade and development solutions can be found.

Not only is the geographical continent of Africa a conglomeration of vastly diverse societies and cultures, each with its own unique problems that require understanding and solutions. But on the European side interests vary and a real unity of approach is lacking.

The proposition that if the EU countries all stick together they will always carry greater weight in trade negotiations — with America, China, Japan or anybody else — sounds superficially true.

In practice, and in the modern global context, it could well be that bilateral negotiations and bargains — say between Britain and Nigeria, or France and Senegal, or Germany and South Africa — could create more business opportunities and generate more growth than mighty deals between the whole of Europe and the whole of Africa — which anyway are proving impossible to achieve except in general, watered-down terms that have little impact on Africa’s starving millions.

The one area where a united European approach might really help African states is in promoting techniques of plain good governance and in standing up strongly for human rights at every opportunity. That would at least help distinguish European engagement from Chinese involvement, which hitherto has shown itself to be somewhat blind to human rights matters and to the records of regimes being assisted and supported.

By letting Mugabe come to the Lisbon table, the Portuguese government, the summit host as holder of the EU presidency (shortly to pass to Slovenia), made a colossal error of judgment. They have sent the clear signal that even in this vital area the EU, while it may talk of putting human rights at the top of the agenda, in practice has no principled position and is ready to hob-nob with dictators and men of darkness. The misplaced ambition to show that the EU is a big shot and has a central place on the world stage has pushed aside common sense and practical measures.

And that is a tragedy both for Africa and for Europe.

David Howell is a former British Cabinet minister and former chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. He is now a member of the House of Lords  www.lordhowell.com).

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 4th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

America’s militarized foreign policy is a failure.
By Jeffrey D. Sachs, Commentary, Tuesday, December 4, 2007, The Daily Star of Beirut.

 www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?…

Many of today’s war zones – including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Sudan – share basic problems that lie at the root of their conflicts. They are all poor, buffeted by natural disasters – especially floods, droughts, and earthquakes – and have rapidly growing populations that are pressing on the capacity of the land to feed them. And the proportion of youth is very high, with a bulging population of young men of military age (15-24 years).

All of these problems can be solved only through long-term sustainable economic development. Yet the United States persists in responding to symptoms rather than to underlying conditions by trying to address every conflict by military means. It backs the Ethiopian Army in Somalia. It occupies Iraq and Afghanistan. It threatens to bomb Iran. It supports the military dictatorship in Pakistan.

None of these military actions addresses the problems that led to conflict in the first place. On the contrary, American policies typically inflame the situation rather than solve it.

Time and again, this military approach comes back to haunt the United States. The US embraced the shah of Iran by sending massive armaments, which fell into the hands of Iran’s revolutionary government after 1979. The US then backed Saddam Hussein in his attack on Iran, until the US ended up attacking Saddam himself. The United States backed Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, until the US ended up fighting bin Laden. Since 2001 the US has supported Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan with more than $10 billion in aid, and now faces an unstable regime that barely survives.

US foreign policy is so ineffective because it has been taken over by the military. Even postwar reconstruction in Iraq under the US-led occupation was run by the Pentagon rather than by civilian agencies. The US military budget dominates everything about foreign policy. Adding up the budgets of the Pentagon, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Department of Homeland Security, nuclear-weapons programs, and the State Department’s military assistance operations, the US will spend around $800 billion this year on security, compared with less than $20 billion for economic development.

In a stunning article on aid to Pakistan during the Bush administration, Craig Cohen and Derek Chollet demonstrated the disastrous nature of this militarized approach – even before the tottering Musharraf regime’s latest crackdown. They show that even though Pakistan faces huge problems of poverty, population, and environment, 75 percent of the $10 billion in US aid has gone to the Pakistani military, ostensibly to reimburse Pakistan for its contribution to the “war on terror,” and to help it buy F-16s and other weapons systems.

Another 16 percent went straight to the Pakistani budget, no questions asked. That left less than 10 percent for development and humanitarian assistance. Annual US aid for education in Pakistan has amounted to just $64 million, or $1.16 per school-aged child.

The authors note that “the strategic direction for Pakistan was set early by a narrow circle at the top of the Bush administration and has been largely focused on the war effort rather than on Pakistan’s internal situation.” They also emphasize that “US engagement with Pakistan is highly militarized and centralized, with very little reaching the vast majority of Pakistanis.” They quote President George W. Bush as saying, “When [Musharraf] looks me in the eye and says … there won’t be a Taliban and won’t be Al-Qaeda, I believe him, you know?”

This militarized approach is leading the world into a downward spiral of violence and conflict. Each new US weapons system “sold” or given to the region increases the chances of expanded war and further military coups, and to the chance that the arms will be turned on the US itself. None of it helps to address the underlying problems of poverty, child mortality, water scarcity, and lack of livelihoods in places like Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, Sudan’s Darfur region, or Somalia. These places are bulging with people facing a tightening squeeze of insufficient rainfall and degraded pasturelands. Naturally, many join radical causes.

The Bush administration fails to recognize these fundamental demographic and environmental challenges, that $800 billion of security spending won’t bring irrigation to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, and Somalia, and therefore won’t bring peace. Instead of seeing real people in crisis, they see caricatures, a terrorist around every corner.

A more peaceful world will be possible only when Americans and others begin to see things through the eyes of their supposed enemies, and realize that today’s conflicts, having resulted from desperation and despair, can be solved through economic development rather than war. We will have peace when we heed the words of President John F. Kennedy, who said, a few months before his death, “For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

Jeffrey Sachs is a professor of economics and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. THE DAILY STAR publishes this commentary in collaboration with Project Syndicate (c)  www.project-syndicate.org).

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Professor Sachs, being the scientist he is, will not utter words like global warming induced droughts, floods, and most probably also earthquakes. He does not want to be in a corner where folks like Bjorn Lomborg or Fred Sachs will say that he has not enough proof.

He will also not say that the American interest in Middle East oil is behind the American militarism in the Islamic world – he will not want to be accused of editorializing when he provides what some may say are political views. In short – he has all the material there we speak about on our web but does yet not put his finger right into the eye of the storm.

We at www.SustainabiliTank.info have less restraints – and we would like thus to suggest a different end to his article – the simple recommendation to the US people of demanding from their government to move towards an economy that is not based on the exclusive use of oil, and while in transition does start by withdrawing from oil imports from the Middle East first. In parallel – the US shall start helping developing countries that were the first victims of human induced climate change that was caused by our past transgressions in matters of use of fossil and nuclear energy materials.

We hope someday to discuss above suggestions with Professor Sachs.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 12th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Japan eyes global warming as pillar of aid to Africa.

Kyodo News, The Japan Times on line, November 13, 2007.
Japan plans to make support of Africa’s fight against global warming one of the pillars of a declaration to be made at next year’s international African aid conference in Yokohama, Foreign Ministry officials said Monday.

The “Yokohama Declaration,” to be adopted at the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD, in May, will also call for measures to help accelerate economic growth, promote peace and prevent environmental degradation in the region.

By adopting the declaration, Japan apparently aims to differentiate its policy toward Africa from resource-hungry China’s efforts to cement ties with the region.

At a ministerial preparatory meeting in August for the Yokohama conference, Japan criticized China for violating international rules by offering loans to African and Southeast Asian nations in a bid to secure natural resources in those regions.

Japan has hosted the African aid conference once every five years since 1993, jointly with international agencies, including the United Nations and the World Bank. Next year’s event will be the first held outside Tokyo.

Japan will call for promotion of clean energy sources, including hydraulic and solar power, and combating desertification in many parts of Africa, the officials said.

It will also seek to work for peace in the region by helping African nations institute democratic processes and hold elections mainly through financial assistance, they said.

Countries around the world are vying to step up their engagement with Africa. The European Union, for example, will hold its first joint summit with the African Union in seven years in December in Lisbon.

Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Akira Amari is going to South Africa and Botswana this week as part of its bid to strengthen relations.

Japan is lagging far behind China in assistance to Africa.

The Japanese government spent about $1.1 billion in 2005 in assistance to the region, a mere 10 percent of its budget for financial support extended to developing countries.

China, in contrast, disbursed 44 percent of its similar budget appropriations to Africa.

Chinese President Hu Jintao has visited 11 African countries over the past two years, while few high-ranking Japanese government officials have visited the region since mid-2006, when Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi went there.

Beijing also maintains the presence of more than 1,000 peacekeeping troops in Africa, but no Self-Defense Forces personnel are on any such mission there.

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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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