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Posted on on March 10th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

We got interested in the above as we saw last night a UN in Vienna showing of the documentary – “THE SUPREME PRICE” – that was inspired by the actions of Dr. Hufsat Abiola – Costello the daughter of Moshood Abiola and Kudirat Abiola – Olayinki Adeyemi. Both of Hufsat’s parents were executed by military takeover of oil rich but poor Nigeria. Actually – her father was the democratic elected President but never allowed to take over his office, and her mother became an activist and was murdered as she posed a threat to the generals. All this before there was a Boko Haram. As all the riches was in the Niger delta oil fields of the South – it is the endemic poverty of the Muslim Northern region that eventually led to the present upheavals.
As Nigeria approaches new contested elections March 28, 2015 – all of the above will again be front page news with the danger being that the elections will be followed by riots.

Neighbors of Nigeria Take On Boko Haram

By ADAM NOSSITER MARCH 9, 2015 – The New York Times

DAKAR, Senegal — Troops from Chad and Niger launched an offensive against Boko Haram militants in neighboring Nigeria, military officials from both countries said Monday, two days after the Islamist terrorist group killed scores in bombings in northeastern Nigeria.

A military official in the Niger border city of Diffa confirmed Monday that two columns of military vehicles carrying soldiers from Niger and Chad had moved into Boko Haram’s stronghold in Nigeria’s Borno State on Sunday, consolidating control over two frontier towns, Damasak and Malam Fatori.

Chad had previously reported that its forces had pushed Boko Haram out of the two towns in mid-February. But Monday was Niger’s turn to do so. Chad’s military spokesman hung up the phone when questioned about the discrepancy, though the spokesman, Col. Azem Bermandoa Agouna, did say that forces from the two neighboring countries were “in coalition” in the regional fight against Boko Haram.
Continue reading the main story
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“The armed forces have launched themselves into the fight to recover the town,” Colonel Azem said Monday from Ndjamena, the Chadian capital, referring to Damasak, a Boko Haram staging post for attacks.
Continue reading the main story
Interactive Graphic: Groups Document Swath of Destruction Left by Boko Haram

Control of the border towns has changed hands several times, and the situation in other remote towns in territory controlled by Boko Haram remains ambiguous. The Nigerian Army, which up until last month had conceded swaths of territory to the Islamist insurgents, is sensitive over the military assistance provided by its smaller neighbors.
Continue reading the main story Video
Play Video|3:51
Boko Haram Kidnapping Tactics, Explained
Boko Haram Kidnapping Tactics, Explained

In Nigeria, more than 200 schoolgirls have been held captive since last April. Some background information on the Islamist group that has been trying to topple the country’s government for years.
Video by Natalia V. Osipova on Publish Date May 9, 2014. Photo by Sunday Alamba/Associated Press.

With a national election scheduled for March 28 and a pledge by military officials to stamp out Boko Haram before the vote, activity by Nigerian forces has intensified, as have efforts by the country’s neighbors, who are worried about the effects of the insurgency on their economies. Boko Haram has increased cross-border raids into Cameroon, Chad and Niger in recent months.

Facing direct engagement from government forces, Boko Haram has reverted to old tactics, bombing so-called soft targets in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri. Fifty to 100 people were killed in four bombings over the weekend at two crowded markets in the city.

The attacks were grimly familiar, with women concealing explosives under their hijabs. In one attack on Saturday at Maiduguri’s Monday Market, vigilantes forced a woman whom they suspected of carrying a bomb to the ground, only to be blown up as she detonated it. Nigerian reporters at another attack on Saturday at the Baga Fish Market noted that a number of the victims were children.

Issa Ousseini contributed reporting from Niamey, Niger, and a correspondent for The New York Times from Maiduguri, Nigeria.

A version of this article appears in print on March 10, 2015, on page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: Neighbors of Nigeria Take On Boko Haram


With elections scheduled for 15 sub-Saharan countries this year, an Africa Check factsheet looks to the polls for leadership in five volatile states.

In addition to presidential polls held in Zambia in January and Lesotho in February, voters are to cast their ballots in Burkina Faso, Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria, Mauritius, Sudan, Tanzania and Togo.

South Sudan’s first election since it gained independence in 2011, originally scheduled for June, has been pushed back to 2017 as a result of violence.

Three of the countries heading for elections – Nigeria, Sudan and CAR – were among the bloodiest countries in Africa in 2014. They accounted for almost 50% of the continent’s around 39 000 conflict deaths, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project. It is possible that elections, if they go ahead as planned, may fuel further violence.

In what concerns Nigeria – we found – according to the following quote from The Guardian – ELECTIONS WILL BE HELD MARCH 28, 2015:

“Challenges have beset the election: Jonathan standing for office for a second term has exacerbated perennial north-south tensions and the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) has faced logistical challenges in dispensing voter cards to registered voters and to the roughly one million displaced by Boko Haram attacks.

Security concerns in the northeast of the country have affected polling. In early February, Inec pushed the election back to March 28 owing to the threat posed by Boko Haram, a move criticised by Buhari’s All Progressives Congress. Regional forces have recently made some inroads on the group; they have reclaimed several towns and are planning a major ground and air assault.

Jonathan’s waning popularity as a result of corruption scandals, high unemployment and his lacklustre handling of the Boko Haram crisis would seem to bode well for Buhari, who has extended his support in the south. But with most of his support situated in the north, any cancellation of polling or lack of voter turnout because of Boko Haram threats may affect his chances and call the credibility of the election into question.


The New York based Council on Foreign Affairs has a longer look at the upcoming elections in Nigeria:

Nigeria’s 2015 Presidential Election

Author: John Campbell, Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies
Nigeria’s 2015 Presidential Election – john-campbell-cpm-update-nigerias-2015-presidential-election

Publisher Council on Foreign Relations Press – Release Date February 2015

The success or failure of democracy, rule of law, and ethnic and religious reconciliation in Nigeria is a bellwether for the entire continent. With a population of more than 177 million evenly divided between Muslims and Christians, Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and most populous country. A 2010 Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Contingency Planning Memorandum, “Electoral Violence in Nigeria,” considered the potential for widespread violence associated with Nigeria’s 2011 elections and the limited policy options available to the United States to forestall it. This assessment remains relevant today.

The 2015 elections again may precipitate violence that could destabilize Nigeria, and Washington has even less leverage in Abuja than it did in 2011.

The upcoming elections are a rematch of the 2011 elections between the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan (a southern Christian) and Muhammadu Buhari (a northern Muslim and a former military chief). Tension between Washington and Abuja is higher than in 2011, largely over how to respond to the radical Islamist insurgent group, Boko Haram, which is steadily gaining strength in northeast Nigeria. According to CFR’s Nigeria Security Tracker, Boko Haram has been responsible for nearly eleven thousand deaths since May 2011.

Nigerian domestic instability has also increased as a result of the recent global collapse of oil prices, which are hitting the government and political classes hard. Oil constitutes more than 70 percent of Nigeria’s revenue and provides more than 90 percent of its foreign exchange. Since October 2014, the national currency, the naira, has depreciated from 155 to the U.S. dollar to 191.

New Concerns:

Since Nigeria’s independence in 1960, political power has alternated between the predominantly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south, an informal strategy to forestall the country’s polarization. Jonathan assumed the presidency when President Umaru Yar’Adua, a northern Muslim, died in 2010. Jonathan gave private assurances that he would finish Yar’Adua’s term and wait until 2015 to run for president because it was still “the north’s turn.” But Jonathan ran for reelection in 2011, thereby violating the system of power alternation. Following the announcement of Jonathan’s victory, the north made accusations of election rigging. Rioting broke out across the north, resulting in the greatest bloodshed since the 1967–70 civil war.
Geographic Distribution of Votes in 2011 Presidential Election

Geographic Distribution of Votes in 2011 Presidential Election:

The 2015 elections are likely to be more violent. A new opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), has nominated Buhari as its presidential candidate. The APC is stronger than its predecessors and reflects a splintering of the political classes. The government’s inability to defeat Boko Haram, the economic hardships brought on by falling oil prices, and a growing public perception that the Jonathan administration is weak have fueled support for the APC. Though the APC’s voter base is in the north, it enjoys support all over the country, unlike the opposition in 2011.

However, any incumbent Nigerian president has significant advantages: he is at the center of extensive patronage networks; he has access to the government’s oil revenue; and he and his party largely control the election machinery and ballot-counting infrastructure. It is uncertain whether any provisions will be made for voters in the three northern states placed under a state of emergency because of Boko Haram, as well as the estimated one million people displaced by the insurgency. These displaced voters would likely support Buhari and the APC; their exclusion would benefit Jonathan and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Thus despite the strength of the opposition, Jonathan remains the likely—but not certain—winner.
Policy Implications

An unstable Nigeria with internally displaced and refugee populations and a government unable to quell Boko Haram could potentially destabilize neighboring states and compromise U.S. interests in Africa. Yet, the United States has little leverage over Nigerian politics, which is driven by domestic factors, and even less leverage over the Nigerian security services. Nigeria will be disappointed that the United States has not offered greater assistance to counter Boko Haram, and Washington will be frustrated by Abuja’s failure to address human rights abuses by the security service.


A November 2014 Council Special Report “U.S. Policy to Counter Nigeria’s Boko Haram” recommends long-term steps the United States should take to encourage a Nigerian response to terrorism that advances democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights. In the short term, vocal U.S. support for democracy and human rights both during and after the elections could help discourage violence at the polls and after the results are announced. Secretary of State John Kerry, in a preelection visit to Nigeria, has already underscored the importance of free, fair, and credible elections to the bilateral relationship.

In the aftermath, Washington should avoid commenting prematurely on the quality of the elections. Observers from the National Democratic Institute and the International Republic Institute are likely to issue preliminary assessments immediately after the polls close. So, too, will observers from the European Union, the Commonwealth, and the African Union. There will be media pressure for early, official comment. But, following a close election and the violence likely to follow, the timing and content of official U.S. statements should take into account the views of the vibrant Nigerian human rights community, which will likely be the most accurate.
Washington should forcefully and immediately denounce episodes of violence, including those committed by the security services. But official statements should avoid assessing blame without evidence, and they should take into account the weak ability of party leaders to control crowd behavior.
Washington should facilitate and support humanitarian assistance. The north is already in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, with the prospect of famine looming. If the postelection period is violent, there may be need for international humanitarian assistance in many other parts of the country. The Obama administration should plan for a leadership role in coordinating an international humanitarian relief effort, including a close study of lessons learned from the Africa Military Command’s successful intervention in Liberia’s Ebola crisis.


Posted on on January 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (



Monday, 13. Jänner 2014, 7 p.m.

Bruno Kreisky Forum for international Dialogue | Armbrustergasse 15 | 1190 Wien

R.s.v.p: Tel.: 3188260/20 | Fax: 318 82 60/10 | e-mail:




Michel Reveyrand de Menthon

EU Special Representative for the Sahel

Günther Barnet

Federal Ministry for Defense and Sports; Head of Africa Policy Department


Georg Lennkh

Member of the Board of the Bruno Kreisky Forum

 For some time now, the European Union has recognized the Sahel Region as an area where security and development are closely interlinked and where the EU can and should play an important role in bringing these two aspects together. The EU had therefore worked out a ‘Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel’ and made this by Council decision an official part of European Common Foreign Policy. With the events in Mali, not even one year ago, this strategy took on a special significance and the EU decided, in March 2013, to nominate Michel Reveyrand de Menthon as EU Special Representative for the Sahel Region.  The key aspect of his mandate is to contribute to the implementation, coordination and further development of the Unions comprehensive approach to the regional crisis, on the basis of its Strategy, with a view to enhancing the overall coherence and effectiveness of Union activities in the Sahel, in particular in Mali.

Although the Sahel region had designated as its primary focus namely Mali, Mauritania and Niger, it was clear that the regional ramifications would extend to the Maghreb and South and East to the adjacent African countries.

The presentation of M. Reveyrand de Menthon will therefore cover a wider geographical area, and will have a particular significance also in view of the very recent intensification of the conflict in the Central African Republic.

For Austria, the topic, and the visit of M. Reveyrand de Menthon has particular relevance because of the participation of a small contingent of troops in the EU Training Mission in Mali.

Karin Mendel
Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue
1190 Vienna, Armbrustergasse 15


Posted on on December 15th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Security Council briefing on peace and security in Africa.
Thursday, December 12, 2013

The session dealt with Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Tchad – the countries visited by Mr. Ban Ki-moon. He did not go to Mauritania or Senegal.

The Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon said:

I came back from the visit with a clear sense that we need to do much more to fight poverty, empower women, provide employment opportunities for young people and ensure that all the people of the Sahel have what they need to build a better future.

The Sahel’s vast size and long, porous borders mean that such challenges can be addressed successfully only if the countries of the region work together.  The United Nations will continue its efforts to promote security, good governance and resilience.

We took an important first step in Mali at the regional meeting.  African ministers, as well as regional and international organizations and financial institutions, came together to improve coordination and address the Sahel’s fragility.  They welcomed the African Development Bank’s establishment of an Action Fund, which will help jump-start underfunded projects and contribute to longer-term development.
Going forward, the ministers will meet twice each year to calibrate responses to the Sahel’s challenges. Mr. M. Tete Antonio representing the African Union presented the organization’s views.

During the visit, the World Bank, and the EU, pledged $8.2 Billion for the SAHEL.

 The Secretary-General also had a very moving visit to Timbuktu, he said.  People there are struggling to recover from human rights abuses and upheaval.  I was given an opportunity to view the cultural treasures that had been damaged in attacks.  This was a terrible loss for Mali — and for our common global heritage — but with UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) help, we are moving to safeguard it.
I condemn all attacks against places of worship and call for reconciliation and accountability.

We must continue to strengthen MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali).   Mali has made progress toward re-establishing constitutional order.  The first round of legislative elections was conducted in an orderly manner.  But the political process between the Government and armed groups has been delayed.  I remain concerned about the security situation in the north.


Further – “Across the region, terrorist acts, the trafficking of arms, drugs and people, as well as other transnational forms of organized crime, are threatening security.  We must do more to address the food crises that plague the Sahel.  We also have to improve conditions in migrants’ communities of origin while also generating more legal opportunities for migrants to work abroad” – he said.

To put all this into context – we say the situation in this French-speaking belt of Sub-Saharan Africa – is  totally unacceptable.
The lack of positive outside involvement, and an extortive National Governments’ presence, the land is left to marauders and outside trouble-makers who take aim at the larger and richer  countries of the Arab belt of North Africa – Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Egypt. It was through the Sahel that forces fighting the Arab Spring found their way to the North and illegal traffic by those that also control the Sahel made it impossible to do any positive work in the region.

We wait to hear of any projects that help the people there rather then the banks that manage those projects.

Nevertheless – the UNSG continued – “I look forward to the views of Council members on how we can achieve this.  And I count on all partners to live up to our promises so that this important region can break the cycle of poverty and insecurity and usher in an era of prosperity and stability for all.” This prompted statements from some delegations.

Now seeing what the Council said we would not express hopes that the Council intends to do anything about the Sahel.

it is indeed very cheap to say: “The Security Council reaffirms its continued commitment to address the complex security and political challenges in that region, which were interrelated with humanitarian and developmental issues, as well as the adverse effects of climate and ecological changes.”  We ask – indeed gentlemen – what does this mean to you and what do you intend to  do?

All right – there is a reference to a document – S/PRST/2013/20 and then what? So, yes, there is a call to the local governments – but who indeed expects them to act? What are we entitled to expect from this UN?


Posted on on May 11th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

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?



Posted on on April 1st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


Back at the end of January 2013 we posted – based on an article in “Der Spiegel” – that reached us via the UN Wire – that there was in the making an Islamistan, much more dangerous to the West then the AfPak (Afghanistan & Pakistan) region. This will be a Sahelistan ranging from Mauritania to Somalia, right there as a second southern complete layer to the Mediterranean shore Arab States that stretch from Morocco to Egypt. We call this the SAHELISTAN. Its front line is in Mali, Niger, and Chad.

This layer of Islamism is a combination of conservative Islam used as mortar to bind together locally inspired aspirations to free themselves of the Arab century old imposed rulers and like in the Maghreb States and Libya and Egypt, is supported by the religious leaders out of pure opportunism.

Our old posting is:

Now, in Vienna, I realize further the influence of this newly evolving threat and the reality that Europe is happy to let France, the former Colonial power in that region, shoulder the problem by itself. Further, it is France that running its National energy network on nuclear power, is totally depended on the Uranium they get from those countries, while other Members of the EU have no such dependence.

Further, as we noted last month, at the time of the Vienna Conference of the “Alliance of Civilizations” – as shown by the regional division among the Workshops in that meeting, the Central European States have sort of distanced themselves from the Mediterranean States by showing their economic interest as an extension from Central Europe to Central Asia – that is the Black Sea – Caspian Sea and beyond to the other smaller Muslim States that were part of the former Soviet Union. This leaves the Southern EU States to worry about the Muslim MENA region (Middle East – North Africa) and Turkey – if it has to be.

We also suggested a third tier – the Northern tier – and that is the line that connects the Scandinavian countries – Germany – Poland – with Russia.
That will eventually be the route to bring Russia to the EU when it becomes clear that you must have one billion people at least in order to have a weight in the global economy in just a few years from now.

But that is not where Vienna left this part of the world.

In March I participated further at two wide scope events:

(1)  March 11, 2013, the Austrian Institute for International Politics (OIIP) where Editor Walter Haemmerle of the Wiener Zeitung, was the moderator between three Members of OIIP – all Professors at the University but coming from different areas of interest – Prof. Heinz Gaertner – a political Scientist, Prof. Jan Pospisil for the Arab Space – in particular North Africa, and Prof. Cengiz Guenay, for the Near East/ Middle East Space.

The topic was USA – Near East – Mali – in context of  Changes of International Applications of Power.

(2) March 21, 2013, the Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (VIDC) – – using the space at the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialog – dealt with a more limited topic – and therefore could go down to quite some depth – “Mali: Perspectives for the Political Come-Back.”
At this meeting, moderated by Marie-Roger Biloa of Cameroon, Producer and Editor of the Paris-based “Africa International” – and having published Development Magazines in Cameroon and Gabon,  held in place, with a strong will, three very different panelists – that included two different aspects of Mali, and the French Ambassador to Vienna – Mr. Stephane Gompertz.

The two Malians were – Ismaeel Sory Maiega, Director of the study Center of Languages and African Cultures, and the European Representative of the Tuareg-organized Insurgency MNLA – Mouvement National de Liberation de l’AzawadNational Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, Mr. Moussa Assarid.

Ms. Biloa is also the President “Club Millennium” in Paris – an African Think Tank and training place for leadership.


From the OIIP event:

The issue is the US – it is retrenching from the Reagan – G.W. Bush (the son) days of overextended global involvements – so issues like the insurgency in Mali and other Islamization aspects of North Africa, are to be from now on pure European problems. Even the Middle East will have to take care of itself – the most the US will do is to express encouragement for others to act. Professor Gaertner studied the US elections and his view of the Obama II Administration is very similar to what we wrote on our website. The US is readjusting to the Trans-Pacific Partnership – with China its main focus, so much of what goes on in the Muslim Space will have to be filled in by others. Europeans will have to look across the Mediterranean for their own sake.
This does not mean the US finds of a sudden France – but rather will not interfere if France wants to look for its own interests and put their money where they talk was for quite some time.

Dr. Jan Pospisil did his PhD thesis on US-German military cooperation and then looked at East Africa and Sri-Lanka. Like Prof. Gaertner he sees in Syria the biggest problem for the topic of human rights and both think that this is an area that Austria will pay attention as well. With this background it becomes interesting to note that the Austrian participation in Mali is with 9 people.

Dr. Cengiz Guenay wrote his PhD thesis on “Islam as a political factor in Turkey” and found Libya, Egypt, and now Syria as his main fields of interest and he is called in quite often to explain the situation to the media.


The two main points I marked myself from this discussion were:

A. that Turkey is now a TRADING STATE and will do whatever Mr. Erdogan finds opportune for the literal moment.

B. The World – Instead of Multi-polarity – now it will be MULTI-PARTNERSHIPS.



Then at the VIDC/Bruno Kreisky Forum event we got to know Mr. Assarid a full blooded Tuareg, dressed to prove it,  who speaks about the Azawad State they want to carve out from the Northern half of Mali – the five towns – Timbuktu, Lere, Hombori, Gao, and Kidal. His bio says he is a writer, journalist and comedian – living in Paris since 1999. He has appeared on TV in several series as actor. He was saying that the Tuaregs have a National movement that is secular. They are not part of an Islamic uprising and their problem is rather that the other side – the present government in Bamako – that took over from an elected government by military coup – is the one that may help the North Africa Al-Qaeda – not the Tuaregs.

Listening to him, and to his opponent, Professor. Maiega, who is an intellectual – head of a Bamako Institute to promote indigenous languages and African Civilizations,  it seems that in effect both of them are more interested in traditional African culture then in Islam, and in effect it is France’s interest in holding on to its previous Colony that is the most problematic aspect of this entanglement. Is it all because of the Uranium, coal, and other natural resources found in Mali? Will this move on to Niger and Chad? What would happen if Mali is allowed to split amicably into two States? Could this be worse then seeing it unravel in fighting that allows other groups to mix the boiling pot?

The French say they want to bring down their fighting troops from 4,000 to 1,000 by the end of April, and have by that time trained the Mali government troops, and the West African troops, that offered to help. I say – Do not hold your breath – I say.
It is easy to get in – it is much more difficult to get out –  and the French Ambassador did not impress us that he really thinks France wants to get out from Mali. Though let me add immediately that Ambassador Gompertz is Professor for classic literature and has a degree in Germanistic – this while in the French Foreign Ministry he was head of the sections on Africa and the Indian Ocean (2009-2012) when he was appointed to Vienna. Before 2008 he was Ambassador to Ethiopia, and with the North Africa and Middle East sections in the ministry – so he is well into the Mediterranean region.

The problem with the desert people maybe much more complicated then what was presented. There is money to be made from those natural resources, and from kidnapping people for ransom. The desert is big and people rather unemployed – so the few can muster the rest, and bamboozle with religion cooked up with social, ethnic, tribal arguments to boot – this works in a world that thinks very little of terrorism, as an accepted tool for those that feel downtroden, and the passage to the world here-after as a move to step up an imagined personalized ladder.


Recent History as reported today – April 1, 2013: The fighting reflected the difficulty of securing Mali after a French intervention in January that pushed the rebels out of their northern strongholds.

“Things are quiet this morning. The markets are open, traffic is on the streets, and people are out of their houses,” Timbuktu resident Garba Maiga said by telephone.

Malian military sources said soldiers were sweeping parts of the town to ensure there were no remaining rebel fighters.

At least one Malian soldier was killed in the clashes, along with more than 20 insurgents, according to a government statement on Sunday night. Residents said at least five civilians were killed in the crossfire.

An army spokesman said that groups of rebels had entered the town after setting off a suicide car bomb at a checkpoint, diverting the military’s attention.

Paris is keen to reduce its current 4,000-strong troop presence to 1,000 by the end of the year as it hands over its mission to a regional African force.



By coincidence – the following arrived in our Inbox and I find this relevant as it stresses US-Senegal relations. Senegal is a Muslim State.

04/01/2013 03:58 PM EDT


Remarks at Luncheon in Honor of Four African Democratic Partners.


William J. Burns
Deputy Secretary
Martin Van Buren Dining Room
Washington, DC
March 29, 2013



Good afternoon. It is truly an honor to be here today with all of you. I want to thank Assistant Secretary Carson for hosting this luncheon. As you know, despite our best efforts to change his mind, Johnnie is leaving the State Department after a nearly four decades of exemplary public service. We are all deeply indebted to Johnnie for his leadership and stewardship of the U.S.-Africa relationship.

I would like to welcome President Banda of Malawi, Prime Minister Neves of Cape Verde, Foreign Minister Ndiaye of Senegal, and Foreign Minister Kamara of Sierra Leone. It is a pleasure to host you here at the Department of State.

Like Johnnie, I am an Africa optimist. I am an optimist because the tide of wars and civil strife is receding. I am an optimist because the continent continues to make steady progress in political reform — more than half of the countries in Africa have embraced democratic, multiparty rule and elections and term limits are now widely accepted norms. And I am an optimist because Africa’s growth rate will soon surpass Asia’s and seven of the world’s ten fastest growing economies are African.

The credit for this transformation belongs to leaders like you and courageous citizens across the continent. Looking back over the past two decades, the United States is proud of its modest contribution and steady support.

President Clinton worked with Congress to pass the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the region. President George W. Bush created the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, programs that saved millions of lives and brought hundreds of thousands of Africans out of poverty. Over the last four years, President Obama has built on this foundation by forming partnerships based on mutual respect and responsibility with governments, entrepreneurs, youth, women, and the private sector to strengthen democratic institutions, spur economic growth, promote opportunity and development, and advance peace and security.

Each of you illustrates the potential of these partnerships.

President Banda – in one year, you led Malawi out of a deep abyss, moving swiftly to stabilize the economy and elevate human rights. And as you did, the United States was pleased to restore its partnership with your government, including lifting the suspension of our $350 million MCC Compact. We look forward to continuing to work together further to strengthen Malawi democracy, address hunger and improve food security.

Prime Minister Neves – under your leadership, Cape Verde reached middle-income country status, joined the WTO, attracted significant foreign investment, and solidified its social safety net. We value our cooperation on maritime security and in countering narcotrafficking and are pleased to launch a second five-year MCC compact to accelerate economic growth.

Senegal is one of the United States’ strongest partners and a leading democracy in Africa. We applaud the Senegalese government’s commitment to improve governance, regional security, and bilateral cooperation. We deeply appreciate President Sall’s efforts for peace in the Casamance and his leadership on peacekeeping and regional security.

Last year, Sierra Leone held fair, free, and credible elections. We thank President Koroma and his government for their commitment to strengthening Sierra Leone’s democratic institutions. Predictably, the economy responded to your efforts, expanding by 30% in 2012. Let me also note our deep appreciation for your government’s troop contribution to the Somalia peacekeeping force.

There is no doubt that we face many challenges in the coming years – from the Horn to the Great Lakes, and the Sahel. This is why our partnership has never been more important. Fortunately, it has never been stronger.

Thank you very much.



File:Mali regions map.png


According to the Scottish explorer and scientist Robert Brown, Azawad is an Arabic corruption of the Berber word Azawagh, referring to a dry river basin that covers western Niger, northeastern Mali, and southern Algeria.[16] The name translates to “land of transhumance“.[17]

Flag of Azawad  the flag of AZAWAG

On 6 April 2012, in a statement posted to its website, the MNLA declared the independence of Azawad from Mali. In this Azawad Declaration of Independence, the name Independent State of Azawad was used[18] (French: État indépendant de l’Azawad,[18] ArabicDawlat Azaw?d al-Mustaqillah).

On 26 May, the MNLA and its former co-belligerent Ansar Dine – an Islamist group linked to Al-Qaeda – announced a pact in which they would merge to form an Islamist state; according to the media the new long name of Azawad was used in this pact. But this new name is not clear – sources list few variants of it: the Islamic Republic of Azawad[20] (French: République islamique de l’Azawad),[21] the Islamic State of Azawad (French: État islamique de l’Azawad[22]), the Republic of Azawad.[23] Azawad authorities did not officially confirm any change of name.

Later reports indicated the MNLA had decided to withdraw from the pact with Ansar Dine. In a new statement, dated on 9 June, MNLA uses the name State of Azawad (French: État de l’Azawad).[24]

The MNLA has unveiled the list of 28 members of the Transitional Council of the State of Azawad (Conseil de Transition de l’Etat de l’Azawad, CTEA) serving as a provisional government with President Bilal Ag Acherif to manage the new State of Azawad.

The Economic Community of West African States, which refused to recognise Azawad and called the declaration of its independence “null and void”, has said it may send troops into the disputed region in support of the Malian claim.[7][8]

Ansar Dine later declared that they rejected the idea of Azawad independence.[12] The MNLA and Ansar Dine continued to clash,[13] culminating in the Battle of Gao on 27 June, in which the Islamist groups Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa and Ansar Dine took control of the city, driving out the MNLA. The following day, Ansar Dine announced that it was in control of all the cities of northern Mali.[14]

On 14 February 2013 the MNLA renounced their claim of independence for Azawad; it asked the Malian government to start negotiations on its future status.[15]

All of this points at a very confusing situation that in effect backs what we heard at the meeting of March 21, 2013 here in Vienna.

File:Azawad in context.JPG

Above map suggests that the presence of Tuaregs which were nomads, is not limited to the north of Mali alone, but they are found in neighboring States as well. The history of the region involved wars that extended to Algeria and to larger Morocco. The area was part of empires that existed in Timbuktu and Gao.

Under French rule

Portal icon Azawad portal

After European powers formalized the scramble for Africa in the Berlin Conference, the French assumed control of the land between the 14th meridian and Miltou, South-West Chad, bounded in the south by a line running from Say, Niger to Baroua. Although the Azawad region was French in name, the principle of effectivity required France to hold power in those areas assigned, e.g. by signing agreements with local chiefs, setting up a government, and making use of the area economically, before the claim would be definitive. On 15 December 1893, Timbuktu, by then long past its prime, was annexed by a small group of French soldiers, led by Lieutenant Gaston Boiteux.[41] The region became part of French Sudan (Soudan Français), a colony of France. The colony was reorganised and the name changed several times during the French colonial period. In 1899 the French Sudan was subdivided and the Azawad became part of Upper Senegal and Middle Niger (Haut-Sénégal et Moyen Niger). In 1902 it was renamed as Senegambia and Niger (Sénégambie et Niger), and in 1904 this was changed again to Upper Senegal and Niger (Haut-Sénégal et Niger). This name was used until 1920 when it became French Sudan again.[42]

French Sudan became the autonomous state of Mali within the French Community in 1958, and Mali became independent from France in 1960. Four major Tuareg rebellions took place against Malian rule: the First Tuareg Rebellion (1962–64), the rebellion of 1990–1995, the rebellion of 2007–2009, and a 2012 rebellion. This alone should tell the world that the situation is not stable and that it can be adjusted only if autonomy is granted the Tuareg region.

In the early twenty-first century, the region became notorious for banditry and drug smuggling.[43] The area has been reported to contain great potential mineral wealth, including petroleum and uranium.[44]

On 17 January 2012, the MNLA announced the start of an insurrection in Azawad against the government of Mali, declaring that it “will continue so long as Bamako does not recognise this territory as a separate entity”.[45]On 24 January, the MNLA won control of the town of Aguelhok, killing around 160 Malian soldiers and capturing dozens of heavy weapons and military vehicles. In March 2012, the MNLA and Ansar Dine took control of the regional capitals of Kidal[46] and Gao[47] along with their military bases. On 1 April, Timbuktu was captured.[48] After the seizure of Timbuktu on 1 April, the MNLA gained effective control of most of the territory they claim for an independent Azawad. In a statement released on the occasion, the MNLA invited all Azawadis abroad to return home and join in constructing institutions in the new state.[49]

The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) declared Azawad an independent state on 6 April 2012 and pledged to draft a constitution establishing it as a democracy. Their statement acknowledged the United Nations charter and said the new state would uphold its principles.[5][50]

In an interview with France 24, an MNLA spokesman declared the independence of Azawad:

Mali is an anarchic state. Therefore we have gathered a national liberation movement to put in an army capable of securing our land and an executive office capable of forming democratic institutions. We declare the independence of Azawad from this day on.
Moussa Ag Assarid, MLNA spokesman, 6 April 2012[51]

In the same interview, Assarid promised that Azawad would respect the colonial frontiers that separate Azawad from its neighbours; he insisted that Azawad’s declaration of independence had international legality.[51]

No foreign entity recognised Azawad. The MNLA’s declaration was immediately rejected by the African Union, who declared it “null and no value whatsoever”. The French Foreign Ministry said it would not recognise the unilateral partition of Mali, but it called for negotiations between the two entities to address “the demands of the northern Tuareg population [which] are old and for too long had not received adequate and necessary responses”. The United States also rejected the declaration of independence.[52]

The MNLA is estimated to have up to 3,000 soldiers. ECOWAS declared Azawad “null and void”, and said that Mali is “one and [an] indivisible entity”. ECOWAS has said that it would use force, if necessary, to put down the rebellion.[53] The French government indicated it could provide logistical support.[52]

On 26 May, the MNLA and its former co-belligerent Ansar Dine announced a pact to merge to form an Islamist state.[9] Later reports indicated the MNLA withdrew from the pact, distancing itself from Ansar Dine.[10][11] MNLA and Ansar Dine continued to clash,[54] culminating in the Battle of Gao and Timbuktu on 27 June, in which the Islamist groups Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa and Ansar Dine took control of Gao, driving out the MNLA. The following day, Ansar Dine announced that it was in control of Timbuktu and Kidal, the three biggest cities of northern Mali.[55] Ansar Dine continued its offensive against MNLA positions and overran all remaining MNLA held towns by 12 July with the fall of Ansogo.[56]

In December 2012, the MNLA agreed on Mali’s national unity and territorial integrity in talks with both the central government and Ansar Dine.[57]


Most are Muslims, of the Sunni or Sufi orientations.[citation needed] Most popular in the Tuareg movement and northern Mali as a whole is the Maliki branch of Sunnism, in which traditional opinions and analogical reasoning by later Muslim scholars are often used instead of a strict reliance on ?adith (coming directly from the Mohammed’s life and utterances) as a basis for legal judgment.[79]

Ansar Dine follows the Salafi branch of Sunni Islam, which rejects the existence of Islamic holy men (other than Mohammed) and their teachings. They strongly object to praying around the graves of Malikite ‘holymen’, and burned down an ancient Sufi shrine in Timbuktu, which had been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[80]

Most of the 300 Christians who formerly lived in Timbuktu have fled to the South since the rebels captured the town on 2 April 2012.[81][dead link]

Humanitarian situation

The people living in the central and northern Sahelian and Sahelo-Saharan areas of Mali are the country’s poorest, according to an International Fund for Agricultural Development report. Most are pastoralists and farmers practicing subsistence agriculture on dry land with poor and increasingly degraded soils.[82] The northern part of Mali suffers from a critical shortage of food and lack of health care. Starvation has prompted about 200,000 inhabitants to leave the region.[83]

Refugees in the 92,000-person refugee camp at Mbera, Mauritania, describe the Islamists as “intent on imposing an Islam of lash and gun on Malian Muslims.” The Islamists in Timbuktu have destroyed about a half-dozen historic above-ground tombs of revered holy men, proclaiming the tombs contrary to Shariah. One refugee in the camp spoke of encountering Afghans, Pakistanis and Nigerians among the invading forces.[84]

History of Azawad
MNLA flag.svg
Gao Empire
Songhai Empire
Pashalik of Timbuktu
French Sudan
Tuareg rebellion (1962–1964)
Tuareg rebellion (1990–1995)
Tuareg rebellion (2007–2009)
Tuareg rebellion (2012)
Independent State of Azawad


National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad

from the MNLA point of view:

Mouvement National pour la Libération de l’Azawad
Participant in Tuareg rebellions
MNLA emblem.png
Active October 2011 – present
Ideology Secular nationalism[1]
Leaders Bilal Ag Acherif[2] (General Secretary)
Mahmoud Ag Aghaly (President of the political bureau)
Ag Mohamed Najem (head of military operations)
Moussa Ag Acharatoumane
Ibrahim Ag Bahanga
Area of
Azawad/northern Mali
Strength 9000-10000 (MNLA sources)[3]
Part of  Azawad
Allies  Libya (under Jamahiriya)
 Libya (under NTC)
Opponents  Mali (2012)
Ansar Dine (since June 2012)
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa
Battles/wars 2012–present Northern Mali conflict


Posted on on July 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

RECEIVED FROM: Editeur : RIAED | Réseau international d’accès aux énergies durables

from RIAED | Réseau international d’accès aux énergies durables
date Mon, Jul 19, 2010
subject: La lettre d’information du RIAED, n°41


Voici la lettre d’information du site RIAED | Réseau international d’accès aux énergies durables.

A la Une

Un inventaire des opportunités de réduction d’émissions de GES en Afrique subsaharienne

Un rapport de la Banque mondiale détaille, sur 44 pays d’Afrique subsaharienne, les opportunités de réduction d’émissions de gaz à effet de serre dans 22 domaines. Au travers de l’approche MDP, cette étude a pour objectif d’explorer le potentiel offert par les projets énergétiques à faible contenu en carbone qui peuvent contribuer au développement de l’Afrique subsaharienne. Dans ce but, l’équipe de réalisation de l’étude a identifié les technologies pour lesquelles il existe déjà des méthodologies MDP et qui ont déjà donné lieu à projets MDP dans d’autres régions en voie de développement.


Liberia : deux firmes américaines financent la construction d’une centrale hydroélectrique Les firmes Buchanan Renewable Energies (BRE) et Overseas Private Investment Company (OPIC) basées aux États-Unis, ont déboursé 150 millions de dollars pour la construction d’une centrale hydro-électrique à Kakata, dans la région de Margibi (environ 45 kilomètres de la capitale Monrovia).

Maroc : lancement du plus grand parc éolien en Afrique Le Maroc a lancé le 28 juin 2010, au nord du pays, le plus grand parc éolien en Afrique, pour une enveloppe de 2,75 milliards de dirhams (400 millions de dollars) soit une des étapes – clés du Programme marocain intégré de l’énergie éolienne, qui table sur un investissement d’environ 31,5 milliards de dirhams (4 milliards de dollars).

Cap Vert : la CEDEAO ouvre un centre des énergies renouvelables La Communauté économique des États de l’Afrique d l’Ouest (CEDEAO) a ouvert un nouveau centre pour les énergies renouvelable (ECREEE) aux Iles du Cap Vert pour développer le potentiel de la région en énergies renouvelables.

Côte d’Ivoire : l’état relance le barrage de Soubré Dans le cadre des mesures annoncées pour palier aux difficultés dans le secteur de l’énergie électrique, l’état ivoirien va relancer le projet de construction du barrage hydroélectrique de Soubré.

Malawi : un projet de biogaz mène à d’autres services Une unité de production de biogaz de petite échelle au Malawi, récemment créée dans le but d’atténuer le changement climatique, peut également, si elle est bien exploitée, améliorer la sécurité alimentaire et les moyens de subsistance dans les régions rurales du Malawi.

Afrique sub-saharienne : les meilleurs produits d’éclairage hors réseau gagnent le soutien de Lighting AfricaCinq produits innovants ont été sélectionnés lors de la conférence de Lighting Africa et du commerce équitable à Nairobi en mai dernier.

Bénin : projet d’amélioration de l’acccès à l’énergie moderne Le Gouvernement de la République du Bénin a obtenu un crédit auprès de l’Association Internationale de Développement (IDA) d’un montant équivalant à quarante sept millions cinq cent mille Droits de Tirages Spéciaux (47 500 000 DTS) soit soixante dix millions de dollars US (70 000 000 USD) pour financer le Projet de Développement de l’Accès à l’énergie Moderne (DAEM).

Afrique de l’Est : Les micro-entrepreneurs font leurs entrées dans le marché de l’énergie, à temps pour la coupe du monde Un groupe de 20 micro-entrepreneurs originaires de Ranen, un marché local de l’ouest de Kenya, sont les premiers entrepreneurs DEEP formés et mis en relation avec les institutions financières pour obtenir des facilités de crédits et développer leurs affaires dans le secteur énergétique.

L’Égypte compte ouvrir sa première centrale à énergie solaire fin 2010 L’Égypte compte mettre en service sa première centrale électrique à énergie solaire d’ici la fin de l’année 2010, a indiqué lundi 14 juin 2010 le ministère égyptien de l’Énergie.

Accord entre le Pool d’énergie ouest-africain et la BEI Le président de la BEI (Banque Européenne d’Investissement) se félicite de la seconde révision de l’Accord de Cotonou et signe avec le Pool d’énergie ouest-africain un accord d’assistance technique en faveur d’un projet dans le secteur libérien de l’énergie.

Colloques, conférences, rencontres, forum…

France : Forum EURAFRIC 2010 La 10ème édition du Forum EURAFRIC « Eau et Énergie en Afrique » se tiendra du 18 au 21 octobre 2010 au Centre des Congrès de Lyon (France).(29/06/2010)

Sénégal : salon ENERBATIM 2011 La deuxième édition du Salon International des Energies Renouvelables et du Bâtiment ENERBATIM en Afrique se tiendra du 6 au 9 avril 2011 au CICES (Dakar).

Tunisie : Congrès international sur les Énergies Renouvelables et l’Environnement Ce congrès aura lieu du 4 au 6 novembre 2010 à Sousse (Tunisie).

Algérie : salon international des énergies renouvelables ERA 2010 Le Salon international des énergies renouvelables, des énergies propres et du développement durable, se tiendra les 19, 20 et 21 octobre 2010 à Tamanrasset (Algérie).

Afrique du Sud : forum Hydropower Africa 2010 Ce forum sur l’hydroélectricité en Afrique aura lieu du 16 au 20 août 2010 à Johannesburg (Afrique du Sud)


Derniers documents (études, applications…) proposés en libre téléchargement :

La revue de Proparco – n°6 – mai 2010 Cette revue bimestrielle n°6 de Proparco (groupe AFD) a pour thème : « Capital-investissement et énergies propres : catalyser les financements dans les pays émergents »

Les petits systèmes PV font la différence dans les pays en développement La coopération technique allemande (GTZ), a publié une étude qui fait le point sur l’impact des petites installations photovoltaïques sur le processus d’électrification rurale hors réseau, dans les pays en développement.

L’électricité au cœur des défis africains Manuel sur l’électrification en Afrique – Auteur Christine Heuraux

Interactions bioénergie et sécurité alimentaire Ce document de la FAO fournit un cadre quantitatif et qualitatif pour analyser l’interaction entre la bioénergie et la sécurité alimentaire.

Blogues du Riaed

Petit site dédié à un projet, une rencontre, une institution… Vous pouvez présenter vos connaissances et proposer des ressources en libre téléchargement.

Accès aux blogues hébergés par le Riaed :

Annuaire du Riaed

Inscrivez vous en qualité d’expert, ou inscrivez votre entreprise / institution / projet, etc. dans l’annuaire du Riaed pour être facilement identifiable et joignable. Vous le ferez en ligne, en quelques minutes, à la page Vous pouvez aussi le faire en adhérant au réseau du Riaed, en qualité de membre, à la page et en précisant à la fin votre souhait d’être aussi présenté publiquement dans l’annuaire (cocher la case ad hoc).

ASAPE ASAPE ou Association de solidarité et d’appui pour l’environnement

Burkina énergies et technologies appropriées (BETA) BETA est une entreprise solidaire qui a fait le choix de s’investir dans la promotion de l’accès à l’énergie en milieu rural.

Opportunités de financement de projets

EuropeAid – Facilité Énergie n°39 – Newsletter de juin 2010 Ce numéro de la lettre de la Facilité Énergie de la Commission Européenne nous fournit les statistiques sur l’évaluation des notes succinctes.

Formation, stages, partenariat, bourse d’échanges

Maroc : formation continue « La pérennisation des systèmes énergétiques décentralisés » L’objectif de cette session est la formation d’un groupe de techniciens impliqués dans les aspects techniques et socio-économiques de l’introduction de l’énergie solaire photovoltaïque dans l’électrification des zones rurales et isolées.

Burkina Faso : formation continue « Développer son expertise pour économiser l’énergie dans les bâtiments climatisés » L’IEPF et 2iE ont développé une formule qui comprend non seulement la formation proprement dite, mais également le suivi des bénéficiaires de cette formation (en particulier les entreprises industrielles), avec un engagement de leur part à mettre en oeuvre les recommandations des audits, en finançant tout ou partie des coûts.

Sites francophones sur l’énergie

Une liste de sites francophones et de réseaux sur l’énergie est proposée à la page


(Autres liens et réseaux)


Une liste de sites anglophones et de réseaux internationaux sur l’énergie est proposée à la page




Posted on on November 21st, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

The success is on the individual Nations level – “In a short span, many nations have pledged to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases by considerable amounts, well beyond any commitments they had made before,” notes a commentary appearing last month in Nature magazine (Oct. 22). “Norway, for example, offered this month to reduce its own emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. Indonesia said it would curb its emissions over that same time by 26 percent below the levels expected under a business-as-usual scenario, with even stronger cuts possible under an international agreement. The European Union has committed to a 20 percent reduction below 1990 levels and would increase that to 30 percent with a global pact. And, for the first time,” the commentary continues, “the U.S. Congress is moving {better said limping – sustainabiliTank editor} towards establishing laws that mandate emissions cuts.”

As Nature points out, though, promises are not achievements. Nevertheless, “they at least show that countries have started to analyse their own emissions seriously and to develop domestic agendas that would set them on course to meet their commitments. Such unilateral decisions are an essential starting point for an international agreement, and they suggest that countries are now ready to back up their rhetoric in a way that was not true 12 years ago, when they signed the Kyoto Protocol. {and a country like the US knew that the Protocol will not be ratified by a Senate that voted already by 95 – 0 that it does not want any part of it – editor}. This is now real progress, and it would not have happened without the pressure to produce a treaty,” states Nature.

Which is good news, because human society is going to need all the cooperation and commitment it can muster in coming decades as human populations undermine other biophysical thresholds and threaten Earth’s ability to provide for human life.


In Sweden, a team of Earth-system and environmental scientists led by Johan Rockstrom of the Stockholm Resilience Centre has already begun research “to define the boundaries of the biophysical processes that determine the Earth’s capacity for self-regulation,” a feature article in the September issue of Nature reported.

The scientists there are attempting to take a holistic look at planetary systems and how human demands on these systems are putting stress on the entire planet, states the article, titled “A Safe Operating Space for Humanity.”

“We have tried to identify the Earth-system processes and associated thresholds which, if crossed, could generate unacceptable environmental change. We have found nine such processes for which we believe it is necessary to define planetary boundaries: climate change; rate of biodiversity loss (terrestrial and marine); interference with the nitrogen and phosphorus cycles; stratospheric ozone depletion; ocean acidification; global freshwater use; change in land use; chemical pollution; and atmospheric aerosol loading,” explain the authors.

The boundaries for three systems — climate change, rate of biodiversity loss, and human interference with the nitrogen cycle — have already been overstepped with unknown consequences for the environment and human society, warn the scientists.

For the past 10,000 years, Earth’s environment has remained remarkably stable, with regular temperatures, freshwater availability, and biogeochemical flows fluctuating within narrow ranges. This period, known as the Holocene, has now been replaced by the Anthropocene, during which human activities have become primary sources of global environmental change.

“Now, largely because of a rapidly growing reliance on fossil fuels and industrialized forms of agriculture, human activities have reached a level that could damage the systems that keep Earth in the desirable Holocene state,” explain the authors. “The result could be irreversible and, in some cases, cause abrupt environmental change, leading to a state less conducive to human development.”

Not surprisingly, this process of identifying systems and thresholds requires many qualifications. The values chosen as boundaries by Rockstrom’s team are for the most part arbitrary, the boundaries do not always apply globally as local circumstances often differ, and “assigning ‘acceptable’ limits to processes that ultimately determine our own survival is risky as some of the suggested limits may be easier to balance with ethical and economic issues than others,” note Nature’s editors.

Nevertheless, the challenge is an essential one in much the same way carbon footprinting is: It helps to calculate, and respond to, the demands that production, consumption and wastes put on local, regional and global ecosystems.

With a better understanding of how Earth’s biophysical systems work, we can better craft land use, resource use, agriculture and emissions policies, both nationally and internationally.

“The evidence so far suggests that, as long as the thresholds are not crossed, humanity has the freedom to pursue long-term social and economic development,” conclude the authors.

The danger, of course, is that in our eagerness to grow our economies and exploit Earth’s bounty, we will push our planet beyond these thresholds — compromising the life quality of our children and grandchildren.

For better and worse, risk-taking is in our genes. We often push to the limit and when we do we win or lose big. So far we have taken the big payouts, leaving the losses to future generations.


Posted on on August 11th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (


This posting comes as a correction of our previous postings that said that President Obama had in reality only three choices when trying to show solidarity with African democrats. now we are left only with two SubSaharan States that qualify – this at a time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is trying to drum up interest in democracy by traveling through further seven states that showed once promise for democracy but have hit harder times now.
Also, western interest in stable governments in Africa should not be viewed as merely an economist’s decision on who provides safety for his investments. This is the view that allowed China to look away from the Sudanese atrocities – will this sort of thinking provide excuse now for French views about Niger?
The remarks come after Niger authorities said 92.5 percent of people in a recent referendum voted in favour of keeping the president in power until at least 2012 and potentially for life.


Opposition groups say just five percent of the population even took part. But pro-democracy campaigner Morou Amadou has landed in jail after calling for a general strike.”


The seven states visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton are: Kenya, South Africa, Congo (DRC), Angola, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cape Verde. We wish to note that only two of the seven, Angola and Nigeria, export oil to the US.



Posted on on August 3rd, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

Niger: UN Secretary-General urges restraint ahead of referendum

Less bustle at a market in Niger’s capital Niamey, as some heed calls for a strike to protest a constitutional referendum.
31 July 2009 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged the people of Niger to refrain from violence and exercise the utmost restraint, days before they vote on a controversial referendum to change the national constitution to allow the current President to run for a third term in office.
Mr. Ban “reiterates his support for an inclusive process to resolve the current crisis peacefully and in conformity with the country’s democratic values,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.

On Tuesday Niger is staging a referendum that could endorse a constitutional amendment on presidential term limits and allow incumbent Mamadou Tandja to run for a third consecutive term.

Mr. Ban said he was concerned that the referendum was taking place, “despite sharp differences among the country’s political stakeholders,” and he urged all sides in the impoverished West African country to show restraint.

“The United Nations stands ready to support initiatives that would help resolve the current situation in a peaceful and sustainable manner,” he added.


Posted on on July 23rd, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

OSI-New York, 400 West 59 Street, New York City, is the main headquarters of the Open Society Institute founded by financier George Soros.  Along with OSI-Budapest, it provides administrative, financial, and technical support to the Soros foundations and also operates OSI initiatives, which address specific issues on a regional or network-wide basis, and other independent programs. OSI-New York is also the home of a series of initiatives that focus primarily on the United States.

OSI-New York is now considering the establishment of an initiative that deals with aspects of Global Climate Change. in this regard, July 22, 2009, it arranged for a panel and webcast to discuss – “The Adaptation Imperative—Food Security and Climate Change.” It was chaired by  Ross Gelbspan, a former editor and reporter at the Boston Globe and the Washington Post, author of two acclaimed books on climate change: “The Heat is On” (1997) and “Boiling Point” (2004) and is working now on his third book .  The participants were: Mark Hertsgaard a journalist covering the environment for the Nation and an Open Society fellow, and Sara Scherr who serves on the United Nations Millennium Project Task Force on Hunger and is founder of Ecoagriculture Partners.

It was announced that they will discuss the implications of – the somber reality that scientists calculate that temperatures will keep rising for the next 50 years, no matter how drastically we cut greenhouse gas emissions – for food production and global hunger – in a nutshell – “the implications of climate change for food production and global hunger” – this being clearly related to the main topics that OSI deals with – human rights and democracy – including the emerging and not-yet-emerging poor countries of the world.

The panelists were supposed to “assess the severity of the problem, which is worsened by widespread soil erosion and dwindling rainfall in crop-growing regions. But they will also identify cause for hope. New farming techniques can boost crop yields while enabling plants to store carbon.” I had the feeling that the above is just the needed dry test run for the preparation of fodder for the creation of the new OSI initiative.

As we would like to hope that a new George Soros Initiative that fords the political waters of climate change will be a big deal indeed – I will start here by going over material from the Soros Foundations Network Report 2008.

George Soros began supporting efforts to promote an open society back in 1978 and five years later established the foundation in Hungary which signaled the start of his network that operates now in all parts of the globe. Today, the President of his New York headquarters is famous human rights advocate Aryeh Neier.

The Foundations have offices in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Nairobi for East Africa, Estonia, Georgia, Guatemala, Haiti, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, South Africa, Johannesburg for Southern Africa, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Dakar for Western Africa, then further US based offices that deal with Latin America and the Caribbean; Af-Pak, Turkmenistan, Middle East and North Africa; Albania, Bulgaria, Czech and Slovak Republics, Moldova and Rumania; the Caucasus, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan; The States that resulted from the former Yugoslavia, Hungary, the Baltics, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine; Turkey; Burma/South East Asia. The total expenditures of the network was in 2008 over $540 million.

With above scope before us – so what was discussed last night?

In his introduction, Ross Gelbspan made it clear that the Global Climate Change topic has not made it yet through the Global Press – and by saying so he clearly got my vote unconditionally.

He also said that the authoritarian governments that disregard human rights also do little on climate change. Their people suffer and there is no respite. A properly constructed program on this subject could help create important dynamics. Most important – RENEWABLE ENERGY COULD DRIVE GLOBAL ECONOMY.

The importance is global – just look at what Secretary of Energy Prof. Steven Chu has said – “while we talk about Africa we also talk about California.” We have already a major agricultural collapse in California.

Sara Scherr moved to food security in West Africa. Very large areas in Africa will get drier and much higher temperatures. Even in those countries that get cooler, or get more water – there will be problems. There will be floods and diseases that did not exist earlier. There will be a need for change so there will not be gains as some were saying earlier. In short – even when one sees weather improvements this will not translate as desirable. There will be environmental refugees.

GHG – over 30% come from the agricultural sector. Most of the forest emissions come from drivers in agriculture. There will be adaptation issues and there will be talk of irrigation issues.

Mark Hertsgaard added that so far we focused on energy and overlooked agriculture. WHERE DO YOU GET MEAT IS AS IMPORTANT AS THE CAR! he said. How do we eat? On the mitigation side – agriculture is an important tool.

One must get a way to pull the carbon out of the atmosphere he said. Changing the agricultural system we might start turning the clock back in so far as CO2 in the atmosphere. The pressure is to get agriculture high on the Copenhagen agenda he said.

Mark traveled through India and saw that in the last 20-30 years there were large changes in agriculture – they got used to grow trees in the middle of the field. Here it becomes a topic of democracy and human rights as in authoritarian regimes the trees belong to the government – so why grow trees? It is only when the farmer gets acknowledged his property rights that there is interest in those trees. Interesting in this respect to look at the Niger?Nigeria border from the air. You see trees in Niger but not in Nigeria and this is plain demonstration of the larger acceptance of property rights in the more democratic Niger as compared to the authoritarian Nigeria.

At Q&A time questions came about US agriculture and the cap and trade program for dealing with climate change. Is there real advantage in the way how emission permits will be distributed – what about additionality in the agricultural sector, what about the fossil fuels used by agriculture …and we got away from the original issue of Africa. There was talk of monocultures but there was no talk of self sustaining agriculture and what foreign aid in kind does to destroy local potential in agriculture. Can the small local farmer break into the market if there is this unfair competition?

Indeed Ross spoke of the impact the press has by NOT bringing out the full facts of climate change, but then I felt that the speakers still thought that the UN is of help in these matters. I believe that it will take a George Soros push in order to level with a UN that for years did not allow the dissemination of the facts that the Darfur killings started because of the impact of climate change on the environment.

Human rights do not exist when the land cannot support all its children. Here we have security problems, and built in future genocides. These are the kind of issues that must be put on the table, as former UK government did when it brought up the issues to the forefront at the UN Security Council in 2007 and finally broke the UN leadership taboos in this respect. The UN Department of Public Information still had difficulty reporting on African leaders talking about climate change, and they were even slow in disseminating positions that were taken by some on the UN task forces. They were not alone in this. Some known accredited journalists still wanted just figures of how many corpses were found in the killings , but had no interest in why those things happen – do not waste our precious time they said – and it is amazing which self inflated correspondents said this.



Regarding the planting of trees on farmlands – by coincidence we got now also the following:


Trees on Farms Key to Climate and Food-Secure Future; Experts Call for Worldwide Adoption of Sustainable Farming Practices by 2030 ahead of Major International Agroforestry Congress, Nairobi, Kenya, 24 July 2009.

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are calling for the widespread uptake of ‘green’ agricultural practices that will deliver multiple benefits to the world’s rapidly growing populations – from combating climate change and eradicating poverty to boosting food production and providing sustainable sources of timber.

The call was made at the launch of the 2nd World Congress of Agroforestry, which will be held in Nairobi from 23-28 August 2009.

Agriculture, deforestation and other forms of land use account for nearly one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. With just a few months to go until the crucial UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, agricultural and environmental experts agree that all forms of land use should be included in a post-Kyoto climate regime.

According to a UNEP report, the agricultural sector could be largely carbon neutral by 2030 and produce enough food for a population estimated to grow to nine billion by 2050, if proven methods aimed at reducing emissions from agriculture were widely adopted today. Key among these methods are agroforestry, reduced cultivation of the soil, and the use of natural nutrients such as fertilizer trees.

A study by World Agroforestry Centre scientists, for example, on fertilizer trees that capture nitrogen from the air and transfer it to the soil indicates that their use can reduce the need for commercial nitrogen fertilizers by up to 75 per cent while doubling or tripling crop yields. “These results should make agroforestry appealing to farmers” noted Dennis Garrity, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre and Co-Chair of the Congress Global Organizing Committee.

UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said: “Addressing the range of current and future challenges – from the food, fuel and economic crises to the climate change and natural resource scarcity ones – requires an accelerated transition to a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy for the 21st century. Farming will be either part of the problem or a big part of the solution. The choice is straight forward: continuing to mine and degrade productive land and the planet’s multi-trillion dollar ecosystems or widely adopting creative and climate-friendly management systems of which agroforestry is fast emerging as a key shining example.”

“If implemented over the next fifty years, agroforestry could result in 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide being removed from the atmosphere, about a third of the world’s total carbon reduction challenge,” Dr Garrity said.

Researchers suggest that integrating agroforestry in farming systems on a massive scale would create a vital carbon bank. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates no less than a billion hectares of developing country farmland is suitable for conversion to carbon agroforestry projects.

“Nations must seal the deal on a comprehensive and scientifically-credible new climate agreement in Copenhagen – there is a lot at stake, not least the future of agriculture and farmers’ livelihoods. One key step will be for nations to agree to a scheme for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) which will pave the way for preserving forests and other key ecosystems, as well as closing the gap in global demand for sustainable timber by shifting production from forest to farm,” Mr. Steiner stated.

According to a UNEP report released in June, the farm sector has the largest readily achievable gains in carbon storage, if best management practices were widely adopted. Up to 6 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 equivalent, or up to 2 Gt of carbon, could be sequestered each year by 2030, which is comparable to the current emissions from agriculture. Many of the agricultural practices that store more carbon can be implemented at little or no cost. The majority of this potential – 70 per cent – can be realized in developing countries.

While farmers in developing countries are one of the world’s largest, most efficient producers of sequestered carbon, to date it has not been possible to calculate or verify how much they are removing from the atmosphere. The World Agroforestry Centre and UNEP are partners in a project that promises to provide the basis for widespread adoption of agroforestry and other sustainable forms of agriculture.

The Carbon Benefits Project, launched in May 2009, is developing a standard and reliable method for accurately measuring, monitoring, reporting, and projecting how much carbon each kind of land use is storing. This global project makes use of the latest remote sensing technology and analysis, soil carbon modeling, ground-based measurements, and statistical analysis.

Garrity noted that if nations agree to a scheme for REDD in Copenhagen, the work of the Carbon Benefits Project will provide a more credible basis for smallholders to receive payments for conserving forests, practicing conservation agriculture and increasing tree cover on their farms that sequesters carbon.

“Saving carbon is not a priority for smallholder farmers. But, supporting them to expand their agroforestry systems provides income generation and service benefits to farmers that also have the co-benefit of sequestering carbon” Garrity said. “For example, by using fertilizer trees and other conservation agriculture techniques, farmers have increased their maize yields from an average of 1 tonne per hectare to 3 or even 4 tonnes per hectare while greatly improving exhausted soils. Food security is enhanced while farmers’ production systems become better adapted to climate change.”

Garrity also cited an agroforestry project underway in Malawi, where smallholder farmers are being supported with knowledge about how to plant trees for fertilizer, fruit and fuelwood benefits. The addition of fuelwood and fruit trees on these farms releases women from having to take timber from the forest, and their children are receiving more vitamins and minerals in their diet.

The theme of the Congress is Agroforestry – the future of global land use. It will assess opportunities to leverage scientific agroforestry in promoting sustainable land use worldwide. Over 1,000 researchers, practitioners, farmers, and policy makers from all corners of the globe are expected to attend, including Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and renowned environmental activist, and M. S. Swaminathan, World Food Prize laureate and “Father of the Green Revolution in India”.

Tree geneticists will explain successful processes for domesticating tree species such as rubber, coffee and indigenous fruits. Economists will present findings of studies on value-adding and improving access to markets. And soil scientists will debate the best tree-based systems for reversing land degradation.

2nd World Congress of Agroforestry website

The World Agroforestry Centre, based in Nairobi, Kenya, is the world’s leading research institution on the diverse role trees play in agricultural landscapes and rural livelihoods. As part of its work to bring tree-based solutions to bear on poverty and environmental problems, centre researchers – working in close collaboration with national partners – have developed new technologies, tools and policy recommendations for increased food security and ecosystem health.

For more information please contact:

For more information on the 2nd World Congress of Agrofrestry, see…
For more information on UNEP’s work in ecosystem management, see


and from NPR:

Niger’s Trees May Be Insurance Against Drought.

by Richard Harris

In response to droughts and threatening sand dunes, Niger villagers have grown trees with the help of international aid. Farmers are encouraged to scatter the trees throughout the land in order to grow crops on the same plot.  Although farmers normally prune the limbs only, some farmers clear the land for profit.

All Things Considered, NPR, July 2, 2007.

Scientists studying vegetation patterns in the broad, arid region just south of the Sahara desert have discovered that trees are growing like crazy there. And while it’s a big unknown whether global warming will bring further drought to this impoverished region, these trees will be one of the things that help people in countries like Niger cope.

A huge chunk of Niger is Sahara desert, and what’s not outright desert gets just a smattering of rain. You don’t expect to see a lot of trees in this land-locked, West African country.

But that’s exactly what ecologist Mahamane Larwanou and geographer Gray Tappan see when they roll out a satellite photo of central Niger. Both are passionate about understanding why trees are making a big comeback in many parts of Niger .

In Niger, trees aren’t just aesthetic. They are essential. Ninety percent of the nation’s energy comes in the form of firewood. Trees also feed animals, nourish the soil, provide wood for construction, and bear fruit and lucrative products, like gum Arabic. And unlike most crops, trees can survive the inevitable hard times when the climate suddenly turns even drier and more hostile.

So to get a closer look at the hopeful trend in tree growth, Larwanou and Tappan pack up a couple of four-wheel-drive trucks with gear, food and helpers and head east out of the capital city. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding a study to monitor tree growth in Niger, part of which involves a two-week road trip by Larwanou and Tappan.

As we wind through broad agricultural areas and across rocky plateaus, it’s the same thing everywhere: acacia trees, gum Arabic, ebony, tamarind. As we cross a plateau, Larwanou marvels that there’s actually greenery dotted around us.

“Before, this was an unproductive area,” he says. “There was not a single tree, only stones.”

We descend off the plateaus and make our way into the town of Adouna .

Larwanou and Tappan stop on the outskirts of town to measure the trees and figure out how much wood they’re producing.

“If we know the amount of wood that is being produced, we can figure out a sustainable rate of harvest of the wood for firewood,” Tappan says.

First they set up their study plot. Then, they measure the height and width of each tree and bush. Eventually, they will be able to extrapolate these readings to measure tree growth over an area of Niger the size of West Virginia. That’s a lot of wood.

Tappan works for SAIC, a contractor that helps the U.S. Geological Survey run a remote sensing center in South Dakota. He’s precise and a bit reserved, especially in contrast to Larwanou, who is everybody’s instant friend. Larwanou’s face is adorned with tribal markings that look like whiskers.

That gregarious quality serves Larwanou well, because the researchers don’t just want to measure tree growth. They want to understand what people are doing to encourage trees. And to do that, Larwanou talks to the locals.

We wander up a slope overlooking the study plot to talk to three women who have been looking down on us and laughing at the strange activity they see. The women are chopping up a branch that had been lopped off the tree. First, goats and sheep had a chance to eat the leaves. Now the women are taking the rest for firewood.

The first thing we learn is that these trees aren’t all that old. Oomah, the oldest woman, tell us that, long ago, this area was dotted with trees. But during the early 1970s, there was a horrible drought throughout this region of West Africa and people used the trees to survive.

“People suffered in a way that cannot be described. People were displaced by that crazy drought. Those who dared to stay, cut down the trees and took them to the markets to sell,” Oomah says. “That was their only way to get food.”

Even so, the drought killed hundreds of thousands of people throughout Niger and other parts of West Africa .

Gray Tappan picks up the story from there.

“When the people were hit by a second drought within their living memory,” he says, “they realized that they have to consider other options to survive the next drought. Everybody knows that drought is a natural part of this environment here. It is only a matter of time before we see another drought.”

Aid groups from Europe and the United States knew that trees could help people adapt during the bad years. So they planted trees extensively starting in the 1980s. This explains part of the story.

The government of Niger also changed its policies and let local people take ownership of the trees. And that has encouraged farmers to let the trees grow. These days, they prune them for wood rather than chopping them down altogether.

“They know the importance of trees,” Larwanou says . “If there are no trees here, they are in trouble. That’s end of their lives.”

Here in Adouna, there’s an extra twist to the story. Alhaja Ishmaila, brother to Adouna’s chief, says that the village had been surrounded by sand dunes. After the trees were cut down in the 1970s, the dunes moved in on the town.

The dunes moved so quickly that the people in the village were on the verge of abandoning the town altogether, Ishmaila says.

A European aid group volunteered to plant trees to stabilize the dunes — so long as the town’s people built fences to keep the trees safe from the camels, donkeys, sheep and goats. Today, the people in Adouna say those trees saved the village.

The stories vary from one village to the next, but Tappan says the result is the same: Large swaths of Niger are getting greener.

“As we go from village to village, what we are hearing from farmers is they consider themselves better off today than they were 20 years ago. We see less and less migration of youth to cities,” Tappan says. “Youth stay because they can actually make a living on the land today.”

Trees here are really another crop. Farmers generally encourage them to grow scattered throughout their land, so there’s still enough space and light to grow grains on the same plot. But Tappan and Larwanou have also noticed a few curious places in the aerial imagery where trees are growing back much more densely.

“This is literally a forest — there was nothing there in 1975,” Tappan says, looking at the photos. “It is the densest stand of vegetation we have anywhere near this village area.”

So we pile back into the trucks, pass some nomads who are riding camels, and head out — slowly — across deeply- rutted fields.

Across the river, the scene is not at all what Tappan and Larwanou expected. The farmer who owns this land has recently chopped down most of his trees.

“This was all forest a year and a half ago, and now look at all of the stumps. They cut everything,” Larwanou says. “They burned the soil to avoid sprouting. I am highly disappointed. I am an ecologist, and I would like to see everything green. But the farmer has to eat.”

He not only needs to eat, he needs to make his land produce more and more food every single year. That’s because the population here is growing at an astounding pace, doubling every 20 years.

These circumstances are difficult, but Larwanou sees an alternative to poverty’s destructive effects on Niger’s trees. In today’s global carbon marketplace, Niger could receive credit for trees that are soaking up the carbon dioxide produced by rich countries.

The World Bank is already funding a few tree plantations in Niger, so the country can earn cash for taking carbon out of the atmosphere. It is hard to see how individual subsistence farmers could benefit from this exchange. But if Larwanou can find a way for all to reap the benefits, that would be yet another reason for the people in Niger to let their trees grow tall.


So, we learn that there is a multipurpose for planting tres on African farmland – perhaps not all of this is what we would like to hear. We assume that a Soros Foundation Initiative would look at how to help the locals feed themselves first – this before they fall into a new trap of what is good for the people from affar. We say this even though we are clearly in the corner of the climate change fighting world brigade, but doing another rffort on the back of Africas marginal people is not our thing.


Posted on on May 26th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

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

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

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, 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.


Posted on on April 29th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

28 April, 2008 =========================================================================
Analyzing the news we find that now even the UN makes clear prediction that climate change in Africa is bound to become a security problem with the Sahel countries of Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal among the first that must address this inevitable danger. All these countries belong to the Arabized Africa.

But Mr. Ziegler of the UN “Right to Food” Program just shoots his mouth at the US and at the EU for trying to decrease their dependence on imported oil by emulating the great Brazilian experience with biofuels. Rather then being helpful, Mr. Ziegler calls for a moratorium that could only benefit his Arab friends.

Mr. Ban Ki-moon visits now the economic offices of the UN in Vienna and Geneva, and speaks up about the real World needs. He will then meet high level UN officials from Economic and Human Rights offices. He will also meet the foreign ministers of Austria and Slovenia, and the President of Switzerland. Our main attention is drawn to this last meeting and we think that the best reason for his trip could come true if he were to negotiate with the Swiss President’s removing Mr. Ziegler from his UN related functions, as he did enough damage by now. Also, perhaps, if needed, Switzerland could take over from South Africa the hosting of that Durban II event. By bringing the hotheads of that planned disaster to their senses, Switzerland could have the chance to redeem itself from all these other problems that its citizen, Ziegler, managed to create on the world stage. We really do not want to see that the Swiss flag will remain stained for any further length of time.

Further, While in Vienna, in his meetings there, Mr. Ban could obtain further information about farm policy and biofuels. The Austrians were very good at that. When “Gemma Brott Verbrennen” was the anti-ethanol call that was all over the frontpage of the daily “Kurrier” – the Austrians moved to the production of biodiesel made from oil of the ricinus plant in order to avoid the Food-for-fuel misrepresentation of the European agriculture. The Slovenians think in this respect like the Austrians.


Some 10,000 farmers in five African countries, where crops are expected to be badly affected by climate change, are to receive help from the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in the form of low-cost rain gauge equipment and roving seminars provided by agricultural experts.

With the help of Spain, WMO will distribute the rain gauges to volunteer farmers in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal, and train them in using rainfall data to plan sowing, fertilizer application and harvesting.

The goal of the roving seminars is to support farmers’ self-reliance by supplying them with information on weather and climate risk management.

In West Africa, the area suitable for agriculture, the length of the growing season, and crop yields, especially along the margins of arid and semi-arid areas, are all expected to decrease, according to projections by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In some African countries, yield from rain-fed farming could be reduced by up to 50 per cent by 2020.

The assistance plan was announced on Friday after a meeting in Niamey, Niger, which was organized by WMO and the State Meteorological Agency of Spain.

* * *


The United States and the European Union have taken a “criminal path” by contributing to an explosive rise in global food prices through using food crops to produce biofuels, according to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

Speaking at a press conference today in Geneva, Jean Ziegler said that fuel policies pursued by the US and the EU were one of the main causes of the current worldwide food crisis. Mr. Ziegler said that last year the US used a third of its corn crop to create biofuels, while the European Union is planning to have 10 per cent of its petrol supplied by biofuels. The Special Rapporteur has called for a five-year moratorium on the production of biofuels.

Mr. Ziegler also said that speculation on international markets was behind 30 per cent of the increase in food prices. He said that companies such as Cargill, which controls a quarter of all cereal production, have enormous power over the market. He added that hedge funds are also making huge profits from raw materials markets, and called for new financial regulations to prevent such speculation.

The Special Rapporteur warned of worsening food riots and a “horrifying” increase in deaths by starvation before reforms could take effect. Mr. Ziegler was speaking before a meeting today in Bern, Switzerland, between Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of key UN agencies.

Meanwhile, speaking in Rome today, a nutritionist with the UN World Food Programme (WFP), said that “global price rises mean that food is literally being taken out of the mouths of hungry children whose parents can no longer afford to feed them.”

Andrew Thorne-Lyman said that even temporarily depriving children of the nutrients they need to grow and thrive can leave permanent scars in terms of stunting their physical growth and intellectual potential. He said that families in the developing world are “finding their buying power has been slashed by food price rises, meaning that they can buy less food or food which isn’t as nutritious.”

* * *


The current global food crisis triggered by soaring prices, the safety and security of United Nations personnel and climate change dominated talks today involving Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other senior officials from the world body.

The topics were discussed at the spring session of the Chief Executives Board, which brings together the heads of the world body’s various entities for regular meetings, in Bern, the Swiss capital, where Mr. Ban is on an official visit.

At a panel in Vienna last Friday, the Secretary-General stressed the urgency of tackling the food issue, noting that it is “very closely interlinked with development issues, climate change, food prices, our fight against disease and other equally important areas.”

He noted that the food crisis has hurt the world’s poorest and pushed 100 million people further into poverty, impeding the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight targets to slash a host of social ills by 2015.

“This has been a global challenge, so we need to address it in a collective way – globally,” Mr. Ban said in his remarks to a forum entitled “The United Nations and the European Union: Joining Forces for the Challenges of the 21st Century.”

Also participating in the events were Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik of Austria and Dimitrij Rupel, Foreign Minister of Slovenia, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

Speaking to reporters in Vienna, the Secretary-General said that as a short-run response to the food crises, all humanitarian crises must be addressed.

“In the longer term, the international community, particularly the leaders of the international community, should sit down together on an urgent basis and address how we can, first of all, improve these economic systems, distributions systems, as well as how we can promote the improved production of agricultural products,” he added.

Later today, Mr. Ban is scheduled to meet with Pascal Couchepin, the President of Switzerland.

* * *


Posted on on April 25th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

We wondered that the only material in Arabic that we found on the tables at the Session on Climate Change – the 7th Session of The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues – was from Israel.

Now we found two Tuaregue delegates who gave us material in French dealing with incidents of August 26th, 2007 at Gougaram, Niger; November 23rd, 2007, Tchintabizguine, Niger; and April 10th, 2008, Kidal , Mali – where Tuaregs were killed by the more Arabized Niger and Mali authorities. This is an issue of human rights raised by the tribes that are closer to the original inhabitants – the indigenous   people – in those two African States.

Will their problem be looked at before it reaches Darfurian dimensions?




Posted on on March 11th, 2008

Declining Support for Tough Measures against Iran’s Nuclear Program: Global Poll by BBC for…

March 11, 2008


Support for tough measures against Iran’s nuclear program has fallen in 13 out of 21 countries according to a new BBC World Service Poll.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at Columbia University in New York on September 24, 2007 (Photo: Daniella Zalcman)

Compared to results from a June 2006 BBC World Service Poll, support for economic sanctions or military strikes has declined significantly, including in countries that were previously among the highest supporters of tough action.

Support for these measures has dropped 10 points in Australia (52 per cent to 42 per cent), nine points in Britain (43 per cent to 34 per cent), nine points in Germany (46 per cent to 37 per cent), seven points in Canada (52 per cent to 45 per cent), six points in the United States (66 per cent to 60 per cent) and 30 points in Mexico (46 per cent to 16 per cent).

Only three countries show an increase in support for economic sanctions or military strikes: an increase of nine points among Israelis (62 per cent to 71 per cent), six points among South Koreans (47 per cent to 53 per cent), and 12 points among Turkish respondents (21 per cent to 33 per cent).

Most interviews were conducted following the release of the US National Intelligence Estimate that concluded Iran had stopped pursuing nuclear weapons in 2003.

Across all 31 countries surveyed in the latest poll (the 21 tracking countries plus an additional 10 countries polled for the first time), most respondents oppose the use of economic sanctions or military strikes.

Respondents were presented four options that the UN Security Council could use to address the fact that Iran continues to produce nuclear fuel in defiance of the UN Security Council resolution. The options of economic sanctions or military strikes were rejected in 27 out of 31 countries. Instead, the most preferred approaches are to either use only diplomatic efforts or not pressure Iran at all.

On average 57 per cent favor diplomacy (43 per cent) or no pressure on Iran (14 per cent). Just one-in-three favor economic sanctions (26 per cent) or military strikes (8 per cent).


The poll also found that there are conditions under which many people would be willing to accept Iran having a limited capacity to produce nuclear fuel. The question asked: “If Iran were to allow UN inspectors permanent and full access throughout Iran, to make sure it is not developing nuclear weapons, do you think Iran should or should not be allowed to produce nuclear fuel for producing electricity?”

In 17 of the 31 countries more people favor than oppose the idea, while in 10 countries more are opposed and four countries are divided. Support is fairly strong in some of the countries in the forefront of the drive to stop Iran’s nuclear program, including the US (55 per cent), Britain (71 per cent) and France (56 per cent). On average 47 per cent are in favor while 36 per cent are opposed.

The results are drawn from a survey of 32,039 adult citizens across 31 countries conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. GlobeScan coordinated fieldwork between October 31, 2007 and January 25, 2008.

Steven Kull, Director of PIPA comments, “It appears that people in many countries are interested in ramping down the confrontation with Iran, while still using UN inspectors to ensure that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.”

Detailed Findings

In three countries a majority today favors economic sanctions or military strikes to deal with Iran. These include Israel (sanctions 37 per cent, strikes 34 per cent), the United States (sanctions 45 per cent, strikes 15 per cent) and South Korea (sanctions 48 per cent, strikes 5 per cent). Canadians are divided between a strong approach (sanctions 35 per cent, strikes 10 per cent) and softer approaches (diplomacy 42 per cent, no pressure 6 per cent). In all other countries, the weight of opinion is towards the less aggressive measures of using only diplomatic efforts or not pressuring Iran at all.

Support for allowing Iran to produce nuclear fuel for electricity, alongside a full program of UN inspections, is found not only in the US (55 per cent), Britain (71 per cent), and France (56 per cent), but also among Egyptians (86 per cent), Mexicans (79 per cent), Australians (64 per cent), Portuguese (59 per cent), Canadians (58 per cent), Italians (58 per cent), Kenyans (56 per cent), Indonesians (56 per cent) and Chinese (51 per cent). More modest support is found in Spain (49 per cent), Ghana (45 per cent), Nigeria (46 per cent), and Russia (33 per cent).

Majorities oppose the idea in Israel (62 per cent), Philippines (60 per cent), Turkey (54 per cent), Japan (54 per cent) and South Korea (51 per cent). Half of Germans are opposed as are 38 per cent of Central Americans.

Indians, Argentinians and Chileans are divided, with large numbers not providing an answer.

In total 32,039 citizens in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, El Salvador, France, Ghana, Germany, Great Britain, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, and the United States were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between October 31, 2007 and January 25, 2008. Polling was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country. In 13 of the 31 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas. The margin of error per country ranges from +/-2.4 to 4.4 per cent.

For more details, please see the full report (PDF)


Posted on on December 18th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

South Africa, With All Its Internal Squabbles, Has Fallen Far From The Example Mandela Set.
South Africa Of Today Endangers The Future Of Africa By Shooting At Africa’s Feet As We Witnessed
During the Night Of 5/11/2007 at the Time It Led The Election Of Zimbabwe To Chair The UN
Commission For Sustainable Development. As a Result The CSD Is Now Moribund and Has No
Secretary To Lead It Towards This Years Meeting That Was Supposed To Deal With Land Use.

The South Africans Showed Plain Chutzpah By Saying That If The Israelis Had Allowed their
Proposal To Be Presented By The Chairman Of The Second Committee, Rather Then Insisting
To Speak For Themselves As A Grown Up Member Of The UN, They And The Islamics Would
Not Have Abstained. So, If Today’s   South Africa Thinks That For Political Reasons They Are Clear
To Imply That One Sovereignty Is Less Then Another – That is Really No Less then A Suggestion
Advocating international Apartheid, and No Way That This Attitude Will be Accepted Outside The
Musty Corridors of The UN.

Ambassador Gillerman Was Fully Correct In Singling Out South Africa By Saying That He Honors
The Position Of Israel’s Self Appointed Arab Enemies, and That He Cannot See South Africa’s Position
Because there Is No South Africa-Israel Conflict – Except That, Seemingly, South Africa Is Just
Out There To Go Hand In Hand With Mugabe and Opt For Everything That Might Enrage The West.

We At have an IBSA Button for India, Brazil, and South Africa, as we
Considered These Three States As Potential Future Addition To The Present Five Permanent
Members Of The UN Security Council. We Expected These Three Countries, One From Each Of
The Under-Represented Continents, and Also With Potential For Becoming Economic Leaders
In The 21st Century, To Become Also Ethical Additions To A Reorganized UN. But 2007 Was A
Year When South Africa Has Done Most Everything Wrong – This Leaves Sub Sahara   Africa
Worse Off Then Leaderless. South Africa, For Reasons Unclear Does Harm To The Interests Of
The Poorer African States.

Israel Started Already In the 1970’s To Help African States Ny Bringing To Them Modern Agriculture,
And By Taking Their Technicians In For Training at Israeli Institutions. It Was Because of Arab
Interference That Africa Did Not Get Out More From The Israelis – Now It Is South Africa That Is
In The Way.

In UN Ag Tech Spat, Israel Calls “Shameful” Abstention by S. Africa, Which Feels Singled Out

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, December 11 — Verbal skirmishes between Israel and the Arab Group and vice versa are expected at the UN. Tuesday in connection with what Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman called a rare feel-good story, a less intuitive fight broke out, Israel versus South Africa. Amb. Gillerman summoned reporters to the microphone outside the Security Council chamber to highlight the passage in the General Assembly’s Second Committee of a resolution sponsored by Israel, on the use of agricultural technology for development. He said it was the first Israeli-sponsored resolution to pass the Committee, and he noted that there were no votes against it. There were 29 abstentions, “mostly Arab states,” he said, “which I do not understand but which I respect.” Then Amb. Gillerman singled out South Africa’s abstention, and called it “shameful… unless it was a mistake… pressed the wrong button.” South Africa calls itself the leader of Africa, making its abstention all the worse, he said. The implication was that South Africa has abstained for the same “political” reason as the Arab states, but with less justification, at least in Israel’s eyes.

Inner City Press, after asking Amb. Gillerman some questions (video here, from Minute 8:58), sought the South African mission’s reason for abstention. It was explained that the draft resolution had not included the Africa focus found in the Millennium Declaration and the 2005 World Summit Outcome documents, lacking provisions about intellectual property, for example. Amendments had been attempted but rejected. A suggestion had been made to have the resolution be a proposal of the Chairman of the committee, but Israel, the mission said, fought to retain ownership.

Amb. Gillerman said that Israel does not want to be a “one issue” country, that it has been very active in sharing its agricultural technology in Africa, Latin America and elsewhere. He limited questions to issues of agriculture, “on this festive day,” he said. Inner City Press asked for details on Israel’s collaboration with the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization. Amb. Gillerman referred the question to his “expert,” Ilan Fluss, who answered that FAO had coordinated with Israel on the resolution throughout the process.

South Africa has been fingered, by the U.S. mission and the New York Times, for opposing an General Assembly resolution denouncing rape in the service of governmental or military goals. There is, of course, South Africa’s position on Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, previously covered by Inner City Press. But beyond that, Reuters highlighted earlier this year that on a Holocaust resolution adopted by consensus, the South African representative was not present in the meeting, along with Iran and the Sudan. One diplomat asked, Why are we being singled out? Especially by Israel, which complains of disparate treatment?


In the UN General Assembly, Amb. Dan Gillerman in action

Ilan Fluss, who coordinated the resolution, was previously Israel’s acting Ambassador in South Africa. Clearly there’s some tension there, to single out one of the 29 abstentions. Other abstainers included Algeria, Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam, Djibouti, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

It has been noted that the resolution still has to be considered by the full General Assembly, next week. Late Tuesday, Inner City Press asked the Permanent Observer of Palestine, Riyad Mansour, about the ag tech spat. Amb. Mansour riffed that “the Israeli delegate forgot the statement of his leaders in Annapolis, when they expressed thrills at seeing 16 Arab states there.” He suggested that Israel, if it was interested in more than “scoring political points… with a minor victory,” should have allowed the resolution to be converted into a consensus text sponsored by the Committee’s chair. Amb. Mansour specifically took issue with Amb. Gillerman having “lashed out” at South Africa, which he called “a country that no one can question their integrity with regard to justice and doing the right thing.” Video here. Afterwards, a Council diplomat mused that the tables were turned, with the Palestinians offering verbal defenses of South Africa. And so it goes at the UN.