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Posted on on August 12th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

from: Sam Barratt –

Middle Eastern kings and princes are about to force up to 48,000 people in Tanzania from their land to make way for corporate-sponsored big game hunting. But Tanzanian President Kikwete has shown before that he will stop deals like this when they generate negative press coverage. Deliver a media blitz that will push President Kikwete to stop the landgrab and save these Maasai.

At any moment, a big-game hunting corporation could sign a deal which would force up to 48,000 members of Africa’s famous Maasai tribe from their land to make way for wealthy Middle Eastern kings and princes to hunt lions and leopards. Experts say the Tanzanian President’s approval of the deal may be imminent, but if we act now, we can stop this sell-off of the Serengeti.

The last time this same corporation pushed the Maasai off their land to make way for rich hunters, people were beaten by the police, their homes were burnt to a cinder and their livestock died of starvation. But when a press controversy followed, Tanzanian President Kikwete reversed course and returned the Maasai to their land. This time, there hasn’t been a big press controversy yet, but we can change that and force Kikwete to stop the deal if we join our voices now.

If 150,000 of us sign, media outlets in Tanzania and around the world will be blitzed so President Kikwete gets the message to rethink this deadly deal. Sign the petition now and send to everyone:

The Maasai are semi-nomadic herders who have lived in Tanzania and Kenya for centuries, playing a critical role in preserving the delicate ecosystem. But to royal families from the United Arab Emirates, they’re an obstacle to luxurious animal shooting sprees. A deal to evict the Maasai to make way for rich foreign hunters is as bad for wildlife as it is for the communities it would destroy. While President Kikwete is talking to favoured local elites to sell them on the deal as good for development, the vast majority of people just want to keep the land that they know the President can take by decree.

President Kikwete knows that this deal would be controversial with Tanzania’s tourists — a critical source of national income — and is therefore trying to keep it from the public eye. In 2009, a similar royal landgrab in the area executed by the same corporation that is swooping in this time generated global media coverage that helped to roll it back. If we can generate the same level of attention, we know the pressure can work.

A petition signed by thousands can force all the major global media bureaus in East Africa and Tanzania to blow up this controversial deal. Sign now to call on Kikwete to kill the deal:

Representatives from the Maasai community today urgently appealed to Avaaz to raise the global alarm call and save their land. Time and again, the incredible response from this amazing community turns seemingly lost causes into legacies that last a lifetime. Lets protect the Maasai and save the animals for tourists that want to shoot them with camera lenses, rather than lethal weapons!

With hope and determination,

Sam, Meredith, Luis, Aldine, Diego, Ricken and the rest of the Avaaz team

For More Information:

The Guardian: “Tourism is a curse to us”

News Internationalist Magazine: “Hunted down”

Society for Threatened People: Briefing on the eviction of the Loliondo Maasai

FEMACT: Report by 16 human rights investigators & media on violence in Loliondo

Voices of Loliondo: Short film from Loliondo on impact of eviction on Maasai


Posted on on September 24th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *


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

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

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

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

* * *


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted on on July 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Be’chol Lashon is the Hebrew for “In Every Tongue” and it advocates for the Growth & Diversity of the Jewish People. Today Jews come indeed in every color and every stripes and some leaders do the outreach to embrace them all. Just look at Dr. Lewis Gordon of the Center for Afro-Jewish Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Mr. Romiel Daniel of Queens, New York, The head of Jews of India in our region, Dr. Ephraim Isaac, of the institute for Semitic Studies. They do not look like your stereotype Jew. I met them and was impressed – the latter actually for the first time as we both visited Addis Ababa at the time of the delayed Ethiopian Millennium. Then Rabbi Hailu Paris with his communities in Brooklyn and the Bronx, Ethiopian born and graduae of Yeshiva University, and his Assistant Monica Wiggan (, and Rabbi Gershom Sizomu of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda from whom I got a very distinctive kippah with the menorah – of the old temple worked in. Then Dr. Rabson Wuriga of the Hamisi Lemba clan in South Africa and Zimbabwe and so on – in Nigeria, in Peru, in India, in China.

And who has not heard by now of the present White House Rabbi – Cappers Funnye – the cousin of Michelle Obama – and associate director of Bechol Lashon and spiritual leader of Beth Shalom B’nei Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation of Chicago?

The New York regional director of is Lacey Schwartz who is also National Outreach Director of, assisted by Collier Meyerson and to top it all Davi Cheng, Director of the Los Angeles region is Jewish, Chinese, and Lesbian. As I said it is all a new image of the Jew.

Last night, at the Gallery Bar, 120 Orchard St., NYC there was a Shemspeed Summer Music Festival event.

The two further upcoming events in New York will be on:

Monday, August 2nd – the Shemspeed Hip Hop Fest at Le Poisson Rouge – 158 Bleeker Street NYC Featuring Tes Uno, Ted King & guest Geng Grizlee and others with CD Release parties for “A Tribe Called Tes” and “Move On.”

Thursday, August 5th – Shemspeed Jewish Punk Fest at Pianos, 158 Ludlow Street, NYC Featuring Moshiach Oil & The Groggers.

info on each event above and at


Mona Eltahawy
A Jewish Woman Living in Ethiopia

Rethinking How U.S. Jews Fund Communities Around the World.

The Forward
Published: May 27, 2010

For more than half a century, North America’s Jewish federation system has divided its overseas allocations between the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Joint Distribution Committee. The Jewish Agency has been dedicated to building up Israel and encouraging aliyah, while the Joint has focused on aiding Jewish communities in need around the globe.

Today, both agencies are working to assert their continued relevance in a changing Jewish world. With aliyah slowing, the Jewish Agency is moving toward embracing a new agenda: promoting the concept of Jewish peoplehood. The JDC, meanwhile, has sought to claim a larger share of the communal pie, which had long been split 75%-25% in the Jewish Agency’s favor.

After a recent round of sniping over the funding issue, the two sides are now stepping back from their public confrontation and recommitting to negotiations over the future of the collective funding arrangement. Underlying this fight, however, is a more fundamental tension over communal funding priorities: Should overseas aid be focused on helping needy Jews and assisting communities that have few resources of their own, or should it be used to bolster Jewish identity?

With this debate raging, the Forward asked a diverse group of Jewish thinkers and communal activists from around the world to weigh in and address the following question: How should North America’s Jewish community be thinking about its priorities and purposes in funding Jewish needs abroad?

New Century, New Priorities

By Yossi Beilin

During the 20th century, the challenges facing world Jewry were the following: rescue of Jews who encountered existential danger, assistance to Israel, helping with the absorption of those who immigrated to new countries and opening the gates for those who were denied the right to emigrate. In the 21st century, ensuring Jewish continuity is the greatest challenge facing the Jewish people.

Yet too often Jewish organizations in the United States and elsewhere remain focused on the challenges of the previous century. (Indeed, Jewish groups were not very receptive when I first proposed the idea for Birthright Israel 17 years ago.)

Ensuring the existence of Jewish life (religious and secular) throughout the world via Jewish education, encounters between young Israeli and Diaspora Jews, creating a virtual Jewish community using new technologies — these must be at the top of the global Jewish agenda. This requires American Jewish philanthropy and leadership, which in turn requires discerning between past and present priorities.

Yossi Beilin, a former justice minister of Israel, is president of the international consulting firm Beilink.

Reviving Polish Jewry

By Konstanty Gebert

The rebirth of Central European Jewish communities after 1989, though numerically not very impressive, remains significant for moral and historical reasons. It is also crucial for Jewish self-understanding. An enormous proportion of American Jews can trace their origins to what used to be Poland alone. This is where much of Diaspora history happened.

Alongside the courage and determination of local Jews, the far-sighted support of several American Jewish organizations and philanthropies made this rebirth possible. In Poland the Joint Distribution Committee, the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation and the Taube Foundation played key roles. Their support has translated not only into Jewish schools and festivals in places once believed to be Jewish-ly dead, but also in most cases into changed relations between local Jewish communities and their fellow citizens as well as clear support for Israel on the part of these countries’ governments.

Yet for all this progress, Central European Jewish communities might never become self-financing. The support given them by American Jewry remains a vital Jewish interest. It must be strengthened.

Konstanty Gebert, a former underground journalist, is a columnist at the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza and founder of the Polish-language Jewish monthly Midrasz.

What We Give Ourselves

By Lisa Leff

More than any Jewish community in history, postwar American Jews have used our prosperity to help Jewish communities around the world. On one level, the greatest beneficiaries of this support have been Jews abroad. But we should also recognize that these philanthropic efforts have shaped our communal values and identity.

Through our international aid, we have dedicated ourselves to universalist and cosmopolitan ideas like tikkun olam and solidarity across borders. In helping disadvantaged and oppressed Jews abroad, we have also deepened our community’s commitments to democracy, human rights and economic justice for all. It’s only natural that Jewish groups pitch in on Haitian earthquake relief and advocate on behalf of oppressed people of all backgrounds.

Whatever the outcome of the federations’ deliberations over how to divide allocations between the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee, it is imperative that American Jewry maintain its commitment to our values through supporting international philanthropy.

Lisa Leff is an associate professor of history at American University and the author of “Sacred Bonds of Solidarity: The Rise of Jewish Internationalism in Nineteenth-Century France” (Stanford University Press, 2006).

Putting Identity First

By Jonathan S. Tobin

The choices we face are not between good causes and bad or even indifferent ones but between vital Jewish obligations. But since the decline in giving to Jewish causes means that we must make tough decisions, programs that reinforce Jewish identity and support Zionism both in the Diaspora and in Israel must be accorded a higher priority.

At this point in our history, with assimilation thinning the ranks of Diaspora Jewry and with continuity problems arising even in Israel, the need to instill a sense of membership in the Jewish people is an imperative that cannot be pushed aside. Under the current circumstances, absent an effort that will make Jewish and Zionist education the keynote of our communal life, the notion that Jewish philanthropies or support for Israel can be adequately sustained in the future is simply a fantasy.

Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of Commentary magazine.

Collective Responsibility

By Richard Wexler

One cannot have a meaningful discussion about framing the national Jewish community’s priorities and purposes in funding Jewish needs abroad without first asking the question: Is there actually a collective “North American Jewish community” today?

Collective responsibility has been and remains the foundation upon which the federation system and, therefore, the national Jewish community are built. It is what distinguishes the federations from all other charities. It is embodied in our participation in the adventure of building Israel and in meeting overseas needs through the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee, in the dues that federations pay to the Jewish Federations of North America and so much more. But today, federations “bowl alone.”

Collective responsibility gives meaning to kol Yisrael arevim zeh l’zeh — all Jews are responsible for one another. Until federations understand once again that Jewish needs extend beyond the borders of any one community, we cannot have a meaningful priority-setting process for funding Jewish needs abroad.

Richard Wexler is a former chairman of the United Israel Appeal.

Originally published here:


Avi Rosenblum
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu and Be’chol Lashon director Diane Tobin at the opening of the Health Center.

Gary Tobin’s Legacy Lives on in New Ugandan Health Center

By Amanda Pazornik

The J Weekly
Published: July 22, 2010

On the day of the grand opening of the Tobin Health Center in Mbale, Uganda, health professionals were already hard at work treating patients inside.

The center was open for business, but that didn’t slow down the lively June 18 celebration, which featured song and dance performances and speakers. About 3,000 people gathered at the center’s grounds to mark the occasion.

Seated under colorful tents was Diane Tobin, director of S.F.-based Be’chol Lashon and wife of the late Gary Tobin, for whom the center is named, along with three of their children, Aryeh, Mia and Jonah.

“Everyone was amazing, friendly and so generous of spirit,” said Tobin, who was visiting Uganda and its Abayudaya Jewish community for the first time. “They were so appreciative of having the center and demonstrated a tremendous willingness to work together. It’s a great model for the rest of the world.”

Andrew Esensten, Be’chol Lashon program coordinator, and Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, spiritual leader of the Abayudaya Jews and the first chief rabbi of Uganda, joined them, in addition to government and medical officials, and representatives from Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities.

The Tobin Health Center is named for Gary Tobin, the founder of the S.F.-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research, of which Be’chol Lashon (“In Every Tongue”) is an initiative. Tobin died one year ago after a long battle with cancer. He was 59.

“He really has left a legacy,” said Debra Weinberg of Baltimore, who attended the opening with her husband, Joe, and their 14-year-old son, Ben. The couple also helped fund the project. “I think he would feel deeply comforted to know it’s improving the lives of people.”

The 4,000-square-foot facility is a major component of the ongoing Abayudaya Community Health and Development Project undertaken by the Abayudaya Executive Council and Be’chol Lashon, a nonprofit that reaches out to Jews of color and helps educate the mainstream community about Jewish diversity.

It cost approximately $250,000 to erect the two-story center, using donations collected over five years. While patients pay for their services, continuous fundraising is a necessity, Tobin said.

Construction began in July 2009, enabling more than 50 Africans from diverse ethnic backgrounds to earn a living.

Stars of David are featured in the window grids, ceilings and floors of the health center, a “lovely expression of their Judaism,” Tobin said. Private rooms make up most of the top floor, with patient wards on the ground floor. A mezuzah is affixed to every door.

A large portrait of Gary Tobin hangs in the lobby.

“It’s so heartwarming,” Diane Tobin said of the visual tribute. “Gary would be so honored to have this health center in the middle of Africa named after him.”

Prior to the opening of the Tobin Health Center, the nearest medical facility to the Abayudaya Jews was Mbale Hospital, an overcrowded and understaffed institution not accessible to all the residents of the region. Tobin said there are other clinics in the area, but they lack the preventive health care measures necessary to respond to the community’s needs.

The Tobin Health Center is licensed by the Ministry of Health and is certified to operate a pharmacy and laboratory. It serves all who seek basic medical care in the region, providing life-saving health services and simultaneously creating jobs.

“The goal is to raise the standard of medical care,” Tobin said.

In addition, rental units on the bottom and top floors of the center will provide more job opportunities for locals. The first business recently opened — a hardware store that sells bags of cement, plumbing equipment and sheet metal — with a beauty salon and video rental outlet in the works.

The center “is rewarding on a number of levels,” said Steven Edwards of Laguna Beach, who, along with his wife, Jill, has been involved with the Abayudaya for six years. “The most obvious is to see this beautiful, clean building. On top of that, local dignitaries noted how lucky Mbale is to have the Jewish community and how much they contribute to the larger community by bringing jobs.”

The Abayudaya Jews comprise a growing, 100-year-old community of more than 1,000 Jews living among 10,000 Christians and Muslims. They live in scattered villages in the rolling, green hills of eastern Uganda. The largest Abayudaya village, Nabagoye, is near Mbale, the seventh-largest city in Uganda and the location of the center.

Research conducted by Be’chol Lashon in 2006 showed that contaminated water and malaria-carrying mosquitoes pose the biggest health risks to the community. A year later, the organization launched the Abayudaya Community Health and Development Project with the drilling of the first well in Nabagoye.

Since then, nearly 1,000 mosquito nets have been purchased and distributed throughout the community.

“Our goal is to respond to the needs of communities,” Tobin said. “If there are other communities that need health centers, we will be there.”

Originally published here:


Posted on on July 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The facts as described in:…

Canadian woman is next top UN internal watchdog.

Associated Press Writer
Posted: Wednesday, Jul. 28, 2010

UNITED NATIONS The United Nations turned to a Canadian woman on Wednesday who was chief auditor for the World Bank as its choice for the next head of the U.N.’s internal watchdog agency.

Carman Lapointe-Young won approval from the General Assembly to become the undersecretary-general for oversight. She will be given the huge task of trying to quickly fix an agency that her predecessor says is in disarray.

She will start her job on Sept. 13, the U.N. announced. She will move to New York from Rome, where she has headed the oversight office of the U.N.’s fund for agricultural development since February 2009.

The Manitoba native was appointed to the non-renewable, five-year term as head of the U.N.’s Office of Internal Oversight Services by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whose leadership was severely criticized in an end-of-assignment memo by outgoing OIOS head Inga-Britt Ahlenius of Sweden.

Ban said in a statement that Lapointe-Young has the “breadth and depth of experience and expertise required for this demanding position.” He said she will be expected to rebuild OIOS and fill its many vacancies as soon as possible.

Ban is reviewing Ahlenius’ memo and has ordered a review of the U.N.’s ability to investigate itself, his chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar, said last week.

Bea Edwards of the Government Accountability Project, a Washington-based nonprofit law firm, said Wednesday one of the key challenges Lapointe-Young will face is to redirect OIOS investigations onto cases of major financial fraud and corruption.

Her firm has represented at least one OIOS investigator who filed a whistleblower complaint against the division’s acting director.

“We would just hope that she would re-focus the attention of OIOS onto the more significant cases of fraud and corruption, and there would be less emphasis on these petty, internal investigations,” said Edwards, referring to internal probes that she said were focused on allegations such as improper travel expense claims and pornography on computers.

Over the past decade the U.N. has been rocked a series of corruption scandals in its multibillion-dollar spending. The best known resulted from a two-year investigation into the U.N.-run oil-for-food program for Iraq led by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker.

Volcker’s inquiry culminated in an October 2005 report accusing more than 2,200 companies from some 40 countries of colluding with Saddam Hussein’s regime to bilk $1.8 billion from a program aimed at easing Iraqi suffering under U.N. sanctions.

As a result of the scandal, the U.N. created a special anti-corruption task force between 2006 and 2008 that found 20 significant corruption schemes. Its work led to sanctions against about 50 U.N. vendors, many of which were permanently debarred, and felony convictions against three U.N. officials, including two senior procurement officials.

Lapointe-Young won the nod despite some grumbling among diplomats from developing nations who said her appointment upset an informal understanding that the top accountability post should alternate between developing and rich Western nations.

At the General Assembly, several diplomats touched on the issue of geographical diversity. U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky acknowledged the concerns of representatives of “regional groups” in the General Assembly who were consulted before Wednesday’s approval, but said Ban’s selection was based on “merit,” ultimately.

From 2004 to 2009, she was the auditor general of The World Bank Group. It was during that time that Paul Wolfowitz resigned as president of the World Bank amid controversy over a pay package for his girlfriend, a bank employee.

She succeeds Ahlenius, who left the OIOS post in mid-July after blaming Ban for blocking her attempt to hire a former U.S. federal prosecutor as permanent head of the investigation division and taking other measures that she said undermined the operational independence her office is supposed to have.

Ban and his senior advisers have quickly closed ranks and disputed many of the memo’s assertions while trying to put the dispute quickly behind them.

“Where there are lessons to be learned, we will draw them,” Angela Kane, the undersecretary-general for management, said in a statement Wednesday.

In a statement labeled “Accountability for a Stronger United Nations,” Kane said Lapointe-Young will inherit “an office with 76 vacant posts” because Ahlenius failed to fill them.



At UN, Farewell to Takasu Amid Echoes of OIOS, of Human Right to Water and Sushi

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 28 — Japan’s Yukio Takasu held a farewell to New York and the UN on Tuesday night at his country’s East Side townhouse.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was there — expressing surprise at reports that South Africa was promised a senior post at the Office of Internal Oversight Services in change for not blocking the top spot going to a Canadian – as well as his Under Secretaries General Lynn Pascoe, Kiyotaka Akasaka and Angela Kane.

After Mr. Ban and his well liked bride left, much talk turned to the controversy stirred by the damning End of Assignment Report of outgoing OIOS chief Inga Britt Ahlenius. While usually at the UN, the press asks Ambassadors for information and opinion, this time is was the reverse.

Several Ambassadors asked Inner City Press, What do you think this means for Ban getting or not getting a second term? Major Permanent Representatives had read the critical Press coverage. “This is not good,” they said. “But will Obama have the decisiveness to act?”

Susan Rice was asked and told the media as if by rote that the US supports Ban. Others in the Obama Administration are not saying the same thing.

Ban’s USGs worked the crowd. Angela Kane of Ban’s Department of Management bowed, Japanese style, with an outgoing members of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions from, where else, Japan.

Due to ACABQ’s penchant for anonymity, we will not name her but wish her well. As the UN’s envoy to Darfur said earlier at the stakeout, ACABQ recently visited El Fasher. She noted of Inner City Press, your coverage of ACABQ is always fair. Hey, it’s the only accountability mechanism in the UN, along with the press.

Kiyo Akasaka of Ban’s Department of Public Information was in his element, offering food recommendations and this new media news, that the UN is agreeing to a refer in their forthcoming guidelines to a willingness to accredit bloggers — and not only “journalists who write blogs” — although, strangely, confined to a footnote. We’ll see.


The reality at the UN is that seemingly there is much financial interest by many countries and this includes covering of plain corruption – so – OIOS would have its hands full if it were to go after this plateful of problems.

Take for instance all those companies that bribed their way through the Iraqi “Oil for Food” project. Did anyone look at them, i.e. the French bank that was involved? Paul Volcker put it all in the open and the UN pushed it back under the rug by appointing OIOS. Will it finally be picked up?

Then, Ms. Alhenius also had a clear conflict. It is a Swedish company that got a non-competitive contract to redo the UN buildings. Some at he UN wanted to see this reviewed – clearly a matter for OIOS – but we heard no action on this. Only some members of the Press kept pointing at the problem.

So far we do not know of conflicts of interest involving Canada, will the new Chief start out with her right foot in staking her position – as controller – the buck stops here? Something like the US GAO – US Comptroller General?

In what regards her attitude when auditing the World Bank, we found an excellent interview with her:;col1

that we highly recommend to our readers.

Making a difference: the World Bank Group’s Auditor General Carman Lapointe-Young says her team of auditors is playing its part in the organization’s fight to end poverty.

Internal Auditor, June, 2008 by Neil Baker


Further, we are gratified that our article was picked up

Canadian Woman is Next Top UN Internal Watchdog (Opinion) – July 28


Posted on on March 14th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Elephants or Ivory — Amazing response!

The worldwide UN ban on ivory trading could soon be lifted — a decision that could wipe out Africa’s vulnerable elephants. But a number of a African nations are pushing to uphold the ban. Let’s send them a stampede of support to save the elephants. Sign the skyrocketing petition below, and forward this email widely:

Wow — the petition to protect endangered elephants from ivory poachers is exploding — in just over 72 hours, more than 300,000 of us have signed the call to the UN to uphold the ban on ivory trading and save whole populations of these magnificent animals. The crucial UN vote is expected this week.

Tanzania and Zambia are lobbying the UN for special exemptions from the ban, but this would send a clear signal to the ivory crime syndicates that international protection is weakening and it’s open-season on elephants. Another group of African states have countered by calling to extend the trade ban for 20 years.

Our best chance to save the continent’s remaining elephants is to support African conservationists. We only have days left and the UN Endangered Species body only meets every 3 years. Click below to sign our urgent petition to protect elephants, and forward this email widely — the petition will be delivered to the UN meeting in Doha:…

Over 20 years ago, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) passed a worldwide ban on ivory trading. Poaching fell, and ivory prices slumped. But poor enforcement coupled with ‘experimental one-off sales’, like the one Tanzania and Zambia are seeking, drove poaching up and turned illegal trade into a lucrative business — poachers can launder their illegal ivory with the legal stockpiles.

Now, despite the worldwide ban, each year over 30,000 elephants are gunned down and their tusks hacked off by poachers with axes and chainsaws. If Tanzania and Zambia are successful in exploiting the loophole, this awful trade could get much worse.

We have a one-off chance this week to extend the worldwide ban and repress poaching and trade prices before we lose even more elephant populations — sign the petition now and then forward it widely:…

Across the world’s cultures and throughout our history elephants have been revered in religions and have captured our imagination — Babar, Dumbo, Ganesh, Airavata, Erawan. But today these beautiful and highly intelligent creatures are being annihilated.

As long as there is demand for ivory, elephants are at risk from poaching and smuggling — but this week we have a chance to protect them and crush the ivory criminals’ profits — sign the petition now:…


Our idea – if Tanzania and Zambia get their way it would be right to start a campaign to boycott tourism to these countries.      Did anyone think that Canada and Japan might also be helped to changing behavior by similar means when traditional killing of seals and whales is what they do? The US has said that it will prosecute and penalize a sushi restaurant that served whale-meat, so invoking penalties might work. If nothing else it will make us feel good for having reacted to someone’s lack of honesty.


Posted on on January 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

– UN, January 8, 2010

Actors, rappers and environmentalists are scaling Mount Kilimanjaro in
Tanzania to spotlight the global clean water crisis, which affects more
than 1 billion people worldwide, and to raise funds for the United Nations
refugee agency and other humanitarian organizations.

Participants in the “Summit on the Summit” set off yesterday on the Lemosho
route and reached the Shira Camp, where they spent their first night at
more than 11,000 feet on Africa’s highest mountain.

After passing through savannah, tropical jungle, alpine pasture, moorland,
desert, snowfields and glacial landscapes, the party is expected to reach
the summit at Uhuru Peak next Tuesday before heading back down the
19,340-foot mountain, according to information provided by the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The party includes actors Jessica Biel and Emile Hirsch, rapper Lupe
Fiasco, conservationist and explorer Alexandra Cousteau, environmentalist
Kick Kennedy, award-winning photographers Michael Muller and Jimmy Chin,
singer Santi White, actress Isabel Lucas, and Elizabeth Gore, executive
director of global partnerships at the UN Foundation.

“The climb isn’t easy,” the official expedition web site points out, noting
that after 10,000 feet the risk of altitude sickness increases and fatigue
sets in.

“The symptoms vary from headache, dizziness and nausea to lethargy and
euphoria, keeping many from reaching the summit. The last day [on the way
up], in sub-zero temperatures and at the highest elevation, will be the

Leading the climb is American musician Kenna, whose father suffered badly
from a water-borne disease while a child in his native Ethiopia.

In addition to raising public awareness about the global clean water
crisis, the climb will also raise funds to be distributed through the UN
Foundation to several groups, including UNHCR, the Children’s Safe Drinking
Water Programme and Water For People and Playpumps International.

The climbers will post blogs, status updates, tweets, photographs and
videos at regular intervals as they progress up the mountain. The public
can also make donations through the web site, sponsoring every foot of


Posted on on October 18th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

We had the following as a posting on our future events button. Now we update after the events.


Posted on October 12, 2009:

Dr. Perkins, a student of leadership, to speak October 15th at the Explorers Club annual Dinner.

Dr. Dennis Perkins is Keynote Speaker at the Explorers’ Club,
Lowell Thomas Annual Awards Dinner,
October 15th, 2009 Cipriani Wall Street, NY, NY

Dr. Perkins is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, served as a Marine infantry officer in Vietnam and subsequently received an MBA from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Perkins has spent his lifetime evaluating and analyzing leadership and teamwork of successful and doomed expeditions, first as a front line military leader and subsequently in the field and as faculty at our nation’s top universities. Dr. Perkins’ passion to experience and understand risk has taken him to disparate places including Antarctica, where he retraced the footsteps of famed explorer, Ernest Shackleton; and to Australia, where he sailed the Midnight Rambler, winning the challenging Sydney to Hobart Race, a 628 nautical mile race — often called “the Everest” of offshore racing – using a Volvo 60 racing boat.

Dr. Perkins has written extensively on leadership and organizational effectiveness all in the context of risk assessment and optimization.


I was intrigued by the interest in risk as described in the Explorers Club info material. Indeed, now I can report that both events did indeed stand in the shadow of the RISK idea – but please mind – this was not in the sense of getting involved in adventures for the sake of adventure, but rather the cold assessment of risk, and the intelligent process of learning how to get out from under dangerous conditions. You get to risks at the edge and might look at the brink – said one speaker.

The speakers were all old style explorers and by nature of this concept – risk takers. Those that were honored at the dinner were obviously members of the older generation, but at the Saturday “Mountain Stories” event we saw also younger people – so there is still a future for those that want to allow for risk taking. Now the problem is to find places to explore – but I learned that there is no shortage of such possibilities. Climbing new peaks in areas that were less accessible in the past is just one possibility, but going back to mountain peaks that have been explored many times in the past, but using new equipment, it is possible to open up new roots and even get a minor peak called by your name.

Going in the foots of Shackleton in the Antarctica, Dr. Perkins said that the good news was that we have been there before and we know how to do it.

Perkins speaks of “Balanced optimism grounded in reality – you damn well got to be optimistic to go on such a trip.” You must be wiling to take the big risk – not the unnecessary risk.”

What the explorer must do is to look calmly at the situation and step up to the risk worth taking. The challenge is to find innovative solutions to problems under least favorable conditions.

Dr. Perkins, when he speaks, he peppers his mental pictures with ideas from the world of business and policy – such as: “The IMF says global recovery has begun – but does not say when things will get better – so may be we cannot predict the future.”

We know we will have bad days, but we must be ready to take the worthwhile risk, and ended by saying “Thank you very much – go for the edge.”

Yvon Choinard, a Patagonian man, climed mountains on every continent. Long time ago, he looked for the true source of the Nile at Mt. Stanley in Uganda. He said that he never goes on an adventure trip – it just happens when you take small risks on the way.

Richard Wilson, told about racing a boat for 120 days and 28,000 miles, from Port la Foret, Brittany. 

Eventually someone defined the topic of risk as – “Risk is to take new exploration and the unknown, and this without knowing about success.”


The Saturday event was set up to honor further six outstanding explorers and mountain climbers. I was there for three of the six.

The last presenter was Jennifer Loew-Anker – born in Montana to the outdoors from birth – she sounded like a proof that genetics, or call it upbringing – have something to do with it. When you ride a horse at two years of age, and horse-riding is in effect more dangerous then mountain climbing … you get my point.

Jennifer is an artist with wildlife her major topic. She presented to us her book “Forget Me Not” about her first husband – her childhood friend from Montana – Alex Lowe, who died in 1999, in an avalanche on the Himalayan mountain Shishapangma. Alex was considered one of the greatest modern climbers. Jennifer showed us a movie about their lives – she herself also a great climber. After 18 years of marriage, she was left with three children. Eventually, two years later she remarried another climber who worked with Alex.

Jennifer told us about climbing done in the Pinar del Rio region of Cuba, and of philanthropic work she does now with the Alex foundation. They built a climbing wall in Mongolia and established a school for sherpas when they realized that the sherpas actually never learned to take care for themselves, and the number of casualties among the sherpas is so much higher then among the foreign climbers.

The other two – actually three speakers – were the pair Freddie Wilkenson & Janet Bergman, and Kevin Mahoney. All of them from the Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, Mountain Climber community.  All of them connected to the Dartmouth Club and to “Mountain Hardware,” and from their base they work as guides and climbers all over the world.

Kevin Mahoney sees his job as a “mitigator of risk – so people discover their own worth.” He defined himself as a winter person – he climbs ice. He said that skying has many more accidents then ice climbing.

Freddie Wilkinson and Janet Bergman are young people from Kevin Mahoney’s group. They gave us a run down on today’s ice climbing – mentioning that 95% of climbing is done in a handful of peaks in the Himalayas. They described themselves as a great team as Freddie looks for opportunities and Janet for barriers – this when trying to identify new targets for climbing or new ways of climbing in areas that have been covered earlier.


Now I come to the real reason why I looked at these two fascinating programs at the Explorers Club – this because of an obsession I developed at the UN when I realized that the New York based Explorers Club is an NGO affiliated to the UN, but not part of the environmental NGOs active at the UN. I realized at the time that the Club was dominated by people that would rather shoot an elephant and turn it over to a taxidermist so it be a trophy for them. Could they find the last dinosaur, they would have stuffed him also. That might have been right for the days of President Theodore Roosevelt, but I thought that today you ought  not love the outdoors in order to kill them. Also climate change is a rather important issue and I saw tremendous potential here to get the Explorers involved. Eventually I approached a young new President of the Club, we met but nothing happened.

Now, at the Saturday event I spoke with some of those that were honored at the event. These were young people and clearly not of the riffle kind, but still did not find a feel for activism present on our kind of issues. Nevertheless, I found hope for change.

When I asked Kevin Mahoney if he found signs of climate change in Nepal, he started to tell me about the farmer who complained that he has to go higher uphill with the sheep he owns, because there is no grass for them as there is a lack of water. So he goes up higher to areas that used to be covered snow! This clearly gave me the opening to talk a little about the melting glaciers, and I found real interest among the young climbers. So there may be hope that someday the Explorers might indeed become Environmentalists as well – provided by that time there will still be left some  environment to explore. Just think of the snow caps of Kenya and Tanzania and my statement above might not sound absurd at all. 

Is this a different meaning for RISK?


Posted on on August 1st, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

The following are the top 28 finalists in the Official 2009 New 7 Wonders of Nature competition – nominated from among hundreds of sites around the world that have been proposed.

see please: and you can vote – for up to 7 of the 28 list – at that link.

you can vote for your choice of 7 on line, by phone, or text message. It is expected that one billion people will vote and the winner will be announced in 2011.

A similar effort two years ago elected seven manmade wonders generated considerable publicity. We backed at that time Machu Picchu, Peru

These selections are being organized by a Swiss filmmaker and entrepreneur, Bernard Weber, and the committee that chose the 28 finalists included Federico Mayor, former chief of UNESCO, and Rex Weyler, co-founder of Greenpeace International.

Like everything else that has a UN connection, obviously such selections will be politicized beyond the simple angle of national pride – just see the country called Chinese Taipei for what most call Taiwan.

In this year of climate change we thing the Amazon will get the world’s nod, but watching in Vietnam (it is Halong Bay) how a whole country can get beyond a particular location we would have said that China could muster the vote, but will they do it for Taipei?

From among the many places on the list that we have been to – I am voting as Numero Uno for the Iguazu Falls.






























From the competition on the 7 Man-made wonders – a stamp collection from Gibraltar:

For all media inquiries and interview requests, please contact:

Tia B. Viering, Head of Communications
Mobile: +41 79-762-2784
Phone: +49 89 489 033 58 (Munich office)
Email at


Posted on on May 26th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

The US Chamber of Commerce has commissioned from Baird’s Communications Management Consultants (Baird’s CMC) in partnership with the Africa Business Initiative, an “inside-the-boardroom survey of attitudes toward corporate investment in Africa among leading U.S. corporations.” The information was gathered between January and November 2008 in a series of closed door interviews with senior officers of 30 American Fortune 100 corporations.

The report can be found at:

Among the conclusions I found:

“USA Inc. is more interested in Africa than before, because the African market appears increasingly attractive, but Africa has tough competition and high hurdles for US investment. Education is at the top of the US corporate wish list for Africa; ‘educate your people so that we can employ them.’

The African countries that hold most interest are South Africa and some countries in the North, like Egypt; there are also some pockets of interest in West Africa, most notably Ghana, Nigeria and to some extent Angola; while some in the South (Botswana and Mozambique) and East (Uganda and Kenya), are also being watched.”


The report is in two parts:

Part One: Understand how US corporations view Africa as an investment destination and what their requirements are for investing in Africa on the same scale as their investments in the rest of the developing world.

Part Two: The response of African political and government leaders to these private sector views will be telling; what is the conversation about FDI behind government’s closed doors, when policy is made?


Why has Africa not attracted more interest from the U.S. business community?

Rule of law — The rule of law does not prevail to the degree required to make Africa an attractive investment destination. This applies to corporate, societal, and criminal law

Attraction — While the enormous natural resources are an attraction, Africa does not offer a sufficiently large middle class of consumers or show consistent economic growth that could promise a future market. Most African countries are small and have poor markets, and there are barriers to regional markets–such as taxes and the freedom of movement of people and goods

Risks versus rewards— Given the currently perceived risks in Africa, the rewards have to be very high to make it worthwhile to invest. Presently, U.S. corporations say that there are very few visible promises of future returns high enough to justify significant interest in investing

Supportive business framework–Transportation and communications infrastructure, trained or trainable human resources, and equitable trade and employment practices are insufficient to support corporate investment

A welcoming environment— African countries are not doing a sufficient job of providing education and health services to the potential workforce, which makes the potential hire-able local insufficient to support investment.


From the   angle we found the most important comment to be:  

“Africa may want to consider the benefits of encouraging US Corporations whose stated desire is to employ Africans, unlike others who merely exploit African mineral resources without contributing to local employment. Africa may also benefit in the long term from the US approach of skills transfer and technology development, provided that its intellectual property is protected.” This obviously requires African leaders to help educate their people which might then also lead to the obvious requirement to allow in new spirits such as more democratic stiles of government and distribution of wealth produced from this more intimate interaction with the outside world and we hope that this can be agreed upon for a true benefit of Africa.

If this study could open African eyes to such potentialities, then the study might indeed provide the positive basis for moving Africa away from the present dead point where the export of commodities such as oil, minerals, and diamonds, are the one way connections that masquerades as business relations between African governments and US corporations. On the other hand, the US public will have to allow also the opening of the US market to goods manufactured in Africa.All of this while US corporations become also investors in the creation of a more developed African internal market.

The report was brought to our attention by   Fabiane Dal-Ri   –  fabianedalri at


Posted on on January 30th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

January 29, 2009

Contact: ATA Communications
Tel: (212) 447-1357
 info at


Africa Travel Association (ATA) Opens Registration for its Second Annual
U.S.-Africa Tourism Seminar in Washington, D.C. from February 19-20, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 29, 2009 – The recent inauguration of President Barack Obama is more than a landmark in America’s political history, it is also an opportunity for the travel and tourism industry to take a more focused approach to increasing visitors and investment in Africa from the U.S.

“All over Africa, we can see how excited everyone is about President Obama’s connection to the continent,” said Edward Bergman, ATA Executive Director. “We have already seen a surge in interest about travel specials to Africa not only to Kenya, where President Obama traces his roots, but also throughout East Africa.”

ATA, the world’s leading global travel trade organization, is gearing up for its Second Annual U.S.-Africa Tourism Seminar. The two-day event takes place at the Washington Convention Center from February 19-20, immediately prior to the Adventures in Travel Expo (ATE). The seminar’s timing and location affords ATA an opportunity to build on the recent historic events, including President Obama’s commitment to service.

With travel to Africa on the rise and an emerging interest in Africa as a culture and heritage destination, Africa is garnering more and more attention from American tourists as one of the world’s premier travel destinations.

Focusing on sports, adventure and diaspora travel and tourism, the seminar will showcase Africa as a top tourism destination from the U.S., as well as a site for investment and business opportunity in one of the world’s fastest growing tourism markets.

Manute Bol, former NBA star and Ethiopian Airlines official spokesperson, will speak about different possibilities for responsible tourism and sports tourism in Africa.

Stephen Hayes, President of the Corporate Council on Africa, and Edward Bergman, among other travel professionals, will speak about tourism policy choices at the opening plenary session.

Sthu Zungu, President of South African Tourism-USA, will speak about travel trends, relating to who is traveling to Africa, why they are going, and what can be improved on the travel front to increase tourism to the continent. Alongside experts in sports tourism in Africa, she will also address how mega sporting events, such as 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa, can be leveraged to increase tourism to and within Africa.

The timely topic of responsible tourism and how the industry and the individual tourist can make a difference in local communities will be explored by senior representatives from the Center for Ecotourism and Sustainable Development, Africare, and the African Wildlife Foundation.

Senior representatives from the World Bank, IFC (International Finance Corporation), and US Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, will explore entrepreneurship, finance and investment opportunities, as well as travel trends in separate workshops.

South African Airways representatives will participate in a workshop on the growth and modernization of travel to Africa and the growth and modernization of intra-Africa air service. Representatives from other airlines serving Africa and Boeing will also participate in the seminar.

Another workshop on African diaspora tourism will examine the role of the diaspora in changing perceptions of Africa in the US market and emerging African diaspora tourism products, such as cultural and heritage tours. Panelists will also explore how the African diaspora and immigrant communities can serve as Africa’s tourism ambassadors in the U.S. tourism markets.

Panelists will also speak about branding and marketing Destination Africa and Africa’s newest travel products, particularly in the areas of sports tourism, and adventure travel.

Tourism experts and industry professionals from the U.S. and Africa, particularly travel agents and tour operators who market, sell and specialize in Africa, are expected to attend the seminar, as well as ministers of tourism, representatives from Washington D.C.’s diplomatic community, and Africa’s national tourism offices.

Representatives of the Spring Bank, Virginia Quanders family (1684), referred to as – America’s oldest documented African American family’ by Ebony and Jet magazines, will attend the event. Henderson Travel Services, the first African American travel agency in the U.S. to specialize in sending visitors to Africa, will also participate.

Public relations firms specializing in marketing Africa destinations, such as the Bradford Group, will participate in the seminar, alongside faculty and students from George Washington University.

ATA welcomes travel industry professionals to participate in the ATE expo immediately following the seminar. ATA members should contact ATA for discounts to exhibit.

To register and to find more information on the seminar, as well as sponsorship opportunities, visit….

About the Africa Travel Association (ATA) The Africa Travel Association, a U.S.-based non-profit, is the world’s premier travel industry trade association promoting tourism to Africa and intra-Africa travel and partnership since 1975. ATA members include ministries of tourism and culture, national tourism boards, airlines, hoteliers, travel agents, tour operators, travel trade media, public relations firms, NGOs, and SME’s. For more on ATA, visit


Posted on on November 24th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (


The volume (405 pages) was edited by Pascal C.Sanginga, Ann Walter-Bayer, Susan Kaaria, Jemimah Njuki, and Chesha Wetlasinha.

Earthscan, is a publishing house for a sustainable future, based in Dunstan House, 14a St. Cross st., London EC1N 8XA, UK – with a branch at 22883 Quicksilver Derive, Sterling, VA, USA.

The project, meeting and book, were sponsored jointly by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation under the roof of the “Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The goal is tp promote African agricultural development through capacity-building, research and pilot testing of interventions.

At the Kampala meeting participated 140 practitioners and the best 24 articles appear in the 5 parts of this volume.

The conclusions led to five observations,   and I will mention here just the fifth – that says that real innovation emerges by encouraging creativity, and that is not achieved by over-engineering a multiple level of bureaucracy that poses the risk of stifling real discovery. So, it is better to create enabling conditions and incentive structures that encourage information exchange, cooperation and policy changes that unleash bottom-up or lateral innovation.

The first article is of 26 pages on “Conceptual and Methodological Developments in Innovation,” presented by Niels Roeling.

I found interesting his use of “innovation” as a noun – denoting a technology or even a product i.e. hybrid maize. Then he talks about the “diffusion curve” of introducing this innovation for gain by the users. That was the way the subject was taught in the American Mid-West. Eventually he mentions that his thinking was affected by the observation from Landcare in Australia, that “erosion, salination, desiccation and other environmental problems” resulted from the introduction of European farming practices to a continent to which they were not suited. Thus we reach out to grassroots innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the book presents many ways of organizing this sort of development of agricultural knowledge and information systems.

The book ends up presenting many conceptual and methodological developments in promoting innovation by showcasing on-the-ground experiences in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Malawi, South Africa, Nigeria.

The volume mentions the changes in global agriculture, the use of biofuels, the increase in meat consumption, droughts and extreme weather caused by climate change, and the resulting increase in the price of food, and asks if those events will make African smallholders competitive in African urban markets. The author is nevertheless not over optimistic. It is the global “treadmill” that prevents African farmers from contributing to global food security and African countries from gaining food sovereignty. The imports of food haveinterfered with the marketting of the local produce beyond the subsistence level.


Posted on on November 18th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Drylands, Deserts, and Desertification – 2008 Conference. December 14-17, 2008, Sede Boqer Campus, The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Israel.

THE PROGRAM As Available on November 18, 2008. There might be still Changes and Additions, as well –   further Poster Sessions.

Download this schedule: detailed_program_sessions_1611_publish.doc

Drylands, Deserts and Desertification – 2008
December 14-17, 2008

Please note that the list of presentations is still not final. Furthermore, the breakdown into sessions may change. Abstracts for the Poster Sessions will be listed separately during the conference

Pre Registration will begin on the evening of December 13, 2008
8:00-9:00 Registration
9:00 – 9:30 Welcome
9:30 – 10:15 Plenary Address: Cutting through the Confusion: An Old Problem (Desertification) Viewed through the Lens of a New Framework (the DDP, Drylands Development Paradigm) – James Reynolds, Duke University (U.S.A)
10:15 – 10:30 Respondents: Thomas Schaaf,, Chief, Ecological Sciences & Biodiversity Section, UNESCO, Ingrid Hartman, Amoud University, Borama, Somaliland, Godfrey Olukoye Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Uriel Safriel, Hebrew University, Israel
Moderator: Alon Tal
10:30-11:00 Coffee Break
11:00-12:30 Parallel Sessions I
1. Soil Degradation and the Drylands
Chair: Professor Yonah Chen, Hebrew University Agricultural Faculty, HYPERLINK “
Causes and Consequences of Soil Damages in Bosnia and Herzegovinia: Some Experiences in Soil Conservation, Markovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Soil Decomposition in a Tropical Semi-arid Region in Central Mexico, Maria Hernandez Cerda, Enrique Romero, Gonzalo Madero, (Mexico)
Soil Communities in the Arava Valley Desert System, Stanislav Pen-Mouratov, Tamir Mayblat, and Yosef Steinberger (Israel)

Effect of plant patchiness on soil microbial community structure

Ali Nejidat, Eric A. Ben-David, Yonatan Sher, Regina Golden, Eli Zaady (Israel)
2. Desert Ecology (A)
Chair: Professor Tamar Dayan, Tel Aviv University, HYPERLINK “,
Water and Carbon Balances of Tamarix Desert Vegetation Under Variation in Precipitation and Groundwater Table,Hao Xu, Yan Li, (China)
Periodic and Scale-free Patterns: Reconciling the Dichotomy of Dryland Vegetation, Jost von Hardenberg, Assaf Kletter, Hezi Yizhaq, Ehud Meron (Israel)
Water Balance in Desert Mammals and in Flying Birds: Different Evolutionary Paths with Similar Physiological Outcomes, Berry Pinshow (Israel)
Desertification In the Grasslands Of Central Australia: Effects Of Fire And Climate Change, C. R. Dickman, G. M. Wardle, A. C. Greenville and B. Tamayo (Australia)
3. Benchmarks and Indicators of Desertification
Chair: Professor Moshe Shachak, Ben Gurion University,
Spatial Vegetation Patterns Indicating Imminent Desertification Max Rietkerk (Netherlands)
Do Vegetation Indices Reliably Assess Vegetation Degradation? A Case Study in the Mongolian Pastures, Arnon Karnieli Y. Bayarjargal, M. Bayasgalan, B. Mandakh, J. Burgheimer, S. Khudulmur, and P.D. Gunin (Israel)
Results On Changes Of Vegetation Structure And Composition In Semi-Desert Steppe,B.Mandakh Ph.D, Ganchimeg Wingard, (Mongolia)
Restoration of Pasture Vegetation and Assessment of Desertification in Kazakhstan Mirzadinov R.А., Baisartova А.Y., Bayazitova Z.Е., Torgaev А.А., Makhamedzhanov N.Т., Usen К., Karnieli A., Mirzadinov (Kazakhstan)
4. Pastoralism and the Drylands (A)
Chair: Dr. Eli Zaady, Gilat Research Station, Volcani Institute
Complex Interactions Between Climate and Pastoralists in Desert Grasslands, Curtin, charles (U.S.A)
Sustainable Grazing Strategies for Semi-arid Rangelands of Central Argentina, Roberto Distel (Argentina)

Trophic interactions and the ecology of habitat degradation in grasslands, Yoram Ayal(Israel)

12:30 – 14:30Short Field Trips and Lunch Break
14:30-16:00 Parallel Sessions II
5. Remote Sensing and Assessment of Desertification Processes (A)
Chair: Professor Danny Blumberg, Ben Gurion University,
Progress in mapping global desertification, S. D. Prince (U.S.A)
Desertification Risk Assessment in Northeastern Nigeria Using Remote Sensing and GIS Techniques, Taiwo Qudus, S.O. Mohammed, (Nigeria)
Integrating Remotely-sensed Vegetation Phenology and Rainfall Metrics to Characterize Changes in Dryland Vegetation Cover: Example from Burkina Faso Stefanie Herrmann, Thomas Hopson, (U.S.A)
On the Definition of Desertification through the Case Study of the Egyptian-Israeli Borderline, Arnon Karnieli, Christine Hanisch, Zehava Siegal and Haim Tsoar (Israel)

Evaluation of optimal time-of-day for detecting water stress in olive trees by thermal remote sensing, Nurit Agam, Alon Ben-Gal, Yafit Cohen, Victor Alchanatis, Uri Yermiyahu, and Arnon Dag, (Israel)

6. Drought and Salt Resistant Plants for Sustainable Dryland Development (A)
Chair: Dr. Gozal Ben Hayyim, The Volcani Institute HYPERLINK “
Potentials for Utilizing the Mulberry (Morus Alba) and the Neem (Azadirachta Indica) For Desertification Control In Northern Ghana: the Experience of the Sericulture Promotion And Development Association, Ghana. Paul Kwasi Ntaanu (Ghana)
Phenology, Floral and Reproductive Biolgy Studies of Genus Zizipus in Negev Desert Conditions, Manoj Kulkarni, Bert Schneider and Noemi Tel-Zur (Israel)
Dissecting the Molecular control of Stomatal Movement in CAM plant: A Potential Source for Genes Conferring Drought Tolerance in C3 Plants, Yaron Sitrit (Israel)
Comparison of Germination Strategies of Four Artemisia Species (Asteraceae) in Horqin Sandy Land, China, Li Xuehua, Liu Zhimin and Jiang Demning (China)
Role of Hydrophilins in Water-stressed and Salt-stressed Environments, Dudy Bar-Zvi, (Israel)
7. Water Management Strategies in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Alfred Abed- Rabbo, Bethlehem University,
Water Management in a Semi-arid Region: An Integrated Water Resources Allocation Modeling for Tanzania, Shija Kazumba (Tanzania/Israel)
Towards Sustainable Management of Wadis in Semi-Arid Environments- IWRM Approach, Walid Saleh, Amjad Aliewi, Anan Jayyousi (Dubai)
Is Desalination Right for Sydney? Phoenix Lawhon Isler(Australia)
16:00-16:15 Coffee Break
16:15-17:15 Parallel Sessions III
8. Remote Sensing and Assessment of Desertification Processes (B)
Chair: HYPERLINK “” Prof. Hanoch Lavee, Bar Ilan University , HYPERLINK “
Assessing Land Cover Change and Degradation in the Central Asian Deserts Using Satellite Image Processing and Geostatistical Methods, Arnon Karnieli, Tal Svoray, Uri Gilad, (Israel)
A Dynamic Model of Dryland Hydrology Using Remote Sensing, Elene Tarvansky, (United Kingdom)
The Effect of Wildfires on Vegetation Cover and Dune Activity in Australia’s Desert Dunes: A Multi-Sensor Analysis, Noam Levin, Simcha Levental, Hagar Morag (Israel)
9. Desert Ecology (B)
Chair: Dr. Yehoshua Shkedy, Chief Scientist, Israel Nature and Parks Authorit, HYPERLINK “
Is Grass Scarcity in the Chihuahuan Desert A Result of Shrub-Grass Competition or Soil Moisture Limitation? Giora Kidron and Vincent Gutschick (Israel/U.S.A)
Short-term responses of small vertebrates to vegetation removal as a management tool in Nizzanim dunes, Boaz Shacham and Amos Bouskila (Israel)

Microbial diversity of Mediterranean and Arid soil ecosystem. Ami Bachar, Ashraf Ashhab, Roey Angel, M. Ines M. Soares and Osnat Gillor, (Israel)

Effects of woody vegetation and anthropogenic disturbances on herbaceous vegetation in the northern Negev, Moran Segoli, Eugene David Ungar, Moshe Shahack (Israel)
10. Land Restoration Strategies
Chair: Dr. Avi Gafni, Director of Research, Keren Kayemeth L’Yisrael,
Role of Wetlands in Sustainable Drylands D. Mutekanga (Uganda)
Restoration of Abandoned Lands, Gabrielyan Bardukh, (Armenia)

Desertification in the Sahel: causes, prevention and reclamation Dov Pasternak (Israel)

11. Strategies for Living in the Drylands
Chair: Prof. Avigad Vonshak, Director Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research,

Micro-Climatic Effect of a Manmade Oasis During Different Season in an Extremly Hot, Dry Climate, Oded Potchter (Israel)

Ecological sanitation (ECOSAN) as an alternative approach for sustainable dry-land development, Amit Gross (Israel)
Has dependence on runoff agriculture on the dryland environment of the central Negev mountains changed significantly in the last few thousand years? Testing the contribution of the geological substrate, Wieler Nimrod. Avni Y. Benjamini C. (Israel)
12. Pastoralism and the Drylands (B)
Chair: Mr. Shmulik Friedman Head of Israel Grazing Authority HYPERLINK “
Normative Carrying Capacity of an Isralei Forest for Domesticated Grazers. David Evlagon, Samuel Komisarchik, Yehuda Nissan, No’am Seligman (Israel)
Herd No More: Livestock Husbandry Policies and the Environment in Israel: from 1900 Until Today, Liz Wachs, Alon Tal (U.S.A)
17:15-19:00 Poster Session (including contest) and Cocktail
19:00-20:00 Dinner
20:00 Evening Activities (optional)
Moonlit Hike in Nahal Haverim (Please come w/ walking shoes and warm clothes)
OR Films from the Desert Nights Film Festival (sponsored by the Italian Embassy, Tel Aviv)

8:00-8:30 Registration
8:30 – 10:15Plenary Addresses
Professor Pinhas Alpert, Director, Porter School of the Environment, Tel Aviv University,
“Climate Change’s Impact on Desertification in the Mediterranean Region”
Rattan Lal,Director, Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, Ohio State University. “Carbon Sequestration in the Drylands: Where we Are? Where we might go?”
Dan Yakir, Head, Department of Environmental Sciences & Energy Research, Weitzman Institute, “Israel Forestry, Carbon and the Drylands: Recent Findings from Israel”
Moderator: Mark Windslow, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Germany
9:45-10:00 Coffee Break
10:00-11:30 Parallel Sessions IV
13. The Role Vegetation in Combating Desertification (A)
Chair: Dr. Elli Groner, Arava Institute for desert studies/BIDR,
Use of Indicator Species in Enhancing the Conservation of Drylands of Kenya J. Aucha, V. Palapala, and J. Shiundu (Kenya)
Green Spots as a Tool to Combat Desertification in the Aral Sea Region, Lilya Dimeyeva, (Kazakhstan)
Vegetation Change in Response to Grazing and Water Level Decline in the Enot Zukim Nature Reserve (en Fescha) Israel, Linda Whittaker, Margareta Walczak, Amos Sabach and Eli Dror (Israel)
Improving sustainability and productivity of rainfed field crops in the Negev regions
David J. Bonfil (Israel)
14. Drought and Salt Resistant Plants for Sustainable Dryland Development (B)
Chair: Professor Micha Guy, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, HYPERLINK “
The chemical induction of Polyploidy Mutan in Zizphus Mauritiana, Noemi Tel Zur and Mohmmad A.Taher (Israel / Jordan)
Using the Model Plant Arabidopsis Thaliana and Extremophile Arabidopsis Relatives to Identify Genes that Can Confer Plant Tolerance to Arid Conditions, Simon Barak (Israel)
Recently Domesticated Native Desert Herbs for Sustainable Planting in Arid and Saline Areas, Elaine Solowey (Israel)
Pattern Formation, State Changes and Catastrophic Shifts in Poa bulbosa Production as Responses to Simulated Grazing, Hadeel Majeed, Yaakov Garb, Moshe Shachak (Israel)
Germination and seedling survival in NaCl solutions after desiccation of some halophytes-used in pasture and fodder production in the solonchak salinities of the Kyzylkum desert, in Uzbekistan, Tanya Gendler, Japakova Ulbosun, Nicolai Orlovsky and Yitzchak Gutterman (Israel)
15. Afforestation in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Gabriel Shiller, The Volcani Institute, HYPERLINK “
Dryland Afforestation, Bill Hollingworth, (Australia)
Soil and Water Management along with Afforestation for Rehabilitation of Desertified Areas of the Israeli Negev, Yitzak Moshe (Israel)
Land Restoration in the Mediterranean, V. Ramon Vallejo, (Spain)
The Impact of Tree Shelters on Forest Survival of Eight Native Broadleaf Species in Forest Plantations in Israel, Omri Boneh (Israel)
16. Irrigation in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Alon Ben-Gal, Gilat Research Station, Volcani Institute,
Combating Land Degradation in Irrigated Agriculture Through Systematic Characterization of Saline-Sodic Soils for Improved Irrigation Efficiency in Kenya – E.M. Muya, (Kenya)
Adaption of Drip Irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa, Towards a Strategy for Technology Transfer, Lonia Friedlander (U.S.A)
Managing salt, nutrient and soil structure in reclaimed water irrigated vineyards of South Australia, Biswas and McCarthy (AU)
Future strategies for drainage problems in the desert area (IGNP) of Western Rajasthan in India, Kiran Soni Gupta (India)
Root zone salinity management strategy for the Australian drought, Schrale (AU)
17. Climate Change in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Yeshayahu Bar-Or, Chief Scientist, Ministry of Environmntal Protection, HYPERLINK “
Climate Change Trends in an Extreme Arid Zone, Southern Arava (Israel and Jordan) Hanan Ginat, Yanai Shlomi, Danny Blumberg (Israel)

Climate change and its effect on Mediterranean Basin ecosystems, Pua Bar (Kutiel) (Israel)

Climatic Change and Desertification Predictive Modeling In The Northeastern Nigeria.
Dr. Ojonigu Ati And Taiwo Qudus (Nigeria)
11:30-13:30 Open Campus Lunch Break
13:30-15:00 Parallel Sessions V
18. The Role of Vegetation in Combating Desertification (B)
Chair: Mr. Tauber Israel, KKL, HYPERLINK “javascript:addSender(”
Desertification not at all costs – a matter of temporal and spatial scales and policies
Pua Bar (Kutiel) (Israel)
Cropping systems in the Indian arid zone and long-term effects of continuous cropping
N.L. Joshi (India)
Establishing the Relationships between Soils, Vegetation and Ecosystem Dynamics: A Strategy for Land Degradation Control in Nurunit Marsabit District, Kenya, E.M. Muya, (Kenya)
19. Indigenous Knowledge in the Combating of Desertification
Chair: Prof. Aref Abu Rabia, Ben Gurion University, HYPERLINK “
Ethnobotanical Approach to the Conservation of Dryland Vegetation James Aucha (Kenya)
Environmental and Economic Potential of Bedouin Dryland Agriculture, Khalil Abu Rabia, Elaine Solowey and Stefan Leu (Israel)
Traditional Knowledge and Technologies: Administration of Common Goods from the Perspective of Goat Producers in the Lavalle Desert, Laura Maria Torres (Argentina)


20. Managing Drought in the Drylands

Chair, Mr. Yaakov Lomas, Israel Metereological Institute, HYPERLINK “

Drought Risk Reduction in Rajasthan, India Madhukar Gupta (India)
Merits and Limitations in Assessing Droughts by Remote Sensing, Arnon Karnieli and Nurit Agam (Israel)
The Impact of Long Term Drought Periods in Northern Israel, Moshe Inbar (Israel)
Hydric Characterization of the Sinaloa State (Mexico), Through the Aridity and Aridity Régime Indices, Israel Velasco, (Mexico)
Economic Sustainable rainfed wheat production under Semi-Arid climatic conditions – Agrometeorological criteria for planning purposes, Lomas (Israel)
21. Carbon Sequestration
Chair: Dr. Noam Gressel, Assif Strategies, HYPERLINK “
Semi-arid Afforestation and its Effect on Land-atmosphere Interactions,
Eyal Rotenberg et. al., (Israel)
Capacity of the forest ecosystems to sequester carbon (Case of the watershed basin of Rheraya- area of Marrakech) ) Rachid Ilmen (Morocco)
Halting Land Degradation and Desertification: A Win-Win Mitigation Strategy Neglected by the Climate Establishment, Stefan Leu (Israel)
Special Round Table discussion: Mid-east Regional Cooperation to Research Desertification with Arab and Israeli Desertification Experts
Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli experts meeting and discussing common concerns and solutions to address desertification in the Middle East region.
Moderator: Prof. Avigad Vonshak
Jeffrey Cook Workshop in Desert Architecture and Planning
Architecture and Urban Planning in the Drylands
Dryland Urban Expansion: Environmental Problems and Urban Planning, the Case of Urmuqi China S. Liu (UK)
Towards a Comprehensive Methodology for Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE): A Hot Dry Climate Case Study, Isaac Meir, Eduoardo Kruger, Lusi Morhayim, Shiri Fundaminsky, Liat Frenkel, (Israel)
Sick Building Syndrome in a University Building – an Educational Survey, Lusi Morhayim, Issac Meir (Israel)
Urban Sustainability in Desert and Dryland Areas – a First Exploration, Yodan Rofe and Gabriela Feierstein (Israel/Argentina)
Microclimatic Issues in the Planning of a Modern City in a Desert Environment, Evyatar Erell (Israel)
Sustainable Architecture in the Outback/Desert Regions of Australia: The Paradigm in Theory and Practice, Terence Williamson (Australia)
Arch. Suhasini Ayer-Guigan (India)
Arch. Mary Hancock (UK)
Arch. Laureano Pietro (Italy)
15:30 Bus Ride to Mitzpe-Ramon
16:00-17:00 Sunset Overlooking the Ramon Crater, Visit to Ramon Visitor’s Center
17:30 PLENARY LECTURE: Professor Uri Shani, Director, Israel Water Authority,
“Addressing Scarcity in the Drylands: Israel’s New Water Management Strategy”,
Moderator, Ms. Hila Ackerman, Director of Environmental Department, Ramat Negev Regional Council
19:00 Dinner
20:00 Evening Activity: Music & Dancing OR Astronomy Lecture
DAY 3, December 16, 2008: FIELD TRIPS

A detailed plan will be provided separately


8:00-8:30 Registration
8:30 – 10:15Plenary Addresses/ PanelReconsidering the Axiom of “Bottom Up” Desertification Programs: Lessons Learned about Partnerships and International Assistance
Chris Braeuel UNCCD Focal Point, Canada,
Christian Mersmann, Director, The Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, Rome
Alon Tal, Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research
DelphineOuedraogo, Ministry of Environment, Focal Point to UNCCD, Burkina Faso

Moderator: TBA

10:00-10:15 Coffee Break
10:15-11:50 Parallel Sessions VI


22. The Contradictions of “Gender Equality” in Development Discourses in Desert Regions (Panel A)

Chair: Prof. Rivka Carmi, President Ben Gurion University,

Rethinking modern education among indigenous Negev Bedouin, Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder (Israel)

Looking Ahead: Bedouin Women, Higher Education, Identity and Belonging,Ronnie Halevi (Israel/U.S.A.)

The nation and its natures: Depictions of women Environmental Educators in the Israeli Negev Desert, Miri Lavi-Neeman, (Israel/USA)

“My Life? What is there to tell?” : Interpreting the life stories of multiply marginalized women in an Israeli ‘Development Town” Sigal Ron (Israel)
23. Public Policy, Economics and Desertification
Chair: Dr. Moshe Schwartz, Ben Gurion University,
Economic Instruments for Mitigation of Desertification Problems in Armenia Gevorgyan Suren, (Armenia)
Land Degradation, Subsidies Dependency and Market Vulnerability of Stock –breeding Households in Central Crete Hugues Lorent, et. al., (Belgium)
The Value of Israel’s Forests and Desertification, Tzipi Eshet, Dafna Disegni and Mordehcai Shechter (Israel)
Current Status and Issues for Combating Desertification In Western Rajasthan, Kiran Soni Gupta, (India)
How To Put Desertification and Water Management in The Political Agenda: The South Italy Development Policies, Carlo Donolo (Italy)
24. Food Security in the Drylands
Chair: TBA
Livelihood Strategies: Indigenous Practices and Knowledge Systems in the Attainment of Food Security in Botswana, Maitseo Bolaane (Botswana)
Drought and food insecurity: a rationale for national grain reserves, Hendrik Bruins (Israel)
Drought Management Planning in Water Supply System, Enrique Cabrera (Spain)
The Impact of Drought on Agriculture in Jordan, Sawsan Batarseh and Hendrik J. Bruins (Jordan)
25. Case Studies – Projects that Combat Desertification
Chair: Beth-Eden Kite, Deputy Director, Mashav, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Combating Desertification: An Attempt at Wasteland Development in Rajasthan, India, Kusum Bhawani Shanker, (India)
Valuing the Successes of combating desertification – Experience of Burkina Faso in the rehabilitation of the productive capacity of the village territories, Ouedraogo Delphine (Burkina Faso)
Development of Drylands of Kenya Using the Jatropha Curcas Value Chain J.A. Aucha, V. Palapla, and J. Shinundu, (Kenya)
Production Diversification for Expanding the Economic Foundations of Argentinean Monte Desert Communities, Elena Maria Abraham, Giuseppe Enne (Argentina)
11:50-12:00 Coffee Break
12:00-13:00 Parallel Sessions VI
26. Bottom Up: Community Participation in Programs to Combat Desertification
Chair: Dr. Haim Divon, Deputy Director, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Man, Desert and Environment, Hanan Ginat, Noa Avriel-Avni (Israel)
People and institutional participation in forest management for sustainable development: options for drylands based on experiences from Sudan. Edinam K. Glover (Finland)
Dryland Gardening: A Sustainable Solution to Desertification? Southern Africa as a Case Study, Adam Abramson (U.S.A)

27. Culturing Desertification: Gender and the Politics of Development (Panel B)

Chair: Dr. Pnina Motzafi-Haller, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research,
Development and the Role of Women in Pakistan, Masooda Bano, (UK)

Domestic Water Provision and Gender Roles in Drylands, Anne Coles (UK)

Women’s Work: Gender and the Politics of Trash Labor in Dakar,Rosalind Fredericks, (USA)

28. The Negev Desert – Development and Conservation
Chair: Dr. Yodan Rofeh, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research,
The Israeli Negev Desert: From Frontier to Periphery, Yehuda Gradus (Israel)
The National-Strategic Plan for Developing the Negev – Negev 2015: An Old Prospect or a New Future, Na’ama Theshner (Israel)
The potential of TOD for development of the Northern Negev, Prof. Dani Gat (Israel)
Sense of place and naming in Hura as an example of the changing spatial consciousness of Beduoin in the Negev, Arnon Ben Israel and Avinoam Meir (Israel)
29. The Political Ecology of Deserts and Desertification
Chair: Dr. Yaakov Garb, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research,
Rebuilding the Land: Political Ecology of Land Degradation in Somaliland Ingrid Hartman (Germany)
Desertification Narratives (and Their Uses) in the Middle East and North Africa, Diana Davis (U.S.A)
Desertification or Greening in the Sahel? Case study of Inadvertent Greening in the Oued Kowb, Mauritania, Stefanie Herrmann, Mamadou Baro, Aminata Niang (U.S.A)
Political Ecology: Wind Erosion on the U.S. Southern High Plains
R. E Zartman and A.C. Correa (U.S.A)
30. Assessing International Efforts to Combat Desertification
Chair: Professor Uriel Safriel, Hebrew University,
Follow the Money: Navigating the International Aid Maze for Dryland Development Pamela Chasek (U.S.A)
The Global Mechanism – Lessons Learned C. Mersmann, (Italy)
Research Priorities of the UNESCO Chair on Eremology Gabriels (Belgium)
An Analytic Review for International Collaborations for Drylands Research and Sustainable Development, J. Scott Hauger (U.S.A)
A Conference to Improve the Flow of Science into the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Mark Winslow (Germany)
13:00-14:30 Lunch and Concluding Session

e-mail:  desertification at
tel:   972-8-659-6997
fax: 972-8-659-6772


See also:

Posted on on May 17th, 2008


Posted on on August 2nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Strange, Short Tenure of UN’s Verbeke in Lebanon, Reports of Safety Threats.

UNITED NATIONS, August 1 — The UN announced Friday that Johan Verbeke, who only recently was appointed UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, is being given a new assignment, as UN envoy to Abkhazia, Georgia. On July 24, Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Michele Montas why Verbeke had not meaningfully deployed to Lebanon. Ms. Montas responded that “I can simply tell you that Mr. Verbeke had to go back home for personal reasons, family reasons, and that’s why he was not in Lebanon.”

    Inner City Press has been told by well-placed Beirut sources that Mr. Verbeke faced threats to his safety, to such an extent that rather than rely on UN Security, he approached the Lebanese government and even the Hariri family. Neither could offer assurances.   He stayed for a time in the Moven Pick hotel, Inner City Press is told and can now report, given his transfer to Georgia. But ultimately he left Lebanon due to lack of security, Inner City Press is told.

  At the August 1 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Montas why Verbeke was leaving, personal or safety?   From the transcript

 Inner City Press: “I didn’t know that there was announcement today of Mr. Verbeke.   Before I had asked, and you had said there was some personal issue.   I don’t want to get into any personal issue, but I do want to ask you, I had heard that there were some security concerns.   I know that you also don’t like to talk about them.   Specific, not to just the mission in general, but to Mr. Verbeke himself.   Either threats or that he’d sought protection from either the Lebanese Government or the Hariris, various things.   Does this transfer, what is, how does it relate to whatever the personal issue was, which I don’t want to know what it was?   But is it because of a personal issue or is because of a safety issue?   What’s the basis of the transfer?”

    Ms. Montas said, “I am not aware of the details.” Video here, from Minute 24:08.

Mr. Verbeke speaks at UN, by image of Mandela next to his Belgian flag.


    {He will be replaced by Michael Williams, returning to the UN from a stint with the UK government. Why is it safer in Lebanon for British Williams than Belgian Verbeke? And Verbeke does not go home to his family but to Abhazia.

Various theories have been advanced to Inner City Press, including some connection to an investigation of the bombing of U.S. embassies in East Africa last decade.

What is concrete is that due to this uncertainty, the UN was un- or under-represented even at the inauguration of Lebanon’s new president.  

Another part-time UN envoy, Terje Roed-Larsen, competed with the head of UN Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno to attend – The result was the UN becoming less and less of a player in the conflicts of the Middle East. This is perhaps quite good as it was clearly still unable to do something about the Hariri Family Victimized by the Syrian killings.}


Posted on on July 15th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

South African President Thabo Mbeki, who decades ago forged ties between the exiled African National Congress and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, has so far failed in his bid to ease the longtime leader into retirement. He now Jeoperdizes more then his own legacy, he in effect has “low-jacked” the future of all of Africa.

Connection to Mugabe Threatens South African President’s Legacy.
By Craig Timberg, Washington Post Foreign Service , Tuesday, July 15, 2008.

JOHANNESBURG — At first glance they are nothing alike. Zimbabwe’s aging president, Robert Mugabe, is, at 84, among the last of a generation of African Big Men, clinging to power through brutal repression. South Africa’s suave President Thabo Mbeki, nearly two decades younger, rules by popular mandate as the elected leader of one of the continent’s most robust democracies.

But Mbeki’s long — and so far, failed — diplomatic bid to ease Mugabe into retirement after 28 years has tied the legacies of the two men together, and badly damaged Mbeki’s reputation as the exemplar of a new kind of African president. The leader President Bush described as “the point man” on solving the Zimbabwe crisis in 2003 now is widely regarded as an obstacle to freeing that nation from its steep descent into political and economic ruin.

“I think he’s part of the problem at the moment,” said Willie Esterhuyse, a Mbeki friend and a professor of political philosophy at the University of Stellenbosch.

Mbeki is one of a dwindling number of African leaders unwilling to publicly distance himself from Mugabe. The two men are products of strikingly similar worlds. Both are Christian-school-trained products of African liberation movements and have deep roots in communist ideology. Both have advanced degrees from British universities and rose within their parties on the strength of wits and political savvy rather than prowess on battlefields. Neither favors the traditional African dress worn by many of the continent’s leaders, appearing almost invariably in dark, tailored suits. And both enjoyed periods as favorites of Western powers, which for a time regarded each as skilled and cerebral alternatives to the populists common on much of the continent.
Mugabe’s seizure of white-owned commercial farms in 2000 also struck a profound chord in southern Africa, where much of the best land and businesses remain in the control of descendants of European settlers. At Mbeki’s second inauguration, in 2004, the crowd of friends, supporters and dignitaries loudly cheered Mugabe.

Such a reaction would be unlikely today, as rising repression in Zimbabwe chills even those sympathetic to Mugabe’s efforts to redistribute wealth and undo the legacy of colonialism. Mbeki is almost alone among southern African leaders in not publicly voicing outrage.

Biographer Mark Gevisser, in his book “Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred,” tells an anecdote that suggests an almost familial bond between the two men.

In 1980, shortly after Mugabe took power in Zimbabwe, Mbeki was there as an emissary for South Africa’s exiled African National Congress. One night, he stayed out late drinking in Harare, the capital. His frantic wife reported Mbeki missing, a worrisome development at a time when South Africa’s apartheid government was attempting to assassinate its opponents.

The next time the two men saw each other, Mugabe delivered a paternalistic scolding, waving his finger as he said, “Young man, you must tell us next time you don’t sleep at home.”

The African National Congress had traditionally favored a rival of Mugabe’s in Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle. But Mbeki, in those days in exile, forged a new relationship between the party and Mugabe’s new government. That connection still has a powerful hold on Mbeki, according to Gevisser, who said Mbeki remains convinced that he is essential to keeping Mugabe from growing still more brutal.

“Whatever happens, he has got to keep the door open,” Gevisser said in an interview.

Officials in Mbeki’s administration also have expressed deep reservations about Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Zimbabwean opposition. The former miner and union activist, though very popular in his country, has little formal education and has tried to organize the kind of internal political resistance that Mbeki’s African National Congress used to bring down apartheid.

Mbeki long has enjoyed closer relations with other, more-polished opposition leaders in Zimbabwe, including Tsvangirai’s rival, Welshman Ncube, a law professor.

In the just-finished election season, South African support was seen as crucial to the emergence of independent candidate Simba Makoni, Mugabe’s former finance minister, who broke from the ruling party to run for president. Tsvangirai was able to maintain his position as Zimbabwe’s dominant opposition leader — Makoni ended up with only 8 percent of the vote — but relations with Mbeki deteriorated further.

Mbeki “respects Mugabe,” said Tendai Biti, secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change, Tsvangirai’s party. “He’s personally indebted to Mugabe because he looked after him during the struggle” against apartheid.

“Whatever exists between Mbeki and Mugabe doesn’t exist between Mbeki and Tsvangirai,” Biti said.

Mbeki’s approach has produced some moments that caused even supporters to cringe.

On April 12, when southern African regional leaders gathered in neighboring Zambia for an emergency meeting on the Zimbabwean crisis, Mugabe refused to attend but Mbeki met with him anyway, in Harare. Photographers captured the two men, dressed almost identically in suits, wearing necklaces of fresh blossoms, smiling broadly as they clasped hands like old friends. In a news conference that day, Mbeki questioned whether there was a “crisis” in Zimbabwe at all.

Also damaging was Mbeki’s attempt to host a mediation session on July 5, a week after Mugabe had declared victory in a reelection campaign that left nearly 100 opposition activists dead and thousands of others injured. Tsvangirai withdrew from the election and said there could be no negotiations until the attacks on his supporters ended.

Mbeki ignored that condition and invited Tsvangirai to meet with Mugabe at his official residence, a setting that opposition leaders said would have conveyed an air of legitimacy to the election. Tsvangirai boycotted the meeting.

Swazi election observer Marwick T. Khumalo, a member of the Pan-African Parliament, said that proposing talks at Mugabe’s residence showed “bad taste” on Mbeki’s part.

Despite the failure of that meeting, negotiations of sorts have begun in Zimbabwe, under the oversight of South Africa. Though the opposition dismisses the talks as having no promise until Mugabe ends his campaign of state-sponsored violence, both sides acknowledge that in a nation with annual inflation measured in the millions of percent, there may be no other course.

Yet Mbeki’s time for brokering a solution — and removing the stain of Mugabe from his own legacy — is rapidly dwindling. Mugabe, who continues to look remarkably vigorous for his age, could easily remain in office longer than Mbeki, whose second and final term as president is due to end in mid-2009.

Mbeki’s legacy in Africa is “in tatters,” said Karima Brown, political editor of the South African newspaper Business Day. “Thabo Mbeki is really yesterday’s man. He’s done.”


African Union: Suspend Sudan genocide charge.
By Steve Bloomfield in Nairobi, for The Independent, Tuesday, July 15, 2008.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court charged Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bashir, with genocide yesterday, accusing him of masterminding a campaign to “destroy” three tribes in Darfur, killing 35,000 people and persecuting 2.5 million refugees.

Sudan’s state television promptly showed footage of Mr Bashir dancing at a traditional ceremony, and dismissing the charges. “Whoever has visited Darfur, met officials and discovered their ethnicities and tribes … will know that all of these things are lies,” he said.

His efforts at building up a coalition of African, Arab and Asian support against the ICC also seemed to be paying dividends. Tanzania, which is chairing the African Union, called yesterday for the ICC to suspend the move “until we sort out the primary problems in Darfur and southern Sudan”.

“If you arrest Bashir, you will create a leadership vacuum in Sudan. The outcome could be equal to that of Iraq,” Tanzania’s Foreign Minister, Bernard Membe, said.

Arab foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Saturday to discuss the charges and Sudan will also seek the support of close allies on the Security Council, including China, Russia and South Africa. It is the first time the ICC, based The Hague, has sought the arrest of a sitting head of state. In his landmark case, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the prosecutor, said a three-year investigation had proved that ultimate responsibility for crimes in Darfur rested with the President. “The decision to start the genocide was taken by Bashir personally,” he said. “Bashir is executing this genocide without gas chambers, without bullets, without machetes. It is a genocide by attrition.”

Mr Ocampo charged the Sudanese President with three counts of genocide, five counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, torture and rape, and two counts of war crimes.

Armed groups from the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa tribes launched a rebellion in Darfur in 2003, protesting at their marginalisation. Sudan’s response was a brutal counter-insurgency, in which civilians were routinely targeted by government forces and Janjaweed militia. While President Bashir did not directly carry out attacks himself, he was the mastermind with “absolute control”, the prosecutor said.

Hours after the charges were revealed, the BBC reported that the United Nations would withdraw all of its non-essential staff from Darfur. Prior to the indictment, there had been fears of a violent backlash against aid workers following protests in Khartoum.

Human rights activists welcomed the indictment. “Charging President Bashir for the hideous crimes in Darfur shows that no one is above the law,” said Richard Dicker of the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

But some analysts felt that the prosecutor was “over-reaching”. Alex de Waal, a Sudan analyst at the Social Science Research Council in New York, said: “It will be very hard to prove he directly authorised these crimes.” Others said the formal genocide charge might give the UN additional leverage to hammer out a peace deal. “The Security Council now has the option of saying if there are substantial steps towards peace we can put the prosecutions on hold,” said Nick Grono, the deputy president of the International Crisis Group, a conflict analysis think-tank. “There is an incentive to the regime where there hasn’t been in the past.”

The onus now falls on the three pre-trial judges, from Brazil, Ghana and Lithuania, who will consider the evidence which Mr Ocampo’s team have collected and, if they agree, will issue an arrest warrant.

The charges against Bashir

*Three counts of genocide for killing members of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups.

*Five counts of crimes against humanity for murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape.

*Two counts of war crimes for attacks on civilian populations in Darfur.


Mary Dejevsky: The UN fiasco over Zimbabwe is a re-run of Iraq – There was the touching faith in the miracles that can be wrought by drafting.

The Independent, Tuesday, 15 July 2008

No wonder a bit of an inquest is in progress. When Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe, they pitched many weeks of painstaking British diplomatic planning straight into the fetid waters of the East River. And if anything could have been worse for the British government than defeat, it was that Gordon Brown and his ministers had clearly banked on victory.

Surprise-avoidance being one of the prime objectives of diplomacy, this was a signal failure. A cardinal rule – and not only at the UN, but in parliaments everywhere – is that that if you are not confident of getting your way, you do your utmost to prevent a vote. And if a vote really cannot be forestalled, then you reword the document to make it harmless. Ministers and diplomats can spend many happy hours, days and even months in such prophylactic procrastination. This is part of their job.

So it is understandable that the search is on for culprits, and that those in the immediate firing line are busy looking for other targets. The Foreign Office minister, Lord Malloch-Brown – who, by the way, as a former deputy secretary general of the UN surely knows to the last dot and comma how the organisation works – extricated himself with particular ingenuity. The vote, he said, had exposed the real positions of Russia and China and was, therefore, not a bad outcome at all.

Now that the immediate shock of the vote has passed, two things have crystallised. The Government has – as it so often encourages the voters to do – “moved on”, and is taking its argument for sanctions to the European Union, a body for which the Prime Minister, who famously refused to be photographed signing the Lisbon Treaty, appears suddenly to have found a use. And the blame has settled – as it so often does – on the Russians as the real villains of the piece.

According to this, their new President, Dmitry Medvedev, was all too pleased to tag along with the rich world when it censured Zimbabwe at last week’s G8 summit, but when it came to the broader forum of the UN, then Moscow suddenly had other interests to consider. The Russians are therefore guilty at very least of changing their mind.

A more Machiavellian interpretation might be that they deliberately misled the British into believing that they would accept the imposition of sanctions, when, in fact, they were plotting to do the very opposite. There are several reasons why this rationalisation is unsatisfactory. The first is that, from the Russian perspective, signing up to the G8 condemnation and rejecting the UN resolution, are not actually incompatible positions. The second is that China, too, wielded its veto – and, given its interests in many African countries, including Zimbabwe, could hardly have been expected not to. But we don’t want to get on the wrong side of China, do we?

Especially not on the eve of Beijing’s showcase Olympics. And the third is that, in the matter of misreading the mood of the UN and its Security Council, Britain has rather distressing form.

Think back five years to the weeks before the invasion of Iraq and the frantic efforts applied by the British government to securing UN backing for the war. The warning resolution, 1441, was so expertly drafted – by Britain’s then UN ambassador, Sir Jeremy Greenstock – that it allowed both supporters and opponents of war to vote for it.

Squaring the circle, however, only postponed the inevitable split and made the failure of the crucial “second resolution” that much more painful for Britain when it came.

All the very same weaknesses that combined to frustrate the imposition of sanctions on Zimbabwe were there for all to see over Iraq. There was the touching faith in the miracles that can be wrought by drafting – a skill on which Britain’s civil servants pride themselves, but which, if done too well, can come back to bite the author. There was the ill-tempered vilification of one country as the author of Britain’s misfortune: five years ago, it was France. As coincidence would have it, there was also an almost identical misreading of how Russia would cast its vote.

Defeat at the UN on Zimbabwe sanctions is both less and more serious for Britain than the failure to agree on a “second resolution”. It is less serious because sanctions are almost always of questionable effectiveness, and because the lack of the “second resolution” forced Tony Blair, fatefully, to choose between the UN and the US. But it is more serious because defeat last Friday broke what had been a promising international consensus on Zimbabwe and allowed an illegitimately elected President to exult in a victory over his old enemies. We had a chance to forge a common stance on democracy in Zimbabwe, and we failed – not because of Russian perfidy or the inadequacies of the UN, but because, once again, we did not appreciate how others see the world.

 m.dejevsky at


Leading article: Save the elephant from China – Britain poised to approve China ivory licence.
An Editorial – The Independent, Tuesday, 15 July 2008

If the People’s Republic of China is licensed as an official buyer of elephant ivory at a UN meeting in Geneva today, it will be one of the biggest setbacks to have occurred in international wildlife conservation, and a dire threat to the future survival of elephants in the wild both in Africa and in Asia.

China wants to be allowed to bid for ivory from four southern African countries – South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe – which were given permission to trade in ivory in 1997 in a misguided decision by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species – only eight years after Cites member states, including Britain, had agreed to ban the ivory trade completely all around the world.

The 1989 total ban was seen as the only way to choke off the demand for ivory that was sending African elephant populations plunging at the hands of poachers. And it worked, and poaching declined sharply thereafter. The partial lifting of the ban in 1997 was a worrying development but, at least in the subsequent auction of 50 tons of ivory, the sale was limited to one country – Japan – as the other potential buyer, China, was regarded as having insufficient safeguards against illegal trading. Now another auction is in prospect, and China wants to join in, claiming that it has cleaned up its act.

To allow it to do so would be disastrous. It does not matter how tight China’s enforcement procedures now are. Overnight the world market for ivory would balloon, providing myriad opportunities for illicit ivory to be laundered into the legal stock, and offering temptation to poachers right across Africa, where at least 20,000 elephants a year are currently being illegally killed.

Disturbingly, the British Government, which has a vote in the meeting, looks as though it will go along with China’s wishes. Yet ministers will not come clean about Britain’s voting intentions. Yesterday they were engaged in that shabbiest of official procedures, hiding behind officials, with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) claiming that the matter rested on the judgement of the Defra official at the meeting, Trevor Salmon.

To pretend that the British Government’s policy on a question of major international importance is dependent solely on the view of a mid-ranking civil servant from Bristol is laughable. The Biodiversity minister, Joan Ruddock, needs to spell out what her position is, as does her boss, the Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn. Britain should vote firmly against allowing China to buy ivory. If it does not, and the bad times return for yet another threatened species, at least we will know where responsibility lies.


Posted on on July 9th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Global Markets – latest news

No formal greenhouse targets at G8 summit.
Bush: Call for reductions marks ‘significant progress’

By William L. Watts & Chris Oliver, MarketWatch. a Wall Street Journal Blog.
July 9, 2008

LONDON (MarketWatch) — Leaders of 16 nations at a multilateral gathering in Japan agreed to back a plan for making long-term reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, although the deal fell short of establishing formal reduction targets.

“We, the leaders of the world’s major economies, both developed and developing, commit to combat climate change in accordance with our common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities,” the nations said Wednesday in a communiqué at the Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido.

The G8 nations include the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy Canada and Russia.

Backers included Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico and South Africa, in addition to the G8.

But the joint statement didn’t include language from Tuesday’s statement issued by the G8 leaders, in which they said they shared a vision to cut greenhouse emissions in half by 2050. See full story.

Only three of the non-G8 countries in attendance — South Korea, Australia and Indonesia — backed the 50% reduction, Reuters reported, and this prevented inclusion of the language in Wednesday’s statement.

Leaders of emerging economies have argued that developed countries should first spell out their own goals for emissions reductions.

All the same, President Bush hailed the final statement as a sign of “significant progress.”
“The G8 expressed our desire to have a significant reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050. We made it clear and the other nations agreed that they must also participate in an ambitious goal, with interim goals and interim plans to enable the world to successfully address climate change,” Bush said. “And we made progress, significant progress, toward a comprehensive approach.”

In the end, Wednesday’s statement said the leaders shared a vision for “long-term cooperative action, including a long-term global goal for emission reductions that assures growth, prosperity, and other aspects of sustainable development, including major efforts towards sustainable consumption and production, all aimed at achieving a low-carbon society.”

William L. Watts is a reporter for MarketWatch in London.
Chris Oliver is MarketWatch’s Asia bureau chief, based in Hong Kong.

So both gentlemen were not in Hokkaido – their reporting is based on material they read on the web – Did the WSJ really see it like we did – that this G8 exercize, under Japan leadership subservient to the US wishes, will not come up with real and meaningful results?


If it was a G8 meeting – why not take as final decision what was decided already on Friday without the participation of the other 8?

Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and South Africa – the remaining 5 out of the additional 8 – plain and simple said that they do not participate in games when the G8 do not have the stomach for real figures put down in real time. By saying that they want first to see a real offer from the G8, before putting on the record their own participation in emissions reduction, they are actually in full rights and have done nothing worse then pointing flashlights at the meager document of the G8.

As we said already in another posting today, it was the Bush, Harper Fukuda position that doomed these 2008 G8 meetings under Japan leadership. President Bush won this battle.

Our only remaining question is – why did Fukuda invite the other 8 to participate? Had the G8 met in their own closed cocoon and come up with a final declaration, was that not expected to be better then having a bigger show with folks to be held later as responsible for this failure? What does now Fukuda frame next to his Prime Minister chair in order to say that the meeting he chaired was a success?


And the previous article – a day earlier – that was referenced in the July 9, 2008 article – The VISION thing that came to nothing a day later:

G8 leaders share ‘vision’ on emission cuts.
By MarketWatch
July 8, 2008

LONDON (MarketWatch) – Leaders of the Group of Eight wealthy nations on Tuesday said they shared a “vision” to cut global greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050.

In a joint statement on the environment and climate change, the G8 leaders said they “seek to share” with all parties involved in U.N.-brokered talks “the vision of … the goal of achieving at least 50% reduction of global emissions by 2050, recognizing that this global challenge can only be met by a global response.”
Leaders of the G8 nations – the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia – are meeting in Toyako, Japan.

Japan and the European Union are seeking to formalized emission-reduction targets, building on last year’s general agreement among the G-8 nations to “consider seriously” the reductions.
Senior officials held a late-night session Monday to iron out the wording behind the agreement that would allow leaders to sign onto the deal without committing to a numerical target, a Reuters report said.

The U.S. and several other developed countries { read here Canada and Japan } have said they will not enter an agreement to reduce future greenhouse gas emissions which does not include binding commitments by growing industrial powers such as China and India to cut carbon.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was pleased with progress made toward climate change and other issues following a morning meeting with President Bush.

“As always, we’ve had a very interesting exchange of view, very intensive exchange of view, and let me tell you that I’m very satisfied with the work that has gone on, on the G8 documents, as regards progress on the issue of climate change, cooperation in the area of food and oil,” Merkel said at a photo opportunity with Bush.

This year’s summit, held at a lakeside resort on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, brought together leaders from 22 nations, including the top G8 officials.

{ 8+8+5 – the last five are Africans in need and they were not even deemed a reference in the article the following day that speaks of 16 – so, our question is even more to the point – if you had no intention in bringing these other 13 into the decision making process, except for eventually blaming the first 5 from among the second group of 8 for the failure, who needed here also the second group of five that did not even get invited to dinner? All of this is part of our various postings these last few days. We predicted disaster – and here it is starring at us }


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

Mugabe’s War – By Jacob Laksin, – Thursday, June 26, 2008.

Alongside death and taxes, count Robert Mugabe’s election this Friday among life’s more depressing certainties.
Behind Mugabe’s “victory” lies a grim reality. In recent weeks, the Zimbabwean dictator has savagely crushed internal opposition, making Friday’s vote more a coronation than an election. Dreading a repeat of March 29, when Mugabe unexpectedly lost the first round of presidential voting to his longtime rival, Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), he has sought to efface any possibility of a challenge to his hellish 28-year rule.

Thus was unleashed “Operation Makavhoterapapi?” (Operation Where Did You Put Your Vote?). The question is not rhetorical. A months-long campaign of state-backed repression and mass terror, it has targeted all who dared to vote against Mugabe in March. Thousands have been brutalized; dozens, if not hundreds, are dead. Those Zimbabweans that have not fled the country have been scared into submission. Even Tsvangirai, no stranger to intimidation and worse at the hands of Mugabe’s thugs, has withdrawn from what he calls a “violent sham of an election,” despairing that he “can’t ask the people to cast their vote on June 27 when that vote will cost their lives.”

In fact, it already has. The MDC says that at least 86 of its supporters have been killed since the March 29 vote. Human-rights watchdogs conservatively estimate that at least 10,000 Zimbabweans have been beaten and tortured by ruling-party militias. At least 2,000 have been jailed.

Bearing the brunt of Mugabe’s vengeance are Zimbabwe’s rural provinces. Deemed a hotbed sedition and MDC support by Mugabe, they have been beset by the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), a combination of police, army veterans and other uniformed sadists who serve, in cold-blooded fashion, as Mugabe’s henchmen.

Instances of ZANU-PF brutality are too many to enumerate, but a few stand out for their sheer depravity. In one case, a man was beaten and castrated with barbed wire, dying later that day in a what Human Rights Watch describes as a “leaning position because he couldn’t lie on his stomach due to his injuries.” The victim’s crime? He had been listening to the March 29 election results on a Voice of America radio program. In another village, a 76-year old woman was dragged before a crowd and beaten with logs until residents confessed to being MDC supporters. Whether they were in fact sympathetic to the MDC is irrelevant; fear, not facts, is the business of Mugabe’s terror squads.

So, too, with the “reeducation camps” that have sprung up across Zimbabwe. Intended to instill fear and root out alleged traitors, the camps are a testament to Mugabe’s murderous paranoia. Writing in the New York Review of Books, Joshua Hammer records this chilling scene:

On the evening of May 5, ruling-party thugs descended on three villages in Mashonaland Central province, a former Mugabe stronghold that had turned decisively against the dictator on March 29. Repeating a pattern that has been seen throughout rural Zimbabwe, villagers were summoned to a “reeducation meeting,” where they were forced to denounce the MDC and pledge their allegiance to the ZANU-PF. Then names were called, and those singled out were hustled into the darkness. “Next we heard the whips and screams,” a witness named Bernard Pungwe said, describing a night-long rampage that left six MDC supporters dead and dozens injured. “Every time someone screamed hard the chairman of the meeting would stop his lecture and say: ‘Listen to the traitors, they are dying.'”

It’s not an isolated incident. At another “reeducation” meeting, armed government soldiers dispensed live ammunition to the villagers. As they held the bullets in their hand, soldiers warned: “If you vote for MDC in the presidential runoff election, you have seen the bullets, we have enough for each one of you, so beware.”

Pre-election violence is nothing new in Zimbabwe. In the past, Mugabe’s regime has been known to ratchet up its intimidation in the run up to a vote. Never before, however, has the violence reached its current scale. “What is happening now,” Human Rights Watch observes, “eclipses the violence in any previous election.”

That Mugabe must rely on violence as an instrument of policy highlights just how miserably he has failed his country. The economy is a case in point. Independent estimates place inflation at over 165, 000 percent, with food staples especially hard hit. In the last year, the price of chicken has risen by 236,000 percent, eggs by 153,000 percent. A loaf of bread, now priced at over $30 billion Zimbabwean dollars, is unaffordable and, to most Zimbabweans, unavailable. Food shortages are frequent, the legacy of Mugabe’s disastrous seizure of white-owned farms in 2002, a move that crippled the most productive sector of the country’s fallow economy. Unemployment now tops 80 percent.

Worse, there is no relief in sight. Western countries have passed sanctions and issued the requisite condemnations, but to little effect. An “African solution” to Mugabe’s menace, meanwhile, is not forthcoming. With a few exceptions – Botswana, Tanzania, and more recently Angola – the continent has been content to look on as Mugabe wars on his own people.

Most disgraceful in this regard has been the South African government of Thabo Mbeki. As the leader of Zimbabwe’s neighbor and largest trading partner in Africa, Mbeki is ideally placed to pressure Mugabe. Instead, out of misplaced sympathy for the man he considers a hero of the struggle against apartheid, Mbeki repeatedly has given the dictator a pass. Zimbabweans have paid a terrible price for his silence.

Not only will this week’s programmed election not change that, but it will likely usher in worse torments for the country. Echoing Mugabe’s preferred presidential slogan – “The Final Battle for Total Control” – one senior ZANU-PF official recently declared, “This is not going to be an election. This is going to be a war.” Let no one say that they haven’t been warned.
Jacob Laksin is a senior editor for FrontPage Magazine. He is a 2007 Phillips Foundation Journalism Fellow. His e-mail is  jlaksin at


Posted on on June 20th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (


Saving the planet will be difficult, but do not despair.
06/20/08 The Financial Times – By Philip Stephens oas per a new report of the London School of Economics – key elements to saving the planet.

The shortest distance in the discourse about climate change is that between denial and despair. The head wrested from the sand soon becomes the head in the hands. “Nothing needs doing” slides effortlessly into “nothing can be done”.

For all the accumulated evidence to the contrary, there are still a determined few who see global warming as the invention of woolly-hatted do-gooders and of scientists who want to be soothsayers. The small band of sceptics seizes on the inevitable imprecision of the effort to predict the future relationship between greenhouse gases and changes in temperature as an excuse to ignore the overwhelming weight of scientific knowledge.

The tactic is familiar, once used to grim effect by those who sought to refute the link between smoking and cancer – if you cannot prove everything, you cannot prove anything. This is a cynical thought perhaps, but I often wonder whether it is entirely coincidental that so many of the climate change sceptics are of a sufficient age to be sure they will be gone before they can be proved wrong.

Denial is a still a big problem, as demonstrated by the latest survey of global attitudes from the Pew Research Centre. The good news is that majorities in 14 of the 24 countries covered by this annual poll see global warming as a very serious problem. The bad news is that those countries with the smallest concerned majorities are the ones that are also contributing most to the stock of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Less than half – 42 per cent – of people in the US think the rising temperature of the planet is a serious problem. In China, the figure is a mere 24 per cent. That compares with figures of 70 per cent and above in Japan, France, Tanzania and Turkey and 92 per cent in Brazil. That for Germany, surprisingly, is only 61 per cent and for Britain, less surprisingly, 56 per cent.

The state of opinion in the world’s two worst polluters is worrying. In both the US and China, people are less concerned about climate change than they were a year ago. The proportion in China has almost halved from the previous 42 per cent.

These two nations – one the largest per capita emitter, the other now pumping out the most carbon dioxide overall – must be at the forefront of any serious global effort to slow the rate of climate change.

Just as worryingly, they each seem to blame the other. Four in 10 Americans, Pew records, think China is the villain, compared with less than a quarter who think their own gas-guzzling habits may be the main reason for the rising concentration of carbon in the atmosphere. Slightly more than a quarter of Chinese think the US is to blame, while fractionally under 10 per cent believe their own country is most at fault.

Which takes us to despair. This comes in two guises. The first is political short-termism that says there are too many immediate problems to handle. We have seen that happening since oil prices have climbed from the lower to the higher stratosphere.

A year or so ago, the political conversation in most developed economies was how to reduce the amount of carbon released into the skies. Carbon-free was cool. Now the priority is to persuade Saudi Arabia to get more hydrocarbons out of the ground. How, the politicians plead, can we tell voters to make sacrifices when the prices of energy and food are so high? Greenery goes out of fashion when times are tough.

Soaring oil prices do have some upside. Concerned Americans can celebrate the demise of General Motors’ Hummer division. Britain is witnessing a slump in sales of 4x4s – the so-called Chelsea tractors beloved by London’s ostentatious rich.

It can scarcely make sense, though, that the cost of a modest fall in greenhouse gas emissions is another huge transfer of wealth to a handful of oil-producing nations. In any event, what is a few gallons saved from a switch to less vulgar modes of transport against the exponential expansion of the carbon footprint of the developing countries?

The Chinese are adding two new coal-fired generating stations every week. And what about those projections showing that within 20 years or so new car sales in China will reach 18m a year against fewer than a million at the turn of the century. This before we consider the voracious appetite for fossil fuels in that other vast, rising economy, India.

Which brings us to despair in its second guise: it is all too difficult. The climate can be stabilised only if everyone moves simultaneously towards a low-carbon economy. If the US is not ready to curb its profligacy and China is unwilling to risk its future growth, what hope is there of a global compact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050?

The answer is that, yes, it is difficult but, yes too, it is possible. Those who insist otherwise would do well to read a new study by a group of experts led by Nicholas Stern, the UK economist. (Key Elements of a Global Deal on Climate Change, London School of Economics.)

Written in the sober style of the original Stern review, this latest short report forsakes magic solutions. Instead it breaks down the challenge into its component parts and offers plausible responses in the form of market mechanisms, technological advances and behavioural changes. Its central conclusion is the antidote to despair: “The challenge is far-reaching, comprehensive, and global; but it is manageable”.

In particular the report maps a path to settle the argument at the heart of the present stand-off: how the burden of adjustment might be shared between rich and emerging nations.

Ceilings on the developed economies – responsible for the vast proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere – should bite immediately, it says. But a new international trading system would not impose binding targets on developing countries until 2020. In the interim, poorer nations would be able to sell emission reduction certificates to finance the eventual shrinking of their own carbon footprint.

I doubt the strategy is perfect. But alongside the technological opportunities, it demonstrates that the problem is tractable. Both candidates in the US presidential election support carbon trading. Saving the planet, an American friend tells me, could yet become a US mission, uniting entrepreneurs looking for profits with evangelical Christians demanding better stewardship of the planet.

As for China, for now it may have other priorities, but I am not sure that it wants to grow rich in a world getting unbearably warmer.


Posted on on June 4th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (


UNEP Announces Winners of 2008 Sasakawa Prize –
Bringing Renewable Energy to Remote Communities: Projects from Peru and Lao PDR Share Prestigious Environment Award.

NAIROBI/WELLINGTON, 4 June 2008 – Two projects bringing renewable energy to
villages in Peru and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic have been awarded
the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Sasakawa Prize for 2008.

The two winning projects are Sunlabob Rural Energy Ltd (Lao PDR) and
Practical Action (Peru). Both projects are bringing clean power – solar
and hydro – to remote rural communities that do not have access to grid
electricity, on the eastern slopes of the Andes and in the farthest-flung
regions of the Lao PDR.

The UNEP Sasakawa Prize, worth $200,000, is awarded yearly to individuals
or institutions which have made a substantial contribution to the
protection and management of the environment. The winners, who will each
receive $100,000, were chosen by a five-member jury from a shortlist of six
projects at a meeting in Tokyo.

The Prize acts as an incentive for grassroots environmental efforts that
are sustainable and replicable. It recognizes extraordinary initiatives
from around the world that make use of innovation and groundbreaking
research and ideas and empower people at the local level.

This year’s theme for the award was “Moving towards a low carbon economy”,
the theme of World Environment Day 2008. The shortlist included four other
outstanding projects bringing clean energy to thousands of people, from
families in the Philippines to rural households in south India and prisons
in Rwanda.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director,
said: “Addressing the monumental energy challenge of the 21st century
involves practical projects at ground level that bring tangible changes to
the way people live. Sunlabob and Practical Action are showing tremendous
leadership in bringing clean energy to remote communities in Peru and the
Lao PDR, and in doing so they are setting further examples of the energy
alternatives available to the developing but also the developed world.”

The Winners

Sunlabob Rural Energy Ltd., set up in 2001, is bringing energy to remote
rural communities in the Lao PDR, a country where just 48 per cent of the
population has access to grid electricity, mostly in cities and town.
Through Sunlabob, over 1,800 solar-home-systems (SHS) and 500 solar
lanterns are being rented to families in 73 different villages across the

In an area where most people rely on highly polluting kerosene lamps, the
initiative rents out solar lighting at a lower price than kerosene,
providing families with a real incentive to switch to the cleaner energy.
The cheapest solar systems costs 35,000 kip per month ($3.80) to rent,
while households typically spend 36,000 to 60,000 kip per month ($4 to
$6.60) on kerosene for lighting. As well as being far less sustainable
than solar energy, kerosene lamps can be dangerous, causing burns, starting
fires and polluting the air indoors.

The equipment is rented through Village Energy Committees (VEC) selected by
the whole community; this puts the community in control of setting prices,
collecting rents and performing basic maintenance.

The potential for growth in the use of solar PV in the Lao PDR is huge.
Sunlabob is installing systems at a rate of 500 per year, and a new
investment this year will allow it to scale up to 2,500 systems per year,
and 5,000 per year after that.

The project is also highly replicable. Sunlabob is already starting work
in Cambodia and Indonesia, and is exploring possibilities with interested
potential partners in Bhutan, East Timor, Eastern Africa and Latin America.
(See…, for more information.)

Practical Action, founded in 1966, is working in Peru’s eastern Andes where
68 per cent of the population – around 5 million people – do not have
access to electricity. The project makes use of the region’s vast
potential for hydroelectricity: to date, 47 micro-hydro schemes have been
installed in the area through Practical Action, bringing clean power to
about 30,000 people.

Through this project, Practical Action is also boosting local industry, as
most of the turbines are manufactured by small companies in Peru to
Practical Action designs – with each company making three or four turbines
a year. Practical Action says it sees local manufacture as a key step
towards widespread use of renewable energy.

The electricity supply is boosting the development of the remote
communities. Previously, people moved away to start businesses in places
where the infrastructure was better, but the electricity from the
micro-hydro schemes has brought them back. Some villages have doubled in
size, with people returning and others starting or expanding businesses
including restaurants, bakeries, furniture makers, welders and internet
cafes. (See, for more information.)

The UNEP Sasakawa Prize was originally created in 1982 by the late Ryoichi Sasakawa.

The Prize wasre-launched in its current format in 2005, and is currently chaired by Mr.
Sasakawa’s son, Yohei Sasakawa of Japan’s Nippon Foundation.

The five members of the 2008 UNEP Sasakawa Prize jury are UNEP Executive
Director Achim Steiner, Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa, 2004
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai, 1995 Nobel Chemistry
Prize Laureate Professor Mario Molina, and Ms Wakako Hironaka, Member of
Japan’s House of Councillors.

As well as the two winning projects, the 2008 shortlist also included four
other projects bringing renewable energy to remote communities in Africa
and Asia.

The Kigali Institute of Science, Technology and Management has
brought biogas power to six prisons in Rwanda, halving the need for
firewood and improving sanitation for 30,000 prisoners.

The AlternativeIndigenous Development Foundation is installing hydro-powered water pumps
for poor communities in the Philippines.

The Mwanza Rural Housing Programme is training villagers in northern Tanzania to make high-quality
bricks from local clay, fired with agricultural residues rather than wood.

And SKG Sangha has set up a biogas programme in southern India to replace
fuelwood with biogas for cooking in rural households, and also to increase
household income by making a saleable fertilizer from biogas residue and
other unmanaged agricultural organic waste.

For more information, please visit the UNEP Sasakawa Prize website at: or e-mail:  sasakawaprize at

To find out more about World Environment Day, go to:


Nick Nuttall, Spokesperson/Head of Media, UNEP on Tel: +41-79-596-5737,
E-mail:  nick.nuttall at
Or Anne-France White, Associate Information Officer, at tel:
+254-20-762-3088, Mobile: +254-728-600-494, or e-mail:
 anne-france.white at

Jim Sniffen
Information Officer
UN Environment Programme
New York
tel: +1-212-963-8094/8210
 info at


Posted on on May 30th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (


The Rich Get Hungrier.
Wednesday 28 May 2008

by: Amartya Sen, The New York Times

In January of 2007, tens of thousands of Mexicans marched in the streets to protest a leap of 50 percent in the price of corn tortillas.

Will the food crisis that is menacing the lives of millions ease up – or grow worse over time?

The answer may be both. The recent rise in food prices has largely been caused by temporary problems like drought in Australia, Ukraine and elsewhere. Though the need for huge rescue operations is urgent, the present acute crisis will eventually end. But underlying it is a basic problem that will only intensify unless we recognize it and try to remedy it.

It is a tale of two peoples. In one version of the story, a country with a lot of poor people suddenly experiences fast economic expansion, but only half of the people share in the new prosperity. The favored ones spend a lot of their new income on food, and unless supply expands very quickly, prices shoot up. The rest of the poor now face higher food prices but no greater income, and begin to starve. Tragedies like this happen repeatedly in the world.

A stark example is the Bengal famine of 1943, during the last days of the British rule in India. The poor who lived in cities experienced rapidly rising incomes, especially in Calcutta, where huge expenditures for the war against Japan caused a boom that quadrupled food prices. The rural poor faced these skyrocketing prices with little increase in income.

Misdirected government policy worsened the division. The British rulers were determined to prevent urban discontent during the war, so the government bought food in the villages and sold it, heavily subsidized, in the cities, a move that increased rural food prices even further. Low earners in the villages starved. Two million to three million people died in that famine and its aftermath.

Much discussion is rightly devoted to the division between haves and have-nots in the global economy, but the world’s poor are themselves divided between those who are experiencing high growth and those who are not. The rapid economic expansion in countries like China, India and Vietnam tends to sharply increase the demand for food. This is, of course, an excellent thing in itself, and if these countries could manage to reduce their unequal internal sharing of growth, even those left behind there would eat much better.

But the same growth also puts pressure on global food markets – sometimes through increased imports, but also through restrictions or bans on exports to moderate the rise in food prices at home, as has happened recently in countries like India, China, Vietnam and Argentina. Those hit particularly hard have been the poor, especially in Africa.

There is also a high-tech version of the tale of two peoples. Agricultural crops like corn and soybeans can be used for making ethanol for motor fuel. So the stomachs of the hungry must also compete with fuel tanks.

Misdirected government policy plays a part here, too. In 2005, the United States Congress began to require widespread use of ethanol in motor fuels. This law combined with a subsidy for this use has created a flourishing corn market in the United States, but has also diverted agricultural resources from food to fuel. This makes it even harder for the hungry stomachs to compete.

Ethanol use does little to prevent global warming and environmental deterioration, and clear-headed policy reforms could be urgently carried out, if American politics would permit it. Ethanol use could be curtailed, rather than being subsidized and enforced.

{ So – even a Nobel Peace Prize Wining Economist, of the stature of Amartia Sen, can show total ignorance yet speak up in loud voice, making public that ignorance, by not trying to analyze what he was fed as information by clearly vested interests. We said this many times, but in reverence to Professor Sen, we will repeat this once more:

Ethanol could have been made out of the corn that was NOT GROWN, rather then from the food commodity. The point is that the agricultural policy in the US and in the EU is based on “Set-Asides” that leave land out of production in a subsidization of the commodity prices policy. So there is land available to grow an extra amount of corn.}
The global food problem is not being caused by a falling trend in world production, or for that matter in food output per person (this is often asserted without much evidence). It is the result of accelerating demand. However, a demand-induced problem also calls for rapid expansion in food production, which can be done through more global cooperation.

While population growth accounts for only a modest part of the growing demand for food, it can contribute to global warming, and long-term climate change can threaten agriculture. Happily, population growth is already slowing and there is overwhelming evidence that women’s empowerment (including expansion of schooling for girls) can rapidly reduce it even further.

What is most challenging is to find effective policies to deal with the consequences of extremely asymmetric expansion of the global economy. Domestic economic reforms are badly needed in many slow-growth countries, but there is also a big need for more global cooperation and assistance. The first task is to understand the nature of the problem.


Amartya Sen, who teaches economics and philosophy at Harvard, received the Nobel Prize in economics in 1998 and is the author, most recently, of “Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny.”


Posted on on April 8th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Africa wants partners, not just handouts.

By KAHO SHIMIZU, Staff writer, The Japan Times, Tuesday, April 8, 2008.
Photo: Tanzanian Ambassador to Japan Elly Elikunda Elineema Mtango is interviewed at his mission in Tokyo,March 27.

Tanzania currently holds the rotating presidency of the African Union, a regional organization representing 53 member states.

Poverty, hunger, infectious disease, conflict — words that readily come to mind when Japanese consider Africa. But Africa is no longer a continent just of sadness, and the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development in May will be a golden opportunity to promote awareness among Japanese about the true state of the continent, Tanzanian Ambassador to Japan Elly Elikunda Elineema Mtango said.

“What often appears in the media is that children are dying of hunger, HIV and conflicts,” but that does not tell the whole story of Africa, Mtango said in a recent interview with The Japan Times.

Resource-rich African states are finally getting a chance to emerge from poverty and experience high economic growth — many seeing annual GDP growth exceeding 5 percent — thanks to rising commodity prices.

At TICAD, Mtango said, African nations hope to underscore the importance of attracting foreign investment and promoting trade with other countries to ensure sustainable economic growth.

Japan has hosted TICAD every five years since 1993, and with 15 years of history, Mtango said now is the time to transform the philosophy of the conference from being aid-oriented to partnership-based.

“The TICAD process is reaching the stage of maturation. (Donors) and African countries should focus on mutual economic interest,” Mtango said.

While many countries, including China, the United States and member states of the European Union, engage in “resource diplomacy” in Africa, offering aid to secure oil and rare metals, Japan is lagging in this regard as the nation’s aid budget shrinks.

Mtango said boosting foreign investment is crucial for Africa’s development, in addition to securing enough official development assistance to improve infrastructure.

Japan, however, also lags in trade with and investment in Africa.

“The trade value between Japan and Africa is (lower than) that of the European Union and Africa and that of China and Africa,” Mtango said, noting Africa hopes to raise trade volume with Japan.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Japan accounted for only 7 percent of total trade value in Africa in 2006. The U.S., whose trade value accounted for 27 percent, was Africa’s largest trading partner. China and France both accounted for 16 percent, tying them for third as the most active.

Japanese investment in Africa in 2006 only accounted for 2.5 percent of total foreign investment there, according to figures compiled by the Foreign Ministry. Japanese businesses are concerned about the risks and costs of making inroads into the continent.

Some Western countries charge that China’s aggressive aid to Africa lacks transparency and its assistance goes to countries with flawed governance and human rights records. When asked about China’s aid policy, Mtango said it is not fair to pose that question to Africa.

“As far as African nations are concerned, we can’t be involved in the argument,” Mtango said, adding that if China is the only country that is extending financial aid, African countries will take it.

“We want to cooperate with all (donor) countries,” he said.

In emphasizing investment, Mtango pointed out that Japanese companies are reluctant to make inroads into Africa and urged Tokyo to extend the national insurance coverage for firms hoping to invest in the continent and provide them with concessional loans as incentives.

“Africa is abundant in precious metals and oil that Japan needs in order to ensure stable supply. . . . there are many business opportunities,” he said. “If we can change the way Japanese people think about Africa, I’d regard that as a success (for) TICAD.”
Japan must put TICAD ball in play.

Japan held the first Tokyo International Conference on African Development in 1993 to get the international community to reengage with poverty-stricken Africa.

Since then, Japan has hosted the TICAD meetings every five years. The fourth will be held in Yokohama in late May amid growing international interest in Africa’s fast economic growth and abundant natural resources.

Following are answers to basic questions about TICAD:

Why hold TICAD?

In the early 1990s, the amount of foreign aid to Africa was decreasing as frequent regional conflicts outside Africa after the Cold War ended were drawing more attention from donor countries.

To get Africa under the international spotlight again, Tokyo hosted the first TICAD in 1993 together with global development institutions, including the U.N. Development Program and the World Bank.

But some observers say Japan’s true intention was to secure African votes for its bid to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

What was discussed at the past TICAD meetings?

The first TICAD aimed to get the international community’s attention, resulting in a declaration of political will to consider African development a global priority.

In the second TICAD, in 1998, participants adopted an action plan to promote human and social development, support economic development and spread democracy.

The third TICAD, in 2003, was intended to outline the basic direction of the TICAD process. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi announced three Africa policy pillars: Consolidation of peace, human-centered development and poverty reduction through economic development.

What will be the main agenda item at the May meeting?

Many resource-rich African nations are enjoying rapid economic growth thanks to rising commodity prices, with annual GDP growth rates in 23 out of the 53 countries averaging more than 5 percent between 2005 and 2007.

As host nation, Japan wants to coordinate aid from donor countries and international organizations to develop a wide infrastructure network that connects coastal and landlocked areas.

Another item is to once again focus on supporting the least developed countries in sub-Saharan Africa and help them achieve the Millennium Development Goals established in 2000 at the U.N.

Many of these countries have little chance of achieving the goals, which include halving the number of people who live on less than $1 a day by 2015 from 1990 levels.

According to the U.N., 46.8 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa lived on less than $1 a day in 1990. That figure only fell to 41.1 percent in 2004.

Another topic is helping Africa combat global warming, an area in which Japan can play a leading role with its environmental technologies.

What outcome are African countries expecting from TICAD this year?

The government invited all African nations except Somalia, which is in a state of anarchy. So far, about 40 African leaders will attend, the highest number ever, and nearly double the 2003 conference.

A Foreign Ministry official said this is probably because TICAD and the Group of Eight summit will both be held in Japan this year.

African countries want to use this opportunity to draw pledges for as much financial aid as possible from the G8 members and other donor countries, while also hoping to draw private investment to boost economic growth.

They also want a review of the process to monitor progress in action pledged at previous TICAD conferences, which Japan hopes to incorporate in the planned “Yokohama Declaration” to be adopted at the coming meeting.

What do Japanese businesses face in Africa?

To respond to African demands, the government has been pushing Japanese businesses to invest more in Africa. Japan’s investment in Africa only accounted for 2.5 percent of the total foreign investment there in 2006.

Japanese companies argue that they cannot suddenly boost investment in Africa because it is risky to do so.

“There are many other attractive countries as investment destinations,” said Takashi Yoshimura of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren). “There is little information about Africa because not many Japanese firms are there, while it is too risky and costly to go there.”

What are Japan’s challenges?

The foreign aid budget has been decreasing over the last decade, given Japan’s tightening national budget.

At the strong initiative of Koizumi, however, Japan’s ODA for African countries nearly doubled to $1.14 billion in 2005 from the previous year and expanded to about $2.52 billion in 2006.

But the figures are still much lower than other donors, including the U.S., Britain and France, as they flock to Africa to secure resources amid rising commodity prices.

Foreign Ministry officials lament that it is difficult to gain public support for boosting African aid because people in Japan have little interest in a continent so geographically remote.

Izumi Ohno, a professor of development studies at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, said TICAD is losing its sheen as other donors rush to host similar African aid conferences.

“When Tokyo hosted the first TICAD in 1993, it was a novel idea. But now, it’s time for Japan to think about how to differentiate TICAD and its African aid policy from that of other countries.”