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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 22nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Bertelsmann Stiftung at PRESSE CLUB CONCORDIA, Bankgasse 8, 1010 Vienna.

TUESDAY APRIL 25, 2017, 11:00-14:00

with Academics originally from Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Sudan.

In 2015 – one million refugees to europe; in 2016 – 300,000; in 2017 – what now?

TURKEY IS A SPECIAL CASE – Many of their Austrian Residents and Citizens are now lining up
at the Turkish government representations to turn back their Turkish Passports and renouncing their Turkish Citizenship. This in order to avoid the Stigma of dual citizenship that
Mr. Erdogan forced theM into by campaigning among them for his intent to undo democracy in his country. They voted for him forgetting that he became persona non grata in Europe and so will they.

see:

’Escaping the escape – Europe and the refugee crisis’
Tuesday, 25 April 2017, 11:00-14:00 hrs
Bertelsmann Stiftung in cooperation with The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw)
Location:
Presseclub Concordia Bankgasse 8
1010 Vienna
In 2015, more than one million refugees and migrants came to Europe, in 2016 nearly 300,000. How many will enter in 2017? What can we, in Europe, expect with wars and conflicts continuing and driving people from our neighbourhood to European shores? What is the situation in the source and transit countries of refugees and migrants that are most affected? How can the life of refugees, migrants and host communities be improved?
Listen to and debate with experts from Afghanistan, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Libya, Sudan and Nigeria: what solutions for the humanitarian migration crisis do they recommend? What are their proposals for EU actors to improve European policies?
Be our guest and meet
Mariam Safi, Afghanistan, founding director of the Organization for Policy Research and Development Studies (DROPS);
Dane Taleski, FYROM, adjunct professor at the South East European University in T etovo/Skopje;
Zakariya El Zaidy, Libya, protection team leader for the Danish Refugee Council in Libya; J. Shola Omotola, Nigeria, professor of Political Science at the Federal University Oye
Ekiti in Nigeria; and
Amira Ahmed Mohamed, Sudan, assistant professor at the Department of International Development and Social Change at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.
We will take this opportunity to launch a new Bertelsmann Stiftung publication
’Escaping the Escape – Toward solutions for the humanitarian migration crisis’
Please register for the event.

AND FOR THE ERDOGAN IMPOSED PROBLEM OF THE AUSTRIAN TURKS:

 www.krone.at/oesterreich/zweitpas…

Zweitpass zurück! Türken stürmen nun die Konsulate
Angst vor Strafen
21.04.2017, 19:57
Neuer Wirbel um illegale Doppelstaatsbürger: Die heimischen Konsulate werden auch nach dem Ende des türkischen Verfassungsreferendums von Austro-Türken gestürmt – diesmal allerdings nicht wegen eines “Ja” zur umstrittenen Reform von Präsident Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sondern um verbotene Zweitpässe abzugeben! Offenbar geht die Angst vor Strafen um …

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from Duncan Douglas

Dear Colleagues,
NAEE2017 is your Best Opportunity to Meet the Top Decision Makers in the Nigerian Renewable Energy Industries!

Make a plan now to be part of Africa’s fastest-growing energy market: register to be part of the 7th #NAEE2017; the leading event of renewable energy event Nigeria covering in Solar, Wind, Gas, experts across Africa and beyond.

#NAEE2017 will be held from October 18 – 20, 2017 in Abuja Nigeria.

#NAEE2017 – Nigeria Alternative Energy eExpo 2017 – allows you to showcase your products and services and meet face to face with high-level buyers who come to NAEE to source for solutions to the challenges they face every day. The depth of the conference program and quality of the exhibition have a proven track record of attracting a high-quality and influential audience.

As an Exhibitor, you will:
– Gain visibility in front of influential decision makers.
– Meet with high-level executives.
– Form valuable partnerships with leading services providers.

Don’t miss the best opportunity in 2017 to interact with the most influential Energy professionals in Nigeria – Act Today!

For more information, please contact San Sue, Telephone: +44 203 239 6611 Mobile:+44 770 030 9195
E:  info at nigeriaalternativeenergyexpo.org
or Visit www.nigeriaalternativeenergyexpo.org

————————————————-

Douglas Duncan  info at nigeriaalternativeenergyexpo.org via lists.iisd.ca
Jan 19

to Sustainable

The Advisory Board of the Nigeria Alternative Energy Expo (NAEE 2017) invites Energy experts to present a paper at the 7th NAEE in Abuja, from October 18 to 20, 2017. The 7th Edition of the Nigeria Alternative Energy Expo (NAEE 2017) aims to provide an international forum to facilitate discussion and knowledge exchange of findings of current and future challenges and opportunities in all aspects of renewable and sustainable energy.
This year event theme is “Harnessing tomorrow’s Energy Today: A Unified Approach “». The development of renewable energy will be driven by the mutual exchange between future market requirements and technical innovation. In that respect, the NAEE 2017 offers an excellent opportunity for the whole value chain, from equipment and material suppliers up to application driven players and from academic research institutions up to downside industry, to share and discuss leading-edge renewable energy technologies.

Since its beginning in 2011, international attendees representing over 40 countries from all continents have participated in NAEE, internationally renowned keynote speakers have presented latest achievements in the transition to renewable energy.

The scope of NAEE2017 covers a broad range of hot topics like renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency, green energy, climate change, sustainable energy systems and smart grid.
This 7th edition will be organized into 5 PLENARY SESSIONS covering all topics of interest of the whole value chain. We invite you to express interest by visiting: www.nigeriaalternativeenergyexpo…. or send us email:  loc at nigeriaalternativeenergyexpo.org

Deadline to submit your abstract was Friday, February 24 2017.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 10th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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

Africa
Neighbors of Nigeria Take On Boko Haram

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

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

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

Chad had previously reported that its forces had pushed Boko Haram out of the two towns in mid-February. But Monday was Niger’s turn to do so. Chad’s military spokesman hung up the phone when questioned about the discrepancy, though the spokesman, Col. Azem Bermandoa Agouna, did say that forces from the two neighboring countries were “in coalition” in the regional fight against Boko Haram.
Continue reading the main story
Related Coverage

African Training Exercise Turns Urgent as Threats GrowMARCH 7, 2015
Boko Haram Generates Uncertainty With Pledge of Allegiance to Islamic StateMARCH 7, 2015
In Newly Sophisticated Boko Haram Videos, Hints of Islamic State Ties FEB. 20, 2015

“The armed forces have launched themselves into the fight to recover the town,” Colonel Azem said Monday from Ndjamena, the Chadian capital, referring to Damasak, a Boko Haram staging post for attacks.
Continue reading the main story
Interactive Graphic: Groups Document Swath of Destruction Left by Boko Haram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Nigeria’s 2015 Presidential Election

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

Publisher Council on Foreign Relations Press – Release Date February 2015


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

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

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

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

New Concerns:

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


Geographic Distribution of Votes in 2011 Presidential Election:

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

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

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


Recommendations:

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

OIC is the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Its February 5, 2015 Weekly Newsletter (Issue #6 for 2015) notes the following:

· OIC Foreign Ministers delegation arrives in Norway to mobilize support for Palestinian cause

· OIC condemns the construction of 450 new settlement units

· OIC Secretary General strongly condemns killing of Jordanian pilot Mo’az Al-Kasasbah

· OIC Condemns Murder of Japanese Journalist

· OIC Secretary General Condemns Attack on Mosque in Pakistan

· OIC and IDB sign an MOU for the Management of Ebola Programme in West Africa

· OIC Secretary General Condemns Terrorist Attack in Sinai Peninsula

That is empty condemnation words of the subhuman tortured minds resulting in killings of a Jordanian, two Japanese, attacks in Pakistan and Sinai-Egypt, does not mention even the ongoing killings in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, and all what they concentrate on by employing their Diplomats – are the Issues of Palestine and Israel.

Though this website has never backed the Netanyahu line on the Palestinian issue – today – with the subhuman behavior sported in the Muslim World – honestly – the Palestinian issue was now pushed under our desk. Simply OIC and all other organizations – Governmental or Civil Society – Your first steps to regain credibility are to be taken against the beasts that otherwise will think that crime pays. If crime does pay the bystanders are becoming criminals themselves – the evolution of the rhinoceri.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Here’s what’s going on at the White House today.
The White House, Washington

DAILY SNAPSHOT
Friday, May 16, 2014

Featured
“The Faces of Nearly 3,000 Innocent Souls”Yesterday, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum opened its doors to the families of those who lost their lives in the 2001 attacks, as well as the first responders and recovery workers that helped save the lives of others that day.

“Here, at this memorial, this museum, we come together,” said President Obama. “We look into the faces of nearly 3,000 innocent souls — men and women and children of every race, every creed, and every corner of the world. … Here we tell their story, so that generations yet unborn will never forget.”

Read more of the President’s remarks at yesterday’s dedication.

Read more about the 9/11 museum dedication ceremony.

 

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the National September 11 Memorial & Museum dedication ceremony in New York, N.Y., May 15, 2014.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the National September 11 Memorial & Museum dedication ceremony in New York, N.Y., May 15, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

 

President Obama said that the site is now a “sacred place of healing and of hope.”

“Here, at this memorial, this museum, we come together.  We stand in the footprints of two mighty towers, graced by the rush of eternal waters.  We look into the faces of nearly 3,000 innocent souls — men and women and children of every race, every creed, and every corner of the world.  We can touch their names and hear their voices and glimpse the small items that speak to the beauty of their lives.  A wedding ring.  A dusty helmet.  A shining badge.

Here we tell their story, so that generations yet unborn will never forget.  Of coworkers who led others to safety.  Passengers who stormed a cockpit.  Our men and women in uniform who rushed into an inferno.  Our first responders who charged up those stairs.  A generation of servicemembers — our 9/11 Generation — who have served with honor in more than a decade of war.  A nation that stands tall and united and unafraid — because no act of terror can match the strength or the character of our country.  Like the great wall and bedrock that embrace us today, nothing can ever break us; nothing can change who we are as Americans.”

In his remarks, the President also told the story of Welles Crowther, a young man who gave his own life in order to save others:

“On that September morning, Alison Crowther lost her son Welles.  Months later, she was reading the newspaper — an article about those final minutes in the towers.  Survivors recounted how a young man wearing a red handkerchief had led them to safety.  And in that moment, Alison knew.  Ever since he was a boy, her son had always carried a red handkerchief.  Her son Welles was the man in the red bandana.

Welles was just 24 years old, with a broad smile and a bright future.  He worked in the South Tower, on the 104th floor. He had a big laugh, a joy of life, and dreams of seeing the world.  He worked in finance, but he had also been a volunteer firefighter.  And after the planes hit, he put on that bandana and spent his final moments saving others.

Three years ago this month, after our SEALs made sure that justice was done, I came to Ground Zero.  And among the families here that day was Alison Crowther.  And she told me about Welles and his fearless spirit, and she showed me a handkerchief like the one he wore that morning.

And today, as we saw on our tour, one of his red handkerchiefs is on display in this museum.  And from this day forward, all those who come here will have a chance to know the sacrifice of a young man who — like so many — gave his life so others might live.”

“Those we lost live on in us,” said the President. “In the families who love them still. In the friends who remember them always. And in a nation that will honor them, now and forever.”

——————-

The President kept his words tight and dignified without mentioning the perpetrators, but we allow ourselves to be more outspoken and remind our readers that the Bin Ladens are products of our insistence on using their Saudi Arabia as a mere oil-source, and do not dare to talk of human rights or other such banalities as democracy. We also would never speak up against religious Islamic Arab racism as long as the Arab world just persists in harming their own. It is only when they step out of line and harm American or Israeli citizens that we wake up – but still continue to buy their oil and gas.

Now, while we mourn the civilized world’s victims “of all races and creeds” as per the 9/11 beast-made cataclysm – our papers talk of a “Black Bin Laden” by the name of Abubakar Shrkau, the boss of the Islamic Terror-group Boko Haram who has it out against the Christian Nigerians – killing them and abducting their daughters. This is no less then a “cleansing” operation in the Islamic World, and the results are clear in the Middle East and are now being extended to Africa – this along the “oil-road” – be it in Sudan or Nigeria.

When will the US and the EU finally realize that energy is not a synonym for oil?

If Climate Change, and now also the fate of the Ukraine are no eye openers – what will ever awaken a dormant US Congress or a dormant EU Parliament that can think only oil and gas?

On 9/11 2001, the day the UN General Assembly was to start their meetings, I was supposed to participate and being inducted at a ringing of the Peace Bell. Obviously, looking at the clouds of dust hovering over down-town, that were visible even at the 42 Street at the UN, the event was postponed by several days, and when held it was more like a wake not an inspiration. I, and everyone involved in this, will never forget or forgive. (PJ)

 

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And from today’s mail from The Council of Foreign Relations:

Crisis in Nigeria

Why One Nigerian Crisis Attracted Notoriety

John Campbell

Boko Haram’s kidnapping of schoolgirls in northern Nigeria has claimed more international attention than any other atrocity of the ongoing insurgency. A Boko Haram warlord’s video claiming responsibility for the kidnapping and threatening to, in effect, sell the girls into slavery appears to have fed the media storm, tying the tragedy to larger issues of human trafficking, child marriage, and girls’ education. Read more on Africa in Transition »

Beating Boko Haram

Isobel Coleman and Sigrid von Wendel

Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates to “secular education is a sin,” has been committing heinous attacks across Nigeria’s north for years, frequently targeting schools. To fight back, Abuja must double down on education even as it rethinks its counterterrorism strategy. Read more on ForeignAffairs.com »

Get Girls’ Education Out of the Crosshairs

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Education has long been in the crosshairs of extremists, but only recently came to light via Boko Haram’s kidnapping of nearly three hundred school girls. More than seventy million school-aged children do not attend elementary school. This statistic will need to change to ensure prosperity, stability, and security. Read the op-ed »

Will the “Civilized World” do anything if the present rage subsides? (PJ)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 27th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 We posted recently the Kishore Mahbubani view of the world that points at   US, CHINA, RUSSIA, INDIA, The EU, BRAZIL, and NIGERIA as the Seven Front-line leading powers of the World. Of these the US and a United Europe are the powers of the democratic west – something of the past – with China, Russia, India, Brazil, and Nigeria the rising powers of the future. Interesting – here a deviation from what the UN’s BRICS that has South Africa and not Nigeria, as representatives of the black African continent.

Both – Nigeria and South Africa are not typical of the rest of Africa – the one ruled by a Muslim majority and based on Petro-money, the other ruled by a Western oriented government that has no clear independent economic policy but was seen for years as the bridge for Africa’s development. Mahbubani, who has clear leaning towards the Islamic world, likes to believe that eventually it will be Nigeria that will emerge as Africa’s main power. Whatever – Africa is the weakest BRIC and in many fora represented well by Brazil. I pick on this as a side issue to today’s interesting news of a Putin backed attempt at placing Russia, via South Africa, at the center of an effort to create a non-Western hub for the World economy and wrestle away the Western economic hegemony from a shriveling North Atlantic alliance anchored at Washington. The New York Times article that brought these latest news to our attention is obviously a US inspired reporting exercise.

Whatever – the facts are that the money is now mainly with China and the two big Western blocks, the United States of America, and the “not-yet-united” States of Europe, depend on China money, and as these last few weeks – the Greek tragedy in Greece and Cyprus – showed that eventually the Europeans might yet ask for hand-outs in Moscow. This was not wasted on the established BRICS and Mr. Putin moved on. The International Monetary system built after WWII – The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund – can be pushed aside in major parts of the Developing World.

It is not ingenious to point at the five BRICS that they are very different States – surely they are different among themselves – China, India, Russia, and Brazil have different political systems but are united in their interest to nudge aside the US from the position of manager of the world – and they see now their chance to do so.

 

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Group of Emerging Nations Plans to Form Development Bank.

Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Tuesday in Durban, South Africa,  just ahead of Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, South Africa’s defense minister.

By
Published: March 26, 2013

JOHANNESBURG — A group of five emerging world economic powers met in Africa for the first time Tuesday, gathering in South Africa for a summit meeting at which they plan to announce the creation of a new development bank, a direct challenge to the dominance of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, all members of the so-called BRICS Group of developing nations, have agreed to create the bank to focus on infrastructure and development in emerging markets. The countries are also planning to discuss pooling their foreign reserves as a bulwark against currency crises, part of a growing effort by emerging economic powers to build institutions and forums that are alternatives to Western-dominated ones.

“Up until now, it has been a loose arrangement of five countries meeting once a year,” said Abdullah Verachia, director of the Frontier Advisory Group, which focuses on emerging markets. “It is going to be the first real institution we have seen.”

But the alliance faces serious questions about whether the member countries have enough in common and enough shared goals to function effectively as a counterweight to the West.

“Despite the political rhetoric around partnerships, there is a huge amount of competition between the countries,” Mr. Verachia said.

For all the talk of solidarity among emerging giants, the group’s concrete achievements have been few since its first full meeting, in Russia in 2009. This is partly because its members are deeply divided on some basic issues and are in many ways rivals, not allies, in the global economy.

They have widely divergent economies, disparate foreign policy aims and different forms of government. India, Brazil and South Africa have strong democratic traditions, while Russia and China are autocratic.

The bloc even struggles to agree on overhauling international institutions. India, Brazil and South Africa want permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council, for example, but China, which already has one, has shown little interest in shaking up the status quo.

The developing countries in the bloc hardly invest in one another, preferring their neighbors and the developed world’s major economies, according to a report released Monday by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Just 2.5 percent of foreign investment by BRICS countries goes to other countries in the group, the report said, while more than 40 percent of their foreign investment goes to the developed world’s largest economies, the European Union, the United States and Japan.

Africa, home to several of the world’s fastest-growing economies, drew less than 5 percent of total investment from BRICS nations, the report said. France and the United States still have the highest rate of foreign investment in Africa. Despite China’s reputation for heavy investment in Africa, Malaysia has actually invested $2 billion more in Africa than China has.

Still, 15 African heads of state were invited to the summit meeting in South Africa as observers, a sign of the continent’s increasing importance as an investment destination for all of the BRICS countries.

China is in many ways a major competitor of its fellow BRICS member, South Africa. South African manufacturers, retail chains, cellphone service providers, mining operations and tourism companies have bet heavily on African economic growth and in some ways go head-to-head against Chinese companies on the continent.

South Africa is playing host for the first time since becoming the newest member of what had been known previously as BRIC. Many analysts have questioned South Africa’s inclusion in the group because its economy is tiny compared with the other members, ranking 28th in the world, and its growth rates in recent years have been anemic.

In an interview last year with a South African newspaper, Jim O’Neill, the Goldman Sachs executive who coined the term BRIC, said South Africa did not belong in the group.

“South Africa has too small an economy,” Mr. O’Neill told the newspaper, The Mail & Guardian. “There are not many similarities with the other four countries in terms of the numbers. In fact, South Africa’s inclusion has somewhat weakened the group’s power.”

But South Africa’s sluggish growth has become the rule, not the exception, among the onetime powerhouse nations. India’s hopes of reaching double-digit growth have ebbed. Brazil’s surging economy, credited with pulling millions out of poverty, has cooled drastically. Even China’s growth has slowed.

And once welcome, Chinese investment in Africa is viewed with increasing suspicion.

On a visit to Beijing last year, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa warned that Chinese trade ties in Africa were following a troubling pattern.

“Africa’s commitment to China’s development has been demonstrated by supply of raw materials, other products and technology transfer,” Mr. Zuma said. “This trade pattern is unsustainable in the long term. Africa’s past economic experience with Europe dictates a need to be cautious when entering into partnerships with other economies.”

Mr. Zuma appeared to have a change of heart before the summit meeting, saying Monday that China does not approach Africa with a colonial attitude.

But other African leaders are not so sure. —– Lamido Sanusi, governor of Nigeria’s central bank, wrote in an opinion article published in The Financial Times this month that China’s approach to Africa is in many ways as exploitative as the West’s has been.

“China is no longer a fellow underdeveloped economy — it is the world’s second-biggest, capable of the same forms of exploitation as the West,” he wrote. “It is a significant contributor to Africa’s de-industrialization and under-development.”

This article appeared in print on March 27, 2013, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Group of Emerging Nations Plans to Form Development Bank.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 24th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Fareed Zakaria asks Kishore Mahbubani on the CNN/GPS program March 24, 2013 – One thing historically that has always happened is when you have the rise of a middle class, countries tend to become more democratic. Do you think China will become a democracy?

Mahbubani: “I think China will eventually become a democracy. The destination is not in doubt. The only question is the route and timing.

But China is not going to become democratic in the near future, in the next 10 to 20 years. And, by the way, one point people forget is that if you go to Chinese universities and you talk to bright young Chinese and ask them, would you like to get rid of the Communist Party and immediately become democratic tomorrow, most of them would say no. Because they do know that the Chinese Communist Party, over the last 30 years, has delivered the fastest growth in the standard of living.

And they do know that if you dismantle this and if China falls apart, all their dreams of becoming number one in the world will disappear. And the Chinese…the feeling is that they are almost there, the feeling that they’re going to become number one very soon is a very powerful driving force that’s also keeping them together.”

Starting with China and India and looking at the rest of Asia – today there are 500 million people in the middle class – the growth is immense and by 2020 the expectation is that this number will more then triple and there will be 1.75 billion people of that region that will be in the middle class.

The West must show the wisdom to learn to manage the entrance of these Asian states into the Global multinational system – and what more – the US must learn how to be a #2 when finally another Nation becomes #1. Mahbubani talks of THE GREAT CONVERSION as a final result of the development process. He is mostly interested in the political sphere. Today we have a strong International Society and a very weak International Government. Some must learn to conceive that the time of being clear #1 will be over.

Mahbubani is practical and aims at the end of the present system of the so called 5 Superpowers. He shreds the UN Security Council and wants to se it replaced by a set of new 7 Permanent Members augmented with another 7 Semi-permanent Members.

The first set of the NEW PERMANENTS is to be made up of:

The US, CHINA, RUSSIA, INDIA, The EU, BRAZIL, and NIGERIA

The Set of Semi-Permanents will then be made up by counties like Korea, Japan, Turkey, Mexico, Indonesia ….

We were flabbergasted as his scheme, except for replacing Nigeria for South Africa, is identical with what we were advocating years ago.  So, to be honest, this posting comes about because we feel justified by the content of Professor Mahbubani’s remarks.

Further, on the Fareed Zakaria program today he had also Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson advocate the US put more money into Space as the present situation of not having a US Space-ship and the need to rent place on Russia’s equipment, not just harms US research, but in effect became a give-away to Russia, China, India, even Canada, of the potential for inovation that comes with investment in space Programs. This is another reason for fore-seable US decline.

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Keystone Protests Resume, But None Against Oil Imports from Nigeria?

By ANDREW C. REVKIN , February 14, 2013, www.DotEarth.com

I’ve got nothing against the passions of those — including friends of mine — pushing hard to persuade President Obama not to let the Keystone XL pipeline move forward and carry bitumen from Canadian deposits to United States Gulf Coast refineries. More were arrested this week.

But that effort misses the reality that as long as oil demand is high in the United States and elsewhere, there will be environmental risks and often terrible social costs in farflung and loosely governed places.

A case in point is the Niger River delta, which for decades has been tapped for its large crude reserves. Even though United States oil imports from Nigeria have been dropping, the country still vies with Iraq for fifth place on the Energy Department’s top-ten list of importers. The country is an absolute mess when it comes to the impacts of the oil boom on both nature and people.

This is illustrated starkly in a slide show and post on the Lens Blog showcasing photographer Samuel James’s images of communities that illegally tap pipelines and refine fuels from pirated oil. (There are more in Harper’s Magazine). Here’s one photo:

In a dying swamp forest in the Niger Delta, a worker pours crude oil on a fire to begin the refining process. Entire camps can easily, and often do, explode when the fumes produced during the refining process catch fire.
Samuel James for Harper’s Magazine In a dying swamp forest in the Niger Delta, a worker pours crude oil on a fire to begin the refining process. Entire camps can easily, and often do, explode when the fumes produced during the refining process catch fire.

Read the Energy Information Administration briefing on Nigeria and you’ll see that all that production hasn’t done much for the citizens of the country. More than 80 percent of energy still comes from burning wood or other biomass despite the oil and gas boom.

And please look back at the powerful feature story written for The Times by Adam Nossiter in 2010, when the oil concern here in the United States was not Keystone, but the Gulf of Mexico rig disaster and gusher. Here’s a relevant excerpt, focusing on the views of those living in the Niger River delta:

Though their region contributes nearly 80 percent of the government’s revenue, they have hardly benefited from it; life expectancy is the lowest in Nigeria.

President Obama is worried about that one,” Claytus Kanyie, a local official, said of the gulf spill, standing among dead mangroves in the soft oily muck outside Bodo. “Nobody is worried about this one. The aquatic life of our people is dying off. There used be shrimp. There are no longer any shrimp.”

In the distance, smoke rose from what Mr. Kanyie and environmental activists said was an illegal refining business run by local oil thieves and protected, they said, by Nigerian security forces. The swamp was deserted and quiet, without even bird song; before the spills, Mr. Kanyie said, women from Bodo earned a living gathering mollusks and shellfish among the mangroves….

The spills here are all the more devastating because this ecologically sensitive wetlands region, the source of 10 percent of American oil imports, has most of Africa’s mangroves and, like the Louisiana coast, has fed the interior for generations with its abundance of fish, shellfish, wildlife and crops.

Local environmentalists have been denouncing the spoliation for years, with little effect. “It’s a dead environment,” said Patrick Naagbanton of the Center for Environment, Human Rights and Development in Port Harcourt, the leading city of the oil region. [Read the rest.]

Following his State of the Union address, the president outlined fresh steps to curtail American demand for oil, along with increased domestic production.

I think this approach makes sense. There’s much, much more that can be done to cut energy waste here on many fronts and there are plenty of signs that most Americans strongly support such a push — if someone leads the way. Obama can do that, if he moves from the occasional speech to making this a prime imperative for the nation.

And I would rather have the oil that we do use coming increasingly from responsibly managed and regulated sources here than the ends of the Earth and countries where oil wealth benefits few and the costs of extraction are borne by many.


Climate Change February 13, 2013.

Obama’s Path from Rhetoric to Reality on Energy and Climate

By ANDREW C. REVKIN
President Obama during his State of the Union address on Tuesday.
Doug Mills/The New York Times President Obama during his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

On energy and human-driven global warming, President Obama’s State of the Union address (and the background sheet providing detail behind the talking points) had something for everyone, making it hard — outside of a couple of specific proposals — to figure out how much action might follow the smoothly delivered rhetoric.

His statements about steps to address climate change were hailed by self-described “climate hawks” even though they were accompanied by lines like this one, clearly targeted at a different audience:

[M]y administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits. That’s got to be part of an all-of-the-above plan.

He included strong, and predictable, language pledging to use executive authority on various fronts to restrict greenhouse gases in the absence of new laws from Congress. (The best primer on what’s possible using that power is by Bill Becker and the Presidential Climate Action Project.)

[7:26 p.m. | Updated | Much more background on the administration’s energy and climate policies has been distributed now.]

As Obama hit the road to press his agenda on Wednesday, Americans were posting thousands of questions through a White House “Ask Obama” invitation to participate on Thursday in a Google+ “Fireside Hangout” with the president. Here’s the question I posted tonight:

A Dot Earth Question for President Obama on Energy and Climate

Most Americans, even many unconcerned by global warming, want energy thrift, safe gas drilling, more science and resilience to climate extremes, whatever the cause. Why not tour the nation to enlist this force and overcome edge-driven politics?

What would you ask?

Feb. 16, 4:13 p.m. |Update

President Obama’s Hangout took place and includes references to climate change (noted via Climate Progress):

Here’s a relevant line: The truth is if you produce power using old power plants, you’re going to be emitting more carbon — but to upgrade those plants, energy’s going to be a little bit more expensive, at least on the front end. At the core, we have to do something that’s really difficult for any society to do, and that is to take actions now where the benefits are coming down the road, or at least we’re avoiding big problems down the road.

===================================================================

Fracking is the only way to achieve Obama climate change goals, says senior scientist.

Boosting natural gas production could provide a ‘bridge fuel’ and cut carbon emissions

    Fracking

    A coal-fired power plant, in Winfield, West Virginia, US. Photograph: Paul Souders/Getty Images

    America will only achieve the ambitious climate change goals outlined by President Barack Obama last week by encouraging wide-scale fracking for natural gas over the next few years. That is the advice of one of the nation’s senior scientists, Professor William Press, a member of the president’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

    Fracking – known officially as hydraulic fracturing – involves pumping high-pressure water through underground rocks to release natural gas trapped deep underground. It is believed that there are vast reserves of these subterranean gas fields across the US.

    Thousands of wells have already been drilled in Texas, leading to a substantial rise in the use of natural gas in the US and a major decline in the burning of coal, a far more serious cause of carbon pollution. However, fracking is also controversial. Environmentalists say it can lead to the contamination of underground water reservoirs and the pollution of the surface with chemicals used to help to release subterranean gas stores. They also point out that burning natural gas releases carbon dioxide.

    However Press, who is president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science , said last week that natural gas obtained through fracking had potential to help mitigate climate change. “Coal is burnt to provide the US with almost half its electricity. This is done in huge central power plants and the process is very dirty. By contrast, the burning of natural gas is clean and can be done in smaller, local, more efficient power station,” said Press.

    “For the amount of heat you produce, coal is, effectively, three times more powerful an emitter of carbon dioxide than natural gas. Relying on gas will therefore cut our carbon emissions substantially.”

    An astrophysicist by training, Press has turned to biology to use his talents at dealing with astronomical data in order to help researchers cope with the vast information sets generated by genome sequencing machines and other devices. He was speaking in Boston, where more than 8,000 delegates and 1,000 journalists have gathered for the association’s annual meeting this weekend.

    His opening address focused on the need to provide proper funding for basic research – “the cornerstone of science”, as he put it. However, his remarks on climate change – made in a separate interview with the Observer – provided the most intriguing part of his message.

    In his state of the union address on Tuesday, Obama said he intended to be resolute in curbing emissions of carbon dioxide in the US – something that he had failed to do in his first term.

    “For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change,” Obama said. “The fact is the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and floods – all are now more frequent and intense.” And the culprit, he made clear, was the amount of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by cars, power plants and factories.

    Emissions would have to be cut back drastically, though Obama was not clear how this would be done. Republican intransigence makes it unlikely he will get congressional approval for cutbacks, as he acknowledged. “If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will,” he said. “I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future.”

    The exact nature of that executive action was not defined. However, Press is convinced that encouraging fracking and boosting natural gas production would provide the US with “a bridge fuel” that would allow it to slash carbon emissions in the short term and give the nation time to build wind and other renewable energy sources. “The gas industry is straining to develop underground natural gas reserves across the nation and would love to know the exact rules and constraints by which it can carry out fracking in different states. Once they know that, they can get on with it.”

    The president could use executive orders to outline those rules in the very near future and so initiate widespread gas fracking in the US, added Press. By ensuring there were powerful regulations to protect the environment from such drilling, he would also be able to reassure campaigners that it would not cause widespread damage. Fracking would become widespread as a result.

    “Rising use of natural gas in the US has already produced a major effect,” said Press. “Our carbon emissions have been cut back to their 1994 level because gas is already taking over from coal as a fuel for generating electricity.” With more drilling for underground natural gas, deeper cuts in carbon emissions would give the US more time to introduce longer-term renewable energy sources.

    The idea of using natural gas to remove coal as a power source has gone down badly with mining companies. But Press said: “In the past, when coal seemed cheap, they complained free market forces should allow them to expand. But those forces are turning on them. So they should have no complaints,” he said.

    However, the claim that natural gas is helping to cut back on US greenhouse gas emissions is questioned by some environmentalists. Greenpeace says no proper analysis has been done on gas leakage from fracking sites. In particular, there is a fear that methane – which is a far more dangerous greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide – may be escaping from wells and adding to the warming of the atmosphere. Campaigners also claim that there have been more than 1,000 cases of groundwater contamination in the US because of fracking and have urged a moratorium on underground drilling.



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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 26th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Take for instance the problem called Syria that after 60,000 people killed, and hundreds of thousands displaced, during 2011-2012 continuing now in the same way –  or a two years of disaster – still does not move the UN Security Council seat-holders to find a way to control the centripetal forces in that Member State.

Arriving to Davos on Thursday  morning – to the World Economic Forum – first action of Mr. Ban Ki-moon took was to deliver a special address focusing on Syria and the African Sahel region. The address was noticed by governments, business, and civil society. A unity must be found that allows meaningful action and humanitarian and political efforts must be given security cover. He met the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in this context. He also spoke at a meeting on water resources and connected the events in the North Africa – Middle East MENA States to active effects of drought and Climate Change and people migration that spill over to neighboring States that also suffer from environmental degradation.

On the one end of this arc of destruction – by fighting people and by disaster creating activities elsewhere – Mr. Ban Ki-moon met with the Prime Minister of Lebanon – H.E. Mr. Najib Milkati, and a large group of US Members of Congress from the Republican Party – Messrs. Eric Cantor (Virginia), Jeff Fortenberry (Nebraska), Mario Diaz-Balart (Florida), Darrell Issa (Californis), and Ms Kay Granger (Texas). With this unusual group questions of Human Rights and UN reform were as important as the Middle East Peace Process between Israel and its neighbors, as the unrest in the Sahel region on the other side of the MENA arc of destruction and its neighbors of the Horn of Africa, Central Africa, and West Africa.

Regarding Mali, Mr. Ban warned that the crisis is deepening with repeated reports of sexual violence, child soldiers, and reprisals by the Malian army against Tuareg and Arab populations. The African story repeats itself now also in the Western part of the Sahel. A toxic mix of poverty, extreme climatic conditions, weak institutions, drug smuggling, and the easy availability of weapons, is causing now also in this rather new region the dangerous insecurity we know from the other parts of MENA and its neighboring States.

The UNSG came to Davos in order to tell to whoever will listen that the problems of Mali engulf  18 million people of the Sahel, and if we want to address the problems – the whole set of problems will have to be addressed.  Ditto when looking at Darfur and the region stretching into the Horn of Africa.

Mr. Ban took a look also at Egypt and Bahrain and expressed his wishes that these two States do not regress into difficult situations as well.

Regarding Mr. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq misadventure into Kuwait, the UN panel allocated from Iraq funds the equivalent of $1.3 billion as reparations to Kuwait.

While the UNSG was making these presentations to leaders, academics, and business tycoons in Davos, his Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Mr.Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal presented the Ban Ki-moon video address to the 2013 International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, in the UN General Assembly Hall at the New York City Headquarters of the UN. This year’s Memorial Ceremony was held under the secondary title: “THE COURAGE TO CARE.”

The Holocaust, though a very special event without anything in human history to compare it with, according to Mr. Jan Karski, one of the “Righteous Among the Nations” by the Jerusalem Yad Vashem, for his efforts to inform the World of the extermination of the Jews activities of the Nazis of the German Reich, ought nevertheless be remembered when watching crimes performed in full TV light before our eyes and right in front of us.

Jan Karski was awarded posthumously, by President Obama in 2012, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom. and the UN lobby has now an exhibit on display about him as his book “Story of a Secret State” was released this year with details of US inaction while he provided information of what was going on in Europe during WWII. He started out as a Polish Nationalist, but even though faced with the dismemberment of the Polish State – he recognized that what was happening to the Jews was immensely worse.

The US Lobby is displaying as well material about the Holocaust, the extermination machine and the Righteous people who even by saving the life of just one Jew – got themselves the right to be considered as if they saved the whole world. Considering that the UN is ever so often visited by Holocaust deniers, and the UN continuously watching crimes being committed by member States – the event at Headquarters was at least just as important, if not more, as what the UNSG was trying to achieve in Davos.

We bring thus the text of the UNSG video presentation to those assembled at the UN General Assembly Hall on Friday, January 25, 2013.

———————

25 January 2013

Secretary-GeneralSG/SM/14783
OBV/1178

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General, in Memorial Message for Holocaust Victims Day, Hails‘Unsung Heroes’ Who Risked All to Help Targets of Persecution.

The original title was:

VIDEO MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF COMMEMORATION IN MEMORY OF THE VICTIMS OF THE HOLOCAUST.

Airing 25 January 2013


It is a great pleasure to greet all the good friends of the United Nations who have gathered for this observance of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. I welcome in particular the Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans who have joined this solemn ceremony.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Courage is a rare and precious commodity.  Today, we celebrate those who had the courage to care.  Throughout the Second World War, Jews, Roma and Sinti, Soviet prisoners of war and others who failed to conform to Hitler’s perverted ideology of Aryan perfection were systematically murdered in death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau.

But some were able to avoid the slaughter.  They escaped because a few brave souls risked their lives and their families to rescue Jews and other victims of persecution from almost certain death.  Some sheltered the intended victims in their homes; others helped families to obtain safe passage.

Some of the accounts of the rescuers have achieved iconic prominence.  But many are known only to those whose lives were saved.  This year’s observance is meant to give those unsung heroes the regard they deserve.  I thank the Righteous among the Nations Programme at Yad Vashem, which is celebrating its fiftieth year, for identifying and rewarding them.  The Holocaust and the United Nations programme has produced an education package on the rescuers that will be used in classrooms around the world.

I also congratulate another crucial partner, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, on its twentieth anniversary.  Its theme of “Never Again:  What You Do Matters” resonates deeply.

Acts of genocide illustrate the depths of evil to which individuals and whole societies can descend.  But the examples of the brave men and women we celebrate today also demonstrate the capacity of humankind for remarkable good, even during the darkest of days.

On this International Day, let us remember all the innocent people who lost their lives during the Holocaust.  And let us be inspired by those who had the courage to care — the ordinary people who took extraordinary steps to defend human dignity.  Their example is as relevant today as ever.

In a world where extremist acts of violence and hatred capture the headlines on an almost daily basis, we must remain ever vigilant.  Let us all have the courage to care, so we can build a safer, better world today.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 25th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) is a regional group of fifteen countries, founded in 1975. Its mission is to promote economic integration in “all fields of economic activity, particularly industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, commerce, monetary and financial questions, social and cultural matters”

Barely finished with its 40th birtday, IIASA together with Vienna based UNIDO and GFSE (Global Forum on Sustainable Energy) these institutions will have people travel t0 Accra, Ghana in order to team up with ECOWAS in order to launch the SE4All project that is spearheaded for the UN by Mr. Yumkella – the Director of UNIDO.

This summer we received the following:

It said – Before the Austrian summer is over I would like to inform you about recent developments and major up-coming events –

  • The GFSE continues to support the UN-SG’s Initiative “Sustainable Energy for All” ad has entered a commitment at www.sustainableenergyforall.org
  • One important way of making good on this commitment will be the ECOWAS High Level Forum “Towards Sustainable Energy For All in West Africa”,
    29 – 31 October in Accra, Ghana
    . GFSE partners with ECREEE (the Ecowas Centre on Rnewable Energy and Energy Efficiency and UNIDO to launch the UN Sustainable Energy for All Initiative in the ECOWAS region and establish an implementation framework for the ECOWAS region. The HLF will see the adoption by ECOWAS Energy Ministers of the ECOWAS Renewable Energy Policy and its corresponding Action Plan; adopt the ECOWAS Small Scale Hydro Power Program; present ECOWAS energy efficiency initiatives on standards and labeling, lighting, electricity distribution, financing and report on the progress of the GEF-UNIDO Strategic Program for West Africa (SPWA) and launch the ECOWAS Observatory on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECOREX).
  • Upon the encouragement of Executive Secretary Christine Lins, GFSE will join the REN21 network in the rubric of CSO.
  • Building on the successful 2009 Vienna Energy Conference and the 2011 Vienna Energy Forum, GFSE will cooperate with Austrian and partners to organize the 2013 Vienna Energy Forum in late spring 2013. Announcements on the date and major thematic thrust will follow in early fall.

Many good wishes and best regards

Irene Giner-Reichl

President, GFSE


GFSE has entered a commitment to “Sustainable Energy For All”
The GFSE continues to support the UN-SG’s Initiative “Sustainable Energy for All” and has entered a commitment at www.sustainableenergyforall.org . The commitment is “to raise awareness for and commitment to SE4ALL in Austria, to lobby for an Austrian nation SE4ALL action plan, to foster partnerships around concrete implementation proposals and to liaise with international processes”.

[more]

ECOWAS High Level Forum: “Towards Sustainable Energy for All in West Africa” 29 – 31 October 2012 , Accra
The ECOWAS Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), the Global Forum for Sustainable Energy (GSFE), and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) are jointly organizing a three-day High Level Forum “Towards Sustainable Energy for All in West Africa” from 29 to 31 of October 2012, in Accra, Ghana.

[more]

SE4ALL press release: UN Secretary-General Announces Significant Commitments to Action in support of Achieving Sustainable Energy for All
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that more than one hundred commitments and actions have been already mobilized in support of his Sustainable Energy for All initiative, demonstrating powerful early momentum from governments, private sector companies and civil society organizations to achieve Sustainable Energy for All by 2030.

[more]

Imprint:

Österreichische Energieagentur – Austrian Energy Agency
Mariahilferstraße 136
1150 Vienna
Phone: +43 1 586 15 24-0
Fax: +43 1 586 15 24-40
Internet: www.energyagency.at

===============================================================

 www.iiasa.ac.at/web/home/research…

29 October 2012 – 31 October 2012

The Accra International Conference Centre, Accra, Ghana

ECOWAS-GFSE-GEF-UNIDO High Level Energy Forum

The Energy Forum, organized jointly by ECOWAS, GFSE and UNIDO, will feature the Global Energy Assessment from the 29-31 October, 2012 in Accra, Ghana.


The ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), the Global Forum for Sustainable Energy (GSFE), and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) are jointly organizing an ECOWAS-GFSE-UNIDO High Level Energy Forum on “Paving the Way for Sustainable Energy for All in West Africa through Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency” from the 29–31 October 2012, in Accra, Ghana. The event is hosted by the Government of Ghana.

The  High Level Energy Forum aims at the following objectives:

  1. launch the UN Sustainable Energy For All Initiative (SE4All) in the ECOWAS region and establish an implementation framework of for the ECOWAS region;
  2. adopt the ECOWAS Renewable Energy Policy and  its corresponding Action Plan by the ECOWAS Energy Ministers;
  3. adopt the ECOWAS Energy Efficiency Policy and its corresponding Action Plan by the ECOWAS Energy Ministers;
  4. adopt the ECOWAS Small Scale Hydro Power Program;
  5. present the ECOWAS energy efficiency initiatives on standards and labelling, lighting, electricity distribution, financing and efficient cooking; and
  6. report on the progress of theGEF-UNIDO Strategic Program for West Africa (SPWA)andlaunch the ECOWAS Observatory for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECOREX).

For further information and registration to the Forum, please visit the ECREEE website.

 www.ecowas.int/

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 23rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Amazon Farmers Seize Chevron Assets.

SustainableBusiness.com News October 17, 2012.

In a huge success for Amazon farmers that have been suing Chevron for 18 years, an Ecuadorian court ruled they can seize $200 million in assets from the oil company.

That includes $96.3 million the Ecuador government owes Chevron, money held in Ecuadorean bank accounts by Chevron, and licensing fees generated by the use of the company’s trademarks in the country, reports Reuters.

Chevron has been struggling to get out of paying $19 billion in damages to Ecuadorean villagers for polluting rivers with 16 billion gallons of oil sludge from 1964-1990.

This is a critically important case – the first time an indigenous community has prevailed against a multinational corporation. Oil companies are, of course, keeping close watch on this case as it provides an important precedent for communities to fight their pollution.

Shell has a similar case against it in Nigeria.

The company even took it to the US Supreme court, which last week rejected Chevron’s attempt to overturn the $19 billion judgment against it.


The suit was originally brought against Texaco (bought by Chevron in 2001). In February 2011, an Ecuadorean judge imposed damages for $8.6 billion – the fine has more than doubled since then because Chevron has not made the public apology the court required.

Instead, the company filed an appeal in New York to block the judgment, saying it was illegal and unenforceable under the state’s law – and a federal judge took its side in March 2011.

But earlier this year, an appeals court overturned that decision, noting US courts can’t interfere with courts from other countries.
So Chevron appealed again – this time to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s rejection of that appeal opened the door for this week’s ruling, issued in the Amazon town of Lago Agrio.


“This is a huge first step for the rainforest villagers on the road to collecting the entire $19 billion judgment,” Pablo Fajardo, the lead lawyer for the communities, told Reuters.

Chevron is fighting back again, charging racketeering against New York attorney Steven Donziger, a group of Ecuadoreans and the environmental groups that helped win the original judgment against it.

It is also bringing the matter to an international trade arbitration panel which is scheduled to begin hearings on the dispute in November, reports Reuters.

After the original judgment, Ecuador and the United Nations Development Program signed a historic deal to leave an estimated 846 million barrels of crude oil untapped beneath Yasuní National Park, a World Biosphere Reserve since 1989.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 25th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Intervention by Wole Soyinka, Member of UNESCO’s International High Panel, at the 2012 Conference on the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence, United Nations Hdqrs, New York, Sept. 21 2012

RELIGION AGAINST HUMANITY.

To such a degree has Religion fueled conflict, complicated politics, retarded social development and impaired human relations across the world, that one is often tempted to propose that Religion is innately an enemy of Humanity, if not indeed of itself a crime against Humanity.  Certainly it cannot be denied that Religion has proved again and again a spur, a motivator, and a justification for the commission of some of the most horrifying crimes against humanity, despite its fervent affirmations of peace. Let us however steer away from hyperbolic propositions and simply settle for this moderating  moral imperative: that it is time that the world adopt a position that refuses to countenance Religion as an acceptable justification for, excuse or extenuation of – crimes against humanity.

While it should be mandatory that states justify their place as members of a world community by educating their citizens on the entitlement of religion to a place within society, and the obligations of mutual acceptance and respect, it should be deemed unacceptable that the world is held to ransom for the uneducated conduct of a few, and placed in a condition of fear, apprehension, leading to a culture of appeasement.  There are critical issues of human well-being and survival that deserve the undivided attention of leaders all over the world. Let us recall that it is not anti-islamists who have lately desecrated and destroyed – and with such fiendish self-righteousness – the tombs of Moslem saints in Timbuktoo, most notoriously the mausoleum of the Imam Moussa al-Khadin, declared a world heritage under the protection of UNESCO and accorded pride of place in African patrimony . The orientation – backed by declarations – of these violators leaves us with a foreboding that the invaluable library treasures of Timbuktoo may be next.

The truth, alas, is that the science fiction archetype of the mad scientist who craves to dominate the world has been replaced by the mad cleric who can only conceive of the world in his own image, proudly flaunting Bond’s Double-0-7 credentials – Licensed to Kill. The sooner national leaders and genuine religious leaders understand this, and admit that no nation has any lack of its own dangerous loonies, be they known as Ansar-Dine of Mali, or Terry Jones of Florida, the earlier they will turn their attention to real issues truly deserving human priority. These cited clerics and their ilk are descendants of the ancient line of iconoclasts of Islamic, christian and other religious moulds who have destroyed the antecedent spirituality and divine emblems of the African peoples over centuries. Adherents of those African religions, who remain passionately attached to their beliefs, all the way across the Atlantic – in Brazil and across other parts of Latin America – have not taken to wreaking vengeance on their presumed violators in far off lands.

These emulators are still at work on the continent, most devastatingly in Somalia, with my own nation Nigeria catching up with mind-boggling rapidity and intensity. Places of worship are primary targets, followed by institutes of education. Innocent humanity, eking out their miserable livelihood, are being blown to pieces, presumably to relieve them of their misery.  Schools and school pupils are assailed in religion fueled orgies, measured, deliberate and deadly. The hands of the clock of progress and social development have been arrested, then reversed in widening swathes of the Nigerian landscape. As if the resources of the nation were not already stretched to breaking point, they must now also be diverted to anticipating the consequences – as in numerous nations around the world – that would predictably follow the cinematic obscenities of a new entrant into the ranks of religious denigrators, who turns out – irony of ironies – to have originated from the African continent.

In sensible families, while every possible effort is made to smooth the passage of children through life, children are taught to understand that life is not a seamless robe of many splendours, but prone to the possibility of being besmirched by the unexpected, and unpredictable. A solid core of confidence in one’s moral and spiritual choices is thus sufficient to withstand external assaults from sudden and hostile forces. That principle of personality development is every bit as essential as the education that inculcates respect for the belief systems and practices of others. The most intense ethical education, including severe social sanctions, has not eradicated material corruption, exploitation, child defilement and murders in society, not even deterrents such as capital punishment. How then can anyone presume that there shall be no violations of the ideal state of religious tolerance to which we all aspire, or demand that the world stand still, cover its head in sackcloth and ashes, grovel in self-abasement or else prepare itself for earthly pestilence for failure to anticipate the occasional penetration of their self ascribed carapace of inviolability.

It is time to demand a sense of proportion, and realism. Communication advance has made it possible for both good and evil to transcend boundaries virtually at the speed of light, and for the spores of hatred to travel just as fast, and as widely as the seeds of harmony. The world should not continue to acquiesce in the brutal culture of extremism that demands the impossible – control of the conduct of millions in their individual spheres, under different laws, usages, cultures and indeed – degrees of sanity.

What gives hope is the very special capacity of man for dialogue, and that arbiter is foreclosed, or endures interminable postponements as long as one side arrogates to itself the right to respond to a pebble thrown by an infantile hand in Papua New Guinea with attempts to demolish the Rock of Gibraltar. I use the word ‘infantile’ deliberately, because these alleged insults to religion are no different from the infantile scribble we encounter in public toilets, the product of infantilism and retarded development. We have learnt to ignore, and walk away from them. They should not be answered by equally infantile responses that are however incendiary and homicidal in dimension, and largely directed against the innocent, since the originating hand is usually, in any case, beyond reach. With the remorseless march of technology, we shall all be caught in a spiral of reprisals, tailored to wound, to draw virtual blood. The other side responds with real blood and gore, also clotting up the path to rational discourse.   What we are witnesses to in recent times is that such proceeding is being accorded legitimacy on the grounds of religious sensibility. It is pathetic to demand what cannot be guaranteed.  It is futile to attempt to rein in technology: the solution is to use that very technology to correct noxious conceptions in the minds of the perpetrators of abuse, and educate the ignorant.

I speak as one from a nation whose normal diet of economic disparity, corruption, marginalization, ethnic and political cleavages has been further compounded by the ascendancy of religious jingoism.  It is a lamentable retrogression from the nearly forgotten state of harmonious coexistence that I lived and enjoyed as a child. One takes consolation in the fact that some of us did not wait to sound warnings until the plague of religious extremism entered our borders. Our concerns began and were articulated as a concern for others, still at remote distances. Now that the largest black habitation on the globe has joined the club of religious terror under the portentous name, Boko Haram – which means ‘The Book is Taboo’ –  we can morally demand help from others, but we only find them drowning in the rhetoric and rites of anger and/or contrition. Today it is the heritage and humanity of Timbuktoo. And tomorrow? The African continent must take back Mali – not later but – right now.  The cost of further delay will be incalculable, and devastating.

The spiral of reprisals now appears to have been launched, what with the recent news that a French editor has also entered the lists with a fresh album of offensive cartoons. To break that spiral, there must be dialogue of frank, mature minds. Instant, comprehensive solutions do not exist, only the arduous, painstaking path of dialogue, whose multi-textured demands are not beyond the innovative, as opposed to the emotive capacity, of cultured societies.  So let that moving feast of regional dialogues – which was inaugurated by former President Khatami of Iran in these very chambers – be reinforced, emboldened, and even-handed. The destination should be a moratorium, but for this to be strong and enduring, it must be voluntary, based on a will to understanding and mental re-orientation, not on menace, self-righteous indictments and destructive emotionalism. Perhaps we may yet rescue Religion from its ultimate indictment: conscription into the ranks of provable enemies of Humanity.

Wole Soyinka

Sept. 21, 2012, United Nations Hdqrs,  New York.

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WOKE SOYINKA was awarded the The Nobel Prize in Literature 1986.

From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1986, Editor Wilhelm Odelberg, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1987:

Wole Soyinka Wole Soyinka was born on 13 July 1934 at Abeokuta, near Ibadan in western Nigeria. After preparatory university studies in 1954 at Government College in Ibadan, he continued at the University of Leeds, where, later, in 1973, he took his doctorate. During the six years spent in England, he was a dramaturgist at the Royal Court Theatre in London 1958-1959. In 1960, he was awarded a Rockefeller bursary and returned to Nigeria to study African drama. At the same time, he taught drama and literature at various universities in Ibadan, Lagos, and Ife, where, since 1975, he has been professor of comparative literature. In 1960, he founded the theatre group, “The 1960 Masks” and in 1964, the “Orisun Theatre Company”, in which he has produced his own plays and taken part as actor. He has periodically been visiting professor at the universities of Cambridge, Sheffield, and Yale.

During the civil war in Nigeria, Soyinka appealed in an article for cease-fire. For this he was arrested in 1967, accused of conspiring with the Biafra rebels, and was held as a political prisoner for 22 months until 1969. Soyinka has published about 20 works: drama, novels and poetry. He writes in English and his literary language is marked by great scope and richness of words.

As dramatist, Soyinka has been influenced by, among others, the Irish writer, J.M. Synge, but links up with the traditional popular African theatre with its combination of dance, music, and action. He bases his writing on the mythology of his own tribe-the Yoruba-with Ogun, the god of iron and war, at the centre. He wrote his first plays during his time in London, The Swamp Dwellers and The Lion and the Jewel (a light comedy), which were performed at Ibadan in 1958 and 1959 and were published in 1963. Later, satirical comedies are The Trial of Brother Jero (performed in 1960, publ. 1963) with its sequel, Jero’s Metamorphosis (performed 1974, publ. 1973), A Dance of the ForestsKongi’s Harvest (performed 1965, publ. 1967) and Madmen and Specialists (performed 1970, publ. 1971). Among Soyinka’s serious philosophic plays are (apart from “The Swamp Dwellers“) The Strong Breed (performed 1966, publ. 1963), The Road ( 1965) and Death and the King’s Horseman (performed 1976, publ. 1975). In The Bacchae of Euripides (1973), he has rewritten the Bacchae for the African stage and in Opera Wonyosi (performed 1977, publ. 1981), bases himself on John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera and Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera. Soyinka’s latest dramatic works are A Play of Giants (1984) and Requiem for a Futurologist (1985).
(performed 1960, publ.1963),
Soyinka has written two novels, The Interpreters (1965), narratively, a complicated work which has been compared to Joyce’s and Faulkner’s, in which six Nigerian intellectuals discuss and interpret their African experiences, and Season of Anomy (1973) which is based on the writer’s thoughts during his imprisonment and confronts the Orpheus and Euridice myth with the mythology of the Yoruba. Purely autobiographical are The Man Died: Prison Notes (1972) and the account of his childhood, Aké ( 1981), in which the parents’ warmth and interest in their son are prominent. Literary essays are collected in, among others, Myth, Literature and the African World (1975).

Soyinka’s poems, which show a close connection to his plays, are collected in Idanre, and Other Poems (1967), Poems from Prison (1969), A Shuttle in the Crypt (1972) the long poem Ogun Abibiman (1976) and Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems (1988).

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Since 1087:

Soyinka has strongly criticized many Nigerian military dictators, especially late General Sanni Abacha, as well as other political tyrannies, including the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. Much of his writing has been concerned with “the oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the colour of the foot that wears it”. During the regime of General Sani Abacha (1993–1998), Soyinka escaped from Nigeria via the “Nadeco Route” on motorcycle. Living abroad, mainly in the United States, he was a professor first at Cornell University and then at Emory University in Atlanta, where in 1996 he was appointed Robert W. Woodruff Professor of the Arts. Abacha proclaimed a death sentence against him “in absentia”. With civilian rule restored to Nigeria in 1999, Soyinka returned to his nation. He has also taught at Oxford, Harvard and Yale.

From 1975 to 1999, he was a Professor of Comparative Literature at the Obafemi Awolowo University, then called the University of Ife. With civilian rule restored in 1999, he was made professor emeritus. Soyinka has been a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In the fall of 2007 he was appointed Professor in Residence at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, US.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 16th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Centre of Strategic Studies in Collaboration with Teamspirit Consult (Nig) Ltd. will hold an advanced Security training programme on “The Challenge of Homeland Security in Nigeria in an Era of Terrorism”

Dates and Phases:
Bullet 7Phase 1 – Abuja, Nigeria, 6 – 10 August, 2012
Bullet 7Phase 2 – Centre for Strategic Studies, Galilee International Management
Institute, Nahalal, Israel, 13 – 24 August, 2012.

For further information please visit the Advanced Security Training Programme webpage.

www.galilcol.ac.il/

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 9th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

INFORMATION SERVICE OF THE UNITED NATIONS VIENNA (UNIS)


Terror attack survivor to carry Olympic “Flame of Hope” in memory of the fallen colleagues

VIENNA, 9 July, 2012  (UN Information Service) – The Tyrolean UN staff member Bianca Kopp is on 15 July, the Olympic torch on its way through the English seaside town of Portsmouth wear.

The 31-year-old Austrian from Silz, Tyrol, and employee of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Bianca Kopp lived on 26 August 2011, the terrorist attack on the UN headquarters in Abuja (Nigeria). The attack killed 25 people, among them the 30-year-old Norwegian Ingrid Midtgaard also UNODC staff, and 10 other UN staff. More than 60 people were seriously injured and damaged the building massively. At the time of attack were working more than 400 people in the complex, which housed at least 26 humanitarian organizations and agencies of the United Nations.

Bianca Kopp was nominated by the Executive Director Yury Fedotov, on behalf of UNODC to carry the Olympic torch. He said “all countries, all nations condemn terrorism. We are united in common opposition to this cruelty, which in no nationality, religion or anything of a legitimate political philosophy is conservation. “

Bianca’s story touched: “I do not know why I survived, or why my colleagues were killed. In the midst of so much anxiety and loss of cohesion gave us as a UN family support. We have worked together to each other as best we could to help. We were all targets of persons for which a person’s life has no value, “she said.

“As an employee of the United Nations, we are all working to promote peace and harmony. Terrorists will never win because it strengthened the midst of losing our resolve, for the ideals that we hold up to work even harder, “said Bianca, who shows great courage and sympathized.

Bianca Kopp worked for the UNODC as a Junior Professional Officer (JPO). The JPO program allows young Austrian academics as agents of an international organization, especially in field operations in developing countries to gain experience in multilateral cooperation, and is funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and international affairs.

Since 2003, UNODC helps countries in the fight against global terrorism. The office has assisted nearly 170 countries in the adoption and implementation of legal instruments against terrorism.

“I carry this torch to remember my late colleagues who lost their lives unnecessarily,” says Bianca. It calls on governments to increase financial support for the security of UN staff who work in some of the most dangerous places in the world. “UN staff are working under harsh and life threatening situations. You need to be better protected. “

Bianca is part of a team of employees of the United Nations participating in the Olympic torch relay. These include the German Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser to the United Nations on Sport for Development and Peace, as well as representatives of the Environment Programme (UNEP), the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), World Food Programme (WFP) and UN-Habitat , the United Nations Programme on Human Settlements.

The Olympic flame, which stands for peace, unity and friendship, is borne of 8,000 torchbearers. The Portsmouth route is part of the Olympic torch relay, which leads directly to the grand opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London in 2012.

“The Olympic torch symbolizes for me our determination and unending hope to continue the work of our deceased colleagues. Our “Flame of Hope” continues to burn, “says Bianca.


*****For further information please contact:

UNODC at:

Viegas Luciana
Public Information Officer
Phone: (+43 1) 26060-4709
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-4709
E-mail: luciana.viegas [at] unodc.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 16th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Slovakia to the United Nations (Vienna), EKOTOPFILM International Festival of Sustainable Development Films and the Slovak Institute, invite you to –

The Sustainable Development Film Week at the Vienna International Centre

14-18 May 2012


A selection of award winning films from the EKOTOPFILM International Festival of Sustainable Development Films will be screened throughout the week:

Programme:

for the opening day – 14 May 2012, at 12:00 Noon, Opening of the Film Week


VIC (The Vienna International Center – or the UN Headquarters in Vienna) Rotunda

Introductory remarks by:

Janos Tisovszky, Director, UNIS Vienna

Ambassador Marcel Pesko, Slovakia

Peter Lim, Executive Director, EKOTOPFILM

Followed by a musical and culinary programme courtesy of the Slovak Cultural Institute and SL’UK then the  14 May 2012, 13:00 Screening of a selection of short films in UNIS Cinema Room G0575:


2086 – Director: Olena Maksymenko (Ukraine, 2010, 5 min) A possible future of the earth without air…

99% Rust – Director: Nenko Genov (Bulgaria, 2010, 4 min) About 70% of all metal is used just once and then it is discarded.

Tomatoes Eat You! Director: Nenko Genov (Bulgaria, 2010, 1 min) For generations they were cooked, mashed, canned, eaten alive… or even worse! And now they strike back! Prepare for a horror beyond your imagination! This summer tomatoes eat you!

Africa: Digital Graveyard: A UNTV film. Director: Mary Ferreira (2011, 10 min) Mobile phones and computers have transformed the lives of many – yet billions of discarded electronic devices are ending up in landfills in the world’s poorest countries, posing a potentially lethal toxic threat. But one African country is finding innovative ways to handle this so called e-waste.

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We posted the UN in Vienna activity originally on May 8-th and the UPDATE is after the first day  of the Vienna showings – May 14-th.

We learned from Dr. iur Hana Kovacova, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic to the International Organizations in Vienna, that Ekotopfilm is a Slovak organization based in Bratislva that holds yearly film and documentary showings on topics of Sustainable Development and the environment.

This year the show and judging of the films will take place in Bratislava in October in a five days film festival. This will be followed by a 3-4 days event in November in Kosice where the films will get a commercial preview.

The May event in Vienna is to honor both – the preparations for RIO+20 and the colleagues at the UN Headquarters in Vienna.

Last year’s winner in the Bratislava International Competition was the film on Africa which was the last that was shown today – the opening day in Vienna. I picked up from the internet:

Ekotopfilm, based in Slovakia, awarded the top prize to a film,  “Africa: Digital Graveyard”, produced by me for my employer, United Nations Television, UNTV – said Mary Ferreira, who made this film .  The film is part of UNTV’s monthly series 21st Century and won first place out of 20 contenders in the Current Affairs category.

“Africa: Digital Graveyard” addresses the growing problem of electronic waste or “e-waste” as developed nations ship obsolete and second-hand electronics to countries like Ghana. Most of the items are worthless and end up in dumpsites in Accra. The film also depicted action taken by innovators in South Africa who have found creative ways to recycle, refurbish and reprocess elements from old electronics for use as raw materials in the manufacture of new products.  Link to film –goo.gl/IWqEc

Now, why should one send what is considered garbage in Developed countries, to lesser developed countries – even under guise of extracting value from them -?  Will this allow for a modicum of self-esteem.

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The 15 May 2012, 12:00 Film screening:  Trou de Fer – The Iron Hole UNIS Cinema Room G0575.

Director: Pavol Barabas (Slovakia, 2011, 55 min) Trou de Fer is a unique and majestic natural phenomenon sitting in the heart of the National Park on Reunion Island. Volcanic eruptions made the Earth sink into a void and continuous and heavy rain showers formed a place like no other. Because of its inaccessibility nature has been left untouched and untamed. The depths of the canyon have been visited only by a few individuals.

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The 16 May 2012, 12:00 Film screening:  Architects of Change: Nothing is Lost UNIS Cinema Room G0575

Director: Jean Bourbonnais (France, 2009, 52 min) The trash we generate, our outmoded or broken gadgets, the water we waste – it is all thrown out into the environment after we have used it. Far from being satisfied with managing the accumulation of electronic waste, most of which contain toxic materials that are harmful to the environment and human health, Fernando Nilo also wanted Recylca to provide jobs for socially disadvantaged people.

This film shows how bad our relation is to the environment and to ourselves. How the throw-away society is losing its treasures and making the land inhabitable by throwing away as pollution resources we could use as further inputs to industry.

Water is a recurrent topic – we use it and rather then clean it up and reuse it, we throw it into the pool of man-made pollution.

The other recurrent topic is electronics waste that literally harbors gold.

The target of the film is us and it tries to tell s that we will gain even financially by doing the right think of harvesting the present polluting waste.

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14-18 May 2012 Exhibition in the VIC Rotunda

The film week will be accompanied by an exhibition on EKOTOPFILM International Festival of Sustainable Development Films.

The exhibition will also present finalists of the Drop by Drop – the Future We Want Ad Competition, launched by the UN Regional Information Centre in Brussels (UNRIC), in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme and UN information offices in Europe with the support of the Nordic Council of Ministers. In the competition Europeans were asked to create a newspaper ad that inspires others to preserve water now and for future generations.


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REGISTRATION was REQUIRED for those who do not hold a valid VIC Grounds Pass

A system was in place at the time but the UN in Vienna does not want us to continue providing that information.



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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 18th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

OPEN DEMOCRACY has Two Interesting Articles on Bangladesh.

Partnership or PR? Chevron in Bangladesh.

Katy Gardner, 17 April 2012  Discordant Development: Global Capitalism and the Struggle for Connection in Bangladesh (Anthropology, Culture and Society) was published earlier this year by Pluto Press. You can read more about Katy’s work at:katygardner.co.uk/

Chevron are investing in communities and promoting human rights in Bangladesh, claiming that partnership with communities is not just good business practice, but crucial for social progress. But are these real partnerships – publishing what they pay, supporting anti-corruption measures and being accountable?

What do such corporate ‘partnerships’ involve? Viewed in the unflattering light of reality rather than the shimmery vista of PR, is there any evidence that relationships with communities could be described as involving the shared goals, co-operation, mutual respect and equality that the term implies? In research in the villages surrounding the Bibiyana Gas Field in Bangladesh, we found few people who would refer to Chevron as partners. Instead, the majority spoke of their fears of corruption, environmental damage and their sense of injustice at the profits made by foreign multinationals exploiting local resources.

The research involved two villages close to the gas field where, after large scale protest against the loss of land as the installation was being constructed, Chevron were now investing in health, education and alternative livelihoods projects as part of their Community Engagement Programme. In their Dhaka offices, the executives involved were keen to talk the talk: the initiatives were to be sustainable, the poor were to be ‘helped to help themselves.’ As one official put it, “we want to empower people.”

It sounds good. But before rushing to congratulate multinational energy corporations for their progressive investments, we need to look closely at the relationships they glibly describe as ‘partnerships’. If the ability to hear and be heard is a basic component of a healthy partnership, we saw little in the way of Chevron hearing the concerns of the poor. People told us that although initially there were ‘community consultation meetings’, once the land acquisition process was complete, community liaison staff retreated behind the high wire fence of the enclave and only the elite leaders had any means of contacting them. There are no grievance procedures and no open meetings. Whilst the company did respond to farmers’ complaints of damage to the environment, they acted without consulting the farmers. The main issue was the installation’s high banked roads, which prevent water from flowing evenly over rice fields during the wet season. Chevron built culverts in the roads, but these were too small and became blocked with weeds. A year later, no further action had been taken.

Meanwhile, whilst officials talk of ‘empowerment’ they have no experience of social development and show little awareness of the root causes of poverty: inequality, injustice and a lack of rights. Though the support given to small rural businesses is useful, the programmes are carried out via Village Development Organisations that are composed of self selected leaders from the local elite, thus strengthening rather than challenging local hierarchies. It was these leaders who were informed of the controlled flaring that was to take place one night. Community Engagement officials imagined that they would spread the message to the wider population. They didn’t and the result was mayhem. When people woke to the huge flames, they assumed there had been an accident and panicked, running from their homes in terror.

Even more worrying are issues of transparency. Whilst Chevron has a relatively good reputation for its levels of disclosure ‘at home’, the company’s record with regards to its overseas operations leaves much to be desired. This is all the more disappointing when it has enthusiastically signed up to the core aims of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. According to a report published by Revenue Watch / Transparency International, Chevron scored 88% for organisational disclosure (compared to the industry average of 65%), but only 8% for country level disclosure (compared to the industry average of 16%).

Within Bangladesh, the details of deals made with the government are secret, as are the company’s environmental, social and health impact assessments. Yet speak with ordinary Bangladeshis and they will tell you that government corruption and lack of transparency in deals with the extractive industries are of vital importance to the national interest. This surely, is where multinationals could make a real contribution to social progress: publishing what they pay, supporting the government and other agencies in anti-corruption measures and being accountable to the populations where they work, would be real steps towards supporting human rights and justice, rather than funding NGOs to carry out small scale projects that provide plenty of photo opportunities for the PR machine, but little in the way of real partnership.

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Bangladesh: journey of fear towards an uncertain future.

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury17 April 2012

 www.opendemocracy.net/salah-uddin…

About the author:  Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is the editor of the Bangaldeshi tabloid, The Weekly Blitz, a columnist, author and peace activist who won the PEN USA Freedom to Write award in 2005, the first of a series of awards for moral courage in the media.

The two large parties in Bangladesh have already turned to the worst sort of dynastic politics. At the same time, Islamist influences and left wing groups are becoming ever more involved with the dominant political forces. Alongside this, parliament has become totally ineffective.

The Arab Spring has brought the issue of constitutional rights, and their violation, to the fore in Egypt, Tunisia, and most recently in Syria. Now this problem is affecting a country further East, Bangladesh, for the first time since it gained independence. Bangladesh’s ruling party, Awami League, claims to espouse Abraham Lincoln’s vision of government for, by and of the people, but has instead shown the worst face of autocratic leadership. It has used its own party hooligans as enforcers and made the capital Dhaka into a dangerous place.

The government has also imposed restrictions on all electronic media and used its intelligence forces to hinder the broadcasting of a major speech by the Leader of the Opposition. He had addressed a mammoth rally of at least five hundred thousand people, gathered to express their frustration and anger at a series of failures by the government. Three private television channels were switched off by the intelligence agencies without any prior notice simply because these channels were broadcasting footage of the rally in Dhaka. Through these actions, which violate articles 36 and 37 of the Bangladeshi constitution, the Awani League has finally revealed itself as an opponent of the people.

Following these incidents on March 12 of this year, Mahfuz Anam, a respected journalist and editor of The Daily Star, wrote a front page editorial expressing anger over these violations of rights of the country’s citizens. In an article titled “Awami League’s Moral Defeat”, he wrote:

“When does a government strangulate its capital city by preventing almost all modes of transport from reaching it? When does a government bring to a virtual halt almost all internal city movements? When does a government create such a panicky situation that traders do not open shops out of fear of vandalism? When does a government prevent its own citizens from carrying out their day to day activities? When do government leaders tell blatant lies on television while the truth is clearly the opposite? When does a ruling party let loose its goons upon normal citizens on suspicion that they might attend the opposition rally? When does an elected government adopt the most oppressive measure to prevent the opposition from holding a public rally?”

“Only when it is unsure of itself. A party confident of its popular base, sure of its public support, certain of the efficacy of its policies and surefooted about its public record would never have done what the ruling Awami League did yesterday to prevent the BNP from holding its public rally. What the ruling party did over the last two days to prevent mass participation in the opposition rally reveals a political party frightened of the strength of the opposition and loath to allow it to show it. In its massive show of strength the Awami League looked its weakest.”


Return of the hartal ghost to a troubled economy:

While journalists, think tanks, other members of civil society and the general populace are angered at the hostility of the ruling party towards the citizens of the country, they are also unhappy with the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party [BNP] and its coalition partners for calling a general strike on March 29. General strikes, known as hartal, are the most disruptive and destructive activities undertaken by opposition parties in Bangladesh. When the Awami League was in opposition, it also followed the same route of calling regular hartals day-after-day, causing tremendous damage to the country’s economy in the process.

It is worth noting that the Bangladeshi economy is in a worse state than it has been for several years, due to a major decrease in foreign exchange earnings as well as a lack of foreign investment in the country caused by an acute power crisis. The current government has totally failed to cope with the power shortage in the country over three and half years, and has not delivered on the specific promises made in its electoral manifesto made before winning a landslide victory. (Opposition parties have always rejected this huge victory, saying the election was ‘engineered’ by the policymakers of the military controlled interim regime, which now evidently enjoys a cosy relationship with the ruling party.


Even the foreigners are not safe:

For the duration of the current government’s administration, the law and order situation in the country has gone from bad to worse. Incidences of campus violence perpetrated by the ruling party’s student front, extortion, abduction, murder, extra-judicial killing, rape, oppression of religious minorities, and harassment of citizens have each surpassed all previous records. In one recent incident, the ruling party failed on all counts to properly investigate the murder of a journalist couple in Dhaka. Though the Home Minister and the Prime Minister repeatedly made commitments to investigate the case fully, there have in reality been no developments, which has already forced the journalistic community in Bangladesh to unite in demanding an investigation aimed at targeting the perpetrators. It was rumoured in the media that influential members of society were behind this brutal murder, with the blessing of the ruling party.

The worst insight into the country’s current law and order situation came to light when a Saudi diplomat was murdered in the diplomatic enclave in the capital city. Khalaf bin Mohammed Salem al-Ali (45), was killed by unidentified gunmen during the late hours of March 5, 2012. This is the first time in the history of the country that a foreign diplomat has been killed in the capital. Referring to the diplomat’s killing, opposition chief Khaleda Zia once again claimed that the law and order situation in the country is in a bad way. “The country is in a very precarious condition today. The lives and properties of the people are not safe. There is no security at our homes or outside. Even the foreigners are not safe,” she said.

Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation, enjoys good relations with Saudi Arabia, which is a top destination for Bangladeshi migrant workers. Moreover, Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest donors to Bangladesh. Following the murder of the Saudi diplomat, a real crisis is feared, if the government fails to identify the culprits within a short space of time. Should the government demonstrate the same inability or unwillingness to progress this investigation as they did with the murder of the two journalists earlier in the year, the primary concern is that the Saudi authorities will be offended and expel the two million plus Bangladeshi workers currently working in their country.

Since the current government came to power in January 2009, the flagrant robbery of small investors is taking place on the Bangladesh stock exchange. The government has not taken any action against the culprits, again believed to hail from the inner circles of the ruling party. Another scheme to embezzle wealth comes from the fraudulent multi-level marketing companies now in operation in the country. To give a sense of the scale of this embezzlement, one of the biggest multi-level marketing companies in Bangladesh, Destiny 2000 Limited, is believed to have already robbed $8bn from the people by selling fake schemes.

Uncertainty reigns:

A huge question mark hangs over what happens next in Bangladesh and what the fate of the country’s democracy will be. People were already frustrated with the political parties, which fail to impose due democratic processes even in their own internal setups. The two large parties in Bangladesh have already turned to the worst sort of dynastic politics. At the same time, Islamist influences and left wing groups are becoming ever more involved with the dominant political forces. Alongside this, parliament has become totally ineffective due to the opposition’s year-long boycott of the sessions. There is a bleak set of circumstances at play, and the people of Bangladesh are journeying towards a future of uncertainty and fear.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The May/June issue of the Austrian Business Magazine for Economy, Environment and Corporate Social Responsibility “corporAID” stayed that11% of total monetary transactions by African Governments vanish in dark alleys towards foreign banking deposits. The paper knows because much of the money ends up in Austrian Banks. Further – the article states that by 2006  $700 t0 $800 Billions nave vanished this way.

The article mentioned names:

Champion was Hosni Mubarak of Egypt who stashed away in his family foreign accounts during his 30 years of Government Service – a neat amount of $70 Billion.
He is followed by the Gaddafis of Libya who needed all of 42 years in order to stash away only $60 Billion.

The list of the first 10 highest  Kleptomaniac African Heads of State is rounded up in the following order:

#3  – Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe                 — $10  Billion.

#4  –  Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan                         –    $9 Billion

#5  –  Mobutu Sese Seko of the DR of Congo – $5 Billion

#6  –  Sani Abacha of Nigeria                                    – $5 Billion

#7  –  Zine Ben Ali of Tunesia                                   – $5 Billion

#8  –  Yoweri Museveni of Uganda                      – $4 Billion

#9  –  Charles Taylor of Liberia                             –  $3 Billion

#10 –  Omar Bongo of Gabon                                   –  $2 Billion

These evaluations are backed by the British All Party Parliamentary Group and by the Washington Global Financial Integrity GFI Group.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

TWO NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIALS of JANUARY 10, 2012:

—  The Corporate Candidates

The Republican presidential hopefuls with backgrounds in ordering layoffs and lobbying Congress can’t relate to struggling voters.

—  Violence Continues in Syria

The Arab League is failing to do all it can to encourage a peaceful solution. It needs to get tougher with President Bashar al-Assad.

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The Corporate Candidates

Published: January 9, 2012

The more Mitt Romney pretends to empathize with the millions of Americans who are struggling in this economy, the less he seems to understand their despair. And the rest of the Republican field seems to have no more insight into the concerns of most voters than he does.

Mr. Romney claims his background as a businessman provides him with an understanding of the economy and the ability to fix it. His opponents — particularly Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Rick Perry — say their political experience provides the same advantage. In truth, none have offered anything but tired or extremist economic prescriptions, providing little evidence that they can relate to those at the middle or bottom of the ladder.

The problem with Mr. Romney’s pitch is the kind of businessman he was: specifically, a buyer of flailing companies who squeezed out the inefficiencies (often known as employees) and then sold or merged them for a hefty profit. More than a fifth of them later went bankrupt, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. This kind of leveraged capitalism, which first caught fire in the 1980s, is one of the reasons for the growth in the income gap, tipping the wealth in the economy toward the people at the top.

Mr. Romney doesn’t like to talk about the precise nature of his business experience. Instead, he prefers to claim his occupation as a leveraged buyout king actually benefited ordinary workers, even casting himself as one of them. “I know what it’s like to worry whether you’re going to get fired,” Mr. Romney said, astonishingly, on Sunday. “There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.” Mr. Romney, the son of privilege and power, has never known personal economic fear, and said laterthat he was referring to his early days at Bain Capital, the investment firm he would later run.

He has, however, been responsible for issuing many a pink slip while leading Bain. The firm bought Dade International, a medical supplier, and collected eight times its investment but laid off 1,700 workers, The New York Times has reportedReuters reportedlast week that a steel mill in Kansas City, Mo., was shuttered less than a decade after Bain bought it, and its 750 laid-off workers got no severance pay.

Mr. Romney dismisses these layoffs, and thousands more, as the cost of capitalism. He claims that, over all, Bain’s investments produced a net gain of 100,000 jobs. But his campaign and his former firm have refused to provide any documentation for that number, showing exactly how many people were laid off and how many hired as a result of Bain’s investments during his period there. The claim cannot be taken seriously until he does so.

Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Perry have sharply criticized Mr. Romney for his buyout work, but some of those attacks ring hollow. Mr. Gingrich himself was on an advisory board for Forstmann Little, another private equity firm with a business model similar to Bain’s. Mr. Perry simply seems opportunistic. He criticized Mr. Romney for ruthlessly practicing modern-day capitalism a day after he called Mr. Obama “a socialist.”

Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum have avoided talking about their own financial histories, having become multimillionaires by peddling their influence to big corporations after leaving Congressional office. For voters worried about the economy, neither a past record of buyouts nor lobbying should inspire any confidence.


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Violence Continues in Syria

Published: January 9, 2012

The Arab League is failing the Syrian people. President Bashar al-Assad of Syria grudgingly agreed to the league’s peace plan last month, but his brutal 10-month crackdown against mostly peaceful protesters shows no signs of easing. To have any chance of stopping the bloodshed, the league — backed by the international community — needs to get tougher with the butcher in Damascus.

We always suspected that the manipulative Mr. Assad would pay only lip service to the plan. He promised to end the violence, withdraw troops from residential areas and talk to the opposition. He also agreed to allow the league to monitor progress. But Syrian activists say that in the two weeks since 100 or so monitors arrived, at least 400 more civilians have been killed, in addition to the 5,000 dead already counted by the United Nations.

Independent accounts are hard to come by because Syria also reneged on its promise to allow greater news media access. Still, the reports are credible enough to unnerve many Arabs; last week, the Arab Parliament, which advises the league, questioned whether the monitoring mission should be abandoned since Mr. Assad seemed clearly to be using it as cover for further repression.

Yet the Arab League’s official response has been pathetically weak. Meeting in Cairo on Sunday, Prime Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani of Qatar, the chairman of the league’s committee on Syria, and other officials did little more than plead with Mr. Assad to end the bloodshed and let the monitors operate freely.

This won’t work. The only meaningful course is for the Arab League to enforce theeconomic sanctions it approved in November. These include a freeze on Syrian government assets in Arab countries and a ban on transactions with Syria’s central bank.

In addition, Arab League members should insist that the United Nations Security Council — stymied for months by Mr. Assad’s enablers, Russia and China — condemn his behavior and impose tough sanctions of its own that would also bring pressure to bear on his allies. And they should lean on Turkey, which promised sanctions against Damascus, to follow through.

League officials have agreed to continue the monitoring mission (at least until they reassess later this month) and boost its size. There is also talk of United Nations-led training for monitors, who are very inexperienced.

In theory, these are good ideas. But they assume that Mr. Assad is not playing for time and playing the Arab League for a fool as he clearly is. People across the Arab world are horrified by the bloody events in Syria and fears of broader war. Their leaders and the major powers must do all they can to peacefully stop the violence.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 3rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Joy Uche Angela Ogwu was appointed Foreign Minister by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo on August 30, 2006 and she is   the Nigerian Ambassador to the United Nations since April 2008 when it became evident that Nigeria will join the UN Security Council.

Joy Ogwu was the President of the UN Security Council in July 2010 and again right now – for October 2011.

We bring this up as it seems quite probable that if the Palestinian issue will be brought before the UN Security Council this month – it is a good guess that Nigeria , as President of the UNSC, will abstain and decrease by this tremendously the chance of the Palestinians to attain the minimum of 9 votes, and avoid the need for a veto by the US and possibly France.

In the meantime – what is known, is that this coming Friday the first meeting of the Committee at the Experts’ level of the UNSC will take up the issue and the full UNSC will be then updated after two weeks hence. This brings the possibility for a first vote by the full Security Council to October 21st – the earliest.  As such the Nigerian position could not simply lean on principles if the vote is pushed over to November.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 29th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

UNEP “Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland
At the request of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, UNEP has conducted an independent
assessment of the environment and public health impacts of oil contamination in Ogoniland, in
the Niger Delta, and options for remediation. A major new independent scientific assessment
shows that pollution from over 50 years of oil operations in the region has penetrated further
and deeper than many may have supposed.
www.unep.org/nigeria/
Press release: www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=2649&ArticleID=8827&l=en&t=long

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The information reached us from an  NGO/CSO Liaison office and WAS FIRST POSTED by us August 16, 2011 – This is a revisited version.

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Resource Curse Revisited – A Nigerian Nightmare

Natural resources, particularly oil, can give rise to the so-called resource curse affecting resource-rich countries, where large parts of the population live in poverty and where there are high corruption rates. A comprehensive assessment of the consequences of oil operations in Nigeria now reveals another aspect of this resource curse: The extent of environmental contamination in Ogoniland outlined by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is nothing less than shocking. As Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, said: “The oil industry has been a key sector of the Nigerian economy for over 50 years, but many Nigerians have paid a high price, as this assessment underlines.”

UNEP scientists identify severely contaminated underground areas, which appear unaffected at the surface. In at least ten Ogoni communities, drinking water is contaminated with high levels of hydrocarbons. As a consequence, the organization asked for immediate action to protect human health and to reduce the risks of affected communities. An alarming example is the case of a community in Nisisioken Ogale. Here, families are drinking water from wells that is contaminated with the carcinogen benzene, which is obviously caused by a nearby petroleum pipeline. The respective levels are more than 900 times above World Health Organization guidelines.

So, what to do? UNEP suggest a combination of activities. Whereas the clean-up of selected contaminated land areas in Ogoniland can happen within five years, the restoration of other heavily-impacted mangrove stands and swamplands will take up to 30 years. The report recommends establishing new institutions in the country to support a comprehensive environmental restoration exercise. Among them are an Ogoniland Environmental Restoration Authority to oversee implementation of the study’s recommendations and an Environmental Restoration Fund for Ogoniland, equipped with initial funding of US$1 billion. The oil industry and the government should provide the respective initial funding, according to UNEP. This would be a first step toward stopping the resource curse in this region. Prospects for further action may not be negative: The company Shell funded the independent assessment by UNEP. (Dennis Taenzler)

For more information, please see www.unep.org/nigeria

To read Shell’s response to the report, please see here.


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