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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 11th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

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

 

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

 

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


 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 26th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 1st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

nbsp;washingtonpost.com   > World   > Africa – looking at a new mess in the making.

U.S. Africa Command Trims Its Aspirations – Nations Loath to Host Force – Aid Groups Resisted Military Plan to Take On Relief Work.

By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 1, 2008; Page A18

The U.S. Africa Command, designed to boost America’s image and prevent terrorist inroads on the continent, has scaled back its ambitions after African governments refused to host it and aid groups protested plans to expand the military’s role in economic development in the region.

Africom, due to begin operations Oct. 1, will now be based for the foreseeable future in Stuttgart, Germany, with five smaller regional offices planned for the continent on hold while the military searches for places to put them.

Nonmilitary jobs, created within Africom to highlight new cooperation between the Pentagon and the State Department, have been hard to fill and will initially total fewer than 50 of 1,300 headquarters personnel. Plans to broaden the military’s more traditional overseas training and liaison responsibilities to include development and relief tasks were curbed after U.S.-funded aid groups sharply objected to working alongside troops.

“I think in some respects we probably didn’t do as good a job as we should have when we rolled out Africom,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said recently, adding that “I wasn’t there” when the command was conceived by his predecessor, Donald H. Rumsfeld, and approved by President Bush.

“I don’t think we should push African governments to a place they don’t really want to go in terms of relationships,” Gates said.

Planning for Africom began in early 2006, when the Bush administration designated Africa an area of “strategic concern” and policymakers cited a number of “pre-conflict” situations there. Based on lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the U.S. military is deeply involved in civil affairs and economic development efforts, Africom was fashioned as a template for a new interagency structure that would coordinate “hard” and “soft” U.S. power.

U.S. Agency for International Development personnel were assigned to Africom, and a senior State Department diplomat was named one of two command deputies under Army Gen. William E. “Kip” Ward. Not only would Africom help make Africa secure, Bush said when he unveiled it in February 2007, it would help promote “development, health, education, democracy and economic growth.”

Africa has always been an orphan in the U.S. defense establishment, divvied up among the Pentagon’s four regional “Unified Combatant Commands” — European, Central, Southern and Pacific — that manage U.S. military relationships and operations overseas.

Of the four, only Eucom, established in post-World War II Germany, is based overseas.

Pacom handles Asia from its headquarters in Hawaii;

Southcom, responsible for Latin America, and Centcom, in charge of operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, are both in Florida.

There was no Africom – period – probably Nigerian oil was left to be handled by the local ccoperative rulers. That was good until the Chinese showed up. Now the Indians, the Japanese, the Brazilians, are not far behind. www.SustainabiliTank.info comments.}

Under Africom, one command will consolidate military responsibility for all of Africa, excluding Egypt.

Although it encompasses the volatile Horn of Africa and the U.S. Navy’s forward operating base in Djibouti and will take over training tasks on the continent, it has no other dedicated troop components. “There are very few scenarios which would create a U.S. military intervention” in Africa, said one Africom officer who was not authorized to speak on the record. “Arguably, there are no scenarios.”

With its headquarters on the continent, liaison groups of 20 to 30 military personnel established in key countries and U.S. units brought in to help with development and relief tasks, the command was envisioned as an example to Africans of how their own armed forces and civilians could work together for the good of their nations. { ??? }

The trouble was, no one consulted the Africans. “Very little was really known by the majority of people or countries in Africa who were supposed to know before such a move was made,” said retired Kenyan army Lt. Gen. Daniel Opande. Worry swept the continent that the United States planned major new military installations in Africa. { ?!?!}

“If you know the politics of Africa,” said Opande, who has headed U.N. peacekeeping forces in Sierra Leone and Liberia, “you know there are certain very powerful countries who said, no, we are not interested in having a headquarters here.” South Africa and Nigeria were among them, and their resistance helped persuade others.

Over the past seven years, the administration has more than tripled U.S. assistance to Africa, to about $9 billion annually, nearly half of which is spent on prevention and treatment for HIV-AIDS. U.S. military training for African forces has steadily expanded, and U.S. troops have undertaken humanitarian missions in several countries — digging wells, building schools and providing medical care. Africom’s budget request for 2009 is about $400 million.

But despite the promise of new development and security partnerships, many Africans concluded that Africom was primarily an extension of U.S. counterterrorism policy, intended to keep an eye on Africa’s large Muslim population. {!!!}

“I think everyone thought it would be widely greeted as something positive,” the Africom officer said. “But you suddenly have wide publics that have no idea what we’re talking about. . . . It was seen as a massive infusion of military might onto a continent that was quite proud of having removed foreign powers from its soil.” {it seems that the expectation was similar to Iraq -they will embrace the US army as liberators. ?}

The United States “equates terrorism with Islam,” senior Kenyan diplomat Bethuel Kiplagat said, and few African governments wanted to be seen as inviting U.S. surveillance on their own people.

Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations African affairs subcommittee, thought Africom was “something that would show real respect for Africa.” But there was no question, Feingold said, that the concept had “a neocolonialist feel to it.”



The subject was at the top of African leaders’ agendas when Bush visited in February. “The purpose of this is not to add military bases,” he told reporters after meeting with Ghanian President John Kufuor. By Bush’s own account, Kufuor confronted him, saying, “You’re not going to build any bases in Ghana.” Bush told reporters that the very idea of establishing such bases was “baloney. Or as we say in Texas, that’s bull.”

At home, major U.S. nongovernmental aid organizations protested that what might work in the Iraq war zone — where government civilian-military “provincial reconstruction teams” operate together under heavy security to build local governing capacity and infrastructure — was ill-suited for non-conflict zones. Not only would a military presence draw unwanted attention and increased risk for development workers, they argued, the military had neither the training nor the staying power for effective development.

“Is the face of America in Africa a baseball cap or a helmet?” asked Samuel A. Worthington, president of Interaction, the Washington-based umbrella for many development and relief organizations. “We told the military — do what you’re good at. Stay in your lane.”



Since last year’s announcement, senior U.S. officials have been trying to make up for what they acknowledge was a bad beginning. There has been a “retooling” of the mission, the Africom officer said, away from development and toward “peacekeeper training, military education, a counterterrorism element — programs that have been going on for some time.”

“I’ll be candid with you: There was a misunderstanding of sorts,” said Ward, Africom’s commander. African governments he has visited since his confirmation last fall, he said, wanted to know “were we going to be establishing large bases, bringing in large formations of troops, naval bases and air squadrons? My answer was no.”

To USAID and other U.S. government development partners, worried that the military’s vast human and financial resources would overshadow them, Ward said he has explained that “we absolutely have no intention of being the leader in doing development on the continent of Africa. It is not our job, not our lane. We have no intention of taking over.”

{will next Administration be able to correct these impressions, while still be able to take a closer look at Islamic extremism ? And what is the story about Egypt?}

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 26th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Defiant Mugabe threatens to expel US ambassador: “I’ll kick him out of the country.”

By Cris Chinaka, for the Independent of London, as per Reuters.
Monday, May 26, 2008

 robert_mugabe_29544t.jpg
REUTERS
Robert Mugabe: ‘I’ll kick him out of the country’ – this about the US Ambassador.

The Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, accused the United States of political interference and threatened to expel its ambassador yesterday, as his party, Zanu-PF, began its campaign for next month’s election run-off.

Mr Mugabe also said the US State Department’s top diplomat for Africa had behaved like “a prostitute” by suggesting that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, had won the elections on 29 March.

Mr Mugabe’s attacks on the American Ambassador, James McGee, and Assistant Secretary of State, Jendayi Frazer, signalled the start of his campaign for the run-off on 27 June against Mr Tsvangirai, who won the first round but fell short of an absolute majority.

“He [Mr McGee] says he fought in Vietnam, but fighting in Vietnam does not give him the right to interfere in our domestic affairs. I am just waiting to see if he makes one more step wrong. He will get out,” Mr Mugabe said at a campaign rally. “As tall as he is, if he continues to do that, I will kick him out of the country.”

Of Ms Frazer, he said: “You saw this little American girl trotting around like a prostitute celebrating that the MDC had won. A disgraceful act.”

Mr Mugabe, who has been in power since the end of white rule in 1980, routinely accuses the US and Britain of backing the MDC to punish him for seizing thousands of white-owned farms since 2000. He told supporters in Harare that the Western allies wanted to control Zimbabwe’s resources.

He also promised land to Zimbabweans who returned from South Africa. Some 3.5 million people have fled the country to escape poverty in an economy where inflation is more than 165,000 per cent; four in five adults have no job; and food and fuel are in desperately short supply.

——————
Tsvangirai returns and calls on Mugabe to “set the people free:” Zimbabwe’s opposition leader tells the President that attacking his supporters will not stop them voting.

By Angus Shaw in Harare
Sunday, 25 May 2008


Zimbabwe’s opposition leader and presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, returned home quietly yesterday after an absence of more than a month, stopping first to visit supporters in hospital who were targeted in an onslaught of state-sponsored violence. He then called on President Robert Mugabe to “set his people free”.

Mr Tsvangirai left six weeks ago to warn the world about impending violence. He first tried to return last weekend, but called that off after his party said he was the target of a military assassination plot. The former union leader has survived at least three assassination attempts.

Last week, a meeting of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Harare and a rally had been planned for his return. In the end, he came back in typically low-key style, speeding off in a three-car convoy to a Harare hospital where victims of political violence were being treated. “I return home to Zimbabwe with a sad heart,” he said afterwards. “I have met and listened to the stories of the innocent people targeted by a regime seemingly desperate to cling to power.”

Mr Tsvangirai faces a presidential run-off against Mr Mugabe on 27 June. Independent human rights groups say opposition supporters have been beaten and killed by ruling party thugs to ensure the 84-year-old President, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, wins the second round. He trailed the MDC leader in the first round on 29 March.

“Mugabe once led our people to freedom,” Mr Tsvangirai said. “He can now set his people free from poverty, hunger and fear” by stepping down.

The violence poses questions about whether the run-off can be free and fair, but the opposition candidate did not expect his supporters to stay away from the polls. “If Mugabe thinks he has beaten people into submission, he will have a rude shock on the 27th,” he said.

Mr Tsvangirai said farewell to his family in Johannesburg, and said it was not clear when his wife and six children would join him. Among the assassination attempts the 56-year-old has survived was one in 1997 by unidentified assailants who tried to throw him from a 10th-floor window. Last year, he was brutally assaulted by police at a “prayer rally”, and images seen around the world of his bruised and swollen face came to symbolise the plight of the opposition in Zimbabwe.

When Mr Tsvangirai left Zimbabwe early in April, he said he wanted to present regional leaders with information that Mr Mugabe planned attacks on the opposition. He then embarked on an international tour to rally support for democracy in his country. “I’m sure that we have managed to ensure an African consensus about the crisis in Zimbabwe,” he said yesterday, adding it was now time to turn his attention to rallying his supporters at home.

Since the first round of voting, 42 of his party’s “most dedicated, brightest and strongest” supporters and activists had been killed.

The MDC leader says he won the first round outright, and that official results released on 2 May, showing a run-off was necessary, were fraudulent. Asked whether he thought Mr Mugabe would be any more likely to step down in June than he was in March, Mr Tsvangirai said the run-off result would be “definitive”.

Saying that he was looking ahead to the difficult task of healing a nation “traumatised” by political violence, Mr Tsvangirai called on Zimbabweans who have fled political and economic collapse to return. At least four million Zimbabweans are abroad, most in South Africa, where they have been among the main targets in a deadly wave of anti-foreigner violence. This could also be blamed on Mr Mugabe, he said yesterday, adding: “Our crisis in this country is impacting on [neighbours’] economies and societies. The entire… region awaits a new Zimbabwe.”

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

Mbeki says South Africa ‘disgraced’ by xenophobic riots as death toll rises to 50.
By Ian Evans in Cape Town
Monday, 26 May 2008

President Thabo Mbeki admitted last night that South Africa had been “disgraced” by the wave of anti-foreigner violence which has convulsed the nation.

Facing intense criticism over his government’s ineffectual handling of the attacks, Mr Mbeki said in a televised address that South Africans’ heads were “bowed” and reminded his countrymen that their economy rested on the work of migrants from across Africa.

His intervention came as police raised the official death toll from the spree of violence from 43 to 50 and said that 35,000 people had been left homeless in the fortnight since armed gangs in the squatter camps and informal settlements in the main urban centres of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town began killing, raping, beating, stabbing and burning nationals from other African countries.

Mr Mbeki has come under fire for travelling to Tanzania for an African Union summit on Wednesday and for waiting until the same day before ordering the army on to the streets to help the police. He has also been criticised for being too out of touch to realise that the violence was in part fuelled by the lack of adequate housing and jobs for the poorest South Africans.

A front-page editorial in South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper said: “Throughout the crisis, arguably the most grave, dark and repulsive moment in the life of our young nation, Mbeki has demonstrated that he no longer has the heart to lead.”

Moeltsi Mbeki, of the South African Institute of International Affairs, who is Thabo Mbeki’s brother, said the government had lost credibility.

“Even a strong statement by somebody who has such weak authority will not convince the people. This crisis is the result of the failure of their foreign policy against Zimbabwe and they don’t want to admit that,” he said.

The Johannesburg area has borne the brunt of the trouble and most of the deaths, but seven of the nine South African provinces have reported attacks against immigrants.

Thousands of refugees and economic migrants from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and other countries are making their escape from South Africa from bus and train stations in the transport hub of Johannesburg. But even there, armed police are guarding them from marauding gangs armed with axes and knives.

Mozambique said yesterday that 20,000 of its nationals had fled South Africa, a reverse influx which has prompted authorities there to declare a national state of emergency.

In South Africa, makeshift tented refuges have sprung up in the big urban centres to take in some of those fleeing their attackers. In Cape Town alone, 10,000 people have been displaced. Some refugees have been put up at police stations, community halls and churches, also with armed police protection, but voluntary groups complained yesterday that they, rather than the authorities, were bearing a disproportionate burden of the humanitarian relief and emergency response.

On Saturday, 400 people arrived at a Cape Town race track looking for a place to shelter after a nearby settlement was targeted. Hundreds of Zimbabweans and Somalis chased from Cape Town into the surrounding Cape Peninsula have been put up in giant marquees on a beach on the Atlantic coastline. Volunteers and local government workers have been providing blankets, clothing and food to the community at Soetwater, which police claim is too remote for local South Africans to attack.

The violence has been waged by poor South Africans who claim the refugee population, which some estimate to be as high as five million, take their jobs and dwellings and commit crime. However, police and politicians say there is also a significant element of thuggery and criminality with shops and homes looted for personal gain.

Jacob Zuma, the ANC leader and the man tipped to succeed Mr Mbeki as president, visited townships around Johannesburg yesterday. He told a rally of some 5,000 people in Johannesburg yesterday: “Fighting won’t solve your problems but will instead exacerbate them and they will therefore remain unsolved. Peace should prevail and we must engage each other on whatever issues there might be.”

On Saturday, 2,000 people marched in central Johannesburg to protest against xenophobia. Risking violence themselves, the crowd held aloft posters saying “xenophobia hurts like apartheid” and “we are all Zimbabweans”.

The president of the United Democratic Movement party, Bantu Holomisa, said yesterday that Mr Mbeki’s inquiry into the outbreak of violence needed to reveal whether a so-called “third force” was responsible for stoking the crisis. He said: “The key here would be to remove any kind of suspicion that this thing was unleashed deliberately and orchestrated by whoever. Ministers are already telling us there is a third force. Let them bring that evidence to the commission.”

———————

The Independent Leading article: Lessons for Mbeki.
Memorial Day in the US, Monday, 26 May 2008.

There is a terrible irony in the recent tragic events that have gripped parts of South Africa, where township residents have been turning on economic migrants, killing some and driving away thousands of others.

It lies in the fact that Thabo Mbeki’s government has bent over backwards to remain onside with the Mugabe regime in Harare, downplaying its criminal folly and blunting initiatives to rid Zimbabwe of its dictator. South Africa is now suffering the consequences of Mbeki’s policy, as Zimbabwe’s misery ripples outwards to encompass its neighbours and as millions of Zimbabweans flee their country in search of jobs and livelihoods.

Of course, there are other elements to this grim saga, starting with the inexcusable xenophobia of the men behind the violence. It is notable that not all the incomers who have borne the brunt of these thuggish attacks have been Zimbabweans. But the huge number of Zimbabwean migrants present in South Africa, estimated to be at least 3 million, is a factor in the bloodshed, placing enormous strain on the bonds holding the townships together and adding to the competition for resources.

And when the question is asked, as it should be, about why so many Zimbabweans have left their country for its neighbour, part of the answer is that the Mugabe regime remains in power, and is busy completing the ruin of Africa’s former breadbasket, with the South African president’s apparent complicity.

Loath to bow to the former colonial powers, Mbeki has shielded Zimbabwe’s venal and selfish old leader from criticism, blind to the consequences. Now that the wretched condition of Mugabe’s dissolving state has been brought to his door, one must hope the president sees this as a reminder of the need for South Africa to play a more constructive role in helping its once flourishing neighbour get back on its feet.

It is especially urgent that South Africa changes its tune on Zimbabwe now, as Mugabe heads into a run-off presidential election with his nearest rival, Morgan Tsvangirai. The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change returned to Zimbabwe for the campaign yesterday.

Arguably, this election should not be taking place; because Tsvangirai appeared to win the first round. But we are where we are. As Zimbabwe prepares to vote a second time, Mbeki must stop making excuses for his ally and start expediting rather than blocking change in Harare. If he does not, the impact of Zimbabwe’s collapse will continue to have repercussions for South Africa, and we may see more shameful scenes in South Africa’s already fragile, hard-pressed townships.

At www.SustainabiliTank.info we saw all of this coming when we watched that May 2007 Friday night, in Room #4 of the UN New York Headquarter’s Basement how South Africa led the Africans to self-immolation and the tearing down of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development by fighting for Mugabe’s Zimbabwe to take over the CSD Chairmanship for one year.

Now that year is over. The CSD is still in the pits, Mugabe is on the roll – but South Africa is in deep …. and my friends tell me that it will only get worth. They did not like what Thabo Mbeki did to it, and say that Zuma will be worse. They even told me that the Soviet Union under Stalin will be the model for next phase of the SA – that will still be led by this intermediate generation that did not study leadership through the academy of Robin Island – but still is not led by people that are true Nationalists. The problem is called corruption.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 25th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

For Immediate Release by Geneva Based Human Rights Watch:

Angola: Resume Negotiations with UN Rights Body – Government Seeks to Avoid Scrutiny Before Elections.

(New York, May 25, 2008) – As a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Angola should reconsider its March 2008 order that the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Angola cease activities by the end of May 2008, Human Rights Watch said today.

“Angola is going back on its word to support a constructive dialogue and increased cooperation with the UN human rights office,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The government made that commitment in writing to the president of the UN General Assembly before joining the Human Rights Council in May 2007. Angola should keep its promises.”

The closure of the OHCHR field office in Angola comes three months ahead of Angola’s parliamentary elections scheduled for September 5-6, 2008 – the first to be held in the country since 1992.

“The Angolan government’s decision to shut down this important human rights office signals growing government intolerance of human rights scrutiny and other criticism in the run-up to September’s elections,” said Gagnon. “It’s worrying that the already limited space for human rights defenders could be restricted further.”

The government issued its order shortly after the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the UN Special Rapporteur for the Freedom of Religion or Belief made public their Angola mission reports at the 7th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2008. Angolan officials rejected out of hand many of the working group’s findings, denying there had been any case of torture and claiming excessive pre-trial detention in Angola had stopped by the end of 2007.

The Angolan government has sought to justify its decision to close the OHCHR office on the grounds that the presence of the office in Angola is no longer necessary now that peace and democratization has been consolidated and functioning national human rights institutions established. The government has also stated that the office had no legal status in the country and as such never existed. Moreover, in March 2008, the minister of justice suggested at the Human Rights Council that the UN high commissioner for human rights’s criteria for establishing field offices were not transparent and may have “political motivations.”

As Human Rights Watch has found, peace has still not taken root in the enclave of Cabinda, and national human rights institutions such as the Provincial Human Rights Committees are yet not fully operational. The government continues to restrict the activities of independent media in much of the country.

The government’s argument that the OHCHR had no legal status is not convincing since it had agreed that the office should continue technical cooperation in Angola after the departure of the UN peacekeeping mission in 2003. The OHCHR field office has played an important role, assisting the government in establishing national human rights institutions and alternative justice mechanisms, drafting reports to UN human rights bodies and training the police to be more aware of human rights. It also facilitated access for Angolan nongovernmental organizations to UN human rights mechanisms.

In 2007, the OHCHR tried to persuade the government to permit the office to operate with a full human rights protection mandate. This would have been a major step toward sustaining ongoing reform efforts and ensuring an open environment for human rights defenders in the country.

Human rights defenders told Human Rights Watch how the OHCHR’s presence in Angola guaranteed them some degree of protection from government intimidation. This is particularly important as civil society organizations are increasingly worried about the government’s ongoing revision of the legal framework governing civil society, which could again threaten their existence. In 2007, government officials publicly accused several organizations of illegal activities, without ever substantiating such claims, and threatened to close the organizations.

Human Rights Watch called on the government of Angola to immediately reestablish dialogue with the OHCHR and quickly negotiate a solution that strengthens human rights capacity and allows for effective UN human rights monitoring to be resumed in the country. Human Rights Watch also urged the government to guarantee space for national and international civil society to operate freely in Angola before and after the upcoming elections in September.

For more of Human Rights Watch’s work on Angola, please visit:
 hrw.org/doc/?t=africa&c=angola

For more information, please contact:
In London, Carolyn Norris (English, French): +44-20-7713-2784; or +44-78-5172-1744 (mobile)
In Washington, DC, Jon Elliott (English, French): +1-202-612-4348
In Geneva, Juliette De Rivero (English, French, Spanish): +41-22-738-0481; or +41-79-640- 1649 (mobile)
In New York, Georgette Gagnon (English): +1-917-535-0375 (mobile)

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Hallo Zimbabwe – here we come.

Yours truly,

Angola

Remember – We Have Oil and Oil Industry Will Help Us – We do not relly on God.

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And yes – what is the story about those two UN votes that were invalidated in the contest between the UK and Spain – where the UK won by one vote but the UN is keeping the names of the two countries that their votes were invalidated as a UN top secret. They do not even say why they were invalidated. Was there some nusty thing said on the ballot about Spain or the UK? Some other slur? See the Inner City report. Don’t you think this is even strange by the UN standards of deffining democracy?

 

Amid Mysterious Invalid Ballots, France and UK Squeak By Spain on Human Rights Council.

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


UNITED NATIONS, May 21 — The UK beat out Spain by a single vote for a seat on the Human Rights Council, with two nations’ votes being declared invalid. Not only will the UN not disclose which two countries had their ballots invalidated — despite repeated requests, the UN will not even state on what basis the two possibly dispositive votes were deemed invalid. Instead, the UN’s response is
that “voting was done through secret ballot, therefore, there is no voting sheet on how individual countries have voted nor is there specific information on why ballots may have been invalid.” The grounds for disregarding a cast vote can and should be made public, even if the identity of the disqualified voter remains secret.

                      Following the vote, UK Permanent Representative John Sawers extended his hand with a smile to Spain’s Ambassador, who bristled, shook and walked away. A single vote…

                     

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 9th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

GENERAL ASSEMBLY AGREED TO HOLD TOP-LEVEL MEETING ON AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT IN SEPTEMBER.

The General Assembly today agreed to convene a high-level meeting this September, on the eve of its annual general debate, on how to better meet the development needs of Africa, which is struggling to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the target date of 2015.

In a resolution adopted without a vote, Assembly members agreed both to hold the meeting on 22 September and that it should result in a formal political declaration on the issue.

The text calls for participation at the highest possible political level, including heads of State and government, and it also asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit in advance a comprehensive report, including recommendations, on African development needs.

The meeting “will constitute a significant event that will review the implementation of all commitments made to and by Africa in order to comprehensively address the special development needs of the continent,” the Assembly said in the resolution.

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COMMUNITIES NEED MORE SOPHISTICATED METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES, SAYS WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION (WMO).

Governments, businesses and the general public need more sophisticated information from their national weather services if they are to prepare adequately against natural disasters and better adapt to the threats posed by climate change, the head of the United Nations meteorological agency says.

Michel Jarraud, the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told a workshop yesterday in Cape Verde that there is “a vital need to better understand the linkage between environmental protection and sustainable development.”

Mr. Jarraud noted that the global economy had become increasingly sensitive to the fluctuations of weather, climate and water phenomena. Climate change, the growing competition for water, ozone depletion and the impact of desertification all require countries to have access to the best available information.

“There are also raised expectations and demands for newer and more sophisticated types of services by most sectors of the economy, all of which are highly relevant to your respective societies,” he said.

The workshop, help on Sal Island on Cape Verde, runs until Friday and is aimed at helping Portuguese-speaking countries develop greater partnerships between government and civil society on environmental and climate issues.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 27th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Subject: Women In Great Numbers Descend On The UN for CSW 52 – that is the yearly take-over of the UN by the Commission on the Status of Women. EXXONMOBIL Takes A Ride.

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The Commission on the Status of Women is Having its meeting at the UN – and the UN wants to have us believe that it is all about “Violence Against Women.” The reality is that for the week, a yearly event, women’s organizations take over the UN; the UN will be used for many other purposes, besides the one expressed by the UNSG, as well.

This article picked up first the official statement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and the very good reporting by Edith Lederer from the Associated Press – based on that UN official position. But then we wish to single out one “Parallel Event” held on February 25, 2008, at the Church Center across the UN. We went to that event because we were sent a flyer that mentioned as a panelist: “EXXON MOBIL CORPORATION – Speaker to be announced.” This was enough to trigger our curiosity and the appetite to devour that unnamed speaker for a named company – this while all other members of the panel were right there named in the open.

The title of that event was – “CORPORATE FEMINISM: ENHANCING CORPORATE INFLUENCE THROUGH WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT.” The Conveners of the event were The International Council of Jewish Women and cosponsored by: Soroptimist International. The first body is represented in the US by the National Council of Women, the second body came to CSW 52 with the theme – “Financing for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women.” We will have much more about all of this, but as said, we will first introduce the two postings we mentioned in the previous paragraph.

UN Urges End to Violence Against Women

By EDITH M. LEDERER | Associated Press Writer
11:41 PM CST, February 25, 2008

UNITED NATIONS – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has launched a global campaign to intensify efforts to end violence against women, specifically calling on men to combat the problem.

“At least one out of every three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime,” he told the opening session of the Commission on the Status of Women on Monday. “Through the practice of prenatal sex selection, countless others are denied the right even to exist.”

Ban said he will form a global network of male leaders to assist him in mobilizing men in government, the arts, sports, business and religion, as well as boys, to speak out against the scourge.

“I call on men around the world to lead by example: to make clear that violence against women is an act perpetrated by a coward, and that speaking up against it is a badge of honor,” he said.

According to the U.N., the most common form of violence experienced by women globally is physical violence inflicted by an intimate partner. World Bank data show women aged 15-44 “are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, motor accidents, war and malaria.”

In every war zone, violence against women has been reported during or after armed conflict. As examples, the U.N. said, between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped during the 1994 Rwanda genocide and between 20,000 and 50,000 women were raped during the Bosnian conflict in the early 1990s.

Ban said the campaign will continue until 2015 to coincide with the target date to achieve the U.N. Millennium Development Goals aimed at combatting poverty.

He said he will personally approach world leaders “to spur action through national campaigns,” and will urge all countries to ensure that violence against women is always a crime. He said he will also urge the media, the U.N. system, non-governmental organizations and women’s groups worldwide to set priorities and targets to end violence against women.

“We know that violence against women compounds the enormous social and economic toll on families, communities, even whole nations,” Ban said.

The secretary-general said he will propose that the U.N. hold an event in 2010 to review the campaign’s accomplishments and to map out steps to make further progress by 2015.

World leaders at a U.N. summit in 2005, the U.N. Security Council, and the General Assembly have pledged to combat violence against women, but the secretary-general said much more needs to be done.

The U.N. said the campaign — Unite to End Violence Against Women — will try to mobilize public opinion to pressure policy makers to prevent and eradicate violence against women.

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CSW 52 had nothing to do with the will of the UNSG. As said this is an event organized by the Commission on the Status of Women – though, clearly, it is highly possible and we would say probable, that the UNSG has suggested a topic for this years meeting of the CSW. This is clearly a very welcome move on his part and it comes after we saw so many cases when even UN Peacekeeping forces are accused of rape – not just combatant forces that had to be kept apart by these UN forces. So, besides the global humanitarian problem, there is here also a UN problem – and it could not be soon enough for the UNSG to step into this breach of confidence in the UN.

Further – the UNSG in the words of his Spokesperson:

We ‘cannot wait’ to end violence against women – Secretary-General Ban.

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launches campaign to End Violence Against Women.

25 February 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today kicked off a multi-year global campaign bringing together the United Nations, governments and civil society to try to end violence against women, calling it an issue that “cannot wait.”

“At least one out of every three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Through the practice of prenatal sex selection, countless others are denied the right even to exist,” Mr. Ban said in his address at the opening in New York of the latest session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

Violence against women impedes economic and social growth, and thus the new campaign will run until 2015, the same target year as the internationally agreed aims known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Noting that weapons of armed conflict today include rape, sexual violence and abduction of children to be conscripted as soldiers or sex slaves, the Secretary-General recounted his visits to war-torn areas and his conversations with survivors of violence.

“This is a campaign for them. It is a campaign for the women and girls who have the right to live free of violence, today and in the future,” he said. “It is a campaign to stop the untold cost that violence against women inflicts on all humankind.”

Mr. Ban called on the cooperation of the world’s youth, women’s groups, men around the world, the private sector and Member States to help the new initiative succeed.
He acknowledged that there is no “blanket approach” to tackling the scourge, noting that each country must formulate its own measures to address violence against women.
“But there is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable,” the Secretary-General stated, adding that he hopes to hold a high-level event in 2010 to review progress.

But there is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable.

As part of today’s campaign launch, Rachel N. Mayanja, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, held a press conference together with a number of other activists, both male and female, working to end violence against women and are slated to participate in other discussions on the subject at UN Headquarters.

“While everybody professes that women hold up the sky and women’s contributions are critical to development – to everything – it hasn’t been demonstrated concretely.” Ms Mayanja said. “And here we are, halfway through the Millennium Development Goals projected period, and we are still lagging behind.”

Many women have been left out of development efforts because of the violence that is continually being inflicted on them, she said. The Secretary-General’s campaign, she added, would bring a new sense of urgency to bear on this tragic issue.

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News Tracker: past stories on this issue

Saudi Arabian women need support to help advance society – UN expert

Video | Audio

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Further, the press conference, as well as the main meeting itself, included male witnesses talking freely about their own experience of having attacked women. Specially was impressive in his presentation one male from the US that after 20 years of counseling came to the conclusion that the three cases of him attacking women were based on the male culture in his neighborhood. A man is supposed to be aggressive he said, and this translated in the way he dealt with women. Men go to war – successful – they become heroes. He finally recognized that this was his personal problem and now he counsels other delinquent males so they recognize the wrong motivation them act the way they do.

But then the UN has not reached yet the level of self criticism reached by above man who by now is rather a gentleman. The question of rape in the field, and exploitation of women and girls in the field, by UN personnel, was never raised at this event – not even the fact that the UN building itself harbors soft porno and smut. So, the only remaining good investigative journalist at the UN – the man called by all – Matthew – did bring this up. Please his post:

Soft Porn Sold in UN Lobby, Despite Gender Advisor’s Complaints to UN Management.

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

UNITED NATIONS, February 25 — As the UN on Monday launched its Campaign to End Violence Against Women, in the lobby of UN Headquarters, soft porn remained for sale. At the newsstand next to the elevator to the Secretary-General’s offices on the building’s 38th floor, titles such as Curve and Smooth and King, along with Dirty South, were on display, with oiled-up women vamping for the camera.

Following a press conference at noon at which time apparently did not permit Inner City Press to ask this question despite a hand raised high throughout the question and answer period, the question was put to the UN’s Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, Assistant Secretary-General Rachel N. Mayanja. “I am glad you are raising it,” she told Inner City Press. “I am very appalled. I had already raised it to the Department of Management and had been assured they were going to ask them to take it down.”

Inner City Press asked how long ago the request had been made to the Department of Management, headed by Under Secretary General Alicia Barcena. “At least six months ago,” Ms. Mayanja said. “I am going to go back to them. It should be removed.”

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Ban Ki-moon launches Campaign to End Violence Against Women, soft porn not shown

While the sale of soft porn on the newsstand in the United Nations lobby may raise First Amendment issues, it appears to be the UN’s position that while the UN is in the United States, it is international territory to which the U.S. Constitution does not apply. Perhaps then it is Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that has constrained the UN from removing the pornography from the newsstand it licenses in its lobby. Recently, the Department of Management and Ms. Barcena have had no problem condemning journalistic coverage of a death at the UN as causing “complete shock and outrage,” as being “insensitive” and “clearly transgress[ing] accepted boundaries of professional journalism.” Soft porn which the UN’s own Special Adviser on Gender Issues six months ago asked the Department of Management to have removed, however, has generated no such shock or outrage within the Department of Management, nor apparently even a letter to the newsstand.

Footnote: to the UN’s credit, even when time or a moderator deny a journalist a question, most (but not all) UN officials are willing to slow down and provide at least some answer to a question, if a reporter is persistent enough. The matter of soft porn in the lobby is one that Inner City Press has wanted to ask ASG Mayanga about for some time. And despite obstacles on Monday, the question was asked, and now we’ll see what happens. Watch, if not the UN lobby, this site.

Having reported the above, let us see now the CSW 52 Parallel event on Corporate Feminism // Women’s Empowerment, and let us say right front that we do not begrudge women that pushed for equal rights to advance on the corporate ladder. We were friends with such power houses like Bella Abzug and Betty Friedan. Years ago, we hosted them at events of “The Theatre for Ideas” – in Manhattan and in East Hampton, Long Island, New York.
Sure, this is a different level of women’s rights from what the UNSG had in mind in his dealing with the physical protection of women – but then the right of women according to the UN Declaration on Human Rights extends also to equal rights for women’s advancement on corporate ladders. So, naturally, I thought that the panel will be dealing with what was achieved and where we go from here. But what about ExxonMobil? It did not let me bypass the event.

Going to www.soroptimistinternational.org I found that Soroptimist International is a worldwide organization for women in management and professions, working through service projects to advance human rights and the status of women. Even better – Soroptimist International is a launch partner for this vital UNIFEM internet global advocacy campaign which will run until 8 March, International Women’s Day. One in 3 women and girls may be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in their lifetime.

Greater resources are urgently needed to halt these shameful statistics. The UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, managed by UNIFEM, supports local initiatives, such as work to prevent human trafficking, assisting survivors of domestic violence, or helping to implement laws against rape.
On 22 January, the United Nations Foundation announced a Challenge Grant. It will donate $1 to the UN Trust Fund for each of the first 100,000 signatures to UNIFEM’s “say NO to violence” campaign.
UNIFEM needs YOUR help now! (obviously I signed the petition the day of the meeting) I also met Margaret Lobo, the Australian 2007-2009 International President of the Soroptimists.

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Margaret Lobo

A message from the Soroptimist International President:
“As International President, I am privileged to represent an organization that has been committed to advancing the status of women and human rights for all for over 85 years. With its 90,000 members in 125 countries and territories serves its local, national and international communities through Awareness, Advocacy and Action.
I hope that you will share the passion and enthusiasm of our members as you read about our projects and will want to join us in building a better world for girls and women. We look forward to hearing from you.”

A flyer describes their projects – I will just mention a very small sample: a project “Independence” to help rebuild lives of women in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Rwanda, through education, job training and micro-credit loans for small businesses; “Limbs for Life” that provides prostheses for victims of landmines in Angola, Georgia, Afghanistan; “SIAM” in Northern Thailand villages to develop income-generating activities and AIDS education in order to decrease the number of women entering the sex trade; SI/SIGHT clinics in Bangladesh to prevent blindness in children under 5; anti-malaria bed-nets for children under 5 in Ze, Benin; care, nutrition, education for abandoned children in Vietnam; help for women AIDS victims in Uganda and Ukraine….

Margaret Lobo was not involved in setting up the program of that panel. She told me that this was done by the local organizations in New York. She gave me a second flyer explaining what the organization does –

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The other sponsoring organization was The International Council Of Jewish Women with about 50 member organizations is represented in the US by The National Council of Jewish Women ( www.ncjw.org ). A faith-based volunteer organization that works to improve the quality of life for women, children, and families and to ensure individual rights It is a politically savvy organization. For over a century, NCJW has been at the forefront of social change. NCJW members are outspoken champions for progressive policies at the federal, state, and local levels. Over the years, NCJW’s collective voice has changed the world for the better – improving the lives of women, children, and families in the US and Israel.

The Moderator of the panel was Meryle Kaplan, Vice President of Advisory Services at Catalyst. www.catalyst.org “CATALIST was founded in 1962 as a nonprofit corporate membership research and advisory organization working globally with businesses and professions to build inclusive environments and expand opportunities for women and business.” This according to their flyer. They are “connected to business and its changing needs.” Offices in New York, San Jose, Toronto, and Zug, Switzerland. They work with 340 leading corporations, firms, business schools, and associations – they honor exemplary business initiatives that promote women’s leadership with an annual Catalyst Award. The New York office is on Wall Street and I was not impressed.

Meryle Kaplan told me that she asked her speakers to talk about in-house corporation advancement of women, and as well, about involvement of the corporations in their environments – the interaction with the communities where they do their business.

Elizabeth Cottam, Managing Director, Global Leadership and Diversity at Goldman, Sachs &Co., and Carolyn Buck Luce, Senior Partner, Global Accounts Group, at Ernst & Young, LLP were excellent examples of female leaders in their corporations. Their presentations were indeed examples of what women have achieved in that old fight for advancement within their corporations. They spoke about how funds were created in their companies to help promote the female employees, and how now they are finding new targets for their fights inside the company. Having achieved an increasing percentage of top jobs, though still a minority – they want now also part of the say in the philanthropic funds that these companies have established. This because women may have different interests in the way those funds are distributed. There was a lot of interesting material in their short presentations and much more further information was provided at Q&A time. Their presentations were indeed good examples of how women executives evolved and are now an important factor in the economy as wellas in the social fabric of developed countries that can also help women in developing countries.

Carolyn Buck Luce also teaches at Columbia University a course on “Women in Power” at the School of International and Public Affairs. Corporations want now to put their women into leadership positions in the community – dealing with economics, safety, health – in the community. One point she made is that it still happens that when women succeed they may yet get laid off. this because people are afraid of power. She started out at the US Department of State in the Soviet Union. She wrote about the promotion of minority women. She is a mother of four. She said that by looking at her success she inspired also her sons in their own career development – a comment that was very appropriate to her presentation.

Elizabeth Cottam, working with an Investment Bank, a financial institution that deals only with high net-wealth individuals, governments, corporations, financial institutions, is in an organization were there is an internal competition for who gets to work with the best clients. These competitive women want more career development in house programs. They know that there must be a business rationale for helping the women employees. 2004-2007 she was the company head of Human Capital Management Asia. Now she heads the Global efforts.

Amy Hall, Director of Social Consciousness, Eileen Fisher, Inc., a company that manufactures clothes overseas – in places like China, Korea or Thailand. In those factories 80% of the workers are women. She helps the company carry out the company’s commitment to practicing business responsibly in its relations to these women employees. It is her job to develop community partnerships and oversee the commitment to ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY. She came to Eileen Fisher, Inc. after a fundraising career with Asian-American cultural, educational and social service organizations in New York City. (today we posted also an article about women in Bangladesh that grew with the garment trade – this is clearly a subject with high importance to developing countries’ women empowerment.)

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The ExxonMobil leaf says correctly that an EWGI   (Educating Women and Girls Initiative) yields higher rate of return for society than any other investment available in the developing world – so it says “ExxonMobil is doing this in order to accelerate progress toward international objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals. “

Exxon EWGI programs fund activities in Angola, Chad, Colombia, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Qatar – and when Ms. Luxbacher spoke – she also included Washington DC among places they operate.   Now this makes sense – in the countries she mentioned, a very real hodge-podge of dissimilar places in the world, that are all affected by Exxon drilling   for oil and gas – and Washington DC where the drilling is for government favors – all this to the sound of   $11 million grants through 2007 in areas including a long list of activities that most probably had very little application in a country like Qatar, where the paper says that they provided vocational and life-skill training for what amounts there to middle age – to older women (ages 18-45).   Also, remember please that Qatar has little oil but has a long term large reserve of gas. After the US had to abandon its air force bases in Saudi Arabia, the bases were moved to Qatar and located right on top of those gas fields. Qatar is a safe place for a US Oil and Gas company, and doing some limited favors to the government does not hurt. There is no work here with girls – there maybe some work with grown up women, under good supervision, and no chance of causing those women to start demanding rights. That surely would not have been allowed in an Arab country – even Qatar.

In Indonesia, they work in the oil rich semi-independent Aceh region, where the interest by the US oil company was a cause to a rebellious movement. In Colombia they helped fund seemingly a UNICEF   improved Water and Sanitation effort for schools (that is a US Administration affiliated Ms. Veneman effort with good US business savvy activity). Good for Colombian schools in the Cartagena and Santa Maria areas where Exxon is active. Similarly UNICEF related activities go on in Chad (you remember that infamous pipeline that brought about an attempt to divide the country and a war?) and Equatorial Guinea – another trouble spot. To get into activities in Angola and Nigeria would sink us into sand-holes. ExxonMobil does not do any philanthropic work in Venezuela – actually they may nearing the point that they lose all work in Venezuela. Seemingly Venezuela might yet do philanthropic work in Washington DC as they already do in South Bronx, New York City.

This leaves us only with Kazakhstan, where strong local government will simply not let ExxonMobil do as it pleases – so, in order to obtain some favors, under conditions that they must compete for business with European companies,   they may actually do something that is important to the local people, and to US government initiatives. There they work with USAID on a micro-finance program that helped also 1,760 women with their first business training. We hope that with the supervision of the local Enterprise Development Center (EDC) that they actually helped establish, they are now a positive force in the effort, of interest to the Kazaks, to move their past-Soviet style economy, now on a   path more close to private enterprise.

Except for Kazakhstan and Qatar, the other 5 countries mentioned are all hot spots of ExxonMobil caused dissensions, where local people oppose the environmental damage that the oil company has caused and is causing. Who is interested there in their philanthropy outstretch?   This is great business for public relation firms – you see we do some good there with the few peanuts we are throwing in the direction of the local poor, while we feast with the local government that will be happy to exchange the future of their people, for the present pay-outs to the ruling few. Now – that is oil business at its best and it needs really very little planning – it needs good technical expertize to get the oil and gas out of the ground, and deliver it to pipelines and shipping terminals. We must have a good PR firm to bring us to the UN, and put us on a panel with others that do good.

 

Now, with above things in mind, I decided to ask an outright killer question at this meeting of well-to-do women.

My question went something like this:   As the only man in this room ( I was immediately told that I was wrong – there were three more men in the room and close to one hundred women) I want to express my male point of view.

I know that men are supposed to be those that are propelled to advance on corporate ladders, and that they do wars, and everything that is bad, but the old concept was that women do good by bringing up the children, worry about the environment, and are inclined to do all the good things in general. So my question to the woman from ExxonMobil is what does ExxonMobil do for the environment, for the health and quality of life of the local people on whom their activities have an impact, for the children, for next generation? For their own children’s future? What does Exxon Mobil do about climate change? Is it fair to say that a company that had profits pushing $50 billion   last year, $11 billion last quarter, throwing a miserable sum of 11 million dollars at the problems they leave behind, is it not a very meager feat of PR?

All what Ms. Luxbacher, the General Manager of ExxonMobil Corporate Planning was able to say was that they spent more then $11 million. She said she was ready to talk to me later. The moderator said she wanted to go back to women’s questions, and I insisted that my question was a women’s question because it dealt with children and the future.   For the rest of the session the lady from ExxonMobil did not say a word. To my discredit, I confess here, that I did not speak with this lady when the session was over, but had rather much more fruitful discussions with other ladies in the room – some that said to me that I did ask the right question that had to be asked indeed. I think that I made some friends – though I am not naive to think that I did not also make some new enemies for life.

I hope that some of the true Soroptimists will send me now material about efforts they wish to be posted, and I really do not feel any obligations to those that just used the UN for the ride.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 20th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Did the UN Reach a New Low – or it has Permanent Structural Defects.

The Wall Street Editorial, this week-end says the UN is a strange place and points out to what it calls “signature bodies” – the Commission on Sustainable Development and the Disarmament Commission. Strangely to us it forgot the Human Rights Council.

The CSD for an obvious reason: Zimbabwe, that used to be known as the breadbasket of Africa, but experiences now shortages of food and an inflation rate of 2,200% – just call it a failed state.
While Africa overall experienced in 2006 a growth rate of +5%, Zimbabwe contracted at -5%. Part of the blame should be put on Mugabe’s protector, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa. But, whatever,
Zimbabwe of today does not deserve to be Chair of the CSD, and its UN Ambassador complaining that his detractors point at human rights problems in Zimbabwe as a reason for their rejection of
Zimbabwe, and this is not the business of the CSD, is plainly laughable. Zimbabwe should not be considered an exemplary leader in Africa, for both reasons – its economy and its lack of respect for
human rights and human dignity. Just to remind the Ambassador – he did not fail only the economic development leg of the CSD tripod, but also the social development leg – that is were good
governance and democracy, and human rights reside. For South Africa to back Mugabe’s miserable show is simply a disservice to all of Africa. The New York Times editorial of May 17, 2007, says that if Mr. Mbeki is not ready to pull out the rug from under Mr. Mugabe for the sake of Zimbabwe, he better reconsider this for the sake of his own South Africa. “Investors might be turned off by the whole region if they continue to see the misery and upheaval just over the border.”

South Africa also backed its other neighbor – Angola – for the Human Rights Council. Angola and Egypt were on the UN Human Rights Watch list of states that do not deserve a seat at the Council.
Angola got 172 votes, Egypt got 168 votes out of the possible 192 – but then the Africans did not provide alternate choices.
Where there was an alternate choice, in the splintered Eastern European States Group – Belarus (78) lost to Bosnia Hezegovina (95) – confirmed by a second round that gave Belarus (72) to B-H (112).
In Asia, no choice, Qatar got 170 votes and joined Saudi Arabia as world judges on human rights and the oil business. Qatar being home after a quite successful show of run-into-the-ground of the CSD.

What that proves, is that when there is enough democratic breath left in the UN body – there is a possibility that only one third of the UN is rotten – but when the leadership of a group is out to do mischief – on their own volition, or on behalf of others – be those Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Cuba, or sometimes someone else, then the number of rogues, or governments with ulterior motives, can easily reach 172 out of 192, leaving the number of principled governments to about 10% of the UN body. In this context, let us also remark that the Wall Street Journal, that normally likes to quote the UN Human Rights Watch on human rights issues, did not do so this time because of the Qatari business. You see, Qatar, though it is not an oil exporter, it is an enormous natural gas exporter and its treasures are guarded by the US, so they can speak for their brothers of OAPEC and be protected by the US and the Wall Street Journal at the same time.

The Wall Street Journal, has a field day with the Disarmament Commission. There Iran was elected to be a Vice-Chair and Syria became the Raporteur, this to watch over and report on nuclear proliferation and on smuggling of guns to those that fight the infidel. That was nice material for the East River based stage of the Theatre of the Absurd.

The Wall Street Journal editorial ends by by saying: These episodes don’t reach the level of the multi-billion-dollar oil-for-Food corruption at high level UN, or the tens of millions of dollars that seemingly were handed by UNDP to the North Koreans. Nevertheless, the WSJ would have liked to see the US walk out from the CSD and the UNDC – not a very ingenious idea – this because you cannot pick which UN bodies you attend and which you leave to the dogs. Just remember what happened to the Soviets when they walked out from the Security Council and woke up with the war in Korea. Does this leave us with UN bodies that are just talk shows? Is that what the UN was meant to be? We understand that this might be right for the General Assembly, but bodies like the CSD, DC, and the HRC, were meant to achieve results – if they falter – then what?

AHA! Here we reach the main point of this article, this after we spent days at the Meeting of the Mayors of the 40 largest World Cities, let the UN talk about it – but then get people like Bill Clinton, George Soros, Bernard Kouchner … to show the way how to deal us out of a corner the UN is incapable by itself to do the job. The structural problems with the UN are there, but we do not have to discard the baby with the dirty waters.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Before The Elections:

Geneva, May 17, 2007 — After a year of failed reforms and disappointment at the the UN’s Human Rights Council, the dominant bloc of non-democratic members led by China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia today is likely to welcome more abusers into their ranks. “Just when it seemed things in Geneva could not possibly get any worse, we may reach a new low,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a human rights monitoring organization based in Geneva.

After The Elections:

Geneva, May 17, 2007 — UN Watch welcomed the defeat of Belarus in today’s election of members to the UN Human Rights Council, “but the victory in overwhleming numbers of Egypt, Angola and Qatar — known rights violators who now join the Council’s dominant bloc of non-democratic members led by China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia — means that in Geneva it’s still the foxes guarding the chickens,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based human rights monitoring organization.
Further, from the UK Mission, May 17, 2007: “The UK Mission congratulates Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina on their election today to the UN Human Rights Council. Margaret Beckett, the UK Foreign Secretary, said:
The Human Rights Council has a unique and important mandate to improve the promotion and protection of human rights for all people, everywhere. I am therefore delighted to learn of the election of Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Council today. Its members carry a heavy responsibility to lead the UN’s human rights work around the world, and must have shown themselves worthy of the task entrusted to them. I am therefore delighted to learn of the election of Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Council today. The UK looks forward to working closely with them towards our shared goal of a strong and effective Council.”

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The old post said:

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UN Watch Briefing
News and Analysis from UN Watch in Geneva
Vol. 160 • May 16, 2007
Belarus, Egypt Must Release Prisoners Before UN Rights Council Elections

Belarus and Egypt must release jailed opposition leaders, journalists and bloggers before Thursday’s elections for the UN’s top human rights body. The four repressive regimes seeking seats on the UN Human Rights Council—Belarus, Egypt, Angola, and Qatar—must take immediate, concrete steps to show that they merit consideration for Council membership. The General Assembly in New York will choose new Council members in elections to be held tomorrow morning, May 17. To watch the live webcast at 10 a.m. EDT tomorrow, click here.

Election to the Council is supposed to be based on the candidate’s “contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights and [its] voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto,” according to the Council’s founding document, General Assembly Resolution 60/251. Once it is a Council member, a country is supposed to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” and “fully cooperate with the Council.”

In light of the deeply entrenched repression in these four countries, they are not qualified for Council membership. (See assessment of Council candidates here.) If, however, these regimes nevertheless wish to try to prove that they should be considered as potential Council members, they must—at a minimum—take concrete actions immediately. These include:

Angola—which in its Council campaign pledge said that it “fights for a wide implementation of the human rights consecrated in the international instruments to which the country is a part” and promised, among other things, to “mainstream[] human rights throughout [Angolan] society” and “promote[] the rule of law”—must

• Fully cooperate with the three Council Special Rapporteurs, which it has agreed in principle to allow to visit (the special rapporteurs on adequate housing, freedom of opinion and expression, and freedom of religion or belief).

• Dismiss the espionage charges against Dr. Sarah Wykes of the British NGO Global Witness for researching corruption in the oil sector, or at the very least permit Dr. Wykes to be defended against the charges by legal counsel of her choice.

• Allow private radio outlets to broadcast nationwide.

Belarus—which in its Council campaign pledge promised to “do its utmost to ensure that all international human rights instruments to which it is a party are fully observed”—must

• Release from prison Alexander Kozulin, the 2006 opposition Presidential candidate, who is currently serving a 5 ½ year term for peacefully protesting against the unfree and unfair election.

• Announce that it will allow a visit by, and fully cooperate with, the Council’s Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus, whom Belarus has stonewalled since his appointment in 2004, as well as the other UN human rights investigators with outstanding visit requests.

• Remove the prohibition on funding and cease other efforts to limit the activities of the only permitted human rights organization, the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, and also allow other independent non-governmental organizations to operate freely.

Egypt—which in its Council campaign pledge promised to “upgrade the level of its implementation of all human rights instruments which it has ratified,” including by “preserv[ing] the freedom of the press,” “strengthening the independence of the judiciary,” and “deepening its democracy”—must

• Release journalist Huwaida Taha Mitwalli, who is currently imprisoned for attempting to report on the government’s use of torture, as well as bloggers including Abd al-Monim Mahmud and Abd al-Karim Nabil Sulaiman (a.k.a. Karim Amer), who have been imprisoned for exercising their internationally protected right to freedom of expression.

• Announce that it will permit visits by, and fully cooperate with, the five Council Special Rapporteurs that have outstanding visit requests dating back as far as 1996 (the Special Rapporteurs on torture, human rights defenders, freedom of religion or belief, and the independence of judges and lawyers).

• Rescind its order to close the offices of the workers’ rights organization Center for Trade Union and Workers’ Services.

Qatar
—which in its Council campaign pledge said that “the goal of promoting and protecting human rights” is the “cornerstone” of its policies—must

• Announce that it will sign and ratify the fundamental human rights treaties the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which it is not a party.

• Commit to end censoring peaceful expression on the Internet, for example by unblocking the Arab-American online newspaper The Arab Times.

• Permit independent human rights organizations to operate freely in the country.

General Assembly members should not vote for these four candidates for the Council unless they show some bona fides. Resolution 60/251 sets standards for election, which these countries do not currently meet.

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