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Posted on on June 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

Feb 03, 2014

World’s top solar thermal experts to lecture at University Pretoria.

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Solar Heat (0.07 MB)

The world’s top solar thermal experts offer a specialist workshop on “Solar Heat for Industrial Applications” at the University of Pretoria on 3 and 4 February 2014.

The audience of 36 is exclusively limited to persons who have attended previous SOLTRAIN courses, or have experience with large solar water systems in Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

This Train-the-Trainer workshop is part of the unique Southern African Training and Demonstration Initiative, sponsored by the Austrian Development Agency. The Pretoria University workshop is coordinated by the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa. “Train-the-Trainer” entails that the recipients of this specialist training are committed to disseminate the knowledge they received.

More Insight

South Africa and the SADC region urgently need this expertise“, says Prof Dieter Holm, regional SOLTRAIN coordinator, “and this is a cost-effective way of creating decent long-term jobs”. Project leader, Werner Weiss, concurs: “Southern Africa has twice Austria‘s sunshine”.

The University of Pretoria is South Africa‘s and SADC’s leader in the use of solar water heating in their student residences. The University is also building a thermal demonstration unit for practical experiments by students. The Pretoria campus falls within the SOLTRAIN Solar Thermal Flagship District where various installations can be visited by technical tourists and political decision-makers.

Southern Africa boasts 59% of the world’s best winter sunshine area, but does not rank among the global solar thermal leaders. “Not yet”, says Holm, “but, given enabling legislation and leadership by example in government buildings, we would create a sustainable and competitive solar water heating industry in the region. A strong local solar water heating industry will earn forex, reduce our chronic regional electricity problem, reduce pollution and contribute to achieving our environmental commitments”.

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter


Sector News


Posted on on February 11th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

info on each event above and at


Mona Eltahawy
A Jewish Woman Living in Ethiopia

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

The Forward
Published: May 27, 2010

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

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

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

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

New Century, New Priorities

By Yossi Beilin

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

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

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

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

Reviving Polish Jewry

By Konstanty Gebert

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

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

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

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

What We Give Ourselves

By Lisa Leff

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

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

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

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

Putting Identity First

By Jonathan S. Tobin

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

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

Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of Commentary magazine.

Collective Responsibility

By Richard Wexler

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

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

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

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

Originally published here:


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

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

By Amanda Pazornik

The J Weekly
Published: July 22, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A large portrait of Gary Tobin hangs in the lobby.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published here:


Posted on on June 1st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Reuters title says: “Rich-Poor Rifts Stall Progress At U.N. Climate Talks.” But really – this is not a “Rich and Poor” issues. In effect on both sides are the rich – perhaps it would br more fitting to talk of old rich and new rich that were made rich because the old rich do not perform up to their needs. There are many sides to this and eventually a solution will be found with US and China agreeing on a pact first. Now we hear of the US, the ALBA group, the SIDS, Southern Africa as the initial players. You bet that Saudi Arabia will throw more sticks into the spikes to help (?) the poor. We understand that of the 192-194 potential participants, this feast has 185 present. We note with interest that Germany in particular, and we assume with it the whole EU mechanism, will try to pay back the US for having been left outside the room in Copenhagen and will go their own way to fluster the US. We believe that the meek will have to lead and we mean the Small Island States. We will also watch carefully where Costa Rica will come down in the US – ALBA contest. This because coming July 1, 2010 it will be Christiana Figueres who takes over the UNFCCC mantle from Yvo de Boer.


The June 1, 2010 Reuters reporting by Gerard Wynn Date: 01-Jun-10 from Bonn:

U.N. climate talks opened on Monday, exposing familiar rifts between rich and poor countries which delegates said were likely to delay a re-start of formal negotiations.

The 185-nation Bonn conference, which will run until June 11, is the biggest international meeting on climate change since a summit last December in Copenhagen failed to agree a new pact.

Several countries {the ALBA and more} said they could not give a green light to formal negotiations on a new text published in mid-May and which outlines a huge range of options for fighting climate change.

The Copenhagen summit last year struggled to overcome suspicion on how to share global effort to curb greenhouse gases under a new deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol after 2012.

On Monday differences re-emerged when a clutch of Latin American countries {the ALBA – our addition} said they could not start negotiations on the new text.

The United States said it did not think the new text was intended as a basis for negotiations and South Africa said the document put too much burden on developing countries.

The Latin American group including Bolivia, Venezuela and Cuba said on Monday that the new text placed too much emphasis on the Copenhagen accord, which they opposed in December.

“The chair has prioritized the Copenhagen Accord,” said Rene Gonzalo Orellana Halkyer, a member of the Bolivian delegation, speaking on the sidelines of the talks in Bonn.

Bolivia also wanted tougher targets, for example to return atmospheric greenhouse gases to a level far below where they are already, he added.

The Copenhagen Accord seeks to limit a rise in average world temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) over pre-industrial times but does not spell out how.

Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe of Zimbabwe chairs the U.N. talks on forging agreement on global action and is expected to release a revised version next weekend, delegates said.

— —


The United States said it believed Mukahanana-Sangarwe’s text was not intended to be the basis of negotiations.

“Our view is that the text is Margaret’s effort to elicit views so she can develop a formal negotiating text,” said Jonathan Pershing, head of the U.S. delegation. “It’s a constructive next step.”

It remained to be seen whether countries can start negotiations on a revised text in the next two weeks, he told Reuters.

The head of the South African delegation, Alf Wills, said the new text focused too far on cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by developing countries.

“It’s completely unbalanced in that respect,” he said.

However Karsten Sach, head of Germany’s delegation, said: “We think it is a basis for negotiation.”

— —

An additional, specific gap to be addressed at the Bonn talks was whether or not developed countries should be allowed to exclude from their national greenhouse gases carbon emissions from chopping trees to produce renewable energy.

That rule, allowed under the existing Kyoto Protocol, would represent “fraudulent accounting,” said the head of Papua New Guinea’s delegation, Kevin Conrad.


Posted on on March 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Fiancé of Neda, Iran’s Slain ‘Angel of Freedom,’ Heading to Geneva Rights Summit.


02 March 2010

Fiancé of Neda, Iran’s Slain ‘Angel of Freedom,’ Heading to Geneva Rights Summit – Caspian Makan to protest Iranian government brutality.

A video of Neda's death found its way out of Iran, where it was uploaded to the websites of various media organizations, Facebook and YouTube. The dramatic 40-second tape stirred outrage and attracted tens of thousands of viewers.

GENEVA, March 2, 2010 One day after Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told the UN in Geneva that President Ahmadinejad’s June election was “an exemplary exhibition of democracy and freedom,” Caspian Makan, the fiancé of slain Iranian icon Neda Agha Soltan, announced today that he will join other world-famous dissidents as a speaker at next Monday’s Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, co-organized by UN Watch, Freedom House, Ibuka and more than 20 other human rights NGOs.

Images of Neda’s bloody killing in June at the hand of the Basij paramilitary force turned an international spotlight on the brutality of the Iranian government crackdown against peaceful protesters.

The Tehran regime banned prayers for Neda in the country’s mosques, arresting anyone who held a vigil for her. Mr. Makan was then arrested and detained at Evin Prison in Tehran. He was beaten and pressured to sign a false confession.

Since his release, Mr. Makan has been an outspoken dissident for freedom in Iran, spreading Neda’s story and message around the world.

The Geneva conference is organized by a global civil society coalition of 25 human rights groups, including Burmese, Tibetan and Zimbabwean organizations (see list below), with support from the Canton of Geneva.

The two-day schedule features more than 20 action-oriented presentations and skills-building workshops, with the objective of advancing internet freedom, the struggle of dissidents against state repression, and reform of the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council.

Speakers will include former political prisoners from around the world, including Rebiya Kadeer, champion of China’s Uighur minority and Nobel Peace Prize nominee; Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina, Cuban dissident; Bo Kyi, Burmese dissident, winner of the 2008 Human Rights Watch Award; Donghyuk Shin, survivor of North Korean prison camps; and Phuntsok Nyidron, the Buddhist nun from Tibet who served 15 years in jail for recording songs of freedom.

The Geneva Summit will also feature eminent governmental and intergovernmental advocates for human rights, including Massouda Jalal, the former Afghan Minister of Women Affairs and first female presidential candidate; MP Irwin Cotler, Canadian human rights hero and former counsel to Nelson Mandela; Italian MP Matteo Mecacci, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Rapporteur for democracy and human rights; and Jan Pronk, former Special Representative in Sudan of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Last year’s summit, covered by CNN, AP, Reuters, and the Wall Street Journal, brought together former political prisoners Saad Eddin Ibrahim of Egypt, Ahmad Batebi of Iran, José Gabriel Ramón Castillo of Cuba and Soe Aung of Burma, along with many other well-known rights activists and scholars. (See videos at

Admission to the March 8-9, 2010 conference is free, and the public and media are invited to attend. For accreditation, program and schedule information, please visit

Visit the site during the conference to follow the live webcast, blog and Twitter feed.

Global Civil Society Coalition

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma

Centro para la Apertura y el Desarrollo de América Latina (CADAL)

Darfur Peace and Development Center

Directorio Democratico Cubano

Fondation Genereuse Development

Freedom House

Freedom Now

Genocide Watch

Global Zimbabwe Forum

Human Rights Activists in Iran

Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l


Ingénieurs du monde

Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children

International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY)

International Campaign to End Genocide

International Association of Genocide Scholars

Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme


Respekt Institut

Stop Child Executions

Tibetan Women’s Association

UN Watch

Zimbabwe Advocacy Office


“Giving Iran Seat on U.N. Rights Council Would Legitimize Its Brutality,” Says Boyfriend of Killed Protest Icon

Patrick Goodenough
March 10, 2010

An Iranian whose fiancée’s death by gunfire became a symbol of opposition to the regime during post-election protests last year made an impassioned appeal Tuesday for Tehran to be denied a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council in elections this spring.

Caspian Makan addresses the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, co-organized by UN Watch and 24 other human rights NGOs, Tuesday, March 9, 2010.

Addressing a gathering of dissidents and human rights advocates in Geneva, Caspian Makan, a photojournalist who fled Iran late last year after being detained for more than 60 days, said Iranian membership in the U.N.’s top human rights body would be a “slap in the face” of other members.

It would encourage other countries that have a tendency to flout human rights and undermine the credibility of the U.N. and the council, he said, according to a translation provided by event organizers.

“I feel furthermore that if the Iranian regime became a member, that would legitimize the inhuman and cruel acts the regime has perpetuated against its population,” Makan added. “Giving it legitimacy would encourage them to go further still.”

The U.N. has confirmed that Iran has submitted in writing its candidacy to become a member of the HRC.

On May 13, the General Assembly will vote by secret ballot to fill 14 of the Geneva-based council’s 47 seats. Iran and four other countries – Thailand, Qatar, Malaysia and the Maldives – will compete to fill four available seats set aside for the Asian regional group.

Makan was speaking Tuesday at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, a two-day event that brought together some 500 people from more than 60 countries, to discuss issues organizers say are mostly neglected by the HRC.

He told the gathering about Neda Agha Soltan, the 26-year old “deep thinker” and “artist at heart” with whom he had fallen in love after meeting her on a trip.

Makan, 38, said they had tended in the past not to vote in elections because they were seen as a charade, and taking part would be seen as “participating in the regime to some extent.”

But the 2009 election had seemed to offer in the shape of opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi a “lesser evil” for young Iranians who “above all else wanted to get rid of Mr. [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad.”

Once it became clear that the election was rigged in favor of the incumbent, he said, Soltan had joined the protests.

Makan said that while trying to do his job he was an eyewitness to the violent clampdown by “the mercenaries of the regime” and “saw firsthand that the army of the revolution was shooting and killing the demonstrators from a helicopter.”

Four days before she died, he had urged Soltan to keep away from the demonstrations. “She said, ‘You know Caspian, I love you, I love being with you, but what is most important to me is the freedom of our people.”

On June 20, Soltan was shot in the chest on a Tehran street, apparently by a Basij militia sniper. Amateur video footage capturing the moments after the shooting was posted online and seen around the world.

“We have seen many people who have been wounded and killed, but this struck the world particularly hard,” Makan said of his fiancee’s death.

“We were able to see in the footage how good and kind she was and admire her attitude when faced with death, to admire her courage as a symbol of liberty, as she died hoping for a better life for the millions of Iranians who remained behind.”

Human rights researchers say at least 40 Iranians died during June and that the number more than doubled in the months that followed. The official figure stands at 44.

Last month, Mahmoud Abbaszadeh Meshkini, director-general of Iran’s Interior Ministry – whose functions including policing and overseeing elections – told the HRC that the June 2009 presidential election had been “an exemplary exhibition of democracy and freedom.”


Posted on on March 9th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The suggestion of Mr. Marthinus van Schalkwyk presents some very interesting dilemmas:

– first, it proposes an African for the position and we believe this is a bit like putting the carriage before the horse. Indeed, we say all the time that Africa is suffering because of the sins of others, so Africa and the Island States have most reasons to see a Climate  agreement become reality, but then it is not the sufferers, but the sinners, that will have to sign up to an enforceable  agreement, and those are mainly China and the US. Here indeed South Africa is one of the additional three IBSA states that participated in the formulation of the Copenhagen notice. If one where to try to pick a lead country from among the IBSA – we suggested it be Brazil as it would have the least conflicts of interest from among the three.

– then, the appointment of Mr. van Schalwyk, a South African, would also mean that there will be the third Dutch person on that job in a row, albeit, this Dutchman comes from South Africa and not from the Netherlands, but nevertheless the subject will come up.

– also, as we know the 2010 meeting of the UNFCCC, or COP 16, will be held in Mexico, while the following one, the 2011 COP 17 is intended for South Africa. An appointment of a South African to head the UNFCCC at this time would mean that the Mexico meeting that is limping anyway – as we just posted an hour ago – will become completely useless. Some, like the Latin American States, will find this objectionable. This one point leaves us perplexed if we sense that Cancun is just one more UN ritual led so that it has beforehand no chance to succeed – who knows – maybe the appointment of Mr. van Schlkwyk could actually result in annulment of a UN scheduled event. That could then be the first emissions saving UN led activity.

– the last point has to do with the backing of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe from South Africa in the leadership of The UN Commission on Sustainable Development. The facts are that the CSD was destroyed because of that backing by South Africa, and the CSD is needed if one wants to find a base for climate activities at the UN. That past experience might have left, and who knows, perhapse still creates, a sour taste when looking at South Africa’s place in UN leadership. Will we do away also with the CSD and base climate on the Committee of 19 Wise Men that the UN Secretary-General just established?

Without taking a stand on the candidate himself, nevertheless the first three points we raised will probably have to be weighed against the attributes that might be proposed when other names become available.


from: BuaNews (Tshwane)
South Africa: Zuma Nominates Van Schalkwyk for Top UN Job.

8 March 2010, Pretoria — President Jacob Zuma has nominated Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk for the post of the United Nations’ new climate chief.

Van Schalkwyk has been tipped as a strong contender to take over from Yvo De Boer who headed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). De Boer announced his resignation last month.

“The South African government will consequently forward the name of Minister Van Schalkwyk to the Secretary General for his further consideration,” the Presidency said on Monday.

Zuma and the minister met on Sunday to discuss this issue as well as South Africa’s global positioning, the Presidency said.

“The final decision on the appointment rests with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki Moon.”

Van Schalkwyk was deeply involved in climate change issues during his tenure as minister of environmental affairs and tourism.

He built a strong profile for himself during the UN climate treaty negotiations leading up to the Copenhagen summit late last year.

“During this period he commanded significant respect across the developing-developed country divide. This will stand him in good stead in this critical phase of driving the global climate change negotiations to conclusion,” said the Presidency.

Given that South Africa will also be hosting and presiding over the climate change negotiations next year, the Presidency said it would be an “honour for the country to have one of its own to head up this very important UN institution”.

If appointed, Van Schalkwyk will oversee one of the most important treaties of the 21st century – the 2012 treaty on climate change. The treaty is aimed at mitigating the causes and effects of climate change and shape the way countries power their economies.

And from NASTASYA TAY (AP):  South African minister is nominated for UN post.

JOHANNESBURG — The South African president’s office announced the nomination of its tourism minister for the United Nations’ top climate post on Monday.

The office said in a press release that Marthinus van Schalkwyk is a candidate to direct the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The current leader of the post, Yvo de Boer, announced his resignation in February and will step down July 1.
Van Schalkwyk was South Africa’s former minister for environmental affairs and tourism and is well-regarded in climate change circles. He has a reputation as an effective bridge-builder in a process that often pits developing against industrially advanced countries.

“We are pleased to know Minister Van Schalkwyk is being considered and would be very confident that he would be equal to the task of replacing Mr. de Boer,” said Themba Linden, Political Advisor at Greenpeace Africa. “By all accounts, he has an excellent standing as a negotiator, and has earned a great deal of respect for being very engaged and informed.”

Van Schalkwyk’s chances of being appointed are bolstered by the high likelihood that South Africa will host the U.N.’s climate change negotiations in 2011.

South Africa along with the U.S., India, Brazil and China drafted the climate change agreement reached in Denmark in December. The compromise calls for reducing emissions to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 C (3.6 F) above preindustrial levels. The nonbinding agreement also calls on rich nations to spend billions to help poor nations deal with drought and other impacts of climate change, and to develop clean energy.

Even though it helped draft the accord, South Africa joined a chorus of critics, expressing disappointment at not reaching a legally binding climate change agreement.


Could it be that his oponent will be an Indian backed by China? The guesing game may just go wild from now on:

There have also been reports in India that environment minister Jairam Ramesh has nominated Indian environment secretary Vijai Sharma for the role, and his nomination is believed to be supported by China.

However, an Indian or Chinese nomination is likely to be opposed by the US and EU, which remain angry at both country’s negotiating tactics during the final days of the Copenhagen Summit.

As such, Van Schalkwyk is likely to be regarded as a potential conciliatory candidate, securing the support of the many Africa countries that will be most directly affected by climate change and providing a potential link between the US and Europe and the so-called BASIC group of emerging economies, of which South Africa is a member alongside Brazil, India and China.

His nomination chances will be further bolstered by the likelihood that South Africa will host next year’s main UN climate change summit where diplomats still hope an international treaty agreed later this year in Mexico can be formally adopted.


Posted on on December 10th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

December 11, 2009 | News covering the UN and the world.

Group claims evidence of systematic Zimbabwe election rapes

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his party are guilty of a systematic campaign of politically motivated rape against opposition supporters during last year’s election season and should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity, says a report from advocacy group AIDS-Free World. Zimbabwean authorities repeatedly have refused to investigate rape charges. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) (12/10) , AllAfrica Global Media/Inter Press Service (12/10)




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

 Friday 30 October 2009


World’s Biggest Arms Traders Promise Global Arms Treaty .


Today at the United Nation years of discussions and debates, the vast majority of governments – 153 in total – agreed a timetable to establish a “strong and robust” Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) with the “highest common standards” to control international transfers of conventional arms. There is currently no global Treaty on the conventional arms trade.


Most of the world’s biggest arms traders – including the USA, UK, France and Germany – will now all back the UN process. Nineteen states abstained but are all expected to take part in the process. Zimbabwe was the only State to vote against.

  The States that abstained were: Bahrain, Belarus, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, UAE, Venezuela and Yemen.


During the debates on the resolution, many countries spoke out and underlined the need for the treaty to be based on international law, including international human rights and humanitarian law.


The Control Arms campaign – a coalition of hundreds of non-governmental organizations in over 100 countries that has promoted the ATT – welcomed the historic breakthrough at the UN today and called on all States to negotiate a truly effective Treaty. They warned that governments must keep up the momentum to ensure the final Treaty has firm international standards for the global arms trade. Campaigners expressed reservations about the procedure planned for the UN Conference that could give every State the right of veto over final decisions at the UN Conference. They warned a small number of sceptical States must not be allowed to hijack the ATT process when it is clear the world wants a strong treaty.


“All countries participate in the conventional arms trade and share responsibility for the ‘collateral damage’ it produces – widespread death, injuries and human rights abuses,” said Rebecca Peters, director of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA). “Now finally governments have agreed to negotiate legally binding global controls on this deadly trade.”


The agreement in the UN today means that the eventual ATT will be negotiated in a series of UN meetings concluding at a UN Conference in 2012.


“The Arms Trade Treaty needs a ‘golden rule’ requiring governments to stop any proposed arms transfer that poses a substantial risk of being used for serious violations of human rights or war crimes,” said Brian Wood, Amnesty International’s head of arms control, “such a golden rule could save hundreds of thousands of lives and protect the livelihoods of many millions.”


The resolution on the ATT also highlights the issue of international arms transfers contributing to armed conflict, displacement of people, organised crime and terrorism, thereby undermining peace, safety, security and sustainable development.


“For too long, governments have let the flow of weapons get out of control causing pain, suffering and death in some of the world’s poorest regions. With hundreds of thousands of people dying a year from armed violence, weapons that fall into the hands of criminals and rights abusers destroy communities and livelihoods.” said Anna Macdonald of Oxfam International. “Governments must ensure that negotiations live up to the promise of setting the highest possible standards – this is a life and death situation for thousands of poor people worldwide.”


* The States that abstained were: Bahrain, Belarus, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, UAE, Venezuela and Yemen.


Posted on on September 15th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

I am now in Austria and the KRONNEN ZEITUNG just wrote: “GADAFI-MANN PRÄDIDIER GENERALVERSAMLUNG – DIE UNO SCHMÜKT SICH NUN MIT LIBYSCHER NARRENKAPPE.” That means that the UN did put on a Libyan fool’s cap.

Gadafi will speak right after Obama – but the City did not allow the set up of a Libyan tent for Gadafi – thank you Mayor Bloomberg – you showed there is still some sense on the UN’s periphery.

The Austrian paper also knows to tell that Gadafi’s Libya is diverting much oil-money to Austria. The Libya government investment arm called LIB, that accounts for over € 45 Billion bought 10%, to be increased to 15%, of Wienerberger AG – the largest brick manufacturer. They also invest heavily in Italy their former colonial power in such institutions as Unit Credit, FIAT, Soccer Club Juventus, Turin, Finemechanica.

Libya having made up with Scotland and the UK, and Bulgaria, at this time is boiling the Swiss waters.


Now the official UN release:


The General Assembly opened its 64th annual session today with its new President, Ali Treki of Libya, calling for reform of the United Nations with an expanded Security Council representing full geographic diversity and an Assembly that has the ability to implement its resolutions.

Currently only resolutions of the 15-member Council, and not those of the 192-member Assembly, are legally binding.

“The General Assembly, which represents the entire world, has been hampered by the obstacles in its path,” Dr. Treki said in his opening speech. “It has been unable to implement or enforce its resolutions. The General Assembly must be reformed to regain its international legitimacy by ensuring that its voice is heard and respected and its resolutions implemented.”

Turning to the Security Council, he noted that Africa comprises 53 States, none of which is a permanent member – a position held only by China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States. Such is the case, too, of Latin America and the Forum of Small States, which account for over half of the world’s inhabitants.

“It is vital to reform the Security Council and to revitalize the General Assembly so that they can comprehensively fulfil their roles,” he declared.

Turning to world affairs, Dr. Treki called for dialogue and mutual understanding to resolve problems, not embargos and blockades which he called fruitless and serving to exacerbate antagonism and rebellion. He also noted that the gap between rich and poor has been growing steadily wider. “In an unequal world, we cannot hope for peace and security to prevail,” he said.

Condemning terrorism, he urged that close attention be paid to its roots, causes and contributing factors. “This is true of terrorism carried out by individuals, groups and States; State terrorism is the harshest form of terrorism,” he added.

Discussing the Middle East, he said “the Palestinian people’s aspirations towards independence and its right to return to its land in accordance with United Nations resolutions are two fundamental conditions for the swift realization of peace and security in that sensitive part of the world.”

Without mentioning Israel by name, he added: “There must be an end to settlement activities, which have been condemned by the entire international community. The removal of illegal and illegitimate settlements would help to achieve security and a just peace in accordance with the resolutions with which we must comply.”

Dr. Treki also called for progress at the Climate Change summit convened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon next Tuesday to produce recommendations for the conference on the issue to be held in Copenhagen in December

And he urged additional efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that aim to slash a host of social ills by 2015, and steps towards non-proliferation and the elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.




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

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

The report can be found at:

Among the conclusions I found:

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

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


The report is in two parts:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Africa mourns loss of a leader unafraid to speak his mind

One Sunday in late June, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president who died yesterday aged 59, was on the eve of the most momentous day of his career.He had been the first…
Aug 20 2008, By Tom Burgis, Financial Times
Zambian president dies in France

Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president who was laid low by a stroke hours before he was…would like to inform the nation that our president, his Excellency Dr Levy Mwanawasa, died this morning at 10.30am at Percy Military Hospital,” Rupiah Banda…
Aug 19 2008, By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg, site
Zambian leader’s health worsens

The health of Levy Mwanawasa, the ailing Zambian president who has been a sharp critic of Robert Mugabe, his Zimbabwean counterpart, has deteriorated, his deputy…
Aug 18 2008, By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg, site
Zambian mystery

The fate of Levy Mwanawasa, Zambia’s president, was last night shrouded in confusion amid reports that he had died in a Paris hospital after suffering a stroke…
Jul 04 2008, By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg, Financial Times
Zambia refutes rumours of president’s death

Zambia on Thursday moved to end the confusion surrounding the fate of Levy Mwanawasa, dismissing reports that the president had died in a Paris hospital after suffering a stroke.”These are false and malicious rumours…
Jul 04 2008, By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg, site
International pressure on Mugabe grows

…Mugabe if he claims victory in Friday’s poll.In some of the toughest words on Zimbabwe yet from an African leader, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president and current chairman of the Southern African Development Community, described the situation…
Jun 24 2008, By James Blitz, Tom Burgis and William Wallis, Financial Times
International pressure to replace Mugabe grows

…Mugabe if he claims victory in Friday’s poll.In some of the toughest words on Zimbabwe yet from an African leader, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president and current chairman of the Southern African Development Community, described the situation…
Jun 24 2008, By James Blitz, Tom Burgis and William Wallis, Financial Times
Global pressure to replace Mugabe grows

…Mugabe if he claims victory in Friday’s poll. In some of the toughest words on Zimbabwe yet from an African leader, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president and current chairman of the Southern African Development Community, described the situation…
Jun 23 2008, By James Blitz, Tom Burgis and William Wallis, site
Africa must act to avoid being engulfed by Zimbabwe’s disaster

…President Paul Kagame is among the first to raise his head above the parapet, joining Botswana’s Ian Khama and Zambia’s Levy Mwanawasa in a growing band of African leaders who are prepared to condemn a tyrant. Not only has Robert Mugabe put southern…
Jun 25 2008, By Michael Holman and Greg Mills, site
Harare buffeted by winds of change blowing through region

…sea-change in the thinking of the 14- nation Southern African Development Community.Regional diplomats indicate that Levy Mwanawasa, Zambia’s president, and Ian Khama, Botswana’s new leader, are impatient with the region’s traditional reverence for…
May 01 2008, By Alec Russell in Cape Town, Financial Times


Africa mourns loss of a leader unafraid to speak his mind.

By Tom Burgis

Published: August 20 2008 03:00 | Last updated: August 20 2008 03:00

One Sunday in late June, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president who died yesterday aged 59, was on the eve of the most momentous day of his career.

He had been the first to break the longstanding deference of African rulers towards Robert Mugabe, condemning the abuses that had culminated in the Zimbabwean autocrat claiming victory in a discredited election. As early as March last year, Mwanawasa had referred to the “sinking Ti-tanic” that was Zimbabwe’s inflation-battered economy.

Now, as the serving chair of the southern African bloc, the retiring former lawyer would carry the hopes of many Zimbabweans into an African Union summit in Egypt at which Mr Mugabe would try to stare down his counterparts into legitimising his flawed triumph.

For a man most at ease in small gatherings, assiduously reading his briefing papers or escaping to the family farm for the planting season, the ordeal ahead was immense. Alphabetical seating by country was to have put him next to Mr Mugabe.

It proved too much. Always in poor health since the car crash 17 years earlier that left him with slurred speech, Mwanawasa suffered a stroke. Even as he was flown to the Paris hospital where he would die seven weeks later, the summit was welcoming Mr Mugabe back to the fold, thwarting the efforts of a handful of Mwanawasa’s like-minded peers.

The second son of 10 siblings, Mwanawasa was born in Mufulira, near the Congolese border, in 1948, 16 years before Zambia’s independence from Britain.

A crusading legal career established his public profile. When the one-party state of Kenneth Kaunda unravelled into elections in 1991, Frederick Chiluba, the victorious leader of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, appointed Mwanawasa as vice-president.

In 2001, disillusioned with the pervasive corruption of the Chiluba regime, Mwanawasa turned on – and ousted – his mentor. Within weeks he had stripped his predecessor of immunity from prosecution. A London court later found that Mr Chiluba had salted away $46m (€31m, £25m) of public funds.

Mwanawasa’s anti-graft offensive won him the allegiance of international donors who flooded state coffers with aid. China came calling too, tempted by some of the world’s richest copper deposits. Economic growth rose from just over 3 per cent a year when he took office to 6 per cent last year.

Yet, as his critics point out, about seven in every 10 Zambians still live on less than $2 a day. “Wealth has trickled downwards but it has not trickled outwards to the rural areas,” said a European diplomat in Lusaka. “That challenge is only just beginning.”

It is not clear who will take up that challenge. Mwanawasa avoided anointing an heir. His death has thrown his party into turmoil as cabinet ministers who thought they had three more years to jockey for position face an election within three months. The discord may open a window for Michael Sata, the opposition leader who came second when Mwanawasa won a second term in 2006 and who has lambasted the government’s fiscal orthodoxy.

Those who knew Mwanawasa, who had six children with his wife Maureen and two from a previous marriage, describe a man whose unspectacular oratory masked a deep conviction.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition, yesterday lamented the death of “a good friend and comrade”. He added: “Sadly, he has left us at this most trying time.”



Posted on on August 7th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Let the diplomatic Beijing Games begin… but which leaders are taking part?
The Independent – Thursday, 7 August 2008.

(Photo) Torchbearer Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets basketball team holds the torch as he runs through the Tiananmen Gate during the 2008 Beijing Olympics torch relay.


*George Bush

A quiet confirmation from the White House on Independence Day helped turn the tide for China. Mr Bush is believed to have accepted a personal invitation from his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao, and Japan and Russia quickly followed suit. He said a snub would insult the people of China. Covering his bases, Mr Bush got his criticism of Beijing out of the way yesterday.

*Sonia Gandhi

When it came to its rival developing superpower, China did not send an invitation to either the Indian head of state Pratibha Patil or Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, inviting instead Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born head of India’s Congress Party and widow of the assassinated prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. She wasted little time in accepting.

*Nicolas Sarkozy

Unsurprisingly he has been the one to generate the most controversy. First flirted publicly with a boycott before thinking harder about the true cost of such a snub. Later realised that selling the Airbus and nuclear technology were greater priorities – whatever his human rights critics said. And he’s curried favour by shying away from meeting the Dalai Lama during the Games.

*Kevin Rudd

The Australian Prime Minister has told the Chinese some awkward truths in their own language. The former diplomat and Mandarin speaker called on Beijing to engage with the Dalai Lama in March and followed it up with a candid visit in April. He stopped short of boycotting the opener in a move which might have threatened trade links.


Who’s not going:

*Gordon Brown

He is a realist over relations with China, having agreed fresh trade deals with Beijing this year, but he was unable to resist the temptation to hint at dissent and opted to stay away from the opening ceremony after the crackdown in Tibet. Mr Brown insists the two are not connected. For a politician in his parlous situation, he might regret opting for the closing ceremony instead.

*Angela Merkel

The most straightforward of Europe’s leaders on issues that China finds uncomfortable, she risked the ire of Beijing by welcoming the Dalai Lama to Berlin last year – something her predecessor Gerhard Schröder hadn’t dared to do. She has been equally blunt in pointing out that the Olympic opener clashes with her holiday, so she will not be attending.

*Stephen Harper

Canada’s prime minister appeared to be swimming with the mainstream when he confirmed in April that he would not attend the Bird’s Nest show. Looking around the G8 he had the Italians, Germans, Brits and, he thought, the US with him. A few months later the snub looks more costly and Canada’s trade minister has been forced to assure the public that it won’t hit exports.

*Hans Gert-Pöttering

The president of the European Parliament is the only leading political figure to formally boycott the ceremony. Without a trade portfolio to defend – or at least with others to do that job, he felt free to take a stand over China’s treatment of the Dalai Lama. It remains a moot point whether the invitation list ever included the German politician.


And who wasn’t welcome !!!!

*Robert Mugabe

The embattled Zimbabwean leader got his refusal in first, saying that talks to resolve the political crisis prevented him from going. However, Beijing had already made it clear in private that he was not wanted. While Mr Mugabe does not usually do as he is told, he was not willing to embarrass his Chinese backers, at a time when he needs them more than ever.

*Omar Al-Bashir

While he has been indicted by the International Criminal Court, he has not been invited by Beijing. The Sudanese leader can count on Chinese support so long as he keeps the oil exports coming, but his is not a friendship Beijing wants to project. Darfur has been rivalled only by Tibet as a negative factor in China’s international image.

*Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The unpredictable Iranian leader was among the few leaders the rest regard as a pariah who was offered a seat at Beijing. He politely refused the invitation in May but said he might show up for the Paralympics. Despite Tehran’s insistence to the contrary, some sources insist that China had made an offer it wanted the man in Tehran to refuse.

*Kim Jong-Il

It’s hard to know whether the North Korean leader’s decision to stay at home has been greeted with greater relief in Beijing or Washington. A public encounter with Kim was not a prospect to thrill the White House – or his South Korean counterpart. Instead, his right-hand man Kim Yong Nam will be a “guest of honour”.


Posted on on August 5th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Why your happiness matters to the planet: Surveys and research link true happiness to a smaller footprint on the ecology.

By Moises Velasquez-Manoff, Staff Writer of The Christian Science Monitor / July 22, 2008
From New York, Reporter Moises Velasquez-Manoff discusses the correlations between happiness, material goods, and ecological footprints.

Overall, people around the world have grown happier during the past 25 years – this according to the most recent World Values Survey (WVS), a periodic assessment of happiness in 97 nations.

On average, people describing themselves as “very happy” have increased by nearly 7 percent. The findings seem to contradict the view, held by some, that national happiness levels are more or less fixed.

The report’s authors attribute rising world happiness to improved economies, greater democratization, and increased social tolerance in many nations. Along with material stability, freedom to live as one pleases is a major factor in subjective well-being, they say.

But the survey, based at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research in Ann Arbor, also underscore that, beyond a certain point, material wealth doesn’t boost happiness.

The United States, which ranked 16th, and has the world’s largest economy, has largely stalled in happiness gains – this despite ever more buying power.

Americans are now twice as rich as they were in 1950, but no happier, according to the survey.

Other rich countries, the United Kingdom and western Germany among them, show downward happiness trends. For psychologists and environmentalists alike, these observations prompt a profound question. Rich countries consume the lion’s share of world resources.

Overconsumption is a major factor in environmental degradation, global warming chief among them.

Could a wrong-headed approach to seeking happiness, then, be exacerbating some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems? And could learning to be truly content help mitigate them?

In the past decade, a cadre of psychologists has directed its attention away from determining what’s wrong with the infirm toward quantifying what’s right with the healthy. They’ve christened this new field “positive psychology,” and what they’re discovering perhaps shouldn’t be all that surprising. At the core, humans are social beings. While food and shelter are absolutely essential to well-being, once these basic needs are fulfilled, engagement with other human beings makes people happiest.

For Martin Seligman, director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the problem in the US is not consumption per se, but that as a society we consume in ways that don’t make us happy. He divides the pursuit of happiness into three categories: seeking positive emotion, or feeling good; engagement with others; and meaning, or participating in something larger than oneself.

People, he notes, are often happiest when helping other people, when engaged in “self-transcendent” activities. What does this mean?

Rather than making a gift of the latest iPhone, buy someone dancing lessons, he says. Instead of taking a resort vacation, build a house with Habitat for Humanity.

“The pursuit of engagement and the pursuit of meaning don’t habituate,” he says, whereas trying to feel good is like eating French vanilla ice cream: The first bite is fantastic; the tenth tastes like cardboard.

By definition, happiness is subjective. And yet, scientists find measurable differences in people who describe themselves as happy. They’re more productive at work. They learn more quickly. Strong social networks – a large predictor of happiness – also have health effects, researchers say.

One study found that belonging to clubs or societies cut in half members’ risk of dying during the following year. Another found that, when exposed to a cold virus, children with stronger social networks fell ill only one-quarter as often as those without.

For psychologists, social networks explain one of the seeming paradoxes of WVS findings: While relatively rich Denmark took the top spot, much less wealthy Puerto Rico and Colombias are second and third. In fact, relatively poor Latin America countries often score high on WVS rankings. This may underline the value of community, family, and strong social institutions to well-being.

Scientists say this need for community may be a result of humanity’s long evolution in groups. Living together conferred an advantage, they say. In the hunter-gatherer world, relatedness, autonomy, curiosity, and competence – the very things that psychologists find make people happy – “had payoffs that were pretty clear,” says Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester in New York. “Aspiring for a lot of material goods is actually unhappiness-producing,” he says. “People who value material good and wealth also are people who are treading more heavily on the earth – and not getting happier.”

High consumption fails to make us happy, and it comes at a cost. According to the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) 2006 Living Planet Report, humanity’s ecological footprint now exceeds earth’s capacity to regenerate by about 25 percent.

Furthermore, with only 5 percent of the world’s population, North America accounts for 22 percent of this footprint. The US consumes twice what its land, air, and water can sustain. (By contrast, WWF calculates that Africa, with 13 percent of earth’s population, accounts for 7 percent of its footprint.) America’s outsize footprint results in part from its appetite for stuff – what psychologists now say is the wrong approach to lasting well-being.

“The pursuit of happiness can drive environmental degradation, but only a degraded type of happiness pursuit leads to that outcome,” says Kennon Sheldon, professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri, Columbia, in an e-mail. “The standard western focus upon economic utility as the highest good (exemplified by the US) seems to encourage that kind of degraded pursuit.”

Worse, so-called “extrinsic” values (wealth, power, fame), as opposed to “intrinsic” values (adventure, engagement, meaning), seem to go hand-in-hand with more environmentally destructive behavior.

Tim Kasser, an associate professor of psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., has found that people who are more extrinsically oriented tend to ride bikes less, buy second-hand less, and recycle less.

Nations with more individualistic and materialistic values also tend to be more ecologically destructive.

“The choice of sustainability is very consistent with a happier life,” Professor Kasser says. “Whereas the choice to live with materialistic [values] is a choice to be less happy.”

The idea that what’s good for humanity is also good for the planet is central to environmentalist Bill McKibben’s book “Deep Economy.” His prescriptions for lowering carbon emissions – living closer together, relocalizing food production, consuming less – line up with what psychologists say promotes happiness.

In fact, although painful in the short term, high fuel prices may result in happier Americans in the long run, says Mr. McKib ben. This year, Americans drove less than they did the year before – probably for the first time since the car was invented, he says. They also bought double the vegetable seeds this year compared with last. “These are signs of a new world,” he says by e-mail.

For their part, psychologists are advocating that policymakers use indicators other than the Gross National Product (GNP) to make decisions. What’s the purpose of an economy, they ask, if not to enhance the well-being of its citizenry?

“It’s because growth for growth sake” says Nic Marks, founder of the Centre for Well-beong at the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in London. It’s got its own internal logic, but it’s not serving humanity. So why are we doing it?”

Bhutan uses Gross National Happiness as a measure of its success. Although small and undeveloped, the largely Buddhist nation is the happiest in Asia, according to BusinessWeek.

Psychologists also have specific recommendations to promote national happiness, based on their findings about what makes people happy. Insecurity fosters a materialistic approach to life, they say. Policies that combat insecurity – universal healthcare, say, or good, affordable education – promote happiness. Many link social policies like these to Scandinavian nations’ consistently high happiness rankings.

Kasser has more ideas: Limit – and tax – advertising, he says. To promote consumption, ads foster insecurity, he says. That hinders self-acceptance, which is another predictor of lasting well-being.

NEF’s Happy Planet Index (HPI), meanwhile, has developed a new measure of a nation’s success. How efficiently does it generate happiness? HPI takes a country’s happiness and average life span and divides it by its ecological impact to measure how much it spent in achieving its well-being. On this scale, the Pacific archipelago nation of Vanatu comes in first place, Colombia second. Germany is twice as efficient at producing happiness as the US, which ranks 150th by that measure. Russia, with its low happiness scores and relatively low life expectancy, is 178th. And Zimbabwe, plagued by poverty and political turmoil, is the least efficient at producing happiness on Earth.

How The HPI is calculated:

The HPI reflects the average years of happy life produced by a given society, nation or group of nations, per unit of planetary resources consumed.

Put another way, it represents the efficiency with which countries convert the earth’s finite resources into well-being experienced by their citizens.
The Global HPI incorporates three separate indicators: ecological footprint, life-satisfaction and life expectancy. Conceptually, it is straight forward and intuitive:

HPI = [ (Life satisfaction x Life expectancy) /(Ecological Footprint + α) ] x ß

(For details of how alpha and beta are calculated, see the appendix in the full Happy Planet Index report)

The World Values Survey is available at:


Download the reports
Download the Happy Planet report (2006, pdf)
Download the European Happy Planet report (2007, pdf)

See the Global HPI map:

The article appeared in The Christian Science Monitor –…

It’s not genetics that makes Danes happy and Russians gloomy, according to the World Values Survey which, for thirty years, has been sending out questionnaires to people in 95 countries to ”know how others experience the world”. (NEWSCOM)


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

An Austro-Hungarian firm with licence to print Mugabe’s money.

The Mugabe regime’s final lifeline is a small Vienna-based software company that helps it to keep printing the money it relies on for its survival, was revealed July 24, 2008, by   The Independent of London, as per information from Zurich.

Jura JSP, an Austro-Hungarian firm with just 50 employees, has been dealing with the pariah government in Harare, enabling it to keep ahead of its hyperinflation crisis. Officials at the company confirmed yesterday that it supplied the licences and software used to design and print the Zimbabwe dollar, but would review this position if required to do so by the EU.
Fresh EU sanctions announced yesterday do not cover all companies dealing with the Mugabe regime, but other firms named and shamed for profiting from the Zimbabwe crisis have cut all links. The software company enables the regime to print the money it uses to pay the army, police and security agents which keep Zanu PF in power. Without access to paper money, Mr Mugabe would face an immediate crisis.

Inflation is running at nearly three million per cent and the country issued a 100 billion dollar banknote this week, worth only about 7p. The economist say John Robertson said inflation was the greatest threat to the ruling party and the rate was likely to climb to 100 million per cent within the next month. “If the software is withdrawn there is no language to describe what would follow,” he said.

Paper is running out at the state-run mint Fidelity Printers and Refiners after the Bavarian company Giesecke and Devrient stopped deliveries last week following pressure from the German government. Now Austria and Hungary are expected to come under diplomatic pressure to follow Berlin’s lead.

After withstanding years of intense international criticism, targeted sanctions and domestic pressure, a move against the software supplier could be a decisive blow against Mr Mugabe, analysts said. And with crucial negotiations getting under way in South Africa today between the government and the opposition, the timing could be critical. David Coltart, an opposition senator, said: “If the company does stop supplying then that will show the regime that there is no place to hide and that the game is up… That may then even assist the negotiations.”

In Harare, supplies of paper money are already running out. The embattled Central Reserve Bank has capped daily withdrawals to 100 billion dollars per person, but this is barely enough to buy a bus ticket or a loaf of bread. Long queues appear from first light at banks throughout the country in a daily battle to survive.

The regime’s answer to economic meltdown – driven by its own looting of state and private assets – has been to print more and more worthless money, creating unprecedented hyperinflation and the prospect of trillion or quadrillion dollar notes in the coming months.

While Mr Mugabe and his circle of cronies have proven deaf to international calls to hold free and fair elections, his government continues to rely on its control of the central bank and the Fidelity money presses which until recently ran 24 hours a day to keep up with the crisis. Trades union leaders appealed to the government yesterday to lift the cap on withdrawals of Z$100bn, describing it as a “joke”. As recently as 2006 the central bank was still issuing a Z$50 note.

A new list of Zimbabwean targets for sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, by the European Union includes the central bank governor, Gideon Gono, the attorney general Bharat Patel and the cricket chairman Peter Chingoka.

Most of the 37 targets posted on the EU website are security officers, “directly involved in the terror campaign” waged around the disputed elections.


Posted on on July 23rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (






Posted on on July 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

UN Lets China Import African Ivory As It Did For Japan In 1999.

ELIANE ENGELER, Associated Press, July 15, 2008 from GENEVA.

A U.N. panel granted China permission today to import elephant ivory from African government stockpiles despite opposition from some countries and environmental groups.

The standing committee overseeing the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, voted 9-3 with two abstentions that China qualified for the exception needed for the one-time auction because it has dramatically improved its enforcement of ivory rules.

Ivory trade was banned globally in 1989, but reviving elephant populations allowed African countries to make a one-time sale a decade later to Japan, the only country which had previously won the right to import. Now, about after another 10 years, China joins the infamy.

Last year, CITES authorized Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe to make a second sale of 108 tons of government stocks.

The body’s spokesman, Juan Carlos Vasquez, said after today’s vote that China and Japan would bid for their share of ivory at an auction later this year.

The stocks approved for sale include around 44 tons from Botswana, 9 tons from Namibia, 51 tons from South Africa and 4 tons from Zimbabwe.

CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers said the body will closely supervise the sale.

“We will continue monitoring the Chinese and Japanese domestic trade controls to ensure that unscrupulous traders do not take this opportunity to launder ivory from illegal origin,” he said in a statement.

China was pleased with the decision. “China has strived for this status for a long time,” said Wan Ziming, a member of the Chinese delegation.

Still, there was opposition to China’s inclusion in the latest auction from African countries Ghana and Kenya, which joined Australia in trying to block the decision. Those in favour included Britain, the European Union and Japan.

“It’s very evident that China has made an enormous commitment,” Tom Milliken, a senior investigator at Traffic, the world’s largest wildlife trade monitor, said Monday. “Seizures are occurring at a very fast clip these days. The government is putting a lot more in enforcement efforts.”

Mr. Wan said the Chinese would do their best to ensure that “illegal ivory cannot enter into the legal market.”

But some environment groups disagreed and said their case was strengthened by the Chinese government’s revelation that it lost track of 121 tons of ivory over a dozen years that probably was sold on illegal markets.

China told the CITES in 2003 that the “shortfall” – equal to the tusks from about 11,000 dead elephants – was accumulated between 1991 and 2002. The Associated Press obtained the document last week from the Environmental Investigation Agency, a watchdog based in Washington and London that was seeking to prevent China from gaining permission to trade ivory.

Allan Thornton, the agency’s chairman, said last week that China had left too many questions unanswered to be given the right to import. He said trading of ivory – a booming black market commodity, with tusks, jewellery and trinkets bringing in millions of dollars for smugglers and sellers since the 1989 ban – was “out of control.”

The agency said more than 20,000 elephants a year are killed illegally in Africa and Asia for the ivory black market, and that Chinese nationals have been implicated in illegal ivory seizures in more than 20 African nations.

Mr. Milliken, who was part of CITES’ original mission to China in 2005, disagreed.

“Does illegal trade continue? Yes. But that’s probably inevitable,” Mr. Milliken said, adding that Japan showed that one-time ivory sales had no correlation with a rise in illegal smuggling.

Trade in elephant ivory far eclipses any demand for other animals’ tusks.

Much of the ivory destined for China is carved into jewellery and ornaments bought by tourists from other parts of Asia.

After the sale, the four southern African countries will not be allowed to export ivory again for nine years and must use the sale proceeds for programs to protect their elephant populations.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The charges against Bashir

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

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

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


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

The Independent, Tuesday, 15 July 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 m.dejevsky at


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted on on July 14th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

UN’s Ban Slams Zimbabwe on Bias, But Lets Slide Russia’s Kosovo Critique and North Korea’s Lack of Voting and Human Rights

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

UNITED NATIONS, Saturday July 13, 2008 — Minutes after the UN Security Council’s draft resolution to impose sanctions on the Robert Mugabe government failed on July 11, subject to a rare double veto by both Russia and China, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the UN Boniface Chidyausiku told the Press that the office of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has shown it cannot “be an impartial arbiter of the situation in Zimbabwe.”

Inner City Press asked him why the resolution’s proponents had insisted on calling a vote, even once they knew that there would be not only an abstention by Indonesia and five votes against, from South Africa, Viet Nam, Libya and Russia and China with their vetoes. It was “the arrogance of the Americans,” Chidyausiku said. Video here, from Minute 2:37.


  On the evening of Saturday, July 12, the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, Michele Montas, issued a statement that “we strongly regret the highly inappropriate and unacceptable comments by the Permanent Representative of Zimbabwe questioning the Secretary-General’s impartiality toward events in Zimbabwe.” The response was at odds with the usual position, that the Secretary-General defers to and does not comment on the Security Council or member states.

    On July 9, about other Council member comments critical of Ban Ki-moon, Inner City Press asked Ms. Montas

Inner City Press: Yesterday at the stakeout, Russian Ambassador Churkin said the Secretary-General had overstepped his bounds in the reconfiguration in Kosovo, and he specifically took issue with this idea that the EULEX force would not be reporting either to UNMIK or to the UN in New York.   Is there any response to what Churkin said?

Spokesperson Montas: This is the position, of course, of the Russian Ambassador and he expressed his opinion and that’s all I can say.

  But when Zimbabwe’s Ambassador similarly questioned the Secretariat’s actions, this same Spokesperson did not let it go as one Ambassador’s opinion and “that’s all I can say.” Rather, the Zimbabwean’s comments were strongly criticized as “highly inappropriate and unacceptable.”

  The question arises: what’s the difference?


Mugabe and Ban, questions of outside influence and bias not shown.


  Is it, as some close observers opine, that while the U.S. and to a lesser extent UK / European Union shape Ban Ki-moon’s policies both on Zimbabwe and Kosovo, it was considered to have less political cost to lash back at Zimbabwe than at Russia? Is it that Russia is a Permanent Five member of the Security Council, with veto power not only over resolutions but over a possible second term for Ban Ki-moon?

Until the vetoes were cast, South Africa’s Mbeki was viewed as Mugabe’s main supporter, and the U.S. has signalled that with Jacob Zuma waiting in the wings, critique of Mbeki, and in this case of Zimbabwe, can be ratcheted up.

    Others contrast Ban Ki-moon’s approach to Zimbabwe with, for example, his approach to North Korea, another government which widely violates human rights, and which doesn’t even purport to have elections. In the past week, Inner City Press conducted an informal but wide-spread poll in the UN, whether people would rather live in Zimbabwe or North Korea. The results were similar to those in Equatorial Guinea, which Ban Ki-moon has not criticized — an over 90% win, in this this case for Zimbabwe as a comparatively better place to live than North Korea. But compare the UN’s statements.

  Here is what Zimbabwe’s Ambassador said on July 11:

“We believe that the office of the Secretary-General is good offices for the resolution of any political situation in the world.   He must have the perception that, that office is impartial.   What we have witnessed in Zimbabwe, all the reports that have come from the Department of Political Affairs, are pro-opposition and they never say anything positive about the government of Zimbabwe.   We believe they are partisan and with that type of an approach, there’s no way they can be impartial arbiter in the resolution of the situation in Zimbabwe.”

    The critique is of the Department of Political Affairs and “they,” that is, Team Ban. When the Secretariat has been making statements in recent weeks about Zimbabwe, a question was muttered, who is writing this stuff? Some pointed at the nationality of the head of the Department of Political Affairs, Lynn Pascoe, a former U.S. State Department official. Mr. Pascoe was slated, along with fellow American Robert Orr, to appear with Ban Ki-moon at his July 10 press conference.

  Perhaps concerned with how it would look, to finally appear for a sit-down press conference flanked by two senior advisers both from the same country, Ban ended up appearing accompanied on the rostrum only by his Spokesperson, who once again controlled the question-asking in such a way that none of these issues, including Kosovo and objectivity, were inquired into or addressed.

 Relatedly, in a small but telling detail, the Spokesperson’s daily summaries of press converage of the UN and Ban Ki-moon systemically omit certain critical and investigative coverage. In light of an interesting report of Ban reading in the Mugabe-controlled Herald of Harare of Chidyausiku’s critique, and laughingly commenting, I guess he doesn’t like me much, the shrill Saturday slap-down is all the more surprising.

  To be charitable, since Mr. Ban seems pleasant and has long been a diplomat, some wonder if all of the above originates with him.


Posted on on July 6th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

“Avaaz” means “Voice” in many Asian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European languages. – The World In Action -7,222,100 actions taken since it was established January   2007.

In just one year, Avaaz has grown to over 3.2 million members in every nation of the world. is a new global web movement with a simple democratic mission: to close the gap between the world we have, and the world most people everywhere want.

Across the world, most people want stronger protections for the environment, greater respect for human rights, and concerted efforts to end poverty, corruption and war. Yet globalization faces a huge democratic deficit as international decisions are shaped by political elites and unaccountable corporations — not the views and values of the world’s people.

Technology and the internet have allowed citizens to connect and mobilize like never before. The rise of a new model of internet-driven, people-powered politics is changing countries from Australia to the Philippines to the United States. Avaaz takes this model global, connecting people across borders to bring people powered politics to international decision-making.

Coming together in this way, Avaaz has become a   community of people from all nations, backgrounds, and ages brought together by our care for the world, and a desire to do what we can to make it a better place.
In just one year, Avaaz has grown to over 3.2 million members in every nation of the world.

The core of this model of organizing is the email list, operated in 13 languages. By signing up to receive the alerts, you are rapidly alerted to urgent global issues and opportunities to achieve change. Avaaz members respond by rapidly combining the small amounts of time or money they can give into a powerful collective force. In just hours we can send hundreds of thousands of messages to political leaders telling them to save a crucial summit on climate change , hold hundreds of rallies across the world calling for action to prevent a genocide, or donate hundreds of thousands of euros, dollars and yen to support nonviolent protest in Burma. Their web gives the list of campaigns and impacts in 2007.

In just one year AVAAZ has begun to make a real impact on global politics. The Economist writes that Avaaz is poised to deliver “a deafening wake up call” to world leaders, the Indian Express welcomes “the biggest web campaigner across the world” and Nobel Prize winner Al Gore says “Avaaz is inspiring, and has already begun to make a difference.”

This weekend AVAAZ has taken a full page add in The Financial Times in which African leaders: Mandela, Koroma, Tutu, Merafhe, Mwanawama, Johnson-Sirleaf call for the non-recognition of Mugabe’s Presidency of Zimbabwe. It also notes that todate only Sudan and Iran have recognized the Zimbabwe power-grab as legitimate government.

AVAAZ says: After a terror campaign and a sham ‘election’ Robert Mugabe has declared himself President of Zimbabwe. The country is in crisis and its fate depends on talks between Mugabe and the winner of the first round election — Morgan Tsvangirai.

If Governments from around the world do not recognise Mugabe, his position will be weakened, and he could be pressured into a deal with Tsvangirai that reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people.

Also,   Avaaz will attend the July 7th Summit to deliver a worldwide public outcry to G8 leaders for strong climate commitments. This is our chance to urge rich country leaders for bold action on climate change – they say.

The Avaaz community is served by a small team of global campaigners working in many countries to identify and develop opportunities for members to take action. Our campaign team consults with members to develop campaigns and set the priorities of the organisation. Avaaz also relies on teams of expert advisors to help develop our campaigns, and often Avaaz members volunteer to work with the team on specific projects. We currently have staff based in Rio de Janeiro, Geneva, New York, London, and Washington DC. Our core campaign team members are:

Ricken Patel – Co-Founder and Executive Director (Canada)
Paul Hilder – Campaign Director (UK)
Ben Wikler – Campaign Director (US)

Milena Berry – Chief Technical Officer (Bulgaria)
Galit Gun – Campaigner (Mexico)
Iain Keith – Campaigner (UK)
Graziela Tanaka – Campaigner (Brazil)
Pascal Vollenweider – Campaigner (Switzerland) was co-founded by Res Publica, a global civic advocacy group, and, an online community that has pioneered internet advocacy in the United States.

The co-founding team was also composed of a group of global social entrepreneurs from 6 countries, including our Executive Director Ricken Patel, Tom Perriello, Tom Pravda, Eli Pariser, Andrea Woodhouse, Jeremy Heimans, and David Madden.

Avaaz is lucky to have the founding partnership and support of leading activist organizations from around the world, including the Service Employees International Union, a founding partner of Avaaz,, and many others.