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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 25th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

from Kreisky Forum <kreiskyforum@kreisky.org>
date Wed, Aug 25, 2010
subject WOMEN CARRY THE BURDEN;

Mittwoch, 8. September 2010, 19.00 Uhr

im Rahmen der Reihe Talking for Peace. A Karl Kahane Lecture Series laden wir Sie sehr herzlich zu der

folgenden Veranstaltung ein:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010, 7.00 p.m.

WOMEN CARRY THE BURDEN CONFLICT PREVENTION AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION

Opening event in the framework of the 2010 International Meeting of National Committees for UNIFEM (Part of UN Women) presented by DER STANDARD

Welcome: Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek, Federal Minister for Women and Civil Service

Introduction to UN Resolution 1325: Maj. Gen. Johann Pucher, National Security Policy Director, Federal Ministry of Defence and Sports

Keynote: Inés Alberdi, Executive Director of UNIFEM (Part of UN Women)

Contributions:

Sonja Biserko, Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Serbia

Taghreed El-Khodary, New York Times, Gaza

Liberata Mulamula, Executive Secretary, International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, Burundi

Anat Saragusti, Executive Director of Agenda, Israel

Moderator: Gudrun Harrer, Senior Editor, DER STANDARD

In cooperation with

the Austrian National Committee for UNIFEM (Part of UN Women)

and the support of the Federal Chancellery, the Federal Ministry for Women and Civil Service,
the Federal Ministry of Defence and Sports (Directorate for Security Policy,
and the Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation.

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

Please register: Tel.: 3188260/20 | Fax: 318 82 60/10 | e-mail: einladung.kreiskyforum@kreisky.org

Melitta Campostrini
Bruno Kreisky Forum
for International Dialogue
Armbrustergasse 15
A-1190 Vienna

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

nbsp;asiasociety.org/style-living/food…

Aug 13, 2010

Fasting this Ramadan? Follow these few key guidelines to eating well and staying healthy during the holy month.

(Photo by ulterior epicure/Flickr)

(Photo by ulterior epicure/Flickr)

By Rafaya Sufi

Fasting this Ramadan? Or have friends who are? Follow these few key guidelines to eating well and staying healthy during Ramadan.

Since its foundation, Ramadan is celebrated with vigor amongst Muslim communities. A typical day of fasting consists of consuming an overnight breakfast at dawn, restricting any food and drink till sunset. Muslims may continue to eat and drink after the sun has set till the next morning’s fajr prayer at dawn.

The key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the month depends on a few practical points.

1. Water: For starters, proper hydration is essential. Fasting does not mean that all bodily functions stop requiring water. Headaches, fatigue, fuzzy thinking, irritability, and illness are often caused by inadequate hydration. We need half our body weight each day to just maintain normal bodily functions. To determine your water needs, use this simple formula:

Your body weight in pounds/2 = The amount of water you need to drink in ounces a day

So, If you weigh 180 lbs/2 = 90 oz/day, minimum

2. Replace Sugar With Fruit (when possible): What’s better than eating a delicious slice of cake (or baklava, or brownie, or some chocolate mousse, or….) once you break your fast? Fruit! Yes, this is a hard one, so quit complaining and follow these instructions for healthier you. You may think you deserve a piece of your favorite dessert after all those hours of restraining, but sugar robs our bodies of minerals and vitamins. During a period of fasting, our bodies need to hold on to as many minerals and vitamins as possible, so don’t let them escape just by giving in to your craving (after all, this is a month of self-restraint). Try baking this nutritious Fried Banana recipe at home as an alternative to sugar-loaded desserts.

3. Soup: A quick, easy, and nutritious food to consume during Ramadan is soup. Soup provides deep nourishment and is easily absorbed by the body. It is also a great way to meet your water needs, and if you blend all the good stuff together, picky eaters will never question what they are eating! After you break your fast, have some soup, and make it a staple diet for the month. Try making some delicious, vitamin-packed Mulligatawny soup at home.

4. Eat Slowly/Don’t Overdo It: What’s the rush? You have all evening! There is a tendency to eat really fast amongst people breaking their fasts. Trying to pack in 101 activities within the first few minutes of breaking your fast, which includes eating 101 foods, can cause some serious indigestion. Avoid that awful feeling by slowing down. Take small bites so you can chew well. The longer you chew your food, the less work your digestive track needs to do and you absorb more nurturance. So overall, it’s a win-win situation.

5. Vitamins and Minerals: Load up on them! Unfortunately, food today is not as nutritious as it was once. Unless you’re consuming 100 percent organic foods, you’ll probably need to replenish your body with lost electrolytes and vitamins. The top nutrients to look at are vitamins C, B-complex, zinc, E, and A. Vitamins C, A, and E along with zinc are known as antioxidants, and unless you’re living under a rock, antioxidants are in–they’re the latest health trend these days because they do wonders for your body. Eat fresh fruits, berries, and vegetables in abundance! B-complex vitamins are great at relieving stress, so be generous with those. Most Americans are already deficient in the B-complex vitamins due to eating high amounts of refined and processed foods, so skip the white bread, and opt for a whole-wheat option instead. Enjoy this healthy Ginger Tea to combat that tired feeling after fasting all day.

That’s all for now, folks. Have a healthy Ramadan!

Watch and learn how to make Harira soup

Traditional Moroccan Soup (Ramadan Special)

cookingwithalia

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/lebanon/7916925/Lebanon-facing-crisis-if-Hizbollah-charged-over-political-murder.html

Lebanon facing crisis if Hizbollah charged over political murder. Lebanon could be pitched into crisis if a tribunal set up to investigate the murder of the former prime minister, Rafik Harari, recommends charging Hizbollah members.

by Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Published: 8:29PM BST 29 Jul 2010

Rafik Hariri

Rafik Harari, pictured,  Photo: AP
A bomb blast in Beirut targeting Prime Minister Rafik Hariri

Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed in a massive blast on Beirut’s Corniche in 2005. Photo: AP

Indications that the international tribunal investigating the massive car bomb that killed the veteran Lebanese leader would indict Hizbollah operatives has drawn a furious reaction from the leadership of the Iranian-backed terrorist group.

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbollah, raised the threat of withdrawal from the national unity government as it fought the tribunal, which he condemned as an “Israeli project”.

Hizbollah has a large following among the country’s Shia Muslims and any moves to resist the government could create significant instability in Lebanon.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia held talks in the Syrian capital on Thursday with Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president. The two men will travel to Beirut for a summit with President Michel Suleiman and Mr Hariri’s son Saad, Lebanon’s prime minister.

Leaks from the investigation have said mobile phone records prove that prominent Hizbollah activists tracked Mr Hariri before detonating the massive bomb that killed the billionaire businessman on the city’s Corniche in 2005.

The Saudi king was a close ally of Mr Hariri and is believed to want Syria to use its close ties to Hizbollah, to persuade the group to pull back from the brink. Mr Hariri’s followers said outside invention was necessary to avoid deadlock.

“The visit of King Abdullah and President Assad, who are coming together on Friday, will be an answer for all the questions about stability in Lebanon,” Nohad al-Machnouk, an MP said.

Syria was forced to withdraw from Lebanon in the aftermath of the attack, which its agents were believed to have ordered and assisted, and the visit will be Mr Assad’s first since relations were restored.

Fatima Issawi, spokeswoman for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, said its UN mandate required the government of Lebanon to arrest and turn over any indicted suspects for trial. There is no confirmation that investigators had plans to charge the militant group. She said: “It would be quite unhelpful to add to the existing speculations. The Office of the Prosecutor will issue an indictment when it is ready.”

But Mr Nasarallah has said “not even a half” of a Hizbollah member was involved.

A breakdown of the Lebanese government would compound fears over the country’s deteriorating security, which has been buffeted by warnings that Israel may yet be forced into another offensive against Hizbollah missile and rocket positions.

Lebanon had to reinforce army deployments on its southern border region this month after local Hizbollah loyalists attacked UN peace keepers in a series of clashes.

Hizbollah is believed to have rearmed since the 2006 war with Israel despite international assurances that it would not be able to restock missiles and rockets within range of its southern neighbour.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 28th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The following are examples from today’s publication of the UN’s best friend – the $1 Billion UN Foundation’s UN Wire.

I see [Saddam Hussein] like Nebuchadnezzar, the emperor of Mesopotamia — an utterly ruthless, brutal man who sat with a revolver in his pocket and could use it to shoot you.”
Former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix. Read the full story – www.nytimes.com/2010/07/28/world/…

Blix faults U.S., British over pre-Iraq war intel
Former United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission chief Hans Blix testified Monday at a British inquiry that British and American intelligence officials gave too much credence to assertions of Iraqi defectors on weapons of mass destruction ahead of the 2003 war. Blix said U.S. and British authorities ignored recommendations and findings from the commission and should have allowed more time for investigations. The Independent (London) (7/28) , The New York Times (free registration) (7/27)

 www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/pol…

 www.nytimes.com/2010/07/28/world/…

—–
U.S. audit blasts Iraq reconstruction funds process
An audit by the U.S. Special Investigator for Iraq Reconstruction reports that 95% of the $9.1 billion in Iraqi oil and gas funds earmarked by the U.S. Defense Department for reconstruction cannot be accounted for. The audit report indicates sloppy record keeping and a lack of clear process leaves the Defense Department unable to detail the use of funds. The Globe and Mail (Toronto)/The Associated Press (7/28)

 www.theglobeandmail.com/news/worl…

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

Security Council mulls future of Darfur mission:
The security situation has deteriorated in Darfur and United Nations agencies are no longer able to gain access to many areas, the Security Council heard Tuesday. The council is expected to decide on an extension of a joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission this week. CNN (7/28)

 edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/africa…

Kidnapped German, American aid workers in Darfur speak out:
Kidnappers in Darfur released two German aid workers Tuesday after more than a month in captivity. The two said they were well treated. Another kidnapped aid worker — an American woman — was able to speak with a journalist Tuesday and reported food, water and shelter to be scarce. The kidnappers have demanded ransom from the Sudanese government for her release. AlertNet.org (7/27) , AlertNet.org (7/27

 www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk…

 www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk…

International terror networks taking root in DR Congo?
Intelligence analysts fear the conflict-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo may have a new security concern to contend with — international terrorism. Ugandan investigators believe Congolese group ADF-NALU was involved in the July 11 Kampala bombings alongside al-Qaida-linked Al Shabaab militants from Somalia. Interviews with recent defectors have provided evidence of foreigners visiting ADF-NALU camps on the mountains of eastern DR Congo. The Christian Science Monitor/Africa Monitor blog (7/28

 www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/Af…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

South Sudan’s road to independence.

By Barney Jopson

Published: March 20 2010

Thomas Bakata on his bike and wielding a gun in south  Sudan
Second lieutenant Thomas Bakata

 www.southsudan.net

 happyarabnews.blogspot.com/2006/1…

Barely an hour into a journey that was about to get longer and second lieutenant Thomas Bakata’s Chinese motorbike was handling as it usually does on the route from Juba to Yei: like a bucking bronco. It jerked and jolted over sandy ridges and stony pits as the rabbit-ear flaps on his green hat flailed in the wind, and the Wellington boots trussed to boxes on the back wriggled to get free.

On Bakata’s number plate was a flag belonging to a land-locked country-in-waiting at the rawest end of Africa’s ­wilderness spectrum. This is south Sudan, and the dirt track its lifeline to civilisation – a road so rough that drivers say taking it more than three times a week will scramble your ­internal organs.

Bakata, a regular traveller, lurched around another bend and squinted through his counterfeit Ray-Bans: a rope-and-streamer roadblock had been thrown up. He sighed and applied the brake, bringing the Senke 125cc to a halt. “How long will we wait here?” he asked, showing off a gap between his front teeth. The answer was 30 minutes, time enough to talk. “This land of ours,” he told me, “we have been many years fighting. Some of our fathers fought, so we have been fighting too.” He became a soldier 20 years ago, joining the then-guerrilla ranks of the Sudan People’s ­Liberation Army (SPLA) six years into the second phase of Africa’s longest civil war. The marginalised south was rebelling against a brutal Arab-led regime in Khartoum – the latest in a succession – and the bullets and flames of a scorched-earth campaign had arrived in Bakata’s village. He was 18 years old.

It was a war that killed two million people – equivalent to 20-25 per cent of the region’s population today – either in raids or battles, or through the hunger and disease that spread around them. The road where Bakata had stopped was a key fighting ground in the mid-1990s, when Juba was a garrison town controlled by Khartoum and surrounded by the SPLA. That is how the path and its hinterland came to be peppered with landmines – and why Bakata’s journey had been delayed. On the other side of the ­barrier, personnel from MineWolf Systems, a Swiss-­German demining company, clomped forward in suits that were half-astronaut, half-­beekeeper, clearing the last vestiges of the civil war from beneath the soil.

The conflict began in late 1955, a few months before Sudan gained independence from colonial Britain, and was passed down through generations. It was in part about race and religion, about the people of the south asserting that they were different from but equal to northerners. This came in the face of racist Islamist campaigns to impose Arab culture, Islam and sharia law across Sudan. Most southerners are Christian or have traditional beliefs that imbue the natural world with spiritual power. “We worship the ostrich, but we consider it like Jesus, like a ­mediator,” one man explained. “It is not a God itself.”

There were also issues of poverty and injustice: there are huge disparities in income and living standards within Sudan and a key reason, beyond the effects of the war, is the economic exploitation of the south by the north, which came to be symbolized by northern slave-raiding. “It’s Sudan: it means ‘the black people’,” says Bakata. “We are the real Sudanese. Those who are brown, they came like the Arabs. They came from the north to sit with us and we the black people got annoyed because there was no ­development. If you go to Khartoum, you see lots of things.”

Strapped over Bakata’s shoulder was the same Kalashnikov rifle he was given when he joined the liberation struggle, its butt chipped and scratched. “It is working okay,” he said, “because we don’t use it anyhow. It is only for protection. Last time was when we were fighting.” In 2005, after three years of intense negotiations and international pressure, the war ended with a peace deal between the SPLA and the Khartoum regime of president Omar al-Bashir. The deal gave the south partial autonomy and provided for a six-year interim period in which attempts would be made to heal the north-south rift through a more equitable distribution of power and resources. That has not succeeded. “The Arabs, we are over with them,” Bakata said dismissively. Instead, attention has shifted to the peace deal’s get-out clause: a referendum on southern self-determination due next January in which an ­overwhelming majority of southerners are expected to vote for secession.

It’s possible the referendum will be delayed; it’s possible Khartoum will choose to fight another war rather than let the south go; it’s possible the international community will get last-minute jitters over the rupture and try to thwart it. If none of that happens, south Sudan will become the world’s newest country as early as next July (following a six-month transitional period). But what kind of country? Plenty of places have been rebuilt after devastating wars, but nowhere has a nation-state been built from nothing in six years. “This is still bare-bones stuff,” said one British aid worker. “You’re looking at society before civilisation.”

An aerial view of houses in Juba, south Sudan
Juba, future capital city of an independent southern Sudan

The future capital of any future country is Juba, situated on the Bahr el-Jebel stretch of the White Nile river, a boom town in a region also known as the Wild South. The main unit of construction here is the shipping container; there is no public water supply; electricity comes from personal ­diesel generators; and only last year did the length of its paved roads surpass four miles. Yet it is home to a circus cast of outsiders who have flocked here since 2005: roughshod profiteers, UN drones in pressed shirts, bleeding heart aid workers, insta-fix briefcase consultants. They are attracted by its danger and its desperation and they have given Juba its signature impermanence and incoherence. “There’s this sense that everything arrived ­yesterday and that it’s changing before your eyes,” said one man on the payroll of a European government.



The area is the ancestral home of the Bari people and that’s why you can turn a corner and stumble across a community of tukul mud huts with conical straw roofs, or a team of hammer swingers making one of the region’s few indigenous products: broken rocks. This is the thing about Juba: it’s got bits of the pre-industrial era and it’s got bits of the ­21st-century, but there’s a gap where the western 20th century could have been. So it has mass illiteracy and US aid workers carrying Kindles – but precious few school textbooks. It has inter-tukul rumour mills and a “3.75G” mobile phone network – but no landlines. It has women fetching river water by hand and a few dust-churning Hummers – but no donkey-drawn carts. It also has oil – lots of it. Ninety-eight per cent of its non-aid budget this year comes from crude, so a future country is likely to be the world’s most oil-dependent. It is also headed towards being more dependent than anywhere else on aid agencies: they are estimated to provide 85 per cent of both education and health services in the region. During the war, the south’s main settlements had been garrison towns controlled by Khartoum whose economies were run by white-robed merchants from the north. Those merchants fled after the 2005 peace deal and left an ­economic vacuum that only risk-taking outsiders could fill: Ugandan steel suppliers, a Chinese mineral water trader, Eritrean hotel owners, a ­Canadian farmer, and so on. They got the region working but they have also stoked resentment at profiteering. Indeed, business people told me they were pocketing profit margins of 50, 100 or even 200 per cent. Evan Hadji­michael, a Greek born in Egypt and joint owner of Notos, a Mediterranean ­restaurant that tries to be different by offering “value”, said: “Everyone here tries to make a quick buck. They have an absurd pricing structure.”


Part of that is because no one knows whether national elections scheduled next month or the referendum next January will trigger renewed ­conflict, or whether the tenuous rule of law will protect them from land and tax grabs. Stories circulate of businesses that lost out in disputes with locals who got their way through brute force – for example, KK Security of Kenya, whose operation was violently seized.

Then there are the businesses that signed contracts with the government and ran off with the money. Yar Manoa Majek, a south Sudanese construction entrepreneur and member of the chamber of commerce, fumed about the lack of long-term investment. “Is the profit going to stay here?” she asked me, jabbing her notepad with a pen. “No. Every week, they take the money. Every week, they are sending money out by Western Union. How is that going to benefit the economy?”
. . .

Nestled among rolls of chain-link fencing and ­spaghetti-like stacks of steel cables, Chesta Musoke reclined at a “technology hub” grafted on to the side of a corrugated iron kiosk, reading an old copy of Red ­Pepper, a scandal-sheet from his native Uganda. A laid-back sophisticate, he looked out of place among the ­grizzled traders and truckers who have made Juba’s Mawunna trading centre the drop-off point for goods at the end of the Yei road. But they appreciate him for charging their mobile phone batteries – using a bank of sockets available for two ­Sudanese pounds (60p) a go – and for injecting some cheer into the grim workaday scene by pumping out music from his computer.

He tossed down his newspaper as I approached to chat. When I asked about the locals, he jabbed a finger at a picture on his computer screen of Destiny’s Child, the female R&B group, and told me about the reaction of his archetypal south Sudanese man. “He sees her here and he says he wants to talk to her. Now. Now. He is not yet aware of technology,” he said. “You bring the radio, he listens, then he comes back with money and says he wants to buy the songs inside. He sees the mirror and he wants to pass through it because he sees the traffic moving inside.”

The long civil war left most of the people frozen in time for 50 years while the rest of the world – including city dwellers in neighbouring ­African countries – raced ahead. Now they have been asked to cover in six years the ground that took the rest of us decades, centuries. “It’s a culture of no exposure to so many things,” says Suzanne Jambo, the garrulous head of external relations for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the political wing of the former rebel army, which rules the south. “It’s like baby steps. You have to take people on baby steps.”

The lack of familiarity with the modern world extends to concepts such as work, employment, commerce – even farming. South Sudan oozes fertility, but during mango ­season an overpowering stench assails parts of the region because heaps of the fruit are left rotting where they fall. Meanwhile, expats in Juba drink Ceres-branded mango juice imported from Uganda. “There’s a culture of dependency, a culture of not taking pride in earning your own income,” says Jambo. “It’s a way of thinking. It’s like an entitlement. Do you know? That’s how it is.”

Beyond war itself, such attitudes have their roots in Operation Lifeline Sudan, a food relief effort run by the UN and aid agencies during the conflict; it kept hundreds of thousands of civilians alive, but is now criticised for having pulled them into garrison towns and killed off agriculture and self-reliance. Members of the diaspora returning to south Sudan are helping to counteract this but they are often overpowered by a postwar indigenous economy that can be summarised as “oil revenues in, state salaries out”. South Sudan’s former guerrilla leaders turned public sector employment into a patronage tool, creating a state payroll of more than 300,000, including the army. It is as messy as it is unproductive: there are drivers with no cars, schools with more cleaners than teachers. But via hand-outs given to relatives the salaries probably support up to half the population.

One of the rooms of Juba Teaching  Hospital
Juba Teaching Hospital

The labels have been stuck on the store-room shelves – ampicillin, flagil, septazole – but the spaces above them are empty. The adjustable baby-delivery chairs gleam after a scrub, but some do not work because their screws have fallen out. The amateur midwives are literate and hard-working, but they tend to panic when a labour doesn’t go according to plan. This is the maternity ward in the Juba Teaching Hospital; too often it is also the scene of avoidable tragedy.

“Recognising complications during birth is an issue,” Sake Jemelia, head of the ward, told me. “Most of the mothers die because of that … The community midwives run up and down calling for the doctor. But the doctor is not there and there is no blood to replace what is lost.” South Sudan’s human development indicators are among the worst in the world. The UN spells them out on a list entitled “Scary Statistics”. Under maternal mortality it says: “One out of seven women who become pregnant in ­S Sudan will probably die of pregnancy-related causes.” Babies are only in marginally less danger: 102 die per 1,000 live births. A non-Sudanese doctor who had visited the maternity ward told me: “You see the babies are pulled out like logs, they are convulsing, and you ask the midwife and she doesn’t know ­anything. I just made the sign of the cross. I don’t want to go there again.”

The hospital’s reliance on amateur staff is explained by another statistic on the UN list: there are only 100 certified midwives in the whole of the south Sudan, or roughly one per 100,000 people. The picture for water, sanitation and education – the other basic services – is equally grim. Luka Biong Deng, minister of presidential affairs, said the figures were better than five years ago but had been adversely affected by a decision to focus public spending on roads and buildings. Yet south Sudan has also received just over $2bn in foreign aid since 2005. Why has it made so little difference? The region seems to embody two of aid’s recurring weaknesses: short-termism and a failure to understand local circumstances. “It’s inter-generational change you need in south Sudan,” said Allan Duncan, a former aid worker who, as a KPMG consultant, became the new government’s Mr Fix-it in its early days. “It’s not a five to 10-year time frame. That’s where a lot of people had ­unrealistic ­expectations about what they could achieve.”

Young men doing  carpentry at the Ganji Institute of Vocational Education
The Ganji Institute of Vocational Education

Rather than building the country methodically, he said donors and NGOs had set time horizons that end at next year’s referendum, triggering a rush to launch dozens of over-optimistic and ill-considered projects. “It’s been like an end-of-the-world party,” Duncan told me in his Nairobi office. “2011 became this cliff and everyone knew you’d have to step off it. But no one knew if it was 1ft high or 100ft high. So there’s never been any form of institution-building for 2011 and beyond.”

Members of the aid brigade in Juba spend a lot of time blaming one another for what’s gone wrong, but the most popular punchbag is the World Bank, which was chosen to administer a flagship recovery fund into which western governments poured $524m. The bank had little experience of post-conflict zones, it could not attract good staff to Juba, and it applied criteria that were ludicrously stringent in a place as raw as south Sudan. The result: by the end of last year, little more than a third of the money had been spent, leaving donors furious.

Most of the money that has got out has gone to aid agencies. Some of their staff reminded me with pride that they provide the bulk of health services in south Sudan. “We are basically the ministry of health,” said a worker with Médecins Sans Frontières. But others voiced the ­criticisms that come with that. “They set up completely parallel systems and they have reacted very self-righteously when someone in the SPLM tries to control them,” said John Ashworth, a Sudan veteran who heads the Nairobi office of IKV Pax Christi, a Christian campaign group.

Aid agencies get barbs elsewhere in Africa for letting governments ignore their responsibility to provide services to their citizens. But in south Sudan, the international community made the opposite error: it tried to manage too much in partnership with a novice government that knew as little about governing as its people did about farming or computers. One World Bank official told me wearily about “weeks and weeks” that had been lost as the ministry of legal affairs vetted agreements for recovery fund projects. “The concept of general conditions of contracts seemed not to be known,” he said. “Guys were trying to ­negotiate what is force majeure, which the whole world has accepted.”

Duncan, the Mr Fix-it from KPMG, recalled his realisation in 2005 that some of the finance ministry officials who were due to be trained in ­budgets, procurement and auditing would first need remedial maths classes.

Pastor Basil ’Buga Nyama
Pastor Basil ’Buga Nyama, director of the Ganji Institute of Vocational Education

When 2nd Lt Thomas Bakata was joining the struggle, eight-year old Philip Achuoth had already been in a refugee camp for two years. He was another face of the civil war, a Lost Boy: one of thousands who trekked more than 1,000 miles to safety, losing touch with their families and seeing friends picked off by air force bombers and Arab militias, lions and crocodiles, exhaustion and starvation.

“A lot of my colleagues died,” Achuoth told me. “You would see them lying by the path. Or you would say, ‘Wake up, wake up,’ to the one next to you in the morning, you would push him, and he was dead. You would feel like you would be the next.”

Today he is a towering man with a domed forehead framed by an Afro. I met him at a Juba restaurant whose scattershot menu offered rogan josh and pizzas, chicken chow mein and vegetable quesadillas. He didn’t smile once. His earnestness was overpowering and his angst about south Sudan obvious. What bothered him above all was cronyism, corruption and the inaction of the government. “For we who assess development in terms of quality of life, it has not done anything,” he said.

That sentiment is common, and although the former rebels are unlikely to lose power in national elections next month, they are braced to be chastised by the people. The SPLM itself is split along policy lines, between radicals who want to spurn the north after referendum day, pragmatists who see a need to co-operate with it and unionists who still want Sudan to remain as one.

It is also divided between leaders from the south’s largest tribe, the Dinka, and those from the Nuer tribe, notably the vice-president and the army’s deputy commander-in-chief: they both fought against the SPLM in a war within the civil war and they control former militias imperfectly integrated into the southern army. Indeed, the army as a whole is still fragmented into a series of half-reformed guerrilla groups, which are often reviled by the local populations they prey on and not disciplined by an effective command structure.

As for the people themselves, ethnic violence surged last year as more than 2,000 people were killed by rival tribes in disputes over cattle, water and grazing land. The upheaval of the civil war has created lingering suspicions, too – between those who were in garrison towns during the war, those who lived in rebel-held territory and those who fled the country.

What has held the fractious south together in the past five years has been its need to manage Khartoum’s political chicanery, get to the referendum and prepare for the contingency of renewed war. If it becomes independent without conflict, the “Arabs” against whom it has defined itself will be diminished as a common enemy. That is when the south’s internal divisions could come to the fore, threatening the security and cohesion of a place where guns are everywhere and belligerence hangs in the air. It is not the foreigners who will determine its future; that will hinge on the ability of the south Sudanese to find mutual interests and a unified identity.

Achuoth said that, having cheated death and the circling vultures who feasted on fallen Lost Boys during their long march, he now wanted to help other survivors return home. But at the very least, that home must be safe. “This liberation struggle,” he said, “I have seen too much. I want to see a good outcome. I don’t want to see other people experiencing the same, going back to square zero.”

Barney Jopson is the FT’s East Africa correspondent

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 21st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

We posted this first February 10, 2010, but felt compelled to pick up the subject of the meeting when we saw This Friday and this Saturday/Sunday Financial Times having in both issues a full spread by OIC on “The International Donors’ Conference For The Development & construction of Darfur” (The small “c” for construction is the way they said it.)

It says that the conference aims at mobilizing donations for and investments in the following sectors:

– Water

-Health & Education

– Agriculture, Livestock & Forests

– Rural & Women’s Development & Capacity Building

– Housing and Physical Planning

– The Cement Industry & Agricultural Process

a conference website – www.OIC-OCI.org


The page is adorned with the flags of SUDAN, SAUDI ARABIA, TURKEY, EGYPT.

Though we were very positive about our first posting, this addition is rather approached by us as skeptics.

WHY DID THEY HAVE TO WASTE MONEY FOR THESE ADDS IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES?

I thought that finally the Arab world has seen that they must intervene in Sudan as a matter of Arab or even better – Islamic – pride. It was obvious to us that the funding and work will have to be sort in the family. After all, does OIC believe that anyone outside the Arab world will channel through them donations for the poor people of Darfur via Sudanese the Government? Will anyone invest except in drilling for oil and that you do not get via an add in the FT.

Further, 30% of the page is a self advertisement of the OIC – “About OIC” – which is good PR but nothing for the Darfurians.

On the other hand – weekend The Financial Times (Saturday/Sunday March 20-21. 2010 had in the Life & Arts Section pages 1-2, a large article by Barney Jopson – “The road to independence” that was about South Darfur – “Sudan’s ‘Wild South’ is a country-in-waiting and could become a sovereign state next year, But is this shattered region ready to stand alone?”

The truth seems to us that Sudan has so badly mishandled Darfur that in effect it could become next State-in-waiting and the Sudan empire may fall apart. OIC could help sort this out in nice, quiet, discreet diplomacy and by backing the economy first using the oil income of Sudan and investment from other oil funds.

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

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Turkish OIC Secretary General : The Donors Conference for the Development and Reconstruction of Darfur on 21 March.

But the OIC Calendar posted in the same posting says: “March 23: OIC Conference for the Development and Reconstruction of Darfur – Cairo, Egypt.” (??)

OIC Secretary General  Ihsanoglu also expressed his great satisfaction on the visit of H.E. Idriss Deby, the President of Chad, to Sudan and the agreement reached between the two countries to normalize their bilateral relations.

Also – OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu expressed his deep disappointment over the announced decision of the appeals chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to direct the pre-trial chamber to decide anew on the charge of genocide against the President of Sudan Omer Hassan Ahmed Al-Bashir.

All the above seems to show that the Islamic countries are ready to step into a problem solving mode in Sudan – but will the UN keep its Darfur and South Sudan watchdog positions? White washing Al-Bashir should not be allowed. What was done in Sudan was a series of Government sanctioned crimes. We also said that some of the motivation to those crimes had to do with impacts of climate change – will the oil rich Islamic countries – those countries that got financial advantage by selling the oil to the rest of the world, will they indeed pay their dues in the form of real help to the black people of Darfur – be they Islamic or not?

———–

The Secretary General of the OIC Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu discussed with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt Ahmad Aboul Gheit the current arrangements for the organization of the ‘International Donors Conference for the Development and Reconstruction of Darfur’, due to be held in the Egyptian Capital, Cairo, in March 21, 2010. The meeting was at Aboul Gheit’s office in Cairo on 6 February 2010. During the meeting, the two sides discussed the facets of joint cooperation between the OIC and Cairo, and their bilateral relations.

The meeting also addressed the ongoing arrangements for the next Islamic Summit Conference, which will be held in Egypt in March 2011, as well as various other issues of mutual interest.

The Secretary General had arrived in Cairo on 5 February. During his visit he also met with the Egyptian Minister of Islamic Affairs Mahmoud Himdi Zaqzouq and discussed the existing cooperation between the two parties in many fields.
In statements made to journalists, the Secretary General said that the Donors’ Conference for the Development and Reconstruction of Darfur will be held in Cairo on 21 March 2010, commending at the same time the concrete Egyptian role towards making the conference a success and its provision of all facilitations for organizing the conference. He also highlighted the significant support the OIC receives from both the leadership and the people of Egypt.

Ihsanoglu said that the Conference, which will be held at the ministerial level, will submit to the donors a number of vital projects in Darfur with the aim of completing the development process, which will strengthen stability in the province.

On another level, the Secretary General delivered on February 7, 2010 a lecture on ‘The Future of the Muslim World’ at the International Book Exhibition in Cairo.

————–

Turkish Minister of Trade and Industry visits the OIC General Secretariat in Jeddah.

A ninety-member Turkish delegation led by the Minister of Trade and Industry of Turkey Dr. Nihat Ergun visited the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Jeddah on 8 February 2010. The Minister, whose delegation comprised industrialists and businessmen from the private and public sectors in Turkey, was received by the Assistant Secretary General for Economic Affairs Ambassador Hameed A. Opeloyeru, and the Director General of the Cabinet and Chief Advisor to the Secretary General Ambassador Sukru Tufan, on behalf of the OIC Secretary General Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. They exchanged views on how to expand cooperation between the OIC and Turkey in economic sector.

The Minister and his accompanying delegation attended a briefing session on expanding intra-OIC cooperation in the fields of trade and industry delivered by Ambassador Opeloyeru. The presentation covered a range of vital issues which included Intra-OIC Trade, Trade Preferential System of OIC, Cotton Rehabilitation Program, Agro-Food Development, Development of OIC Halal Food Standards, Cooperation in Tourism, Banking and Financial Sectors, Transportation and Private Sector initiatives.

Minister Ergun for his part stressed that his country will continue to take an active role in the OIC initiatives. He also noted that Turkey will soon finalize the ratification process of the Statute of the Standards and Meteorology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC) which will function under the umbrella of the OIC.

——————–

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations which has membership of 57 states spread over four continents. The Organization is the collective voice of the Muslim world and ensuring to safeguard and protect the nterests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world. The Organization was established upon a decision of the historical summit which took place in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco on 12th Rajab 1389 Hijra (25 September 1969). The Headquarters of OIC are in Jeddah – www.oosterhuis.nl/quickstart/inde…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 11th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Ihsanoglu calls for direct relations between the OIC General Secretariat and OIC Funds

The Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu expressed his satisfaction over the OIC Funds’ oriented action, which has made a tangible impact, and hoped for direct relations between the Funds and the OIC General Secretariat at the level of the Islamic Conference Humanitarian Affairs Department (ICHAD) and other related departments.

Ihsanoglu, in his statement at the 3rd meeting of the OIC Funds in Doha, Qatar, on 9 March 2010, urged the Funds to work under the supervision of the OIC General Secretariat’s Finance and Administration Department using the new “financial system under which the Funds will operate in line with the OIC Financial rules and regulations, hence, rendering more transparency to their operations, which will also benefit the Funds.”

Taking into consideration the various constraints the Funds may have faced, he assured them of mobilizing all OIC resources to launch a “strong campaign to secure more financial resources for the Funds’ activities.”

The Secretary General concluded his statement by thanking His Highness Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Thani, Chairman of the Council of Funds, and the various donors, especially the State of Qatar for the tremendous efforts and dedication to convene the meeting.

OIC Chief commends the results of the Third Conference of Humanitarian Organizations
OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu stated that the positive results of the Third Conference of Humanitarian Organizations held in Doha, Qatar, on 8 March 2010, will have a clear effect on the promotion of cooperative relations between the OIC and humanitarian organizations in the OIC Member States. This will help elaborate clear policies to address disasters and development issues in the Islamic world.

Ihsanoglu made this statement at the closing session of the two-day Conference attended by over seventy relief organizations from around the Islamic world.

The Secretary General emphasized that these results testify to the importance of the resolution adopted by the Third Extraordinary Islamic Summit Conference held in Makkah Al-Mukarramah at the initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, which called for the promotion of cooperation and coordination relations between the General Secretariat and NGOs as a central development partner.

Ihsanoglu added that over forty OIC Member States suffer today from different disasters and conflicts, especially with the aggravation of climate change and its various negative implications. He maintained that these phenomena led to the defragmentation of societies and to the deterioration of relief services and development infrastructures in many parts of the Islamic world.

The Secretary General called for a new approach to address development and humanitarian assistance issues based on the coordination of efforts among governments, NGOs and the private sector. He highlighted the fact that supporting this tripartite process is a necessity at this critical stage in order to build peace and accelerate the development movement in our countries.

The Secretary General concluded his address stating that work in this field will be carried out in close coordination and cooperation with all international organizations and institutions working in the field of humanitarian development, in particular UN institutions which are doing an important work in the Islamic world.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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

THE UPDATE:   www.unwatch.org

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 genevasummit.org/videos.)

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 genevasummit.org/.

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

IBUKA

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

LiNK

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.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Mother Jones <newsletters@motherjones.com>
Date: Tue, Feb 16, 2010
Subject: End Genocide Forever.

Ask President Obama to prioritize genocide prevention today!

Dear friend,

The world made a commitment to stop genocide after the Holocaust.

Yet our actions haven’t been enough to stop the mass killings in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.

We must prevent genocide. Ask President Obama to prioritize genocide prevention today!

It didn’t end with the Holocaust. Since World War II, the world has repeatedly failed to stop genocide.

Just over 60 years ago, with the horrors of the Holocaust fresh in mind, the world adopted the U.N. Genocide Convention, and promised to prevent and punish the crime of genocide.

Yet we haven’t followed through on that promise: think of Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and now Darfur.

Last year, some of America’s best minds issued clear recommendations for doing better.

Now it’s up to us to see the struggle through—and end genocide forever.

Join us by asking President Obama to make genocide prevention a priority.

Today, the crisis in Darfur continues, while the U.S. and the world have still failed to act on the policies recommended by the Genocide Prevention Task Force.

We can’t stand by while the threat of genocide looms. We need strong government action for the people of Darfur today and for the victims of future genocides tomorrow.

Ask President Obama to make ending genocide a priority today.

Early in his presidency, President Obama told the world that we “find cause for hope in a movement to save Darfur that has…people of every age and faith and background and race united in common cause with suffering brothers and sisters halfway around the world.”

Now we must make sure genocide prevention is one of President Obama’s priorities.

Help us grow the movement to end genocide forever: Ask President Obama to live up to his words by making genocide prevention a priority today.

Thank you,

Mark Lotwis
Save Darfur Coalition

The Save Darfur Coalition is an alliance of over 180 faith-based, advocacy and human rights organizations whose mission is to raise public awareness about the ongoing genocide in Darfur and to mobilize a unified response to the atrocities that threaten the lives of more than two million people in the Darfur region. To learn more, please visit www.SaveDarfur.org.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UN Says Darfur Refugees Desperately Need Water.

Date: 29-Jan-10
Andrew Heavensfrom Khartoum, Reuters –  Refugees in parts of Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region are desperately short of food and water due to a lack of rain, and problems have been exacerbated in at least one area by Khartoum’s expulsion of aid groups, officials said on Thursday.

U.N. officers told Reuters the remote western region only received “a fraction” of the rainfall of previous years and aid groups were planning to step up efforts to reach millions of people displaced by seven years of conflict.

“Due to low levels of rainfall last year, state authorities and the humanitarian community expect significant food shortages in IDP (internally displaced persons) camps in 2010, increasing the possibility of further conflict,” read a statement from Darfur’s joint U.N./African Union UNAMID peacekeepers.

An estimated 4.7 million people rely on humanitarian aid in Darfur where mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the Khartoum government in 2003, accusing it of neglect.

UNAMID said a joint assessment mission with UN agencies had found worrying signs of shortages around the North Darfur settlements of Dar El Salaam and Shangil Tobay and their surrounding displacement camps.

“IDPs in both regions were found to be in desperate need of food and water,” it said.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told Reuters thousands of members of the Birgit tribe fleeing fighting moved into the area around Shangil Tobay late last year, sparking tensions with locals.

“We have people on the ground at the moment assessing the situation and supporting mediation efforts,” said OCHA spokesman Samuel Hendricks.

“One of the root causes of the tension is the shortage of water and the resulting competition for resources.”

Unknown gunmen shot dead two UNAMID peacekeepers while they were distributing near Shangil Tobay, about 65 km (40 miles) south of the capital of north Darfur El Fasher, in December.

Another U.N. official, who asked not to be named, said the aid group Oxfam had provided water services in Shangil Tobay before it was expelled last year. “That gap has not been properly filled,” said the official.

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir ordered 13 foreign aid agencies to leave north Sudan in March, and closed three local groups, after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him to face charges of war crimes in Darfur.

Bashir accused the groups of passing information to the Hague-based court, an accusation they denied.

No one was immediately available for comment from Sudan’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs. In the past it has said the work of expelled groups has been taken up by local organisations and new international groups.

Khartoum mobilised mostly Arab militias to crush the Darfur revolt, unleashing a wave of violence that Washington and some activists call genocide.

Sudan’s government dismisses the accusation and says the Western media have exaggerated the conflict. Estimates of the number of deaths caused by the conflict range from 10,000, according to Khartoum, to around 300,000, according to U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 8th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UnknownUnknown

Climate Change and International Security
15th December 1.30-3pm at DR-Byen’s Concert House, Studie 2
Open to the general public

The Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs Per Stig Møller has invited a panel of world leaders for a debate on the impact of climate change on international security. The panel will include:

·        African Union Commission Chairperson Dr. Jean Ping
·        EU Presidency, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt
·        NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

The moderator will be Steffen Kretz, Senior International Editor and anchor with the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR).

You are invited to take part. Participation is free of charge. Seats will be allocated on a first come, first served basis due to the limited number of seats. A binding registration is therefore necessary. Deadline is the 10th of December 2009. Register by sending your name and contact details to  MEK at UM.DK. You will receive a personal confirmation of registration, which you must bring with you in order to access the event.

Venue: DR-Byen’s Concert House, Studie 2, Emil Holms Kanal 20, 0999 Copenhagen C.
Nearest metro: DR-Byen (two stops from the Bella Center).
Doors open at 12.30 and close at 1.15pm, to ensure a prompt start to the debate.

For further information contact Catherine Lorenzen:  catlor at um.dk / +45 3392 1855

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 29th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Finally a second shoe comes of at the UN Department of Public Information that services the Ban Ki-moon UN Administration. After the replacement of the officer in charge of Media Accreditation, now also a new Spokesperson.

November 30, 2009 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is getting a new Spokesperson – a real professional – Martin Nesirky – that will hail from Vienna where he was not just spokesman for over three years at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) but was also Head of Press and Public Information.

Nesirky will replace Michele Montas of Haiti who served since the beginning of the term of Mr. Ban Ki-moon, January 1, 2007, till now, November 30, 2009, thus leaving one month ahead of the end of a three years contract. Ms. Montas is retiring from the UN.

Mr. Nesirky came to OSCE from Reuters where he served over two decades as an international correspondent and editor. He covered issues the like of  the fall of the  Berlin Wall, events in the Balkans, and nuclear non-proliferation issues. Further, he had a stint as the Moscow Bureau Chief of Reuters with responsibility for coverage of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and as senior editor in London handling political stories, including the Middle East and Africa. He has been posted in Berlin, The Hague, and Seoul, though it is not known if he also speaks Korean, the language of the current UN Secretary- General – the subject of a question from one of the correspondents that remained unanswered.

More recently Mr. Nesirky in his Spokesman capacity at OSCE was instrumental in navigating the Russia backed OSCE Chairmanship for Kazakhstan for 2010. At the UN he may find his personal talents helpful in creating a new persona for the UN Secretary-General whose popularity with parts of the UN have hit a low, at a time that his reelection for a second term will be put on the table.

Ms. Montas whom he replaces had none of such credentials. Prior to her appointment, Montas headed the French unit of UN Radio. From 2003 to 2004, she served as the Spokesperson for UN General Assembly President Julian Robert Hunte, of Saint Lucia, soon after she fled to New York from Haiti. In Haiti, she and her husband were also radio journalists and activists. Her husband was killed in Haiti, and she escaped to New York. We can vouch that in her first several months in the job Mr. Ban Ki-moon set her up, she had no understanding or patience for subjects of climate change – not even when the subject was raised in connection to killings going on in Africa, or the dangers to Small Island Member States of the UN. Not even in matters of the Middle East – she seemed as a fish out of water and effectively harming  positions that the SG might have been more forthcoming. In press conferences of the SG she allowed only questions that she thought he would be interested in while guarding him from such questions as climate change.

The real question is now if Mr. Martin Nesirky will find it acceptable to fit in her shoes and submit to further layers of UN functionaries in a UN Department of Public Information where the Director of News and Media Division is Mr. Ahmad Fawzi who acts as a factotum on Press Accreditation and also whenever there is the need to talk to the press upon fighting in the Middle East. We feel that Mr. Nesirky may be inclined to become his own man in those areas while serving the needs of the Secretary-General.

The announcement about the new Spokesperson was made by Mr. Farhan Haq, of Pakistan, an Associated Spokesperson, third in the ranking below Mr. Nesirky (The second ranking Spokesperson is the Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe of Japan). Farhan started the announcement by saying: “And finally, a message that you’ve been waiting for some time. The Secretary-General today has named Martin Nesirky of the United Kingdom as the new Spokesperson for the Secretary-General,” but when asked by a correspondent if there will be in parallel an appointment for a position called Strategic Communications, he also gave no answer and showed impatience by mentioning that “our guests are here.”

Another correspondent asked nevertheless about the Small Pacific Developing Island States that called upon the Security Council to take up the issue of climate change “as a matter of security, because they say that their islands, their countries, could potentially disappear together for the first time in history, and they’re looking for the Council to develop enforceable emission targets. What does the SG think of this call to the SC to take up the Climate Change issue?”

The anemic answer was: “As you know, the SG has been encouraging all of the relevant bodies to deal with climate change and its effects across a variety of fields.At this stage, however, what the SG is concerned with is making sure that Member states and leaders at the highest level will come to Copenhagen to deal precisely with all of the challenges of climate change and seal a deal that can help resolve all the various problems that member States face.” That was quite a lame answer from the source of “Hopenhagen” and a clear show why finally the UN deserves a professional Spokesperson it was denied during the first three years of the Ban Ki-moon Administration of the UN.

The Correspondent continued with his insistence for an answer:
“There is nothing about the council taking up this matter?”

Final answer from the Associate Spokesperson: “It’s always up to the Security Council which matters it chooses to take up under rubric of peace and security issues.”

From our point of view, will Mr. Martin Nersirky accompany Mr. Ban Ki-moon to Copenhagen, or will it be Marie Okabe?

———————————–

N.B. – to be fair to Michele Montas –
Montas was one of the producers of Jonathan Demme’s documentary, The Agronomist, which depicted the life and death of her husband Jean Dominique and his career at Radio Haiti-Inter, the radio station that he founded. She was also involved with MINUTASH – the UN mission to Haiti. Montas worked  as a journalist at that Radio-station and has been  a human rights activist in Haiti and later a consistent international lecturer on Haiti – but the subject matter of the UN extends beyond Haiti and the Aristide government interests.
We do not imply that Montas was a negative person as such, only that she was not the right person for her job which allowed Mr. Ahmad Fawzi of Egypt to take over some of the responsibilitires that were hers, and the Under Secretary-General for the UN DPI, Mr. Kyotaka Akasaka, another strange appointment in the Ban Ki-moon cabinet, could really not care less.

———————————-

P.S. – On November 23, 2009 Martin Nesirky met the media correspondents to the UN and said:

A couple of things I just wanted to mention.  First of all, I’m really looking forward to working with all of you; getting to know you.  This is a huge challenge, of course, and I’m very keen to try to get to know you so I can help you the best that I can.  That’s the first thing.

The second thing is that, needless to say, I do read what’s being written.  And I think there are a couple of things I’d like to make absolutely clear and very straight at the beginning.  My language skills: I speak German, I speak Russian, I speak English after a fashion, I speak a little bit of Korean and an even smaller amount of French.  I realize that it’s very, very important to be able to speak French. I’m going to be doing as the Secretary-General has done, which is to take extra French classes to improve on that. And that’s really all I wanted to say on that matter.

The other is that I really believe that coming from outside the UN has advantages and disadvantages.  You will have to bear with me as I get to know the system that you, many of you, know far better than I probably will ever do.  But I am very keen to work with you so that you can help me to help you to have the stories that you need to write.

Also, it seems that the UN expects Mr. Nesirky to start his work at the UN on only December 7th, which is coincidentally the day the Copenhagen Conference opens officially, does it mean that he will be there, or it means that Marie Okabe will be there and he will be in New York? We shall see!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 1st, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Sudan by the US Senate: The culture of black Africans of Sudan can be displaced with impunity if the US is not ready to fight for Sudan’s oil – a blessing on the one hand but a curse on the poor people that will be allowed to suffer. Oh well! Let the UN and the other Africans take care of the problem even if we know they won’t. It is not American business – and this comes from high up in the US Administration.

While doing other work, I overheard on C-SPAN the Senate Foreign Relations Hearings on Sudan. The hearings were chaired by Senator Kerry and there were two panels.

The Second Panel consisted of Professor David Shinn of George Washington University of Washington DC, Ahmed Eisa who was a refugee from Darfur and who returned to work there, and Susan Peige of the National Democratic Institute.

The First Panel had two US Government officials.  These were Major General (USAF Retired) Scott Gration, who I realized was in his young years a refugee from Congo, and who is now President Obama’s State Department Special Envoy to Sudan, and Earl Gast from US AID in charge of Sudan.

The Second Panel was used basically to approve or disapprove what was said in the First Panel.

Professor Shinn agreed that technically what is going on today in Sudan IS NOT GENOCIDE according to definition – as this was also the opinion volunteered by the Major-General.

Eisa contended that  in Darfur it is still the oppression of an African culture. The government brought in other settlers and the refugees cannot go back and the government does not show the willingness to forgo the military option.

Peige said that the whole region has to be pulled in so that there will eventually be a peaceful coexistence or separation between South and North Sudan when the two referenda will be held eventually in 2011. Further, for having a peaceful settlement there will have to be first an understanding, how the pipeline revenue will be shared past 2011.

* * *

I preferred to start my reporting from the Second Panel as finally the topic of OIL became obvious – this was not the case for the spokespeople for the Government. There the big question was – as posed by Republican Senator Corker from Tennessee – if Sudan is a terrorism sponsoring State. The answer was a no -“there is no evidence and there was no evidence.” OK – so if the US is not after the Sudanese oil because it is spoken already – so there is no terrorism and there is no reason for the US to get involved. MIND YOU THIS IS FROM THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SPECIAL ENVOY TO THE PROBLEM STATE. On the one hand we clearly wish that would have been the preferred position on Iraq after Saddam was successfully deposed.

At these hearings the Republican Senators were not happy with the Gration stand and wanted to know how he differs with Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the UN who seems to be more pushy in having at least a UN involvement in Sudan. Republican Senator Isakson from Georgia wanted to know how you can be a cheer-leader for the UN when thinking about the UN failure in Rwanda? The Senators and the two witnesses of the First panel came back, and back again – “we are focusing on saving lives.”  Democratic Senator Menendez from New Jersey said that genocide has no offside – what do you need in order to be effective? and the Major-General said that we have to look at the sanctions – they may be counterproductive. When you bring in help it has to come through the ports of Sudan and most of the content is under sanction – so – release the sanctions. And here he made it clear that he disagrees with Susan Rice, and that this comes from someone whose family had also to leave everything behind and flee.

The US AID man said that in order to provide safety for the women that get raped when they go to search for fire-wood, better stoves should be given to them – AND YOU KNOW WHAT? USAID IS WORKING ON THE TECHNOLOGY.
My God – I heard that story back in 1977 when the issue was planting trees in Africa so there will be a better environment, and in order to keep those trees from  being cut – solar cookers or cheap higher efficiency stoves should be given to the people. There was a Swiss-Pakistani Foundation – THE BELLERIVE of Geneva headed by the Aga Khan of those days, that had a Polish scientist in Nairobi who knew the subject inside out – so 30 years hence the US is still trying to suggest that the day might come that they will fight rape by providing stoves – someday? Now, this is what convinced me that these Senate hearings must be written up. THEY WERE A DISGRACE.

Face the reality – if the US wanted to get its hand on Sudan oil – it would accuse Sudan of terrorism and move in – but as this will cause another US disaster – so better keep out and say there is no genocide and deal with the Sudanese government the way one deals with China. JUST DON’T ROCK THE BOAT AND DO NOT BE TOO NOSEY! There will always be at hand a professor that will back you up.

—————-
And TerraViva at the UN posted on the above, MONDAY, AUGUST 03, 2009, based on the following IPS reporting {but please note the missing reference to oil – we wonder why?}:

U.S. Officials Disagree Over Sudan Strategy.
by Danielle Kurtzleben

WASHINGTON, Aug 2 (IPS) – With the need for a comprehensive approach toward Sudan growing more urgent every day, U.S. policy remains a topic of disagreement amongst top Washington officials and even within the Barack Obama administration itself.

Testifying at a Thursday Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Michael Gration stated that the Obama administration will unveil a new comprehensive policy stance toward Sudan in the coming weeks.

“We anticipate that in the next three weeks, that we’ll be able to have a rollout of this strategy. I think you’ll see from this strategy that it is very comprehensive,” said Gration, adding that the strategy “includes incentives and pressures”.

Gration listed the U.S. goals in Sudan as including ending conflict between the north and south, ending human rights abuses, creating a functioning and stable Sudanese government, and seeking cooperation with the Sudanese government to counter terrorism.

Some senators expressed scepticism towards Gration’s continued espousal of the use of carrots in addition to sticks towards reaching these goals. Critics of incentives believe that the Sudanese government will not respond, having been uncooperative toward the U.S.

The debate over a U.S. strategy in Sudan takes place as two key dates approach, making U.S. policy all the more vital. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in 2005, set 2011 as the date when south Sudan will be allowed to vote on secession from the north. Research performed by the National Democratic Institute indicates that southerners in Sudan will overwhelmingly vote to secede.

In addition, elections are currently scheduled for April 2010. Safe and fair elections would promote the goal of a democratic Sudan, but the government in Khartoum has been moving slowly towards preparing for these elections.

Voter registration only just began in late June, and during the rainy season, when millions of rural citizens are unable to access roads. Furthermore, a high illiteracy rate makes navigating a complex ballot difficult for many voters.

If elections or the referendum are unfair, or if the referendum is held before the CPA is fully implemented, it is feared that renewed violence will spread across the country, undoing what progress towards peace has been made.

The CPA was regarded at the time of its signing as a major step forward, ending a 22-year conflict between the Muslim Arab north and the Christian south. It is estimated that this conflict, Sudan’s second major civil war in its 53-year history, killed two million and drove four million people from their homes.

Yet several elements of the CPA have yet to be fully implemented. Most notably, the border between north and south Sudan has yet to be firmly demarcated, and a wealth-sharing agreement between the north and the south has yet to be reached.

Tensions also remain high in the oil-rich region of Abyei. Earlier this month, the borders of this region were redefined by an international tribunal at The Hague, and both the government in the north and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the main political party in the south, agreed on the new borders.

However, the CPA ceasefire agreement has been breached on numerous occasions in this region, and fears remain that violence might again erupt.

Khartoum has a history of being uncooperative with the international community. In March, the Sudanese government expelled 10 foreign aid agencies in response to the ICC bringing charges against President Omar al-Bashir. General Gration has been successful in negotiating the return of several aid organisations, which are now operating in Sudan on limited capacity.

The emphasis on pressures over incentives towards the Sudanese government was especially strong from Senator Russ Feingold, head of the Africa Subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Feingold asked Gration for reassurance that the Obama administration is considering “meaningful punitive actions… in the event that the government of Sudan continues its historic foot-dragging.” Gration agreed to brief the senators on potential punitive actions on a later date, in a closed setting.

After the hearings, several members of the NGO community expressed scepticism towards the use of incentives toward Sudan’s government, even as they expressed optimism for progress.

Jerry Fowler, president of the Save Darfur Coalition, issued a statement after the hearing that, while he was “encouraged” to hear that General Gration and the Obama administration are using both carrots and sticks in their efforts, his organisation is “seriously doubtful of Khartoum’s true intention and ability to make good on their promises.”

He added that he “urge[s] Senators to follow up swiftly with Gen. Gration on the classified details of this plan to ensure that it’s sufficiently robust to get the job done.”

John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, a Washington-based group that advocates against genocide, emphasised the historical usefulness of pressure against the Sudanese government: “We have 20 years of empirical evidence that when there are pressures, you get some kind of change of behaviour. When there has been pressure or credible threat of pressure, then you get change.”

Refugees International Advocate Melanie Teff likewise cautioned that “it is important to stay vigilant to ensure that all sides continue to abide by their agreements.”

Yet even as many argue against the use of carrots, Gration also argued that “sticks” have consequences of their own. Specifically, he criticised the U.S.’s economic sanctions, which are in place in part because Sudan is on a list of states sponsoring terrorism.

Sudan remains on the U.S.’s list of countries considered sponsors of terror because of Sudan’s support of Hamas. Gration said that the decision to continue regarding Sudan as a terror-sponsoring state is a “political decision”, and that the consequences of sanctions are both inhibiting development work and the making the South’s political development more difficult.

“We’re hurting the very development things we need to do to help the South become able, if they choose to secede, to become a viable economic state,” said Gration.

One of the most contentious points of the hearing involved whether the current situation in Darfur can be considered “genocide”. Though President Obama and U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice have referred to it as an “ongoing” genocide, Gration has continually refused to do so, a pattern he continued on Thursday.

When asked by Sen. Roger Wicker about Obama’s characterisation of the Darfur situation as “ongoing genocide”, a seemingly irritated Gration said, “You can read that how you need to read it. That’s his statement,” adding that Darfur experiences the “ongoing consequences of genocide”.

The one thing on which all seemed to agree is that forward movement on U.S. policy is necessary. As Senator John Kerry told those assembled on Thursday, “Maintenance of a miserable status quo is not a solution.”

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

AND:

MONDAY, AUGUST 03, 2009

U.S. Nervous About China’s Growing Footprint Across Africa.
by Antoaneta Bezlova

BEIJING, Aug 2 (IPS) – China’s “no strings attached” financial assistance to developing countries in Africa and Asia has come under scrutiny during the recent high-level talks between Chinese and US leaders. In this week’s Strategic and Economic Dialogue held in Washington, China has attempted to highlight its growing economic clout in a bid to push the United States on a range of thorny issues, such as the US budget deficit and trade barriers.

Few official media outlets reported that the United States delegates pressed Beijing on articulating clear guidelines for its growing aid to the developing world. China Business News only reported that the issue was raised between the two sides, but failed to furnish any other details. During the bilateral talks held between July 27 and July 29, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner both called upon China to increase cooperation with the US in assisting developing countries.

“It is a legitimate concern for the United States, and even more so for the European Union,” said Ding Xueliang, a social scientist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. “The international community has paid a high price in the past for acting as financier to African countries where money was siphoned and crimes were committed so it wants to make sure that China does not go the same path.”

China’s increased lending to foreign governments since 2000 has come under the spotlight because of concerns about its impact on the environment and alleged human rights abuses committed by some recipient countries and some Chinese companies operating overseas.

China’s hunger for minerals has propelled it to offer a series of loans to heavily-indebted African countries, sparking off concerns among the World Bank and IMF that it may undermine the economic recovery of those countries. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for instance, China sidelined all competitors in 2007 by granting a 5 billion USD loan to the government in exchange for copper, cobalt and timber.

Human rights activists accuse China of viewing developing countries, particularly in the continent of Africa, as proxy states, which can satiate its vast demands for natural resources and energy.

The official Xinhua press agency estimates there are at least 750,000 Chinese workers living and working in Africa. It reflects China’s burgeoning economic ties with Africa, which touched 107 billion USD in trade last year.

In 2006, China hosted a major summit with African leaders, which was attended by 48 heads of state. At the summit, China promised to double its assistance to the continent by 2009. Along with pledges of generous financial, commercial and military assistance to African countries, Beijing also wrote off about 1 billion USD in African debts.

More significantly, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao stressed that “Chinese assistance to Africa is sincere, unselfish and has no strings attached.”

The west has been caught off guard by the sheer scale and ease of Chinese loans flowing into the developing world.

“The issue figured on the agenda of U.S.-China talks for a reason,” said a Beijing-based western diplomat. “Just days before the talks opened Beijing announced that China-Africa Development Fund plans to raise 2 billion USD by November to expand business ties between Africa and China.”

The China-Africa Development, managed by one of China’s policy banks, China Development Bank, is the world’s largest equity fund aimed at Africa. In January 2008, it provided its first set of loans to Chinese companies working in Africa in the power and infrastructure sector.

China is building major new railroad lines in Nigeria and Angola, large dams in Sudan, and new roads and airports in several African countries. Chinese trade and investment has galvanised mineral production of manganese in South Africa, uranium in Niger and exploration of oil resources from Sudan to Angola.

Despite China’s heavy involvement as financier and builder in projects in developing countries, there exists no clear set of polices guiding Beijing’s lending practices. China Exim Bank and China Development Bank have environmental and social responsibility policies which highlight the importance of environmental evaluation of the projects seeking financing. Yet there is little in place for monitoring human rights issues and corruption.

To address these issues, Beijing has so far issued only ad-hoc rules concerning particular projects, says Ding Xueliang.

“The concept of being a ‘responsible big country’ is currently embraced by the policy think-tanks in China rather than administrators,” Ding said. “It will take a long, long time before China adopts lending rules similar to the developed world and its decisions would always be guided by the strategic importance of the countries seeking loans”.

The concluded U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue did not breach any new ground in nudging Beijing to observe international norms in its aid and change its “no strings” attached lending policies. Observers say the dialogue was an attempt to build mutual trust and open channels for information exchange.

“A dialogue is different from negotiations,” said Lu Ning, political observer based in Shanghai. “It is not so much about achieving a concrete agreement as it is about the opportunity to talk about each other’s misgivings and understands each other’s views.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 23rd, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOW – HERE WE HAVE REAL MEAT FOR OSI – AND WE HOPE THAT THE BUDDING INITIATIVE WILL TRY TO PUSH GOVERNMENTS TO SUGGEST POSITIVE MOVES, FOR THEIR REAL ADVANTAGE, EVEN WHEN BUSINESS ATTITUDES MIGHT SUGGEST THAT THEIR INTEREST IS NOT TO ROCK THE BOAT. Could i.e. an OSI work with China to help Sudan avoid internal strife while still pandering for its oil?

————————

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

UNEP NEWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2nd World Congress of Agroforestry website www.worldagroforestry.org

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

For more information please contact:

For more information on the 2nd World Congress of Agrofrestry, see www.worldagroforestry.org/wca2009…
For more information on UNEP’s work in ecosystem management, see www.unep.org/ecosystemmanagement/

———————

and from NPR:

CLIMATE CONNECTIONS: SOLUTIONS
Niger’s Trees May Be Insurance Against Drought.

by Richard Harris

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

All Things Considered, NPR, July 2, 2007.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gray Tappan picks up the story from there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 6th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From IISD a Special Report on UNCCD Land Day at the ongoing Bonn meetings on Climate Change.

On Saturday June 6, 2009, organized by the UNCCD Secretariat, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Secretariat hosted “Land Day” at the Gustav-Stresemann-Institut, Bonn, Germany.

The event, attended by 170 participants, aimed to help climate change negotiators and other stakeholders attending the concurrent Bonn climate change talks consider in detail the linkages between climate change and desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD).

The event was opened by Luc Gnacadja, UNCCD Executive Secretary, Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, and Adolf Kloke-Lesch, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) Director-General.

Jeffrey Sachs, Earth Institute Director, Columbia University, offered a pre-recorded keynote address.

Participants then attended three panels, entitled:

  – “How does sustainable land management support climate change adaptation?”;

 – “What options can soil carbon sequestration offer for mitigating and adapting to climate change?”; and

  – “Sustainable land management in climate change policy frameworks: what is the way forward?”

Luc Gnacadja, UNCCD Executive Secretary, stressed that land has an unparalleled capacity to sequester carbon, but its potential to mitigate climate change is presently untapped. Emphasizing that numerous opportunities exist to include land within a post-2012 climate regime, he said the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and carbon markets must be changed and made accessible to farmers and land managers.

Gnacadja argued that soil restoration and soil carbon sequestration offer “win-win-win” opportunities for climate change, biodiversity and desertification. Noting that “poor soils lead to poor people,” he further suggested that inclusion of desertification, land degradation and drought in a future climate regime has the potential to bring more equity and justice to developing countries.

Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, discussed the linkages between the agriculture and forest sectors and climate change mitigation and adaptation. He highlighted that 10-12% of total annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from agricultural practices, and that deforestation accounted for 20% of GHG emissions in the 1990s.

Underscoring that some mitigation options can be realized at “low or even negative costs,” de Boer highlighted a number of possibilities in these sectors, including: reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation in developing countries (REDD); improved crop and grazing management; and restoration of organic soils. He added that mitigation options, such as agroforestry, support adaptation and promote biodiversity.

Adolf Kloke-Lesch, Director-General, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), said climate change threatens to destroy the efforts and achievements of sustainable development. Noting that land degradation was previously considered a collection of local problems, he argued that today it is understood as a global problem that must be part of the global environmental agenda.

Kloke-Lesch stated that sustainable land management offers a cost-effective solution to mitigating climate change and that natural infrastructures, such as forests and soils, must be part of this solution. He stressed that sustainable land management must become an integral part of climate protection strategies in a new “Green Deal” forged at the 2009 climate change talks in Copenhagen.

In a pre-recorded message, Jeffrey Sachs, Earth Institute, Columbia University, underscored the importance of integrating the urgent agendas of drylands and global climate change. He said drylands are amongst the most vulnerable areas to climate change, and that impacts in dryland countries are compounded because these countries are also experiencing demographic pressures and have large populations living in poverty.

Sachs explained that the combination of these factors is “at the root” of some of the greatest security challenges on the planet, noting these issues must be addressed to lessen security risks not only for the people in these regions but for the entire world.

He called for several responses, including: better science on the effects of climate change in dryland regions; increased understanding of human systems, such as the impacts of climate change on herders’ livestock assets; and increased understanding of intervention measures that are needed for adaptation and climate change preparedness. Sachs emphasized the need for a holistic approach in addressing these issues, highlighting the potential for ecosystem-based adaption in this regard.

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(later addition) Professor Sachs – Highlighting the political conflicts in the 10,000 km stretch of drylands across the Sahel from Senegal to the Horn of Africa, across the Red Sea into Yemen, Pakistan and on to Afghanistan, Sachs said the lack of   “a coherent, consistent, persistent, scaled science-based response” to the harrowing effects of climate change associated with hunger, livestock survival and increasing stresses between sedentary populations and nomadic or semi-nomadic herders is the real challenge.

It is mind-boggling how above reality was suppressed by the UN for so many years – this as if the men in the UN glass building can speak only of unsolvable issues that provide for them a raison d’etre and their jobs, while trying to find the real reasons of those conflicts, the reasons before the fabricated reasons of “the other” would do harm to the bureacrats self   interest.

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www.sustainabilitank.info is still waiting to hear above ideas fully backed by the UN bureaucracy, but we are already gratified that many individuals, and enlightened governments, speak out forcefully. We were privvy, and victims, to a UN that was hiding above under the global rug because they felt it was just one more cause that can harm the sale of petroleum.

Please also read into the “at the root” comment by Dr. Sachs, locations like Darfur and the Middle East, and we would like to remark that we were hoping that President Obama would mention this in his Cairo speech to the Muslim World – but he did not. In our opinion, an opinion we fought for at the UN, a cooperative program on these “Land” issues between Israel, the Arab World, Iran, China, Africa, with international support, could go a long way in helping   address some of the problems with the Islamic governments – problems that were mentioned in the speech and the African problems that were not mentioned at all.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 6th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Water Wars

By Jeffrey Sachs

May 1, 2009

Many conflicts are caused or inflamed by water scarcity. The conflicts from Chad to Darfur, Sudan, to the Ogaden Desert in Ethiopia, to Somalia and its pirates, and across to Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, lie in a great arc of arid lands where water scarcity is leading to failed crops, dying livestock, extreme poverty, and desperation.

Extremist groups like the Taliban find ample recruitment possibilities in such impoverished communities. Governments lose their legitimacy when they cannot guarantee their populations’ most basic needs: safe drinking water, staple food crops, and fodder and water for the animal herds on which communities depend for their meager livelihoods.

Politicians, diplomats, and generals in conflict-ridden countries typically treat these crises as they would any other political or military challenge. They mobilize armies, organize political factions, combat warlords, or try to grapple with religious extremism.

But these responses overlook the underlying challenge of helping communities meet their urgent needs for water, food, and livelihoods. As a result, the United States and Europe often spend tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars to send troops or bombers to quell uprisings or target “failed states,” but do not send one-tenth or even one-hundredth of that amount to address the underlying crises of water scarcity and under-development.

Water problems will not go away by themselves. On the contrary, they will worsen unless we, as a global community, respond. A series of recent studies shows how fragile the water balance is for many impoverished and unstable parts of the world. The United Nations agency UNESCO recently issued the UN World Water Development Report 2009; the World Bank issued powerful studies on India and Pakistan; and the Asia Society issued an overview of Asia’s water crises.

These reports tell a similar story. Water supplies are increasingly under stress in large parts of the world, especially in the world’s arid regions. Rapidly intensifying water scarcity reflects bulging populations, depletion of groundwater, waste and pollution, and the enormous and increasingly dire effects of manmade climate change.

The consequences are harrowing: drought and famine, loss of livelihood, the spread of water-borne diseases, forced migrations, and even open conflict. Practical solutions will include many components, including better water management, improved technologies to increase the efficiency of water use, and new investments undertaken jointly by governments, the business sector, and civic organizations.

I have seen such solutions in the Millennium Villages in rural Africa, a project in which my colleagues and I are working with poor communities, governments, and businesses to find practical solutions to the challenges of extreme rural poverty. In Senegal, for example, a world-leading pipe manufacturer, JM Eagle, donated more than 100 kilometers of piping to enable an impoverished community to join forces with the government water agency PEPAM to bring safe water to tens of thousands of people. The overall project is so cost effective, replicable, and sustainable that JM Eagle and other corporate partners will now undertake similar efforts elsewhere in Africa.

But future water stresses will be widespread, including both rich and poor countries. The United States, for example, encouraged a population boom in its arid southwestern states in recent decades, despite water scarcity that climate change is likely to intensify. Australia, too, is grappling with serious droughts in the agricultural heartland of the Murray-Darling River basin. The Mediterranean Basin, including Southern Europe and North Africa is also likely to experience serious drying as a result of climate change.

However, the precise nature of the water crisis will vary, with different pressure points in different regions. For example, Pakistan, an already arid country, will suffer under the pressures of a rapidly rising population, which has grown from 42 million in 1950 to 184 million in 2010, and may increase further to 335 million in 2050, according to the UN’s “medium” scenario. Even worse, farmers are now relying on groundwater that is being depleted by over-pumping. Moreover, the Himalayan glaciers that feed Pakistan’s rivers may melt by 2050, owing to global warming.

Solutions will have to be found at all “scales,” meaning that we will need water solutions within individual communities (as in the piped-water project in Senegal), along the length of a river (even as it crosses national boundaries), and globally, for example, to head off the worst effects of global climate change. Lasting solutions will require partnerships between government, business, and civil society, which can be hard to negotiate and manage, since these different sectors of society often have little or no experience in dealing with each other and may mistrust each other considerably.

Most governments are poorly equipped to deal with serious water challenges. Water ministries are typically staffed with engineers and generalist civil servants. Yet lasting solutions to water challenges require a broad range of expert knowledge about climate, ecology, farming, population, engineering, economics, community politics, and local cultures. Government officials also need the skill and flexibility to work with local communities, private businesses, international organizations, and potential donors.

A crucial next step is to bring together scientific, political, and business leaders from societies that share the problems of water scarcity—for example, Sudan, Pakistan, the United States, Australia, Spain, and Mexico—to brainstorm about creative approaches to overcoming them. Such a gathering would enable information-sharing, which could save lives and economies. It would also underscore a basic truth: The common challenge of sustainable development should unify a world divided by income, religion, and geography.


Related Resources:

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 22nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

War in Congo has caused by now 5 million death and there is no end to it,   war in Sudan has cost by now 2.5 million lives. Further many millions of people were driven from their homes – both these very large countries, rich in natural resources, have been driven to abject poverty with a very thin crust on top – rich people that made their fortune from the misery of the many,

China has now invested $9 billion in Sudan in oil deals, and $5 billion in Congo in minerals – someone from the locals gets some of this money. Americans and Europeans spend money on aid campaigns and would really want to see an end to the Killings. They clearly feel this is a bottomless pit. Three prominent leaders in the NGO effort to do something about this upheaval in Africa are:

George Clooney – famous actor and director,   David Presman – human-rights lawyer, and John Prendergast – co-chair of “the Enough Project” wrote the following article as an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal.

Not on Our Watch, and the Enough Project cry out to President-Elect Barack Obama in hope that, despite the other enormous tasks that he will have starting January 20, 2009, he should also take on the problems of Africa – specifically Congo and Sudan. We are with them but we do not see how he could spread out in his first days in office beyond the clear focus on the US economy as we reported today based on Obama’s media presentation of today – November 22, 2008.

By coincidence, today I also met Safiyya Sarkin, President and Founder, Women Beyond Survival. She told me about East Chad, which has become an extension of the war in Darfur, a war caused by Sudan. Chad is not alone, The Central African Republic is in similar condition as extension of wars in South Sudan and Congo. The whole region is in flames and why cannot Africa get its act together and show that they are ready to speak up for their people?

The point is that a government should be responsible for the protection of its own citizens, and if they do not act according to the UN principle “The Responsibility To Protect” their neighbors should be helped to move in and establish order. And if the neighbors do not want to do it – or cannot – the UN should be able to take over. But did you ever look at what goes on at the UN Security Council? If there is no oil to protect, seemingly nobody acts, and if it is just one large power that works on that oil – what then? Will President Obama be ready to stand up and be counted as a defender of the people of Darfur even without a US interest in the oil of Sudan? We hope he will, but we are not convinced that this will be right at start. Further, we actually think that incoming Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who visited Darfur, and knows the atrocities, and being a woman, would be ready, after confirmation by the US Senate, to look at least on the women’s side of the East and Central African problems in line of www.womenbeyondsurvival.org

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