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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 24th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Kury Bayer was Board Director at the World Bank (2002/2004) and Board Director at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (2008/12). Since then consultant, columnist and member of think-tanks. He also runs a blog.

Kurt Bayer’s Commentary – GLOBAL ECONOMIC POLICY

FEBRUARY 23, 2017

TRUMP’S SWAMP

During his campaign, US president Trump had promised to dry out the swamp in Washington, D.C. (Austrians will remember the former President Kirchschläger’s announcement, “die sauren Wiesen Österreichs auszutrocknen”). And then, during the week that the new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was confirmed by the Senate, the House of Representatives voted to abolish the „Publish what you pay“ rule, which required listed US gas and oil companies to publish in their annual reports all payments made to foreign governments, be they royalties, fees, bonuses, taxes and any other payments, project by project, country by country.

This rule was part of the Dodd-Frank Act (Section 1504), enacted after long consultation in 2010 as part of the lessons learned from the financial crisis.

It is noteworthy that Mr. Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon-Mobil, had vigorously lobbied against this rule.

Has he now been given a swampy „inaugural dowry“ by his president?

With the original provision, the US had become the leading country to attempt to weed out the endemic corruption enabled by the international hydro-carbon firms to the benefit of the decisionmakers in oil and gas-rich countries.

We know that many of the prime ministers and their ministers in oil-rich countries have become exceedingly rich, while their populations starve.

The Financial Times on Feb. 23, 2017 cites the example of Equatorial Guinea (with ExxonMobil the dominant producer), where per-capita income for the country as a whole has risen to
$ 40.000, while three quarters of the population starve on less than 2 $ per day (the „official“ poverty rate).

Similar conditions reign all over the world. While „Publish-as-you-pay“ may not be the silver bullet against corruption, it was an important first step and has been followed by Canada, Norway and the EU (EU Transparency Directive 2013). A number of international oil companies have begun to report, others were to follow.

Of course, by now we know that the Trump administration (with or without Mr. Tillerson) is partial to the oil, gas and coal industry. His decisions on reversing the existing bans on the Keystone pipeline, on the Dakota access line, on coal mining is only topped by his appointment (and the Senate‘s confirmation) of Mr. Pruitt, the former Oklohoma attorney general, who has 12 lawsuits against his new agency under his belt, and who during his hearing did not agree that hydro-carbons and coal cause climate change.

So, in his first 100 days, President Trump has struck significant blows against world-wide corruption in one of the worst offending sectors, and against the environment, whose protection he (and Congress) have entrusted to a fox in the henhouse.

ExxonMobil will be grateful, as will be a number of dictators and autocrats in many of the oil and gas producing countries.

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From:

AFJN

It is all because of interests of big business why Africa is held down – and this with the help of corrupt African Governments’ leaders.  If this continues – there is indeed no future for Africa. Foreign aid by old industrialized
Nations is wasted effort.


 

US aid to DR Congo: No more free rides for corrupt government officials!
Did you know your tax dollars are subsidizing corrupt bureaucrats in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)? Instead of subsidizing millions of dollars in theft, fraud and unpaid taxes, the US should…
Read more

Herakles Farms must Stop Unjust Lawsuits Against a Cameroonian Activist
Herakles Farms, a US based agribusiness has filed a lawsuit against Mr. Nasako Besingi, a Cameroonian activist for defamation for peacefully protesting against the company’s grabbing of his ancestral land in South-West Cameroon. For the defamation case, the maximum penalty is 6 months imprisonment and $4,000 in fines, money he does not have.
Today, ask Mr. Patrick Jones to withdraw this lawsuit.

 

###

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

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

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

This summer we received the following:

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

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

Many good wishes and best regards

Irene Giner-Reichl

President, GFSE


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

[more]

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

[more]

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

[more]

Imprint:

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

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

 www.iiasa.ac.at/web/home/research…

29 October 2012 – 31 October 2012

The Accra International Conference Centre, Accra, Ghana

ECOWAS-GFSE-GEF-UNIDO High Level Energy Forum

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


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

The  High Level Energy Forum aims at the following objectives:

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

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

 www.ecowas.int/

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 5th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As Jeremic (Former Foreign Minister of Serbia) Talks Sovereignty, What of Egypt and Kosovo, Budget from Serbia?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 3 — The UN seems to make even articulate people bland, and to turn everything into buzzwords and cliches. So it seemed at Vuk Jeremic’s first press conference as President of the UN General Assembly.

His deputy spokesman chose only five question — by the end of which, the obvious word “Kosovo” had not once been said.

Only on the seventh and last pre-drinks questions was the word broached. Jeremic answered indirectly, saying that just as he fought “for five and a half years” as Serbian foreign minister for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia, now he would fight for those things for the whole world. Is that a message to the proponents of Azawad in Northern Mali? Inner City Press has covered Mali’s on-again, then off-again recognition of Kosovo.


More pertinently, is it true as buzzed at the UN that the “new” Egypt may move to recognize Kosovo? What if anything could a PGA (President of the UN General Asembly) try to do?

Inner City Press covered — and called — Jeremic’s election as General Assembly President, and when the media in Serbia contacted it for stories about Jeremic’s budget, Inner City Press also asked Jeremic’s predecessor how much Qatar had spent (this was never answered).

But now one wants to know if it is true that the request to and contribution of Serbia is down to $1.5 million, and what will be the actual budgets of the office.

Wednesday these questions were not taken, nor more generic ones about mediation and the G-20. Team Jeremic offered drinks and cheese cubes to the correspondents, but that time might have been better spent on answering these questions. Perhaps in the future they will be answered.

———————-

UN Statement Calls for Restraint From Turkey and Syria, SC Prez Tells ICP

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 4 — On the UN Security Council’s press statement on Akcakale in Turkey, what changed in the 22 hours between the silence procedure being broken by Russia and the statement’s read-out by Council President Gert Rosenthal on Thursday evening?

Mostly the inserting of nine final words: “The members of the Security Council called for restraint.”

Inner City Press asked Ambassador Rosenthal, once he had read out the statement, whether it would be fair to read this as a call for restraint by Turkey as well, or just Syria.

“Both,” Rosenthal said. He confirmed that a separate draft press statement on bombings in Aleppo is under the Council’s “silence procedure” until 10 am on Friday. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the press that one Council member had extended silence until then. But would it be further extended?

There were a few other minor changes from the initial Azerbaijani (or “Ottoman”) draft and the one agreed to: the first draft expressed condolences first to the Government of Turkey then to the families of the victims; this was reversed in the final statement. Also a reference to “international peace and security” was removed.

Some drew a link from the negotiations to an upcoming visit to Turkey by Russian president Putin on October 14. Others speculated about some other deal being reached.

In the run-up to the passing, a well placed diplomat told Inner City Press of passing the press statement, “If they can do it to keep Turkey quiet, good.” But will it?

—————–

As France Spins 2-Step on Mali, ECOWAS Frustration, What of Algeria and Chad?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 4 — When Thursday’s Mali consultations of the UN Security Council broken up near 5 pm, French Ambassador Gerard Araud emerged and confirmed that France would circulate a draft resolution shortly (in a day or two) but NOT yet to deploy ECOWAS forces.

Why the delay? Araud twice said, we’ve been waiting for some time for details from ECOWAS. He said the resolution might specify, deliver the delays in 30 days or as soon as possible.

Inner City Press asked Araud, what about Mali neighbors which are not members of ECOWAS, like Mauritania and Algeria?

Araud replied that any and all countries are invited to be involved. He mentioned the European Union, then circled back to Chad.

But again, what about Algeria? The country has long opposed interventions, especially involving former colonialism France. While pretending not to take the lead or play any special role on Mali, it was Araud who came to the stakeout; it is France which is drafting.

Then again, MUJAO in Northern Mali last month executed an Algerian diplomat. Araud said that there is unanimity in the Council on Mali, and afterward Cote d’Ivoire Ambassador Bamba, who was not allowed in the meeting, emphasized to the press that at the Sahel meeting at the UN during General Debate week, there was a strong political demand a resolution authorizing force.

But what about the neighbors, which are not members of ECOWAS?

—————-

At UN, Syria Praises Jeremic as Heavyweight, Critiqus Qatari Ex-PGA

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 4 — Syria UN Ambassador Bashir Ja’afari had many duels with Qatar’s Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser while the latter was President of the General Assembly, culminating in UN Television being turned off when Ja’afari spoke.

On October 4, on UNTV, Inner City Press asked Ja’afari about new PGA Vuk Jeremic and about Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser. Video here, from Minute 14:09.

Ja’afari lashed out at Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, and praised Jeremic as a “heavyweight.” Later it was noted that Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser repeatedly offered UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon a private jet to travel for free.

Ban has since named Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser as High Representative on the Alliance of Civilizations.

By contrast, Ja’afari told Inner City Press:

“I think the former PGA harmed his personal reputation, the credibility of his country’s policy and the United Nations by misusing his mandate and the very important podium of the General Assembly. I think that he tried to use the national agenda of his country and to dictate this national agenda on the Member States as a whole…

“You may remember the procedural and political mistakes he made towards the point of view of my country as well as toward myself. In these wrongdoing, procedural and political, he crossed the line. He wasn’t diplomat. He didn’t act responsibly.

“In one of these meetings, the former PGA stopped the translation one time, and stopped recording the session, for the first time since 1945. He on many occasion manipulated the rules and procedure of the session and meetings of the General Assembly.

“The new PGA will be by all means different in his approach, his analysis, from former PGA. He is a real heavyweight, a trouble shooter, a professional diplomat… I guess that he will not fall in the same trap in which the former PGA had fallen.

My minister met with the new PGA and they discussed the best ways to help Syria, Government and people, to achieve national dialogue and to implement the Kofi Annan Six Point Plan as well as other instruments adopted by consensus with regard the Syrian crisis. We look forward to working with him very closely.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 14th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

I just returned from the Vienna Topkino and found this film to be obligatory viewing for those that want to see progress at RIO+20.

Both – the film and its Director – Cosima Dannoritzer who resides now in Berlin and Barcelona – were extremely enlightening helped further by the Head of the Vienna UN Information Service, Janos Tisovszky, and Greenpeace campaigner on Consumer items – Claudia Sprinz, and about 50 members of a very lively audience.

The movie starts with the conspiracy that involved Phillips, Osram, and General Electric – the Phoebus Cartel documented in 1929 and eventually undone in US courts only in 1953 – that led to incandescent bulbs to last only 1000 hours, while in a firehouse in New Jersey about 800 people came to celebrate the birthday of a bulb that reached 100 years of continuous use. That bulb was a remnant of pre-conspiracy production.

With above introduction, the movie takes us to see how today’s corporate world leads us to squander resources by handing us products that are not intended to stay with us for a long time – and then the industry is not prepared to pick up the old products that include many valuable resources – instead these become objects that pollute – and the further indignity is that they end up in Ghana in Africa, destroying the environment there.

Mountains are literally moved to come up with the elements used in today’s electronics, while those elements could be mined from the scrap of these products. Then why are these rejected TV’s not repaired, why do they get exported as second hand to Ghana and do havoc there? Anyway – these are just a few points and we will revisit this very impressive movie that shows today’s business world in all its inglorious nudity.


Once upon a time ….. products were made to last. Then, at the beginning of the 1920s, a group of businessmen were struck by the following insight: ‘A product that refuses to wear out is a tragedy of business’ (1928). Thus Planned Obsolescence was born. Shortly after, the first worldwide cartel was set up expressly to reduce the life span of the incandescent light bulb, a symbol for innovation and bright new ideas, and the first official victim of Planned Obsolescence.

“Ciné-ONU Vienna” is part of a Europe-wide initiative of regular film screenings of UN related topics followed by podium discussions with invited guests who were part of the film making process or are experts in the topic covered by the film. The United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna is honoured to have “Ciné-ONU Vienna” partner with this human world (THW) film festival and Topkino for the regular film screenings in Vienna. For further information visit: www.unis.unvienna.org

Date / Time: 14 May 2012, 18:30 hrs

Location: Topkino, Rahlgasse 1, 1060 Wien


Participants of the panel discussion (to be held in English):

Cosima Dannoritzer – Film Director

Claudia Sprinz – Consumer Campaigner -GREENPEACE in Central – and Eastern Europe

Janos Tisovszky – Director / United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna (Moderation)

————————————————————————–

The following two photos by   Marc Martinez Sarrado / Media 3.14)  show us this documentary in a nut-shell.

It is from the incandescent bulbs cartel that was established to undo good products in order to continue production at the plant and release to the environment more and more garbage – to the land covered garbage as we see here in Ghana – a dumping ground to refuse from so called developed countries.

From having caused the demise of the good bulb:



to creating ecological disasters out there:

Cosima Dannoritzer is a director specialising in history, ecology and science who has made films for broadcasters in the U.K., Germany and Spain.

Her CV includes“Rebuilding Berlin”, which she directed and co-produced for the Channel 4 science slot “Equinox”, “The Duel” which she produced for Channel 4 History (nominated for a BBC Indie Award) and the BBC series “Germany Inside Out.”

Her documentary “If Rubbish Could Speak” (“El que la brossa ens diu”, TVE Spain) presents a portrait of the city of Barcelona via its rubbish containers. What would the archaeologists be able to learn from the rubbish we discard every day? The film has won several awards and was screened widely at international environmental film festivals.

“Electronic Amnesia” (“L’amnèsia electrònica”, TVE Spain) offers a reflection about our personal memories and the fact that most of them are increasingly stored in electronic form, using formats which are rapidly becoming obsolete. Will we leave any memories for future generations, or will they inherit stacks of illegible disks, tapes and documents?

With THE LIGHT BULB CONSPIRACY, Cosima Dannoritzer continues to explore the themes of sustainability and our relationship with modern technology.Planned Obsolescence is the deliberate shortening of product life spans to guarantee consumer demand. As an influential advertising magazine stated in the 1920s: ‘The article that refuses to wear out is a tragedy of business’ – and a tragedy for the modern growth society which relies on an ever-accelerating cycle of production, consumption and throwing away.

The story starts in the 1920s when a secret cartel was set up to limit the life span of the incandescent bulb, converting the light bulb into the first victim of Planned Obsolescence and turning it from a symbol of progress and innovation into a model for designers and entrepreneurs aiming to increase profits and sales at all cost. Ever since then, Planned Obsolescence has been the basis of our economy, affecting the life spans of products as diverse as nylon tights, cars and cutting edge electronics.

The result of three years of painstaking research, THE LIGHT BULB CONSPIRACY travels to the US, Germany, France, Spain and Ghana, and uses rare archive material and hitherto unseen internal company documents to separate fact from urban legend. It shows the terrible environmental consequences of Planned Obsolescence – like the immense cemeteries for electronic waste, which have appeared in countries such as Ghana – and presents a number of hands-on ideas from thinkers, designers, businessmen, as well as rebellious consumers, all working on saving the modern economy and the planet.

Press kit ENG.pdf Press kit ENG.pdf
1889K   View Download

the link on to the film pageof the Light Bulb Conspiracy: www.facebook.com/TheLightBulbConspiracys
We love to post  these links because we feel that people with a feel for these issues, as presented in this film and in the Slovak series of shorts at the UN compound in Vienna, can be further energised when watching these true facts.
The only problem with these UNIS showings is that the public at large has no access to them – this like in the case of them being shown inside the UN compound, or not having enough adverisement if done at TopKino. in this last case, the material that was available in the cinema did not include this special showing. Perhaps it could be arranged for a longer and better covered showing in the future.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 4th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The United Nations Foundation and The United Nations Association of the USA

GLOBAL LEADERSHIP DINNER

– – –

2012 award honorees to include

Archbishop Desmond TutuNobel Peace Prize Recipient

VarietyThe Entertainment Industry’s Preeminent News Organization

Kandeh YumkellaDirector General, UNIDO and UN ENERGY, and the GREEN ECONOMY.

– – –

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cipriani 42nd Street

New York City

To reserve tables or tickets and for sponsorship information, please contact

Mary-Frances Wain at 202-778-3539 or mwain@unausa.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 4th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

On Friday, Mr. Ban underlined the need for concerted action to end the crisis in Syria, lamenting that the international community has thus far failed in its responsibility to stop the bloodshed in.

“In fact, the actions – indeed, the inaction — of the international community seems to have encouraged the Syrian authorities in their brutal suppression of its citizens,” Mr. Ban said as he reported to the General Assembly on the implementation of its 16 February resolution on Syria.

That resolution strongly condemned the continued “widespread and systematic” human rights violations by the Syrian authorities and demanded that the Government immediately cease all violence and protect its people.

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

FROM INNER CITY PRESS

At UN, As Syria Lambasts Ban, Talk of Russian Answer But No Speech, Egypt PR Has Conflict of Interest?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 2 — Before the Syria speech of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday, March 1, in front of the General Assembly Hall Inner City Press asked entering Ambassadors for their predictions long and short term.

Many spoke of a Security Council resolution “floating” off the radar, on which “the Americans are waiting to hear back from the Russians after the weekend,” an insider told Inner City Press, referring to not only to the Russian elections but also to a National Security Council meeting there.

Others filled in blanks for Inner City Press in Kofi Annan’s schedule, beyond the bilaterals with Iran, the UK and China that Inner City Press staked out and filmed. Annan had lunch with three Arab Permanent Representatives — Morocco, Saudi Arabia and job-seeking Egypt — and the “Qatari charge d’affaires.”

UN Peacekeeping chief Ladsous “sat in but said nothing,” an attendee said.

When the GA speeches began the European Union, it turned out, did not speak, arguing that “it’s good that the Arabs be heard.” Saudi Arabia had inscribed itself earlier in the day, Egypt at the last minute.

Finally Iran’s Ambassador arrived. He commented to Inner City Press on the previous day’s article about his meeting with new envoy Kofi Annan, then went in and signed up to speak. His main point, he said, was that for Annan to have a change, provocative statements have to stop.

After Ban read out his speech, Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari delivered a lengthy rebuttal lambasting Ban. He began by professing friendship and respect for Ban, but quickly called him and his speech blurry, slanderous and “virulent.”

Ban sat there, with a pinched look on his face; his spokesman Martin Nesirky periodically came to the stakeout, where other than Inner City Press there was practically no media. Later a TV crew from Benin arrived and interviewed Ja’afari, in French.


Ja’afari in front of GA on March 2, no-fly vote not shown (c) MRLee

{SustainabiliTank.ino comment – mainly the only other journalist involved is Ronda Hauben of OhmyNews International and a founder of taz.de/blogs/netizenblog – that says something about the present general level of investigative journalism at the UN}

Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative said that history will judge those who case vetoes for Syria in the Security Council.

On his way in, Russia’s Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin had told Inner City Press he had a strong speech ready, if needed. If so, he did not use it.

As he left, Inner City Press asked him about the Saudi statement that history would judge him. “History will judge everyone,” Churkin replied and left. China’s Deputy Permanent Representative had the same response, but said it was not coordinated.

Egypt’s Permanent Representative Maged Abdelaziz made a point that Syria had not objected to moves against Libya in the League of Arab States. Inner City Press asked him about it afterward, calling it interesting. “I hope you use it,” he replied.

But Ja’afari of Syria told Inner City Press it wasn’t true, that Syria had “made reservations” on a no-fly zone over Libya. He noted, as the Press has before, that Maged Abdelaziz is asking for a job from Ban’s UN Secretariat. Some would call it a conflict of interest.

Saudi Arabia invoked Rwanda, Srebrenica, Kosovo and Gaza. Ja’afari replied that it was insulting to compare Rwanda to “Baba Amr, a neighborhood we love.” He took invoked Gaza. Palestinian Observer Mansour was present but did not sign up to speak.

Afterward several Permanent Representatives marveled to Inner City Press that Ja’afari had gone so hard on Ban. One surmised it is because Kofi Annan is viewed as more of a mediator, and as “a larger figure,” as a Permanent Representative put it. Ban will be cast as the “puppet of the West, reading speeches written by them.”

One comparison inevitable at least from here: if Ban Ki-moon is so concerned about human rights and war crimeswhy has he said nothing about having on his Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations the Sri Lankan General Shavendra Silva, whose 58th Division is depicted in Ban’s own Panel of Experts report as engaged in war crimes?

============
and from Jay Hauben, husband of Ronda Hauben, we received:

On Friday March 2 at a UN General Assembly meeting, Ban Ki-moon made a report of his opinions about the conflict in Syria. He was answered by Syria’s Permanent Representative at the UN Bashar al-Jaafari. A video of the whole 1 1/2 hour meeting can be seen at:

www.unmultimedia.org/tv/webcast/2012/03/99th-plenary-meeting-general-assembly.html

al-Jaafari’s answer begins at about 00:16:10 into the playing of the video.

Since it is rare in the mainstream press to hear the Syrian government position, you might find al-Jaafari’s comments valuable to hear.

For me the exchange between Ban Ki-moon and al-Jaafari raised the question who is supporting the UN Charter? Isn’t the supplying of arms by a foreign power to an armed opposition a violation of the norm of international relations? It reminds me of the US war against Nicaragua. The US armed the Contras and mined the harbor of Managua. The International Court of Justice (ICJ the juridical branch of the UN) held that the U.S. had violated international law by supporting the Contras in their rebellion against the Nicaraguan government and by mining Nicaragua’s harbor.

I will paste below, a report on al-Jaafari’s comments which appeared on the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) website at:

www.sana.sy/eng/22/2012/03/03/403812.htm

Ronda is working on an article which will cover some of the UN’s plan to send former Secretary General Kofi Annan to mediate the conflict. I will send it out when she has posted it.



###

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

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

The article mentioned names:

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

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

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

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

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

#6  –  Sani Abacha of Nigeria                                    – $5 Billion

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

#8  –  Yoweri Museveni of Uganda                      – $4 Billion

#9  –  Charles Taylor of Liberia                             –  $3 Billion

#10 –  Omar Bongo of Gabon                                   –  $2 Billion

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 14th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A Beirut-headquartered bank is being closed after the US drug enforcement agency’s six years of investigation provided proof that it contained a Hezbollah outlet used to move drugs-money and Conflict-diamonds money wrapped under all sorts of blown-up figures from otherwise legitimate business. In effect this was a financial river that supplied funds to organizations using terrorism as an extension of political  methods. Lebanon, Syria and Iran were involved directly, so were officials and businesses in many parts of Latin America and Africa. Drug money from Europe and the United States also found the way into these financial funnels and direct Caracas – Damascus flights carried some of the goods, as were flights via Africa. The saddest part in this story is that some in the US enforcement agencies were afraid to disclose these findings earlier, as there was the thought that the US will be accused of political motivation. This comes to show that really it does not make sense to protect the criminals from that the Western Press might be inclined to misrepresent.
The article, as per following link, says that eventually those who won were those  that thought to expose a good find in order to get good people on the side of truth.

Funding takeover of important real estate in Lebanon became a means to conquer the State for the Shiia Hezbollah, and form new pressure points  against Israel. This was the opposite of what we consider as Sustainable Development.

www.nytimes.com/2011/12/14/world/middleeast/beirut-bank-seen-as-a-hub-of-hezbollahs-financing.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 8th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Dear colleagues,

Every individual must act as if the whole future of the world, of humanity itself, depends on him. (Joseph Weizenbaum)

‘Rio+20 Global Youth Music Contest’ initiative will be presented on Thursday 8th December 2011 from 11:00am to 11:20am in the framework of a mini side event at the “Climate Change Studio” at Durban Exhibition Centre (DEC) during the COP17.

The Rio+20 Global Youth Music Contest is a global competition for young people organized by the International Association for the Advancement of Innovative Approaches to Global Challenges (IAAI) wide number of partners and youth networks from around the world on the occasion of United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) which will be held in June 2012 in Brazil.

Rio+20 Global Youth Music Contest has a team of seven young representatives attending the 17th Conference Of Parties (COP17) at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), taking place from 28 November to 9 December in Durban, South Africa.

Related IAAI and Rio+20 Global Youth Music Contest documents and activities:

•   Rio+20 GYMC Call for Music and further info in several languages (English, German, Arabic, Chinese, etc.) www.glocha.info/index.php/riogymcresources

•   Report on presentation of Rio+20 GYMC at UN High Level Meeting on Youth 25 July 2011, New York www.glocha.info/index.php/latest-news/137-rio-2012-youth-song

•   Rio+20 GYMC letter to UN SG Ban Ki-moon www.glocha.info/images/stories/rio/group_statement_mr_ban_ki-moon.pdf

•   IAAI Input to Online Consultation for Rio+20 Zero Draft Outcome document www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php page=view&nr=105&type=510&menu=20&template=509&str=IAAI

•   IAAI side event “Mobilizing Civil Society for Sustainable Development and Rio+20 & The Special Role of Youth” at 2nd Rio+20 Intersessional Meeting New York City 15 December 2011  1.15-2.45 PM www.glocha.info/index.php/latest-news/174-joint-event-of-iaai-and-unicef-at-rio20-intersessional-in-ny

——————

Jean Paul Brice Affana
Coordinator, Rio+20 Global Youth Music Contest
P.O. Box: 20387 Yaoundé, Cameroon |
Email:  JeanPaul at glocha.info  | Website: www.glocha.info

Miroslav Polzer
Secretary General, International Association for the Advancement of Innovative Approaches to Global Challenges IAAI
Address: Dunajska 104, SI-1000 Ljubljana/Slovenia,
Email: polzer@glocha.info website: www.glocha.info

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 7th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)



Before today’s  announcements from Oslo, 12 women had been honored previously with the PEACE PRIZE, including Mother Teresa, Jane Addams, and Wangari Maathai, the 2004 winner who died two weeks ago.

Speculation had centered on whether the prize would be awarded to leaders involved in the Arab Spring protests that toppled leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. But the deadline for nominations is February 1, when President Hosni Mubarak was still in power in Egypt and before protests had spread to much of the rest of the Arab world.

“I very much appreciate the bloggers,” Jaglund said when asked why Karman and not others involved in the protests had received the prize. But Karman’s “courage was long before the world media was there and reporting,” he said.

For  Nobel Prize for Peace – THIS WAS THE YEAR OF THE WOMEN. The Three Recipients are: Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakul Karman, a Yemeni opposition leader, honored for their “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

Karman, 32, is one of Yemen’s most vocal and well-known activists and a member of the country’s main Islamic opposition party, Islah. Wearing her trademark pink floral headscarf, and using text messages, Facebook and other social media, she organized the first student demonstrations at Sanaa University challenging the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Nobel committee hopes that the prize “will help to bring an end to the suppression of women that still occurs in many countries, and to realize the great potential for democracy and peace that women can represent,” Jagland said. He said that in the fight for democracy in the Arab world, “One must include the women and not set them aside.”

It seems that before the onset of the Arab Spring – or the larger upheaval in the Arab World, this was supposed to have been the African Women Year.

So we have – Johnson-Sirleaf, a 72-year-old, Harvard University-trained economist, was elected president of Liberia in 2005, becoming the first female democratically elected president of an African nation.

Sirleaf faces an election next week, and Jagland was questioned after the announcement as to whether the Nobel committee was interfering in politics by announcing the prize so close to a poll. He said that the committee’s decision had nothing to do with the domestic affairs of the country. Seemingly the prize to her is pure recognition of a woman’s achievements in the African male world.

Gbowee, a social worker and trauma counselor, organized the Women of Liberian Mass Action for Peace, a non-violent group of women who demonstrated wearing white t-shirts to symbolize peace, and, in 2003 she has worked this way to mobilize the women across ethnic and religious dividing lines and helped bring an end to Liberia’s civil war.

—————————————

SANAAFri Oct 7, 2011

(Reuters) – Yemeni winner of the Nobel Peace Prize Tawakul Karman said on Friday the award was a victory for Yemen’s democracy activists and they would not give up until they had won full rights in a “democratic, modern Yemen”.

“This is a victory for the youth first and foremost. We are here to win our freedom and dignity in their entirety. Our youth revolution wants our complete rights,” she told broadcaster Al Jazeera, from “Change Square”, centre of the protest movement.

“We will not allow our revolution to be left incomplete. We want a democratic, modern Yemen. That’s what the youth and the martyrs and the wounded have vowed to gain. We will continue our peaceful movement.”

Tawakul has been a key figure among the youth activists since they began camping out at Change Square in central Sanaa in February demanding the end of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s three-decade rule.

She has often been the voice of the street activists on Arabic television, giving them on the ground reports of the situation at the square outside Sanaa University, where dozens of activists have been shot dead by government forces.

Karman said all Yemenis she was in contact with were thrilled about the award.

“Yemen will go down in history thanks to Tawakul Karman. She deserves the prize. She has kept fighting for the sake of her peoples’ freedom,” said Abdulbari Taher, a protest leader in Sanaa.

A government official also praised Karman’s award, expressing hope it would lead to a resolution of a crisis that has ground Yemen’s economy to a halt.

Saleh, who survived an assassination attempt in June, has repeatedly refused to sign a peace deal arranged by Gulf Arab countries that would see him step down ahead of new elections.

“I’m very happy with the news that she won the Nobel Prize and it’s something that all Yemenis can be proud of,” Deputy Information Minister Abdu al-Janadi said. “I hope this prize will be a step toward rationality.”





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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 9th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Israel and France signed (September 5, 2011) a declaration of intent for cooperation in extending aid to Haiti and to emerging countries in Africa. The agreement includes joint actions in the fields of agriculture and irrigation, public health and gender.  Implementation of the agreement will be through MASHAV – Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, at the Foreign Ministry.

Development is an important subject on the international agenda, especially against the backdrop of recent global crises (food, climate change, energy, etc.), which mainly hurt developing countries, many of which suffer from extreme poverty and hunger. Both Israel and France view this joint activity as adding a new phase to their relationship.

The Israeli-French cooperation will focus on sending experts, counseling, professional training and the like, appropriate to the needs and desires of the country receiving the aid. In the first stage, the countries designated to receive aid are Cameroon, Senegal, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Haiti.

A steering committee composed of representatives from Israel and France, charged with monitoring implementation of the agreement and approving the work plans, will meet once a year.

Dep.DG Carmon and HE Christophe Bigot sign aid cooperation agreement
MASHAV Dep.Dir-Gen Danny Carmon (right) and HE Christophe Bigot sign aid cooperation agreement.

Danny Carmon used to be #2 at the Israel Mission to the UN in New York and has long had contacts with Developing Countries’ representatives.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 14th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

An African Chief in Cabby’s Clothing

By CHRISTINE HAUGHNEY, The New York Times,

Isaac Osei, at home is a Ghanaian chief who wears a crown and oversees five towns – in New York he is a working capitalist – an independent  small business – a fleet of cabs – owner.

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 www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/nyregi…

————


Isaac Osei, who owns a taxi fleet in New York City with his wife, is also a Ghanaian chief who wears a crown                                     and oversees five towns.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 10th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

UN Dodges Press on Crackdowns in Sudan, Seeks To Cancel Noon Briefings, Spokesman Out for 40 Days?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 10 — With UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visit to Korea greeted by artillery fire from the North, there are few answers from Ban’s spokespeople in New York.

They had no comment on crackdowns on the press in Sudan and Cote d’Ivoire, nor on protests of the UN in Nepal and even just across First Avenue by Haitians demanding reparations for the introduction of cholera.

Even why Ban gave out the post of “Commissioner-General of the UN” to Samuel Koo in South Korea did not get an answer, twenty hours after it was asked at Tuesday’s noon briefing.

Nor, despite two requests from Inner City Press, has the UN been able to provide any information about Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro’s month-long “official travel” in Tanzania.

Now comes word that Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky is taking even more time off, reportedly from now until September 17. During this unheard of absence by a lead spokesman, Nesirky’s acting deputy Farhan Haq is “canvassing” select reporters in order to say that they don’t actually want the UN to hold noon briefings, despite events ranging from Syria to Yemen to Somalia and Sudan.

Even though Haq runs “his” briefing in such a way that it takes less than ten minutes a day — by limiting the Press to three questions, most of which are not answered — even this is apparently too much, despite there being other people in the UN Office of the Spokesperson.


Haq at briefing on Haiti, responses to protests & Qs & crackdowns not shown

Forget whether or not the UN will comment on crackdowns in Cote d’Ivoire or Bahrain: as an organization that has over 100,000 armed personnel out in the field, is it too much that they should stand and take questions for ten minutes a day, five days a week?

Especially when, as of today, the UN has in place no chief of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, as Alain Le Roy leaves as long ago announced, and the next Frenchman — Jerome Bonnafont, Inner City Press reported six weeks ago — is not in place, not even interviewed? We’ll see.

Update: some Missions and Permanent Representative of the UN, even among the Permanent Five members of the Security Council, somewhat surprisinly watch the UN noon briefing on UN TV, and some have expressed surprise at the length of leave and move to shut off even the short televised briefings. But are the member states being canvassed? Who is being canvassed?  Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, No Answers on Migiro’s “Official Travels,” Budget Chief Leaving, Ban’s Job Gift to Koo.

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 9 — With the UN’s two top officials both out of New York, their spokespeople are having trouble explaining what they are doing.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is in South Korea, while Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro is listed on “official travel” from July 18 to August 16.

Yet despite two requests from Inner City Press for an explanation of this “official” travel, not a single official UN act has been described.

Nor does Ban’s spokesperson’s office, when asked, seem to know what Ban is doing in his native South Korea. On August 9, Inner City Press asked Ban’s acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about one of Ban’s actions while away:

Inner City Press: Ban Ki-moon has named Samuel Koo as the UN Commissioner-General for the Yeosu Expo. This was in the South Korean press, and I just wanted to know, what is this Commissioner-General position? Is it a paid position? What’s this all about?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: It’s not an announcement that we have made from here. We’d have to check what the report is on this particular thing. It’s certainly not an appointment that we’ve announced from here, however. Have a good afternoon, all.

But for the rest of the afternoon, and evening, no answer at all was given. The Korea Herald had reported:

“U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Samuel Koo, a former U.N. official and journalist, as the U.N. commissioner-general for the 2012 Yeosu Expo… In Korea, Koo has also held posts related to culture, tourism and convention, including culture ambassador for the Foreign Ministry and president of Seoul Tourism. Koo now chairs the culture and tourism committee of the Presidential Council on Nation Branding.”

So Ban gave out a grandiose-sounding UN position without his spokespeople knowing, or even bothering to look into and provide an answer on for sixteen hours and counting. Koo was also at one time a UN correspondent, seeking information not without success from the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General in the past. And now?

Meanwhile, Inner City Press has twice asked about DSG Migiro’s month-long “official travel,” first asking Ban’s lead spokesman Martin Nesirky, who said he would look into it and provide an answer, then when he didn’t, asking Haq on August 8:

Inner City Press: this was actually just kind of a follow-up. It’s something I had asked Martin last week, I don’t have an answer, so it’s not really a follow-up. It’s a reiterated question. Everyday in the Spokesperson’s Office there is a sheet saying that the DSG [Deputy Secretary-General] is on official travel, and he’d said he’d look into it. I wanted to know, what is that official travel?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: She is on home leave. She is on home leave in [the United Republic of] Tanzania, but she does have some official functions and we’ll let you know about those as they come.

But a day and a half later and counting, not a single official act has been reported. Inner City Press followed up:

Inner City Press: what’s the distinction, because I have seen sometimes things listed as leave, but this has been a full month stated as official travel. What’s the distinction?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Like I said, it is home leave, but it does include some official functions.

What are those functions? Sources tell Inner City Press that the African Group of member states at the UN is being lobbied to get Ms. Migiro a second term, like Ban got. Others say there is a European for that position.


Ban’s Koo per Korean Herald – answers from Ban’s OSSG not shown

When Ban came in, through his now long-time chief of staff he said that the expectation was that none of his officials would serve more than five years in their jobs. But many have been there longer now, with no move to replace them.

There is a near total lack of transparency: Inner City Press has twice asked when Controller Jun Yamasaki is leaving, without answer.

His job was already advertised in The Economist; another UN source tells Inner City Press Yamazaki is slated to leave on August 18, but might stay on for a month. But why won’t the Secretariat answer these things?

For the just-filed Iraq envoy post, Inner City Press reported that there were three candidates, all German. A regional Permanent Representative asked Inner City Press, “Which Germany will get it?” It’s like Ban’s UN has deemed the Department of Peacekeeping Operations a French post, with three candidates, all French. This is UN reform? Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, ’11 BloggingHeads.tv re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 12th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We do find this to be an important event and wonder why it was being downplayed by its organizers who did not look much beyond the opening evening. Did the security demands overwhelm the organizers, or was there a lack of interest in what those games stood for in years past?

This was the 13th European Maccabiah (Jewish International Maccabi sports games) and it stretched over July 5-13, 2011. Whatever else you want to say about these games – you always have to come back to the fact that since 1932 – these 2011 competitions were the first time the games were held in Austria and are yet to be held in Germany. This fact was well covered in the run up to the games – in the Austrian papers of the July 2-3, 2011 weekend. Much was made of it that Austrian President  Heinz Fischer and Vienna’s Mayor Michael Haeupl will make welcome-presentations at the official opening that to be held in the public space behind the Vienna City-Hall (the Rathaus). The papers covered this as a political event – what it really was – with photos of political figures and religious leaders from among the Jewish Community of Vienna.  There was clearly a build-up to the event, but past this start there was hardly any mention of the games, in the following days. The games were presented as the Jewish Olympics and that was nearly accurate in terms of what these games stand for.

The Jews of Vienna numbered 190,000 before the Nazi takeover – today they number just 7,000 and the growing number is a cause of joy – but let us look at the sports side of the Vienna Jewish community/

Already in the 19th century, Jewish sports clubs were founded in Eastern and Central Europe. The first club was the Israelite Gymnastic Association Constantinople (today’s Istanbul)  That was with the “Israelitischer Turnverein Konstantinopel” founded in 1895 by Jews of German and Austrian extraction who had been rejected from participating in other social sport clubs of Istanbul. Two years later, haGibor was formed in Philipople, Bulgaria, and 1898 saw the founding of Bar Kochba in Berlin along with Vivó és Athletikai Club in Budapest.

Other clubs that followed were named after “Bar Kochba” or Hebrew names such as Hagibor.

In Vienna it was “Hakoah” which like “Hagibor” symbolized strength and heroism. One of the basic premises behind the founding of these clubs was pure Jewish Nationalism. The concept was that Jews were not only a religious entity, but also one based on a common historical and social background, having special cultural and psychological concepts that have been preserved to this day, resulting in a strong recognition of collective belonging. This was Jewish Nationalism within the context of the emerging Nation-States of Europe.

In 1906, the first Jewish Gymnastics club was formed in Palestine. Clubs later would spring up in different cities. By 1912, all of them joined the Maccabi Federation of Israel. That same year, the first relations were established between them and their European counterparts, when a decision was taken at the Maccabi Conference in Berlin to begin group trips to Palestine – the eventual National homeland of the Jews.

The Maccabi World Union was created at the 12th  World Jewish Congress in Karlovy Vary, Czechoslovakia in 1921. It was then decided by the secretariat of Jewish sport leaders to form one umbrella organization for all Jewish Sports associations. Its aims were defined as working to “foster physical education, belief in Jewish heritage and the Jewish nation, and to work actively for the rebuilding of our own country and for the preservation of our people.”  In 1960, the International Olympic Committee officially recognized the Maccabi World Union as an “Organization of Olympic Standing.” Today its headquarters are in the Maccabiah Village, Ramath Gan, Israel.

Maccabi was thus created as a sports movement of an Israeli secular Nation in the process of rebuilding themselves – in the process they were also for rights in the countries they were living in, and proposed to show that Jews are  capable of success in physical things – not just spiritual, science,  business, and the arts. After the creation of the State of Israel, the Maccabi World Union became another network of the worl’s Jewry – linking between the countries of their residence and the State of Israel.

The First Maccabiah, or Jewish Olympics, took place already in 1932 in Tel Aviv – then there was a hiatus until after the war and the creation of the State; only 30 years later, in 1952,  a system, like in the Olympics, was established so that since then there is held in Tel Aviv a Maccabiah every four years. This allowed European Jewry to claim, since 1959, a spot for themselves in the middle second year. Eventually six confederations were created: Maccabi Israel, the European Maccabi confederation, the confederation Maccabi North America, the confederation Maccabi Latin America, Maccabi South Africa and Maccabi Australia.  This year,  December 26, 20111 – January 2, 2012, there will be also a Maccabi competition in Sao Paulo for the Western Hemisphere Maccabi Confederations – The Pan American Maccabi Games. Other 2011 Maccabi games will be held in Israel (July 24 – August 5), Philadelphia, PA, USA (August 14 – 19), and Springfield MA, USA (also August 14-16).

We had in Vienna the 13th European Maccabi Games – Where does all this put Austria?

As we said Austria had its Hakoah clubs – first class sports clubs.

Two Austrian Zionists, influenced by Max Nordau‘s doctrine of “Muscular Judaism” founded the club in 1909 – they named the club “Hakoah” meaning “the strength.” In its first year, the club’s athletes competed in fencing, football, field hockey, track & field, wrestling and swimming.

Hakoah Vienna was one of the first football teams to market themselves globally by traveling frequently where they would attract thousands of Jewish fans to their matches against local teams in cities such as London and New York. Support for Hakoah spread around Europe rapidly as Jews as far as Russia and the United States avidly supported Hakoah Vienna who took advantage of such support by setting up very successful tours and friendlies.

Hakoah soccer finished second in the Austrian league in 1922. On the team’s trip to London in 1923, they managed to defeat West Ham United Hakoah became the first continental club to defeat an English team in England.

In a dramatic game of the 1924–25 season, Hakoah’s Hungarian-born goalkeeper Alexander Fabian broke his arm. The rules at the time did not allow substitutions so Fabian put his arm in a sling and switched positions with a forward. Seven minutes later Fabian scored the winning goal, clinching Hakoah’s league championship.

In 1926, the team conducted a highly successful tour of the United States. Their game at New York City’s Polo Groundsattracted 46,000 spectators, a record at the time. Many of the team’s players, impressed by the relative lack of anti-Semitsm they found, decided to stay in the United States, accepting offers to play for American clubs. Several of these players formed a club called New York Hakoah which won the U.S. Open Cup in 1929. A few players emigrated to Palestine and founded Hakoah Tel Aviv football club there. The loss of so many talented players effectively put an end to the Austrian football team’s competitiveness.

Please remember here that Austria famous Jewish football star – one of the most famous Austrian stars ever – Matthias Sindelar – who plaid for Austria Wien and was the legendary captain of the National team – was found on January 29, 1939 murdered on the Annagasse in Vienna.

After the Anschluss of 1938, the German Football Association  banned HAKOAH and nullified their games. Their stadium was appropriated and given to the Nazi Party. Here another example how Nazi Austria shot at itself – not just at its Jews. In 1945 the club was founded again and exists today as a shadow of its old glory. Just a few years ago, Austria returned the Hakoah Stadium to the Jewish Community – I understand that they had to pay for it.  A football team was created and it plays in Austria’s minor leagues (2nd or 3rd class) under the name SC Maccabi Wien. The club opened its new home on 11 March 2008.

The Hakoah success extended beyond  football. Hakoah had highly successful sections in wrestling, fencing, water polo, and swimming among other sports. At its pre-war peak, the club had over 5000 members.

Why is all this so important? This because 1938 – 2011 was rather a Maccabi-less time for Austria. After the war the Jewish community started to rebuild and would have wanted to show off by hosting the European Maccabi games. But this did not succeed until now – lots of people were not ready yet to attempt a closing of the books on the years of unforgivable misery imposed on the Jews by Austria’s Nazis.

That is why we say these games were so important to the Austria of 2011 – even if there was not enough interest in the results in the actual games.

But was there real interest in the political side? No doubt that the highest officials of the State of Austria showed high personal interest in Austria hosting this event, but why was it not possible to get out from their offices texts of their welcome words, neither were there press releases. The event just did not get the full circulation it deserved – it was a coming out party for a new Austria – not really for its Jews. With some 4000 participants in town, this Maccabiah was also a business event even if the sports were not pushed by the community leaders and not covered by the sports press.

The competitors in these games came from 37 countries – from all continents and included also one delegation from Africa – from Guinea Bissau. The US team included two 80-year-old men who escaped Vienna as children in 1938 and came to the games to compete as swimmers. They had learned to swim at Hakoah Vienna. They were not the oldest competitors – that honor went to the 88 year young Bernard Teltscher from the UK, who with his wife Kitty got to fifth place in the Bridge game competition.

The sport disciplines of these games were: Badminton, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Bridge, Chess (star Yehudith  Polgar from Hungary was here), Fencing, Field Hockey, Football (Soccer), Futsal (Indoor Mini Football – I met a team from the Russian Republic of Birobidjan), Golf, Judo, Karate, Squash, Swimming, T.P. Bowling (I met a delegation from Long Island, New York), Table Tennis, Target Shooting, Tennis and Volleyball.

The event ended Tuesday July 12th at night with a party at the  Pyramid in Vösendorf, where  everybody – athletes, friends, families and fans – were invited for a last farewell.  Entertainment was from Israel.

The opening ceremony speakers honored the victims of the Shoah, and the ending ceremony expressed the feeling that the holding of the games in the Vienna that was home to Hitler was testimony to Jewish survival.

The main papers of Vienna, Wednesday July 13, 2011, had the following to say:

derstandard.at/1308681076485/Der-olympische-Gedanke-altert-nicht

diepresse.com/home/panorama/wien/677389/MakkabiSpiele_Vienna-Very-beautiful-very-old?_vl_backlink=/home/index.do

Just one more comment that shows Holocaust education is still not deep enough in Austria – there is a need to point out more the positive side of the Jews as contributors in the history of Austria – not just the inhumanity of the Nazi era. This was pointed out to me by Ms. Hannah Lessing, She has been responsible for the administrative and organizational management of the official National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism since 1995 and of the General Settlement Fund for Victims of National Socialism since May 2001.
She is a permanent member of the “Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research” (ITF).  She competed for Austria in lady’s golf and was written up in a pre-Maccabi-games article. The journalist wrote she was wearing a “Jew’s Star” – the derogatory term the Nazis used for the patch they made Jews to put on. But Ms. Lessing wore on her neckless chain a “Star of David”, which though having also six points, it nevertheless points at a totally different direction – to the Jewish glorious past – like the star used by the Maccabi organization itself. If you wish – Jews wear it around their neck like proud Christians wear the cross. Now – that is the deep difference in perception that still has to be overcome today even by some Austrian intellectuals.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 27th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Kofi Annan was UN Secretary General 1997-2006. Under him the UN put forward the concept of “RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT” – which means that it is a Government´s  responsibility to protect its citizens – the most revolutionary idea at the UN since the days of Eleanor Roosevelt championing the concept of HUMAN RIGHTS and her managing the UN Declaration on the subject. Just think of the many dictatorships that are UN member governments and their treatment of their own citizens.

Kofi Annan, among other interests, was also a champion of issues of the Environment and the neeed to do something about air pollution from burning fossil carbons and the resulting effects on the Climate.

The Students of the class of 2011 of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna  recognized the visions of UNSG Kofi Annan by deciding to name the 2011 class after Kofi Annan. We see in this a recognition of the truth, that with with good people on the top, the UN can provide leadership even in the present world condition.

Power to the Vienna Diplomatic Academy students, and please see Kofi Annan´s acknowledgement of this honor-

www.sustainabilitank.info/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Brief_Annan.pdf

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 6th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We’ve been conned. The deal to save the natural world never happened

The so-called summit in Japan won’t stop anyone trashing the planet. Only economic risks seem to make governments act.

by George Monbiot
guardian.co.uk
, Monday 1 November 2010

    ‘Countries join forces to save life on Earth”, the front page of the Independent told us. “Historic”, “a landmark”, a “much-needed morale booster”, the other papers chorused. The declaration agreed last week at the summit in Japan to protect the world’s wild species and places was proclaimed by almost everyone a great success. There is one problem: none of the journalists who made these claims has seen it.

    I checked with as many of them as I could reach by phone: all they had read was a press release which, though three pages long, is almost content-free. The reporters can’t be blamed for this – it was approved on Friday but the declaration has still not been published. I’ve pursued people on three continents to try to obtain it, without success. Having secured the headlines it wanted, the entire senior staff of the convention on biological diversity has gone to ground, and my calls and emails remain unanswered. The British government, which lavishly praised the declaration, tells me it has no printed copies. I’ve never seen this situation before. Every other international agreement I’ve followed was published as soon as it was approved.

    The evidence suggests that we’ve been conned. The draft agreement, published a month ago, contained no binding obligations. Nothing I’ve heard from Japan suggests that this has changed. The draft saw the targets for 2020 that governments were asked to adopt as nothing more than “aspirations for achievement at the global level” and a “flexible framework”, within which countries can do as they wish. No government, if the draft has been approved, is obliged to change its policies.

    In 2002 the signatories to the convention agreed something similar, a splendid-sounding declaration that imposed no legal commitments. They announced they would “achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss”. Mission accomplished, the press proclaimed, and everyone went home to congratulate themselves. Earlier this year the UN admitted the 2002 agreement was fruitless: “The pressures on biodiversity remain constant or increase in intensity.”

    Even the cheery press release suggests all was not well. The meeting in Japan was supposed to be a summit, bringing together heads of government or state. ————-.  It mustered five: the release boasts of corralling the president of Gabon, the president of Guinea-Bissau, the prime minister of Yemen and Prince Albert of Monaco. (It fails to identify the fifth country – Liechtenstein? Pimlico?) A third of the countries represented couldn’t even be bothered to send a minister. This is how much they value the world’s living systems.

    It strikes me that governments are determined to protect not the marvels of our world but the world-eating system to which they are being sacrificed; not life, but the ephemeral junk with which it is being replaced. They fight viciously and at the highest level for the right to turn rainforests into pulp, or marine ecosystems into fishmeal. Then they send a middle-ranking civil servant to approve a meaningless and so far unwritten promise to protect the natural world.

    Japan was praised for its slick management of the meeting, but still insists on completing its mission to turn the last bluefin tuna into fancy fast food. Russia signed a new agreement in September to protect its tigers (the world’s largest remaining population), but an unrepealed law in effect renders poachers immune from prosecution, even when they’re caught with a gun and a dead tiger. The US, despite proclaiming a new commitment to multilateralism, refuses to ratify the convention on biological diversity.

    It suits governments to let us trash the planet. It’s not just that big business gains more than it loses from converting natural wealth into money. A continued expansion into the biosphere permits states to avoid addressing issues of distribution and social justice: the promise of perpetual growth dulls our anger about widening inequality. By trampling over nature we avoid treading on the toes of the powerful.

    A massive accounting exercise, whose results were presented at the meeting in Japan, has sought to change this calculation. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) attempts to price the ecosystems we are destroying. It shows that the economic benefit of protecting habitats and species often greatly outweighs the money to be made by trashing them. A study in Thailand, for instance, suggests that turning a hectare of mangrove forest into shrimp farms makes $1,220 a year but inflicts $12,400 of damage every year on local livelihoods, fisheries and coastal protection. The catchment protected by one nature reserve in New Zealand saves local people NZ$136m a year in water bills. Three quarters of the US haddock catch now comes from within 5km of a marine reserve off the New England coast: by protecting the ecosystem, the reserve has boosted the value of the fishery.

    I understand why this approach is felt to be necessary. I understand that if something can’t be measured, governments and businesses don’t value it. I accept TEEB’s reasoning that the rural poor, many of whom survive exclusively on what the ecosystem has to offer, are treated harshly by an economic system which doesn’t recognise its value. Even so, this exercise disturbs me.

    As soon as something is measurable it becomes negotiable. Subject the natural world to cost-benefit analysis and accountants and statisticians will decide which parts of it we can do without. All that now needs to be done to demonstrate that an ecosystem can be junked is to show that the money to be made from trashing it exceeds the money to be made from preserving it. That, in the weird world of environmental economics, isn’t hard: ask the right statistician and he’ll give you any number you want.

    This approach reduces the biosphere to a subsidiary of the economy. In reality it’s the other way round. The economy, like all other human affairs, hangs from the world’s living systems. You can see this diminution in the language TEEB reports use: they talk of “natural capital stock”, of “underperforming natural assets” and “ecosystem services”. Nature is turned into a business plan, and we are reduced to its customers. The market now owns the world.

    But I also recognise this: that if governments had met in Japan to try to save the banks, or the airline companies, they would have sent more senior representatives, their task would have seemed more urgent, and every dot and comma of their agreement would have been checked by hungry journalists.

    When they meet to consider the gradual collapse of the natural world they send their office cleaners and defer the hard choices for another 10 years, while the media doesn’t even notice they have failed to produce a written agreement. So, much as I’m revolted by the way in which nature is being squeezed into a column of figures in an accountant’s ledger, I am forced to agree that it may be necessary. What else will induce the blinkered, frightened people who hold power today to take the issue seriously?

    • A fully referenced version of this article is available on www.monbiot.com

    also –  home.pacbell.net/mjvande

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 28th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Spain-UNEP LifeWeb Partnership to Raise Incomes and Improve Conservation in Protected Areas in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
UNEP NEWS RELEASE

Orangutans and Monk Seals among Species to Benefit  from Spain-Backed Conservation Boost.

NAGOYA, 28 October 2010—More than 15 protected areas, including one
managing monk seals off Mauritania and another in Sumatra that is home to
orangutans, tigers and elephants, are to receive a $6.8million conservation
boost.

Today, at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on
Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, the Government of Spain and the UN
Environment Programme (UNEP) announced a new partnership for protected
areas under the LifeWeb initiative.

The partnership, supporting mainly low-income and developing countries,
aims to deliver benefits not just for biodiversity but for communities
living in and around protected areas.

For example, in the Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the
Congo, some of the funds will support improved health services for local
people.

In Panama and El Salvador, support to the Mesoamerican terrestrial
protected areas will help develop innovative economic and legal instruments
to promote sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems through their
social and economic values, and the ecosystem services.

The partnership will also support the establishment of new protected areas
that, in turn, can generate new streams of income for local people.  This
includes improving links between existing national parks and marine
reserves in West Africa to create a protected area network for sea turtles,
in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.

Teresa Ribera, Spain’s Secretary of State for Climate Change, said:  “The
growth in protected areas is one of the real success stories of
conservation over the past half century.  The challenge is to ensure that
as many as possible of some 100,000 sites are well-managed and in a way
that maximizes livelihood and income opportunities for people, alongside
securing the biodiversity and economically-important ecosystems found at
such important sites.  Our Government’s investment is aimed at achieving
these triple-win goals and realizing the opportunities at initially 11
demonstration projects on marine, coastal and terrestrial protected areas.
In doing so, it is making a contribution to advancing the biodiversity
targets and the poverty-related UN Millennium Development Goals.”

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director,
said:  “I want to thank the Government of Spain for their leadership and
support by investing in these nature-based asset — assets providing
services such as water supplies, soil fertility and carbon storage worth
trillions of dollars a year to local and indeed the global economy.”

“The evidence linking poverty eradication and protected areas is also
emerging.  A recent report by UNEP’s Green Economy team, for example, cited
Costa Rica.  Here wages and employment have risen and poverty has been
reduced since the protected area estate was expanded to some 26 per cent of
the country’s land surface”, he added.

Mr. Steiner cited other cases, including from the UNEP-hosted project, The
Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), where investment in
sustainable management is triggering dividends.

* In Venezuela, investment in the national protected area system is
preventing sedimentation that otherwise could reduce farm earnings by
around $3.5 million a year.

* Investment in the protection of Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve is
generating an annual income of close to $50 million a year, has generated
7,000 jobs and boosted local family incomes.

The protected areas to benefit from the UNEP-Spain LifeWeb partnership
include:

Africa
The Takamanda National Park in Cameroon, where funds will provide economic
incentives to conserve the habitat of the rare Cross-River Gorilla with
additional benefits for curbing climate change linked with deforestation.

The Garamba and the Kazuhi-Biega National Parks in the Democratic Republic
of Congo where funds will support improved conservation of various rare and
endangered species including the northern white rhino, chimpanzee, elephant
and gorilla.

The Lossi Fauna Reserve and the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the
Republic of the Congo where it is planned to boost tourism and thus income
for local people by hiring locally-recruited park staff.

The Iles d’Orango National Park, João Vieira-Poilão National Park, Rio
Cacheu Mangroves Natural Park in Guinea-Bissau, where funds will be used to
conserve threatened species such as manatee, sea turtles and migrating
water birds and to develop strategies to reduce harmful fishing.

Sea Turtles Marine Protected Areas Network in four West African countries
through the reinforcement of conservation measures to protect sea turtle
populations, considering the risks caused by the sea-level dynamics in
littoral ecosystems and climate change effects.

Banc d’Arguin National Park in Mauritania where funds will support the
critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal and its associated habitats.
Surveillance measures will be reinforced in the Satellite Reserve of Cap
Blanc to help conserve the natural habitat of the seal and seal populations
in the region.  Funds will also go towards public awareness activities in
the marine protected areas.

Asia
Gunung Leuser National Park in northern Sumatra, Indonesia to help restore
degraded habitats that support species including orangutan, rhinoceros and
tigers.

Mesoamerica Volcán Barú National Park in Panama and La Montañona
Conservation Area in El Salvador where the aim is to develop the economic
and legal mechanisms to increase the sustainable use of natural resources,
and develop linkages among biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human
well-being on the basis of environmental and socio-economic values.

South and Northeast Pacific and Wider Caribbean Marine Mammal Corridors and
Critical Habitat in the South and Northeast Pacific and the Wider Caribbean
Regions is strengthening regional platforms to improve  spatial planning
for marine mammals protection and to develop within the three regions an
overview of essential habitats and migration routes
.
————————————————————————————————–

The LifeWeb Initiative was launched in May 2008 during the ninth meeting of
the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, in
Bonn, Germany.

LifeWeb’s goal is to strengthen financing for protected areas to conserve
biodiversity, secure livelihoods and address climate change, through
implementation of the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas.  Developing
countries and countries with economies in transition are invited to submit
expressions of interest through LifeWeb to invite financial support for
protected areas from development partners.

The Governments of Finland, Germany and Spain are the principal donors to
LifeWeb (see www.cbd.int/lifeweb.and www.spain-unepforpas.org/home.html

For more information on the Nagoya Conference, see www.cbd.int/cop10

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson/Head of Media –
on E-mail:  Nick.Nuttall@unep.org or Tel. +81-80-3660-1001 or +41-79-596-5737

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The article was posted October 12th, the UPDATE id from October 13th and is posted at the end.

——-

Actor and Sudan activist George Clooney visited President Obama in the Oval Office on Tuesday afternoon to discuss his recent trip to south Sudan in advance of a referendum in January on partition.

Clooney hopes to call attention to the increasingly unstable relationships between the northern and southern regions.

Sudan President Omar Al Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide in the country’s Darfur region, is expected to fight to keep South Sudan from seceding because it has more than 75 percent of the country’s oil.

Clooney visited Darfur refugee camps in Chad, just across the Sudan border, and came to the White House early in 2009 to press for the appointment of a high-level envoy to the region.

Afterward, Obama, in March, 2009, tapped retired Major Gen. Scott Gration to the special envoy spot. When the president was an Illinois senator, Gration accompanied him to Chad in 2006 to visit a refugee camp populated with people from Darfur who had fled widespread killing and raids there.

In recent weeks the Obama administration has taken a much more active stance on Sudan. At the U.N. General Assembly last month, Obama spoke at a ministerial meeting where he called for governments of both North and South Sudan to ensure a peaceful, fair and transparent referendum in January.

Clooney and Obama started working on Sudan issues in 2006 — before Obama’s trip to Africa. In April of that year, Clooney, then-Sen. Obama and former Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) spoke at the National Press Club about the ongoing violence in Darfur and drew attention to an upcoming “Save Darfur” rally on the National Mall to urge the world to move faster to stop the slaughter, rape, and forced displacement in the region.

Now George Clooney covered by CNN’s Ann Curry  upstaged the 4 day trip to Sudan by US Ambassador Susan Rice and most of the Ambassadors on the UN Security Council who went on their own fact finding mission. Best report from the UN trip can be found at www.innercitypress.com/unsc1sudan… from Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press who surprisingly was allowed by the UN to participate with the officials. He continues his coverage back at the UN – www.innercitypress.com/ban2sudan1…

Also along were Ambassadors Lyall Grant of the UK, Vitaly Churkin of Russia, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil, Ertugrul Apakan of Turkey, Claude Heller of Mexico, Tsuneo Nishida of Japan …. in total there were 11 countries out of the 15 UNSC members represented there by their main UN representative, including from Mexico, Japan, Turkey, Uganda who are leaving the UNSC at the end of 2010.    Countries  not sending their Permanent Representatives, or Number 1 Ambassadors, were Austria, France, Gabon and Nigeria. France sent #2 and Austria is leaving the UNSC at the end of this year – but the only continuing African members of the UNSC are Gabon and Nigeria – both did not make their top hats available for this fact-finding mission to Africa – in this context it is inexcusable in our opinion for them not to have gone on the trip.

As expected, this trip has seemingly achieved nothing and the courage to deal with the humanitarian problem of Sudan is missing – but as Matthew Lee points out – some may believe that dividing the oil revenue may be making progress in practice.

=-=-=-=-=-=-

With Sudan in Crisis, UN Dodges Questions, UNMIS Ignores Them, DC Follies.

From Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press, who was on the Sudan trip:

UNITED NATIONS, October 13 — While the UN speaks about how important Sudan is to it, it refuses to answer basic questions, both in its New York headquarters and in Sudan.

On October 11, having returned from the Security Council trip to Sudan during which, among other things, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Georg Charpentier neglected to tell the Council about the village of Sora in Darfur being entirely destroyed the previously week, and the internally displaced people who spoke with the Council were subsequently interrogated and intimidated by Sudanese authorities, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman Martin Nesirky about both of these issues.

On both issues on October 11, Nesirky said “let’s find out.” When asked again about Sora at the UN noon briefing on October 12, Nesirky said “I can assure you that something is in the works. I don’t have anything for you right now. Something is in the works.

Thirty hours after that, 54 hours after the Sora question was asked, nothing, no response at all.

And so early on October 13, Inner City Press directed three questions to the Spokesperson for the UN Mission in Sudan, including these two:

Please provide the response of UNMIS / the UN to the “The Southern Sudanese Drivers and Mechanics Association… cit[ing] UNDP, UNMIS and Kenya Commercial Bank among the organisations that continue to employ foreigners in positions that many unemployed indigenousould hold, rendering local drivers redundant.    www.borglobe.com/25.html?m7:post=…

Please provide by email asap what UNMIS put out about the incident with the Sudanese journalist(s) on the tarmac in Juba in the Security Council delegation’s plane.

Eleven hours later (and counting) there had been no response, not even an acknowledgment of receipt to questions directed to the spokesperson’s email address listed on the UNMIS website.

The Q&A with the UN Spokesman is transcribed below.

But in Washington DC George Clooney, with whom the UN Security Council met with for longer than they met with IDPs, was reported to be asking for Congressional action. What action?

One media outlet said he was raising issues of Darfur, which he didn’t visit. How seriously is South Sudan, much less Darfur, being taken?

From the UN’s October 11 then October 12 noon briefings:

Inner City Press: On Sudan, following the Council’s visit to the Abu Shouk internally displaced persons camp, I guess that was on Friday, there have been reports that the people they spoke with had been interrogated by Sudanese authorities, and in some cases, arrested. I am wondering if UNAMID is aware of that or the UN, I mean the UN system more broadly, and what they intend to do about it?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Let’s find out.


Protest in Khartoum, UN and Clooney not shown (c) MRLee

Inner City Press: The other, as we left there, some, Mr. [Georg] Charpentier had provided a document that seems to indicate that, in the week before the Council’s visit, a village called Sora in eastern Jebel Marra was “entirely, completely burned down”. I know that Mr. Charpentier briefed the Council members, but none of them on the way back seemed to… this wasn’t mentioned to them. I am wondering… what does UNAMID and Mr. Charpentier do when a village is entirely destroyed? Is it an important thing? Is it the kind of thing that they should brief the Council about?

Spokesperson: Can you roll back and tell me again, because it is sort of confusing.

Inner City Press: Okay. Among documents that Mr. Charpentier provided at the end of the trip…

Spokesperson: To whom?

Inner City Press: He gave it into the press bus, saying that this would just verify things that he’d said about things not being a problem in Jebel Marra. But deep in the document, it says that a village named Sora was completely burned down. It doesn’t say whether it was by ground fighting or an aerial attack. But if it’s aerial, it seems it would be the Government. None of the Security Council ambassadors on the way back had been aware of this or had been briefed on this. So, I guess my question, it’s a twofold one, factually it would be is it possible to discover from Mr. Charpentier, whose document this is, whether the village of Sora was destroyed from the air or by ground? And maybe some statement on why, in the briefing that he gave to the Council, this destruction was not raised?

Spokesperson: I am assuming you didn’t raise it with him yourself, because it was passed into the bus, and then you read it after the bus pulled away?

Inner City Press: I read it actually on the way back, yes, yes.

Spokesperson: Right. Okay, well let’s relay that back whence you just came.

A full 24 hours later, noon briefing of October 12:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask a couple of questions about Sudan. One is, there has been, I guess in the last 24 hours, there have been a couple of developments. One is a quote by President [Omer Hassan] al-Bashir that he will not accept any alternative to unity, which many people say is basically a threat not to accept the “yes” vote if the vote is in fact held 9 January. So I am wondering, there was a statement made on 24 September, but this statement by al-Bashir seems to be totally contradictory to it. So, I am just wondering, what’s the process for either UNMIS [United Nations Mission in Sudan] or the Secretariat to… What did they think of that statement? And also there was an arrest made on Saturday, as it turns out, of these pro-secession people in Khartoum as part of the demonstration. They were not only beaten, but it turns out they were arrested. So the SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] has said that’s a bad move and violates the CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement] that they are not allowed to campaign for secession. Does the UN have any response to that?

Spokesperson Nesirky: On that second question, I’ll see what we can get you on that. I don’t have anything right now. On the first question, I would indeed refer back to the statement, the communiqué, that was issued. I don’t think we will be commenting on every twist and turn. The basic principles of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement are well-known, and the communiqué speaks very clearly about the need to stay on track.

Inner City Press: Did you get anything back on this issue of this village of Sora that was listed as being…?

Spokesperson: I can assure you that something is in the works. I don’t have anything for you right now. Something is in the works.

But 30 hours later, nothing. Watch this site.

Footnote: while Nesirky held a noon briefing on October 13, he had only just begun to take questions when he stopped, to present guests who had spent three hours working toward a future report. When they were done, so was Nesirky: he didn’t ask if there were many more questions. But there were…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 12th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Secretary-General Ban Appoints Luc Gnacadja as Executive Secretary of the UNCCD for a Second Term.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has re-appointed Mr Luc Gnacadja (picture attached) as the Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification for another three year-term, with effect from 1 October 2010.

“It is indeed a privilege granted to me and a responsibility to further advance our collective endeavors to service the Parties to the UNCCD in speeding up the effective implementation of the ten-year Strategy, “ Mr. Gnacadja responded on learning of his reappointment. “A lot has been achieved but there is a lot more to do in the months and years to come to meet the Strategy’s expected outcomes,” he added.

“Desertification has far-reaching consequences and impacts” Mr. Gnacadja said, stressing that the mainstreaming of desertification and drought issues into the policy framework at all levels is still the major hurdle to the implementation of the UNCCD.

Since the Parties agreed in 2009 on the way to measure the progress in implementation, the next major milestone is to the move towards target setting at all levels that will trigger action, cooperation and effective partnerships to improve the livelihoods of the affected populations and the conditions of their ecosystems, he said. In that regard, Mr. Gnacadja asserted, a comprehensive assessment of the cost of inaction will be crucial.

In his first three-year term, Mr. Gnacadja has already made his mark by steering the secretariat in the implementation of the Convention’s first 10-year Strategy approved by the parties in September 2007. During his tenure, the UNCCD process moved to the “realm of measurability” with the adoption of the performance and impact indicators to assess and monitor the implementation of the Convention. Also, the Global Environment Facility, the largest multilateral environment fund, amended its Charter to include the financing of country activities related to the Convention.

Mr. Gnacadja is credited with increasing global policy attention to the plight of the drylands, the threat desertification poses to global human well-being and the latent potential in the drylands to contribute to global sustainability.

Mr. Gnacadja has kept UNCCD away from some of the stinkiest aspects of the UN – the like of  keeping Israel out of debates when in effect it could be a main contributor to finding solutions to topics on the table. Under Mr. Gnacadja, the UNCCD is involved in the Ben Gurion University Sede Boqer conferences on arid lands, and who knows, someday the Arab kingdoms of deserts might participate as well – this in order to come to a place of learning about issues that can help them in a changing world run by elements of climate change that increases desertification, and calls for enhanced technologies to survive in the new climate.

The Third International Conference on Drylands, Deserts, and Desertification at The Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Sede Boqer, Israel – November 8-11, 2010.These meetings are held every other year.

Mr. Gnacadja was appointed Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the UNCCD in September 2007. An architect by profession and a native of Benin in West Africa, he served as Benin’s Minister of Environment, Housing and Urban Development from 1999 to 2005 and received the World’ Bank’s “2002 Green Award” in March 2003.

About the UNCCD
Established in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is
the sole legally biding international agreement linking environment, development and the
promotion of healthy soils. The Convention’s 194 signatory Parties (193 countries plus the European Union) work to
alleviate poverty in the drylands, maintain and restore the land’s productivity and mitigate the effects of drought.

For more information, contact:
Wagaki Mwangi
Public Information and Media Officer, UNCCD
Email: wmwangi@unccd.int
Tel: +49 (0) 228 815 2820
Internet: www.unccd.int

Luc Gnacadja in 2009

Luc-Marie Constant Gnacadja is a Beninese politician and an architect. Under President Mathieu Kérékou, he was Minister of the Environment, Housing, and Urban Planning from June 1999 to February 2005.

Gnacadja was the candidate of the Envol movement in the March 2006 presidential election, receiving 11th place and 0.68% of the vote.

Gnacadja was awarded the Green Award 2002 by the World Bank in March 2003.

In September 2007, Gnacadja was appointed as Executive Secretary of the  UNCCD by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, after he was endorsed by the Bureau of the Conference of the Parties of the UNCCD. In applying for the position, Gnacadja was said to have been backed by Beninese President Yayi Bon

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