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Posted on on April 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


From the New York based Council on Foreign Relations we learn that On Tuesday, April 22, 2014 –  President Obama will leave on his rescheduled trip to Asia, making stops in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

THE PRESIDENT WILL NOT GO TO CHINA which is significant – AND WILL BE IN JAPAN – APRIL 23-25th – Continuing from there to South Korea – Apr 25-26th; Malaysia: 26-28th; and the Philippines: Apr 28-29th.

Everyone knows that the main topic of discussion will be China – but it can be assumed as well that at this time the main issue in President Obama’s mind are The Ukraine. In effect except for South Korea there are on-going conflicts between the other three States on the list and China. Some of these conflicts stem from China’s attempt to gain islands and the waters around them that may have a potential for oil and gas resources. The South Korea – North Korea schism is just one additional problem, and the North Korea missiles pointed at South Korea and Japan are a perpetual threat.

Obama will try to reassure his hosts that the US will stand by them if China decides to perform a land take-over like Russia just  did in Crimea – This was probably what Secretary of the Military – former Senator Chuck Hagel – told his Chinese counterpart – Chung Wanquan in his recent trip to Beijing.

Senior CFR Fellow for Japan Studies Sheila Smith, and Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia Joshua Kurlantzick will discuss on a call-in April 21, 2014 the president’s priorities for his trip. But it is already known that the CFR considers this trip as badly timed, and at least in the case of Malaysia totally wrong.

Smith wrote on the CFR blog Asia Unbound that the visit to Japan will provide opportunities to address the perception that the Obama administration and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet are ill-suited to working together – and to allow the two leaders a chance to highlight the aspirations of the relationship rather than the litany of issues that need attention.

But Kurlantzick wrote on Asia Unbound that Obama will add to the Malaysian government’s promotion of itself as a successful and democratic nation, at a cost. “This approach to the Malaysia visit would mean downplaying – or simply not even discussing – serious regression in Malaysia’s domestic politics, including the recent sentencing of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to five years in jail for sodomy, the highly flawed 2013 national elections that barely kept Prime Minister Najib tun Razak in office, and the increasingly shrill, anti-Chinese and anti-Indian rhetoric and legislation of the Najib government, hardly the kind of sentiments a supposed leader of political moderation should be espousing.”

Let me add to above from Vienna, the immediate reaction to the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370, as spoken up by aviation expert Nicky Lauda, was that Malaysia Government did not say all they knew about the incident – in effect their non-participation and the fact that for hours nothing was said about the plane’s disappearance, has caused loss of the most precious time for search. In short – the Malaysian government is no partner to the US for any serious negotiations.

Date: Monday, April 21, 2014

Call Time: 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Dial-In Information:

U.S. Callers: 1-866-710-0179

International Callers: 1-334-323-7224

Password: ASIATRIP


Sheila Smith

Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

Joshua Kurlantzick

Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia, Council on Foreign Relations; Author, Democracy in Retreat


James M. Lindsay

Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations

Audio and transcript of the call will be posted afterward.

Press Contact:

Tricia Miller Klapheke

Assistant Director, Global Communications and Media Relations


No objectionable comments were posted on the South Korea and Philippine legs of the trip.


Posted on on August 5th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

UN accredits NGO whose head is ‘glad to be labeled anti-Semitic’

Decision to recognize organization chaired by Malaysia’s former PM ‘comes as no surprise at all,’ Foreign Ministry says

By RAPHAEL AHREN, the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel, August 5, 2013.…

The United Nations committee dedicated to Palestinians’ rights accredited a nongovernmental organization headed by the former prime minister of Malaysia,
Mr. Mahathir Mohamad – a controversial figure who at the time has accused George Soros’ Jewishness for the Asian monetary crisis. He said now he is “glad” to be called an anti-Semite, sparking protests by pro-Israel groups. Things like these make it impossible to have the UN as part of any Peace in the Middle East negotiations – even though it might eventually be possible to bring in the UN as part of a Peace-Keeping clearly mandated function.


Posted on on July 31st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Special Coverage of CIFOR – Center for International Forestry Research.

Indonesia Burning
New analysis: Sizable area of industrial plantations burned.

Fires burning since June in Sumatra have caused air-quality problems in neighboring Singapore and Malaysia. In a new analysis, CIFOR scientists studied high-resolution satellite imagery and discovered that in the worst-hit area, 21% of the land surveyed was part of an industrial palm-oil or pulp plantation.

Fires in Indonesia: Causes, Costs and Policy … can be found at and on CIFOR sites.

Office address: Jl. CIFOR, Situ Gede, Sindang Barang, Bogor Barat 16680,
Indonesia. Tel.: +62 (251) 622622; Fax: +62 (251) 622100. E-mail: cifor@cgiar.

Related reading:

* Interactive web map makes facts behind Sumatra fires transparent
* Q+A: Fires and haze in Southeast Asia
* FACT FILE: Indonesia world leader in palm oil production

Innovation: Interactive web app lets users map forest carbon emissions activities.

A new online mapping tool for Monitoring, Reporting and Verifying (MRV) carbon emissions enables researchers and practitioners to better manage forest inventories, its creators say. The open access Forest Carbon Database can be used to share measurements of carbon pools — reservoirs with the capacity to store and release carbon. Designed to map wetlands as part of the Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program (SWAMP), the interactive tool has been updated; users can now register sample plots and input data on forest carbon stocks, including tree biomass, dead woody debris, soil and underbrush.

Years ago, in a similar situation, we argued that the air pollution in Malaysia was only indirectly connected to the burning going on yearly in Indonesia.
As the argument went, the hot air and smoke emanating from Indonesia creates a ceiling for the ongoing pollution in Malaysia so it cannot escape and accumulated to unbelievably high level of 500 on the scale that makes New Yorkers cringe when it reaches in New York City just 50.

Oh well – these are issues that cannot be hidden under the rug by contending that developing countries should not be viewed through the same lenses as earlier developed Nations. Air Pollution just does not know borders and its effect can be direct or indirect and in reality all are culprits.


Posted on on March 27th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

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

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

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

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



Group of Emerging Nations Plans to Form Development Bank.

Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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

Published: March 26, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted on on January 13th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Today’s New York Times, Science pages,  writes about an AIR POLLUTION INDEX (API) FIGURE FOR BEIJING HAVING REACHED 755. This is well beyond rational existence. The TV programs show Beijing engulfed in white smoke and no trace of the sun. This reminded me of an article I wrote in October 1997 after a visit to Malaysia and referenced in our PROMPTBOOK – An October 1997 article in the International Diplomatic Observer distributed at the UN (20 – this is the reference in he Promptbook), discussed the fact that about 20 new large hotels were being built in Kuala Lumpur while the Air Pollution Index was often above 200 (which in the New York Times is defined as very unhealthy) – the author predicted that these investments would turn sour as there would be no tourism under these conditions. The author’s observations were proven right with the collapse of the Kuala Lumpur stock market just six weeks later.” reference (20) Pincas Jawetz, “White Nights at Noon in South East Asia,” The International Diplomatic Observer at the UN in New York, October 1997, p.11

My argument was at the time that the World Bank gave out loans to build hotels in Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere in Malaysia, but air pollution is killing tourism, and thus those investments went sour causing economic crash. I refused to accept that the pollution was a result of fires from burning trees in Indonesia and I argued that it was pollution created in Malaysia proper. You cannot shoulder the blame on “outsiders.”

New York had at the time usually an API of 35-80 and when it reached 100 we complained. Now the API in New York is mostly bellow 30.
100-200 is considered unhealthy; 201-300 – Very Unhealthy  – and our scale ends at 500 with the 300-500 range termed hazardous. Martin Khor wrote in the Star of September 29, 1997 like a prophecy –  “How should we categorize an 850 API – Very Hazardous, Post Hazardous, Extreme Danger? Malaysia’s figures at the time were just 300, but Beijing is now pushing 800!


Alexander F. Yuan/Associated Press

Fashionably masked women on Saturday outside an amusement park in Beijing. The World Health Organization has standards that judge an air-quality score above 500 to be more than 20 times the level of particulate matter in the air deemed safe.

On Scale of 0 to 500, Beijing’s Air Quality Tops ‘Crazy Bad’ at 755


Published in the New York Times on-line: January 12, 2013

BEIJING — One Friday more than two years ago, an air-quality monitoring device atop the United States Embassy in Beijing recorded data so horrifying that someone in the embassy called the level of pollution “Crazy Bad” in an infamous Twitter post. That day the Air Quality Index, which uses standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, had crept above 500, which was supposed to be the top of the scale.

So what phrase is appropriate to describe Saturday’s jaw-dropping reading of 755 at 8 p.m., when all of Beijing looked like an airport smokers’ lounge? Though an embassy spokesman said he did not immediately have comparative data, Beijing residents who follow the Twitter feed said the Saturday numbers appeared to be the highest recorded since the embassy began its monitoring system in 2008.

The embassy’s @BeijingAir Twitter feed said the level of toxicity in the air was “Beyond Index,” the terminology for levels above 500; the “Crazy Bad” label was used just once, in November 2010, before it was quickly deleted by the embassy from the Twitter feed. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, levels between 301 and 500 are “Hazardous,” meaning people should avoid all outdoor activity. The World Health Organization has standards that judge a score above 500 to be more than 20 times the level of particulate matter in the air deemed safe.

In online conversations, Beijing residents tried to make sense of the latest readings.

“This is a historic record for Beijing,” Zhao Jing, a prominent Internet commentator who uses the pen name Michael Anti, wrote on Twitter. “I’ve closed the doors and windows; the air purifiers are all running automatically at full power.”

Other Beijing residents online described the air as “postapocalyptic,” “terrifying” and “beyond belief.”

The municipal government reported levels as high as 500 on Saturday evening from some monitoring stations. The Chinese system does not report numbers beyond 500. Nevertheless, readings in central Beijing throughout the day were at the extreme end of what is considered hazardous according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency standards. (By comparison, the air quality index in New York City, using the same standard, was 19 at 6 a.m. on Saturday.)

Pollution levels in Beijing had been creeping up for days, and readings were regularly surging above 300 by midweek. The interior of the gleaming Terminal 3 of the Beijing Capital International Airport was filled with a thick haze on Thursday. The next day, people working in office towers in downtown Beijing found it impossible to make out skyscrapers just a few blocks away. Some city residents scoured stores in search of masks and air filters.

Still, there was little warning that the United States Embassy reading would jump above 700 on Saturday. Some people speculated that the monitoring system, which measures fine particles called PM 2.5 because they are 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller, might have malfunctioned once it got beyond 500.

But Nolan Barkhouse, an embassy spokesman, said the monitor was operating correctly.

It was unclear exactly what was responsible for the rise in levels of particulate matter, beyond the factors that regularly sully the air here. Factories operating in neighboring Hebei Province ring this city of more than 20 million. The number of cars on Beijing’s streets has been multiplying at an astounding rate. And Beijing sits on a plain flanked by hills and escarpments that can trap pollution on days with little wind. Meanwhile, one person hiking at the Great Wall in the hills at Mutianyu, north of Beijing, took photographs of crisp blue skies there.

Xinhua, the state news agency, reported on Dec. 31 that Beijing’s air quality had improved for 14 years straight, and the level of major pollutants had decreased. A municipal government spokesman told Xinhua that the annual average concentration of PM 10, or particles 10 microns in diameter or smaller, had dropped by 4 percent in 2012, compared with one year earlier.

Chinese officials prefer to publicly release air pollution measurements that give only levels of PM 10, although foreign health and environmental experts say PM 2.5 can be deadlier and more important to track.

There has been a growing outcry among Chinese for municipal governments to release fuller air quality data, in part because of the United States Embassy Twitter feed. As a result, Beijing began announcing PM 2.5 numbers last January. Major Chinese cities have had the equipment to track those levels, but had refused for a long time to release the data.

The existence of the embassy’s machine and the @BeijingAir Twitter feed have been a diplomatic sore point for Chinese officials. In July 2009, a Chinese Foreign Ministry official, Wang Shu’ai, told American diplomats to halt the Twitter feed, saying that the data “is not only confusing but also insulting,” according to a State Department cable obtained by WikiLeaks. Mr. Wang said the embassy’s data could lead to “social consequences.”

A version of this article appeared in print on January 13, 2013, on page A16 of the New York edition with the headline: On Scale of 0 to 500, Beijing’s Air Quality Tops ‘Crazy Bad’ at 755.


Posted on on August 14th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

from: Julia Petrova, Media Relations Coordinator, The Speed Traders

Lifelong Passion for Dance Revealed in The Star’s Up Close & Personal with Edgar Perez.

Course Director, The Speed Traders Workshop 2012, Reveals Passion for Dance in”Up Close & Personal with Edgar Perez” with The Star, Malaysia’s largest newspaper.

August 13, 2012, New York, NY – “The combined forces of speed and technology are turning the stock market into a different animal from the days of our fathers and mothers with small retail players being the casualties of the sweeping changes, particularly in the West. This is the dark side of technology which cannot be ignored but which must be managed by regulators.”

That’s how journalist Thean Lee Cheng starts her profile of Edgar Perez, author of The Speed Traders, An Insider’s Look at the New High-Frequency Trading Phenomenon That is Transforming the Investing World (published in English by McGraw-Hill Inc., 2011, and Mandarin by China Financial Publishing House, 2012) for The Star, Malaysia’s largest newspaper in terms of circulation. The profile is available online at

Perez revealed a passion for salsa and hustle dancing. While salsa needs to no further introduction, hustle dancing might; it refers to the unique partner dance done in ballrooms and nightclubs to disco music, and it is also commonly referred as ‘New York Hustle’ or ‘Latin Hustle’. In fact, Perez has been known to frequent some of the most popular disco parties in New York City; a video of Perez dancing to the hustle has been uploaded to his Facebook page,

Cheng went onto inquiring about Perez’s thoughts on speed trading. “High-frequency trading is computer executed trading. Humans are slow by comparison, when identifying the different markets and location and products. It is a field for technology, which is fluid, fast and is able to complete a deal in milliseconds. Let us assume you are interested to sell 500 IBM shares. You are only interested to get your cash immediately. However, selling IBM is not a unique event. Its stock is a component of exchange-traded funds, and is a component of Standard & Poor’s indexes. There are also derivatives which rely on IBM stocks. If I sell IBM, there will be pressure on price, which affects the options and derivatives markets. All these changes take time to compute. Computer can detect the impact of the sale and is able to calculate the next price of the derivatives and options compared with the current price. This happens even before the price is adjusted.”

“It is computers that accelerate the change, be it good or bad. Computers are rationale but people are emotional. Out of emotions, humans may sell a big order, but it is computers that accelerate the decline, says Perez. The impact of this is tremendous on regulators. They are struggling to regulate the market and facing a huge challenge in this new and changing financial system, says Perez. This was clearly seen in the flash crash of May 2010 when the US stock market lost nearly 1,000 points in 20 minutes before it recovered. There were no circuit breakers then. It took the regulators nearly five months to analyze the data and generate a solution, he recalls.”

Perez’s first book, The Speed Traders. “a clear and informative read that can be useful to both seasoned industry professionals and those who are only exploring the financial industry”, has confirmed him as the preeminent global expert in the specialized area of high-frequency trading. Perez has led The Speed Traders Workshop 2012, How High Frequency Traders Leverage Profitable Strategies to Find Alpha in Equities, Options, Futures and, (Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Warsaw, Kiev, New York, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, Jakarta, London, Mexico City, Moscow, Ho Chi Minh, New York, Dubai and Chicago), and Perez was Adjunct Professor at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, where he taught Algorithmic Trading and High-Frequency Finance. He contributes regularly to China’s International Finance News.

Perez has been interviewed on CNBC Cash FlowCNBC Squawk BoxBNN Business DayCCTV China,Bankier.plTheStreet.comLeaderonomicsGPW Media, Channel NewsAsia Business Tonight and Cents & Sensibilities. In addition, Perez has been featured on CaixinFutures DailyXinhuaCBN NewswireChinese Financial Newsifeng.comInternational Finance Newshexun.comFinance.QQ.comFinance.Sina.comThe Korea TimesThe Korea HeraldThe StarBMF 89.9iMoney Hong KongCNBCBloomberg Hedge Fund Brief,The Wall Street JournalThe New York TimesDallas Morning NewsValor EconômicoFIXGlobal Trading,TODAY OnlineOriental Daily News and Business Times.

Perez has been engaged to present to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (Washington DC), CFA SingaporeHong Kong Securities InstituteCourant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University,University of International Business and Economics (Beijing), Hult International Business School (Shanghai) andPace University (New York), among other public and private institutions. In addition, Perez has spoken at a number of global conferences, including Harvard Business School‘s Venture Capital & Private Equity Conference(Boston), High-Frequency Trading Leaders Forum (New York, Chicago), MIT Sloan Investment Management Conference (Cambridge), Institutional Investor‘s Global Growth Markets Forum (London), Technical Analysis Society (Singapore), TradeTech Asia (Singapore), FIXGlobal Face2Face (Seoul) and Private Equity Convention Russia, CIS & Eurasia (London).

Perez was a vice president at Citigroup, a senior consultant at IBM, and a strategy consultant at McKinsey & New York City. Perez has an undergraduate degree from Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería, Lima, Peru (1994), a Master of Administration from Universidad ESAN, Lima, Peru (1997) and a Master of Business Administration from Columbia Business School, New York, with a dual major in Finance and Management (2002). He belongs to the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society. Perez resides in the New York City area.

Finally, Perez revealed the names of three people he admires: Mother Theresa, Henry Kravis (who also attended his alma mater, Columbia Business School), and Bill Gates. While these outstanding individuals are not in the high-frequency trading world, no doubt they have provided Perez an inspiration as he embarks on the path to be recognized as “author, global entrepreneur and consultant, go-getter”.


Posted on on May 28th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

South China Sea: Maritime Lanes and Territorial Claims.

An area known by three different names — South China Sea, East Sea and West Philippine Sea — the waters surrounding the Spratly and Paracel Islands are some of the most contested in the world owing largely to the energy reserves believed to lie beneath them.

China, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and Brunei all have claims to this area.

While China has called the area a “core interest” of sovereignty, U.S. Secretary of State Clinton also explained that, “The United States has a national interest in freedom of navigation open access to Asia’s maritime domain.”

Competing claims over territory and energy have become a source of international tension and threaten peaceful passage through this waterway.

For the parties involved, there is little alternative but to arrive at a negotiate settlement, yet therein lies the challenge — China prefers bilateral negotiations while the other economies of Southeast Asia prefer multilateral discussions through ASEAN.

Will resolution be found and how will this conflict unfold in light of the U.S. “strategic pivot” to the region?

Please join:

Patrick Cronin, Senior Advisor and Senior Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS),

Huang Jing, Professor and Director of Center on Asia and Globalization (CAG) at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP), and

Hung Nguyen, Associate Professor of Government and International Politics at the George Mason University Center for Southeast Asian Studies, for a discussion on the tense territorial disputes and maritime conflicts in the South China Sea.

The program will be moderated by Amanda Drury, co-anchor of CNBC’s Street Signs.

4 June 2012
6:30pm – 9:00pm

725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), New York, NY

This program is sponsored by HBO.

Can’t make it to this program? Tune into at 6:30 pm ET for a free live video webcast. Online viewers are encouraged to submit questions during the webcast.


Posted on on April 8th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Let us start first with a Thomas Friedman article-conclusion first!

If you ask “what are the real threats to our security today,” said Lester Brown of The Earth Policy Institute, “at the top of the list would be climate change, population growth, water shortages, rising food prices and the number of failing states in the world.

As that list grows, how many failed states before we have a failing global civilization, and everything begins to unravel?”

Hopefully, we won’t go there. But, then –

we should all remember that quote attributed to Leon Trotsky: “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”   —- Well, you may not be interested in climate change, but climate change is interested in you.

Folks, this is not a hoax. We and the Arabs need to figure out — and fast — more ways to partner to mitigate the environmental threats where we can and to build greater resiliency against those where we can’t. Twenty years from now, this could be all that we’re talking about.

Please go to the link for a very interesting article that tells us that the Arab Spring did happen in part because of the lack of attention to climate change on the part of government officials that were racking it all in to themselves – those official rapists of their countries.

Thomas Friedman is not the only one asking why Arab Spring now, and why the Arab World has not produced any democracies like other Islamic Countries – non-Arabs – actually did. Why is there no Arab State like Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, or Bangladesh? This last version of the Question was posed by Fareed Zakaria on today’s CNN/GPS show.

Seemingly – all Arab States that are within the huge North-Africa Middle-East area of the Arab conquests in the 12th and 13th Centuries have no real Civil Society. In all these States the economy is run by the people of the ruling Monarchy or by those close to the Government.
The people as such were kept low by an alliance of the rulers with the heads of the religion and the goal of this alliance was to fight another religious group – and here comes in the military that is completely loyal to the ruling power that is also the economy’s leader. This kind of socio-economic system did neither allow for the development of a meaningful Civil Society, nor a really forward looking Middle Class.

To above obervation by Fareed Zakaria we see the add-on by Thomas Friedman:  “The Arab awakening was driven not only by political and economic stresses, but, less visibly, by environmental, population and climate stresses as well. If we focus only on the former and not the latter, we will never be able to help stabilize these societies.”

Thomas Friedman tells us of draught in Syria and North Africa and how this draught pushed the societal lid and was part of the reason for this present day upheaval.

And a Warning – 12 of the world’s 15 most water-scarce countries — Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Israel and Palestine — are in the Middle East, and after three decades of explosive population growth these countries are “set to dramatically worsen their predicament.

Then think also about the observatio – “Alot more mouths to feed with less water than ever. As Lester Brown, the president of the Earth Policy Institute and author of “World on the Edge,” notes, 20 years ago, using oil-drilling technology, the Saudis tapped into an aquifer far below the desert to produce irrigated wheat, making themselves self-sufficient. But now almost all that water is gone, and Saudi wheat production is, too. So the Saudis are investing in farm land in Ethiopia and Sudan, but that means they will draw more Nile water for irrigation away from Egypt, whose agriculture-rich Nile Delta is already vulnerable to any sea level rise and saltwater intrusion.

The Link to Thomas Friedman:

by Thomas Fuchs

The Other Arab Spring.

By , Published in The New York Times  April 7, 2012 as an OP-ED Column.

ISN’T it interesting that the Arab awakening began in Tunisia with a fruit vendor who was harassed by police for not having a permit to sell food — just at the moment when world food prices hit record highs? And that it began in Syria with farmers in the southern village of Dara’a, who were demanding the right to buy and sell land near the border, without having to get permission from corrupt security officials? And that it was spurred on in Yemen — the first country in the world expected to run out of water — by a list of grievances against an incompetent government, among the biggest of which was that top officials were digging water wells in their own backyards at a time when the government was supposed to be preventing such water wildcatting? As Abdelsalam Razzaz, the minister of water in Yemen’s new government, told Reuters last week: “The officials themselves have traditionally been the most aggressive well diggers. Nearly every minister had a well dug in his house.”


Posted on on December 11th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

As picked up from Malaysia’s “The Star” – Nothing yet at UNFCCC sites – Sunday, December 11, 2011

Instant View – U.N. climate talks reach modest deal.

(Reuters) – Negotiators at U.N. climate talks in Durban, South Africa, reached a deal that for the first time would bring all major emitters into international efforts to limit global warming, but which environmentalists said did not go far enough.

Following is reaction from key players and observers.

United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres speaks with Brazil’s Minister of Environment Izabella Teixeira (L) and chief climate envoy Luiz alberto Figueiredo during a plenary session at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban December 10, 2011. The conference has gone an extra day in an attempt to iron out an agreement on climate change policies. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

Following is reaction from key players and observers:

CHRISTIANA FIGUERES, UNFCCC EXECUTIVE SECRETARY – “I salute the countries who made this agreement. They have all laid aside some cherished objectives of their own to meet a common purpose, a long-term solution to climate change.”

CHRIS HUHNE, UK ENERGY AND CLIMATE SECRETARY –  “This is a great success for European diplomacy. We’ve managed to bring the major emitters like the U.S., India and China into a roadmap which will secure an overarching global deal.”

JENNIFER MORGAN, DIRECTOR AT WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE – “Countries pushed ahead with the implementation of the Cancun Agreements. Most notably, they agreed to make the Green Climate Fund operational, and set up a work plan to mobilize significant climate funds from both private and public sources. Currently, however, the funding level is insufficient to meet the commitments.”

CONNIE HEDEGAARD, EU CLIMATE COMMISSIONER – “We think that we had the right strategy, we think that it worked. The big thing is that now all big economies, all parties have to commit in the future in a legal way and that’s what we came here for.”

TOSI MPANU-MPANU, HEAD OF AFRICA GROUP – “It’s a middle ground, we meet mid-way. Of course we are not completely happy about the outcome, it lacks balance, but we believe it is starting to go into the right direction.”

SAMANTHA SMITH, ENERGY AND CLIMATE INITIATIVE LEADER AT WWF – “Unfortunately, governments here have spent the last two crucial final days of negotiations focused on only a handful of specific words in the negotiating texts, instead of spending their political capital on committing to more and real action to address climate change. The bottom line is that governments got practically nothing done here and that’s unacceptable.”

KUMI NAIDOO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL – Right now the global climate regime amounts to nothing more than a voluntary deal that’s put off for a decade. This could take us over the two degree threshold where we pass from danger to potential catastrophe

UNITED STATES CLIMATE ENVOY TODD STERN – “In the end, it ended up quite well. The (Durban platform) is the piece that was the matching piece with the Kyoto Protocol. We got the kind of symmetry that we had been focused on since the beginning of the Obama administration. This had all the elements that we were looking for.”

BRAZIL AMBASSADOR LUIZ ALBERTO FIGUEIREDO –“I am relieved we have what we came here to get. We have a robust outcome, an excellent text about a new phase in the international fight against climate change. It clearly points to action.”

SELWIN HART, CHIEF NEGOTIATOR ON FINANCE FOR SMALL ISLAND STATES – “I would have wanted to get more, but at least we have something to work with. All is not lost yet.”

ALDEN MEYER, UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS – “There is some hard bargaining ahead to get a treaty by 2015. It will be particularly tough for the U.S., which isn’t doing its fair share of emissions cuts and scaling up finance. The politics on that aren’t very promising given two members of the Republican party are in complete denial.”

JENNIFER HAVERKAMP, ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND – “The challenge is that we begin the talks from the lowest common denominator of every party’s aspirations. For this effort to be successful, countries need to be ambitious in their commitments and to refuse to use these negotiations as just another stalling tool.”


Posted on on September 29th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (


The increasing demand for ecotourism can play a vital role in saving endangered forests, a United Nations-backed partnership said today, while also warning of the potential damaging effects if its expansion is not effectively managed.

According to the findings of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), which consists of 14 international organizations and secretariats, including the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the benefits of ecotourism flowing to local businesses are dramatically higher than those from mass tourism, providing an incentive to local communities to take care of their environment.

“Ecotourism has a far greater potential for contributing to income and livelihoods in poor rural communities than what is realized,” said FAO’s Edgar Kaeslin, a forestry officer in wildlife and protected area management.

The CPF found that standard all-inclusive package tours typically deliver just 20 per cent of revenue to local companies, while the rest is captured by airlines, hotels and large tour companies. Local ecotourism operations, however, can return as much as 95 per cent of earnings into the local economy.

The CPF also noted that ecotourism can motivate local communities to maintain and protect forests and wildlife as they see their income directly linked to the preservation of their environment.

However, it warned that ecotourism could damage forests if it grows too quickly and its expansion is mismanaged.

According to a news release by FAO, ecotourism is one of the fastest segments of tourism worldwide, growing at a pace of more than 20 per cent annually – two or three times faster than the tourism industry overall, and failure to limit tourists can permanently damage fragile ecosystems.

This rapid growth can have negative effects, as there is the risk that powerful players in the travel industry may seek to dominate and squeeze out smaller local operators, resulting in the disruption of local economies and ecosystems.

The CPF stressed that to avoid this, training for local people is essential to ensure they can compete successfully for desirable ecotourism jobs.

“It is crucial that local people are fully involved in the activities and receive sufficient benefits,” Mr. Kaeslin said.

Several sustainable ecotourism programmes such as the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) have already had successful results. By involving the local communities in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the gorilla population is rising in numbers.

“There is no question that is a direct result of the careful commitment to responsible tourism in East Africa that respects the gorillas and their habitat,” said GRASP coordinator Doug Cress.

* * *


Conserving key forests in Indonesia could generate billions of dollars in revenue, up to three times more than felling them for palm oil plantations, under a United Nations carbon reduction plan that would also secure water supplies and protect critically endangered orangutan apes, according to a report issued today.

Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), governments are negotiating a mechanism to provide payments for reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and other activities (REDD+), creating incentives for developing countries to cut global warming gasses from forested lands by putting a financial value for the carbon stored in forests.

Overall forest degradation through agricultural expansion, conversion to pastureland, infrastructure development, destructive logging and fires currently account for nearly 18 per cent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire global transport sector and second only to the energy sector.

Many coastal peat-rich forests in Sumatra, where dense populations of the last 6,600 Sumatran orangutans survive, may be worth up to $22,000 a hectare at current carbon prices, compared with less than $7,400 a hectare when cleared for palm oil plantations, according to the report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) under its Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), which Indonesia requested.

“Prioritizing investments in sustainable forestry including REDD+ projects can, as this report demonstrates, deliver multiple Green Economy benefits and not just in respect to climate, orangutan conservation and employment in natural resource management,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said.

He noted that here had been a reported 50 per cent decline in water discharges in as many as 80 per cent of rivers due to deforestation in the Aceh and North Sumatra regions, with serious implications for agriculture and food security including rice production and human health.

The report recommends designating new forested areas for REDD+, taking into account the multiple benefits for carbon storage, orangutan habitat conservation and the protection of ecosystem services, while expanding palm oil plantations on land with low current use value and avoiding agricultural and timber concessions where conservation value is high.

The forested peatlands of Sumatra are among the most efficient carbon stores of any terrestrial ecosystem. In the last two decades, 380,000 hectares of Sumatran forests were lost to illegal logging each year, with an annual loss in carbon value estimated at more than $1 billion.

Nearly half of Sumatra’s forests disappeared between 1985 and 2007 and in the last decade, close to 80 per cent of the deforestation in the peatlands was driven by the expansion of oil palm plantations, while over 20 per cent was due to other uses, such as candlenut or coffee production.

Fewer than 6,600 Sumatran orangutans exist in the wild today, down from an estimated 85,000 in 1900, a 92 per cent drop. If this rate were to continue, the Sumatran orangutan could become the first of the great apes living today to go extinct in the wild, with local populations in parts of Sumatra disappearing as early as 2015.


Posted on on December 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Japan Times on line, Monday, Dec. 27, 2010


Fear of studying abroad

Data disclosed by the education ministry on Wednesday confirms that fewer and fewer Japanese students are studying abroad. After the number of students studying overseas hit a peak of 82,945 in 2004, it declined for four straight years. In 2008 it dropped a staggering 11 percent from 2007 to 66,833. Of these, 29,264 were in the United States (down 13.9 percent from 2007), 16,733 in China (down 10.2 percent) and 4,465 in Britain (down 21.7 percent).

In this age of globalization, it is imperative that Japanese develop abilities to compete and cooperate with people from other countries through the experience of living and studying abroad. The government, educators and enterprises must take necessary steps to encourage and help students to study abroad.

While the number of Japanese students studying abroad has been falling, the number of foreign students studying in Japan as of May 1 stood at a record 141,774 — a rise of 6.8 percent from a year before, according to the Japan Student Services Organization, an independent administrative corporation. Chinese made up the biggest group with 86,173 (up 9 percent), followed by South Koreans with 20,202 (up 3 percent), Taiwanese with 5,297 (down 0.7 percent), Vietnamese with 3,597 (up 12.4 percent) and Malaysians with 2,465 (up 2.9 percent).

A likely reason for the fall in the number of students studying abroad is a fear among students that if they study abroad, they may lose a chance to find employment when they come back to Japan from their studies. This is because many enterprises stop accepting applications before students reach the fourth year of college. Students have to start visiting enterprises to find job opportunities quite early.

Enterprises can rectify the situation by changing their recruitment practice. Universities could lighten the burden of returning students by setting up a semester specially timed for their return. The government should financially help students who want to study overseas. Both the government and private sectors should realize that a decline in the number of students studying abroad could have a devastating effect on the future of Japan.


Posted on on November 18th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

At UN, Bedbugs Now In Press Briefing Room & Al Jazeera, Fleas in Basement.

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive of The Inner City Press.

UNITED NATIONS, November 16, updated: following report of fleas in UN basement by Inner City Press and questions, UN has confirmed the fleas. On bedbugs in the briefing room and Al Jazeera, the fumigation will not happen until November 20.

With the UN still refusing to disclose the results of the bedbug tests in did after the pests’ presence was exposed, first by Inner City Press, on the evening of November 15 a bedbug sniffing dog inspected the press briefing room in the Dag Hammarskjold Library auditorium.

Inner City Press witnessed it, including meeting and petting the dog, a Jack Russell named Jack. He found bedbugs on chairs in the briefing room, which the UN now says “have been cordoned off.” Bedbugs were also discovered in the studios of Al Jazeera on the second floor, AFTER the studios of BBC and NHK had been fumigated. The press corps is in an uproar. But the fumigation planned as of 6:50 pm on November 16 is only of the briefing room and Al Jazeera (not the whole second floor), and not until Nov. 20.

Meanwhile other vermin have been found in the UN. In the publications area, for example, the talk has been of fleas. On November 15, Inner City Press asked New York City Mayor Bloomberg a question about the UN’s refusal to comply with NYC laws, including on bedbugs and even food safety. This last was an inquiry begun on November 1, when Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: in New York now, the Health Department has a system under which the representing letter grades for health. They inspect restaurants and any other food facility. And apparently they have… they do inspect… I wasn’t aware of this, but they inspect the UNICEF cafeteria and the DC-One cafeteria, and both have received grades that would be B or in one case C. What I am wondering is whether the facility here in UN Headquarters, does the UN consider this to be outside of that system of health inspections, and if so what can it say about the… given, across the street what the grades are? And also, not to say that the two are related, but what interface has there been with the city government on this bedbug issue and what update can you provide as to the tests that you said last week were being performed in various locations, some here, some out, including one that was supposedly going to be done and or may soon be done on the 2nd floor? So it’s the food issue, and then the bedbug issue.

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, on the second, I don’t have an update, and let’s see if we can get one. I don’t have an update. But I do know, as you yourself have said, you’ve been in direct touch with the relevant people from Facilities Management Service. I am sure that if you wanted to, you could do the same again. But for the benefit of others, of course, and for you as well, we’ll see if there is an update. On the first part, health inspections, I would defer to my colleagues who liaise with the city authorities. I don’t know the answer to that.

Inner City Press: Should I follow up with them or can you [inaudible]?

Spokesperson Nesirky: As I said, I will see what we can find out.

[The Spokesperson later added that Aramark said that the cafeteria at United Nations Headquarters was not being inspected.]

This bracketed response, which was never directly provided to Inner City Press but only read out over a speaker system that is not audible in the areas Inner City Press covers in the day, gives rise to these questions, among others:

On what basis are the UN’s cafeteria facility at UNICEF and the UN’s cafeteria in the DC building inspected, but the UN cafeteria not inspected? Is it a legal basis?

Is the UN’s main cafeteria not being inspected because the UN is forbidding the inspection?

Does the SG have an objection to NYC inspectors visiting the UN cafeteria? Doesn’t the UN allow inspections from the Fire Department of the UN premises?

* * *

In Ban’s UN, Korean Press Wars & Bed Bugs in BBC & NHK, No Q&A With Ban in Seoul

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 9 — The UN’s relations with the Press range from bugs to snubs to turf wars. Since the middle of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s trip to China, the UN press corps has been full of questions why Ban didn’t mention the recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. Major media outlets asked Ban’s spokesman about the omission day after day.

When Ban returned, he did not hold any regular press conference. Rather he appeared one morning at 9 am to speak about climate change. When nevertheless a China and human rights question was asked — albeit one that did not mention Liu Xiaobo — Ban read from prepared notes that he had mentioned human rights three times in China.

In the days after that, still no press Q&A with Mr. Ban Ki-moon. Then after holding a press availability only for the Korean media he left for the G-20 meeting in his native South Korea. On November 9 his acting Deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq announced that Ban would be holding a press conference — in Seoul.

Amid the groans in the press area of UN headquarters, on the second floor of the Dag Hammarskjold Library, there was also on the night of November 8 a belated test for bed bugs. Inner City Press broke the bed bugs story, last year about the UN’s “swing space” on 46th Street and last month in the basement of the Library and then elsewhere.

Tests were conducted on the Library’s first floor and third floor — where UN Under Secretary General for Management Angela Kane is based — but not on the second, where the Press offices are. Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky explained to Inner City Press that tests are based on requests. So a request was made.

On November 8, some 90% of the cubicles of UN-based media organizations including this one were subject to a canine test, “no cameras allowed.” On November 9 the results were released: two offices were infected, those of BBC and NHK Broadcasting. We’ll leave readers to draw their own conclusions.

As in Seoul Ban Ki-moon prepared for the press conference he didn’t hold in New York, on the same second floor of the Dag Hammarskjold Libary a turf war was breaking out. In what was previously in the Secretariat called the J or Japanese Room, the “K” or Korean wing is said to often sit empty.

Ban at Republic of Korean pavillion in Shanghai, bugs not shown.

At least one reporter for Japanese media moved in to fill the void, due to limited space for her media. A few verbal altercations ensued, until the UN’s Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit was called in. MALU has a rule that media must be at the UN three days a week to have an office.

Of some of the Korean media it is alleged — and even admitted — that the three day test is not met. The perception among numerous correspondents is that the Korean media is protected, by Ban Ki-moon and his senior adviser Kim Won-soo. (In fact, a story is told of Mr. Kim proffering a deal to UN reporters, to get Korean outlets space.)

With Ban seemingly avoiding the UN press corps, any attempt to question the status or presence of Korean media organizations will inevitably be seen as more than bureaucratic. And so a fight impends.

Footnote: for those who question this piece’s focus on Seoul then the Korean media, it is worth noting that this year’s UN Day concerts was even more Korea heavy that previously reported. A Korean symphony played, sponsored by Korean Broadcasting, begun by a video touting the wonders of Korea. Afterward, Inner City Press got a text message that Ban surfaced at a reception at the Korean Mission just across from the UN. Amid the bed bugs and unanswered questions, there is more and more grumbling. Watch the Inner City Press site – you can follow it also on Twitter @InnerCityPress.


Posted on on November 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Guy Verhofstadt of the European ALDE: “Today Aung San Suu Kyi, tomorrow Liu Xiaobo.”

“Today Aung San Suu Kyi has finally been released by the Burmese regime. After the fake elections, this gives at least new hope for a democratic Burma. Suu Kyi has represented in her country the spirit of Gandi of our century, making a nonviolent campaign for democracy and a pacific outspoken opposition to the almost fifty year old ruling military junta.” said Guy Verhofstadt, President of the Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament, reacting to today’s news that the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was released, after two decades under house arrest.

“Any country oppressing freedoms and human rights will sooner or later face its repercussions. May today’s release also be an example and a sign for China to free 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.” Verhofstadt concluded.

ALDECALD (Council of Asian Liberal Democrats) currently in Kuala Lumpur (Malasya) will adopt tomorrow a resolution calling on the Burmese junta to open up a dialogue immediately with Aung San Suu Kyi with a view to develop genuine democracy in the country.

Niccolo’ Rinaldi (Italia dei Valori, Italy), ALDE spokesperson for Human Rights said: “In the end, liberty and freedom  will always win out over oppression and tyranny. It is just a shame it took Suu Kyi twenty years to regain her freedom. We hope Burmese authorities do not want to curtail her freedom once again.”
In 1990 Aung San Suu Kyi was already recognised for the Sakharov Prize by European Parliament that honours individuals or organisations who had dedicated their lives to the defence of human rights and freedom of thought.


Posted on on October 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The SOUTH BULLETIN, published by South Center: 29 October 2010 (Issue 51)

Some Key Issues Missing From G20 Agenda.

The South Centre is an intergovernmental organization ( a South IGO) of developing countries established by an Intergovernmental Agreement (Treaty) which came into force on 31 July 1995 with its headquarters in Geneva.

The South Centre has grown out of the work and experience of the South Commission and its follow-up mechanism, and from recognition of the need for enhanced South-South co-operation. The Report of the South Commission — emphasized that the South is not well organized at the global level and has thus not been effective in mobilizing its considerable combined expertise and experience, nor its bargaining power.

The South Centre is therefore intended to meet the need for analysis of development problems and experience, as well as to provide intellectual and policy support required by developing countries for collective and individual action, particularly in the international arena.

Martin Khor, is  the Geneva based Executive Director of South Center and Editor of South Bulletin. He was born in Malaysia and is the former Director of the Third World Network which is based in Penang, Malaysia.

He is also a member of the UN Secretary-General Task Force on Environment and Human Settlements since 1997, and a member of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry’s National Committee on Multilateral Trade Issues in Malaysia. He has been Vice-Chair of the Working Group of Experts on the Right to Development under the UN Commission on Human Rights and took part in the Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy.


This issue of South Bulletin focuses on the key issues in the international monetary system, many of which are missing from the agenda of the G20 which will hold a Summit in November.

Three articles deal with the need to reform the IMF and the global financial systems.

Other articles deal with recent emerging issues in the global economy – the currency chaos, volatile capital flows, and a new protectionism in the U.S.

The Bulletin also reports on:

  • The slow progress in the UNFCCC climate talks in Tianjin, China;

  • The South Centre’s conference and Board meeting in China;

  • Impact of the global economic crisis on LDCs; and

  • Yasuni initiative to leave oil in the ground to fight climate change

We hope this issue of South Bulletin is useful to you and we look forward to your comments and feedback – With best wishes writes Martin Khor.

You can access the full Bulletin by going to the website or by click here:

To access individual articles, please click below

Please send your comments directly to:

South Centre Website: (English, French, Spanish)


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

Building upon President Obama’s June 4, 2009 pledge in Cairo, and at the April 26-27, 2010 Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in Washington DC, with 50 countries present, an enhanced exchange program for making available opportunities in entrepreneurship was established by the US Department of State, that resulted already in the bringing to America of an initial number of country representatives.

Reading from  Elmira Bayrasli evaluation of the 2010 Summit, she said: “This summit was all about job creation. It was also all about redefining failure in the Muslim world.”

The White House summary of the 2010 Summit –…

The  starting point – June 4, 2009 Cairo speech – was before the combined student-body of Al-Azhar University and the Cairo University.…

The speech was clearly intended to the Islamic World that stretches from Morocco in the West to Indonesia in the East and was centered around the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Palestinian-Israeli context. The Speech was very much about changes happening in Arab society, and the last point is where one finds operative statements like US help in education, science, technology, and social development. That is where the promise to  host a Summit on Entrepreneurship comes up. (The full text is attached and the end of our posting and the relevant parts are high-lit in green) .

These developments are appropriately called  A NEW BEGINNING: ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND BUSINESS INNOVATION.
And nobody expects magic answers from them – but it is quite clear that the new beginning can mean new start-ups that lead to the interest to have follow-ups and thus can blunt the negatives that resulted from the cesspool of past misdeeds.

The hope is that entering a new age of interest by civil society – not just the interests of the countries owners of the oil industry – will help the average person see the benefit of peace on earth over the illusory promise of gains from war.

That is how 28 entrepreneurs, from 28 countries – one per country – were brought to the US for the September 20 – October 8, 2010 period, out of which the last day – October 8th – was spent in New York, and I had the honor to meet four of these 28 US guests. The trip being sponsored by the US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) – Office of International Visitor Leadership Program (Director Ms. Alma R. Candelaria, and program officer Mr. Stephen Taylor accompanied them in New York), in partnership with two private sector groups – “Business for Diplomatic Action” (BDA Vice President Thomas A. W. Miller) and the “Entrepreneurs’ Organization” (EO Chairman Elect Kevin J. Langley and EO Global Communications Committee Adrienne Cornelsen) and with World Learning as program administrator.

The  countries that had representatives to the ENTREPRENEURSHIP and BUSINESS INNOVATION program were from:

15 mainly Muslim mainly countries: Albania, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Chad, Egypt,  Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritania, Niger, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen. Gambia and Qatar were also expected but did not participate.

6 countries with Muslim indigenous minorities – India and Trinidad and Tobago with Hindu and Muslim populations; Macedonia with a large European Muslim population; Kenya and Uganda, and South Africa with African Muslim minorities.

6 European countries with significant immigrant Muslim populations – Austria, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden.

and Israel – a problem child of the Muslim World. We assume it was someone from the Arab sector of the population.


The four entrepreneurs I had the honor to meet – all from the Islamic World – were:

Mr. Omar Lababedi, Head of Business Development, Arabia Logistic Sevices (ALS), of Damascus Syria;

Ms. Rania Badr El Din, of Mother & Child,, of New Maadi, Cairo, Egypt;

Mr. Riad Labadi, Director General of Telco Algerie, of Alger, Algerie.

Ms. Vani Dhakshinanoorthy, COO, Warisan Global, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

and they seemed to have absorbed the Obama intent in this US effort at a new-atmosphere for relation-building.

I heard several times in the New York interaction that even though there might be a lack of agreement between politicians – when it comes to the people in the room, and civil society in general, the possibility for common interests with moves to positive practical results are there, and the interest is there to succeed.

Looking up I found that WG is a private limited Malaysian company founded in 2000, with liaison to the University of Cambridge – so they are not a new kid on the bloc – and it showed clearly.

“The company’s business is to help its clients, both private and government organizations to conceptualize, design and implement projects that aim to deliver a positive and lasting impact in both CSR and Community projects. The end game for WG, and her team, is to help accelerate and evolve these projects to long-term sustainable projects that would eventually help Malaysians become more globally competitive either as world-class entrepreneurs or social entrepreneurs.”
Authorized capital is  RM1 Million (paid up (0.9 M) and from the pictures it seems to be an all women organization.

Vani seemed quite enthused from this US experience and she told us of not only interactions with the American entrepreneur-hosts, but also in successful encounters between the foreign participants among themselves. One such example is her discussing with the participant from Chad the establishing of a furniture-export business from Malaysia to Chad – something that without the meeting here they would not have contemplated earlier. That is good as in effect it shows that the US as go-in-between can catalyze South-South business – and any business – except sales of arms – period – creates interest in peaceful behavior.

Believing that after all – the Obama speech in Cairo was intended to help cool the Middle East tendency to wars, I asked the participants about the possibility to look after joint projects that use needed Israeli technology in the arid Arab lands of the region – and I had several hot examples on my side.

First I mentioned the coincidence that earlier – the same day – I learned about Saudi Arabia and UAE interest in the AeroFarm Systems that use technologies that were also worked on by Israelis – as the whole specter of water saving technologies in agriculture is something pioneered by the Israelis. My push was clearly – why go around using intermediaries, if some sort of direct cooperation could be advantageous – OK – not on a political level – but on an entrepreneurial level. The answer included acknowledgement that cooperation via intermediaries in many cases means Israeli companies re-registered in third counties – and that is acceptable today.

My other example was regarding DESERTECH (also spelled DESERTEC) – after all we had many articles on it in going back to July 17th, 2008 and even the first Wikipedia listing used us as reference 1.
The concentrating solar towers that are the main ingredient in these systems were conceived at the Weizmann Institute in Israel and could be put to great use in Saudi Arabia and Syria, while being a main ingredient in future economy of North Africa (Algeria) as new kind of energy suppliers to Europe. This did pull in to the conversation the Algerian and Syrian participants and laid the ground for the need of understanding in order to promote such topics of joint interest in the region. I did not get the feeling that the above participants knew of the Israeli advances in this area – so I did not continue as intended, to point out that the large project being finalized in California is run by an Israeli company.

Going to – it says “We find simple and innovative solutions that create extraordinary results for our partners.” Omar knew to tell about the development of Tangerines in Tunisia with Israeli participation and agricultural technology from Israel. Also, and this is even more interesting, about efforts led by Amir Hassun to create jobs for Arabs in Israel proper and jobs in the West Bank part of Palestine. Clear breakthrough when thinking of the Middle East demarcation lines – this even while working in the Arab sector alone, it still requires Israeli participation. Further, looking up Amir Hassun – it seems the gentleman was an Arab student leader at the University of Haifa. He is thus an Israeli Arab with good connections in the larger Arab World and he could help breaking in a positive way, with entrepreneurship,  through the Middle East curtain in direction to Syria!

Omar was interested in Desertec that through its German headquarters has included Syria in its design.

going to we find that Mother & Child was first established in 1995 in Egypt as Mother-to-Be, an English language magazine specializing in pregnancy and baby’s first year. In 1999, its name was changed to Mother & Child to target a wider readership, and an Arabic section was added. In 2003, the magazine was re-launched as two separate magazines: Mother & Child in English and Alam El Om Wal Tifl in Arabic. They also make available guides on pregnancy, women, children and other health topics that are distributed free of charge in selected specialized stores, bookstores, pharmacies, clinics, nurseries and other outlets throughout Cairo and Alexandria.

Rania is a delightful proponent of social advancement for women of Egypt and I am sure for Islamic women in general.

Remembering the 1994 Cairo United Nations International Conference on Population and Development, I would guess that the start of above journal in 1995, albeit in English first, has something to do with needs felt as a follow up to that conference.
Today, clearly, this sort of needs are all over the Islamic World.

Correctly, Rania was stressing that linking up with NGOs in the US will help her further the cause of women and children and this is one of the objectives of the Obama initiative.

When women and girls get better conditions, pregnancies made safer and children mortality decreased, family size can decrease
so the economics of the family improve. To this obviously must be added an element of better education and that means education for capability to learn a profession for economic betterment.

I pointed out that questions of energy use in the household, like the issue of cooking, are something that is of importance to family health, and remembering the microcredit methods, creating women entrepreneurs in Egypt like what Muhammad Yunus achieved in Bangladesh, could also have a meaning for her NGO activities.

When Kevin Langley suggested the question, what did the participants take home from what they learned on their tour here, Rania pointed at the many contacts she made that could help her activities back home.

Riad did not address this question, but considering his interest in telcom, and hoping he met his counterparts in the US, I believe he could not miss on realizing that much of the US Silicon Valley is populated by Israelis doing research and business here and there – so what is the distance between Damascus and Haifa? I did not ask this someone from Algeria, but could Alger be the home for start-ups in the mobile world? Could there be a place for hightech advances with solar technology applications?


Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE               June 4, 2009

Cairo University
Cairo, Egypt
1:10 P.M. (Local)
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much.  Good afternoon.  I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions.  For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning; and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement.  And together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress.  I’m grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt.  And I’m also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country:  Assalaamu alaykum. (Applause.)
We meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world — tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars.  More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.  Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.
Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims.  The attacks of September 11, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights.  All this has bred more fear and more mistrust.
So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity.  And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end.
I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition.  Instead, they overlap, and share common principles — principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.
I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. I know there’s been a lot of publicity about this speech, but no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have this afternoon all the complex questions that brought us to this point.  But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly to each other the things we hold in our hearts and that too often are said only behind closed doors.  There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground.  As the Holy Koran tells us, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.”  (Applause.)  That is what I will try to do today — to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.
Now part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I’m a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims.  As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and at the fall of dusk.  As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.
As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam.  It was Islam — at places like Al-Azhar — that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment.  It was innovation in Muslim communities — (applause) — it was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed.  Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation.  And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.  (Applause.)
I also know that Islam has always been a part of America’s story.  The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President, John Adams, wrote, “The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims.”  And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States.  They have fought in our wars, they have served in our government, they have stood for civil rights, they have started businesses, they have taught at our universities, they’ve excelled in our sports arenas, they’ve won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch.  And when the first Muslim American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers — Thomas Jefferson — kept in his personal library. (Applause.)
So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed.  That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t.  And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear. (Applause.)
But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America.  (Applause.)  Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire.  The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known.  We were born out of revolution against an empire.  We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words — within our borders, and around the world.  We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept:  E pluribus unum — “Out of many, one.”
Now, much has been made of the fact that an African American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President.  (Applause.)  But my personal story is not so unique.  The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores — and that includes nearly 7 million American Muslims in our country today who, by the way, enjoy incomes and educational levels that are higher than the American average.  (Applause.)
Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion.  That is why there is a mosque in every state in our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders.  That’s why the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it.  (Applause.)
So let there be no doubt:  Islam is a part of America.  And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations — to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God.  These things we share.  This is the hope of all humanity.
Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task.  Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people.  These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.
For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere.  When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk.  When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations.  When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean.  When innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience.  (Applause.)  That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century.  That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.
And this is a difficult responsibility to embrace.  For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes — and, yes, religions — subjugating one another in pursuit of their own interests.  Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating.  Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail.  So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it.  Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; our progress must be shared.  (Applause.)
Now, that does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite:  We must face these tensions squarely.  And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and as plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.
The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.
In Ankara, I made clear that America is not — and never will be — at war with Islam.  (Applause.)  We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security — because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject:  the killing of innocent men, women, and children.  And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people.
The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals, and our need to work together.  Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support.  We did not go by choice; we went because of necessity. I’m aware that there’s still some who would question or even justify the events of 9/11.  But let us be clear:  Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day.  The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody.  And yet al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale.  They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach.  These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.
Now, make no mistake:  We do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan.  We see no military — we seek no military bases there.  It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women.  It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict.  We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and now Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can.  But that is not yet the case.
And that’s why we’re partnering with a coalition of 46 countries.  And despite the costs involved, America’s commitment will not weaken.  Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists.  They have killed in many countries.  They have killed people of different faiths — but more than any other, they have killed Muslims.  Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam.  The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent is as — it is as if he has killed all mankind.  (Applause.)  And the Holy Koran also says whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.  (Applause.)  The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism — it is an important part of promoting peace.
Now, we also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  That’s why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who’ve been displaced.  That’s why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend on.
Let me also address the issue of Iraq.  Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world.  Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. (Applause.)  Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said:  “I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”
Today, America has a dual responsibility:  to help Iraq forge a better future — and to leave Iraq to Iraqis.  And I have made it clear to the Iraqi people — (applause) — I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources.  Iraq’s sovereignty is its own. And that’s why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August.  That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq’s democratically elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all of our troops from Iraq by 2012.  (Applause.)  We will help Iraq train its security forces and develop its economy.  But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.
And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter or forget our principles.  Nine-eleven was an enormous trauma to our country.  The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals.  We are taking concrete actions to change course.  I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.  (Applause.)
So America will defend itself, respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law.  And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened.  The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.
The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.
America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known.  This bond is unbreakable.  It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.
Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust.  Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich.  Six million Jews were killed — more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today.  Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful.  Threatening Israel with destruction — or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews — is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.
On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.  For more than 60 years they’ve endured the pain of dislocation.  Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead.  They endure the daily humiliations — large and small — that come with occupation.  So let there be no doubt:  The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.  And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.  (Applause.)
For decades then, there has been a stalemate:  two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive.  It’s easy to point fingers — for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond.  But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth:  The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.  (Applause.)
That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest.  And that is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience and dedication that the task requires.  (Applause.)  The obligations — the obligations that the parties have agreed to under the road map are clear.  For peace to come, it is time for them — and all of us — to live up to our responsibilities.
Palestinians must abandon violence.  Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed.  For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation.  But it was not violence that won full and equal rights.  It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding.  This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia.  It’s a story with a simple truth:  that violence is a dead end.  It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus.  That’s not how moral authority is claimed; that’s how it is surrendered.
Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build.  The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities.  To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel’s right to exist.
At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s.  The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.  (Applause.)  This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace.  It is time for these settlements to stop.  (Applause.)
And Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work and develop their society.  Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.
And finally, the Arab states must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities.  The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems.  Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state, to recognize Israel’s legitimacy, and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.
America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and we will say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs.  (Applause.)  We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away.  Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state.  It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.
Too many tears have been shed.  Too much blood has been shed.  All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra — (applause) — as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them, joined in prayer.  (Applause.)
The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.
This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran.  For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is in fact a tumultuous history between us.  In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.  Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians.  This history is well known.  Rather than remain trapped in the past, I’ve made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward.  The question now is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.
I recognize it will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude, and resolve.  There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect.  But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point.  This is not simply about America’s interests.  It’s about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.
I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not.  No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons.  And that’s why I strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons.  (Applause.)  And any nation — including Iran — should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  That commitment is at the core of the treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I’m hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.
The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.  (Applause.)
I know — I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq.  So let me be clear: No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other.

That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people.  Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people.  America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election.  But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things:  the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose.  These are not just American ideas; they are human rights.  And that is why we will support them everywhere.  (Applause.)
Now, there is no straight line to realize this promise.  But this much is clear:  Governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure.  Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away.  America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them.  And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments — provided they govern with respect for all their people.
This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they’re out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others.  (Applause.)  So no matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who would hold power:  You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party.  Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Barack Obama, we love you!
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.
Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.  We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition.  I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country.  That is the spirit we need today.  People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind and the heart and the soul.  This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it’s being challenged in many different ways.
Among some Muslims, there’s a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of somebody else’s faith.  The richness of religious diversity must be upheld — whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt.  (Applause.)  And if we are being honest, fault lines must be closed among Muslims, as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.
Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together.  We must always examine the ways in which we protect it.  For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation.  That’s why I’m committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.
Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit — for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear.  We can’t disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.
In fact, faith should bring us together.  And that’s why we’re forging service projects in America to bring together Christians, Muslims, and Jews.  That’s why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah’s interfaith dialogue and Turkey’s leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations.  Around the world, we can turn dialogue into interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action — whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster.
The sixth issue the sixth issue that I want to address is women’s rights. (Applause.)  I know –- I know — and you can tell from this audience, that there is a healthy debate about this issue.  I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality.  (Applause.)  And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well educated are far more likely to be prosperous.
Now, let me be clear:  Issues of women’s equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam.  In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, we’ve seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead.  Meanwhile, the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.
I am convinced that our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons.  (Applause.)  Our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity — men and women — to reach their full potential.  I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice.  And that is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.  (Applause.)

Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.

I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory.  The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence into the home.  Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and change in communities.  In all nations — including America — this change can bring fear.  Fear that because of modernity we lose control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities — those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.
But I also know that human progress cannot be denied.  There need not be contradictions between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies enormously while maintaining distinct cultures.  The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai.  In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.
And this is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work.  Many Gulf states have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development.  But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century — (applause) — and in too many Muslim communities, there remains underinvestment in these areas.  I’m emphasizing such investment within my own country.  And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas when it comes to this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.
On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America. (Applause.)  At the same time, we will encourage more Americans to study in Muslim communities.  And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in online learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a young person in Kansas can communicate instantly with a young person in Cairo.
On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries.  And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.
On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create more jobs.  We’ll open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new science envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, grow new crops.  Today I’m announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio.  And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.
All these things must be done in partnership.
Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.
The issues that I have described will not be easy to address.  But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world that we seek — a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God’s children are respected.  Those are mutual interests.  That is the world we seek.  But we can only achieve it together.
I know there are many — Muslim and non-Muslim — who question whether we can forge this new beginning.  Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress.  Some suggest that it isn’t worth the effort — that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur.  There’s so much fear, so much mistrust that has built up over the years.  But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward.  And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country — you, more than anyone, have the ability to reimagine the world, to remake this world.
All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort — a sustained effort — to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.
It’s easier to start wars than to end them.  It’s easier to blame others than to look inward.  It’s easier to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share.  But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path.  There’s one rule that lies at the heart of every religion — that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.  (Applause.)  This truth transcends nations and peoples — a belief that isn’t new; that isn’t black or white or brown; that isn’t Christian or Muslim or Jew.  It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the hearts of billions around the world.  It’s a faith in other people, and it’s what brought me here today.
We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.
The Holy Koran tells us:  “O mankind!  We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”
The Talmud tells us:  “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”
The Holy Bible tells us:  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”  (Applause.)
The people of the world can live together in peace.  We know that is God’s vision.  Now that must be our work here on Earth.
Thank you.  And may God’s peace be upon you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)
2:05 P.M. (Local)

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Posted on on August 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

While Author Says Ban Is 3rd “Giant of Asia,” Ban Denies Making Commitment.

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 12 — Two days after author Tom Plate repeatedly said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would be the subject of the third book in his “Giants of Asia” series, Ban’s spokesman on Thursday told Inner City Press Ban has not made any commitment to Plate or anyone else. Video here, from Minute 15:33.

Plate’s comments were made at a book party for the first in the series, about Singapore’s founder Lee Kuan Yew. Plate said that the second would be about Mahathir of Malaysia and the third would be about “someone who is in the room, who is Secretary General, whose name I will not mention.”

Also during his opening presentation, Plate said that “Ban Ki-moon confirms that Singapore’s candidate [for UN Secretary General in 2006] withdrew, opening the field even more” for Ban.

While Plate is or was a journalist, strangely requests were made just before the book party that no Press be present. It was too late, invitations had been made.

The entire event was witnessed, hence the follow up question Inner City Press asked Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky after Thursday’s backtracking. From the UN’s transcript of its August 12 noon briefing:

Inner City Press: yesterday, I’d asked you about this Giants of Asia series and the Secretary-General being the third subject of it. You said, “I’ll look into it.” Have you? And is he going to do it? And how much time will it take? And what’s the benefit to the UN organization?

Spokesperson: What I can tell you is that the Secretary-General has made no commitment to Mr. [Tom] Plate, or indeed to anyone else, with regard to a book.

Question: Mr. Plate said on Monday that he had, and I’ve talked to some other senior UN officials who have said he is the third one in the series, so I guess is there some… has there been some change?

Spokesperson: Well, I can tell you that the Secretary-General has made no commitment to Mr. Plate or indeed to anyone else.

Question: Okay, when was the last time he saw Mr. Plate?

Spokesperson: What’s that got to do with it?

Question: Because I, well…

Spokesperson: That’s got nothing to do with it, Matthew. I can tell you that the Secretary-General has made no commitment to Mr. Plate or indeed anyone else. Okay.

When is a commitment a commitment?


UN’s Ban To Be 3rd “Giant of Asia” by Tom Plate, Lee Kuan Yew’s Confidante on Sri Lankan “Ethnic Cleansing.”

By Matthew Russell Lee –

UNITED NATIONS, ICP, August 11, 2010  — Starting with a 200 page book of “Conversations with Lee Kuan Yew,” the get-things-done founder of modern Singapore, American author Tom Plate is engaged in a Giants of Asia trilogy. The next in the series is Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia.

The third Giant of Asia, Plate said at a VIP book party on August 10, will be UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Plate told an audience including the Permanent Representatives to the UN of Vietnam, Costa Rica, The Netherlands and of course Singapore, which hosted the event, that in his experience Asian leaders are more concerned about community rights than individual or human rights.

He asked rhetorically, do you want to solve the problem of drug gangs in Los Angeles? Give Lee Kuan Yew $10 billion, and look away for 18 months. Come back and it will be solved.

Some in the audience wondered what might happen during those 18 months, from the leader who instituted caning for the mis disposal or even chewing of gum. A professor in the audience asked about the balance between development and human rights.

Plate responded that while to the “Western” mind, publicly punishing the wrong person in order to send a message to others might violate due process, to Lee Kuan Yew and presumably the other Giants of Asia, the calculus is not so simple.

If the mis-punishment helps the community at large, it might on balance be a good thing, Plate said.

Inner City Press, invited without conditions to the event but then asked to not mention at least one of the attendees, asked Plate if he would consider interviewing some of the some openly authoritarian strong men of Asia, including Than Shwe of Myanmar and Kim Jong-Il of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Plate replied that if asked to go to Pyongyang and given access to Kim Jong-Il, he would be on the next plane. He said that he doubted Than Shwe, at 76, could endure the type of multi-day interview process which he engaged in with Lee Kuan Yew.

One wonders, then, how a sitting Secretary General, embroiled in a management scandal triggered most recently by the damning End of Assignment Report of outgoing lead UN investigator Inga Britt Ahlenius, will have time to sit for this Giants of Asia profile.

Without attributing the concerns, there seem to have been a belated request not to publicize the identity of Plate’s third Giant of Asia until after Mr. Ban’s second term is more secure.

But, one cynical in the audience asked, is the problem the publicity or the vanity book project itself?

UN’s Ban Depicted in Sri Lanka: Giant of Asia?

Inner City Press first heard of Plate’s book when a section about Sri Lanka was circulated, largely by the Tamil diaspora. Lee Kwan Yew is quoted on page 55 saying the –

example is Sri Lanka. It is not a happy, united country. Yes, they [the majority Sinhalese government] have beaten the Tamil Tigers this time, but the Sinhalese who are less capable are putting down a minority of Jaffna Tamils who are more capable. They were squeezing them out. That’s why the Tamils rebelled. But I do not see them ethnic cleansing all two million plus Jaffna Tamils. The Jaffna Tamils have been in Sri Lanka as long as the Sinhalese…[referring to Sri Lanka’s president Mahinda Rajapaksa] ‘I’ve read his speeches and I knew he was a Sinhalese extremist. I cannot change his mind.’”

Plate was asked about this section of the book, and said that it was difficult to keep it in. Afterward, Inner City Press asked Plate to explain: how had wanted the section to come out? Of all that he said Tuesday night, this was the only time that Plate asked to go off the record. We will respect that, just as we’ll respect the request to omit the presence of at least one individual and entourage.

Singapore’s Mission to the UN, its Permanent Representative Vanu Gopala Menon, his Deputy, wife and staff are to be commended for hosting such an eclectic crowd, and serving afterward such good food, including the Indian paratha break renamed roti — and tinged with coconut — when it arrived in Lee Kuan Yew’s giant laboratory in one of the smallest nation states.

There was Tamil advocates among the attendees, including the son of the plaintiff in a recent free speech case in the U.S. Supreme Court. Some wondered at the irony of Ban Ki-moon, who long delayed naming, and still has not begun, a panel about accountability for civilian deaths in Sri Lanka in 2009, choosing as his conversational biographer the writer who coaxed the above quoted analysis of ethnic cleansing and Sinhalese extremism in Sri Lanka, to the level of the president.

We will have more on this and on the rest of Plate’s illuminating talk, including his and Lee Kuan Yew’s views of the UN and the ways in which its Secretary General are elected and, at times, re-elected. The interplay of Ban’s drive for re-election and his participation at Plate’s third “Giant of Asia” will also be explored.

* * *

At UN, Ban’s Travails Trigger Candidacy Tales, De Mistura, Zeid, Kubis, Kerim or even Bachelet or Bill Clinton, Game On

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 9 — Alternate candidates to Ban Ki-moon are emerging before the next UN Secretary General term begins on January 1, 2012. Tellingly, even people given UN posts by Ban Ki-moon are among reported candidates.

Ban named Staffan de Mistura as his representative in Afghanistan, after de Mistura hired Ban’s son in law Siddarth Chatterjee as his chief of staff with the UN in Iraq. (Ban’s son in law has since been hired by Jan Mattsson as a high official of the UN Office of Project Services in Copenhagen).

But, people recruited to work for the UN in Afghanistan tell Inner City Press, de Mistura harbors the dream of swooping in as a dark horse candidate to replace Ban in late 2011.

There is “blood in the water,” these sources say, particularly following the damning End of Assignment report of Inga Britt Ahlenius. Ban’s “melt down” then retraction on August 9 about job promises made in the course of replacing Ahlenius won’t help either.

The problem for de Mistura and other non-Asian contenders is that the S-G position is said to belong to a regional group for at least 10 years.

When the U.S. vetoed Egypt’s Boutros Boutros Ghali in 2005, the post next went to another African. So it would be with Ban, the assumption goes, with China demanding equal treatment for Asia.

But, as Inner City Press reported some time ago, even Team Ban has a theory that the U.S. might trade its de facto ownership of the top World Bank post to China in exchange for the right to replace Ban with a S-G of its choice.

De Mistura, having served as U.S. ground cover and fig leaf in Iraq and then Afghanistan, feels he would have U.S. support. A long shot candidate mentioned is Bill Clinton. Others point to Jose Ramos Horta of Timor Leste, in the Asian group like another candidate, Zeid Bin Ra’ad of Jordan.

UN’s Ban and de Mistura: one bleary eyed with lack of sleep, the other looking long

Lula of Brazil would appear to have lost U.S. support, given his country’s vote against the recent sanctions on Iran. Shashi Tharoor appears to have shot himself in the foot with Cricket-gate.

More savvy, some say, is Michelle Bachelet. She is understood to have not leaped at the offer of the top UN Women post. Does this mean that, like with the UNICEF post given to Tony Lake, she is shooting higher?
From those heights, at UNDP, Helen Clark is often mentioned.

There are other plotters. Some point to the alliance between Ms. Ahlenius and Alicia Barcena, who left the top UN Management post when Ban came in and went to ECLAC in Santiago, Chile. She was in New York and dined with Ahlenius shortly before Ahlenius leaked her memo. Also involved, sources say, was Barcena’s Management predecessor Christopher Burnham.

Next in line, they argue, are the Eastern European states. From 2006, there is Vaira Vike-Freiberga. Jan Kubis is mentioned (Ban gave him a temporary post during the violence in Kyrgyzstan), along with former General Assembly president Srgjan Kerim, to whom Ban gave a Special Envoy on Climate Change UN post. Do you see a pattern here?

There are candidates galore, and there is blood in the water,” as one source puts it. Let the games begin.

This all comes, as Inner City Press first reported, against the backdrop of ad hoc meetings to “revitalize the General Assembly” which are discussing requiring Ban Ki-moon to come before the GA to seek his second term, and not only the Security Council.

Specifically, under the heading “Selection of the Secretary General,” the draft “takes note of the views expressed at the Ad Hoc Working Group at the 64th session and bearing in mind the provisions of Article 97 of the Charter, emphasizes the need for the process of selection of the Secretary General to be inclusive of all Member States and to be made more transparent.. including through presentation of candidates for the position of the Secretary General in an informal plenary of the General Assembly.”

Interestingly, the marked up draft of this pending paragraph reads as follows:

10. Affirms its commitment to continuing its consideration of the revitalization of the General Assembly’s role in the selection and appointment of the Secretary General, including through (encouraging (Algeria / NAM: delete and add ‘the’) Russian Federation: retain) presentation of candidates for the position of Secretary General in an informal plenary of the General Assembly before the Security Council considers the matter (Russian Federation); Russian Federation: bracket entire para.”

10 Alt. Also encourages formal presentation of candidatures for the position of the Secretary General in a manner than allows sufficient time for interaction with member states, and requests candidates to present their views to all Member States of the General Assembly (Belgium / EU, US & Russia) (Algeria / NAM supports Islamic Republic of Iran proposal of retaining as OP 10 bis).”

In the Security Council, placating or giving patronage to the five Permanent Members would be enough to gain the second term. But if the GA and regional grouping get involved, Ban’s snubs like that of Africa for the deputy post in the UN Development Program, and the devaluation of the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, could come back to haunt Ban, along with his more recent appointment of Alvaro Uribe to his Gaza flotilla panel, over the objections of Venezuela which wil head the Group of 77 and China.

* * *

At UN, As Ban Denies Deals with Israel and for OIOS Posts, Doubts Raised About Both, What was US Told?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 10 — Just as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated on August 9 that he made no “agreement behind the scenes” that Israeli Defense Forces will not be interviewed by his Panel of Inquiry, he now maintains that no commitment of posts in the Office of Internal Oversight Services was made to gain support for his replacement candidate to head OIOS, Carman Lapoint-Young.

But questions arose on August 10 about discrepancies between the transcript of Ban’s August 9 remarks and the UN’s subsequent denial. Ban said

he was one of the finalists, the South African whom you are talking about. If he [had been] willing to take the job, then I was okay [for him] to fill that post. There are certain cases when someone was applying for a certain post, and where she or he was not successful for that post, and because of the excellent quality of the candidate – we really wanted to keep certain candidates in our system – we offered a lower rank.”

But shortly after he said this — even the transcript is inaccurate — Ban’s Office said

The Secretary-General wants to make it absolutely clear that the recruitment process for the Director of the Investigations Division will start only after the new Under-Secretary-General of the Office of Internal Oversight Services has taken up her post. This selection will be conducted strictly in accordance with the established rules and procedures. The assertion that a South African was offered the job is completely unfounded.”

Inner City Press on August 10 asked Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky had Ban had meant by “we offered a lower rank.” Nesirky resplied that Ban “was confused by what the question was,” and claimed that the comment was a “general statement of principle not related to OIOS.” Video here, from Minute 31:26.

It is not a general statement of principle to say ““he was one of the finalists, the South African.. we offered a lower rank.” It is a statement about a particular individual being made an offer.

Likewise, Israel’s Benyamin Netanyahu insisted on August 10 that despite Ban’s August 9 denials, Ban has made a “discrete” agreement that the panel would not interview IDF personnel. Ban had said he made no “agreement behind the scenes.”

At the end of his August 9 press conference, Ban urged journalists to focus on the “big issues” and not personnel (or “personal”) disputes. But if an answer about offering OIOS post(s) in order to gain support for a candidate for OIOS does not have credibility, how does an answer about a “discrete” agreement about the mandate of the UN Gaza flotilla panel?

UN’s Ban and Barak, discrete agreement not shown

A Security Council diplomat on August 10 approached Inner City Press with another connection between the August 9 OIOS questions and Ban’s panels on Gaza and Sri Lanka. If Ban was so rattled and pushed by a single journalist — even the “overgrown schoolboy” –imagine, the diplomat mused, what happens between Ban and Israel, or Sri Lanka.

As for the outgrown schoolboy, he points out: wasn’t it a schoolboy who said “the Emperor has no clothes”?  Indeed…

Footnote: further to US Ambassador Susan Rice’s statement that the UN’s Gaza flotilla panel is “not a substitute” for national proceedings, Inner City Press is that during the Security Council consultations on the press statement by which Council welcomed Ban’s panel, the U.S. opposed linking the panel to the Council’s own May 31 – April 1 President Statement calling for an investigation.

So what did Ban tell Susan Rice and the US about the panel and its scope? Or about post promises made to get Ms. Lapoint confirmed as head of OIOS?

* * *

At UN, Ban “Melts Down, Admits” Dealing An OIOS Post to a South African, Calls Ethics Questions Small, 2d Term in Play

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 9, updated — “I always do the right thing,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Monday, faced with long pending questions about mis-management and undermining the independence of the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services.

But Ban appeared to admit violating a founding principle of OIOS, that the Secretary General not intrude and give out top OIOS jobs on a political basis.

He was asked repeatedly to confirm or deny that he promised the second level OIOS post to a South African, to gain support for his appointment of a Canadian, Ms. Lapointe Young, to replace outgoing Inga Britt Ahlenius. (Inner City Press was the first to report this deal, here.)

At first Ban suggested these questions be dealt with in a separate session. Then he portrayed them as “small” questions. Many reporters were unclear if they were being directed to not get into “personal” or “personnel” questions.

The latter seems difficult, since Ban ultimately said he had personally taken the personnel decision to give the second OIOS post, even before the ostensibly independent new director comes in, to a South African candidate.

Many correspondents were frustrated at how the press conference was run, with no questions taken on Sudan — which is threatening to throw the UN out, while starving the residents of the Kalma Camp — or the Rwanda election or the Ban administrations flip-flip on Kashmir.

But even those most focused on UN management and Ms. Ahlenius’ damning End of Assignment Report were dissatisfied by Ban’s answer that any questioning of his administration’s ethics is unfair. There are a range of questions, including about Ban’s most senior advisers. These, they say, will be coming out as a second term for Ban is considered.

UN’s Ban pre melt down, post deals not shown

Ban was asked about his Gaza flotilla panel — he said no side agreement was made with Israel not to interview its soldiers — but not about his stalled and even most constrained panel on Sri Lanka war crimes.

He was asked about appointing Alvaro Uribe to the Gaza panel, despite Venezuela’s recent complaints. Ban said he has known Uribe as Secretary General for a long time, and that Uribe has his “full confidence.” What will Venezuela, the next head of the Group of 77 and China, say?

As one snarky correspondent said after what he called Ban’s “melt down,” this politically is the time when alternate candidates to become Secretary General in 2012 will begin to appear, even before the upcoming General Debate in mid September. Watch this site.

Footnote: even on the ostensible topic of Ban’s first press conference since the Ahlenius memo, the High Level Panel on Global Sustainability, lack of candor became apparent. When, after his loss of power in Australia, Kevin Rudd flew to New York and met with Ban, Inner City Press attended the photo op, and noted that Ban’s climate advisor Janos Pasztor was in attendance, and that the meeting lasted a full 50 minutes.

Inner City Press asked Ban’s spokesperson if the meeting involved the offering of a UN position of any kind. It was just a courtesy call, Inner City Press was repeatedly told — even after Rudd, back in Australia, bragged through his spokesman about the offer of a post.

At the end of Ban’s press conference, Inner City Press asked Pasztor if in the meeting with Rudd, the supposed courtesy call, this post was discussed. Yes, Pasztor said. Some courtesy call. The same snarky reporter laughed at the inclusion of US Ambassador Susan Rice on the panel, calling it a craven attempt to nail down US support for a second term as Secretary General. We’ll see.

Update of 12:41 pm: after publication of the above, UN Spokesperson – Do Not Reply sent this:

Subject: UN Spokesperson’s clarification regarding the Office of Internal Oversight Services
Date: Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 12:34 PM

The Secretary-General wants to make it absolutely clear that the recruitment process for the Director of the Investigations Division will start only after the new Under-Secretary-General of the Office of Internal Oversight Services has taken up her post. This selection will be conducted strictly in accordance with the established rules and procedures. The assertion that a South African was offered the job is completely unfounded.

If you say so.” Compare to video, here. And, there are two D-2 posts in OIOS…


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


10 July 2010, The San Francisco Sentinel.



Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad questioned the historic dimensions of the Holocaust but rejected the label of an anti-Semite, the Fars news agency reported Friday.

“The West made a claim – about the Holocaust – and urges all the people in the world to accept it or otherwise go to prison,” Ahmadinejad told a group of Islamic scholars Thursday in Nigeria, where he attended a summit of the Developing Eight, a group of countries with large Muslim populations.

»Don’t miss The June 15 Condemnation Of Israel – The Worldwide Ignorance – The San Francisco Board Of Supervisors – The Sentinel Opinion

“The West allows everybody to question prophets and even God but not to pose a simple question and open the black box of a historic event,” he charged.

Ahmadinejad had earlier sparked international fury by calling for the eradication of Israel from the Middle East and its relocation to Europe or North America and by describing the murders of 6 million European Jews by Germany’s Nazi regime as a “fairy tale.”

He said Thursday that the Holocaust was an excuse for Israel and the West to take land away from millions of Palestinians and give it to Israel.

Iran does not recognize Israel and maintains that a referendum by all Palestinians, including refugees, and Jews should decide the future fate of a Palestinian state.

“We are after a diplomatic settlement through a referendum, but they [the West] say Ahmadinejad wants to kill people and is an anti-Semite,” the Iranian president said.

“No, this is wrong,” he added. “I love all Muslims, Christians and Jews. What I dislike are the Zionists, which are a party that has availed itself of the Holocaust as an excuse to establish the illegitimate state of Israel.”

The West fears the political differences between Iran and Israel might lead to a military confrontation between the two countries.

The international concern has increased amid fears that Iran might be using its nuclear program to make an atomic bomb.

Iran possesses 2,000-kilometer range missiles capable of targeting any part of Israel.

Tehran has said it has no secret nuclear projects and all its military capabilities were merely for the purpose of self-defense and deterrence.

But Tehran also warned that if Israel attacks the country’s nuclear sites, Iran would use its missiles to bomb Israel in retaliation.


Developing Eight summit in Nigeria.
Published: July 8, 2010.

ABUJA, Nigeria, July 8 (UPI) — Improved trade and better visa arrangements for business people are among the discussion topics for the Developing Eight, meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is among dignitaries in Abuja for the meeting of the Developing Eight, a consortium of the world’s largest Muslim countries, includes Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey, Radio France Internationale reported. Turkish President Abdullah Gul also was attending the summit.

Because Turkey and Indonesia also are members of the G20, Egyptian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohamed al-Oraby said they would be asked to convey concerns of developing countries {it does not say Islamic here} during the next G20 meeting, scheduled for South Korea in November 2010.


Interesting to note – these Big Eight Islamic States include only Egypt from among the Arab States; neither was included India which has the second largest Islamic population among UN Member States and is a true democracy.

On the other hand, how would you react if the Big Eight from among the Christan majority States would meet, or “God-forbids” – whatever God – the biggest Eight Countries with Chinese Communities meet and criticize some white (read European) intruder? Just think the meaning of it all! We really would like to hear from you on this.

This brings us back to the notion that time has come for the Biggest Eight Democracies to meet
and see how they can establish solid leadership for the UN!



Posted on on June 28th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Ethical and Sharia-compliant Investing Takes Off.

as per:

Monday, 28 June 2010  at  09:26, By Ron Robins, Founder & Analyst – Investing for the Soul.

Sustainability issues and financial crises have spurred ethical and Shariah-compliant investing globally.

U.K. green & ethical funds increased to £9.5 Billion in 2009 from just £2.4 billion in 1999 reports EIRIS. In the U.S., ethical and socially responsible investing in all its varied forms grew significantly to $2.71 trillion in 2007 (the latest data available) from $1.2 trillion in 1997, says the Social Investment Forum. Presently, about one in every nine U.S. investment dollars has gone through some type of non-financial screen.

Sharia-compliant investments have taken off as well. “…investors globally hold more than $1.5 trillion in Sharia-compliant investments… [and] there are more than 500 funds globally that comply with Islamic principles, of which one-third of these funds were launched during the past four years, and the figure is projected to double in the coming five years… ” said Abdul Rahman Al Baker, executive director of financial institutions supervision at the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) at the Sixth World Conference of Islamic capital markets and investment funds on May 24, 2010.

“Due to its widening acceptance and its appeal as a means for ethical investment, the [Shariah-compliant finance] industry is expected to continue growing at twice the pace of its conventional counterpart… ” stated Lim Hung Kiang Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister speaking on June 14 at the World Islamic Banking Conference Asia Summit in Singapore. Shariah-compliant funds are now found in North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Many believe that Western ethical investing also has its roots in religious traditions. For instance, the Bible proffers ethical business conduct and the Quakers and Methodists of the 1700s offered strict rules concerning investments as well.

Most investors intuitively understand ethical investing: one applies personal values and ethics to investing. However, ethical investing has spawned, and shares, a close kinship to numerous other investment styles.

The ‘sister’ to ethical investing is socially responsible investing (SRI). In fact the terms ethical investing and SRI are frequently used interchangeably. SRI however, has been associated with left wing political views for a long time. Largely because of this association many in the industry have dropped the word ‘socially’ so that the term ‘responsible’ investing is now commonplace.

One new variant of ethical investing is ‘impact’ investing. This term relates to only using positive screens to find investments that have the most beneficial impact on society. Ethical-SRI funds usually use both positive and negative screens—the latter might screen out companies related to tobacco or defence etc.

Another type of ethical investing that is increasingly popular is sustainable or green investing. And for religious communities there are ‘faith-based’ funds, guided by the precepts of the associated group.

Shariah-compliant investing is also faith-based, rooted in the strictures of the Koran. Shariah-compliant investments must be approved by an independent Shariah supervisory board in accordance with religious Muslim principles.

However, in today’s complex world supervisory boards in different countries can vary in their interpretations of what is Shariah-compliant. Hence, many Islamic financial institutions are desirous of creating a pan-Arab/Muslim Shariah supervisory board. A Bloomberg report published on June 10 indicated that a supreme Shariah board could exist among Gulf Arab states by 2013.

Shariah-compliant investments prohibit investing in institutions that pay interest, or firms involved in gambling, speculation, pornography, tobacco, alcohol or pork products. They also generally shun financial institutions that have high leverage.

Both ethical and Shariah investing appear to have a bright long term future. However, it would not surprise me to see various western ethical funds take on some of the characteristics of Shariah-compliant funds. These might include stricter ethical practices, an external board governing ethical standards, and limiting investments in financial institutions with high leverage or risk.

Even the Vatican’s official newspaper, the Osservatore Romano, seems to promote such changes in western financial institutions and funds. Stating that (from Bloomberg on March 4, 2009), “the ethical principles on which Islamic finance is based may bring banks closer to their clients and to the true spirit which should mark every financial service.”

Because of their comparatively lower risk profile, Shariah-compliant funds may do better than ethical funds when there is an aversion to risk, and the converse might be true when investors believe they can go further out on the risk curve.

Globally, both ethical and Shariah-compliant funds are likely to continue growing faster than their ‘conventional’ counterparts. They share a commonality in that non-financial factors such as ethics and morality are instrumental in shaping investment decisions. Also, both arise from principally religious traditions.

Now, and most importantly, the awareness of climate change and continuing financial disorder are compelling regulatory authorities and investors everywhere to raise their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards—to the benefit of ethical and Shariah-compliant funds.

A future column will compare the performance of ethical and Shariah-compliant funds with conventionally oriented portfolios.

E-mail the writer:


Posted on on June 28th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Flirting with zealotry in Malaysia.

The Washington Post, Monday, June 28, 2010

Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of Malaysia’s political opposition, has become known over the past decade as one of the foremost advocates of liberal democracy in Muslim countries. His many friends in Washington include prominent members of the neoconservative movement — such as Paul Wolfowitz, the former World Bank president and U.S. ambassador to Indonesia — as well as such Democratic grandees as Al Gore.

Lately, Anwar has been getting attention for something else: strident rhetoric about Israel and alleged “Zionist influence” in Malaysia. He recently joined a demonstration outside the U.S. embassy in Kuala Lumpur where an Israeli flag was burned. He’s made dark insinuations about the “Jewish-controlled” Washington public relations firm Apco Worldwide, which is working for Malaysia’s quasi-authoritarian government.

Therein lies a story of the Obama era — about a beleaguered democrat fighting for political and personal survival with little help from Washington; about the growing global climate of hostility toward Israel; and about the increasing willingness of U.S. friends in places such as Turkey and Malaysia to exploit it.

First, a little about Anwar: While serving as deputy prime minister under Malaysian strongman Mahathir Mohamad in the 1990s, he began pushing for reforms — only to be arrested, tried and imprisoned on trumped-up charges of homosexual sodomy. Freed after six years, he built a multiethnic democratic opposition movement that shocked the ruling party with its gains in recent elections. It now appears to have a chance at winning the next parliamentary campaign, which would allow Malaysia to join Indonesia and Turkey as full-fledged majority-Muslim democracies.

Not surprisingly, Anwar is being prosecuted again. Once again the charge is consensual sodomy, which to Malaysia’s discredit remains a crime punishable by whipping and a prison sentence of up to 20 years. Anwar, who is 63 and married with children, denies the charge, and the evidence once again is highly suspect. His 25-year-old accuser has confessed to meeting Prime Minister Najib Razak and talking by phone with the national police chief in the days before the alleged sexual encounter.

Nevertheless the trial is not going well. If it ends in another conviction, Anwar’s political career and his opposition coalition could be destroyed, and his life could be at risk: His health is not great. Yet the opposition leader is not getting the kind of support from the United States as during his first prosecution, when then-Vice President Gore spoke up for him. Obama said nothing in public about Anwar when he granted Najib a prized bilateral meeting in Washington in April.

After a “senior officials dialogue” between the two governments this month, the State Department conceded that the ongoing trial again had not been raised, “because this issue was recently discussed at length.” When it comes to human rights, the Obama administration apparently does not wish to be repetitive.

Anwar meanwhile found his own way to fight back. Hammered for years by government propaganda describing him as an Israeli agent and a Wolfowitz-loving American lackey, he tried to turn the tables, alleging that Apco was manipulating the government to support Israeli and U.S. interests. He also said that Israeli agents had infiltrated Malaysia’s security forces and were “directly involved in the running of the government.”

Najib describes Israel as “world gangsters.” But he quickly turned Anwar’s words against him; Apco has been peddling the anti-Israel statements around Washington.

Anwar is like Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom he regards as a friend and fellow traveler. Both know better than to indulge in such stuff. Both have recently begun to do it anyway — after a year in which the Obama administration has frequently displayed irritation with Israel. “If you say we are growing impatient with Israel, that is true,” Anwar told me. “If you say I am not too guarded or careful in what I say sometimes, that is also true.”

Anwar, who was in Washington for a couple of days last week, spent a lot of time offering explanations to old friends, not to mention House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman and a Jewish leader or two. He said he regretted using terms such as “Zionist aggression,” which are common coin for demagogues like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “Why do I need to use it if it causes so much misunderstanding?” he said. “I need to be more careful.”

Many of the Malaysian’s friends are inclined to give him a break. “What Anwar did was wrong, but considering that he’s literally fighting for his life — physically as well as politically — against a government that attacks him as being ‘a puppet of the Jews,’ one should cut him some slack,” Wolfowitz told me.

But Anwar’s story can also be read as a warning. His transition from pro-American democrat to anti-Israeli zealot is sobering — and it is on the verge of becoming a trend.


Posted on on June 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Richard Attias (born 1959 in Morocc) – he is a  global events producer. As chairman of PublicisLive Attias was the producer of the World Economic Forum in Davos for over fifteen years. His personal history and the history of the organizations he was involved with are plainly fascinating and we write this longer posting because we feel that he is embarking now upon even a greater voyage with his new NEW YORK FORUM, then in his previous activities.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a Geneva-based non-profit foundation best known for its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, which brings together top business leaders, international political leaders, selected intellectuals and journalists to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world, including health and the environment. Beside meetings, the WEF produces a series of research reports, and engages its members in sector specific initiatives. WEF also organizes the “Annual Meeting of the New Champions” in China, and a series of regional meetings throughout the year. In 2008 those regional meetings included meetings on Europe and Central Asia, East Asia, the Russia CEO Roundtable, Africa, the Middle East, and the World Economic Forum on Latin America. In 2008 it launched the “Summit on the Global Agenda” in Dubai.

The WEF was founded in 1971 by Klaus Martin Schwab, a German-born business professor at the University of Geneva. Originally named the European Management Forum, it changed its name to the World Economic Forum in 1987 and sought to broaden its vision further to include providing a platform for resolving international conflicts.

In the summer of 1971 Schwab invited 444 executives from Western European firms to the first European Management Symposium held in the Davos Congress Centre, under the patronage of the European Commission and European industrial associations, where Schwab sought to introduce European firms to US management practices. He then founded the WEF as a non-profit organization based in Cologny, Geneva, and drew European business leaders to Davos for their annual meetings each January.

Schwab developed the “stakeholder” management approach which based corporate success on managers taking account of all interests: not merely shareholders, clients and customers, but employees and the communities within which the firm is situated, and governments. Events in 1973 including the collapse of the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate mechanism, and the Arab-Israeli War, saw the annual meeting expand its focus from management to economic and social issues, and political leaders were invited for the first time to Davos in January 1974.

As the years went by, political leaders began to use Davos as a neutral platform to resolve their differences. The Davos Declaration was signed in 1988 by Greece and Turkey, helping them turn back from the brink of war. In 1992 South African President F. W. de Klerk met with Nelson Mandela and Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi at the Annual Meeting, their first joint appearance outside South Africa. At the 1994 Annual Meeting, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat reached a draft agreement on Gaza and Jericho. In 2008 Bill Gates gave a keynote speech on Creative Capitalism, a form of capitalism that works both to generate profits and solve the world’s inequities, using market forces to better address the needs of the poor.

Frederik de Klerk and Nelson Mandela shake hands at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum held in Davos in January 1992.

During the five-day Annual meeting in 2009, over 2,500 participants from 91 countries gathered in Davos. Around 75% (1,170) were business leaders, drawn principally from its members, 1,000 of world’s top companies. Besides these, participants included 219 public figures, including 40 heads of state or government, 64 cabinet ministers, 30 heads or senior officials of international organizations and 10 ambassadors. More than 432 participants were from civil society, including 32 heads or representatives of non-governmental organizations, 225 media leaders, 149 leaders from academic institutions and think tanks, 15 religious leaders of different faiths and 11 union leaders.
During the 1990s, Attias founded an Event Management Company and produced various global events including the Zurich Insurances Convention and Boris Yeltsin‘s visit to France. Richard was awarded the contract for the signature of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) signature agreements in Marrakesh and for the Middle East and North Africa summit meeting in Casablanca.

A brief encounter with Klaus Schwab, President of the World Economic Forum, resulted in a long-standing partnership and the eventual creation of the Global Event Management Company. This joint venture agency went on to manage international conferences, including the International Telecoms Union Congress and the Middle East Peace Summit in Jordan and the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Richard joined Publicis Groupe in 1998 and established a global enterprise producing events for various clients including IBM, l’Oreal, Uniliver, BT, Avaya, Lenovo, EDF, Sanofi-Aventis, etc.

Richard was named Chairman of the Board of Publicis Dialog which combined the operations of Publicis Events and a range of marketing services. In 2004, Richard moved to New York and became chairman of Publicis Events Worldwide, the first world wide events network with over 600 employees.

At PublicisLive Richard combined the events company and team to form PublicisLive that specialized in the conception and production of international conferences and very high profile events such as the Clinton Global Initiative Forum, the Islamic Conference, The Petra Conference of Nobel Laureates, the Dalian Economic Summit in China, and the Monaco Media Forum.

On March 23, 2008, Richard Attias married in New York’s Rockefeller Centre the ex-wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy     Former French First Lady Mme. Cécilia María Sara Isabel Ciganer-Albéniz (a descendent of the composer).

Cécilia Sarkozy visited Libya twice in July 2007 to visit Muammar al-Gaddafi and helped in securing the release of five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor who had all spent years on Libya‘s death row after allegedly being tortured into confessing to infecting Libyan babies with the HIV virus. The French left asked for Cécilia Sarkozy to be heard by the Parliamentary Commission expected to be created in October 2007 concerning the terms of the release of the six, as she had played an “important role” in their liberation. A Newspaper interview with Cécilia Sarkozy on October 19, 2007, made it known that she is leaving the President.

Current work

In 2008 Richard Attias created the Experience Corporation – a U.S. based full service event management and strategic consulting company with offices in New York, Paris, Jeddah and Dubai, that supports government and non-governmental organizations worldwide. As Executive Chairman, Richard oversees the execution and management of global events. Two major recent productions have been the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the accession to the throne of the King of Jordan and the launching of the Bahrain Education Project in Manama on October 10, 2009. The Experience Corporation has also executed more than a dozen corporate and governmental events since its inception in March, 2008.

Richard Attias is the Executive Chairman of  the Experience Corporation and works there with his wife.

Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women, In October 2008, Cecilia Attias announced the launch of her Foundation for women’s rights. The Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women actualizes concrete improvement in the lives of women worldwide by serving as a strategic, media, and financial platform for small and moderate sized, established non-governmental organizations, associations and foundations who champion the cause of women’s equality and well-being. Recently, Cecilia Attias delivered the keynote address at the ARISE Africa Fashion Awards entitled “The Promise of Africa.”

2008, Richard Attias sold the Global Event Management Company and with it the contract with the World Economic Forum. Richard is named special advisor to the Emirate of Dubai to provide a comprehensive strategy to make the city a destination for major conferences, and cultural and sporting events and spends a year and a half in Dubai.

Richard Attias is the Chairman the Advisory Board of the Center on Capitalism and Society, directed by Nobel Prize winner Edmund Phelps.

Currently, The Experience is making preparations for its New York Forum, the first summit to unite business leaders, sovereign funds and all major players in the global economy for an open, action oriented debate to foster ideas for improvement and reinvent current business models.

This brings us to what goes on right now – right here in New York, and we got wind of this from the New York Foreign Press Center where Richard Attias gave a Briefing on-The-Record, June 2, 2010.
We learned that this was the launching announcement for the FIRST ANNUAL NEW YORK FORUM, and we bet, in an age of contraction and increased interest in the real world, with demands that go beyond what a resort can provide, the location in New York City might make it possible that the meeting will become even more important then those Davos meetings.
The First Meeting will be held June 22-23, 2010, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on East 42nd Street in Manhattan.
If you check the dates – you find that this fits neatly before the G-20 meeting – June 26 – 27, 2010 in Toronto. And as such, we already learned, that a main attraction of this meeting will be Christine Lagarde, Finance Minister of France will be the featured speaker at the closing session June 23, 2010.

Lagarde is the first woman ever to become minister of Economic Affairs of a G8 economy.  In 2008, Lagarde was ranked the 14th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes Magazine.  A noted antitrust and labor lawyer, Lagarde made history as the first female chairman of the international law firm Baker & McKenzie. She has been awarded France’s highest honor, the Légion d’honneur. In 2009, the Financial Times ranked her the best Minister of Finance of the Eurozone.
Further we learned that to date, Vikram Pandit, CEO, Citigroup; Edmund Phelps, Nobel Prize in Economics, 2006; Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Chairman and Publisher of The New York Times; Robert Wolf, CEO, UBS Americas; Jonathan Miller, CEO, News Corp Digital; Cathie Black, President, Hearst Magazines; and S.D. Shibulal, Co-Founder of Infosys Technologies, are among the people who have confirmed their attendance.
The New York Forum is a call for action by the business community to reinvigorate the global economy and to find new confidence and credibility. Initial support came from the following Forum partners: The Boston Consulting Group, The New York Times, Partnership for New York City, and the Center on Capitalism and Society at Columbia University.

The Forum’s distinguished Advisory Board includes Nobel Prize-winning economist and Director of The Center for Capitalism and Society, Edmund Phelps; Partnership for New York City CEO Kathy Wylde; Economist and Planet Finance Founder, Jacques Attali; and Scott-Heekin-Canedy, President and General Manager, The New York Times.


From Mr. Attias we learned that his love affair with New York started at 9/11. He saw then how “UNITED WE STAND” was something real in this city. That is how he decided to make it his main home.

When the financial crisis struck he was in Dubai – he realized that the economic crisis will follow. He saw there the workers from India losing their jobs without understanding what it is all about. He came back to New York with the intent to create this new platform – the New York Forum with people who really run the show – the business people rather then the politicians. He talks as stakeholders – of NGOs, academics, besides the business people, and he wants them to come up with actual proposals. He will keep them in the discussion groups and wait for solutions. He talks of a call to action and is not shy to say that the problems were started right here in New York, and solutions should come from New York and applied directly in New York.
Richard Attias thinks the Financial Crisis is behind us – but we have the Economic Crisis and we must have jobs for people.
The 2010 New York Forum will have a total of only 320-360 participants – just 3 plenaries with CEOs and attendees. Also many smaller group meetings, Mr. Attias said that 60 people in a group is the maximum. Further, as he said, at the end there must be a road map on regulations and transparency as needed to create renewed trust in the system. For years we had the feeling of credibility, what happened recently made us lose that feeling and we must restore it.
Several days after the meeting there will be a “white book” – 100% transparent, open to the media – at least to the web – and press releases.
Three days after the meeting Rubinstein Communications Inc. will have the result of the dialogue in the form of a document – “REINVENTING THE BUSINESS MODEL.”
We got enthused by the fact that Mr. Attias said that while now there are 600,000 cars on the global roads every day, when China matches us in the ratio of cars per people, there might be 2 billion cars on the roads of the planet – and this is not negotiable. Different transportation systems must be established.
indeed, in his briefing Mr. Attias did not go into details of a green economy, or of the actual alternatives that must evolve. We realized that in ways he wants to keep his neutrality before the dialogue, but it is clear that no results are possible if all our favorite arguments will not be part of this dialogue. Therefore we are confident that the Forum can be the answer to just what the doctor found in his diagnosis: The crisis started in New York and the road map will be drawn in New York in order to effect the financial institutions, that will from now on, have to handle with complete transparency the requirements of sustainability.

He picked New York also because its rich cultural life, in this respect it might be more to the point then going away to a retreat.
With a composition as diverse as including people from South Africa, India, Dubai, Korea, etc. a process of innovation may be started at this forum. He has extended invitations to Sovereign Funds- so governments like Saudi Arabia will be present.
Problems started as for years political leaders were out to reduce costs, but the problem that in the real world it led to the Greece crisis. Something has to change. Mme. Legarde is expected to address tis problem


For The New York Forum

Contact:         Rubenstein Communications, Inc.

Iva Benson (212) 843-8271,  ibenson at

Thomas Chiodo (212) 843-8289,  tchiodo at