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Posted on on August 31st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Fijians negotiating with Islamist captors of 44 {or 45?} peacekeepers.

Head of Fiji’s army says exact location of kidnapped troops cannot be confirmed.

By Times of Israel staff and AP  – August 31, 2014, 3:12 pm
For what the UN releases on this – please look – whose reporter at the UN Headquarters in New York – Matthew Russel Lee – is following closely this topic.
The Freedom House Map of “Press Freed0m 2014” has Fiji and The Philippines among the “Partly Free States” – thus reflecting on the source of the UN Mercenary hired personnel that is the human fodder to Peace Keeping Missions that do not get full UN backing when finding themselves in difficult situations.
Members of United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) using binoculars to watch the Syrian side of the Golan Heights near the Quneitra border crossing, on August 31, 2014. (photo credit: AFP Photo/Jalaa Marey)

Members of United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) using binoculars to watch the Syrian side of the Golan Heights near the Quneitra border crossing, on August 31, 2014. (photo credit: AFP Photo/Jalaa Marey)

The Fijian military said Sunday that it was pursuing negotiations with the Syrian Islamic rebel group which kidnapped 44 UNDOF peacekeepers in the Syrian Golan Heights Thursday, but still had not received word on where the soldiers were being held.

Fiji has been told that the men were unharmed and were being treated well, but “we still at this stage cannot confirm the exact location of our troops. We are continuing negotiations at all levels,” said Brig. Gen. Mosese Tikoitoga, head of the Fijian army, according to a Reuters report.


“However, we are still very concerned that we cannot confirm at this stage their exact location, whether they are still in Syria or whether they have been moved to neighboring countries,” the general added.

Tikoitoga’s comments came after 40 Filipino peacekeepers made a daring escape after being surrounded and under fire for seven hours by Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights on Sunday, leaving the 44 Fijian troops in the hands of al-Qaeda-linked insurgents.

The peacekeepers became trapped after Syrian rebels entered the UN-patrolled buffer zone between Syria and Israel this past week, seizing the Fijian soldiers and demanding that their Filipino colleagues surrender. The Filipinos, occupying two UN encampments, refused and clashed with the rebels on Saturday. The first group of 35 peacekeepers was then successfully escorted out of a UN encampment in Breiqa by Irish and Filipino forces in armored vehicles.

As night fell and a ceasefire took hold, a further 40 Filipinos fled with their weapons, traveling across the chilly hills for nearly two hours before meeting up with other UN forces, who escorted them to safety inside Israel early Sunday, Philippine officials said.

The clashes erupted after Syrian rebel groups — including al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front — overran the Quneitra crossing on the frontier between Syrian- and Israeli-controlled parts of the Golan on Wednesday and seized the 44 Fijians.

The SITE Intelligence Group reported that the Nusra Front posted a statement on its Twitter account Saturday taking responsibility for detaining the Fijian peacekeepers. The Nusra Front stated that the Fijian detainees “are in a safe place, and they are in good health, and that we have given them what they need of food and treatment.”

The Nusra Front also posted a photo showing what it said were the captured Fijians in their military uniforms along with 45 identification cards, SITE said.

SITE added that the Nusra Front claimed the Fijians were seized in retaliation for the UN’s ignoring “the daily shedding of the Muslims’ blood in Syria” and even colluding with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s army “to facilitate its movement to strike the vulnerable Muslims” through a buffer zone in the Golan Heights. The SITE report could not be independently confirmed.

The UN mission has 1,223 troops from six countries: Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands and the Philippines. A number of countries had previously withdrawn their peacekeepers due to the escalating violence.

Philippine officials said Filipino forces would remain in Golan until their mission ends in October despite the rebel attacks and the capture of the Fijian peacekeepers.

Both UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council strongly condemned Saturday’s attack on the peacekeepers’ positions and the ongoing detention of the Fijian peacekeepers.

The Nusra Front has recently seized hostages to exchange for prisoners detained in Syria and Lebanon.

Read more: Fijians negotiating with Islamist captors of 44 peacekeepers | The Times of Israel


As of July 31, 2014 UNDOF has 1,223 peacekeepers from six countroies – Fiji, India, Irelamd, Nepal, Netherlands and the Philippines.

The mission was established in 1974 with the purpose to monitor the disengagement accord between Syria and Israel after the 1973 war (the Yom Kippur War). In effect they monitor the line between the no-man’s zone and the Syrian State. But let us not forget that the Syrian Government these days rules only over part of Syria and rebels of Al-Qaeda persuasion – organized in the Al-Nusra front and the ISIL – Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – are what the UN peacekeepers are facing now – this rather then a Syrian State military. Does the original mandate hold under these conditions? Seemingly Austria had some doubts and pulled out their troops at last mandate-renewal.

Actually – the mandate is up to renewal every 6 months and the current mandate ends on December 31, 2014.  Would this not be a good opportunity to allow the current forces to go home? Ireland, Netherlands and Austria were not there for the money, and those that are in for the money better learn that this is a tough spot, and it is rather without real purpose – only potential harm.


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 November 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

The following is based on THE PENTAGON POST and on a PRESS RELEASE from the UNFCCC Headquarters in Bonn.



Hundreds of youth groups from around the world have written to UN climate chief Christiana Figueres asking her to withdraw from the coal summit taking place at the same time as international climate talks.


At a time when the world  meets in Warsaw for the United Nations’ annual climate change conference, the Polish government has decided to preside as well over a high-level coal industry event on the sidelines of the two-week climate conference.

Companies dealing with coal, oil and gas normally maintain a low profile presence during the UN climate talks but Polish officials say that coal, which accounts for more than 80 percent of Poland’s electricity generation, won’t go away anytime soon and needs to be a key part of the climate debate.


The decision has also invited mixed reactions from the environmentalists who issue increasingly dire alarms that time is running short to head off the most disastrous effects of global warming.


Meanwhile, in a statement The Associated Press, the World Coal Association said the coal summit is meant as a contribution, not an alternative, to the UN talks. It noted that UN climate chief Christiana Figueres will be a keynote speaker at the event.

Hundreds of youth groups from around the world have written to UN climate chief Christiana Figueres asking her to withdraw from the coal summit taking place at the same time as international climate talks.


The Warsaw meet of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has no measurable targets. But observers hope it will at least do some legwork for a much-trumpeted deal, due to be signed in Paris in 2015 for implementation five years later.



UN’s top climate change official tells coal industry it can and must radically change and diversify
(Warsaw, 18 November 2013) – Speaking to the International Coal and Climate
Summit, organized by the Polish government and the World Coal Association,
Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
Christiana Figueres said the coal industry can and must radically transform
and diversify to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Directly addressing the CEOs of major coal companies she said: “Let me be
clear from the outset that my joining you today is neither a tacit approval
of coal use, nor is it a call for the immediate disappearance of coal. But
I am here to say that coal must change rapidly and dramatically for
everyone’s sake.”

The World Coal Summit is taking place shortly after the release of the
findings of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),
which shows that human-generated climate change is real and accelerating,
and at the same time as the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw.

“The IPCC’s findings have been endorsed by 195 governments, including all
of those in which you operate. We are at unprecedented greenhouse gas
concentrations in the atmosphere; our carbon budget is half spent. If we
continue to meet energy needs as we have in the past, we will overshoot the
internationally agreed goal to limit warming to less than two degree
Celsius,” she told the coal summit.

Ms. Figueres said that in order to make this radical transformation,
further capital expenditure on coal could only go ahead if it is compatible
with the 2 degree Celsius limit. She pointed to the building groundswell of
climate action and climate change-related policies at all levels of
government and society.

“All of this tells me that the coal industry faces a business continuation
risk that you cannot afford to ignore. Like any other industry, you have a
fiduciary responsibility to your workforce and shareholders. And by now it
is abundantly clear that further capital expenditures on coal can only go
ahead if they are compatible with the 2 degree Celsius limit.”

Ms. Figueres urged the coal industry to honestly assess the financial risks
of business as usual, to anticipate increasing regulation, growing finance
restrictions and diminishing public acceptance and to leverage technology
to reduce emissions immediately across the entire chain of coal output.

She also said that the industry would need to diversity its portfolio
beyond coal, noting that the bottom line for the atmosphere is that most
existing coal reserves will have to stay in the ground.

“Some major oil, gas and energy technology companies are already investing
in renewables, and I urge those of you who have not yet started to do this
to join them. By diversifying your portfolio beyond coal, you too can
produce clean energy that reduces pollution, enhances public health,
increases energy security, and creates new jobs,” she said.

Ending her speech, she called on the industry to “look past next quarter’s
bottom line and see the next generation’s bottom line.”

The speech by Christiana Figueres to the International Coal and Climate
Summit can be found at:




When we last sent you an email about the Typhoon in the Philippines, we didn’t yet have a picture of what the impacts would look like.


Now we do. It looks like this.


In a reasonable world, Typhoon Haiyan would be the wakeup call that jolts world leaders meeting in Poland for UN climate talks into decisive action. Depressingly, the message isn’t yet getting through, which is why the Filipino delegation, and many allies, have embarked on a fast to underline the immense, immediate needs facing the victims of this storm.


For our part, we’re bringing thousands on thousands of messages of solidarity with Philippines climate leaders from around the world to the halls of the UN climate talks. This is our way of showing intransigent politicians that the world is counting on them to stand with the victims of Typhoon Haiyan and take real action.


Our team in Warsaw will deliver the messages alongside the Philippines delegation later this week, and it’s my hope that they’ll be carrying yours when they do. Click here to send a wake up call message on behalf of the Philippines.


Due to the overwhelming destruction of infrastructure and communication systems, the relief effort in the hardest hit places is only just beginning. In addition to sending that message, can you pitch in to support our friends in the Philippines as they recover from this unprecedented storm, if you’re able?


This Thursday, the penultimate day of UN talks, people will be gathering in climate justice for the Philippines vigils across the globe, to send the message we’re standing with the Philippines even if they won’t.


Yeb Sano, the lead Filipino negotiator at the UN Talks, has been fasting for 7 days in a brave protest of the inaction and delay in the face of climate disaster. And his courage is contagious: we’re hearing from people around the world who are fasting with him in solidarity.


The full account of the destruction won’t be known for a while yet, but the message of Typhoon Haiyan already couldn’t be clearer. It doesn’t feel quite right to look for good in moments like these, but there is at least a glimmer of hope that such a tragedy will cut through the fog of politics and reveal the urgency of this crisis.


I fear it will only happen if we push however, and so push we will.


Many thanks,




From IISD Reporting: 

As delegates kicked off the second half of the conference at the Warsaw National Stadium, another conference, deemed “controversial” by many, convened three kilometers away. At the International Coal and Climate Summit, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres delivered a keynote speech, warning that “the coal industry faces a business continuation risk it can no longer afford to ignore.” Previously, an open letter signed by several NGOs requested Figueres to withdraw from the event, worried that her presence would lend credibility to a conference “that should not be legitimized.” Responding to these concerns, and subsequently gaining a somewhat cautious approval from one NGO representative, Figueres specified in her keynote address that her presence “is neither a tacit approval of coal use, nor is it a call for the immediate disappearance of coal. But I am here to say that coal must change rapidly and dramatically for everyone’s sake.”


Posted on on November 12th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


Philippines Negotiator Ties Massive Typhoon to Global Warming




12 November 2013




iplomats, negotiators and civil society representatives from around the world held their breath this afternoon at the United Nations Climate Talks in Warsaw, Poland, this afternoon as Yeb Sano, the lead negotiator for the Philippines, began to address the opening of the conference.


More than 10,000 people are feared dead in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, which slammed into the Philippines this weekend, causing apocalyptic devastation across a number of islands.


While scientists are careful not to connect any single weather event to climate change, it’s clear that global warming is loading the dice for devastating events like Typhoon Haiyan. Rising seas, warmer waters and a warmer and wetter atmosphere, all contribute to supercharge storms like Haiyan and Hurricane Sandy. Scientists have warned that extreme weather events will only increase in intensity and frequency if climate change is left unchecked.


Addressing the UN Climate Talks on behalf of the Philippines, Sano didn’t hesitate to connect Typhoon Haiyan to climate change and the fossil fuel industry’s role in fueling the crisis.


He began by thanking the global community, and especially young people, for the support and solidarity that they have shown the people of the Philippines.


“I thank the youth present here and the billions of young people around the world who stand steadfast behind my delegation and who are watching us shape their future,” said Sano. “I thank civil society, both who are working on the ground as we race against time in the hardest hit areas, and those who are here in Warsaw prodding us to have a sense of urgency and ambition.


“We are deeply moved by this manifestation of human solidarity,” Sano continued. “This outpouring of support proves to us that as a human race, we can unite; that as a species, we care.”


Sano spoke of the terrifying devastation that Typhoon Haiyan has wrecked upon the Philippines, before connecting the dots directly to the climate crisis.


“To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare you to get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of you armchair,” he said. “I dare you to go to the islands of the Pacific, the islands of the Caribbean and the islands of the Indian ocean and see the impacts of rising sea levels; to the mountainous regions of the Himalayas and the Andes to see communities confronting glacial floods, to the Arctic where communities grapple with the fast dwindling polar ice caps, to the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon and the Nile where lives and livelihoods are drowned, to the hills of Central America that confronts similar monstrous hurricanes, to the vast savannas of Africa where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce.”


“Not to forget the massive hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard of North America,” Sano continued. “And if that is not enough, you may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now. What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness.”


Sano said that he identified with the young people and activists around the world who are standing up to the fossil fuel industry, protesting in the streets and committing civil disobedience. He shared their frustration and appreciated their courageous action. The same sort of leadership was necessary here in Warsaw, he said.


“We can take drastic action now to ensure that we prevent a future where super typhoons are a way of life,” said Sano. “Because we refuse, as a nation, to accept a future where super typhoons like Haiyan become a fact of life. We refuse to accept that running away from storms, evacuating our families, suffering the devastation and misery, having to count our dead, become a way of life. We simply refuse to.”


Sano then went off the prepared script of his remarks that were released to the media to announce that he would be commencing a voluntary fast.


“In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days, in all due respect Mr. President, and I mean no disrespect for your kind hospitality, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP until a meaningful outcome is in sight.”


Meaningful action, he explained would involve real commitments around climate finance.


“We call on this COP to pursue work until the most meaningful outcome is in sight,” Sano said further. “Until concrete pledges have been made to ensure mobilization of resources for the Green Climate Fund. Until the promise of the establishment of a loss and damage mechanism has been fulfilled; until there is assurance on finance for adaptation; until concrete pathways for reaching the committed 100 billion dollars have been made; until we see real ambition on stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations. We must put the money where our mouths are.”


“Let Poland, let Warsaw, be remembered as the place where we truly cared to stop this madness,” Sano concluded. “Can humanity rise to this occasion? Mr. President, I still believe we can.”


At the end of his speech, the entire room here at the negotiations rose to their feet in a standing ovation. As the applause continued for minute after minute, a chant started up up in the back of the room, “We stand with you! We stand with you!”


The Philippines, and Yeb Sano have become a voice for the billions of people around the world who are already feeling the impacts of climate change.and are worried about their and their children’s future. Let’s hope that not only the public, but our politicians, can find the courage to stand with him and all of those pushing for action here at the talks in Warsaw.




+4 # Fishmonkey11 2013-11-12 07:36

I Stand With You!





Posted on on November 11th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (





Philippines blames climate change for monster typhoon.


boy at scene of devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan
Reuters/Erik De Castro


It’s hard to comprehend the scale of the disaster in the Philippines, where a massive typhoon may have killed more than 10,000 people. But climate delegates who have gathered today in Warsaw, Poland, for a fresh round of U.N. climate talks will need to do just that.


The Philippines is a densely populated, low-lying archipelago state that sits in warm Pacific Ocean waters — and warm ocean waters tend to produce vicious tropical storms. The country’s geography puts its islands in the path of frequent typhoons (typhoon is the local word — Americans call such storms hurricanes and others refer to them as cyclones). The Philippines’ low and unequally distributed national wealth, meanwhile, leaves its populace highly vulnerable to them.


And in terrible news for Filipinos, climate models show that global warming is making typhoons even more powerful.


Meteorologists have blamed a rise in water temperatures of nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit and other weather conditions last week for stirring up Typhoon Haiyan, which grew to become one of the most damaging storms in world history. Here’s a high-level account of the devastation from Reuters:

“The situation is bad, the devastation has been significant. In some cases the devastation has been total,” Secretary to the Cabinet Rene Almendras told a news conference.

The United Nations said officials in Tacloban, which bore the brunt of the storm on Friday, had reported one mass grave of 300-500 bodies. More than 600,000 people were displaced by the storm across the country and some have no access to food, water, or medicine, the U.N. says. …

Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded, is estimated to have destroyed about 70 to 80 percent of structures in its path.


Officials from the Philippines are blaming climate change for the ferocity of Typhoon Haiyan, and demanding that climate negotiators get serious in Warsaw.


Though climate scientists aren’t ready to attribute the blame quite so directly, there is mounting evidence that climate change is making storms like Haiyan worse.

 As we’ve explained, the oceans are absorbing much of the extra heat that’s being trapped on Earth by greenhouse gases, which is helping to stoke more powerful tropical storms. Ben Adler recently reported on the results of a study in Indonesia, just south of the Philippines, which found that local ocean waters were warming at a historically unprecedented rate.


“What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness,” said Naderev “Yeb” Saño, lead negotiator for the Philippines at the climate talks. “The climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw. Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action.”


Saño told Responding to Climate Change how the storm had affected his family:


[Saño] spent much of Friday and Saturday wondering if his family had survived Typhoon Haiyan …

“The first message I got from my brother was short, to say he was alive,” he says. “The second was that he had been burying dead friends, relatives and strangers. He said with his own two hands he had piled up close to 40 dead people.”

Sano’s family hails from the part of the Philippines eastern seaboard where the typhoon made landfall, smashing into his father’s hometown.

“I really fear that a lot of my relatives may have suffered tremendously, if they survived at all,” he adds.


This is not the first time Saño has warned the world that it must take action to prevent super-storms from devastating his country and so many others. At the 2012 U.N. climate talks in Doha, Qatar, he broke down in tears during his address, linking climate change to Typhoon Bopha, which killed hundreds of people in his country late last year.

“[W]e have never had a typhoon like Bopha, which has wreaked havoc in a part of the country that has never seen a storm like this in half a century. And heartbreaking tragedies like this is not unique to the Philippines, because the whole world, especially developing countries struggling to address poverty and achieve social and human development, confront these same realities. …

I appeal to the whole world, I appeal to the leaders from all over the world, to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face. I appeal to ministers. The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of us by 7 billion people.”


We told you on Friday that climate delegates representing poor and developing countries are begging wealthy countries for financial help — not just for help in reducing their carbon emissions, but also for help in dealing with crazy weather that’s already happening. They say they can’t afford to do it alone, and many of them feel that their countries shouldn’t have to, since the rich nations of the world have pumped so much of the excess carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.


Rich countries have pledged to provide $100 billion in annual climate assistance starting in 2020 via the Green Climate Fund, but they’ve contributed very little so far. “We have not seen any money from the rich countries to help us to adapt,” Saño said. And some delegations in Warsaw are seeking more funding still, to compensate developing countries for the damage caused by climate disasters.


If wealthy nations don’t come through with significant funding, hopes of meaningful global climate cooperation could be doomed. And if the world doesn’t cooperate on climate change, greenhouse gas emissions will keep spiraling up, pushing global average temperatures up more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.7 Fahrenheit) compared with preindustrial times. That would not only mean worse typhoons for the developing world — it would mean worse hurricanes, droughts, fires, and floods in the U.S. and across the world.


John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants:


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 May 16th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Vienna is no Backwater and no UN Backwater anymore – I arrived from New York on May 8-th, and immediately – that is starting Wednesday the 9-th – I already started to run to meetings and presentations/discussions with  top-global thinkers who presented the latest ideas about the true state of the planet. Actually I must confess that more and better value I encountered in this first week in Vienna then I experienced in New York City. I would suggest that it is possibly a result from being less of an interests driven pressure cooker, people tend to speak up more, and discussions evolve with less impediments that one experiences in New York.

From running to so many activities, I found that I do not report on them and this is a pity –
I will thus do a very skimpy review now and hope to do some more justice in the future.

Take for instance the global economy and much of what impacted the negotiations in New York, around the UN, on the run up to RIO+2o.

On Wednesday I started by participating in a meeting at the Austrian Association for the UN, with Professor Ian Goldin, who was Vice President of the World Bank (2003-2006) and prior to that the Bank’s Director of Development Policy (2001-2003) representing the bank at the UN. He left The Washington position to become the first head of The James Martin 21st Century School at Oxford University. From him, in the discussion, we heard that the problem that caused our economic crises comes from the simple truth that all top economists have studied from the same book Economics 101 – and were unable to see that the World was behaving differently. He honestly confessed that he also did not see the crisis coming – but he made it clear that he looks now at ideas of fundamental change. I will not enlarge here as I do have a draft article were I will try to pick up my notes. I will only say that he was born in South Africa to Jewish refugees from Vienna, and by now is a World citizen with experiences all over.

The following day it was someone with a very different background – coming from the Philippines he is also by now a World citizen with Experiences all over but seemingly his real base is still in the south. Professor Walden Bello was educated at Princeton with a doctorate in Sociology, and taught at Berkeley and Binghampton. Then he became executive director of  the Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First) in OaklandCalifornia and founding director of Focus on the Global South, a policy research institute based in Bangkok.

In 2003, Bello was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, whose website describes him as “one of the leading critics of the current model of economic globalization – combining the roles of intellectual and activist.” But then he also entered politics in order to work against President Ferdinand Marcos. He is now also a member of the Philippine Parliament.

Bello spoke at a panel organized by the Vienna Institute for Development Cooperation VJDC in the compound of the Diplomatic Academy. He stated that Consumption should no longer be considered the key to economic stability and added that this is the reason that the US continues to be a renegade. Space must be reserved for development of the developing counties.

Talking about the financial crises he blamed the Thatcher-Reagan liberation of the Financial Sector and the export of its problems by the US. On the other hand he looks at China being led by technocrats and the immense increase in China’s production capacity.

Asked about the Bhutan idea of well being and happiness, he thought that Bhutan is very much behind in development so it cannot be a model – but he accepted the notion that there is the need for different ways of measuring development then the GDP. He even volunteered that some of what is called growth is in effect negative growth.

Bello clearly, even as acknowledged spokesman for the South, he does not see development as the south copying the North. He is posed to look for novel ways and in this he speaks of accommodation to replace conflict. A question  he entered only reluctantly was the issue  of national economies that do not have a National Currency, like Greece, while the US and others have the luxury of printing their currency. Then what is if more interesting, China and Brazil, having excess reserves of global currency printed by others, have also their own National Currency used mainly inside the country, while using the excess of US dollars or Euro, in financial dealings outside their own countries. This insulates them from outside intervention like in the case of Greece that has no  independent internal currency. To this he said that by now China and Brazil have started to use their own currencies also for international trade. Clearly – this is something that ought to be looked at more seriously by the EU.

“To this series of talks I would include the Wednesday May 16-th presentation of the Master thesis by Ms. Elisabeth Schmid on THE GOOD LIFE – BUT WHICH?” – “Das Gute Leben – Aber Welches?” that looked at the Pacha Mama Andean American-Indian indigenous concept of not harm nature more then what is absolutely necessary and which allowed me to try to negotiate these concepts in relation to the Himalayan Budhist concept of Happiness.

Following the initial days that centered on above economic aspects, followed a meeting at the Amerika Haus of the American Embassy in Vienna, dealing with energy policy of the State of California, and energy policy of the US in general – the place of renewable energy in the future of the United States and the World and what can and cannot be expected from RIO+20 a meeting that he considered as if it were a direct follow up to the series of meetings on climate change. The speaker was Professor Gerald W. Braun, the associate Director of the University of California at Davis Energy Institute.

The America House  meeting was on Wednesday night, but then on the three week-end days – Friday to Sunday, May 11-13, there was the Green World Forum on the side of the Imperial Hofburg Palace, that included exhibits and a series of talks  and Dr. Braun was the speaker for the Friday Energy Session – his topic was THE END OF THE OIL AGE – THE GREEN ENERGY REVOLUTION. Then the last event I am touching about is the EUROSOLAR monthly Stammtisch that dealt with solar programs in Bavaria. While the first group of talks in this section dealt with what we really need and how we satisfy these needs as a community. this last evening was pure alternate sources. Obviously – both lines present progress in their own ways.

Monday,  Tuesday, and Wednesday I picked seeing Sustainable Development inspired movies. To be more accurate – films that tell us – go for sustainability or else we have no future. These events were the first for me to tackle on this website. Please look at the two postings we have on the films.

As said – there was so much more going on – but I could not take it all in.


Posted on on January 17th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

As part of CAI-Asia’s mission (Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities)  to promote better air quality and livable cities, it conducted an annual review of main events relevant to air quality/climate change and transport in Asia. The review, which started on 2008 and initially focused on sustainable transport, has now evolved to include air quality and climate events. It is an opportunity to look back and understand where Asia focused in the past year and foresee emerging trends in Asia in the coming years.
The main highlights for 2011 are:
  • Increasing public demand for improved air quality monitoring and reporting
  • Transition from science to policy action regarding black carbon and short-lived climate forcers (SLCF)
  • Increased awareness on green freight and logistics
  • Successes on clean fuels and vehicles, particularly in Vietnam and Sri Lanka
  • Improved understanding of walkability issues
  • Asian cities trying a mix of transport demand management measures to address congestion, pollution
Read the e-book version here:
You can also download the document here:

from Kaye Patdu, Air Quality Researcher with –

Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities Center (CAI-Asia)
Unit 3505 Robinsons Equitable Tower, ADB Avenue, Pasig City 1605 PHILIPPINES

Tel +632 395 2843 l Fax +632 395 l SkypeID kaye.patdu


Posted on on November 19th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

The papers wrote today, November 18th, on the small Asian Scene but missed the much bigger significance. After years of playing big power economic politics on the side of China and a mumbling and stumbling EU – the US did a reset, as per the following and most recent, news.

“BALI, Indonesia — Hours before Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Myanmar’s most prominent democracy campaigner, announced her return to formal politics on Friday, President Obama disclosed that he was sending Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on a visit there next month, the first by a secretary of state in more than 50 years.

The twin events underscored the remarkable and sudden pace of change in Myanmar, which has stunned observers inside and outside the country, analysts said.”

Actually what happened these last three weeks is that Obama’s Administration is distancing itself from the troubles of the EU and in an effort to decrease its dependence on China financing, the US has moved to use the Asian-Pacific region minus China, but in  in alliance with Australia, to forge a new FREE MARKET from an enlarged NAFTA (Canada, Mexico, Columbia) to embrace some of the countries of the old APEC. This market is 1.6 times larger then the EU and will have a military base in Darwin, Australia, so China takes notice of a massive new US interest in Asia.

This is just a small reaction to the news and we intend to return to this new and intriguing situation that is clearly intended as well to show the American people that this Administration is still capable of doing great novel things. We say BRAVO.

Europe will take advantage of this RESET by trying to increase its activities in the Arab World – i.e. Austria readies a new mission to Qatar where it will open December 11-12, 2011 a new Embassy in Doha with a visit by Austria’s Federal President Dr. Heinz Fischer who travels at the head of a business delegation as it was done these weeks as well by Austrian interests going to Iraq, Libya and Turkmenistan. Please note that the new Embassy in Doha is being opened while Austria is busy saving money by closing up to 30 Consulates and Embassies elsewhere i.e. in Chicago!


We posted the above on November 18th, then on November 19th we found on the CNN/GPS the following, and we realize that our AMERICA IN A NEW ASIA RESET editorial note was our correct reading of the news. Again – we expect to enlarge on this very soon.

Listen Up! What the world thinks of ‘America’s Pacific Century.’

Editor’s Note: Every week, the Global Public Square brings you some must-read editorials from around the world addressed to America and Americans. The series is called Listen up, America!

President Obama is focused on East Asia and the Pacific this week. After attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Hawaii last weekend, Obama traveled to Australia where, on Thursday, he addressed the parliament. His message: “In the Asia Pacific in the 21st century, the United States of America is all in.”

Later that day, President Obama traveled to the city of Darwin along the northern coast, where the U.S. announced it will station 2,500 Marines. The summit and travel, which also include a stop in Indonesia, are seen as the U.S. shifting attention to the Pacific – and to a rising China – as troops withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. Here are some of the international responses to what Secretary of State Clinton recently dubbed “America’s Pacific Century.”

Australia – “Despite the rising economic, diplomatic and military reach of China, U.S. supremacy is the bedrock of security in the region,” says an editorial in the Sydney-based Australian.

“[The United States] underwrites the security of South Korea and Japan, it quells the tensions across the Taiwan Straits, it keeps the seaways open, bolsters the counter-terrorism operations of countries such as Indonesia, and even, in a less direct fashion, has added ballast to Australia’s life-saving interventions in East Timor and the Solomon Islands. And when natural disasters, such as the Boxing Day tsunami strike, the region looks automatically to Washington, not Beijing, for assistance.”

Indonesia – NIMBY, or “not in my backyard,” says an editorial in the Jakarta Postof stationing U.S. troops in northern Australia.

“The presence of the U.S. base just south of Indonesia is simply too close for comfort. … there are many fruitful and less threatening ways of increasing U.S. engagement other than building a greater military presence.”

China – “Is there any country in the region that wants the United States to be its leader?” asks Wei Jianhua in China’s state-run Xinhua news. The provided answer: “No.”

“It’s hard to envision what kind of ‘leadership’ the United States aspires to have in the region. What the region really needs – right now – is a strong and reliable partner that can help the region stave off the current financial crisis and seek balanced and sustained growth.”

Japan – “Tokyo and Washington are concerned about how to respond to Beijing,” says an editorial in the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Shimbun.

“China has been rapidly enhancing its influence and becoming more assertive, increasing frictions with other countries in the South China Sea. To lead China in the direction of complying with international rules and working together with its neighbors in the medium and long term, Japan and the United States must closely cooperate with South Korea, Australia and Southeast Asian countries.”

Saudi Arabia — “Really?” asks an editorial in the Jeddah-based Arab News of President Obama saying the Pacific is the top priority.

“The Asia Pacific region is more important than the Middle East with all its crises? More important than solving the Palestinian-Israeli issue? More important than famine and political instability in the Horn of Africa and the dangers of it becoming a hub of international terrorism? More important than the nuclear ambitions that the U.S. is convinced Iran harbors?”

Australia –Sydney Morning Herald editorial says stationing U.S. Marines in Australia is “a significant turn in the direction of Australia’s foreign policy.” While Australia “had been negotiating a potentially tricky course part-way between” the U.S. and China, the “helm has now been turned decisively to one side.”

“Australia would have had much to gain from keeping to its middle course between two great powers. Having taken sides early, though, we have taken a risk. We will find out in coming years how much was at stake in that premature decision.”

China— “Americans should realize that neither side would win in a trade war and must prevent the Obama administration from taking any rash decision,” writes Deng Yuwen in the China Daily.  President Obama, the U.S. Congress and Republican Presidential candidates have in recent weeks sought to pressure China over its currency policy, claiming the yuan is undervalued.

“Many of the goods China exports to the U.S. are inexpensive daily necessities and favored by Americans because of their low prices. Therefore, if the yuan’s value increases by 30 percent, the majority of Americans’ cost of living could go up by a similar percentage.”

Posted by:  

Early in his term, President Obama was too deferential to China. On his Asia trip last week, he sent a clear message that this country is not ceding anything in the Pacific. That is good news.

New York Times EDITORIAL Published November 19th, printed in the November 20, 2011, paper.

President Obama in Asia.

Like President George W. Bush, Mr. Obama’s preference is to engage Beijing in international organizations and agreements in hopes that will encourage China’s leaders to behave more responsibly. It is a sound long-range strategy. But China has made clear that without serious and sustained push-back, it will use its economic and military clout to bully and intimidate its neighbors.

The most brazen example is its broad claim to energy reserves in the South China Sea that are also claimed by five other countries. On Friday, Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, said at an Asian summit meeting that “outside forces” had no right to get involved in the dispute.

On his trip, Mr. Obama insisted he would “seek more opportunities for cooperation with Beijing.” But he also made clear that his patience has limits, at one point saying that China has now “grown up” and should act responsibly in its trade and currency practices.

In Australia, he announced an agreement to deploy 2,500 Marines plus naval ships and aircraft to a base in Darwin starting next year. That is not a huge number, but it is a pointed symbol of America’s interest.

At the same time, we were concerned by Mr. Obama’s declaration to Australia’s Parliament that budget reductions “will not — I repeat, will not — come at the expense of the Asia-Pacific.” Allies, of course, need to hear that. But any new mission in Asia cannot become another excuse for Pentagon planners to avoid making needed cuts.

On his trip, the president also rightly championed the benefits of freer trade — a position made more credible after Congress finally passed the trade deal with South Korea. His push to negotiate a trade deal with eight other Pacific Rim countries is important. He must keep reminding Beijing that it is welcome to join if it makes the necessary economic reforms.

What the United States should not do is overreach. Beijing already suspects that the real American goal is to “contain” its power. Washington must be transparent about its dealings and consult and include China when possible. American and Chinese political leaders have a regular dialogue. The Pentagon needs to do more to cultivate relationships with its resistant counterparts.

Dealing with a rising China requires a deft hand and a willingness to push back when Beijing oversteps. Being there is a big part of it.


Posted on on August 28th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

We posted last week the following –

it dealt mainly with the case of a 4 year old Filipino  girl born in Israel and as such, by all international standards – she was Israeli. But not by Israel government standards. The Israeli law demands the kid to be enrolled in an Israeli school and speak Hebrew. As the school year is starting this week, and some believe that foreign workers create children in order to get permanent status in Israel – the kid has to be expelled before it must be enlisted by law in school/kindergarten. This particular case was so atrocious that even Sara Netanyahu, wife of the Prime Minister, enlisted to help. But this was to no avail. Girl and mother were put on a plane to the Philippines. Father stayed behind in order to continue to be the bread-earner.

Please read previous posting and note that I am enraged!


The Central District Court ruled in a closed-door hearing on Thursday to deport an Israeli-born four-year-old daughter of a Filipino foreign worker. The child’s father, also Filipino, is residing legally in Israel.

The mother, who had been living illegally in Israel for four years with her Israeli born daughter, had petitioned against the deportation.

The petition asked that the mother and daughter be allowed to remain in Israel another month, and then leave voluntarily rather than being forcibly deported.

Sara Netanyahu also got involved in the case, and sent a letter to Interior Minister Eli Yishai asking that he stop the child’s deportation.

Last week, the District Court issued a temporary stay of the deportation orders against them, pending the petition.

Attorney Oded Feller, representing the child and her mother, told the court that while in general illegal residents should be deported, in the case of children the state should put the child’s best interests first.

SARA NETANYAHU meets with four-year-old Ofek, who was deported yesterday despite the intervention of the prime minister’s wife last week.

See more at:  Permalink | | Email This Article Email This Article
Posted in Israel, Philippines


Posted on on June 22nd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (CAI-Asia) and the World Bank through its Development Grant Facility (DGF) launched an Air Pollution and Greenhouse (GHG) Emissions Data Initiative to help policy makers, development agencies and other stakeholders in Asia have better access to air quality and climate change data to further enrich policy development activities and development interventions relevant to energy and transport sectors and urban development.

For inquiries on this initiative or on how to share data, please contact:

  • May Ajero, Air Quality Program Manager: (may (dot) ajero (at)
  • Kaye Patdu, Air Quality Researcher: (kaye (dot) patdu (at)


Call for Contributions:

We would like to invite other institutions, corporations, partnerships, forums and other groups working in this field to contribute and share data on air pollution, GHG emissions and related data and statistics for transport and energy sectors. All contributions will be properly referenced in publications as well as in the online open database.

CAI-Asia’s projects with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and Institute for Transport Policy Studies (ITPS) also contribute to this data initiative.

For more information on:

This program involves conducting a review of availability and quality of air pollution, GHG emissions and related data and statistics for transport and energy sectors. Data collection is now ongoing for these countries – Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. Data and statistics collected through this initiative will be made available through the CitiesACT database. General information regarding data quality and/or data generation process/system will also be provided.

By the end of year, air pollution, GHG emissions and related data and statistics for transport and energy sectors will be partially available in the CitiesACT database.


from: Maria Katherina Patdu
Air Quality Researcher

Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (CAI-Asia Center) Center
T +63 2 395 2843 to 45 | F +63 2 395 2846 | M +63 928 213 7241 |
Unit 3504-05, 35F, Robinsons-Equitable Tower, ADB Avenue, Pasig City, 1605, Philippines


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

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) says it has a membership of 57 States on four continents with a total population of 1.3 billion people. Having seen its map we realize it has also at least three “blocked States” – India, Thailand, and The Philippines  though it has the Moro National Liberation Front as an observer State, a withdrawn State – Zimbabwe, and at least one non-State – Israel that was replaced by Palestine as a member State. Cote d’Ivoire was the last member to enter – it joined in 2001. Russia became an Observer in 2005.

Afghanistan was suspended during the years of Soviet occupation 1980 – March 1989 and Egypt, the fifth largest Islamic population, was suspended May 1979 – March 1984 when it tried for peace in the Middle East.

The organisation attempts to be the collective voice of the Muslim world (Ummah) and the official languages of the organisation are ArabicEnglish, and French.

The flag of the OIC has an overall green background (symbolic of Islam). In the centre, there is an upward-facing red crescent enveloped in a white disc. On the disc the words “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “The Almighty God”) are written in Arabic calligraphy.


The OIC attracted attention at the opening session of the meeting in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on 16 October 2003, where Prime MinisterMahathir Mohamad of Malaysia in his speech argued that the Jews control the world: “They invented socialismcommunismhuman rights, and democracy, so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power.” He also said that “the Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.” The speech was very well received by the delegates, including many high ranking politicians, who responded with standing ovations.”

India, a country that has 161 million Muslim, only Indonesia with 203 million and Pakistan with 174 million have larger Muslim populations then India, was not welcome even as an observer to OIC – this because of its conflict with Pakistan where India would like to have a referendum of the local population as a means to decide the future of Kashmir.

Most OIC member countries are non-democratic. There are no OIC countries which are rated as a “Full Democracy” under the Democracy Index guidelines, and only 3 of the 57 members are rated as high as a “Flawed Democracy.” The rest are rated either an “Authoritarian Regime” or a “Hybrid Regime.”

Only 3 OIC member states were rated as Free in the Freedom in the World report in 2010 based on Political Rights and Civil Liberties in the member countries.

Reporters Without Borders in its 2011 Press Freedom Index rated only Mali and Suriname among the OIC members as having a Satisfactory Situation. All other members had worse ratings ranging from Noticeable Problems to Very Serious Situation.

Freedom of religion is severely restricted in most OIC member states. In 2009, the US Department of State cited OIC members Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan as being Countries of Particular Concern, where religious freedom is severely violated.

On August 5, 1990, 45 foreign ministers of the OIC adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam to serve as a guidance for the member states in the matters of human rights in as much as they are compatible with the Sharia, or Quranic Law… )

OIC created the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. While proponents claim it is not an alternative to the UDHR, but rather complementary, Article 24 states, “All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah.” and Article 25 follows that with “The Islamic Shari’ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.” Attempts to have it adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council have met increasing criticism, because of its contradiction of the UDHR, including from liberal Muslim groups.  Critics of the CDHR state bluntly that it is “manipulation and hypocrisy,” “designed to dilute, if not altogether eliminate, civil and political rights protected by international law” and attempts to “circumvent these principles [of freedom and equality].”

Human Rights Watch says that OIC has “fought doggedly” and successfully within the United Nations Human Rights Council to shield states from criticism, except when it comes to criticism of Israel. For example, when independent experts reported violations of human rights in the 2006 Lebanon War, “state after state from the OIC took the floor to denounce the experts for daring to look beyond Israeli violations to discuss Hezbollah’s as well.” OIC demands that the council “should work cooperatively with abusive governments rather than condemn them.” HRW responds that this works only with those who are willing to cooperate; others exploit the passivity.

The OIC has been criticised for diverting its activities solely on Muslim minorities within majority non-Muslim countries but putting a taboo on the plight, the treatment of ethnic minorities within Muslim-majority countries, such as the oppression of the Kurds in Syria, the Ahwaz inIran, the Hazars in Afghanistan, the Baluchis in Pakistan, the ‘Al-Akhdam‘ in Yemen, or the Berbers in Algeria.

The formation of the OIC happened shortly after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Leaders of Muslim nations met in Rabat to establish the OIC on September 25, 1969.

OIC is run out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, its first Secretary General was Tunku Abdul Ramman of Malaysia (1971-1973) and its current Secretary General, since 2005, is Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu of Turkey.…

We found the following map of substantial interest for understanding if there is a realistic chance for change in the Arab world and in the Islamic world at large.

Much of the attention of observers of UN debates on terrorism was on how Contradictions between OIC’s and other U.N. member’s understanding of terrorism has stymied efforts at the U.N. to produce a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. The world must be reassured that new leaderships of Islamic States will not equivocate on terrorism – whatever true sentiments they may harbor – it is important to agree that terrorism is not an acceptable tool for attainment of political goals.

The list of OIC Member States: Afghanistan · Albania · Algeria · Azerbaijan · Bahrain · Bangladesh · Benin · Burkina Faso · Brunei ·

 Cameroon · Chad · Comoros · Côted’ Ivoire · Djibouti · Egypt · Gabon · Gambia · Guinea · 
Guinea Bissau · Guyana · Indonesia · Iran · Iraq ·
 Jordan · Kuwait ·Kazakhstan · Kyrgyzstan · Lebanon · Libya · 

Maldives · Malaysia · Mali · Mauritania · Morocco · Mozambique · Niger · Nigeria ·Oman · Pakistan · 

Palestine · Qatar · Saudi Arabia · Senegal · SierraLeone ·

 Somalia · Sudan · Suriname · Syria · Tajikistan ·Turkey · Tunisia · Togo · Turkmenistan · Uganda · 

Uzbekistan · United Arab Emirates · Yemen

The Observers are: Bosnia and Herzegovina · Central African Republic · Russia · Thailand · Northern Cyprus (asTurkish Cypriot State), Moro National Liberation Front, Russia.


Posted on on September 21st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Overcoming rural poverty depends on a healthy environment, where local people can find sustainable solutions to their challenges. The Equator Initiative was launched in 2002 by UNDP’s Jim McNeil in order to help the search for sustainability by safeguarding biodiversity resources.

Every two years, the Equator Initiative partnership awards prizes to the 25 outstanding community efforts each of which receives $5,000 with five selected for special recognition and an additional $15,000 each. The recipients come from three groups:


The announcement was “After an extensive process of evaluation, the Equator Initiative’s Technical Advisory Committee has selected an exceptional subset of 25 winning initiatives, from a total pool of nearly 300 nominations from 66 different countries.”


Asia & the Pacific:

Latin America & the Caribbean:

Obviously, we have no problem with the choices, nor with the fact that the large countries of Kenya, Indonesia, Philippines, Brazil, and Mexico got two prizes each, nor that the two Mega-States got next to nothing – China nothing and India one – but we do wonder how it is that the Independent Pacific Island States, and the Independent Caribbean Island States, coincidentally both groups, got absolutely nothing. Does this mean that the rebelious SIDS and AOSIS, as groups, are in UN disfavor? They happen to be in the Tropics and quite a few are biodiversity very rich!


The judges were:
Her Royal Highness Princess Basma Bint Talal of Jordan
Robert Edward “ted” Turner III, The father of it all and benefactor of The UN Foundation
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz of the Third World Tebtebba Foundation
M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman of the MSSRF Resarch Foundation
Steven J.McCormick, President, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Dr. Gro Brubdtland, Former Prime Minister of Norway and mother of it all
Professor Elinor Ostrom, Nobel Laureate.
The two specially honored NGO individuals:
Philippe Cousteau, third generation to the famous family,
Julia Marton-Lefevre, Director General of IUCN.
The three specially honored communities:
Mavis Hatlane for Makuleke Community of Pafuri Camp, South Africa,
Maria Alejandra Velasco for Consejo Regional Tsimane’ Mosetene of Pilon Lajas, Bolivia,
Diep Thi My Hanh for Bambu Village of Phu An, Viet Nam.
To increase our “puzzlement” – here the announcement how the UN General Assembly intends to treat this year the Small Island States in their deliberations – this was the only time we found a notion for their special problems:
Saturday, 25 September:
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Round table 2 — Enhancing international support for small island developing States.


Posted on on March 15th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Futures of the Obama Administration:

Dan Rather says the President must show resolve and steel. This was echoed by Helene Cooper (He must start showing his accomplishments) and Joe Klein (people want to see him crack the whip). Despite this 11 said he must play to the center and only one said he must play to the left.

There is no contradiction here – all agreed that the Democratic base is a varied coalition while the Republican base is the Republican idiosyncratic right (a much less flattering word was used).

So what do the Democrats need now? The answer in the TV and Internet age is that you must be authentic and have a conversation with the broad constituency that is the country.


Helene Cooper reminded us that in Foreign countries Obama did very well – now he will have a huge welcome in Indonesia and the Tea Party folks will say that this proves he is not from here. But they may overplay because again the President will show he can raise in the world the essence of an ideal. Indonesia is a poor country in recession and a probable breeding ground for Al Qaeda with a war going on in nearby Philippines.

Joe Klein kept repeating that even in the US people rank Obama’s foreign policy much more then his economic policy – so some will say that when he goes overseas to take of the news the needed US internal economic policy – he does not face the economy.

But above is not correct – he actually goes to the energy markets – Indonesia, then India, and probably after that South Africa. This follows the trip he made to China. So there is a pattern here.

Also – we were reminded that Iran has an operation to extract Uranium in a remote location in Venezuela – and yes – there is now a daily flight from Tehran to Caracas while there is only a weekly flight from Caracas to Bogota. AHA – is this not what we say all the time since Copenhagen? Obama needs to have in the White House a clear Western Hemisphere desk in order to be able to do all these other needed activities that are mainly Asia oriented.

We learned that Rahm Emanuel – the White House pragmatist – said all the time – the futures are ENERGY and JOBS. That should have been the laser guided policy from day one.

On the Israeli Palestinian issue, with the latest misery for all to see and a consensus building that the killing in Dubai and the slap to Vice President Biden, were “botched-on-purpose” events. Simply – they are so botched that they must have been on purpose and the purpose was that Israel wanted the world to know that they are ready to take responsibility for their future because they do not want to have to pay for complicated world policies that may treat them as collateral.

The two issues with most impact on the Middle East are clearly the global look into the maze of State-to State energy policies and what seems to emerge – a border set between Israel and the West Bank run by the Palestinian Authority. This as a “what-can-be-done” approach to get us out of this impasse. With the AIPAC meeting coming up in Washington – March 21-23, 2010, President Obama out of town, and Vice President Biden having been pushed aside by the Israelis, it remains now for Secretary Hillary Clinton to try to build such an approach for the only two direct factors in the dispute, and the Arab States the US has friendly relationship with. If this is not accepted by the two sides, the best the US can do is to drop this topic from its agenda all together, and wait the sides come back begging for new mediation.

Karl Rove is making the rounds of the TV stations in order to sell his book “Courage and Consequences.” It is him, former VP Cheney, the daughter Liz Cheney (Chris Matthews Calls Liz Cheney ‘Daughter of Dracula’), and pundist Bill Krystal that try to reinvent history. Of interest to US foreign policy is the mention now that the mismanagement of the war in Iraq under the Bush-Cheney Administration was the fault of Turkey – because of their reluctance to allow NATO overflights. Quite true – but did not one look into such things when planning a war?

Gillian Tett of the Financial Times, declared that  US President Obama is liked in the world but not feared. Russia and China are not going to allow greater restrictions on Iran. She also said that Israel is probably not as fearful of Iran as it is assumed because had they had Iran in mind they would not have turned against the US and the UK the way they did. She thinks the events in Dubai were a clear provocation to the UK. France and the UK will go along with the US grudgingly on Iran but others at the UN Security Council, like Lebanon and Brazil will not.

Candy Crowley’s program was underlined with the idea that the gridlock in Washington on health-care has signaled to the world that it also carries no power overseasand that Obama will now stress in his relations to Congress what he already said: “Ignore the Washington Eco Chamber!”


Pakistan turns into a US Administration’s Show-case: At least something that showed some changes for the better.

On Farred Zakaria with Ambassador Richard Holbrooke – “Pakistan is looking up – A victory for Obama. It helped by dangling of showers of aid – so the Hakami faction of the Taliban that was previously tolerated by the military is now being attacked.

Holbrooke finds that the Afghans in Khandahar and Marja in general, want a conservative society but no corruption. They want education including for girls and are mad at the Taliban. The district leader in Marja is an Afghan who returned from Germany. There are returnees and the US encourages also afghans in the US to return and participate in the rebuilding.


With Fareed – The Jeffrey Sachs, Amity Schlaes (conservative formerly with The Wall Street Journal and presently Council of Foreign Relations specialist), and Christa Freeland (global editor-at-large, The Financial Times – middle of the road, right leaning):

The underlying Jeff Sachs dictum: “EVERY DECENT SOCIETY ENSURES CITIZENS HAVE ACCESS TO HEALTH-CARE.” Without reforms of the health-care delivery system we will get nowhere – this was really not discussed yet he said.

The problem is that we have no cost controls so we use four times more Cat-Scans then Switzerland or France.

Freeland concurred  and said THE SYSTEM ENCOURAGES DOCTORS TO DO TOO MUCH! She had found that in the American system you have to fight excessive treatment more then anywhere else. She herself gave birth in Toronto, Paris, New York and the US was worse. She asked why all those Cesarean treatments for first birth in the US? She concluded that it was not only a problem of greed – which it is – but also a problem of the legal system, the high insurance of the profession, that makes doctors more worried and pushes them to prescribe unnecessary treatments. SO – WE ARE BACK TO THE INSURANCE AND TO THE HEALTH-CARE IMPASSE. She also pointed out that 80% of the health-care cost is in the last years of life and this should be something to be looked at also.

The two seemed to agree that with 10% unemployment it is wrong to tie-in health-care to a job – and Freeland suggested HELP RATHER PEOPLE TO BUY AN INSURANCE.

Talking about the economy at large, Jeff Sachs said we were in a panic situation last year – that was removed – but we are out of control with the budget and a burdened debt consumer is no consumer. We risk a downward spiral as for two and a half years we really did nothing on the economy. He predicts that the US is out for a double recession.

Amity Schlaes in all of this was a parody of the Wall Street Journal – “A person who gets a job – not the happy consumer that goes to the mall – is who saves the economy. Which she is obviously right but nowhere in the discussion did we see an indication of how to get there. Cut spending? From where? She brings up Indiana State tax cuts as an example, but Professor Sachs cuts her short by saying the US is already the lowest taxed country in the developed world and we are paralyzed because we cannot do what a civilized country must do. Can we have a value added tax Fareed asks Schlaes and she gives a clear NO!. We read her stuff in the WSJ many times and wonder now what she can do for the Council on Foreign Relations. We thank Fareed Zakaria for having brought her in to the panel so we understand better what US institutions of long-standing have done to split America.

With a 10% of GNP budget gap while the entitlement amount to a total of 15% for Social Security and existing Health-Care, there is just no way that the US can cut itself out of the coming recession without falling back into the ranks of a third world country – whatever the meaning of that term which we clearly do not accept as part of our own parlance. Clearly – Presidential leadership is needed here and plain conversation with the electorate is the way to honestly explain the situation to the public. Do not expect the media to be able to do this public relations job.

David Axelrod on all channels, kept saying that Illinois got 60% insurance increases this year and the President will speak in Ohio where a woman wrote to him that she had to chose between health insurance and her home – so she stopped her insurance. Then when cancer struck – now she will lose her home. This is the biggest driving force of the economy that the Federal Government must take into consideration first. We say power to him.

Further, on Fareed Zakaria’s program, we learned that March 9th was a year since the Wall Street Dow Index hit bottom from which it climbs up again. Banks have recapitalized with new $150 billion to a safe position, managers make fabulous pay again, Timothy Geithner who took the country on a middle road has shown success, refusing to nationalize the banks, but what did this do to the person on main street who will be voting in November?


Intricacies of the Arab and Islamic world:

On the Amanpour program we started with Sheikh Dr. Tahir Ul-Qadri – an Islamic Theologian from London who started the JIHAD-AGAINST-JIHAD movement. He was a former special advisor on Islamic Law to the Pakistani Supreme Court.

He says – No ifs – No buts – Terrorism is Terrorism. Any good intentions cannot allow terrorism.

A terrorist does not reach Shihada (martyrdom) or in lay language – he does not go to heaven – he rather goes to hell!

He was questioned about “Khawarij” in the “Hadit” – the words of the Prophet as reported by men that wrote them down – “whoever fights against the people (that is the believers) has more rights to Allah then others.”

Sheikh Ul Qadri answered that the ideology that says those that are not Muslims – their blood is allowed – he does no accept. He fights for peace and when asked if his life is in danger he said he is not afraid “one has to live for truth and die for truth” – he is thus a jihadist-against jihad.

Elias Khouri is an Arab lawyer living on the West Bank near Jerusalem. Both – his father and his son were killed by other Palestinians as part of their war against Jews. The father back in the pre-Israel days, the son, George Khouri, who went to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in March 2004, when he was mistaken for a Jew.

Elias Khouri paid from his money for the translation into Arabic of the book “A Tale of Love and Darkness” by the famed Israeli author Amos Oz, and had it published in Beiruth so that Arab readers can learn something about the Israelis. This bereaved person wants to help remove prevailing stereotypes in the Middle East.

Amos Oz who can be defined as an Israeli who clearly wants to live in a Middle East mixed environment, depicted in this book the non-heroic ways of the first settlers who lead to the foundation of the State. Elias Khouri says that knowledge is needed to be able to understand if we want to fight them or go along. Since the offer to translate the book, the two families – the Khouri and the Oz families became close friends and visit each other. Amos Oz says that he tried always to put himself in the other’s shoes. Anyone in the Arab world who reads the book will understand the historical events better. Oz says – Imaging the other is a moral thing.


Posted on on November 12th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

Close to the departure of President Obama on his all-important trip to Asia with stops in Tokyo November 12th, Singapore November 13-15, Shanghai November 15th, Beijing November 16-18, and Seoul November 18-19, the Japan Society has planned co-incidentally the event we are reporting about here.

Japan is the only original OECD member in Asia, as such Japan clearly feels justifiably it is a US prime partner in Asia. It also was clearly instrumental in nailing down the 1987 Kyoto Protocol to The Framework Convention on Climate Change, and hopes that this material will continue to be the base for future climate negotiations. That was the basis for having co-organized and hosted  the following meeting – November 10th.


Copenhagen & Beyond: A Multilateral Debate about Climate Change Policy.
Green Japan Series
Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at the Japan Society, New York.

The positions and participation of Japan, China and the United States in any successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol will help determine its success or failure. In a Tuesday November 10, 2009 panel, at the Japan Society, New York, Masayoshi Arai, Director, JETRO New York, Special Advisor, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI); The Honorable Zhenmin Liu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations; Elliot Diringer, Vice President, International Strategies, Pew Center on Global Climate Change; and Takao Shibata, chair of the working group that drafted the Kyoto Protocol, debated the direction of international climate change policy.

It was Moderated by Jim Efstathiou, Correspondent, Bloomberg News, and co-organized by the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs


Takao Shibata, who is now a Chancellor Lecturer at the University of Kansas and Japan Consul General in Kansas City,mentioed that Japan is ready to commit to a 2020 reduction of 25% in emissions provided that there is FAIR and EFFECTIVE agreement with a VIGUROUS COMPLIANCE agreement as part of it. He stressed that the problem with Kyoto was that there was no compliance paragraph in the Protocol. All it said was that we postpone decision.

The OBJECTIVE must be: THE STABILIZATION OF CO2 CONCENTRATION IN THE ATMOSPHERE rather then fighting over figures of temperature increase or concentrations in parts per milion numbers. We have already a Framework he said – the Copenhagen process should be about STABILIZATION. Later he added that we must at least agree to a 2050 position.

Mr. Masayoshi Arai, who is in New York since June 2009, with The Japaese External Trade Organization (JETRO), after having held 16 positions within Japan Government, includingthe Prime Minister’s task force that created the Japan Consumer Protection Agency, and with The Fair Trade Commission and Agency for Natural Resouces and Energy and its Research Institute, Supervised manufacturing industries in their CO2 emissions reduction, and has also an MBA from Wharton, probably because of his present government trade position, was rather careful in what he said. He said that we ned something “meaningful”  for global warming  and left the Japanese point of view to Professor Shibata.


Eliot Diringer whose organization, the Washington based Pew Center, is a link between Environmentalism, industry and government made it clear that what is lacking is a legal architecture in place to deal with the problems created by climate change to which now Professor Shibata answered on the spot that the history is such that already in Berlin, later in Kyoto, the US was against a legal concept – that is a clear 15 year old problem. In Kyoto, the US Vice President came to seal the Protocol in full knowledge that it is unratifiable in Washington. Shibata does not want a repeat of this with a US that is in no position to ratify an agreement.

Diringer came back with the suggestion that he can see that Developing countries will accept self prescribed domestic reductions and will request an agreement that makes this possible for them to do so. That means a new FRAMEWORK that is more flexible then the original.


Ambassador Zhenmin Liu, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the UN in New York since 2006, in charge of China’s participation on the Second Committee at the UN, with prior experience at the UN in Geneva and as Director-General of the Treaty and Law Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been involved in Climate Change negotiations for China. He was actually the only member of the panel entitled to express a national negotiating position, and he did indeed come through.

Ambassador Liu said that he cannot have now a document to replace Kyoto – this lines him up with what might be a Japanese interest, but clearly is no answer to the problems that were pointed out at why Kyoto was a failure.

But then he also said that you need a GLOBAL CAP for the GHG emissions that must then take into account, when talking about individual nations, their level of industrialization.

A certain raport evolved between him and Washingtonian Diringer.

It was agreed that there is the need for Technology Innovation, Technology Cooperation, and Technology Transfer.

Diringer said that China is very well positioning itself for the green technology economy. People in the US start to understand that the US will lose the competition for future technology and there must be a start for support in US Congress for energy action right now.

These exchanges gave me an opening to ask mty question about what goes on right now – the days that President Obama plans for his trip to Asia with a long stopover in China.

I started my question to ambassador Liu by saying that on the internet there is a lot of talk about a G-2 US-China agreement needed to jump start the Copenhagen negotiations, and I saw visually the Ambassador cringe.  to this idea of a G-2. I continued by asking that what can we expect as an outcome from the meetings in Beijing if there is anything he could tell us as we believe that some concluding material was negotiated prior to the deision for this trip considering tha this is in effect the second meeting between the leaders?

I was honored with a long answer that included several main points.

The first point is that the US has accepted Kyoto and I guess China does not want to renegotiate Kyoto.

Then, China has 20% of the world population the US only 5%, but China has only a fraction of the GDP per capita then the US, so there is no G-2 situation here. That must have been the reason for the cringing – China does not want to lose its place as leader of the underdeveloped nations.

Secondly – this is not a US – China negotiation but a negotiation for all groups.

Thirdly, there is place for clean energy cooperation, bilateral programs and projects – to jointly use clean technology.


Professor Shibata added that we talk of the atmosphere where there are no national boundaries. We talk of sovereign areas only on the surface of the earth – and we must realize that the effects turn up in the air and we have no national control of the air.

Further, he said that in the west when something bad happens, the first thing we do is we sue the polluter – ask him to pay. He continued saying “I would encourage everyone to think about that.”

Mr. Diringer added that the CDM was introduced to harness market forces to get reduction of CO2 emissions at lowes cost.


To summarize – it was nice for Japan to try to host a US-China debate before moves that will inevitably have to bring the US and China closer together. To follow up – let us look at President Obama’s itinerary to get further in depth to what a reorientation of the US towards Asia could mean.

Japan, South Korea, and China are trying to form an East Asia Trilateral grouping with a Free Trade Agreement among the three countries. Obviously, this will open the Chinese market to Japan and Korea and there is no way for the US, with its own effective NAFTA agreement with Canada and Mexico. Japan wants thus perhaps more then just be a pivot in US – Chiba negotiations, it rather has also to make sure that it can hold on to its own agreements with both main countries. President Obama has thus quite a few non-climate topics to talk about in his Yokyo and Seoul stops.

The second big stop is in Singapore where he will meet the 21 members of APEC: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong (part of China), Indonesia, Japan,  Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, The Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Thailand, The United States, and Viet Nam. This will be the reintroduction of the US to the Pacific region in general – an area that the locals contend was totally neglected by the US in the eight years of the Bush administration. A main point in this meeting will be to help redirect the participating economies from export to the US to supply to their local populations – this so that they help both areas – their own and the US economy as well.

Will they also consult on whom to back for the job of UN Secretary-General in 2010? That is about the time to start this sort of negotiations, and Singapore seems to be the right place to look for the best viable candidate.

Eventually, the Third leg of the trip – the stops  in China – will have to be the clear main target of the trip – as said here by Ambassador Liu, the business deals in clean energy that can underpin both economies  (US and China) so they become an example for cooperation on climate change that presents direct benefits to economies looking for sustainable growth, that is a match to the needs of the people and the climate as well –  this is what we call Sustainable Development that is mutual – for the newly industrializing nation and for the phasing out of the old polluting industries of the past.


for information from President Obama’s Asian trip we recommend:


Posted on on September 2nd, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (



Posted on on August 1st, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

The following are the top 28 finalists in the Official 2009 New 7 Wonders of Nature competition – nominated from among hundreds of sites around the world that have been proposed.

see please: and you can vote – for up to 7 of the 28 list – at that link.

you can vote for your choice of 7 on line, by phone, or text message. It is expected that one billion people will vote and the winner will be announced in 2011.

A similar effort two years ago elected seven manmade wonders generated considerable publicity. We backed at that time Machu Picchu, Peru

These selections are being organized by a Swiss filmmaker and entrepreneur, Bernard Weber, and the committee that chose the 28 finalists included Federico Mayor, former chief of UNESCO, and Rex Weyler, co-founder of Greenpeace International.

Like everything else that has a UN connection, obviously such selections will be politicized beyond the simple angle of national pride – just see the country called Chinese Taipei for what most call Taiwan.

In this year of climate change we thing the Amazon will get the world’s nod, but watching in Vietnam (it is Halong Bay) how a whole country can get beyond a particular location we would have said that China could muster the vote, but will they do it for Taipei?

From among the many places on the list that we have been to – I am voting as Numero Uno for the Iguazu Falls.






























From the competition on the 7 Man-made wonders – a stamp collection from Gibraltar:

For all media inquiries and interview requests, please contact:

Tia B. Viering, Head of Communications
Mobile: +41 79-762-2784
Phone: +49 89 489 033 58 (Munich office)
Email at


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

The New York Headquartes of the ASIA SOCIETY


Asia Society and Museum
725 Park Avenue at 70th Street, New York City
Box Office Information: To purchase tickets please visit us online Or call – (M-F 10am – 5pm) 212517-ASIA (2742)

May 26, 2009

Discussion comming in June 2009:

Monday, June 1, 2009 7:00 PM (WITH LIVE WEBCAST)

One common feature of the stimulus plans introduced in both China and the U.S. is the surge in funding for “green” efforts, from mass transit and green housing, to clean coal and smart grids. But our two countries remain, far and away, the largest emitters of carbon dioxide that imperils the planet. Can China reduce emissions in time? Can Beijing implement sustainable development goals without undermining China’s high growth rate—already in jeopardy due to the slowing global economy? And how do China’s efforts fit in to the larger, global effort at dealing with the climate crisis?

Jeffrey D. Sachs
, Director of Earth Institute at Columbia, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University, is uniquely qualified to reflect on China’s role in the global climate game. Sachs is author of many books including, Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet and The End of Poverty, and serves as Special Advisor to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Following remarks, Orville Schell, Director of the Center on US-China Relations, will join Dr. Sachs on stage for a conversation about China’s environmental challenges in a global context


Tuesday, June 2, 2009 6:30 PM (WITH LIVE WEBCAST)

The collapse of the controversial truce between the government of Pakistan the Taliban in Swat and a broadening military offensive in the north-west has created a humanitarian crisis in Pakistan. According to military officials and international refugee agencies, the number of people who have fled fighting has increased to more than 1 million. Prime Minister Gilani has already appealed to the world for help.

A Conversation with
Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations
George Rupp, President, International Rescue Committee
Mahnaz Ispahani, Independent Scholar & Foundation Consultant; Former Senior Fellow for South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations

Please join us for a discussion for an update on the current situation as well as on what Pakistan and the world can and must do to respond.

Policy programs at the Asia Society are generously supported by the Nicholas Platt Endowment for Public Policy
Photo Credit: TARIQ MAHMOOD/AFP/Getty Images


Private-Sector Approaches to Water Management for the Poor
Wednesday. June 3, 2009 12:30 PM
Innovations in Microfinance Series

Approximately 1.1 billion people lack clean water supplies and 2.7 billion have no access to proper sanitation. To combat conditions that lead to sickness and disease, low income families across Asia are asking for clean water and improved sanitation to keep their families healthy and productive. Sophisticated modern piped water networks are too expensive for most developing countries and poor people living in the slums often pay 5 to 10 times more per liter of water than wealthy people living in the same city. Sensing a business opportunity, microfinance organizations are beginning to explore the market for making water more accessible to the poor. Learn about innovative private sector microfinance approaches to water management that have been used for a range of purposes from purchasing household water connections and clean water storage units, like rainwater harvesting tanks to the construction of household latrines.

Opening remarks by Bruce Schlein, Vice President, Corporate Sustainability, Citi
Claire Lyons, Manager, PepsiCo Foundation
Joe Madiath, Founder and Executive Director, Gram Vikas, a rural development NGO, and Founding Board Member, BASIX (India)
Paul Sathianathan, Executive Director, Gramalaya Urban and Rural Development Initiatives and Network (GUARDIAN) (India)
Kurt Soderlund, CEO, Safe Water Network (USA)
Gary White, Executive Director and Co-founder, WaterPartners International (USA)
Moderator: Nicola Armacost, Managing Director & Co-Founder, Arc Finance




A New Indian Government: The Election Results and Their Implications
Thursday, June 4, 2009 8:30 AM (WITH LIVE WEBCAST)

With the conclusion of the five-stage voting that spanned a month, the world’s largest democracy once again showcased its democratic credentials in its 15th General Election. Having received the largest number of votes, the Indian National Congress (INC) is now engaged in cobbling together a coalition government. What is the makeup of the new coalition government going to look like? What can we read from the election results? How might the next government’s policies be different from those of the previous UPA government? How might it affect the US-India bilateral relationship? Join us to discuss

these and other pertinent issues.

A Conversation with:

Kanchan Chandra, Associate Professor, Wilf Family Department of Politics, New York University
Pramit Palchaudhuri, Senior Editor, The Hindustan Times (via teleconference)
Sanjay Ruparelia, Assistant Professor, Political Science and Faculty Fellow, the India China Institute, New School for Social Research




Philippine Politics and the 2010 Presidential Elections:

Time for Change or More of the Same?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009 – 8:30 AM (WITH LIVE WEBCAST)

Senator Manny Villar, Congress of the Philippines, discusses the current political climate in the lead up to the 2010 Presidential elections. The Philippines has had strong economic performance in recent years but the political system continues to be marked by corruption, attempted coups and the powerful influence of patronage at the local level. The 2010 presidential elections will be a major event in Asia as the Arroyo government comes under term limits. Senator Villar has over 15 years of experience in Philippine electoral politics as a member of the House of Representatives in the 1990s and in the
Senate beginning in 2001 and will speak on the need for reform and how the
future President should face such challenges.



Posted on on April 29th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

Indigenous Wisdom Against Climate Change

By Stephen Leahy*
ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Apr 28 (Tierram̩rica) РWhile industrialised countries like Canada continue to emit ever-higher levels of greenhouse-effect gases, indigenous peoples around the world are working to survive and adapt to an increasingly dangerous climate.

Over millennia, indigenous peoples have developed a large arsenal of practices that are of potential benefit today for coping with climate change, including some holistic and refreshingly practical ideas.

“Why not give automobiles and planes a day of rest? And then later on, two days of rest. That would cut down on pollution,” suggested Carrie Dann, an elder from the Western Shoshone Nation, whose ancestral lands extend across the western United States.

Dann, winner of the 1993 Right Livelihood Award – known as the Alternative Nobel Prize – for her efforts to protect ancestral lands, made her proposal before the 400 delegates gathered in Anchorage, Alaska, Apr. 20-24 for the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change.

Dann warned that Mother Nature is getting warmer and the “fever” needed to be cured. “We see many range (grassland) fires in my territory, it is getting so hot,” she said.

To prevent similar uncontrolled wildfires that have burned up large portions of Australia and killed hundreds of people in recent years, the Aborigines of Western Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory, are using traditional fire practices to reduce such wildfires.

Preventing these fires also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and, for the first time in the world, these Aborigines have sold 17 million dollars’ worth of carbon credits to industry, generating significant new income for the local community, according to a report presented in Anchorage.

Australia’s Aborigines have traditionally used controlled burning following the rainy season to create barriers to stop the intense wildfires later during the dry season.

Wildfires account for a substantial portion of Australia’s carbon emissions and have been very destructive. However, in recent years few Aborigines live on the land any more so there have been fewer controlled burns. But now there is a new role to play in the fight against global warming.

According to Sam Johnston, of the Tokyo-based United Nations University, a summit co-sponsor, it is in the world’s best interest to take into account indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge.

In Asia, indigenous people are developing diverse crop varieties and utilising different cropping patterns, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Filipina leader and chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, told the delegates.

They are also involved in sustainable agro-forestry and energy production based on small-scale biomass and micro-dam projects.

On the Indonesian island of Bali, indigenous peoples are doing reef rehabilitation work and protecting mangroves. In the Philippines, they are mapping ancestral waters and developing an integrated management plan.

“Many are doing these things on their own, with no support,” said Tauli-Corpuz.

In Honduras, faced with increasing hurricane strikes and drastic weather changes, the Quezungal people have developed a farming method that involves planting crops under trees so the roots anchor the soil and reduce the loss of harvests during natural disasters.

Indigenous peoples in Guyana have adopted a nomadic lifestyle, moving to more forested zones during the dry season, and are now planting manioc, their main staple, in alluvial plains where it was previously too moist to grow crops.

Farmers in Belize are returning to traditional agricultural practices and moving up to higher ground, other delegates reported.

In Africa, the Baka Pygmies of southeast Cameroon and the Bambendzele of Congo have developed new fishing and hunting methods to adapt to a decrease in precipitation and an increase in forest fires.

Although indigenous peoples have great capacity to adapt, many treaties and international laws guarantee their rights to food and traditional livelihoods, but climate change threatens all of this, according to Andrea Carmen, a member of the Yaqui Indian Nation, of the U.S. southwest.

When the chiefs of the tribes in the western Canadian province of Alberta declared that there should be no more oil production from tar sands, they were ignored, said Carmen who is also executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council.

Alberta’s tar sands oil projects are the major reason why Canada’s latest greenhouse gas inventory increased four percent from 2006 to 2007. That increase puts the country 33.8 percent over its commitments established in the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, in force since 2005.

But indigenous peoples are also wary of recent actions by governments and industries undertaken in response to climate change, such as building wind farms and biofuel plants, because these are often located on or directly affect their lands and livelihoods, says Gunn-Britt Retter, of Finland’s Saami Council.

“We have the knowledge of how to live through these climate changes. We need to use traditional knowledge to help all our cultures live through these changes,” Retter said.

“Our message to the world is that we need full and effective participation at the national and international levels in order for our cultures to survive these changes,” he added.

It has been 17 years since the first U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change meetings were held to solve the climate crisis, said Sheila Watt-Cloutier, the former head of the Inuit Circumpolar Council.

“We must act quickly… This is the last chance to take control,” she told the delegates by videoconference from her home in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. “The world needs the wisdom of our cultures.”

(*Correspondent Stephen Leahy’s travel to Alaska was financed by the United Nations University and Project Word, a U.S.-based non-governmental organisation for media diversity. This story was originally published by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank.)


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

Getting Obama to focus on Pacific diplomacy

MANILA — Unlike his predecessor, U.S. President Barack Obama is popular from the Atlantic to the Pacific. He has reached out to the Muslim world and pledged to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without delay. The nations of Asia have a particular affection for him, owing to the years he spent as a child in Indonesia.

If Obama improves America’s global standing with support from political heavyweights such as Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Bob Gates, National Security Adviser James Jones (a former NATO Supreme Commander), and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki (a former U.S. Army chief), he should be able to ask more from America’s allies, particularly for NATO to send more troops to Afghanistan. He will also be able to push Israel to reinvigorate the derailed Middle East peace process.

Although his national security team consists of people who largely supported the war in Iraq, Obama has made it clear that his agenda includes withdrawing troops from that country. International good will probably be the key to his success, if not in re-establishing American hegemony, then at least in making America the “indispensable nation” once more.

Although Obama is likely to give priority in his diplomacy to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he cannot take the Asia-Pacific region’s stability for granted. The sources of uncertainty are many: tension between South and North Korea; anxiety over nuclear proliferation posed by cooperation between North Korea and Iran; managing the rise of China and India; and continued Islamist extremism on the Indian subcontinent, particularly Pakistan, as well as in Southeast Asia, where al-Qaida has established a second front through Indonesia’s Jemaah Islamiyah.

Vast changes in America’s presence across the Asia-Pacific region are under way and are likely to continue. So far, none of these changes have unsettled the region. Substantial redeployments of U.S. military forces and assets, triggered by the need for additional troops in Afghanistan and by problems over the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement, are already taking place.

Media reports indicate, for example, that nearly 25,000 marines, soldiers, family members and civilian employees are to descend on the tiny island of Guam in the next five years to ease the concentration of U.S. forces on the Japanese island of Okinawa without pulling back too far from the flash points of Taiwan and North Korea.

But the future of security in the Pacific should not be left to U.S. decision-makers alone. Regional leaders must now develop their own strategy to transform Asia’s many challenges into opportunities, with Obama playing the role of “good neighbor” who expects other peoples to help themselves and put their own houses in order before turning to the U.S. for assistance.

The Philippines is in an advantageous position to take advantage of the many diplomatic opportunities that will be generated by Obama’s potential activism in the Pacific. To be sure, the country’s “America” card — the result of the two countries’ long-standing strategic relationship (I was educated at West Point and fought alongside U.S. troops in the Korean War) — must be played carefully and not be taken for granted. But it offers the potential for a relationship of the sort that arises only between countries with deep and many-layered ties.

By strategizing “out of the box” and finding ways to link Obama’s Asian agenda with that of their own nations, Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and other Asian leaders will be able to truly make the Pacific the central focus of the Obama administration’s diplomacy.

Fidel V. Ramos was president of the Philippines from 1992 until 1998. © 2009 Project Syndicate (