Our website has proposed that geopolitics are headed to a new structure were it is needed to have a billion people in order to be considered a World Power. As such we proposed that besides China and India, the other World powers will be -
- an Anglo-American Block led by the US and that will include also the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and as well Mexico and Japan;
- an Islamic Block led by Turkey or Indonesia that will stretch from Mauritania to Indonesia;
- and a block “Of the Rest” that will be led by Brazil and include, with a few exceptions based on the US led Trans-Pacific Partnership (the TPP) , Latin America, Africa, the SIDS, parts of Asia.
We see the recent news of Brazil defeating Mexico for the leadership of the WTO as an important step in above direction.
Brazil Wins Leadership of the World Trade Organization
Brazilian Roberto Azevêdo has been chosen over Mexican candidate Herminio Blanco as the newest director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on May 7. El Palenque, AnimalPolitico’s debate forum for experts, discusses the effects this win will have on Mexican diplomacy, Brazil’s role in trade liberalization, and the prominence of the BRICS on the world stage. Azevêdo will be the first Latin American to head the WTO.
The Financial Times wrote May 7, 2013:
So, Roberto Azevêdo, Brazil’s candidate for director general of the WTO, has pipped his rival Herminio Blanco of Mexico for the job.
But there is still a question to be answered: Who won? The man or the country?
Between Azevêdo and Blanco, there may not be much to choose. Both have impressive credentials. Azevêdo, a career diplomat in one of the world’s most polished diplomatic services, has been Brazil’s ambassador to the WTO since 2008. He knows the organisation inside out. Blanco is a businessman steeped in trade, a trade consultant who was formerly Mexico’s trade minister and its chief negotiator during preparation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
If the race was between two technocrats, it must have been a photo finish.
But what if the WTO members voted for the country, not the man? Then, it was a matter of chalk and cheese. Disgruntled Mexicans – whose pride will have taken a severe knock – will call this a victory of protectionism over free trade.
It will also be a victory of the developing world over the developed one.
Mexico, which has free trade agreements with 44 different countries, is the new poster child of developed world policies at work in the developing world. Brazil has free trade agreements with nobody, and has shown a tendency to renegotiate what agreements it does have as soon as they become inconvenient – not least its auto agreement with Mexico. Many developing countries – in Africa and Asia as well as in Latin America – will have felt the Brazilian was much more likely to protect their fledgling manufacturers and farmers than was the Mexican. Many of those countries, especially in Africa, already have closer ties with Brazil than they do with Mexico.
In an interview with Reuters, Azevêdo played down the issue of nationality:
To those who say that, under Azevêdo, the WTO will lose sight of its mission to promote free trade, others will reply that it never had one in the first place.
But Tuesday’s decision will make a big difference. No matter how pure a technocrat he is, Azevêdo will find it hard to fend off the influence of Brasília. It was the Brazilian that won, and not the Mexican.
Related FT reading:
SO, WE WILL SAY – THE FT AGREE WITH OUR POINT OF VIEW THAT THE US CANDIDATE – MEXICO – LOST TO THE CANDIDATE OF THE THIRD WORLD – THAT IS OUR TRUE SIXTH WORLD – WHO WILL STAND UP TO THE BIGGER BOYS OF THE OTHER FIVE WORLDS – SPECIFICALLY THE US – WHO BLATANTLY USE THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FOR THEIR OWN GOOD – EXCLUSIVELY!!!
FURTHER NEWS OF RELEVANCE TO THE NEW WORLD IN THE MAKING:
Former President Bill Clinton announced on May 6 that the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) would be expanding to Latin America in December 2013, with its first meeting set to launch in Rio de Janeiro. He was joined by Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes in making the announcement at the mid-year meeting for his annual conference.
President Dilma Rousseff announced the start of a small business ministry on May 6, saying that government banks will provide up to $7,500 to small businesses in 2013 and will reduce the public loan interest rate from 8 percent to 5 percent beginning on May 31. “The question of small business is indispensable for the country’s future and present,” said Rousseff. Brazil’s estimated 6 million micro and small businesses accounted for 40 percent of the country’s 15 million new jobs from 2001 to 2011.
Brazil plans to hire approximately 6,000 Cuban doctors to work in the country’s rural areas, said Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota on May 6. The Federal Medical Council–a Brazilian doctor’s organization–questioned the island nation’s medical qualifications, but Patriota called Cuba “very proficient in the areas of medicine, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology.” President Dilma Rousseff began the talks in January 2012, and both countries are currently consulting with the Pan American Health Organization to move forward.
The International Monetary Fund’s May 2013 Regional Economic Outlook predicts Latin America’s growth to increase approximately 3.5 percent by the end of the year. But, in an article for The Huffington Post, Director for the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department Alejandro Werner questions whether countries in the region will be able to “adjust policies to preserve macroeconomic and financial stability” after the near-future external benefits, such as easy external financing and high commodity prices, begin to decline.
Volcanoes and Geysers Could Fuel Chilean Energy
Chile will partner with New Zealand to develop its deep exploration drilling and to develop its geothermal energy production. Chile is home to 20 percent of the world’s active volcanoes, which can be harnessed for geothermal energy. However, only 5 percent of the country’s electrical power is attributed to renewable energy resources, reports IPS News.
The Pacific Alliance Creates a Legislative Committee
Heads of Congress from Pacific Alliance members Chile, Colombia, México, and Perú signed an accord to form a Pacific Alliance Inter-Parliamentary Committee on May 6, reports La República. The committee would serve as the legislative arm of the Alliance by developing a framework to approve free trade agreements and distribution of goods, services, and capital under the Alliance. The committee will be officially presented to the Alliance at a legislative session in Chile in June.
Washington to Host Chilean and Peruvian Presidents
Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera and Peru’s President Ollanta Humala will visit Washington D.C. in June to discuss economic relations with President Obama. Piñera’s visit will take place on June 4, and Humala will visit one week later on June 11. The agenda will likely touch on negotiations with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as all three countries hope to develop closer economic ties to Asian markets.
Latest Product From Tech Firms: An Immigration Bill.
J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
By ERIC LIPTON and SOMINI SENGUPTA
Published – THE NEW YORK TIMES: May 4, 2013 177 Comments
WASHINGTON — The television advertisement that hit the airwaves in Florida last month featured the Republican Party’s rising star, Senator Marco Rubio, boasting about his get-tough plan for border security.
Related: Showing Grass-Roots Support for Immigration Overhaul (May 2, 2013)
But most who watched the commercial, sponsored by a new group that calls itself Americans for a Conservative Direction, may be surprised to learn who bankrolled it: senior executives from Silicon Valley, like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, who run companies where the top employees donate mostly to Democrats.
The advertising blitz reflects the sophisticated lobbying campaign being waged by technology companies and their executives.
They have managed to secure much of what they want in the landmark immigration bill now pending in Congress, provisions that would allow them to fill thousands of vacant jobs with foreign engineers. At the same time, they have openly encouraged lawmakers to make it harder for consulting companies in India and elsewhere to provide foreign workers temporarily to this country.
Those deals were worked out through what Senate negotiators acknowledged was extraordinary access by American technology companies to staff members who drafted the bill. The companies often learned about detailed provisions even before all the members of the so-called Gang of Eight senators who worked out the package were informed.
“We are very pleased with the progress and happy with what’s in the bill,” said Peter J. Muller, a former House aide who now works as the director of government relations at Intel. “It addresses many of the issues we’ve been advocating for years.”
Now, along with other industry heavyweights, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the technology companies are trying to make sure the law gets passed — which explains the political-style television advertising campaign, sponsored by a group that has revealed no details about how much money it gets from its individual supporters.
The industry also hopes to get more from the deal by working to remove some regulatory restrictions in the proposal, including on hiring foreign workers and firing Americans.
Silicon Valley was once politically aloof before realizing in recent years that its future profits depended in part on battles here in Washington. Its effort to influence immigration legislation is one of its most sophisticated.
The technology industry “understands there’s probably not a tremendous amount of resistance to their part of the bill,” Mr. Rubio said in an interview last week, saying he welcomed the industry support. “But their future and getting the reform passed is tied to the overall bill.”
The bill has a good chance of winning passage in the Senate. The hardest sell will come in the House, where many conservative Republicans see the deal as too generous to immigrants who came to this nation illegally.
Rob Jesmer, a former top Republican Senate strategist who helps run the new Zuckerberg-backed nonprofit group that sponsored the Rubio ad, insisted that his organization’s push is based on the personal convictions of the executives who donated to the cause and who believe immigration laws need to be changed. Those convictions just happen to line up with what their corporations are lobbying for as well, he said.
“It will give a lot of people who are educated in this country who are already here a chance to remain in the United States,” Mr. Jesmer said, “and encourage entrepreneurs from all over the world to come to the United States and create jobs.”
The profound transition under way inside Silicon Valley companies is illustrated by their lobbying disclosure reports filed in Congress. Facebook’s lobbying budget swelled from $351,000 in 2010 to $2.45 million in the first three months of this year, while Google spent a record $18 million last year.
That boom in spending translates into hiring of top talent in the art of Washington deal-making. These companies have hired people like Joel D. Kaplan, a onetime deputy chief of staff in the Bush administration who now works for Facebook; Susan Molinari, a former House Republican from New York who is now a Google lobbyist; and outside lobbyists like Steven Elmendorf, a former chief of staff to Richard A. Gephardt, a former House majority leader, who works for Facebook.
The immigration fight, which has unified technology companies perhaps more than any other issue, has brought the lobbying effort to new heights. The industry sees it as a fix to a stubborn problem: job vacancies, particularly for engineers.
“We are not able to fill all the jobs that we are creating,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, told the Senate Judiciary Committee late last month.
Chief executives met with President Obama to discuss immigration. Venture capitalists testified in Congress. Their lobbyists roamed the Senate corridors to make sure their appeals were considered in the closed-door negotiations among the Gang of Eight, which included Mr. Rubio and Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who have been particularly receptive.
In the many phone calls and hallway asides on Capitol Hill this year, those lobbyists realized that they had to give a little to get a lot of what they wanted. At the top of their wish list was an expansion of a temporary visa program called the H-1B, which allows companies to hire foreigners for jobs in the United States. There are a limited number of H-1Bs available each year, and competition for them is fierce.
Companies like Facebook and Intel use them largely to bring workers to their own offices. Consulting companies like Tata, based in India, use them to supply computer workers at American banks, oil companies and sometimes software firms.
Critics of H-1B visas point out that they mostly bring workers at the lowest pay scales. The technology industry’s main rivals in these negotiations were lawmakers who have long been critical of guest worker visa programs, chiefly Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, and groups that represent American engineers.
Silicon Valley lobbyists told Senate negotiators they agreed that the H1-B visa system had been subject to abuse. Go after the companies that take advantage of guest worker visas and give us the benefit of the doubt, they told the Senate staff members, according to interviews with several lobbyists.
“You know and we know there are some bad people in this system,” is how Scott Corley, the president of Compete America, a technology industry coalition, recalled the conversation. “We are simply trying to make sure that as they are pursuing the rats they are not sinking the ship.”
That acknowledgment, several lobbyists said privately, helped unlock an impasse in negotiations.
What emerged was a Senate measure that allows American technology companies to procure many more skilled guest worker visas, raising the limit to 110,000 a year from 65,000 under current law, along with a provision to expand it further based on market demand. The bill would also allow these companies to move workers on guest visas more easily to permanent resident visas, freeing up more temporary visas for these companies.
But it requires them to pay higher wages for guest workers and to post job openings on a Web site, so Americans can have a chance at them. And it draws a line in the sand between these technology firms and the mostly Indian companies that supply computer workers on H-1B visas for short-term jobs at companies in the United States.
“This provision accomplishes the goal of discouraging abuse of the program while providing an important incentive for companies to bring top talent to work in the United States for the long-term, where they will contribute to our economy,” said Mr. Kaplan, the former Republican White House aide who is now the vice president for United States public policy at Facebook.
The bill is written in such a way that it penalizes companies that have a large share of foreign guest workers among their United States work forces, eventually making it impossible for them to bring in any more. It allows large American companies that have many more American workers to continue to import workers. And it includes a provision that exempts from the guest worker count those employees that companies sponsor for green cards, essentially a bonus to American businesses like Facebook whose work forces are growing fast.
Companies that provide temporary foreign workers say the move is intended to push them out of the American market.
These companies, mostly based in India, have far less good will on Capitol Hill. Their hope now rests with convincing lawmakers that it would be counterproductive to punish them.
“Why are we in the United States? We are there because American corporations want us,” said Som Mittal, the president of the National Association of Software and Services Companies, which represents Indian companies. “We help them become competitive and serve their customers better.”
In interviews, Mr. Rubio and an aide to Mr. Schumer said the draft bill takes a balanced approach to penalize those who do not hire American workers for jobs here. They say the proposal is good for the country, even as it may benefit American technology firms.
In March, some of the biggest figures in the technology industry, including Mr. Zuckerberg, the Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the venture capitalist John Doerr, unveiled a new nonprofit advocacy group, called Fwd.Us, with its first mission being to push Congress to overhaul immigration law. The group has hired lobbyists and a staff of veteran political operatives.
One of its first campaigns was to bankroll the television ad for Mr. Rubio. Two other ads backed Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Senator Mark Begich, Democrat of Alaska, who is considered a critical swing vote, in a state where there are many critics of the legislation. Mr. Jesmer said the group spent “in the seven figures” on the ads.
Mr. Rubio has been a vocal ally. He says he understands the industry’s need for talent and wants to prevent companies from having to ship work overseas.
To negotiate the details on the immigration bill, Mr. Rubio hired Enrique Gonzalez, who took a leave from a law firm that handles H-1B visa applications for many technology companies. Mr. Gonzalez said the assignment presented no conflict of interest because he works with universities handling visas, not technology companies.
The fact that technology lobbyists were given an unusual degree of access to the negotiators on the bill is entirely justified, he said. “Because of the unique needs of the technology industry, the newness of it, the novelty of a lot of the issues they are confronting, I think that was why there were more engaged than some of the other industries were,” he said.
The UK and the US Welcome the decision taken by the United Nations General Assembly meeting on the Arms Trade Treaty – 2 April 2013. With 22 countries abstaining – including China, India and Indonesia, it is quite untrue to say that it was accepted by consensus. Thanks to Matthew R. Lee for pointing this out – it takes good reporting to get facts about the UN. And What Probability For A US Senate Ratification?
Statement by UK Ambassador Joanne Adamson, Head of Delegation, to the United Nations General Assembly meeting on the Arms Trade Treaty – 2 April 2013
Thank you, Mr President.
Last Thursday, we were disappointed that success was deferred. Today, we have taken a decision that will save lives. It was the right decision, and we are proud of it.
Today, I have seen statements from my Prime Minister, my Foreign Secretary, my Deputy Prime Minister, and I have been in touch with our Foreign Office Minister, Mr Alistair Burt, who has been watching these negotiations with baited breath for the last two weeks.
This is a great success for the United Nations today and we in the UK are extremely proud.
Our action today is the product of ten years of campaigning and seven years of negotiation. But now, we must look ahead, to the future generations that will have a better chance to live safe and peaceful lives if this Treaty fulfills its promise.
It is up to us to make this happen. Today, we have shown what the United Nations can achieve. We have a strong text. We made it together. But it is the global implementation of this text that will make a real difference. The United Kingdom stands ready to play its part. We will work with others to ensure this Treaty matters.
So what we have achieved today is a significant milestone on our journey to a better world. But it is just one part of the process. We cannot rest now. Today is the end of the beginning. Tomorrow we begin the practical work of changing lives and improving the future.
As we move forward we will keep together that team – the team of diplomats, of people working in civil society, of people from our industry, of our politicians, of public opinion. I pay tribute to everyone who has been involved in this long journey and my message to the conference today is let’s move forward together.
Don’t look back in anger.
Let’s take the next step.
And the US joins its voice for the regulation of passing on arms to other countries:
Mr. President, the United States is proud to have been able to co-sponsor and vote in favor of adopting the Arms Trade Treaty. The treaty is strong, balanced, effective, and implementable, and we believe it can command wide support. We join others in congratulating Ambassador Peter Woolcott for his tireless efforts in guiding the negotiation.
The treaty is the product of a long, intensive negotiation, and I know that no nation, including my own, got everything it may have sought in the final text. The result, however, is an instrument that succeeds in raising the bar on common standards for regulating international trade in conventional arms while helping to ensure that legitimate trade in such arms will not be unduly hindered.
The negotiations remained true to the original mandate for them from UN General Assembly Resolution 64/48, which called for negotiating a treaty with the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms and for the negotiations to be conducted in an open and transparent manner, on the basis of consensus. The consensus rule remains important
Mr. President, as the United States has urged from the outset, this Treaty sets a floor – not a ceiling – for responsible national policies and practices for the regulation of international trade in conventional arms. We look forward to all countries having effective national control systems and procedures to manage international conventional arms transfers, as the United States does already.
We believe that our negotiations have resulted in a treaty that provides a clear standard, in Article 6, for when a transfer of conventional arms is absolutely prohibited. This article both reflects existing international law and, in paragraph three, would extend it by establishing a specific prohibition on the transfer of conventional arms when a state party knows that the transfer will be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, or the enumerated war and other crimes. Article 7 requires a state party to conduct a national assessment of the risk that a proposed export could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian law or international human rights law, as well as acts of terrorism or transnational organized crime. Taken together, these articles provide a robust and complementary framework that will promote responsible transfer of decisions by states parties.
Thank you, Mr. President.
At UN, ATT Passes With 22 Abstentions, Woolcott Tells ICP of Speakers List
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, April 2 — When the Arms Trade Treaty was blocked on March 28 under the rules of consensus, the headlines read that only three countries were against it: Syria, North Korea and Iran.
But even then, in speeches like Sudan’s and Belarus’, one could hear abstentions coming.
And Tuesday in the UN General Assembly there were 23 abstentions, including the two most populous countries on Earth, China and India, and the most populous predominantly Muslim country, Indonesia.
Afterward, Inner City Press asked ATT president Peter Woolcott, after thanking him on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, about criticism of his allowing, before a promised ruling, Mexico and others to make an argument against the UN meaning of consensus.
He replied that there was speakers list that he followed. He said he personally does not favor negotiating under the rule of consensus. Other might say: it showed.
Inner City Press asked Mexico’s Luis Alfonso de Alba, who gave a thoughtful answer about “no vetoes,” that may resonate in the UN Budget Committee.
It was announced that Angola did not abstain, but voted Yes (hence, 22 abstentions, still quite populous.)
In speeches before Tuesday’s vote, as Syria’s Bashar Ja’afari spoke, US Ambassador Susan Rice was walking out. After that, a full hour into the speeches, Qatar’s delegation rolled in. They ended up abstaining. Qatar supports rebels in Syria.
Sudan on the other hand said it was abstaining, citing the failure to address the arming of “mutinous” groups, like the SPLM-North and rebels in Darfur.
Russia, which by a point of order Thursday night put an end to the Mexico-launched attempt to redefine consensus, on Tuesday morning zeroed in on what knowledge of genocide might mean, in Article 6.3. Its Ambassador Churkin said Russia would not have broken consensus on March 28, but would now abstain, as did China. It’s hard to call this consensus.
U.N. Treaty Is First Aimed at Regulating Global Arms Sales.
Published by The New York Times on-line April 2, 2013 – 107 Comments
Readers’ Comments: “There are too many in Congress who owe allegiance to the NRA and the armaments industry and not to the best interests of the U.S.” RHSchumann, Bonn
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to approve a pioneering treaty aimed at regulating the enormous global trade in conventional weapons, for the first time linking sales to the human rights records of the buyers.
Although implementation is years away and there is no specific enforcement mechanism, proponents say the treaty would for the first time force sellers to consider how their customers will use the weapons and to make that information public.
The goal is to curb the sale of weapons that kill tens of thousands of people every year — by, for example, making it harder for Russia to argue that its arms deals with Syria are legal under international law.
The treaty, which took seven years to negotiate, reflects growing international sentiment that the multibillion-dollar weapons trade needs to be held to a moral standard.
The hope is that even nations reluctant to ratify the treaty will feel public pressure to abide by its provisions.
The treaty calls for sales to be evaluated on whether the weapons will be used to break humanitarian law, foment genocide or war crimes, abet terrorism or organized crime or slaughter women and children.
“Finally we have seen the governments of the world come together and say ‘Enough!’ ” said Anna MacDonald, the head of arms control for Oxfam International, one of the many rights groups that pushed for the treaty. “It is time to stop the poorly regulated arms trade. It is time to bring the arms trade under control.”
She pointed to the Syrian civil war, where 70,000 people have been killed, as a hypothetical example, noting that Russia argues that sales are permitted because there is no arms embargo.
“This treaty won’t solve the problems of Syria overnight, no treaty could do that, but it will help to prevent future Syrias,” Ms. MacDonald said. “It will help to reduce armed violence. It will help to reduce conflict.”
Members of the General Assembly voted 154 to 3 to approve the Arms Trade Treaty, with 23 abstentions — many from nations with dubious recent human rights records like Bahrain, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
The vote came after more than two decades of organizing. Humanitarian groups started lobbying after the 1991 Persian Gulf war to curb the trade in conventional weapons, having realized that Iraq had more weapons than France, diplomats said.
The treaty establishes an international forum of states that will review published reports of arms sales and publicly name violators. Even if the treaty will take time to become international law, its standards will be used immediately as political and moral guidelines, proponents said.
“It will help reduce the risk that international transfers of conventional arms will be used to carry out the world’s worst crimes, including terrorism, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement after the United States, the biggest arms exporter, voted with the majority for approval.
But the abstaining countries included China and Russia, which also are leading sellers, raising concerns about how many countries will ultimately ratify the treaty. It is scheduled to go into effect after 50 nations have ratified it. Given the overwhelming vote, diplomats anticipated that it could go into effect in two to three years, relative quickly for an international treaty.
Proponents said that if enough countries ratify the treaty, it will effectively become the international norm. If major sellers like the United States and Russia choose to sit on the sidelines while the rest of the world negotiates what weapons can be traded globally, they will still be affected by the outcome, activists said.
The treaty’s ratification prospects in the Senate appear bleak, at least in the short term, in part because of opposition by the gun lobby. More than 50 senators signaled months ago that they would oppose the treaty — more than enough to defeat it, since 67 senators must ratify it.
Among the opponents is Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican. In a statement last month, he said that the treaty contained “unnecessarily harsh treatment of civilian-owned small arms” and violated the right to self-defense and United States sovereignty.
In a bow to American concerns, the preamble states that it is focused on international sales, not traditional domestic use, but the National Rifle Association has vowed to fight ratification anyway.
The General Assembly vote came after efforts to achieve a consensus on the treaty among all 193 member states of the United Nations failed last week, with Iran, North Korea and Syria blocking it. The three, often ostracized, voted against the treaty again on Tuesday.
Vitaly I. Churkin, the Russian envoy to the United Nations, said Russian misgivings about what he called ambiguities in the treaty, including how terms like genocide would be defined, had pushed his government to abstain. But neither Russia nor China rejected it outright.
“Having the abstentions from two major arms exporters lessens the moral weight of the treaty,” said Nic Marsh, a proponent with the Peace Research Institute in Oslo. “By abstaining they have left their options open.”
Numerous states, including Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua, said they had abstained because the human rights criteria were ill defined and could be abused to create political pressure. Many who abstained said the treaty should have banned sales to all armed groups, but supporters said the guidelines did that effectively while leaving open sales to liberation movements facing abusive governments.
Supporters also said that over the long run the guidelines should work to make the criteria more standardized, rather than arbitrary, as countries agree on norms of sale in a trade estimated at $70 billion annually.
The treaty covers tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber weapons, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and launchers, small arms and light weapons. Ammunition exports are subject to the same criteria as the other war matériel. Imports are not covered.
India, a major importer, abstained because of its concerns that its existing contracts might be blocked, despite compromise language to address that.
Support was particularly strong among African countries — even if the compromise text was weaker than some had anticipated — with most governments asserting that in the long run, the treaty would curb the arms sales that have fueled many conflicts.
Even some supporters conceded that the highly complicated negotiations forced compromises that left significant loopholes. The treaty focuses on sales, for example, and not on all the ways in which conventional arms are transferred, including as gifts, loans, leases and aid.
“This is a very good framework to build on,” said Peter Woolcott, the Australian diplomat who presided over the negotiations. “But it is only a framework.”
Rick Gladstone contributed reporting from New York, and Jonathan Weisman from Washington.
The new Pope Kissed the Feet of a Muslim Woman in an Italian Prison this Easter, and Professor Juan Cole finds here a good place to reject the Catholic Islamophobes who criticised the Pope’s move, and he said that a poor Muslim woman is now the lowest standing person in global societies.
Dear Rightwing Catholic Islamophobes.
By Professor Juan Cole on his blog
31 March 13
ope Francis on Maundy Thursday declined to address enormous crowds. Instead he went to a prison to emulate Jesus’s act of humility before his crucifixion in washing the feet of his 12 disciples. The pope washed and kissed the feet of 12 inmates, two of them women and two of them Muslim (one of the women was Muslim). It is reported that some of the prisoners broke down in tears.
Pope Francis’s willingness to wash the feet of a Muslim woman shows his concern for the very lowest stratum of society. Europe has millions of Muslims, and some are well off and well integrated into society. But many Muslims who immigrated into France and Italy for work got caught when the jobs dried up, and live in poor areas of the cities, being excluded from mainstream society or much hope of betterment. Women have lower status than men in such communities, so a poor Muslim woman in jail is just about the bottom of the social scale.
Pope Francis is from Argentina, which has a large, successful Arab-heritage community that includes Muslims, and he is said to have deeply disagreed with his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, over the latter’s Regensburg speech in which he said things that Muslims found insulting.
The thing that strikes me about all this is that there is a small strand of American Catholic conservatism that frankly despises both the poor and Muslims, and is one of the pillars of prejudice against Muslims (some call it Islamophobia) in the United States. Most Catholics in opinion polls have a more positive view of Islam and Muslims than is common among evangelical Protestants, but the rightwingers among them have a thing about Muslims (and about poor people).
An example is former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. Rep. Peter King of New York also comes to mind. Robert Spencer has made a career of defaming Islam and Muslims. Then there is professional bully Sean Hannity of Faux News. Paul Ryan uses the insulting language of “Islamic fascism” (fascism is a Western invention; most fascists in history have been of Christian heritage; and it has nothing to do with the Muslim faith). Ryan, far from serving the poor, wants to cut social services to them by savaging the government budget, and openly boasts of following prophet of selfishness Ayn Rand.
These purveyors of hate speech against Muslims claim to be Catholics, and some of them are annoyingly Ultramontane, insisting on papal infallibility and trying to impose their values on all Americans.
Yet the person they hold to be the vicar of Christ has just given humankind a different charge, of humility and of service to the least in society, many of whom are Muslims.
So when will we see Rudy Giuliani, Sean Hannity and the others go to a prison to comfort inmates, and serve the Muslims among them? When will we see them kiss a Muslim’s feet? Or are they cafeteria Catholics, parading only the values that accord with their Ayn Rand heresy?
Since 2007 we have posted quite a few of the events Prof. Juan Cole expressed an opinion about them.
“Statelessness as the Core of the Palestinian Issue”
Dr. Juan Cole
The Palestine Center
The Israeli-Palestinian issue makes the area one of the world’s longest-running geopolitical hotspots. It has been characterized as a territorial dispute, or a refugee problem, or even a problem of terrorism. It has been the subject of negotiations and agreements that always seem to fall apart. Dr. Juan Cole argues that the core of the issue is the statelessness of the Palestinians and that all the other problems stem from this condition. He will explore the meaning of statelessness for human and civil rights, property rights, and standing in negotiations, as well with regard to international regimes of law and diplomacy.
Dr. Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. His most recent book is Engaging the Muslim World (2009), and his Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East was published in 2007.
Cole was the recipient of the Hudson Research Professorship in 2003, the National Endowment for the Humanities grant in 1991, and the Fulbright-Hays Islamic Civilization Postdoctoral Award in 1985-86. In November 2004, he was elected president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America and in 2006 was the recipient of Hunter College’s James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Since 2002, he has published the blog Informed Comment.
SHIMLA: To study the impact of global warming on melting of glaciers and environment in general, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has decided to set up an observatory at Kothi near the 13,050-feet-high Rohtang Pass.
Scientists would be studying the behavior of aerosols, glaciers and back carbon aerosols at the poplar mountain tourist spot. With thousands of vehicles passing through Rohtang, especially during peak tourist season, on a daily basis, the white snow cover turns black due to carbon emission from vehicles. Increased quantity of black carbon aerosols in the atmosphere is absorbing more heat, due to which incoming solar radiation is being absorbed more and not reflected accordingly, resulting into faster melting of glaciers.
J C Kuniyal, senior scientist at G B Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Mohal, who is associated with the project, said that setting up of an observatory would help in collecting data that would be helpful for the preservation of glaciers and to know the rise in temperature due to global warming.
Kuniyal said with the setting up of an observatory at Kothing or Gulaba near Rohtang, study would be done to know how fast the glaciers were melting. He said data collected would also be used to study presence of aerosols in the atmosphere and its relative impact on the environment. He added that villagers would be approached to get the required land to set up the observatory in open space as the project would be carried on for a minimum three-year period.
Apart from setting up an Isro observatory, a weather tower would also be set up at Kothi or Gulaba village to have better weather forecasting and to study the presence of aerosols in atmosphere in connection with climate change. Earlier plans to have a tower near Rohtang failed as villagers had refused to part with their land, after which weather tower was set up at Mohal.
Now another tower would be set up near Rohtang under a Union government project to set up weather towers in the Himalayan region of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand. As these towers would get energy from solar panels, and collection of data from inaccessible areas would become much easier.
Kuniyal said data collected from the centre would also help the Union government frame environment policies accordingly, besides helping local people and other stakeholders including defence personnel.
Thanks to the BRICS meeting in Durban on the creation of an alternative to the Washington World Bank! THE US WAKES UP TO THE NEED THE IMF IS NOT FOR EUROPE ONLY ANYMORE – IT MUST GROW AND GIVE MORE POWER TO EMERGING ECONOMIES LIKE INDIA AND BRAZIL.
A New York Times Editorial
Strengthening the I.M.F.
Published: March 29, 2013
Let’s face it: the International Monetary Fund is not widely loved. It has forced countries in financial distress to adopt counterproductive austerity policies, and it failed to anticipate the financial crisis. But in recent years the I.M.F. has helped stabilize the global economy, most recently by providing loans to troubled European countries like Greece and Ireland. That is why Congress needs to strengthen its governance and bolster its resources by ratifying reforms to the organization that were agreed to in 2010 by its 188 member countries.
The changes, which were primarily devised by the Obama administration, would double, to about $755 billion, the fund’s capital, which has fallen sharply as a percentage of the global economy in the last decade. Another measure would give developing countries a bigger say in the fund’s management, to reflect their recent growth.
The reforms would do all this without increasing America’s financial commitment to the organization and while preserving Washington’s power to veto any big changes to how it operates.
Most of the world’s countries have endorsed the changes, as have dozens of economists and former American officials representing both parties. But Congress, which must pass legislation before the measures can be implemented, has not even considered them. The administration is partly to blame. It did not send the proposals to Congress until this month, when it asked that they be included in the continuing resolution meant to forestall a government shutdown. Senate Democrats did not include them because they feared that House Republicans would use the proposed reforms to hold up the entire bill. Some Republicans distrust international organizations in general, and some believe that the I.M.F. does not need more money.
The reality is that the I.M.F. is the world’s primary defense against global financial disasters. Increasing the fund’s resources will ensure that it can respond quickly to another wave of turmoil in Europe or elsewhere that would inevitably hurt the American economy.
Enacting these reforms is also important because doing so will signal to developing countries like Brazil and India that the United States wants them to play a bigger role on the global stage. That has been a priority for Republican and Democratic administrations alike.
These changes are in America’s interest. The administration needs to make a strong public case for why they are important, and Republican lawmakers need to look beyond their aversion to international entanglements and vote for them.
A version of this editorial appeared in print on March 30, 2013, on page A18 of the New York edition with the headline: Strengthening the I.M.F..
We posted recently the Kishore Mahbubani view of the world that points at US, CHINA, RUSSIA, INDIA, The EU, BRAZIL, and NIGERIA as the Seven Front-line leading powers of the World. Of these the US and a United Europe are the powers of the democratic west – something of the past – with China, Russia, India, Brazil, and Nigeria the rising powers of the future. Interesting – here a deviation from what the UN’s BRICS that has South Africa and not Nigeria, as representatives of the black African continent.
Both – Nigeria and South Africa are not typical of the rest of Africa – the one ruled by a Muslim majority and based on Petro-money, the other ruled by a Western oriented government that has no clear independent economic policy but was seen for years as the bridge for Africa’s development. Mahbubani, who has clear leaning towards the Islamic world, likes to believe that eventually it will be Nigeria that will emerge as Africa’s main power. Whatever – Africa is the weakest BRIC and in many fora represented well by Brazil. I pick on this as a side issue to today’s interesting news of a Putin backed attempt at placing Russia, via South Africa, at the center of an effort to create a non-Western hub for the World economy and wrestle away the Western economic hegemony from a shriveling North Atlantic alliance anchored at Washington. The New York Times article that brought these latest news to our attention is obviously a US inspired reporting exercise.
Whatever – the facts are that the money is now mainly with China and the two big Western blocks, the United States of America, and the “not-yet-united” States of Europe, depend on China money, and as these last few weeks – the Greek tragedy in Greece and Cyprus – showed that eventually the Europeans might yet ask for hand-outs in Moscow. This was not wasted on the established BRICS and Mr. Putin moved on. The International Monetary system built after WWII – The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund – can be pushed aside in major parts of the Developing World.
It is not ingenious to point at the five BRICS that they are very different States – surely they are different among themselves – China, India, Russia, and Brazil have different political systems but are united in their interest to nudge aside the US from the position of manager of the world – and they see now their chance to do so.
Group of Emerging Nations Plans to Form Development Bank.
Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Tuesday in Durban, South Africa, just ahead of Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, South Africa’s defense minister.
Published: March 26, 2013
JOHANNESBURG — A group of five emerging world economic powers met in Africa for the first time Tuesday, gathering in South Africa for a summit meeting at which they plan to announce the creation of a new development bank, a direct challenge to the dominance of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, all members of the so-called BRICS Group of developing nations, have agreed to create the bank to focus on infrastructure and development in emerging markets. The countries are also planning to discuss pooling their foreign reserves as a bulwark against currency crises, part of a growing effort by emerging economic powers to build institutions and forums that are alternatives to Western-dominated ones.
“Up until now, it has been a loose arrangement of five countries meeting once a year,” said Abdullah Verachia, director of the Frontier Advisory Group, which focuses on emerging markets. “It is going to be the first real institution we have seen.”
But the alliance faces serious questions about whether the member countries have enough in common and enough shared goals to function effectively as a counterweight to the West.
“Despite the political rhetoric around partnerships, there is a huge amount of competition between the countries,” Mr. Verachia said.
For all the talk of solidarity among emerging giants, the group’s concrete achievements have been few since its first full meeting, in Russia in 2009. This is partly because its members are deeply divided on some basic issues and are in many ways rivals, not allies, in the global economy.
They have widely divergent economies, disparate foreign policy aims and different forms of government. India, Brazil and South Africa have strong democratic traditions, while Russia and China are autocratic.
The bloc even struggles to agree on overhauling international institutions. India, Brazil and South Africa want permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council, for example, but China, which already has one, has shown little interest in shaking up the status quo.
The developing countries in the bloc hardly invest in one another, preferring their neighbors and the developed world’s major economies, according to a report released Monday by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
Just 2.5 percent of foreign investment by BRICS countries goes to other countries in the group, the report said, while more than 40 percent of their foreign investment goes to the developed world’s largest economies, the European Union, the United States and Japan.
Africa, home to several of the world’s fastest-growing economies, drew less than 5 percent of total investment from BRICS nations, the report said. France and the United States still have the highest rate of foreign investment in Africa. Despite China’s reputation for heavy investment in Africa, Malaysia has actually invested $2 billion more in Africa than China has.
Still, 15 African heads of state were invited to the summit meeting in South Africa as observers, a sign of the continent’s increasing importance as an investment destination for all of the BRICS countries.
China is in many ways a major competitor of its fellow BRICS member, South Africa. South African manufacturers, retail chains, cellphone service providers, mining operations and tourism companies have bet heavily on African economic growth and in some ways go head-to-head against Chinese companies on the continent.
South Africa is playing host for the first time since becoming the newest member of what had been known previously as BRIC. Many analysts have questioned South Africa’s inclusion in the group because its economy is tiny compared with the other members, ranking 28th in the world, and its growth rates in recent years have been anemic.
In an interview last year with a South African newspaper, Jim O’Neill, the Goldman Sachs executive who coined the term BRIC, said South Africa did not belong in the group.
“South Africa has too small an economy,” Mr. O’Neill told the newspaper, The Mail & Guardian. “There are not many similarities with the other four countries in terms of the numbers. In fact, South Africa’s inclusion has somewhat weakened the group’s power.”
But South Africa’s sluggish growth has become the rule, not the exception, among the onetime powerhouse nations. India’s hopes of reaching double-digit growth have ebbed. Brazil’s surging economy, credited with pulling millions out of poverty, has cooled drastically. Even China’s growth has slowed.
And once welcome, Chinese investment in Africa is viewed with increasing suspicion.
On a visit to Beijing last year, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa warned that Chinese trade ties in Africa were following a troubling pattern.
“Africa’s commitment to China’s development has been demonstrated by supply of raw materials, other products and technology transfer,” Mr. Zuma said. “This trade pattern is unsustainable in the long term. Africa’s past economic experience with Europe dictates a need to be cautious when entering into partnerships with other economies.”
Mr. Zuma appeared to have a change of heart before the summit meeting, saying Monday that China does not approach Africa with a colonial attitude.
But other African leaders are not so sure. —– Lamido Sanusi, governor of Nigeria’s central bank, wrote in an opinion article published in The Financial Times this month that China’s approach to Africa is in many ways as exploitative as the West’s has been.
“China is no longer a fellow underdeveloped economy — it is the world’s second-biggest, capable of the same forms of exploitation as the West,” he wrote. “It is a significant contributor to Africa’s de-industrialization and under-development.”
This article appeared in print on March 27, 2013, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Group of Emerging Nations Plans to Form Development Bank.
Spiritual People, like in the Talmud, and the Rest-of-Us, realize that Satiety is the feeling of being Satisfied, and is superior to Obesity or self-aflicting Fasting. Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as well as the old Greeks, Buddhist, Confucian, and Hindu traditions preached it without having a Bloomberg on board.
We decided on this posting, not just because of the New York Times Op-Ed Article of today, but in effect we followed the subject watching the fate of Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts in New York to legislate the decrease of intake of sugar by his charges in the city – efforts that were overturned by a judge who thinks you cannot force people to do the right thing for themselves if this right thing harms the interests of the lobby of the sugar industry. We had a chance to talk about this in Vienna as well, and clearly agriculture interests here are just as opposed to get people to use less sugar, as their co-professionals in the US.
But then last Saturday I had a chance to sit in at an Ayurveda class and learned about ethics and healthy food. The meeting was at the Sant Mat Center at Siebensterngasse 16a/2 in the 7th District – 1070 Vienna.
Dr. Daniel Scheidbach was the speaker and a Text-book was on the table.
www.santmat.at – www.ayurveda-akademie.org — www.yourdosha.at — are sights to get further information.
The system here is that one has to enjoy his food and has to go about with ethics in choosing his food. The system is vegetarian plus milk. No meat, fish or foul or eggs are allowed. The vegetables are eaten cooked and not raw.
The elements are Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth and our body has Vata, Pitta, and Kapha elements that describe our own nature. Bitter, Sour, Sweet, Salty are our tastes and they are determined by our nature. Each person will adjust his food to his nature and you have the license to eat whenever you feel hungry. Children start out as Kappa and can emerge. I got the feeling that the body is holy and you are supposed to enjoy the intakes.
You eat breakfast, a main meal and in the evening before 6 PM – no snacks unless you are hungry.
You take in one third solids, one third liquids and you leave one third for your VPK. You always make sure you drank enough.
You never eat yogurt at night and you drink milk warm – not cold – and not plain but with Ghee.
The best position for eating is Vastu – South East – that is where the sun power emanates.
My purpose in bringing up this introduction is to show that it is not just the monotheistic Abrahamic religions that dealt with the relationship between our body as a Holy shrine and the food we take in – as such the following article becomes even more to the point. We must push back the forces of commercialism that make us overeat – this because we want to be healthy in mind and body. Power to Mayor Bloomberg who is out on his one man crusade to show the Americans that health care starts at home by opposing the media that makes us over-eat and obese, or alternatively bulimic and self starved.
Kerstin and Mark Rosenberg have established the Ayurveda Yoga Academy at Birstein, Germany, and on April 6, 2013 will celebrate 20 years since the inroad this Yoga system made in Europe.
An Advertisement: Ayurveda Ausbildung
Ayurveda Anwendungen Abhyanga Shirodhara usw www.gloriet-ayurveda.at
THE NEW YORK TIMES — OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
THE TALMUD AND OTHER DIET BOOKS
Published: March 26, 2013
Related: “Anti-Bloomberg Bill” — Mississippi Bars Local Restrictions on Food and Drink (March 14, 2013)
HARDLY a week goes by without yet another study documenting the increasing prevalence of obesity in America. Most of us take seriously the fact that close to 70 percent of American adults are now either overweight or obese, and most are willing to consider various ways to mitigate the problem.
Perhaps a different approach can be considered, one that begins from within. Instead of fixating on indulgence and excess, as do so many top-down and outside-in efforts, we should focus on what it means for each individual to be sated.
Satiety, the feeling of being satisfied, is inherently idiosyncratic: everyone has her or his own sensation of being full. What sates my hunger will be different from what sates yours. Nevertheless, what sates our hunger will be less than what you might imagine.
The prophet Isaiah, for example, inveighed against the Israelites for vainly fasting when so much injustice surrounded them. Such fasting, and particularly fasting only for self-affliction, was sinful, rabbis of the Talmud said. But the Talmud also counseled “removing your hand from a meal that pleases you.”
Christianity, especially through the teachings of Pope Gregory I and Thomas Aquinas, identifies gluttony as a mortal sin. More than just excessive desire for food, gluttony involves eating irregularly (snacking), being preoccupied with eating, consuming costly (sumptuous or unhealthy) foodstuffs and being fastidious about food. And the Koran insists that improper and wasteful eating incurs God’s wrath. Eat well and live well, Islam teaches.
However absurd this may seem to us today, it made physiological sense in the premodern world as the emotions were considered physical things that, like food and drink, were metabolized by the body. A body stuffed with food and drink is full only of biology; it leaves no room for biography, for what makes us human.
Of course, one need not be a theist to experience satiety. One needs only a belly. Perhaps these old ideas could inspire new ways of addressing the complex weight problem in America. They could help us reduce the amount of food we put on our plates, which would lower the tonnage of otherwise good food discarded every day. And they could mitigate the costly and debilitating diseases associated with our current eating practices.
This approach is personalized: everyone is empowered to be in control of his own satiety. It is adaptable, changing as a person ages and ails. And although it is not exactly nonhierarchical if you believe it’s God’s will, at least it is not imposed by any human government. Finally, it is sustainable, as it promotes a culture that views limitless consumption with suspicion. Capitalism may abhor contentedness, but our bodies need us to heed it.
We have to realize that enough is enough. We should stop asking ourselves, “Am I full?” and start asking, “Am I satisfied?”
Jonathan K. Crane, a rabbi, is a professor of bioethics and Jewish thought at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
Emory University is a private research university in metropolitan Atlanta, located in the Druid Hills section of unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia, United States. Founded: 1836. It has a very good department for Judaic studies.
Address: 201 Dowman Dr, Atlanta, GA 30322
Acceptance rate: 26.7% (2011)
Enrollment: 13,893 (2011)
After the briefing at the US Mission to the UN I crossed the street to the UN proper and found out that the UN had two extraordinary activities that day:
(1) The Launching of an International Year of Water Cooperation in the morning followed by a Press Conference at the Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium.
(2) The Launching of the United Nations Children’s Tour in the Visitor’s Lobby – to which all accredited Journalists and media affiliates were invited.
The second event was easy to reject – this because of the fact that the invitation sounded exclusive and then because we always thought that the UN was established in order to do serious business and we never liked the idea that it is being turned by its leaders into a tourist trap.
Oh well! This left the first activity which looked suspicious as well. What is it WATER COOPERATION?
As I was looking for a particular journalist I found my way to the Water Cooperation Press Conference and watched three presentation by three people – The UN Ambasssador from Hungary, Mr. Csaba Korosi, a science specialist for UNESCO Ms. Ana Persic, and Mr. Paul D. Egerton the World Meteorological Organization (Headquartered in Geneva) Representative in New York.
I understood that the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2013 as International Year for Water Cooperation in 2010 following a request by Tadjikistan that is short of water and has disputes with its neighbor Uzbekistan. Instead of looking at the political dispute and at the shortage of water in that dry part of central Asia, the UN gave the lead to the issue to UNESCO which is running UN Water – a project that looks at the importance of water in general. So what we got was a scientific presentation of climate change, droughts and tsunamis. Instead of having an Ambassador from n Asian dryland we got the Ambassador from Hungary and presentations on the importance of water for poverty reduction. We heard of Climate Security and catastrophic weather, of migration and water vulnerability – BUT WHAT ABOUT COOPERATION BETWEEN THE UZBEKS and the TADJIKS? What about international water-sharing laws and agreements?
Yes, from our experience we know that WMD does terrific scientific work as they did when we needed them to prepare information on climate change for the IPCC – but they are not a political organization – not even UNESCO can push for COOPERATION between governments, so what was this event about.
I decided to bring up what I learned just last week from the Brahmah Chellaney presentation at the Asia Society, and which I posted as:
Asia is poorer in water then Africa, and China’s Tibetan Plateau dominates Asia water supply and could impact all other States. Professor Brahma Chellaney of New Delhi publicizes these problems in his books. Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 9th, 2013
My question was about the Water-Hegemony of China because of the fact that most of the rivers originate on the Tibetan Plateau and China does not care to make water agreements with its neighbors. India is a victim of such disputes with China and the development of the whole region will stop because of lack of water and of agreements to share the water.
The answer came crystal clear – the studies will be prepared by scientists and not political people – that will be up to the governments. Let us say that if the UN is not ready to accept the task of getting countries together there is no sense in talking of cooperation – just another example that the UN cannot step up to the plate.
And The Revealing Inner City Press Report: UN’s Water Year Is All Wet, Distinguishing Science & Politics, Tajik Sponsors
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, February 11 – The year of 2013 is the year of many things, but according to the UN General Assembly it is the International Year of Water Cooperation, credited to a request by Tajikistan in 2010. Inner City Press covered that 2010 hoopla, here.
At the UN on Monday Inner City Press asked at the inevitable UN press conference about the Tajik – Uzbekistan water and dam dispute, and if the press conference panel’s singling out of Tajikistan for praise didn’t constitute taking sides in this dispute. Video here, from Minute 22:13.
The World Meteorological Organization’s Paul Egerton replied that WMO and UNESCO, whose Ana Persic was also on the panel, are both scientific organizations. “The starting point is to focus on scientific and environmental issues,” he said. “There may be discussions at the high political level, in the UN Security Council or other venues, of the political issues.”
But water cooperation is, of course, a “political” issue.
Witness the Nile Basin and an agreement signed by seven countries but not by Egypt or Sudan. Can UNESCO solve this? The Security Council seems unlikely to get involved on the Nile, much less the Uzbek – Tajik conflict.
Inner City Press began by thanking the panelists on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access. Also on the panel was Hungary’s Permanent Representative Csaba Korosi, who told Inner City Press that “we as member states cannot decide on behalf of other member states to sort out their bilateral problems.”
But that is precisely what the Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter purports to do. Sudan, North Korea, Eritrea and others would like what Csaba Korosi said to be true. But it is not.
Csaba Korosi went on to say that the International Year of Water Cooperation is also “to raise awareness of solutions” and is about the “SDGs and the post 2015 development agenda.”
But isn’t everything?
Still, his answer at least acknowledged that these are political problems, and not only scientific. Now who will solve them? Watch this site.
Let them eat hummus, with a Hebrew University breakthrough:
More lutein, less need for irrigation makes for a chickpea that may help feed millions better.
By David Shamah February 10, 2013, The Times of Israel on-line
Big bowl of hummus (Photo credit: Chen Leopold/Flash 90)
What would Israeli cuisine be without the chickpea — the major component of falafel, hummus and more? Humble though it may be, the chickpea plays a major role not only in the Middle East, but across Asia and especially in India, where hundreds of millions rely on it to fill their daily nutritional needs.
Now, a breakthrough in chickpea breeding by Hebrew University Professor Shahal Abbo and his team promises to raise chickpea crop yields, lengthen their growing season, make more land available to farmers for crops, and even produce a more nutritious pea.
And unlike many crops improvements today, the Hebrew U breakthrough did not use genetic manipulation to create a better chickpea.
The chickpea ranks second among the world’s food legumes, just behind the soybean, and is popular worldwide, especially in South Asia. When a chickpea is combined with other food, such as wheat, the amino acids in both join to build a complete protein usable by the body. And in fact, hundreds of millions of people rely on chickpeas and wheat for their protein supply. So an upgrade to the chickpea could go a long way toward fostering better nutrition for many of the world’s poorest.
Using natural selection techniques, the Hebrew University team led by Abbo, in conjunction with agricultural researcher David Bonfils, developed a method to cause the earlier germination of chickpeas. By doing so, the growing season for chickpeas is extended, and farmers can save water by using natural rainfall to help the crop grow during several critical growth stages.
In South Asia and northern Australia, chickpeas are predominantly grown in the post-rainy season on receding stored soil moisture, and toward the end of their growing cycle require a great deal of irrigation to complete the cycle. The team of agriculturalists developed a strain of chickpea that flowers earlier, in the colder, rainier weather of winter. As a result, the growing season for chickpeas is increased, and the plants can take advantage of the spring rains for watering.
“You can start growing these chickpeas in February,” said Abbo – giving farmers an eight-week, or even greater, jump on the growing season. “Farmers can use rainwater instead of irrigation to grow their crops. Chickpeas can also be more successfully integrated as a rotation crop for wheat,” he said, adding that this specific crop rotation method used by farmers for generations helps to produce healthier wheat and chickpea crops.
Because the hardier strain of chickpeas can be planted in the winter season, the breakthrough automatically extends the areas where the crop can be grown. Semi-desert areas that get a lot of rain in the winter — for example, the Negev — can now support chickpea growth at a relatively reasonable cost, since farmers in those areas do not have to rely solely on irrigation. And because the crop gets more moisture earlier on, the resulting chickpeas are bigger, with a higher lutein content (lutein is an antioxidant carotenoid that helps, among other things, to improve vision).
Hebrew University stressed that the development work for the new strain was done using natural selection techniques; there was no genetic manipulation of the chickpeas to make them hardier. A spokesperson said that genetic modification use would have closed off the market for the new strain to many countries, especially in Europe, where governments have taken steps to curb use or outright ban GM crops.
The breakthrough will be marketed by Yissum, Hebrew University’s Research and Development technology transfer company. “Chickpea is not only a staple diet component in large areas of the globe, but also an important health food in Western countries and its consumption is rising steadily,” said Yaacov Michlin, CEO of Yissum. “The new varieties developed by Prof. Abbo using non-GMO techniques are highly important for human health in developing countries, and may promote marketing in industrialized nations.
“We therefore anticipate that the new varieties developed at the Hebrew University offer a unique business opportunity,” Michlin said. “Yissum is now looking for partners for further development and commercialization of this invention.”
Asia is poorer in water then Africa, and China’s Tibetan Plateau dominates Asia water supply and could impact all other States. Professor Brahma Chellaney of New Delhi publicizes these problems in his books.
Bernard Schwartz Book Award Luncheon.
THE ASIA SOCIETY, NEW YORK CITY
Water: Asia’s New Battleground, by Brahma Chellaney, was named winner of the 2012 Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Book Award for its outstanding contribution to advancing the understanding of contemporary Asia.
In his timely and insightful book, Dr. Chellaney describes water stress as Asia’s defining crisis of the 21st century, creating obstacles to continued rapid economic growth, stoking interstate tensions over shared resources, exacerbating long-time territorial disputes, and imposing further hardships on the poor.
23 January 2013
12:00pm – 2:30pm
725 Park Ave
Honoring 2012 Winner, ‘Water: Asia’s New Battleground,’ by Brahma Chellaney
I read that Brahma Chellaney is professor of strategic studies at the privately funded Center for Policy Research in New Delhi.
Looking up the list of our postings on www.SustainabiliTank.info I found that in effect we have quite a few postings by him or about him.
Please see – www.sustainabilitank.info/?s=Brahma+Chellaney
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
Saturday, February 6th, 2010
With the Fall of the Berlin Wall the West shunned sanctions against China for the 1989 Tiananmen killings in favor of liberalizing the country through investment and trade. India opened up in 1989 with loss of its Soviet trading partner. Further – On the positive side – the democratization of Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan and Chile; On the negative side – failed states in Pakistan, Afghanistan, North Korea, and Iran. In toto Asia was a winner from the falling of the wall but it also created a new authoritarian capitalism.
Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
Tuesday, April 8th, 2008
Thursday, August 31st, 2006
This is an amazing versatility and I was glad to have the chance to listen to him in person at the Asia Society event.
Looking at the internet I found that Professor Chellaney is a Professor of Strategic Studies at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research, an independent think-tank; a member of the Board of Governors of the National Book Trust of India; and a nonresident affiliate with the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London. He has been a Fellow at the Norwegian Nobel Institute, which through the Nobel Committee awards the Nobel Peace Prize annually. He was formerly a member of the Policy Advisory Group headed by the External Affairs Minister of India.
Professor Chellaney is widely regarded as one of India’s leading strategic thinkers and analysts, and is also a well-known newspaper and television commentator on international affairs. Stanley Weiss in the International Herald Tribune, for example, called him “one of India’s top strategic thinkers,” while The Guardian has described him as “a respected international affairs analyst and author.” He is very well known as a commentator on regional and international issues in the field of strategic affairs, including larger Asian strategic issues and non-traditional subjects like water security, energy security and climate security.
He is one of the authors of India’s nuclear doctrine and its first strategic defense review. Those contributions came when Professor Chellaney was an adviser to India’s National Security Council until January 2000, serving as convenor of the External Security Group of the National Security Advisory Board, as well as member of the Board’s Nuclear Doctrine Group.
Now Professor Chellaney became the first Bernard Schwartz awardee – an Asia Society prize – living outside the Anglosphere. The topic of his book is:
China’s Hydro-Hegemony - and this translates into the clear vision that as the Tibetan Plateau is source for most rivers in Asia, and water is resource more important then oil, China is destined to be the most important power in Asia. As simple as that.
“Water: Asia’s New Battleground” (L) by Brahma Chellaney (R).
Map © Brahma Chellaney, “Water: Asia’s New Battleground” (Georgetown University Press)
Mr. Chellaney, in his travel to publicize this last book published the following article about China in the International Herald Tribune: February 8, 2013, just several days after a posting of January 31, 2013 – “Neighbours leave India high and dry for its water supply.” Then we understand that Mr. Chellaney is already working on another volume – “ “Water, Peace, and War: Confronting the Global Water Crisis.”
ASIA is the world’s most water-stressed continent, a situation compounded by China’s hydro-supremacy in the region. Beijing’s recent decision to build a slew of giant new dams on rivers flowing to other countries is thus set to roil riparian relations.
China — which already boasts more large dams than the rest of the world put together and has unveiled a mammoth $635-billion fresh investment in water infrastructure over the next decade — has emerged as the key obstacle to building institutionalized collaboration on shared water resources in Asia.
In contrast to the bilateral water treaties between many of its neighbors, China rejects the concept of a water-sharing arrangement or joint, rules-based management of common resources.
For example, in rejecting the 1997 United Nations convention that lays down rules on shared water resources, Beijing placed on record its contention that an upstream power has the right to assert absolute territorial sovereignty over the waters on its side of the international boundary — or the right to divert as much water as it wishes for its needs, irrespective of the effects on a downriver state.
Today, by building megadams and reservoirs in its borderlands, China is working to re-engineer the flows of major rivers that are the lifeline of lower riparian states.
China is the source of transboundary river flows to the largest number of countries in the world — from Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to the states in the Indochina peninsula and southern Asia. This pre-eminence resulted from its absorption of the ethnic-minority homelands that now make up 60 percent of its landmass and are the origin of all the international rivers flowing out of Chinese-held territory. No other country in the world comes close to the hydro-hegemony that China has established.
Since the last decade, China’s dam building has been moving from dam-saturated internal rivers to international rivers. Most of the new megaprojects designated recently by China’s state council as priority ventures are concentrated in the country’s seismically active southwest, which is largely populated by ethnic minorities. Such dam building is triggering new ethnic tensions over displacement and submergence.
The state council approved an array of new dams on the Salween, Brahmaputra and Mekong rivers, which originate on the Tibetan plateau and flow to southern and southeastern Asia. The unveiling of projects on the Brahmaputra evoked Indian diplomatic concern at a time when water has emerged as a new Chinese-Indian divide, while the Salween projects end the suspension of dam building on that river announced eight years ago.
The Salween — known in Chinese as Nu Jiang, or the “Angry River” — is Asia’s last largely free-flowing river, running through deep, spectacular gorges and glaciated peaks on its way to Burma and Thailand.
Its upstream basin is inhabited by at least a dozen different ethnic groups and rated as one of the world’s most biologically diverse regions, home to more than 5,000 plant species and nearly half of China’s animal species. No sooner had this stunning region, known as the Three Parallel Rivers, been added to the World Heritage List by Unesco in 2003 than Beijing unveiled plans for a cascade of dams near the area.
The international furor that followed led Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to suspend work. The reversal of that suspension, significantly, comes before Wen and President Hu Jintao step down as part of the country’s power transition.
The third international river cited by the state council in its new project approvals has already been a major target of Chinese dam building. Chinese engineers have constructed six megadams on the Mekong, including the 4,200-megawatt Xiaowan, and a greater water appropriator, the 5,850-megawatt Nuozhadu, whose first generator began producing electricity last September.
Asia needs institutionalized water cooperation because it awaits a future made hotter and drier by climate and environmental change and resource depletion. The continent’s water challenges have been exacerbated by growing consumption, unsustainable irrigation practices, rapid industrialization, pollution and geopolitical shifts.
Asia has morphed into the most likely flash point for water wars. Several countries are currently engaged in dam building on transnational rivers. The majority of these dams are being financed and built by Chinese state entities. Most Chinese-aided dam projects in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar indeed are designed to pump electricity into China’s southern electricity grid, with the lower riparians bearing the environmental and social costs.
But it is China’s dam-building spree at home — reflected in the fact that it boasts half of the 50,000 large dams in the world — that carries the greatest international implications and obstructs the development of an Asian rules-based order.
China has made the control and manipulation of natural-river flows a fulcrum of its power and economic development. Although promoting multilateralism on the world stage, it has given the cold shoulder to multilateral cooperation among basin nations — as symbolized, for example, by the Mekong River Commission — and rebuffed efforts by states sharing its rivers to seek bilateral water-sharing arrangements.
Beijing already has significant financial, trade and political leverage over most of its neighbors. Now, by building an asymmetric control over cross-border flows, it is seeking to have its hand on Asia’s water tap.
Given China’s unique riparian position and role, it will not be possible to transform the Asian water competition into cooperation without Beijing playing a leadership role to develop a rules-based system.
Posted on January 31, 2013 by Chellaney
The National, February 1, 2013
Asia, not Africa, is the world’s driest continent. The gap between demand and supply is growing in China, India, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia.
This raises a question: can Asia remain the locomotive of the global economy if it cannot mitigate its water crisis?
India faces greater water distress than China. China’s population is not even 10 per cent larger than India’s, but its internally renewable water resources (estimated at 2,813 billion cubic metres per year) are almost twice as large as India’s. In aggregate water availability, including inflows (which are sizeable in India’s case), China has virtually 50 per cent more resources than India.
In 1960, India signed a treaty setting aside 80 per cent of the Indus-system waters for downstream Pakistan, in the most generous water-sharing pact in modern history. And its 1996 Ganges treaty with Bangladesh guarantees minimum cross-border flows in the dry season – a new principle in international water law. That treaty divides the flows of the Ganges almost equally between the two countries. And now India is under pressure to reserve about half of the Teesta River’s water for Bangladesh.
But India is downriver from China. About a dozen important rivers flow into India from the Tibetan Himalayas. Indeed, one third of India’s yearly water supply comes from Tibet, according to United Nations’ data. Nations from Afghanistan to Vietnam receive water from the Tibetan Plateau, but India’s direct dependency on Tibetan water is greater than any other country’s.
But Beijing, far from emulating India’s water munificence, rejects the very concept of water sharing and is building large dams on rivers flowing to other nations, with little regard for downriver interests. An extensive Chinese water infrastructure in Tibet will have a serious effect on India.
So India faces difficult choices. Its ambitious plan to link up its major rivers has remained on paper for more than a decade. The idea was to connect 37 Himalayan and peninsular rivers in a pan-Indian water grid, to fight shortages.
Although the grid was ridiculed by the ruling party’s heir-apparent Rahul Gandhi as a “disastrous idea”, the Supreme Court ordered last year that it be implemented in “a time-bound manner”. Will that really happen?
The experience of the Supreme Court-overseen Narmada dam project in Gujarat doesn’t leave much room for optimism. India has struggled for decades to complete Narmada, and yet it is designed to produce less than 7 per cent as much hydropower as China’s Three Gorges Dam, completed last year.
With water increasingly at the centre of inter-provincial feuds in India, the Supreme Court has struggled for years with water cases, but the parties keep returning to litigate again on new grounds.
Plans for large water projects in India usually run into stiff opposition from influential non-government organisations, so that it has become virtually impossible to build a large dam, blighting the promise of hydropower.
Proof of this was New Delhi’s 2010 decision to abandon three dam projects on the Bhagirathi River, a source stream of the Ganges in the Himalayas. One of these was already half-built; hundreds of millions of dollars were wasted.
The largest dam India has built since independence is the 2,000 megawatt Tehri on the Bhagirathi. Compare that with China’s 18,300 megawatt Three Gorges. China’s proposed Metog Dam, almost on the disputed border with India, is to produce nearly twice as much power as Three Gorges Dam. China is also building on the Mekong River.
Meanwhile India’s proposed river-linking plan seems like a dream: a colossal network to handle 178 billion cubic metres of water transfers a year in12,500km of new canals, generating 34 gigawatts of hydropower, creating 35 million hectares of irrigated land and expanding inland navigation. This is the kind of programme that only an autocracy like China can implement.
Government agencies say that by 2050 India must nearly double grain production, to over 450 million tons a year, to meet the demands of prosperity and population growth. Unless it has more irrigated land and adopts new plant varieties and farming techniques, India is likely to become a net food importer before long – a change that will roil world food markets.
More fundamentally, growing water shortages threaten to slow Indian economic growth and fuel social tensions. The government must fix its disjointed policy approach and develop a long-term vision for water resources.
India must treat water as a strategic issue and focus on three key areas. One is achieving greater water efficiency and productivity gains. Another is using clean-water technologies to open up new supply sources, including ocean and brackish waters and recycled wastewater. The third is expanding and enhancing water infrastructure to correct regional and seasonal imbalances in water availability, and to harvest rainwater, which can be a new supply source to ease shortages.
Boosting water supplies demands tapping unconventional sources and adopting non-traditional approaches, as well as improving the old ways of water-supply management.
In the discussion that followed the January 23rd presentation at the Asia Society it became clear that these presentations had one major flaw. Mr. Chellaney, though clearly in full knowledge of the topic, in his eagerness to present water and the fact that we waste water, and grab water from our neighbors, did not present the technologies that will help us overcome such shortages in the future.
In fact, if we do not talk about new technologies of water desalination, and of water saving, it is as if we were saying that when talking about energy – that it is all about oil.
Nevertheless, the book and the presentations are valuable because they describe the magnitude of the problem and send us off to look for possible solutions before the shortages hit us with full force.
We will get back to this point in another posting that will deal with A UNESCO newly established Graduate School in Delft, Holland, that will be training development professionals with knowledge in water technologies as well.
Kishore Mahbubani of Singapore, at the Asia Society in New York, introduces his new book on the logic of One World – that states: America’s position as sole number one in the globalized world ends in maximum five years, and future optimism results from the focus of convergence.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI -
CHINA and INDIA, obsessed with growth, caused during 2000-11 most of the increase in CO2 emissions and a new book – GREENPRINT” – says finally they ought to take over global leadership in Climate Change matters.
China, India and climate change.
Take the lead
Emerging markets are a big part of the problem; they are essential to any solution.
Feb 2nd 2013 THE ECONOMIST FRONT PAGE ARTICLE – From the print edition
Some tricky turns up ahead
Greenprint: A New Approach to Cooperation on Climate Change. By Aaditya Mattoo and Arvind Subramanian.
Buy from: Amazon.com
MOST books about the environment take the West as their starting point. This is understandable. For decades America was the world’s biggest polluter, contributing more to the problem than any other country, whereas Europe—at least in its politicians’ minds—has model environmental laws and holds plenty of righteous talks to negotiate new solutions.
But Europe and America are becoming supporting actors in the world’s climate-change drama. The lead players are China and India. China is the world’s largest emitter, contributing nearly a quarter of current global emissions. With India it accounted for 83% of the worldwide increase in carbon emissions in 2000-11. Though global warming began with industrialised countries it must end—if it is to end—through actions in developing ones. All the more reason to welcome “Greenprint”, the first book on climate change to concentrate on this growing part of the problem. Written by Aaditya Mattoo, an economist at the World Bank, and Arvind Subramanian, a senior fellow at the Centre for Global Development, the book offers an unflinching look at what one might realistically expect emerging markets to do.
From an environmentalist’s point of view, India and China elicit despair. They are obsessed with growth. To fuel it, they are building ever more coal-fired power stations, a filthy form of energy. Their cities fume. Their rivers catch fire. There is not much anyone can do about it.
But an attractive quality of this book is that it goes beyond such fatalism. The West, the authors argue, has failed to mitigate global warming, so developing countries will have to take over. This is necessary, they say, because global warming will affect developing countries more than rich ones, partly because tropical and subtropical lands are more sensitive to warming than cold or temperate ones, and partly because rich people can afford better flood controls and drought-resistant seeds than poor ones.
One estimate by William Cline, an economist, found that a rise of 2.5% in global temperatures would cut agricultural productivity by 6% in America but by 38% in India. In light of their disproportionate vulnerability, emerging giants will have to push rich countries to make more environmental compromises. To make these demands credible, they themselves will have to make some changes too.
The trouble, as the authors admit, is that emissions cuts will also be costly for China and India. Messrs Mattoo and Subramanian estimate that if the two countries were to reduce emissions by 30% by 2020 (compared with doing nothing), their manufacturing output would fall by 6-7% and their manufactured exports by more than that. As still relatively poor countries, they are less able to bear the pain.
These challenges help to explain why it is so difficult for India and China to take the lead on climate change. After considering different ways to allocate emissions cuts among nations, the authors concede that the fairest approach would be to allow developing countries to consume as much energy as rich ones did during their own industrial revolutions. But if the aim is to limit the rise in global temperatures to two degrees, which most scientists think necessary, this would allow developing-country emissions to rise by 200% whereas rich-country emissions would have to fall by an amount that is politically inconceivable.
The authors supply more reasonable solutions. They reckon that China and others could and should invest more in new technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, in order to boost improvements in clean energy. They also provide a detailed and convincing case for rich countries to put a price on carbon by introducing a modest border tax on imports from developing countries.
The book does not quite provide the promised “greenprint” for developing countries to reduce emissions. But that would be a tall order. As a first stab at analysing one of the world’s most intractable problems, it provides a wealth of analysis and fuel for thought.
Notes to think about in the 2012-2013 Christmas to New Year Season: Yes, we managed to overcome the dragons of the 20th Century and survived the Woolsey poisonous snakes they left behind, but the new tsunamis and droughts – in nature and as waves of human migration – are now on us – and with a much better educated humanity need a higher intelligence answer.
A new report from the Oxford Research Group argues that the second decade of the 21st century is a vital period for effecting change.
This came to our attention at: www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers…
The report, entitled Chances for Peace in the Second Decade: What Is Going Wrong and What We Must Do – is rooted in a historical perspective. During the superpower “cold war” from 1945-90 there were many “proxy wars” waged in the global south that killed more than 10 million people. At the same time, the nuclear arms-race peaked at over 60,000 nuclear warheads, with many nuclear accidents and dangerous crises along the way; it was more by luck than wisdom that the world survived without armed nuclear catastrophe. The cold-war era also saw massive expenditure on the military, diverting resources and attention from much more important human needs. Even now, there is great peril in nuclear proliferation, even if it is less that of tipping over a precipice into all-out disaster and more of a slippage towards “small nuclear wars in far-off places”.
The cold war ended in the late 1980s. The west’s security attitudes in the 1990s were captured in the incoming CIA chief R James Woolsey’s comment that the United States had slayed the Soviet dragon but now inhabited a jungle full of poisonous snakes. When that “jungle” bit back (including with the 9/11 atrocities), the only response to be considered was to crush that part of it in an all-out “war on terror”.
The result in the 2000s was the appalling loss of life in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even as the al-Qaida idea retained its potency, not least in south Asia, northern Africa and the middle east. In the process, the west lost the will to put tens of thousands of “boots on the ground”; instead, it is now moving into an era of “remote control” in which armed drones, special forces, private military companies, intense expeditionary warfare and rendition all play a part in keeping the lid on threats to security.
But the inability of the global economic system to deliver socio-economic justice, and the failure of both political and economic systems to respond to environmental limits, especially the potentially disastrous consequences of climate disruption pose much more terrible challenges that must be considered.
The financial crisis of 2008 made only a marginal dent in conventional economic wisdom. The orthodoxy is still that the west may have a few years of austerity, with a little bit more financial regulation to patch up the system, before a vigorous return to the old ways in which upcoming countries play a leading role. It sounds plausible, but leaves out the basic inability of the system to deliver fairness. Free-market capitalism is rooted in difference, and always produces plenty of losers. But the disadvantaged on the margins, who are in the majority in so many countries, are also today much better educated, have greater access to communications than ever before, and are far more likely to resent their exclusion and react against it.
In practice, this might be expressed in the Naxal rebellion in India, social unrest in China, protest from the much better educated and knowledgable youthful Arab generations, or even recourse to radical and sometimes brutal faith-based movements. The response from the powerful might be to seek to maintain control, whether within or between states; but this is guaranteed to produce yet more resentment and anger. Meanwhile, environmental limits encroach remorselessly; and, in the case of climate disruption, accelerate steadily.
The Oxford Research Group report tries, in a very tentative way, to suggest some positive outcomes. In the simplest of terms, the way ahead is straightforward – though translating the obvious into the actual is far from easy. Severe climate change has to be prevented by a rapid transition to low-carbon economies, with the main carbon-emitters of the global north having to decrease carbon outputs by 80% in less than two decades. The lesser emitters must be enabled to develop along economic paths that are truly sustainable, aided substantially by the northern states that have been responsible so far for the great majority of emissions.
Such an environmental transition has to be paralleled directly by an economic transformation to a far more equitable and emancipated system, both transnationally and within states. For the global south, this involves much greater debt-relief and the linking of trade with development in a manner similar to that advocated by UNCTAD in the 1960s but never implemented – a genuine “new international economic order”. Technological innovations may well help, not least in adapting to the level of climate change that is already inevitable; and a rapid transition to versatile renewable-energy sources, often seriously localised, can enhance economic autonomy.
Thirty years ago, in the early 1980s, there was a palpable fear of nuclear annihilation and doubts whether the world would make it to 1990 – yet we did. Thirty years before that, some far-sighted politicians sought European economic cooperation as a means of preventing a third European civil war. The European Union has many problems, but a Franco-German conflict is now almost inconceivable.
There are numerous recent examples where warning-signs have been heeded and steps rapidly taken. The shock of the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962, for example, helped stimulate a raft of arms-control treaties later in that decade; and the discovery of the Antarctic “ozone hole” in 1983 led to the Montreal convention to control the pollutant causes of ozone-depletion.
The equivalent for climate change – the “canary in the coal-mine” – might well turn out to be the increasing incidence of severe weather events. But dynamic responses to environmental limits and the socio-economic divide will come fast enough only if these are underpinned by enough new thinking. If prophecy is “suggesting the possible”, then bring on the prophets and their movements!
Buds of Hope: There are, fortunately, quite a few of these around already. Britain alone has many pioneers, among them the New Economics Foundation’s “great transition” project, the “transition towns” movement, or even the delightfully named “incredible edible Todmorden” (based in an innovative west Yorkshire town) and its many offshoots. The work of the Centre for Alternative Technology is as imaginative as ever, and Oxford Research Group’s work on “sustainable security” does its best with modest resources to take on conventional security thinking.
On a worldwide level, many economic alternatives already exist – from the small and startlingly different (such as self-managing communes or industrial zones) to vast associations such as the cooperative movement with around 950 million members. The former have many opportunities to grow, while the latter are fully embedded in many societies yet still full of potential.
The paucity of this last section is what should help us focus our minds going into 2013. At the UN you find these among the NGOs – their sprouting inroads via a few enlightened governments are still very fickle. The majority of States are run by individuals too self-centered to be of any use when trying to reach out for global solutions.
openDemocracy.net has spun daughters openSecurity, openEconomy, openIndia, and is in the process of creating platforms for Arab Awakening, Spread the Word, oD Russia, 50.50 about women, OurKingdom about the UK. and we wish they open a similar platform for the US – we expect to contact them about this idea and would suggest they talk with The Guardian as well.
The point in all of this is that we realize in the post GW Bush era (where is he by the way? heard of him lately?) that DEMOCRACY is not the CURE-ALL he thought it was. The new snakes released by the Arab Spring taught us this.
Climate change was predicted to arrive tomorrow but it is happening today. For this reason, the moment for climate justice has arrived. But in 2012 all what was achieved was to send the UN Climate Travellers to Doha, Qatar, in order to sensitize to the issue leaders of the Arab Middle East – otherwise the results are as it was expected – nil. Even the always-diplomat UNSG Ban Ki-moon had a hard time keeping a straight-face for the one third page length final press release.