links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter


 
Belarus:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 4th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

EU states agree to invite Belarus minister {as an outsider to their foreign ministers’ meeting.}
PHILIPPA RUNNER, EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS, October 3, 2008.

EU states have agreed to invite Belarus foreign minister Sergei Martynov to a prestigious meeting in Brussels, as the French EU presidency struggles to counter Russian diplomacy on the union’s eastern fringe.

The Belarusian minister is to take part in a “troika” with EU foreign relations chief Javier Solana, external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner on 13 October, on the margins of a wider EU foreign ministers’ meeting on the same day.

Senior EU diplomats made the decision in Brussels on Friday (3 October), with Mr Kouchner’s office set to rubber-stamp the move before a formal invitation goes out. A previous suggestion to bring Mr Martynov to Paris in September was judged premature at the time.

The formal invitation may be made before Monday, when Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin plans to visit Minsk, in order to show Belarus that the EU is taking seriously its latest offer of a rapprochement with the West.

“We wouldn’t like to leave Belarus in the arms of Russia,” a French diplomat told EUobserver. “We want to see what we could do in order not to give up [EU] sanctions totally, the sticks, but to give some carrots at the same time.”

France is “considering” the risk that Mr Putin will use the threat of gas price hikes against Belarus in 2009 to pressure the country into recognising Georgia rebel enclaves South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, she added.

The Martynov-troika meeting would signal a breakthrough in EU-Belarus relations. In 1997, the EU froze contacts with Belarus officials above the deputy-minister level, and between 2004 and 2006 imposed a visa ban on 41 officials, including President Alexander Lukashenko.

Belarussian parliamentary elections last Sunday were judged undemocratic by the EU and the OSCE. But Belarus has released political prisoners and allowed small anti-Lukashenko protests, as it seeks Western support in a bid to resist becoming a Russian client state.

***
Unturning the screw:

The EU is also considering relaxing its legal sanctions package on top of the one-off Martynov gesture.

The latest options discussed internally include a temporary suspension of the visa ban for some of the names on the list. The suspension could include President Lukashenko himself, but not people such as Viktor Sheyman, a former security chief implicated in the disappearance of three anti-government activists in 1999.

The EU is also debating ending the 1997 ban on high-level contacts and chopping the costs of EU visas from €60 (one third the average monthly wage in Belarus) to €35 per visit.

The visa move could help build pro-EU sentiment among ordinary Belarusians and advertise the benefits of political reform. “We want people to come to Vilnius and see how things look in a democracy, how much we have prospered,” a Lithuanian official said.

Any sanctions decision will wait until the 13 October EU foreign ministers’ meeting however, in case the unpredictable President Lukashenko makes a u-turn after the Putin visit next week.

Dutch obstacle:

The large majority of EU states in favour of softening sanctions will also have to persuade Dutch foreign minister Maxim Verhagen of the merit of such a move.

“We are not convinced there has been any major improvement [in the political climate in Belarus]. He [Mr Verhagen] doesn’t see any grounds for a substantial change,” a Dutch diplomat said.

“We’re talking about human rights here and we have to take things seriously,” he added. “This has all the makings of being a substantial discussion point in the GAERC [the EU foreign ministers gathering].”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 27th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Miliband rallies ‘coalition against Russian aggression’ {starts with talks in the Ukraine.}
PA, Wednesday, 27 August 2008, The Independent.

 www.independent.co.uk/news/world/…
Related Articles:
Ukraine condemns Russian move on Georgian regions.
Russian relations with West reach new low.
EU condemns Russia move on Georgia regions.
***

David Miliband will make a keynote speech in Ukraine today strongly condemning Russia’s decision to formally recognise two breakaway regions of Georgia.

The Foreign Secretary said he was visiting Kiev in a bid to assemble the “widest possible coalition against Russian aggression”.

Russia’s president Dmitri Medvedev was yesterday accused of “inflaming” the crisis by insisting that South Ossetia and Abkhazia should be independent.

Mr Medvedev told a news agency: “We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a new Cold War.

“But we don’t want it and in this situation everything depends on the position of our partners.”

He said the West would have to “understand the reason behind” the decision to recognise the regions if it wanted to preserve good relations with Russia.

***

Mr Miliband said Russia’s recognition of the two regions was “unjustifiable and unacceptable” and further inflamed an already tense situation in the region.

“It will also not work,” he said in a statement yesterday. “It is contrary to the principles of the peace agreement, which Russia recently agreed, and to recent Russian statements.

“It takes no account of the views of the hundreds of thousands of Georgians and others who have been forced to abandon their homes in the two territories.”

The Foreign Secretary was backed by Western leaders including US President George Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mr Bush condemned Mr Medvedev’s decision as “irresponsible” and called the move “inconsistent” with UN Security Council resolutions and the French-brokered ceasefire plan.

“Russia’s action only exacerbates tensions and complicates diplomatic negotiations,” Mr Bush said.

Ms Merkel condemned Russia’s decision as “absolutely not acceptable,” but said Europe must still keep channels of communication open with Moscow.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier said the Russian decision was “regrettable, and we reaffirm our attachment to Georgia’s territorial integrity”.

France, which currently holds the EU presidency, has called an emergency meeting of EU leaders on Monday to review the relationship between Russia and Europe.

***

Mr Medvedev has warned that he was considering halting co-operation with Nato altogether, amid the fallout from the one-sided military confrontation between Russia and Georgia earlier this month.

Yesterday Russia cancelled a visit by Nato’s secretary-general, and it has complained that the alliance is bolstering its military presence in the Black Sea.

And in a move that is likely to increase tensions even further, Mr Medvedev later warned that his country may respond to a US missile shield in Europe through military means.

Mr Medvedev said the deployment of an anti-missile system close to Russian borders “will, of course, create additional tensions”.

He said: “We will have to react somehow, to react, of course, in a military way.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 11th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From:      yunus.arikan at rec.org.tr
Subject: Commission on Environment of Turkish Parliament Approved Turkey’s Accession to the Kyoto Protocol
Date: June 11, 2008
At the gathering on 11 June 2008, the Commission on Environment of the Turkish Grand National Assembly approved a draft law that enables Turkey’s accession to the Kyoto Protocol.

The decision was adopted by a unanimity vote of members of ruling and opposition parties of the parliament.

Pursuant to the by-law of the Parliament, the Commission of Environment, together with the Commission on EU Accession will act as sub-committees and Commission on Foreign Affairs will be the lead Committee.

Thus, the decision of the Commission on the Environment shall be considered as a significant step forward for the adoption of the decision at the Commission on Foreign Affairs, and consecutively by the General Assembly of the Turkish Grand National Assembly.

Once the parliament adopts the law on Turkey’s accession to the Kyoto Protocol, the law will be presented to the President and upon his approval, the law will be published at the Official Gazzette.

The Kyoto Protocol will enter into force for Turkey, after 90 days of Turkey’s submission of “Instrument of Accession” to the United Nations in New York.

Considering the fact that the relevant decision of the government was forwarded to the Parliament on 3 June 2008, if the above summarized procedure is implemented with its current pace, it can be expected that Turkey can participate as an official Party to the Kyoto Protocol, at the 14th Conference of Parties and 4the Meeting of Parties that will be held in Poznan in December 2008.

Pursuant to Dec.26/CP7, Turkey is an Annex-I Country that is different than that of other Annex-I Parties to the UNFCCC.

Turkey and Belarus are the two Annex-I countries that are not listed in Annex-B of the Kyoto Protocol, due to the fact that they were not a Party to the UNFCCC at the time of adoption of Kyoto Protocl in 1997.

Once Decision 10/CMP2 enters into force, Turkey will be the only Annex-I country that will not have a quantified emission limitation or reduction obligation in the first commitment period of Kyoto Protocol.

Turkey, S.Korea and Mexico will also be recognized as the three countries of the OECD that do not have a a quantified emission limitation or reduction obligation until 2012, due to the fact that they are not listed in Annex-B of the Kyoto Protocol

Yunus ARIKAN
İklim Değişikliği Proje Yöneticisi / Climate Change Senior Project Manager
Bölgesel Çevre Merkezi Türkiye Ofisi (REC Türkiye) / Regional Environmental Center Country Office Turkey   (REC Turkey)
Address: Ilkbahar Mah. 15. Cad. 296.Sok No:8 Yildiz 06550 Ankara TURKEY
Tel: +90 312 491 95 53
Fax: +90 312 491 95 40
e-mail:  yunus.arikan at rec.org.tr
Web: www.rec.org.tr

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 29th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

This is a step also towards the setting of an Eastern border for the EU.

belarus001.gif

###

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

Poland and Sweden to pitch ‘Eastern Partnership’ idea

By Philippa Runner, May 22, 2008.

Poland and Sweden are to unveil joint proposals for a new eastern Europe policy at an EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels on Monday (26 May), in a mini-version of France’s “Mediterranean Union.” The “Eastern Partnership” envisages a multinational forum between the EU-27 and neighbouring states Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Polish press agency PAP reports. {This list amounts to the old GUAM States + Armenia}

The forum would aim to negotiate visa-free travel deals, free trade zones for services and agricultural products and strategic partnership agreements with the five countries.

It would also launch smaller, bilateral projects on student exchange, environmental protection and energy supply, but would avoid the controversial topic of EU membership perspectives.

Dictatorship Belarus could join at a technical and expert-level only. Russia would also be invited to cooperate on local initiatives, involving the Kaliningrad enclave for example.

Unlike the grander Mediterranean club, the eastern set-up would not have its own secretariat but would be run by the European Commission and financed from the 2007 to 2013 European neighbourhood policy budget. A commission official would be appointed as its “special coordinator.”
Following the foreign ministers’ debate, Warsaw hopes to secure formal approval at the EU summit in June and to start detailed work on the “partnership” by the end of the year.

Warm reception:

“Poland prepared the proposal with Swedish cooperation. The project was presented to the European Commission in recent days and met with a positive reaction,” Polish foreign ministry spokesman Piotr Paszkowski said.

The upcoming French EU presidency – keen to secure Polish support for its Mediterranean baby – is warming to the idea, with French leader Nicolas Sarkozy to hold talks with Polish prime minister Donald Tusk in Warsaw next week, PAP writes.

Germany, the UK and the Netherlands have also voiced initial support, but Spain and Italy could prove problematic while Ukraine will have to be persuaded the partnership offers something better than the current EU neighbourhood package, Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza reports.

“The EU’s eastern policy is of interest to the whole EU,” Polish commissioner Danuta Hubner told the Rzeczpospolita newspaper. “The weakness of [previous] northern, eastern or southern European Union policies was that they existed only in the sphere of interest of member countries in those regions.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Ukraine has high hopes for French EU presidency – writes Elitsa Vucheva from Kiev for the EUobserver – May 14, 2008.

Expectations are high in Kiev that an EU-Ukraine summit in September in France will result in stronger ties between the two sides and boost progress in negotiations on a new bilateral agreement.

“We expect certain serious steps to be taken along the lines of preparing the new enhanced agreement and the free trade agreement [between Ukraine and the EU],” Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko told a group of journalists in Kiev.

“We look forward to the EU flashing the green light for us that would help us on our way forward,” she added.

Ukraine’s relations with the EU are currently regulated by a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) in force since 1998, a set-up that Kiev considers politically insufficient.

Negotiations to replace the PCA started in March 2007 and Ukraine wants it to contain a clear reference to eventual EU membership, and avoid the vague political formulations that have characterised Brussels statements about the large eastern European country to date.

The new bilateral agreement is also to include a free trade agreement on which negotiations were launched in February.

Oleksandr Chalyi, a senior foreign-policy adviser to Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko, suggested that after overcoming a “very deep political and social crisis” by signing the Lisbon treaty, the EU would now be “more capable of developing a consensus on Ukraine’s European perspectives.”

“We want the legal substance of our partnership transformed to association,” instead of a simple “closer cooperation,” Oleksandr Chalyi
said.

According to government estimates, a clear majority of Ukrainians – around 65 to 70 percent – back the idea of seeing their country becoming a future EU member. The EU, however, has not shown much enthusiasm for this and still prefers to talk about “a much closer and enhanced partnership.”

Ian Boag, head of the European Commission’s delegation to Ukraine, stressed that the deal that will be eventually reached should not be seen as “a stepping stone for membership of the EU.” But in a bid to reassure the Ukrainian side he added that “nothing excludes [such an option].”

In this context, a high-level EU-Ukraine meeting planned to take place on 9 September in France and under French EU presidency, is expected to bring a breakthrough in the stagnating bilateral relations.

Paris recently floated a proposal for an “Association Agreement” with the former Soviet country – which stops short of any EU accession commitments but provides for visibly stronger ties.

Kiev welcomed the fact that “such country as France recently put new ideas to bring Ukraine closer to the EU.”

“Now we are working on the basis of the French proposals and… hope this event [the EU-Ukraine summit] will produce some results,” said deputy foreign minister Kostiantyn Yelisieiev in charge of negotiating the new agreement.

He stressed the importance of the French idea, considering that “France was one of the countries ‘a little bit cold’ [towards Ukraine’s EU perspectives].”

According to Mr Yelisieiev, the September summit will be “the real test [for EU-Ukraine relations] and will show the real intentions of the French leadership” regarding Ukraine.
Problems still to be tackled:
Along with the lack of political consensus among EU states on the 46-million strong country’s EU future, Ukraine still has its own internal issues to tackle before such a possibility could be realistically discussed.

Political in-fighting blocking much needed changes has on several occasions prompted the EU to call for more political stability in Ukraine, while Kiev still has to tackle its inefficient administration, high levels of corruption, as well as judicial and economic reforms.

Ukrainian politicians concede there are problems.

“We have got to get rid of corruption and other negative consequences of our socialist past… We should achieve European standards as soon as possible,” foreign minister Volodymyr Ogryzko told journalists in the margins of Europe’s day celebrations in Kiev on Sunday (11 May).

But he added: “I do hope that we will have a very concrete signal from the EU that Ukraine will in the nearest future be in the EU.”

————–

At www.SustainabiliTank.info, we expressed already in the past our “puzzlement” of why Ukraine does not agree of its own free will to let the eastern third of the country – still Russian speaking – go and join Russia – if that is what the people living there prefer – and then the western 2/3 of the country could easily readjust and join the EU as the EU’s natural eastern frontier. That would leave outside only Russia and Belarus – quite a natural outcome.

——————

Further, in euobserver.com/9/26150/?rk=1 Peter Sain ley Berry, while questioning the EU intent with Turkey, makes the point that the Ukraine belongs to Europe.

[Comment] The elephant on the European doorstep.
16.05.2008 – By Peter Sain ley Berry.

EUOBSERVER / COMMENT – Politically, it has been a propitious time for those named Boris. Not only do we now have a Boris as Mayor of London, but, in the Balkans, the parties that support Serbian President Boris Tadic, and seek a European future for Serbia, defeated those that affected an isolationist persuasion. Whether Mr Tadic will now be able to form a pro-European government remains to be seen.

The European Union’s position at least is settled. The Western Balkans – seven countries with a population of approximately 27 million – have been offered a European future, subject only to satisfying the normal criteria. This process will take time but few doubt the result. We are on course therefore for an EU of 34.

This will make the government of the EU more complex. If there are 15 possible bilateral relationships in a community of six, there are 351 in a community of 27. Adding a further seven states increases the complexity by a whopping 210. Apart from this complexity there will be other consequences, including for financing, for decision-making, for the distribution of MEPs and Commissioners. None of this seems to be being discussed. Nevertheless, there is general agreement that the Western Balkans should accede to the Union in due course. Public opinion is broadly favourable.

The same cannot be said for Turkey, to which Queen Elizabeth II of Britain paid a state visit this week. At the formal banquet she praised the advances made by the government and rehearsed Britain’s credentials as a champion of Turkish entry. Although Turkey is formally a candidate for accession, the end of that process seems as far away as ever. Britain, and her allies among the newer member states, may champion Turkish entry for sound geo-political and geo-economic reasons, but France and Germany most certainly do not. Moreover, European public opinion is divided.

The reasons are partly geographical. I remember a former President of the European Commission, the late Roy Jenkins, saying that the then Turkish President had acquired a piece of paper from some prestigious geographical institute certifying Turkey’s Europeaness. His response was that any country that needed a piece of paper….. probably wasn’t European.

In this he was no doubt correct, though in the absence of a recognised border with Asia, who can say? But there are other more important arguments – financing of the poor but populous Turkish state is one, the internal coherence of the Union is another. Which is why France and Germany have been trying to divert Turkey down the route of a ‘privileged partnership,’ instead of full accession, through which the EU’s commitment might be modified if necessary. Turkey, of course, is having none of that. Meanwhile the accession negotiations drag on.

Out of 35 chapters only six have been opened and eight are frozen by the Cypriot stand-off. France, which assumes the rotating Union Presidency on 1st July, has said it will continue the negotiations in good faith. This is a semi quid pro quo for Turkey agreeing to sup from the poisoned chalice of France’s ‘Mediterranean Union’ scheme (now formally adopted by the EU) designed to provide a political forum for the EU and its Mediterranean neighbours.

Turkey has been told specifically that belonging to the Mediterranean Union will not affect its EU candidacy. But as the French rather hope that the Turks may be persuaded to accept some leadership role in this body – so taking its mind off EU membership – it would be prudent for them to take this assurance with a grain of salt.

What is certain is that the Union would not be the same if Turkey joins with its 80 million population. It would not necessarily be a worse Union, or a better Union, but it would be a different Union. For quite apart from the effect that Turkey itself will have on the existing member states, its accession would change the dynamics of other nations looking for a European future.

Chief of these is the Ukraine whose Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, was again this week announcing her intention to bang on Mr Sarkozy’s door come July.

In fact, when it comes to European credentials the Ukraine has rather better claims than Turkey. It’s capital, Kiev, is closer to Brussels, for instance, than Athens. Moreover, as anyone reading Heinrich Boell’s – great anti-war novel ‘Der Zug war Punktlich,’ can appreciate, Germany, Poland and the Ukraine are but stations on a journey into Europe’s deep hinterland. The railway line is no doubt still there.

It is true to say that with its 55 million people the Ukraine is therefore the elephant on our European doorstep. Still, the policy is to resist giving any hint of promise of future membership. True, the country has much to reform before it could become a credible candidate. Nevertheless, it has as much right to lay claim to its place in the European firmament as anyone else. The banging on the door will become louder and more insistent. There will be other bangings, too; Georgia is already demanding to be heard. Belarus, Moldova, the other Caucasian nations may well follow suit.



No one can believe the Union can remain the same should these accessions take place. Again, they are not necessarily to be resisted. It may be in our interest that we should go ahead. But we should not sleepwalk toward a decision, finding out too late that we have no room left for manoeuvre.

For despite the frequency of the phrase, ‘Future of Europe,’ and constant enjoinders to discuss it, a conspiracy of silence surrounds anything more remote than the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. Only the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has raised the difficult questions about where the future borders of Europe should lie and what sort of Europe, in terms of its integration, competencies and governance, we are seeking. And short shrift he has got for his pains.

This is unfortunate, for the Future of Europe is the future of the next thirty or forty years.
I do not see how we can continue to espouse Turkey’s candidacy and not that of the Ukraine. But this has consequences. If we are to have a grand Europe, a Europe of 42 states and 700 millions of people, it is not too early to start debating the prospect now.

The author is editor of EuropaWorld.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 11th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Commission on Sustainable Development Is It A Moribund UN Body Or Will It Be Revived Because It Is Needed After The Re-Engagement Hoopla That Happens Now At Bali?

Our Website was established in order to help create the awareness that there is no other development possible – not in the developing countries and not in the developed countries – that is not SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

We had experience starting from before the Brundtland Commission of 1987, we were engaged at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, and we wrote the “Promptbook on Sustainable Development for The World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg 2002. In short we are strong believers that if the UN CSD were not created in 1994, we would have had to create it now.

Why that? Simply, because as it is crystal clear now that the development of tomorrow cannot go on by rules of the development of yesterday – and this was given, right today, full global recognition in Oslo, when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the scientists of the IPCC, and to Al Gore – whatever will come out from the Bali-Poznan-Copenhagen process will be clearly a final global landing on the runway that was built in Rio for Agenda 21. And as we keep saying – this will be a joint Sustainable Development for North and South, East and West. It will be a world were those that have the needed technologies will share them with those that are only trying out for their own National development. This will not be done because of altruism – it will be rather because of self interest that comes from the simple fact that we are all residents of planet earth, and we understand that we have caused the planet to be on a path of destruction that harms the continuation of life as nature or god created.

After UNCED, The UN created a Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development and Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Gali appointed Mr. Nitin Desai, at the Under-Secretary-General level to head the Department. 1994-1998 Joke Waller-Hunter from the Netherlands was the first Director of the Division for Sustainable Development and the head of the Commission on Sustainable Development – so the Commission itself dates back, for all practical purpose, to 1994 – even though it officially was started in 1992. In May 2007 we witnessed the CSD 15 (that is counting back to 1992!).

In 1997, Secretary-General Kofi, in an effort to reduce the number of UN Under-Secretary-Generals, consolidated three economic and social departments and created UN DESA (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs) and eventually put Mr. Desai as head of DESA where he was until he was replaced in 2003 with Mr. Jose Antonio Ocampo, the former Finance Minister of Colombia; the new Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon, brought in, July 2007, Mr. Sha Zukang, the previous China Ambassador in Geneva. In 1998 Ms. JoAnne DiSano, with a background of having worked for the Canadian Government, and then for 11 years with the Australian Government, became the Director of the new Division of Sustainable Development within DESA. She held this position until September of 2007 and since then the position is VACANT, and it looks as if the UN does not care.

Ms. Joke Waller-Hunter, left her position with the CSD in 1998 in order to become the Executive Secretary of the of Bonn based   UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) where she remained untill her death in 2006. She was replaced there in 2007, by Mr. Yvo de Boer, appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Mr. Yvo de Boer is also from the Netherlands, where he was Director for International Affairs of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment. He was in the Past Vice-Chair of the Commision on SD and Vice-Chair of the COP of the UNFCCC. Both, the CSD and the UNFCCC are outcomes of the 1992 UNCED. Ms. Joke Waller-Hunter’s departure from New York may have had something to do with the 1997 UN reorganization that replaced the Department of SD with a Division of SD within DESA. She may have sensed that her presence at UNFCCC will further SD goals easier then   at the new Division of SD – that its creation caused in effect a demotion in her position.

The present vacancy at the nerve-center of the CSD, at a time the CSD is needed indeed, following the latest push at the UNFCCC, on matters of climate change, that causes our renewed interest in the UN CSD and in the UN Division that was established specifically in order to run the CSD. We are afraid that it will be difficult to see progress on the UN level, in matters of climate change, without a functioning office that deals with sustainable development.

Now to be honest, our interest is not just because of curiosity – but rather because of the worry that we understand very well the reasons for the slow demise of the CSD – the factors that got it to start on what may be a path to extinction.

At CSD 9 it was decided that the CSD will discuss specific topics in cycles of two years. So the first cycle was Water for CSD11-CSD12, the second cycle Energy for CSD14-CSD15, the third cycle Land Use for CSD16-CSD17.

So 2006-2007 was the Energy cycle, and as in UN fashion it was supposed to be the turn to have a chair from Asia, it was the Asians that suggested Qatar to chair the energy subject. Now Qatar is a producer of gas rather then oil.

Some said that though sustainable development must help put forward development methods that are less dependent on oil and coal, this for reasons of global warming and climate change, nevertheless, recognizing the role of natural gas as a cleaner fuel and a potential intermediary fuel from an oil and coal economy to an economy that is starting to be based on renewable sources of energy, Qatar could have been acceptable also as a political peace-maker between the interests of conventional industry and the incoming new industry based on renewbles. But to the consternation of those optimists, we could see that behind the representative of Qatar, at the CSD sessions, there was always sitting a representative from Saudi Arabia, and in the end there was no resulting negotiated text for what is probably one of the most important topics of Sustainable Development – Energy.

Above was nothing yet when compared with what happened in the last day of CSD 15. As always, there are elections for the next CSD membership – the membership is held at 53 countries elected according to a regional key – and then there is the election of the “bureau” and the new chair. The turn according to UN habit was that next chair will be from Africa, and as said, the topic for CSD16 in 2008, and for CSD17 in 2009, will be Land Use. The Africans decided to put forward Zimbabwe as their choice and campaigned with the G77 that this is their wish. The UK did not want any part of this, and specially since the land policies of the Mugabe Government have run Zimbabwe agriculture from being a large agricultural exporter to becoming a starving nation, with an economy that was totally destroyed, a monetary situation that shows astronomic inflation rate, and human rights problems that clearly make it ineligible for a UN leadership position, it is this obstinacy that reduced the CSD to plain irrelevancy. We were there that night of Friday May 11, 2007, in room 4 in the UN basement, and watched in disbelief how the distinguished, low-key German Ambassador, head in New York of the EU presidency, with the German Minister of the Environment next to him, simply told the CSD Chair from Qatar that the EU cannot work with this sort of CSD.

If by any way I exaggerate now, 7 months later, please forgive my memory, but see what I, Pincas Jawetz, Inner City Press journalist Matthew Rusell Lee, and the EUobserver from Brussels, wrote about this – the references on the www.SustainabiliTank.info web are:

– EUobserver on the 5/11 Crash of CSD15 (May 14th, 2007)

– A First Analysis: From The Ashes of the CSD, Will We See A Rising Phoenix? A Brundtland II, To be Called – “OUR COMMON GROUND” ? (May 13th, 2007)

– The UN General Assembly Resolution of September 30, 1974 against South Africa was not Premised On Apartheid’s Threat To Security, But On Its Serious Violation Of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. WHY DOES
SOUTH AFRICA OF 2007 BACK MUGABE’s ZIMBABWE SAYING HE DOES NOT THREATEN INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY? (May 13th, 2007)

– 9/11 and 3/11 Have Become Symbols of what Oil Money Can Cause To Those Who Insist On Buying The Oil, Will 5/11 Become The Symbol of Awakening at the UN? This Because Of May 11, 2007 Late Evening Happenings At
The So Called UN Commission On Sustainable Development? (May 12th, 2007)

– At the UN, Zimbabwe Elected 26-21 to Sustainable Development Chair for CSD16, As EU and Others Reject Final Text of The Chairman from Qatar of CSD15. (May 12th, 2007)

I took then the 5/11 date and in ways of exaggeration tried to compare this with 9/11 in New York and 3/11 in Madrid. Was it really an exaggeration? Could we say that the backing Zimbabwe got from States with unresolved problems from colonial days, and oil states that think, completely wrong, that they have anything to gain from derailing the concept of sustainable development, sustainable energy, global warming, climate change…, from efforts to improve the life of billions of people?

Further, the UN recognizes three groups of States with greater needs – these are the Least Developed States (LDCs), the Small Island Independent States (SIDS), and the Landlocked States. These are the States within the UN system that are most in need of help via sustainable development. Why did the UN take them out from being under the Under-Secretary-General who heads DESA, and put them under a separate Under-Secretary-General? Does this not cause waste and decreased efficiency? Would they not be served better within a well functioning unified economic organization that takes, for instance, in account the interests of Island States when it comes to the subject of the effects of global warming/climate change?

Now, I was not going to allow myself to lose my hope for a functioning CSD. The articles I refer to above are actually articles of hope – that is I hope that from the ashes the CSD will rise, as a Phoenix, under the leadership of Brundtland II.

Does this look likely? I submit it is imperative, and by the end of this week, whatever wind will be blowing from Bali, people will see that it does not go without sustainable development. So why do the Africans not get together and try to rein in Mr. Mugabe? Again, just this week, the EU invited all Heads of State of Africa to Lisbon for discussions on trade that were needed in order to help restart the Doha trade round. The Europeans were ready to put aside the dispute with Mugabe, and he was also invited – then why did he have to show physically his raised fist? Is this the end of an EU-Africa relation? Clearly not. It was just a new beginning showing that rational people can try to restart negotiations even in the presence of a street-bully. And that brings me back to the UN DC-2 building – that is where one finds the CSD Secretariat.

CSD 16 will happen one way or another in May 5-16, 2008. The full list of topics is: “The Review Session of The Third Implementation Cycle that Will Focus on Agriculture, Rural Development, Land, Desertification, and Africa.”

The CSD expects Germany to fund the bringing to New York of youth representatives from the developing countries. A main topic will be “Drought and Desertification and Africa” – this means effects of climate change that helped cause warfare in Africa. Will the world allow Africa to commit suicide through obstinacy, or is the world obliged to look into the mirror and say we cannot continue on this path? Mr. Baroso bit his lip and made an effort. We assume the EU will continue to try to find a way to keep the Commission in business, if at least the UN Secretariat helps reestablish a CSD Secretariat – and at the minimum there must be a functioning Director of the CSD Secretariat. That is the closing of the three month old vacancy that was created with the departure of Ms. JoAnne DiSano.

I understand that part of the nominating and election process involves the Commission itself. The present 53 members are:

African States: 12 besides Zimbabwe. They are – Cameroon, Cape Verde, Congo/Kinshasa, Djibouti, Gambia, Guinea, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Tanzania, Zambia.

Asian States: 11 – Bahrain, China, North Korea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kuwait, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Thailand.

Eastern Europe: 6 – Belarus, Croatia, Czech Rep., Poland, Russia, Serbia.

Latin America and Caribbean: 10 – Antigua and Barbuda (the incoming head of G-77), Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Haiti, Peru.

Western European and Others: 13 – Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Monaco, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, UK, US.

By looking through this list I clearly see that Poland, the host of next year’s follow up meeting to Bali, motors of the UNFCCC track like Germany, UK, Japan, Australia, India, even China, Antigua, Korea,Tunisia, Congo/Kinshasa, Tanzania, Croatia will want to see a functioning CSD. What is needed is a low key peace maker with vision who comes from inside the UN system, and who has a history of having seen the difficulties when working with developing countries that seem to have memories from colonial days that they apply to new situations that really are of a totally different nature. Finding such a person would help, we hope, revive the CSD, so it could continue its functions and prepare for much larger importance when the UNFCCC track finally starts sputtering.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 23rd, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Breaking News
Bush administration slams Lukashenko, the President of Belarus.

The JTA, published 10/22/2007

The Bush administration called on the president of Belarus to retract anti-Semitic remarks.

“We have seen reports of President Lukashenko’s disturbing and irresponsible comments,” a State Department statement said. “We find them deeply offensive and call upon him to disavow these remarks. World leaders have a special responsibility to combat anti-Semitism, not perpetuate it.”

In an Oct. 12 broadcast, Alexander Lukashenko said of Bobruisk, a Belarusian port city: “This is a Jewish city, and the Jews are not concerned for the place they live in. They have turned Bobruisk into a pig sty. Look at Israel — I was there.”

Lukashenko was apparently soliciting favorable reaction from Iran, which has increased trade with Belarus in recent months.

A Democrat and a Republican are soliciting signatures among U.S. House of Representatives colleagues for a letter slamming the remarks.

“Your government’s tolerance of state-sponsored anti-Semitism is well documented,” says the letter to Lukashenko initiated by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), co-chairman of the Helsinki Commission, the congressional body that monitors human rights overseas, and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). “Anti-Semitic acts are only sporadically investigated and the Government allows state enterprises to freely print and distribute anti-Semitic material. Anti-Semitic acts of vandalism, intimidation and violence are on the rise. Amid this climate of anti-Semitism, your public statements are particularly dangerous.”

Our question is – will the UN leadership look into above alefations and find the courage to send a note to Belarus? Will this story be picked up by the UN Department of Public Information?

We are specially interested in the UN position because we found out also today, thanks to an article in The Independent of London, that   in Switzerland, where over twenty per cent of the country’s population is made up of foreigners, in the recent elections, the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) has won the most votes ever recorded in a general election in Switzerland, after mounting a virulent anti-foreigner campaign widely denounced as racist. The SVP got 29% of the total vote and their campaign poster depicted   three white sheep standing on a red and white Swiss national flag kicking a black sheep out of the country. Alongside ran the slogan “More Security!” The UN denounced as “openly racist” those posters – and the UN was clearly on the right track by doing so. The question is thus, will the UN also speak up against racial slurs, even though we know that some governing people in some Member States nurture openly anti-semitism. Washington said that the Lukashenko remarks came because of business deals between Belarus and Iran.

In Switzerland, surprisingly, the poll resulted also in the election of the first black member of the Swiss parliament: Ricardo Lumengo, a Social Democrat who was born in Angola, entered the country as an asylum seeker in the 1980s, and subsequently became a Swiss citizen. His election to the parliament will surely become a thorn in the side of those that voted SVP.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 24th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 Japan’s Quake Sends Tremors Across Nuclear Industry; It Closed The World’s Biggest Nuclear Plant.
By Barbara Lewis and Peter Dinkloh
Reuters

Tuesday 24 July 2007

London/Frankfurt – A Japanese earthquake that forced the closure of the world’s biggest nuclear plant has highlighted the energy source’s dangers, just when support had been growing.
Worries about security of energy supply and the urgency of fighting climate change had helped to overcome years of opposition to nuclear power after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Generating nuclear power does not produce any of the carbon emissions blamed for warming the planet.
But even for those swayed by environmental considerations, there are obstacles and, for the doubters, Japan’s troubles have added to their unease.

“It’s bound to have an effect. Chernobyl had a huge effect. These things are all factors into the equation. The question is about the balance? Will the public disquiet counteract the huge push by the industry?” asked Frank Barnaby, a consultant at the Oxford Research Group, who argues nuclear power is not worth the risk.

A powerful earthquake on July 16 caused radiation leaks, forcing Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to shut its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in the northwest of the country.

The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), advisory board to the OECD, said the biggest impact would be higher safety standards.

“The real impact will be that, logically, people designing new nuclear power plants will pay even more attention to the criteria for seismic events,” said Luis Echavarri, the NEA’s director, speaking by telephone from Paris.

Other difficulties varied from country to country. In Europe, public opinion was the dominant factor, although to an extent it had been won over, Echavarri said.

“Nuclear energy is much more popular than a few years ago because of climate change and security of supply, but still in some countries, it’s politically difficult.”

Britain, US Look to New Generation

In Britain, the government has called for a new generation of nuclear power plants as part of efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

Although public opposition has been relatively muted, the government has been forced to review its nuclear energy policy by a court challenge from environmental group Greenpeace.

At the same time, it is becoming harder to maintain Britain’s ageing fleet.

British Energy, which hopes to play a big part in building any new nuclear plants, had to shut down its Hunterston and Hinkley Point nuclear stations for lengthy repairs and has said they are unlikely to return to full power.

Like Britain, the United States, the world’s biggest energy user, is also thought to be well on the way to seeking new nuclear plants and applications for licences are expected to be submitted later this year.

Regardless of TEPCO’s difficulties, U.S. analysts said the fundamental reasons for looking to nuclear remained in place.

There could be an impact on public confidence, they said, but the time needed to process plans could be a bigger hurdle.

“These plants are so far away from being built. Who knows what factors could affect policy-makers between now and then?” Denise Furey of Fitch Ratings, said.

Against: Sweden and Germany are among the nations that have decided to phase out nuclear power.

Both have experienced problems with Swedish firm Vattenfall’s nuclear facilities.

In Sweden a reactor at the Forsmark plant suffered an emergency shutdown in July last year. It was rated two on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES), compared with seven for the Chernobyl disaster, the world’s worst nuclear accident.

Vattenfall’s German unit Vattenfall Europe is also under scrutiny following two emergency shutdowns and the German government has threatened to withdraw operating licences for the plants involved.

The incidents have been especially sensitive in a country where nuclear plants have met massive popular resistance, leading the previous government to agree to the closure of all of Germany’s reactors by the mid-2020s.


FOR: Those most favourable to nuclear power include Finland and France and both are building new plants.

In France nuclear power provides around 80 percent of the nation’s electricity needs and generally has public acceptance because it means cheaper power.

But even France has its nuclear detractors.

After last week’s earthquake in Japan, the nation’s anti-nuclear association Sortir du Nucleaire said 42 of France’s 58 nuclear power reactors might not be able to cope should a similar incident occur in France.

Most analysts say, however, that is extremely unlikely.

Additional reporting by Simon Johnson in Stockholm, Daniel Fineren and Peter Harrison in London, Bernie Woodall in Los Angeles, Scott DiSavino in New York, Muriel Boselli in Paris.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Before The Elections:

Geneva, May 17, 2007 — After a year of failed reforms and disappointment at the the UN’s Human Rights Council, the dominant bloc of non-democratic members led by China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia today is likely to welcome more abusers into their ranks. “Just when it seemed things in Geneva could not possibly get any worse, we may reach a new low,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a human rights monitoring organization based in Geneva.

After The Elections:

Geneva, May 17, 2007 — UN Watch welcomed the defeat of Belarus in today’s election of members to the UN Human Rights Council, “but the victory in overwhleming numbers of Egypt, Angola and Qatar — known rights violators who now join the Council’s dominant bloc of non-democratic members led by China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia — means that in Geneva it’s still the foxes guarding the chickens,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based human rights monitoring organization.
Further, from the UK Mission, May 17, 2007: “The UK Mission congratulates Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina on their election today to the UN Human Rights Council. Margaret Beckett, the UK Foreign Secretary, said:
The Human Rights Council has a unique and important mandate to improve the promotion and protection of human rights for all people, everywhere. I am therefore delighted to learn of the election of Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Council today. Its members carry a heavy responsibility to lead the UN’s human rights work around the world, and must have shown themselves worthy of the task entrusted to them. I am therefore delighted to learn of the election of Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Council today. The UK looks forward to working closely with them towards our shared goal of a strong and effective Council.”

—————————–

The old post said:

newsletter_header.jpg

UN Watch Briefing
News and Analysis from UN Watch in Geneva
Vol. 160 • May 16, 2007
Belarus, Egypt Must Release Prisoners Before UN Rights Council Elections

Belarus and Egypt must release jailed opposition leaders, journalists and bloggers before Thursday’s elections for the UN’s top human rights body. The four repressive regimes seeking seats on the UN Human Rights Council—Belarus, Egypt, Angola, and Qatar—must take immediate, concrete steps to show that they merit consideration for Council membership. The General Assembly in New York will choose new Council members in elections to be held tomorrow morning, May 17. To watch the live webcast at 10 a.m. EDT tomorrow, click here.

Election to the Council is supposed to be based on the candidate’s “contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights and [its] voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto,” according to the Council’s founding document, General Assembly Resolution 60/251. Once it is a Council member, a country is supposed to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” and “fully cooperate with the Council.”

In light of the deeply entrenched repression in these four countries, they are not qualified for Council membership. (See assessment of Council candidates here.) If, however, these regimes nevertheless wish to try to prove that they should be considered as potential Council members, they must—at a minimum—take concrete actions immediately. These include:

Angola—which in its Council campaign pledge said that it “fights for a wide implementation of the human rights consecrated in the international instruments to which the country is a part” and promised, among other things, to “mainstream[] human rights throughout [Angolan] society” and “promote[] the rule of law”—must

• Fully cooperate with the three Council Special Rapporteurs, which it has agreed in principle to allow to visit (the special rapporteurs on adequate housing, freedom of opinion and expression, and freedom of religion or belief).

• Dismiss the espionage charges against Dr. Sarah Wykes of the British NGO Global Witness for researching corruption in the oil sector, or at the very least permit Dr. Wykes to be defended against the charges by legal counsel of her choice.

• Allow private radio outlets to broadcast nationwide.

Belarus—which in its Council campaign pledge promised to “do its utmost to ensure that all international human rights instruments to which it is a party are fully observed”—must

• Release from prison Alexander Kozulin, the 2006 opposition Presidential candidate, who is currently serving a 5 ½ year term for peacefully protesting against the unfree and unfair election.

• Announce that it will allow a visit by, and fully cooperate with, the Council’s Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus, whom Belarus has stonewalled since his appointment in 2004, as well as the other UN human rights investigators with outstanding visit requests.

• Remove the prohibition on funding and cease other efforts to limit the activities of the only permitted human rights organization, the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, and also allow other independent non-governmental organizations to operate freely.

Egypt—which in its Council campaign pledge promised to “upgrade the level of its implementation of all human rights instruments which it has ratified,” including by “preserv[ing] the freedom of the press,” “strengthening the independence of the judiciary,” and “deepening its democracy”—must

• Release journalist Huwaida Taha Mitwalli, who is currently imprisoned for attempting to report on the government’s use of torture, as well as bloggers including Abd al-Monim Mahmud and Abd al-Karim Nabil Sulaiman (a.k.a. Karim Amer), who have been imprisoned for exercising their internationally protected right to freedom of expression.

• Announce that it will permit visits by, and fully cooperate with, the five Council Special Rapporteurs that have outstanding visit requests dating back as far as 1996 (the Special Rapporteurs on torture, human rights defenders, freedom of religion or belief, and the independence of judges and lawyers).

• Rescind its order to close the offices of the workers’ rights organization Center for Trade Union and Workers’ Services.

Qatar
—which in its Council campaign pledge said that “the goal of promoting and protecting human rights” is the “cornerstone” of its policies—must

• Announce that it will sign and ratify the fundamental human rights treaties the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which it is not a party.

• Commit to end censoring peaceful expression on the Internet, for example by unblocking the Arab-American online newspaper The Arab Times.

• Permit independent human rights organizations to operate freely in the country.

General Assembly members should not vote for these four candidates for the Council unless they show some bona fides. Resolution 60/251 sets standards for election, which these countries do not currently meet.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 11th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

EU warning system to tackle potential energy shocks.

writes Renata Goldirova from Brussels for the EUobserver, May 11, 2007.

“In response to a sudden cut in oil supplies coming from Russia earlier this year, the European Union is setting up an early-warning system for potential gas and oil supply shocks.   Brussels has announced it will put in place a network of energy security correspondents tasked to monitor, assess and exchange information about brewing crises that could affect the 27-nation bloc.”

It will be “a crucial part of the union’s efforts to have a credible long-term energy policy”, EU external relations commissioner Benita Ferrrero-Waldner said, according to press reports.

The network – to be discussed at the upcoming EU-Russia summit in Samara (17-18 May) – will use services of the EU’s 130 delegations worldwide, EU governments, energy advisory panels and the European commission’ external relations crisis room.

Energy security has topped the EU’s political agenda since January, when Moscow closed the Druzhba oil pipeline supplying Eastern and Western Europe through Belarus because of a price row with Minsk.

The oil disruption – following a similar unilateral move in 2006 involving Ukraine – affected several EU states, including Germany, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

The row also prompted the EU’s shift towards renewable sources of energy, such as solar, wind or biomass, which are believed will decrease the bloc’s dependency on external energy sources as well as help combat climate change.

In March, the 27 member states legally bound themselves to use 20 percent renewable energy and cut CO2 emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

For the European Union, Russia is the single most important external supplier of energy, 25%   of the bloc’s gas as well as 25%of its oil originates from the vast country.

According to Brussels, the dependency is likely to increase, with forecasts saying the EU will import 70 percent of its energy by 2030.

—————–

SustainabiliTank.info sees here the creation of an EU Central Intelligence Energy Agency, this having been for many years also one of the functions of the US CIA that is looking at implications of energy shortages worlwide – including such implications for the Europeans. We remember back in the early 1980s how CIA people would come to energy conferences that were held in Moscow. It was also the CIA that warned Europe of depending on Soviet oil pipelines. We thought differently at that time. Pincas Jawetz even had an article in the Wall Street Journal saying that the Soviets could always interfere with shipments of oil from the Middle East, but would never shoot themselves in the foot by losing direct business they establish with the west. We were right – the Soviets never did anything that is similar to what the Russians did in the last year – to stop the flow of gas. Things have changed and the rationale of   State Government leaders has changed with the demise of the Soviet Union, and the enlargement of the EU. The target this year were the satellite states rather then the EU, but then, Moscow thinks that it must wrestle the remaining two main satellites – Belarus and Ukraine – from getting too close to the EU – and everything is now open for reinterpretation. China needs gas and oil also and pipelies can go east as well as west. Intelligence is needed to gather information on future business dealings, and on future strikes on finding reserves and on policy moves as well.

Will this lead also to information gathering on questions of renewablwe energy production? Possible deals like large solar and wind plans for the Sahara desert, or biofuels in Africa? Is this what the US CIA has now in mind by taking Brazil to the Caribbean? Will there be studies on food versus fuel production issues? Will Europe do deals for swaps of food for fuel? Is genetic engineering of biofuel production in the cards? is this why the nice lady from Bayer Crop Science was doing this week watching closely what was going on at CSD15?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 7th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

NGOs Alarmed at Some UN Human Rights Council Candidates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Media Relations
Tel: +41-22-734-1472

UN Headquarters New York, May 7, 2007   —   Today, the non-governmental organizations UN Watch and Freedom House issued a joint evaluation   of the candidates for the United Nations Human Rights Council, in advance of the election on May 17.   Of the 15 candidates, the human rights groups rated four as well qualified (Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, and Slovenia), four as not qualified (Angola, Belarus, Egypt and Qatar) and seven as having questionable qualifications (Bolivia, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Philippines, and South Africa).   The evaluation was based on the candidates’ records of protecting human rights at home and of promoting human rights at the UN.

“It is appalling that authoritarian regimes like Mubarak’s Egypt and Lukashenko’s Belarus are running for—and given the body’s group structure, are likely to be elected to—the UN Human Rights Council,” said UN Watch Executive Director Hillel C. Neuer.   Although members are supposed to be chosen by the UN General Assembly based on their human rights records and commitments, each candidate competes not against all of the others but only against the ones from the same UN regional group.   Of the five regional groups in the Council, only one—the Western group—currently has more candidates running than available seats.   “We would like to see more qualified candidates come forward before May 17, and we urge all human rights supporting states to not vote for the authoritarian regimes that are currently running,” continued Mr. Neuer.

At the same time, UN Watch also released its latest report , “Dawn of a New Era?   Assessment of the UN Human Rights Council and its Year of Reform.”   This report assessed the 47-member Council, as it nears the end of its first year, against the benchmarks set by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan: is the body comprised of members with solid records of   human rights commitments, and has it eschewed the politicization and selectivity that so discredited its predecessor, the UN Commission on Human Rights?

“Sadly,” said Mr. Neuer, “we had to answer ‘no’ to both questions.  

The Council still includes some persistent violators, including China, Cuba, Russia, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, and it so far has ignored the world’s worst abuses while repeatedly condemning only Israel.   It also is moving in the direction of eroding, rather than strengthening, the UN’s existing independent human rights mechanisms.”

The joint evaluation and report are available on our website, www.unwatch.org .

###