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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 24th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 
Via Expo is an organizer of high level international exhibitions and conferences in Bulgaria ( www.via-expo.com ) We will highly appreciate including in your listing the information and new dates of our events to be held in Sofia (Bulgaria) during 5-7 March 2014:
 
10th Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Congress and Exhibition for South-East Europevia-expo.com/en/pages/ee-re-exhibition. It corresponds to the  world trends and presents latest energy efficient solutions, technologies for the production of bio-, hydro, solar, geothermal and wind energy, energy from waste and electric vehicle innovation. The EE & RE Congress will bring together  all relevant players from the Region: from  the energy sector, grid operators and utilities, building industry, finance and state administration.
 
Save the Planet - 5-th Conference and Exhibition on Waste Management, Recycling, Environment for South-East Europevia-expo.com/en/pages/waste-management-recycling-exhibition.  The event encourages the waste and recycling technology transfer to South-East Europe. It will be again a meeting place for executives from the sectors: waste management, recycling, ecology and related industry branches, investors and entrepreneurs; municipal representatives e.g. government officials, mayors, ecologists; branch associations.
 
SEE Solar – South-East European Solar PV & Thermal Exhibition  - via-expo.com/en/pages/see-solar.  In line with recent trends, the 2014 edition will put the focus on the building-integrated photovoltaics and autonomous solar systems in industrial and residential buildings, energy storage products, as well  as  innovative home appliances.
‘Smart Cities’ - South-East European Exhibition & Forumvia-expo.com/en/pages/smart-cities. The  event will focus exclusively on Intelligent Energy, Intelligent Mobility & Transport, Intelligent Emergencies Management and ICT, Intelligent Waste Management. Smart Cities Exhibition and Conference are the logical successor of  Smart Buildings 2013 Expo. The event will be held in parallel to the 10th Forum and Exhibition on Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Waste Management & Recycling and Solar PV & Thermal Exhibition.
LiftBalkans – South-East European Exhibition on Elevators and Escalatorsvia-expo.com/en/pages/liftbalkans . ‘LiftBalkans’ is the only specialized show in Bulgaria devoted to elevators, escalators, components and accessories, monitoring and safety systems, etc. The event will shape the forthcoming priority directions in the industry development – safety, accessibility and energy efficiency improving. A parallel Seminar will strengthen the networking between attendees and exhibitors which will debate on the new Lift Directive, safety rules and security solutions, noise prevention, retrofitting of the existing lifts, etc. LiftBalkans will be held parallel to events covering close related topics: Energy Efficiency and Smart Cities.
 
5-7 March 2014, Sofia, Bulgaria
Organizer: Via Expo
T/F +359 32 512 900, 960 011

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 17th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Mr. Martin Nesirky, the Spokesperson for The UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, speaking to the UN accredited PRESS, Monday July 15th, ended his daily briefing by saying:

“This morning, the Deputy Secretary-General spoke to a large group of representatives from non-governmental organizations and the private sector on international migration and development. He emphasized the need to establish sustained and strong partnerships between different actors to harness the benefits of migration and improve the situation of migrants. He also commended the role played by civil society in building such partnerships.

He said that the General Assembly was meeting on international migration and development in October, and that this was an opportunity for member States to lay the foundation for improved local, regional and international migration policies.” That’s what I have. Questions, please? Yes, Pam?

There was not a single question on this topic!

This statement relates to full three days of activities right here at the UN Headquarters in New York and across the street in the Church Center – which followed a full year of preparations outside the UN in a process that was started in 2006 when there was a UN General Assembly mandated first “High-Level” Dialogue on this topic and was succeeded by yearly meetings and further regional meetings.

Now we are at the preparation stage for the October 3-4, 2013 Second United Nations High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development with next planned meeting already for 2014 in Sweden, the home turf of Ambassador Ian Eliasson, the current Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. And all of this in the name of figuring out the UN activities in the post-2015 era – as mandated at the 2012 RIO+20 Conference.

At Rio the recommendations included the removal of the non-producing Commission on Sustainable Development and its replacement with a High-Level Panel that will look into the creation of a system of Sustainable Development Goals that will follow in 2015 after the expiring Millennium Development Goals – and this allows for an unusual opportunity to try for making the avoidance of the need of Migration into a Sustainable Development Goal. But the UN seems to oppose this by all the means it has – and I will explain.

You see – when I walk the streets of New York these days I bump into people. This is because the daily temperature reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit and people do not walk in a straight line. You must try to anticipate which way they will deviate – and I am as guilty as anyone else – this because global warming and Climate Change are already here with us. Relating to our topic here – MIGRATION occurs now not just because people are attracted by magnets of freedom from dictatorships, from religious or sexual oppression, or because of a chance to better education, but now – more and more – there is the push of hunger – climate change has made it impossible to support populations in their country of origin and this migration has become the highest security issue in our days. If heat and Climate Change is impacting New York, just think what this has done in Mali or Darfur!

The UN is not blind to this. The UN Secretary-General was supposed to be the opening speaker at the Monday, July 15, 2013 event at the meeting at the UN General Assembly with Mr. Vuk Jeremik, President of the General Assembly as Chairman of the session. But Mr. Ban Ki-moon chose to be on a July fact finding tour of Europe that took him to see the effects of glaciers melting in Iceland, and a visit in Paris on Bastille Day with the French troops fighting in Mali.

Both above visits, as well as the meetings in-between, would have made a great story had the UN Secretary-General returned to New York and told on Monday July 15th his impressions to the meeting here. But this seemingly did not cross his mind, and surely this is no reflection on the way Mr. Elliason presented the case. It must be said that seven years ago – at the first dialogue – Mr. Eliasson presided because it was his position of President of the UN General Assembly, so he is well versed with the issues – the roles of Civil Society, Labor Unions and Employers’ organizations, diaspora organizations, and academics. He stressed that the challenge is to reach to the help of the media – “Knowing the facts is the source of wisdom” he quoted.

Mr. Eliasson said he wants to see as a post 2015 program a five year action program in five areas of priority:
- the cooperation between States,
- a comprehensive data system of migration facts,
- the integration of the migrants into our societies and economies,
- plan migration with labor markets and development consideration,
- a framework for managing migration from crisis and violence regions.

What he did not mention is the right of people to avoid migration that was pushed upon them because of changes in the local environment.

Mr. Jeremik reminded us of the Rio vision for the post-2015 as an aspiration to strive for equitable approaches to overcome poverty and inequality.

At the meeting on Monday participated over 200 Civil Society organizations and 80 UN member States.
The main organization was in the hands of Switzerland and Swiss based NGOs like Caritas, The International Catholic Migration Commission, The Global Economic Forum, with with Ms. Susan Martin of Georgetown University, Institute for the Study of International Migration that awards you a Certificate on the subject, and Mr. Dennis Sinyolo, Education and Employment Coordinator at Education International, as moderators.

I sat through the full three days and saw that very good people from all over the globe were present – but by no means was this an objective success.

Starting with the strong Swiss presence I must say that as Migration means Emigration from one place and Immigration to another – this except Migration within the same country, Switzerland is a country of poor record as it does not allow citizenship except when the candidate is weighed in gold – and I am not abstract on this – Just think of the Agha Khan and his Swiss based Foundation. So, when A good looking lady presented herself as a migrant from El Salvador to Switzerland, with dual nationality and diamonds sparkling from her earrings, spoke about the Global Economic Forum backing the economic advantages that come from migration – I had to wonder about what I was hearing. Then let us not forget that simple mortals could not stay in Switzerland when their life was in peril. In general – I was more impressed by the people in the room then by some of the presenters, as in UN fashion – the good turns easily into the trite, and good ideas can produce easily flying meetings that are not free to the introduction of ideas born outside the initiating circle. Trying to introduce the notion that the UN is changing and that MDGs are ending with new SDGs taking their place, and the fact that the UN just opened this month the office for Sustainable Energy – the SE4All concept, and that right now there is an opportunity to talk of migration in context of Climate Change – all that was beyond the interest of the organizers and the moderators – but very much of interest of many of the participants.

Civil Society is surely a mixed bag, and the stress on remittances from the Migrants back to their families in the homeland become very important part of the economies of some oppressive governments – so, indiscriminately stressing the economic value may not be any better idea then using military from countries in trouble in order to beef up the troops of UN Peace-Keeping forces in other countries in trouble, when the pay for this service is income for the government that sends these troops. This comment may have nothing to do with the subject at hand but is important to the understanding of the depth of the problem when you work in he UN context.

Without delving further in depth of what was said, this because the meetings were just an interactive exercise that will generate its own papers, the real news this Monday were not the Civil Society NGOs that were allowed to participate – but rather those organizations that were excluded in total lack of transparency and thus gave a blue eye to the UN institution as a whole.

The subject came up when the United States pointed out that three NGOs were eliminated from participation this last week by being BLACKBALLED by some secret member State. These were three organizations – one registered in the UK and two in Israel and the UN does not release the names of the countries that objected to their participation. TO ME THIS WAS THE REAL NEWS OF THE MEETING – COVERING ON ALL THE GOOD THINGS THAT WERE SAID AT THE MEETING.

After the US, spoke also Israel and the EU, and eventually this became an important part in the summary of the meeting, when at the end it was presented by the Chef de Cabinet to the UNGA President, Mr. Dejan Sahovic, who is also from Serbia like the UNGA President.

Mr. Sahovic explained that this had nothing to do with the organizers of the event but is a UN given. Whenever there is an event at the UN, after Civil Society makes up the list of registered NGOs, these lists are distributed to all governments which have then the veto right against any line on that list.

OK, we knew that China will take out any NGO that is based in Taiwan, but how is it that an observer organization at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), that is competent in the subject matter and is very active, could be eliminated? To make it sound even worse – the UN does not release the name of the blackballing country and the delegate for the EU said clearly that the EU is worried about the lately decreasing importance of Civil Society at the UN.

I followed up trying to find who are these three blackballed organizations, but will not allow myself to express a guess to who was the blackballing State as this guesswork is easy – but we refuse to do it. Nevertheless, we must say that wonders do happen at the UN sometimes.

In this case it was with two NGOs with interest in Human Rights of Women – specifically women in Arab lands – even more specific – in Saudi Arabia – they DID SPEAK UP.
Lala Arabian from a Beirut based NGO INSAN, part of the Arab Network for Migrants, which I was told speaks a fluent English, decided to speak out in Arabic against the treatment of Arab women – specifically in Saudi Arabia. Further – A woman in an impeccable English, coming from a United Arab Emirates NGO, but probably living overseas, made a similar statement from the floor. I did not note her name but she came from www.migrant-rights.org/category/g…


The Three NGOs that were absent are:

1. The Institute for Human Rights and Business Limited (IHRB) is the British organization.
They partner with the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) on issues like the establishment of the new Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business headed by Vicky Bowman.
They specifically look at how to persuade business to respect Human Rights with Migration one of the specific topics. June 17-18, 2013 they just had a meeting in Tunis on the subject of Free Internet. Is this what some despot did them in for?

2. Microfy – “Microfinance for African refugees and migrant workers in Israel” – an Israeli based NGO that provides assistance to African refugees and asylum seekers, many of them who fled the genocide in Darfur. www.microfy.org Clearly a highly ethical organization that might have difficulty being listened to by despots.

3.”The Center for International Migration and Integration (CIMI)” advises governments and NGOs around the world on migration and integration.
CIMI has Observer Status wit the International Organization foe Migration (IOM) since 2003 and participates actively in all its meetings.
CIMI also partners with many other national and International organizations including the UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency) and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
This information was confirmed by Ms. Michele Klein Solomon, the Permanent Observer for IOM at the United Nations. CIMI is also based in Israel.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 13th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A Festival of singing people – 440 of them – from 18 choirs – in 16 European Cities – May 9-12, 2013 – held with workshops at the reestablished historic Odeon Theater in Leopoldstadt – the previously mainly Jewish Second District of Vienna.

The Festival culminated in a public concert on Sunday May 12, 2013 at the Austria Center back-to-back with the offices of the Vienna UN compound. The Honorary Chairman of the event was Austria’s President – the Honorable Heinz Fischer.

This after the 2011 revival of the European States Makkabi sports-competitions that brought at the time 60,000 out-of-town visitors to Vienna.

The present event was dedicated to the revival of Jewish culture in European Communities – and at times the choirs including non-Jews as well.

The timing seems symbolical – it started May 9th – the Victory Day over Nazism and ended on Mothers’ Day – if you wish in memory of those Jewish self sacrificing mothers that helped continue Judaism in Europe that proving that Hitler was defeated.

At the workshops the choirs were taught new songs that were then performed jointly by all participants at the grand-finale of the Sunday event. These included Adon Olam with the Chief cantor of Vienna’s Jewish Community Shmuel Barzilay, Ose Shalom, and the israeli National anthem – The Hatikah (Hope).

The professional leader of the event was Choirmaster Roman Grinberg of the Vienna Jewish Choir whose President is a Young man Florian Pollack who was the organizer of the Sunday concert. Though performing also liturgical music, this choir is cultural in content – including both men and women, something that might have been difficult to do if it were directly part of the Orthodox stream of the majority of Vienna Synagogues – though quite normal with the Or Chadash Reform Vienna Synagogue. Nevertheless the Orthodox Chief Rabbi of Austria, Rabbi Chaim Eisenberg, who himself has in the past performed with the Vienna Jewish Choir outside the Synagogue, wrote an introductory note to the Sunday program booklet.

The MC on Sunday was Ms. Danielle Spera who is a well known Austrian TV personality, and in 2010 became the Director of the Vienna Jewish Museum. She was the top choice of Vice Mayor Renate Brauner, who is in charge of the Vienna Holding Company that owns the buildings of the two Vienna Jewish Museums that were up for renovation in the 2010-2011 years.

The meeting of the choirs cost 200.000 Euro and the money came from institutional contributions. The main backer was the Bruxells based European Jewish Union that was described by the MC as The Jewish European Parliament.

At the workshops, the nine choirs that belong to the Renanim organization – choirs from Amsterdam, Bruxelles, Dijon, Marseille, Nantes, Nice, Paris, Toulouse, and Utrecht chose to appear in a large united choir – thus reducing the number of choirs on Sunday from 18 to 10 facilitating a more manageable situation.

The Sunday event started with one choir on stage and all the others in various locations in the hall – singing together Uru Ahim- Hava Neranna. . .  with an added 1400 people in the large and full hall of the Austria Center (In the audience I spotted also several women with Muslim head-covers). Then, after the introductory, thankfully rather short  speeches, the line-up was thus as follows:

1. The Vienna Jewish Choir led by Roman Grinberg that was created 20 years ago by Dr. Timothy Smolka with 8 people and counts now on 50 active singers having performed at many events all over Europe. Their contribution was mainly in Jidish – old folk-songs.

2. The Assoziazione Coro-Kol of Rome led by Choirmaster Andrea Orlando that started with Verdi’s Va Pensiero and moved to Hebrew Shabbat and wedding songs. This choir was established in 1993 by the Great Synagogue of Rome and has usually a repertory that includes Ladino as well as Yiddish songs.

3. The Masel Tov Choir of Wuppertal, Germany with Rokella Rachel Verenina, formerly of Odessa, the Ukraine, as choirmaster.It is a choir established 15 years ago by Russian immigrants that finally wanted to express themselves freely. It has now 35 active members – Jews and non-Jews and is one of the best in Germany. They sang Yiddish and German. In the choir I spotted also one black man and many of the singers looked like hardened industrial workers – what they probably are indeed.

4. The Boys Choir of The Vienna City Tempel – the Main Synagogue of Austria Shmuel Barzilai, the Chief Cantor in charge. It had 7 boys under the age 13. This Choir is modeled after the famous Vienna Boys Choir. Their songs were all in Hebrew and from the liturgy and were received with warm applause.

5. The Shalom Chor of Berlin led by Nikola David who is an operatic singer who after graduating from cantorial school has now a position with the Erfurt Synagogue. The 37 active members are from the community and from churches around Berlin. They sang in Hebrew and interestingly wore shawls of single colors – red, green, orange, blue, light green – which left me with the impression that they covered the political spectrum of Germany. I wonder if this was indeed the intent of these colors.

6. The Ensemble Vocal Zamir of Paris with Albert Benzaquen as choirmaster ranging in music from Shlomo Carlebach and Naomi Shemer to Chasidic and Ladino. It was created in 1980 from basically members of families from the Sephardic community. They have had many appearances in France and do not miss the choir festival in Israel – the Zimrya in Jerusalem. Working people – they clearly enjoy what they are doing and we were told meet twice a week.

7. The Jewish Choir “Eva” of Saint Petersburg with Elena Rubinovich as choirmaster. An all girls choir. The teen-age girls dressed in white blouses and blue long skirts. They had a large Magen David attached to their blouses above the heart. They started with Jerusalem of Gold in Hebrew, had a Russian song and moved to Yidddish – “Bei Mir Bistu Shein” the Jewish American song. Interesting – this was different then in the written program and clearly they have a large repertory and were excellent – real singing talent – lurks here. We were told that the girls are children and youth organized by the Welfare and Community Centre. Terrific applause.

8. The Varnishkes of Lviv, The Ukraine with Oleksandra Somysh as Band leader of what was indeed a Klezmer-music group.  Another example of terrific applause. The team was born 6 years ago and as they state it – they adore the magic of Yiddishkeit. They include volunteers and foreign students and are lovely. They reminded me of a similar non-Jewish group I saw in Cracow years ago and Elie Wiesel was in the audience then.
The Lviv group – the singing was all in Yiddish – and we understand that young German audiences love to listen to them.

9. Hor Bracha Baruh a Choir named after the Baruch Brothers of Belgrade. This choir is not by definition Jewish – but it was named after three brothers that were killed fighting in the resistance in WWII, and the choir comes to honor their Jewish culture. The choir was founded in 1879 as the Serbian Jewish Singing Society – perhaps the oldest Jewish choir in the world – then re-established under the present name when Yugoslavia split and the Serbs clearly were looking for Israeli recognition mentioning that it was Serbs that were most friendly in those terrible war-years.Their repertory is eclectic – included Serbian, Ladino and Hebrew and sounded well rehearsed. It is a nostalgic but hope-filled experience. The Choirmaster Stefan Zekic – a clear professional.

10. The Renanim combine with Avner Soudry as choirmaster and Therese Beuret-Sadoul as Administrator that gave us a Paul Ben Haim Hebrew composition, a Suite Judeo-Espagnole and a very appropriate Shir LaShalom, then Mipi El. They remained on stage and were joined by everyone else for the Grand Finale.

There were obviously no encores – but everyone, afyer milling around for a while, happily called it a night.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 6th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


WE WERE AT THAT CONCERT IN NEW YORK CITY TOWN HALL, and in the nearby Bar, NOVEMBER 2012, WHEN AMBASSADOR PROSOR SAW RITA SING AND DANCE IN FARSI, HEBREW, and ENGLISH, and DECIDED THAT THIS OUGHT TO BE SEEN AT THE UN AS WELL. SURELY, HE WAS NOT NAIVE TO THINK THAT IT WILL BE EASY, BUT HE DID IT!!!
 SustainabiliTank.info)

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UN Watch Briefing
Latest from the United Nations
Vol. 416 |  March 6, 2013
Share this link
UN Watch congratulates Ambassador Ron Prosor and the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations for organizing an exceptional event for peace at United Nations Headquarters. Click here to watch the video of the concert.

Israeli singer Rita’s special surrealistic concert at the UN General Assembly

UN Ambassador Prosor has pulled off one of the most unusual diplomatic achievements ever: a full-fledged UN-sponsored Farsi-Hebrew musical event full of goodwill and sympathy.


taken from HAARETZ
By Chemi Shalev | March 6, 2013 | 9:50 AM

Inside the hall of the General Assembly at the United Nations building in New York, it seemed at times that either the messiah had arrived or the world had turned inside-out Bizarro, like in the Superman comics: Rita, one of Israel’s most popular performers, was singing in Farsi and Hebrew; Israelis were dancing in the aisles: diplomats from around the world were clapping and begging for more; Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor was the hero of the day; Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said “shalom” and General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic, it turned out, hails from a family of Righteous Gentiles.

It was, without a doubt, a night to remember, a memory to cherish, an Israeli-made spectacle the likes of which hadn’t been seen in the General Assembly since Ambassador Herzog tore apart that Zionism is Racism resolution in 1975. Only this time, it was the other way around: “Why is this night different than all other nights?” an elated and season conscious Prosor asked me, “Because on this night, contrary to all previous nights, the United Nations is united behind Israel and resides under the wings of Rita.”

The wings that Prosor was referring to come from Haim Bialik’s song “Hachnisini Tahat Knafech” – “Under Your Wing” – a popular Israeli song which was featured in Rita’s “Tunes for Peace” concert performed at UN headquarters Tuesday night. The famous platform underneath the giant olive-colored UN symbol was turned into a rock concert stage, including a smoke machine, strobe lights, and a rocking and raucous 9-piece ensemble that played Persian-Israeli music with light touches of Klezmer to boot.

The auditorium, which for most Israelis and Diaspora Jews has come to be associated with harsh anti-Israeli rhetoric, cold diplomatic isolation, and humiliating political defeats at the hands of the “automatic majority,” suddenly had a warm ambiance and an admiring audience comprised of Iranian expatriates, Israeli diplomats, UN employees, and representatives of 140 UN delegations who begged their Israeli colleagues for invitations to the show and to the experience.

Prosor came upon the idea for the UN concert when he saw Rita perform in New York in Farsi and in Hebrew seven months ago. He lobbied Ban Ki Moon and Jeremic until he secured their agreement, but then had to ward off countless attempts by UN Secretariat workers to scuttle the concert for fear that “it would set a precedent” or that it would upset other delegations. Having removed the last remaining obstacles, Prosor fixed the date for the concert with Rita after sponsorships had been secured from the LA-based Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation, the Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York, and the UJA Federation of NY.

Ban Ki Moon opened the evening with the word “shalom” and described Rita as “a cultural ambassador”. Then came Jeremic, who announced that he would soon be the first sitting President of the General Assembly to visit Israel, during which he will participate in a Yad Vashem ceremony in which members of his grandmother’s family in Belgrade would be recognized as “Righteous Among the Gentiles” for saving Jews during the Holocaust.

Then, Introducing Rita, Prosor said “I always hoped that I would one day be the opening act for Rita at a major venue in New York City. Although, I’ll admit, I never expected that it would be in the form of the Three Tenors: “Ban, Prosor, and Jeremic.”

“It is our sincere hope that this musical evening will echo from New York to the hearts and minds of people throughout Israel and Iran,” Prosor added, and then asked Rita to “rock the house”, which she did.

The popular Israeli singer gave a ten song rendition that included five songs in Farsi, four in Hebrew and one – “Time for Peace” – in English. She delighted the audience with stories of her childhood in Tehran, about her mother’s love for music, and about her own wish to spread the love far and wide between her birthplace and her homeland. Her strong voice reverberated in the hall which had never seen such a joyous bunch of Israelis, including enthusiastic Rita fans who tried to get the UN diplomats to dance with them near the stage and down the aisles, though that proved a bridge too long for the usually stiff and formal envoys.

There was a lot of hype and gimmick in the evening, for sure, and it is bound to be used and even abused for hasbara purposes – but most of the crowd, it seemed, left the building with genuine smiles on their faces. Everyone sensed that it was a unique evening, with the UN, of all forums, providing such a warm and hospitable venue for such an iconic Israeli singer with such a positive message, no Palestinians or politics included.

Even jaded journalists like the one writing this report were moved, knowing that they had witnessed an event that had never been seen before, at least from an Israeli point of view, and is unlikely to be seen over and over again for a very long time.

UN Watch is an independent human rights group founded in 1993 in Geneva, Switzerland,
receiving no financial support from any organization or government.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 6th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THE ISRAELI MISSION MAKES HISTORY AT THE UN WITH A CONCERT BY ISRAELI POP ICON RITA, SINGING IN BOTH PERSIAN AND HEBREW FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER IN THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY HALL.

by Irith Jawetz, reporting from the UN Headquarters in New York.

On March 5, 2013 the Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN has hosted a special event and first of its kind in the UN General Assembly hall – a concert by the world-renowned Israeli-Iranian singer Rita Yahan-Farouz. The performance was titled “Tunes for Peace” .

Among the attendees were Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic, ambassadors, celebrities, and Jewish and Iranian community leaders.

The stage, which usually serves as a podium for the top diplomats conducting world affairs was transformed into a full fledged “Music Hall” with music instruments, amplifiers, lights and two big screen TVs.

H.E. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was the first to speak and he started his speech by greeting everybody with the Hebrew word “Shalom”. He said there is no room like this one and it serves to seek peace among nations, preserve Human rights, but sometimes also for concerts. He praised Rita for her desire to reach many cultures through her music, connect people and he hopes this concert will inspire people to strive for peace, justice and Human rights. He thanked the Government of Israel and especially Ambassador Rom Prosor for enabling this important event.

The next speaker was H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremic, President of the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly. He also thanked Ambassador Prosor and mentioned his personal special friendship with the Ambassador. He announced that he will be going to Israel soon and will be visiting Yad Vashem, since a few members of his family, who saved Jews during the Holocaust will be honored as righteous among Nations. This announcement brought a huge applause from the audience. He  mentioned that music has a very important tool for connecting people and nations since biblical times. Music is a universal language and he shares Rita’s hopes that it will bring cooperation between nations.

H.E. Ambassador Ron Proser, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, thanked Secretary General and Mrs. Ban for hosting this important event and said that although Mr, Ban is sometimes soft spoken his voice is being heard around the Globe.
He continued by saying that the events in this hall are not always harmonious, but today Rita will make sure her music will bring everybody together, and he was proud to be her “opening act.”  In conclusion he said that there are usually many rules in this Hall, but not tonight. The audience may get up and sing along and shake the room. His speech brought the audience to their feet.

After the speeches the General Assembly Hall transformed completely and the concert began. Rita came on stage and the audience welcomed her with huge applause. She has a terrific personality and projected it throughout the whole evening.
Rita and her nine-piece band performed her popular hits in both Hebrew and Persian from Rita’s latest album, “My Joys.”

She sang one song in English which was called “Time for Peace.”

The album, which has received widespread international acclaim, interweaves the Iranian melodies of Rita’s childhood with the rich tapestry of contemporary Israeli music. She introduced herself by saying that she was born in Tehran and emigrated with her parents at the age of eight. She credited her mother for her remarkable singing career by telling us that her mother used to sing the whole day long, even while cooking or doing chores around the house.

Rita mentioned that she hopes that her UN concert, “Tunes for Peace,” will build bridges, foster inter-cultural dialogue, and connect people to people – the very foundations upon which the United Nations was established.

The concert lasted about an hour and brought the hall to its feet.  The audience definitely following Ambassador Proser’s closing words in his speech  ”Let’s Rock the Hall”.

Let us all hope that politicians will follow Rita’s example!

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Some of our older postings on RITA in NEW YORK:

SustainabiliTank: UPDATED: RITA – the Iranian-Israeli cultural

www.sustainabilitank.info/…/rita-the-iranian-israeli-cultural-tre…

Feb 22, 2013 – Matthew writes: Israel Plans UN Concert by Iranian-Born Singer Rita, the Viva Vox choir, invited to perform a concert at the UN by General

SustainabiliTank: RITA from Israel, last Sunday night at the Town

www.sustainabilitank.info/…/rita-from-israel-last-sunday-night…

Nov 14, 2012 – RITA from Israel, last Sunday night at the Town Hall in New York City, Such as In 2006, Rita put on a show called One (in English) which ran

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 3rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From a new IISD Newsletter – “Sustainable Development in Action” (First year – Third issue).

Co-facilitators for Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals appointed.

The President of the General Assembly has appointed the Permanent Representatives of Hungary – Ambassador Csaba Korosi – and Kenya – Ambassador Macharia Kamau – as co-facilitators to prepare for the first meeting of the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  In addition, as facilitators, the President of the General Assembly has also appointed H.E. Amb. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil in order to facilitate the transition from the Rio+20 or the June 2012 meeting that was run by Brazil, and Ambassador Dejan Sahovic as a Special liaison to Mr. Vuk Jeremic of Serbia – now President of the UN General Assembly. Last position before joining Mr. Jeremic in New York – Mr. Sahovic served as Ambassador of Serbia to Hungary (2008-2012)

Initially, they will facilitate consultations on the group’s leadership, agenda, and program of work and methods.

The first meeting of the OWG is currently expected to take place in mid-March 2013 -
(letter of appointment).

—————————-

In UN fashion – this process, started last Mid-June having not led to a UNGA decision at the 2012 General Assembly meeting is now being pushed to bring forward suggestions to the September 2013 UN General assembly meeting, but rather then establishing directly a committee of specialists – the above decision leads to a group of diplomats that will in turn have to bring in the specialists – thus guaranteeing the continuation of the non-functioning UN Commission on Sustainable Development, rather then replace it with a better functioning body. We tend to bet that eventually the dead CSD will be asked to show the way; above pace is a disappointment to those that thought finally there will be action at the UN on Sustainable Development.

Establishing SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals to replace the MDGs that run out in 2015, is laudable but it seems also pre-ordained that the time till 2015 is intentionally not put to good use.
———————–

One of the main outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, was the agreement by Member States to launch a process to develop a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Rio+20 did not elaborate specific goals but stated that the SDGs should be limited in number, aspirational and easy to communicate.

The goals should address in a balanced way all three dimensions of sustainable development and be coherent with and integrated into the UN development agenda beyond 2015.

A 30-member Open Working Group (OWG) of the General Assembly is tasked with preparing a proposal on the SDGs.

The Open Working Group was established on 22nd of January 2013 by the decision of the General Assembly.

The Member States have decided to use an innovative, constituency-based system of representation that is new to limited membership bodies of the General Assembly. This means that most of the seats in the OWG are shared by several countries.

The Rio+20 outcome document The Future We Want states that, at the outset, the OWG will decide on its methods of work, including developing modalities to ensure the full involvement of relevant stakeholders and expertise from civil society, the scientific community and the United Nations system in its work, in order to provide a diversity of perspectives and experience.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 26th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


New York, 12 January 2013 – Remarks at Park East Synagogue Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of The Holocaust.

Rabbi Schneier,
President Hochberg,
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Shabat Shalom.  Salaam.  Peace to you all.

It is a great honour to be with you once again.

Thank you, Rabbi Schneier, for your gracious introduction.  I hope every day to live up to your high praise and expectations.

On this day when we remember the victims of the Holocaust, let me pay special tribute to the survivors who have joined us.

Rabbi Schneier knows fully their pain and suffering, for he too is a survivor.

For most of us it is hard to imagine the anguish of knowing that you and your loved ones have been singled out to die because of your faith, your culture or your race.

Yet, this is the stark truth.

In the Second World War, Jews, Roma and Sinti, homosexuals, communists, the mentally ill – anyone who did not conform to Hitler’s perverted ideology of Aryan perfection – were systematically persecuted, rounded up and transported to death camps.

Some were murdered immediately; others cruelly worked to death.

Such an operation takes extensive organization.  It takes many people – from leaders to ordinary citizens – to participate, cooperate or simply turn a blind eye.

This is perhaps the greatest tragedy of genocide – and the reason why we must be ever vigilant.

The language of hatred is corrosive and contagious.  Its moral corruption can eat into hearts and minds in even the most progressive or sophisticated societies.

The more often you hear that your neighbour is vile, subhuman, not worthy of the rights that you take for granted, the greater the chance of such beliefs taking root.

That is why I spoke so frankly and forcefully last year in Tehran about Holocaust denial.

It is why Rabbi Schneier and I and so many others are so committed to the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.

Neither anti-Semitism nor Islamophobia nor other such forms of bias have a place in the 21st century world we are trying to build.

This is also why I worry about the continued stalemate in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

We now have a whole generation of young people on both sides who risk growing up with a demonized, dehumanized – and utterly false – concept of their neighbours.

They need to be educated to co-exist peacefully with their neighbours.

The only way to build peace is to build bridges and break down walls.

Doing so will take courage, but it must be done.

This year, the United Nations has chosen “the courage to care” as the theme of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.

We are honouring those who risked their lives and their families to save Jews and other victims of persecution from almost certain death.

Some, like Raoul Wallenberg, are household names.

But most are unsung heroes — brave men and women from all walks of life, and many nations.

Teenagers and parents, parliamentarians and priests, journalists and diplomats — all had the courage to care.

Their example is as relevant today as ever – which is why the United Nations has produced an education kit for teachers to tell their story.

In a world where extremist acts of violence and hatred capture the headlines on an almost daily basis, we need to take inspiration from these ordinary people who took extraordinary steps to defend human dignity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Last year I visited Srebrenica, the site of the worst act of genocide in Europe since the Holocaust.

I visited the graves and wept with the mothers of the slain.

It is not an easy place for a United Nations Secretary-General to visit.

The United Nations – the international community – failed to protect thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys from slaughter.

The shadow of Srebrenica has joined that of Rwanda, Cambodia, the Holocaust.

Each time we hear “never again”.

But can we truly say we have learned the lessons of these tragedies?

As an international community, do we have the courage to care – and the resolve to act?

In 2005 the United Nations General Assembly – at the level of Heads of State and Governments — adopted the responsibility to protect.

It is a landmark concept.  It puts the obligation firmly on States to protect their populations from genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or ethnic cleansing.

And in the face of these crimes and violations there is a corresponding duty of the international community to act.

The responsibility to protect applies everywhere and all the time.  It has been implemented with success in a number of places, including in Libya and Côte d’Ivoire.

But today it faces a great test in Syria.

More than 60,000 people have now died in a conflict whose seeds lie in the peaceful demand of people for greater freedom.

We have seen a government brutally and mercilessly oppress dissent and fan the flames of a civil war that threatens to bring instability to a whole region.

I have repeatedly called for unity from the Security Council to decisively address this tragedy.

So too has the General Assembly – by an overwhelming majority.

Each day brings more suffering.

I met some of the refugees last month, in camps in Jordan and Turkey.

I talked to families who had fled with just what they could carry; children whose future has been thrown into uncertainty.

They told me that all they wanted was to go home and live in safety and security.

Today’s theme challenges us: do we have the courage to care?

I am deeply concerned about the situation in Syria not simply because of the terrible suffering, but because of what may come next.

Each day’s delay in resolving the crisis raises the spectre of the violence spreading along religious and ethnic lines.

Each day’s delay sees new atrocities by both sides.  It is essential that all perpetrators of international crimes understand that they will be held to account.

There will be no amnesties for those most responsible.

The old era of impunity is ending.  In its place, slowly but surely, we are building a new age of accountability.

But the important thing is to end the violence in Syria – now – and begin the process of transition.

Too much blood has been shed.  It is time for reconciliation.

There is a proverb that says: if you want revenge you should dig two graves.

Syria will need many men and women of courage who will reject revenge and embrace peace.

People like Rabbi Schneier.

He too visited Srebrenica last year.

He spoke in solidarity — as only someone who has shared indescribable suffering can.

And this is what he said:

“As a survivor I neither turned against man or God.  Instead, in memory of my family and the many millions exterminated like them, I devoted my life to help build bridges between all of God’s children in pursuit of peace and justice.”  End of quote.

Such forgiveness takes courage – the courage to see what is right and to do it.

Whatever one’s faith, this is our duty – as individuals, as communities and as nations.

We have a responsibility to protect.

We must have the courage to care.

Thank you.

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

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

By Matthew Russell Lee

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

———————-

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

By Matthew Russell Lee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————–

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

By Matthew Russell Lee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————-

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

By Matthew Russell Lee

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

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

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

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

By contrast, Ja’afari told Inner City Press:

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As Jeremic Accused by opponents in Serbia of “Bribes” To Be PGA, Witness Qatar, WEOG, Ban …

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 9, 2012 Presidents of the UN General Assembly usually campaign for and stealthly gain the position with the unequivocal support of their government.

In the case of monarchies – Qatar and Bahrain – this of course was no problem. Nor for Joseph Deiss of Switzerland, or long-time Daniel Ortega ally Padre Miguel d’Escoto of Nicaragua.

But with Vuk Jeremic it is different. His Democratic Party is now out of power in Serbia, and opponents internal and external are leaking information about Jeremic’s campaign and prospective funding of his year atop of the General Assembly. (Click here for Inner City Press’ July 6 story.)


Now in Serbia it is alleged that part of the $2.4 million Sebian first allocation is for “bribery” to help Vuk gain the position. The irony here is that this is how UN elections are contested and won.


Witness the current Western European & Other Group race of Finland, Australia and Luxembourg for two Security Council seats. Finland gave out chocolates (and more, including trips to a mediation conference); Australia through a reception in the “Ambassadors’ River View” tent facing the East River; Luxembourg is working the field.


One might also compare it to what Qatar spent a year ago to beat Nepal for the Asia and Pacific Group nomination, or what Lithuania spent this year in unsuccessful opposition to Jeremic. Or even to what South Korea and Ban Ki-moon spent to win the Secretary General post.

But Vuk’s party is out of power, and the present mayor of Belgrade is gunning for him. How much will be spent on his office this coming year?

As noted, Inner City Press has reported on Switzerland paying for the housing of PGA Joseph Deiss (despite the oath nearly ubiquitous in the Organization to serve the UN and not one’s country), and has inquired into the fundraising of Srgjan Kerim (beyond the $1 million from his government.)

Now incoming PGA Vuk Jeremic of Serbia, whose election Inner City Press predicted with 97 votes (he got 99) is under some fire at home, for a reported $7 million request.

Jeremic’s rival in the Democratic Party (DS), Belgrade Mayor Dragan Dilas, has put the figure at $7.5 million and called it disgraceful. For now, it’s said that only $2.9 million have been approved, prior to the vote for PGA, but running only throw December.

In order to asses Jeremic’s reported estimate, Inner City Press asked the office of the current Qatari PGA:

“This is a press request to know the budget of the current President of the General Assembly for his year in office, both from UN and non-UN sources.

“To explain, there is now a controversy in the press in Serbia about the incoming president’s proposed budget from his country… in this context, and generally for UN transparency, I am asking you for the total PGA budget for his year, broken down as much as are willing to.”

The answer that came back so far did not have the number from Qatar, only from the UN:

“Dear Matthew, The Office of the PGA receives $250,000 for each presidency from the regular UN budget. This amount has been set in 1998 by Member States. The national government of the PGA may contribute to the funding of the operations and activities of the PGA/OPGA.

“There is also the Trust Fund established in support of the Office and used to cover the costs of PGA initiatives such as specific thematic debates. Member States can make voluntary contributions to this Fund – but during this session the Fund received no contributions.”

There is another wrinkle, raised to Inner City Press by another UN source: beyond the now-outdated $250,000, the UN pays for some of the PGA Office’s posts, and others are seconded by other countries. Still, it has become harder and harder for poor countries to be PGA: witness Nepal losing out to Qatar. Now there is Serbia. Inner City Press has reiterated its request for the actual Qatari number. Inner City Press promises to stay on the case.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 3rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As we wrote in our posting www.sustainabilitank.info – the ZERO DRAFT text for the RIO+20 outcome document included a paragraph  (#57) in its form that went into the informal-informals March 2012 meeting wording as follows:

“57. We agree to further consider the establishment of an Ombudsperson, or High Commissioner for Future Generations, to promote sustainable development.”

It also had two versions of Paragraph 49 – one titled “Commission on Sustainable Development” – the other titled Sustainable Development Council.

These paragraphs are to be found PART IV of the draft — INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

The draft  left the March Informal-informals with the wording as follows.

- – - – - – - -

57.       We agree to further consider the establishment of an Ombudsperson or High Commissioner for Future Generations, to promote sustainable development.

[57.     We agree to further consider the establishment of [an Ombudsperson, or / the position of - Liechtenstein] High Commissioner for [Future Generations / Intergenerational Solidarity - Holy See]. to promote sustainable development [at global, regional, and national level - Bangladesh]. – G77, Japan, Russian Federation, New Zealand delete; Canada, Norway reserve; EU delete and propose language in 49 alt quint; Montenegro, Liechtenstein move to para. 49 alt sext]

We like the addition by Liechtenstein – “the position of” because it makes it clear that this should be a small body.

We are neutral about the inclusion in the outcome document the recommendation to have similar positions at lower levels as we think that is going to be the task of those other levels to decide on this.

Obviously we are shocked by the opposition to the paragraph by groups like the G77 minus Bangladesh – ( but most probably many more member States of the G77 that did not go on the record yet ) Japan and New Zealand that have not yet understood that it should be a small office like Liechtenstein is proposing and thus not have major monetary implications, and the Russian Federation.

——–

Now let us see the EU  and the Montenegro suggestions for Paragraph #49:

[49  alt  quat (former para 57) [We support the establishment of an Ombudsperson, or Higher Commissioner for Future Generations, to promote sustainable development and the integrated approach at the highest level of decision, policy, and program making within the UN. We call upon the member states to establish similar institutions in their own national laws, which would be independent from the executive and have a mandate to consider petitions from the public and advocate for the interests and needs of future generations.  -- Montenegro]

[49 alt quint   We agree to further consider the establishment or appointment, of a High-level Representative for Sustainable Development and Future Generations, possibly to be held within an existing office as the high-level voice called upon to promote an integrated and coherent approach to sustainable development through continuous dialogue with policy-makers, the UN system and civil society.  -- EU, former para 57 as amended]

We find the Montenegro version stronger as it does not have the added wording of the possibility of placing the position within an existing office. Independence must be the ground rule, and if it is not guaranteed this new position can not succeed. On the other hand, if this is what it takes to get on board those that want to make sure that the creation of this position will not carry large financial burdens, we feel, mandating it to be small should answer these fears.




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

This posting is a work in progress and its main intention is to point out for now the particular event with Umberto Echo, to be held at the Burgtheater, Vienna, on the night of Wednesday, October 19, 2011.

Also, I want to put on notice our readers that having seen tonight the latest play by Peter Handke, I feel a relationship between the play and the Umbert Eco novel which I am sure has in it material that will eventually have it produced as a play as well. I would not be surprised if the two plays will not eventually be seen as complimentary to each other. In the meantime – I will just say that for 2011, it is Handke’s play that might be the most significant production of this season in the Vienna theaters, and the Umberto Eco book presentation the most important all around literary event of the year

Umberto Eco is one of the world’s best selling authors due to his novel The Prague Cemetery – published in October 2010. The book is a worldwide bestseller (being the best selling book in Italy, Spain, Argentina, Mexico and others) that sold millions of copies as of 2010 – now, a year since the first publication in Italian, we will hear him in Vienna release the German translation.

The characters of this novel are not imaginary. Except the main character who is imaginary so the plot can evolve,  all others lived in reality and include – Sigmund FreudLéo TaxilDiana VaughanEugène Sue and Maurice Joly, as well as Umberto Eco’s own grandfather – that gave a mysterious message to abbot Barruelo that gave rise to all modern anti-Semitism”. These were the the forgery known as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion that inspired Hitler’s extermination of the Jews.

Eco deals with the Dreyfus affair and endless intrigue spun by the secret police of different countries, the Masons,  Jesuit plots, and other events whose accuracy can’t ever be authenticated, but that serve as fodder for feuilletons 150 years later.

CementeryOfPrague.jpg

Eco, as philosopher, is intrigued by the vision of things – real and fake and the potential strength of the untrue. We see how history is affected by the untrue. It took Eco six years to release this work – six years since his 2004 book “The Secret Flame of Queen Loana.”

In “The Cemetery of Prague” the fictitious central figure is Captain Simone Simonini who does an archaeologists work, as if he were using tiny brushes to release the memory from the debris that stuck to it.

The Burgtheater event includes a podium discussion with Alexandra Foederl-Schmid of Der Standard and Michael Kerbler of Oe1 – Austrian TV – that promises wide media coverage.
Also, reading from the book will be done by Peter Matic whose voice is fabulous and he, having been a Burgtheater actor is also famous for Ben Kingsley’s voice on German speaking TV.

The Peter Handke play is done like a dream with memories drifting from above like leaves falling from a tree and with reality and photo-memories intermingling so that Hanke’s stand in just moves in and out from the pictures of the past. What evolves from all of this is the story of a Slovenian family from Kernten State in the South of Austria and the neighboring Balkan States starting with pre-WWII and moving through the third Reich into the following Jugoslav State. The play is hard and in order to do it justice I got the text and will follow up in depth.

But, before I close this first piece, I must note the terrific and maddening Balkan dance of the whole family – those that were still around and the dead ones – affirming their personality – or if you wish their cultural identity – or even a form of Nationalism. From that moment it went down-hill sadness and resignation with the fate.

One more comment – and this in private to Flora who saw the Handke play. If you read this – please go to the Umberto Eco event as well to try to view this as a follow up.

Immer noch Sturm



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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 24th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

BULGARIA PRESSES AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY FOR ALL BALKAN COUNTRIES TO JOIN EU

The Balkans will only become a permanently stable region when all the countries that comprised the former Yugoslavia are accepted as members of the European Union, Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today.

Speaking during the Assembly’s annual general debate, Nickolay Mladenov – whose country became an EU member in 2007 – noted that the EU “was created to make war impossible in a continent that has seen at least a century of conflicts.

“Europe shall not be whole and complete until our neighbours in the Balkans are part of our Union,” adding that only membership will “make war impossible.”

The Balkans endured a series of vicious conflicts during the 1990s after the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, and only one country to have emerged from that State – Slovenia – is now a member of the EU.

Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro are official candidate countries, while Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia have been recognized as potential candidates. The EU currently has 27 member countries.

Mr. Mladenov said Bulgaria would work to promote regional cooperation and neighbourly relations across the Balkans, and particularly encourage the EU-facilitated dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo.

“Bulgaria welcomes the pragmatic approach taken by both Kosovo and Serbia during their first meetings. It is important that they build on this momentum and continue to engage in a constructive and pragmatic manner,” he added.

“All must show restraint and prevent the build-up of tension. This is vital for the security, prosperity and – ultimately – for the European perspective of the region.”

* * *

AT UN, HUNGARY AND CZECH REPUBLIC OFFER ADVICE TO ARAB STATES ON DEMOCRATIC TRANSITIONS

Transitioning to democracy brings with it challenges and must be an inclusive and locally-driven process, the leaders of Hungary and the Czech Republic told the General Assembly today as they drew lessons from their own experiences two decades ago to apply to the current situations in North Africa and the Middle East.

“I want to stress that systemic change cannot be agreed upon or pre-arranged at international conferences, and that it cannot be mediated of passively ‘acquired’ as a foreign investment,” Czech President Václav Klaus said in his address to the Assembly’s annual general debate.

“It is a domestic task and it is a sequence of policies – not a once-for-all policy change.”

Mr. Klaus also said the democratic transitions in countries such as Tunisia, Libya and Egypt should lead to increased trade with Europe to create prosperity and stability in the region.

Hungarian President Pál Schmitt cautioned the emerging democracies that there will be challenges in establishing new structures of power, drafting new constitutions and ensuring credible elections.

“The Hungarian society has, on the one hand, already met successfully many of these challenges and, on the other hand, has also made some avoidable mistakes. We therefore feel equipped to share our experience and offer a substantive toolkit for good governance and democratic change.”

Separately, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today discussed a range of issues, including developments in the Middle East and the economic situation in the European Union, with the President of Poland, Bronislaw Komorowski, when the two met on the margins of the General Assembly’s general debate.

Poland holds the current Presidency of the Council of the European Union and Mr. Ban and Mr. Komorowski also discussed UN-EU relations.

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

We were informed of a Press Briefing

at the Vienna International Cenre, Thursday, September 8, 2011, 1:30 p.m. on

Adaptation to Climate Change by Spatial Planning in the Alps.

This was to be about: The main results and outcomes achieved under the CLISP Project “Adaptation to Climate Change by Spatial Planning in the Alpine area” will be discussed at the CLISP international final conference organized by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Federal Environment Agency Austria, held at the Vienna International Centre at that date – on 8 September 2011, at which the Head of the UNEP Vienna Office, Harald Egerer, stressed the importance of the particular study as a platform for the development of an integrated, transnational approach toward adaptation to impacts of climate change in the highly sensitive area of the Alps.

It also said  at the margins of the Conference, high level representatives from the European Union, the Alpine Convention and Austrian agencies will take part at the Press Briefing with the purpose of illustrating present and future strategies to tackle negative effect of climate change in the Alpine space.
Speakers include:

Rosario Bento Pais
DG Climate Action, European Commission

Andre Jol
Head of vulnerability group, European Environment Agency

Marco Onida
Secretary General, Alpine Convention

George Reberning
Managing Director, Federal Environment Agency Austria

————-

Having shown interest, later we also received a Press Release:

Climate Change Adaptation by Spatial Planning in the Alpine Space.

VIENNA, 8 September (UN Information Service) – One hundred participants from the Alpine States have gathered today at the Vienna International Centre to discuss the main results and outcomes achieved under the Adaptation to Climate Change by Spatial Planning in the Alpine Space Project (CLISP). Organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Federal Environment Agency Austria, the CLISP Final Conference was opened with a video-message from UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner.
Climate change is expected to affect spatial development in the Alpine Space, including land use, socio-economic activities and life-sustaining ecosystems services more severely than in other European regions. Temperature increase, decreasing snow cover and more severe weather extremes could cause a variety of adverse climate change impacts. Growing risks from water scarcity, heat waves and natural
hazards might threaten settlements, physical infrastructure, utilities, material assets and human lives.
Vulnerability assessment:
Funded under the EU Alpine Space Programme, the CLISP Project in its three years focused on the challenges to spatial planning in the face of climate change. The 16 CLISP partner organizations have analyzed ten Alpine model regions according to their vulnerability to climate change. Results have shown that regions, which are already sensitive to the climate extremes, are expected to be the most vulnerable regions also in the future. Even though technical measures are mostly well implemented “soft” adaptation strategies like a proper “climate-proof” spatial planning, better coordination of actions within institutions, and better risk-communication are often missing.
Climate change fitness of spatial planning systems analyzed:
The investigation of the “climate change fitness” of spatial planning systems has shown that there are already strong formal planning instruments and important informal practices at hand that could be used to respond to climate change and to coordinate cross-sectoral adaptation activities. Nevertheless, climate adaptation needs to be addressed more directly and defined as an objective of spatial planning in legislation and other frameworks.
Transnational Planning Strategy:
One of the main outcomes of the CLISP project is the Transnational Planning Strategy (TPS) that is mainly aimed at policymakers, decision-makers and political actors in spatial planning in the Alpine space as a decision-making tool for the development of suitable adaptation strategies and actions in response to climate change.
Strategic project in the field of climate change adaptation and spatial planning:
The findings of the CLISP project as well as the pan-European perspectives of climate change adaptation have been discussed with representatives from the European Commission – Directorate General for Regional Policy, Directorate General for Climate Action, the Alpine Convention, the European Environment Agency as well as with participants from other international institutions attending the CLISP final conference.
CLISP Project is a pioneering project in the field of climate change adaptation and spatial planning. Its outcomes are not only of strategic relevance for the coordinated development of climate change adaptation policies in the Alpine region, but with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme the CLISP results and experience can also be shared with other mountain regions, such as the Carpathians, Balkans and the Himalaya region.
The CLISP project can be found at www.clisp.eu
For more information please contact:

Giulia Sechi
UNEP Vienna – Interim Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060 – 4454
Email: giulia.sechi[at]unvienna.org

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At the Press Conference there were just two journalists – myself and the Vienna editor for an industry magazine 4C, Ms. Margarette Endl who came as a guest of the organizers of what turned out to have been the “graduating” event – the release of the final documents of this stage inthe CLISP Project.

Other people in the room were part of the conference and thus asked no questions. Ms. Endl asked questions on the basis of her attendance at the morning session.
I ended up asking on the base of my general interest in the subject, and learned that since the three poles concept the subject has evolved, and I have now much more to learn about the mountain regions. As evidence of this large area – I already posted several items today based on other sources of information.

Coincidently, years ago, I was present when Ambassador Dr. Irene Freudenschuss-Reichl  introduced for Austria and UNIDO the subject of Mountain Regions to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. At the UN Mountains were always a synonym to the Himalayas like deserts, arid and semiarid lands are a synonym to Africa – but she was already then speaking about Austria and the Alps. Now the subject has evolved and we speak of regions within this large area previously included in the Alpine region.

I mentioned the three poles where the Himalayas are the third pole – and asked if we should talk now of five poles – including the Alps and the Andes – while leaving out the lesser areas like the mountains of New Zealand – because the region is rather small or Africa where the melting of the snows of Kilimanjaro has sort of eliminated the problem. I knew this was a rather provocative question and got a very good answer from Mr. Pier Carlo Sandei where he explained that the mountain regions are not just about the disappearance of the glaciers – but rather about the moving up of vegetation lines – thus a general  changing in the nature in the mountains because of Climate Change and other reasons. This is a general UNEP interest and the subject has progressed through a series of Conventions.

I stayed for the afternoon sessions that were chaired by Ms. Sabine McCallum, the department head for the subjects of Environment Impact Assessment & Climate Change of the Austrian Department of the Environment. she was actually the head of the project and her Minister – Helmut Hojesky, Federal Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment, and Water Management, was the main speaker at the High-Level Panel Discussion: “Taking action towards climate-proof spatial development – What is the way forward?”

Others on the panel were Thomas Probst, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment; Rosario Benito Pais and Jose Ruiz de Casas, both from the European Commission one from  Climate Action and the other from Regions; Andre Jol, Head of group Vulnerability and Adaptation, European Environment Agency; and Marco Onida, Secretary General of the Alpine Convention.

What happened here was that the area of the Alpine Convention has been divided into 10 regions that the study dealt with separately. It is obvious that the problems of the Swiss Alps that are dedicated mainly to tourism are very different from the problems in the newer members of the EU from the Balkans and the Carpathian regions where there are also States that do not belong to the EU altogether. The project did not just reshuffle data – but produced data and starts proposing plans of action – this being the ultimate goal of the project that after being absorbed by the States involved – will then be continued in order to come up with further plans of action.

We were told not to forget mitigation. While adaptation is a defense for the countries here – if there are no tangible results on mitigation here and elsewhere – there will be need for more adaptation in the future.

The European Commission told us that CLIMATE ACTION is now a new DG (that means a Department with Department Head and Stuff and a mandate to act). All these studies and Plans of Axtion will be under this department.

THE minister said that his people learn the Swiss and German experience – AND WE HAVE TO ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE – BECAUSE IT WILL HAPPEN – WHATEVER WE DO.

UNEP declared that they are here because they want to learn from the A-B-C … the Alps, Balkans, Carpathian regions. The countries that were parts of Yugoslavia and Albania have lot of historic experience but having become independent of each other, whatever centralized poiicy there was it is now worse – there is no communication between them. Cooperation is needed and this project provides a unified platform and future regional adaptation. The Balkan region is actually a Balkan and Dinaric Arc Region that covers the Adriatic Coast.

So far as Vienna goes – as always – it finds itself in the middle – this time in the middle between the Alps and the Carpatians with the “B” region to the South.

There was the need for a Carpathian Convention in addition to the Alpine Convention. The Carpathian Convention includes The Ukraine and Serbia that are not part of the EU. 66% of the Carpathian region is still covered with forests – this provides extra-potential to preserve biodiversity, landscape and quality of air.

Pier Carlo Sandei spoke of SUSTAINABLE GROWTH in the context of the 21st Century – rather then the 20th Century. He gave me the feeling that Sustainable Growth as understood earlier is a no=no today when we must think of TRANSNATIONAL REGIONS that will aim by 2020 to be sustained by 20% Sustainable Energy.

He also used in the summary the conclusion: MITIGATION IS GLOBAL – ADAPTATION IS LOCAL & REGIONAL. One will have to look at climate costs – if you invest or you do not invest. This reminds us of the situation that compares the way industry looks at their strategy to answer CO2 emissions decrease requirements.

If you do something overseas – you get the credits and you can apply the full amount right now – but if you reduce your own emissions at home, you do not get the immediate full credit – you rather get the credit apportioned for the long range of the project – and that is what sends corporations to buy credits overseas. AHA! You Kyoto Protocol; affectionados – hear it from us = we warned you that the system never made sense!

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Looking at the nice collection of material I took along – I would like to give here references for the benefit of our readers:

A – ALPINE CONVENTION, 2nd efition, January 2011, Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention, Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse 15, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria with a branch office in Bolzano-Bosen, Italy.  www.alpconv.org

B – BALKAN VITAL GRAPHICS – Environment Without Borders. Published by UNEP/GRID=Arendal in 2007. It was backed by Austria and canada and was used as part of the Belgrade October 10-12, 2001 Ministerial Conference on Building Bridges To The Future Environment For Europe. It deals with mining, water and nature.

C – A COLLECTION ON THE CARPATHIAN CONVENTION, material prepared for the Second Convention of the Parties, Bucharest, June 17-19, 2008. Published in
Bolzano, Italy. www.carpathianproject.eu  —– This material was followed by the Carpathian Project headed by Mr. Harald Egerer of UNEP Vienna. www.carpathianconvention.org … Harald.Egerer@unvienna  … The Partners to the project are institutions from Austria, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic, Germany, Romania, The Ukraine.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 13th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the US we got – Small Car, Big Changes: When full-scale production of the Chevrolet Sonic begins in August at General Motors Corporation in the USA, it will be the only subcompact car produced in the United States.

They say: “To make it profitable, General Motors created a two-tier pay structure in which 40 percent of the entry-level workers are paid less, and revamped the assembly process. The assembly line for the Sonic is about 500,000 square feet, which is about half the size of a typical plant.”

How wrong can GM be, and how hopeless the US economy is in its steps?
See – all what they did was reduce the size of the assembly line, the size of the car, and the salaries they pay their labor force. I bet that these innovations will increase the cost of the car. That is very dandy according to old time economists – but it will not fly in a market in which consumers have a right to buy or not to buy.

Will Washington have to close the US doors to better imports – more desirable to knowledgeable consumers?
When I read this, I just came back from seeing a vehicle that was parked in front of the Maria Hilfer Church on the Mariahilfer Strasse in Vienna’s 6th district. The vehicle was a really small Peugeot iON – it says that it is iDEAL for the new urban mobility. Why so? This is because it is 100% electric.
This little car can do 130-150 Km on a charge that takes 10 minutes on fast charge or 3 hours if you do it by yourself from the regular electric outlet.  For these purposes the car has two different electricity intakes that you can use at will. It will cost you just 2.5 Euro if you do it yourself – if you do it at a charge station fast – it will cost you more, but as said – if you do it by yourself it will cost you one tenth of the cost of gasoline.
Sure, these are prototypes and as such cost much money – I was quoted 35.000 Euro for the vehicle – but then all sort of incentives are being contemplated and if you drive a lot your gains will be from the gas you save – our gains will be from the CO2 that you do not spew into the air.
In Europe, governments do think of air quality as a common good and consider savings in health costs part of the National governing plan. So much as we must point out that the 100% electric Peugeot – no hybrid gimmick please – is being shown off in Austria by the OEVP Party which is the minor member of the rulling coalition in the Austrian government.
The OEVP holds onto the Foreign Ministry (Mr. Michael Spindelegger),  the Environment Ministry (Mr. Nikolaus Berlakovich), the Energy Ministry (Mr. Reinhold Mitterlehner), and the Science and Research Ministry (Mr. Karlheinz Töchterle) – all important in the sponsorship of improvement of mobility in Austria. They do not hold on to the portfolio of  Transportation Ministry – but how can that Ministry behave in any other way then accepting pro-electricity arguments when these are interrelated to an Eco-electric Power law that promotes enhancement of solar and wind energy in Austria. Such a law was just past last Thursday in the Austrian Parliament – so the electric cars have indeed a future here and Austria will help paving the way for the increased introduction of electric mobility in other places as well.
The OEVP campaign’s motto is “JA, E” or YES to Electric Cars and the EKOSTROM LAW.
The poster picture shows a little car that has a long wire with an electric plug at its end. POWER TO THESE AUSTRIANS!

Strange as it may seem – the OEVP which is the more Conservative – the Black Party – in the Austrian Coalition they have with the Socialist centrists of the OESP – or the Red Party, come through as trying to “out-greene” the opposition Austrian Green Party.
For further references: www.agenda-wien.at    - www.peugeot.at

But I do not end here, this morning I was at an event at the Austrian Diplomatic Academy where the two Foreign Ministers of Austria and Croatia, Messrs. Michael Spindelegger  and Gordan Jandrokovi?, both holding also onto the positions of Vice Chancellor and Vice Prime Minister in their specific countries, where celebrating the agreed upon track for Croatia’s accession to the EU.

In the process I heard that the bilateral discussions will deal also with the environment and climate change.

Then I learned from Vjekoslav Majetic, Director General of a Croatian firm DOK-ING that makes industrial equipment they sell globally – that they contemplate making small electric cars. Would this not be an ideal case of leap-frogging?
Croatia come to the EU with the outlines to build an assembly line for small electric cars?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 3rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Poland takes over EU presidency can it help save the EU from its Member States?
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Poland takes over first day July for the second half of 2011 the rotating EU presidency. Poland is one of the largest EU Member States and should be seen at par with Germany, France and the UK in the leadership of the Union – but Poland has a very hurting history – it was the historic sacrificial lamb when Western Europe tried to talk to Russia – it always dealt with the partition of Poland. Today Poland, basically still an agricultural State, is still on an industrialization path that plays very well with the potential for strengthening the EU economy.
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Warsaw wants to work towards solving the debt crisis/€ crisis. Focal points of its EU Presidency Half-Year will be energy security, the security and defense policy of the EU, and the deepening of economic ties within the EU and with the neighboring states of the European Union. Prime Minister Donald Tusk is strongly opposed to a return to nationalism.
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The Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk wants his country to be the driving force of the EU – He also opposes a return to nationalism and national thinking. Given the debt crisis in Euro-countries Poland tries to work on a solution, although it is not a member of the Euro zone. Having been on the East side in the European divide and still on the East frontier, Poland understands well the importance of a strong EU.
Focal points of the Presidency will be energy security, the security and defense policy of the EU, and the deepening of economic ties within the EU and with the neighboring states of the European Union. Also it can be expected that Poland will be closer to working with the US then some of the other EU leaders. Moreover, there will be a new focus on growth and EU enlargement. The way to achieve this will be to complete the internal market arrangements, especially in services and Internet commerce, says the Polish government.
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Poland takes over the EU Presidency from Hungary – Thus for the first time in the same year, two new EU Member Countries (one considered small and the other large) are holding the rotating presidency.
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Poland takes over EU presidency can it help save the EU from its Member States? From Poland itself?

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Polish minister pledges loyalty to EU’s Ashton.

by ANDREW RETTMAN, 02.07.2011

EUOBSERVER / WARSAW - Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski has promised to be EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton’s “loyal deputy.” But his outspoken ways could upstage her despite his best intentions.

Sikorski made the pledge at a press briefing in Warsaw on Friday (1 July) as Poland took over the rotating EU presidency.

Sikorski and Ashton in Brussels:  Who will stand out as the top EU personality on foreign affairs in the next six months?

Under the Lisbon Treaty, Ashton became the official figurehead for EU foreign policy. But she has found it hard to assert her role as big EU countries take the lead on major developments such as Libya and amid grumbling that she is not cut out for the job.

Sikorski in deference to Ashton on Friday declined to say if Poland would back the Palestinians if they apply for UN membership in September. “We [EU foreign ministers] have agreed to withhold our national positions to help Cathy Ashton reach a consensus. There is a need for the EU to speak on this with one voice,” he said.

He also defended her against criticism that she is not active enough.

“She has an impossible portfolio. She has taken over the portfolios of two previous commissioners. She’s trying to co-ordinate the positions of 27 countries on difficult issues such as the Middle East and she is trying to create her own ministry from scratch. On any given day, she should be in five places at once.”

His deputised tasks are to include a trip in Ashton’s name to Afghanistan and India. He will also help her put together EU aid for post-war governance in Libya and new ways of funding NGOs in repressive countries.

Minor tension has already emerged on the Middle East, however.

An EU diplomatic source said Ashton asked Poland not to call an informal EU foreign ministers’ meeting in September in case ministers go off message on the Palestine question at a sensitive moment. But Poland called the meeting anyway, to take place one week before the UN event.

Meanwhile, Ashton’s cautious approach to media could see the more flamboyant Polish minister put her in the shade over the next six months.

Reacting to press questions about Libya and Belarus on Friday, Sikorski could not resist making risque jokes.

On whether Colonel Gaddafi should step down, Sikorski said: “If he were to ask for transit over Polish territory to seek asylum in Belarus, we would be helpful … I think he [Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko] and Gaddafi would get on like a house on fire.”

With Ashton’s attention on the Middle East, Poland is also likely to play a leading role on EU relations with post-Soviet countries.

Ukraine’s EU ambassador recently complained that he has been asking Ashton to come to Kiev for the past year to no avail. When asked by EUobserver about prospects for ending the frozen conflict in EU-aspirant Moldova, a diplomat in Ashton’s service said: “Frankly, we don’t care.”

For his part, Sikorski on Friday noted that the Polish presidency is looking to clinch an EU association pact with Ukraine and to make progress on a similar deal with Molodva as two top priorities.

He also made clear that Poland wants to make a historic mark on EU affairs during its six-month tenure.

Looking to plans to sign an accession treaty with Croatia in autumn, the minister said: “The options [for a venue for the treaty ceremony] are Brussels, Warsaw and Zagreb. We like Croatia but we wouldn’t mind the accession treaty for Croatia being known as the Warsaw Treaty.”

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AND WHAT ABOUT POLAND HEADING THE EU AT A TIME THERE IS A NEED TO DEFEND THE EU FROM THE EURO CRISIS AND POLAND IS NOT A MEMBER OF THE EUROZONE? HOW WILL THIS WORK OUT IN WHAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE A UNION BETWEEN EUROZONE STATES AND THOSE THAT HVE NOT OPTED YET FOR THE EURO?

Poland takes part in eurozone meeting amid worry ‘if it’s safe to join’ – 03.07.2011
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Non-eurozone country Poland has managed to get into what is normally an
exclusive meeting of euro-using finance ministers, as Warsaw wonders “if
it’s safe to join.”

euobserver.com/9/32581/?rk=1

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 11th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

On August 5, 1990, 45 foreign ministers of the OIC adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam to serve as a guidance for the member states in the matters of human rights in as much as they are compatible with the Sharia, or Quranic Law  www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/cai… )

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

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

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

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

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

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Muslim_population

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

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

 upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/OIC_map.png

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

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

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

Palestine · Qatar · Saudi Arabia · Senegal · SierraLeone ·

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

Uzbekistan · United Arab Emirates · Yemen

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



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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 25th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

April 24 in modern history is a peace day date. We just discovered this accidentally. We think the UN should look into the possibility of making this a holy day in its calendar.

This year it happened to be Easter Sunday, but this is not our point. Rather, we coincidentally did something we never do – we looked at the listing of things that happened on this date in modern history and it rang bells in our mind.

Look at April 24, 1916 – it was the start of a down-played conference of European Socialists at Kiental in the Swiss Canton Bern. The Conference lasted till April 30th and was officially painted as a tourism event. But it was much more then that. At this meeting Lenin called to the workers in all countries of WWI to act so the War is ended. That was a Lenin call to the workers of the world to stop a useless war!

In 1926 on April 24th there was the signing of an international agreement relating to mobile vehicles – this was an aspect of the start of globalization. It was thought at that time that mobility will bring people together.

On April 24, 1941 the US and Japan held secret talks to establish a “MODUS VIVENDI” in the Pacific and East Asia. It led to no results, but it was some sort of secretly held effort at avoiding war. Had it led to results, there might have been peace in the Pacific but Hitler would have won in Europe and this surely would not have been the peace we could have enjoyed. So, Japan actually helped bringing about peace by leading to its own defeat – something I could not miss contemplating.

April 24, 1981 President Reagan lifted the grain embargo against the Soviet Union. Was this the start of West-East detente or just the recognition that the “Containment” policy is bringing results?

April 24, 1996, The Palestinian National Council decided to take out the statement about the destruction of the State of Israel from the PLO Charter. This allowed for a step  towards the eluding Peace Accord in the Middle East -though without results yet, it was a required step in the right direction nevertheless.

Looking at birthdays – it was April 24, 1941 – (remember the US-Japan secret talks?) that was also the birthday of Richard Holbrooke – a man who tried to bring peace to places other did not dare to go - Holbrooke achieved great public prominence when he, together with former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt, brokered a peace agreement among the warring factions inBosnia that led to the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords. It is sad to look reality in the face – but it was the Holbrooke effort that led to the only tangible peace making event in Europe in the post WWII era – and again it had to be initiated by the US  as the EU has not moved away yet from the bickering among its constituent governments. (The EU is a Federation when it comes to common standardization of goods and measurements – this more then in the USA, but in the all important matters of Foreign Policy, Security, and military command, it is yet much less then the American style of Federal Government. Thus not yet able to be effective in Peace making.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

VALERIO CALZOLAIO, a journalist, ecologist, and ex-member of Italian parliament, is the author of:

“ECO-REFUGEES: FORCED MIGRATION YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW.”

He writes, as reported by Roberto Savio of IPS, from Rome, October 8, 2010:

“For the entire month of August the front pages of the world’s major daily papers gave considerable coverage of developments in the Indus Valley: monsoon rains in the north of Pakistan in late July, the flooding of rivers and tributaries, submerged land, villages, and towns, then more flooding in the centre and south of the country, the contamination of wells and aqueducts and other sources of water, inadequate international funding, flight, desperation, and anger.

Almost two thousand dead were immediately confirmed, thousands and thousands of people lost, six million left homeless, 10 million evacuated, 20 million effected in some way. They could be defined climate- or eco-refugees.

It was a disaster on a planetary scale represented in shocking photographs of the distant suffering. But alongside this story ran a range of national matters of varying importance -in Italy, for example, the story about a drop in prices of homes in Montecarlo. Now the climate refugees of the Indus have vanished from the media. For two months we have heard nothing more about the disaster, though hundreds of thousands of people remain in camps and normal life has not returned for millions of Pakistanis.

In recent weeks, however, news has arrived about another wave of climate refugees elsewhere in the world, in Indonesia, the Amazon, and the Danube in Hungary. For almost twenty years the proliferation of climate refugees has been a source of diffuse emergencies, migrants driven to leave their homes by bad choices or the mistaken behaviour of humans. In the case of climate change, they are fleeing because of actions that we are taking here.

In 2008 and 2009 the number of international “political” refugees (those who are given “refugee” status) was about 15 million; the official number of international eco-refugees was higher. The number of eco-refugees even exceeds that of internal political refugees (who remain within their country’s border). With world conferences about to be held yet again on biodiversity (Nagoya) and the climate (Cancun), in November and December, it is time the UN is provided permanently with the means to help eco-refugees and prevent the creation of more of them.

In a book now being released in Italy, I have tried to reflect on these figures and means. Whether we like it or not, hundreds of thousands of eco-refugees are arriving in Europe each year, and their numbers will only rise. Moreover it is we that are responsible for their lack of homes. They cannot stay in camps forever, not will all manage to find a home in their own country, and the sooner we recognise this the better.

I recognise that since Adam and Eve there have always been environmental and climate refugees. It is not by chance that I dedicated the first part of the book to migratory species and the archaeology of the original waves of human migration. The migration of individuals and groups of our species have always had multiple causes and environmental and climatic effects and repercussions, especially when forced, when people were driven from their homes.

In the history and evolution of homo sapiens, the other major causes of migration are war and conflict. Refugees and eco-refugees are not an invention of modernity. Today those made refugees by “political” causes -violence or persecution by institutions or human communities- are granted “refugee” status and assistance by a United Nations commission. And yet climate refugees are victims of human action, too, so shouldn’t they be given this same status? We must find a way to provide the same assistance and take the same preventive measures in the case of migration caused by contemporary human-caused climate change. The second part of my book is dedicated to this subject.

I have tried to reconstruct the infancy and adolescence of the UN system, showing who’s in charge (and how) of human rights and the right to asylum, aid, and protection from climate change. I have sought to gather together the most advanced proposals from UN agencies, scientists, and researchers to address the migration caused by rising sea levels, by the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, and by the shrinking availability of water for drinking and sanitation.

Forecasts indicate that in the next two decades there will be tens of millions of new eco-refugees, especially in certain areas, headed primarily towards Europe, mostly across the Mediterranean. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports call attention to global developments that are certain to occur though they will vary in intensity according to location: rising sea level, water scarcity, and extreme weather events.

For example, according to the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), the real risk of deaths resulting from flooding has risen by 13 percent from 1990-2007 while the percentage of the world population directly effected has increased by 28 percent in that period. Moreover, on the basis of past experience and forecast models, over 75 percent of these risks will be concentrated in a handful of countries: those effected by monsoons (Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan) and China.

The risks are not the consequence of exposure and intensity alone: an island or sparsely-populated country or a small poor country risks both the life and development of entire populations for generations. Forced emigration is the near certain outcome. By 2050 the risk of becoming climate refugees as a result of these developments, even in a best case scenario, will cast its shadow over no fewer than 200 million people.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Danube’s menacing industrial legacy.

DOUG SAUNDERS

From Saturday’s Globe and Mail, London and Toronto.
Published Friday, Oct. 15, 2010, Last updated Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010

When the earthen retaining wall burst on a Hungarian chemical refinery’s settling pond last week, a lake of caustic red sludge burst forth, drowning or burning to death at least nine people and polluting large tracts of land and river.

But the Ajkai alumina refinery disaster also exposed an alarming, half-buried legacy of poison and potential disaster that stretches along the banks of the Danube River as it courses through the former Communist nations of Eastern Europe – a decades-old legacy of crumbling chemical plants and mines that threatens far worse accidents.

More related to this story

Regional organizations, ecological groups and the European Union list hundreds of rickety Communist-era chemical plants, refineries and mine smelters strung along the banks and watersheds of the Danube.

Most are like the Ajkai refinery, which was built by the Soviet-bloc Hungarian government in the 1940s and privatized in the early 1990s while relying on the same aging infrastructure.

During the decades of the Warsaw Pact, the Soviets had designated the Danube basin – notably Hungary, but also Romania, Bulgaria and their neighbours – the empire’s centre of chemical and mineral processing. After the end of communism in 1989, the plants either passed into private hands, often with little investment or upkeep, or were abandoned.

“We have no idea how many ticking time bombs are out there – we thought we had a list of the most dangerous sites, but then something like this takes us by surprise,” says Andreas Beckmann, director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Vienna-based Danube program.

The WWF, Greenpeace and local environment groups had all maintained lists of the dangerous mines and chemical ponds in the area – a list that includes more than 1,000 operating and 700 abandoned sites in Hungary alone, and eight that are considered dangerous “hot spots.”

But the Ajkai refinery, site of the worst disaster in a decade (though environmental groups say they have detected only minor pollution of the Danube itself), did not even appear on those lists.

“In this case I wasn’t aware it had existed until last week, which is the unsettling thing – it makes you wonder what else is out there,” Mr. Beckmann said. Its aluminium-oxide sludge pits, which contain millions of litres of a sufficiently potent alkaline to give lethal burns, are not considered a serious pollutant under European regulations.

When the countries of the eastern Danube joined the European Union – Hungary in 2004, then Romania and Bulgaria in 2007 – they became subject to some of the world’s most rigorous environmental regulations. To qualify for membership, both the prospective members and Brussels invested billions in upgrading health and safety infrastructure.

But officials now fear that many of these countries, which tend to register high on corruption indices, may have hidden unsafe, crumbling industries in much the same way that Greece hid billions in debt liabilities. There is a fear, one European Commission official involved in the Hungarian case said, that “these guys could be paying the inspectors to overlook a chemical Chernobyl.”

Hungarian environmentalists feel that the Ajkai alumina plant could not have passed any sort of rigorous inspections – aerial photos released Thursday showed the containment walls leaking and crumbling months before the collapse. “They made a huge mistake in legalizing this factory in the first place,” Marton Vau, spokesman for Greenpeace Hungary, told reporters.

And while weak and under-inspected mines and refineries such as Ajkai are a worry, even more serious are the hundreds, possibly thousands, of abandoned Communist-era chemical plants and storage ponds, many of them falling under the jurisdiction of no private or public-sector authority, some of them forgotten.

To drive across Bulgaria, for example, is to pass through scores of abandoned Stalinist factory towns, their concrete work yards and high-rise apartments turned into graffiti-pocked ghost towns. Many contain fields and lakes of serious toxins, slowly leaching into the watershed as their containers decompose.

And the Danube nation of Serbia is a particular worry, as it contains hundreds of ex-Yugoslav Communist factories – many abandoned – is not yet a member of the EU, and lacks the financial resources to clean up its industrial ruins.

“I do worry that there could be an even more serious catastrophe out there that we haven’t noticed, waiting to happen,” said Mr. Beckmann of the WWF. “And instead of red sludge, it could end up being cyanide next time.”

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

The elections for the UN Security Council are in:

Japan, Mexico, Turkey, Austria, Uganda have finished their two year term and will be replaced by
India, Colombia, Germany, Portugal, and South Africa.

Lebanon, Brazil, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nigeria, and Gabon are the hold-outs for 2011.

The only real contest was for the seats in the Western European and Other States Group (WEOG). The final contest there was between Canada and Portugal. Speaking after the vote, Portuguese Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Joao Cravinho said the fact that Portugal is a smaller country appealed to other states of similar size and power.

“Our own campaign had enormous amounts of receptivity in the message that we brought about our willingness to engage closely – not just for the purposes of the campaign, but to engage closely over our tenure in the Security Council with different regional groups, with countries big and small. Our campaign was also based on the idea that countries of small or medium-sized dimension should have a voice, be present in Security Council, this message had a lot of echo and, in the end, was the basis for our success,” said Cravinho. We believe that the US would have liked to see Canada win this contest.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters that his country’s first round victory is a sign of international trust in Germany’s role in global affairs. We believe that Germany like Brazil, Japan and South Africa (G-4) should be permanent members of the UN Security Council. Next year Japan will be outside as they just completed their term.

These contests reminded us of the Island – Austria contest two years ago. Then both contenders were small States somewhat irrelevant in the UN structure – with one outside and one inside the EU. This time Canada was a larger contender, but Portugal has some similar-language former colonies that will back her. Then Iceland had the Scandinavian countries back her, but the economy was the miller’s stone around her neck – then, Austria fought as if the country’s life was at stake. In the larger context of the UN these fights point at the fact that the WEOG is a strange construct that has not got the feeling of the new UN forces yet, and is continuing under the assumption that nothing has changed, and that Europe can continue unchanged its post-World War II  multi-seating at important international bodies, even by over-ruling the non-EU members of the group. But unless the EU does unite into one strong force – these fights rather look like battles staged in an operetta.

The new elected States include India, Germany and South Africa which add up to Brazil and Nigeria from among the holdovers – to form a strongest quintet the UN has come up with in recent years. Only Japan will be missed. And let us see:

With India, South Africa and Germany winning three of the rotating non-permanent seats in the UN Security Council (UNSC), this is the first time the Security Council will witness the simultaneous presence of all BRIC, IBSA, and BASIC countries and three of the four G4 countries.

The BRIC countries comprise four emerging powers including Brazil, Russia, India and China who are set to becoming leading economies of the world by 2050. Russia and China are already permanent members of the UNSC – albeit not the original signers of the UN Charter!

Brazil was elected to a non-permanent seat last year and will remain there till end of 2011.

The IBSA comprises India, Brazil and South Africa, bringing three leading economies of three continents together.

The G4 comprising India, Brazil, Germany and Japan are aspiring for a permanent seat in the UNSC. India won the seat vacated by Japan from the Asia region.

The BASIC countries are The US and China – the so called G-2 – and IBSA. This is the leading group that chiseled out an approach to climate change in Copenhagen, will wait out changes in the US in Cancun, but will prepare some alternative approach for the 2011 meeting in Cape Town – not a moment too soon. So the UNSC will have the right configuration next year to deal with the subject.

India, as one of the four  countries seeking to expand the Security Council’s permanent membership,  G-4, U.N. Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said his country would use its two-year term to work towards a longer-term stay on the body. He also spoke about what India’s presence will contribute to the council.

“We bring the voice of one-sixth of humanity. We have 63 years of experience in nation building, and I think that is what the U.N. can use. We have experience in peacekeeping. We would like to transcend that into peace building,” said Puri.

South Africa has returned to the council after only a two-year absence. Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said her country would work with states both inside and outside the council to keep Africa as a zone of peace, security and development. It seems that Africa gets it now – that they must have a permanent representation at the table.

The BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – could present a united front on several contentious issues.

Earlier this year, Kazakhstan withdrew from the race leaving India as a sole runner from Asia for the two year term. The last time India had a seat on the Security Council was in 1992.

“BRIC coordination in the Security Council becomes a fact of life,” the Indian Foreign Minister said after a meeting with the foreign ministers of the three other countries.

BASIC becomes a way to tackle the global environment problems starting 2011 – we say. The subject was introduced to the UNSC by the UK in 2006 and no doubt will now come back strengthened with this new palette of members. Mexico’s membership at the Security Council, they are one of the States that are finishing their term, did nothing for Cancun – as if they were not there at all.

——

And an aside about the future of WEAG contests – for the 2013-2014 UNSC membership shift the competition in 2012 will be between Australia, Luxembourg and Finland. Australia is afraid that their fate will be similar to that of Canada this year – but we understand that Australia did not back Canada this time as it would have been even harder to replace Canada that has a similar background like Australia, then it will be to replace Portugal.

Another aside please see www.innercitypress.com/weog2junke…
It seems that some believe that the right-wing Canadian government policies had something to do with the outcome that allows the EU to end up with four out of the total 15 chairs around the UNSC horse-shoe table.

Canada until this year managed to get a seat on the Council 6 times – that is once every decade – this compared to India that had a seat also 6 times earlier – last time in 1992 – and  was badly defeated by Japan in 2006. We found a paper from Winnipeg that accuses the Harper Government directly for this loss rather then trying to understand that distributing maple syrup bottles to delegations and sending in the mounties to the UN and paying for African Ambassador junkets – simply does not work when the competitor is a multi-headed EU. It is wrong to think that the right wing government was the only reason, – the UN had no problem with Colombia even though they were opposed by the ALBA group.

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