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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We find it astonishing how not even the Alternate Media sees the whole picture. The Glenn Greenwald following article is surely a great further contribution to his efforts to open hidden content – but even he missed a more up-to date point – the fact that January 27, 2015 happens to be the date much of Europe commemorates the freeing 70 years ago, January 27, 1945, of the Auschwitz death camp by the Russian Army. Simply put – even at the UN – January 27 is HMD – Holocaust Memorial Day while quite a few Muslim/Islamic States are effectively Holocaust deniers something outlawed in civilized States. I am just not sure where the Saudis present and past stand on this issue.

Many European leaders will be at Auschwitz that day but Putin will not be there. Oh well – he just was not invited by the Poles! Now come the news that President Obama will be in Ryadh! Ryadh of all places? A town where Jews are not allowed even as tourists – in 2015?

We did not condemn President Obama for not going to the Paris reunion of Heads of State after the ISIS/AQAP attacks on that Jewish supermarket and Charlie Hebdo. We felt that he was right to let the Europeans deal with this by themselves – rather then make a token appearance – but Auschwitz is just another matter. It was the US that took on the responsibility to save Europe from itself, and at that time the World at large as well. And that is something that calls for the US participation at highest level at this 70th commemoration that happens to be when the World is threatened again – and this time by Islamic fanatics – and don’t forget it – that started out in Saudi Arabia – and the White House and Congress choices seem all wrong.
——————-

So far we read that Bundespräsident Joachim Gauck, France President Francois Hollande, King Willem-Alexander of the Niederlands and Queen Maxima, Crown Princess Viktoria of Schweden, and Crown Prince Haakon von Norway are among the Heads of State that are going to Auschwitz for the January 27, 2015 memorial. Then the announcement that President Obama and Vice-President Biden go to Ryadh. President Obama even shortened his all-important trip to India to pass on the way back through Ryadh. This seemingly detours now also President Hollande and Prime Minister Cameron who seemingly will switch from going to Auschwitz and go to Ryadh instead. Oh well – this smells of oil. Today this means that the new Saudi King will be asked to reciprocate by continuing the policy of cheap oil that hurts mainly Iran and Russia while being a boon to short-sighted industrial economies.

—————————————-

It seems like somebody had an after-thought in the White House – and voila:

The White House – Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
January 17, 2015
President Obama Announces Presidential Delegation to Attend the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau

President Barack Obama today announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to Oswicim, Poland, to attend the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 27, 2015.

The Honorable Jacob J. Lew, Secretary of the Department of Treasury, will lead the delegation.

Members of the Presidential Delegation:

The Honorable Stephen D. Mull, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Poland, Department of State

The Honorable Crystal Nix-Hines, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Department of State

The Honorable David Saperstein, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Department of State

Dr. Charles A. Kupchan, Senior Director for European Affairs, National Security Council

Mr. Nicholas Dean, Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, Department of State

Ms. Aviva Sufian, Special Envoy for U.S. Holocaust Survivor Services, Department of Health and Human Services

Mr. Israel Arbeiter, Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivor

Mrs. Irene Weiss, Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivor

Mr. David Harris, Executive Director, American Jewish Committee

————

But this is a Jewish delegation headed by the White House Jewish appointee – this is not the political delegation that the hour demands. Why is the trip to the family of the Tyrant King more important to President Obama and then – seemingly also Congress – did not yet think of sending someone to the Auschwitz Memorial?

————

Another e-mail we just got is from Antony Beevor of the Guardian
–  www.theguardian.com/commentisfree…he tells us that Putin does not go to the Auschwitz Memorial because the Poles did not invite him – and this is a terrible mistake of the Europeans – to let the Poles take such a stand.

The note starts: “Why Vladimir Putin should be at the Auschwitz memorial ceremony.
We should forget neither the Soviet Union’s role in liberating the camps nor its antisemitic blind spots.”

It continues: “On 27 January 1945 a reconnaissance patrol from the Soviet 107th Rifle Division emerged from the snow-laden forest 70km west of Kraków. The soldiers were mounted on shaggy ponies, their submachine guns slung across their backs. In front of them stood Auschwitz-Birkenau, the grimmest symbol of modern history. Officers gazed around in disbelief, then called in medical teams to care for the 3,000 sick prisoners left behind.

It is a great shame that Vladimir Putin, having not been invited, won’t be present at a memorial ceremony next week to mark the 70th anniversary – at the very least, it would have reminded the world that the advance of Stalin’s Red Army forced the SS to abandon the extermination camps in the east. And yet the muted row over the Russian president’s absence is a reminder that this particular chapter in Russia’s second world war history was, and remains, full of contradictions.

. The first death camp to be liberated by the Red Army was Majdanek just outside Lublin, in July 1944. The novelist and war correspondent Vasily Grossman was on the spot with the 8th Guards Army, which had defended Stalingrad, but an order came down that he was not to cover the story. The job was given instead to Konstantin Simonov, a favourite of the regime, who managed to avoid mentioning that any of the victims in Majdanek were Jewish. Grossman, despite warnings from his friend Ilya Ehrenburg, had been slow to believe that antisemitism could exist within the Soviet hierarchy during the death struggle with Nazism. But in 1943 he had noticed that any reference to Jewish suffering was being cut from his articles. He wrote to complain to Aleksandr Shcherbakov, the chief of the Red Army political department. Shcherbakov replied: “The soldiers want to hear about [Russian military hero of the Napoleonic era] Suvorov, but you quote [German 19th-century poet] Heine”. Grossman joined Ehrenburg on the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee to chronicle Nazi crimes, unaware of how dangerous this might prove to be. Several of their colleagues were murdered by the secret police.

Certain truths about the Shoah could never be published in the Sovet Union. When Grossman wrote about the extermination camp of Treblinka, he could not reveal that the auxiliary guards were mostly Ukrainian. Collaboration with the enemy was a taboo subject since it undermined the rhetoric of the Great Patriotic War.


As the end of the war approached, controls became even stricter. Auschwitz may have been liberated at the end of January 1945, but no details were released until the final victory in May. The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee soon found that its work was in direct opposition to the party instruction: “Do not divide the dead!” Jews were not to be seen as a special category of suffering. They were to be described only as citizens of the USSR and Poland. Thus in a way Stalin was the first Holocaust denier, even if his antisemitism was not quite the same as that of the Nazis. It was probably based more on a xenophobic suspicion of international connections than on racial hatred.

Soviet propaganda, while designating those killed at Auschwitz in collectively anonymous terms as “victims of fascism”, also portrayed the extermination camp as the ultimate capitalist factory, where the workers were murdered when no longer useful.

And there was a further twist away from the truth. The Stalinists emphasised how many Poles had died there to distract attention from their own crimes against the Polish people, both following the Red Army’s unprovoked invasion in 1939 under the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and its brutal occupation from 1944. They portrayed Auschwitz as the place of martyrdom for the Polish nation. By talking only of the Polish Catholics who had died there, they hoped that the Poles might focus any anger at their bitter fate entirely against Germany and not against the Soviet Union.

Few Poles were taken in during those postwar years of Soviet oppression. And now Putin’s ill-disguised attempts to reassert Russian control over Ukraine have of course reminded the Polish people all too clearly of what Soviet “liberation” meant for them in 1945. It is not therefore surprising that we should be seeing a certain amount of diplomatic shadow-boxing in the background, while both sides insist everything is normal.

The Kremlin is pretending not to have been snubbed by the fact that President Putin has not been asked to the commemoration event; meanwhile, the Polish government insists it was not issuing formal invitations. The Auschwitz international committee, which includes a Russian representative, was simply asking each government who would be representing them.

Putin made a speech at Auschwitz 10 years ago on the 60th anniversary, and no doubt he will again proclaim in Moscow on 9 May – Russia’s Victory Day – that the Red Army’s defeat of “the fascist beast” saved Europe from Nazi slavery. {and we think he is right to claim that but this is obviously only a half truth as the Soviets did in effect exchange one slavery for another.}

But those countries, especially Poland and the Baltic states, that experienced the ensuing 40 years of Communist dictatorship glance nervously now east once more.

Russia, obsessed for centuries by a fear of encirclement and surprise attack, has always felt justified in dominating its “near abroad”. It was Stalin’s shock at Hitler’s invasion in 1941, and his consequent determination to create a defensive cordon, that led to the cold war. Putin, fortunately, is a very pale imitation of his hero.

• Antony Beevor’s next book, Ardennes – 1944: Hitler’s Last Gamble, is out in May 2015.

————————————————————————————————
AND THE VIEW FROM THE ALTERNATE MEDIA THAT GOT US INTERESTED IN THIS – WHY INDEED DID PRESIDENT OBAMA AND MEMBERS OF CONGRESS NOT CHOSE TO GO TO OSWIECIM (Auschwitz-Birkenau) AND ARE GOING TO RYADH INSTEAD? This being written after reading next story:


Glenn Greenwald | Compare and Contrast: Obama’s Reaction to the Deaths of King Abdullah and Hugo Chavez

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, 24 January 2015

Greenwald writes: “The effusive praise being heaped on the brutal Saudi despot by western media and political figures has been nothing short of nauseating; the UK Government, which arouses itself on a daily basis by issuing self-consciously eloquent lectures to the world about democracy, actually ordered flags flown all day at half-mast to honor this repulsive monarch.”

Hugo Chávez was elected President of Venezuela four times from 1998 through 2012 and was admired and supported by a large majority of that country’s citizens, largely due to his policies that helped the poor. King Abdullah was the dictator and tyrant who ran one of the most repressive regimes on the planet.

The effusive praise being heaped on the brutal Saudi despot by western media and political figures has been nothing short of nauseating; the UK Government, which arouses itself on a daily basis by issuing self-consciously eloquent lectures to the world about democracy, actually ordered flags flown all day at half-mast to honor this repulsive monarch. My Intercept colleague Murtaza Hussain has an excellent article about this whole spectacle, along with a real obituary, here.

I just want to focus on one aspect: a comparison of the statements President Obama issued about the 2013 death of President Chávez and the one he issued today about the Saudi ruler. Here’s the entire Obama statement about Chávez (h/t Sami Khan):

Statement covering the reaction from President Obama regarding the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (photo: The Guardian)

Statement covering the reaction from President Obama regarding the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (photo: The Guardian)

One obvious difference between the two leaders was that Chávez was elected and Abdullah was not. Another is that Chávez used the nation’s oil resources to attempt to improve the lives of the nation’s most improverished while Abdullah used his to further enrich Saudi oligarchs and western elites. Another is that the severity of Abdullah’s human rights abuses and militarism makes Chávez look in comparison like Gandhi.

But when it comes to western political and media discourse, the only difference that matters is that Chávez was a U.S. adversary while Abdullah was a loyal U.S. ally – which, by itself for purposes of the U.S. and British media, converts the former into an evil villainous monster and the latter into a beloved symbol of peace, reform and progress. As but one of countless examples: last year, British Prime Minister David Cameron – literally the best and most reliable friend to world dictators after Tony Blair – stood in Parliament after being questioned by British MP George Galloway and said: “there is one thing that is certain: wherever there is a brutal Arab dictator in the world, he will have the support of [Galloway]”; last night, the very same David Cameron pronounced himself “deeply saddened” and said the Saudi King would be remembered for his “commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths.”

That’s why there is nobody outside of American cable news, DC think tanks, and the self-loving Oxbridge clique in London which does anything but scoff with scorn and dark amusement when the US and UK prance around as defenders of freedom and democracy. Only in those circles of tribalism, jingoism and propaganda is such tripe taken at all seriously.

————————-==================———————-
And Some of the Comments:

+37 # wrknight 2015-01-24 10:53
Democracy has never been a factor in determining whether a nation and its ruler are allies or enemies of the U.S.. All that matters is whether or not the ruler of that country allows U.S. Corporations to exploit their resources and/or their people.

Witness the fact that the U.S. has engineered the overthrow of numerous democratically elected presidents, while simultaneously supporting numerous ruthless dictators. The difference? The “allies” opened their markets to U.S. Corporate exploitation while the “enemies” put constraints on U.S. Corporations, nationalized U.S. Corporate assets or closed their markets entirely.

The pattern is consistent throughout U.S. history, is easily verified, and clearly tells who really dictates U.S. foreign policy.

+17 # reiverpacific 2015-01-24 11:22

So when has the US EVER NOT supported or imposed upon other nations trying to establish Democracy, a feudalist, regressive, violent or right-wing death-squad-enf orced regime, before but figuratively starting with Mossadegu’s Iran in 1953, Arbenz’s Guatemala in 1954 and almost annually since, most recently supporting the Oligarchy-drive n removal of Zelaya in Honduras, whilst high-handedly proclaiming it’s superiority, democracy and exceptionalism worldwide (for exceptionalism, substitute “‘Cause we can and if you don’t like it, we’ll do it to you too”, or “selective self-definition”).

I’m glad that Greenwald brought this up but unfortunately, the US owner-media will probably just ignore it all. In this case though, I can’t imagine even the average American somnambulistic infotainment-in formed citizen shedding any tears for this “Sheik of Arabee” leader of the oppressive Wahabist interpreters of much-abused Islam, whilst “Chop-chop square” continues as #1 public entertainment in Riyadh.

Very disappointing from Obama: I’d have expected it from Dimwits/Cheney after these revolting photos of Shrub the dumbest holding hands with the Royal Petroleum-pumpe rs, wielding a scimitar but being a lifelong incurious, clueless pinhead about the world in general.

None of them were fit to wipe Chavez’s boots!
This is proof, if any were needed, that much of International Diplomacy is forked-tongue bullshit and hypocrisy.
Good job Mr. Greenwald!

+2 # cordleycoit 2015-01-24 11:50

One has to be careful licking depots boots, Blood carries a price on the boot licker’s health. Mr. Chavez was not blameless as a leader. Of course the king shed rivers of blood to appease religious bigots men women it didn’t matter. Obama gets to supplicate to the late butcher.

+5 # Guy 2015-01-24 12:21
Nauseating is the most accurate wording for this behavior in the West .I can’t believe what I am seeing .A severe case of blindness has affected the Western view of reality.

+4 # Anonymot 2015-01-24 12:25
Well observed. Thanks.

What everyone has forgotten or never knew was how and why Abdulazis and his family became so rich. They were not poor, ever. Then came who? Richard Nixon! Wha?

After his successful re-election in 11/1973 Nixon owed a great debt to Texas oilmen who had financed his campaign. They wanted an oil pipeline from Alaska. I remember it as in the State Of The Union address, Jan. 1973 that Nixon promised to get the pipeline approved. Using the usual fear tactics he pointed out that oil prices had gone from $3 to $12 per barrel. “We cannot let OPEC have this Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.” Nixon said.

Well, the Arabs looked at each other, Abdulaziz included. They were smart like desert foxes. We didn’t realize we were a Sword of Damocles, they said – or something like that – and that was the end of cheap oil. Nixon had just given them the arms to destroy the West and they have used them ever since.

You won’t find this documented anywhere, not even in Wikipedia. I just happened to put several disparate things together when I was sitting on a veranda on the Kenya coast and said, “Whoa!!”

It was one of those great “unintended consequences” that our brilliant politicians make, like the little Vietnam War or the little topple Saddam incursion or the Arab Spring regime changes. The Ukraine, Venezuela, Putin, and China are waiting to be played out.

-9 # daruten1 2015-01-24 12:27

Why is it necessary to evaluate every ruler and country through the lenses of our own experiences and values? Mr Greenwald is ethnocentric, judgmental and unable to perceive where other cultures are coming from given their past historical cultures and experiences. Who is he to tell other countries that they do not measure up to the Western world’s values? The world is a complicated place and diplomacy is but one instrument of getting along with people and countries whose views differ from our values and who are difficult. The trick in life is getting along with people whether you agree or disagree with them. Obama has shown intelligence and emotional intelligence in this instance.

+1 # reiverpacific 2015-01-24 12:58
Quoting daruten1:

Why is it necessary to evaluate every ruler and country through the lenses of our own experiences and values? Mr Greenwald is ethnocentric, judgmental and unable to perceive where other cultures are coming from given their past historical cultures and experiences. Who is he to tell other countries that they do not measure up to the Western world’s values? The world is a complicated place and diplomacy is but one instrument of getting along with people and countries whose views differ from our values and who are difficult. The trick in life is getting along with people whether you agree or disagree with them. Obama has shown intelligence and emotional intelligence in this instance.

“Mr Greenwald is ethnocentric, judgmental and unable to perceive where other cultures are coming from given their past historical cultures and experiences.”
Au contraiare, it’s his job as an investigative and world-respected reporter, who has had his own share of Imperialist persecution and fingers pointed at him, to comment on what he perceives as inter-cultural hypocrisy!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 6th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

An AIC Update comes at a very important time. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gave a speech on January 4 in which he indirectly took issue with the Supreme Leader’s call for “resistance economy,” saying that Iran cannot live in “isolation” and still hope for economic development. Crippled by mismanagement, corruption and sanctions, Iran’s economy must now also cope with falling oil prices.

He also said that the Constitution (Article 59) anticipates a “referendum” on important issues facing the nation but failed to single out one and mention that any such referendum must pass two thirds of the conservative Parliament. Rouhani surely had the nuclear issue in mind, but given that he still has no deal and the negotiations are held in secret, his hint toward a nuclear referendum is premature.

Mr. Rouhani and his “hard line” rivals disagree on the extent of compromises Iran must make or gain. It is in this context that Dr. Amirahmadi’s article (below) is a must-read. He gleans the basic parameters of an emerging deal and posits that the negotiations will gradually “melt away” Iran’s nuclear program to a symbolic level in return for a phased lifting of some sanctions and Iranian assets.

Further, we agree with the basic assumption of AIC founder – Professor Amirahmadi -that Iran is a much more complicated case then Cuba and that here there cannot be a full one-piece agreement. It is rather an easing into such an agreement by stages that will make it eventually possible in the reality that opposition to an agreement lurches in every corner with serious non-forgiving stake-holders involved.

The Nuclear Negotiations: The Melting Strategy and the Missiles Time Bomb.
By AIC News – Posted on December 31st, 2014

by Hooshang Amirahmadi
Founder of The American Iranian Council

Melting Strategy-AIC – Given the secrecy of the P5+1 negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, it is hard to surmise the concessions being made or the structure of a final settlement. However, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: the path to a nuclear deal will involve many “mini deals” by which Iran’s nuclear program will be slowly “melted” away to a symbolic level in return for a measured release of its frozen oil money and lifting of some sanctions. This “melting strategy by default” is becoming increasingly attractive to both sides, given that the US and Iran cannot publicly and quickly succumb to each other’s “maximum” demands, knowing it will be seen as a “bad” deal by their respective opponents and thus not implementable. Besides, the word “comprehensive” is too loaded with expectations and has by itself become an obstacle.


As a sign that this strategy is at work, both sides are avoiding grand results and are making compromises in increments, with Iran offering disproportionate concessions. For the Rouhani government, this approach helps conceal its concessions from domestic radicals, while at the same time glorifying the meager concessions it receives from the US. For the Obama Administration, the approach helps minimize pressure from the Congress and stakeholders like Israel and Saudi Arabia, who demand tougher measures against Iran. In the face of these “opponents,” it would have been, and will be, hard if not impossible for the two sides to arrive at the desired “comprehensive deal” in a rush.

To maintain the “incremental momentum,” negotiations have resumed in Geneva after a short lull despite the fact that Iran and the P5+1 (the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) “missed” their second deadline on November 2014 to reach a comprehensive deal on the basis of the Geneva Joint Plan of Action (JPA) signed in November 2013. The first deadline had been set for last July, only 4 months apart from the second. A third deadline has now been set for July 1, 2015, seven months later from the second. Reportedly, Iran, pressed by economic woes, wanted a shorter interval, but France convinced others that a longer time interval was needed. With Iran “disarmed” of its “nuclear ambition,” the urgency has also rescinded.

The temporal dimension is certainly a crucial issue as the parties need more time to figure out what extra compromises they can make in the next stage towards the desired comprehensive deal. However, for that groundwork, Iran and the US in particular would also need to bring on board their apathetic opponents, who would only acquiesce if the concession increments are seen to their political advantage. These obstacles also existed when the parties negotiated the JPA but that agreement, which was reached in a rush, had an urgent and temporary character, and was billed as a “framework” rather than a “comprehensive” deal.


The JPA gave the first indication that a “melting strategy by default” was at work. Iran committed to “never” and under “no circumstances” develop or seek nuclear weapons. It also agreed to nullify most of its 20 percent enriched uranium, reduce operating centrifuges to half and remove all advanced IR2 centrifuges from operation, cap the amount of enriched uranium to less than 10,000 Kg, stop work on and accept modifications on the Arak Heavy Water Plant, halt enrichment at the Fardo underground facility, and allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unrestricted inspection. In return for downsizing and halting its nuclear program, Iran was promised access to less than 5 percent of its frozen oil money and temporary relief from a few sanctions; significantly, the list did not include sanctions on banking, oil, and the UN resolutions.

As the IAEA has confirmed, Iran over-implemented its commitments in the subsequent months. Even if the issue of Iran’s possible intention to weaponize before 2003 was not explicitly included in the JPA, Iran has in vain tried to cooperate with the IAEA to settle this disputed matter. The agency is asking for inspection of certain military sites and access to scientists and unspecified documents. Iran has provided massive information, allowed inspection of the Parchin site, and has also offered access to the Marivan region, where Iran is suspected to have tested certain explosives. However, it has insisted that no secret documents exist and that interviewing scientists could lead to their identification and subsequent murder as in the past.

The P5+1, mainly the US, has also delivered on its commitments though with stiffness and delays. In one case, the US, using the “loophole” in the JPA, even imposed fresh sanctions on a number of Iranian entities who had allegedly violated the US sanction regulations. In spite of this cooperative spirit, the successive negotiations were increasingly inhibited by tougher demands by the US and stiffer resistance by Iran. The standard argument for why they failed to reach a comprehensive deal this last November is that they could not agree on the final scale and scope of Iran’s enrichment capacity, and on the extent and timing of sanctions relief for Iran. The dispute over Iran’s missile programs was certainly another obstacle.

For the US, concern regarding Iran’s enrichment capacity is directly related to the so-called breakout time – the time it would take Iran to develop a bomb clandestinely. For Iran, lifting of sanctions was more than just an economic concern; it would silence the so-called hardliners in Iran who continue to argue that the US cannot be trusted. Lacking trust in the Islamic regime, the P5+1 is seeking a “bullet proof” deal that eliminates Iran’s ability to ever develop clandestine bombs and missiles capable of delivering them. This requires that Iran is left with a symbolic enrichment capacity and smaller missile programs. To achieve this “normal” condition, the US insist that key sanctions will have to remain including the UN resolutions.

These “standard” arguments about why a comprehensive deal could not be reached have merits but they do not tell the full story. A deeper concern of the negotiators was how to “sell” the deal they would reach to their respective domestic and foreign opponents who would invariably view it as a “bad deal.” To them, there was only one sure solution: forego a comprehensive deal in favor of letting sustained negotiations gradually melt Iran’s nuclear, and hopefully its missile, programs in return for gradual trickle of sanctions relief. This “melting strategy by default” would also save the “huge investment of time and prestige” the parties had put into the nuclear negotiations while preventing a disastrous collapse.

Hence, despite the “vast differences,” the parties emphasized the “significant progress” being made and agreed to another extension of the negotiations. However, to move forward, another mini deal had to be struck. Thus, the JPA was extended and a new set of concessions was agreed upon. Accordingly, Iran committed to giving up certain other parts of its nuclear program in return for access to another small percentage of its frozen oil money. Specifically, Iran agreed to eliminate the remaining stockpile of 20% enriched uranium, stop research and development on advanced centrifuges, forgo laser enrichment technology, and permit the IAEA to double the frequency of its snap inspections.

Significantly, Iran has reportedly even considered the US proposal to ship part of its low enriched uranium to Russia for re-importation in the form of fuel rods. If true, this concession will be the sign that with the nuclear program melting away, the Islamic Revolution is fading away as well. The key aim of the 1979 revolution was national “independence,” a slogan directed at the colonial practices to which Iran had been subjected. One such practice, which has been said to have caused the country’s underdevelopment, is the so-called old international division of labor. Accordingly, Iran was forced to produce raw and semi-finished materials for conversion into final products by the imperial powers.

This last extension of negotiations also includes an interesting twist to the process: instead of setting one seven-month deadline, it actually sets two deadlines within that same time interval, one for arriving at a “political framework” and another one for arriving at a “comprehensive deal.” This innovation is intriguing because arriving at the political framework will be easier and its achievement will be heralded as a sign of a major success to come, which will in turn allow for subsequent concessions to be made easier. Significantly, this twist will reinforce the “melting strategy by default” and help negotiations to move to another future deadline.

Indeed, as the “comprehensive” approach has failed, the “melting strategy by default” has become the “melting strategy by design,” helping sustain the negotiations. Thus, the next round of negotiations may not also end in a “comprehensive deal,” but rather to yet another mini deal and extension, setting the next deadline with a longer time interval within which a few deadlines will be incorporated. In other words, negotiations will not simply collapse or produce a comprehensive deal but continue in a step-wise fashion producing mini deals. The only wild card in this scenario is the Supreme Leader; he could withdraw support for the melting approach as concessions reach his “red lines” for the Rouhani government.

One such red lines relates to Iran’s missile programs. As was reported in an important interview by Parliamentarian Mahmoud Nabavian with the Raja News, Iran has agreed to have its missiles discussed but demands for their downsizing will suggest a push for “disarming” Iran and will result in a breakdown of the negotiations. As Nabavian disclosed, Secretary John Kerry “crossed many of Iran’s red lines” during his meeting with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Oman, making Zarif leave the meeting thinking that the negotiations would have to stop. Iran subsequently returned to the Vienna negotiations and agreed to further nuclear concessions in return for more money. Most likely, the missile time bomb has been left for the current negotiations.

This article was published in Payvand News

Curious why normalization of relations with Iran will be fundamentally more challenging than with Cuba? Click here to read Dr. Amirahmadi’s article “Iran is no Cuba”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

“World Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation”, Manchester, UK, 2-4 September 2015: deadline for abstracts extended.

Preparations for the “World Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation” (WSCCA), to be held Manchester, UK, on
2-4 September 2015, are in full swing. Over 200 abstracts from across the world have been received, and further abstracts are
now being accepted until the 30th January 2015.

Organised by Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) and the Research and Transfer Centre “Applications of Life Sciences” of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany), WSCCA entails cooperation with world´s leading climate organisations, such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), World Health Organisation (WHO) the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the International Council of Local Environment Initiatives (ICLE), the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Developmentof (ICIMOD), the International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP), the United Nations University initiative “Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development” (RCE), and other agencies. The Symposium will be a truly interdisciplinary event, covering some of the key areas in the field of climate change adaptation.

A set of presentations, divided into six main themes will be organised, distributed over parallel sessions dealing with some of the key issues of strategic value in the field of climate change adaptation. These are:

Session 1: Technological approaches to Climate Change Adaptation
Session 2: Implementing Climate Change Adaptation in Communities, Cities, Countries and via Outreach Programmes
Session 3: Funding mechanisms and financing of Climate Change Adaptation
Session 4: Climate Change Adaptation, Resilience and Hazards (including floods)
Session 5: Information, Communication, Education and Training on Climate Change
Session 6: Climate Change and Health

The organisers also welcome suggestions of special sessions, and so far special sessions on “Climate Change in the Artic” and “Climate Change Governance” and others, have been received.

To secure the highest possible quality, all papers are subject to peer-review. Accepted papers will be published in a special issue of the International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management
 www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/pr…

(fully indexed) or at the book “Innovative Approaches to Implement Climate Change Adaptation”.

This will be a further volume of the award-winning book series “Climate Change Management”
published by Springer, which since its creation in 2008 has become the world´s leading book series
on climate change management.

The Symposium will be of special interest to researchers, government agencies, NGOs and companies engaged in the field of climate change adaptation, as well as development and aid agencies funding climate change adaptation process in developing countries. The deadline for abstracts is 30th January 2015. Full papers are due by 30th March 2015.

Further details can be seen at: www.haw-hamburg.de/en/wscca-2015….

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


A VIENNA INTERNATIONAL CENTER CONFERENCE.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS: PERSPECTIVES FOR THE POST 2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA.

ACUNS Vienna Annual Conference 2015
Lessons Learned from the Millennium Development Goals and Perspectives for the Post- 2015 Development Agenda
January 14-16, 2015 Vienna International Centre with pre-conference April 13, 2015 events,

The UN General Assembly is recommending that all UN Departments and Agencies concentrate on seventeen sustainable development goals. The list of SDGs includes poverty eradication, food security, health, education, inclusive economic growth and industrialization, reducing
inequality, safer cities, energy for all, sustainable ecosystems, sustainable natural and marine resources exploitation, combating climate change, and promoting peaceful inclusive societies with access to justice for all, and accountable institutions. The Vienna UN Agencies already sought to redefine themselves according to these new UN priorities. At the ACUNS Vienna Conference, senior UN representatives will speak in interactive panels with diplomats, academics, and students about the activities they are pursuing to reach these objectives. The discussion will address whether these new goals are repackaging the preceding MDGs, and the extent to which the Vienna-based Agencies are committing their efforts towards achieving the SDGs.

January 14-16, 2015
Vienna International Centre
Wagramer Str 5 1 1400 Wien, Vienna, Austria

The Conference is hosted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and will be organized in cooperation with UNODC, IAEA, UNCITRAL, UNOOSA, UNIS, and Austrian Foreign Ministry. On the third day of the Conference the closing session of the Regional Academy on the UN (RAUN) will take place.

CONFERENCE FEES
????> 30 EUR Practitioners > 20 EUR Students
Payable on-site

E  gmail.com

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 Additional Events
9:30–12:30
12:30–14:00 14:00–16:00
16:00–18:00
IAAI — ACUNS Workshop:
“Innovative Resource Mobilization for Post-2015 Multi-Stakeholder Action and Youth Engagement” (Conference Room C5)
Lunch break
ACUNS Academic Forum
“Target & Indicators for peaceful, inclusive, justice societies for sustainable development” (Goal 16) (Conference Room C5)
UNODC — ACUNS Youth Forum “Young People’s Ideas about the Drug Problem” (Conference Room C5)

A C U N S S E C R E T A R I A T – Academic Council on the United Nations System – Headquartered at Wilfrid Laurier University, 75 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3C5 > T 226.772.3121 > F 226.772.0016

ACUNS exists to stimulate, support, and disseminate research, analysis on the United Nations, multilateralism, and international organization.  www.acuns.org/

In Charge of this Conference – ACUNS Vienna Liaison – Chaired by Michael Platzer


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

8:00–9:45 Registration (Gate 1)

10:00–12:00 Opening session (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Welcoming remarks: Mr. LI Yong, Director General, UNIDO (tbc)
Chair: Mr. Abiodun Williams, Chair, Board of Directors, Academic Council on the UN System (ACUNS) and President of the Hague Institute for Global Justice

Opening:
H.E. Mr. Martin Sajdik, President of the Economic and Social Council (tbc)
Mr. Yury Fedotov, Director-General of the United Nations Office in Vienna, Executive Director, UNODC (tbc)
Dr. Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary, CTBTO
H.E. Mr. Luis Alfonso de Alba, Ambassador of Mexico to the United Nations in Vienna
Ms. Simonetta Di Pippo, Director, UNOOSA
Ms. Margit Bruck-Friedrich, Chief of Protocol & Senior External Relations Officer, Director General’s Office for Coordination, IAEA
Mr. Michael Platzer, Chairperson, Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice,
ACUNS Vienna Liaison Officer
Keynote speech:
H.E. Mr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Director General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and International Affairs

12:00–13:00 Lunch break

13:00–14:30 United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: H.E. Ms. Lourdes O. Yparraguirre, Ambassador of the Philippines to Austria Speakers:
Mr. Ludovico Alcorta, Director, Development Policy, Statistics and Research Branch, UNIDO Mr. Kitaoka Kazuki, Strategic Planning Unit, UNIDO
Ms. Petra Bayr, Member of the Austrian Parliament, Spokeswoman for Global Development Mr. Uwe Schubert, Professor, Society for Industrial Development

15:00–16:30 United Nations Organization on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: H.E. Mr. Luis Alfonso de Alba, Ambassador of Mexico to the International Organizations in Vienna Speakers:
Mr. Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director, Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, UNODC
Mr. Gautam Babbar, Programme Management Officer & Inter-Agency Affairs Officer, UNODC
Mr. Michael Obrovsky, Head of Research Department, Austrian Foundation for Development Research Mr. Michael Platzer, Chairperson, Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, ACUNS Vienna Liaison Officer

17:00–18.00 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (Preparatory Commission) (CTBTO) Briefing: “The Contribution of the CTBT to International Peace, Security and Development” (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Mr. Cormac O’Reilly, External Relations Officer, CTBTO

19:00 Reception at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna
(Courtesy of the Permanent Mission of Austria to the International Organizations in Vienna)
Welcoming speech: “Future of rule- based societies”
H.E. Mr. Hans Winkler, Director, Diplomatic Academy of Vienna

Thursday, January 15, 2015

09:00–9:30 Registration (Gate 1)

10:00–11:30 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Science and Technology:– The Unique Contributions of Nuclear Techniques to the Post 2015-Agenda (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: (tbc)
Short film: ”Food for the Future” Speakers:
Mr. Ferenc Toth, Planning and Economic Studies Section, Department of Nuclear Energy, IAEA
Mr. Carl Blackburn, Acting Section Head, Food and Environmental Protection Section, Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, IAEA
Mr. Neil Victor Jarvis, Section Head, Division of Africa, Department of Technical Cooperation, IAEA Ms. Monika Froehler, Communications Officer, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL)

12:00-13:30 United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)
Space policy, science and technology: accelerating development in the post-2015 era (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: (tbc) Speakers:
Mr. Niklas Hedman, Chief Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs Section
Mr. Luc St- Pierre, Senior Programme Officer, Space Applications Section
Mr. Werner Balogh, Programme Officer, Space Science & Technology Space Apps. Section Ms. Irmgard Marboe, Professor of International Law, University of Vienna
Mr. Walther Lichem, Professor, f. Austrian Ambassador to Canada

13:30-14:30 Lunch break

14:30–15:50 UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)
The importance of a solid commercial legal framework for sustainable development
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: H.E. Mr. Cristian Istrate, Ambassador of Romania to the International Organizations in Vienna Speakers:
Mr. Jernej Sekolec, Former Secretary UNCITRAL, Independent Arbitrator Mr. Timothy Lemay, Principal Legal Officer and Head, Legislative Branch Ms. Anniko Szalai, Professor, University of Szeged

16:00–17:30 The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UNWOMEN)
Gender Equality and the Post-2015 Agenda
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: H.E. Ms. Anu Laamanen, Ambassador of Finland to Austria
Speakers:
Ms. Ursula Bauer, Chief Executive Office, Executive Group for Organisation, Safety and Security, City of Vienna
Ms. Lilly Sucharipa, President, Austria National Committee for UN Women
Dr. Dorota Gierycz, Professor, Webster University
Ms. Ivana Kristic, Professor, University of Belgrade

18:30 Social event: Wiener Heurige (Courtesy of the City of Vienna)


Friday, January 16, 2015

7:30–8:00 Registration (Gate 1)

8:30–10:00 United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations Information Service (UNIS), United for Education and Sustainable Futures (UESF), IAAI– Innovative Ways for Youth Engagement and Volunteerism in UN Post-2015 Development Agenda Context
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: Mr. Martin Nesirky, Director, UNIS Vienna Speakers:
Mr. Matteo Landi, Industrial Development and Youth Employment Expert, UNIDO
Ms. Hanna Heikkila, Associate Expert, Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section, UNODC Mr. Daniil Chugunov, Psychologist, Associate Professor of the Institute of Management and Law, St. Petersburg
Ms. Kehkasan Basu, UNEP Major Group Children and Youth (tbc)
Mr. Miroslav Polzer, IAAI
Mr. Billy Batware, UESF and Regional Academy on United Nations
Ms. Viktoriya Luchka, 2014 Ukrainian Youth Delegate to the UNGA

10:00–10:15 Coffee break

10:15–13:00 RAUN Post-2015 Development Agenda Working Group I – International Development and Trade
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Inclusive and Sustainable Business Strategies: The Role of Self-Regulation – UNIDO I
Financing young entrepreneurs and young enterprises: Review of needs, difficulties, and challenges that young enterprises face when accessing finance – UNIDO II
New Eyes: ‘A look from above’ on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and the growing relevance of UNOOSA – UNOOSA
Supporting Post-2015 Development Agenda through Investor-State Arbitration Rules in the field of Energy – UNCITRAL

Judges:
?Mr. Jacek Cukrowski, Chief, Institute for Capacity Development, UNIDO
Ms. Aygul Duysenhanova, Programme Officer, UNOOSA
Mr. Werner Balogh, Programme Officer, Space Applications Section, UNOOSA
Ms. Katharine Sarikakis, Professor, Institute for Publication and Communication, University of Vienna
Ms. Margarete Maria Grandner, Professor and Program Director, Department of International Development, University of Vienna
Mr. Grzegorz Donocik, Former Chief, Europe and NIS Programme, UNIDO
Mr. Miroslav Polzer, Secretary General, IAAI

13:00-14:00 Lunch break

14:00–15:45
RAUN Post-2015 Development Agenda Working Group II – Human Rights
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Modern Forms of Slavery and Human Trafficking “Female offenders in the trafficking of persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation – Victims or perpetrators?” – UNODC I
Irregular Migration in the Mediterranean: – problems, questions and possible solutions in light of the Post-2015 Development Agenda – IOM
The Humanitarian Dimension of Nuclear Testing: – How the nuclear test-ban treaty adds to the realization of the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda, and how international humanitarian law can be useful for enforcing non-proliferation – CTBTO
Post-2015 Development Agenda within the United Nations Policy Framework: Towards a future without violence against women – UNWOMEN

Judges:

Dr. Dorota Gierycz, Professor, Webster University
Mr. Cormac O’Reilly, External Relations Officer, CTBTO
Ms. Irmgard Marboe, Professor, University of Vienna
Mr. Fabrizio Sarrica, Research Officer, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons Unit, UNODC Mr. Gunther Hauser, National Defence Academy, Vienna
Mr. Diman Dimov, Project coordinator, DTA/OSB/ISS, UNODC

15:45-16:00 Coffee break

16:00-17:30 RAUN Post-2015 Development Agenda Working Group III – Energy, Environment, and Safety
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)

Benefits of Nuclear Energy to Overcome Climate Change: the example of China – IAEA
Evaluation of Battery Storage Technologies: Sustainable, rural electrification in Sub-Saharan Africa – SE4ALL

Sustainable Cities and Personal Security: “Goals, approaches, outcomes” – Why is it worth keeping sustainable cities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda? – UNODC II

Judges:

Mr. Slawomir Redo, Senior Programme Adviser (ACUNS, Vienna); Visiting Scholar, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY, NY, USA)

17:30-18:00 RAUN Award Ceremony
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The following was reported by Ms. Irith Jawetz who took part at the Presentation the UN made accessible also to outsiders.

“United Nations’ roles on Human Rights, Peace and Security”

Dr. Ivan Simonovic is UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights. On Tuesday, November 18th, 2014, he made at the UN an informative presentation on the subject: “United Nations’ Role on Human Rights, Peace and Security”


Mr. Ivan Simonovic assumed his functions as Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights on 17 July 2010 – head of the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) upon a UNSG Ban Ki-moon appointment of May 3, 2014.

A Croatian Diplomat, he was born May 2, 1959 in Zagreb. He is politician and law scholar. In October 2008 he was appointed Justice Minister of Croatia.

Dr. Šimonovic graduated from the University of Zagreb Law School in 1982. He got his doctoral degree in 1990, at the age of 31. Šimonovic joined Croatian diplomacy after the break-up of Yugoslavia. He was an assistant to Foreign Minister Mate Granic during the 1990s, although he never joined the ruling party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

In 1997, Croatian President Franjo Tujman named him ambassador to the United Nations. Šimonovic served there until 2002. While serving there, Šimonovic presided over the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

In 2002 he became Deputy Foreign Minister in Ivica Rajan government. Again, he didn’t join the ruling party,SDP. However, when HDZ swung back to power in 2003, Šimonovic was not offered a job in the new government.

In 2004, Šimonovic switched to academia and became professor at the University of Zagreb Law School, where he teaches general theory of law and state and international relations.

Dr. Šimonovic was appointed Minister of Justice-designate of Croatia by PM Ivo Sanader on October 6, 2008. His predecessor, Ana Lovrin, had resigned the same day following a series of unsolved assaults and murders linked to Croatian organized crime that culminated with the murder of Ivana Hodak, daughter of a prominent Croatian lawyer Zvonimir Hodak. However, Ivana Hodak was later found to have been murdered as part of a retaliation of a homeless man to Zvonimir Hodak.

In May 2010 then Šimonovic was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights.
————————–

Turning to the November 2014 lecture at the UN – Dr. Simonovic has just returned from Iraq and is on his way to Ukraine.

He started his lecture by quoting Secretary General Kofi Annan who said: “There is no peace without development, no development without peace and neither without Human Rights”.


Development is one of the key factors for human rights, people in less developed countries are more likely to rebel and if there are conflicts at home, they affect human rights. Syria and Ukraine are the latest examples how a disastrous economy can lead to human rights violations. This situation also spills to the neighboring countries affected such as Jordan and Lebanon, who have to absorb the many refugees and support them. On the other hand, lack of human rights also affects development. Discrimination of minorities, religious groups, gender leads to no access to social services, lack of jobs, and brings upon it corruption. Some people get privileges that other do not, this brings dissatisfaction, instability and fewer developed countries are eager to invest in such a society.


Even worse than economic problems are the violation of human rights during a conflict with elements such as starvation, executions, killings and rape to name a few.
The solution is accountability not retaliation and Criminals need to be brought to Justice.
How can this be achieved?


The United Nations has 800 people posted at the UN in various capacities, including peacekeeping forces, and 500 people posted in National Headquarters as representatives and advisers. They have to report to the Secretary General and General Assembly.
The UN has also established an “Intervention Brigade” which can act fast in some situations, as it happened in South Sudan when they managed to push back the rebels. The UN has come a long way since the times when so many innocent people were killed during the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Dr. Simonovic told a personal story how he saw people being killed outside the UN compound who were not allowed to enter that compound and seek shelter. In South Sudan, years later, this policy was changed. It was an “Open Gate Policy”, people could find shelter inside the UN compound and were saved. Of course this brought with it many logistic problems such as providing food, water, sanitary equipment, etc. but it was done nevertheless.

The secretary General has approached the subject of Human Rights, Peace and Security by making sure that all security forces have to be checked through very strict background checks. Not having a criminal record is not enough anymore.

Each person that is applying for a job is not allowed to have committed even the slightest violation of Human rights on his or her records. The same applies to personnel outside the UN in the countries themselves. It would be very embarassing for a country to recommend a person and then be found out by the UN independent background check that he or she had a human rights violation on their records.

The motto of the UN is Human Rights Up Front!
Human Rights violations can be used as a first warning to Genocide and war atrocities. The task of the advisers is to detect human rights violations and bring them to the attention of the Secretary General and General Assembly immediately.

Dr. Simonovic admitted that in Sri Lanka the UN has failed – something that at the UN was known a long time ago thanks to the insistent questioning from one single investigative journalist active at the UN – Mr. Matthew Lee. The UN did not act fast enough said now Dr. Simonovic, but Mr. Lee was not satisfied with this answer – he would like to see a full investigation of this case.

Dr. Simonovic said that the UN has women on their peacekeeping forces and they are basically better mediators than men. Women are more sensitive than men, more focused healing than on revenge, he said.

In conclusion Dr. Simonovic admitted that the system is not perfect, it is much better than it was, but there is a lot still to be done. Human Rights violations should not be tolerated and the United Nations is making the utmost efforts to combat this task.

While above was being discussed at the UN, on Thursday, US President Barack Obama, in an historic move has broken the US taboo of dealing with the illegal immigration issue, by acknowledging that trying peacefully to better one’s life is a basic human right – so that the UN official might find it easier now to do the right things at the UN as well.

According to NPR news, after six years of often bitter back-and-forth with congressional Republicans over the issue of immigration, President Obama announced he has decided to go it alone by temporarily shielding up to 5 million immigrants from being deported.

In a prime-time speech to the country on Thursday, President Obama said that he would defer the deportation of the parents of children who are either U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, and that he also would expand that protection to more “DREAMers,” or children who entered the country illegally with their parents. Those two groups also will be allowed to work in the United States legally, after passing a background check and paying a fee.

In a very compassionate speech, President Obama said:

“scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger — we were strangers once, too.

“My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship. What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal – that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Reprted from New York by Irith Jawetz, November 12, 2014


The United Nations Department of Public Information has opened UN doors to people interested in a panel discussion: “United Nations War Crimes Commission Records: Past, Present and Future” which took place on Tuesday, 11 November 2014,
at United Nations Headquarters, New York City.

The moderator was Ms. Edith M. LEDERER, United Nations Correspondent for the Associated Press. According to her Bio Edith M. Lederer has worked for AP on every continent except Antarctica covering wars, famines, nuclear issues and political upheavals. She was assigned full-time to the AP staff reporting the Vietnam War, and also covered the 1973 Middle East war, the war in Afghanistan, the first Gulf War, the conflict in Northern Ireland, the end of the war in Bosnia, the civil war in Somalia, and the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda. She was also AP’s first female bureau chief overseas, based in Lima, Peru. In addition to wars, she helped cover the downfall of communism and the break-up of the Soviet Union, and the Romanian revolution.

While based in London from 1982-98, Lederer also wrote about military and international security issues and global problems ranging from population growth to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Since 1998, she has been AP’s chief correspondent at the United Nations, reporting on the diplomatic side of conflicts in Libya, Syria,Iraq, Darfur, Kosovo, Congo and Sierra Leone and major global issues from the nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea to climate change, combating poverty and women’s rights.

She is the recipient of numerous awards including the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award and is a co-author of “War Torn,” a book by nine women who covered the Vietnam War.

Opening remarks were given by:

Ms. Hua JIANG, Officer-in-Charge, Department of Public Information
H.E. Mr. Asoke Kumar MUKERJI, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations

Both discussed the background and the importance of the event by saying that the United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC) was operational between 1943 and 1948 and played a vital role in preparing the ground for the war crimes trials that followed the Second World War. The evidence was submitted by 17 member nations for evaluation so that war criminals could be arrested and prosecuted. The archive also contains records of trials carried out in various Member States and presented to the Commission, including national military tribunals and the Military Tribunal of the Far East (Tokyo Trials).

I would like to note that 1943 – the start of UNWCC preempts by two years the UN Charter and that the 17 member States of the original commission obviously all belonged to the circle of winners in WWII. Today, with the more general make upof the UN, when rogue Nations continue to be part of the UN, efficiency as described above has lost its edge.

The panelists included:

Mr. Adama DIENG, Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide
Ms. Bridget SISK, Chief, United Nations Archives and Records Management Section
Mr. Patrick J. TREANOR, Former member of the Office of Special Investigations, the United States Department of Justice
Mr. Dan PLESCH, Director, The Center for Diplomatic Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS, University of London
Mr. Henry MAYER, Senior Adviser on Archives, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The panel brought up the content of these archival documents, their impact on the development of international law and the International Criminal Court, as well as their potential use by and value to students and academics. A full copy of the records of the Commission was provided to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in July of this year; they were not freely open to the public earlier. The event at the UN, was organized by The Holocaust Museum and the United Nations Outreach Program.

Mr. Dieng kept stressing the importance of the Commission as a lesson to future generations dealing with war crimes. He said time and again “Enough is Enough”, criminals must be brought to Justice. We have to learn from the past in order to better our future. Failure to hold war criminals accountable for their acts will ultimately bring down Society.

Mr. Treanor was investigating mainly Nazi war criminals while working for the US Department of Justice, and was involved in the case of former Secretary General of the UN Kurt Waldheim. He worked on dozens of cases but admitted that many war crimes were committed by local people and because of lack of information on those people it was not possible to bring them to Justice. Even in the Nazi German records names of officers who committed crimes were not fully revealed, sometimes only first name, no date of birth provided, which made the task very difficult, almost impossible.

Mr. Mayer, who is Senior Advisor of Archives at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC was grateful that the information is now available to the public at the Museum. He said that descendents of Holocaust victims will be able to access those documents. He said that not only Jews were persecuted during the Holocaust, there were many other groups such as gays, handicapped, political, and even Esperanto scholars. The last was acknowledged by a representative of an Esperanto organization in the audience who thanked Mr. Mayer for finally acknowledging this fact.

To summarize, the debate was mostly about the past, about events which happened more than 70 years ago. It is unclear and the question was asked, why those archives, which were established as early as 1943, while the UN itself officially dates to 1945, were closed to the public until this year. Mr. Meyer answered it is probably due to “beurocratic enertia”.

The meeting was about the Holocaust but during the Q & A session the attention moved to today’s ongoing war crimes. Most remarks were about war crimes committed nowadays in Darfur, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and many other countries. Since many countries do not allow outside observers, it is very difficult to collect the necessary information but Mr. Treanor and Mr. Dieng both admitted that it is possible. It is not easy, but there are ways to get information and Mr. Dieng stressed again that criminals must be brought to justice.

Mr. Mathew Lee from Inner City Press asked about crimes committed in Sri Lanka. He has been working on that subject for a long time now. He mentioned that the UN did not rate yet a true WCC for Sri Lanka and that there was a political cover up for those crimes and no real UN investigation. He could not get a substantial answer to his question from the panel.

This leads to a call for the need to have WCCs outside the UN as obviously the original Holocaust collecting information was done by 17 countries of allies fighting NAZI Germany while today’s UN is an amalgam that includes too many countries who are not interested in pursuing that subject.

For more information on the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Program that pursues this topic, please visit www.un.org or email  holocaustremembrance at un.org but most important – please also view internet info that does not come from UN sources alone in light of diminished freedoms that come with the larger membership that more then tripled since 1945.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


“Ending Impunity: Upholding the Rule of Law”
By Irith Jawetz – reporting from a meeting held at the UN and open to outsiders (This in itself being an improvement of UN openess and transparency.

Monday, 3 November 2014 – at the ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York – The Permanent Missions to the United Nations, of Argentina, Austria, Costa Rica, France, Greece and Tunisia and UNESCO, hosted a High-Level and Interactive Panel Discussion on the subject: “Ending Impunity: Upholding the Rule of Law.”

This event was aimed at the occasion of the 1st International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. It is in recognition of such far-reaching consequences of impunity, especially of crimes against journalists, that the UN has declared November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for crimes against journalists (IDEI). This is a major opportunity at the UN to intensify action by international organizations, governments and media to give heightened attention to strengthening the safety of journalists, and to voice the need to bring their killers to justice.



The main theme, stressed throughout the event, was that the rule of law is fundamental to the stability and smooth functioning of society and people will have confidence in the democratic process only if the rule of law is respected.

UNESCO has been commissioned by the UN General Assembly through Resolution A/RES/68/163 to coordinate the UN Plan of Action on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, as well as to facilitate the implementation of this new International Day in collaboration with governments.

UNESCO is also convening the 3rd UN Inter-Agency Meeting on the Safety of journalists and The Issue of Impunity on November 4 2014 in Strasbourg, France, and a Seminar and Inter-Regional Dialogue on the Protection of Journalists is being co-organized by UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the Centre for Freedom of the Media, and the European Lawyers’ Union on November 3, 2014 at the European Courts of Human Rights.

The event was chaired by Mr. George Papagiannis, External Relations & Information officer at the New York Liaison office of UNESCO.

The Panelists were:

Ambassador Michel Spinellis, Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations.

Mr Getachew Engida, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO.

Mr Joel Simon, Executive Director, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Dr Agnes Callamard, Director, Global Freedom of Expression & Information, Special Adviser to the President,
Columbia University

Ms Nadia Bilbassy-Charters, Foreign Correspondent, Al-Arabiya News Channel and MBC TV, also on the Board of Directors, International Women’s Media Foundation.


Mr. Papagiannis opened the discussion by mentioning how important this subject is considering that in 2014 alone 41 journalists were killed while doing their job. Secretary General Ban Ki moon, who is at present in Vienna, gave a short address via video stressing the fact that journalists must be protected at all costs and those who commit crimes against them should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

The panelists were basically in agreement that drastic measure must be taken to safeguard the lives of journalists. The UN must have a plan of action and coordinate it with the respective Governments. Addressing impunity for the killings of journalists is directly related to the Sustainable Development Goal proposals made by the UN Open Working Group, and especially the proposed Goal 16: “Promise peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build affective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”.

The most passionate addresses came from Mr. Joel Simon, Executive Director, Committee to protect Journalists (CPJ) and Ms. Nadia Bilbassy-Charters, Foreign correspondent, Al-Arabiya News Channel and MBCTV.

Mr. Simon stressed the need to bring to Justice the people responsible for killing, abusing, and torturing journalists. 90% of those criminals get away with it. If they would be brought to justice, the crimes may decline.Countries as well as organizations must be held accountable.

Ms. Bilbassy-Charters, who is also on the Board of Directors of International Women’s Media Foundation, addressed the issue from a personal point of view, as a foreign journalist who just got back from the Turkish-Syrian border, and who knows many journalists who were killed or were, or are still, in captivity. She said the journalists most affected are the local ones, and the freelance journalists who do not have a backing organization behind them. Most of the crimes against journalists now are happening in the Middle East. Before the Arab Spring the main problem was lack of freedom of speech in those countries. The so called Arab Spring made matters worse instead of better. Journalists, especially in Syria, are in danger, and 88% of them are local journalists who do not have any protection.

The consensus among the panelists, and the representatives of the countries supporting this event, was that drastic measures have to be taken to safeguard the journalists. They are not only bearers of news to the Public, they are fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, husband and wives, human beings who are just trying to do their job.

Ms. Bilbassi-Charters concluded with a saying from her favorite US President Thomas Jefferson: “Democracy is about informed choices”. Informed choices could only reach the people if the journalists have freedom of speech and are not subjected to impunity.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A while ago I received the following e-mail:

New World Disorder
with Kofi Annan

Please join the Foreign Policy Association for an evening with H.E. Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Founder and Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation, who will discuss “New World Disorder: Challenges for the UN in the 21st Century.”

Mr. Annan will be speaking as part of the Andrew Carnegie Distinguished Lecture on Conflict Prevention in Honor of David Hamburg.

When
Thursday
October 23, 2014
From 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Where
PwC
300 Madison Avenue
New York City

I answered with an e-mail to the FPA addressed to Mr. McDara King, but as the place seems to be run by inexperienced interns that do not acknowledge mail and as it turned out did not list me either I got no notice about what turned out to have been a need to change the venue because so many people showed interest in the event. The event was moved to the old building of the Bernard Baruch College and nobody bothered telling this to the 6 guards at PwC.

I report this in order to say that I missed half of UNSG Kofi Annan’s presentation – but do not want to waste time in my posting about the event because I picked up there his very recently released volume:

“WE THE PEOPLES: A UN for the 21st Century.” by KOFI ANNAN

which is a collection of material including some of his original speeches or articles and some of others he obviously considers very pertinent.

I post this as I highly recommend this volume to anyone interested in how the UN works – or does not.

I am sure I will peruse the book going to original articles that point at things happening these days that were predicted and were avoidable – but this organization of Governments, not being turned in time to be an organization of Peoples as the Charter suggested, is like a huge ship running into icebergs and hard to steer.

Kofi Annan was the seventh Secretary-General of the UN and served two terms – January 1, 1997 – December 31, 2006.

In 2001 Kofi Annan and the United Nations under his leadership were awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace with the citation praising Annan’s leadership for “bringing new life to the organization.” Yes, looking at his record and his assembled material in the book it becomes obvious that even if much of what he tried he could not achieve, nevertheless, it is clear that it was not all a waste, and indeed he started to enlarge the scope of the UN by opening the door to Civil Society and by creating the Global Compact.

In the second half of his presentation above that I did hear – two innovation he promoted became clear points he prides himself with – but as he said – it is actually the R2P – THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT – that he was able to introduce to the UN – that becomes his personal achievement pride most important life achievement – that was tested in Kenya in 2008.

We believe that since the acceptance of the UN Charter in 1945, it was only the Addition of the Declaration of Human Rights, and Kofi Annan’s R2P that add up to the UN reality.

Looking at my notes from last night – I quote him “When the whole World has Changed You Can Not Have Static Institutions.”
This in regard to the need to give recognition to the importance of Latin America (Brazil), India, Africa (South Africa or Nigeria – and if they cannot agree – the unpretentious Gambia). They ought to get seats at the Security Council, The World Bank and The IMF.

He said that Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that you cannot have military solutions anymore.

President Eisenhower already told us not to lose sight of the UN as a means to achieve peace.

Dealing with Climate Change is absolutely essential for the future of mankind. Who could have predicted this i San Francisco in 1995, he said? No society can survive either without Sustainable Development and Human Rights. On the economy he said this is a story of subsidies – like in the case of gas (he meant gasoline and I assume diesel just the same) – these are subsidies for the middle class and the rich. This is not good for the environment, he said.

To a question about borders he answered by mentioning Syria and Somalia.

In the book, under the title NOT JUST A REGIONAL CONFLICT, I discovered that Kofi Annan’s last Address to the Security Council was about the Middle East and the Arab World and it looks like it was then a prediction of things to come.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

First our posting of October 21st – then the Jewish Week article reporting from St. Louis that was coincidentally written also October 21, 2014 and todate is the best article we found in the printed press.

———————————————-

We saw last night the Metropolitan Opera’s opening of the Opera titled “The Death of Klinghoffer” and we came out with a firm conclusion that the roaring controversy is all nothing more then a misunderstanding created by an unfortunate choice of the name of the Opera.

PROLOGUE:

Yesterday my wife was having lunch with one of her lady-friends at EJ’s Luncheonette. Her friend, a New Englander, has a daughter who is media-correspondent in the Middle East and the family is very much aware of what goes on in that corner of the world.
She asked my wife what she thinks of the brouhaha that surrounds the MET, and my wife said that we are going to see it “tonight” as I saw it years ago when it was first performed and do not recollect that I had misgivings at that time. That was the era of operas like “Einstein on the Beach” and “Nixon in China.”

Another lady, seemingly a grandmother having pancakes with her grand-daughter, before leaving the restaurant, turned to my wife and said that she is going to the opera – “to demonstrate.” My wife asked her – “did you see the opera?” The lady answered NO!
My wife said then that she is going to see it in order to be able to make up her mind and the lady answered – “Fair Enough!.

I did see the opera at the Brooklyn Academy of Music September 1991 still the days of President Bush the First, and coincidentally, was also at a Chamber Orchestra semi-staged performance at a modern restored building in Geneva, Switzerland, (1998) that was funded in part by a rich local Jewish Real Estate man and his Israeli wife. There were really no accusations of antisemitism that I remember.

The work, composed by John Adams with libretto by poet Alice Goodman – the same team that also wrote “Nixon in China” (1987) -
is presented as the memory of the Captain of the Achille Lauro passenger cruise-ship that was involved in the October 1985 highjacking by four members of the Palestinian Liberation Front (PLF) that ended with the murderous execution of American wheelchair-bound Mr. Leon Klinghoffer.

First let us note that John Adams, besides the mentioned two operas also created “On The Transmigration of Souls” (2002) -
a choral piece that commemorates the 9/11 2001 events – for which Adams was awarded the Pulitzer prize in 2003, and with Peter Sellars as librettist he created the “Dr. Atomic” Opera (2005) on J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Manhattan Project and the development of the atomic bomb – all three operas mentioned were produced also by the MET.

The 1991 production of Klinghoffer was staged with the help of Peter Sellars and the present days MET production was done with staging by Tom Morris. I seem to remember that the 1991 production started with the image of the ship – something non existent in 2014. This production starts with people running around with green Islamic flags and inducting Omar into the group. He is then bound to be one of the four hijackers. Later we see him interacting with one of the two Klinghoffer daughters.

We find it unacceptable to focus on corners of humanity when centering on lamentations by Palestinians for lost homes when seeing them run around with those green flags as if they were doing Allah’s work. And that is really the point – it looks like real daily life as presented on our TVs. That PLF is now – 24 years since the take-over of Achille Lauro – morphed into Al Qaeda, Hamas, ISIL, the Al-Nusra Front …and yes – Boko Haram, the Somali Shabaab, the Libyan and Yemen Islamists as well.

Leon Klinghoffer told the hijackers that they were wrong in what they were doing – in some ways he was actually a hero tied to his wheelchair. He saw the reality. He was on a trip to Egypt with his family – he did not hate Arabs as such – he was on his way to see the pyramids. His antagonists did hate the Jews because thy were from abroad – no recognition on the Arab side that these Jews must be fit somehow into their life as they were actually people that came home to the region for which they have historic ties as well.

Look again at those green flags and think for a moment. If those flags represent real life so just stand up and acknowledge that the show before you is a negative picture not of Klinghoffer but of what the four hijackers stand for – and yes – THEY EXECUTE KLINGHOFFER BECAUSE THEY CANNOT ACCEPT THAT THIS MAN IN HIS WHEELCHAIR HAS THE STRENGTH TO TELL THEM OFF.

The 100 people outside Lincoln Center sitting in wheel-chairs under a sign saying “I am Klinghoffer” did not demonstrate against antisemitism. They actually spoke up in my opinion against the green-flag-waving lunatics.

It is not about the death of Klingoffer – but about the lunacy of his executioners – so for Pete’s sake object to all those Middle-Easterners running around with colored flags – green or black – but stop accusing the whole world of antisemitism.
RENAME THE OPERA AND CHANGE NOTHING FROM WHAT YOU SEE – Do you not realize that whatever is your cause – this opera actually helps you by the mere fact that the artistic creators aimed at pure neutrality and brought to us a documentary?

In the hall there was one demonstrator who shouted as long as he could:”THE MURDER OF KLINGHOFFER WILL NEVER BE FORGIVEN.”
His intervention had clear echos – at first we heard only three people clapping their hands after the run of the flags, but there was strong applause at the end of the performance. THE AUDIENCE ACCEPTED THE TOTALITY OF THE SHOW.

============================================================

‘Klinghoffer’ As Gateway To Dialogue

In St. Louis, the controversial opera served as a foundation for new relationships across faith lines.
10/21/14
Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, Special To The Jewish Week

For the past few weeks, my email and social media have been inundated with discussions and links to flyers, articles and events that all support the opposition, protest and even disruption of the New York Metropolitan Opera’s production of John Adams’ “The Death of Klinghoffer.” And I disagree with each one.

Like many, if not most, of the protesters, I have not seen “The Death of Klinghoffer” or read its libretto. I cannot comment on its content nor its staging. I make no judgment to classify it as anti-Semitic or to argue against such a classification. I also cannot make any determination of its commentary on terrorism, those who perpetuate those heinous acts, and those who fall victim to these horrific crimes.

My disagreement is not with the offense that they take to the performance — although I would hope that each person would choose to at least read the text for themselves before coming to a final conclusion — but with the chosen response.

The Jewish community in New York has chosen to launch a passionate protest against the performance and, in doing so, they have let a tremendous opportunity fall by the wayside.

In 2011, the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis staged a production of “The Death of Klinghoffer” — the first staging of the full opera in the United States in 20 years. The Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis did not object to the performance, but instead partnered with the Opera Theatre and other faith-based and arts organizations to prepare study guides, coordinate community events, organize roundtable discussion and engage in deeper dialogue around painful and difficult subjects.

Instead of igniting hatred or perpetuating anti-Semitism, as some protesters have predicted, the opera served as a foundation for new relationships across faith lines. In fact, these initiatives sparked a new nonprofit initiative, Arts & Faith St. Louis, based on the belief that the arts have a unique power to inspire thoughtful discussion among diverse audiences, to bring people together and to bridge divides through shared experiences. This initiative has brought together leaders across the faith communities of St. Louis (Jews, Muslims and Christians) with leaders in the art world to respond to pressing needs in our region and to create innovative approaches to difficult discussions.

These conversations are not easy. Often, they are quite painful. To engage in dialogue around such profoundly tender and traumatic topics such as terrorism, anti-Semitism, extremism, hate crimes, identity, abuse and fear, by definition, requires a person to be immensely vulnerable.

The bonds that can form between two people who strip away their protective shells and open their minds and hearts to one another, however, is immeasurable.

I admire the monumental efforts of the organizers in New York to raise awareness for their cause, to coordinate partners and organize demonstrations. I am confident that, as the objectors state, “The Death of Klinghoffer” is both disturbing and uncomfortable. But a protest is easy. To protest the opera is to express a voice — a unilateral opinion shared through words on a placard or the dramatic imagery of 100 wheelchairs staged at Lincoln Center.

Instead, I invite all those who plan to protest the production to choose to engage. To take the difficult, likely painful step, to opt for dialogue over demonstrations, proaction over protests.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York is the largest classical music organization in North America, with the capacity for nearly 4,000 viewers at each opera performance. The opportunity here is monumental. We can choose to seize the moment, or to stand on the sidelines, holding placards, as it passes us by.

Please, choose the difficult path. Choose the disturbing. Choose discomfort. Choose dialogue.

Maharat Rori Picker Neiss is director of programming, education, and community engagement at Bais Abraham Congregation in St. Louis.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Making the SDGs Relevant.

From Emily Benson  emily.benson at greeneconomycoalition.or…

From Sustainable Development Announcement List of IISD.
London, UK, October 13, 2014

Dear friends,

With less than a year to go until the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are agreed, the big question now is implementation. Specifically, how do we make the SDGs relevant to businesses as well as national and local level decision makers?

As part of the Measure What Matters initiative, we are bringing together statisticians from corporate reporting with national and international statistical bodies to explore how we align data frameworks at different scales (global, national, corporate, local).

Our first consultation is focused on WATER: How might global Goal(s) on water sustainability be operationalised at local, corporate and national levels? How do we ensure that the data frameworks are aligned?

If you are involved in water – then we want to hear from you! We need your expertise.

We will feed the results of this consultation directly into the implementation working groups for the SDGs, discussions at the national level on alternative GDP measurements, and consultations for strengthening corporate reporting.

The dialogue is available here. Please also see our one-page guidance note on taking part.

Measure What Matters is an initiative aiming to generate dialogue amongst diverse stakeholder groups on the case for operationalising global sustainability goals at the national and corporate levels. Please do see our website for more information. The initiative is led by the Green Economy Coalition in partnership with the Global Reporting Initiative, Accounting for Sustainability, the Stockholm Environment Institute, the International Institute for Environment and Development, and Stakeholder Forum.

Do contact us for more information or help:  emily.benson at greeneconomycoalition.or….
Emily Benson
Programme Manager
Green Economy Coalition

E:  emily.benson at greeneconomycoalition.or…

T: +44 (0)203 463 7399

M: +44 (0) 7771 915 591

Come join the debate: www.greeneconomycoalition.org

IIED is a company limited by a guarantee and incorporated in England. Reg. No 2188452. Registered office: 80-86 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8NH, UK. VAT Reg. No. GB 440 4948 50. Charity No. 800066. OSCR No 039864 www.iied.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Humanity at Crossroad : How to Shape a New Sustainable Development Trajectory.

On US Columbus Day, The Women’s International Forum at the United Nations in New York – WIF – took advantage of the slower ongoings at the UN and convened a meeting with the two Co-Chairs of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG SDG) who toiled for a full year to produce an aspirational text that eventually was accepted by all UN Member States, and which now has to be fleshed out so there is also a financing agreement by the end of this General Assembly year – ready to go to the Paris Summit of November 30 to December 11, 2015.

The wife of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Ms. Ban Soon-taek is the Patron of WIF and the wife of the Ambassador from Thailand, Ms. Nareumon Sinhaseni is the current President of the Executive Board of WIF.

Today’s presentations by the two co-chairs was the best lay-out of the issues which encompass no less then the future of Humankind on earth. The presenters were:

H.E. Csaba Korosi – Ambassador of Hungary and H.E. Macharia Kamau – Ambassador of Kenya

The two Co-chairs of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG SDG).

Ambassador Korosi spoke first and with the help of power-points provided an in-depth analysis of how the Working Group spent their time. Then Ambassador Kamau boiled the future we aspire to down to Three Words – AMBITIOUS, TRANSFORMATIVE and UNIVERSAL.
I will proceed by reporting this vision first, and pick up the mechanics later.

The targets and goals boil down to us an image of a world without poverty, without hunger everywhere, where diseases are under control, a truly inclusive society, equality for genders, businesses are responsible in their production methods and where animals are not seen as means for us but part of the ecosystem – and countries are equal as well.

Then he said he wants to imagine the standard in Manhattan as the norm for the SDGs. He challenged us to think of the conditions in the year 1960 and contemplate on how the world changed since then in travel, phones, medicines, how we moved away from the danger of a nuclear war. Then he suggested to flip this and ask why not continue this progress for the next 40 years as well, and spread the gains worldwide. That was the AMBITION part.

Now to TRANSFORMATIVE – this when we realize that after 3,000 years of civilization we still talk of gender equality. We need
a major change in the economic, social, and political structure of our lives.

It must be UNIVERSAL because those that progress was denied to them will come to claim their part. We do not talk anymore of charity towards the poor – that got us nowhere.

We must be held with our feet to the fire of accountability. This is not just about money. It is rather about holding ourselves accountable – he said. After what we achieved in preparing goals and targets we now have the span of time – January – September 2015, to come up with an AGENDA THAT IS ACCOUNTABLE. We have to overcome the people that do not see this – and bring them on board. He knows for a fact that we will succeed, and that collective effort will lead us to the future we all want.

Ambassador Korosi opened by telling us that we have now 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 Targets – all accepted by all of the UN body after a year of hard work that spread over 13 sessions. All this is ACTION ORIENTED AND ASPIRATIONAL IN NATURE. Let us round this up to 170 TARGETS.

Now we use the resources of 1.5 Earths – but we have only one. This year the Earth Overshoot Day was August 19. That was the day we started to borrow this year resources from the future generations. This date of the “Overshoot” moves back year-by-year so it shows our consumption of resources accelerates us with increasing speed towards the climate disaster. If we do not change our ways by 2030 we need then 50% more food and 35% more freshwater while nnually we loose agricultural land equal to half a Hungary or the size of a Belgium.

Since 1900 the world population tripled and available water per capita decreased from 12.000 m3 to 5.000. Urbanization that is now at 52% of the 7.5 Bn people today will reach 75% of the 8.5-9 Bn by 2050. Looking at the MDGs that were not achieved yet we find that 2.5 Bn people today still need electricity.

SD was defined in 1987 as Development to meet the present needs but that does not compromise the future. Now SD is seen as a bridge between the past, present, and future – all right – but it is between humans and nature, between politics and economics, between governments, civil society, and business, between the rich and poor, and between the North and South, and South and South. Sustainability is thus a hub of bridges and the SDGs are there to motivate the construction of these bridges.

We were presented the 17 SDGs and told that the 169 targets, global in nature as well, result from looking at local, national, regional needed actions. We attach the list of the 17 SDGs further down.

The concept is to turn the global aspirations into opportunities. We will need methods for data collection in order to build a supporting system for achieving the SDGs. We tried working on single goals and developed indicators for that purpose – but it did not work because all goals are interconnected. To support this, Amb. Korosi showed us a slide how the three Dimension of SD in the SDGs – the environmental, social, and economic, cut across all 17 SDGs and from goal to goal.

Among the lessons we learned from the work with MDGs is the need for a global Paradigm Change. The SD is a joint commitment to change in global trends – not limited to assistance to address some challenges in a group of countries – we are really all in the muck – together.

Implementation will be on national / regional / local levels with political commitment, national responsibility, supporting international cooperation – resulting in 193 different ways of implementation that result from the fact that there are now 193 Member States at the UN – but also involving the cooperation of stake-holders – a term that allows windows for Civil Society, business, and we assume also factors that have only outside relationship to the UN like the indigenous peoples’ Nations, or countries that are not Members of the UN. Cities and urbanization, as well as communities and sub-national States, come under the Local level while regional includes neighboring Nations.

Here we get to the issue of money and the speaker said that the global savings stand at 22 trillion with the value of assets reaching 230 trillion – so – in honesty – the 2-5 trillion needed as investment in the SDGs ought not to be a problem considering the vast amount of good these investments will provide. The problem is thus not money but accountability.


The home stretch of the follow up to the agreed-upon text, what the speaker called THE WAY AHEAD, includes the following steps:

- A Synthesis Report by the Secretary-General to be ready December 2014 followed by Intergovernmental negotiations – January to September 2015.

- The all important Summit on Financing SD to be held in Addis Abeba, July 2015

- The Summit on post-2015 agenda that is timed with the General Assembly 2015 meeting in September 2015 at UN New York Hqtrs.

- The target meeting in Paris, December 2015 of the make or brake Climate Summit 2015.

The speaker pointed out that a failure in any one of these steps is simply unaffordable.

————————

The presenters were introduced to the members of WIF:

“Elected by acclamation by members of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goal (OWG SDG) as Co-Chairs of the OWG on SDGs on the first day of the first session of the OWG on SDGs on 14 March 2013, Ambassador Csaba Korosi, PR of Hungary, and Ambassador Macharia Kamau, PR of Kenya, had, in fact, been highly involved in the issue of Sustainable Development since they were the co facilitators for the preparations of the first session of the OWG.

Upon their election, PGA Vuk Jeremic remarked that “process of formulating the SDGs will undoubtedly be a complicated one, requiring great diplomatic skills”.

Thirteen sessions of OWG from March 2013 to July 2014, 17 goals and 169 targets adopted by the OWG by acclamation, as well as the adoption of the Report of the OWG by UNGA 68, are clear evidence of the diplomatic skills of the Co-chairs. Proposing SDGs that are action oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and applicable to all countries. All the while ensuring that the intergovernmental process is transparent and inclusive to all stakeholders.

The two Co-chairs presented to WIF the process and results of their more than a year of hard work.
WIF members heard that of the 17 goals agreed upon, goal Five is devoted to “Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls” If this particular goal and its targets are faithfully integrated into the Post 2015 Development Agenda, it will be a real “game changer” towards the effective protection of women’s rights throughout the world.”

—————-
THE SDGs:

1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere

2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.

3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages

4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all

5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all

8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

10. Reduce inequality within and among countries

11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable

12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat
desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss

16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build
effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

—————

Much further information was provided in the lively follow up discussion with the WIF ladies.

We know about the relationship between Global Warming and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere already since 1896 from the studies by Svante Arrhenius of Sweden who also thought of human induced increase of the gas concentration in air. It took 60 years to think of the need of an international agreement, and now 120 years since Arhenius we are still on the wrong trajectory.

So knowledge is not enough. Governments did not act because their interest is in the yearly budget, or the time period of their rule – so long term projects that we must be facing now had no chance until the problem became larger.

On a question from Peru if the number of SDGs was not too large – after all – “END POVERTY” would have been enough – the answer came that 250 SDGs were proposed and it was a long discussion that brought them down to 17.

The question of youth came up and the Ambassador from Kenya answered that actually we have only one SDG and that is for a Sustainable World that we can hand down to our children – so it is really not necessary to mention the youth because it is about ONE WORLD.

—————

Please Note:

While the 2014 COP20 (2014) conference of the UNFCCC at Lima, Peru, is the next in the annual series, Ban Ki-moon has directed more attention toward the COP21, 2015 conference in Paris. A statement made by Ban Ki-moon called for the climate change summit he held on September 22, 2014 in New York, to lead to the Paris conference, but made no reference to the 2014 conference in Lima.

According to the organizing committee, the objective of the 2015 conference is to achieve, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. This is part of the
package that includes the fulfillment of the MDGs and the establishing of the new SDGs

I found interesting that Ms. Ban was taking notes at the meeting of the WIF – I wonder if this was followed up by a direct report at the dinner table?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

VIENNA CONFERENCE ON THE HUMANITARIAN IMPACT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS. 8-9 December 2014

Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons
Logo HINW

Vienna Hofburg Palace, 8 – 9 December 2014

Conference Information:
 www.bmeia.gv.at/en/european-forei…

Draft Program
Registration
UNDP Sponsorship Program
Conference Venue
Tourist Information
Exhibition space


A world without nuclear weapons is a goal shared by all humanity. Yet, so far, it has remained elusive. An estimated 16.300 nuclear weapons still exist nearly 25 years after the end of the cold war. Today, nine states are believed to possess nuclear weapons, but as nuclear technology is becoming more available, more states, and even non-state actors, may strive to develop nuclear weapons in the future.

As long as nuclear weapons exist, the risk of their use by design, miscalculation or madness, technical or human error, remains real. Nuclear weapons, therefore, continue to bear an unacceptable risk to humanity and to all life on earth. Any use of nuclear weapons could cause gravest humanitarian emergencies and have catastrophic global consequences on the environment, climate, health, social order, human development and the economy.

A single detonation of a modern nuclear weapon would cause destruction and human suffering on a scale far exceeding the devastation seen in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No State or international body would be able to provide adequate assistance. Nuclear weapons continue to pose an existential threat to all humankind. These risks are not abstract. They are real, more serious than previously known and can never be eliminated completely.

In the past few years, a growing number of states and many civil society actors focussed on the humanitarian consequences and risks associated with nuclear weapons through different national, regional and international events and activities. Two international conferences were devoted specifically to this issue; in Oslo, Norway, in March 2013 and Nayarit, Mexico, in February 2014.

This increased focus on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons is an important development and has a positive and uniting effect on international discussions about nuclear weapons. The more the international community discusses and understands the scale of these consequences and of the risks involved, the clearer the case and the stronger the sense of urgency become for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

The government of Austria is proud to host the 3rd international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons which will take place on 8 and 9 December 2014 at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. With this conference, Austria wishes to strengthen the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime and to contribute to the growing momentum to firmly anchor the humanitarian imperative in all global efforts dealing with nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament.

The Vienna Conference will

- be open to all interested parties. All states will receive official invitations and will be invited to nominate experts and/or senior officials. International organizations and civil society representatives with relevant expertise will also be welcome;

- will feature facts based discussions and expert presentations and aims to allow for an interactive debate among participants;

- Will also provide delegations an opportunity for statements of a more general nature;

A limited sponsorship program for LDC participants is forseen.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

So what is the verdict on Climate Week, the summit meeting on global warming convened by the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, in New York?


SundayReview | The New York Times Editorial – A Group Shout on Climate Change.

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD – Sunday September 27, 2014 – That is one week since the Sunday September 22, 2014 PEOPLE’s CLIMATE MARCH and the September 23, 2014 one day – UNSG Ban Ki-moon Climate-topics UN display.

The marchers and mayors, the ministers and presidents, have come and gone. So what is the verdict on Climate Week, the summit meeting on global warming convened by the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, in New York?

The meeting was not intended to reach a global agreement or to extract tangible commitments from individual nations to reduce the greenhouse gases that are changing the world’s ecosystems and could well spin out of control. Its purpose was to build momentum for a new global deal to be completed in December 2015, in Paris.

In that respect …… it clearly moved the ball forward, not so much in the official speeches but on the streets and in the meeting rooms where corporate leaders, investors, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and state and local officials pressed the case for stronger action.

It was important to put climate change back on the radar screen of world leaders, whose last effort to strike a deal, in Copenhagen five years ago, ended in acrimonious disaster. President Obama, for one, was as eloquent as he has ever been on the subject: “For all the immediate challenges that we gather to address this week — terrorism, instability, inequality, disease — there’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.”

But most of the positive energy at this gathering came from people closer to the ground, like the 300,000 activists who marched last Sunday. They included mayors like New York’s Michael Bloomberg and his successor, Bill de Blasio, who both spoke of the critical role that cities can play in reducing emissions. They included governors like California’s Jerry Brown, who is justly proud of his state’s pathbreaking efforts to control automobile and power plant pollution. And they included institutions like Bank of America, which said it would invest in renewable energy, and companies like Kellogg and Nestle, which pledged to help stem the destruction of tropical forests by changing the way they buy commodities like soybeans and palm oil.

Underlying all these declarations was a palpable conviction that tackling climate change could be an opportunity and not a burden, that the way to approach the task of harnessing greenhouse gas emissions was not to ask how much it would cost but how much nations stood to gain by investing in new technologies and energy efficiency.

This burst of activity comes at a crucial time. A tracking initiative called the Global Carbon Project recently reported that greenhouse gas emissions jumped 2.3 percent in 2013, mainly because of big increases in China and India. This means it is becoming increasingly difficult to limit global warming to an upper boundary of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (the long touted 2 degrees Celsius limit) above pre-industrial levels. Beyond that point, scientists say, a world already suffering from disappearing glaciers, rising seas and persistent droughts could face even more alarming consequences.

Avoiding such a fate is going to require a revolution in the way the world produces and consumes energy, which clearly has to involve national governments, no matter how much commitment there is on the streets and in the boardrooms. The odds are long that a legally binding treaty will emerge from Paris. Congress is unlikely to ratify one anyway. The smart money now is on a softer agreement that brings all the big polluters on board with national emissions caps, and there are reasons for hope that this can be done.

Mr. Obama is in a much stronger leadership position than he was at Copenhagen, having engineered a huge increase in automobile fuel efficiency and proposed rules that will greatly reduce the United States’ reliance on dirty coal. The Chinese, in part because their own air is so dirty, have been investing heavily in alternative energy sources like wind and solar, and they are giving serious consideration to a national cap on coal consumption. The cooperation of these two countries could by itself create the conditions for a breakthrough agreement. But what might really do the trick — if Climate Week is any guide — is the emergence of a growing bottom-up movement for change.
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Copenhagen was the COP 15 (Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – COP9 of UNFCCC – and those who follow our website will realize that we stopped counting after Copenhagen even though this year’s end of the year’s meeting will be already the 20th meeting – or COP20 of the UNFCCC – and it will be held in Lima, Peru. We have no intention of opening a new page for this meeting either – but we are optimistic nevertheless that we will be in much better shape when we go to COP21 of the UNFCCC in Paris – December 2015.
With the 70th celebration of the UN and the need to do something to mark this date – we believe that a more responsive Climate Change reduction path will be fleshed out by that time.

The People’s March of last Sunday will then be remembered as the People’s expression that they demand action from those that sit at UN’s New York Headquarters in what they see as seats of the Global management. Also, please note the fact that even the UN has recognized by now that the Assembly of Governments will not reach the needed consensus to create true action – it will be rather the involvement of Civil Society, and business – led by scientists, economic and social developers and plain people that care for their environment – ethical and mass leaders from he line – that will do it.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 27th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


LOCATION: Vienna International Centre, Wagramer Strasse 5, 1400 Vienna, Austria.


A Meeting intended to help shape the new development agenda for next decade.


Background and Mandate:

The General Assembly in its resolution 66/214 of 22 December 2011 and resolution 67/222 of 3 April 2013 decided to hold a comprehensive ten-year review Conference of the Almaty Programme of Action in 2014, in accordance with paragraph 49 of the Almaty Programme of Action and paragraph 32 of the Declaration on the midterm review.

This Second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) will be held from 3 to 5 November 2014 in Vienna, Austria. At the LLDC Conference, participants from governments of LLDCs, transit developing countries and donor countries, UN and other international organizations and the private sector will come together to shape the new development agenda for the landlocked developing countries for the next decade.

The Conference will be preceded, where necessary, by regional and global as well as thematic preparations in a most effective, well-structured and broad participatory manner. Intergovernmental mechanisms at the global and regional levels, including those of the United Nations Regional Commissions, as well as relevant substantive material and statistical data, should be effectively utilized in the review process.

In the same resolution the General Assembly designated the UN Office of the High Representative for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS (UN-OHRLLS) as the United Nations System-wide focal point for the preparatory review process and noted that United Nations system organizations, including UNCTAD, UNDP, Regional Commissions and relevant international and regional development and financial organizations, within their respective mandate, should provide necessary support and actively contribute to the preparatory review process and the comprehensive ten-year review conference itself.
Conference Objectives:

Comprehensively and critically assess the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action (APoA), with the view to identify effective international and domestic policies in the light of the outcome of the comprehensive appraisal, as well as new and emerging challenges and opportunities and the means to address them, and develop a new common action-oriented strategic framework for the next decade.
Reaffirm the global commitment to addressing the special needs of the landlocked developing countries, in particular those related to infrastructure development, transit and trade facilitation, policy framework, in order to reduce prohibitive transit costs and enable those countries to fully participate in the global trade.
Mobilize additional international support measures in favour of the landlocked developing countries, and in this regard, formulate and adopt a renewed partnership between the landlocked developing countries, transit developing countries and their development partners.
Develop a more efficient monitoring and evaluation mechanism for the successful implementation of the new programme of action by an effective functioning of existing arrangements at national, sub-regional, regional and global levels.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


NO! it is not as simple as that – it is our own evaluation of what we heard from the mouth of Heads of State.

For unclear reasons they like the number 3 as in the old shaky “TRIPOD” idea of Sustainable Development that was supposed to hold the planet on legs of “Social, Economic, and Environment nature – when they left out Good Governance from the structure.

Now we heard from the President of Niger about his three Ds – DEFENSE, DEMOCRACY and DEVELOPMENT, but then the Prime Minister of the Netherlands spoke of DEFENSE, DEVELOPMENT and DIPLOMACY.

We decided that there cannot be a trade-off between Democracy as in GOOD GOVERNANCE and Diplomacy as a way to avoid conflict – granted that there is a 2014 agreement that the post-2015 agenda is about SECURITY from terrorism and DEVELOPMENT for the poorer Nations.

I SUGGEST HEREWITH THUS the FULL SPECTER OF THE NEEDED Ds: DEFENSE, DEMOCRACY, DEVELOPMENT, and DIPLOMACY – and would like to see the 4Ds adopted by the Development-Poor, by the Oil-rich, and by the old-Democracy States of the North – all of them fueled by Renewable Energy based steam.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Das Karl-Renner-Institut weist auf folgende Veranstaltung der Arbeiterkammer Wien im Rahmen der Reihe „Wiener Stadtgespräch“ hin:


ISLAM UND DER WESTEN – WAS FOLGT AUF DEN ARABISCHEN FRÜHLING?

HAMED ABDEL-SAMAD im Gespräch mit PETER HUEMER


Termin: Donnerstag, 2. Oktober 2014, 19.00 Uhr

Ort: VIENNA, AUSTRIA -
Bildungszentrum der AK, Großer Saal – Theresianumgasse 16-18, 1040 Wien

=> nähere InformationUm Anmeldung wird gebeten:stadtgespraech@akwien.at

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

SundayReview | Opinion

The Climate Swerve.

By ROBERT JAY LIFTON,  The New York Times,

AMERICANS appear to be undergoing a significant psychological shift in our relation to global warming. I call this shift a climate “swerve,” borrowing the term used recently by the Harvard humanities professor Stephen Greenblatt to describe a major historical change in consciousness that is neither predictable nor orderly.

The first thing to say about this swerve is that we are far from clear about just what it is and how it might work. But we can make some beginning observations which suggest, in Bob Dylan’s words, that “something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is.” Experience, economics and ethics are coalescing in new and important ways. Each can be examined as a continuation of my work comparing nuclear and climate threats.

The experiential part has to do with a drumbeat of climate-related disasters around the world, all actively reported by the news media: hurricanes and tornadoes, droughts and wildfires, extreme heat waves and equally extreme cold, rising sea levels and floods. Even when people have doubts about the causal relationship of global warming to these episodes, they cannot help being psychologically affected. Of great importance is the growing recognition that the danger encompasses the entire earth and its inhabitants. We are all vulnerable.

This sense of the climate threat is represented in public opinion polls and attitude studies. A recent Yale survey, for instance, concluded that “Americans’ certainty that the earth is warming has increased over the past three years,” and “those who think global warming is not happening have become substantially less sure of their position.”

Falsification and denial, while still all too extensive, have come to require more defensive psychic energy and political chicanery.

But polls don’t fully capture the complex collective process occurring.

The most important experiential change has to do with global warming and time. Responding to the climate threat — in contrast to the nuclear threat, whose immediate and grotesque destructiveness was recorded in Hiroshima and Nagasaki — has been inhibited by the difficulty of imagining catastrophic future events. But climate-related disasters and intense media images are hitting us now, and providing partial models for a devastating climate future.

At the same time, economic concerns about fossil fuels have raised the issue of value. There is a wonderfully evocative term, “stranded assets,” to characterize the oil, coal and gas reserves that are still in the ground. Trillions of dollars in assets could remain “stranded” there. If we are serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sustaining the human habitat, between 60 percent and 80 percent of those assets must remain in the ground, according to the Carbon Tracker Initiative, an organization that analyzes carbon investment risk. In contrast, renewable energy sources, which only recently have achieved the status of big business, are taking on increasing value, in terms of returns for investors, long-term energy savings and relative harmlessness to surrounding communities.

Pragmatic institutions like insurance companies and the American military have been confronting the consequences of climate change for some time. But now, a number of leading financial authorities are raising questions about the viability of the holdings of giant carbon-based fuel corporations. In a world fueled by oil and coal, it is a truly stunning event when investors are warned that the market may end up devaluing those assets. We are beginning to see a bandwagon effect in which the overall viability of fossil-fuel economics is being questioned.

Can we continue to value, and thereby make use of, the very materials most deeply implicated in what could be the demise of the human habitat? It is a bit like the old Jack Benny joke, in which an armed robber offers a choice, “Your money or your life!” And Benny responds, “I’m thinking it over.” We are beginning to “think over” such choices on a larger scale.

This takes us to the swerve-related significance of ethics. Our reflections on stranded assets reveal our deepest contradictions. Oil and coal company executives focus on the maximum use of their product in order to serve the interests of shareholders, rather than the humane, universal ethics we require to protect the earth. We may well speak of those shareholder-dominated principles as “stranded ethics,” which are better left buried but at present are all too active above ground.

Such ethical contradictions are by no means entirely new in historical experience. Consider the scientists, engineers and strategists in the United States and the Soviet Union who understood their duty as creating, and possibly using, nuclear weapons that could destroy much of the earth. Their conscience could be bound up with a frequently amorphous ethic of “national security.” Over the course of my work I have come to the realization that it is very difficult to endanger or kill large numbers of people except with a claim to virtue.

The climate swerve is mostly a matter of deepening awareness. When exploring the nuclear threat I distinguished between fragmentary awareness, consisting of images that come and go but remain tangential, and formed awareness, which is more structured, part of a narrative that can be the basis for individual and collective action.

In the 1980s there was a profound worldwide shift from fragmentary awareness to formed awareness in response to the potential for a nuclear holocaust. Millions of people were affected by that “nuclear swerve.” And even if it is diminished today, the nuclear swerve could well have helped prevent the use of nuclear weapons.

With both the nuclear and climate threats, the swerve in awareness has had a crucial ethical component. People came to feel that it was deeply wrong, perhaps evil, to engage in nuclear war, and are coming to an awareness that it is deeply wrong, perhaps evil, to destroy our habitat and create a legacy of suffering for our children and grandchildren.

Social movements in general are energized by this kind of ethical passion, which enables people to experience the more active knowledge associated with formed awareness. That was the case in the movement against nuclear weapons. Emotions related to individual conscience were pooled into a shared narrative by enormous numbers of people.

In earlier movements there needed to be an overall theme, even a phrase, that could rally people of highly divergent political and intellectual backgrounds. The idea of a “nuclear freeze” mobilized millions of people with the simple and clear demand that the United States and the Soviet Union freeze the testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons.

Could the climate swerve come to include a “climate freeze,” defined by a transnational demand for cutting back on carbon emissions in steps that could be systematically outlined?

With or without such a rallying phrase, the climate swerve provides no guarantees of more reasonable collective behavior. But with human energies that are experiential, economic and ethical it could at least provide — and may already be providing — the psychological substrate for action on behalf of our vulnerable habitat and the human future.

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Robert Jay Lifton is a psychiatrist and the author of “Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima,” and a memoir, “Witness to an Extreme Century.”

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 24, 2014, on page SR4 of the New York edition with the headline: The Climate Swerve.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The changing landscape of religion.

Laxenburg, Austria, 20 August 2014: The mixes of religion and ethnicity in society are changing in Vienna, Europe, and the world. IIASA research provides a demographic perspective. 

Religion is a key factor in demography, important for projections of future population growth as well as for other social indicators. A new journal, Yearbook of International Religious Demography, is the first to bring a quantitative demographic focus to the study of religion. The journal is co-edited by IIASA researcher Vegard Skirbekk, an expert in the field of religious demography. The first edition of the journal includes three studies by IIASA researchers:
 

Vienna: Growing diversity in religion and ethnicity.

The city of Vienna is growing increasingly diverse in both religion and ethnicity, according to a new study by IIASA researcher Markus Speringer and Ramon Bauer of the Vienna Institute for Demography, which explored how Vienna’s ethnic and religious diversity has developed from 1970 to 2011.

The study reflects Vienna’s changing religious and ethnic structure, which has seen increased migration since 1970. By 2011, almost a third of Vienna’s population was foreign-born, the study showed. But while in 2001, a majority of those immigrants came from Turkey and the former Yugoslavia, in 2011 the immigrant population was far more diverse, including many newcomers from Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.

At the same time, the percentage of Roman Catholics has declined in the city, from nearly 80% in 1971 to less than 50% in 2001. This decline is due to both an increase in religious disaffiliation as well as an influx of people of different religions, the study shows.

The study also assessed the makeup of Vienna’s neighborhoods – showing that most migrants live in Vienna’s inner districts, in diverse, mixed neighborhoods. The outer districts of Vienna, by contrast, are mainly home to people born in Austria with a catholic religious affiliation.

 

Europe:  Immigration and religious switching.

Christians still make up 75% of people in Europe, according to a second paper published in the journal, which quantified Europe’s population by religious affiliation. The study, led by IIASA researcher Marcin Stonawski, showed that the next-largest group (18%) of Europeans claims no religious affiliation, and Muslims are the third-largest group with about 6% of the population. The study estimated religious distribution by age and sex for 42 countries – the first to provide such a detailed demographic analysis over all of Europe. It shows that the Christian population is relatively old, with a median age of 41.7 years, while the median age for the Muslim population was 31.8 years.
Contact: Marcin Stonawski stonaw@iiasa.ac.at


A third paper published in the new journal provides the methodology behind the Pew Research Global Religious Landscape Study published in 2012, the most thorough demographic analysis to date of global religious populations. The study, based on more than 2,500 censuses, surveys and population registers, found that 84% of the 2010 world population was affiliated with a religion. The study also found that roughly one-in-six people around the globe had no religious affiliation.

The report included estimates of the religious composition of over 230 countries and territories and, for the first time ever, median age data for followers of each religion. The study documented a wide gulf between the median age of Muslims (23) and Jews (36).
 
The report was produced by the Pew Research Center in collaboration with researchers from the Age and Cohort Change Project (ACC) at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), including Vegard Skirbekk, Marcin Stonawski and Michaela Potancokova.
Contact: Vegard Skirbekk  skirbekk@iiasa.ac.at

Reference
Feng, Kuishuang, Klaus Hubacek, Stephan Pfister, Yang Yu, Laixiang Sun. 2014. “Virtual Scarce Water in China.” Environmental Science and Technology, dx.doi.org/10.1021/es500502q.

For PDF copies of the studies highlighted in this release please contact IIASA Press Officer Katherine Leitzell.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Burgenland Nachhaltigkeitstage Nachhaltigkeitstage Nachhaltigkeitstage Nachhaltigkeitstage Nachhaltigkeitstage Nachhaltigkeitstage Nachhaltigkeitstage NachhaltigkeitstageLogo Lebensministerium
for the full article:    
Stimmen-Alois_Schwarz Dr. Alois Schwarz, Diözesanbischof. In der Österreichischen Bischofskonferenz für Wirtschaft und Nachhaltigkeit zuständig
Über ethische und nachhaltige Grundsätze in der Wirtschaft

„Langfristig erfolgreiche Unternehmen zeichnen sich dadurch aus, dass sie eine Balance finden zwischen den Interessen ihrer EigentümerInnen, ihrer KundInnen, Ihrer Mit-arbeiterInnen und der sie umgebenden Umwelt. Solche Unternehmerinnen und Unternehmer würden statt einer kurzfristigen Gewinn-Maximierung langfristiger Stabilität, fairen Kundenbeziehungen und respektvoller Mitarbeiterführung den Vorrang einräumen und mit ihrer gesellschaftlichen und ökologischen Umwelt in offener und verantwortungsvoller Beziehung stehen. Leitbilder leben von den Vorbildern, die sie leben. Erfolgreiche Unternehmen verstünden es, ihren Wertekanon in allen Phasen und Ausgestaltung ihres wirtschaftlichen Daseins konsequent zu leben.“

 

stimmen_helga_kromp-kolbHelga Kromp-Kolb, Institut für Meteorologie Department Wasser-Atmosphäre-Umwelt Universität für Bodenkultur Wien, Österreich

„Nachhaltigkeit, Zukunftsfähigkeit, Enkeltauglichkeit – sie alle bedeuten, heute so zu handeln, dass es ein glückliches Morgen geben kann. Dieses Handeln kann erfreulicher Weise schon heute zu einem erfüllteren Leben verhelfen – um den Preis, Gewohnheiten zu ändern.
Leider müssen wir schnell Handeln – das Klimasystem gerät unwiederbringlich aus dem Gleichgewicht. Es ist wichtig, jetzt zu handeln und andere für das nachhaltige Leben zu begeistern!“

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 Transatomic is a MIT spinoff and could save us with Molten Salt Nuclear Reactors that can use wastes from Water Cooled Reactors for useful purpose.

Transatomic Power’s advanced molten salt reactor consumes spent nuclear fuel cleanly and completely, unlocking vast amounts of cheap, carbon-free energy. It solves four of the most pressing problems facing the nuclear industry: ecological stewardship, public safety, non-proliferation, and cost-efficiency. Only an advanced reactor that meets all four goals at once can truly change the nuclear fission game and allow for broad adoption of nuclear power.

A technical white paper gives a more detailed description of the reactor design.

This reactor can be powered by nuclear waste because it uses radically different technology from conventional plants. Instead of using solid fuel pins, they dissolve the nuclear waste into a molten salt. Suspending the fuel in a liquid (the mo;ten salt) allows  it to be kept in the reactor longer, and therefore capture more of its energy. Conventional nuclear reactors can utilize only about 3% – 5% of the potential fission energy in a given amount of uranium before it has to be removed from the reactor. This design captures 96% of this remaining energy.

Why it’s different

Molten salt reactors are not a new technology – they were originally developed and tested at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. In many respects, Transatomic’s reactor is similar to these early designs. It uses similar safety mechanisms (such as freeze valves), chemical processing techniques (such as off-gas sparging), and corrosion tolerant alloys (such as modified Hastelloy-N). These similarities to previous designs allowed Transatomic to build on an established body of research and reduce the uncertainty associated with the design.

The main differences between Transatomic Power’s molten salt reactor and previous molten salt reactors are the metal hydride moderator and LiF-(Heavy metal)F4 fuel salt. These features allow  to make the reactor more compact and generate electricity at lower cost than other designs. Furthermore, previous molten salt reactors, such as the Oak Ridge Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, used uranium enriched to 33% U-235.

The newly proposed reactor can operate using fresh fuel enriched to just a minimum of 1.8% U-235, or light water reactor waste.

The above comes with  MIT  research and was brought to our attention in today’s CNN/GPS program by Fareed Zakaria (August 17, 2014) who had as guest recently graduated PHD student Dr.Dewan.

In effect – Transatomic, is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spinoff intent to commercialize a safer fission nuclear reactor designed to overcome major barriers to nuclear power.  For the anti-nuclear folks the design offers to burn up the existing spent fuel from the world’s fleet of nuclear reactors in a design that doesn’t offer a chance for a meltdown.  That should be nirvana for those alarmed about atomic energy and weapons proliferation.
Dr. Leslie Dewan and coleague Mr. Mark Massie seem to be the young folks who started this MIT offshoot.
Dr. Dewan was Fareed Zakaria’s guest on his program – August 17, 2014.

The US has 100 operating nuclear reactors and additional five in construction.
China has now 21 nuclear reactors and an additional 86 in construction.
Above means that the dangers of nuclear material contaminated water is immense, not just the danger of melt downs -  and that is why opponents to water cooled fission reactors are up in arms.
Imagine the potential for hope if a method is found to decontaminate that water and even find a positive use for the wastes?

We found an old article by Brian Westenhaus of  March 17, 2013 from which we picked:

Transatomic, founded by a pair of very smart and innovative young nuclear engineers, has updated the molten-salt reactor, a reactor type that’s highly resistant to meltdowns. Molten-salt reactors were demonstrated in the 1960s at Oak Ridge National Lab, where one test reactor ran for six years.  What remains is raising $5 million to run five experiments to help validate the new basic design.

Russ Wilcox, Transatomic’s new CEO estimates that it will take eight years to build a prototype reactor at a cost of $200 million.  The company has already raised $1 million in seed funding, including some from Ray Rothrock, a partner at the venture capital firm Venrock.

The cofounders, Mark Massie and Leslie Dewan, who we met here in April last year, are still PhD candidates at MIT. Yet the design has attracted some top advisors, including Regis Matzie, the former CTO of the major nuclear power plant supplier Westinghouse Electric, and Richard Lester, the head of the nuclear engineering department at MIT.

Ms Dewan Mr. Massie and Mr. Lester of Transatomic Power
Ms Dewan Mr. Massie and Mr. Lester of Transatomic Power.

The new reactor design called the Waste-Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor (WAMSR) so far exists only on paper.
Ray Rothrock says the company will face many challenges. “The technology doesn’t bother me in the least,” he said. “I have confidence in the people. I wish someone would build this thing, because I think it would work. It’s all the other factors that make it daunting.”  We’ll get to those daunting factors in a moment.

Related article: France Predict Cost of Nuclear Disaster to be Over Three Times their GDP

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Background – today’s conventional nuclear power plant is cooled by water, which boils at 100º C a temperature far below the 2,000° C at the core of a fuel pellet. Even after the reactor is shut down, it must be continuously cooled by pumping in water until the whole internal core apparatus is below 100º C.  The inability to do that properly is what has caused the problems at troubled plants.  Oddly, the nuclear industry and regulatory agencies haven’t come to realize the notion of mixing water and nuclear fuel is the dangerous matter.

The big problems can be solved by using molten salt, instead of water as the coolant, which is mixed in with the fuel. Molten salt has a boiling point higher than the operating temperature of the fuel. That way the reactor has a built-in thermostat – if it starts to heat up, the salt expands, spreading out the fuel and slowing the reactions cooling the thing off.

In the event of a power outage where cooling circulation would stop carrying away the heat, a plug at the bottom of the reactor melts and the fuel and salt mixture flows by gravity into a holding tank, where the fuel spreads out enough for the reactions to stop. The salt then cools and solidifies, encapsulating the radioactive materials.

Ms Dewan now the company’s chief science officer says, “It’s walk-away safe, if you lose electricity, even if there are no operators on site to pull levers, it will coast to a stop.”

She needs only $5 million to prove it, she said.

Technology – Transatomic’s design improves on the original molten-salt reactor by changing the internal geometry and using different materials. Transatomic is keeping many of the proprietary design details to itself, but one change involves eliminating the graphite that made up 90% of the volume of the Oak Ridge reactor. The company has also modified conditions in the reactor to produce faster neutrons, which makes it possible to burn most of the material that is ordinarily discarded as waste.

WAMSR Reactor Schematic Graphic Diagram.
WAMSR Reactor Schematic Graphic Diagram.

 

The design offers a couple other real strong incentives.  Because it runs at atmospheric pressure rather than the high pressures required in conventional reactors the amount of steel and concrete needed to guard against accidents is greatly reduced.  The technical approach will work for uranium or for the future thorium fuels as well.

Related article: Will Japan Embrace Geothermal Power to Move Away from Nuclear?

Here is the comparison that should light up the hearts of the antinuclear crowd.  A conventional 1,000-megawatt reactor produces about 20 metric tons (44,000 lbs.) of high-level waste a year, and that material needs to be safely stored for 100,000 years. The 500-megawatt Transatomic reactor will produce only four kilograms (8.8 lbs.) of such waste a year, along with 250 kilograms (550 lbs.) of waste that has to be stored for a few hundred years.

In the presentation the duo projects some warming numbers for both the low cost power and the anti nuclear folks.  Conventional nuclear reactors can utilize only about 3% of the potential fission energy in a given amount of uranium before it has to be removed from the reactor. The Transatomic design captures 98% of this remaining energy.  A fully deployed Transatomic reactor fleet could use existing stockpiles of nuclear waste to satisfy the world’s electricity needs for 70 years, now through 2083 when about 99.2% of today’s dangerous spent fuel – would be burned away.

Even though the basic idea of a molten-salt reactor has been demonstrated the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) certification process is set up around light-water reactors.  NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said for the next few years, the NRC will be focused on certifying the more conventional designs for SMNRs.  But he also said that the commission is aware of Transatomic’s concept but that designs haven’t been submitted for review yet.  The certification process for Transatomic will take at least five years once the company submits a detailed design, with additional review needed specifically for issues related to fuel and waste management.

The detailed design is years and $4 million more dollars away.  Wilcox estimated that it will take eight years to build a prototype reactor – at a cost of $200 million.  Low cost power customers and the antinuclear folks might want to coordinate getting the Congress to rewrite the NRC’s procedures to speed things up.

After all, China is reported to be investing $350 million over five years to develop molten-salt reactors of its own. It plans to build a two-megawatt test reactor by 2020.

It’d be a pity to miss out on a trillion dollar industrial market and trillions more in electricity savings.  Plus get rid of all that weapons ready, costly to store used fuel.

A hat tip goes to Brian Wand for spotting the latest update to Tranatomic’s progress.

By. Brian Westenhaus  —   Original source: The Nuke The Anti Nuke Crowd Should Love

 

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