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.”
“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,
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.
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.
October 23, 2014
From 6:00pm to 8:00pm
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.
UNDP Sponsorship Program
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Stonawskistonaw@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 Skirbekkskirbekk@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.
„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.“
„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!“
Israeli President Shimon Peres on Wednesday told United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that Israel would not stand by while Qatar, which paid for the UN official’s private flight to the Middle East, continued to finance Hamas militants, and took Ban to task for the two UN-run schools found to be housing Hamas rockets in Gaza.
In his last full day in office, Peres, a historically dovish leader, struck a defiant tone in a statement delivered to the media after meeting Ban at the President’s Residence, in Jerusalem.
“Qatar does not have the right to send money for rockets and tunnels which are fired at innocent civilians,” Peres said. “Their funding of terror the must stop.”
Newsweek‘s Benny Avni reported on Monday that the Qatari government paid for the UN Secretary General’s flight through the Middle East, where his first stop on Sunday was Doha, where he denounced Israel’s Operation Protective Edge’s battle in Shuja’iya, a border city that had been overrun by competing Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters, and where rockets were hidden in mosques, hospitals, playgrounds and cemeteries connected by tunnels used to infiltrate the Israeli border and attack Kibbutz Nahal Oz a mile away.
Speaking in Doha after meeting with the Qatari regime,Newsweek pointed out, “It was the first time in two weeks that Ban did not mention rocket or other attacks against Israelis.”
“Ban’s choice of Qatar as the first Middle East capital on his trip has raised eyebrows in the region,” Newsweek said. “Egypt, in particular, has bitterly criticized what Cairo’s foreign minister, Sameh Shukri, has called Qatar’s ‘conspiring’ — along with Hamas and its other regional ally, Turkey — against Egyptian attempts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.”
On Monday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Qatar, which has offered to pay for reconstruction in Gaza, was “becoming an international problem” for providing “the financial backbone of the most extreme terrorist groups that threaten stability in the entire world and specifically in the Middle East.”
“Qatar is also a major player in our confrontation against Hamas in Gaza, as it finances Hamas and shelters its leader, Khaled Mashaal,” Lieberman said, according to Newsweek.
On Wednesday, Peres addressed Qatar’s role directly with Ban, saying, “If they want to build then they should, but they must not be allowed to destroy.”
“Instead of investing in education, in healthcare and in building a future for Gaza, Hamas wasted millions on tunnels and rockets,” Peres said. “The people of Gaza are not our enemies. Gaza could have become a center of trade but Hamas turned it into a center of terror.”
“The people of Gaza could have been given hope but instead Hamas brought them destruction,” he said. “Hamas built an infrastructure of terror beneath schools and kindergartens. They use hospitals to launch attacks. They hide in houses and use their children as human shields.”
Then he addressed the UN’s active role in perpetuating the crisis. Peres said, “Mr. Secretary-General, they even use your UNRWA schools to store their rockets,” referring to the two times the UN agency that runs Gaza schools admitted in the past week that their installations were being used to hide missiles, which, according to the UNRWA’s spokesman in Gaza, were actually returned to the militants who placed them there.
“The behavior of Hamas is a criminal act against their own people and ours,” Peres said. “The death of innocent civilians pains me personally and it pains our people. We sanctify life, every life. Hamas glorifies death and they are the ones responsible for the deaths in Gaza. We must say clearly – terrorism will never bring peace. The way to peace is through negotiations, dialogue and compromise.”
President Peres then called on the UN Human Rights Council “to condemn terrorism, especially of Hamas, in the strongest terms. Standing for human rights for all and standing against terrorism are one and the same.”
But he also objected to the UN’s way of doing things: “We reject the idea of appointing a committee to decide who is right and who is wrong,” he said. “Terror is a danger to the world and the fight against it is global. No country will be immune to the threat of terror if we don’t fight it together.”
“Every country has the obligation to protect itself against attacks and attempts to kill innocent civilians,” he said. “No state in the world would be willing to accept rockets fired at its mothers and children from the sky and terrorists emerging from tunnels to kill innocents for no reason and with no justification.”
With the U.S. FAA banning flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport for 24-hours on Wednesday because of Hamas targeting the airport, Peres pointed to the Hamas rockets, not Israeli flights as the problem.
“I regret that airlines have suspended flights,” he said. “The real answer is not to stop flights but to stop the rockets. If airlines will submit to terror then they invite more rocket fire and a greater danger not just here, but across the world.”
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “I have been compelled to visit Israel once again on an urgent mission of peace and solidarity. This is my third such urgent mission during the last five years. The violence must stop now and we must immediately start dialogue which addressed all the root causes which have already been identified, discussed and negotiated for a long time. We don’t have time to lose.”
Accepting the narrative of both sides, Ban said tersely, ”Solidarity with Israelis on the rocket fire, solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza under massive assault as the international community strives for a ceasefire in Gaza.”
“I know there is rockets continue to threaten Israeli civilians and disrupt normal life. I have repeatedly condemned it and will continue to do so. There is a deep pain and anguish at the loss among Palestinians. As Secretary-General of the United Nations I will not be silent in the face of this tragedy.”
“Whatever the obstacles, Israelis and Palestinians share a common future and they need hope for political progress and economic prosperity,” Ban said, though his conclusion seemed out of touch with the deep-seeded hatred exposed during the two weeks of intense fighting.
“A future of two states living side by side in peace and security,” he said. “That’s the vision of the two state solution.”
Sobald israelische Angriffe auf Hamas-Terroristen in Gaza die ersten Opfer fordern, kennt die globale Empörung kein Halten mehr.
In ganz Europa wird gegen Israel marschiert. In Wien demonstrieren 11.000 gegen das einzige demokratische Land im Nahen Osten (sogar 30.000, wenn man den Veranstaltern glaubt). In Paris versperren muslimische und rechtsradikale Antisemiten Juden den Ausgang aus einer Synagoge, die Reihen dicht geschlossen. Dass Juden im 21. Jahrhundert mitten in einer europäischen Metropole von einem randalierenden Mob gefangen gehalten werden und um ihr Leben fürchten müssen, ruft hierzulande weniger Empörung hervor als der Text einer unnötigen Hymne, gesungen von einem unnötigen Sänger. Genau genommen gar keine. Eine halbe Million Tote und 2,5 Millionen Vertriebene im Sudan. Unzählige Tote in Syrien und mehr als 1 Million syrischer Flüchtlinge, die im Libanon unter entsetzlichen Bedingungen ihr Dasein fristen. Die Massaker der ISIS, der nicht enden wollende Terror der Boko Haram. Verfolgte Christen von Ägypten bis Sudan. Vasallen Putins, die ein Flugzeug mit 289 Passagieren vom Himmel holen. Die Aufzählung des Schreckens ist beliebig fortsetzbar. Wer warnt vor der Spirale der Gewalt? Wer ruft zur Mäßigung auf? Wer fordert den Schutz der Zivilbevölkerung? Wo bleiben die Massendemonstrationen? Vergeblich warten weltweit hunderttausende Opfer von Verfolgung und Vertreibung, Verstümmelung und Mord, auf flammende Appelle Ban Ki-moons, auf Hilfe und moralische Unterstützung. Auch weil das Schweigen der Weltöffentlichkeit zu nahezu jedem Verbrechen auf dieser Erde ohrenbetäubend in meinen Ohren gellt, kann ich die scheinheiligen Friedensmahner schwer ertragen, die jetzt wieder überall das Wort ergreifen. Die sich nicht dazu äußern, wenn die Hamas tausend Raketen auf Israel abfeuert, aber in einem israelischen Wohnblock die größte Gefahr für den Weltfrieden wittern. Die nie auch nur ein einziges Mal die antisemitische Hetze in palästinensischen Medien und Schulbüchern monieren aber jedes Mal verlässlich zur Stelle sind, wenn es gilt, Israel zu mahnen. Die mir vorwerfen, nicht neutral sondern parteiisch zu sein. Selbstverständlich bin ich parteiisch! Wie kann man das denn nicht sein?
Auf der einen Seite steht eine islam-faschistische Terrororganisation, für deren Mitglieder, Anhänger und Mitläufer die Vernichtung von Juden identitätsstiftend ist. Die korrupten Despoten verwenden Geld, mit dem sie von der Weltgemeinschaft überschüttet werden, für die Bezahlung von Judenmördern anstatt für Infrastruktur und Bildung. Frauen gelten nichts. Oppositionelle werden verfolgt und ermordet. Schwule werden verfolgt und ermordet. Sie verstecken sich hinter ihren Frauen und Kindern, opfern sie mit zynischem Kalkül für ihre Propaganda. Sie feiern ihre Mörder als Helden anstatt sie zur Rechenschaft zu ziehen. Sie lieben den Tod mehr als das Leben. Wenn der Staat, den sie wollen, jemals Wirklichkeit wird, gibt es einen Unrechtsstaat mehr, in dem das Kollektiv alles und der einzelne nicht das Geringste gilt.
Auf der anderen Seite steht die einzige Demokratie im Nahen Osten. Ein Rechtsstaat, der so gut funktioniert, dass selbst Regierungsangehörige strafrechtlich belangt werden, wenn sie sich etwas zuschulden kommen lassen. In dem Araber mehr Rechte genießen als in jedem arabischen Land. Mit emanzipierten Frauen und Love Parades. Eine High-Tech Oase der Bildung und des Wissens. Mit einer Armee, die mehr als jede andere in der Geschichte versucht, zivile Opfer auf Seiten des Gegners zu vermeiden. Ein Land, das denen, die es vernichten wollen, gratis Strom liefert und in seinen Krankenhäusern deren Kranke und Verwundete versorgt. Ein Land, das jedes Leben so sehr schätzt, dass es lieber Dutzende Mörder freilässt als ein einziges wissentlich zu opfern.
Nur ein Lump kann in diesem Konflikt neutral sein. Nur ein Lump bewahrte zwischen Hitler und der freien Welt Äquidistanz. Niemand mit einem Funken Anstand im Leib hätte zu den Verbrechen der Nationalsozialisten geschwiegen und gleichzeitig von Roosevelt die Rechte der Schwarzen eingefordert oder bei Churchill den Schutz der deutschen Zivilbevölkerung eingemahnt. Und nur ein Lump macht die Solidarität mit Israel davon abhängig, ob er mit dessen demokratisch gewählter Regierung einverstanden ist oder nicht. Ein Land, das von Nachbarn umgeben ist, die schon am Tag seiner Gründung darüber hergefallen sind und es lieber heute als morgen aus den Seiten der Geschichte löschen möchten, ein Land, das ständig um seine schiere Existenz kämpfen muss und trotzdem demokratisch und zivilisiert geblieben ist, ein solches Land hat sich jede Unterstützung und jede Sympathie verdient. Egal welcher politischen Couleur man anhängt. Ich möchte mir lieber nicht vorstellen, was aus Österreich würde, wenn jahrelang tagtäglich Raketen von Slowenien auf Kärnten herab regneten. Ich halte den Sieg über die Hamas für eine unabdingbare Voraussetzung für Frieden. Wer Empathie für die palästinensische Bevölkerung empfindet, muss für die Vertreibung der Mörderbande sein, die sie regiert. Erst nachdem die Nationalsozialisten wenn schon nicht vernichtet so zumindest besiegt waren, konnte auf deutschem Boden ein demokratischer Rechtsstaat entstehen, konnten Deutsche in Frieden und Freiheit leben. Mit der Hamas kann es ebenso wenig Frieden geben wie es mit Hitler Frieden geben konnte. Free Gaza from Hamas. Ja, ich bin parteiisch in diesem Konflikt. Ich ergreife Partei für Israel und schäme mich dafür, dass so wenige in meinem Land es mir gleichtun. Und noch mit meiner letzten Tinte will ich gegen die Heuchler anschreiben, die es sich in den Feuilletons bequem gemacht haben und aus ihren sicheren, warmen Stuben heraus ebenso anmaßend wie herablassend der israelischen Bevölkerung ausrichten, wie sich diese zu verhalten habe. Gegen die Zyniker, die das Missverhältnis von palästinensischen und israelischen Opfern anprangern, als dürften sich Juden erst ab einer bestimmten Zahl von Toten gegen ihre Vernichtung wehren. Gegen die Antisemiten und deren nützliche Idioten, die das Ende des Judenstaates willentlich betreiben oder unwissentlich in Kauf nehmen. Gegen die Beschwichtiger und Terrorversteher, die kein Wort des Mitgefühls für die Opfer finden, aber für jeden Anschlag und jede Rakete auf Israel eine Begründung parat haben. Gegen die Oberflächlichen, die nicht zwischen Terroristen und einer demokratisch legitimierten Armee unterscheiden können oder wollen. Gegen die moralisch Verwahrlosten, die sich an Israel abarbeiten, um die Schuld ihrer Väter zu relativieren.
Es ist eine Schande, dass dies nicht selbstverständlich ist.
17 July commemorations and social media campaign garner wide support
States representatives, civil society organisations, legal professionals and scholars, children, youth and elders all over the world sent the strong message that justice matters to us all. Commemorating 17 July, the Day of International Criminal Justice, many took action to support justice, promote victims’ rights, and prevent grave crimes that threaten the peace and security of the world. 17 July marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute on 17 July 1998, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which seeks to protect people from genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.
Numerous events were held around this date in The Hague (The Netherlands) where the seat of the Court is located, as well as at the United Nations headquarters in New York (USA) and in countries where ICC investigations are being conducted, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and Uganda.
The Justice Matters social media campaign, launched jointly by the ICC and the President of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) around 17 July, also garnered large support worldwide.
Worldwide call for photos on Facebook
Hundreds of participants held up #JusticeMatters signs and submitted their photographs on the temporary #17July Facebook page, which featured infographics, GIFs, and posters illustrating the crimes under the Court’s jurisdiction. The campaign’s resulting mosaic of over 500 photograph submissions from more 70 countries, with more photos being received each day, represents all regions of the world and is a symbol of the global support for all those who stand for justice.
Call for tweets using the #17July and #JusticeMatters hashtags
Countless ambassadors, legal professionals, students, leaders, NGOs, and many others from across the globe, sent messages of support on Twitter, voiced concerns about the need for justice, or reconfirmed their solidarity with survivors of mass atrocities, with the aim of generating discussion and awareness of issues surrounding international criminal justice.
A story and photographs, and a collection of tweets, official statements, additional events, infographics, a 17 July quiz and posters are featured here, showing a large commitment to the fight against impunity and a more just world.
For further information, please contact Fadi El Abdallah, Spokesperson and Head of Public Affairs Unit, International Criminal Court, by telephone at: +31 (0)70 515-9152 or +31 (0)6 46448938 or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
High-level Dialogue on Sustainable Cities, Transport and Tourism (HLD) and Global Forum on Human Settlements (GHFS): As a follow-up event to commemorate the second anniversary of the Rio+20 Conference and implement its decisions, the HLD and GHFS aim to support the rapid and effective implementation of the Rio+20 decisions. The objectives of the HLD and GHFS include: providing a platform for information exchange; highlighting proven policies and measures and identifying best practices; facilitating capacity building through exchanges of information; and contributing to the discussions under the post-2015 UN development agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. dates: 10-12 August 2014 location: Bogotá, Colombia contact: Carolina Chica Builes phone:+57-1-335-8000email:email@example.com:www.idu.gov.co/web/guest/riomas20
WHO Conference on Health and Climate: This three-day conference, hosted by the WHO, will bring together leading experts in the fields of health and climate change, to discuss: strengthening health system resilience to climate risks; and promoting health while mitigating climate change. dates: 27-29 August 2014 location: Geneva, Switzerland contact: Marina Maiero phone:+41-22-791-2402email:firstname.lastname@example.org:www.who.int/globalchange/mediacentre/events/climate-health-conference/en/
International Solid Waste Association 2014 Solid Waste World Congress: This event will convene under the theme of “(Re)Discovering a New World: Sustainable Solutions for a healthy future,” and is intended to provide the opportunity for the international community to exchange ideas, integrate solutions and develop a common vision for the future of a sustainable and healthy world. dates: 8-11 September 2014 location: Sao Paulo, Brazil phone: +55-11-3056-6000e-mail: email@example.com: iswa2014.org/
2014 Climate Summit: This event is being organized by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with the aim of mobilizing political will for an ambitious legal agreement through the UNFCCC process. date: 23 September 2014 location: UN Headquarters, New York www: www.un.org/climatechange/summit2014/
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Evening Edition: ‘Very high possibility’ of Gaza invasion, Israeli official says and other headlines for this evening, Wed, Jul 16, 2014.
By Sudarsan Raghavan,, William Booth and Ruth Eglash July 16 at 6:56 PM – for The Washington Post.
JERUSALEM — On a day rattled by a fury of air attacks, Israel and Hamas found themselves Wednesday searching for a way forward, with a senior Israeli military official declaring that a ground invasion of Gaza was a “very high possibility.”
Israel announced that it will observe a unilateral “humanitarian truce” for five hours Thursday to allow Gaza residents to stock up on food and other supplies and let aid reach civilians. The pause in fighting was requested by the United Nations, said another military official, army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.
It was unclear whether Hamas would also hold its fire. The militant group rejected an earlier cease-fire proposed by Egypt, and a top Hamas leader declared that the Islamist militant group is alone in the world as it battles Israel.
Hamas continued to shower rockets Wednesday into southern and central Israel, including Tel Aviv, underscoring the extent to which the militants believe they still have the military capability to persuade Israel to accept their terms, analysts said.
“From their rationale, they are holding strong, as if they have nothing to lose,” said Miri Eisen, a former Israeli army intelligence official. She added, “If they feel they have nothing to lose, they can continue this for a long time.”
That attitude is increasing pressure on Israel. Hundreds of Israeli airstrikes have killed hundreds of Palestinians but have done little to stop Hamas rockets from striking Israeli towns. Human rights activists are accusing Israel of killing innocent civilians and possibly committing war crimes. Egypt, once a reliable ally, no longer seems to have the negotiating clout it once had.
All this is generating discussions — within Israeli political and military circles and on television, radio and editorial pages — of a possible ground invasion of Gaza in the coming days. In Tel Aviv, a high-ranking Israeli military official told reporters Wednesday that there was “a very high possibility” of such an operation, adding, “If you want to efficiently fight terrorism, you need to have boots on the ground.”
More than 113 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on Wednesday, according to the Israeli military.
By Wednesday night, 222 people had been killed in Gaza during the nine-day operation, including 49 minors and 24 women, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. More than 1,600 people have been wounded in Gaza, the officials said.
Among the latest casualties were four Palestinian children, all younger than 12, who were killed by an Israeli missile or shell while playing on a beach in Gaza near a hotel used by foreign journalists, according to witnesses and Palestinian officials. The four boys were cousins. Seven others — adults and children — were reported wounded in the strike.
The Israeli army, calling the incident tragic, said the target had been a Hamas operative.
President Obama addressed the situation in brief White House remarks. Although he did not specifically mention the beach deaths, he said, “We are all heartbroken by the violence .?.?. especially the death and injury of so many innocent civilians in Gaza.” Obama said the United States would continue to “use all our diplomatic resources and relationships” to bring about a lasting cease-fire. “In the meantime,” he said, “we are going to support efforts to protect civilians in Israel and Gaza.”
Message to the Congregation: Israel
Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch
July 16, 2014
I hope that you have been able to slow down a bit during the summer, and are finding some time for rest and relaxation.
As you know, it has been a tense and trying summer for Israelis. Many of us have family and friends in Israel, as well as children who are on summer programs. We continue to pray for their safety and well being.
I would like to emphasize the following basic values:
Israel is on the front lines of the Western war against Islamic extremism that considers Israel to be an illegitimate presence in the Middle East. Israel deserves the political and moral support of all Western nations and freedom-loving people.
Israeli military operations are defensive in nature. No country would – or should – allow missiles to be fired on its cities and towns. The indiscriminate firing on Israeli civilians is a war crime. Every single missile fired from Gaza constitutes a war crime. The Hamas use of Palestinian civilian human shields is a war crime.
We have noted the extraordinary care employed by the Israel Defense Forces in avoiding civilian casualties. There is no other military in the world that takes such extensive precautions. At the same time we lament the suffering of innocent Palestinians caught in the crossfire, and grieve for the loss of innocent Palestinian lives. They deserve better than Hamas. Hamas bears the primary political and moral responsibility for their senseless suffering.
We condemn the savage kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers.
We condemn the savage kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager in revenge. We are appalled that Jews could carry out such acts of terror.
The discussion on the disproportionate numbers of Palestinian casualties relative to Israeli casualties is a moral outrage. Israel has invested billions of dollars in defensive capabilities – shelters, warning systems, civilian preparation and anti-missile technology (partially funded by US citizens). Israel does everything it can to prevent Palestinian civilian harm, including calling off bombing missions in mid flight if pilots perceive excessive risk to civilians nearby. The moral question is not whether casualties on one side are greater than the other. Rather, the question is whether the military action is proportional to the threat. Hamas rockets threaten most of Israel; they have reached as far as Haifa in the north. Millions of Israelis live under constant threat of missile attacks. In fact, many in Israel and its supporters worldwide consider the current Israeli measures not strong enough proportional to the threat.
Traditionally, American Jews have helped Israel in times of crisis by donating funds and joining a solidarity mission to Israel. We encourage you to do both.
Accordingly, we have established an Israel Emergency Fund at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. If you would like to make a contribution, please send your check made out to Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, clearly marked for Israel Emergency Fund. You can also donate online with a credit card here www.swfs.org/donate/.
Representatives of the synagogue board of trustees and Israel committee will decide upon the distribution of the funds. All of the money will be forwarded to worthy causes; none of the funds will be retained by the synagogue.
Also: SWFS has arranged a mission to Israel from October 17-22, 2014. Journalist Ari Shavit, author of My Promised Land, a New York Times bestseller, will accompany us throughout our five days in Israel for a unique opportunity to engage Israeli and Palestinian leaders who shape events in the Middle East I urge you to consider joining. For mission information, contact Donna Levine or call 212-877-4050 x223.
If you would like additional talking points and links to media outlets, please email our Israel committee, chaired by Alan Scheiner, at SWFS Israel and ask to be added to the mailing list so that you will receive regular updates.
With continuing prayers for the peace of Jerusalem,
Youth training at the Al-Futuwa program, where Hamas trains children to hate Israel. Photo: Paldf.net.
Nothing plays better in the mainstream media these days than wailing Gazans, mourning their dead from Israeli missile strikes responding to the unprovoked deluge of Hamas rockets on the Jewish state. As Ben Wedeman (CNN) recently reported from Jabalia, “There is no Iron Dome in Gaza to protect civilians.” But Gaza civilians most need protection from Hamas. Its leaders intentionally jeopardize their lives by embedding rocket-launching and ammunition storage sites in schools, mosques and hospitals located in civilian neighborhoods.
In Gaza, recruits for martyrdom in the holy war against Israel are urged to gather on rooftops. They are instructed by their demented leaders to serve as a human shield against Israeli retribution for thousands of rockets that have been fired into the Jewish state during the past week. The designated locations for martyrdom are not random. Beneath the rooftops are Hamas command centers and tunnels, where leaders take refuge and weapons are stored.
According to Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri: “This attests to the character of our noble, Jihad-fighting people who defend their rights and their homes with their bare chests and their blood.” He proudly cited the exemplary “martyr” Nizar Riyan, the senior Hamas leader during the 2009 Gaza war. Receiving a warning phone call from the IDF to evacuate his house, he chose to remain in place, thereby consigning his four wives, ten children and himself to martyrdom from the Israeli air strike that he knew was imminent.
Last Sunday, following rocket attacks on the Tel Aviv area, the IDF dropped leaflets in northern Gaza urging residents to evacuate their homes in advance of a retaliatory military strike to destroy embedded rocket launchers. After 4000 residents heeded the Israeli warning the Hamas Interior Ministry urged them to disregard “random messages to instill panic” and return “immediately” to their homes, the better to become human shields and gain world attention.
As Jeffrey Goldberg observed (Bloomberg, July 11), “Hamas is trying to get Israel to kill as many Palestinians as possible.” Why not? Dead Palestinians “represent a crucial propaganda victory” for an inhumane regime that has abjectly failed to provide its own people with even the most minimal amenities of civilized life: safety, food, employment, education, medical care. (It is an irony seldom noted that Gazans are still admitted for treatment in Israeli hospitals.) But Hamas leaders do not hesitate to protect themselves. They take refuge in a vast web of underground tunnels and shelters reserved for their exclusive use. Gaza civilians are expendable. Urged to become targets, their dead bodies are garishly paraded in public to stoke the Hamas cause.
As rockets fall on Israel the world grants Hamas immunity for its war crimes. Blaming the Jewish targets of Palestinian terrorism has long been a popular international trope. As the commissioner general of UNRWA, which invents Palestinian “refugees” by the millions to stay in business, recently declared: “I urgently call on the Israeli Security Forces to put an end to attacks against, or endangering, civilians . . . which are contrary to international humanitarian law.” About Hamas rockets targeting Israeli civilians he had nothing to say.
Palestinian suffering inflicted by cruel Israelis is the preferred worldwide narrative. Where better than Frankfurt, as a recent protest demonstrated, for Israel to be equated with Nazi Germany? With the cease-fire proposed by Egypt evidently crumbling, and Israeli retaliation for Hamas attacks resuming, the number of Palestinian martyrs is likely to increase. Nothing could make Hamas happier. Indeed, today’s death of four soccer-playing Palestinian boys in Gaza, struck by an Israeli missile, is certain to ratchet up rampage against Israeli retaliation for the unrelenting Hamas rocket attack.
Nobody summed up the situation more succinctly, and accurately, than Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who told Fox News: “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using civilians to protect their missiles.”
Jerold S. Auerbach is the author, most recently, of Jewish State Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy (Quid Pro Books).
Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the UN. Photo: UN Multimedia.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor called for the “immediate” suspension of a UN spokesperson on Tuesday.
The move came as Israel is in the midst of a full-flung campaign against terror group Hamas to end rocket fire from nearby Gaza.
Prosor asked for action to be taken against Chris Gunness of UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, after the spokesman encouraged reporters to interview a professor with a history of supporting terror attacks against civilians.
In a letter to Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Prosor said, “Gunness, yet again abused his position by calling on reporters to interview Dr. Mads Gilbert, an outspoken proponent of terrorist attacks against civilians. In September 2001, Dr. Gilbert explicitly supported the ‘moral right’ of Al-Qaeda to perpetrate the 9/11 terrorist attacks against thousands of American civilians.”
In the letter, seen by The Algemeiner, Prosor included the text of a recent Twitter post from Gunness encouraging reporters to speak to Gilbert: “Great interviewee @ Shifa Hosp Gaza right now Prof Mads Gilbert +4790878740 call him 4 fatality & cas figs and atoms RT.” The message has since been deleted.
“Rather than denouncing Hamas’s targeting of innocent civilians, Mr. Gunness is shamelessly promoting an individual who shares Hamas’s morally reprehensible convictions,” Prosor said in his letter. “Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization, deliberately embeds its military operations in residential areas and exploits its own civilian population as human shields. These actions constitute war crimes and should be condemned in no uncertain terms. In failing to do so, Mr. Gunness is ignoring Hamas’s abuse of the civilian population in Gaza and acting in opposition to UNRWA’s mandate.”
Prosor also accused Gunness of displaying “an ongoing pattern of anti-Israel bias,” adding, “he has abused his position to promote incitement against Israel and present a one-sided view of reality.”
Prosor said that on Monday, after Hamas fired a rocket at an electrical plant in Ashkelon cutting off power to 70,000 Gazans, “Mr. Gunness tweeted that the lights had gone out, conveniently omitting Hamas’s responsibility.”
“Israel supports UNRWA’s important humanitarian work; however, actions that encourage incitement undermine this work. UNRWA staff members have repeatedly failed to abide by the UN’s principles of neutrality and impartiality,” Prosor said.
“I ask that you immediately suspend Mr. Gunness while you investigate the matter. The integrity and impartiality of the UN demands that this matter be addressed expediently.”
A Win-Win Solution for the Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program – as reported by Irith Jawetz who participated at the UN in Vienna Compound July 15th Meeting .
The Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) and Search for Common Ground invited us to attend a panel discussion titled “A Win-Win Solution for the Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program,” which was held on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 13:00 at the Vienna Center for Disarmament & Non Proliferation (VCDNP).
As P5+1 and Iran are meeting in Vienna at Foreign Ministers level to resolve the outstanding issues preventing a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program before the 20 July deadline, a group of renown experts on the technical and political aspects of the negotiations have met at VCDNP to discuss and identify possible compromises.
Dr. Frank von Hippel, Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security
Mr. Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association. Previously he was the Executive Director of the Coalition to reduce Nuclear Dangers, and the Director of Security Programs for Physicians for Social Responsibility.
This was a very timely event, as the Foreign Ministers of the P5+1 group of Nations – the U.S., U.K., France. Germany, China, and Russia – spent the weekend in Vienna discussing follow ups to the interim agreement reached between them and Iran in advance of this July 20th deadline.
At the start of the Panel discussion, it was announced that at that very moment Secretary of State John Kerry is giving his Press Conference before flying back to Washington to report to President Obama about the negotiations. He is willing to come back next weekend for the July 20-th continuation of the discussions.
Ambassador Miller was the first speaker, and he gave a rather optimistic view of the situation. His presentation had more of a political nature. In his presentation he said that the basic principles of the negotiations is to assure that Iran has no nuclear weapons . Iran has the capability, brain, expertise and knowhow but has no strategic moral or ethical reason to develop nuclear weapons to be used as weapons of mass destruction.
It is a fact, though, that the Iranians insist on use of peaceful nuclear energy – to what extent it is peaceful and how can the rest of the world be sure that it will be peaceful, this is why the negotiations have to succeed. Ambassador Miller is hopeful that, after 35 years of the current regime in Iran, those negotiations will result in a positive answer.
Ambassador Miller commended all the participating teams, the Press and Academia. First he mentioned the top quality Iranian team at the negotiations, many of the participants he knows personally. They were able, motivated, and anxious to find a solution. The US team, led by Secretary Kerry did a remarkably good job, as did the rest of the teams. He commended the Press who were persistent – fully covered the negotiations and were very professional – and academia who helped with background information.
————— Mr. Daryl G.Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association talked about a solution for the Iranian Uranium-Enrichment Puzzle. In his presentation he stressed that “Solutions that prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, lower the risk of yet another major conflict in the region, and still provide Iran with the means to pursue a realistic, peaceful nuclear program are within reach” – he said.
Progress has already been achieved on several key issues – stregthening International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections and oversight at existing and undeclared sites. … Iran has agreed to modify its Arak heavy-water reactor to drastically cut its plutonium output, and a general framework has been developed to waive, and eventually lift, sanctions against Iran. … Nevertheless, the two sides have more work to do to bridge differences on the most difficult issue: limiting Iran’s uranium-enrichment capacity.As part of a comprehensive deal, Iran and the P5+1 have to agree on several steps to constrain Iran: limit uranium enrichment to levels of less than 5% – keep stocks of its enriched uranium near zero – and halt production-scale work at the smaller Fordow enrichment plant and convert it to research-only facility.
He shares Ambassador Miller’s hope and positive outlook that the negotiations will succeed. Anything less than success will be a catastrophe.
The last speaker was Dr. Frank von Hippel who is a Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.Dr. von Hippel gave a very technical presentation about the Possible elements of a compromise on Iran’s Nuclear Program.
Potential sources of fissile material from Iran’s nuclear energy program are:
1. Plutonium presence in reactor fuel (current issue is Arak reactor)
2. Iran’s centrifuge enrichment complex.
There are two stages in rationalizing the Current situartion:
Iran currently has installed 18,000 IR-1 centrifuges – the compromise would be:
1) to retire IR-1 and replace it with already installed IR-2ms to support research-reactor LEU needs.
2) Continued transparency for Iran’s centrifuge production – possibly as a template for enhanced transparency for centrifuge production worldwide.
3) Continued minimization of stocks of low enriched UF6.
Stage 1 will provide time to cool down an inflamed situation and would provide Iran and the West an opportunity for a cooler assessment of the costs and benefits of diferent possible paths.
In stage II, negotiations might agree on a solution currently beyond reach and also lay a base for a new global regime for enrichment.
National or Multi-National enrichment? A global Issue.
National – Every state has the right to enrich fuel for power reactor fuel. However today only Brazil, China, Iran, Japan and Russia have completely independent national civilian enrichment programs.
Multinational – Urenco (Germany, Netherland, UK) . Today Urenco owns the only operating U.S,. civilian enrichment plant.
Building in Flexibility for Iran:
1. Iran should have access to nuclear reactor and fuel vendors worldwide – to ensure that it is getting a good price and reliable delivery.
2. Iran could build up stockpile of fabricated fuel for Bushehr. That would take care of Iran’s fuel security concerns and make it easier for Iran to postpone a large domestic enrichment capacity or depend on a multinational enrichment plant – perhape equiped with Iranian centrifuges in another country in the Middle East.
Dr. von Hippel COPLIMENTED his theory with charts.
The consensus at the end of the discussion was that the negotiations seem to go well, and all panelists, as well as some members of the audience expressed their hope that they will indeed succeed. Ambassador Miller even went as far as to state that Iran at the moment is the most stable nation in the region, and we have to take advantage of it, make sure the negotiation succeed, and bring Iran back to the International community.
In the news today it was reported that Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Washington to brief President Obama on the negotiations – rather then on a prior advertised new effort in the Israel-Palestine arena. He was hopeful, but also said there are still some points which need to be clarified.
Further last comment by SustainabiliTank editor – we add – taken from a Thom Friedman article about a different issue:
We accept that in the future the World true powers of today – The US, China, India, Russia, Japan and the EU – and we like to add Brazil as well – will have to meet their minds and harmonize what ought to be a global leadership for a safe future planet. Just ad hoc chaperoning specific issues will be proven to be not enough.
The way to find a solution to the issue of a nuclear Iran shows that in the globalized world of today there must be an international guiding force. But on this much more has to be written for the sake of Sustainability.
S.E. Giorgio Marrapodi
The Italian Ambassador to Vienna
Europäische Kommission – Vertretung in Österreich, Leiter a.
the representative of the EU in Vienna.
On July 1, 2014 Italy took over the Presidency of the European Union. The Europa Club Wien invitedHis Excellency Ambassador Giorgio Marrapodi, Italy’s Ambassador to Vienna to lay out Italy’s Priotities during the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU .
Mr. Johann Sollgruber, Head of the Austrian Chamber of the European Commission was the Chair and Moderator of the event.
Mr. Sollgruber started the event by greeting HE Giorgio Marrapodi and thanking him for coming. Itly’s Ambassador -Mr.Marrapodi - lay out a vast program, which Italy will tackle during its Presidency. It is a very ambitious program. He spoke of the main issues that Italy will try to solve – and we will just highlight in short a few of those:
Creating jobs among young people, especially now with the high unemployment rate in many of the EU countries, which will require not only finding jobs, but also training and educating young people; Economic growth and stability of the banking system througout the EU;
Developing a common EU position on Climate Change and Energy;
Tackling the very difficult problem of Migration, refugees who seek sylum in the EU countries and there he stressed the immense problem his country is facing ; Fundamental Human Rights and equal rights for men and women;
The Global Role of the EU in getting involved in the problems of the Mediterranean Region, Middle East, Libya Syria, Iraq, Ukraine;
Economic Partnership between the EU, Canada and Japan in Trade and Investment;
Promotion of Macro-Regional strategies;
For a full program of Italy’s challenges for their Presidency please log on to their website at: www.italia2014.eu
Ambassador Marrapodi then went on to inform us of the EXPO Milano 2015 which will take place in Milan between May 1, 2015 to October 31, 2015. Expo Milan will be the largest worldwide event ever organized on the theme of Food: “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”.
For full information about the Expo please log on to their website at: www.expo2015.org.
Mr. Sollgruber introduced His Excellency Ambassador Edgars Skuja, Latvia’s Ambassador to Austria. Latvia will take over the Presidency after Italy from January 1, 2015 to June 30, 2015. Ambassador Skuja said that he is looking forward to work with his Italian colleague in preparing his country’s first ever Presideny and he will be happy to report to us in January 2015.
At the End of the event we were invited for a glass of wine and some delicacies from Umbria, courtesy of the Embassy of Italy.
For whoever is curious: Umbria, is a region of historic and modern central Italy. It is the only Italian region having neither a coastline nor a common border with other countries. It includes the Lake Trasimeno, Cascata delle Marmore, and is crossed by the River Tiber
As reported by Irith Jawetz from the Vienna Seminar., July 1, 2014.
Seminar: “Brazil’s Nuclear Kaleidoscope: An Evolving Identity.”
On Tuesday, July 1, 2014, The Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) hosted a seminar by Dr. Todzan Kassenova, that had the above title. It was both – important and informative.
Dr. Kassenova is an Associate in the Nuclear Program at the Carnegie Endowment based in Washington DC. She currently works on issues related to the role of emerging powers in the global nuclear order, weapons of mass destruction, non proliferation, nuclear security, and strategic trade management. She also serves on the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament matters.
Prior to joining the Carnegie Endowment, Dr. Kassenova worked as senior research associate at the Center for International Trade and Security in Washington DC, as a postdoctoral fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, and as an Adjunct faculty member at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
Previously she was a journalist and professor in her native Kazakhstan.
Today’s seminar focused on Dr. Kassenova’s recently published a research paper on this topic – on which she worked for two years – it focuses on focusing on Brazil’s Nuclear program.
In order to do some justice to that very involved topic, we would just highlight a few points from that research study.
For the electronic copy of the report please visit CarnegieEndowment.org
An important point Dr. Kassenova stressed at the very beginning of her talk was that negative past experiences explain why Brazil seeks nuclear independence. Brazil tried first to obtain nuclear technology from abroad, i.e. France, Germany, the USA, prompting Brasilia to develop domestic capabilities.
Currently Brazil mines uranium, produces nuclear fuel, operates two nuclear power plants and is building a third.
The Brazilian navy is important in the nuclear field as well, it developed uranium conversion and enrichment technology, and since the 1970s has been working on a nuclear powered submarine.
The nuclear submarine program is essential in order to protect Brazil’s coast and offshore natural resources, and to stave off potential enemies from the sea. Brazil wants to bolster its international standing with that program.
Rivalry with Argentina was initially a drive of Brazil’s nuclear program. Today both countries work together in a bilateral nuclear safeguards regime to verify their nuclear activities are peaceful.
Brazil has not signed an IAEA Additional Protocol on nuclear safeguards because it is reluctant to accept additional non proliferation obligations as long as nuclear weapon states do not achieve meaningful progress towards nuclear disarmament.
Brazil’s nuclear policy, especially its advanced nuclear fuel cycle and its nuclear powered submarine project generate attention internationally, but little is known about the domestic drives behind that program. Dr. Kassenova based her study on numerous conversations over two years with Brazilian policy experts, academics, former and current officials, and representatives of the nuclear industry.
For more information, please log on to Dr. Kassenova’s full report at: carnegieendowment.org/2014/03/12/brazil-s-nuclear-kaleidoscope-evolving-identity/h2rx.
The twelfth session of the UN Ge, 2014neral Assembly Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) took place from 16-20 June 2014, at UN Headquarters in New York. Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya, and Csaba K?rösi, Permanent Representative of Hungary, continued in their roles as Co-Chairs of the OWG at the second to last session of the OWG, which is mandated to develop a set of sustainable development goals and targets.
OWG-12 represented the first OWG meeting during which delegates worked primarily in informal sessions. Following opening remarks during a formal session on Monday morning, delegates considered proposed goals 7-17 in informal sessions during day and evening sessions from Monday through Friday. The discussion on goals 1-6 had taken place in “informal-informal” consultations from 9-11 June. The Co-Chairs also presented a set of revised goals, based on the informal-informal discussions, for comment on Monday night. On Tuesday night, the Co-Chairs distributed a new set of targets for proposed goal 1 on ending poverty. However, delegates said they did not want to discuss any revisions until they had a chance to review the complete package of revised goals and targets.
On Friday afternoon, Co-Chair Kamau opened the second formal session of OWG-12, noting that the Group had made “amazing progress” during the week. He announced that there would be another set of “informal-informals” from 9-11 July, to be followed by the final meeting of the OWG from 14-18 July. He said a revised version of the zero draft should be ready by 30 June, and that it will have fewer targets, and be a more refined, balanced and “tighter” document. He expressed the Co-Chairs’ confidence that the OWG will successfully conclude its work on 18 July and agree on a set of goals and targets.
The Summary of this meeting is now available in PDF format
“Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance.”
Mufasa, The Lion King
As OWG-12 opened on Monday, 16 June, OWG Co-Chair Macharia Kamau highlighted a critical challenge for the Group as he presented the “zero draft.” He stressed the difficulty in achieving a balance among the issues and government positions while drafting the 17 goals and 212 targets in that document. Throughout the week, delegates’ discussions revealed the challenge that remains to achieve a balanced, consensus outcome. During OWG-12, many options were presented for each proposed goal and target, and delegates worked to weigh the tradeoffs, formulations and difficult decisions they must make to arrive at a final set of SDGs and targets at the close of OWG-13.
Underlying the SDGs themselves is an overarching goal to promote balanced, sustainable development. Inherent in the definition of sustainable development is the concern that meeting the needs of future generations and reducing poverty depends on how well humans balance social, economic, and environmental objectives—or needs—when making decisions today. It is also known that human activities in a number of sectors, including agriculture, industry, fisheries, urbanization and travel, have disturbed the balance of nature and have threatened species and ecosystems.
During OWG-12, the discussions were framed around balance along different axes: conceptual (between universality and differentiation), temporal (between historical and present responsibilities), procedural (between comprehensiveness and duplication), substantive (among the three pillars of sustainable development), and presentational (between specificity and “crispiness”). This brief analysis assesses the state of the OWG’s deliberations amid the challenges of fulfilling its mandate, given in The Future We Want adopted two years ago, by ensuring the sustainable development goals achieve a delicate balance.
BALANCE BETWEEN UNIVERSALITY AND DIFFERENTIATION
The SDGs are expected to be “global in nature and universally applicable to all countries,” according to Paragraph 247 of The Future We Want. At the same time, their effective implementation requires differentiation in accordance with specific national circumstances. Throughout the week, delegates struggled to find balance between universality and differentiation. This struggle was most apparent during discussions on proposed Goal 12: Promote sustainable consumption and production patterns. Despite the mandate of universality, some delegates said the targets for this goal should be differentiated between the efforts that developed and developing countries should undertake, with many insisting that developed countries have to take the lead. For example, target 12.6 says that “by 2030 at least halve per capita food waste at retail and consumer level, particularly in developed countries and countries with high per capita food waste.” While most recognized that such action would achieve a great deal, some also noted related efforts in developing countries. As some argued, this is in fact a universally relevant goal because there is also a lot of food waste on the production and distribution side in developing countries.
On proposed Goal 13 on climate change, the question of balance between universality and differentiation focused on historical and current responsibilities. Developing countries argued that, if a goal on climate change is to be included in the SDGs, it must be based on the principles under the UNFCCC, and therefore differentiate between the countries that are historically responsible for greenhouse gas emissions (developed countries) and those that are not (developing countries). The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) forms the basis of the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, which only mandate that developed countries (Annex I countries) reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. However, as some developed countries note, there are non-Annex I countries whose current emissions are greater than some of the Annex I countries, and there can be no meaningful reduction of CO2 emissions without the participation of all major emitters. Since the SDGs will be in place for 15 years, some argue, a goal on climate change should recognize the scope for further changes in emission profiles and not lock in UNFCCC country groupings from the 1990s.
A third issue relates to the larger issue of CBDR and the legacy of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit “bargain,” according to which developing countries would pursue environmentally sustainable development in exchange for greater assistance from developed countries. This assistance was expected to come in the form of financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building—the so-called means of implementation. Given their disappointment with how this grand bargain played out in the twenty years following the Rio Earth Summit, the Group of 77 and China has been firm during the SDGs negotiations that each goal must have its own designated means of implementation. Some countries went so far as to indicate that absence of MOI could be a deal breaker on the SDGs. Yet, other countries argue that if the SDGs are supposed to be universal, how can the MOI targets focus on differentiated responsibilities among groups of countries, such as Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, LDCs, LLDCs, and SIDS? As the discussion on proposed Goal 17 (MOI) began on Friday, the statements mirrored those that were heard at the beginning of the OWG process, not to mention similar themes that have been heard for over twenty years about the responsibility of developed countries to provide MOI. There appeared to be some progress, however, as several governments across groupings called for an inclusive global partnership for development that involves the public, private and civil society sectors, and addresses the need for triangular cooperation and South-South cooperation.
BALANCE AMONG THE THREE DIMENSIONS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The OWG has faced another recurring question of balance in fulfilling its mandate, this time from Paragraph 246 of The Future We Want: “The goals should address and incorporate in a balanced way all three dimensions of sustainable development and their interlinkages.” What would such a balance mean for each dimension, and how would the balance be embedded in the SDG framework?
For many developing countries, balance should be reflected in the number of goals dedicated to each dimension. One delegate shared his assessment that out of the proposed substantive goals, there are two on the economic dimension, five or six on the social dimension, and four or five on the environment. Developing countries, in particular, expressed concern that currently only two goals are “dedicated” to the economic dimension: proposed Goals 8 (sustainable economic growth) and 9 (industrialization). When some suggested merging these two goals, these countries rejected the notion as it would leave only one “economic goal.” Yet at the same time, one delegation said the three explicitly environmental goals should be consolidated into two, noting that three goals for one theme are too many.
On the other hand, some developed countries have expressed a different vision of balance among the three dimensions of sustainable development, calling for each goal to reflect a “three-dimensional” approach to sustainable development, through targets that address economic, social, and environmental aspects. Regarding the same Goals 8 and 9 that were welcomed by developing countries as ensuring an economic development dimension to the SDGs, developed country delegations critiqued the current drafting of these goals as lacking a vision of inclusive and environmentally friendly growth. Some delegations thought that integrated goals would do a better job at ensuring ministries and UN and other international organizations and agencies work together and get out of their traditional “silos.”
BALANCE BETWEEN WORDINESS AND “CRISPINESS”
Throughout the week, the Co-Chairs urged delegates to achieve “crispiness,” using a term popularized by Co-Chair K?rösi, amid the desire for an all-encompassing yet concrete set of goals. In other words, delegates face the challenge of crafting goals that are clear, coherent, concrete and comprehensive (the four C’s). The quest for this need for balance took on various forms.
First, there was a concern about the titles of the goals themselves in substantive as well as presentational terms. Using the MDGs as an example, observers noted that the wording, formatting and number of MDGs made the goals conducive to iconographic representation and visually compelling packaging that was used in effective advocacy and outreach campaigns. This helped to generate traction within and beyond the development arena. Both Co-Chairs consistently reminded delegates that these goals and targets have to make sense to people beyond the walls of the United Nations and, thus, need to be “crispy”, translatable and easy to understand
The OWG has also recognized that the number of goals to be adopted will be an important consideration. At previous OWG meetings, some, including Jeffrey Sachs and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, called for a set of ten goals—a sort of “ten commandments” for sustainable development. Similarly, others have previously called for twelve goals to allow an equal number of goals for each of the three dimensions of sustainable development. Overall, many speakers at many sessions conceded that the power of the goals will be in focusing international attention on a set of priorities, which would be lost if the list of priorities become too unwieldy. The Co-Chairs tried to reduce the number of proposed goals to 15 and distributed a new suggested list of goals on Monday night, but their effort did not immediately gain traction.
There is still uncertainty about retaining at least three of the proposed goals—10 (reduce inequality), 13 (climate change) and 16 (peaceful and inclusive societies, rule of law and effective and capable institutions)—while strong support was expressed for maintaining the separation among the current Goals 8 (sustainable economic growth and work for all) and 9 (sustainable industrialization), and among Goals 14 (conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, oceans and seas) and 15 (terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity). As a result, it is still not clear how many goals will constitute the final package of SDGs and how they will be balanced.
At the same time, delegates expressed concern about creating strong targets that are action-oriented and measurable. For the first time during the OWG, delegates at OWG-12 seemed to focus on whether proposed targets were achievable and how implementation could be monitored and reported. While some delegates continued to propose new targets, many more noted that certain targets were better placed as indicators, and others should be deleted because they were highly aspirational but not achievable. This has become yet another challenge for the OWG—how to achieve a balance between what they want to accomplish and what can realistically be accomplished by 2030.
TWELVE DOWN, ONE TO GO
With twelve sessions completed, the OWG has only eight days left to complete its work, including the three days of “informal-informal” consultations that will precede OWG-13. As the Co-Chairs noted, the time has come to reach agreement on the final package of SDGs to submit to the UN General Assembly to be taken into consideration as part of the deliberations on the post-2015 development agenda.
With so little time remaining before 18 July—the final day of OWG-13—delegates emerged from the ECOSOC Chamber on Friday evening exhausted from an intense week of work, yet curious about what will happen between now and 18 July. Some wondered how the Co-Chairs will manage the OWG’s final session and related consultations to enable delegates to produce a balanced set of SDGs that are universal, “crispy,” action-oriented, and reflective of the three dimensions of sustainable development. Others asked themselves if OWG members can bridge the North-South divide and create a new framework that truly operationalizes sustainable development and anchors a truly transformative agenda. Still others wondered if the 13 OWG sessions and the Co-Chairs’ careful management of the process will enable governments to arrive at a consensus outcome in an increasingly challenging political environment for multilateral negotiations. In the end, after 18 months, the OWG has just a few days left to show that it can create a package of SDGs that will exist together in a delicate balance.