An AIC Update comes at a very important time. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gave a speech on January 4 in which he indirectly took issue with the Supreme Leader’s call for “resistance economy,” saying that Iran cannot live in “isolation” and still hope for economic development. Crippled by mismanagement, corruption and sanctions, Iran’s economy must now also cope with falling oil prices.
He also said that the Constitution (Article 59) anticipates a “referendum” on important issues facing the nation but failed to single out one and mention that any such referendum must pass two thirds of the conservative Parliament. Rouhani surely had the nuclear issue in mind, but given that he still has no deal and the negotiations are held in secret, his hint toward a nuclear referendum is premature.
Mr. Rouhani and his “hard line” rivals disagree on the extent of compromises Iran must make or gain. It is in this context that Dr. Amirahmadi’s article (below) is a must-read. He gleans the basic parameters of an emerging deal and posits that the negotiations will gradually “melt away” Iran’s nuclear program to a symbolic level in return for a phased lifting of some sanctions and Iranian assets.
Further, we agree with the basic assumption of AIC founder – Professor Amirahmadi -that Iran is a much more complicated case then Cuba and that here there cannot be a full one-piece agreement. It is rather an easing into such an agreement by stages that will make it eventually possible in the reality that opposition to an agreement lurches in every corner with serious non-forgiving stake-holders involved.
The Nuclear Negotiations: The Melting Strategy and the Missiles Time Bomb.
By AIC News – Posted on December 31st, 2014
by Hooshang Amirahmadi
Founder of The American Iranian Council
Melting Strategy-AIC – Given the secrecy of the P5+1 negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, it is hard to surmise the concessions being made or the structure of a final settlement. However, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: the path to a nuclear deal will involve many “mini deals” by which Iran’s nuclear program will be slowly “melted” away to a symbolic level in return for a measured release of its frozen oil money and lifting of some sanctions. This “melting strategy by default” is becoming increasingly attractive to both sides, given that the US and Iran cannot publicly and quickly succumb to each other’s “maximum” demands, knowing it will be seen as a “bad” deal by their respective opponents and thus not implementable. Besides, the word “comprehensive” is too loaded with expectations and has by itself become an obstacle.
As a sign that this strategy is at work, both sides are avoiding grand results and are making compromises in increments, with Iran offering disproportionate concessions. For the Rouhani government, this approach helps conceal its concessions from domestic radicals, while at the same time glorifying the meager concessions it receives from the US. For the Obama Administration, the approach helps minimize pressure from the Congress and stakeholders like Israel and Saudi Arabia, who demand tougher measures against Iran. In the face of these “opponents,” it would have been, and will be, hard if not impossible for the two sides to arrive at the desired “comprehensive deal” in a rush.
To maintain the “incremental momentum,” negotiations have resumed in Geneva after a short lull despite the fact that Iran and the P5+1 (the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) “missed” their second deadline on November 2014 to reach a comprehensive deal on the basis of the Geneva Joint Plan of Action (JPA) signed in November 2013. The first deadline had been set for last July, only 4 months apart from the second. A third deadline has now been set for July 1, 2015, seven months later from the second. Reportedly, Iran, pressed by economic woes, wanted a shorter interval, but France convinced others that a longer time interval was needed. With Iran “disarmed” of its “nuclear ambition,” the urgency has also rescinded.
The temporal dimension is certainly a crucial issue as the parties need more time to figure out what extra compromises they can make in the next stage towards the desired comprehensive deal. However, for that groundwork, Iran and the US in particular would also need to bring on board their apathetic opponents, who would only acquiesce if the concession increments are seen to their political advantage. These obstacles also existed when the parties negotiated the JPA but that agreement, which was reached in a rush, had an urgent and temporary character, and was billed as a “framework” rather than a “comprehensive” deal.
The JPA gave the first indication that a “melting strategy by default” was at work. Iran committed to “never” and under “no circumstances” develop or seek nuclear weapons. It also agreed to nullify most of its 20 percent enriched uranium, reduce operating centrifuges to half and remove all advanced IR2 centrifuges from operation, cap the amount of enriched uranium to less than 10,000 Kg, stop work on and accept modifications on the Arak Heavy Water Plant, halt enrichment at the Fardo underground facility, and allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unrestricted inspection. In return for downsizing and halting its nuclear program, Iran was promised access to less than 5 percent of its frozen oil money and temporary relief from a few sanctions; significantly, the list did not include sanctions on banking, oil, and the UN resolutions.
As the IAEA has confirmed, Iran over-implemented its commitments in the subsequent months. Even if the issue of Iran’s possible intention to weaponize before 2003 was not explicitly included in the JPA, Iran has in vain tried to cooperate with the IAEA to settle this disputed matter. The agency is asking for inspection of certain military sites and access to scientists and unspecified documents. Iran has provided massive information, allowed inspection of the Parchin site, and has also offered access to the Marivan region, where Iran is suspected to have tested certain explosives. However, it has insisted that no secret documents exist and that interviewing scientists could lead to their identification and subsequent murder as in the past.
The P5+1, mainly the US, has also delivered on its commitments though with stiffness and delays. In one case, the US, using the “loophole” in the JPA, even imposed fresh sanctions on a number of Iranian entities who had allegedly violated the US sanction regulations. In spite of this cooperative spirit, the successive negotiations were increasingly inhibited by tougher demands by the US and stiffer resistance by Iran. The standard argument for why they failed to reach a comprehensive deal this last November is that they could not agree on the final scale and scope of Iran’s enrichment capacity, and on the extent and timing of sanctions relief for Iran. The dispute over Iran’s missile programs was certainly another obstacle.
For the US, concern regarding Iran’s enrichment capacity is directly related to the so-called breakout time – the time it would take Iran to develop a bomb clandestinely. For Iran, lifting of sanctions was more than just an economic concern; it would silence the so-called hardliners in Iran who continue to argue that the US cannot be trusted. Lacking trust in the Islamic regime, the P5+1 is seeking a “bullet proof” deal that eliminates Iran’s ability to ever develop clandestine bombs and missiles capable of delivering them. This requires that Iran is left with a symbolic enrichment capacity and smaller missile programs. To achieve this “normal” condition, the US insist that key sanctions will have to remain including the UN resolutions.
These “standard” arguments about why a comprehensive deal could not be reached have merits but they do not tell the full story. A deeper concern of the negotiators was how to “sell” the deal they would reach to their respective domestic and foreign opponents who would invariably view it as a “bad deal.” To them, there was only one sure solution: forego a comprehensive deal in favor of letting sustained negotiations gradually melt Iran’s nuclear, and hopefully its missile, programs in return for gradual trickle of sanctions relief. This “melting strategy by default” would also save the “huge investment of time and prestige” the parties had put into the nuclear negotiations while preventing a disastrous collapse.
Hence, despite the “vast differences,” the parties emphasized the “significant progress” being made and agreed to another extension of the negotiations. However, to move forward, another mini deal had to be struck. Thus, the JPA was extended and a new set of concessions was agreed upon. Accordingly, Iran committed to giving up certain other parts of its nuclear program in return for access to another small percentage of its frozen oil money. Specifically, Iran agreed to eliminate the remaining stockpile of 20% enriched uranium, stop research and development on advanced centrifuges, forgo laser enrichment technology, and permit the IAEA to double the frequency of its snap inspections.
Significantly, Iran has reportedly even considered the US proposal to ship part of its low enriched uranium to Russia for re-importation in the form of fuel rods. If true, this concession will be the sign that with the nuclear program melting away, the Islamic Revolution is fading away as well. The key aim of the 1979 revolution was national “independence,” a slogan directed at the colonial practices to which Iran had been subjected. One such practice, which has been said to have caused the country’s underdevelopment, is the so-called old international division of labor. Accordingly, Iran was forced to produce raw and semi-finished materials for conversion into final products by the imperial powers.
This last extension of negotiations also includes an interesting twist to the process: instead of setting one seven-month deadline, it actually sets two deadlines within that same time interval, one for arriving at a “political framework” and another one for arriving at a “comprehensive deal.” This innovation is intriguing because arriving at the political framework will be easier and its achievement will be heralded as a sign of a major success to come, which will in turn allow for subsequent concessions to be made easier. Significantly, this twist will reinforce the “melting strategy by default” and help negotiations to move to another future deadline.
Indeed, as the “comprehensive” approach has failed, the “melting strategy by default” has become the “melting strategy by design,” helping sustain the negotiations. Thus, the next round of negotiations may not also end in a “comprehensive deal,” but rather to yet another mini deal and extension, setting the next deadline with a longer time interval within which a few deadlines will be incorporated. In other words, negotiations will not simply collapse or produce a comprehensive deal but continue in a step-wise fashion producing mini deals. The only wild card in this scenario is the Supreme Leader; he could withdraw support for the melting approach as concessions reach his “red lines” for the Rouhani government.
One such red lines relates to Iran’s missile programs. As was reported in an important interview by Parliamentarian Mahmoud Nabavian with the Raja News, Iran has agreed to have its missiles discussed but demands for their downsizing will suggest a push for “disarming” Iran and will result in a breakdown of the negotiations. As Nabavian disclosed, Secretary John Kerry “crossed many of Iran’s red lines” during his meeting with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Oman, making Zarif leave the meeting thinking that the negotiations would have to stop. Iran subsequently returned to the Vienna negotiations and agreed to further nuclear concessions in return for more money. Most likely, the missile time bomb has been left for the current negotiations.
This article was published in Payvand News
Curious why normalization of relations with Iran will be fundamentally more challenging than with Cuba? Click here to read Dr. Amirahmadi’s article “Iran is no Cuba”
“World Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation”, Manchester, UK, 2-4 September 2015: deadline for abstracts extended.
Preparations for the “World Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation” (WSCCA), to be held Manchester, UK, on
2-4 September 2015, are in full swing. Over 200 abstracts from across the world have been received, and further abstracts are
now being accepted until the 30th January 2015.
Organised by Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) and the Research and Transfer Centre “Applications of Life Sciences” of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany), WSCCA entails cooperation with world´s leading climate organisations, such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), World Health Organisation (WHO) the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the International Council of Local Environment Initiatives (ICLE), the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Developmentof (ICIMOD), the International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP), the United Nations University initiative “Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development” (RCE), and other agencies. The Symposium will be a truly interdisciplinary event, covering some of the key areas in the field of climate change adaptation.
A set of presentations, divided into six main themes will be organised, distributed over parallel sessions dealing with some of the key issues of strategic value in the field of climate change adaptation. These are:
Session 1: Technological approaches to Climate Change Adaptation
Session 2: Implementing Climate Change Adaptation in Communities, Cities, Countries and via Outreach Programmes
Session 3: Funding mechanisms and financing of Climate Change Adaptation
Session 4: Climate Change Adaptation, Resilience and Hazards (including floods)
Session 5: Information, Communication, Education and Training on Climate Change
Session 6: Climate Change and Health
The organisers also welcome suggestions of special sessions, and so far special sessions on “Climate Change in the Artic” and “Climate Change Governance” and others, have been received.
To secure the highest possible quality, all papers are subject to peer-review. Accepted papers will be published in a special issue of the International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/pr…
(fully indexed) or at the book “Innovative Approaches to Implement Climate Change Adaptation”.
This will be a further volume of the award-winning book series “Climate Change Management”
published by Springer, which since its creation in 2008 has become the world´s leading book series
on climate change management.
The Symposium will be of special interest to researchers, government agencies, NGOs and companies engaged in the field of climate change adaptation, as well as development and aid agencies funding climate change adaptation process in developing countries. The deadline for abstracts is 30th January 2015. Full papers are due by 30th March 2015.
A VIENNA INTERNATIONAL CENTER CONFERENCE.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS: PERSPECTIVES FOR THE POST 2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA.
ACUNS Vienna Annual Conference 2015
Lessons Learned from the Millennium Development Goals and Perspectives for the Post- 2015 Development Agenda
January 14-16, 2015 Vienna International Centre with pre-conference April 13, 2015 events,
The UN General Assembly is recommending that all UN Departments and Agencies concentrate on seventeen sustainable development goals. The list of SDGs includes poverty eradication, food security, health, education, inclusive economic growth and industrialization, reducing
inequality, safer cities, energy for all, sustainable ecosystems, sustainable natural and marine resources exploitation, combating climate change, and promoting peaceful inclusive societies with access to justice for all, and accountable institutions. The Vienna UN Agencies already sought to redefine themselves according to these new UN priorities. At the ACUNS Vienna Conference, senior UN representatives will speak in interactive panels with diplomats, academics, and students about the activities they are pursuing to reach these objectives. The discussion will address whether these new goals are repackaging the preceding MDGs, and the extent to which the Vienna-based Agencies are committing their efforts towards achieving the SDGs.
January 14-16, 2015
Vienna International Centre
Wagramer Str 5 1 1400 Wien, Vienna, Austria
The Conference is hosted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and will be organized in cooperation with UNODC, IAEA, UNCITRAL, UNOOSA, UNIS, and Austrian Foreign Ministry. On the third day of the Conference the closing session of the Regional Academy on the UN (RAUN) will take place.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 Additional Events
IAAI — ACUNS Workshop:
“Innovative Resource Mobilization for Post-2015 Multi-Stakeholder Action and Youth Engagement” (Conference Room C5)
ACUNS Academic Forum
“Target & Indicators for peaceful, inclusive, justice societies for sustainable development” (Goal 16) (Conference Room C5)
UNODC — ACUNS Youth Forum “Young People’s Ideas about the Drug Problem” (Conference Room C5)
A C U N S S E C R E T A R I A T – Academic Council on the United Nations System – Headquartered at Wilfrid Laurier University, 75 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3C5 > T 226.772.3121 > F 226.772.0016
ACUNS exists to stimulate, support, and disseminate research, analysis on the United Nations, multilateralism, and international organization. www.acuns.org/
In Charge of this Conference – ACUNS Vienna Liaison – Chaired by Michael Platzer
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
8:00–9:45 Registration (Gate 1)
10:00–12:00 Opening session (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Welcoming remarks: Mr. LI Yong, Director General, UNIDO (tbc)
Chair: Mr. Abiodun Williams, Chair, Board of Directors, Academic Council on the UN System (ACUNS) and President of the Hague Institute for Global Justice
H.E. Mr. Martin Sajdik, President of the Economic and Social Council (tbc)
Mr. Yury Fedotov, Director-General of the United Nations Office in Vienna, Executive Director, UNODC (tbc)
Dr. Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary, CTBTO
H.E. Mr. Luis Alfonso de Alba, Ambassador of Mexico to the United Nations in Vienna
Ms. Simonetta Di Pippo, Director, UNOOSA
Ms. Margit Bruck-Friedrich, Chief of Protocol & Senior External Relations Officer, Director General’s Office for Coordination, IAEA
Mr. Michael Platzer, Chairperson, Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice,
ACUNS Vienna Liaison Officer
H.E. Mr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Director General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and International Affairs
12:00–13:00 Lunch break
13:00–14:30 United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: H.E. Ms. Lourdes O. Yparraguirre, Ambassador of the Philippines to Austria Speakers:
Mr. Ludovico Alcorta, Director, Development Policy, Statistics and Research Branch, UNIDO Mr. Kitaoka Kazuki, Strategic Planning Unit, UNIDO
Ms. Petra Bayr, Member of the Austrian Parliament, Spokeswoman for Global Development Mr. Uwe Schubert, Professor, Society for Industrial Development
15:00–16:30 United Nations Organization on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: H.E. Mr. Luis Alfonso de Alba, Ambassador of Mexico to the International Organizations in Vienna Speakers:
Mr. Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director, Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, UNODC
Mr. Gautam Babbar, Programme Management Officer & Inter-Agency Affairs Officer, UNODC
Mr. Michael Obrovsky, Head of Research Department, Austrian Foundation for Development Research Mr. Michael Platzer, Chairperson, Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, ACUNS Vienna Liaison Officer
17:00–18.00 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (Preparatory Commission) (CTBTO) Briefing: “The Contribution of the CTBT to International Peace, Security and Development” (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Mr. Cormac O’Reilly, External Relations Officer, CTBTO
19:00 Reception at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna
(Courtesy of the Permanent Mission of Austria to the International Organizations in Vienna)
Welcoming speech: “Future of rule- based societies”
H.E. Mr. Hans Winkler, Director, Diplomatic Academy of Vienna
Thursday, January 15, 2015
09:00–9:30 Registration (Gate 1)
10:00–11:30 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Science and Technology:– The Unique Contributions of Nuclear Techniques to the Post 2015-Agenda (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Short film: ”Food for the Future” Speakers:
Mr. Ferenc Toth, Planning and Economic Studies Section, Department of Nuclear Energy, IAEA
Mr. Carl Blackburn, Acting Section Head, Food and Environmental Protection Section, Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, IAEA
Mr. Neil Victor Jarvis, Section Head, Division of Africa, Department of Technical Cooperation, IAEA Ms. Monika Froehler, Communications Officer, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL)
12:00-13:30 United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)
Space policy, science and technology: accelerating development in the post-2015 era (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: (tbc) Speakers:
Mr. Niklas Hedman, Chief Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs Section
Mr. Luc St- Pierre, Senior Programme Officer, Space Applications Section
Mr. Werner Balogh, Programme Officer, Space Science & Technology Space Apps. Section Ms. Irmgard Marboe, Professor of International Law, University of Vienna
Mr. Walther Lichem, Professor, f. Austrian Ambassador to Canada
13:30-14:30 Lunch break
14:30–15:50 UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)
The importance of a solid commercial legal framework for sustainable development
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: H.E. Mr. Cristian Istrate, Ambassador of Romania to the International Organizations in Vienna Speakers:
Mr. Jernej Sekolec, Former Secretary UNCITRAL, Independent Arbitrator Mr. Timothy Lemay, Principal Legal Officer and Head, Legislative Branch Ms. Anniko Szalai, Professor, University of Szeged
16:00–17:30 The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UNWOMEN)
Gender Equality and the Post-2015 Agenda
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: H.E. Ms. Anu Laamanen, Ambassador of Finland to Austria
Ms. Ursula Bauer, Chief Executive Office, Executive Group for Organisation, Safety and Security, City of Vienna
Ms. Lilly Sucharipa, President, Austria National Committee for UN Women
Dr. Dorota Gierycz, Professor, Webster University
Ms. Ivana Kristic, Professor, University of Belgrade
18:30 Social event: Wiener Heurige (Courtesy of the City of Vienna)
Friday, January 16, 2015
7:30–8:00 Registration (Gate 1)
8:30–10:00 United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations Information Service (UNIS), United for Education and Sustainable Futures (UESF), IAAI– Innovative Ways for Youth Engagement and Volunteerism in UN Post-2015 Development Agenda Context
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: Mr. Martin Nesirky, Director, UNIS Vienna Speakers:
Mr. Matteo Landi, Industrial Development and Youth Employment Expert, UNIDO
Ms. Hanna Heikkila, Associate Expert, Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section, UNODC Mr. Daniil Chugunov, Psychologist, Associate Professor of the Institute of Management and Law, St. Petersburg
Ms. Kehkasan Basu, UNEP Major Group Children and Youth (tbc)
Mr. Miroslav Polzer, IAAI
Mr. Billy Batware, UESF and Regional Academy on United Nations
Ms. Viktoriya Luchka, 2014 Ukrainian Youth Delegate to the UNGA
10:00–10:15 Coffee break
10:15–13:00 RAUN Post-2015 Development Agenda Working Group I – International Development and Trade
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Inclusive and Sustainable Business Strategies: The Role of Self-Regulation – UNIDO I
Financing young entrepreneurs and young enterprises: Review of needs, difficulties, and challenges that young enterprises face when accessing finance – UNIDO II
New Eyes: ‘A look from above’ on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and the growing relevance of UNOOSA – UNOOSA
Supporting Post-2015 Development Agenda through Investor-State Arbitration Rules in the field of Energy – UNCITRAL
?Mr. Jacek Cukrowski, Chief, Institute for Capacity Development, UNIDO
Ms. Aygul Duysenhanova, Programme Officer, UNOOSA
Mr. Werner Balogh, Programme Officer, Space Applications Section, UNOOSA
Ms. Katharine Sarikakis, Professor, Institute for Publication and Communication, University of Vienna
Ms. Margarete Maria Grandner, Professor and Program Director, Department of International Development, University of Vienna
Mr. Grzegorz Donocik, Former Chief, Europe and NIS Programme, UNIDO
Mr. Miroslav Polzer, Secretary General, IAAI
13:00-14:00 Lunch break
RAUN Post-2015 Development Agenda Working Group II – Human Rights
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Modern Forms of Slavery and Human Trafficking “Female offenders in the trafficking of persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation – Victims or perpetrators?” – UNODC I
Irregular Migration in the Mediterranean: – problems, questions and possible solutions in light of the Post-2015 Development Agenda – IOM
The Humanitarian Dimension of Nuclear Testing: – How the nuclear test-ban treaty adds to the realization of the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda, and how international humanitarian law can be useful for enforcing non-proliferation – CTBTO
Post-2015 Development Agenda within the United Nations Policy Framework: Towards a future without violence against women – UNWOMEN
Dr. Dorota Gierycz, Professor, Webster University
Mr. Cormac O’Reilly, External Relations Officer, CTBTO
Ms. Irmgard Marboe, Professor, University of Vienna
Mr. Fabrizio Sarrica, Research Officer, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons Unit, UNODC Mr. Gunther Hauser, National Defence Academy, Vienna
Mr. Diman Dimov, Project coordinator, DTA/OSB/ISS, UNODC
15:45-16:00 Coffee break
16:00-17:30 RAUN Post-2015 Development Agenda Working Group III – Energy, Environment, and Safety
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Benefits of Nuclear Energy to Overcome Climate Change: the example of China – IAEA
Evaluation of Battery Storage Technologies: Sustainable, rural electrification in Sub-Saharan Africa – SE4ALL
Sustainable Cities and Personal Security: “Goals, approaches, outcomes” – Why is it worth keeping sustainable cities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda? – UNODC II
Mr. Slawomir Redo, Senior Programme Adviser (ACUNS, Vienna); Visiting Scholar, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY, NY, USA)
17:30-18:00 RAUN Award Ceremony
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
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: email@example.com.
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:firstname.lastname@example.org: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:email@example.com: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: firstname.lastname@example.org: 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/
Every organization, no matter its competitive position, must innovate to grow. But successful innovation goes beyond just idea generation. New initiatives must directly translate into value — for customers, investors and even your own employees. The challenge is doing that within the confines of large institutions where it can be difficult to navigate longstanding paradigms, financial hurdles or talent gaps.
At Insider Entrepreneurship you will develop a road map for launching new, profitable ventures within your firm. Participants will leave with their own opportunity assessment toolkit and a personal Venture Delivery Roadmap to begin launching a new project immediately. Led by three Berkeley faculty and practitioners in the fields of innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership and corporate venturing, Professors John Danner, Mark Coopersmith and Whitney Hischier have decades of experience designing new ventures both outside and within the firm.
We are very excited to announce the launch of our LinkedIn Company Page. Follow our Company Page for access to special offers, program updates, and faculty publications. We look forward to connecting with you!
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.