Opinion

How to Undermine Democracy – Curtail Civil Society Rights

Recent elections and referendums in a growing number of countries from Turkey to the USA and beyond are producing leaders and policies, which directly threaten some of the core principles of democracy.  In an increasing number of established and fledgling democracies, we see ruling parties violating the fundamental freedoms to speak-out, rally behind a cause and get involved in a social movement.

No One is Left Behind

In the context of global development, ‘no one is left behind’ brings with it a powerful message. It emphasizes progress- one that is inclusive, fair, integrated and empowering. The phrase ‘No one is left behind’ is mentioned some five times in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that was adopted by all governments at the United Nations in 2015. The Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet, peace and prosperity. It has globally agreed 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 ambitious targets, and should be achieved within the next decade ‘to end poverty and hunger everywhere; to combat inequalities within and among countries; to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies; to protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources.’

Fate of Earth Must Not be Decided by US & Fellow Nuclear States

When the United Nations continues its negotiations in June for an international treaty against nuclear weapons, there must be a treaty that should cover every single aspect of the devastating weapons --- and leading eventually to their total elimination from the world’s military arsenals.

Trump’s First 100 Days: a Serious Cause for Concern

This week, Donald Trump will mark his first hundred days as US President.  It’s time to assess his impact on the world, especially the developing countries.

Building resilient rural livelihoods is key to helping Yemen

People in Yemen are currently suffering from the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.More than 17 million people around Yemen’s rugged landscape are acutely food insecure, and the figure is likely to increase as the ongoing conflict continues to erode the ability to grow, import, distribute and pay for food. More than 7 million people are on the verge of famine, while the rest are marginally meeting the minimum day-to-day nutritional needs thanks to external humanitarian and livelihoods support. Large-scale famine is a real risk that will cast an awful shadow for generations to come.

Nikki Haley’s ‘Historic’ Debate on Human Rights Left a Small Impression

Nikki Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, presided over what she was determined to sell as “an historic meeting exclusively on human rights” in the UN Security Council. But her brief speech in the April 18 meeting fell far short of introducing innovations to confront violations of human rights or prevent them in such places as Syria, Burundi and Myanmar.

Dispute Settlement Becomes Speculative Financial Asset

Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions in bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and free trade agreements (FTAs) have effectively created a powerful and privileged system of protections for foreign investors that undermines national law and institutions.

Springing into Action to Fund Ambitious Goals

“I don’t have enough money to buy clean water, so I have to come and collect it from the river. I have young twins – a boy and a girl. I know the water is dirty – it often makes them sick but I have no other option.” Those are the words of a South Sudanese mother, Latif, who lives by the river Nile in Juba.

Fighting Xenophobia & Inequality Together in the Age of Trump

As the world marks 100 days of the Trump Presidency, we can see that we are now in a new era of crisis, that it goes well beyond one man and one country, and that only a profound and international response can get us out of the state we are in.

Multilateralism and the Chinese Dream

“Pursuing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room,” Chinese President Xi Jinping warned the assembled leaders at the World Economic Forum earlier this year. “While wind and rain may be kept outside, that dark room will also block light and air.”

Mind the Treatment Gap

Implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act will require a restructuring of health-care services The Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on March 27, 2017, has been hailed as a momentous reform. According to the Bill, every person will have the right to access mental health care operated or funded by the government; good quality and affordable health care; equality of treatment and protection from inhuman practices; access to legal services; and right to complain against coercion and cruelty. The Bill also empowers a mentally ill person to choose a treatment and her/his nominated representative, decriminalises attempted suicide, prohibits the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to mentally ill adults without the use of muscle relaxants and anaesthesia, and contains provisions for care, treatment and rehabilitation for those who have experienced severe stress and attempted suicide. While these are laudable and ambitious objectives as they address major concerns of mental health care, there have been some critiques drawing attention to the lack of funds, trained personnel, and insufficient emphasis on community care. The ground reality, however, suggests that these objectives are not just overambitious but an overkill.

A Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons Is in the Making

The nine possessors of nuclear weapons and most of their allies chose to ignore the negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.

Financing Key to Reaching Everyone, Everywhere with Water & Sanitation

Eighteen months ago, UN member-states pledged a new set of goals on eradicating extreme poverty and creating a fairer, more sustainable planet by 2030. This week, we have alarming evidence that at least one of those goals – Sustainable Development Goal 6, to reach everyone everywhere with access to water and sanitation – is already in peril.

Reflections on World Health Day

What’s the most precious thing in the world which unfortunately we take for granted and realise it true value when it is impaired? Good health, of course.

Can António Guterres Fend Off America’s War on the UN?

When António Guterres was chosen by the United Nations Security Council in October to become the next leader of the UN, neither he nor anyone else could have predicted precisely who would be commanding the Oval Office of the White House in January 2017, just as Guterres’s term opened.

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