Though the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has long held that trade between African countries is too low, experts at the South Centre, an inter-governmental think tank of developing countries, say intra-continental trade is already significant in manufactured goods and promises a new path to industrialisation.
Decades after peasants’ networks have advocated for a new legal instrument to protect the rights of small farmers to land, seeds, traditional agricultural knowledge and freedom to determine the prices of their production, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) may decide to start drafting a declaration on peasants’ rights next week.
As donors struggle to meet their aid commitments, and the number of people around the world in need of direct humanitarian and development assistance skyrockets, many experts and activists are asking the tough question: are donors being effective?
As the Eighth Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) kicked off in Geneva this week, a group of NGOs exposed the devastating potential of a free trade agreement currently being negotiated between the European Union and India. If passed, they say the deal would make a mockery of all WTO rules and regulations.
The Gandhian movement Ekta Parishad plans to organise a march for land rights in October 2012 in India, aiming to gather around 100,000 indigenous people, dalits and poor peasants. Support is shaping up around the world, at events such as an international mobilisation conference in Geneva Sep. 12-13.
Egypt has initiated a proposal in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to ban export restrictions on farm products to poor countries that are net food importers. The Group of 20 has also exhorted the upcoming WTO ministerial conference to adopt a specific resolution on export restrictions.
In the Arab world, most trade unions are affiliated to governments, but independent labour organisations are starting to emerge.
Some of the decisions taken on trade in the Istanbul Plan of Action are likely to disadvantage poor countries while others are so vague as to be meaningless, says Abdoulaye Sanoko, counsellor at the mission of Mali to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva.
The World Health Assembly could adopt landmark resolutions asking governments to improve water and sanitation to eradicate cholera and guinea worm, the latter of which exists in just four countries in Africa. While safe drinking water and toilets are the most cost-effective public health measures, they have not been a priority for most developing countries.
Long-term investors like pension funds are probably the reason why the prices of commodities, including crops, have been driven to a higher level than in 2008 when food riots erupted in 30 countries, according to the British nongovernmental organisation Christian Aid.
While foreign direct investment in least developed countries (LDCs) in Africa has risen sharply over the past decade, most of it went to resource-rich economies and had little impact on employment creation.
The special session on Syria held by the United Nations Human Rights Council Friday agreed on neither an international mission of enquiry, as originally foreseen, nor a lower level fact-finding mission - only a mission by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The fifth conference of the 173 parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, Apr. 25-29, could bring to 22 the total number of internationally agreed forbidden pollutants. Alternatives to DDT - one of the persistent organic pollutants (POPs) used in the fight against malaria - are gaining popularity, but its complete ban is not on the agenda.
"It would be bad news for poor countries in Africa if the Doha Round of trade talks fails. This round was meant to rebalance the rules of world trade in favour of developing countries. We have put a lot of resources and hopes into this process and a collapse would be a big betrayal for us."
The international commission of inquiry established by the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate alleged violations of human rights in Libya will start its mission next week, and report on all crimes, committed by anyone, including foreign powers.