Inter Press ServiceGlobal Geopolitics – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Thu, 24 May 2018 09:33:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 Upholding International Law in the Context of International Peace & Securityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/upholding-international-law-context-international-peace-security/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=upholding-international-law-context-international-peace-security http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/upholding-international-law-context-international-peace-security/#respond Mon, 21 May 2018 16:57:00 +0000 Dr Amrith Rohan Perera http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155858 Ambassador Amrith Rohan Perera is Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations

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Ambassador Amrith Rohan Perera is Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations

By Dr Amrith Rohan Perera
UNITED NATIONS, May 21 2018 (IPS)

The Security Council debate last week – on “Upholding International Law within the context of Maintenance of International Peace and Security – took place at a crucial moment when the strengthening and invigorating of collective measures for the maintenance of international peace and security has become an imperative.

H.E. Dr. Amrith Rohan Perera

The fabric of the global order is increasingly coming under threat with the rise of flash points, conflicts and the spread of the spectre of terrorism and violent extremism.

It is vital that member states forge new and innovative partnerships in the context of preserving international peace and security. In doing so, governments must act under the imprimatur of the law.

This is the foundation upon which a peaceful, equitable and prosperous international community is built. Therefore, it must be the common responsibility of all member states to strengthen the international order based on the respect for International Law.

If we are to strengthen International Law amidst these challenges, then we must ensure that there is equality before the law; a guarantee of independence of international judicial mechanisms; and, that legal remedies remain accessible to the most vulnerable among us.

It is vital that all states have an equal opportunity to participate in the international law making process. This is the essence of the evolution of modern international law, from its classical origins, as a law that governed a limited community of states prior to decolonization. It is also a principle that protects all states, especially developing countries, from the harshness of an empirically unequal world.

Upholding International Law within the context of maintenance of International Peace and Security requires absolute adherence to Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations: namely the core principles of sovereign equality of States and non-interference, the prohibition on the threat or use of force and the obligation to settle international disputes peacefully – through recourse to peaceful methods of dispute settlement – such as by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, or other peaceful means as set out in Article 33 of the UN Charter.

The efficacy of international law in preserving international peace and security, would require the achievement of a global consensus, which must necessarily factor in the hopes and aspiration of all states and not that of a select few.

Historically, the General Assembly and its Legal Committee (Sixth Committee) have provided a platform for the effective and equitable participation of all states in the international norm creating process.

Judge Hisashi Owada, Senior Judge and President Emeritus of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) drew our attention to another vital aspect and clearly underlined the importance of the organs of the United Nations acting in concert within their respective spheres of functions as stipulated in the Charter. Their synergies must be harnessed in achieving our collective goal of maintenance of international peace and security.

In today’s world, disputes that threaten the international order have complex political and legal dimensions and in addressing such issues, the key organs of the United Nations, the Security Council, the General Assembly and the International Court of Justice can make a collective contribution and strengthen international peace and security.

The contribution that the International Court of Justice has made over the years in the field of maintenance of International Peace and Security has been invaluable. I wish to make particular reference to the advisory opinion of the Court on the question of the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons.

Greater recourse to the advisory jurisdiction of the Court in addressing critical and complex issues with political and legal ramifications is an option that could be usefully pursued in matters relating to international peace and security.

As pertinently observed by Judge Owada, in the course of the Security Council debate, in exercising its advisory jurisdiction, the Court is expressing “an authentic legal opinion” in order to clarify legal issues to the other organs of the organization.

Let me also state that this debate is also an opportunity for Member States to recognize the invaluable work of the principal legal organ of the United Nations – the International Law Commission, as it celebrates its 70th anniversary here in New York, and to pay tribute to its invaluable contribution over the years in the codification and progressive development of international law.

Its pioneering work on the draft Code of Offences against peace and security of mankind, on the draft statute of an International Criminal Court have been path breaking and have set the pace for the current developments in the area of international criminal responsibility.

Items on its current agenda such as Universal Jurisdiction, Immunity of State Officials from Foreign Criminal Jurisdiction and Genocide are of particular significance in this regard.

In conclusion, Sri Lanka wishes to draw the attention of the Council to the challenges faced by developing States in its full and effective participation in the multilateral treaty making process.

This is an area where the UN can and must play a crucial role, in particular, by assisting States with capacity building, and thereby contribute to the universality of International Law making.

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Excerpt:

Ambassador Amrith Rohan Perera is Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations

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Can Preventive Diplomacy Avert Military Conflicts?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/can-preventive-diplomacy-avert-military-conflicts/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=can-preventive-diplomacy-avert-military-conflicts http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/can-preventive-diplomacy-avert-military-conflicts/#respond Mon, 21 May 2018 13:29:44 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155855 In the paradoxical battle against military conflicts, is preventive diplomacy one of the political remedies that can help deter wars before they break out? Miroslav Lajcak, President of the UN General Assembly, points out that prevention takes many forms, and it must tackle conflict at its roots – before it can spread. “This means stronger […]

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Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak delivers a speech after he was elected as president of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at the UN headquarters in New York, May 31, 2017. Credit: UN Photo

By Thalif Deen
STOCKHOLM, May 21 2018 (IPS)

In the paradoxical battle against military conflicts, is preventive diplomacy one of the political remedies that can help deter wars before they break out?

Miroslav Lajcak, President of the UN General Assembly, points out that prevention takes many forms, and it must tackle conflict at its roots – before it can spread.

“This means stronger institutions. It means smart and sustainable development. It means inclusive peacebuilding. It means promoting human rights, and the rule of law.”

At a recent three-day Forum on Peace and Development, sponsored by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the Swedish Foreign Ministry, participants came up with several responses, including international mediation, pre-conflict peacebuilding, counter-terrorism — and, perhaps most importantly, sustainable development that aims at eradicating poverty and hunger.

Lajcak cites a recent World Bank-United Nations report, titled “Pathways for Peace”, that argues in terms of dollars and cents: that for every $1 spent on prevention, up to $7 could be saved – over the long term.

Speaking on the “Politics of Peace” – the theme of the SIPRI forum which concluded May 9—he said: “Peace can be political. It can be complicated. And it can be messy. Mediators do not have an easy job.”

Jan Eliasson, chairman of the SIPRI Board of Governors and a former Swedish Foreign Minister, points out that “aside from saving and improving human lives, studies suggest that investing $2 billion in prevention can generate net savings of $33 billion per year from averted conflict”.

And according to a World Bank survey, he said, 40 percent of those who join rebel groups do so because of a lack of economic opportunities?

“It is time for us all to get serious about prevention and sustaining peace if we are to achieve the peace envisioned in the SDGs by 2030. Policy makers must focus efforts on prevention, committing additional resources and attention to the highest risk environment,” said Eliasson, a former UN Deputy Secretary-General.

In an introduction to the “Politics of Peace,” SIPRI says targeted, inclusive and sustained prevention can contribute to lasting peace by reducing the risk of violent conflict.

“Unfortunately, the political will to invest in prevention is often lacking where it is needed most,” notes SIPRI.

The UN’s peacekeeping budget for 2017-2018 is estimated at a staggering $6.8 billion. But how much does the UN really spend on preventive diplomacy?

At a high level meeting on peacebuilding last month, several delegates emphasized the concept of prevention. But complained about the failure to aggressively fund such prevention.

Asked how one could explain that “meagre resources, a little bit over $1 million” is being devoted to preventive diplomacy, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters April 25: “I think that’s a question perhaps to those who allocate the budget. The Secretary General has repeatedly called for greater resources and greater emphasis to be put on prevention.”

Siddharth Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator & UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya told IPS, today’s violent conflicts are complex, trans-border and multi-dimensional in nature.

Similarly, the causes and patterns of conflict are also complex and intertwined with ethnicity, dispute over boundaries, and competition over scarce resources, weak governance systems, poverty, socioeconomic inequalities, environmental degradation, etc.

The complexity of violent conflict, he argued, makes it prolonged, deadly, and economically costly to the countries which experience conflicts.

According to Collier et. al (2003), “by the end of a typical civil war, incomes are around 15 per cent lower than they would otherwise have been, implying that about 30 per cent more people are living in absolute poverty” due to conflict. And according to the same authors, conflict would also lead to a permanent loss of around 2 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Chatterjee also pointed out that the main damage of conflict emanates from its adverse effects of diverting resources from the productive sector to violence and destructive activities.

“These widespread conflicts are imposing an enormous cost not only to the countries where conflicts are raging but also to their neighboring countries, which often end up hosting refugees crossing the borders to seek a safe-haven. This further results in considerable economic and environmental problems for the host countries.”

He said armed conflict and violence are increasingly complex, dynamic and protracted. Over 65 million people were forcibly displaced in 2016 alone. Many conflicts have endured for decades; others have repercussions well beyond their immediate area.

Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, Executive Director of the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) told IPS that after so many wars and so much destruction, “I’m stunned that governments still think that weaponry is the pathway to peace and security.”

“When individuals are able to weaponize a car, a bus or truck, hi-tech missiles aren’t going to solve the problem. We need to be looking at the root causes and drivers.”

She said this brings up issues of gross inequality, rising extremism that’s fostering un-belonging, and other issues relating to education, mental health and so forth.

She asked: “What does it cost to build schools in Northern Nigeria so kids have a chance of a future? What does it cost to develop state of the art environmental programs that can preserve water and enable farmers to grow crops, so they aren’t forced to migrate to cities and be jobless and desperate?”

Globally, over 260 million children and youth are not in school, and 400 million children have only primary school education, according to UN estimates released last week. If left unaddressed, the education crisis could leave half of the world’s 1.6 billion children and youth out of school or failing to learn the most basic skills by 2030.

Last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and his Envoy on Global Education, Gordon Brown, received a petition signed by some 1.5 million young people calling for more investment in education. The petition was delivered by three youth activists from India, Kenya and Sierra Leone.

In the aftermath of the Cold War, said Naraghi Anderlini, “we recognized that human security was integral to state security. The 9/11 attacks threw us off course and we entered a realm of perpetual war and retaliations. Yet at the core sits issues of human security, dignity, legitimate grievances and aspirations. State failure is central to everything we see – from corruption to excessive violence and being absent in basic service provision.”

She warned that “governments can try to hide behind their bluster, weaponry and techno-wizardry but we are hurtling towards a new unknown, but this will not be the path to peace.”

The tragedy is that ordinary people, civil society actors in communities everywhere, have the answers and solutions, she argued.

“They have rolled up their sleeves and with limited resources they are doing extraordinary work. They raise uncomfortable truths for this reason, governments and even the UN system don’t bring them to the table. They provide ‘side events’ and agree to host them on the margins of major summits.”

But the citizens are not marginal, they are at the very center of any state. And civil society organizations that enable citizens to contribute to solving problems should be equal partners in the space of decision making globally, she declared.

Chatterjee told IPS the other emerging threat to the global community is violent extremism which has not only sets in motion a dramatic reversal of development gains already made, but also threatens to stunt prospects of development for decades to come, particularly in border lands and marginalized areas as well as affecting developed countries.

To support prevention of conflict and violent extremism; it is important to focus on the root causes, drivers of conflict and radicalization, which are intertwined with poverty, social, cultural, economic, political and psychological factors.

Extremism, which often evolves into terrorism, has its origin in poverty and human insecurity, which is partly linked to exclusion, marginalization and lack of access to resources and power, he noted.

A recent UNDP report – “the Road to Extremism”- which is based on extensive data collected from East and West African countries, revealed that poverty and marginalization to be the main factors that drive young people to join extremist groups. The study also found that the tipping point is how the government treats the community and the youth.

In addressing both violent conflict and extremism, Chatterjee said, it is important to invest in prevention because attempting to address the problem once it has erupted will cost more and huge amount of resources. And, it will also be complicated, as in the case of Somalia or the Central African Republic (CAR).

That is why the UN Secretary General’s reform agenda emphasizes preventing violent conflicts before they erupt into full-fledged crises. The Secretary General’s agenda also links conflict to SDGs, and the principle of leaving no one behind espoused by the SDGs is a critical condition for sustainable peace and prosperity, said Chatterjee.

He said this approach will strengthen institutions to sustain peace as the best way to avoid societies from descending into crisis, including, but not limited to, conflict, violent extremism and ensure their resilience through investments in inclusive and sustainable development.

“The bottom line is without peace, little or nothing can be achieved in terms of economic and social progress and without development it would be difficult to achieve sustainable peace,” declared Chatterjee.

Asked for his reaction, Dan Smith, SIPRI Director, summed it up as follows: “In general I think that a Norwegian politician, Erik Solheim, now head of UNEP, put it well when he said, at a public meeting many years ago, in response to a question about why prevention is not emphasised more, something along these lines: “Because, to my knowledge, no politician has ever been re-elected on the basis of preventing a war that might not have happened in a faraway country that none of her or his voters have ever heard of.”

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

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“What do you Become When you Shoot to Kill Someone who is Unarmed, & not an Immediate Threat to You?”http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/become-shoot-kill-someone-unarmed-not-immediate-threat/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=become-shoot-kill-someone-unarmed-not-immediate-threat http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/become-shoot-kill-someone-unarmed-not-immediate-threat/#respond Fri, 18 May 2018 12:17:00 +0000 Zeid Raad Al Hussein http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155825 Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein is UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

 

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, addressing a Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council on the deteriorating human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem

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Hamas says the demonstrations are meant to draw attention to the harsh conditions in Gaza. Credit: AFP

By Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein
GENEVA, May 18 2018 (IPS)

Appalling recent events in Gaza have called this Council into Special Session. Since the protests began on 30 March, 87 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli security forces in the context of the demonstrations, including 12 children; 29 others, including three children, were killed in other circumstances. And over 12,000 people have been injured, more than 3,500 of them by live ammunition.

The violence reached a peak on Monday 14 May, when 43 demonstrators were killed by Israeli forces – and the number sadly continues to climb, as some of the 1,360 demonstrators injured with live ammunition that day succumb to their wounds. These people, many of whom were completely unarmed, were shot in the back, in the chest, in the head and limbs with live ammunition, as well as rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas canisters.

Israeli forces also killed a further 17 Palestinians outside the context of the five demonstration hot spots. Together, this figure of 60 is the highest one-day death toll in Gaza since the 2014 hostilities.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Credit: UN photo

This was not “a PR victory for Hamas”, in the reported words of a senior Israeli military spokesman; it was a tragedy for thousands of families. The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has also described the demonstrators as being “paid by Hamas”, and has said the Israeli security forces “try to minimize casualties”.

But there is little evidence of any attempt to minimize casualties on Monday. Although some of the demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails, used sling-shots to throw stones, flew burning kites into Israel, and attempted to use wire-cutters against the two fences between Gaza and Israel, these actions alone do not appear to constitute the imminent threat to life or deadly injury which could justify the use of lethal force.

The stark contrast in casualties on both sides is also suggestive of a wholly disproportionate response: on Monday, on the Israeli side, one soldier was reportedly wounded, slightly, by a stone. Killings resulting from the unlawful use of force by an occupying power may also constitute “wilful killings” – a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Palestinians have exactly the same human rights as Israelis do. They have the same rights to live safely in their homes, in freedom, with adequate and essential services and opportunities. And of this essential core of entitlements due to every human being, they are systematically deprived.

All of the 1.9 million people who live in Gaza have been penned in behind fences and have suffered progressively more restrictions and greater poverty. After 11 years of blockade by Israel they have little hope of employment, and their infrastructure is crumbling, with an electricity crisis, inadequate health services and a decaying sewage system that constitutes a threat to health.

They are forced to seek exit permits from Israel for any reason, including for specialised health care, and many of those permits are denied or delayed – including permits for the majority of the demonstrators shot by Israeli security forces this week.

Israel, as an occupying power under international law, is obligated to protect the population of Gaza and ensure their welfare. But they are, in essence, caged in a toxic slum from birth to death; deprived of dignity; dehumanised by the Israeli authorities to such a point it appears officials do not even consider that these men and women have a right, as well as every reason, to protest.

Nobody has been made safer by the horrific events of the past week.

The human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory continues to deteriorate. Settlement building has again accelerated this year, together with rising settler violence. Demolitions of private property continue, including punitive demolitions, which constitute a deplorable form of collective punishment.

The small Bedouin community of Khan al Ahmar, just east of Jerusalem, is at high risk of forcible transfer. This week, the villages of Beita and Nabi Saleh were subjected to closures and restrictions on movement following clashes with the Israeli forces. Israel also continues to detain large numbers of Palestinians, including children, although under international law the detention of a child must be a measure of last resort.

I also deplore the widespread and unprincipled use of detention without trial – described as “administrative detention” – and violations of fundamental fair trial guarantees. And the deficit in accountability for alleged extrajudicial killings and other violations, as previously reported by the Secretary General and my Office, undermines confidence in Israeli justice.

I therefore endorse calls made by many States and observers for an investigation that is international, independent and impartial – in the hope the truth regarding these matters will lead to justice.

Those responsible for violations must in the end be held accountable. In this context, as in all conflicts where impunity is widespread, unless ended by a peace settlement, excessive violence – both horrifying and criminal – flows easily from the barrel of a gun; becomes normal, destroying the occupied perhaps, but something crucial too in the occupier.

What do you become when you shoot to kill someone who is unarmed, and not an immediate threat to you? You are neither brave, nor a hero. You have become someone very different to that.

And then there is the fear and hatred – those dreadful twins, prolific in the manufacturing of violence and human suffering, now transforming into a psychosis, on both sides, more tightly spun, and more corrosive. And to what end? So we will all be destroyed?

The occupation must end, so the people of Palestine can be liberated, and the people of Israel liberated from it. End the occupation, and the violence and insecurity will largely disappear.

I urge Israel to act in accordance with its international obligations. Palestinians’ right to life, their right to security of the person and rights to freedom of assembly and expression must be respected and protected. All individuals’ right to health must be respected and protected, regardless of the context in which they may have been injured.

The rules of engagement for Israel’s security forces must be in line with Israel’s international obligations, and I urge that they be published. Children should never be the targets of violence and must not be put at risk of violence or encouraged to participate in violence.

I again remind all concerned that lethal force may only be used in cases of extreme necessity, as a last resort, in response to an imminent threat of death or risk of serious injury.

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Excerpt:

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein is UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

 

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, addressing a Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council on the deteriorating human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem

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White House Should State Opposition to Saudi Threat to Acquire Nuclear Weaponshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/white-house-state-opposition-saudi-threat-acquire-nuclear-weapons/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=white-house-state-opposition-saudi-threat-acquire-nuclear-weapons http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/white-house-state-opposition-saudi-threat-acquire-nuclear-weapons/#comments Wed, 16 May 2018 08:55:17 +0000 Daryl Kimball and Thomas Countryman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155786 Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director, Arms Control Association & Thomas Countryman is Board of Directors, Chairman, and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation

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Japanese A-bomb survivors and ICAN demonstrate before the UN vote in October 2016. Credit: Peace Boat

By Daryl G. Kimball and Thomas Countryman
WASHINGTON DC, May 16 2018 (IPS)

We are deeply disappointed by the counterproductive response from the Trump administration to the statements from senior Saudi officials threatening to pursue nuclear weapons in violation of their nonproliferation commitments.

We call on the White House to immediately reiterate the longstanding, bipartisan policy of the United States that it will actively work against the spread of nuclear weapons to any country, friend or foe.

President Donald Trump’s reckless decision to violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which has blocked Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons and put in place a robust monitoring system to detect and deter cheating, has not only opened the door to an expansion of Iran’s capability to produce bomb-grade nuclear material, but it has increased the risk of a wider nuclear arms race in the Middle East, which is already home to one nuclear-armed state.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel Al-Jubeir told CNN May 9, that his country, which, like Iran, is a party to the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), stands ready to build nuclear weapons if Iran restarts its nuclear program.

Al-Jubeir also praised Trump’s decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal and seek to reimpose sanctions on firms and business engaging in legitimate commerce with Iran.

Asked what his country will do if Iran restarts its nuclear program, he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that “we will do whatever it takes to protect our people. We have made it very clear that if Iran acquires a nuclear capability, we will do everything we can to do the same.”

Asked to clarify whether that means the kingdom will work to acquire its own nuclear capability, al-Jubeir replied, “That’s what we mean.”

This follows similar comments by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a March 15 interview with CBS News that Saudi Arabia will quickly follow suit if Iran acquires nuclear weapons.

When asked May 9 whether Saudi Arabia would “have the administration’s support in the event that that occurred,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said:

“Right now, I don’t know that we have a specific policy announcement on that front, but I can tell you that we are very committed to making sure that Iran does not have nuclear weapons,” she stated.

The administration’s nonresponse to Prince Salman’s threat in March and Sanders’ weak response May 9 amounts to an irresponsible invitation for mischief.

They imply that Trump administration would look the other way if Saudi Arabia breaks its NPT commitments to pursue nuclear weapons.

It is bad enough that the Trump administration, by violating the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, has threatened the NPT regime by opening the door for Iran to expand its nuclear capacity.

President Trump and his advisors must not compound that error by swallowing their tongues when another NPT member state in the region threatens to pursue the bomb.

We call on the White House to immediately clarify that it is the longstanding policy of the United States, as an original party to the NPT:

…not to in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear-weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons …” and “… to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament ….”

We also call on the U.S. Congress to reject any proposed agreement with Saudi Arabia that permits U.S. nuclear cooperation if Saudi Arabia seeks to or acquires sensitive uranium enrichment or plutonium separation technology which can be used to produce nuclear weapons.

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Excerpt:

Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director, Arms Control Association & Thomas Countryman is Board of Directors, Chairman, and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation

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Trump’s Dangerous Abrogation of the Iran Dealhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/trumps-dangerous-abrogation-iran-deal/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=trumps-dangerous-abrogation-iran-deal http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/trumps-dangerous-abrogation-iran-deal/#respond Fri, 11 May 2018 11:24:05 +0000 Stephen Zunes http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155724 Stephen Zunes is a professor of politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco.

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Stephen Zunes is a professor of politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco.

By Stephen Zunes
SAN FRANCISCO, May 11 2018 (IPS)

The Trump Administration’s decision to pull the United States out of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—the landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the United States—strikes a dangerous blow against arms control and international security and even more firmly establishes the United States as a rogue nation.

The meeting for a Comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program in 2015. Attendees included John Kerry of the United States, Philip Hammond of the United Kingdom, Sergey Lavrov of Russia, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, Laurent Fabius of France, Wang Yi of China, Federica Mogherini of the European Union and Javad Zarif of Iran.

This is a victory for Iranian hardliners, who opposed the agreement. They argued against destroying billions of dollars’ worth of nuclear facilities and material in return for the lifting of debilitating sanctions, because the United States could not be trusted to lift the sanctions as promised. That, in the end, is exactly what happened.

Now Trump’s decision will make it virtually impossible for North Korea or any other country to trust the United States to keep its commitments and thereby sabotage future arms control negotiations.

The Iran pact is supported by virtually every country in the world. The vast majority of those in the U.S. national security establishment, current and retired, have supported it, as have the vast majority of nuclear scientists and policy experts. Even within Israel, there is strong support among intelligence and defense officials.

Trump argued that the agreement did nothing to curb Iran’s intervention in Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere. But that was never its intention. Other such agreements seek to limit countries’ nuclear ambitions, not their broader geopolitical ambitions.

And Trump’s accusations of Iranian cheating are groundless. Indeed, his own CIA director and Director of National Intelligence have both acknowledged in recent weeks that Iran is in full compliance with the agreement, as has the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Accusations of Iranian cheating by the rightwing Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week referred back to Iran’s long-acknowledged cover-up of a nascent weapons program more than fifteen years ago. This is in no way a new revelation, or relevant to the current agreement.

Similarly, Trump’s insistence that that the agreement is somehow advantageous to Iran and would allow it to develop nuclear weapons is completely ludicrous.

The agreement reduced Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile by 98 percent and restricts the level of enrichment to 3.67 percent. Given that an enrichment level of 90 percent is needed to build a nuclear bomb, this makes it impossible for Iran’s uranium to be weaponized.

Under the deal, Iran also reduced its number of centrifuges to a little over 5,000, far below the number that would be needed to enrich uranium to anything close to that level. It prevented the commissioning of the Arak reactor, capable of producing plutonium, and restricts research and development activities in other facilities.

And it cut off all of Iran’s other potential pathways to obtaining a nuclear weapon.

In short, the pact makes it physically impossible for Iran to build a single atomic bomb.

In addition, the agreement imposes the one of the most rigorous inspection regimes in history. International inspectors monitor Iran’s nuclear program at every stage: uranium mining and milling, conversion, enrichment, fuel manufacturing, nuclear reactors, and spent fuel, as well as any site—military or civilian—they consider suspicious.

And if Iran were to violate any aspect of this agreement, sanctions would automatically snap back into place.

Historically, most agreements on nuclear weapons have required some sort of reciprocity. But none of Iran’s nuclear-armed neighbors—Israel, Pakistan or Israel—are required to eliminate or reduce their weapons or open their nuclear facilities to inspections, even though all three are currently violating U.N. Security Council resolutions regarding their nuclear programs.

And none of the other nuclear powers, including the United States, are required to reduce their arsenals, either. So, it is indeed, as Trump said, a “one-sided deal”—against Iran.

Trump and his Republican backers have long opposed efforts to ease tensions between the United States and Iran—especially any effort that might undermine excuses for going to war against that oil-rich nation. Iran, shackled by the 2015 agreement, is no threat to the United States.

Iran’s support for extremist groups, its human rights violations, its backing of repressive allies, and its other violations of international norms—while certainly wrong—are no worse than those committed by key U.S. regional allies.

The “threat” from Iran is that it is a regional power that has dared to challenge the United States’ hegemonic ambitions in the greater Middle East. For advocates of “full spectrum dominance,” as first articulated by the administration of George W. Bush in 2002, any such efforts to undermine U.S. hegemony are simply unacceptable.

Now Trump is free to undercut the Iranian economy by resuming comprehensive U.S. sanctions and forcing companies in other countries to avoid doing business with Iran by threatening to deny them trade and investment opportunities with the United States.

Trump’s strategy appears to encourage the Iranians to resume their nuclear program in order to provoke a crisis that would give the United States an excuse to go to war.

Credit www.thoughtcatalog.com

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Excerpt:

Stephen Zunes is a professor of politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco.

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Economic & Social Costs of Gun Violence Appallinghttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/economic-social-costs-gun-violence-appalling/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=economic-social-costs-gun-violence-appalling http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/economic-social-costs-gun-violence-appalling/#respond Tue, 08 May 2018 14:35:00 +0000 Izumi Nakamitsu http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155675 Izumi Nakamitsu is the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs

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Izumi Nakamitsu is the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs

By Izumi Nakamitsu
UNITED NATIONS, May 8 2018 (IPS)

Every day, hundreds of lives are lost due to gun violence worldwide. Guns are responsible for about half of all violent deaths – nearly a quarter million each year.

But the dire consequences of gun violence are not limited to those slain by guns. For every person killed by a gun, many more are injured, maimed, and forced to flee their home and community. Still many more live under constant threats of gun violence.

UN Under Secretary-General Izumi Nakamitsu. Credit: UN

Economic and social cost of gun violence is appalling. It is estimated that nearly 2 trillion US dollars could be saved – equivalent to 2.6 per cent of the global GDP1 -, if the global homicide rates were significantly reduced.

If we were to achieve the ambitious goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – which explicitly links sustainable development and security-, we need to tackle this scourge of gun violence head-on.

The pandemic of gun violence has many roots. These range from legal, political, to socioeconomic, to cultural factors. Lack of adequate legislation and regulation on gun control, insufficient resource and capacity to enforce such legislation, lack of employment and alternative livelihood for youths, ex-gangs and ex-combatants, and a culture that glorifies violence and equates guns with masculinity – all exacerbates gun violence.

Such complex, multi-faceted problems require equally multi-faceted, sustainable solutions that address root causes. Governments, while primarily responsible for controlling guns, cannot do it alone.

To end the crisis of gun violence, we must work together. The Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence is a conduit for fostering cooperation on this critical issue among all stakeholders – government, international, regional and sub-regional organizations, research institutes, private companies, and civil society organizations-, to come together and pool our experience, strength and expertise.

And we must address the human factor behind the gun violence. It is essential that we recognize that gun violence affects women, men, girls and boys differently and that we need to seek different strategies to address all dimensions of gun violence.

Next month, States will gather at the United Nations in New York for the Third Review Conference on the Programme of Action on small arms – the key global instrument that has guided international efforts in the fight against the illicit trade in small arms over the past two decades.

The Conference will provide an important opportunity for the international community to renew its commitment to silence the guns that affect so many innocent lives, and to continue its work towards achieving our common goal of peace, security and development for all.”

The post Economic & Social Costs of Gun Violence Appalling appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Izumi Nakamitsu is the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs

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To Sustain Peace: Heed the Warnings & Prevent the Next Warhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/sustain-peace-heed-warnings-prevent-next-war/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sustain-peace-heed-warnings-prevent-next-war http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/sustain-peace-heed-warnings-prevent-next-war/#comments Fri, 04 May 2018 14:40:04 +0000 Sanam Naraghi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155627 Sanam Naraghi Anderlini is Co-Founder & Executive Director, International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)

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Sanam Naraghi Anderlini is Co-Founder & Executive Director, International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)

By Sanam Naraghi Anderlini
WASHINGTON DC, May 4 2018 (IPS)

New York and Washington DC may be three hours apart geographically, but in global affairs, they are worlds apart.

With the wars in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere unabating, at the UN in New York, terms like ‘conflict prevention’ and ‘sustaining peace’ are back in vogue, with world leaders attending a major summit. Meanwhile in Washington while the talks with North Korea took center stage behind the scenes the drum roll of war against Iran is revving up.

Sanam Naraghi Anderlini

The playbook of this potentially impending war is familiar. The groundwork in the media and political arena is being laid, to make war necessary thus inevitable, so that it ultimately becomes so. Future historians can look back to this month for the many early warning signs and the red herrings that set this stage. Below I address four of the most obvious.

The Israeli provocation

On Monday April 9th Israel attacked Syrian military bases where Iranian security personnel were stationed. Seven Iranians died in the attack and tensions in the region soared. As many Middle East watchers noted, Israel was trying to provoke a retaliation from Iran, so that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could unleash his pent-up anger across Iranian skies.

As the dead soldiers returned to Tehran, Iranian officials said the strikes “will not remain without a response.” Israel meanwhile reiterated it won’t tolerate Iranian military bases next door. It launched another attack on April 30th killing Iranians, Syrians and Iraqi military personnel.

Memories of Israeli-Iranian cooperation against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein during the 1980s Iran-Iraq war are all but erased from history as the two countries have provoked and retaliated against each other through proxies for three decades. But the war of words is escalating to war on the ground.

Undercutting the JCPOA

Second, not surprising the rising tensions in the region come in parallel with the attacks on the Iran deal or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has always resented. The JCPOA has prevented Iran from pursuing even the possibility of nuclear weapons, and was meant to open a pathway for broader diplomacy between the US and Iran and to keep at least a cold peace between Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iran.

While Iran has adhered to the terms of the JCPOA, the US has not. The financial sanctions and threats of billion dollar penalties against banks that dare to do business with Iranian companies or citizens are still in place.

Without the promised economic benefits, the Iranian government faces an angry public and an emboldened hardline and conservative faction within the regime. Despite joining the coalition fight against ISIS, Iran’s dogged support for Syria’s President Assad adds fuel to the fire of the anti-Iran coalition.

While Netanyahu’s theatrics on May 1 gained attention, other pro-war advocates in America have also been re-inserting themselves into mainstream politics. On April 11th, Michael Makovsky a former Pentagon official and now head of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) suggested that because President Trump threatened to withdraw from the JCPOA, he has put the US in a corner.

Makovsky acknowledged that Iran is adhering to the agreement but said if Iran withdraws the US should act. “A prepared president” he wrote, “should seize the historic opportunity to follow through on that threat.” In effect he argues that regardless of Iran’s adherence, if the US withdraws, it must attack Iran so as not to appear weak. President Trump has taken the bait.

Meeting with France’s President Macron on April 24th, Trump said the US could withdraw from the JCPOA, but if Iran does so and “starts its nuclear program they will have bigger problems than they have ever had before,” adding “If Iran threatens us, they will experience a retaliation few countries have ever experienced.” President Trump may hate the JCPOA, but he despises Iran’s adherence to it even more.

Bolton, the MEK and the Regime Changers

Third, the ascent of John Bolton as National Security Adviser means ‘regime change’ policy is firmly back on the table. For those needing a reminder, this was the policy of the Bush administration after 9/11. It signals a range of covert and overt actions by the US or its proxies to bring down a regime that is deemed unfriendly to the US, and install a friendly one.

That John Bolton is an enthusiast of such a policy, and that he is publicly affiliated with the cultish Mujahedin e Khalq (MEK was on the terrorist list until 2012) that self-identify as Iran’s exiled opposition group and have shaped shifted to appear more palatable to western states, but remain widely despised inside the country, is another warning sign of an Iraq war redux.

Other ‘regime changers’ such as Eli Lake have also come out of hibernation. Early in April, Eli Lake an unapologetic supporter of the Iraq war published an interview with Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Iran’s Nobel laureate. Dr. Ebadi has long criticized the Iranian regime for its human rights abuses, and called for a variety of legal measures to bring about systemic change.

In her interview, she repeats her assertion that “the regime change in Iran should take place inside Iran and by the people of Iran…But,” she says, the US “can help the people of Iran reach their own goal” by establishing a channel to the legitimate and independent Iranian opposition.

That she’s seeking US support is of concern to many. But in calling for regime change, she is also siding against the JCPOA. The article headline screamed “Nobel Laureate is done with Reform, she wants Regime Change’ and overnight the neo-cons had their own version of a celebrity advocate.

The Economic Factor

Finally, there is nothing quite like preparing the groundswell for chaos than meddling with a country’s finances. Here too the timing and evidence is not coincidental. In February 2018, the Iranian rial lurched downward and as Iranians rung in their new year in late March, the spiral continued with a 20% loss, causing many to question machinations behind the scenes.

While Iran’s own mismanagement of the economy is also to blame, the coalescing of external factors is notable. Iranians have relied on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) markets to obtain dollars and enable transactions and trade.

But with US and Saudi involvement, the UAE instigated a new 5% value added tax, visa restrictions and tighter banking restrictions that mostly affect Iranians. In Iran a public rush to sell the rial and invest in the ever more expensive dollar or gold, prompted the government to step in and announce a single official dollar rate. Whether this allays fears and stabilizes the economy is yet to be seen. But uncertainty is in the air.

Iran has done a poor job of public relations in the US. For an older generation, images of yellow ribbons tied around neighborhood trees counting the days of the 1979 hostage crisis are seared in memories.

For a younger generation, it is images of brave women throwing off their mandatory veils as they fend off security guards. It is a far away land of angry clerics with furrowed brows where environmentalists and dual citizens are arrested.

But as pressures loom, it is important to remember that Iranians – men and women, old and young, children and grand parents are trying to live normal lives of love and laughter, joy and heartache.

In 2002 when US think tanks and media joined the Bush administration’s drumbeat of war on Iraq, the public was skeptical, but the political establishment pushed to make war seemed inevitable.

Yet decisions made on a high of adrenlin and machismo didn’t result in a ‘cakewalk of a war’. They caused unimagined misery. Iraq, a country that was the cradle of civilization that had no illiteracy in its population by 1980, is now unrecognizable. One million people are dead according to the most conservative estimates.

Depleted uranium from US weapons runs in the waterways and into veins of Iraq children giving rise to unprecedented levels of cancer. US hubris and mismanagement of the occupation and its aftermath also gave rise to ISIS.

Now cheerleaders of that war have their eyes on Iran. A country that is significantly larger and is home to 80 million people, majority young, overwhelmingly educated, and mostly fed up with the aging theocracy that isolates them from the world and thwarts their aspirations.

But this population does not want missiles raining from the sky. It doesn’t want its economy ruined. It wants engagement with the world. It is also deeply patriotic. They may rail against the regime but they will likely rally as a nation if there is any foreign attack.

Even if attacks are purported to be tactical, aimed at the heart of the regime’s center to create a vacuum of power, the ascendance of on organized opposition that is tasteful to the west is unlikely. The more likely scenario is the rise of a militant force, backed by an indignant population fueled by renewed anger towards the US and its allies.

The world should also pause and anticipate what may unfold if chaos is invoked through economic collapse and a weakening of Iran’s borders: at a minimum refugees spilling into Europe and an open gateway from Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Persian Gulf and beyond.

The JCPOA is a critical foundation for preventing conflagration on a scale we have not seen. For those who still claim military attacks, harsh sanctions or other forms of destabilization are the route to peace, democracy or human rights, the body count and chaos in Libya, Iraq and Yemen is evidence of their flawed logic.

Iran’s alliance with President Assad is unfathomable, but it does not warrant unleashing chaos against Iran’s 80 million people. Neither any regional Middle Eastern states, nor the global powers have morality on their side. All are implicated in wars that have led too many deaths already.

As the May 12 deadline looms for the US’s endorsement of the JCPOA, world leaders who claimed to support Mr.Guterres’ sustaining peace agenda, have a clear moral imperative: to stand by their words and sustain the peace for the millions of civilians in Iran and beyond who would pay the price if violence escalates.

That means they must prevent this impending conflict before the fog of inevitability sets in.

The post To Sustain Peace: Heed the Warnings & Prevent the Next War appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Sanam Naraghi Anderlini is Co-Founder & Executive Director, International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)

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What’s Changing As Countries Turn INDCs into NDCs?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/whats-changing-countries-turn-indcs-ndcs/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=whats-changing-countries-turn-indcs-ndcs http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/whats-changing-countries-turn-indcs-ndcs/#respond Mon, 23 Apr 2018 11:39:28 +0000 Mengpin Ge and Kelly Levin http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155409 Mengpin Ge is a Research Analyst and Kelly Levin, a Senior Associate at World Resources Institute

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UN talks on climate change agreement in Geneva in 2015. Credit: UN Photo

By Mengpin Ge and Kelly Levin
WASHINGTON DC, Apr 23 2018 (IPS)

In the lead up to the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, adopted in 2015, more than 160 countries and the European Union submitted their own plans to address climate change, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

According to the global climate pact, a country’s INDC is converted to a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) when it formally joins the Paris Agreement by submitting an instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, unless a country decides otherwise.

NDCs present countries’ efforts to reach the Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal of limiting warming to well below 2°C (3.6°F), with efforts to stay below 1.5°C (2.7° F).

Even if current commitments are fully implemented, warming is on track to reach 2.7°C to 3.7°C over the course of the century, setting the world on course for dangerous sea level rise, intensified extreme events and other impacts.

Fortunately, several features in the Paris Agreement can help strengthen national commitments over time. For example, Parties to the Paris Agreement must communicate or update their NDCs by 2020 and continue to do so every five years thereafter to enhance ambition.

Some countries aren’t waiting until 2020 to make changes to their national climate commitments. As countries ratify the Paris Agreement, some have decided to revise their INDCs and communicate the changes as part of their first NDCs.

So far, of the 169 countries that have communicated an NDC, 15 offered a plan that differs from their INDC: Argentina, Benin, The Bahamas, Belize, Canada, France1, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Morocco, Mali, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan2, Uruguay and Venezuela.

In addition, three countries that have joined the Paris Agreement requested that their INDCs not be converted to NDCs upon ratification: Brunei Darussalam, Ecuador and the Philippines.

What does this mean for global climate action? Encouragingly, many of the revisions go beyond countries’ previous submissions, shifting to more stringent targets, increasing transparency, and reflecting recent developments in knowledge and technology.

Some countries, however, have lowered their ambition or made tweaks that make their commitment less clear. Here are some of the changes countries have made when converting INDCs to NDCs.

Three Countries Adopted More Stringent Targets

Argentina changed its GHG target type to a fixed-level target in its NDC, specifying that it will not exceed net emissions of 483 MtCO2e by 2030, with conditional measures that could bring emissions further down to 369 MtCO2eq for 2030. The switch of target type presents a strengthened target by removing the uncertainties associated with baseline projections needed for the previous INDC target. Although mostly the result of an improved GHG inventory methodology, the NDC target also results in a lower level of emissions in 2030 when compared to the 569.5 MtCO2e implied by the INDC target (a 15 percent reduction below business-as-usual levels of 670 MtCO2e).

Indonesia, while sticking to the same target of reducing emissions 29 percent unconditionally (up to 41 percent conditionally) from business-as-usual levels, revised its baseline emissions level from 2,881 MtCO2e in the INDC to 2,869 MtCO2e in NDC. Thus, its GHG target now translates to a lower level of absolute emissions in the target year.

Morocco strengthened its target by stating further reductions, moving from an unconditional 13 percent reduction from business-as-usual emissions levels by 2030 (and a 31 percent conditional reduction) in its INDC to a 17 percent unconditional reduction (41 percent conditional) in its NDC.

Six Countries Announced New Commitments and Actions

Morocco now presents a detailed portfolio of 55 unconditional and conditional mitigation actions, along with cost estimates and emissions-reduction potential for 2030. Examples with the highest emissions-reduction potential include: putting in place multiple wind farms, thermodynamic concentrated solar power and photovoltaic power plants in multiple areas by 2020; importing liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and use of LPG for electricity generation in combined cycle power plants to reach 3,550 MW by 2025; and recycling household waste through co-incineration and mechanical biological treatment; among others.

Nepal added to its list of 14 contributions a target to expand the share of renewable energy in its energy mix by 20 percent by 2020 and diversify its energy consumption pattern to more industrial and commercial sectors.

Pakistan added a conditional GHG target to reduce emissions 20 percent from business-as-usual levels by 2030, along with lists of mitigation options for energy supply, energy demand and agricultural sectors.

Sri Lanka added a seventh contribution for the energy sector related to converting existing fuel oil-based power plants to LNG, and added more details in its NDC on other sectoral mitigation strategies in transport, waste, industry and forestry sectors.

Uruguay added non-GHG targets for several sectors, including energy, transport, agriculture, land use, land-use change and forestry, accompanied by detailed measures including increasing capacity of renewable energy, adoption of biofuel in gasoline and diesel, and maintenance of 100 percent of the native forest area by 2025, among others.

Venezuela introduced the Ley de Semillas (2015) (Law of Seeds) for enhanced seed management as part of its series of actions and programs addressing climate change.

Many Countries Increased Their References to Adaptation

Almost all updated NDCs put more focus on adaptation as part of their contribution. For example:

Argentina elaborated its adaptation needs by including a full “adaptation component” in its NDC, including discussion on national circumstances, vulnerability and impacts, current efforts and adaptation needs. This information will lay the foundation for its National Adaptation Plan.

Belize expressed intention to provide information on adaptation at a later stage in its INDC. In its NDC, an adaptation chapter describes, among others, Belize’s vulnerability, near-term adaptation actions and co-benefits, and main actions to be implemented to build resilience in priority sectors, such as coastal and marine resources and agriculture.

Benin includes a detailed table of sectoral objectives for adaptation for 2020, 2025 and 2030, and provides further details in an annex table of adaptation measures.

Canada’s NDC recognizes the importance of building climate resilience.

Indonesia moved discussions around its climate resilience strategy from an annex in the INDC to the main text in the NDC.

Mali’s NDC now includes discussions on adaptation needs and action plans with cost estimates through 2020-2030, in addition to the 2015-2020 period previously included in the INDC.

Morocco included a detailed section on its vulnerability to climate impacts in sectors such as water, agriculture and maritime fisheries. The NDC also elaborated its quantified sectoral adaptation goals for 2020 and 2030, as well as sectoral strategies, action plans, programs and initiatives that will enable the implementation of those goals.

Sri Lanka’s NDC elaborated its adaptation contributions for its most vulnerable sectors, such as health, food security (agriculture, livestock and fisheries), water and irrigation, coastal and marine resources, biodiversity, urban infrastructure and human settlements, and tourism and recreation.

Pakistan identified its adaptation actions and priorities in its NDC.

Uruguay elaborated on its adaptation measures, and identified measures that have effects on both mitigation and adaptation.

None Countries Improved Their Transparency

Argentina, Canada, Morocco and Uruguay have now specified the level of emissions that will result if their NDCs are achieved. This transparency is critically important because it provides an indication of where emissions are headed.

Belize communicated the anticipated emissions reductions from its actions.

• Countries including Benin, Morocco, Pakistan and Sri Lanka presented more information on how their NDCs will be implemented and monitored.

Some Countries Weakened Their Commitments or Decreased Clarity

While the number of countries that strengthened their climate efforts while converting their INDCs to NDCs is encouraging, we also found examples of NDCs that indicate lowered ambition or less clarity about efforts. Such changes run counter to the Paris Agreement and could make it more challenging to rapidly curb emissions and close the emissions gap.

Some countries also removed targets from their NDC. For example, New Zealand removed references to sectoral targets and a long-term target; however, since then, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has committed the country to zero out its carbon footprint by 2050.

The Bahamas kept its target to reduce emissions 30 percent below a business-as-usual scenario by 2030, but removed the description translating this target as 30 percent below 2002. Removing this figure poses more uncertainty given that the emissions in the target year are no longer as clear.

Other countries revised their NDCs, likely as a result of groundtruthing earlier NDCs that were prepared ahead of the Paris COP. Benin’s revised NDC, for example, includes measures that would result in slightly greater reductions from the energy and agricultural sectors between 2021 and 2030, but would see higher cumulative emissions overall.

Mali remains a net sink of emissions in 2030, given that its land sector will continue to absorb more emissions than the country will emit; however, Mali’s new NDC presents a less ambitious unconditional net sequestration target of -12.7 MtCO2e in 2030, compared to its previous pledge of -33.6 MtCO2e in 2030.

None of these changes compare to the negative message sent by the United States. In July 2017, President Trump indicated that the country would “immediately cease implementation of its current nationally determined contribution.” Domestically, the Trump administration has systematically unraveled much of the United States’ domestic climate policies, and President Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

Step Up for Climate Action

Addressing climate change requires decisive leadership from all countries to step up their efforts as quickly as possible – and to make sure they align with the long-term emissions reductions required to avoid the worst impacts. Countries that have already strengthened their efforts should serve as a model for others to follow.

A core pillar of the Paris Agreement requires that countries scale up their national climate efforts every five years. Countries took the first step in 2015 by submitting their INDC, and in 2020, they must take the next. By the UN climate negotiations in Poland this December, the world is looking for countries to announce that they will enhance their NDCs by 2020.

By making this commitment in 2018, countries signal to their ministers, mayors and business leaders that the journey to building a zero-carbon, climate-resilient future is underway.

The link to the original article:
http://www.wri.org/blog/2018/04/insider-whats-changing-countries-turn-indcs-ndcs-5-early-insights

The post What’s Changing As Countries Turn INDCs into NDCs? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Mengpin Ge is a Research Analyst and Kelly Levin, a Senior Associate at World Resources Institute

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Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Democratic Multilateralismhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/boutros-boutros-ghali-democratic-multileralism/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=boutros-boutros-ghali-democratic-multileralism http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/boutros-boutros-ghali-democratic-multileralism/#respond Fri, 20 Apr 2018 11:26:10 +0000 Federico Mayor Zaragoza http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155359 Federico Mayor Zaragoza, Former Director-General of UNESCO (1987-1999) and president of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace

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Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations, speaks at the unveiling of his official portrait as Secretary-General Kofi Annan, his successor, listens. Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations, speaks at the unveiling of his official portrait as Secretary-General Kofi Annan, his successor, listens. Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

By Federico Mayor Zaragoza
Apr 20 2018 (IPS)

“If we don’t do everything possible to democratize globalization, globalization will pervert national democracies”, said the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, as President of the “International Panel on Democracy and Development” set up by UNESCO and chaired by the man who had worked so hard, at a global scale, in favour of giving voice to the peoples -as required in the first sentence of the Charter of the United Nations- to allow constant participation from citizenship as should be the rule in a genuine democracy.

He also mentioned how risky it was to exchange “trade for aid” because it led to put an end to foreign aid for the sake of integral, sustainable and human development, leaving initiative in the hands of major trade corporations.

“Globalization is not governed by democratic principles, and decisions taken are neither the result of a process of free expression of opinion… I think the essential philosophy for the proper operation of global democracy is the same as for national democracy: promoting a countervailing power, listening to everyone’s opinion, in particular the opinion of the members of the opposition and of the weakest, in order to reach agreements that make everyone feel duly represented”.

“Globalization is not governed by democratic principles, and decisions taken are neither the result of a process of free expression of opinion... I think the essential philosophy for the proper operation of global democracy is the same as for national democracy: promoting a countervailing power, listening to everyone’s opinion, in particular the opinion of the members of the opposition and of the weakest, in order to reach agreements that make everyone feel duly represented”
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, UN Secretary-General, 1992-1996

This was Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s (1922 – 2016) way of thinking, those were the ideas he clearly expressed in his Agendas for Peace, Development and Democracy, the ideas that led many rich countries -in particular United States Republican Party- to feel prejudiced against a second mandate from a Secretary-General that had so openly and convincingly expressed his opinion against globalizing neoliberalism.

His book “En Attendant la Prochaine Lune…” (1997-2002) starts with the reflections he made on 1 January 1997 about the reasons that prevented him from being nominated for a second term in such a high-level position, as was normally the case.  The relevance of this book lies in the memories that the former Secretary-General recalls about this painful period. In the first place, he mentions the moment when he was replaced by the new Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

I had the opportunity to personally attend this event. The Secretary-General that had made the greatest contributions to the democratization of United Nations was forced to quit his job because President Clinton was a weak president, confronted to the influential Republican Party that dominated the power scenario in the United States, under the leadership of Senator Jesse Helms.

And that is why, disregarding the support of a vast majority, Boutros Boutros-Ghali gave yet another lesson of common sense and sense of timing when he accepted to be replaced by a civil servant from the United Nations who met all terms and conditions due to his recognized undertaking of the tasks that he was trusted with and to his personal and family background. He wrote: “I don’t really regret leaving behind a job, a way of living, a house, friends… but rather to have to start from scratch at 74, under a new sky, new responsibilities, in an environment that is still completely odd to me”…

On 1 January 1997 he flew to Paris on board of a Concorde with his wife Lea, a woman with an unusual personality, very much up to the standard of his well-known husband.  When they arrived to the Hotel Meurice, “as if everything was the same… the scenery that had remained unchanged was a great relief and it helped me start a new life after having left the UN behind”…

On 10 January he was greeted by President Chirac at the Élysée “with the cordiality, simplicity and true friendship that were one of his best kept secrets”.  We had both lost a battle… because he had been in the last period my strongest pillar, my floating log, when other Nations had decided to abandon me pressed by the American hurricane…

In another one of his “diaries” he had written: “I knew that he republicans and the Zionists would oppose my re-election”.  During this meeting he was “introduced” by Chirac to the position of General Secretary of “La Francophonie, an organisation whose aim was “to protect multilingualism and cultural diversity…”, and which had to be elected for the first time during the Summit Meeting of Heads of State and Government to be held in Hanoi in November 1997.  The French President suggested that starting from May he should travel around Africa and Asia to ensure the success of his candidacy.

He describes the occasion when on 4 March -during the presentation of the “Amicorum Liber” from Héctor Gros Espiell-  Karel Vassak invited him, with my persistent support, to prepare his own. Lea was very pleased with this project. Boutros seemed somehow reluctant to accept the proposal, but he finally did.  On 12 May he recalls we had lunch together and I asked him to chair the International Commission on “democracy and development”.

He explains: “Federico Mayor had previously created a Commission chaired by Javier Pérez de Cuéllar on “culture and development”, and he had entrusted Jacques Delors with the responsibility of yet another Commission on “education and development”…

On 18 May he told me who were the 22 members of the Panel, amongst them well-known international personalities such as Nadine Gardiner, from South Africa, Basma Bint Talal from Jordan, Mohammed Charfi, Tunisia, Abid Hussain, India, Attiya Inayatullah, Pakistan, Robert Badinter, France, Bruce Russet, U.S.A., Juan Antonio Carrillo Salcedo, Spain, Rosario Green, Mexico”… “This will be -he says- a new and wide-scope academic adventure .  I am fully aware of the challenge I will be faced with”.

But there is no doubt that he had a great experience in this particular area.  In fact, in December 1986, when the 51st session of the General Assembly of the United Nations was about to end, as was his term as Secretary-General, Boutros-Ghali submitted his third Agenda within one of the issues for discussion entitled “Support by the United Nations system to efforts made by Governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies” .

Amongst the six sections it includes, the most important and timely is certainly the one devoted to “Democratization at an international scale”. Once again Boutros Boutros-Ghali was running ahead of events, because he was familiar with the ins and outs of oligarchic groups supported by neoliberalism. He names the “new actors” in the international scenario that shall thereafter be taken into account: “regional organizations, NGOs, members of the Parliament, local authorities, academic and scientific circles, companies… and, in particular, mass media”.

According to him: “A culture for democracy leads to the promotion and reinforcement of a culture for peace and to development by means of an adequate governance”.

Despite being fair and universal, the United Nations cannot promote democratization movements.  But it can, however, help every country to find its own way towards democracy. Boutros was the first Secretary-General who, despite reaffirming United Nations neutrality, overtly declared himself in favour of the democratic system, a declaration that reflected a change in what had been up to then the traditional position.

“Democracy contributes to preserve peace and security, to protect justice and human rights and to promote economic and social development”.  As a matter of fact Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s perspective and action duly completes the 1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The different “Summits” that were held since 1992 also highlight the need to finally give a voice to “We the peoples…”: they were allowed to speak about environment in Rio de Janeiro, 1992; about population in Cairo, 1992; about human rights in Vienna, 1993; about women in Pekin, 1995; about the habitat in Istanbul, 1995 about social development in Copenhagen, 1995…

The next meeting was the Millennium Forum that gathered together, in May 2000 at the United Nations headquarters in New York, 1350 representatives of NGOs, civil society organisations, associations representing new actors… It was, therefore, urgent to make an assessment of the meetings held during the first part of the nineties so that attention was finally paid to the specific directives that were required to allow implementation -at a national, regional and international scale- of suitable actions for the 21st century and the third millennium.

The Forum concluded with the Final Declaration from the Civil Society -”We the peoples”-and the Agenda for Action (“Strengthening the United Nations for the Twenty-First Century”) that included specific proposals such as: transforming the Security Council; reshaping the International Court of Justice… all of which have been ignored up to now, although they remain at the disposal of mankind, once we will no longer be distracted and subjugated by the gigantic media power, and we will realize that there are essential changes that must be made without delay.

 

Boutros Boutros-Ghali was appointed by acclamation by the General Assembly as the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations, for a five-year term beginning 1 January 1992. Credit: UN Photo/John Isaac

Boutros Boutros-Ghali was appointed by acclamation by the General Assembly as the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations, for a five-year term beginning 1 January 1992. Credit: UN Photo/John Isaac.

 

The titles of the extensive work written by Boutros Boutros-Ghali are an unusual and extraordinary reflect of his life as a politician and as a human being: “The Problem of the Suez Channel”, 1957; “General Theory of Alliances”, 1963; “The African Union Organization”, 1969; “The Egyptian Path to Jerusalem”, 1997; “My Life in the Glass House”, 1999; “Peace, Development, Democracy: Agendas for the Management of our Planet”, 2001; “Democratizing Globalization”, 2002…

19 November 1997 was the 20th anniversary of the wise and courageous visit of President Anwar el-Sadat to Jerusalem, “the most important event in my political and diplomatic career… 20 years have elapsed: history will recall this exceptional visit as one of the greatest moments of the 20th century.

In my contribution to his “Amicorum Disipulorumque Liber” on “The Human Right to Peace” I wrote in the prologue “Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s term occurred at the same time as a series of radical changes in international affairs”.  The “post-Cold War” had indeed nothing to do with “previous post-wars”. And yet Boutros Boutros-Ghali knew which the priorities were. And which were the main references and recommendations raised during the most relevant meetings of the United Nations.

We had the raw materials… but we lacked the ability to use them in a hostile environment headed by United States Republican Party. In my paper I told the following story: “My granddaughter asked me recently why we hadn’t kept the promises we made during the Earth Summit.  I told her that to take action one needs to feel involved, responsible, one needs to recall, to compare… She is still waiting for that to happen. Everyone, men and women are still waiting. I hope we will not deceive them. I hope the United Nations will have the support they need to put into practice the Plans to promote tolerance, dialogue, cultural exchange, peace”.

Boutros-Ghali’s friends and pupils unveiled -in his book Amicorum– an extraordinary man in extraordinary circumstances, I felt satisfied that the UNESCO, a “thinking” organisation within the United Nations family, had been at the root of this book. Some of the contributors worthwhile mentioning were the following: Jacques Delors, Mikhail Gorbachev, Juan Antonio Carrillo, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Enrique Iglesias, Robert Badinter, Shimon Peres, Ismail Serageldin…

Finally I would like to mention how vividly I still recall the proposal made by Karel Vasak, Bernard Kouchner and myself to the Secretary-General of The United Nations concerning the “humanitarian interference”, a concept that should prevent atrocities such as those committed in Cambodia and Rwanda from ever happening again with no reaction from the international community.

The UN blue helmets should only intervene in two specific cases: general violation of human rights and genocide. But the “duty to intervene” due to humanitarian reasons was overtly at odds with the sacred sovereignty of Nations -despite massacre? How many victims are hiding behind the term “sovereignty”? Could Pol Pot really claim that he had legal powers that justified his atrocious insanities?

If the United Nations were “re-democratized”, they would be in the position to rely on article 42 of the Charter that allows an armed intervention in case of massive violations of human rights or in case of “clear menace against peace and international security”.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali was overthrown… but he reappeared as leader of La Fancophonie, as President of the Council of the European Centre for Peace and Development; he, therefore, made his re-entry into the international scene, and he shall remain there forever as a beacon thanks to the audacious and truthful messages he conveyed about peace, justice, development and democracy, all of which demand the implementation of multilateralism he so much yearned for.

 

This story was originally published on 28 July 2017, reminiscing Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Roberto Savio, Founder of IPS retrieved this story and we are republishing.

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Federico Mayor Zaragoza, Former Director-General of UNESCO (1987-1999) and president of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace

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Argentina Aims for a Delicate Climate Balance in the G20http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/argentina-aims-delicate-climate-balance-g20/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=argentina-aims-delicate-climate-balance-g20 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/argentina-aims-delicate-climate-balance-g20/#respond Fri, 20 Apr 2018 00:10:12 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155356 As president this year of the Group of 20 (G20) developed and emerging nations, Argentina has now formally begun the task of trying to rebuild a consensus around climate change. It will be an uphill climb, since the position taken by the United States in 2017 led to a noisy failure in the group with […]

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The Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Argentina, Rabbi Sergio Bergman, speaks during the opening of the Group of 20 (G20) Sustainability Working Group in Buenos Aires. Argentina, which chairs the Group this year, has the difficult task of seeking consensus on this thorny issue. Credit: Ministry of Environment of Argentina

The Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Argentina, Rabbi Sergio Bergman, speaks during the opening of the Group of 20 (G20) Sustainability Working Group in Buenos Aires. Argentina, which chairs the Group this year, has the difficult task of seeking consensus on this thorny issue. Credit: Ministry of Environment of Argentina

By Daniel Gutman
BUENOS AIRES, Apr 20 2018 (IPS)

As president this year of the Group of 20 (G20) developed and emerging nations, Argentina has now formally begun the task of trying to rebuild a consensus around climate change. It will be an uphill climb, since the position taken by the United States in 2017 led to a noisy failure in the group with regard to the issue.

The G20 Sustainability Working Group (CSWG) held its first meeting of the year on Apr. 17-18 in Buenos Aires, in the middle of a balancing act.

Argentine officials hope a full consensus will be reached, in order to avoid a repeat of what happened in 2017 in Germany, when the final document crudely exposed the differences between the U.S. standpoint and the views of the other 19 members, with respect to climate change.

“Since the United States does not recognise the Climate Action Plan agreed in Hamburg (where the last G20 summit was held), we did not formally table it. But what we are doing is addressing the contents of that plan,” Carlos Gentile, chair of the G20 Sustainability Working Group, told IPS.

“Today the United States is participating and we are confident that this time a consensus will be reached for the G20 document by the end of this year,” added Gentile, who is Argentina’s secretary of climate change and sustainable development.

The official stressed, as a step forward for the countries of Latin America and other emerging economies, the fact that the main theme of the Working Group this year is adaptation to climate change and extreme climate events, with a focus on development of resilient infrastructure and job creation.

“We know that mitigation is more important for the developed countries, which is why it is a victory that they accepted our focus on adaptation,” said Gentile.

The Working Group commissioned four documents that will be discussed at the end of August at the second and last meeting of the year, which will be held in Puerto Iguazú, on the triple border between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.

Two of the papers will be on adaptation to climate change and will be produced by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and UN Environment.

The other two will be about long-term strategies, prepared by the World Resources Institute, an international research organisation, and how to align funding with the national contributions established in the Paris Agreement on climate change, by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

One of the highlights of the two days in Buenos Aires was that the countries that have already finalised documents on their long-term strategies (LTS) shared their experiences. Among these countries are Germany, Canada, the United States, Great Britain, Mexico and France.

The LTS are voluntary plans that nations have been invited to present, by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, about their vision of how it is possible to transform their productive and energy mix by 2050 and beyond.

While the national contributions included in the Paris Agreement, established at COP 21 in December 2015, are included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and are to be reviewed every five years, the LTS look much further.

“Each of the countries designed their LTS in their own way. Some countries said they used it as a way to send a signal to the private sector about what kinds of technologies are foreseen for the climate transition and others spoke about job creation,” said Lucas Black, climate change specialist for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The UNDP collaborates with the Global Resources Institute in its document on the LTS and it also plays a role in the agenda of issues related to the development of the G20, as an external guest.

What does not seem clear is where such ambitious transformation plans towards 2050 will find the resources needed to turn them into reality.

In this respect, Black acknowledged to a small group of journalists that for emerging economies it is particularly difficult to find the funds necessary for carrying out in-depth changes.

“The private sector, particularly in infrastructure, really needs long-term certainty. That is a crucial part of its decision to invest,” said the international official, who arrived from New York for the meeting.

For her part, María Eugenia Di Paola, coordinator of the UNDP Environment Programme in Argentina, said the financing for the transition must come from “a public-private partnership” and that “the incorporation of adaptation to climate change in the G20 agenda is mainly of interest to developing countries.”

This year’s G20 Leaders’ Summit will take place Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Buenos Aires and will bring together the world’s most powerful heads of state and government for the first time in South America.

By that time, which will mark the end of the presidency of Argentina, this country hopes to reach a consensus on climate change, an issue that was first addressed in the official G20 declaration in 2008.

Black believes it is possible.

“Obviously, the G20 countries have different views. During the German presidency there was no consensus on all points. But all G20 members have a strong interest in the issues discussed this week: adaptation to climate change and infrastructure, long-term strategies and the need to align financing with national contributions,” he said.

The Working Group meeting in Buenos Aires was opened by two ministers of the government of President Mauricio Macri: Environment Minister Sergio Bergman and Energy and Mining Minister Juan José Aranguren.

Before joining the government, Aranguren was for years CEO of the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell in Argentina.

Argentina launched a programme to build sources of generation of renewable energy, which is almost non-existent in the country’s electricity mix but drives the most important projects in other areas of the energy sector.

Thus, for example, it was announced that in May Aranguren will travel to Houston, the capital of the U.S. oil industry, in search of investors to boost the development of Vaca Muerta, a gigantic reservoir of unconventional fossil fuels in the south of the country.

The minister has also been questioned by environmental sectors for his support for the construction of a gigantic dam in Patagonia and the installation of two new nuclear power plants.

“Latin America has a series of opportunities to build a more sustainable energy system, to improve infrastructure and to provide safe access to energy for the entire population,” Aranguren said in his opening speech at the Working Group meeting.

Bergman, meanwhile, said that “we have all the resources to address the challenge of climate change to transform reality and open the door to a secure and stable future for all.”

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Middle East: a Threat to World Peace & Security, Warns UN Chiefhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/middle-east-threat-world-peace-security-warns-un-chief/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=middle-east-threat-world-peace-security-warns-un-chief http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/middle-east-threat-world-peace-security-warns-un-chief/#comments Fri, 13 Apr 2018 16:47:38 +0000 Antonio Guterres http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155274 UN Secretary-General António Guterres in an address to the Security Council

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres in an address to the Security Council

By António Guterres
UNITED NATIONS, Apr 13 2018 (IPS)

The situation in the Middle East is in chaos — to such an extent it has become a threat to international peace and security.

The region is facing a true Gordian knot – different fault lines crossing each other and creating a highly volatile situation with risks of escalation, fragmentation and division as far as the eye can see with profound regional and global ramifications.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Credit: UN Photo

We see a multiplicity of divides. The first is the memory of the Cold War. But to be precise, it is more than a simple memory.

The Cold War is back — with a vengeance but with a difference. The mechanisms and the safeguards to manage the risks of escalation that existed in the past no longer seem to be present.

Second, the Palestinian-Israeli divide. Third, the Sunni-Shia divide, evident from the Gulf to the Mediterranean. It is important to note that apparent religious divides are normally the result of political or geo-strategic manipulations.

Finally, a wide range of different factors — from opposing attitudes in relation to the role of the Muslim Brotherhood or the status of the Kurds, to the dramatic threats to communities that have been living in the region for millennia and are part of the rich diversity of Middle Eastern societies.

This multiplicity of divides is reflected in a multiplicity of conflicts with different degrees of interconnection, several of them clearly linked to the threat of global terrorism. Many forms of escalation are possible.

We see the wounds of the Palestinian- Israeli conflict deepening once again. The recent violence in Gaza has resulted in many needless deaths and injuries.

I repeat my call for an independent and transparent investigation into these incidents.
I also appeal to those concerned to refrain from any act that could lead to further casualties and, in particular, any measures that could place civilians in harm’s way.

This tragedy underlines the urgency of revitalizing the peace process for a two-state solution that will allow Palestinians and Israelis to live in two democratic states side by side in peace and within secure and recognised borders. I reaffirm the United Nations’ readiness to support these efforts.

In Yemen, we are witnessing the worst humanitarian disaster in today’s world. There is only one pathway to ending the Yemeni conflict and addressing the humanitarian crisis – a negotiated political settlement through inclusive intra-Yemeni dialogue.

My Special Envoy Martin Griffiths is doing everything possible to facilitate that political settlement — and he will brief the Council next week.

In Libya, I encourage all parties to continue to work with my Special Representative Ghassan Salamé, as he engages in the political process with a broad range of Libyan interlocutors across the country to implement the UN Action Plan. It is high time to end the Libyan conflict.

Iraq demonstrates that progress is possible with concerted local, regional and global commitment. With the defeat of Daesh, and after overcoming the risk of fragmentation, the Government of Iraq must now focus on reconstruction, reforms and reconciliation. I hope the upcoming elections will consolidate this progress.

At the recent Paris and Rome conferences, the international community reaffirmed its support for Lebanon’s sovereignty, stability and state security institutions.

It is absolutely essential to avoid a new Israel-Hezbollah conflict that could inevitably result in many more victims and much greater destruction than the last war.

I reiterate the critical importance to act on key principles and commitments on Lebanon, including Security Council resolutions such as 1701, and the policy of disassociation. The dangers of the links to the Syrian conflict are evident in the recent confrontations between Iran and Israel in Syria.

Syria indeed today represents the most serious threat to international peace and security.

In Syria, we see confrontations and proxy wars involving several national armies, a number of armed opposition groups, many national and international militia, foreign fighters from everywhere in the world, and various terrorist organizations.

From the beginning, we have witnessed systematic violations of international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and international law tout court — in utter disregard of the letter and spirit of the United Nations Charter.

For eight long years, the people of Syria have endured suffering upon suffering. I reiterate: there is no military solution to the conflict.

The solution must be political through the Geneva intra-Syrian talks, as stipulated in resolution 2254 of the Security Council, in line with the consistent efforts of my Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura.

Syrians have lived through a litany of horrors: atrocity crimes, sieges, starvation, indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, the use of chemical weapons, forced displacement, sexual violence, torture, detention and enforced disappearances. The list goes on.

In a moment of hope, the Security Council adopted resolution 2401 demanding that all parties cease hostilities without delay for a durable humanitarian pause.

Unfortunately, no such cessation of hostilities ever really took place. That is the bleak panorama of Syria today.

In this panorama, I am outraged by the continued reports of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

I reiterate my strong condemnation of the use of chemical weapons by any party to the conflict and under any circumstances. Their use is abhorrent and a clear violation of international law.

The seriousness of the recent allegations requires a thorough investigation using impartial, independent and professional expertise.

In this regard, I reaffirm my full support for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – the OPCW — and its Fact-Finding Mission in undertaking the required investigation into these allegations.

The Fact-Finding Mission should be granted full access, without any restrictions or impediments to perform its activities. I take note that the Syrian government has requested it and committed to facilitate it.

The first team of the OPCW is already in Syria. A second is expected today or tomorrow. But we need to go further.

In a letter to the Council two days ago, I expressed “my deep disappointment that the Security Council was unable to agree upon a dedicated mechanism to attribute responsibility for the use of chemical weapons in Syria”, following the end of the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism, or JIM.

I want to repeat today that the norms against chemical weapons must be upheld.

As I wrote in the same letter: “Ensuring accountability for a confirmed use of chemical weapons is our responsibility, not least to the victims of such attacks.

A lack of accountability emboldens those who would use such weapons by providing them with the reassurance of impunity. This in turn further weakens the norm proscribing the use of chemical weapons and the international disarmament and non-proliferation architecture as a whole.

I urge all Member States to act responsibly in these dangerous circumstances.

I appeal to the Security Council to fulfil its duties and not give up on efforts to agree upon a dedicated, impartial, objective and independent mechanism for attributing responsibility with regard to the use of chemical weapons. I stand ready to support such efforts.”

Increasing tensions and the inability to reach a compromise in the establishment of an accountability mechanism threaten to lead to a full-blown military escalation.

In my contacts with you — especially with the Permanent Members of the Security Council — I have been reiterating my deep concerns about the risks of the current impasse and stressed the need to avoid the situation spiralling out of control.

This is exactly the risk we face today – that things spiral out of control. It is our common duty to stop it.

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres in an address to the Security Council

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“International Solidarity” at Yemen Donor Conferencehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/international-solidarity-yemen-donor-conference/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=international-solidarity-yemen-donor-conference http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/international-solidarity-yemen-donor-conference/#respond Thu, 05 Apr 2018 15:55:56 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155181 The international community has pledged over two billion dollars towards urgently needed humanitarian assistance to Yemen during a UN event. Convened by the UN along with the Governments of Sweden and Switzerland, a High-Level Pledging Event brought together the international community to support suffering Yemenis facing a seemingly “forgotten war.” “This pledging conference represents a […]

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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (second from left) signs a Voluntary Financial Contribution Memorandum between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Nations to the 2018 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan. Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Apr 5 2018 (IPS)

The international community has pledged over two billion dollars towards urgently needed humanitarian assistance to Yemen during a UN event.

Convened by the UN along with the Governments of Sweden and Switzerland, a High-Level Pledging Event brought together the international community to support suffering Yemenis facing a seemingly “forgotten war.”

“This pledging conference represents a remarkable success of international solidarity to the people of Yemen,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“Yemen’s situation today is catastrophic. But with international support, we can and must prevent this country from becoming a long-term tragedy,” he added.

Forty countries and organizations pledged 2.01 billion dollars towards the 2018 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (YHRP) which requested 2.96 billion for lifesaving assistance to 13 million people across the Middle Eastern nation.

Last year’s donor conference raised 1.1 billion dollars in aid.

With the destructive conflict soon entering its fourth year, Yemen has become one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 22 million people, or 75 percent of the population, are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Though both sides are complicit, a Saudi Arabian-imposed blockade has particularly led to severe shortages in food, medicine, and other basic needs.

Approximately 18 million are food-insecure, including over 8 million who are on the brink of famine, and the lack of access to water has led to the world’s largest cholera epidemic.

With the rainy season soon to commence, many are concerned that the number of cholera cases will multiply yet again.

While humanitarian resources are extremely important in saving lives, they are not enough, said Guterres.

“We need unrestricted access everywhere inside Yemen and we need all the parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law, and to protect civilians,” he continued.

Both Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden Isabella Lovin and Switzerland’s Vice President Ueli Maurer echoed similar sentiments.

“Humanitarian aid alone cannot be the response to the growing needs of the Yemeni people endangered by the armed conflict,” Maurer said.

In addition to unfettered aid access, the hosts highlighted the need for a political process and a political solution.

Though efforts continue to try to bring warring parties to the negotiating table, attacks persist, terrorizing the people of Yemen.

Most recently, an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition left 12 people dead in the coastal city of Hodeidah. Houthi forces later retaliated by targeting the southern region of Saudi Arabia with a missile.

Groups such as Human Rights Watch and a number of UN experts have pointed to the Saudi-led coalition’s indiscriminate air strikes as disproportionately affecting civilians over the last year.

Meanwhile, among the generous donors at the conference are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – who have fueled Yemen’s conflict. The two countries donated 930 million dolars, one of the biggest contributions the UN has ever received, prompting the UN Security Council to consider a British proposal praising the Middle Eastern nations.

The move, however, has raised ethical questions among many.

“The Security Council should be naming and shaming everyone,” said Human Rights Watch’s UN Director Louis Charbonneau.

“A statement that condemns one side, the Houthis, but doesn’t even mention the abuses of the other, the Saudi-led coalition, simply nurtures the atmosphere of impunity,” he added.

Guterres called for the full respect for international humanitarian law and an inclusive intra-Yemeni dialogue.

“Millions of people depend for their survival on the decisions we take today,” he concluded.

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Bolton: Is He the Walrus –Goo goo g’joob?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/bolton-walrus-goo-goo-gjoob/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bolton-walrus-goo-goo-gjoob http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/bolton-walrus-goo-goo-gjoob/#comments Thu, 05 Apr 2018 14:49:16 +0000 Ian Williams http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155172 Ian Williams is a senior analyst who has written for newspapers and magazines around the world, including the Australian, The Independent, New York Observer, The Financial Times and The Guardian. He is the author of UNtold: The Real Story of the United Nations in Peace and War*.

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Ian Williams is a senior analyst who has written for newspapers and magazines around the world, including the Australian, The Independent, New York Observer, The Financial Times and The Guardian. He is the author of UNtold: The Real Story of the United Nations in Peace and War*.

By Ian Williams
NEW YORK, Apr 5 2018 (IPS)

President Trump’s nomination of John Bolton as his National Security Advisor highlights the deep irrationality of this White House’s global agenda. Apparently, the world has hitherto been spared Bolton’s robust sabotage only because the President has an eccentric visceral antipathy to his mustache, but so far could not find another, clean-shaven, candidate in the rapidly draining pool of applicants for White House jobs.

Ian Williams

At the time of Bolton’s UN recess appointment, I termed him a Palaeocon, as opposed to the Neocon. In their own twisted post-Trotskyist way, Neocons knew and cared about the rest of the world, and wanted to remake it in the American image, while Bolton had toiled for long decades in the bunkers of the Heritage Foundation plotting the ruination of Roosevelt’s post war international order. Their alliance over the Iraq war was expedient case of shared prejudices against Muslim enemies.

Bolton and his ilk are indeed creatures of prejudice. They do not have a “joined-up” foreign policy, but rather a set of reflexes born out of ancient grudges. They have never forgiven the New Deal, nor the Truman “betrayal” of Chiang Kai Shek.

They probably sit upon the ground and tell sad tales of the dearth of nukes on North Korea during the war, and, as with far too many Leftists, they still see Putin’s Kremlin as a revenant of the ComIntern. And of course, they have never forgiven the Iranians for throwing out the Shah or storming the US Embassy.

Bolton supports the Taiwanese, not because of any abstruse feelings for democracy – the conservatives had no problem with Chiang Kai Shek’s corrupt tyranny- but because he sees Beijing as a major obstacle to Washington’s supremacy. If the Taiwanese, or indeed the South Koreans, were to become collateral damage to his vision, one feels that he could easily live with it.

Faced with this administration’s whimsical conduct of policy, it would be impossible to predict how long Bolton’s tenure would be, let alone its outcome. But nonetheless there are ominous signs that a Bolton-Trump partnership would be a match made in Hell. Bolton shares Trump’s hyper-nationalist prejudices – but he is much cleverer.

His bullying bureaucratic infighting techniques have often helped him bluster his way against his nominal superiors and colleagues in the State Department. He is, after all most memorably, the thug who strode into a library polling place in Florida in 2000 yelling, “I’m with the Bush-Cheney team, and I’m here to stop the count.”

Bolton’s advocacy of a “robust” approach to Iran and North Korea, and his cheerleading and facilitation for Israeli hawks is an ominous endorsement of the late Senator Jesse Helms’ accolade for him. ‘John Bolton is the kind of man with whom I would stand at Armageddon,’
neatly tying up the apocalyptic agendas of various strands of American conservatism.

Unfortunately, millions of others would fall with him if he realized his apocalyptic visions. Bolton has an often-unacknowledged track record of successes for his agenda. Armageddon is, of course, a long-term project.

For example, Bolton played a large role in pushing Colin Powell’s State Department into backing the war in Iraq, succeeded in “un-signing” the Convention on the International Criminal Court, rewriting the US relationship to International Law in the process. Once he got to the UN, he acted as Dick Cheney’s agent there, bypassing Condoleezza Rice’s slightly more reality-based agenda.

His other quick wins include setting the fuse for it by getting the Iran file shifted from the IAEA to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions. This involved a deal with India to vote for the IAEA referral of Iran to the UN Security Council. Iran has signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, India has not, but in return the US did not apply non-proliferation rules against Delhi!

Bolton could overcome his prejudices against the UN long enough to play diplomatic chess with foresight even if his plans were briefly checked by the JCPOA. Of course, Bolton is an advocate of a first strike on Iran – which is as close to a fuse for Armageddon as you could envisage, and in the appropriate region too!

No-one’s toady, Bolton ended up in a feud even with George W. Bush, who famously did not do nuance either. Whether Bolton will bond further with Trump is unsure, but he will surely play to all this president’s most ill-founded and dangerous prejudices.

In Bolton’s memoirs he denounced, “eastern elitists”, state department “careerists”, the “High Minded”, the “True Believers”, the “EAPeasers” (state department East Asia and Pacific staffers) and “EUroids,” not to mention the “Risen Bureaucrats” whom he accused of subverting Bush White House actions.

And that is in between Islamophobia that is almost clinically psychopathological. He has a better command of polemic than the tweet-constrained President, but messaging is similar!

Some of Bolton’s past patterns anticipate Trump’s now – gratuitous insults to countries that more rational foreign policy experts would like to keep on side. He was especially vitriolic about the British at the UN, when for years they have acted as a bridge between US arrogance and the rest of the world. If he wants a war with Iran, he has to get the UK and most of the EU on side.

The mutual influence of Bolton and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley would almost certainly exacerbate the baleful effect of both of them, not least since Haley, as a first for the GOP, got a cabinet position with the office. One can perhaps foresee a clash of ambitions down the line between the monstrous egos and ambitions of Haley and Bolton, but few if any differences of prejudice, let alone opinion. Haley’s ambitions are personal, while Bolton’s, to give him his back-handed due, are ideological. Insofar as he wants position, it is to effect his agenda, not to polish his ego, which is quite monstrously buffed enough already.

Past patterns suggest that Bolton will bite his mustache and refrain from direct contradiction of the President, who is one fool he could suffer gladly, probably confident that Trump’s manifest inattention to detail would allow Bolton to unfold his plans unchecked.

*Ian Williams, formerly UN correspondent for The Nation, is also the author of Rum: A Social and Sociable History of the Real Spirit of 1776; The Deserter: Bush’s War on Military Families, Veterans and His Past; The Alms Trade; and The UN For Beginners.

The post Bolton: Is He the Walrus –Goo goo g’joob? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Ian Williams is a senior analyst who has written for newspapers and magazines around the world, including the Australian, The Independent, New York Observer, The Financial Times and The Guardian. He is the author of UNtold: The Real Story of the United Nations in Peace and War*.

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Trump Begins to Reverberate in Mexico’s Presidential Electionshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/trump-begins-reverberate-mexicos-presidential-elections/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=trump-begins-reverberate-mexicos-presidential-elections http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/trump-begins-reverberate-mexicos-presidential-elections/#respond Wed, 04 Apr 2018 23:49:15 +0000 Emilio Godoy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155154 Statements by U.S. President Donald Trump against Mexico have begun to permeate the presidential election campaign in this Latin American country, forcing the candidates to pronounce themselves on the matter. In his most recent angry tweet, Trump said Apr. 1 that he would withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if Mexico doesn’t […]

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Activists and academics from Canada, the United States and Mexico called in March in Mexico for an end to the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), because of its secrecy and because it fails to represent the interests of the people of the three nations. Credit: Emilio Godoy / IPS

Activists and academics from Canada, the United States and Mexico called in March in Mexico for an end to the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), because of its secrecy and because it fails to represent the interests of the people of the three nations. Credit: Emilio Godoy / IPS

By Emilio Godoy
MEXICO CITY, Apr 4 2018 (IPS)

Statements by U.S. President Donald Trump against Mexico have begun to permeate the presidential election campaign in this Latin American country, forcing the candidates to pronounce themselves on the matter.

In his most recent angry tweet, Trump said Apr. 1 that he would withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if Mexico doesn’t work harder to stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking into the U.S.

The next few days will be crucial for the renegotiation of the trade deal between Mexico, the U.S. and Canada."After Trump's remarks, everything is up in the air. We will hear statements back and forth from the negotiating parties and the candidates. Any sign of having anything in common with Trump is political suicide for the candidates." -- Manuel Pérez Rocha

“After Trump’s remarks, everything is up in the air. We will hear statements back and forth from the negotiating parties and the candidates. Any sign of having anything in common with Trump is political suicide for the candidates,” said Manuel Pérez Rocha, Associate Fellow at the U.S. Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies.

The expert told IPS that “the important thing is to continue analysing the proposals of the candidates and see what positions they take with respect to NAFTA.”

The eighth, and presumably last, round of negotiations is scheduled to begin on Apr. 8 in Washington and end on Apr. 16.

After the seven previous rounds, the advances disclosed by the three partners have been scarce, in negotiations marked by rigid positions, tension and secrecy.

Of the 30 chapters that have been discussed, the negotiating teams have concluded the chapters on good regulatory practices, transparency, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, small and medium-sized businesses, competition and anti-corruption.

The priorities of the United States include new phytosanitary measures, greater protection of intellectual property, labour and environmental matters and the possible elimination of the dispute resolution chapter, which establishes special panels to address abusive trade practices.

Meanwhile, Mexico is focusing mainly on energy, electronic commerce and small and medium enterprises.

Canada, for its part, prioritises the inclusion of labour, environmental and gender standards, an increased migratory flow, indigenous rights, a revision of the dispute resolution mechanism, a more open government procurement market and higher wages.

The renegotiation of the treaty in force since 1994 also covers issues not included in the original text, such as energy, e-commerce and on-line activities.

The renegotiation of NAFTA was imposed by Trump, who included it in the campaign that took him to the White House in January 2017.

NAFTA and, above all, Trump’s outbursts about Mexico and Mexicans have begun to appear in the campaign for Mexico’s Jul. 1 presidential elections, although only the front-runner has addressed it explicitly.

Leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, heading the “Together We Make History” coalition, said on Apr. 1 that “we are not going to rule out the possibility of convincing Donald Trump of his mistaken foreign policy and in particular of his contemptuous attitude towards Mexicans, we will be very respectful of the government of the United States, but we will also demand respect for Mexicans.”

The three-time candidate for the Mexican presidency expressed his support for NAFTA, but clarified that “it would be best to sign agreements after Jul. 1,” when he hopes to finally win the presidency with the support of an alliance between the leftist National Regeneration Movement and Workers’ Party, together with the conservative Social Encounter Party.

A protest against U.S. President Donald Trump outside the U.S. embassy in Mexico City. Trump’s verbal attacks against Mexico and Mexicans have increased since March and are beginning to reverberate in the campaign for the Jul. 1 presidential elections. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

A protest against U.S. President Donald Trump outside the U.S. embassy in Mexico City. Trump’s verbal attacks against Mexico and Mexicans have increased since March and are beginning to reverberate in the campaign for the Jul. 1 presidential elections. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

The second in the polls, Ricardo Anaya, candidate for the “Mexico al Frente” coalition, formed by the right-wing National Action Party, the centrist Party of the Democratic Revolution, and the centre-right Citizen’s Movement, has not referred to the renegotiation.

Nor has the ruling party candidate José Meade, representing the conservative Institutional Revolutionary Party, the Ecologist Green Party and the New Alliance, mentioned NAFTA or Trump so far in the campaign.

None of the candidates have discussed Trump’s promise to build a border wall between the two countries.

“Mexico has to withdraw from negotiations to reform the treaty and wait for a new government to take over the process. We can’t tolerate all of these insults and threats from Trump,” academic Alberto Arroyo, a member of the non-governmental coalition Mexico Better without FTAs, told IPS.

The car industry, “maquilas” or for-export assembly plants, agro-exports and financial services are among the sectors that have benefited from the 24 years of free trade between the three countries.

According to academics and activists from the affected sectors, the big losers under NAFTA have been small-scale farmers, including producers of the staple products corn and beans, and the food sector in general.

NAFTA strengthened Mexico’s trade dependency on the U.S., which purchases more than 80 percent of Mexico’s exports.

Imports from the United States, meanwhile, climbed from 151 billion dollars in 1993 to 614 billion dollars in 2017 – a 307 percent increase. Meanwhile, its exports grew from 142 billion to 525 billion, a 270 percent rise.

“Any disruption to the economic relationship could have adverse effects on investment, employment, productivity, and North American competitiveness,” says the study “NAFTA Renegotiation and Modernization,” prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), a non-partisan legislative branch agency housed in the Library of Congress.

The report published in February adds that “Mexico and Canada could consider imposing retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports if the United States were to withdraw” from NAFTA.

In 2017, the United States a trade deficit of 89.6 billion dollars with its two partners, compared with 9.1 billion in 1993.

“It is not clear how the (Trump) administration would expect to reduce the trade deficit through the renegotiation,” says the paper.

In another of his attacks, Trump threatened to impose extraordinary tariffs on steel and aluminum imports unless NAFTA were renegotiated to terms more favorable to the U.S

According to Pérez Rocha, Mexicans would celebrate the end of NAFTA as “a net job destroyer, and for allowing transnational corporations to devastate the environment.”

He added that, in his opinion, the majority of Mexico’s 123 million people would support an end to the treaty “for destroying the livelihoods of millions in rural areas, for being an instrument of corporations for reversing sanitary and environmental policies, and for making Mexico the Latin American country with the most obesity.”

He called for postponing the renegotiation until the new administration takes office, because “this government has been unable to ensure the interests of Mexicans. We need a change to society, a new way of interacting with all social sectors.”

For his part, Arroyo, who is writing a study on NAFTA’s impact on the Mexican economy, called for a treaty that respects “human, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, the national sovereignty of each country and real economic development.”

The CRS report concludes that the outlook for the renegotiation is “uncertain”.

Today, the United States and Mexico are more and more similar to what English journalist Alan Riding once described as “distant neighbours.”

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What’s Happening to the World Income Distribution?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/whats-happening-world-income-distribution/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=whats-happening-world-income-distribution http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/whats-happening-world-income-distribution/#respond Wed, 04 Apr 2018 15:12:03 +0000 Homi Kharas and Brina Seidel http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155148 Homi Kharas is Interim Vice President and Director -Global Economy and Development and Brina Seidel is Research Analyst - Global Economy and Development, The Brookings Institution*

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Homi Kharas is Interim Vice President and Director -Global Economy and Development and Brina Seidel is Research Analyst - Global Economy and Development, The Brookings Institution*

By Homi Kharas and Brina Seidel
WASHINGTON DC, Apr 4 2018 (IPS)

In 2013, Christoph Lakner and Branko Milanovic published a graph—quickly dubbed the “elephant chart”—that depicts changes in income distribution across the world between 1988 and 2008.

The chart has been used to support numerous reports of rising inequality fueled by increased globalization. Every time a populist movement rises, every time the elite gather in Davos, every time Oxfam publishes a new report on inequality, the elephant chart resurfaces.

The original elephant chart, reproduced in Figure 1, records the income growth of each ventile of the global income distribution over the course of 20 years. It has been used as evidence to support four stylized facts about who has benefited from globalization:
o The global elite, in particular the top 1 percent, have enjoyed massive income growth over the past decades. Their high income growth, coupled with a high initial share of income, implies they continue to capture a large share of global income growth. This can be seen in the elephant’s raised trunk.

o The global upper middle class has seen its income stagnate with zero growth over two decades for the 80th This appears to corroborate data showing stagnant real wage growth and other frustrations fueling populist politics in rich countries. This can be seen in the depth of the trough at the base of the elephant’s trunk.

o The global middle class has risen rapidly as select developing countries have begun to converge toward rich countries. Countries like China have lifted large impoverished populations into the middle class. This can be seen in the graph’s peak at the elephant’s torso.

o The global extreme poor have largely been left behind, with several countries stuck in a cycle of poverty and violence. This can be seen in the elephant’s slumped tail.

Figure 1: Original Elephant Chart

This paper examines how these four parts of the elephant chart—tail, torso, trough, and trunk—hold up to new data and new methods. We caution that while elements of the original story have certainly been confirmed by other data in other contexts, the elephant shape itself may be an overburdened and inaccurate depiction of what is really going on in the world economy.

We return to the original chart and, step by step, make modest adjustments and updates to the data and methodology. We use the most recent update of global price comparisons (the 2011 purchasing power parity data, rather than the 2005 PPP series).

We add surveys for countries that did not have data available when the original chart was published. We also extend the period to 2013, thereby including post-recession years.

We further add data from countries with only a single household survey, making distributionally neutral assumptions about their growth incidence. This permits the broadest possible country coverage—our analysis is truly global in that it covers 97.5 percent of the world’s population, compared to around 80 percent coverage in Lakner-Milanovic version.

Methodologically, we also compare the Lakner-Milanovic approach with an alternative method that better approximates the way the elephant chart has been (mistakenly) understood. This method, called a quasi-non-anonymous growth incidence curve, holds the country composition of each global decile constant across time and therefore shows the fate of specific economic classes in specific countries

In doing so, we find that the primary narrative is one of convergence: Poorer countries, and the lower income groups within those countries, have grown most rapidly in the past 20 years. The data do not support the idea that the poorest people are being left behind, nor that the richest are taking all the income gains.

This is consistent with other findings. According to the World Bank, inequality between countries is falling, and inequality within countries is falling in many places as well. The World Bank also finds that there is little difference in growth rates among the lowest 95 percent of the global population.

One caveat: our analysis is based on household survey data only. Household surveys are notoriously weak in coverage of the top and bottom of the distribution and the representativeness of the sample gets worse at each tail.

For this reason, we use grouped data that records the mean income of each decile or percentile of each country’s distribution, and even for the world, we do not try to make finer distinctions beyond the top 1 percent—but recall that around 1990, 1 percent of the world is still over 50 million people.

For many discussions, this is too crude a breakdown; for example, it does not distinguish between millionaires (about 16 million globally) and the rest. To address this data shortfall, the World Inequality and Wealth Database (WID) spearheaded by Tony Atkinson, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and others has developed alternatives using tax administration data.

These give a far different picture of what is happening at the very top, which we examine as well. While these efforts have brought a welcome empiricism to conversations about top incomes, the estimates remain controversial.

As we unpack the elephant, it becomes clear that the distributional gains from the past 30 years of growth and globalization are far from settled fact.

From the Brookings Institution blog: https://www.brookings.edu/research/whats-happening-to-the-world-income-distribution-the-elephant-chart-revisited/?utm_campaign=Brookings%20Brief&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=61834758

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Excerpt:

Homi Kharas is Interim Vice President and Director -Global Economy and Development and Brina Seidel is Research Analyst - Global Economy and Development, The Brookings Institution*

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Yemen the World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis, Says UN Chiefhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/yemen-worlds-worst-humanitarian-crisis-says-un-chief/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=yemen-worlds-worst-humanitarian-crisis-says-un-chief http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/yemen-worlds-worst-humanitarian-crisis-says-un-chief/#respond Wed, 04 Apr 2018 08:10:17 +0000 Antonio Guterres http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155143 Secretary-General António Guterres, in his address to the Pledging Conference on Yemen.

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A young boy runs with his tyre past buildings damaged by airstrikes in Saada Old Town. Credit: Giles Clarke/OCHA

By António Guterres
GENEVA, Apr 4 2018 (IPS)

Thank you all for being here today to show your solidarity with the women, men, girls and boys of Yemen. And I want to thank my co-chairs, the Governments of Sweden and Switzerland, for hosting this conference for the second year and for their continued humanitarian commitment.

Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. As the conflict enters its fourth year, more than 22 million people – three-quarters of the population – need humanitarian aid and protection.

Some 18 million people are food insecure; one million more than when we convened last year. And a horrifying 8.4 million of these people do not know how they will obtain their next meal.

Millions of Yemenis do not have access to safe drinking water. Last year, 1 million people suffered from watery diarrhoea and cholera. Half of all health facilities are shut or not working properly, meaning there is a high risk of another cholera epidemic.

Treatable illnesses become a death sentence when local health services are suspended and it is impossible to travel outside the country. Civilians have been facing indiscriminate attacks, bombing, snipers, unexploded ordnance, cross-fire, kidnapping, rape and arbitrary detention.

Every ten minutes, a child under five dies of preventable causes. And nearly 3 million children under 5 and pregnant or lactating women are acutely malnourished. Nearly half of all children aged between six months and 5 years old are chronically malnourished and suffer from stunting, which causes development delays and reduced ability to learn throughout their entire lives.

Some two million children are out of school, and 2,500 schools have been destroyed or are not being used for their original purpose.

Children are being forcibly recruited to fight, or put to work to support their families. And families across the country are sliding into debt and coping in any way they can. Child marriage rates have escalated; nearly two-thirds of girls are married before the age of 18, and many before they are 15.

Three-quarters of displaced people are women and children, and women and girls among them face an increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence. And the number of women accessing services for gender-based violence has risen by at least 30 per cent, despite social constraints on reporting.

And these facts represent only a snapshot of the devastation.

Yemen’s situation today is catastrophic. But with international support, we can and must prevent this country from becoming a long-term tragedy.

The 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen requires $2.96 billion to reach more than 13 million people across the country.

And we have a strong foundation on which to build. The humanitarian operation has expanded dramatically. At the start of last year, partners were reaching 3 million people per month with food assistance. By August, we were reaching more than 7 million people every month.

At the height of the cholera epidemic, more than 1,000 oral rehydration centres and 234 diarrhoea treatment centres were in operation – up from only 25 such centres earlier in this year.

Thanks to humanitarian agencies and our partners, the cholera epidemic has been contained and famine – even if famine is a technical concept that does not really describe the reality as many, many people are hungry – but famine has so far been averted, although there is no room for complacency on either count.

Your generosity made this work possible. But your generosity is well-deserved by the Yemeni people. In my capacity as High Commissioner for Refugees and during more than 10 years, I worked closely with Yemen.

Yemen has always received Somali refugees in big numbers coming to the country, and granting them prima facie refugee status, something that unfortunately, many other countries around the world refused to do, even if their resources and capacities are much larger than the resources and capacities of the Yemeni people.

The Yemeni people has always been extremely generous to those that came to Yemen in search of protection and assistance. And so our generosity is also a duty to match the generosity that Yemenis always have shown to those in need that have been able to seek their protection.

Last year’s donor conference raised $1.1 billion for humanitarian action in Yemen. This year, the United Nations and our partners on the ground are ready to do everything possible to expand our support even further. But we need resources.

Donors have already stepped forward. The governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have generously provided $930 million for the Humanitarian Response Plan. They have also pledged to secure an additional $500 million from the region. And I deeply thank them.

Other donors have contributed some $293 million. This means that we have already met 40 per cent of our requirements for the year.

But the scale of suffering that we see in Yemen requires rapid, full funding for the 2018 response plan. And the plan is prioritized so that every dollar goes where it is urgently needed. I urge all to do whatever it is possible because the Yemeni people needs and deserves it.

My second message here today is that humanitarians must be able to reach the people who need help and to do so without conditions. Humanitarian agencies and their partners need full and unconditional access at all times. But humanitarian agencies report access constraints in 90 percent of districts in Yemen.

All ports must remain open to humanitarian and commercial cargo for the medicines, the food and the fuel needed to deliver them. And Sana’a airport is also a lifeline that must be kept open.

It is vital to provide safe, unimpeded, unrestricted humanitarian access to all parts of the country. And the Yemen Comprehensive Humanitarian Operations Plan recently announced in Riyadh was an important step in this direction.

My final message is possibly the most important of all. We must see action to end the conflict.

This war is causing enormous human suffering to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world, and there are no humanitarian solutions to humanitarian crises.

A negotiated political settlement through inclusive intra-Yemeni dialogue is the only solution. And I urge all parties to engage with my new Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, without delay.

And I reiterate my call for full respect for international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Meanwhile, millions of people depend for their survival on the decisions we take today. And I hope you will match your participation here with action, to support humanitarian operations and to move decisively towards lasting peace in Yemen.

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Excerpt:

Secretary-General António Guterres, in his address to the Pledging Conference on Yemen.

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Castro’s Successor to Inherit Long-standing Conflict Between Cuba and the United Stateshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/castros-successor-inherit-long-standing-conflict-cuba-united-states/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=castros-successor-inherit-long-standing-conflict-cuba-united-states http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/castros-successor-inherit-long-standing-conflict-cuba-united-states/#respond Mon, 02 Apr 2018 02:36:24 +0000 Patricia Grogg http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155117 Cuba’s tense relations with the United States under the administration of Donald Trump reflect a scenario of conflict that is not alien to the generation that will take over the country on Apr. 19, when President Raúl Castro is set to step down. Since the 1960s, Cuba’s nationalist stance has drawn on the animosity with […]

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Cubans wait in line outside the Colombian embassy in Havana, to obtain a visa for Colombia in order to apply for a U.S. visa at the U.S. embassy in Bogotá, due to the reductions in staff in the U.S. embassy in the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños / IPS

Cubans wait in line outside the Colombian embassy in Havana, to obtain a visa for Colombia in order to apply for a U.S. visa at the U.S. embassy in Bogotá, due to the reductions in staff in the U.S. embassy in the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños / IPS

By Patricia Grogg
HAVANA, Apr 2 2018 (IPS)

Cuba’s tense relations with the United States under the administration of Donald Trump reflect a scenario of conflict that is not alien to the generation that will take over the country on Apr. 19, when President Raúl Castro is set to step down.

Since the 1960s, Cuba’s nationalist stance has drawn on the animosity with the U.S., and the likely successors of the country’s current leaders, most of whom were born around the time of the 1959 revolution or afterwards, were educated in a culture of “anti-imperialist resistance”.

According to the official figures on the outcome of the Mar. 11 general elections, the average age of the new members of parliament fell to 49 years, compared to 57 years for the outgoing lawmakers.

The single-chamber National Assembly of People’s Power elects from among its members the 31 members of the Council of State, which according to the constitution is the highest representative of the Cuban state, whose president is the head of state and government."Reconciliation and rapprochement occur on a human level. States can facilitate it, but they can neither impose it nor stop it…Even during the most tense moments of relations between Cuba and the United States, we Cubans have remained in touch with our families, friends and collaborators." -- Lillian Manzor

The most likely candidate to succeed Castro is the current first vice president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, 57, although there is no official confirmation.

The return to the tension that existed before the détente agreed by Raúl Castro, 86, and Barack Obama (2009-2017) on Dec. 17, 2014, which led to the restoration of diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana, brings additional difficulties to the weakened Cuban economy and puts a brake on the changes required by its socialist model of development.

“Unfortunately, reform in Cuba becomes more difficult when the United States is more aggressive and negative,” said John McAuliff, executive director of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development, a U.S.-based non-governmental organisation that supports efforts for reconciliation with Cuba.

In his opinion, a new generation of leaders “opens a door, but it does not guarantee” how quickly change will come. “If the new leaders expand opportunities for the self-employed and small businesses, especially in tourism and other professional sectors, the economy will improve,” he told IPS from the U.S. by e-mail.

In the same vein, he said that “if the public dialogue incorporates all the sectors that are not explicitly counterrevolutionary inside and outside the country, politics will expand, evolve and be strengthened along with Cuba’s history and culture.”

Trump’s adverse policy towards Cuba since his arrival at the White House in January 2017 has kept bilateral ties at their lowest level, with a skeleton staff at the two embassies, which are unable to carry out their consular and business duties, while it has restricted travel by U.S. citizens to the Caribbean island nation, among other limitations.

Senator Patrick Leahy (centre), and four other U.S. Democrat lawmakers give a press conference in Havana on Feb. 21, at the end of their visit to Cuba, in violation of the U.S. travel advisory against Cuba issued by Republican President Donald Trump. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños / IPS

Senator Patrick Leahy (centre), and four other U.S. Democrat lawmakers give a press conference in Havana on Feb. 21, at the end of their visit to Cuba, in violation of the U.S. travel advisory against Cuba issued by Republican President Donald Trump. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños / IPS

Washington justifies the reduction of personnel and the recommendation to U.S. citizens to refrain from traveling to Cuba by citing mysterious attacks – apparently linked to high-pitched sounds – that affected the health of U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Cuba between November 2016 and August 2017.

Havana has denied any involvement in the incidents.

In a Dec. 22 speech in the Cuban parliament, Castro accused the United States of fabricating “pretexts” to justify the return to “failed and universally rejected policies.”

U.S. lawmakers who visited Cuba between Feb. 19-21, led by the Democratic Senator for the state of Vermont, Patrick Leahy, said the measures ordered by Trump were a serious mistake, harmful to the governments and people of both nations.

In defiance of the travel advisory against Cuba, the legislators flew here with their wives, and in the case of Leahy, with his 13-year-old granddaughter. The group met with Castro and other local authorities.

“Cuba is changing. Soon you will elect a new president and likely experience a generation shift in leadership, and regrettably at this historic moment in Cuban history, the U.S. engagement is limited,” Jim Mcgovern, a Democrat member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Massachusetts, lamented in a press conference.

In turn, Senator Ron Wyden, of Oregon, reported that there is a legislative proposal against the embargo brought forward by him and other senators, which has strong bipartisan support. “After the November elections, we will have more support to end the embargo,” he said.

Meanwhile, migrants are among the biggest losers in the embassy conflict, although the Cuban embassy in Washington, with 17 fewer staff members, says it has maintained its usual services, including consular services for Cubans and Americans.

A classic 1957 convertible Chevrolet Bel-Air, used by private drivers for sightseeing tours, drives through the historic centre of Old Havana in search of customers, now that the boom of visits by U.S. citizens has ceased. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños / IPS

A classic 1957 convertible Chevrolet Bel-Air, used by private drivers for sightseeing tours, drives through the historic centre of Old Havana in search of customers, now that the boom of visits by U.S. citizens has ceased. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños / IPS

But the reduction of personnel in the U.S. embassy in Havana forces Cuban immigrants to travel to Colombia to process their visas, which will prevent Washington in 2018 from meeting its commitment to issue 20,000 visas a year, as established in the migration agreements of 1994 and 1995.

The main recipient of Cuban emigration is the United States, where over two million people of Cuban origin reside, of whom almost 1.2 million were born in Cuba, according to official data from the U.S. A good part of that population has not cut its umbilical cord with Cuba.

Lillian Manzor, interim chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at the University of Miami, told IPS by e-mail that currently, most Cubans in the U.S. support rapprochement between the two countries, while U.S. foreign policy is going in the opposite direction.

“Reconciliation and rapprochement occur on a human level. States can facilitate it, but they can neither impose it nor stop it,” she said, recalling that “even during the most tense moments of relations between Cuba and the United States, we Cubans have remained in touch with our families, friends and collaborators.”

In that sense, Manzor, a Cuban resident in the United States, does not underestimate the strength that this majority sector of Cuban migrants can represent in order to stop the setback imposed by the Trump administration on the normalisation of bilateral ties between Washington and Havana, restored in July 2015.

“That’s the big challenge. How can this need to stay connected with our family and friends be turned into an electoral force. In the meantime, we must continue with what we have always done: cope with adverse policies and fight for our rights as American citizens,” she said.

The academic also said that among immigrants favourable to “closer political and human relations” there are many who hope that “the new president of Cuba will continue with the necessary migratory changes to facilitate travel for Cubans residing abroad.”

Whoever it will be, Castro’s successor has the stage set to move in that direction. On Jan. 1, four Cuban government measures came into force, aimed at relaxing the country’s migration policy and improving its relation with the Cuban exile community. The provisions followed the new Migration Law in force since 2013.

“The Cuban passport is still one of the most expensive in the world especially considering the payment that must be made every two years to maintain the validity of the passport,” said Manzor. The document, valid for six years, costs 400 dollars plus 200 dollars for the biannual extension.

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Trump Hurtles Toward Three Nuclear Criseshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/trump-hurtles-toward-three-nuclear-crises/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=trump-hurtles-toward-three-nuclear-crises http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/trump-hurtles-toward-three-nuclear-crises/#respond Fri, 30 Mar 2018 15:04:14 +0000 Daryl G. Kimball http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155108 Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director, Arms Control Association*

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Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director, Arms Control Association*

By Daryl G. Kimball
WASHINGTON DC, Mar 30 2018 (IPS)

One year into the unorthodox presidency of Donald Trump, the United States faces an array of complex and dangerous foreign policy challenges that require principled leadership, pragmatism, patience, and smart diplomacy.

Credit: Ronny Hartmann/AFP/Getty Images

So far, Trump has not exhibited any of these traits. Nevertheless, he will soon make consequential decisions affecting the future of the successful 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the course of the North Korean nuclear crisis, and the potential for renewed strategic nuclear competition with Russia.

Unfortunately, his appointment of the bellicose John Bolton to serve as national security adviser (Trump’s third in 16 months), along with hawkish CIA Director Mike Pompeo as secretary of state, could tilt the malleable president in the wrong direction. The result could be three full-blown nuclear crises.

The Iran deal. By May 12, Trump must extend waivers on nuclear-related sanctions to avoid violating U.S. commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. A decision to not extend the waivers will worsen proliferation risks in the Middle East and undermine U.S. credibility.

Trump has threatened to blow up the Iran deal if European partners do not agree to impose additional missile- and nuclear-related restrictions on Iran. The Europeans have made it abundantly clear they will support additional measures to address Iranian ballistic missile and arms transfers that violate UN Security Council resolutions.

But because “a deal is a deal,” they will not seek to renegotiate certain nuclear-related requirements already agreed to under the existing agreement. Unfortunately, Bolton, who has long advocated bombing Iran instead of pursuing a deal to verifiably curb its nuclear program, has said he wants the United States to abrogate the accord with Tehran.

There is no rational reason why Trump, without cause, should trigger another Middle East proliferation crisis. It would be the greatest U.S. foreign policy blunder since the 2003 invasion of Iraq under false claims about weapons of mass destruction.

The argument that the deal can or needs to be “fixed or nixed” is misplaced and dangerous. Common sense suggests the United States should strictly enforce the deal and build on it, rather than scrap it without a Plan B.

There is nothing in the deal that constrains the United States and Europe from pursuing a follow-on agreement to reduce Iran’s incentives to expand its nuclear program once certain restrictions on uranium enrichment and fuel cycle activities expire.

North Korea negotiations
. Trump’s appointment of Bolton is odd in that Bolton’s policy prescriptions on North Korea run counter to Trump’s stated policy and that of ally South Korea of using sanctions pressure and diplomatic engagement, including a summit with Kim Jong Un, to halt and reverse North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

In the early 2000s, Bolton was among those in the George W. Bush administration who called for confrontations and ultimatums rather than dialogue with North Korea, an approach that ultimately allowed North Korea to advance its nuclear program and test nuclear weapons.

More recently, Bolton argued that it would be legal for the United States to launch a “preventive attack” on North Korea, which would result in a catastrophic war. Three days before his appointment in March as national security adviser, Bolton said that if the summit takes place, Trump should not offer economic aid nor should the United States offer security assurances to North Korea, the latter being the very basis of Kim’s offer to negotiate about his nuclear weapons program.

Bolton’s formula is a recipe for confrontation and possibly war. Instead, Trump should recognize that his planned summit with Kim, at best, can solidify the suspension of North Korean nuclear and missile testing and launch serious sustained negotiations on steps toward denuclearization and a peace regime on the peninsula.

Avoiding a new arms race with Russia. In the next year or so, Trump will also need to decide whether to engage in talks with Russia to extend the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which is due to expire in 2021. Bolton has never supported the treaty, calling it “an execrable deal.”

As U.S.-Russian relations have deteriorated, New START serves an even more important role in reducing nuclear risks, and it continues to enjoy strong support from the U.S. military. Now is the time for the two presidents to agree to extend the treaty for five years, until 2026, which is essential to avoiding an unconstrained arms race. It would also buy time for the two sides to explore new, follow-on approaches to maintain strategic stability at lower nuclear force levels.

Given Trump’s new set of advisers, Congress and U.S. allies will need to play a stronger role to steer him in the right direction and away from avoidable nuclear crises.

*The link to the original article: https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2018-04/focus/trump-hurtles-toward-three-nuclear-crises

The post Trump Hurtles Toward Three Nuclear Crises appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director, Arms Control Association*

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Has Trump Just Launched a Global Trade War?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/trump-just-launched-global-trade-war/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=trump-just-launched-global-trade-war http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/trump-just-launched-global-trade-war/#respond Wed, 14 Mar 2018 15:41:32 +0000 Martin Khor http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154815 Martin Khor is Executive Director of the South Centre, a think tank for developing countries, based in Geneva

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Martin Khor is Executive Director of the South Centre, a think tank for developing countries, based in Geneva

By Martin Khor
PENANG, Malaysia, Mar 14 2018 (IPS)

Last week’s action by President Donald Trump has ended the United States’ leadership on liberal trade and may trigger a global trade war with major damaging consequences.

On 8 March, Trump signed a proclamation to raise tariffs of steel by 25% and aluminium by 10%.

It sent shockwaves across the world not only because of the losses to metal exporters, but due to what it could well signify:  the start of a global trade war causing economic disruption in many countries, and that may also damage if not destroy the multilateral trade system.

The United States, joined by Europe, has been the anchor of the global free trade system, ever since the end of the Second World War.  In practice this rhetoric of free trade was hypocritical because the developed countries continue to practise very high protection of their agriculture sector which cannot compete with many developing countries if there really was “free trade”.

When a new global financial crisis strikes, the developing countries will be more damaged than in the last crisis as they have become less resilient and more vulnerable. They thus need to prepare from being overwhelmed, says Martin Khor

Martin Khor

Moreover, the developed countries introduced and continue to champion mandatory high intellectual property rights standards through an agreement in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), under which their companies create monopolies, set high prices and make excessive profits.  This is against the free competition touted by free-trade advocates.

In manufactures and metals, the developed countries have pressed the others to join them in cutting or removing tariffs and expand trade, through negotiations in the WTO and its predecessor the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade).

They have argued that poorer countries can best grow richer by cutting their tariffs, which would benefit their consumers and force their producers to become more efficient.

Trump’s move upends the ideology of free trade.  If cheaper imports displace local steel and aluminium producers, they must be stopped because a country must make its own key products, according to the Trump philosophy of America First.

Since the United States has been the flag-bearer of the free-trade religion, this has profound effects on other countries.  If the leader has changed its mind and now believes in protecting its industries, so too can other countries.  The basis for liberal trade is destroyed and the old rationale for protectionism is revived.

...This rhetoric of free trade was hypocritical because the developed countries continue to practise very high protection of their agriculture sector, which cannot compete with many developing countries if there really was “free trade”

The WTO rules allow countries adversely affected by imports to take certain measures, but they have to prove that the producers of exporting countries unfairly receive subsidies, or that they set lower prices for their exports compared to the same goods sold domestically.  Or they can take “safeguard” measures of raising tariffs if they can show that domestic firms have been adversely affected, but only for a limited period to help affected local producers to adjust.

Trump however made use of a little-used national security clause (Section 232) in the U.S. trade laws to justify his big jump in steel and aluminium tariffs.  The clause allows the President to take trade action to defend national security.  The WTO also has a security exception in GATT Article XXI but it has also been rarely if ever used by countries to justify tariff increases.

What constitutes national security is not clearly spelt out either in the US or the WTO laws and because of the ambiguity and lack of clarity, this clause can be abused. The US and other countries can claim it is imposing higher import duties because it is necessary to protect their national security, but in reality this could be a disguise or excuse to protect their economies from other countries’ more efficient producers.

The Trump administration tried to justify invoking the security factor by saying steel and aluminium are needed to make tanks, fighter planes and other weapons of war.  But this was undercut by giving exemptions from the increased duties to Canada and Mexico due to their membership of NAFTA, a trade agreement that includes the United States. These exemptions for reasons unrelated to security exposes the security rationale as fake.

Other countries are angry and preparing to retaliate. The European Union has drawn up a list of American products on which its countries will raise tariffs.  China warned it would make an appropriate and necessary response.

At the WTO General Council on 8 March, the United States action was attacked. Many countries condemned the US measures being unilateral and for misusing the national security rationale.  Canada said the security issue “may be opening a Pandora’ Box we would not be able to close.”

Brazil expressed deep concern about an elastic or broad application of the national security exception.  India said the national security exception under GATT should not be misused and unilateral measures have no place in the trade system. China argued the over-protected domestic industry will never be able to serve its problems through protectionism.

Many WTO member states will most likely take the US to a dispute panel, and how it will rule will have strong consequences.   If it rules for the US, then other countries will view it as allowing all countries to take protectionist measures on the same ground of national security.

If it rules against the US, it will embolden the anti-liberal trade faction in the Trump administration and strengthen their argument that the US should ignore or even leave the WTO.  The US would then be much more unrestrained to undertake further protectionist measures.

In either case, there is a danger that the rest of the world, or significant parts of it, would also feel they should not be constrained by WTO’s generaltrade rules.  Over time, trade protectionism would gain ground.

The next big protectionist move from the US may come in a few weeks when Trump decides what action, if any, to take against China after considering a report on China’s trade and intellectual property practices issued by the Commerce Department.

If, as expected, big action against China is announced, China will almost certainly take equally strong retaliatory action.

That will escalate the trade war that is already on the way.

 

The post Has Trump Just Launched a Global Trade War? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Martin Khor is Executive Director of the South Centre, a think tank for developing countries, based in Geneva

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It’s the War, Stupidhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/its-the-war-stupid/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=its-the-war-stupid http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/its-the-war-stupid/#respond Wed, 14 Mar 2018 14:28:19 +0000 Joaquin Roy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154811 Joaquín Roy is Professor Jean Monnet and Director of the European Union Center at the University of Miami

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Joaquín Roy is Professor Jean Monnet and Director of the European Union Center at the University of Miami

By Joaquín Roy
MIAMI, Mar 14 2018 (IPS)

It is revealing that a ruler who did not serve in the military, nor enjoys any experience in war affairs, has a special inclination to use a vocabulary more typical of bloody clashes between states than in diplomatic relations.

Donald Trump, both in his electronic messages and in his television addresses, adores the use of military terminology to illustrate his plans. He likes the word “war” to label his government program.

Curiously, almost as a prelude to the surprising and apparent truce that can be put in place with North Korea, Trump has made a declaration of war “Urbi et Orbi”. The first salvo has been the announcement of the imposition of tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. In addition, he has presumed the qualification that trade wars are good.

The alarm that has generated this decision has been widespread, with the threat of widening the ground to other products. The statements of response from the rest of the planet oscillate between perplexity and the start-up of protective measures of their business partners, friends and foes.

Joaquín Roy

Joaquín Roy

Although Trump announced that his close neighbors, Canada and Mexico are forgiven, neither Trudeau nor Peña Nieto  trust him at all.

If mutual reluctance on both shores of Rio Grande is a permanent dressing of history, the apparent loyalty between Washington and Ottawa suffers from question marks that only the permanently installed courtesy barely manages to mask.

Trump has succeeded in having the Mexicans pass on to the Canadians the lamentation attributed to Porfirio Díaz: “Poor Mexico (Canada), so far from God and so close to the United States.”

The tottering NAFTA alarmed both partners and not even the promise of an improvement in conditions have managed to clear the threat of its disappearance.

That is why the Canadians have endeavored to solidify the agreement with the European Union, just as the Mexicans have reinforced their own alliance with the EU, the strongest between Brussels and the Americas.

The truth is that Trump’s tactic has confirmed his personal refusing of trade agreements and regional block alliances, stressing the option of unilaterality as a primordial strategy, presided by the claim of “America, first.”

And not only is that such decision is obvious, but the language used is the one of confrontation, as a springboard to victory, cemented on the argument of superiority.

If the European Union and China opt for retaliation with the imposition of tariffs on US products, consumers in Alabama, Ohio, and North Dakota, in addition to the classic Trump voters in Appalachia, will need to adjust the shopping cart. Perhaps this matters little to his family and wealthy Fortune 500 owners who have populated his administration, but those who depend on a salary at the end of the week will not be happy. They'll thank him in the election

But the arsenal of the American president’s decision is not reduced to his personal conception and ill-disguised arrogance, but also hides a weakness and fear of losing re-election.

In spite of the opposition of his wife Melania, Trump is not resigned to disappearing from the reduced political map to enjoy a solitary four-year mandate.

It would be like descending to the level of Carter and Bush Sr, who were ousted by their opponents. Trump needs more help than his millionaire donors.

He needs the little people who raised him to victory. He needs those who believe in the imposition of tariff rates and the construction of walls, more convincing than the one that seeks to raise before Mexico.

They naively will vote again under the promise of job creation. In the event that he succeeds in his strategy, Trump will probably be slapped by history.

He will remember that among the failures of the imposition of tariffs, executed as the simple squeezing of the trigger in a Western, often results in a shot on the foot.

Historians still explain the case of the Smoot-Hawley decision, imposed in 1930. Instead of softening the effects of the Great Depression of the late 1920 ‘s, it reduced US exports by 61%.

In an effect on the other side of the Atlantic, some experts even argued that the unfortunate decision helped the emergence of Nazi Germany and other Fascist niceties, in some countries hit by the growing economic war that preceded the bloody confrontation.

If the European Union and China opt for retaliation with the imposition of tariffs on US products, consumers in Alabama, Ohio, and North Dakota, in addition to the classic Trump voters in Appalachia, will need to adjust the shopping cart.

Perhaps this matters little to his family and wealthy Fortune 500 owners who have populated his administration, but those who depend on a salary at the end of the week will not be happy. They’ll thank him in the election.

While it may be true that some practices of US partners and competitors are not exactly fair, the method that the most reasonable advisers suggest is negotiation and brokering within the World Trade Organization (WHO).

Although Trump has heard that “war is the continuation of politics by other means”, Carl von Clausovitz himself could remember with the logic of realism that in the end no one wins the wars and that many lose them. Trump may be a collateral casualty of “friendly fire.”

The author can be reached at jroy@miami.edu

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Excerpt:

Joaquín Roy is Professor Jean Monnet and Director of the European Union Center at the University of Miami

The post It’s the War, Stupid appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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