Inter Press Service » Global Geopolitics http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Sat, 25 Jun 2016 17:26:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.12 Brexit and Ueexithttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/brexit-and-ueexit/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=brexit-and-ueexit http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/brexit-and-ueexit/#comments Sat, 25 Jun 2016 17:12:42 +0000 Roberto Savio http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145815 Roberto Savio, is founder and president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News. ]]>

Roberto Savio, is founder and president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News.

By Roberto Savio
ROME, Jun 25 2016 (IPS)

The Europeans went to bed Thursday night, with exit polls giving a comfortable margin of victory for those who wanted to Remain. The following morning they awakened to find that the real result was the opposite.

Roberto Savio

Roberto Savio

Specialists in polling say that this happens when electors do not feel comfortable to say how they will rally voters because they are not comfortable, on a rational level, with what they will do. In other words, voters act because of their guts, not because of their brain.

Brexit was really based on gut feelings. It was a campaign of fear. The “Leave” campaign was about the Turks massively invading Great Britain, because of their admittance in the EU (totally false); that Great Britain was paying to the EU 50 million pounds a day (again, a false figure). But the central question raised, especially by Boris Johnson, was: we are not free any longer… Let us get our independence.

And he went to compare the EU to the Nazi Germany who wanted to take over Europe. Of course, his intention was simple: get prime minister David Cameron to resign and take his post. A good example of idealism.

This cry for independence stirred the nationalist nerve of the nostalgia of the imperial times… We are facing enormous tides of foreigners coming if we stay in the EU, and we have no control on our borders, etc. The fact that Great Britain in fact had got from the EU already the control of its frontiers, was totally lost.

But beside this specific trait of British identity, the reasons for Brexit were common to the xenophobic, nationalism and populism tide which is spreading all over Europe. The Brexit campaign did contain all three, plus an emerging fourth factor: the revolt of people against their elites.

The “Remain” campaign had all of them; from the leaders of the Tory and Labour party to all the industrial and financial sectors, from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to the European Central Bank, from Obama to Merkel, from the elite media (Financial Times, the Economist) to the Soccer League. Their campaign was also of fear: if we get out we will lose markets, our deficit will increase, and our welfare system is at risk.

What now finally analysts are beginning to grasp is that rational arguments are not important any longer. Fear is more important. And anything that smacks of elite and establishment creates an iconoclastic reaction, which is to throw away the icons of the elite. This call for a change is now a new factor of politics all over Europe.

A good example is the town of Turin, where a few days before the Brexit a honest, efficient and respected outgoing mayor Piero Fassino (who did a good job), lost to a young woman without any prior experience. People feel an urge to throw away all the old, because clearly it has failed to address their needs.

It is to soon to predict a dismembering of Great Britain, with Scotland calling this time for its independence. Brexit was decided by England, where a considerable number of citizens suddenly feel a reawakening of their identity.

It is the same call of Marie Le Pen in France (another lost empire), which has opened a debate about French identity, and the need to not get diluted by multiculturalism, immigrants, especially Muslim, and get again the control of the borders, out from the domination of the European Union.

Next year, we have French and German elections. Le Pen is now the leader of the largest party in France, And it will be difficult to keep her out of power. Then elections in Germany will see a rise of Alternative fur Deutschland (AFD), which makes re-appropriation of German identity and sovereignty the basis for leaving Europe.

All the xenophobic right wing parties have expressed their enthusiasm for the Brexit, which is going to give them more push. Brexit comes after the Austrian elections, where the right wing lost for few votes. If elections were held today in the Netherlands, its xenophobic party would be the largest. And in total symmetry, Donald Trump has expressed his enthusiasm for the Brexit.

One of the few positive elements of Brexit is that there is now a growing chorus on the fact that globalisation has not kept its promises.: wealth for everybody.

On the contrary, it has created a dramatic social inequality, with few people having the bulk of national wealth, and many left out. According to OECD statistics, Europe has lost 18 millions of middle class citizens, in the last 10 years.

The fact that bankers were unanimously voicing for “Remain”, had quite the opposite effect on those 27% of British citizens who have difficulty to reach the end of the month, while they see over 1.000 bankers, and 1.500 CEO make more than 1 million pounds a year.

Now even the IMF is publishing studies on how social inequality is a draw to growth, and the importance of investing in welfare policies of inclusion and equal opportunities.

This is happening, some could say, because reaction to globalisation does not create only right-wing waves. With the feeling that all those in the system are ignoring their problems, new mass movements are coming from the left, like Podemos in Spain or Bernie Sanders in the US.

In the coming elections in Spain, the traditional social democrat party, PSOE, risks to be after Podemos. In Italy few days ago, after winning the provincial elections, the 5 Star movement now looks to take over the national government, held by a social democrat party, the PD. After two years in power, the young Matteo Renzi looks already an old establishment figure.

The EU suffers the same problem. Everybody talks of its marginal role in the world, of the fact that the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels live detached from reality and dedicate themselves to discuss rules on how to pack tomatoes, indifferent to the problems of the common European citizen.

We should pause to reflect that this is the same kind of criticism we hear about the United Nations. International organisations can only do what their members allow them to do. The EU is a supranational organisation (the only in existence), yet all the political power is in the hands of the Council of Ministers, where governments sits and take decision.

The Commission is left to implement these and the bureaucrats (the same number of those who run the town of Rome), have autonomy to decide the size of tomato packaging. Then the same national government that has taken the decisions, finds it convenient to denounce the EU inefficiency, and complain that there is an European external policy. This irresponsible game is now seeing the concrete result in Brexit, and governments should think now carefully about continuing on this double standard path.

Anyhow, the king now is finally without clothes. Europe is disintegrating, and a very large responsibility falls on German shoulders.

Germany has been blocking any attempt to create European economic and welfare measures, because they do not want to pay for the mistakes of the debtors countries, Greece, Italy, and the south of Europe. The Economy minister of Germany, Wolfgang Schauble, even went to attribute to Mario Draghi, the BCE governor, 50% of the success of the xenophobe Alternative fur Deutschland in the last elections. Draghi , was doing a policy in the interest of Europe, and not of the German voters. Germany is by far the most powerful country in the EU.

It is ironic to know that all the important posts in the EU bureaucracy have been taken by the British and Germans. In fact, those who control the bureaucracy and the debate on tomato packaging come from those two countries. And chancellor Angela Merkel is considered the one who runs the EU. In fact, the fateful agreement with Turkey on refugees, was decided by the German chancellor, without even consulting France

Now Germany has to decide: or continue on its path to germanize Europe, or to become again a European Germany, as it was when it’s capital was Bonn. Germany has consistently ignored all European and international calls for playing a different policy in the EU. She has refused to increase spending, to share funding of any initiative on European bonds or any measure of socialisation of the crisis.

But it would be a mistake to think that this is due to the peculiar personality traits of Schauble. The large majority of German citizens share the belief that they should not pay for the mistake of others. To be fair, the German government has never tried to educate them on European needs. And now, may be it is too late….

Therefore, the coming elections will be difficult for the government. An ever more insular party, the AfD is expected to have a large increase, and the two traditional parties are very worried. Merkel will try to take away some of the AfD banners further reducing her European policy. What is she Going to do now after the Brexit?

Attempt to start a Europe on two speeds, with Baltic countries, Poland, Hungary and all other Eurosceptics left out? Or she is ready to change her self-centred policy and play a real European role, in spite of AfD rise? Europe now depends clearly on Germany. Here we will see if Merkel is a states-person or just a successful national politician.

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Least Developed Countries’ Vulnerabilities Make Graduation Difficulthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/least-developed-countries-vulnerabilities-make-graduation-difficult/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=least-developed-countries-vulnerabilities-make-graduation-difficult http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/least-developed-countries-vulnerabilities-make-graduation-difficult/#comments Sat, 25 Jun 2016 02:25:40 +0000 Ahmed Sareer http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145797 An aerial view of the Village of Kolhuvaariyaafushi, Mulaaku Atoll, the Maldives, after the Indian Ocean Tsunami. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

An aerial view of the Village of Kolhuvaariyaafushi, Mulaaku Atoll, the Maldives, after the Indian Ocean Tsunami. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

By Ahmed Sareer
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 25 2016 (IPS)

Last month, over two thousand high-level participants from across the world met in Antalya, Turkey for the Midterm Review of the Istanbul Programme of Action, an action plan used to guide sustainable economic development efforts for Least Developed Countries for the 2011 to 2020 period. The main goal was to understand the lessons learnt by the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) over the past five years and apply the knowledge moving forward.

For my country, the Maldives, the past five years have been a chance to experience first-hand the realities of life after graduation from LDC status. In January 2011, the Maldives was officially removed from the list of LDCs, the culmination of decades of hard work and determined efforts of developing the country. The Fourth UN Conference on LDCs, held in May 2011, was the last for the Maldives as an LDC, but last month in Antalya, we went back because we believed it was important to share the lessons we had learnt since 2011.

While our graduation was naturally a moment of pride and cause for celebration for a country only 50 years old, it was accompanied by a sense of uncertainty about the challenges we would face following the withdrawal of the protections and special preferences afforded to LDCs.

Ultimately, we were able to forge ahead in spite of these difficulties and adapted to the new realities. We ensured that our economy, driven by a world-class tourism sector, and a robust fisheries industry, would continue to be competitive and dynamic. We focused on fostering a business-friendly climate, while making prudent investments for future growth.

However, we remain conscious of the degree to which the gains we have made are vulnerable to exogenous shocks. On 20 December 2004, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decided to graduate the Maldives effective 1 January 2008. But just four days before the UNGA decision, a catastrophic tsunami swept across the Indian Ocean, claiming the lives of over 275,000 people in fourteen countries.

The 2004 tsunami was especially devastating in the Maldives. With the highest point in our country being just 2.5 metres high, virtually all of it was, for a few harrowing minutes, underwater.

Several islands were rendered uninhabitable; nearly one in ten people were left homeless.

Farms were destroyed, the fresh water lens corrupted, with large-scale loss to infrastructure. The economic cost of the destruction was equivalent to close to 70 percent of GDP, a blow from which it took us over a decade to recover.

The Maldives is not alone in facing such vulnerabilities. For many countries, particularly Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as our own, an end to LDC status does not necessarily herald the disappearance of structural barriers to growth—such as limited access to markets, geographical isolation, environmental pressures, or difficulty achieving economies of scale.

By 1997, the Maldives had already exceeded two of the three thresholds that determine LDC status—GNI per capita, and the Human Capital Index, measured in terms of undernourishment, child mortality rates, secondary school enrolment rates, and adult literacy.

But we did not exceed the threshold for the third criterion, the Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI), which measures the structural vulnerability of countries to exogenous economic and environmental shocks – we did not meet this threshold to date. It is not necessary to meet all three thresholds to in order to graduate—meaning we were considered ready for graduation.

As the tragedy of 2004 taught us, persistent vulnerabilities have the potential to undermine, if not reverse, gains made towards development. Despite meeting the formal requirements, we were not yet ready. The lessons of our own experiences have meant that the Maldives has been consistent in calling for a smoother and more holistic approach to the graduation process.

Firstly, the criteria for graduation must account for the structural vulnerabilities of developing countries. The fact that economic vulnerability can be disregarded in determining whether a country is ready to graduate from LDC status represents a critical oversight.

Second, the Economic Vulnerability Index itself must also be redesigned to better account for vulnerability. At present, the index fails to account for key considerations such as geographic and environmental vulnerability, import dependency, and demographic pressures.

With greater attention being paid to the effects of climate change on developing countries, most notably in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), evaluating vulnerabilities more comprehensively is a task that has acquired even greater importance.

Lastly, the extension of support and assistance to countries must be determined on the basis of their individual capabilities and challenges, rather than their mere place on a list. We would be remiss to overlook the role that development assistance, including that provided by the UN, has played in helping the Maldives progress—as it has for many others—particularly in regards to our work in disaster preparedness and climate change mitigation.

The withdrawal of such assistance—including preferential trade access and concessionary financing—following our graduation from the ranks of the LDCs has meant increased fiscal challenges. This disregards the unique challenges faced by countries like the Maldives due to their specific structural constraints—constraints ignored under the present graduation regime.

While efforts have been made to smooth the graduation process for LDCs—in 2004, and most recently in 2012—the process remains deeply flawed and in need of comprehensive reform. To this end, the Maldives has called for the World Trade Organization (WTO) to extend the application of TRIPS (trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights) for all LDCs, in addition to the exploration of a “small and vulnerable economy” category at the United Nations, which would recognize the particular needs of such countries.

Similarly, we must move towards devising measures of development that do more than just record national income, and instead provide a more meaningful assessment of national capability and capacity, for which GDP can often be a poor proxy.

No country wishes to be called “least developed”, much less remain in that classification indefinitely, but the factors driving underdevelopment must be meaningfully dealt with if we wish to attain genuinely sustainable development. It is for this reason that we believe that the desire by countries to eradicate poverty and achieve economic development must be met with commitment on part of the United Nations and other organizations to chart a realistic and holistic path towards that end.

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Worldwide Displacement At Levels Never Seen Beforehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/worldwide-displacement-at-levels-never-seen-before/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=worldwide-displacement-at-levels-never-seen-before http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/worldwide-displacement-at-levels-never-seen-before/#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 14:35:46 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145762 A family living in a refugee camp in Erbil, Iraq. Credit: Annabell Van den Berghe/IPS

A family living in a refugee camp in Erbil, Iraq. Credit: Annabell Van den Berghe/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 23 2016 (IPS)

Displacement has increased to unprecedented levels due to war and persecution, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has found.

In a new report, entitled Global Trends which tracks forced displacement globally, UNHCR found that 65.3 million were displaced at the end of 2015, compared to 59 million just 12 months earlier. This is the first time in the organisation’s history that the threshold of 60 million has been crossed.

Globally, 1 in every 113 people is now either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee. This represents a population greater than the United Kingdom and would be the 21st largest country in the world.

“More people are being displaced by war and persecution and that’s worrying in itself, but the factors that endanger refugees are multiplying too,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi during the launch of the report.

Though the Syrian conflict continues to generate a large proportion of refugees in the world and garners significant international attention, other reignited conflicts have been contributing to the unprecedented rise in displacement including Iraq.

Iraq currently has the third-largest number of internally displaced persons (IDPs), and alongside Yemen and Syria, the Middle Eastern nation accounts for more than half of all new internal displacements.

“More people are being displaced by war and persecution and that’s worrying in itself, but the factors that endanger refugees are multiplying too.” -- Filippo Grandi.

By the end of 2015, there were 4.4 million Iraqi IDPs, compared to 3.6 million at the end of 2014. At least one million of these IDPs have been displaced since conflicts in the mid-2000s.

Displacement has increased even further following a government military offensive against the Islamic State in May with more than 85,000 Iraqis fleeing from the Iraqi city of Falluja and its surrounding areas. Approximately 60,000 of these fled over a period of just three days between 15 to 18 June.

Despite the figures, UNHCR continues to struggle to secure funding to meet the needs of Iraqis.

Halfway through the year, the agency has so far only received 21 percent of funds needed for Iraq and the surrounding region.

“Funds are desperately needed to expand the number of camps and to provide urgently needed relief supplies for displaced people who have already endured months of deprivation and hardship without enough food or medicine,” said UNHCR spokeswoman Ariane Rummery.

Though six camps have already been built and the construction of three more are underway, UNHCR estimates that 20 additional camps will be needed in the coming weeks.

In the Debaga camp in northern Iraq, newly displaced civilians are staying in a severely overcrowded reception centre which is currently seven times above its capacity.

Along with the lack of shelter, insufficient hygiene facilities and clean drinking water is creating a “desperate situation,” Rummery said.

And displacement may only get worse, she added.

“It is estimated that more than a million people still live in Mosul and any large offensive against the city could result in the displacement of up to 600,000 more people,” Rummery stated.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Iraq is classified as a level-three emergency, which signifies the most severe, large-scale humanitarian crisis.

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Fearing Violence, LGBT Refugees Rarely Seek Helphttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/fearing-violence-lgbt-refugees-rarely-seek-help/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fearing-violence-lgbt-refugees-rarely-seek-help http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/fearing-violence-lgbt-refugees-rarely-seek-help/#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 04:28:47 +0000 Lyndal Rowlands http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145751 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/fearing-violence-lgbt-refugees-rarely-seek-help/feed/ 0 Latin America and the Caribbean: What does it take to prevent people from falling back into povertyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/latin-america-and-the-caribbean-what-does-it-take-to-prevent-people-from-falling-back-into-poverty/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=latin-america-and-the-caribbean-what-does-it-take-to-prevent-people-from-falling-back-into-poverty http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/latin-america-and-the-caribbean-what-does-it-take-to-prevent-people-from-falling-back-into-poverty/#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 18:06:56 +0000 Jessica Faieta http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145748 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/latin-america-and-the-caribbean-what-does-it-take-to-prevent-people-from-falling-back-into-poverty/feed/ 0 Civil Society in Latin America Campaigns Against Trans-Pacific Partnershiphttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/civil-society-in-latin-america-campaigns-against-trans-pacific-partnership/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=civil-society-in-latin-america-campaigns-against-trans-pacific-partnership http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/civil-society-in-latin-america-campaigns-against-trans-pacific-partnership/#comments Mon, 20 Jun 2016 14:22:12 +0000 Emilio Godoy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145699 Activists from Chile, Mexico and Peru opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), during a meeting in January in the Mexican capital, which was also attended by representatives of civil society from Canada and the United States. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Activists from Chile, Mexico and Peru opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), during a meeting in January in the Mexican capital, which was also attended by representatives of civil society from Canada and the United States. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

By Emilio Godoy
MEXICO CITY, Jun 20 2016 (IPS)

Civil society organisations from Chile, Mexico and Peru are pressing their legislatures and those of other countries not to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The free trade agreement, which was signed in New Zealand on Feb. 4, is now pending parliamentary approval in the 12 countries of the bloc, in a process led by Malaysia. Chile, Mexico and Peru are the three Latin American partners.

The treaty will enter into effect two months after it has been ratified by all the signatories, or if six or more countries, which together represent at least 85 percent of the total GDP of the 12 partners, have ratified it within two years.

“We are seeking a dialogue with like-minded parliamentary groups that defend national interests, and we provide them with information. We want to use the parliaments as hubs, and we also want dialogues with organisations from the United States, Canada and the Asian countries,” Carlos Bedoya, a Peruvian activist with the Latin American Network on Debt, Development and Rights (LATINDADD), told IPS.

Civil society groups in Peru created the “Our Rights Are Not Negotiable” coalition, to reject the most controversial parts of the agreement.

With similar initiatives, “A Better Chile without TPP” and “A Better Mexico without TPP”, non-governmental organisations and civil society figures are protesting the negative effects that the treaty would have on their societies.

The activists complain that the intellectual property chapter of the agreement stipulates a minimum of five years of data protection for clinical trials for Mexico and Peru. And in the case of biologics, the period is three years for Mexico and 10 years for Peru.

In Chile, in both cases it will be five years of protection, in line with its other free trade agreements.

These barriers delay cheaper, generic versions of drugs from entering the market for a longer period of time.

Another aspect criticised by activists is that the member countries must submit disputes over investments to extraterritorial bodies, like the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

The alliances against the TPP also criticise the provisions for Internet service providers to oversee content on the web in order to control the distribution of material that violates copyright laws.

Latin American activists complain as well about the U.S. demand that the partners reform domestic laws and regulations to bring them into line with the TPP, in a process separate from or parallel to ratification by the legislature.

In addition, they protest that Washington was given the role of certifying that each partner has faithfully implemented the agreement.

The TPP emerged from the expansion of an alliance signed in 2006 by Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore, within the framework of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. These countries were later joined by Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the United States and Vietnam.

A girl holds a sign saying the TPP means Transferring Fully our Powers, during a protest against the trade agreement in Santiago, Chile. Credit: Courtesy of "A Better Chile without TPP"

A girl holds a sign saying the TPP means Transferring Fully our Powers, during a protest against the trade agreement in Santiago, Chile. Credit: Courtesy of “A Better Chile without TPP”

The agreement encompasses areas like customs, textiles, investment, telecommunications, e-commerce, dispute settlement, and labour and environmental issues.

The economies in the bloc represent 40 percent of global GDP and 20 of world trade.

The TPP “has negative effects on health and economic development. It won’t benefit our countries. But there will be a lengthy debate, because it contains issues that generate conflict,” Carlos Figueroa, a Chilean activist with his country’s coalition against the treaty, which encompasses 99 organisations, prominent individuals and five parliamentarians, told IPS.

Among its actions, the “A Better Chile without TPP” organises mass email campaigns to petition the government against the accord, promotes campaigns over the social networks, holds public demonstrations and is lobbying in parliament to block approval of the treaty.

In Mexico, conservative President Enrique Peña Nieto has enough votes in the Senate, which is responsible for ratifying international accords, to approve the treaty, with the votes from the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, its ally the Green Party, and the opposition right-wing National Action Party.

In Chile, socialist President Michelle Bachelet’s centre-left alliance will be able to count on enough votes from the right to ratify the agreement.

And in Peru, the party of President-elect Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a former World Bank economist and Wall Street banker in favour of free trade, has only a small number of seats in Congress. But a rival right-wing party, Fuerza Popular, which has a broad majority in the legislature, will approve the TPP, after the new government takes office in July and the new lawmakers are sworn in.

But furthermore, in Peru, the content of any free trade agreement does not require legislative approval unless it goes beyond what was agreed in 2009 with the United States.

Despite attempts by governments of the countries in the bloc to promote the positive impacts of the TPP, recent reports call the supposed benefits into question.

“Global Economic Prospects; Potential Macroeconomic Implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership”, a report published in January by the World Bank, projected that the treaty could boost the GDP of its members by 1.1 percent and their trade by 11 percent a year on average by 2030.

In the case of Canada, Mexico and the United States, which have their own free trade agreement, NAFTA, since 1994, the benefit is just 0.6 percent of GDP.

And for Mexico, the positive impact would be even more reduced, because the cuts in import duties give other members of the TPP greater access to the U.S. market, the document says.

Economists from Tufts University in the U.S. state of Massachusetts had a more negative view of the trade deal, predicting “increasing inequality and job losses in all participating economies.”

“Trading Down: Unemployment, Inequality and Other Risks of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement”, a study by the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University, estimates that the TPP would lead to employment loss in all member countries, with a total loss of 771,000 jobs, including 448,000 in the United States alone.

In Mexico, 78,000 jobs would be lost, and in Chile and Peru, 14,000.

The authors estimate that by 2025, Mexican exports will grow 6.2 percent and GDP one percent; Peru’s exports will grow 7.1 percent and GDP 1.4 percent; and Chile’s exports will grow 2.5 percent and GDP 0.9 percent.

For its part, the U.S. International Trade Commission stated May 18, in its report “Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Likely Impact on the U.S. Economy and on Specific Industry Sectors”, that by 2032 the TPP would boost the U.S. economy by an average of 0.01 percent a year and employment by 0.07 percent.

Enrique Dussel, coordinator of the China/Mexico Studies Center at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, questions Mexico’s involvement in the TPP without evaluating the consequences of further freeing up trade.

“There has been a 20-year learning process to know what works and what doesn’t,” he told IPS. “TPP partners without free trade agreements represent one percent of trade with Mexico and one percent of investment. The question is what do I do with the remaining 99 percent, what focus do I give trade and investment.”

NGOs in Latin America are hoping the U.S. election campaign will limit the debate on the TPP to Congress until the winner of the November elections takes office.

“That gives us a little time to fight against ratification. It will be a long battle,” said Bedoya.

Dussel anticipated three possible scenarios. “In two years it goes into effect; there will be no TPP; or in the United States the new president will call for substantial changes.”

Edited by Estrella Gutiérrez/Translated by Stephanie Wildes

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Not Politically Correct Reflections on Brexithttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/not-politically-correct-reflections-on-brexit/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=not-politically-correct-reflections-on-brexit http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/not-politically-correct-reflections-on-brexit/#comments Fri, 17 Jun 2016 15:55:29 +0000 Roberto Savio http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145667 Roberto Savio, founder and president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News.]]>

Roberto Savio, founder and president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News.

By Roberto Savio
ROME, Jun 17 2016 (IPS)

Allow me a rare personal anecdote. In 1965 I met Lord Hume, who had just left the post of Prime Minister and we had a mutual sympathy. Lord Hume invited me for lunch at the Chamber of Lords. Over an extremely delicious rump of Scottish lamb, I asked if I was allowed to ask a complex question. I explained that I had started my professional career as a Kremlinologist, which had served me well in following British foreign policy. One day London was looking to Europe as its compass, and another day, to Washington. All this on the basis of small signals, difficult to detect. Could his Lordship explain to me how to address this dualism?

Roberto Savio

Roberto Savio

Lord Hume’s answer was that only a British citizen could understand the dualism, and therefore, I should try to be British for five minutes. Then he asked me “Dear fellow citizen, do you prefer to be second to Germany or second to the United States?”

That dualism explains why the British, more than other Europeans, have looked on in dismay at the decline of Europe in the international scene, and the pivot of President Obama who has made Asia his priority. Obama’s exhortation against Brexit in his last visit to London, stirred considerable debate. Boris Johnson, the most visible proponent of Brexit,even said that Obama, having been born of a Kenyan father, is not qualified to advise the UK.

But Brexit is only the insular British version of the current world’s implosion under fear and greed. Any debate in the referendum on Europe’s vision or values or identity is simply non-existent. In England the debate is fear against greed. The Brexit camp has launched a campaign based on fear. Fear of immigrants, fear of losing control of its borders, fear of being subject to the whims of Brussels (widely seen as those of Merkel, therefore of Germany). Contrary to any reality, the Brexit campaign is now about the threats of 70 million Turks able to enter Great Britain and rape women. The fact that there is no chance that Turkey will join the EU in the foreseeable future, is ignored. Dominic Raab, the justice minister who is backing Brexit said “ There is more evidence on how EU membership makes us less safe. This puts British families at risk”. The British tabloids have launched an unbelievable campaign. Britons could lose control of their coastline. Their country could be merged with France. And Brussels Is going to veto the use of the kettle, the indispensible instrument for the daily tea. One recent study found that of 982 articles focused on the referendum, 45% were about leaving, and only 27% in favor of staying. Boris Johnson, who has written in two books how it is important for the UK to be part of Europe, and boasted of his family’s Turkish ancestry, has now jumped on the Leave camp, with the clear aim of replacing Cameron as Prime Minister, where the current one will have to resign after losing the referendum. Cameron was the inventor of this referendum, so his destiny is linked to it. The fear campaign runs the same arguments and rhetoric of Trump, Le Pen, Salvini, Wilders, who are all supporting Brexit. It has no specific British flair.

If fear is the argument to “Leave Europe”, greed is for the Stay in Europe camp. In fact, it is also a fear campaign. But it does not talk of safety, borders and immigrants. It talks about money. How much money Great Britain would loose if excluded by the common market ( Wolfgang Schauble,the German Minister of Finance, has declared that there would be no way that London would have special arrangements like Norway). Cameron made a speech about the crisis of pensions for its citizens. The financial sector, companies and the economic sector have all been financing the Stay campaign, indicating the economic damage it would entail to leave Europe. Cameron has got the international economic system, from the IMF to the World Bank, from the OECD to the G7, demonstrating how Brexit would damage not only Britain, but also all of Europe and the global economy. But the damage would be in any event, much greater for Britain.

The problem is that those arguments do not go far with the Brexit people. Like supporters for Trump, Le Pen and so on, polls show that they are the ones who feel neglected and left out, who are fearful about their families and their jobs, and have lower level of education and incomes.

According to YouGov, the polling group, the Remain campaign’s strongest geographical area of support remains Northern Ireland, which receives large amounts of financial aid, and Scotland and London, two rich regions. The more you move to the less prosperous regions, like East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside, or areas of large immigration, like East Anglia, the more you find support for Brexit. And age groups confirm this also. Over 60, less educated, the large majority is for Brexit. And those under 25 think the opposite. The memory of the Second World War, and thus, the main reason for European integration, was to avoid new wars ravaging Europe, has now gone.

It is impossible to say who is going to win. The two camps are so close, that every poll brings different and contradictory results. And during my recent visit, I was impressed by how the fear campaign was having success. Nobody would listen to the evidence: The Turks were coming.

There is no doubt that Brexit will accelerate the process of disintegration of Europe. Next year there are elections in France and Germany, and Le Pen is now poised to win. The right-wing populist, nationalist and xenophobe parties are growing. Just look at the Italian elections, where the 5 Star movement is heading towards phenomenal increase. Nigel Farage, the UKIP anti-Europe leader, has just declared to the Italian newspaper “Corriere della Sera”, that Beppe Grillo and he are going to bury Europe. Poland and Hungary will be happy to continue in their nationalist path, and so will Eastern Europe. The Nordic countries will be tempted to follow Norway: not inside the EU, but with a special agreement for trade and finance.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have considerable interest remaining in Europe so it is generally considered that they will probably detach from England, to be re-admitted into the EU. The lack of an active campaign by the PM of Scotland, Nicola Surgeon, has been interpreted as a Machiavellian manoeuvre to have Brexit win, and be able to call for a new independence referendum. That will be the end of the United Kingdom, and England would lose its main historical conquests. Only small Wales would remain, to save the phrase “United Kingdom”.

There is no doubt that England will seriously suffer. To be cut out from a market of 500 million people will have serious consequences for its crucial financial sector, and many international companies will probably move out of London to remain inside Europe (Edinburgh is a serious candidate). And a diminished England will have much less international weight, starting with the United States.

What then is the positive side of Brexit? While I do not see any for Britain or Europe, this could have a great influence on the tide of history. It could give birth to a new Europe, much more homogenous, formed by what could be called the Carolingian Europe. Charles the Great, in the 8th century, was able to unify most of Europe, and made France and Germany the basis of the kingdom. As Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, he also brought the south of Europe into the Empire. That Empire was based on the values of Christianity, with the strong support of the Pope. This new Europe will have to discuss foundational values to be viable, beyond its economic basis. And the errors made during this present version of “Europe”, will have to be discussed and avoided in the new one. Eventually it could become attractive to those who have left, who will have mean while found out that integration is a crucial issue in our globalized world.

But more relevant, the turmoil and decline of England after Brexit, will be a extraordinarily message to other European countries. It will show that populism, nationalism and xenophobia, that the European integration was supposed to consign to the dustbin of history, can be useful tools for winning an election, but not to run a country. The England of the past will never come back, and reality will creep in. When England invaded China, to oblige its citizens to buy opium from the British Empire, there were 30 million British, and 323 million Chinese. Today Britain has over 60 million people, immigrants included, and China 1.374 millions. England was supposed to be a cradle of democracy. If a campaign of fear can win in a supposedly civilized country, it means more education must be done for a vibrant democracy.

There is only one problem in this scenario of hopeful thinking, and it is the Germany to which Lord Hume was referring 50 years ago. His dominant Germany, from which the only way to be free was to become second to the US, will be in place and more reinforced by the end of the Great Kingdom, and the exit of Poland and other countries. Today’s Germany is not the Germany of Bonn, cofounder of Europe, with European statesman like Konrad Adenauer, Helmut Schmidt, Helmut Kohll, placing Europe at the top of their priorities. Today’s Germany Is the Germany of Berlin, with politicians basically intent to achieving German priorities. They will have to solve a fundamental problem: they want to run or do they want to integrate? And Brexit would have the advantage of also bringing this issue to the fore..

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Western Nations, Blaming Cash Crunch, Pull out of UNIDOhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/western-nations-blaming-cash-crunch-pull-out-of-unido/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=western-nations-blaming-cash-crunch-pull-out-of-unido http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/western-nations-blaming-cash-crunch-pull-out-of-unido/#comments Wed, 15 Jun 2016 20:00:38 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145638 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/western-nations-blaming-cash-crunch-pull-out-of-unido/feed/ 0 World’s Nuclear Arsenal Declines But Multi-Billion Dollar Modernization Continueshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/worlds-nuclear-arsenal-declines-but-multi-billion-dollar-modernization-continues/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=worlds-nuclear-arsenal-declines-but-multi-billion-dollar-modernization-continues http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/worlds-nuclear-arsenal-declines-but-multi-billion-dollar-modernization-continues/#comments Mon, 13 Jun 2016 20:56:03 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145612 U.S. Pres. Barack Obama chairs the Security Council Summit on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Credit: Bomoon Lee/IPS

U.S. Pres. Barack Obama chairs the Security Council Summit on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Credit: Bomoon Lee/IPS

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 13 2016 (IPS)

The world’s nuclear arsenal continues to decline – from 15,850 warheads in early 2015 to 15,395 in 2016, according to the latest figures released Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Still, the more distressing news is that none of the nine nuclear weapon-possessing states – the US, UK, Russia, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – are prepared to give up their existing weapons now, or in the foreseeable future.

The decrease in the overall number is due mainly to Russia and the US – which together still account for more than 93 per cent of all nuclear weapons – further reducing their inventories of strategic nuclear weapons.

However, despite the implementation of the bilateral Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START) since 2011, the pace of their reductions remains slow, said SIPRI.

The equally bad news, however, is the continued modernization of nuclear weapons both by the US and Russia.

Although details of the Russian program are not public, the US plans to spend $348 billion during 2015–24 on maintaining and comprehensively updating its nuclear forces.

Some estimates suggest that the US nuclear weapon modernization program may cost up to $1 trillion over the next 30 years, according to SIPRI.

Alice Slater, an Advisor to the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and who serves on the Coordinating Committee of Abolition 2000, told IPS the US has committed to spending $348 billion over the next ten years on two new bomb factories, new warheads and upgraded delivery systems by planes, submarine and land-based missile, estimating a budget of one trillion dollars over the next 30 years.

Last summer, the US tested a dummy warhead in Nevada for an earth-penetrating nuclear bunker buster, she pointed out.

Despite President Barack Obama’s qualified April 2009 Prague speech urging a world free of nuclear weapons – for which he received a Nobel Peace Prize, even after having noted that his dream of a world free of nuclear weapons “may not happen in my lifetime”- he has made the smallest reductions in the US nuclear arsenal compared to any previous post- cold war US President, said Slater.

And Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for US President at the November elections, famously misquoted Obama’s Prague speech when she was Secretary of State, saying Obama had said a nuclear weapons free world may not happen for “several lifetimes,” she added.

Last month UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated his call for a world without nuclear weapons.

“Disarmament is part of the DNA of the United Nations, which was formed when the first and last use of nuclear weapons in war was fresh in people’s minds.”

Since then, he pointed out, all countries have rejected the use of nuclear weapons.

“But until these weapons are completely eliminated, they continue to pose a threat to our common well-being.  Fears of nuclear terrorism make disarmament even more urgent and important,” he added.

Hans Kristensen, co-author of the SIPRI Yearbook said the ambitious US modernization plan presented by the Obama Administration is in stark contrast to President Barack Obama’s pledge to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and the role they play in US national security strategy.

The other nuclear weapon-possessing states have much smaller arsenals, but have all either begun to deploy new nuclear weapon delivery systems or announced their intention to do so, he added.

China appears to be gradually increasing its nuclear forces as it modernizes the arsenal. India and Pakistan are both expanding their nuclear weapon stockpiles and missile delivery capabilities.

North Korea is estimated to have enough fissile material for approximately 10 nuclear warheads. However, it is unclear whether North Korea has produced or deployed operational weapons, said Kristensen.

“Despite the ongoing reduction in the number of weapons, the prospects for genuine progress towards nuclear disarmament remain gloomy,” said Shannon Kile, Head of the SIPRI Nuclear Weapons Project.

“All the nuclear weapon-possessing states continue to prioritize nuclear deterrence as the cornerstone of their national security strategies,” he added.

Apart from counting bombs in the respective nuclear arsenals, Slater told IPS, “we must factor in the aggressive and provocative expansion of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) up to the Russian border as a block to nuclear disarmament, despite promises given to (former Soviet leader Mikhail) Gorbachev when the Berlin Wall came down that NATO would not expand beyond East Germany as well as the US having planted new missile bases in Turkey, Romania and Poland after President Bush walked out of 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

It is significant that part of the deal US President John F. Kennedy made with Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev when the Soviet Union took their missiles out of Cuba was that the US would remove its missiles from Turkey.

“Despite the ongoing reduction in the number of weapons, the prospects for genuine progress towards nuclear disarmament remain gloomy." -- Shannon Kile

“Well they are back in Turkey.  The US also plans to modernize the nuclear weapons it bases in five NATO countries, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Turkey, and Italy.   And the US Asia “pivot” with expanded bases in Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Philippines is an enormous obstacle to enroll the Asian nuclear powers in endorsing nuclear disarmament,” declared Slater.

She argued that US plans to dominate and control the military use of space also block further possibilities for nuclear disarmament.

Gorbachev and (US President Ronald) Reagan spoke about abolishing nuclear weapons, but Gorbachev pulled his offer off the table when Reagan wouldn’t promise to forego Star Wars.

Then Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin offered a deal to (US President Bill) Clinton “to cut our massive arsenals to 1,000 nuclear weapons each, at which point we could invite all the other nuclear weapons states to the table to negotiate for their elimination, but only  if Clinton would forego the development of missile bases in Eastern Europe.

Slater said Clinton refused, and subsequently Bush unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty in 2002.  Russia and China have actually been proposing, since 2008, a draft treaty to ban weapons in space which the US vigorously opposes by blocking consensus to even discuss it in the Committee on Disarmament in Geneva.

Finally, the nuclear weapons states have boycotted the 2016 Geneva meetings of the Open Ended Working Group for Nuclear Disarmament, established by the UN General Assembly, which have been discussing the legal gap in the law that fails to prohibit and ban nuclear weapons as we have done for biological and chemical weapons.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) merely promises “good faith efforts” for nuclear disarmament and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) left a gap in its 1996 decision on the legality of nuclear weapons when it said it couldn’t decide if nuclear weapons were illegal in the case where the very survival of a state was at stake.

“It appears that the non-nuclear weapons states may be prepared this year to start negotiations on a ban treaty without the rogue nuclear weapons states and some of the hypocritical “weasel” states who profess to want nuclear abolition but rely on the US nuclear umbrella for their “security”.”

These include NATO states and Japan, incredible as that may seem, as well as Australia and South Korea.  Hopefully, a treaty to ban the bomb signed by the 127 countries that are supporting the effort at this time, may break up this discouraging logjam for meaningful progress on nuclear disarmament as reported in the recent SIPR Annual count of the world’s nuclear arsenals, Slater noted.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

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AIDS Meeting Was Bold but Disappointing, Organisations Sayhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/aids-meeting-was-bold-but-disappointing-organisations-say/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=aids-meeting-was-bold-but-disappointing-organisations-say http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/aids-meeting-was-bold-but-disappointing-organisations-say/#comments Mon, 13 Jun 2016 20:37:14 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145610 A Rainbow flag is displayed in the window of the United States Mission to the United Nations during LGBT Pride Month. Credit: Phillip Kaeding / IPS.

A Rainbow flag is displayed in the window of the United States Mission to the United Nations during LGBT Pride Month. Credit: Phillip Kaeding / IPS.

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 13 2016 (IPS)

Though the High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS ended with the adoption of bold and life saving targets, many organisations have expressed their disappointment in its outcomes.

During the meeting, the international community adopted a new Political Declaration that lays down the groundwork to accelerate HIV prevention and treatment and end AIDS by 2030.

UN member states committed to achieving a 90-90-90 treatment target where 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 90 percent who know their HIV status are accessing treatment and 90 percent of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads. Reaching the treatment target will prevent 75 percent of new infections and ensure that 30 million people living with HIV (PLHIV) have access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) by 2020.

Though many organisations that IPS spoke to were encouraged by the commitments, they also expressed concern and disappointment in the Declaration’s shortfalls.

“I think what the high level meeting showed us was the gap between reality and politics at the UN,” said International Women’s Health Coalition’s (IWHC) Director of Advocacy & Policy, Shannon Kowalski.

“The Political Declaration didn’t go far enough to address the epidemic that we face today,” she continued.

“If we are serious about ending AIDS, we need to go far beyond what is in the Political Declaration." -- Shannon Kowalski

Many were particularly concerned with stripped and exclusionary language on so-called key populations in the document.

“When we saw in the Declaration that key populations were less mentioned than 5 years ago…it is a real setback,” Alix Zuinghedau from Coalition Plus, a French international union for HIV/AIDS organisations, told IPS.

Among these key populations is the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Though the LGBT population continues to be disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, they are only mentioned once in the Declaration.

Executive Director of Stop TB Partnership Lucica Ditiu told IPS that the document mentions vulnerable populations in relation to tuberculosis (TB), but that it should have been extended throughout the Declaration.

“We have a saying in my country: With one eye I laugh, with one eye I cry. Because that piece was missing,” she said.

The Declaration includes a target to reduce TB-related deaths among people living with HIV by 75 percent by 2020.

Amirah Sequeira, Associate Director of Health Global Access Project’s (GAP) International Campaigns and Communications, also noted the lack of language and commitment to decriminalize key populations including men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and sex workers.

“The exclusion of commitments to decriminalize these populations will hold back the ability for the world to reach the bold new targets that the Declaration committed to,” she told IPS.

When asked about these concerns, the Deputy Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), one of the main organisers of the meeting, Luiz Lorres told IPS that this exclusion will impede efforts to achieve the 90-90-90 treatment target.

“I acknowledge that more needs to be done,” he said.

Organisations have also pointed to issues around financing.

Through the Declaration, governments have committed to increasing funds for HIV response to $26 billion per year by 2020, as estimated by UNAIDS. However, Sequeira noted that not only is there a $6 billion funding gap, but also donors tend to flat line or reduce funding despite pledges.

“[Reaching the goal] will not be possible if donors continue to do what unfortunately they have been doing which is flat lining or pulling back funding from global AIDS programs,” she told IPS.

Though she applauded the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief’s (PEPFAR) newly launched $100 million Key Populations Investment Fund, Sequeira stated that PEPFAR needs a $500 million increase each year between now and 2020 in order for the U.S. to provide its fair share of needed financing.

Zuinghedau told IPS that without additional funding to scale up programs for key populations, the goal to reduce infections and end AIDS will not be possible.

“It is very frustrating to see countries say, yes we want to end AIDS but we’re not going to add any more funding. It’s a contradiction,” she told IPS.

The government of Canada recently announced a pledge of almost US$615 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for the next three years, a 20 percent increase from its previous pledge.

Kowalski applauded the move, stating: “If Canada can do it, we know that other governments can do it as well.”

Though the Declaration highlights the need to increase domestic resources for countries’ own HIV response, Ditiu stressed the need to ensure that governments continue to invest in vulnerable groups because they are often the first ones to “fall between the cracks.”

She added that it is important to include key populations in the implementation of commitments.

Sequeira also urged for the implementation of strong accountability mechanisms to ensure that commitments are translated into effective responses.

Though the Political Declaration is not “perfect,” Kowalski noted that it provides the bare minimum required to take HIV response to the next level.

“If we are serious about ending AIDS, we need to go far beyond what is in the Political Declaration,” she said.

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Antibiotic Resistance Requires Global Response Similar to AIDS, Climate Changehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/antibiotic-resistance-requires-global-response-similar-to-aids-climate-change/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=antibiotic-resistance-requires-global-response-similar-to-aids-climate-change http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/antibiotic-resistance-requires-global-response-similar-to-aids-climate-change/#comments Sun, 12 Jun 2016 00:59:56 +0000 Lyndal Rowlands http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145598 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/antibiotic-resistance-requires-global-response-similar-to-aids-climate-change/feed/ 0 From Somalia to Afghanistan: The Dangers Local Journalists Facehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/from-somalia-to-afghanistan-the-dangers-local-journalists-face/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=from-somalia-to-afghanistan-the-dangers-local-journalists-face http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/from-somalia-to-afghanistan-the-dangers-local-journalists-face/#comments Sat, 11 Jun 2016 00:22:33 +0000 Valentina Ieri http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145595 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/from-somalia-to-afghanistan-the-dangers-local-journalists-face/feed/ 0 Polynesian Voyagers Bring Messages of Hope to UN on World Oceans Dayhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/polynesian-voyagers-bring-messages-of-hope-to-un-on-world-oceans-day/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=polynesian-voyagers-bring-messages-of-hope-to-un-on-world-oceans-day http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/polynesian-voyagers-bring-messages-of-hope-to-un-on-world-oceans-day/#comments Wed, 08 Jun 2016 03:58:04 +0000 Lyndal Rowlands http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145499 The Hōkūle‘a canoe sails past the United Nations in New York. Credit: Lyndal Rowlands / IPS.

The Hōkūle‘a canoe sails past the United Nations in New York. Credit: Lyndal Rowlands / IPS.

By Lyndal Rowlands
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 8 2016 (IPS)

Polynesian voyagers who have sailed the world by canoe using ancient navigation skills will bring pledges they collected along the way to the UN on Wednesday as part of World Oceans Day celebrations.

The voyagers sailed the Hōkūle‘a canoe to New York to deliver the pledges from countries and communities committed to doing their part to help save the world’s oceans to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Nainoa Thompson, the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Master Navigator told IPS that they were inspired to collect the declarations after Ban sailed with them in Apia, Samoa in the Summer of 2014.

“He gave us this bottle (capped) with his own handwritten note of his pledge to work with the membership of the UN (for) the betterment of the ocean,” said Thompson.

Thompson is master navigator of the Hōkūle‘a canoe. The voyagers uses the ancient traditions of Polynesian navigation to travel the oceans without technical instruments, knowledge which almost became extinct, but has been revived through decades of training.

Nainoa Thompson. Credit: The Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Nainoa Thompson. Credit: The Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Hōkūle‘a has recently returned from a 37-month voyage covering about 50,000 miles in the Pacific Ocean.

“We are sailing on the belief that there are millions of people that are working for kindness and caring and compassion for the earth even though we’re not connected,” said Thompson. “We just want our voyaging canoe and our community to (be) part of that movement.”

The Hōkūle‘a canoe was launched 41 years ago, the first of its kind launched in over 600 years, says Thompson.

“It was our vehicle to allow us to explore and rediscover our ancient traditions primarily in voyaging and in navigation.”

“It was a reconnection not just to our culture, and to our tradition, and to our ancestors, but also reconnection back to the Pacific Islanders.”

Over that time, he says the voyagers have seen many changes in the oceans and peoples of the region.

“We’ve been witness to watching shifting change, not only in what’s been happening to the oceans physically, but what’s been happening to the relationship between islanders and the ocean in the biggest ocean, that’s the Pacific.”

“We’re not master navigators, our generation is students of the great master, his name is Mau Piailug, he was the one who navigated to Tahiti for the first time in 1976." -- Nainoa Thompson.

During this time, Thompson says that he has observed increasing awareness around the Pacific of the science of the negative impacts on the oceans such as climate change and acidification.

“I think part of the solution to figure out how to protect the oceans is going to really require a meshing and a coming together of both science and technology with indigenous knowledge — those people who have lived and known these islands for generations and thousands of years.”

Thompson says that he has personally learnt a lot from his own teacher, who he described as the only known master navigator.

“We’re not master navigators, our generation is students of the great master, his name is Mau Piailug, he was the one who navigated to Tahiti for the first time in 1976.”

Thompson describes Piailug, who came from a tiny island called Satawal in Micronesia, as “a window into the ancient world and the ancient oceans.”

Satawal is “only a mile and quarter long and half mile wide,” yet the people who live there have a phenomonal “knowledge of the oceans, and of the stars, and the heavens, and the atmosphere, and the winds, and the clouds, and the sea life, and the sea birds,” said Thompson.

“We were lucky to have (Piailug), he changed the whole world view from another native group that was losing language and culture to a whole new world where we were the greatest navigators.”

“He came back and trained us for 30 years.”

“In that process we tried to understand really the importance of listening to your elders and spending time and trying to protect and preserve their knowledge of the ocean because it was getting so lost so quickly.”

“Extinction of cultural values and cultural lifestyles are happening everywhere so Mau singlehandedly shifted that whole mindset.”

“Back in 1975 there were no canoes, there were no voyages, there were no navigators. In Polynesia now there’s about 2500 active sailors,” said Thompson.

He added that learning the navigation skills helped his generation to better understand the oceans.

“The thing about the navigation is it forces it you to do two things: to observe and secondly to understand nature.”

Thompson says that his generation now has a responsibility to share this knowledge with the children of Hawaii and the world.

He says that there is also a need “to move education towards catching up with the real core issues that our children need to know.”

“The worldwide voyage is a relationship between those who are exploring, those who are learning, those who are bringing things back and getting it embedded into schools.”

The President of the University of Hawaii sailed with the Hōkūle‘a from Washington DC, to New York, and the Superintendent of the Hawaiian public schools system will also be joining the Hōkūle‘a at the UN on World Oceans Day.

Thompson said that ensuring that the knowledge was shared with Hawaii’s students was important because in the past that knowledge had been lost when it was banned from schools.

“The problem of why we know so little of native people is because it wasn’t taught in schools and Hawaiian culture, language and geneology was outlawed by policy by public and private schools back a hundred years ago.”

“The way to change that is really to change what you teach in schools.”

The voyagers plan to share the knowledge they collect of people who are doing great things to protect the oceans with the children of Hawaii.

Many of these examples also include school children, such as is the case with oyster farming in New York.

“New York was considered the largest oyster population in the world, the indigenous people lived directly off the sea food, that’s all they needed.”

However eventually the water became so polluted that the oyster larvae couldn’t survive, but more recently some New York schools have begun breeding the oysters themselves.

“The equation is that if you plant reefs of oysters, if you get a billion oysters you can filter the harbour in three days,” said Thompson.

New York restaurants have now got involved, and Thompson described the program as an example of how the economy and environment can work together for the better.

“That’s an equation that Hawaii needs to figure out, and that’s an equation that the world needs to figure out, but it’s happening in very special places.”

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Fear of a Triumph by Keiko Fujimori, the Key to Peru’s Electionshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/fear-of-a-triumph-by-keiko-fujimori-the-key-to-perus-elections/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fear-of-a-triumph-by-keiko-fujimori-the-key-to-perus-elections http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/fear-of-a-triumph-by-keiko-fujimori-the-key-to-perus-elections/#comments Fri, 03 Jun 2016 23:43:36 +0000 Angel Paez http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145436 “No Narco-state, No Keiko!” was the chant repeated endlessly by protesters during the massive May 31 demonstrations in Lima and many other cities in Peru against the possible triumph of presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori. Credit: Courtesy of La República

“No Narco-state, No Keiko!” was the chant repeated endlessly by protesters during the massive May 31 demonstrations in Lima and many other cities in Peru against the possible triumph of presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori. Credit: Courtesy of La República

By Ángel Páez
LIMA, Jun 3 2016 (IPS)

Thousands of Peruvians took to the streets of Lima and other cities to protest the likely triumph in the Sunday Jun. 5 runoff election of Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a 25-year sentence for corruption and crimes against humanity.

If Keiko Fujimori wins, as indicated by the polls, it will be the fourth time a Fujimori is elected president.

Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) spent two full terms in office and his third term was cut short (he served less than one year) due to a corruption scandal revolving around his security chief Vladimiro Montesinos. His administration was marked by human rights violations and a self-coup in which he dissolved Congress, suspended civil liberties and established government by decree. “A triumph by Keiko Fujimori represents for Peruvian democracy, on a symbolic level, the exercise of shameful masochism on the part of those who already suffered the crimes and horror of her father’s government…Her election would amount to support for a way of governing that violated all the principles of democracy.” – Julio Arbizu

On May 31 and two previous occasions, enormous crowds of demonstrators took to the streets in Lima and other major cities to protest the candidacy of Keiko Fujimori, in protests similar to those she faced as first lady – a position she held informally after her parents divorced – during the campaign in which her father was reelected to a third term, in 2000.

Keiko Fujimori, 41, is facing off with banker Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, 77, who served as prime minister and economy minister in the government of Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006). They are both running for president for a second time: in 2011 she came in second and he came in third in the elections won by Ollanta Humala.

In the last two opinion polls, Fujimori was slightly ahead of Kuczynski, which could change due to the growing denunciations of corruption and other irregularities against the candidate for the right-wing Fuerza Popular, which groups the supporters of 77-year-old Alberto Fujimori, who has been in a cell in a national police station on the east side of Lima since 2007.

Since last year, Keiko Fujimori has been seeking to project an image of herself as having nothing to do with the authoritarian practices of her father, in a strategy that has included populist promises aimed at neutralising the anti-Fujimorista vote that led to her defeat in 2011.

But during the campaign that got underway in January, the candidate has faced a growing number of accusations of shady financing, manipulation of the media, false claims about her political opponents, and other practices that put people in mind of the way her father did things.

“Those of us who fought the authoritarianism and corruption of the government of Alberto Fujimori believe that a victory by his daughter Keiko Fujimori would represent a setback to democracy,” said Salomón Lerner, President Humala’s former prime minister.

“Keiko Fujimori, who at the start of her election campaign criticised the excesses of her father, was repeating his practices by the last stage of the campaign. And one demonstration of what I’m saying is the appearance of shady figures, with dubious reputations, who worked with Alberto Fujimori,” Lerner told IPS.

According to Peru’s national elections office, Fujimori has reported more than three million dollars in income, compared to the centre-right Kuczynski’s 2.2 million.

The May 31 protest in Lima against presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori, the daughter and heir to Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a 25-year sentence for crimes against humanity and corruption. Credit: Courtesy of La República

The May 31 protest in Lima against presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori, the daughter and heir to Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a 25-year sentence for crimes against humanity and corruption. Credit: Courtesy of La República

Keiko Fujimori’s main campaign funders include former officials from her father’s regime or people otherwise close to him, some of whom are implicated in the current investigation of money laundering in her 2011 campaign.

Drug trafficking, more than just a shadow

In 2013, the U.S. government accused businessman Luis Calle, who helped finance Keiko Fujimori’s campaign in 2011, of being an international drug kingpin and laundering money.

And in 2014, Peru’s special prosecutor for money laundering cases, Julia Príncipe, sought to lift the parliamentary immunity of Fujimorista lawmaker Joaquín Ramírez, alleging a major discrepancy between his reported income and his 7.1 million dollars in assets.

But the following year, Keiko Fujimori made him secretary general of Fuerza Popular and later threw all her support behind him even after the public prosecutor’s office launched an investigation of him for alleged money laundering.

And she ratified Ramírez in his post after the U.S. Spanish-language television network Univisión and the investigative journalism programme Cuarto Poder, in Lima, revealed in a joint televised news report that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was investigating him.

An undercover informant for the DEA, Jesús Vásquez, said he had recorded Ramírez saying Keiko Fujimori gave him 15 million dollars in alleged drug money to launder for the 2011 election campaign.

Although Fujimori dismissed the reports as false, Ramírez was forced to temporarily step down as the leader of Fuerza Popular, after Peruvian authorities announced a trip to the United States to interview Vásquez.

When it looked like the scandal was winding down, the TV programme “Las cosas como son” aired a recording in which Vásquez apparently said he had lied about what Ramírez said. Shortly afterwards the producer of the programme, Mayra Albán, said the recording had been doctored, and that it had come from the head of Fujimori’s campaign, José Chlimper.

It was an operation by the Fujimori camp to discredit the DEA informant, whose accusations reminded analysts and opposition politicians of Keiko Fujimori and her father: during the latter’s government, drug trafficking was one of the biggest sources of corruption, as the justice system proved.

Former anti-corruption prosecutor Julio Arbizu said “a triumph by Keiko Fujimori represents for Peruvian democracy, on a symbolic level, the exercise of shameful masochism on the part of those who already suffered the crimes and horror of her father’s government.”

“Her election would amount to support for a way of governing that violated all the principles of democracy,” added Arbizu, who headed the fight against corruption in the country from 2011 to 2014.

“But as a more in-depth consequence, a victory by Fujimorismo would mean the country would be governed by a criminal organisation (I believe Fujimorismo has always been one), which this time around has a strong coating of formality, but which has given us enough reasons to believe that it has serious ties to the drug trade and money laundering,” he added.

Keiko Fujimori, with Joaquín Ramírez, who has temporarily been suspended as secretary general of her party, Fuerza Popular, because of accusations of drug trade-related activities, although the candidate has confirmed her confidence in him. Credit: Courtesy of La República

Keiko Fujimori, with Joaquín Ramírez, who has temporarily been suspended as secretary general of her party, Fuerza Popular, because of accusations of drug trade-related activities, although the candidate has confirmed her confidence in him. Credit: Courtesy of La República

Arbizu played a decisive role in the extradition of former president Fujimori, when he took refuge in Chile, in 2007, after he tried to step down as president, while in Asia, in late 2000 and was impeached by Congress for “moral incapacity.”

Congresswoman Rosa Mavila presided over an investigative commission on the links between drug trafficking and politics, which issued a report that mentioned ties with Fujimorismo.

“At the end of Fujimori’s government, when Keiko Fujimori was first lady, she asked her father to pardon the Martínez sisters, who were in prison at the time on charges of drug trafficking,” Mavila, who belongs to a centre-left alliance, told IPS.

Fujimori freed them, and when his daughter was running for Congress in 2006, “the Martínez sisters contributed to her campaign. And this isn’t the only case,” said Mavila.

“During the Fujimori administration, the drug trade had a powerful influence,” she stated.

As an example, she cited the case of drug trafficker Fernando Zevallos, who was acquitted four times during that period, but was sentenced to 20 years in prison once Toledo became president.

“Rather than trying to ward off any doubt, Keiko Fujimori has defended people accused of money laundering, as in the case of Congressman Joaquín Ramírez,” said Mavila, who pointed out that the Fujimorista leader had taken refuge in his parliamentary immunity to escape investigation.

“Immunity is not impunity. The Fujimoristas should understand that,” the legislator said.

In the May 31 march against Keiko Fujimori, the most frequently intoned chant was against the creation of a “narco state”, if the daughter of imprisoned former president Alberto Fujimori is elected Sunday.

Edited by Estrella Gutiérrez/Translated by Stephanie Wildes

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Islamophobia: Why Are So Many People So Frightened?http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/islamophobia-why-are-so-many-people-so-frightened/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=islamophobia-why-are-so-many-people-so-frightened http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/islamophobia-why-are-so-many-people-so-frightened/#comments Wed, 01 Jun 2016 13:25:36 +0000 Robert Burrowes http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145385 The author has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?‘]]> Symbol against the construction of a Mosque. Credit: Albert Mestre. GNU Free Documentation License. Wikipedia

Symbol against the construction of a Mosque. Credit: Albert Mestre. GNU Free Documentation License. Wikipedia

By Robert J. Burrowes
Daylesford, Australia, Jun 1 2016 (IPS)

Islamophobia has become a significant factor driving politics in many Western countries.

Islamophobia – fear of Muslims – is now highly visible among European populations concerned about terrorist responses from Islamic groups claiming Jihadi links.

However, it is also evident among those same populations in relation to the refugee flow from the Middle East.

In addition, Islamophobia is highly evident among sectors of the US population during the presidential race. It is a significant issue in Australia. Outside the West, even the (Muslim) Rohingya in Burma are feared by Buddhist monks and others.

Given that this widespread Western fear of Muslims was not the case prior to the US-instigated ‘War on Terror’, do Muslims around the world now pose a greater threat to western interests than previously? Or is something else going on here?

In short, why are so many Westerners (and others) now frightened of Muslims? Let me start at the beginning.

Human socialization is essentially a process of terrorising children into ‘thinking’ and doing what the adults around them want (irrespective of the functionality of this thought and behaviour in evolutionary terms).

Robert J. Burrowes

Robert J. Burrowes

Hence, the attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviours that most humans exhibit are driven by fear and the self-hatred that accompanies this fear. For a comprehensive explanation of this point, see ‘Why Violence?‘ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice‘.

However, because this fear and self-hatred are so unpleasant to feel consciously, most people suppress these feelings below conscious awareness and then (unconsciously) project them onto ‘legitimised’ victims (that is, those people ‘approved’ for victimisation by their parents and/or society generally).

In short: the fear and self-hatred are projected as fear of, and hatred for, particular social groups (whether people of another gender, nation, race, religion or class).

This all happens because virtually all adults are (unconsciously) terrified and self-hating, so they unconsciously terrorise children into accepting the attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviours that make the adults feel safe. A child who thinks and acts differently is frightening and is not allowed to flourish.

Once the child has been so terrorized however, they will respond to their fear and self-hatred with diminishing adult stimulus. What is important, emotionally speaking, is that the fear and self-hatred have an outlet so that they can be released and acted upon.

And because parents do not allow their child to feel and express their fear and hatred in relation to the parents themselves (who, fundamentally, just want obedience without comprehending that obedience is rooted in fear and generates enormous self-hatred because it denies the individual’s Self-will), the child is left with no alternative but to project their fear and hatred in socially approved directions.

Hence, as an adult, their own fear and self-hatred are unconscious to the individual precisely because they were never allowed to feel and express them safely as a child. What they do feel, consciously, is their hatred for ‘legitimised’ victims.

Historically, different social groups in different cultural contexts have been the victim of this projected but ‘socially approved’ fear and hatred. Women, indigenous peoples, Catholics, Afro-Americans, Jews, communists, Palestinians….
The list goes on. The predominant group in this category, of course, is children (whose ‘uncontrollability’ frightens virtually all parents until they are successfully terrorized and tamed).

The groups that are socially approved to be feared and hated are determined by elites. This is because individual members of the elite are themselves terrified and full of self-hatred and they use the various powerful instruments at their disposal – ranging from control of politicians to the corporate media – to trigger the fear and self-hatred of the population at large in order to focus this fear and hatred on what frightens the elite. This makes it easier for the elite to then attack the group that they are projecting frightens them.

For now, of course, Muslims are the primary target for this projected fear and self-hatred, which accounts for the US-led Western war on the Middle East. Islamophobia thus allows elites and others to project their fear and self-hatred onto Muslims so that elites can then seek to destroy this fear and self-hatred. Obviously, this cannot work.

You cannot destroy fear, whether yours or that of anyone else. However, you can cause phenomenal damage to those onto whom your fear and self-hatred are projected. Of course, there is nothing intelligent about this process. If every Muslim in the world was killed, elites would simply then project their fear and self-hatred onto other groups and set out to destroy those groups too.

In fact, as western elites now demonise Russia and encircle it with nuclear weapons and ABM defence systems, we simply witness another example of these elites projecting their fear and self-hatred.

If you are starting to wonder about the sanity of this, you can rest assured there is none. Elites are insane. If you want to read a fuller explanation of this point, see ‘The Global Elite is Insane‘.

So is there anything we can do? Fundamentally, we need to stop terrorizing our children. As a back up, we can provide safe spaces for children and adults alike to feel their fear and self-hatred consciously (which will allow them to be safely released). By doing this, we can avoid creating more insane individuals who will project their fear and self-hatred in elite-approved directions.

In addition, if you are fearless enough to recognise that elites are manipulating you into fearing Muslims and others whom we do not need to fear, now would be a good time to speak up and to demonstrate your solidarity. You might also like to sign the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create aNonviolent World‘.

Suppressed fear and self-hatred must be projected and they are usually projected in socially approved ways (although mental illnesses and some forms of criminal activity are ways in which this suppressed fear manifests that are not socially approved).

In essence, Islamophobia is a manifestation of the mental illness of elites manipulating us into doing their insane bidding. Unfortunately, many people are easy victims of this manipulation.

Roberto J. Burrowes website is at http://robertjburrowes.wordpress.com and his email address is flametree@riseup.net

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Least Developed Countries Still Face Significant Challengeshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/least-developed-countries-still-face-significant-challenges/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=least-developed-countries-still-face-significant-challenges http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/least-developed-countries-still-face-significant-challenges/#comments Wed, 25 May 2016 20:28:29 +0000 Gyan Chandra Acharya http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145304 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/least-developed-countries-still-face-significant-challenges/feed/ 0 OPINION: Central America, Still Caught Up in the Arms Racehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/central-america-still-caught-up-in-the-arms-race/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=central-america-still-caught-up-in-the-arms-race http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/central-america-still-caught-up-in-the-arms-race/#comments Wed, 25 May 2016 14:29:10 +0000 Lina Barrantes Castegnaro http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145301

In this column, Lina Barrantes Castegnaro, executive director of the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress, denounces the arms race in Central America and calls for the implementation of the Costa Rica Consensus, which urges rich countries to increase development aid to countries that cut military spending.

By Lina Barrantes Castegnaro
SAN JOSE, May 25 2016 (IPS)

The recent announcement of the Nicaraguan government’s 80-million-dollar purchase of 50 Russian tanks caught the attention of the press in Latin America and caused alarm in the international community.

The purchase, not an isolated acquisition, is part of an arms race seen in Latin America in recent years.

The rise in military spending stands in contrast to the realities in a poor region like Central America, where the levels of defence spending are as shocking as the poverty rates.

Lina Barrantes Castegnaro

Lina Barrantes Castegnaro

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported that in 2015, in Belize 1.1 percent of the annual budget (19.6 million dollars) went toward military expenditure, in El Salvador 0.9 percent (223 million), in Guatemala 0.4 percent (274 million), in Honduras 1.6 percent (324 million) and in Nicaragua 0.6 percent (71.6 million).

(Costa Rica and Panama, which don’t have armies, do not declare military expenditure.)

While these funds are being spent on weapons, the specter of hunger and underdevelopment hangs over the region. In the 2015 United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index , Guatemala ranked 128th, Honduras 131st, El Salvador 116th, Nicaragua 125th and Belize 101st, out of 188 countries.

Costa Rica was in 69th place and Panama 60th.

The worst performers in the region, in the HDI, are Honduras and Guatemala, the two countries with the lowest level of human development in Central America.

That is, the poorer the country, the more the government spends on war toys. But the question is: Who will these toys be used to wage war against?

One possible answer is that the upgrading of weaponry is aimed to give countries the capacity to respond in case of war or invasion. But it’s not clear which war or invasion that might be.

Another hypothesis that could be set forth is that they could be used against the countries’ own citizens deported from the United States, who return after graduating from intensive courses in violence and crime in Latino neighbourhoods.

The UNDP Human Development Report 1994 formally introduced a new concept that had been debated for years in the international arena: if the world spent money on development instead of military expenditure, poverty could be eradicated in just a few years.

From that standpoint, poverty doesn’t just have to do with war, but with military spending itself.

In the period 1987-1994 global military expenditure declined by an estimated 935 billion dollars. Unfortunately, this money did not go towards social spending or development; actually the way these funds were used is not clear.

Spending on armament is deplorable, but it is even more so in the case of poor countries like those of Central America.

For that reason the concept of peace dividends, presented to the world by then Costa Rican president Oscar Arias in 2006 as the “Costa Rica consensus”, is so important.

According to this idea, countries that spend more on development than on death would be given priority when it comes to international financial resources.

Just as the Arms Trade Treaty proposes linking human rights and ethics with military spending, the Costa Rica consensus is aimed at creating mechanisms to condone debt and support, with financial resources, developing countries that spend more on health, education and housing for their people, and less on arms and soldiers.

In other words, the international financial community would reward not only those countries that spend in an orderly fashion, as it does now, but those that spend ethically.

When the Nobel Peace Laureates for Food Security and Peace Alliance was created earlier this month, at U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Arias proposed taking up the Costa Rica consensus again as an alternative for fighting hunger in the world, to support countries that use their budget funds for the lives of their citizens rather than their deaths.

We hope the day this will happen is not too far off.

Translated by Stephanie Wildes

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Is it in Europe’s Interest to Push Russia into China’s Arms?http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/is-it-in-europes-interest-to-push-russia-into-chinas-arms/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=is-it-in-europes-interest-to-push-russia-into-chinas-arms http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/is-it-in-europes-interest-to-push-russia-into-chinas-arms/#comments Mon, 23 May 2016 13:59:31 +0000 Roberto Savio http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145256 Roberto Savio, founder and president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News.]]>

Roberto Savio, founder and president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News.

By Roberto Savio
ROME, May 23 2016 (IPS)

No mention in the media of the dangerous increase in the tension between Europe and Russia and yet Nato has just made operational in Romania a missile system, the ABM, which the United States has declared will protect it from “rogue” states, like Iran.

Roberto Savio

Roberto Savio

Russia, especially after the agreement reached with Iran on the control of its atomic industry, is convinced that the system is intended against its military force. The US has announced it will build another second site in Poland in 2018.The intention is to move from “reassurance” of eastern Nato allies to “deterrence” of the Kremlin. That means more troops and equipment, longer deployments, bigger exercises, and a “persistent” presence of Nato and American troops in countries like Poland and the Baltics.

In June, as many as 12 000 American troops will join servicemen from a number of European allies in Poland for an exercise called Anakonda, which will be the largest military exercise carried out in Europe for years. Altogether, 25 000 troops from 24 Nato and partner countries will be involved. US Deputy Secretary of Defence, Robert Work, has announced that 4 000 Nato troops, involving two US battalions, will be moved to the Russian border, permanently:” The Russians have been doing a lot of snap exercises right against the border, with a lot of troops, in extraordinarily provocative behaviour”, he said. Germany is to provide one battalion.

For a long time, the official line of US military is to see in Russia a regime intent on aggression, after the annexation of Crimea, and the country’s intervention in Ukraine. When General Ray Odierno retired as Chairman of Staff, he declared,“Russia is the greatest threat to the United States. His predecessor, General Joseph Dunford, was more specific. He thought Rusia was a bigger threat than ISIS. Odierno said that he saw threats to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine.

It would be useful to remember that Putin started his tenure by continuing Boris Yeltsin’s line of total cooperation with the United States. As George W. Bush famously said: I have seen inside Vladimir Putin’s eyes, and finally we have a strong ally for US interests”. That was before Bush proceeded to take a number of actions without consultation, which convinced the Russian that he was only considered a marginal player.

While it is obvious that Putin suffers from paranoia, and uses confrontation to obtain popular support, it would be wise to see matters also from the Russian viewpoint. To start with, it has been established beyond doubt that Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to not intervene militarily in the European countries that were under USSR dominance, provided NATO kept the existing borders.

The fact that this engagement was not kept has always been present in the Russian psyche. When Reagan met Gorbachev in Reykavik in 1986, Putin was in his mid-30s. the USSR was a superpower, present in Africa, the Caribbean and Central America, with important allies in Asia.

When Putin become 40, his country had been splintered into 15 nations. And when he come to power, in 1999, the USSR had lost one-third of his territory, and half of its population. Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Georgia and Azerbaijan, ihe Baltic States, Ukraine, Bielorussia, Moldova and Armenia were gone. At the same time, Nato continued its endless trend of encirclement with Russia. Putin saw the Ukrainian pro-Russian government overthrown in a US-backed coup. And the encirclement continues, asking even militarily insignificant countries, like Montenegro (some 3 000 soldiers in total), to join Nato.

“Russia has not accepted the hand of partnership “says Nato Commander, General Philip Bredlove, “ but has chosen a path of belligerence”. Well, it is significant that an impressive 80% of the Russian population shares Putin’s paranoia, and also does not see the “hand of partnership”. When Putin annexed Crimea and supported separatists in Ukraine, his popularity increased at home dramatically., especially because Crimea had always been part of Russia, until Nikita Khrushchev donated it to Ukraine, as a symbolic move in 1954. The 90% of Crimeans were Russian speakers, like those living in the Eastern part of Ukraine, a country that was created by joining Western Ukraine, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with Eastern Ukraine, which was part of the Russian empire. Putin very adroitly said that his task was to protect “Russian citizens, wherever they live”, and this struck a chord with the Russian people.

It should be made clear that there are no excuses in legal terms for Putin’s action. But in real life it is always useful to consider events by taking into account both sides of any story. The fact is that Putin reached the conclusion that Russia was considered, in Barack Obama’s words, “just a regional power”, and that to be admitted into the G7 and other Western fora was not giving him the chance to have Russia and himself considered an important player, and thus he decided to take a confrontational path in order to be taken seriously. He put a knife in the side of the West, by dividing again the two halves of Ukraine, obliging the West to sink hundreds of billions of dollars to sustain a deeply corrupt government in Kiev, and its ability to turn the knife when he wanted.

This move led to the establishment of sanctions by the West in 2014, with the declared goal of having Putin capitulate and abandon his intervention in Ukraine. However, Putin again interceded outside its borders, by intervening in Syria, where Russia has a naval base. The arrival of Russia has completely changed the situation in Syria, and now everybody agrees that there cannot be any military solution without Russia’s agreement.

Of course, one key principle behind US foreign policy is that nobody should challenge its power. Yet it is a principle, which is becoming increasingly unrealistic, as the emergence of China is showing. However, in the American psyche, the USSR is gone, and any attempt to recreate it, under any guise, is just a provocation. And while China has not had a direct clash yet with the US, Crimea and Ukraine were indeed a slap on the hand…

Now, seen from outside the western world, as many analysts have pointed out from Latin America and Asia, this situation does not make much sense. Let us take the sanctions. They have cost over $100 billion in lost exports to Russia. But this figure hides a difference: US exports to Russia dropped by 3.5%, while for Europe by as much as 13%, especially from the fragile European agricultural sector (which fell by 43%). Imports from Russia into Europe fell by 13.5%. According to the European Commission, the European Union’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is going to drop by 0.3% in 2014 and 0.4% in 2015 due to the sanctions. That is quite a considerable drawback, considering that Europe’s expected growth rate is expected to be just 1.5% on average, with countries, like Italy, barely making it over 1%.

Meanwhile a new trend is emerging that is largely being ignored by the media. Since 2104, Russia has been deepening its partnership with China, with which it had traditionally had difficult relations. The Chinese economic slowdown, due to its change of economic model based on exports to this latest shift towards internal market expansion, does not make this the best moment for economic cooperation. Yet, Russia and China have just signed a $25 billion deal, to boost Chinese lending to Russian firms, and a host of other accords. Russia has agreed a $400 billion deal, to supply China with 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually, from 2018 over the coming 30 years.

Russia’s Sberbank has received a $966 million credit line from the China Development Bank. China is launching a $2 billion-investment fund, targetig agricultural projects. And $19.7 billion will be used to open a rail link between Moscow and the Russian city of Kazan. At the same time, Russia agreed to increase its weapon’s sales to China, and a deal was done for the sale of the S-400 air defence system to China (to the great chagrin of the United States and Japan), for $3 billion, with another $2 billion for the sale of 24 Su-35 fighter planes. The two countries declared that they would increase their bilateral trade to $200 billion by 2020.

What is totally new and important is that both countries also decided to strengthen their military cooperation. This year they will take part in a joint Sea-2016 naval drill, hosted by China. The Deputy minister of Defence, Anatoly Antonov has declared: “Military cooperation between the two countries is highly diverse, and has improved significantly over the last three years .A more tight interaction between military departments corresponds to the national interest, and we expect this interaction to increase”.

This should lead Europeans to start reflecting seriously on events. Is it in the interest of Europe to keep pushing Russia into the hands of China? Is it not time to search for a settlement with Russia, that would include Ukraine, Syria, and an engagement to end “deterrence”, for an agreed status quo, which would reopen trade and cooperation, and satisfy the frustrated egos of Russian citizens? It should be recognized that even between allies, like the EU and US, sometimes there are different priorities…Maybe the American elections will change the rules of the game…

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When Emergencies Last for Decadeshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/when-emergencies-last-for-decades/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=when-emergencies-last-for-decades http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/when-emergencies-last-for-decades/#comments Fri, 20 May 2016 21:34:06 +0000 Lyndal Rowlands http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145217 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/when-emergencies-last-for-decades/feed/ 0 Will Canada Recognise Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Developing Countries Too?http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/will-canada-recognise-rights-of-indigenous-peoples-in-developing-countries-too/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=will-canada-recognise-rights-of-indigenous-peoples-in-developing-countries-too http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/will-canada-recognise-rights-of-indigenous-peoples-in-developing-countries-too/#comments Thu, 19 May 2016 15:09:32 +0000 Aruna Dutt http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145192 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/will-canada-recognise-rights-of-indigenous-peoples-in-developing-countries-too/feed/ 1