Inter Press Service » Armed Conflicts http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Wed, 25 May 2016 20:28:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.11 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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Debate Over Bangladeshi Militants’ External Connectionshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/debate-over-bangladeshi-militants-external-connections/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=debate-over-bangladeshi-militants-external-connections http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/debate-over-bangladeshi-militants-external-connections/#comments Tue, 24 May 2016 17:59:44 +0000 Ali Riaz http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145282 By Ali Riaz
May 24 2016 (The Daily Star, Bangladesh)

As targeted killings of individuals with unorthodox views and members of minority communities continue unabated in Bangladesh, so does the debate on whether international terrorists have made inroads to the country. The question has been whether the claims of the Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) of their presence in Bangladesh should be taken at face value. In the past months, both these organisations have been claiming responsibility for a series of killings. Until recently, these claims have not been accompanied by justifications, but that pattern seems to be changing. The AQIS affiliate Ansar-al Islam, issued a long statement after the murder of Xulhazs Mannan, an LGBT activist and USAID staff member. The government, on the other hand, has continued to deny the existence of these organisations and insists that these are the acts of ‘homegrown’ militants. In April, the English magazine of the IS, Dabiq, published an interview with the so-called Amir of the Bangladeshi chapter of the IS to bolster its presence. Ansar-al Islam claims to represent the AQIS in Bangladesh. This is a mutated version of the organisation Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), which came into being in 2007.

Both the denial of any external connections of Bangladeshis, and insistence that the IS/AQIS has recently made inroads in the country, seem to disregard the historical background of militancy in Bangladesh. Bangladeshi militants had regional and extra-regional connections since their inception in the mid-1990s. It is worth recalling that the genesis of Islamist militants can be traced back to the Afghan War (1979-1989) in the late 1980s. The fountainhead of the militant groups in Bangladesh, Harkat-ul-Jihad al Islami Bangladesh (HuJIB), emerged in public on April 30, 1992 through a press conference at the National Press Club in Dhaka. A group of so-called volunteers, who participated in the Afghan War in the previous years, arranged a press conference in the wake of the fall of Kabul to the Afghan Mujahedeen. Although the rudimentary form of the HuJI began in Pakistan in 1980, it was formally established in 1988. It expanded in the following four years, as the HuJI leadership wanted to reach out to other parts of South Asia. This led to the establishment of the HuJI in Bangladesh. The initial goal was to use Bangladesh as the launching pad for destabilising neighbouring Myanmar.

The operation of the HuJIB expanded further after it established relationships with the local militant organisation Jamaat-ul-Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB). The JMB was founded in 1998 but was named as such three years later. The founding of the JMB was a culmination of a series of meetings between Sayekh Abdur Rahman and a number of Islamist leaders and Ulema in 1996. These meetings brought Mufti Hannan and Abdur Rahman together. On January 19, 1996, law enforcement agencies busted a training camp in a remote part of Cox’s Bazar and arrested 41 armed militants. The camp was originally thought to be a training camp of Rohingya rebels based in Bangladesh. When these militants were being tried at a local court in Cox’s Bazar, Abdur Rahman was sent as the HuJIB representative to monitor and help the accused. This turned out to be the beginning of a long relationship between JMB and the HuJI-B.

The external connections of the potential militants of Bangladesh began in earnest in 1997-98. The connection established between Indian citizen Syed Abdul Karim Tunda and Abdur Rahman is a watershed moment in the history of militancy in Bangladesh. Tunda, who has been in Indian custody since 2013 on a number of terrorism charges, is alleged to be an operative of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayeba (LeT). Indian intelligence sources insist that Tunda entered Bangladesh in 1994 and operated from there for quite some time. In any case, he was the bridge between Abdur Rahman of the JMB and the LeT and Hafiz Saeed. Indian intelligence agencies had claimed that Thadiyantavide Nazir of the Lashkar-e-Tayeba, allegedly connected to the 2008 bomb blasts in Bangalore, had travelled to Bangladesh.

The presence of regional militants in Bangladesh became publicly known in 2008 and 2009. Abdur Rauf Merchant and Jahed Sheikh, two Indian militants, were arrested in Bangladesh. Between May and September 2009, six members of the so-called Aref Reza Commando Forces (ARCF), including Mufti Obaidullah were arrested. Some of these militants admitted that they were living in Bangladesh for some time; for example, Obaidullah claimed to be in Bangladesh since 1995 and another member of the group Habibullah claimed to be residing since 1993.

The other source for the connections between the Bangladeshi militants and outside groups was the presence of the Rohingya rebel groups in Chittagong Hill Tracts. HUJI’s primary goal was to establish contact with these rebel groups. Interestingly, Rohingya rebel groups, Bangladeshi militants and northeast Indian rebel groups, such as the ULFA, had reportedly worked together to procure weapons from black markets in Southeast Asia and used Cox’s Bazar’s remote shoreline as the drop-off point before being distributed. This shows that cooperation among militant groups across the border does not have to be based on ideological affinity; instead other factors can and do bring these groups together.

In the age of globalisation, exportation of terrorism does not require physical presence of operatives of international terrorist groups in a country. There are many ways of indoctrination and recruitment. Ideas of extremism to identification of targets can well be coordinated from distant lands. A number of attacks in various parts of the world have already demonstrated that the internet as a vehicle is quite effective. The phenomenon called ‘lone wolf’ is pertinent here. As such, the characterisation of ongoing militancy as a combination of global and local – a ‘glocal’ phenomenon, as Habibul Haque Khondoker writes in a local English daily – is apt.

There is no denying that there are Bangladeshi citizens willing to join the ‘Global Jihad’ and bring it home. A survey of newspaper reports published between July 2014 and June 2015, shows that law enforcing agencies arrested 112 alleged ‘militants’. Of these, 22 individuals were identified as either connected to or aspiring to be connected to ISIS, 12 reportedly tried to travel to Syria. Two rounds of arrests of Bangladeshis in Singapore, in December last year and in March this year, also show that expatriates can become vehicles for radicalisation. There have been instances of British-Bangladeshis joining the Syrian war from the United Kingdom. Indian investigators have claimed that Bangladeshi militants, particularly the JMB, have been known to operate from India, particularly in West Bengal.

As such Bangladeshi militants’ external connections should not be viewed as an entirely new phenomenon. This is not to underestimate the significance of connections with the IS or AQIS, instead to underscore that given the history such links would require few efforts. If individual acquaintances of the past metamorphose into an organisational tie, the situation will take a turn for the worse, perhaps slide down to an unmanageable level. The IS/AQIS is capable of providing additional resources and a global stage for these menacing groups. It is a matter of time and opportunity before such a tie can flourish. Therefore, it is imperative to acknowledge that denial cannot be a strategy, and that it is necessary to act in earnest.

The writer is professor and chair of the Department of Politics and Government at Illinois State University, USA. He is the co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Bangladesh (2016).

This story was originally published by The Daily Star, Bangladesh

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What do Aid Organisations Want from the Humanitarian Summithttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/what-do-aid-organisations-want-from-the-humanitarian-summit/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=what-do-aid-organisations-want-from-the-humanitarian-summit http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/what-do-aid-organisations-want-from-the-humanitarian-summit/#comments Mon, 23 May 2016 00:54:03 +0000 Daphne Davies http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145241 By Daphne Davies
LONDON, May 23 2016 (IPS)

The UN World Humanitarian Summit takes place in Istanbul, 23-24 May. So what hopes do the humanitarian organisations, which deliver aid on the ground, have for the outcomes?

The UN report One Humanity: shared responsibility, produced ahead of the Summit describes the international community as “in a state of constant crisis management”. The report emphasises that conflict and fragility remain the biggest threats to human development, with 11 major civil wars in 2014, and nearly 1.4 billion people living in fragile situations. By 2030 62 percent of the world’s poor are likely to be living in fragile situations.

Just a case of more resources?

The increase in humanitarian disasters has brought with it an unbridgeable funding gap, with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) relief agencies appealing for an extra $US16.4 billion in 2015.

Kathrin Schick, Director of VOICE (Voluntary Organizations in Cooperation in Emergencies), the European network of non government organisations (NGOs) involved in humanitarian aid, says while money is scarce, it is a case of “how much can we do with what we have –making aid use not only more effective, but also more efficient”.

Gareth Price-Jones, Senior Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy Coordinator, CARE International, agrees there is a massive case for more resources, and points out that “the total humanitarian aid bill could be covered by the profits of the big six tobacco companies. However, the problem is less the supply of humanitarian aid, and more the failure to prepare for disasters, to address conflict and increasingly a failure to address climate change”.

Will a Grand Bargain between donors and the UN alleviate the funding crisis?

The High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing has also produced a report for the meeting Too important to fail. The report suggests that the funding crisis can be alleviated through striking a ‘Grand Bargain’, between donors and the UN. This would involve more engagement with the private sector, greater emphasis on crisis prevention and disaster risk reduction and bridging the humanitarian/development divide.

Schick describes this as “possibly the one concrete proposal to come out of the Summit”, whereas for Price-Jones it is “an efficiency drive – a first step in convincing donors and taxpayers that making aid as efficient as possible won’t address the funding gap”.

Réiseal Ni Chéilleachair, Trocaire’s Humanitarian Advocacy and Policy Adviser, believes that UN reform could make humanitarian action more effective by reducing the bureaucracy for getting funds, shortening time delays between securing funding and implementation, making UN agencies collaborate more, strengthening UNOCHA’s role and streamlining reporting requirements across donors.

For Alex Jacobs Director of Programme Quality, Plan International, there should be more predictable long-term funding and some of the conditions for getting funding should be removed. He also wants a mechanism in which recipients of humanitarian aid can give feedback on how aid was delivered and used.

However, some NGOs remain sceptical about how much the WHS will achieve, as evidenced by Medecins Sans Frontiers’ withdrawal from the Summit, saying “We no longer have any hope that the WHS will address the weaknesses in humanitarian action and emergency response”.

More work with local partners

In preparation for the Summit humanitarian organisations have produced the ‘Charter for Change’ (so far signed by 23 international NGOS). The Charter urges International NGOs (INGOs) to change the way they work, passing more power and resources to local ‘Southern-based’ partners.

The emphasis on localisation runs through One Humanity. Schick believes that “we have to talk about first responders since national and international NGOs have to work in partnership and more attention has to be given to capacity building of national NGOs who are often the first on the scene”. However, Ni Chéilleachair feels more needs to be done before this can work: “Funding systems need to be adapted to support local actors and new partners, rather than their expending limited resources trying to navigate the existing ones”.

Relying more on governments, and business is another thread running through the report, which NGOs applaud. Alex Jacobs believes that host governments are becoming “more muscular” in taking the lead in providing support after natural disasters, as happened after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

Business is increasingly being used to supply essential international services, with credit card companies working with PLAN to carry out cash transfers. Business is useful in setting up systems for long-term prevention for natural disasters, and often prefers to work at arms’ length, rather than putting their staff into high-risk situations.

Invest in stability – linking development with humanitarian aid

The UN report notes that “a shift from perpetual crisis management towards effectively managing prevention and early action is urgently needed”, and INGOs agree that greater collaboration between humanitarian and development NGOs, is crucial in preventing disasters.

Schick says linking humanitarian action with measures where NGOs help local communities prepare for natural disasters is an obvious move. Ni Chéilleachair adds that organisations and donors need to be more agile and responsive if this development-humanitarian complementarity is going to be successful.

However, the difficulties of combining development and humanitarian do not present problems for ‘multi-mandate’ organisations, like CARE, which can combine funding “from different pots and multiply the impact, building resilience, so when disaster hits your aid solves immediate problems and addresses long-term issues”, says Price-Jones.

Outcomes

Humanitarian actors are concerned when aid is used to mitigate the effects of the conflicts, as in Syria or South Sudan, and where their staff are most at risk. One positive outcome in the run-up to the Summit is the acknowledgement that solving conflict is the precursor of humanitarian work.

All the NGOs consulted agreed that the only way to resolve the humanitarian crisis was for the most powerful member states to show the political will to solve it. As Schick put it: ”We want UN Member States to take the political will to solve conflicts, which will reduce humanitarian needs”.

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Humanitarian Summit Must Address Weapons Shipments Toohttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/humanitarian-summit-must-address-weapons-shipments-too/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=humanitarian-summit-must-address-weapons-shipments-too http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/humanitarian-summit-must-address-weapons-shipments-too/#comments Sun, 22 May 2016 17:04:43 +0000 Lyndal Rowlands http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145235 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/humanitarian-summit-must-address-weapons-shipments-too/feed/ 2 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 Refugees Bring Economic Benefits to Citieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/refugees-brings-economic-benefits-to-cities/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=refugees-brings-economic-benefits-to-cities http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/refugees-brings-economic-benefits-to-cities/#comments Fri, 20 May 2016 16:41:33 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145210 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/refugees-brings-economic-benefits-to-cities/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 A Latin American Humanitarian Emergency Invisible to the Worldhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/a-latin-american-humanitarian-emergency-invisible-to-the-world/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-latin-american-humanitarian-emergency-invisible-to-the-world http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/a-latin-american-humanitarian-emergency-invisible-to-the-world/#comments Wed, 18 May 2016 23:42:43 +0000 Daniela Pastrana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145171 In Mexico there is a trail of ghost towns, where local residents have fled en masse due to the violence of the drug cartels. On empty streets in Santa Ana del Águila, in the municipality of Ajuchitlán del Progreso, Guerrero state, bullet marks can be seen on the walls. Credit: Daniela Pastrana /IPS

In Mexico there is a trail of ghost towns, where local residents have fled en masse due to the violence of the drug cartels. On empty streets in Santa Ana del Águila, in the municipality of Ajuchitlán del Progreso, Guerrero state, bullet marks can be seen on the walls. Credit: Daniela Pastrana /IPS

By Daniela Pastrana
MEXICO CITY, May 18 2016 (IPS)

“This is a humanitarian crisis,” said Bertha Zúñiga Cáceres, referring to the generalised violence in Mexico and in Honduras and other countries of Central America, which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and is a product of transnational crime, but is invisible to the international community.

Zúñiga Cáceres, the daughter of indigenous environmental activist Berta Cáceres, who was murdered on Mar. 2, is in Mexico after visiting several European cities to ask for help clarifying her mother’s murder and to call for a cancellation of the financing for the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, to which the Lenca indigenous people are opposed.

In an interview with IPS she admitted that despite the death threats and the murders of other activists, she didn’t believe they would dare kill her mother, who was so well-known at an international level.“You don’t hear bombs here (like in the Middle East, for example), but blood is shed, there are killings, many killings. It’s a situation that has to be urgently addressed by the United Nations agencies, especially the UNHCR (the refugee agency).” -- Rubén Figueroa

She herself and her siblings had fled to Mexico due to the threats against members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (COPINH), which was founded by Cáceres 23 years ago. She had been studying in Mexico for a month when her mother was killed.

Now she wants to tell the world about communities that are displaced and forced off their land because of a “neoliberal, racist and patriarchal” system.

The victims, she said, are not only the Lenca Indians. Also affected are the Garifunas, mixed-race descendants of native people and African slaves, who have been displaced by the construction of tourist resorts in their coastal territory.

To that is added abuse by the police and other agents of the state, since the 2009 coup d’etat that overthrew President Manuel Zelaya, mixed with criminal violence that has forced thousands of people to seek refuge outside of Honduras.

Rubén Figueroa, coordinator of the Mesoamerican Migrant Movement, which has organised 11 caravans of Central American mothers searching for their children who have gone missing in Mexico, concurs with Zúñiga Cáceres.

“The situation in the entire Northern Triangle region of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) is a humanitarian crisis,” the migrants’ rights activist told IPS.

“You don’t hear bombs here (like in the Middle East, for example), but blood is shed, there are killings, many killings. It’s a situation that has to be urgently addressed by the United Nations agencies, especially the UNHCR (the refugee agency),” he said.

Figures from an invisible crisis

According to the 2016 Global Report on Internal Displacement, published this month by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), the number of internally displaced people forced from their homes by armed conflict and violence rose to a record 40.8 million in 2015.

Of that total, at least 7.3 million were in Latin America, most of them in Colombia, because of its decades-long armed conflict.

But the report dedicates a special analysis to the growing new phenomenon of displacement caused by criminal violence, in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico now stand out on the global map of internal displacement because of the victims of criminal violence, a phenomenon that is invisible and ignored by international humanitarian assistance agencies. Credit: IDMC 2016 report

El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico now stand out on the global map of internal displacement because of the victims of criminal violence, a phenomenon that is invisible and ignored by international humanitarian assistance agencies. Credit: IDMC 2016 report

These four countries accounted for a total of one million internally displaced persons – nearly double the number reported in the 2014 edition of the report. They are mainly victims of criminal violence, principally associated with drug trafficking and gangs.

The IDMC stresses that these are incomplete figures, to which must be added the number of people who are forced to leave the country by criminal violence.

It describes those displaced by criminal violence as “unseen and in displacement limbo”.

Human rights activists in Mexico blame this generalised violence on the war between organised crime groups, as well as on violence by the states against opponents to mining and energy projects.

“What we are experiencing is not a war on drug trafficking, but a war by the state against the general population,” María Herrera, an activist with the group of relatives searching for family members forcibly disappeared in Mexico, who number in the thousands, told IPS.

Also part of this new kind of humanitarian emergency, arising from transnational crime, are civilian victims of the growing militarisation in countries of Central America and Mexico, according to those interviewed by IPS, who complain that the issue is not on the agenda for the World Humanitarian Summit to be held May 23-24 in Istanbul.

Figueroa said a series of regional policies, such as Mexico’s Southern Border Plan and the Alliance for Progress in Central America, were partly to blame for the crisis.

“Approximately five years ago we began to notice that displacement is caused by more direct violence. We have seen young people who come to the shelters with bullets in their bodies. People who have returned to their countries and have been killed,” the activist said.

The Beast, the train that undocumented migrants from Central America ride on its way across Mexico, heading for the United States, stopped in Hidalgo in the centre of the country, in a photo from the IDMC 2016 report. Migrants hitching a ride on the train face the risk of being robbed, assaulted, raped and even killed by gangs and organised crime. Credit: Keith Dannemiller/OM

The Beast, the train that undocumented migrants from Central America ride on its way across Mexico, heading for the United States, stopped in Hidalgo in the centre of the country, in a photo from the IDMC 2016 report. Migrants hitching a ride on the train face the risk of being robbed, assaulted, raped and even killed by gangs and organised crime. Credit: Keith Dannemiller/OM

“Migration has always existed, but now people are being displaced by drug trafficking and gang warfare, and there is also the question of persecution and harassment of activists and human rights defenders in Honduras. It’s become structural violence,” he said.

Mexico between a rock and a hard place

The Central American diaspora triggered by violence, along with the deportation of thousands of migrants by the United States, has turned Mexico into a sort of sandwich. And this is causing a growing phenomenon, which has not been addressed either: Central Americans who are choosing to stay in Mexico rather than head north to the United States.

More than two million people were deported during U.S. President Barack Obama’s first term – 2009-2012 – alone.

The governmental Mexican Commission for Aid to Refugees (COMAR) reports that 2,000 Central Americans requested refugee status in 2014, and only one-fifth were granted it.

Mexico, meanwhile, has its own humanitarian emergency. The Mexican Commission of Defence and Promotion of Human Rights (CMDPDH) documented 281,400 cases of forced displacement caused by generalised violence between 2011 and February 2015.

One-third of these displaced persons fled their communities in 141 mass displacements in 14 states.

Mass displacement is defined as an event simultaneously affecting more than 50 people or 10 families. Between January 2014 and February 2015, the CMDPDH registered 23 mass displacements.

One-fifth of these happened in Guerrero, a state that doubled its record and became the leader in forced displacement due to violence in Mexico in the last year.

“People who have been internally displaced do not have mechanisms or institutions for their protection or assistance,” says the report Forced Displacement in Mexico, released by the CMDPDH, a government agency, in 2015.

But there are other cases, like that of Myrna Lazcano, a Mexican woman who, after marrying and having two daughters in the United States, decided to return to Mexico in 2008.

However, the violence against women in her home state of Puebla and in Veracruz, where she found work, forced her to send her daughters back, first, and then return herself to the United States, where she has requested asylum.

Like her, another 9,200 Mexicans applied for asylum in the United States in 2012 – three times the number of requests filed there by Mexicans in 2008.

“This is an emergency that no one wants to address,” said Figueroa. “It is influenced by the position, especially on the part of the United States, with regard to the situation in Central America, because they would be forced to offer refuge if they recognised it.”

But in his view, “another element is the stance taken by Mexico and the countries of origin (of the migrants), because they would be forced to admit that they are failing, as is the international community.”

Edited by Estrella Gutiérrez/Translated by Stephanie Wildes

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Humanitarian Situation in Yemen Seriously Deterioratinghttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/humanitarian-situation-in-yemen-seriously-deteriorating/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=humanitarian-situation-in-yemen-seriously-deteriorating http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/humanitarian-situation-in-yemen-seriously-deteriorating/#comments Wed, 18 May 2016 21:35:46 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145162 John Ging, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs briefs journalists on his recent trip to Yemen. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

John Ging, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs briefs journalists on his recent trip to Yemen. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, May 18 2016 (IPS)

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is very seriously deteriorating, said Office of the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA) Operations Director John Ging.

Following a trip to the Middle Eastern country, Ging revealed the severe impacts of the conflict and the international community’s inaction on Yemeni civilians.

“Yemen was an impoverished country before this latest conflict…so therefore the effect of the conflict, the effect of the restrictions on access have been very devastating for the population,” he said during a briefing here Tuesday.

According to OCHA, more than 21 million people in Yemen, equivalent to 82 percent of the population, need some form of humanitarian assistance. This includes 7.6 million who are severely food insecure.

Ging stated that the level of food insecurity in the country is just a step below famine according to the international food security index.

“It’s a very fragile situation,” he noted.

In addition to hindering access to populations in need, the one year-long conflict has also damaged key infrastructure including health facilities, further limiting access to much needed resources.

Over the span of just three months, three different hospitals supported by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) came under attack, resulting in the deaths and injuries of numerous health personnel and patients.

“We strongly condemn this incident that confirms a worrying pattern of attacks to essential medical services and express our strongest outrage as this will leave a very fragile population without health care for weeks,” said MSF’s Director of Operations Raquel Ayora following a hospital attack in January 2016.

Such attacks are not isolated to hospitals. Human Rights Watch reported one case where two Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrikes hit a crowded market in northwestern Yemen, killing at least 97 individuals including 25 children. HRW said that the attacks constitute “war crimes.”

In total, over 3000 civilians have been killed over the course of the war.

The ceaseless violence has in turn exacerbated displacement, causing over 2 million people to flee. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), this accounts for 25 percent of conflict-related displacement globally.

Many Yemenis are therefore dependent on the international community for basic needs including food, health services, and shelter, Ging stated.

However, despite the scale of humanitarian needs in the country, Ging noted that Yemen is not receiving sufficient focus.

“Although [the crisis] is growing in severity and its impact on the population…the humanitarian component is not getting the international attention that it deserves,” he stated.

This is reflected in “shockingly” low donor funding, he added.

Of a $1.8 billion UN appeal for Yemen, only 16 percent has so far been funded.

Ging stated that the core issue is not simply a deficit of funding, but rather a “deficit of humanity” which is leading to a horrific loss of life and suffering around the world.

He pointed to global military expenditures as an example.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the international community spend approximately $1.6 trillion on the military in 2015, equivalent to 2.3 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).

Ging noted that if half of one percent of global military spending was allocated to humanitarian action, there would no longer be a deficit.

“We want a new approach to this which thinks about the consequences, because it’s not that the world doesn’t have the money available, it is that it’s not making the right decisions about where it sends the money that is available,” he told the press.

“We are only asking for the minimum that is required to keep people alive in these awful circumstances,” he continued.

Ging noted that the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) represents a “moment of reflection” in order to “refocus” and “reengage” in a more active way. He expressed his hope that the meeting will particularly translate to a political reflection and call for action.

“[Yemenis] have endured way too much, for far too long,” Ging stated.

“As an international community, we have to and must do much more in terms of meeting the basic needs of the population while they’re caught up in this situation,” he concluded.

The WHS kicks off in Turkey on May 23, bringing together political leaders, private sector, and civil society to discuss the world’s dire humanitarian situation. Among the key topics for discussion during WHS is humanitarian financing.

OCHA has classified Yemen as a level 3 crisis, a UN designation for the most severe, large-scale humanitarian crises.

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A Refugee Crisis with No End in Sighthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/a-refugee-crisis-with-no-end-in-sight/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-refugee-crisis-with-no-end-in-sight http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/a-refugee-crisis-with-no-end-in-sight/#comments Wed, 18 May 2016 10:35:15 +0000 Silvia Boarini http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145164 Syrian refugee children learn to survive at a camp in north Lebanon. Credit: Zak Brophy/IPS

Syrian refugee children learn to survive at a camp in north Lebanon. Credit: Zak Brophy/IPS

By Silvia Boarini
GAZA, Palestine, May 18 2016 (IPS)

“We don’t want charity, we want a long-term solution.”

That’s what a group of Palestinian refugees who fled the war in Syria and found safety in Gaza told IPS last November.

Today, their sentiment continues to be echoed in Syria and in camps and urban centres hosting refugees across the region.

New challenges

As the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War gives no sign of relenting, the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit will offer a much needed space to discuss what a long-term solution for people fleeing protracted conflict might look like and how actors and stakeholders might go about achieving it.

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, the Middle East has slowly overtaken Sub-Saharan Africa to become the epicentre of this crisis and of the migratory movements of millions of people in search of a safe haven."We in America spend more money buying Coca-Cola than all the money going into Syria." -- Thomas Staal, Acting Assistant Administrator at USAID

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that today some 60 million people are displaced worldwide, that is 1 person in every 122. What experts in the field agree upon, is that traditional responses to refugees’ needs are falling far short of the mark.

At a conference on this issue that was held last June at the Middle East Institute (MEI) in Washington DC, humanitarian and political actors agreed that it is no longer enough for the UN to set up a camp at the nearest border, send in the aid professionals and assume that rich countries will foot the bill.

“That model has been shattered in recent years,” wrote scholar Greg Myre. And new patterns are emerging that demand new approaches.

Protracted conflict; the ability and willingness of refugees to reach far away places; and lack of funding for the aid industry, have been widely identified as the new elements causing a need to re-think traditional humanitarian approaches that are failing.

Protracted conflict

If in the recent past economic opportunities played a major role in people’s movements, today by far the major pushing factor is war.

In the Middle East alone, in 2015 some 15 million people had been displaced by conflict. As of May 16, 2016, the numbers have continued to rise.

Close to five million people have escaped Syria alone, while 6.6 million are IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons). According to OCHA, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in Yemen, IDPs number 2.76 Million, while in Iraq it is 3.4 million.

These numbers, of course, add to the existing five million Palestinians registered with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) since 1948 and 1967; to the Lebanese who had fled civil war in the 1980s; and to the Iraqi refugees who had fled the 1991 and 2003 wars. Many of them were living in Syria when the war broke out, making them refugees for a second or third time.

Refugees in the region compete for limited resources, place tremendous stress on the often wavering infrastructure recovering from prolonged conflict, and are perceived as a potential security threat by countries striving to maintain a precarious peace, such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

Willingness to travel to faraway countries

As the region’s capacity to absorb refugees is stretched, the ability and willingness of refugees to reach faraway corners of the world is another important new element that sets this crisis apart from previous ones.

Especially in the case of Syria, the length of the conflict and the vacuum left by the lack of political solution in the foreseeable future push refugees to take the risk of settling somewhere else for the long term.

Poor living conditions in camps and limited or no educational and economic opportunities in hosting urban centres in the region are decisive factors in the move.

The people with the means to undertake a trip to Europe, the USA or Australia are often professionals whose expertise will be necessary, but unavailable, once the rebuilding kicks off. Statistics show that the further a refugee travels, the more unlikely he or she is to return. UNHCR estimates that the average length of displacement has now reached 17 years.

Lack of funding

Last, but certainly not least, this crisis is characterised by an endemic lack of funds that leaves the aid industry and UN agencies unable to provide for the basic needs of millions. As of May 2016, UNHCR is 3.5 billion dollars short on its 4.5 billion appeal for the Syria Regional Refugee Response alone.

It is often reported that it costs 10 times less to care for a refugee in the region of origin than it does in the West, and yet donor countries are slow to raise the necessary funds to improve the lives of millions escaping wars.

In 2015, Official Development Assistance (ODA) by OECD countries reached a record high, totalling 131.6 billion dollars. And yet payments still only average 0.30 percent of Gross National Income (GNI), well below the UN recommended minimum of 0.70 percent.

The funding crisis and the inability to successfully meet, let alone end, the needs of refugees has pushed the aid community to some soul searching that in the past decade has led to calls for reform, especially at the UN level, to streamline work, decrease overheads, coordinate more efficiently with local humanitarian organizations and seek alternative donors to governments.

On the subject of alternative funding sources, Thomas Staal, Acting Assistant Administrator at USAID, tellingly explained to the audience at the MEI conference last June that “we in America spend more money buying Coca-Cola than all the money going into Syria.”

Aside from highlighting that the private sector should play its part in times of crisis, the statement can be read as a comment of the need to reassess our priorities and values as a society.

The crisis is in the Middle East, not in the West

Despite clear statistics and readily available numbers on the Middle East refugee crisis, this emergency is still too often talked about in Western-centric terms and inevitably looked at as a ‘problem’, never an opportunity.

Deaths in the Mediterranean do not happen in a vacuum, they are the direct result of the shortcomings of the international community to meet the needs of refugees worldwide, to deflate conflicts and to create lasting opportunities for improvement.

The immense strain placed on the Turkish, Lebanese and Jordanian hosting populations, which have taken in 2.7, 1.05 and 0.70 million Syrians respectively, further highlights the West’s inability to add a sensible perspective to the small numbers of refugees reaching its shores.

As the healthcare and education systems of countries ravaged by war head down the path of de-development, it is imperative that lasting solutions are implemented before the situation spirals further into chaos, experts say.

The humanitarian summit could be the forum where the first steps on this road are taken.

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Analysis: Why the UN Needs a “Peace Industrial Complex”http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/analysis-why-the-un-needs-a-peace-industrial-complex/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=analysis-why-the-un-needs-a-peace-industrial-complex http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/analysis-why-the-un-needs-a-peace-industrial-complex/#comments Tue, 17 May 2016 01:38:37 +0000 Jonathan Rozen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145143 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/analysis-why-the-un-needs-a-peace-industrial-complex/feed/ 3 Industrial-Level Aid Logistics in Colombia’s Decades-Long Humanitarian Disasterhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/industrial-level-aid-logistics-in-colombias-decades-long-humanitarian-disaster/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=industrial-level-aid-logistics-in-colombias-decades-long-humanitarian-disaster http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/industrial-level-aid-logistics-in-colombias-decades-long-humanitarian-disaster/#comments Mon, 16 May 2016 22:23:54 +0000 Constanza Vieira http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145142 Social actors and government representatives sign a social and political pact for reparations and peace in Colombia on Apr. 11, the National Day of Remembrance and Solidarity with the Victims of the Conflict. Credit: UARIV

Social actors and government representatives sign a social and political pact for reparations and peace in Colombia on Apr. 11, the National Day of Remembrance and Solidarity with the Victims of the Conflict. Credit: UARIV

By Constanza Vieira
BOGOTA, May 16 2016 (IPS)

“If you’re going to talk about Colombia and the peace process, do it somewhere else,” was heard at a regional preparatory meeting for the World Humanitarian Summit, according to Ramón Rodríguez, with the Colombian government’s Unit for Attention and Integral Reparation for Victims (UARIV).

“Cuba’s representative, for example, stated: ‘This is a World Humanitarian Summit, we’re going to talk about humanitarian questions in general, and not specific cases,” the official said with respect to the preparations for the first gathering of its kind, to be held May 23-24 in Istanbul.

“For the organisers of the World Humanitarian Summit, disasters are the main issue. They practically fobbed us off,” added Rodríguez, UARIV’s director of social and humanitarian questions, in an interview with IPS in his Bogotá office.

This is true even though United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, when he called the summit, declared that “We must ensure no-one in conflict, no-one in chronic poverty, and no-one living with the risk of natural hazards and rising sea levels is left behind.”

"Truth is the true reparations”

On May 11, journalist Jineth Bedoya refused an indemnification payment of 8,250 dollars, which she had originally accepted two years ago when the government established May 25 as the National Day for Dignity for Women Victims of Sexual Violence. May 25 was the day she was kidnapped and raped by paramilitaries because of her reporting work, in 2000.

When she received the indemnification, Bedoya said it could not be seen as reparations. Nevertheless, UARIV assistant director Iris Marín presented the indemnification for Bedoya as a case of effective reparations, at a public hearing in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights a month ago.

“Truth is the true reparations,” Bedoya said in a press conference. El Tiempo, the newspaper where she works, wrote “The state claims its agents did not participate in what happened, even though there is proof that state agents took part in the kidnapping, torture and sexual violence against the reporter.” The Freedom of the Press Foundation hopes the IACHR will refer Bedoya’s case to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.

In any case, “the issue (of the Colombian armed conflict) draws a lot of attention, although it is very limited,” said Rodríguez, an industrial engineer who organised and directs the world’s biggest humanitarian aid logistics system, in terms of percentage of a national budget that goes to citizens of the country itself.

Colombia is the only country in Latin America and the Caribbean where a humanitarian crisis has been declared due to internal armed conflict.

In nearly seventy years of civil war in different shapes and formats, the counting of and attention to victims has undergone major changes. Today there is basically industrial-level aid, adapted to a lengthy, calculated disaster.

“We, the government, are the main humanitarian actor in Colombia,” said Rodríguez. “We have an emergency response team. We work with humanitarian organisations through local humanitarian teams.”

Perhaps the main lesson that the Colombian government learned was that it had to count the number of victims and people affected by the conflict, in order to address the humanitarian crisis in its true magnitude. Until 2004, getting the government to admit the number of victims was a tug-of-war.

In 1962, a study on Violence in Colombia (by Guzmán, Fals and Umaña) estimated that 200,000 people were killed between 1948 and 1962.

The victims of forced displacement began to be counted in 1985 by the Catholic Church, at the time the only non-governmental institution with the capacity to carry out a national census of displaced persons.

In 1994, the government put the number of displaced persons at 600,000; however, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) counted 900,000.

But it was a 2004 Constitutional Court sentence that ordered the government to – gradually – acknowledge the real number of displaced persons, thus recognising the effects of the war.

The Court has been able to verify compliance with the ruling thanks to the support of a non-governmental alliance of academics and researchers: the Follow-up Commission on Public Policies on Forced Displacement.

Finally, in 2011, on the initiative of the government of current President Juan Manuel Santos, whose term began in 2010, the Victims and Land Restitution Law was approved. Among the many measures it involved, it created the UARIV.

At the time, the government recognised 4.5 million people affected by the war in a country of 48 million.

The UARIV opened a Single Registry of Victims, which up to Apr. 1, 2016 had counted a total of 8,040,748 victims since 1985.

Victims registered with the state 1985-2015

Forced displacement: 84.2%
Homicide: 3.5%
Death threats: 3.4%
Forced disappearance: 2.1%
Loss of belongings, housing or land: 1.3%
Terrorist act/Attack/Combat/Harassment : 1.1%
Kidnapping: 0.5%
Land mines/Unexploded ordnance/Explosive device: 0.2%
Crimes against liberty and sexual integrity: 0.2%
Torture: 0.1%
Abandonment or forced eviction from land: 0.1%
Recruiting children or adolescents: 0.1%
No information: 3.2%

Source: UARIV

Apart from the debate on whether the victims were undercounted, or the number of victims grew, or what grew was the number counted by the state, today UARIV knows that 84.2 percent of the registered victims are displaced persons, and that 45.4 percent come from the geostrategic, resource-rich and dynamic department of Antioquia in northwest Colombia.

It also reports that when the threats peak, this coincides with a peak in forced displacement of people from their land, which intensified between 1995 and 2007, while kidnappings (which account for 0.5 percent of victims) peaked in 2002 and are now becoming a thing of the past.

The UARIV also recognises that the worst years of the war were between 2000 and 2008, and that 2015 has been the most peaceful year since 1985.

In addition, the unit reports that among the victims there are slightly more women than men, while children are the single largest group. And it says one-fourth of the victims are black or indigenous people.

Rodríguez has kept up his monitoring as the peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas continue in Havana.

“I asked for a report for the Jan. 1-Apr. 30 period,” he said. “In the same period last year we had 15 mass displacements. In 2016 we had 16. In 2015 1,425 families were affected, 5,721 people. So far this year we have 1,200 more people. Which means that there was an increase in the number of people affected between 2015 and 2016.”

The increase is attributed to criminal bands made up of former far-right paramilitaries, and to the National Liberation Army (ELN), a smaller left-wing rebel group, with which the government recently announced the start of talks.

Colombia is now on the verge of a peace deal. But Rodríguez said it will take “three to five years to achieve peace. There will be an upsurge in violence,” not only because of former paramilitaries but also guerrillas who refuse to lay down their arms.

“Something that should be shown at the World Humanitarian Summit is the rise in violence that is going to occur when the peace agreement is signed. The question of control territory is of great importance to the armed actors, and converges with economic aspects,” said the official.

For Rodríguez, the “victim response, assistance and reparations model” that Colombia has come up with is another key element that would be useful to share at the Istanbul summit.

The model has two phases. The first, immediate humanitarian aid, operates within 48 hours after acts of violence, and comes in two forms: funds, through the municipalities, and in kind, through operators who are subcontracted, who were paid a combined total of more than five million dollars in 2015 for providing services.

Several months later, the victims are registered in the Single Registry of Victims, and emergency and transition aid (for housing and food) begins. The last phase is reparations, which includes indemnification of different kinds.

Edited by Estrella Gutiérrez/Translated by Stephanie Wildes

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Weather Warshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/weather-wars/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=weather-wars http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/weather-wars/#comments Mon, 16 May 2016 20:52:47 +0000 Zarrar Khuhro http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145138 By Zarrar Khuhro
May 16 2016 (Dawn, Pakistan)

When Alexander the Great`s army faced Raja Porus at the battle of the Hydapses the smart money, despite Alexander`s formidable reputation, should have been on Porus. Large and disciplined, Porus’s fighters had the home ground advantage, included war elephants in their ranks (terrifying to the already tired Greeks) and, notably, deployed archers who could more accurately be classified as artillery.

Their bamboo bows were over six feet long and fired missiles that were three feet in length. When fired in unison, the result was a hail of death that few armies could resist.

Unfortunately, these giant bows needed to be securely moored in the ground in order to be fired and, thanks to recent rains, the ground near the Jhelum was too muddy to provide a firm foundation. One could thus argue that it wasn`t just the Macedonian l

Weather has always been an important factor in military calculations, but it wasn`t until the First World War that meteorological staff became a standard element in military organisation.

In the Second World War, from the effects of the early and severe Russian winter on the German advance to the fog that impeded the Allies at the Battle of the Bulge, Mother Nature was the X factor. War correspondent Ernie Pyle, reporting from Anzio declared: `One day of bad weather actually harms us more than a month of German shelling.` US Gen Eisenhower agreed. He said, `If really bad weather should endure permanently, the Nazi would need nothing else to defend the Normandy coast.

So what if the German army had the capability of actually ensuring the said bad weather? What if militaries could move beyond predicting the weather to controlling or even weaponising it? This may sound like science fiction, but it`s actually been tried.

During the Vietnam War, the US struggled to prevent the Vietcong from using the Ho Chi Minh trail to resupply themselves with men and material. In addition to using defoliants like Agent Orange, Pentagon planners also tried a new tack: using cloud seeding technologies to increase the span of the Southeast Asian monsoon season with the aim of `softening road surfaces, causing landslides, washing out river crossings`, and thus impeding the Viet Cong`s logistics.

The project, dubbed Operation Popeye, ran from 1965-1972 and was at least a partial success, with reports claiming that it succeeded in extending the monsoon season by over a month. This would have remained a secret but for journalist Jack Anderson, who exposed this operationin1971.

Following this `weathergate` the US Congress banned environmental warfare and in 1978, an international treaty called the Environmental Modification Convention was signed prohibiting the military use of environmental modification techniques.

But playing God is addictive, and in 1996 a report was presented to the US Air Force titled Weather as a force multiplier: Owning the weather in 2025.

The paper predicts that by 2025, weather modification will `become a part of national security policy` in the US, and can provide `battlefield dominance to a degree never before imagined`.

It starts out small, outlining how fog can be created on the tactical level to confound enemy operations, before moving on to being able to `trigger or intensify thunderstorm cells` with the aim of grounding enemy aircraft and damaging enemy assets. Here the report notes that a tropical storm has energy equal to 10,000 one megaton hydrogen bombs.

All this is eminently doable, the authors of the report claimed, requiring nothing more than the further development of existing technologies such as UAVs, cloud seeding and customised low-orbit satellites. Twenty years after the report was published, all these technologies, and more, exist.

Weather manipulation is commonplace, being widely used in China and Dubai for example, and miniaturised drones and nanotechnology are very much a reality. As with most such dual-use technologies all that is required is the will and resources to weaponise what already exists, and what general worth his stars would pass up the chance to rain lighting down on his enemies like a latter-day Zeus? The report also highlights the need for research into the ionosphere, with a view towards `modifying` it in order to block enemy communications. That research is already being conducted at The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Programme, which is a favourite bogeyman of conspiracy theorists worldwide.

While HAARP almost certainly isn`t capable of creating storms and earthquakes, as the tin-foil hat set believes, it would be naïve to think the research doesn`t have military applications. After all, history shows that when military capability exists it will almost certainly be used. With global climate change ushering in an era of extreme and unpredictable weather, the very idea of any nation possessing the capability to alter, perhaps control, weather even on a tactical scale should give us pause.

The writer is a journalist. Twitter: @zarrarkhuhro

This story was originally published by Dawn, Pakistan

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Justice for Berta Caceres Incomplete Without Land Rights: UN Rapporteurhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/justice-for-berta-caceres-incomplete-without-land-rights-un-rapporteur/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=justice-for-berta-caceres-incomplete-without-land-rights-un-rapporteur http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/justice-for-berta-caceres-incomplete-without-land-rights-un-rapporteur/#comments Fri, 13 May 2016 21:44:24 +0000 Lyndal Rowlands http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145113 UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, an Igorot from the Cordillera region in the Philippines. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, an Igorot from the Cordillera region in the Philippines. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

By Lyndal Rowlands
UNITED NATIONS, May 13 2016 (IPS)

The murder of Honduran Indigenous woman Berta Caceres is only too familiar to Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

All around the world, Indigenous peoples are murdered, raped and kidnapped when their lands fall in the path of deforestation, mining and construction. According to the group Global Witness, one Indigenous person was killed almost every week in 2015 because of their environmental activism, 40 percent of the total 116 people killed for environmental activism.

“We shouldn’t forget that the death of Berta is because of the protest that she had against the destruction of the territory of her people,” Tauli-Corpuz told IPS in a recent interview.

Caceres, who was murdered at the beginning of March, had long known her life was in danger. She experienced violence and intimidation as a leader of the Lenca people of Rio Blanco who protested the construction of the Agua Zarca dam on their traditional lands.

“A very crucial part of the problems that Indigenous peoples face is that many of the things happening in their communities are happening because of the investments that are coming in from these richer countries." -- Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.

Caceres activism received international recognition, including through the 2015 Goldman Prize, however this was not enough to protect her.

She knew she was going to die, she had even written her own obituary, said Tauli-Corpuz who met with Caceres during a visit to Honduras in 2015.

Four men were arrested in relation to Caceres death earlier this week.

While Tauli-Corpuz welcomed the arrests she said that justice would not be clear until after the trial, and that real justice was about more than the criminal proceedings for Caceres murder.

“We cannot rest on our laurels to say the whole thing is finished because that’s not the point,” she said. “The point is this whole issue about the dam still being there.”

Tauli-Corpuz has witnessed accounts of violence against many other Indigenous activists around the world, in her role as Special Rapporteur.

Their experiences have startling similarity, Indigenous peoples are subjected to rape, murder and kidnap, whenever they stand in the way of access to lands or natural resources.

“You cannot delink the fight of indigenous people for their lands, territories and resources from the violence that’s committed against indigenous women (and men), especially if this is a violence that is perpetrated by state authorities or by corporate security,” said Tauli-Corpuz.

Tauli-Corpuz also said that a look at the bigger picture reveals the increasingly international nature of the problems experienced by Indigenous peoples worldwide.

“A very crucial part of the problems that Indigenous peoples face is that many of the things happening in their communities are happening because of the investments that are coming in from these richer countries,” she said.

“You see a situation where the state is meant to be the main duty bearer for protecting the rights of Indigenous peoples, but at the same time you see investors having strong rights being protected and that is really where a lot of conflicts come up,” she said.

In Guatemala, Tauli-Corpuz says that 50 Indigenous women are still waiting for justice after their husbands were murdered and their lands taken in 1982.

“(Their) husbands were killed by the military because they were demanding the rights to their lands then (the military) took the women (to) the military camps and raped them and made them sexual slaves,” said Tauli-Corpuz.

Tauli-Corpuz said that the women were brave enough to take their case to the courts but had to cover their faces because they were still being harassed by the military.

She said that when she recently asked the women what they would like if they won their case, they said that they would like their land back. After 33 years, their lands have never been returned.

Tauli-Corpuz also noted that for Indigenous peoples justice is incomplete if their lands are protected but they are denied access to them.

“(The land) is the source of their identities, their cultures and their livelihoods,” she said. If the forest is preserved but people are kicked off their lands, “than that’s a another problem that has to be prevented at all costs.”

In other cases, Indigenous peoples are forced off their lands when their food sources are destroyed.

For example said Tauli-Corpuz a major dam being built in the Amazon is not only destroying the forest but also means that there are no longer any fish in the rivers for the Indigenous people who rely on them.

Tauli-Corpuz said that it is important to remember that Indigenous peoples are contributing to climate change and environmental solutions by continuing their traditional ways of forest and ecosystem management.

Tauli-Corpuz has first-hand experience as an Indigenous activist and environmental defender. As a leader of the Kankanaey Igorot people of the Cordillera Region in the Philippines she helped successfully protest the construction of the Chico River Hydroelectric dam in the 1970s.

She notes that dams shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a climate change solution because they destroy forests and produce methane which is more damaging to the atmosphere than carbon.

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Why Set Up a Shell Company in Panama?http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/why-set-up-a-shell-company-in-panama/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=why-set-up-a-shell-company-in-panama http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/why-set-up-a-shell-company-in-panama/#comments Thu, 12 May 2016 13:28:21 +0000 Robert Burrowes http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145091 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?‘ ]]> Panama City financial district | 22 March 2016 | Author: Dronepicr | Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. | Wikimedia Commons

Panama City financial district | 22 March 2016 | Author: Dronepicr | Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. | Wikimedia Commons

By Robert J. Burrowes
Daylesford, Australia, May 12 2016 (IPS)

A previously little-known law firm called Mossack Fonseca, based in Panama, has recently been exposed as one of the world’s major creators of ‘shell companies’, that is, corporate structures that can be used to hide the ownership of assets. This can be done legally but shell companies of this nature are widely used for illegal purposes such as tax evasion and money laundering of proceeds from criminal activity.

See ‘Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and Corruption: The Panama Papers‘.

Robert J. Burrowes

Robert J. Burrowes

Despite widespread awareness of offshore tax havens in many countries around the world, governments have never acted in a concerted manner to halt these illicit financial flows.

Why? In essence, because wealthy elites are heavily involved in using these mechanisms to isolate their wealth from the usual scrutiny to which the rest of us are subjected precisely so that they can evade tax. And governments do as these controlling elites instruct them.

There is an important reason why wealthy individuals want to maximise their wealth and evade contributing to any country that gave them the opportunity to make this wealth. You might think that you know this reason too: greed.

However, greed is a simplistic explanation that fails to explain, psychologically, why an individual might be greedy. So let me explain it now.

Individuals who engage in dysfunctional behaviours, ranging from accumulating excess wealth to inflicting violence, do so because they are very frightened that one or more of their vital needs will not be met. In virtually all cases, the needs that the individual fears will not be met are emotional ones, particularly including the needs for listening, understanding and love.

So, bizarre though it might seem, the dysfunctional behaviour is simply a (dysfunctional) attempt to have these needs met.

Unfortunately, the individual who compulsively accumulates wealth and/or hides money in a shell company is never aware of their deep emotional needs and of the functional ways of having these needs met which, admittedly, is not easy to do given that listening, understanding and love are not readily available from others who have themselves been denied these needs.

These are the countries, where country leaders, politicians, public officials, or their close family/associates are implicated in the Panama Papers. | Author: JCRules | 3 April 2016 | Brown: Countries of people implicated | Grey: Countries without people implicated (excludes businesspeople and celebrities) | Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. | Wikimedia Commons.

These are the countries, where country leaders, politicians, public officials, or their close family/associates are implicated in the Panama Papers. | Author: JCRules | 3 April 2016 | Brown: Countries of people implicated | Grey: Countries without people implicated (excludes businesspeople and celebrities) | Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. | Wikimedia Commons.

Moreover, because the individual is unconscious of their emotional needs, the individual (particularly one who lives in a materialist culture) often projects that the need they want met is, in fact, a material need.

This projection occurs because children who are crying, angry or frightened are often scared into not expressing their feelings and offered material items – such as a toy or food – to distract them instead.

Because their emotional responses to events in their life are not heard and addressed, the distractive items become addictive drugs. This is why most violence and ‘business’ involving illicit financial flows is overtly directed at gaining control of material, rather than emotional, resources.

The material resource becomes a dysfunctional and quite inadequate replacement for satisfaction of the emotional need.

And, because the material resource cannot ‘work’ to meet an emotional need, the individual is most likely to keep using direct and/or structural violence to gain control of more material resources in an unconscious and utterly futile attempt to meet unidentified emotional needs.

This is the reason why individuals using the services of Mossack Fonseca seek material wealth and are willing to take advantage of tax evasion structures beyond legal scrutiny.

They are certainly wealthy in the material sense; unfortunately, they are emotional voids and each of them justly deserves the appellation ‘poor little rich boy’ (or girl). For a full explanation of how this emotional damage occurs, see ‘Why Violence?‘ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice‘.

Were they emotionally healthy, their conscience, their compassion, their empathy, their sympathy and, indeed, their love would compel them to not hide their wealth and, in fact, to disperse it in ways that would alleviate world poverty (which starves to death 100,000 people in Africa, Asia and Central/South America each day) and nurture restoration of the ancient, just and ecologically sustainable economy: local self-reliance. See ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth‘.

Of course, it is not just those who use tax havens to evade their social responsibilities or, more generally, those billionaires and millionaires of the corporate elite who have suffered this emotional destruction.

Those intellectuals in universities and think tanks who accept payment to ‘justify’ the worldwide system of violence and exploitation, those politicians, bureaucrats and ordinary businesspeople who accept payment to manage it, those judges and lawyers who accept payment to act as its legal (but immoral) guardians, those media editors and journalists who accept payment to obscure the truth, as well as the many middle and working class people who perform other roles to defend it (such as those in the military, police and prison systems, as well as many school teachers), are either emotionally void or just too frightened to resist violence and exploitation.

Of course, it takes courage to resist violence and exploitation. But underlying courage is a sense of responsibility towards one’s fellows and the future.

As an extension of the above point, governments that use military violence to gain control of material resources are simply governments composed of many individuals with this dysfunctionality, which is very common in industrialized countries that promote materialism.

Thus, cultures that unconsciously allow and encourage this dysfunctional projection (that an emotional need is met by material acquisition) are the most violent both domestically and internationally. This also explains why industrialized (material) countries use military violence to maintain political and economic structures that allow ongoing exploitation of non-industrialized countries in Africa, Asia and Central/South America.

In summary, the individual who has all of their emotional needs met requires only the intellectual and few material resources necessary to maintain this fulfilling life: anything beyond this is not only useless, it is a burden.

What can we do? We need to recognize that several generations of people who were extremely badly emotionally damaged created the world as it is and that their successors now maintain the political, economic and social structures that allow ruthless exploitation of the rest of us and the Earth itself. We also need to recognize that the Earth’s ecological limits are now being breached.

And if we are to successfully resist these emotionally damaged individuals, their structures of exploitation and their violence, then we need a comprehensive strategy for doing so. If you wish to participate in this strategy you are welcome to sign online ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World‘.

Whatever else they do, the Panama Papers give us insight into the extent of the psychological damage suffered by wealthy elites and those who serve them.

(End)

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?

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FAO’s Peace-Building Efforts Through Food Securityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/faos-peace-building-efforts-through-food-security/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=faos-peace-building-efforts-through-food-security http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/faos-peace-building-efforts-through-food-security/#comments Thu, 12 May 2016 07:19:46 +0000 James Kanu http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145084 By James Kanu
ROME, May 12 2016 (IPS)

At the launching today, of the FAO-Nobel Peace Laureate Alliance for food security and peace, FAO’s Director-General said that “peace and food security are inextricably linked – we cannot achieve one without the other. By integrating food security and peace-building initiatives, we can work together to ensure that hunger is neither a cause nor a result of conflict.”

This assessment has been warmly embraced by the Nobel Peace Laureates, who have agreed to work together with FAO with the main objective of helping to bring peace in conflict prone areas and banishing poverty and hunger in the world.

FAO considers peace building essential to its mission. The organization recognizes that a stable, peaceful environment is the foundation of lasting food security and sustainable livelihoods.

According to FAO, most conflicts today affect rural areas and their populations. This is particularly true of civil conflicts, which are now the most common form of armed conflict.

The organization has highlighted the fact that conflict has adverse effects on food security and nutrition, as well as being the major cause of food insecurity and malnutrition, both acute and chronic.

In terms of human development, FAO studies found that conflicts have a devastating effect on the lives of people, as a result of increased malnutrition, which tends to affect children the most and leave people withlifelong physical and sometimes mental handicaps.

FAO studies have also established that, although the casual effects of the link between conflict-food security vary across conflict zones, the common features are: disruption of food production and food systems, plundering of crops and livestock, and loss of assets and income, hence directly and indirectly affecting food access, and the entire social, cultural, and economic fabric of communities.

FAO data clearly show that, on average, the proportion of people who are undernourished is almost three times as high in countries in protracted crisis than in other developing countries. In 2013 there were approximately 167 million malnourished people in countries in protracted crisis – roughly 21 percent of the world’s undernourished people.

The studies also found that poverty rates are 20 percent higher in countries affected by repeated circles of violence over the last three decades. An estimate 40 percent of fragile post-conflict countries relapse into conflict within 10 years – recent examples include South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

The following are some examples of the ongoing activities of the organization on food security and peace building. Since 2009 FAO has been closely collaborating with the United Nations Peace Building Fund (PBF). It has supported activities and projects that contribute to building lasting peace in countries emerging from conflict through emergency projects, with more than 80 percent of them taking place in Africa.

Countries that have benefited from these projects include: Burundi, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivore, Guinea-Bissau, Kyrgyzstan, South Sudan, Uganda and Yemen,

FAOs main focus in these countries has been, providing assistance through training, education, capacity building, the rehabilitation of the infrastructure, distribution of seeds, agricultural kits and veterinary care for livestock.

FAO recognizes that building and consolidating peace in countries affected by conflict, requires increased and sustained support of the recovery efforts of the affected countries. The priority, according to FAO, is on the implementation of projects for the revitalization of the agriculture sector, increasing food production, and income-generating opportunities, especially for rural communities, including ex-combatants, women and young people.

Based on its experience, FAO is convinced that to achieve long-term food and livelihood security in conflict areas, there is need for sustained responses in the fight against food insecurity. In particular special actions must be taken to enable disaster-prone populations recover quickly and be engaged in productive economic activities.

Instead of working only to provide immediate assistance and food aid, which is essential but not enough, the organization now focuses on the need to implement structural actions that will accelerate recovery and point to a more resilient post-conflict situation.

FAOs work on natural hazards seeks to mainstream disaster risk reduction by strengthening capacities of national governments and civil society in designing and implementing policies and projects for risk reduction in the agricultural sectors.

FAO’s uses its emergency Prevention and Early Warning Systems, to improve access to information on known and emerging food chain threats to enable countries to prevent and mitigate risks.

In countries where the crisis is protracted, FAOs is implementing the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) Agenda for Action. The main objectives of the Agenda include: building better understanding of linkages between food security, nutrition, agriculture-based livelihoods; and strengthening capacities to design, and implement policies and actions.

By increasing the stability and social cohesion of countries affected by conflict, FAOs approach has greatly contributed towards sustainable peace and development in these countries.

According to FAO, Agriculture including fisheries and forestry, will continue to provide the primary livelihood source for 86 percent of the world’s rural population, providing jobs for an estimate of 1.3 billion smallholders and landless workers, and the key to the eradication of both poverty and hunger in the world

With this new initiative the organization, with support from the new Nobel Peace Laureates Alliance will go a long way in further strengthening its activities in peace-building and food security, at a time of serious challenges, partly fueled by: slower world economic growth rates; growing inequalities between nations; as well as by seemingly intractable violent conflicts and political instability in many countries.

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Why Peacebuilding is Part of the Sustainable Development Agendahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/why-peacebuilding-is-part-of-the-sustainable-development-agenda/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=why-peacebuilding-is-part-of-the-sustainable-development-agenda http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/why-peacebuilding-is-part-of-the-sustainable-development-agenda/#comments Wed, 11 May 2016 21:26:45 +0000 Patrick Keuleers http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145076 Sustainable development and peace are linked, including through education. Credit: John Robinson/IPS

Sustainable development and peace are linked, including through education. Credit: John Robinson/IPS

By Patrick Keuleers
UNITED NATIONS, May 11 2016 (IPS)

We tend not to worry when things are going well.

If people can take care of their daily business and send their kids to school without fear of violence, resolve disputes through a functioning justice system when the need arises, express their views both in private discussions and in public processes, feel they can truly contribute to decisions that affect their lives, and know effective institutions are in place to deliver basic services to their families and communities without interruption or the need for bribes, chances are they will be broadly content with the way their society is managed.

But, if any one of these public goods is absent, or if their access to safety, health, education or livelihoods are threatened, concerns are likely to be expressed quickly – and often very loudly.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognises the importance of these public goods as being at the heart of sustainable development. There is a strong focus on peaceful, just and inclusive societies in the 2030 Agenda – and explicit recognition that there can be no peace without sustainable development and no sustainable development without peace. Where safety is routinely and casually under threat, it will be impossible to generate lasting improvements in most aspects of people’s lives.

But what does this mean in practice? How do people know that their government is committed to progress on these issues – to consolidating existing strengths, and to generating further gains over time?

That is a valid question. Unlike other elements of the 2030 Agenda – access to health, education, and sanitation, for example, which were part of the previous Millennium Development Goals – commitments to peace, justice and inclusion have not been measured systematically before as part of a global agenda agreed by UN member states.

"There can be no peace without sustainable development and no sustainable development without peace."

In an attempt to provide an answer to that question, a small group of member states started in the latter part of 2014 to test how best to define and measure these concepts in practice. Even before the final adoption of the 2030 Agenda – including Goal 16 on peace, justice and institutions – these countries had been identifying their priorities and experimenting with goals, targets and indicators to demonstrate progress.

The results of this “pilot” work – in Albania, Indonesia, Rwanda, Tunisia and the UK – are presented in a Final Report launched on 21 April. The Report contains interesting lessons about what it means to work with these fundamental but often elusive concepts, lessons which will be of interest to a much wider group of countries now that the 2030 Agenda is a reality, and implementation a priority for all Member States.

The pilot experiences emphasise the importance of many elements that will be central to all approaches: effective planning, sound institutional structures at the heart of government, and partnerships down to the most local level involving community based organisations and civil society, alongside government.

But one message that comes across very clearly from the pilot exercises is that there is no magic formula for demonstrating progress. Context matters and different countries will need to assess their particular needs and capacities for monitoring and implementation, using available tools and developing approaches to measurement that are considered appropriate for the majority of the stakeholders affected.

The 2030 Agenda contains the shared commitment from all UN Member States to keeping people safe, to ensuring the fair administration of justice in accordance with the rule of law, and to building genuinely inclusive institutions which provide people a voice in the decision-making processes that affect them.

Global indicators will provide a snapshot each year of how successful we are as a global community. But alongside this global framework, there is ample space for different approaches at the national and local level, allowing countries to demonstrate how they are making society more peaceful, just and inclusive for all people – especially those most at risk of violence, injustice and exclusion.

The pilot countries gave us a head start, showing that with the right level of dedication, building peaceful, just and inclusive societies is both feasible and measurable.

Patrick Keuleers is Director of Governance and Peacebuilding, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

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Nobel Laureates Join Forces for Food Security and Stabilityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/nobel-laureates-join-forces-for-food-security-and-stability/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nobel-laureates-join-forces-for-food-security-and-stability http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/nobel-laureates-join-forces-for-food-security-and-stability/#comments Wed, 11 May 2016 15:11:36 +0000 Maddie Felts and Robert Williamson-Noble http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145067 Muhammad Yunus addresses the audience at the launch of the FAO-Nobel Peace Laureates Alliance for Peace and Food Security.

Muhammad Yunus addresses the audience at the launch of the FAO-Nobel Peace Laureates Alliance for Peace and Food Security.

By Maddie Felts and Robert Williamson-Noble
ROME, May 11 2016 (IPS)

“Where food security can be a force for stability, we have to look to food and agriculture as pathways to peace and security. This is a great challenge, but one that we can meet together as we embark on achieving the 2030 Development Agenda.” These were the words of FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva as he discussed the interplays between food security and peace in New York last March.

Food security and a healthy agricultural sector have important roles in the efforts to prevent conflict and maintain peace. With this challenge in mind, on 11 May, the FAO formally established a new partnership with five Nobel Peace Laureates known for their work to fight poverty, hunger, and violence worldwide. The FAO – Nobel Peace Laureates for Food Security and Peace Alliance links FAO in partnership with Muhammad Yunus, Oscar Arias Sánchez, Tawakkol Karman, Betty Williams and Kofi Annan.

Muhammad Yunus was the first Laureate to speak, calling hunger an issue he and his fellow Laureates consider “dear to our hearts.” Yunus asserted that the distribution of free food is not a sustainable solution to eradicating hunger. Instead, he advocated for the microcredit model he first instituted over forty years ago in Bangladesh. Yunus said that the distribution of small loans to poor individuals promotes financial independence and thus the ability to obtain food.

By combining the objective of charity organizations and the engine of a business, Yunus has created a model of social business that he believes can improve the lives of rural populations currently excluded from the mainstream economy. He hopes to inspire young people to become entrepreneurs in agriculture and looks to challenge the idea that young people must flock to cities to find jobs. The initiative to encourage what Yunus called “entrepreneurs in agriculture” enforces his belief that “we are not job seekers; we are job creators.”

Yunus concluded his address with enthusiasm that the Alliance will bring the world closer to “three zeros”: zero hunger, malnutrition, and poverty; zero unemployment; and zero net carbon emission. His message set a tone of acknowledging the challenges of the present while pushing for a more hopeful future that would be echoed by his fellow Laureates.

Following Yunus’s message, Oscar Arias began his address by focusing on balance between various forms of violence and peace. Describing a Dante-esque scene, Arias forecasted the war between humans and nature. “The earth is complaining, and it is calling for peace” he proclaimed.

In addition to preventing catastrophic damage to the environment, Arias highlighted the necessity of ending violence in order to combat food insecurity and suffering. He discussed how “armed forces are the greatest polluters of the planet.” In times without war, however, he noted that “the absence of war does not automatically mean the consolidation of peace; we cannot say people are living in peace in a post-conflict situation until we can eradicate the many forms of violence on earth.” In addition to armed conflict, Arias explained that a lack of access to medical attention and food are both forms of violence.

Arias called for a renewed effort to protect the environment, seek conflict resolution, and consolidate peace using the reach and resources of the FAO. He appealed to the international community to put into practice the fundamental values of the 2030 agenda, reiterating that there can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development. Within all of us, Arias said, we harbor the potential of life, the power of reason, the strength of dialogue and the capacity to reason, correct our mistakes and make compromises. Arias urged the audience to utilize this potential to promote peace and food security.

Tawakkol Karman built upon Arias’s call to pursue the sustainable development goals, exclaiming that “we need to work hard and work with our hearts to achieve the SDGs.” She emphasized the need to promote a positive, fair globalization where all of mankind can share the benefits, warning that we now face negative effects of globalization that are disproportionately shouldered by the poor. She declared that the fight against hunger and poverty means taking the first steps towards sustainable development and towards a more equitable world. This progress is only possible, Karman argued, through shared bonds of fraternity and a moral commitment to eradicate poverty and promote peace.

Karman considered conflict to be the source of hunger, poverty, famine, and misery. She stated, “Building peace is part and parcel of eradicating hunger and achieving food security, but if we are to achieve this goal in any country, we need to keep one goal in front of us: to guarantee that everyone can have freedom, and by freedom I do not only mean freedom from want; I also mean political freedom.” Transitional justice, Karman explained, can bring peace to an area and a community overcoming a conflict and facilitating progress towards peace. Karman insisted that by 2030, “we need to have lifted the burdens of poverty and hunger,” an accomplishment only possible through the commitment, collaboration, and mobilization of all people and all governments.

Betty Williams began her address by recognizing that there remains work to be done towards eradicating hunger and fostering peace, but she was quick to assert that great work has already been done, as she acknowledged the accomplishments of her peers in the Alliance and expressed her appreciation to call them friends. Williams described her experience during the height of violence between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s. At first, she said, she wanted to keep her door closed out of fear for her family’s safety. After she witnessed the death of three children on a Belfast street, however, her horror and anger compelled her to action. She described the peace efforts in Northern Ireland as a movement begun by “ordinary extraordinary people.”

In her role as a Nobel Peace Laureate, Williams traveled to areas such as Africa, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Argentina, and Chile. She explained how she had never truly seen or known hunger until she witnessed some of the world’s poorest communities, some of which she saw in developed nations like the United States. The devastation made her physically sick at times, but she decided to take action, for, as she declared, “Tears without action are wasted sentiment.” After hearing about the possibility of nuclear disposal on the lands of Basilicata, Williams went to the southern Italian region and defended the land alongside the people of Basilicata. She has created a foundation in Basilicata that builds, ecologically sound, inexpensive homes for refugees.

At the heart of her humanitarian work, however, will always be the protection of children, like the children in Belfast that drove her to take action over four decades ago. She concluded her remarks with a reading of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which espouses principles Williams said she will fight for “until the day I die.”

Kofi Annan gave his remarks to the conference through a video message, first stating, “A stable and peaceful environment is the foundation for lasting food security and livelihoods.” He discussed the inextricable connections between food security, peace, and sustainable development. His remarks reflected a feeling of hope for a more peaceful future without hunger, as he said, “I know we can eradicate hunger within a generation provided we can mobilize political leadership and political will.”

In the general discussion that followed the addresses, Yunus spoke of the need for a banking system and coordinating legislation that serves the poor. The current model of non-governmental organizations providing microcredit is not sustainable, Yunus said, because it is restrained by the often limited funding of NGOs. He discussed the need for self-sustaining financial systems geared towards lifting individuals and communities out of poverty.

Though the goals before the FAO – Nobel Peace Laureates for Food Security and Peace Alliance may appear lofty, Yunus was hopeful, calling himself a “compulsive optimist.” His message to young people was that “you have the power to change the entire world by yourself.”

Williams reflected Yunus’s optimism, saying we must all be optimistic as we join in the fight for sustainable development. She suggested to Yunus that they open a bank geared towards the poor in Basilicata. If this first meeting is any indicator of the ultimate success of the task force, the future certainly looks promising.

(End)

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Mass Migration, EU, European Nationalismshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/mass-migration-eu-european-nationalisms/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mass-migration-eu-european-nationalisms http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/mass-migration-eu-european-nationalisms/#comments Wed, 11 May 2016 13:46:26 +0000 Johan Galtung http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145064 The author is professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, founder of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He has published 164 books on peace and related issues, of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages, for a total of 135 book translations, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.]]>

The author is professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, founder of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He has published 164 books on peace and related issues, of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages, for a total of 135 book translations, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

By Johan Galtung
Antwerp, Alfaz, May 11 2016 (IPS)

We are dealing with mass migration, basically into EU, and European nationalisms, many in favor of exits from the EU.

Why this mass migration, maybe to the point of Völkerwanderung, mainly into EU–but then what kind of EU–and why the European nationalisms now found one way or the other in many member states?

Johan Galtung

Johan Galtung

The forecast for migration from Africa into Italy in 2016 is about 100,000; 28,000 already arrived in the first quarter, with 1,000 drowning in the Mediterranean (INYT, 6 May 2016). Big numbers. They knew the risks they were taking, so the push away from Africa and the pull towards Italy, and beyond, must have been considerable.

Better think in terms of 50 million migrants over 50 years, from regions considered uninhabitable to inhabitable regions. There seem to be five major causes underlying this basic world asymmetry:

Slavery, four centuries, depriving societies particularly of able-bodied males, by Arabs, then Westerners, cross-Atlantic transportation mainly by the English (Liverpool);
Colonialism, by Muslims after the death of the prophet in 632, from Casablanca to Southern Philippines, till the end of the 15th century, close to nine centuries, then by Christians close to five centuries, till colonialism was officially ended in the 1960s;
Robbery Capitalism, stealing or paying next to nothing for resources processed into manufactured goods, pocketing the value added;
Wars, mainly initiated by the West, killing millions (the USA more than 20 million in 37 countries after WWII), destroying property;
Ecological Factors, like depletion-pollution, often toxic for humans or nature, erratic climate partly due to climate gases, NOX, CO2, CH4.

These are the causes of poverty in some parts of the world but also of wealth in others; creating the asymmetry uninhabitable vs inhabitable by exploitation, becoming rich at the expense of others becoming poor.

That clearly applies to slavery, colonialism, robbery capitalism and many wars (the difference between bombing and being bombed). But the ecological factor hits both; so, the West attends to that factor.

Anyhow, many think: Time has come to share more equitably this wealth.

Of 28 EU members, 11 were colonial powers. 9 in Africa: England, Netherlands, France, Belgium-Luxembourg, Italy, Spain, Portugal, till the end of WWI Germany; all enriching themselves.

To believe that the other 28 – 9 = 19 members will accept “quotas” for migration due to the violence of the 9–England-France particularly, in the Middle East by Sykes-Picot colonization (*)–is simply naive. EU has institutions, but has not managed fusion into a Europe of one for all, all for one.

EU today is an exploitative pyramid: Germany on top; 8 Northern-Germanic countries; 5 Southern-Latin countries with France, Ireland; 12 Eastern countries; Greece at the bottom. With inequity and quotas, not strange that nationalisms flourish, tearing EU apart. Remove the causes: England-France, pick up the bill; EU, flatten the pyramid. (**)

Nevertheless, that only solves the intra-EU problem, not the world problem of mass migration from parts of the world mainly damaged by the West. Migrating into the EU, over land and across the Mediterranean, with a small part into a USA protected by two major oceans from the problems they helped to cause–except for migration via and from Mexico.

Mass migration is now an “industry” with “helpers”, smugglers, drugs and trafficking, dubious migrants, police and military among them. Yet that does not detract from the role of the five root causes, even if all kinds of lesser causes and effects make them less visible.

EU redirects migrant flows from the Middle East to Turkey at high costs; the flow from Africa to Nigeria; NATO patrols the Mediterranean. But these are at most stopgap measures. They are migrants not only from but also to–to the colonial “mother countries”, England and France.

Today they travel on foot, by bus, taxis–tomorrow by submarines (like drug smugglers), planes (many do) or by more massive numbers? Claiming a right to settle, uninvited, where much of their human and natural resources has been processed into the wealth of others–who also settled, uninvited. How do we handle this? Are there solutions?

5 Causes, 2 (groups of) Solutions. For Each, Negative and Positive

Slavery:

Negative: CARICOM [Caribbean Community] leads in denouncing slavery, followed by eLAC Summit meeting in Quito; EU endorsing; joint history books (USA: Frederick Douglass testimony); mapping levels of slavery; museums-memorials.

Positive: EU-AU conciliation sessions; negotiate compensation.

Colonialism:

Negative: South Africa leads in denouncing, followed by AU; others should join; joint history books on the experience.

Positive: EU-AU conciliation sessions; cover federation-confederation costs for multi-nation states and multi-state nations.

Robbery Capitalism:

Negative: Documentation, like using Sevilla customs data calculating the value as debt of the resources robbed; “Hands Off Africa”.

Positive: Africa processing its own resources; the Gaddafi 3 points; SSS trade also with China; lifting the bottom up; new infrastructure.

Wars:

Negative: Stop killing (bombing, SEALs); how many killed in how many countries, like for USA; denounce events (like Berlusconi for 1911).

Positive:
Use military defensively against IS violence; solve conflicts with “terrorists” (IS)–with “communists” (Vietnam) after they won.

Ecology:
Negative: reduce CO2+CH4 levels controlling fossil fuels and fracking.

Positive: Switch to renewable non-polluting resources like sun, wind; increase diversity of biota and abiota resources; help with symbiosis (enough CO2!); improve light-dark balance to absorb less solar heat.

Much more awareness is needed to understand the damage done. But three positive approaches, from “trickling down” capitalism to lifting the bottom up, from offensive to defensive use of military, from victory to solution, could carry far way, even quickly. Likely?

Notes:

(*) To tilt the WWI power balance in their favor one century ago, the four colonies they created–instead of freedom for the Arabs–have been at the root of most Middle East problems. Take Syria as example, an artificial state constructed by Paris, with 7 built-in conflicts: with Israel-USA blocking for Eretz Israel (Golan is one aspect); with Russia if a government should deny Russia their only base (as opposed to at least 800 US bases); between minority Shia-Alawite dictatorship with tolerance for others and a majority Sunni dictatorship without; between Arab Muslims and others like Kurds, Turks, Christians, Jews; between Shia and Sunni and their countries, the Shia living in the Fertile Crescent; between Al Qaeda+ and foreigners; and between all of the above and the Islamic State. IS wants to undo Sykes-Picot and to recreate the Ottoman Empire and their Caliphate without Istanbul; and see themselves as Islamic responses to the EU and the Vatican.

In so doing IS has a decisive advantage relative to “all of the above” who reify Syria as something sustainable with basic changes. IS relates to a reality where today’s Syria is located that lasted four centuries, 1516-1916. They want to reconstruct a past based on provinces and proceed accordingly. This author would be surprised if Iraq as a state survives beyond 2020 and Syria as a state beyond 2025.

(**) If we collapse the top three and the bottom 2 levels 14 Western and 12 Eastern; with ten islands 28. Add Turkey and the point of gravity moves further East, with Istanbul challenging Brussels. And what happe then to the migrants stranded in Turkey?

Johan Galtung’s op-ed originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 9 May 2016: TMS: Mass Migration, EU, European Nationalisms

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Hunger, a Matter of Global Securityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/hunger-a-matter-of-global-security-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hunger-a-matter-of-global-security-2 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/05/hunger-a-matter-of-global-security-2/#comments Wed, 11 May 2016 12:41:17 +0000 Enrique Yeves http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145062 Food insecurity, at the heart of a great number of conflicts, should be considered a matter of world security if the international community wants to succeed in achieving long-lasting peace.
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By Enrique Yeves
ROME, May 11 2016 (IPS)

Desperate, frustrated, and with little hope for the future, on 17h December 2010, the Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi doused himself in petrol and set himself alight. Thus began the popular revolution that toppled the dictatorship of Zine El AbidineBen Ali, in power since 1987, and with it a domino effect that spread across North Africa and the Middle East.

The events took place in the small city of SidiBouzid but they could have taken place in any other part of the world so deeply affected by the high price of goods as basic and vital as bread. Paradoxically, Mohamed sold fruit and his dream was to buy a van and see his business grow.

The global food price crisis in 2008 coincided with revolts in over 40 countries and the fall of several governments such as in Egypt and Libya, highlighting the link between food security and political instability. The protests in Tunisia and other countries were initially demonstrations against the high price of food. This was not the only cause but rather the trigger of deep-rooted public indignation, although there was a common denominator.

In 2011, a similar rise in food prices led to new internal conflicts or exacerbated old ones in many countries, as can be seen in the diagram accompanying this article; when the price of foodstuffs reaches extreme levels, political instability and civil unrest is clear for all to see.

The lack of food, or to be more precise, the ability to acquire food – that is, poverty – is one of the most immediate threats to security and to people’s lives in conflicts, and at the same time makes conflicts more drawn-out affairs. There can be no peace without food security, and no food security without peace. They are two concepts in symbiosis. When FAO was created in 1945, the world was only just emerging from the Second World War and its founders knew that the Organization should play a vital role in the search for peace. That is why, even then, they stated in their first session that “the Food and Agriculture Organization is born out of the need for peace as well as the need for freedom from want. The two are interdependent. Progress toward freedom from want is essential to lasting peace”.

Seventy years after the creation of FAO, the international community has strengthened this idea by adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, based on the premise that there can be no sustainable development without peace, and there can be no peace without sustainable development.

Enrique Yeves. Credit: Giulio Napolitanó/FAO

Enrique Yeves. Credit: Giulio Napolitanó/FAO

The link between food and peace was also behind the award of the 1949 Nobel Prize for Peace to Lord Boyd Orr, the first FAO Director-General. On awarding the prize, the Chair of the Nobel Committee quoted from Lord Boyd Orr’s Welfare and Peace: “We must conquer hunger and want, because hunger and want in the midst of plenty are a fatal flaw and a blot on our civilization. They are one of the fundamental causes of war. But it is no use trying to build the new world from the top down, with political ideas of spheres of influence and so on. We have to build it from the bottom upwards, and provide first the primary necessities of life for the people who have never had them, and build from the slums of this country upwards.

”This is why food security is a prerequisite for peace and world security, and why hunger should be considered a matter of world security. This is even more the case in a globalized world, where something happening in one territory affects the rest of the world. This is also why measures to stabilize food prices and social protection networks are vital instruments to prevent violent conflicts.

All of this is why FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva has launched a clear signal to the international community of the urgent need to challenge head on the issue of food insecurity in the widest sense of the term. In March he addressed the UN Security Council to highlight the interdependence of hunger and conflict, as well as how hunger destabilizes societies and aggravates political instability. Following this, the Security Council has requested that FAO keeps Council members regularly informed regarding the food situation in the world’s most crisis-hit countries.

Eradicating hunger is, then, not only a moral obligation, but something vital to guarantee a future for all of us. Improving food security can help to construct a sustainable peace, and even prevent future conflicts. We know that action promoting food security can help to prevent crises, mitigate their impact, and foster post-conflict recovery. It is clear that for us to prevent conflicts we must address their root causes, and amongst these are hunger and food insecurity.

Conflicts are a key factor in prolonged food security crises and the vicious circle is repeated time and again. During conflicts people are three times more likely to suffer hunger than in the rest of the developing world, while those countries with the highest levels of food insecurity are also those countries most affected by conflicts. This is evidenced in examples from Syria and Yemen to South Sudan and Somalia.

Other examples demonstrate that peace and food security are mutually dependent, such as post-conflict Angola and Nicaragua, or Rwanda after the genocide and East Timor after gaining independence. Without food security, there is the danger of relapsing into violence.

If attempts to secure food security fail, attempts to stabilize society come under threat: a threat currently facing Yemen and also Central African Republic, where half of the population suffer food insecurity. This was in fact the main subject of a conversation between the FAO Director-General and the new President of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadera. He asked for FAO’s support to help disarm and reintegrate armed groups in the country successfully, intensifying efforts in the agricultural sector so that the sector can meet the population’s basic needs.

Promoting rural development can also help efforts to build peace. A specific, current example is FAO’s joint work with the Colombian government to implement programmes to improve food security and rural development quickly in an attempt to consolidate the anticipated peace agreement.

International efforts towards peace will be more effective if they include measures to build resilience in families and rural communities, since it is they and their livelihoods that conflicts harm most.

However, to achieve all of this, hunger, at the heart of a great number of conflicts, should be considered a matter of world security.

Enrique Yeves is a journalist specializing in international politics. He is currently FAO Director of Corporate Communications.

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