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The UN Climate Action Summit, Explained

16. September 2019 - 16:42

The UN General Assembly convenes at United Nations headquarters in New York next week. As in every year, UNGA is an annual opportunity for heads of state to come to the United Nations to meet each other and address the world.

What distinguishes the UN General Assembly this year is a series of key events and meetings focused on climate change.

Of these events and meetings the most high profile is what is known as the UN Climate Action Summit. This will take place on Monday the 23rd of September. Thiswill include top government officials, business leaders, and civil society members bringing to the table concrete action plans to accelerate progress on addressing climate change.

Today’s episode of the Global Dispatches podcast is dedicated to explaining just what that Climate Action Summit entails and what to expect from this major climate meeting at the United Nations.

On the line with me to discuss the significance of this summit and what it hopes to achieve is  Cassie Flynn, she is the strategic advisor on climate change in the executive office of the UN Development Program, UNDP. She is the someone who has very much been involved in aspects of planning the summit and in this conversation offers a curtain raiser for the summit itself, and discusses some of the broader expectations for this event.

The Climate Action Summit at the UN is the capstone to several climate related events happening at the UN, including a Youth Climate Summit that will feature young leaders from around the world. In this conversation we discuss how these events relate to each other and directly to the Paris Climate Accord.

If you have twenty minutes and want to better understand the UN Climate Action Summit, have a listen.

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This podcast episode is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story. Covering Climate Now parters are free to reproduce this episode. 


The post The UN Climate Action Summit, Explained appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

There’s a Scourge of Gender Based Violence in South Africa, and Women Are Fighting Back

13. September 2019 - 18:12

When Uyinene Mrwetyana went missing on 24 August 2019, her family and friends started a nationwide campaign to find her and bring her home. They put up posters. They begged the South African Police Service (SAPS) to launch an investigation. #BringNeneHome was tweeted and retweeted across the country.

When the news broke that a male employee of the country’s postal service raped and murdered Mrwetyana in a post office, South Africans were stunned, horrified, and angry. Jesse Hess, also a 19 year old student, was murdered in her home. Leighandre Jegels, a boxing champion, was shot and killed by her former partner. Women’s Month, meant to commemorate the women who marched against pass laws in apartheid South Africa, ended with the murders of young women at the hands of men.

Although South Africa’s murder rate has dropped since 2000, it still has one of the highest murder rates for women in the world.

2018 report shows that almost 69% of victims of sexual offenses in South Africa are women. In 2017, at least half of murdered women were killed by a partner.

These statistics, and the murders of Hess, Mrwetyana and Jegels are a painful reminder that gender-based violence is prevalent in South African society, with seemingly no government action and political will to protect the lives of women.

There have been calls for government intervention in the past. Students protested against rape culture and sexual violence on university campus in 2016, only to be arrested by the police for disrupting the peace. The 2018 Total Shutdown campaign marched for an end to violence against women in South Africa. Its organizers called for women and gender non-conforming people to stay at home and not engage in any economic activity on 1 August, the start of Women’s Month. They demanded that government finally treat gender-based violence with the urgency it required. Dressed in black and red, protesters across South Africa marched to government buildings and handed a list of 24 demands.

These demands were simple enough, including that President Ramaphosa not appoint anyone known for perpetrating violence against women into any government position. The response was more promises and pledges to act. A year later, with the murders and disappearances of more women across the country, the deep frustration and anger against government inaction has only grown.

After the murders of Hess, Mrwetyana and Jegels, students held vigils and memorial services for the women whose lives were violently ended, and mourned at the traumas and fears that their country silenced and delegitimised. Women shared their experiences of trying to report cases of abuse and assault to the police, only to be ridiculed and dismissed. Parents shared their fears of having to bury their children. Enough was enough. Protesters took to the streets during the World Economic Forum on Africa, demanding that President Ramaphosa come out and address them on. He could not act as though it was business as usual when women were living in fear of rape and murder. Once again, the protests were met with police, who deployed water cannons to disperse the crowds.

For the women of South Africa, there is a pervasive sense that the time for empty promises is over. No longer can strong words and political rhetoric satisfy the demands for justice and protection. Women are fighting back. On social media, anonymous accounts have taken it upon themselves the names of alleged abusers and rapists. Women have used online platforms to share their experiences and find support and justice. They have relied on the care and support of each other as they press politicians to introduce legislation to protect women and tougher punishments for those convicted of gender-based crime.

President Ramaphosa has promised that this time, Parliament will deliver. One of his proposals is to amend the law on the National Register of Sexual Offenders. Currently private, the president seeks to make the register public and accessible. “Enough is enough”, he declared in an address. It remains to be seen whether or not Ramaphosa and his government will succeed in their proposals. For the lives affected by violence against women, they need to.

‘Wathint’ Abafazi, Wathint’ Imbokodo’ is a famous South African refrain. ‘You strike a woman, you strike a rock’. Invoked to praise women for their strength, valor and value, the words are from the 1956 women’s march in South Africa. Protesting against the introduction of apartheid laws that would affect women, the women’s march is a symbol for women’s activism and rights in the country. However, six decades on, and the situation of women in South Africa is still one of oppression and violence.

The post There’s a Scourge of Gender Based Violence in South Africa, and Women Are Fighting Back appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

What is Next for Peace Talks With the Taliban?

12. September 2019 - 15:19

In late August it appeared that the United States was very close to an agreement with the Taliban that would see US troops withdraw from the Afghanistan.

Leading the negotiations on the US-side was Zalmay Khalilzad, a widely respected former US Ambassador to the UN who is an immigrant to the US from Afghanistan.  He also served as US Ambassador to Afghanistan shortly after the fall of the Taliban.

Significantly, these negotiations did not include the Afghan government, rather they were direct negotiations between the US and the Taliban.

By early September it appeared that the two sides had reached a deal. Then, on September 7th Donald Trump appeared to upend the deal in a tweet suggesting that a planned meeting between the US and Taliban at Camp David had been cancelled, apparently ending these talks. But then, days later, he fired National Security Advisor John Bolton who had largely opposed negotiating with the Taliban in the first place.

So where does this leave the peace process and negotiations for a US withdrawal from Afghanistan? And what happens next? On the line to discuss these questions and more is Daniel Serwer. He is a professor of conflict management and American foreign policy at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Study and a scholar at the Middle East Institute

Daniel Serwer has had a long career in and out of government participating in peace talks and peace building efforts around the world, including Afghanistan.

We kick off discussing just what Zalmay Khalilzad was negotiating with the Taliban before having a longer conversation about how those talks broke down and what comes next.

If you have 20 minutes and want to get up to speed on US diplomacy towards Afghanistan, then have a listen.

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The post What is Next for Peace Talks With the Taliban? appeared first on UN Dispatch.

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John Bolton Did Not Get His Wars With Iran and North Korea. But He Still Did Real Damage as National Security Advisor

10. September 2019 - 19:50

John Bolton resigned as National Security Advisor, having failed to convince President Trump to pursue Bolton’s preferred foreign policy goals, including wars with Iran and North Korea.

Still, in his short stint as National Security Advisor, Bolton was able to pursue some of his more peculiar foreign policy predilections. This includes an all out assault on some key global institutions that uphold and defend human rights around the world.

Bolton’s worldview never has much fondness for international institutions in general and human rights in particular. He used his power as National Security Advisor to put human rights defenders on the defensive.

His first major speech as US National Security Advisor was focused on the International Criminal Court, an institution he has longed opposed. As Under Secretary of State in the George W Bush administration he “unsigned” the US to the treaty that created the court, and then embarked on a years long effort to undermine it.

When he came to the White House in Spring of 2018, Bolton continued these efforts, which included placing a visa ban on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. The prosecutor is now effectively barred from entering the United States, unless she is on official business at the United Nations headquarters in New York. This was done ostensibly because the ICC was considering an investigation in Afghanistan, even though so far the ICC declined to do so.

Another peculiar interest of Bolton’s is the UN Human Rights Council. This is an international human rights body that was created, incidentally, while Bolton was US Ambassador to the UN in 2005. He hated it then — the United States declined to run for a seat on the Human Rights Council during the Bush administration.

During the Obama administration, the US did run and serve on the Council for several years. This included during the last year of the Obama administration and into the first two years of the Trump administration. However, with time still left on its term in the Council, the United States — at Bolton’s urging — simply vacated its seat in June 2018. Bolton preferred to de-legitimize the organization by pulling the United States out rather than use American influence from within to steer outcomes to its preferred direction.

Then, later last summer, Bolton embarked on a bizarre effort to try and defund parts of the United Nations that focus on human rights. This included not only the Human Rights Council, but also the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Bolton sought to withhold the proportion of US dues payments to the regular UN budget that would be earmarked for these entities. This was in pursuit of his longstanding goal to shift how the world funds the UN from a dues-payment system to an a-la-carte method for funding the UN. The problem is, even though this is what Bolton wishes was how the UN  budget works, it’s not actually how the UN budget works.  So, he failed at that effort.

Meanwhile, unable to defund human rights in the UN system, the administration tried another bizarre tact: the US simply ignored emails, phone calls and other requests from UN human rights monitors. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Council deploys special rapporteurs and other monitors to follow human rights issues around the world. The Guardian and other outlets reported that the State Department was directed to ignore requests from these monitors and cease all cooperation. This is the functional equivalent of how toddlers give the silent treatment when they are mad, but with much higher stakes.

One important goal Bolton was not able to accomplish was to put Donald Trump on a hostile footing with the United Nations more broadly. And here, some credit is due in part to Secretary General Antonio Guterres, whose political skill is evident in the fact that Donald Trump seems to rather enjoy his annual visits to the UN. In his previous two appearances at UNGA, Trump was hardly hostile to the institution in a way that could have pleased John Bolton. To the contrary, his actions and demeanor suggests that he relishes his time at UNGA (as opposed to other multi-lateral fora like the G-7.)

It would appear that Antonio Guterres has managed his relationship with Donald Trump far better than John Bolton.


The post John Bolton Did Not Get His Wars With Iran and North Korea. But He Still Did Real Damage as National Security Advisor appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Why Do Journalists Keep Getting Arrested in Tanzania?

9. September 2019 - 16:48

Tanzania has long been recognized as stable country, generally more advanced in its democracy than many other countries in East Africa. To be sure, democracy in Tanzania was certainly imperfect and flawed. But there did exist a degree of press freedom, a robust civil society, and multiple political parties.

Over the last few years, elements of Tanzanian democracy have been curtailed. The country is now in the midst of what scholars would call a democratic backslide. This occurs when the state uses its power to weaken institutions that sustain democracy, like civil society and a free press.

A key inflection point in this process was the 2015 election of President John Magufuli. Magufuli is very much a populist — his nickname is “The Bulldozer.” He came to power on a pledge to stamp out corruption but has also shown himself to be increasingly intolerant of dissent.

Since taking office he has enacted laws to severely restrict press freedoms; many journalists have been arrested, and political opponents silenced.

But according to my guest today, Constantine Manda, the process of democratic backsliding really began under the previous administration. Still, for reasons he explains in this episode, the erosions of have accelerated in recent months.

Constantine Manda is a Tanzanian national and a PHD candidate in the department of political science at Yale University.  If you have 20 minutes and want to learn why journalists and critics of the government in Tanzania have been silenced in recent years, and why what happens in Tanzania is of global consequence, then have a listen.

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The post Why Do Journalists Keep Getting Arrested in Tanzania? appeared first on UN Dispatch.

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I’m a millennial Zimbabwean. This is what Robert Mugabe Meant to Me.

7. September 2019 - 15:26

For most of my 26 years, I have had only one president: Robert Gabriel Mugabe. He came into power and officially became the president of the Republic of Zimbabwe in 1987. And to the country, he was more than just a man. He was a symbol, an icon, a name whose utterance inspired fear, anger, pride and patriotism.

Questions of how he should be remembered have ignited mixed reactions online. Although opinions on his legacy differ, one thing is clear: Mugabe’s life and death affected Zimbabweans and non-Zimbabweans on a deeply personal level.

As a child, I did not know much about Mugabe. I saw his name splashed across billboards, his image in full-page adverts in the newspapers. I heard snippets of his speeches on television during the evening news. His voice filtered through the radio on my way to school.

He wasn’t just our president: Mugabe was Zimbabwe.

The two were inseparable. I accepted what I read and saw of him, word-for-word. He was a strong, black African leader being punished by America and Europe for his Pan-Africanism. In my young mind he was a liberator, a force, highly intelligent and most of all, a leader who cared for his people. I sang along to the jingles and songs praising his exploits, not fully aware of what I was singing. I had always seen adults around me speak of Mugabe in hushed tones, even in the comfort and privacy of their homes. It didn’t make sense why they did so. Why were they afraid of their liberator?

It was only when I reached adolescence that my perception began to change. I started high school in 2005. By then, Zimbabwe’s economy had been in steady decline for a decade, but things were getting worse and they were getting worse faster than before. I started to wonder: if Mugabe was such a powerful, intelligent leader, why was there no bread in the shops?

The hushed conversations and whispers got louder and louder, and this time, I listened when adults spoke.

I listened as they spoke about Operation Murambatsvina, a campaign that destroyed and demolished slums and left an estimated 70 000 people homeless and destitute. I listened as they spoke about police attacking, intimidating, beating and kidnapping opposition members and political activists. I listened as they spoke about the corruption and cronyism that was rampant in government circles. I listened as they whispered about mass killings in the 1980s. I listened. And I was horrified. I had been lied to for years, and I had believed it. As inflation rose, fuel queues got longer, basic goods got harder to find and electricity shortages left us in the dark, the childlike admiration I had for Mugabe the icon died.

All that was left was resignation. He had been in power longer than I had been alive. Who was I in the grand scheme of things? I was not a boy. I was not rich. I was not powerful. I had no liberation struggle credentials. And the history that I was slowly learning taught me that if I was none of those things, then I wasn’t valuable or respected in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.

And so I spent the next years cynical of any signs of change and progress in Zimbabwe. I resolved to learn as much as I could about my country’s history so I wouldn’t be deceived again. But the more I learnt, the more disillusioned I became. The people who were meant to be our heroes – symbolised in Mugabe – had betrayed the very people they’d picked up arms for. I was angry, frustrated, sad.

And no matter how much I tried, Mugabe was unavoidable. His name came up as soon as I mentioned I was Zimbabwean.

The reveal of my nationality was usually accompanied by “how’s Mugabe doing?” Non-Zimbabwean activists at my university invoked his name in the spirit of Pan-Africanism. And whenever Mugabe trended on Twitter, I rolled my eyes and wondered what new hell had been unleashed.

And now, he’s gone. A name that for 39 years was infused into Zimbabwe’s story is no longer here. Robert Mugabe outlived his peers, opposition leaders, and other big African statesmen. He was a leader who started with the hopes, dreams and blessing of his people. They trusted him to deliver the country they fought and sacrificed for. And now, looking back at his 37 years as a president, all I feel is loss and pity.

Mugabe could have been a wonderful leader. He could’ve transformed Zimbabwe into a stable, proud nation. He could’ve guided us as we dealt with the trauma from nearly a century of colonisation and white minority rule. He could’ve handed over power to a successor, retiring with the love, appreciation and respect of his people and his continent. Instead, Mugabe’s story has a different ending. His legacy is marked with mass killings, the collapse of the national currency, the deterioration of healthcare services, economic instability, intolerance of opposition and a culture of fear and violence. I pity the nameless, faceless people who were the victims of this legacy, people whose names won’t make international headlines, people whose deaths didn’t get obituaries in leading newspapers. Mugabe left an indelible mark on Zimbabwe. Even now, his unseen hand is everywhere.

And now, after his death, all I ask myself is if we can shake off his influence, or if Mugabe and Zimbabwe are to be forever entwined.

The post I’m a millennial Zimbabwean. This is what Robert Mugabe Meant to Me. appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

The Safest Countries in the World, Ranked According to the United Nations

6. September 2019 - 15:45

Nordic countries may top the lists of happiest, most peaceful and cleanest countries in the world. But according to the UN, Japan and Singapore are actually the safest.

In the latest comprehensive report on homicide by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), both Japan and Singapore reported the lowest intentional homicide rate in the world: 0.2 homicide victims per 100,000 people in 2017 (the year of the most recent data in the report). They were followed by two Chinese autonomous regions – Hong Kong and Macao – and Luxembourg, all of which reported homicide rates of 0.3 per 100,000.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the index is El Salvador, where 61.8 people out of 100,000 died from violent crime in 2017. Jamaica didn’t fare much better with a rate of 57; neither did Venezuela (56.3 in 2016), Honduras (41.7) or Belize (37.9). (To explore the data further, visit this interactive UNODC resource.)

If regional differences are becoming apparent by now, that’s because they should. Asia, despite accounting for 60 percent of the global population, is the safest region, with a homicide rate of 2.3 victims per 100,000 population. The Americas, particularly Central America and South America, not only had the highest homicide rate (17.2), but also the highest number of victims. Globally, crime ended the lives of 464,000 people in 2017; more than 173,000 of them were in the Americas.

Young men in the Americas, especially, face a much higher risk of death from violent crimes than their peers in parts of the world. Homicides in the Americas also involve firearms much more often than in other regions.

The report also notes that male-to-male lethal violence – often between gang members – is usually what dominates in areas with high homicide rates (like the Americas). However, as overall violence goes down, male-to-male violence also goes down; leaving intimate partner and family-related homicides – usually male-to-female – a much more significant type of violence. In Japan, for example, with its lowest-in-the-world homicide rate, women make up the majority of homicide victims.

But positive lessons can and should also be drawn from the world’s safest countries.

Singapore’s low homicide rate, for example, has been largely attributed to progress toward many of Sustainable Development Goals that, at first glance, may not all appear directly linked to homicide. These include long-term investments in universal education and health care, policies aimed at reducing social segregation and inequality, good governance, strong rule of law and corruption control.

This connection might be why homicide rates, particularly by sex and age, are the first indicator the UN has pinpointed to measure progress toward Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, which aims to build peace, justice and strong institutions. The first target under that goal is to “Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere,” including homicides.

But as Singapore demonstrates, the interplay between homicidal violence and the SDGs isn’t limited to Goal 16. Poverty (Goal 1), for example, can increase the risk of violent crime, as individuals resort to violence for survival and as governments reduce their investment in law enforcement systems. But violent crime can also exacerbate poverty, driving down property values, slowing economic growth and undermining efforts to reduce poverty.

Likewise, while homicide and violence robs some children and young people of an education (SDG 4), a lack of high-quality education also pushes some young people into a life of delinquency – even organized crime – because of their lack of economic opportunities in the absence of a good education. The report also highlights similar nexuses between homicidal violence and health (SDG 3), gender equality (SDG 5), decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), reduced inequalities (SDG 10), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), climate action (SDG 13) and life on land (SDG 15).

These connections highlight the importance of working toward sustainable development on every front so that every country can become healthier, wealthier and safer.

The post The Safest Countries in the World, Ranked According to the United Nations appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Japan and South Korea Are Locked in A Bitter Dispute With Global Implications

5. September 2019 - 16:48

Japan and South Korea are in the throws of a dispute – and its getting worse. What was a trade war escalated to the security realm last month when the South Korean government announced that it was pulling out of a key intelligence sharing agreement with Tokyo. This agreement enabled the real-time sharing of key intelligence as it related to common threats, including from North Korea.

Needless to say, amid a growing threat from North Korea, which is regularly testing missiles that could reach both countries, this dispute between South Korea and Japan poses a big risk for international security.

So why are two key US allies that share a common adversary at such loggerheads? And what does a frayed relationship between Seoul and Tokyo mean for regional security and international relations more broadly?

On the line with me to answer these questions and more is Andrew Yeo, associate professor of politics at the Catholic University of America. We kick off talking through the World War Two era origins of this conflict before having a longer conversation about the global implications of a dispute between Japan and South Korea.

If you have twenty minutes and want to learn why historical grievances have become hyper-relevant in East Asia — and why relations are poised to get worse between these two countries, have a listen.


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Read Andrew Yeo’s Washington Post piece. 

The post Japan and South Korea Are Locked in A Bitter Dispute With Global Implications appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

War Crimes in Yemen

3. September 2019 - 19:38

The United Nations Human Rights Council has released a devastating new report on war crimes in Yemen. The report was released today by an independent panel of experts empowered by the Human Rights Council to identify major human rights violations that have occurred during Yemen’s long and ongoing war.

Though this is ostensibly a civil war, outside powers are both direct and indirect belligerents that are responsible for widespread war crimes.

The report finds a litany of crimes committed by the Saudi led coalition, which has engaged in a brutal campaign of air strikes, the targets of which were mostly civilian non-combatants, including many children.  “In the incidents investigated, it found concerns with coalition processes and procedures for target selection and execution of airstrikes based upon the apparently disproportionate impact on civilians,” the report said. 

In what the report says was emblematic of this pattern of attacking civilians though coalition airstrikes, the report listed the following incidents.

The report also found a similar pattern of total disregard for civilian safety by the opposition Houthi forces, which receive the backing of Iran.

The Report Strongly Suggests that Saudi Arabia’s Western Backers, including the USA, France and the UK bear responsibility for war crimes.

The United States, the United Kingdom and France are backing Saudi Arabia’s war efforts in Yemen. These countries have both supplied Saudi Arabia with arms, and in the case of the United States have provided technical assistance to Saudi Arabian forces as they have carried out their bombing campaign in Yemen.


Meanwhile, this conflict continues to exact a huge toll on civilians, tens of thousands of whom have been killed since 2014. In an unprecedented move, the Human Rights Council also released this video to coincide with the release of the Panel of Experts report.


To Learn More About the Yemen Crisis, Listen to this Global Dispatches Podcast episode. 

How Shipping Containers Explain the Conflict in Yemen

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The post War Crimes in Yemen appeared first on UN Dispatch.

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Jair Bolsonaro and the Destruction of the Amazon

29. August 2019 - 15:50

Fires raging in the Amazon have captured the world’s attention and put focus on the policies of the Brazilian government.

The true extent of the fires is not yet known–but most sources suggest that the scale of the fires and deforestation underway is much greater than that of previous years. The reason: permissive policies of the Jair Bolsonaro government.

Bolsonaro is a rightwing firebrand who was elected to office in 2018 following major scandals implicating more left wing parties. As my guest today Rebecca Abers explains, once in office Bolsonaro quickly enacted policies that reversed years of progress against forestation of the Amazon.

Rebecca Abers is professor of political science at the University of Brasilia in Brazil. And in this conversation, she describes the bureaucratic maneuvers engineered by Bolsonaro to undermine protections against de-forestation. We also discuss how and why international pressure, including an upcoming major UN Summit on Climate Change, is impacting domestic politics in Brazil and forcing Bolsonaro to more productively combat de-forestation.


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The post Jair Bolsonaro and the Destruction of the Amazon appeared first on UN Dispatch.

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What’s Behind the Protests in Kashmir?

28. August 2019 - 16:39

Ed note. This op-ed, from Sumit Ganguly of Indiana University, is cross posted with permission from The Conversation

India recently enacted a law which will end a special autonomous status given to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, known in the West as simply “Kashmir.”

Amit Shah, India’s minister for home affairs, announced in Parliament that the Bharatiya Janata Party government was revoking Article 370 of the Indian Constitution in the name of bringing prosperity to the region.

Since 1954, this article has governed federal relations between India and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim majority state.

I’m a scholar of South Asian politics and have written extensively on the evolution of the India-Pakistan conflict in Kashmir.

Article 370 is woven into that history.

History of Kashmir’s autonomy

Article 370 originated in the particular circumstances under which the former prince and last ruler of Kashmir acceded to India shortly after the partition of the British Indian Empire into the independent states of India and Pakistan in 1947.

The prince, or maharaja, agreed to have Kashmir become part of India under duress. His rule was threatened by an insurrection supported by Pakistan.

Article 370 was designed to guarantee the autonomy of the Muslim majority state, the only one in predominantly Hindu India. The clause effectively limited the powers of the Indian government to the realms of defense, foreign affairs and communications. It also permitted the Kashmiri state to have its own flag and constitution.

More controversially, Article 370 prohibited non-Kashmiris from purchasing property in the state and stated that women who married non-Kashmiris would lose their inheritance rights.

Changes over time

But the independence of the Kashmiri state has been declining for decades. Beginning in the early 1950s, a series of presidential ordinances, which had swift effect much like American executive orders, diluted the terms of the article.

For example, in 1954, a presidential order extended Indian citizenship to the “permanent residents” of the state. Prior to this decision the native inhabitants of the state had been considered to be “state subjects.”

Other constitutional changes followed. The jurisdiction of the Indian Supreme Court was expanded to the state in 1954. In addition, the Indian government was granted the authority to declare a national emergency if Kashmir were attacked.

Many other administrative actions reduced the state’s autonomy over time. These have ranged from enabling Kashmiris to participate in national administrative positions to expanding the jurisdiction of anti-corruption bodies, such as the Central Vigilance Commission and the Central Goods and Services Act of 2017, into the state.

What it means for India and the world

What has happened as a result of the move to revoke Article 370?

The decision has been met with considerable unhappiness and resentment in the Kashmir Valley, which has a Muslim population close to 97% – versus 68% of the population of the state as a whole. The government of Jammu and Kashmir, meanwhile, does not have the legal power to challenge the move.

China and Pakistan have expressed displeasure.

Pakistan has long maintained that it should have inherited the state based upon its geographic contiguity and its demography.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir. While I don’t believe Pakistan will initiate another war with India over this issue at this time, I doubt it will quietly resign itself to the changed circumstances. At the very least, it will seek to draw in members of the international community to oppose India’s action, as it has sought to do in the past.

China, which considers Pakistan to be its “all-weather ally,” has stated that the decision was “not acceptable and won’t be binding.”

Sumit Ganguly, Distinguished Professor of Political and the Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations, Indiana University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The post What’s Behind the Protests in Kashmir? appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

The United Nations Comes to Salt Lake City

26. August 2019 - 21:14

The United Nations is in Utah this week.  The annual United Nations Civil Society Conference is being held in Salt Lake City, which marks the first time that a major UN conference is being held in a United States city other than New York.

There is significance to the fact that Salt Lake City is hosting this conference.

The Civil Society Conference is an annual confab in which NGOs and other non-government actors directly engage with each other and with UN officials . The theme of this year’s conference is “building inclusive and sustainable cities and communities” and to that end, Salt Lake City has much to boast. The city is a recognized leader on sustainability issues, having pledged in 2016 to use 100% renewable energy by 2032 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2042.

“We have not only led our state down a path toward addressing climate change and air quality in the state but we’ve been leading in the country,” Mayor Jackie Biskupski told The Salt Lake Tribune in a recent interview. “We were the 16th city in 2016 to commit to 100% renewable [energy] and actually have our energy partner standing with us in that commitment. And now we’re closing in on several other communities joining us and, in fact, probably by the end of the year we will have more cities in Utah 100% renewable than any other state in the country.”

Much of the focus of three days of panels, meetings and speeches will be on Sustainable Development Goal 11, “to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable by 2030”. The conference concept note explains:

Today 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas and that figure is expected to reach 68% by 20501. As the complexities of urban life grow, communities and local leaders are at the forefront of finding sustainable solutions to poverty and inadequate housing, hunger and health, clean water, energy, environmental degradation and climate change, infrastructure, transport, education, migration, violence and gender equality. These and other challenges are interconnected with similar issues in rural areas and municipalities of all sizes, where activists and civil society organizations partner with governments and the private sector to ensure that communities are inclusive, equitable and sustainable.

You can follow the action using the hashtag #UNCSC2019

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Research Identifies a Link Between Dowry Payments and the Outbreak of Violent Conflict

26. August 2019 - 17:01

About 75% of the world’s population live in societies that practice of form of dowry payment. This is also known as brideprice and it is essentially wealth that a potential husband must pay to the family of his would-be wife. But in this way, brideprice acts as a kind of regressive flat tax that younger, and generally poorer men must pay to wealthier, older men.

Hilary Matfess, a PHD candidate at Yale University, undertook a wide study of the impact of fluctuations in brideprice on broader issues related to conflict. She found that there is a positive correlation between changes in brideprice and the outbreak of violent conflict. In other words, when the cost of getting married increases, so too does the probability of armed conflict.

Hilary Matfess published her findings a paper published in the 2017 issues of the academic journal International Security. In it, she and her co-author Valerie Hudson identify how the cost of getting married can lead to the outbreak of violent conflict and war.

Anyone who has ever taken an international relations or security class knows that there are volumes of research on what causes the outbreak of violent conflict. Through case studies, which Matfess discusses in this conversation, the paper demonstrates how fluctuations in brideprices can lead to the outbreak of violent conflict. It is fascinating research with very real-world policy implications.

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An Inside Look at Slavery in the Fishing Industry

22. August 2019 - 14:09

The fish you eat may have been caught by slaves.

Most Thai fishing boats operating in the South China Sea are dependent on migrant labor. But many of those vessels are essentially floating slave ships in which migrant workers are forced into a kind of debt bondage from which they cannot escape.

Journalist Ian Urbina covered this issue for years as a reporter for the New York Times. He reported from land and sea to offer a first hand account of both the conditions on these ships and the broader economic, political and environmental forces that propel slavery on fishing boats in the South China Sea.

Ian Urbina is on the podcast today to discuss his reporting on this issue, which is included in his new book the Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier. We kick off discussing the plight of these debt-bonded laborers before having a broader conversation about the issue of slavery at sea.

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The Most Innovative Countries in the World, As Ranked By the UN

21. August 2019 - 13:24

The United Nations agency that guards intellectual property rights has ranked countries according to how innovative they are.

Switzerland is the most innovative country in the world, according to the latest Global Innovation Index published in July by the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). But for the first time, Israel has also joined the ranks of the top 10 most innovative countries, while Vietnam and Rwanda are leading their respective income groups

With progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals stalling on several fronts, many experts see innovation and research as a key component to accelerating economic and social development. In fact, the set of goals themselves include innovation as SDG 9: “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.” This year’s report focused in particular on the near-future of medical innovation and how both technological and non-technological innovations can transform health care around the world.

For the last 12 years, the WIPO has released its annual rankings of countries. This year, the index ranked 129 countries based on 80 indicators, which included measurements like how much countries are investing in research and development, the number of international patent and trademark applications countries have submitted, as well as the value of countries’ high-tech exports and how many downloads their mobile-phone apps are getting.

According to these indicators, Switzerland, Sweden, the United States, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are leading the world in innovation. And for the last five years at least, the top 10 countries haven’t changed too much – they’ve all been European countries, plus the U.S. and Singapore. However, Israel’s 10th place ranking this year marks the first time a country from the Northern Africa and Western Asia region has cracked the top 10 list.

The top 10 countries are also all high-income countries – for good reason. Income-level continues to play a significant role in how much countries can invest into research and development and innovation. However, the report notes that a shift is happening, with several middle-income countries leading the charge toward the top of the charts. Most notably, these include China (14th), India (52nd) and Brazil (66th), the report says.

Because the policies in these countries have prioritized innovation, not only have they seen significant increases in their rankings, but despite a global economic slowdown, innovation continues to “blossom,” especially in Asia.

Several indicators under SDG 9 talk about promoting innovation in developing countries, and the results of this index show that with enough government planning, many countries have been able to exceed expectations given their level of development. Notably, among low-income countries, Burundi (128th), Malawi (118th), Mozambique (119th) and Rwanda (94th) are all innovating more than expected, despite some low global rankings. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Lithuania are among 10 wealthy countries that are underperforming for their development level.

Although innovation seems to be withstanding the effects of global economic uncertainty so far, the report does note that some high-income countries are beginning to slow down their investments in research and development. In addition, trade wars and protectionism are also threatening the diffusion of new technology, ideas and knowledge across borders and around the world. Both of these concerns could jeopardize not just innovation rankings, but could also exacerbate the deceleration of global growth and development.

So what should countries do? In addition to continuing to increase investments in research and development, the report authors say that the rankings provide “valuable insights” into which countries are excelling in innovation and which ones are getting the most out of their investments. Learning from these global leaders can guide innovation policies for other countries. And doing so can accelerate progress toward all the Sustainable Development Goals.

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How We Can Feed the World Without Destroying the Planet

20. August 2019 - 13:13

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, released a report in August demonstrating the harmful relationship between climate change and how we humans are using land for food and agriculture.

The warnings are dire. Agriculture and deforestation account for nearly a quarter of all human made greenhouse gas emissions — and big changes in how we produce and consume food need to take place if we are to curb the worst effects of climate change. At the same time, the world population is increasing and poverty is declining, meaning food consumption patterns, particularly around meat, are changing.

Big changes in how we produce and consume food need to take place if we are to curb the worst effects of climate change.

On the line with me to discuss how we can feed the world without destroying the planet is Timothy Searchinger. He’ s a research scholar at Princeton University and fellow with the World Resources Institute. He was recently the lead author on a report by WRI Creating a Sustainable Food Future: A Menu of Solutions to Feed Nearly 10 Billion People by 2050.

We kick off discussing the IPCC report and the significance of its findings before having a solutions- focused conversation about policies that can be enacted to help better balance our relationship between food and how humans use the finite resource of land.

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Today is World Humanitarian Day. Here’s What that Means

19. August 2019 - 13:03

It’s World Humanitarian Day, and this year, the UN is highlighting the hard work and sacrifice of tens of thousands of women humanitarian aid workers in crises around the world.

According to the UN, there are about 250,000 women aid workers globally, who make up more than 40 percent of all humanitarian workers. Their efforts are particularly valuable as reports have found that women and children bear the brunt of the consequences of disasters, conflicts and displacement.

“Their presence makes aid operations more effective by increasing their reach,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a video message.

But being a humanitarian has become increasingly dangerous, despite international laws prohibiting attacks on aid workers. According to a recent report by Humanitarian Outcomes, 2018 was second worst year on record for aid worker security: 405 aid workers – most of whom were nationals of the countries where they work – were killed, wounded or kidnapped in 226 separate attacks that year.

Those risks are exactly why the UN commemorates World Humanitarian Day every year on August 19. On this day in 2003, terrorists attacked the UN headquarters in Baghdad, killing 22 aid workers. Among them were nine Iraqi citizens as well as the UN’s top representative in Iraq, Brazilian Sergio Vieira de Mello, the who formerly served as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Since the month of that attack, more than 4,500 aid workers have been killed, injured, detained, assaulted or kidnapped while on the job, the UN reports. In 2008, the UN officially named August 19 as World Humanitarian Day. Every year, the UN uses the occasion to advocate for the safety and security of humanitarian aid workers, as well as for the people humanitarians are helping in crises.

With this year’s focus on women, the UN will be telling the stories of 24 women humanitarians over the course of 24 hours. Most of these women are from the countries in which they work, making them among the humanitarians who face the highest risks.

The Humanitarian Outcomes report found that while national staff have always outnumbered international staff as victims of violence, they are now also experiencing higher fatality rates. This reflects how aid in high-risk areas is increasingly carried out by locals. When violent incidents occur, international staff are usually sent home. Meanwhile, local staff often stay to continue delivering aid in the world’s most dangerous places.

Women also face a higher risk of sexual assualt, robbery and other forms of violence, according to the UN. Sexual violence, in particular, is challenging – and critical – to tackle because it is “virtually the only type of violent threat to aid workers where perpetrators may be inside as well as outside the organization,” Humanitarian Outcomes reports.

Last year, revelations that Oxfam staff paid prostitutes for sex in 2011 set off an avalanche of stories about sexual harassment and abuse by aid workers in various organizations against both the people they were supposed to help as well as their colleagues. The movement has been dubbed #AidToo.

According to the Humanitarian Outcomes report, open and explicit conversations about consent, sexual misconduct and abuse don’t occur enough in aid orgnaizations because of “discomfort with the subject and gender dynamics within field teams.” This has also contributed to organizational cultures that are permissive of sexual harassment and misconduct, which discourage survivors from reporting incidents and increase the risk of even worse sexual violence.

That’s why the report calls on organizations to improve and increase reporting to better understand and address the problem. UK lawmakers in another report recently also called on governments to increase pressure on each other to end violence against humanitarian workers. Regardless of whether the threat is from perpetrators inside an aid organization or outside, aid workers, like the civilians they serve, have a right to safety and security under international law.

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War Crimes and Ethnic Cleansing Were Committed Against the Rohingya of Myanmar. They Deserve Justice. But How?

15. August 2019 - 16:59

In August 2017, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar fled across the border to Bangladesh. The Rohingya are a minority population that have long faced discrimination by the Buddhist Burmese majority. In the summer of 2017, things got very bad, very quickly.

A Rohingya militant group attacked some police outposts in Myanmar. The government and military responded by attacking Rohingya towns and villages, unleashing massive violence against a civilian population. This drove over 600,000 Rohingya to refugee camps in a region of Bangladesh known as Cox’s Bazar.

Some 700,000 Rohingya refugees remain there to this day.

The violence that drove these people from their home was certainly a crime against humanity — a UN official called it “a text book example of an ethnic cleansing.”  It could also have been a genocide.

That of course demands the question: who will pay for these crimes? What does accountability look like in a situation like this? And can perpetrators of these crimes even be brought to justice in the first place?

On the line with me to discuss these questions in the context of the current plight of the Rohingya refugees is Param-Preet Singh, Associate Director, International Justice Program of Human Rights Watch.

We kick off discussing the events of August 2017 before having a longer conversation about possible avenues for justice for these crimes.

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This episode pairs well with my conversation last week with former Obama administration official Ben Rhodes, who discusses the fall from grace of Aung San Suu Kyi, the nobel peace prize winner who was the de-facto head of state of Myanmar while these crimes against humanity occurred–and who remained a notably silent bystander to ethnic cleansing. 


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Map of the Day: Measles Outbreaks Around the World

13. August 2019 - 15:22

The World Health Organization released new measles surveillance data this week, and the outlook is not good. The data shows that there have been more measles cases worldwide in the first six months of 2019 than at anytime since 2006. Worse, there are nearly three times as many measles related deaths than at anytime since last year. Just today, Israeli press is reporting that a flight attendant died after contracting the illness on a flight from New York to Tel Aviv.

After years of global decline due to increased vaccine coverage, measles cases are in a rapid ascent.

The WHO says the largest outbreaks this year have been recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ukraine and Madagascar, though measles cases have declined sharply in Madagascar over the past few months because of a nationwide vaccination campaign.  Other major outbreaks include Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Philippines, South Sudan, Sudan and Thailand.

The United States has the highest number of measles cases in 25 years while Europe has had more reported measles cases in the first half of this year (90,000) than all of 2019.

Says the WHO

The largest outbreaks are in countries with low measles vaccination coverage, currently or in the past, which has left large numbers of people vulnerable to the disease. At the same time, protracted outbreaks are occurring even in countries with high national vaccination rates. This results from inequities in vaccine coverage, and gaps and disparities between communities, geographic areas, and among age-groups. When enough people who are not immune are exposed to measles, it can very quickly spread…

The reasons for people not being vaccinated vary significantly between communities and countries including —lack of access to quality healthcare or vaccination services, conflict and displacement, misinformation about vaccines, or low awareness about the need to vaccinate. In a number of countries, measles is spreading among older children, youth and adults who have missed out on vaccination in the past.

The actual numbers of cases – captured in global estimates released annually – are considerably higher than those reported through surveillance systems because of incompleteness of reporting. WHO estimates that globally fewer than 1 in 10 cases are reported; the completeness of reporting varies substantially by country. The latest year for which WHO global measles case and death estimates are available is 2017; in that year there were 6.7 million estimated measles cases and 110,000 estimated measles-related deaths, based on 173,330 reported cases. In 2018 there were 353,236 measles cases reported to WHO. Global case and death estimates for 2018 will be released by WHO in November 2019.

With the provisos described above, for the period of January 1 through July 31 2019, 182 countries reported 364,808 measles cases to WHO. For this same period last year, 129,239 measles cases were reported from 181 countries. For the current 2019 period, the WHO African Region has recorded a 900% (i.e. a 10-fold increase) increase, the European Region 120% (more than twofold increase), the Eastern Mediterranean Region 50% (1.5 fold increase), the Western Pacific Region 230% (a threefold increase); the South-East Asia Region and the Region of the Americas each saw a 15% decrease in reported cases.

Full report. 


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Remembering the Yazidi Genocide, Five Years On

12. August 2019 - 16:01

In the summer of 2014, ISIS forces swept through parts of Iraq that were home to the Yazidi people. This is an ethnic minority that has lived in northwestern Iraq for centuries — and suddenly they were under attack.  What transpired was a genocide. Men and boys were murdered for being Yazidi; women and girls were kidnapped and taken as sex slaves for ISIS fighters.

At the time, Emma Beals was reporting from Erbil, a city in the Kurdish region of Iraq near to where these atrocities were taking place. She was reeling from the news that a fellow journalist, James Foley, had been brutally murdered when she received a call from a human rights organization asking her to investigate rumors of a massacre in the Yazidi town of Kocho.

Emma Beals describes whats next in a series of powerful essays, titled Kocho’s Living Ghosts. There were 19 surviving men from the town’s original population of 1,888. In our conversation Emma Beals recounts the massacre through the testimony of the survivors she interviewed.


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