SOCIAL WATCH E-NEWSLETTER - Issue 32 - April 15, 2011

Issue 32 - April 15, 2011

Climate: Big Emitters Are Not Willing to Compromise

Lim Li Lin, TWN (Photo: IISD)
Developing countries and civil society organisations, such as the Third World Network (TWN), accused the rich nations to avoid a compromise in the most recent UN climate talks, that took place in Bangkok.
Read more


 “Women Factor” Moves Forward in the EU
Eurostep’s director, Simon Stocker, said his organisation “hopes” that the inclusion of the “women factor” in all of the European Union’s programmes and projects “will be fully reflected in the European Commission’s proposals to modernize EU development policy”. Stocker made this statement after a meeting between EU officials and the executive director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet.
Read more

The truth about Canada’s Afghan training mission
Last November, Prime Minister Stephen Harper extended Canada’s mission in Afghanistan by three years without a debate in Parliament. His explanation: “When we’re talking simply about technical or training missions, I think that is something the executive can do on its own.” But the first four Canadian deaths in Afghanistan occurred in 2002, when a training exercise attracted “friendly fire” from an American F-16 fighter jet, warned Michael Byers and Stewart Webb in a new report published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, focal point of Social Watch in the North American country, and the Rideau Institute.
Read more

Bloody Unrest in Yemen
The clashes between security forces and participant in the protests that has been wracked Yemen since Feb. 11 took a toll of at least 120 people so far. The Human Rights Information and Training Center (HRTC), Social Watch’s focal point in that country, has claimed for an end of this situation since it began, and warned of gross abuses by the police and the military.
Read more

Tanzania: Civil Society Asks for Time to Discuss Constitutional Amendments
Tanzanian government should give the people more time for the current constitutional review process, warned the Southern African Human Rights NGO Network (SAHRINGON) national branch, also focal point of Social Watch in this country. The police fired tear gas last week near the Parliament venue, when students tried to participate in a public hearing.
Read more

Palestine: Union Offices Ransacked
Unknown assailants broke into the offices of the union of agricultural work committees in Ramallah on Tuesday at dawn, stealing servers and computers and ransacking files.

The Palestinian non-governmental network (PNGO, focal point of Social Watch in the occupied territories) called for a serious and open investigation into the incident.

Noting previous raids in which non governmental organizations' data was stolen, the network called the seizure of the union's private database "a new beginning in targeting national organizations."

Carrying out investigations in secret would only encourage more vandalism, the network said.

Source: Ma’an News



Developed nations blamed for failure to agree on climate talks agenda

A group of NGOs condemned on Friday 8 developed countries for selecting in a UN conference in Bangkok some agendas that would benefit only their interests, ignoring what should actually be done to save the planet from climate change.

"We are struggling against the agendas that have been already set by the developed countries. If we have a very narrow agenda, we'll have a weak agreement in Durban," said Lim Li Lin from the Third World Network (TWN) in Bangkok.

The Seventeenth Conference of the Parties (COP 17) of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held in December in Durban, South Africa. Lim said the agenda only reflects interests of the "rich developed countries."

"It is really sick to close down the entire Bali Action Plan and instead selectively selected some elements of the Cancun agreement for the discussion this year," Lim said.

The Bali Roadmap, including the Bali Action Plan, was adopted by the participating nations to the UN climate change meeting in Bali, Indonesia in 2007. The action plan includes the Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention negotiations, the launch of the adaptation fund, the scope and content of the Kyoto Protocol, as well as decisions on technology transfer and on reducing emissions from deforestation.

"Among other things, they want to shut down negotiations to avoid discussing the adequacy and comparability of their efforts," the report says.

“We've come to a crossroads now in the negotations, and it is really time for us to agree once and for all in which direction we're going,' said Lin.

At that December conference in Bangkok, delegates signed off on a goal to limit warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. But even the 2-degree goal will seriously alter the environment for the worse, warned Lin.

The U.S. has chosen to “domestically determine what they’re politically prepared to do, not what science has determined,” Lin said. “It will have catastrophic impacts on our planet and humanity.”

Developing world delegates in Bangkok warned that, though the U.S. has produced the most planet-warming pollutants, poorer nations will bear the extreme weather, flooded coasts and crop losses brought on by global warming.

“It’s insane,” said Bolivia’s U.N. Ambassador Pablo Solon. “We have such a challenge facing climate change and we’re losing time.”

Grenada ambassador Dessima Williams, speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States, said they “expect the road to Durban to involve discussion of difficult issues. Nothing should be off the table, nothing should be too sensitive.”

She emphasised that “none of us want South Africa to be the burial ground of the Kyoto Protocol”.

Japan and Russia reiterated in Bangkok that they would agree to a “second commitment period” under Kyoto, although both countries said they would be willing to consider participating in a wider global deal involving major developing countries, such as China and India.

The US position is more negative: not only will it never sign up for a “Kyoto mark 2”, but it doesn’t even see the need for a binding international agreement.

Chief EU negotiator Artur Runge-Metzger said Europe could not deal with climate change on its own. “Ideally, we would like a single legal framework, but it looks as if that’s impossible. So we want other countries to do something, whether under Kyoto or some other way.”

"We know what scientists tell us to do; we know that we have to at least make an effort to save the planet. Instead, the developed countries just say let's have conversation of what is around the wheel. I'm sorry but that's not good enough," Asad Rehman, from Friends of the Earth said.

Source: Xinhua, The Irish Times, Global Post, dpa



Development Commissioner stresses importance of women’s empowerment

In a series of meetings held between EU officials and the executive director of the recently established UN Women’s Body, Michelle Bachelet, European Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs stressed the importance of further strengthening women’s empowerment and gender equality on the ground.

To this end, he was planning to include the “women factor” in all of the EU’s development programmes and projects, Piebalgs announced.

“Without women's empowerment, there will be no development and exit from poverty. Women are the agents of change. This is why I will make women's empowerment one of the priorities of the Development policy”, the EU’s development commissioner noted in a joint press conference with Michelle Bachelet.

“Any project we conduct be it in agriculture, education or health should make sure it reaches women and empower them to further actions”, Piebalgs continued.

In order to further strengthen the role of women in the EU’s development policy approach, the respective policies should be implemented through the EU Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development, adopted in 2010, he noted.

The joint action plan of the Council and Commission calls for a three-fold approach, combining political and policy dialogue, gender mainstreaming and targeted actions.

Piebalgs also stressed the need to step up the EU’s financial support to the UN Women body. “I am convinced that if we combine EU resources and presence in the world with UN Women expertise and networks, we have a good chance to make a difference and to reach the Millennium Development Goals related to women — notably Maternal Health and Child mortality”, he concluded.

In a reaction to Andris Piebalgs’ announcement, Eurostep’s Director Simon Stocker stated: “Eurostep hopes these ideas and intentions will be fully reflected in the Commission’s proposals to modernize EU development policy. The question of gender inequality, and the crucial role of women in development were not particularly prominent in the green paper on “EU development policy in support of inclusive growth and sustainable development — Increasing the impact of EU development policy” published by the Commission last year”.

More information:
Andris Piebalgs’ statement
Adris Piebalgs’ blog

Source: Eurostep



Canada: Afghan training mission has high risk of casualties

The Canadian government’s plan to extend the military mission in Afghanistan deserves a public debate, argues a new report published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Rideau Institute.

Analysts Michael Byers and Stuart Webb determine that the new training mission, first proposed by the Liberals then adopted by the Conservatives, poses many dangers to Canadian soldiers:

* All military operations carry inherent risks of accidents and “friendly-fire”;
Recruitment and training centres have repeatedly been targeted for attacks by insurgents;

* Canadian soldiers may be expected to provide security perimeters around their bases, exposing them to attack;

* Training will likely require operations in the field, “outside the wire,” where a training mission could quickly turn into actual combat with insurgents;

* And most alarmingly, insurgents have already infiltrated the ranks of recruits for the Afghan National Army, and have turned their guns on foreign military trainers inside training facilities.

The report concludes that despite Prime Minister Harper’s stated intention of ensuring a “safer” mission for the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, numerous Canadian soldiers will likely be killed or permanently injured, and the mission will ultimately not be successful.

“Although they won’t admit it, most Western governments have already given up on the country,” said co-author Michael Byers. “The training mission is clearly an exit strategy that will cost more Canadians their lives.”

The authors worry that the election has pre-empted a proper public discussion of the mission. “Canadians need to be made aware of the risks of this mission,” added co-author Stewart Webb.

Read an article about the report published in Globe and Mail daily.

Read the complete report

Source: CCPA



Yemen: HRITC calls to stop violations and crimes against protests

Yemeni security forces clashed with thousands of protesters who hurled rocks and burned tires in the southern port city of Aden on Wednesday, killing at least one person as demonstrations swelled in the capital, according to Associate Press news agency (AP).

Yemen has been wracked by protests since mid-February demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh resign because of the country's lack of freedoms and extreme poverty. More than 120 people have been killed since the uprising began on Feb. 11, inspired by popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, recalled AP.

The army and anti-riot police, backed with tanks and artillery, fired live ammunition and tear gas in Aden, according to eyewitnesses consulted by the news agency. Medical officials said one person was killed and seven wounded.

Human Rights Information and Training Center (HRITC) warns since the beginning of the popular revolts of gross violations and cases of illegal detention against anti-government protesters including wounded protesters. HRITC fears that most of those arrested are unknown, because no one report their disappearance.
Police opened fire above the heads of protesters and used batons to disperse the crowds in a peaceful march in Taiz, on Apr. 3. Some 1,600 people suffered injuries then and one was killed by live rounds and tear gas used by the police to disperse the protests, according to HRITC. The security forces arrested 35 protesters.
Also 300 people were injured in Alhodiaida city in clashes with the police when protesters went on peaceful march of solidarity with those in in Taiz. HRITC called all the local, regional and international human rights organizations to condemn these crimes as well as to support protesters to exercise their right to express their views and aspirations for a decent life in their country.
HRITC also demanded to put pressure on the Yemeni authorities to stop the violations and abuses against participants in the peaceful protests in various provinces and hold those responsible accountable.

Sources: HRITC and AP.



“Give Public More Time for Views on Bill”

The Southern African Human Rights NGO Network (SAHRINGON) Tanzania branch urged the government to provide more time for collecting views on the constitutional review bill, instead of the set three days, reported The Guardian newspaper this Thursday.

SAHRINGON national coordinator, Martina Kabisama told reporters in her office this Wednesday that the three days were not enough for Tanzanian society to contribute their views on the bill throughout the country.

"We are shocked and stressed by the move. It seems to be deliberate to deny the public opportunity to offer meaningful contribution,” she said.

Last week police fired tear gas to disperse residents and students in Dodoma seeking to enter parliament grounds where a public hearing was going on at Msekwa Hall, while in Dar es Salaam hearing was cancelled after intermittent chanting which disrupted airing of views.

The draft bill, according to clarification issued recently in the House by the Minister of Constitutional Affairs and Justice Celina Kombani, seeks to kick-start constitution review process and not for enacting the country’s constitution.

She said public hearings, conducted simultaneously in Dodoma, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar and coordinated by the Parliamentary Committee on Constitution, Justice and Good Governance, have been designed to allow general public and other stakeholders contribute their opinions on the whole process of “kick-starting” the constitution review process, as outlined in the proposed Bill.

In another development, a Constitutional Platform composed by 20 Tanzanian civil society organisations has raised concern over the shortfalls revealed during public hearings on the Bill for Constitutional Review, calling on parliamentarians not to pass it, reported this Thursday The Guardian newspaper.

Acting chairman of the Constitutional Platform Israel Ilunde told journalists in Dar es Salaam that “the public hearing that never was” was marred by inconveniences, souring the process.

An amendment must be “a public property that should fully involve the citizens from the onset and must have broader views of stakeholders for the betterment of future generations,” said Ilunde.

The Platform is dissatisfied and dismayed by the choice of venues pointing out that it was a deliberate move to cut off the public from presenting their views on a matter that is relevant to the present and future generations, according with the activist.

He said: “It beats any logic how Karimjee Hall in Dar es Salaam (venue of the government) and Msekwa hall in Dodoma (the Parliament) designed to hold less than 500 people could accommodate the general public after running series of advertisements in newspapers.”

Ilunde said the Platform also criticised the short notice given by the Parliamentary Committee on the Constitution saying: “It caught the majority off-guard, denying them the opportunity to participate in the debate.”

Similarly, the Platform pointed to the chaos and hecklings witnessed during the public hearings, attributing the trend to lack of preparedness on the part of the Parliamentary committee.

“Even the process to kick-start the constitution review must be all-inclusive. Why block people’s contributions to a process towards the constitutional review process?” queried Ilunde.

Ilunde stressed the need to avoid rushing the process, if the country wanted to formulate a constitution that reflected the will of the people.

According to him, future constitutional review process should be conducted in a peaceful atmosphere where the majority of the people are given opportunity to air their views without external intimidations or political influence.

Source: Article by Edwin Agola (The Guardian)




Social Watch >>
Social Watch E-Newsletter
For comments, sugestions, collaborations contact us at:
To stop receiving this newsletter send a message with the subject "unsubscribe" to:
Made possible thanks to the funding and support of the European Union and Oxfam Novib.
The international secretariat of Social Watch also receives funding and support from the Coalition of the Flemish North South Movement - 11.11.11.
The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Social Watch and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union, Oxfam Novib and the Coalition of the Flemish North South Movement - 11.11.11.