The Global Citizen
We give thanks on Thanksgiving, take advantage of deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday - on #GivingTuesday, we generously give back to the world. We cannot be thankful enough or give enough. So, here's why I am thankful:
I'm thankful to live in a time and place where food is abundant and we can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables year-round.
Let us find a way to wisely share our bounty with the almost billion people worldwide who go to sleep hungry and the 19 million children who suffer from acute malnutrition, which kills 3.5 million a year.
I give thanks for shelter that is warm and accessible.
Two days before the close of the COP19 climate conference in Warsaw, hundreds of climate activists left the conference prematurely to protest the lack of progress. This walk-out and the otherwise dismal effort in negotiating a new comprehensive treaty beg the question of how the process could be fundamentally improved.
The UN's framework convention on climate change, adopted in 1992, declares that change in the Earth's climate and its adverse effects are "a common concern of humankind." Yet this overarching perspective is barely represented in the formal UN process. The mission and primary concern of most country negotiators is to pursue vested governmental interests, some of which might not have to do with climate policy at all.
Another flaw in the process is the requirement of consensus agreements rather than majority voting, which places a heavy strain on negotiators to satisfy all involved parties. The Copenhagen Accord of 2009 couldn't be formally adopted because of the opposition of five small countries. That this minority was able to embarrass the main negotiators sparked suggestions that an agreement might be sought outside the UN framework.
The Oxford Research Group has reported that 11,420 children have been killed in the ongoing Syrian civil war. This number is absolutely staggering and yet represents only 10 percent of the estimated 100,000 fatal casualties of the war.
One of the major struggles that criminal justice systems all over the world face is equal application of the law and successfully prosecuting crimes of the powerful. Another is going beyond the mere processing of cases and adequately addressing the rights of victims. Both of these issues come into play at the Assembly of State Parties (ASP), which is currently meeting in The Hague for its 12th Assembly.
The ASP is responsible for the oversight and management of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Kenya features prominently in this year's discussion, due to the government's attempts to seek impunity for President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto. Both are facing charges of crimes against humanity for their role in the 2007 post-election violence.
That is the outcome of Sunday's negotiations between Iran and six global powers this past week. During this hiatus, Iran will not enrich uranium past 20% which is the threshold that makes the process of accumulating fuel for a weapon much faster. It also will not produce any more centrifuges, its stockpiles of uranium shall not exceed 7,154 kg (its current stockpile), and any uranium enriched to 20% or more must be diluted or converted below 5%. These stipulations are intended to freeze any progress and provide oversight on their nuclear program, ensuring that any attempt to pursue a nuclear weapon would be promptly detected.
When in his Nobel Peace Prize address (1974), Sean MacBride (1904-1988) cited torture along with the development and acceptance of indiscriminate nuclear weapons, the use of chemical weapons, and political assassination as signs of a "near total collapse of public and private morality in practically every sector of human relationship", he stressed his central theme: the necessity of nongovernmental actions to ensure survival.
Although MacBride had served as the Irish Foreign Minister from 1948 to 1951 and played an important role in the creation of the Council of Europe, it was as a non-governmental organization leader that he made his full mark: as an early chair of the Amnesty International Executive Committee (1961-1974), as Secretary General of the International Commission of Jurists (1963-1970) and as chair of the International Peace Bureau. It was in his efforts to highlight the wide use of torture that we started to work together in Geneva. He denounced torture techniques "that make the medieval thumb screw and rack look like children's toys".
He was particularly critical of torture and violence against women. He had been largely raised by his mother, the actress and Irish nationalist Maud Gonne. His father, John MacBride was hanged by the British for his participation in the 1916 Easter uprising when Sean was 12. Violence against women was doubly unjust: because it was violence and because women were to be respected.
Time is running out for countries to forge a new global agreement to address climate change. The intent of the COP19, this year’s meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw, Poland, was to lay the foundation of a new agreement. The hope was that then, world leaders would commit to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at a UN Climate Summit in 2014 in New York, with climate accords signed in Paris in 2015 – to come into force by 2020.
However, hundreds of activist walked out of COP19 to protest a lack of progress. The walkout was organized by groups such as Greenpeace, Oxfam, 350.org, the International Trade Union Confederation, ActionAid International, WWF and Friends of the Earth. Here's a Democracy Now report on the walkout:
Their action followed a walk out by a group of 133 developing nations from an important negotiation. The issue at the core of this controversy is centered on how much responsibility nations that have emitted the most greenhouse gas should have to compensate developing nations that are receiving the brunt of damage from climate induced extreme weather.
On Thursday, November 21st, Global Solutions staff will be live-tweeting from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's second hearing on U.S. ratification of the Disability Treaty. Secretary of State John Kerry will be testifying on the importance of U.S. leadership, as will a number of other panelists - for and against the treaty. Follow the testimony, submit questions or re-tweet our posts by following our Twitter profile @GlobalSolutions.
GlobalSolutions members have been calling their Senators this month to voice their support for U.S. ratification of the Disability Treaty -- and your calls are working! For the first time, our friends on the Committee are telling us that calls from supporters are outnumbering those from opponents. But we can be certain that this will continue. Your calls are more important than ever, as opponents will once again push the Big Lie that derailed ratification in 2012. If you have not yet shared your support, call your Senators' office today and let them know that, as a constituent, this is important to you.
Our CEO, Don Kraus, shared with the Committee's chairman, Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Ranking Member, Bob Corker (R-TN) how important U.S. leadership on the Treaty really is:
The talks about Iran's nuclear program started up again today in Geneva. Britain and Russia seem optimistic that a deal that will work for all parties will be reached, but the United State and France remain skeptical about whether Iran truly wants nuclear energy or actually desires nuclear weapons. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has been insisting that Iran is not to be trusted, the negotiating table should be abandoned, and sanction should be increased.
Ayatollah Khamenei told hardliners in Tehran that Iran will not give up its right to peaceful applications of nuclear energy. He claimed that Iran wants peaceful relations with all countries but heavily criticized Netanyahu, France and the U.S. for being overly cautious and unwilling to believe the Iranian government. President Obama said it was not clear whether the negotiation will bear any results at this point in time. U.S. lawmakers have been urging the administration to take a tougher line with Iran, agreeing with Netanyahu that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons and presents a threat to the region.
A UN report states that, since President Rouhani took office this year, Iran has stopped uranium enrichment and has not added any more components to the Arak reactor. This may indicate that Iran genuinely wants to come to an agreement to end sanctions, but keep a nuclear energy program in place.
The international community is scrambling to deliver emergency aid to cyclone-devastated areas of the Philippines. The United States’ response to the crisis is strong and welcomed. However, antiquated policies are hampering efforts to get food to starving storm victims.
Congress is currently debating reforming food aid as part of the Farm bill. An NRP story explains how limited funds are being used to purchase food locally in the Philippines. But this fund, which also is helping to deliver food to war-torn Syria, is shrinking fast and U.S. law requires that the vast majority of food aid must be in the form of crops grown and shipped from the U.S. A 2008 pilot program for the local purchase of food items showed that we could provide aid at half the cost and delivery time in both emergency and non-emergency settings.
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