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ILO: "The Case for Social Security Protection is Compelling in Our Times"

international labour organization

Only 27 percent of the world’s population had access to a comprehensive social security system in 2012. This is according to the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) newly released “World Social Protection Report 2014-15: Building economic recovery, inclusive development and social justice.”

To put in perspective, that means that 5.2 billion people, nearly three quarters of the world, lack adequate access to social protections such as health care coverage, injury and disability pay, sick time, and pensions in old age. In the report, the ILO outlines the ongoing need for such protections, particularly in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

In the immediate aftermath of the crisis, many governments instituted fiscal stimulus plans in order to counteract what was quickly becoming a depression. Unfortunately, in 2010 a new mood of austerity began to sweep the globe (ILO, p. 119-120). Far from alleviating the problem, these policies actually impeded recovery.

Consider, for example, that the number of individuals at risk of poverty in the European Union increased from 116 million in 2008 to 123 million in 2012; this includes an additional 800,000 at-risk children (ILO, p. 136). Moreover, the fact that 116 million people in the European Union—more than 20 percent of its population—were facing poverty even before the financial crisis speaks profoundly to the intense and persistent need to protect and enhance social security systems.

The New UN Peacekeeping Mandate in South Sudan: What Does it All Mean?

The United Nations is now warning of a potential famine in South Sudan. Though South Sudan had agreed to ceasefires in January and again in early May, they did not last. The UN had to act quickly because with the surges of violence, there has been an increase in secondary deaths due to starvation and disease. The conflict has heavily interrupted the crop-growing season by displacing farmers, and the UN estimates that if the violence does not stop, famine will ensue.

On May 27th the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2155, which renews the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), but makes some important amendments. From this resolution, a civilian protection mandate was added to address the growing humanitarian and security needs. This stems from un-subsiding violence that broke out in December when President Salva Kiir fired his rival Riek Machar from the deputy president position. This event fueled underlying ethnic tensions between the Dinka who support Kiir and the Nuer who support Machar.

This action of civilian protection from the UN is a huge step in the right direction with regards to UN involvement in conflicts. The UN has a record of not taking appropriate action quickly enough, most notably in Rwanda in 1994; hopefully this is a sign of changes to come.

On the 70th Anniversary of D-Day

Navy Seaman poses next to peace mural on the Normandy Coast

Today on this 70th anniversary of D-Day, we pay tribute to those who served and those who sacrificed their lives. We remember, in the words of President Obama speaking on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, “the more than 150,000 souls set off towards this tiny sliver of sand upon which hung more than the fate of a war, but the course of human history.”  He said, “These men waged war so that we might know peace. They sacrificed so that we might be free. They fought in hopes of a day when we'd no longer need to.”

This was the hope and vision of so many veterans who returned from WWII. A world where the law of force was supplanted by the force of law.  Today we not only honor those who fell, but those who came home and said, “We must never do that again” and worked for world peace through world law.  

I think of men like Hamilton Kean, who served in a tank in the war, and whom we will honor with the Global Citizens award in a few weeks at our annual conference. Ham has committed his life to education and advocacy for a world in which nations work together to abolish war, protect our rights and freedoms, and solve the problems facing humanity that no nation can solve alone.

I think of men like Ben Ferencz, who liberated Nazi concentration camps, returned to Europe as a prosecutor in the Nuremberg tribunals and then went on to successfully  work for the creation of the International Criminal Court. Ben is an inspiration for so many.

I remember my dad, Bob Kraus, who served in the Army Air Corp and would have been 93 today.  I thank him for his vision of a peaceful world that helped to shape my path and mission.

Leading by Example

Chinese woman wears mask to avoid inhaling the contaminated air

Opinions on climate change have thundered across the media since President Obama's announcement to set a national standard for power plants and the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) they emit. Opponents of action on climate change portray the plan as a tax on Americans, while supporters praise the action as a step forward, but also warn that more is needed. 

 

Well, Obama aims to accomplish a lot more on the global stage.

On May 28 the President gave the commencement speech at West Point that acted as a comprehensive outline of his administration’s national security policy. One key message Obama conveyed was that “American influence is always stronger when we lead by example.” He continued to criticize political leaders that deny climate change.

The Holy See and the United Nations: Sovereignty vs. Rights

For months an ongoing battle has emerged in world headlines as the Vatican, the center of the Catholic faith, has been embroiled in an ongoing investigation from the UN’s watchdog agency on torture.

The reason for the UN’s involvement is the Holy See’s membership to the Convention against Torture (CAT), which a sustained global campaign from victim advocacy groups say is being violated by the Vatican’s past and present actions in dealing with victims of child abuse.

According to the Vatican the United Nations Committee against Torture, which oversees the implementation of CAT, has recently found the Holy See not to be in violation of the treaty. However, the CAT Committee refuted this interpretation, with Felice D Gaer CAT’s American vice-chair stating, “we don't use the word 'violation'; others do. But it's quite clear [the Vatican is] not in conformity with the requirements of the convention."

This case set a new precedent ,as Al-Jazeera reports, “it was the first time the Vatican had been scrutinized since it signed up in 2002 to a global convention banning cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment.”

To give context to the situation, consider that over 848 priests have been defrocked and another 2,572 given lesser sanctions over the past decade, according to Fox. As with many abuse-related crimes, only a tiny percentage are ever reported, let alone prosecuted.

Obama's Step Forward in Combating Climate Change

82% from Carbon Dioxide emissions, 3% from fluorinated gasses, 9% fro methane, and 6% from nitrous oxide

Monday marked a very significant day for environmentalists, with the EPA unveiling a sweeping new set of regulations designed to reduce carbon emissions nationwide. The proposal, which has yet to be implemented, lays out a formal plan for cutting carbon emission levels by 30% by 2030. It assigns target pollution goals for each state, while giving each state a variety of options to achieve them, including but not limited to shutting down some of its power plants, installing forms of efficient alternative energy, and joining cap-and-trade programs which would create a maximum cap on pollution and a market to buy and sell pollution permits.

The new proposal has not been without its share of criticism, however. Many who live in states where coal mining is a major industry have harshly criticized the regulations, calling them “job killers” that will inevitably lead to the economy’s demise. They claim that such regulations will prove harmful to the average person, as the regulations are predicted to raise the cost of electricity, albeit by less than a single percentage point.

Furthermore, some Republicans have become increasingly defiant, stating that they will simply not enforce the new regulations if they are passed. Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana has actively denounced the bill, claiming that he would oppose the proposed rules and instead look for more practical solutions that would not entail cutting any jobs. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is expected to follow suit, which seems logical given his track record in Texas for refusing to put into place any pollution compliance laws related to climate change.

Thank You

Staff and interns of GlobalSolutions.org working for you

Being approached by someone who is asking for “just a moment of your time” while you’re walking down the sidewalk is always very off-putting. Most people will just continue walking. This is not because they don’t care, but rather because they are sick of being asked for money.

However, monetary donations, especially recurring ones (monthly, for example), are the only fuel for membership organizations such as GlobalSolutions.org. There are many factors that go into making non-profit organizations successful, and much of it comes from members and donors investing in it. The reason that largely successful membership NGOs got to be as big as they are is due to support of the people.

At GlobalSolutions.org, we greatly appreciate any and all donation amounts we receive, and we use that to further the interests and values of globally minded Americans. Donations allow us to host events, like our 2014 Annual Conference that brings together members to lobby and build our global voices. Contributions support the release of reports, such as Birth of a Big Lie,  which exposed misinformation used to block the Disability Treaty. Further, they help us hold meetings with like-minded political advocates that share our vision, such as meetings of treaty proponents to support our Stop the War on International Law campaign.

How to Invest Your Life in Saving Humanity

In the Czech Republic lives a 17-year-old civic-minded student named Vojtěch. His teacher Doug describes him as a prodigy and “by far the most gifted and extraordinary natural student leader that I have ever had the pleasure to meet,” claiming he has the makings of a transformative leader.

However, Vojtěch, like most humanitarians at one point or another, questions whether or not he actually has the ability to make a difference in the world.

Doug recently asked Vojtěch, “If you could save the world, would you?” He immediately replied, "Yes, absolutely, but where should I start?"

For Vojtěch’s  birthday this year, Doug sought to help him answer this question by collecting letters from 18 different leading social and humanitarian advocates around the world. He contacted organizations such as the World Policy Institute, the National Coalition for the Homeless,  the Nonviolent Peace Force, and GlobalSolutions.org, asking participants to complete the following statement: "If I were you and wanted to invest my life in saving humanity, I would…"

As you may expect, he received a wide range of responses with many different suggestions on what sorts of problems to tackle.  All of the messages to Vojtěch are available for you to read, but  here are a few excerpts:

GlobalSolutions.org’s President and CEO Don Kraus says,

29 May: UN "Blue Helmets" Day

United Nations Peacekeeper With Child in Lebanon

How effective are UN peacekeeping operations in preventing and stopping violence? What about in addressing the root causes of conflicts? How does one measure this effectiveness? Are there alternatives to the ways that UN and regional organizations currently carry out peacekeeping operations?

29 May is the date that the UN General Assembly has designated as the day to honor the efforts of UN Military peacekeepers. Honor is due. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the “Blue Helmets” in 1988 − a testimony to the respect and confidence placed in them.

However, we must also examine their effectiveness and question whether these military personnel should be complemented by other forms of peace-building.

There have been recent news stories of UN peace operations in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo that highlight the inability or unwillingness of UN troops to stop the systematic rape of local women.  Rape has become standard practice in the area, on the part of both members of the armed insurgencies as well as by members of the regular Congolese Army. This is just one example of “failure” being a key word in evaluating UN forces.

One problem is that there are no permanent UN-trained and -motivated troops. There are only national units loaned by some national governments but paid for by all UN Member States. Each government trains its army in its own spirit and values, though there is still an original English ethos as many UN troops come from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Nigeria. Now China is starting to provide troops with a non-English tradition.

60 Years Young and 20 Years of Service

(Photo: GlobalSolutions.org)

Counting his birthdays by the number of friends, not years, friends and colleagues of Global Solutions' "head cook and chief bottle washer" Don Kraus celebrated his 60th birthday and 20 years of service to the organization this past week.

The backyard patio at the national headquarters was filled with friends and supporters whom Don has worked with over the years. The event includes food, wine, music and great company.

Formerly a paper distribution business owner, Don came to Washington in the early 1990s after deciding he much preferred "selling peace to selling paper." Over the last twenty years, his role with the organization changed and he has been quick to evolve right along with the opportunities presented.

He was the Partners Program director for Global Solutions' predecessor organization the World Federalist Association, before moving sideways and up to take on the CEO mantle at its sister organization, the Campaign for UN Reform. He returned "home" in 2004 when the two organizations merged to form Citizens for Global Solutions, becoming the new organization's first Executive Vice President. In the summer of 2008, he stepped up to his current role as President & CEO of Global Solutions.

Don shared his thoughts at being with Global Solutions for so long.