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Global Solutions is off to the races - You can help

Want to know where your lawmakers stand on global issues?  As the 2010 midterm elections approach, GlobalSolutions.org is rolling out our 2010 Congressional Report Card.  This report "grades" members of the Senate and House of Representatives on their record of support for CGS legislative priorities over the past several years, as well as highlighting additional work certain members of Congress have undertaken which has helped to advance the goals of CGS.  It is the only publication that rates Congress based on their global votes.

The 2010 Congressional Report Card focuses on ten Senate and eleven House rollcall votes which took place between 2007 and 2009 on issues which are of particular importance to CGS and its supporters.  These votes cover topics such as providing appropriate levels of funding for international and multilateral organizations; addressing climate change; prohibiting torture; and ensuring protection of human rights around the globe.  Each member of Congress was given a grade between an A+ and an F based on how frequently their votes aligned with CGS's positions on these issues.

Additionally, since not all the hard work of members of Congress is revealed solely through their records on roll call votes, CGS invited House and Senate offices to apply for "extra credit" by telling us about other work they have done on these and other issues that are CGS priorities.  This extra credit might come from making floor speeches, sponsoring legislation, or publishing op-eds on issues important to CGS.  Lawmakers must earn extra credit in order to receive the highest grade of A+.

Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Begins Monday - There is still time to sign the petition!

Monday May 3 will mark the beginning of the 8th Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, and 189 governments party to the treaty and hundreds of NGOs will flock to New York to discuss our world's greatest security concern - nuclear weapons. The stakes are high, with issues such as demands of disarmament and Iranian development of nuclear weapons topping the agenda. The last review conference, held five years ago, was such an abysmal failure that the pressure is strong on all parties to reach agreement on the many controversial issues.

Yesterday UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wrote an op-ed in the New York Times laying out the urgency of the Review Conference and some of the top considerations for the agenda. While stressing the importance of holding realistic expectations, Ban Ki-moon asserted that the opportunities presented by Review Conference must not fall by the wayside, especially on the topics of disarmament, non-proliferation, a nuclear weapons free-zone in the Middle East, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

In particular, Ban Ki-moon focused on the need for a serious and thorough consideration of disarmament. "The Earth's very future leaves us no alternative but to pursue disarmament," he said. "And there is little prospect of that without global cooperation."

If the Review Conference does not address the issue of disarmament, it is sacrificing an opportunity to start taking the necessary steps to make the world safer. The very real possibility of nuclear terrorism - highlighted in President Obama's recent Security Summit- reinforces the widespread relevance of the issue and underscores the necessity of international cooperation. "Nuclear terrorism is not a Hollywood fantasy," wrote Ban Ki-Moon. "It can happen."

UPDATE: S. 1067: LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 passes House Committee on Foreign Affairs

A step in the right direction!

On April 28, 2010, the members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs voted by voice vote on S. 1067 the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009. A voice vote is a voting method used by the U.S. House of Representatives in which a vote is taken on legislation by responding verbally. The decision is made by the chair, although it can be challenged.

The bill is summarized here by the Congressional Research Service:

Directs the President to submit to the appropriate congressional committees a regional strategy to guide U.S. support for multilateral efforts to eliminate the threat to civilians and regional stability posed by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and to enforce the rule of law and ensure full humanitarian access in LRA-affected areas. Authorizes the President to provide assistance to respond to the humanitarian needs of populations in northeastern Congo, southern Sudan, and Central African Republic affected by LRA activity. Expresses the sense of Congress that the Secretary of State and Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) should work with the appropriate congressional committees to increase future assistance to Uganda if the government of Uganda demonstrates a commitment to reconstruction in war-affected areas of northern and eastern Uganda. Expresses the sense of Congress that the President should support efforts by the people of northern Uganda and the government of Uganda to: (1) promote local and national reconciliation including mechanisms outlined in the Annexure to the Agreement on Accountability and Reconciliation between the government of Uganda and the LRA; and (2) assist internally displaced people, establish mechanisms for the demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, and enhance the competency of local institutions including the police.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference: Sign a Petition Calling on President Obama to Take Action

"I state with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." ~President Obama, Prague Nuclear Security Speech, April 2009

The existence of nuclear weapons remains the greatest threat to life on earth.  Sign the petition and call on President Obama to make good on the commitment he declared in Prague one year ago.  Call on President Obama to initiate talks on an international agreement to eliminate nuclear weapons. Call on President Obama to work with international leaders to abolish nuclear weapons – within our lifetimes.

You can be a part of the over 5 million signatures that will be delivered to the White House and the United Nations in early May to coincide with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in New York.  Click here to Sign the Petition Now.

In 1970, the NPT was created to halt the spread of nuclear weapons. But it is unequipped to deal with 21st century challenges, and the NPT alone cannot bring about a world free of nuclear weapons. The 8th Review Conference of the NPT (May 3-28, 2010) provides a key forum to initiate good faith talks on disarmament, and it is an opportunity for President Obama to publicly restate his commitment to work toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons must be eliminated to ensure a safer future for generations to come. Unite with more than five million voices and urge President Obama to begin multilateral talks on an international agreement to abolish nuclear weapons.

More on the 2010 NPT Review Conference:

CGS's 2010 Congressional Report Card Is Here!

As the congressional campaign season gets rolling, GlobalSolutions.org is pleased to announce the release of our 2010 Congressional Report Card.  This report "grades" members of the Senate and House of Representatives on their record of support for CGS legislative priorities over the past several years, as well as highlighting additional work certain members of Congress have undertaken which has helped to advance the goals of CGS.  You can read the entire Report Card online by clicking here, as well as clicking on state-by-state links to quickly find the scores of your own Senators and House member.

The Report Card focuses on 10 votes in the Senate and 11 in the House of Representatives occurring between 2007 and 2009 on issues of particular importance to CGS and its supporters.  These votes cover topics such as providing appropriate levels of funding for international and multilateral organizations; addressing climate change; prohibiting torture; and ensuring protection of human rights around the globe.  Just like school, each member of Congress was given a grade between an F and an A+ based on how frequently their votes aligned with CGS's positions on these issues.

Additionally, since not all the hard work of members of Congress is revealed solely through their voting records, CGS invited Senators and Representatives to apply for "extra credit" by telling us about other work they have done on these and other issues that are CGS priorities.  This extra credit might come from making floor speeches, sponsoring legislation, or publishing op-eds on issues important to CGS.  Lawmakers must earn extra credit in order to receive the highest grade of A+.

The Reckoning Screening

Join us next Wednesday, April 28th, from 7 to 9 pm to watch and discuss The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court. The film follows dynamic ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo and his team for three years across four continents as he issues arrest warrants for Lord's Resistance Army leaders in Uganda, puts Congolese warlords on trial, shakes up the Colombian justice system, and charges Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir with genocide in Darfur.

Established by treaty in 2002 in response to the mass atrocities that stained the late 20th century, the International Criminal Court (the ICC) is the first permanent international criminal court created to seek justice for victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.  However, the Court is not supported by a police force or other enforcement arm and faces major obstacles in pursuing its mission from nations that did not join the treaty.

GlobalSolutions.org will be discussing genocide prevention at our Annual Meeting, May 19th

Senate Climate Change Legislation - The Battle Continues... (A guest blog by Komal Hiranandani)

-A guest blog written by former intern Komal Hiranandani-

Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) have plans to unveil a comprehensive climate change bill in the Senate next weak, tentatively called the "American Power Act." Running on the heels of Earth Day celebrations, this Senate Bill follows the passage of the House's H.R. 2454 Waxman-Markey Bill in June last year.

A lot has happened between then and now. President Obama attended the Copenhagen climate summit in December, which acknowledged the scientific need to prevent climate change, acknowledged the assistance needed for developing countries to transition to clean energy economies, and saw the U.S. agreeing to pledge aid to developing countries for this purpose. However, the summit failed to produce the binding agreement across nations to take specific measures to fight this threat. The U.S. Senate debated the Kerry-Boxer climate bill that tried to follow H.R. 2454, but this moved fizzled out as Senators refused to come together and other issues clogged the agenda.

Once again, Senator Kerry has attempted to pick up the reins, and lead efforts to complete this process in the Senate. Conjecture has already begun about what this might and might not include. Reports indicate that it will pursue a 17% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2020, which was H.R. 2454's target. The new bill is expected to move away from the House version's economy-wide cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, limiting itself to the utilities and industrial sectors.  Support for the nuclear industry is also expected. Manufactures can expect to see tax breaks for employing energy-efficiency measures.

Happy Earth Day!

HAPPY EARTH DAY!

 As GlobalSolutions.org, we naturally love the earth.  Today, we are proud to join in celebrating the milestone 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

Earth Day was first launched on April 22, 1970 as the brainchild of the late Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who was frustrated by Washington's failure to adequately address environmental issues.  A few months after the first Earth Day celebration, Congress had passed and President Nixon had signed the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created.  Ever since the first Earth Day celebration, April 22nd has provided environmentalists with an opportunity to both celebrate the earth and to stress that despite environmental progress, much more still needs to be done to safeguard the health of the planet for future generations.

In the U.S. Senate, a new climate change bill is expected to be introduced early next week to coincide with Earth Day celebrations.  This legislation, sponsored by Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), is expected to place greenhouse gas emission limits on different sectors of the U.S. economy, and also to expand domestic production of oil and gas, as well as nuclear power.  To learn more about climate change legislation, visit our website at http://www.globalsolutions.org/issues/climate-change.

Adieu, Tuvalu!

Photograph by Peter Bennetts/Getty Images

The island nation of Tuvalu has less than 10 square miles of total actual land area. Those ten square miles of land area hold the 12,000 residents of this tiny nation. Lately, environmentalists around the world have been infatuated with Tuvalu. But why? Tuvalu's islands are mere feet above sea level and the slightest increase in sea level threatens life on the islands. Increases in sea level are caused by the emission of greenhouse gases. Close to Tuvalu, the Federated States of Micronesia have dealt with similar troubles. The Federated States of Micronesia already had to declare a national emergency last year due to a rise in sea levels. The government spent more than 7 percent of its budget and  $42 million to bring rice and drinking water to the islands. Taro, one of the staple foods on the island had been impossible to grow due to the increase in sea levels and rising high tides as the soil has been soured and the aquifer heavily salted. Unfortunately, Tuvalu may be in the same dire straits.

The Federated States of Micronesia, under the principle of transboundary harm, actually lodged a legal challenge to the Prunéov plant, the largest polluter in the Czech Republic, on the grounds that its chronic pollution threatens the nation's existence. Transboundary harm in the sense of air pollution means pollution whose physical origin is situated wholly or in part within the area under the jurisdiction of one Party and which has adverse effects, other than effects of a global nature, in the area under the jurisdiction of the other Party. Micronesia filed a formal objection against the Prunerov Plant under the Czech Republic's environmental impact assessment law.

FDR and the United Nations: An Enduring Legacy

When most Americans think of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States - whether they remember him personally or simply learned about him in their U.S. history classes - they are likely to recall a few key things about him: he was our country's longest-serving president (in office for twelve years); was elected more times than any other American president (four); created the New Deal; and served as Commander-in-Chief during World War Two.  However, in addition to these noteworthy achievements, FDR, who died sixty-five years ago this week on April 12, 1945, has another enduring legacy - his role in the creation of the United Nations.

Even as the Second World War was raging across Europe and the Pacific, FDR played the role of "global statesman" by looking not simply to ensure that the Allies won the conflict, but that after the war was over, there would be an international venue for nations to resolve their differences without resorting to war.  A previous attempt to create such a body - the League of Nations - after World War One had proven a failure, in part because the United States never agreed to join the League despite the efforts of then - President Woodrow Wilson.  President Wilson had championed the League but was unable to get U.S. membership ratified by the Senate once the war was over and American attitudes had grown more isolationist.

Determined to avoid a similar outcome, FDR worked throughout the final years of his life to create the United Nations and ensure that the U.S. would play an active role in the organization.  On October 24, 1945, six months after FDR's death, the U.N. officially came into existence once the U.N. Charter was signed by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and a majority of other signatories.  FDR's wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, also played a large role in the creation of the U.N. and served as U.S. delegate to the United Nations General Assembly.