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NEWSLETTER Week of April 14th 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEWSLETTER
Week of April 14th 2017

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G7 culture ministers discuss threat of cultural trafficking

03/30/2017 . During their first-ever formal meeting, culture ministers representing Group of Seven industrialized nations on Thursday decried the looting and trafficking of cultural treasures by terror groups while experts acknowledged that objects believed looted by extremists are starting to surface in the marketplace.The topic was on the table both during technical sessions by experts and law enforcement and during the afternoon meeting of G-7 cultural ministers and top officials. The gathering in Florence came a week after the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution co-authored by Italy and France warning that the destruction of cultural treasures may constitute war crimes.

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Yemen: UN envoy urges Security Council to pressure warring parties to discuss peace proposal

03/30/2017. The United Nations envoy for Yemen has urged the members of the Security Council to put pressure on the warring parties in that country to engage constructively in discussing the peace process framework he had presented.

“The Government of Yemen should agree to engage in talks based on the framework, and Ansar Allah and the General People’s Congress must end their long-standing refusal to undertake serious discussions on security arrangements,” Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, told the Council during a closed-door meeting, according to a note issued overnight by the office of spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General.

The Special Envoy had presented to the parties a framework that included a set of sequenced political and security measures which were designed to ensure a rapid end to the war, withdrawals of military formations and disarmament in key areas, and the creation of an inclusive transitional government.

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Diplomacy Then and Now: Prevention is Always Better Than Treatment

30/21/2017 by Angela Wells. Aid workers and healthcare providers working amidst the ravages of war understand all to well the crucial importance of stopping conflict through diplomacy and negotiation before it starts or escalates.

Perhaps no one advocated for preventive diplomacy more ardently than founding member of the Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation (CIHC) and former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Yesterday, representatives of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and CIHC joined together to commemorate the life and noble efforts of Mr. Boutros-Ghali.

At the event, Kevin M. Cahill, M.D., President of the CIHC and University Professor and Director of Fordham University’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA), was part of a high-level panel together with H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, High Representative for UNOAC and Diplomat-in-Residence at the IIHA, Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz, Under-Secretary-General and Special Advisor on Africa, Tomas Christensen, Chef de Cabinet of and Ambassador Amr Aboulatta, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations.

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Food trade drains global water sources at ‘alarming’ rates

03/30/2017 by Matt McGrath.

The global market for foodstuffs is depleting water sources in many parts of the world quicker than they can naturally be refilled.

The complex trade is increasing pressure on non-renewable groundwater, mainly used for irrigating crops such as rice, wheat and cotton.

Pakistan, the US and India are the countries exporting the most food grown with unsustainable water. Researchers say that without action, food supplies will be threatened. Around 43% of the water used to irrigate crops around the world comes from underground aquifers, as opposed to rivers and lakes. Many of these sources are being used up quicker than they can be refilled from rainfall.

Back in 2000, experts believed that non-renewable resources sustained 20% of global irrigation. In the 10 years to 2010, this increased by more than a fifth.

While scientists have long known about the depletion of groundwater, this new study sets out to understand how supplies are impacted by the booming international trade in food and crops. The vast majority of the world’s populations live in countries that source nearly all their staple crop imports from nations who deplete significant amounts of groundwater to irrigate these foodstuffs.

The researchers found that some 11% of the non-renewable groundwater used for irrigation is embedded in the the global food trade. Two-thirds of this are accounted for by Pakistan, the US and India Over the decade from the year 2000, the use of non-renewable groundwater has doubled in China and increased significantly in India and the US. The crops using the biggest amounts of this water are wheat, rice, sugar crops, cotton and maize.

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A Conversation With Nikki Haley

03/29/2017. Ambassador Nikki Haley discusses the United States’ goals for its term as president of the UN Security Council in April, and outlines her plans to highlight human rights and to assess current UN peacekeeping missions. “We found our move in New York to be a pleasant one. There have been a few adjustments, mainly the weather. It’s cold here. In South Carolina we consider, you know, 58, 60 freezing. And here that’s definitely different. But we are getting used to it.

My son Nalin, we’ve determined, is now a city boy, which makes this mom very nervous. I do take care of my elderly parents, and they are learning how to use Uber, which has been really interesting. So we’ve had to pick them up a couple of times. (Laughter.) But other than that, they are doing very well. My daughter is a freshman at Clemson, and she is going to come to New York at Easter. We’re going to convince her that she’s going to love it.

So those are all the things that we’re doing. And I’ll tell you that Michael and I, what we love is everyone has been so incredibly kind and welcoming to us. We’ve decided you can’t run out of restaurants and you can’t run out of things to do in this city. And so we very, very much appreciate it.

I’m excited that I’m going to be taking over the presidency of the U.N. Security Council in April. And I’d like to spend a few moments just talking to you about our agenda and what we want to try and accomplish … ”

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There Are No Real ‘Safe Zones’ and There Never Have Been

03/30/2017 by Lauren Wolfe

As you climb the mountains high above Srebrenica, in the far east of Bosnia-Herzegovina, oak and beech trees become mixed with firs, pines, and spruce. It was into this green that Fatima Dautbasic-Klempic ascended in July 1995, fleeing massacres below.

“When we were walking through the mountains, we didn’t know who was alive, dead, or captured, or what happened to anybody,” Dautbasic-Klempic later told a British charity called Remembering Srebrenica. She recalled “dead everywhere, parts of bodies, blood on the buildings around us on the road — everywhere.” Below, 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were being slaughtered that week. Women and girls, while usually spared death, were often raped. And all of this was happening under the watch of a United Nations Protection Force in a so-called safe area.

Srebrenica was one of six such safe areas set up in Bosnia in 1993. From the very beginning, Balkans experts described the plan as a “mockery,” pointing out that the zones would be like prison camps for refugees, easily starved out as food became undeliverable. These were places overcrowded with unarmed civilians, who would be sitting ducks without more protection from U.N. troops, critics worried. “It sounds good — ‘safe areas,’” an American military officer serving in NATO told the New York Times that October. Yet he explained that the peacekeepers “were little more than observers” without enough firepower. “The truth is the safe areas were always a myth.”

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What It Means When 5 Million Syrians Leave Their Country

03/30/2017 By Russel Goldmanmarch

The scale of Syria’s refugee crisis is dizzying

As the war there stretches into a seventh year, more than five million citizens, nearly a quarter of Syria’s prewar population, have fled their country, seeking shelter mainly in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, the United Nations refugee agency said Thursday.
Five million people is roughly equal to the population of Norway. If nearly a quarter of the United States’ population left the country, it would be as if the combined populations of California, New York and Florida had disappeared.

In addition, 6.3 million Syrians have been internally displaced by the war. Altogether, about half of all Syrians have been forced from their homes because of violence.

With no end to the war in sight, Filippo Grandi, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, predicted that 480,000 more Syrians would become refugees in need of resettlement this year. That is as if the entire population of Sacramento abandoned the city — and the country — over the course of the next nine months.

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New UN chief faces uphill battle on conflict prevention

03/29/2017 by Kristy Siegfried. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is determined to make conflict prevention a priority during his tenure, but he’s likely to find it tough convincing member states to fund peace-building initiatives, even if it could save billions in humanitarian and peacekeeping spending down the road.

Guterres took office at the beginning of this year with a rallying call to both his staff and member states to make 2017 “a year for peace”.

“We spend far too much time and resources responding to crises rather than preventing them,” he told the Security Council just days after assuming his post. “We need a whole new approach.”

Few would disagree with his analysis at a time when conflict-induced crises are proliferating way beyond the capacity, or willingness, of the international community to deal with them. Even as governments have steadily increased their aid budgets, the gap between needs and available funding continues to grow. And that gap is likely to widen further in the wake of significant cuts to US foreign aid being pursued by President Donald Trump’s administration.
But given the funding crisis, Trump’s “America First” doctrine, and pervasive political and economic uncertainty in Europe, how does Guterres intend to turn his vision into reality?

So far, the former Portuguese prime minister has been heavy on rhetoric but light on detail, although he has commissioned an internal review of the UN’s entire peace and security architecture, which is due to report back in June with recommendations for how these various departments and agencies could be restructured.

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Syria: Describing the toll of war on health in absentia

04/03/2017 By Vanessa Cramond, former MSF health manager for Syria. This article was published first in the New Zealand Medical Journal under the title “In Absentia: describing the toll of war on health in Syria”.

In our line of work, we rely on numbers. The number of patients treated in clinics; the number of children with pneumonia, diarrhoea or severe malnutrition; the number of patients admitted to a hospital; the number of patients undergoing emergency surgery; the number of babies born; the number of children vaccinated, and the number of people counselled.

The numbers guide us to where the needs are. They tell us what is making people sick. They indicate how difficult it is for some to access healthcare. They tell us when and where people die. They paint a picture from which we can describe, interpret and then plan the best way to respond to a population’s health needs.

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Vatican official: Europe not immune to anti-Christian discrimination

03/31/2017. Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, The Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, called on an “institutionalized dialogue” at all levels between civil authorities and religious groups to help foster religious liberty. He said “any form of restriction of religious freedom undermines the harmony of social life.”

The Vatican’s foreign minister on Thursday warned against a “deterioration in the condition of the fundamental freedom” of religious liberty, which he said in several cases has reached the level of “open persecution.”
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, The Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, was speaking on “The Holy See and the defense of the right to religious freedom from Pius XI to Francis” at an event in Milan.

He said this deterioration can be seen not only in authoritarian and non-democratic states, but also in democratic countries, “both because of problems inherent in a multicultural situation, and due to the the ideological affirmation of a secularist vision, in which religions represent a subculture, which represent a past which must be overcome.”
Gallagher said even Europe is not immune, and described a “disturbing increase of intolerance and incidents of discrimination against Christians” on the continent.

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