Austrian Parliament Backs Government Efforts For Nuclear Disarmament

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By Jamshed Baruah | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

VIENNA (IDN) - As the Austrian government prepares to host the third international conference on the humanitarian consequences of atomic weapons on December 8-9 in Vienna, the county’s parliament has provided it the legal basis for its commitment to usher in a world without nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

The forthcoming gathering in Vienna will be the third since the March 2013 conference in Oslo convened by the Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide who said the Conference had “provided an arena for a fact-based discussion of the humanitarian and developmental consequences of a nuclear weapons detonation”.

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Freedom Of Religion Or Belief Crucial To EU’s External Policy

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By Valentina Gasbarri* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

ROME (IDN) - Fundamental freedoms and human rights are at the heart of the founding treaties of the European Union (EU) and these are protected under member states’ national legislation. The Charter on Fundamental Rights also sets out the civil, political, economic and social rights of European citizens and all persons resident in the EU.

In November 2012, the Norwegian Nobel Committee acknowledged the commitment and activities of the EU in reconciliation, democracy, promotion of human rights and enlarging the area of peace and stability across the continent, and awarded it the Nobel Peace Prize.

As a universal human right, freedom of religion or belief (FORB) is a priority under the EU human rights policy. The EU defends and promotes freedom of religion or belief as a fundamental right to which everyone is entitled, within and outside the EU. The EU Guidelines on FORB, adopted early in 2013, underline the 28-nation bloc’s strong commitment to the promotion and protection of this universal human right without any discrimination.

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69 Years On: Need To Tread A Nuke Free Road

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By Akira Kawasaki* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

August 6, 2014 marked the 69th anniversary of the first detonation of a nuclear weapon over Japan. The cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki held ceremonies commemorating those hundreds of thousands who perished in the two nuclear attacks in 1945, and the countless more whose lives would forever be affected. But in these past decades, can we say that we have truly learned from the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Is our recognition of the suffering inflicted upon those cities matched with the concrete action to ensure that it can never be repeated? Akira Kawasaki answers these and other questions in a contribution to IDN partner Pressenza

TOKYO (IDN) - While the numbers of nuclear weapons are down significantly from the days of the Cold War – when it seemed as though another Hiroshima or Nagasaki could be imminent – we are far from having secured our future against another such unspeakable human tragedy.

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69 Years On: A Survivor Account of the Hiroshima Bombing

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By Setsuko Thurlow | IDN-InDepth NewsDocument*

At the Little White House in Key West Florida, on 16 May 2014, atomic bomb testimony was delivered in an official forum on Truman ground for the first time. Together with Clifton Truman Daniel, Hibakusha Stories organized an event where Setsuko Thurlow and Yasuaki Yamashita were able to share their experience of being children in Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively. Thanks to support from the Truman Family, The Little White House and The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, atomic bomb survivors are now on the official record defending the position that nuclear weapons are immoral no matter in whose hands.  The following is Setsuko Thurlow’s speech from that evening.

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What Russia Learnt From Chechnya Before Ukraine Foray

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By Brenna Owen | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

KINGSTON, Canada (IDN) - The view that Russian President Vladimir Putin has consolidated and strengthened Moscow’s power is commonly held and, indeed, holds much truth.

Domestically speaking, Putin has effectively reconstituted Russian state power – aided in part by the appeal of his charismatic ‘strongman’ image. What has emerged is a system of competitive authoritarianism in which Putin governs through formal democratic institutions, but violates rules and processes to such an extent that his regime fails to meet universally accepted democratic standards.

In addition to an iron-fisted grip on domestic politics, the perception exists that Putin’s foreign policy is a testament to Moscow’s strength. For instance, Putin’s close association with the relative stabilization of Chechnya conferred on him the mantle of legitimacy and lent him popular electoral support.

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Indian Army’s Modernisation Needs Huge Investment

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By Arun Sahgal* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

NEW DELHI (IDN | IDSA) - The NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government – headed by Prime Minister Narenda Modi – has identified defence reforms and building a self sustaining defence industrial base as a priority reform sector. To transform this into reality, it is not so much of the government commitment but its ability to take policy decisions and put processes in place by spurring public and private sector investments through higher indigenisation, transfer of technology, simplifying procedures, etc.

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Interfaith Harmony Can Generate Development

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By Valentina Gasbarri* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

ROME (IDN) - Worldwide, there is increasing recognition that faith and religion play a vital role in promoting peaceful and harmonious relationships within and between nations.

For more than half a century, the United Nations, the European Union and numerous other international and regional organizations have affirmed the principle of religious freedom. Journalists and pro-human rights organisations have reported on persecution of minority faiths, outbreaks of sectarian violence and discrimination practices against religious individuals and communities in many countries.

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India-Japan Link Amid Concern Over China

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By Harsh V. Pant* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN | Yale Global) - Asia’s leading nations have been slowly coming together to face the challenge of an assertive China. To the chagrin of Beijing, US, Indian and Japanese naval vessels gathered for a joint exercise in the Pacific ostensibly against piracy and terrorism. The rise of nationalist leaders in Japan and India, combined with growing US concern about aggressive Chinese policy, have created new dynamics in the region.

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Social Protection For The Poor Too

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By Martin Khor* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

GENEVA (IDN) - “Social security” and “social protection” feature increasingly in the global policy atmosphere these days. The two terms encapsulate the idea that people should be able to have a basic income and access to health care and education, and that includes those who are poor or jobless.

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West Eyeing Ukraine’s Huge Agribusiness

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By J C Suresh | IDN-InDepth NewsReport

TORONTO (IDN) - The way international financial institutions jumped in on the heels of the political turmoil in Ukraine and are rivalling to deregulate and throw open the country’s huge agricultural sector to foreign investors is described by a new report from the California-based Oakland Institute, Walking on the West Side: the World Bank and the IMF in the Ukraine Conflict.

The crisis in this Eastern European country, sprawling an area of 603,628 square kilometres (233,062 square miles), thus making it the largest country entirely within Europe, was precipitated by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of an Association agreement with the European Union in favour of a Russian deal. It was a major factor leading to his ouster in February 2014.

Soon after the change to a pro-EU government, the country’s swing to the West was buttressed with a USD 17 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and an additional USD 3.5 billion aid package from the World Bank, both of which require significant economic reforms and austerity measures that are expected to have disastrous impact on the country’s economy.

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Strengthening Community Forest Rights Mitigates Climate Change

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By Caleb Stevens, Robert Winterbottom, Sarah Parsons and Carni Klirs*

WASHINGTON DC (IDN | WRI) - Deforestation and other land changes produce about 11 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions globally. A new report reveals an undervalued and often-overlooked strategy for curbing these emissions – strengthening the rights of forest communities.

Governments around the world legally recognize at least 513 million hectares of community forests, land held collectively by either rural populations or Indigenous Peoples. This area stores about 37 billion tonnes of carbon – 29 times the annual carbon footprint of all the passenger vehicles in the world. Securing Rights, Combating Climate Change, a new report from WRI and the Rights and Resources Initiative, shows that by protecting and expanding the amount of officially recognized community forests, national governments can meet their climate goals while also improving citizens’ livelihoods.

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