Ukraine: Russia Strives To Pick Up Pieces As US Plans Founder

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By Eric Walberg* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

TORONTO (IDN) - In the latest ‘color revolution’, it was not an army but a rump parliament that pulled the plug on the elected president on a wave of protest, pushing out Ukraine’s Viktor Yanukovich on February 22. He apologized from exile in the Russian city of Rostov-on-the-Don for his weakness during the uprising, but his fate was sealed when he was disowned by his own Party of the Regions, the largest party in the fractious parliament. The rump parliament unsurprisingly ordered the release of Yanukovich’s arch rival, ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko from prison, a condition for Ukraine’s signing a European Union Association Agreement.

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UNHRC - Part II: Prioritising Economic Aspects Of Human Rights

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By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

SINGAPORE (IDN) - “As a result of the financial crisis, the ability of individuals to exercise their human rights and that of States to fulfill their obligations to protect human rights has diminished,” noted Bat-Erdene Ayuush, Head of the Right to Development Section at the UN Human Rights Office speaking at a UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) panel discussion at last year.

But, at its 25th session from March 3 to 28 in Geneva, only two out of about 100 reports tabled, address the economic and development aspects of human rights. Almost all other reports address individual rights specific to countries, rather than collective rights of people.

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UNHRC - Part I: Navi Pillay Faulted For Abuse Of Power

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By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

SINGAPORE (IDN) - UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) head Navi Pillay’s current campaign against Sri Lanka over alleged human rights violations – along with similar campaigns against Libya and Syria earlier – could jeopardize the cause of human rights around the world, analysts say.

Pillay released a report in February calling for an international investigation into alleged war crimes when the Sri Lankan armed forces crushed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in a final battle in May 2009.

Sri Lanka’s Permanent Envoy in Geneva conveying the Sri Lankan Government’s response to Pillay’s report stated that the UN High Commissioner’s recommendations, “reflect the preconceived, politicised and prejudicial agenda which she has relentlessly pursued with regard to Sri Lanka”, and in a 18-page document pinpointed her double standards accusing her of giving “scant or no regard to the domestic processes ongoing in Sri Lanka”.

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‘Now Is The Time’ For Middle East Nuke-Free Zone

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By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) - The eminent Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has revived the issue of a Middle East nuclear weapon-free zone (NWFZ), first proposed in 1962. Discussions on the subject have been frozen since the last quarter of 2012, when a planned United Nations conference on the region came to naught in the face of Israel’s opposition.

In fact, if further proliferation is to be prevented in the Middle East, and regional security enhanced, “now is the time to convene the conference mandated by the 2010 NPT Review Conference,” says Tariq Rauf in an essay posted on the SIPRI website.

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Egypt - Part III: A Providential Leader?

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By Ismail Serageldin* | IDN-InDepth NewsEssay

This is the last of a three-part series reflecting on the third anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution of January 25, 2011, launched by millions of people from a variety of socio-economic and religious backgrounds, demanding the overthrow of the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who had been at the helm of affairs since 1981. Click here to read part one and part two.

ALEXANDRIA (IDN) - In its hour of anger and loss, Egypt is turning to General Abdel Fattah El Sissi, who has just been given the title of Field Marshal, and who is leaving his post as head of the Armed Forces to become a candidate for the presidency under the newly approved constitution. Barring some totally unforeseeable event, it is a foregone conclusion that he will sweep the polls in a landslide. He will become Egypt’s next elected president.

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Egypt - Part II: Enlightened Despots and the Road of No Return

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By Ismail Serageldin* | IDN-InDepth NewsEssay

This is the second of a three-part series reflecting on the third anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution of January 25, 2011, launched by millions of people from a variety of socio-economic and religious backgrounds, demanding the overthrow of the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who had been at the helm of affairs since 1981. Click here to read part one.

ALEXANDRIA (IDN) - Whether or not those who control political power wanted it, they now find themselves at the helm of an increasingly autocratic and repressive regime. That paves the way to dictatorship.  Dictators are sometimes claimed to be enlightened despots, but to me the emphasis has to be on the word despot. Despotism is the opposite of democracy, and it has never been compatible with respect of human rights. Soon the autocratic regime throws its net wider, captures more and more of the opposition that it can label as terrorists or terrorist-sympathizers. Soon all opposition is suspect.

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Egypt - Part I: Historic Hours and Tumultuous Times

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By Ismail Serageldin* | IDN-InDepth NewsEssay

This is the first of a three-part series reflecting on the third anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution of January 25, 2011, launched by millions of people from a variety of socio-economic and religious backgrounds, demanding the overthrow of the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who had been at the helm of affairs since 1981.

ALEXANDRIA (IDN) - January 25 was the third anniversary of the Egyptian revolution. A milestone that calls for reflection on those three years of chaotic action, great moments, dashed dreams, big achievements, sacrifice and betrayal, and all the components of a human drama of the highest order. Tumultuous times, historic hours… greatness achieved, then lost, retrieved and lost again in the fog of uncertainty as the elusive dream of building our new republic on an inclusive society and a system of laws seems to be overtaken by an active war on terror.

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Free Trade Is Not So Free After All

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By Julio Godoy* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BARCELONA (IDN) - International negotiations on so-called “free trade agreements” have always had something surreptitious about them. In the late 1990s, the industrialised countries represented at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) wanted to pass a “multilateral agreement on investment” (MAI) with the alleged goal of facilitating – liberating, so to speak – international investment. But, for all the good that such investment was supposed to bring about across the world, the OECD managed the negotiations in a most clandestine way.

With good reason: Only thanks to the extraordinary work of civil rights activists and journalists, it was revealed that the MAI draft constituted a carte blanche for corporations to commit all kind of violations of national legislation on social and environmental matters.

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Rising Interest in South Asian Regional Grouping

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By Shastri Ramachandran* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN) - The South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is not a shining model of regional cooperation. It is seen as a talking shop – of a region that accounts for the largest population of the poor – with lofty goals, high-sounding resolutions, ringing declarations and little by way of achievement.

Hence, the increased international interest in SAARC – with more countries wanting to become observers, and observers aspiring to full membership – is surprising and flattering. Perhaps, this is because of South Asia’s rising geopolitical importance.

The eight-member body (comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka), whose foreign ministers met in Maldives in February, has nine observers: China, Japan, South Korea, Myanmar, Australia, Iran, Mauritius, the European Union and the United States. There are others, such as Turkey, asking to be made observers. More observers might lead to a situation where they overwhelm the primary members; and influence the agenda.

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Peace Forum At UN Pleads For Nuke Abolition

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By Jamshed Baruah | IDN-InDepth NewsReport

NEW YORK (IDN) - The UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), Ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser has expressed deep concern about “the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and the threat they pose to international peace and security”. Launching the book titled A Forum for Peace and opening a discussion on Global Citizenship and the Future of the United Nations at the UN headquarters in New York, he also stressed the importance of the culture of peace.

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Educating for Sustainable Development

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By Hirotsugu Terasaki* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

TOKYO (IDN) - According to UNESCO, ESD (Education for Sustainable Development), is “about enabling us to constructively and creatively address present and future global challenges and create more sustainable and resilient societies.”

The Great Earthquake which shook East Japan in March 2011 served as an important impetus for me to rethink the idea of “resilient societies.” My organization, the Soka Gakkai, mounted major relief efforts soon after the disaster struck. Living in Tokyo, I found that the degree of direct damage was relatively minimal, however, two months after the quake I visited the disaster-stricken areas of East Japan. Towns there had been entirely engulfed by the tsunami waves and everything was swept away along much of the coastline. I was speechless as I saw the horrifying devastation which was beyond my imagination.

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