Three Conferences To Focus On Nuke-Free World

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By Jamshed Baruah | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) - As tension mounts in relations between the U.S. and Russia on Ukraine amid apprehensions of a nuclear fallout, three international conferences scheduled for April 2014 have acquired added significance in promoting efforts towards nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

The first in the series is a meeting of foreign ministers on April 11-12 in Hiroshima, nearly two months after the Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Mexico. It will be followed by an inter-faith conference organised by the Tokyo-based Soka Gakkai International (SGI) on April 24 in Washington. From April 28 to May 9 the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will hold its third session at the United Nations in New York.

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China Striving For New Economic Balance With US

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By Stephen S. Roach* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW HAVEN (IDN | YaleGlobal) - Once again, all eyes are on China. Emerging markets are being battered in early 2014, as perceptions of resilience have given way to fears of vulnerability. And handwringing over China is one of the major reasons.

Of course, Federal Reserve tapering – reductions of the US central bank’s unprecedented liquidity injections – has also been a trigger. That makes it much tougher for emerging economies overly dependent on global capital flows – namely, India, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey – to finance economic growth. But the China factor looms equally large. Longstanding concerns about the dreaded hard landing in the Chinese economy have once again intensified. If China falls, goes the argument, reverberations to other emerging markets and the rest of the global economy will be quick to follow.

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Iran-UAE Three Islands’ Dispute Unresolved

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By Bernard Schell | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

CAIRO (IDN) - The sigh of relief some two months ago that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iran had reached an agreement on the three disputed islands near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, was rather short-lived. Only six days later, the report was denied by Iran. Now on March 10, the 22-nation Arab League has slammed Iran for refusal to accept the UAE’s sovereignty over the three islands in the strait between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, through which about 20% of the world's petroleum, and about 35% of the petroleum traded by sea passes.

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USA Practicing ‘Non-Aligned Strategy’ in Asia

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By Chintamani Mahapatra* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

NEW DELHI (IDN) - As territorial and maritime disputes in Asia have sparked regional cold wars, the United States appears to have adopted a non-aligned strategy to navigate in troubled political space of the continent.

Non-alignment as a diplomatic instrument of state craft has been known to American Administrations for centuries. Although the term “non-alignment” was not used, the need of such a strategy was first articulated by first President of the United States – George Washington. In his farewell address, Washington warned against the folly of getting involved in the European entanglements.

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NATO and Russia Caught in New Nuclear Arms Race

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By Julio Godoy* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) - The U.S. government is unofficially accusing Russia of violating the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, by flight testing two-stage ground-based cruise missile RS-26.

Although the U.S. government has not officially commented on the alleged Russian violation of the INF, which prohibits both countries to producing, testing and deploying ballistic and cruise missiles, and land-based missiles of medium (1,000 to 5,500 kilometres) and short (500 to 1,000 kilometres) range, high ranking members of the government in Washington have been leaking information to U.S. media, in a moment of particular tense relations with Moscow.

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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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