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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Saudi Arabia Unprepared For A Wave Of Change

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By Hossein Valeh* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

TEHRAN (IDN) - Saudi Arabia is the name of both a society and a government. In fact, it stands for a very traditional, closed, and semi-tribal society, which is prone to very profound and increasing conflicts while being impregnated with a host of potential changes. The existing conflicts can be divided into three major categories:

1. Cultural conflicts: This group contains those conflicts, which are mostly pivoted around the two main axes of religious bigotry as opposed to religious liberalism. The outcome of such conflicts is emergence or religious divides in the society;

2. Economic conflicts: Such conflicts usually exist between the poor and the affluent classes in any society and, in turn, have their root in the divide that exists between the ruling elite and people as a result of which certain social classes are marginalized; and

3. Political conflicts: These conflicts are usually due to an ongoing competition for grasping more power within the political structure of the country. In fact, their main cause is the power struggle, which has been institutionalized within a profoundly traditional and very old patriarchal system of government which makes up the petrified organization of Saudi monarchy.

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Syrian Conflict: Geneva II Just An Eyewash

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By Manish Rai* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN) - It is hard to imagine that representatives of the 30 countries that assembled in Geneva actually believed that they could find a political solution to the ongoing three year old Syrian civil war. Given the differing strategic interests in Syria of the powers within and outside the region, reaching a consensus to end the crisis at this juncture is beyond the realm of possibility.

After the first round of Geneva II negotiations between the warring sides mediated by Lakhdar Brahimi adjourned without concrete results achieved, the second round resumed but saw little rift healed so far. The Syrian opposition coalition has no unity. A big part of its components withdrew from the coalition protesting the Geneva talks and the rest does not fully represent the Syrian people. And most armed rebel groups now are Islamist in character. They are fighting for Sharia law, not democracy, the objective of the peace process sponsored by the US and Britain.

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European Tycoons Say No To Catalonian Independency

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By Julio Godoy* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BARCELONA (IDN) – Writing about the referendum the Catalonian parliament wants to hold next November to decide whether the region remains part of Spain or not, I wondered in my analysis on February 6 how Europe would react to such demand.

The answer came sooner than expected: In an extraordinary action, which underlines the dramatic impasse in which the Madrid-Barcelona relation is nowadays, a group of important German business people operating in Catalonia published a manifesto, to warn about “the dreadful consequences” that independence would bring for the Catalonian economy.

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OECD Urges Donors To Help Fragile States

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By Richard Johnson | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

PARIS (IDN) - A new report finds that international donors are not doing enough to help fragile states increase their domestic revenue though they had pledged as far back as 2002 to make it a priority to help poor countries mobilise more internal revenues.

Subsequently, fragile states still collect less than 14% of their gross domestic product in taxes on average, well below the 20% UN benchmark viewed as the minimum needed to meet development goals and ameliorate poverty. Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Pakistan have tax collection rates below 10% of GDP, says the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in a report titled Fragile States 2014: Domestic Revenue Mobilisation,

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Cambodia Calibrates Its Foreign Relations

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By Murray Hiebert and Phuong Nguyen* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

WASHINGTON (IDN | Yale Global) - Cambodia’s foreign relations map has undergone dramatic shifts in the past six months. In the aftermath of Cambodia’s elections in July 2013, Beijing promptly recognized the results and congratulated Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ruling Cambodian People’s Party for their victory. However, as anti-government protests led by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party grew in the weeks that followed, with protesters condemning the elections as fraudulent and calling on Hun Sen to step down, China has since largely remained silent and kept the prime minister at arm’s length.

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Arab World Needs High Speed Internet For Social Inclusion

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By Bernard Schell | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

ABU DHABI (IDN) - Internet is known to have played a crucial role in the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ aimed at overthrowing autocratic regimes and ushering in opportunities for majority of the people to shape their own future. Now a new World Bank report reveals that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries lag behind other regions in use of a technology that is as crucial as the steam engine was as a driving force behind the Industrial Revolution.

But there is no need to despair. “The Middle East and North Africa region has been the cradle of science and technology and can again use modern technology to address the contemporary problems faced by the region,” says Inger Andersen, World Bank Vice President for the MENA region.  "We at the World Bank Group are committed to working closely with all countries in MENA to improve access and quality of broadband internet connection.”

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Need To Foster Political Stabilization in Central African Republic

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By Misha Boutilier* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

TORONTO (IDN) - The Central African Republic (CAR) is in the throes of an extreme political crisis that exploded in early December 2013 with mass killing in the streets of the capital Bangui. Despite a French military intervention under UN auspices, an increase in aid funding for the CAR, and the accession of a new president committed to national reconciliation, the situation is still dire.

UN officials warn that there is a “high risk of crimes against humanity and genocide,” and the French Ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud has emphasized that the 6,000 peacekeepers currently deployed are insufficient to quell violence between Muslim Seleka fighters and Christian anti-balaka militias.

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New Opportunities For India-Sri Lanka Relations

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By Gaurav Dixit* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN) - India and Sri Lanka share a long historic relationship. The relation saw a new multi-faceted phase post Eelam War IV in 2009, after the complete elimination of the Sri Lankan rebel group LTTE. The new phase represented extensive economic and political cooperation for the comprehensive development of the Northern and Eastern provinces. India today is one of Sri Lanka’s largest trading partners and has been the first to make foreign direct investment.

Income from Indian tourists forms a large part of Sri Lanka’s tourism sector that is developing its economy. India plays an important role in developing the war torn provinces and has been assisting in reconstruction and rehabilitation of the internally displaced persons (IDPs).

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What November Referendum in Catalonia Would Mean For Spain and Europe

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By Julio Godoy* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BARCELONA (IDN) - Last December, the Catalonian parliament adopted a resolution that a referendum be carried out in November 2014, to decide whether the region remains part of Spain, or proclaims its independency. To say that the resolution constitutes a major challenge for the central government in Madrid is a euphemism.

Because, on the one hand, the Spanish constitution does not envisage referendums; and on the other, given the present climate of animosity reigning in Catalonia against Madrid, it is likely that a majority of the Catalonian population follows the 'separatists' – I use that term for lack of a better one: Catalonians rallying for independency claim they are not nationalists, but that they simply don’t feel as Spaniards – among the political leaders and proclaims the region as a new independent state, and thus opens the way for other separatist movements in Spain, such as that of the Basque country. Finally, most Catalonians reject the monarchy and would prefer to ground a republic.

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