By Chas Henry* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
WASHINGTON DC (IDN) - On a recent summer morning in Northern Virginia, about 100 very fit 20-somethings in camouflaged uniforms marched onto a large asphalt parade field in Quantico, Virginia – elated after ten weeks of tough physical and mental screening to have been selected as officers in the U. S. Marine Corps.
Among their ranks: Joseph Rocha, who many would have imagined the last person who would want to be part of that formation.
By Jutta Wolf | IDN-InDepth NewsReport
BERLIN (IDN) - Violations of rights in Egypt are becoming increasingly evident in the aftermath of the country’s Ministry of Social Solidarity proposing a new law, which would constitute a dangerous escalation in the framework of systematic targeting of civil society activists and increasing restrictions imposed upon them, according to the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND).
By Shada Islam* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
BRUSSELS (IDN) - Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini’s appointment as the new European Union foreign policy chief offers the opportunity for an overhaul of EU foreign and security policy.
With many EU leaders, ministers and senior officials slow to respond to world events given Europe’s traditionally long summer break, the 2014 summer of death and violence has left the reputation of ‘Global Europe’ in tatters, highlighting the EU’s apparent disconnect from the bleak reality surrounding it.
When she takes charge in November along with other members of the new European Commission, led by Jean-Claude Juncker, Mogherini’s first priority must be to restore Europe’s credibility in an increasingly volatile and chaotic global landscape.
It cannot be business as usual. A strategic rethink of Europe’s global outreach is urgent.
By Jayantha Dhanapala* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
KANDY, Sri Lanka (IDN) - After an earlier eruption of one-sided warfare in Gaza, I wrote a piece titled “Eyeless in Gaza” in December 2012 referring appropriately to an Old Testament story in the Bible, resonant with both the Jewish Israeli and the Christian Palestinian, and recalling Mahatma Gandhi’s warning that an eye for an eye will make us all blind. I concluded that, “A peaceful settlement of the illegal occupation of Gaza by Israel and an end to the scandalous conditions of its 1.7 million citizens is still very far away.”
Of course no peaceful settlement has taken place. Instead we have had brutal and relentless ground and air attacks by Israel and exchanges of fire finally ending after 50 days of suffering and destruction with a ceasefire on August 27. There is no guarantee that this will be a sustainable ceasefire unless the root causes are addressed.
By Jamshed Baruah | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
BERLIN (IDN) - About 22,000 nuclear weapons continue to threaten humankind’s survival nearly 70 years after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and more than 2,000 nuclear tests have been conducted to date, according to the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA). But the world is far from prepared to effectively respond to nuclear weapons detonations, “even at basic levels of preparedness, let alone a large-scale nuclear war”.
This perturbing view has been expressed in a study by the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) undertaken in cooperation with OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) and UNDP (UN Development Programme) ahead of the first International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on September 26.
By Eric Walberg* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
The self-immolation of a 26-year-old Tunisian fruit vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, in December 2010, was the spark that set off the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. Do events there since prove or disprove those who see the Arab Spring as an important turning point in the Middle East?
TORONTO (IDN) - In an irony of imperialism witnessed throughout the region, Islamists in Tunisia (11 million, 98% Sunni) were repressed more after ‘independence’ in 196, than before under the French imperialists. The French handed power to secularist President Habib Bourguiba, who was pushed aside in a coup in 1988, and his corrupt and ruthless successor Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, was president for the next 23 years.
Contrast with Egypt
Just as Egypt’s Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak initially courted the Islamists only to turn against them, members of Tunisia’s Muslim Brotherhood-linked group Ennahda (founded in 1981, meaning Renaissance) were allowed to participate in the 1989 elections as independents and, despite blatant repression and vote rigging during the elections, garnered 17% of the vote.
By UN News | IDN-InDepth NewsReport
NEW YORK (IDN) - The United Nations refugee agency said August 18 it had, for the first time, begun sending aid into western Libya from Tunisia to help some of the tens of thousands of people displaced by weeks of fighting in Tripoli.
A first convoy carrying urgently needed medical supplies and relief items from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was organized by the International Medical Corps (IMC) on August 16.
The two trucks set off from Medinine and crossed the border at Ras Ajdir before heading to the town of Zawiya, where some 12,000 people have sought shelter from the fighting in Libya’s capital.
By J C Suresh | IDN-InDepth NewsReport
TORONTO (IDN) - Two thousand cities around the globe have signed on a United Nations global campaign – launched in 2010 for a period of five years until 2015 – to take on the challenge of integrating disaster risk management into their development processes.
The global campaign, Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready! is promoted by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). Presently, about 25 per cent of the participating cities are located in the Americas, and approximately 11 per cent (or 226) of all cities are situated in Brazil.
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”.
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.
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.