By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
PARIS (IDN) - While the trend of rise in international development assistance, which increased by 6.1 percent in real terms in 2013, is expected to continue in 2014 and stabilize thereafter, the declining share of aid for sub-Saharan countries, which need it most, looks likely to continue, according to an annual survey of donor spending plans by the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC).
Development aid reached the highest level ever recorded in real terms in 2013 despite continued pressure on budgets in OECD countries since the global economic crisis, says the DAC report. Donors provided a total of USD 134.8 billion in net official development assistance (ODA), marking a rebound after two years of falling volumes, as a number of governments stepped up their spending on foreign aid.
By Arch Roberts* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
WASHINGTON (IDN | Yale Global) - The new round of talks opened on April 8 marks another step in the race against time to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. The powers have given Iran until July 20 to reach comprehensive agreement on denuclearization. But what if Iran believes it has enough nuclear potential and the time has come for a strategic pause in its nuclear program? From a technological standpoint, Iran is in much the same class – in the sense of possessing the technical ability to build nuclear weapons – as Germany, Brazil, Japan, Korea and some 10 other nations. Iran grabbed the golden ring against fierce opposition, with a lot of help from A.Q. Khan of Pakistan, and is hardly likely to relinquish its nuclear gains after investing an estimated $100 billion.
By Monzurul Huq* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
TOKYO (IDN) - The mere fact that the two-day foreign ministerial meeting of the 12-nation coalition of non-nuclear states took place in the Japanese city of Hiroshima, gives the clue to its symbolic significance. Being the first city in the world to witness the horrors of atomic destruction, Hiroshima, from that very fateful day almost 70 years ago, remains at the forefront of global efforts to learn about the devastating impact weapons of mass destruction can cause and also serves as a reminder of the necessity of eliminating nuclear weapons. That symbolic gesture of holding the meeting in Hiroshima on April 11-12, 2014 received added value as the ministers listened to the stories of atomic bomb survivors before starting their formal discussion.
By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
COLOMBO (IDN) - Rejecting the resolution passed at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on March 27 to mount an ‘independent’ international investigation into alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka, President Mahinda Rajapkase said that Sri Lanka would continue with its own reconciliation process that was started after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was defeated in May 2009.
The resolution, which was adopted by 24 votes to 12 with 12 abstentions, has been described by the government as a lop-sided vote where most of those voting for it were Europeans. “The EU votes as a block and the US had more than a dozen votes already in the bag while we started with none,” Rajapakse pointed out in a meeting with foreign media representatives in Colombo.
By Jon Lomøy* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
PARIS (IDN | OECD) - By the end of 2015, when the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) come to term, the international community is expected to approve a new sustainable development agenda. All indications are that this will be a unique and universal agenda, focusing on the eradication of extreme poverty, but also addressing broader environmental, economic and social sustainability challenges. Finding the means to finance this broad agenda, and to make that financing work to produce maximum results without duplication or gaps, will be a challenge.
By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepthNewsFeature
SIEM REAP (IDN) - Somnieng Hoeurn, deputy abbot of Wat Damnak, one of the largest Buddhist temples in this capital city of Siem Reap Province in northwestern Cambodia, and a popular resort town as the gateway to Angkor region, laments that the Khmer Rouge completely destroyed Buddhism in Cambodia. He adds with a grin, “We not only have to build temples but also do a lot of mind building.”
He believes that both the government and the monastic system need each other to help Cambodia – one of the world’s poorest countries – progress. “A Buddhist temple must respond to 21st century demands,” he says.
His life story is as unique as his attempts to rebuild Cambodian Buddhism in which the temple is an integral part of community development.
By Jaya Ramachandran
NEW YORK (IDN | UN News) - A group of eight United Nations human rights independent experts have urged the Egyptian authorities to quash the 529 death sentences announced in Egypt and give the defendants new and fair trials, in line with international human rights law.
“The right to life is a fundamental right, not a toy to be played with. If the death penalty is to be used at all in countries which have not abolished it, international law requires the most stringent respect of a number of fundamental standards,” the experts said in a news statement.
By Frederick N. Matti* | IDN-InDepth NewsEssay
ANNAPOLIS, USA (IDN) - Nuclear weapons are the most devastating of instruments, with their quadruple means of dealing mass death and destruction: blast, heat, radiation, firestorm. Surely, the last thing even the nuclear-armed states want is a nuclear “exchange,” anywhere on earth. But those states in general have not fully considered the security advantages of worldwide abolition of nuclear weapons, and a likely reason is that they have not been presented “satisfactory” answers to fundamental issues for abolishing nuclear weapons.
By Joergen Oerstroem Moeller*
SINGAPORE (IDN | YaleGlobal) - Shale oil and gas has been labeled a game changer. Statistics would suggest that, yes, the new technologies and discoveries associated with hydraulic fracking change the energy picture and economic outlook, in particular for the United States, but less so than predictions would have it a year or two go.
The greater impact won’t be on the US economy, but rather US-Saudi relations and stability for the Middle East. President Barack Obama met King Abdullah March 28, and both leaders recognize that the geopolitical ground shaped by their common interest in stable oil prices has shifted, creating a new imbalance that could spill over into Mideast security policy.
TEHRAN (IDN | Iran Review) - During the Iranian calendar year, 1392 (March 21, 2013 to March 21, 2014), the world of science and technology witnessed major breakthroughs made possible through the endeavors of Iranian scientists. These researchers made great progress in different scientific fields in various parts of the world, which made them a cause of honor for every Iranian anywhere in the world.
Scientific achievements of a group of researchers of Iranian origin in the United States, Australia and the UK in such scientific fields as medicine, energy, electricity and computer, helped these human sciences to move a step forward. Among their achievements one can point out the production of hepatic cells from skin cells, production of metamaterials, as well as the discovery of a whole new category of antibiotics.
An Analysis by Gary Sick*
WASHINGTON D.C. (IDN | POMEPS) - Over the past quarter century, the most accurate single factor to explain security developments in the Gulf, as well as the best predictor of the future, has been and is U.S. policy in the region. Since it began to be a significant force, U.S. policy has undergone at least five major shifts. The current policy, which I will call the Obama Doctrine, represents the latest, and possibly one of the most important, iterations.
The United States has become the dominant military, diplomatic, and economic presence in the Gulf. It is, in effect, a leading Gulf power. This has become such an accepted condition that it is easy to forget just how recent and exceptional it is.