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Migrants Bringing Melodies to the Streets of Rome: Traditional Music Returns to the Eternal City

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 17:51

“Colosseo band” is a music street-band performing in Rome since years. Credit: Maged Srour / IPS

By Maged Srour
ROME, Jun 1 2018 (IPS)

During the past recent years, the city of Rome has experienced a rise in the presence of musicians in its streets and in particular those playing traditional sounds. It does not take a long time, while walking in the streets of Rome, to see a band playing joyful traditional sounds in Piazza Navona. The group renamed itself “Colosseo Band” but they are all from Eastern Europe. A double bass, violins, guitars and a xylophone: this unique assortment gives rise to an explosion of pleasant sounds that make people dancing in the same square.

“People used to think that traditional and working-class music had no place in urban context and that it was more related to rural areas,” said once Alessandro Portelli, a historian who, together with the musicologist Sara Modigliani created the project “Roma Forestiera” (“Foreigner Rome”). ” A few years ago, Romans started to walk around the city and seeing musicians at almost every corner and they realized that those musicians were not Italians but Nigerians, Romanians and Senegalese: people realized that music had come back to the streets of Rome and those who brought it were foreigners”.

The project “Roma Forestiera” (“Foreigner Rome”) was created in 2010 by the cultural association ‘Circolo Gianni Bosio’ and it is only one of the many other initiatives that want to bring together migrants and Italians through music. The aim of the association is to study and spread the music performed by migrants in Rome and the rest of Italy. The founders of the project –Portelli and Modigliani – went on a tour to the streets, the mosques and the schools of Rome, and they were amazed by the variegated sounds coming from Bangladesh, Senegal, Ecuador, Kurdistan. Today they boast the biggest auditory archive of migrants’ music in Europe.

Thanks to this initiative, the association could also promote the creation of the multi-ethnic chorus “Romolo Balzani”. The latter, promoted by the ‘Iqbal Masih’ school of Rome, gathers adults and minors singers once a week, in the neighbourhood of Torpignattara, one of the most multicultural hubs of Rome. The chorus, founded by Sara Modigliani, today is directed by two migrants women: Roxana Ene from Romania and Sushmita Sultana from Bangladesh.

Two street-musicians playing in the famous square of Piazza Navona, in Rome. Credit: Maged Srour / IPS

Only a few kilometres from there, in the heart of the Esquilino neighbourhood – another crucial melting pot of the city of Rome, known for its high rate of migrants – the association Apollo 11 created in 2002 the “Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio” (OPV, “The Orchestra of Piazza Vittorio”).

In a neighbourhood where Italians are definitely a minority group, two Italians – Mario Tronco and Agostino Ferrente – imagined and created this Orchestra. The OPV gathers musicians coming from ten different countries and speaking nine different languages. Together, they transformed their cultural roots in one unique language: music.

The OPV became in the past recent years one of the best examples of positive integration of migrants in the city of Rome. Through a self-managed system of auto-taxation carried out by some citizens, the OPV was able to create jobs and related residency permits for talented musicians from all around the world.

“Music is a world within itself, it is a language we all understand,” said the singer Stevie Wonder once. Amongst the many forms of art, music has always been characterised by contaminations and borrowings between different peoples: it always represented one of the main vehicles for integration among different cultures. Without a doubt, the language of music is universal. Everyone can understand it regardless of the city, country or culture of origin.

However, at the same time, music is also a banner of each country’s identity. Therefore, it should not be a surprise finding Greek people being so proud of their traditional music or Egyptians loving so much to listen to their cheerful melodies in their microbuses and taxis.

This is the real value of music, which contains at the same time individualism and collectivism. It has its unique shape and identity and its own role in our societies. Music represents an individual experience diverse from person to person. On the other hand, music is also a collective experience because ears of people from throughout the world can enjoy it indifferently: melodies are able to unite people in concerts and celebrations or at the angle of a street while listening to a street musician. Therefore, music can be a tool for individual meditation or a tool to bring people together: different facets of the same coin.

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Categories: Africa

Kenyan officials to take polygraph tests to tackle corruption

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Uganda to build 'Idi Amin museum' to attract tourists

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Categories: Africa

Nuclear Nonproliferation Malpractice

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 14:11

Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director of the Arms Control Association*

By Daryl G. Kimball

The global nuclear nonproliferation system has always relied on responsible leadership from the United States and other global powers. The effort to create, extend, and strengthen the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which was opened for signature 50 years ago on July 1, 1968, has succeeded, albeit imperfectly, because most U.S. presidents have made good faith efforts to back up U.S. legal and political commitments on nuclear arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers a speech, “After the Deal: A New Iran Strategy”, at the Heritage Foundation, in Washington, D.C, on May 21, 2018. Credit: [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Beginning in 2003 when Iran was discovered to have a secret uranium-enrichment program, key European states, along with China, Russia, and later, the United States under President Barack Obama, put enormous effort into negotiating the complex multilateral deal to curtail and contain Iran’s nuclear program and to verifiably block its pathways to nuclear weapons: the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

But now, with his May 8 decision to unilaterally violate the JCPOA, President Donald Trump effectively has ceded the traditional nonproliferation leadership role of the United States, opened the door for Iran to quickly expand its uranium-enrichment capacity, and shaken the foundations of the global nuclear nonproliferation system. Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran and any businesses or banks that continue to do business with Iran puts the valuable nonproliferation barriers established by the JCPOA at grave risk.

If the accord is to survive Trump’s reckless actions, EU governments and other responsible states must now try to sustain it without the United States by taking bold steps to ensure that it remains in Iran’s interest not to break out of the JCPOA’s rigorous constraints.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said May 8 that “[a]s long as Iran continues to implement its nuclear[-]related commitments, as it is doing so far, the European Union will remain committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the nuclear deal.

Europe Union states, as well as China and Russia, have little choice but to part ways with the Trump administration on the Iran deal because Trump has rejected reasonable proposals from leaders of the E3 countries (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom) to address his concerns and because his new “strategy” to pursue a “better deal” to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran is pure fantasy.

To try to address Trump’s complaints about the JCPOA, the E3 worked in good faith for several months to negotiate a supplemental agreement designed to address concerns about Iran’s behavior that fall outside the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, including its ballistic missile program and its support for radical groups in the Middle East.

That effort failed because Trump stubbornly refused to guarantee to the E3 that if they entered into such an agreement, he would continue to waive nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.

Trump administration officials say they will try to “cajole” the European powers and other states to re-impose even stronger sanctions on Iran to try to compel Iran to come back to the negotiating table to work out a “better” deal for the United States and a more onerous one for Iran.

In the meantime, Trump is demanding that Iran must still meet the JCPOA’s nuclear restrictions and submit to its tough International Atomic Energy Agency monitoring provisions. Such arrogant bullying has no chance of producing a cooperative response from leaders in Tehran or in other capitals.

If European and other powers fail to adequately insulate their financial and business transactions with Iran from U.S. sanctions, Iran could decide to quickly expand its enrichment capacity by putting more machines online and increasing its uranium supply. Asked on May 9 how he would respond to such actions, Trump said, “If they do, there will be very severe consequences.”

Within hours of Trump’s May 8 announcement, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said, “If Iran acquires nuclear capability, we will do everything we can to do the same.”

Incredibly, the Trump administration, which is in the process of negotiating an agreement for civil nuclear cooperation with Riyadh, failed to respond to this alarming threat from the Saudi monarchy to violate its NPT commitments.

Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA is also a body blow to efforts to strengthen the NPT system in the run-up to the pivotal 2020 NPT Review Conference. Statements from U.S. diplomats about how others should advance NPT goals will ring hollow so long as the United States continues to ignore or repudiate its own nonproliferation obligations.

For instance, at the NPT gathering in May, U.S. representatives argued that progress toward a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East suffers from a “lack of trust” and nonproliferation “noncompliance” by states in the region. Unfortunately, U.S. noncompliance with the JCPOA has only exacerbated these challenges.

Trump’s decision on the nuclear deal has transformed the United States from a nonproliferation leader to an NPT rogue state. For now, the future of the hard-won Iran nuclear accord and maybe the NPT as we now know it will depend largely on the leadership of key European leaders and restraint from Iran’s.

*The link to the original article:

The post Nuclear Nonproliferation Malpractice appeared first on Inter Press Service.


Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director of the Arms Control Association*

The post Nuclear Nonproliferation Malpractice appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Categories: Africa

Why Milk, Meat & Eggs Can Make a Big Difference to World’s Most Nutritionally Vulnerable People

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 12:05

By Silvia Alonso
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Jun 1 2018 (IPS)

As the world becomes increasingly aware of the growing demands being made of our planet, more and more of us are making lifestyle choices to reduce our negative environmental impact and carbon footprint.

Understandably, this has led to calls for changes to our diets, including reducing the amount of livestock-derived foods, such as meat, milk and eggs, we consume.

However, a new, extensive review of research published today (JUNE1) has found that these foods can make an important difference to nutritional well-being in the first 1,000 days of life, with life-long benefits, particularly in vulnerable communities in low-income countries.

The report, by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security, highlights the unmet potential for food from livestock origin to contribute to better health and nutrition when included in the diets of pregnant and breast feeding women and their infants in resource-scarce settings.

Despite progress to tackle poor nutrition in children’s early years, undernutrition remains high, with one in four children under five in the world reported to be stunted in 2014, according to UNICEF. Deficiencies in key micronutrients, such as iron, vitamin A, iodine and zinc, are also common among children and pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries.

The research demonstrates that modest consumption of livestock-derived food in the first 1,000 days of life, particularly where other good sources of micronutrients and vitamins are scarce, is an important option to improve a child’s prospects for growth, cognition and development.

This is particularly relevant in countries in Africa and South Asia where undernutrition is highest and where consumption of livestock-derived products is commonly reported to be very low among poor families.

Livestock-derived foods are among the richest and most efficient sources of micronutrients, macronutrients and fatty acids needed by humans. For example, although spinach has a lot of iron, a woman would have to eat eight times more spinach than cow’s liver to get the same levels, because it is presented in liver in a more ready-to-use chemical form.

Yet, livestock-derived foods represented just 20 per cent of the total protein supply across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa in 2013. In North America and Europe, as much as 60 per cent of the protein supply came from meat, milk and eggs.

Based on our findings, global efforts to reduce the consumption of meat, milk and eggs to try to address environmental concerns should not be applied to pregnant and breastfeeding women and babies under the age of two (within the first 1,000 days of life), especially in regions where other sources of protein and micronutrients are not readily available and where diets lack diversity.

What this means is that we must ensure that movements in the Global North towards plant-based diets in the name of environmental sustainability do not lose sight of the nutritional needs of the most vulnerable groups of the next generation, in particular where poverty in the Global South gives people fewer food choices.

The report also shows that the total amount of livestock-derived food required to meet the nutritional needs of all infants in low-income countries throughout their first 1,000 days is low compared to the levels of current total global consumption of these foods.

A more equitable distribution of these foods is therefore needed and should be encouraged for these vulnerable populations, even if measures are taken to slow livestock production in industrialized countries, where many people are putting their health at risk from overconsuming meat and other energy dense foods.

Among our report’s recommendations is a call to increase the availability and affordability of safe livestock-derived foods in low- and middle-income countries when social and cultural norms permit, as well as to better align nutrition, health, livestock and sustainability policies at national and international levels.

Ultimately, the health and environmental concerns of producing and overconsuming livestock-derived foods, particularly in high-income countries are legitimate, but these should not be a reason to limit nutritional choices for the undernourished in poorer countries.

It would be irresponsible, and unethical, to fail to better utilise existing livestock resources to improve the diets of undernourished children and new mothers.

The post Why Milk, Meat & Eggs Can Make a Big Difference to World’s Most Nutritionally Vulnerable People appeared first on Inter Press Service.


Silvia Alonso is a scientist-epidemiologist at the International Livestock Research Institute

The post Why Milk, Meat & Eggs Can Make a Big Difference to World’s Most Nutritionally Vulnerable People appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Categories: Africa

Africa's week in pictures: 24-31 May 2018

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Latin America Begins to Discover Electric Mobility

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 01:07

The podium at the conference in Argentina’s lower house of Congress, where representatives of UN Environment assured that public transport, which in Latin America has the highest rate of use in the world per capita, will lead the transition to electric mobility. Credit: Daniel Gutman / IPS

By Daniel Gutman
BUENOS AIRES, May 31 2018 (IPS)

With 80 percent of the population living in urban areas and a vehicle fleet that is growing at the fastest rate in the world, Latin America has the conditions to begin the transition to electric mobility – but public policies are not, at least for now, up to the task.

That is the assessment of UN Environment, according to a conference that two of its officials gave on May 29 in Argentina’s lower house of Congress, in Buenos Aires.

The shift towards electric mobility, however, will come inexorably in a few years, and in Latin America it will begin with public passenger transport, said the United Nations agency’s regional climate change coordinator, Gustavo Máñez, who used two photographs of New York’s Fifth Avenue to illustrate his prediction.

The first photo, from 1900, showed horse-drawn carriages. The second was taken only 13 years later and only cars were visible."As at other times in history, this time the transition will happen very quickly. I am seeing all over the world that car manufacturers are looking to join this wave of electric mobility because they know that, if not, they are going to be left out of the market." -- Gustavo Máñez

“As at other times in history, this time the transition will happen very quickly. I am seeing all over the world that car manufacturers are looking to join this wave of electric mobility because they know that, if not, they are going to be left out of the market,” said Máñez.

Projections indicate that Latin America could, over the next 25 years, see its car fleet triple, to more than 200 million vehicles by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

This growth, if the transition to sustainable mobility does not pick up speed, will seriously jeopardise compliance with the intended nationally determined contributions adopted under the global Paris Agreement on climate change, according to Máñez.

The reason is that the transport sector is responsible for nearly 20 percent of the region’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

In this regard, the official praised the new president of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado, who called for the elimination of fossil fuel use and for the decarbonisation of the economy. Máñez also highlighted that “Chile, Colombia and Mexico are working to tax transport for its carbon emissions.

“This is an example of public policies aimed at generating demand for electric vehicles,” said Máñez, while another positive case is that of Uruguay, one of the countries in the region that has made the most progress in electric mobility, stimulating it with tax benefits.

“But the region still needs to do a great deal of work developing incentives for electric mobility and removing subsidies for fossil fuels,” he added.

In this respect, he asked Latin America to look to the example of Scandinavian countries, where electric vehicles already play an important role, thanks to the fact that their drivers enjoy parking privileges or use the lanes for public transport, in addition to other sustained measures.

There are very disparate realities in the region.

Thus, while electric vehicles have been sold in Brazil for years, the country hosting the conference is lagging far behind and only began selling one model this year.

An electric bus parked on a downtown street in Montevideo. Credit: Inés Acosta / IPS

In fact, the meeting was led by Argentine lawmaker Juan Carlos Villalonga, of the governing alliance Cambiemos and author of a bill that promotes the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, which is currently not on the legislative agenda.

“The first objective is to generate a debate in society about sustainable mobility,” said Villalonga, who acknowledged that Argentina is lagging behind other countries in the region in the transition to clean energy.

Argentina only started a couple of years ago developing non-conventional renewable energies, which in the country’s electricity generation mix are still negligible.

As for electric mobility, the government of the city of Buenos Aires hopes to put eight experimental buses into operation by the end of the year, as a pilot plan, in a fleet of 13,000 buses.

Combating climate change is not the only reason why electric mobility should be encouraged.

“Health is another powerful reason, because internal combustion engines generate a lot of air pollution. In Argentina alone, almost 15,000 people die prematurely each year due to poor air quality,” said José Dallo, head of the UN Environment’s Office for the Southern Cone, based in Montevideo.

“There is also the issue of energy security, as electricity prices are more stable than the price of oil,” he added.

In 2016, UN Environment presented an 84-page report entitled “Electric Mobility. Opportunities for Latin America,” which noted the change would mean a reduction of 1.4 gigatons in carbon dioxide emissions, responsible for 80 percent of GHG emissions, and savings of 85 billion dollars in fuels until 2050.

The report acknowledges that among the region’s obstacles are fossil fuel subsidies “and a lower electricity supply than in developed countries, where the boom in electric mobility has been concentrated so far.”

It also notes that Latin America is the region with the highest use of buses per person in the world, and that public transport “has a strategic potential to spearhead electric mobility.”

Along these lines, the experience of Chile through the Consortium Electric Mobility, a mixed initiative with the participation of the Ministry of Transport and scientific institutions from Chile and Finland, was also shared during the conference in Buenos Aires.

Engineer Gianni López, former director of the government’s National Environment Commission and a member of the Mario Molina Research and Development Centre, said that “in Chile the decision has already been taken to move public transport towards electric mobility.”

He explained that there will be 120 electric buses operating next year in Santiago and that the goal is 1,500 by 2025 – more than 25 percent of a total fleet of nearly 7,000 public transportation units.

“There are many aspects that make it easier to start with public buses than private cars,” Lopez said.

“On the one hand, buses run many hours a day so the return on investment is much faster; on the other hand, since they have fixed routes, it is easier to install recharging systems; and autonomy is not a problem because you know exactly how far they are going to travel each day,” he said.

One example of this is Uruguay, where electric taxis have been operating since 2014, and since 2016 a private mass transit company has a regular service with electric buses. In addition, a 400-km “green route,” with refueling stations every 60 km, was inaugurated last December.

As for the cost of electric vehicles, Máñez assured that China, which leads the production and sale of electric vehicles, is now close to reaching cost parity with conventional vehicles.

In this sense, the official also spoke of the need for Latin America to develop a technology that is currently underdeveloped.

He highlighted the case of Argentina, which is not only a producer of conventional vehicles, but in the north of the country has world-renowned reserves of lithium, a mineral used in batteries for electric vehicles.

The question is that lithium is exported as a primary product because this South American country has not developed the technology to manufacture and assemble the batteries locally.

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Categories: Africa

UN Migration Agency Helps Somali Migrants Return Home from Libya

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 20:23

Helping Somali migrants stranded in Libya to return home. Photo: IOM

By International Organization for Migration
Tripoli/Mogadishu, May 31 2018 (IOM)

Yesterday (30/05), IOM, the International Organization for Migration, in collaboration with the Libyan and Somali Governments and with support from the European Union, facilitated the voluntary return to Mogadishu of 150 Somali migrants stranded in Libya. The majority of them had been held in Government-run detention centres.

Migrants in Libya are exposed to numerous risks, including smuggling, trafficking, kidnapping, abuse, detention and torture. Through the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), IOM has tracked over 660,000 migrants in Libya. However, the true number could be closer to one million people.

“I lost everything in Libya; time, health and money,” said twenty-three year old Mohamed, who left Somalia for a better future. “But I will return to Somalia and start from scratch, build a better future away from the day dreams of illegal migration”, he added.

IOM is grateful to the Somali Government for the expediency in providing the returning migrants with the appropriate documentation and to the Libyan Governments for organizing exit visas. “The support to these Somali nationals wishing to go back to Somalia is the positive result of close collaboration with the Somali Government and UNHCR,” said Othman Belbeisi, IOM Libya Chief of Mission.

“This was a massive undertaking between the Somali government and IOM and I am very glad that we are finally able to assist this number of migrants in desperate need of humanitarian return assistance. In the name of the Somali government, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to IOM for their unwavering support to our migrants stranded in Libya,” stated Ambassador Ali Said Faqi, Special Envoy of the President of Somalia for Somali Migrants Stranded in Libya.

Upon return, representatives from the Federal Government of Somalia and IOM welcomed the returnees at the way-station in Mogadishu. IOM will be fully screening all returnees and providing group psychosocial sessions in the immediate days after arrival. Following these screenings, ongoing reintegration assistance will be provided through general support and complementary assistance, according to the project’s selection criteria.

This is the fourth and largest voluntary humanitarian return of migrants from Libya to Somalia. The reintegration assistance in Somalia is part of the larger EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, which facilitates orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration management through the development of rights-based and development-focused policies and processes on protection and sustainable reintegration. The EU-IOM Joint Initiative, backed by the EU Trust Fund, covers and has been set up in close cooperation with a total of 26 African countries.

“The EU recognizes the importance of supporting stranded migrants who wish to return to Somalia and reintegrate with their host communities and I believe that, through this initiative, returning migrants will be able to lead meaningful lives and contribute to a rising Somalia”, said Pencho Garrido Ruiz, Chargé d’Affaires at the EU Delegation to Somalia.

For more information, please contact:

IOM Libya: Ashraf Hassan, +21629794707,

IOM Somalia: Amy Edwards, Tel: +201097435167, Email:

The post UN Migration Agency Helps Somali Migrants Return Home from Libya appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Categories: Africa

UN Launches its Most Ambitious New Development System

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 18:57

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in an address to the UN General Assembly, on “Repositioning the UN Development System”

By António Guterres

I just arrived this morning from Mali – but I wanted to be here personally to thank you for your leadership, engagement and constructive spirit.

Allow me to pay a special tribute to the co-facilitators Sabri Boukadoum, Permanent Representative of Algeria, and Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark.

António Guterres

The resolution you adopt today ushers in the most ambitious and comprehensive transformation of the UN development system in decades. It sets the foundations to reposition sustainable development at the heart of the United Nations.

And it gives practical meaning to our collective promise to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for everyone, everywhere — with poverty eradication as its first goal, leaving no one behind. That is what this is really about.

In the end, reform is about putting in place the mechanisms to make a real difference in the lives of people.

You have been clear in your mandates to establish a new generation of UN Country Teams and strengthen our investments in people, planet, peace and prosperity.

National ownership and a strong focus on accountability and results will guide the system every step of the way. Our teams on the ground will now be better able to tailor their presence, capacities, skillsets and overall response to your priorities.

We will reach out and build stronger partnerships with civil society, academia, the private sector and beyond to take actions to scale. Our joint planning instrument in countries – the UN Development Assistance Framework – will better reflect country priorities and needs.

You will be able to count on impartial and empowered Resident Coordinators – fully devoted to the needs that you require to fulfil the 2030 Agenda, drawing on experience, skills and knowledge across the system.

I am extremely proud of the 129 Resident Coordinators working hard around the world in 165 countries – in some cases against all odds. Being a Resident Coordinator is one of the most challenging jobs in the United Nations.

But the structures we have today at the country level are excessively reliant on personalities and goodwill across a system that does not always reward cooperation.

We now can resolve a historic deficit in our coordination function, and institutionalize what works, across the board. I count on your support to adequately and predictably fund this reinvigorated Resident Coordinator nationally-driven, people-centred system.

As you know, my preference would have been to fund the Resident Coordinator system through the regular budget of the United Nations, to ensure predictability, sustainability and ownership from all Member States.

The hybrid funding solution put forward by the co-facilitators is the best possible alternative. By combining different sources, it diversifies the funding base and enhances the prospect of adequate and predictable funding.

You can count on the Secretariat – and on my personal commitment – to do our utmost to ensure successful implementation of this model. But let us also bear in mind that success will rely heavily on your generosity and sustained commitment.

I therefore appeal to you for your immediate support so that we can hit the ground running on 1 January 2019. I am aware that we need to work now on the modalities by which the reinvigorated RC system will be operationalized, including its funding arrangements.

Before the end of the current General Assembly session, I will present an implementation plan addressing these questions. We will consult closely with you as we develop the implementation plan and move to the transition phase.

We will soon enter year four of the 2030 Agenda. We don’t have a moment to lose. We are committed to fast-track transformation, working closely with you – and for you on behalf of people.

Change is never easy. But it can be well-managed and inclusive to ensure smooth transitions and tangible outcomes. This is our commitment.

You can rely on my leadership and the UN development system to step up to meet your ambition. I ask you to carry forward your resolve by supporting change through the governing bodies of agencies, funds and programmes – and through your capitals, in your bilateral relationship with each entity.

I will move immediately to put in place a transition team under the leadership of the Deputy Secretary-General to implement your decisions. This team will work in the same open, transparent and inclusive way we have conducted this process thus far and ensure the inclusion of our funds, programmes and specialized agencies.

I thank you for your determination and resolve. You have shown that consensus and ambition can go hand in hand. You have done so because a stronger UN development system is in our common interest. It means more results for people, and more value for money.

Let us build on this achievement. Let us see our efforts through for all those who look to us with hope to better their lives in our increasingly complex world.

The post UN Launches its Most Ambitious New Development System appeared first on Inter Press Service.


António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in an address to the UN General Assembly, on “Repositioning the UN Development System”

The post UN Launches its Most Ambitious New Development System appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Categories: Africa

South Africa outrage over 'naked' school choir performance

BBC Africa - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 18:23
The education minister criticises a cultural performance in which girls exposed breasts and buttocks.
Categories: Africa

The Day the UN Elected a President in a Virtual Lottery

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 17:40

The UN General Assembly in session. Credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elias

By Thalif Deen

The battle between two candidates for the presidency of the 193-member General Assembly next week harks back to the day when the president of the highest policy making body at the United Nations was elected on the luck of a draw –following a dead heat.

With the Asian group failing to field a single candidate, the politically-memorable battle took place ahead of the 36th session of the General Assembly (GA) back in 1981 when three Asian candidates contested the presidency: Ismat Kittani of Iraq, Tommy Koh of Singapore and Kwaja Mohammed Kaiser of Bangladesh (described as the “battle of three Ks”).

On the first ballot, Kittani got 64 votes; Kaiser, 46; and Koh, 40. Still, Kittani was short of a majority — of the total number of members at that time — to be elected to the presidency. On a second ballot, Kittani and Kaiser tied with 73 votes each.

In order to break the tie, the outgoing General Assembly President – Rudiger von Wechmar of Germany– drew lots, as specified in Article 21 relating to the procedures in the election of the president (and as recorded in the Repertory of Practice of the General Assembly).

And the luck of the draw, based purely on chance, favoured Kittani, in that unprecedented General Assembly election.

Come June 5, two candidates will vie for the prestigious post, but it is very unlikely that history will repeat itself.

The two in the running are:Mary Elizabeth Flores Flake, Permanent Representative of Honduras, and María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador—both from the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) group.

On the basis of geographical rotation, the LAC Group claims the upcoming presidency—an elected high ranking UN position which has been overwhelmingly dominated by men.

Since 1945, the Assembly has elected only three women as presidents: Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit of India (1953), Angie Brooks of Liberia (1969) and Sheikha Haya Rashed Al-Khalifa of Bahrain (2006). And that’s three out of 72 Presidents, 69 of whom were men.

Espinosa Garces, a former Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations (2008-2009), was once the trade union leader of the UN Permanent Representatives Association.

The biggest single factor that may go against her is that Ecuador had held the Presidency once before– Leopoldo Benites of Ecuador back in 1973. And to be elected again would go against precedent.

As a longstanding tradition, every one of the 193 member states –- with the exception of the five permanent members of the Security Council, namely Britain, the United States, France, China and Russia –- is expected to take their turn for the presidency.

The only country that has been elected twice is Argentina (Jose Arce at the second Special Session in 1948 and Dante Caputo in 1988).

According to a Middle Eastern diplomat,Flores Flake of Honduras, on the other hand, is unlikely to garner many votes from either the Arab or Muslim member states because Honduras is one of the few countries which has followed in the highly-controversial footsteps of President Donald Trump and decided to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem.

As a result, it could be a close fight for the presidency.

One of the recently contested presidencies was in 2011 when two candidates– Kul Chandra Gautam of Nepal and Ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser of Qatar— vied for the post, both representing the Asian Group.

Providing a detailed analysis of the political mechanics behind GA elections, Gautam, a former U.N. assistant secretary-general and an ex-deputy executive director of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, told IPS last week that the election of the president of the General Assembly (PGA) is normally settled in the regional groups, and goes to the full GA for formal endorsement of the nominee of the region concerned.

If no unanimous choice emerges at the regional level through informal negotiations among multiple candidates, the common practice has been to have one or more “straw polls” at which the candidate with the most votes is “nominated’ as the “unanimous” candidate of the region, he explained.

Usually, he said, there is a “gentleman’s agreement” among members of the regional group to abide by the result of the “informal straw poll” in which the member state whose candidate gets fewer votes “voluntarily” withdraws its candidate to allow the candidate who got more votes to be the “unanimous nominee” of the whole region.

Because of this “gentleman’s understanding” at the regional level to which most member states subscribe “voluntarily” — there has rarely been a contested election in the full GA, said Gautam.

Usually, as a formality, the GA approves the single nominee of the region “unanimously” by acclamation.

“As you mention, in 1981, the Asian Group could not come to a consensus, and hence a real election was conducted in the GA, and when the votes in the GA were evenly divided, it went to the luck of the draw by the then PGA,” he pointed out.

“As I said, this happens very rarely, when some member-states presenting candidates for PGA feel that they may not win the majority in their regional group but feel they can garner more support from other regions in the full GA. As securing “unanimous nomination” from a regional group is not a binding UN rule but depends on the informal “gentlemen’s understanding”, member states contesting for the PGA position do retain the right to ask for voting in the full GA, if they so choose,” he noted.

“I am not sure how it all played in the GRULAC (Latin American and Caribbean) regional group in the current contest for PGA,” said Gautam.

In the case of Nepal and Qatar contesting for PGA, both these member-states — and the Asian Group as a whole — had agreed to the “gentlemen’s agreement” formula to nominate whoever got more votes in the informal “straw poll” in the Asian Group as the region’s “unanimous” candidate.

It was agreed in advance, he said, that the votes cast in the straw poll would be kept secret, known only to three persons — an Ambassador/Permanent Representative (PR) designated by Nepal from among the Asian Group, an Ambassador/PR designated by Qatar, and the President of the Asian Group for that month.

The two ambassadors designated by Nepal and Qatar served as polling officers – who counted the votes and reported the result to the President of the Asian Group.

“I recall the President of the Asian Group advising the assembled PRs and reps of the Asian Group that “the vote was extremely close” but that Qatar had received more votes than Nepal.”

At that point, as agreed in advance, he asked the Nepali Ambassador to speak. The Nepali PR then gracefully withdrew its candidate, allowing the Qatar candidate to be the Asian Group’s “unanimous” candidate referred to the full GA.

“So long as the election/straw poll in the regional group is conducted in a free, fair and impartial manner, I consider that to be an acceptable democratic practice. For member states to take the election to the full GA is actually an even more democratic practice.”

What is sometimes wrong – as in national elections – is if some countries and candidates resort to “cheque-book diplomacy” to secure votes by promises of more aid, trade or other official or personal inducements to secure undue advantage. Unfortunately, it does sometimes happen in the UN and its specialized agencies and is known as an open secret, Gautam said.

“I hope that is not the case in the forthcoming PGA election from the LAC region, as both candidates seem well qualified and neither seeming to have any unfair advantage. May the best candidate win.”

The writer can be contacted at

The post The Day the UN Elected a President in a Virtual Lottery appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Categories: Africa

Loris Karius: Liverpool keeper deserves second chance says Grobbelaar

BBC Africa - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 17:06
Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius deserves "a second chance" after his Champions League final mistakes, says Bruce Grobbelaar.
Categories: Africa

End the ‘harmful narrative’; migration is a net-gain for Africa, finds UN report

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 16:36

Participants at an International Organization for Migration (IOM) training on welding, mechanics, masonry and tailoring skills in Rwanda. According to a UN report, remittances accounted for 13 per cent of the country's GDP in 2012 figures. Credit: IOM

By International Organization for Migration
May 31 2018 (IOM)

The large-scale migration of people within Africa tends to boost growth and lifts the continent’s whole economy, a new United Nations report has said, urging the world to dispel misconceptions and “harmful narratives” targeting migration.

Cross-border movement offers “a chance for a better life, with the social and economic benefits extending to both source and destination countries, as well as future generations,” said Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), launching the agency’s Economic Development in Africa report on Thursday.

“Our analysis shows this to be true for millions of African migrants and their families,” he said, adding that public perception, “particularly as it relates to international African migration, is rife with misconceptions that have become part of a divisive, misleading and harmful narrative.”

According to the report, remittances travelling back home from migrant workers both outside and inside Africa rose – on average – from $38.4 billion between 2005-2007, to $64.9 billion, during the two-year period up to the end of 2016. By that point, remittances accounted for over half of the capital flows within the continent.Likewise, migrants contributed nearly 20 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Côte d’Ivoire according to figures from 2008, and 13 per cent in Rwanda (2012 figures).

Overall, some 19 million international migrants moved within Africa, and 17 million Africans left the continent during last year. The continent was also the destination for about 5.5 million people from outside, the report found.

Close relation between trade and migration

The report also provides evidence of the “intimate correlation” between migration and trade – two sides of the same coin – said Junior Roy Davis, the lead author of the report.

“Africa is on the cusp of tremendous change,” he said, noting the recently agreed African Continental Free Trade Area and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons.

“In this context the report contributes to a better understanding of the implications of intra-African migration for the continent’s socio-economic transformation,” added Mr. Davis.

Continent hosting majority of the world’s refugees and displaced persons

However, alongside the numbers of migrants moving and working within Africa, the continent also has some of the highest number of people forced from their homes due to conflict or natural disasters.

On top of the development gains lost at home, there is a significant economic and social burden faced by host countries, leaving many migrants dependent on international humanitarian aid.

The post End the ‘harmful narrative’; migration is a net-gain for Africa, finds UN report appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Categories: Africa

GGGI signs an Implementation Agreement with the Independent State of Papua New Guinea to provide support in accessing climate finance

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 14:40

SEOUL, Republic of Korea, May 31 2018 (GGGI)

The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) signed an agreement to implement a Green Climate Fund (“GCF”) project as a delivery partner for the Independent State of Papua New Guinea’s Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA).

The Implementation Agreement was signed by Dr. Frank Rijsberman, Director-General of GGGI and Mr. Ruel Yamuna, Managing Director of the Climate Change and Development Authority of Papua New Guinea at the GGGI Seoul headquarters on May 31.

Under the Agreement, GGGI will support CCDA to strengthen its role as a National Designated Authority (“NDA”) to engage with, and access funds from GCF. Further, under close consultations with CCDA, GGGI will implement activities described in the Readiness Project, which include strengthening country capacity, engaging stakeholders in consultative processes and supporting private sector mobilization – all of which will help address climate resilience and low-carbon development.

This Implementation Agreement will help GGGI to provide support for Papua New Guinea (PNG) in accessing climate finance to address its adaptation and mitigation needs as it is one of the most vulnerable countries to the adverse effects of climate change.

PNG is one of the 13 founding Members of GGGI, having expressed commitment to support the organization at the 2012 Rio+20 Summit.

GGGI was selected as PNG’s Delivery Partner to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) readiness project in 2017. In November 2017, GGGI conducted the first national workshop on accessing climate finance, where cross-sectoral stakeholders gathered to identify common challenges that the country faces in accessing climate finance, address potential solutions, and understand how GGGI can further support PNG to build relevant capacity, strengthen coordination and develop innovative climate project proposals. The GCF readiness project, in the amount of $667,427 with a 24-month implementation period, was approved by GCF on December 18, 2017.



About Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA)

Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) is national government entity that coordinates the Climate Change efforts of the Government of Papua New Guinea established under Climate Change Management Act (CCMA) 2015. It is the coordinating entity for all climate change related policies and actions in the country. Additionally, it is the designated National Authority under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

CCDA is tasked with ensuring that Papua New Guinea follows a path of climate-compatible growth; that the country’s economy develops while simultaneously mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and reducing vulnerability to climate change related risks.

About the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)

Based in Seoul, GGGI is an intergovernmental organization that supports developing country governments transition to a model of economic growth that is environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive. GGGI delivers programs in 27 partner countries with technical support, capacity building, policy planning & implementation, and by helping to build a pipeline of bankable green investment projects. More on GGGI’s events, projects and publications can be found on You can also follow GGGI on Twitter and join us on Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.


Hee Kyung Son, Communications Specialist, tel. +82 70-7117-9957,

The post GGGI signs an Implementation Agreement with the Independent State of Papua New Guinea to provide support in accessing climate finance appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Categories: Africa

Uganda's parliament passes controversial tax on social media users

BBC Africa - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 14:00
President Yoweri Museveni says the revenue collected will help the country "cope with gossip".
Categories: Africa


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