Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Corruption at the Inter-American Development Bank: The Fox-In-The-Henhouse Syndrome

by Bea Edwards on December 12, 2011 ( The Whistleblogger / 2010 )

It seems that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is holding an accountability gala (invitation here) this week called "Leveraging Transparency and Integrity as a Condition to Sustainable Development." There will be a transparency carnival conducted by The Institutional Capacity and Finance Sector, and a special star turn by IDB Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno.

The Bank has been working hard on transparency and integrity because it needs a bailout from the US Congress, which has been asking intrusive questions about the IDB's appalling record on aid effectiveness and anti-corruption. Specific Congressional offices have even been prying into the IDB's habit of retaliating against whistleblowers and using internal "oversight" offices to do it. As Representative Charles Dent (R-Pa) put it during a hearing this past spring (minutes 29 – 31):

As you know, these banks need reforms in many areas, but specifically in their internal judicial systems, which are not always as impartial when investigating charges of fraud, corruption and waste by various whistleblowers, and there was an example at the Inter-American Development Bank that, according to the press, immediately dismissed a contract officer in Haiti when that person raised the issue of fraud in the IDB's Haiti reconstruction contracts.

The "integrity" record at the IDB took another turn for the worse this past summer when the Administrative Tribunal handed down an embarrassing ruling in the Fernando Fernandez case. Those industrious enough to skim through the text discovered that Mr. Fernandez helped to award a series of contracts to chapters of PriceWaterhouseCoopers in exchange for a job for his son. In the published ruling, the identity of PwC is concealed, and the favored firm is referred to as XYZ, but trust me – it's PwC.

...[T]he Complainant (Fernandez) was issued a Notice of Investigation by the Ethics Officer alleging that he unduly influenced the Bank's award of a contract in favor of the XYZ, in exchange for a personal favor to the Complainant, the employment by XYZ of the Complainant's son.

If you read further, you'll find that Mr. Fernandez did, in fact, attempt to exchange favored treatment of PwC in IDB contract competitions for his son's new job there.

The Tribunal does conclude that there was misconduct by virtue of the fact that the Complainant took advantage of his post and position of trust as Senior Advisor to the Vice-President for Finance and Administration to procure a job for his son.

The whole situation is even more remarkable when the Complainant's position at the IDB is taken into account. Mr. Fernandez was:

[A] high official and former Deputy Auditor with responsibility for investigating ethics violations.

A remarkably Orwellian feature of the IDB is that a lack of transparency, flagrant misconduct and unethical practices often begin and end with the very departments created to promote accountability and integrity.

As pointed out, in the Fernandez case, Mr. Fernandez himself was a Deputy in the Office of the Executive Auditor.

Similarly, in a case brought to the Administrative Tribunal two years ago, an unnamed Complainant argued that an investigator in the Bank's unfortunately named Office of Institutional Integrity (OII) was biased and incompetent. The Tribunal agreed, and so, with great presence of mind, his superiors transferred him to the Ethics Office! And there he remains.

As it turns out, it's a good thing they have a little extra help over there, because the Ethics Officer in place at the time resigned abruptly after the conclusion of an investigation into her own professional conduct earlier this year.

Meanwhile, as an auditor, Mr. Fernandez was able to contest the Bank's sanctioning of his "wrongdoing," because the practices employed by the investigator in his case, acting on behalf of the Ethics Officer, were so outrageous.

In the end, the Tribunal ordered Mr. Fernandez reinstated, after three years of suspension without pay. Unaddressed in this conflict between this Deputy Auditor and the Bank, however, was the role of PwC itself. As those in the anti-corruption business should be aware, in the United States, under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, it is illegal (if such a term is applicable to anything the IDB does) to either offer or to accept a bribe. In this case, PwC clearly offered Mr. Fernandez a bribe, yet apparently escaped the fallout of the entire caper.

This is not surprising. According to its breathless description of itself, PwC is a model corporate citizen:

At PwC, leadership is at the core of our corporate responsibility strategy. Our programs are guided by one common commitment: to do what is right for our clients, our people, our communities and the environment. We deliver our services as a trusted business advisor by developing our people to be responsible leaders who demonstrate our leadership as good corporate citizens. Whether we're driving a discussion about corporate responsibility in the marketplace or donating our time and skills to local communities, we're continuing our long history of doing business responsibly.

And so, in the aftermath of the Fernandez debacle, PwC simply "reached out" to the IDB to mend fences, so to speak. In an agreement signed by the Bank and PwC, the Argentine affiliate of PwC was barred from applying for Bank contracts for a period of about a month after the Fernandez ruling and PwC US was barred for about a year.

Curiously, given the IDB's commitment to transparency, the agreement debarring PwC was strictly confidential between the parties. In a letter to five high level Bank officials, Executive VP Julie Katzman wrote:

Under the Agreement, the parties thereto, including the Bank, shall not disclose(i) the Agreement (including any terms thereof), (ii) information concerning the discussions that preceded the Agreement, or (iii) other related information concerning PwC US and PwC AE SRL...

So, we asked, what was the agreement between the bribe (the IDB) and the briber (PwC)? In its own transparent way, the IDB released this statement on August 15, 2011:

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) today announces that PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) has agreed to contribute US$2 million to establish an IDB-managed fund to support integrity, governance and institution building in Latin America and the IDB. PwC has taken measures to address a past issue of concern. Among such measures include PwC's implementation of a focused internal compliance training program for PwC employees on IDB engagements, and PwC acknowledges its responsibility for ensuring compliance.

Note the delicate phrasing; "a past issue of concern." This particular "issue" involves a bribe, which would be, if it occurred in a jurisdiction where the rule of law applied, a crime.

So what exactly were the terms of the Agreement not to be disclosed, and what transpired in the discussions preceding the signatures on that particular piece of paper? Here's a suggestion: in return for a $2 million fund to support "integrity" and "governance," the IDB's Office of Institutional Integrity would not refer PwC to the US or the Argentine Justice Departments for investigation and possible prosecution.

It's just a guess, but in the absence of transparency, it's a good one. Such a superbly cynical move is completely in character: the IDB will use the funds dubiously extorted from PwC's corrupt actors to train Latin American and Caribbean officials in integrity.

Bea Edwards is Executive Director and International Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.

Friday, 9 December 2011

H.E. Sha Zukang, Head of the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, to address Eye on Earth Summit

The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, who is also the Secretary-General of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development ("Rio+20") will address the Eye on Earth Summit on 13 December and speak about "The road to Rio: The importance of information networking."

Abu Dhabi, December 8, 2011: His Excellency Sha Zukang, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and the Secretary-General of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, will share his vision regarding "The road to Rio: The importance of information networking" at the Eye on Earth Abu Dhabi 2011 Summit.

"As the world seeks to eradicate poverty, it faces two huge and interlinked challenges: how to reduce the stress the global economy puts on nature and how to put in place solid institutions to shepherd global sustainable development," H.E. Mr. Sha said. A key question will be how to ensure that people and decision-makers everywhere have access to the data and information they will need to chart a sustainable course in the years ahead.

"I am particularly pleased to attend the Eye on Earth Summit, primarily because I consider it the launch of a historic initiative to bring together the public and private networks of experts working to advance environmental and societal information infrastructure as a new foundation for sustainable development."

The Summit will convene world experts to facilitate greater access to environmental and societal information, especially for emerging economies.

To be held December 12-15 under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, the Summit is hosted by Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD), facilitated by Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) and held in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The Eye on Earth Abu Dhabi 2011 Summit will convene world leaders and experts in environmental and societal information networking to reach consensus on solutions to greater data accessibility and to encourage stakeholders to collaborate to either strengthen existing data access initiatives or launch new ones. A key goal of the Summit is the environmental and societal data community's adoption of the Eye on Earth Abu Dhabi 2011 Summit Declaration - a document that will provide input to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in June 2012 under the leadership of H.E. Mr. Sha.

H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi and Eye on Earth Co-Chair, said: "H.E. Mr. Sha's participation in the Eye on Earth Abu Dhabi Summit illustrates the importance the work of the international data and information community has for the sustainability of global development and the alleviation of poverty. Coming twenty years after the first global conference devoted to sustainable development, the decisions that will be taken at the Rio+20 conference guided by H.E. Mr. Sha will be crucial to our common future."

This will be H.E. Sha Zukang's first visit to Abu Dhabi.

Confirmed attendees of the Eye on Earth Abu Dhabi 2011 Summit include UAE leadership, President Bill Clinton, Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dame Jane Morris Goodall, Philippe Costeau, Jr. and Lelei Lelaulu, Chairman, Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific International (FSPI).

An Eye on Earth Exhibition will showcase the latest developments in environmental information and technology.

For more information and speaker biographies, please visit www.eyeonearthsummit.org


About Mr. Sha Zukang
Mr. Sha Zukang is the United Nations Under-Secretary-General heading the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), which is responsible for the follow-up to the major United Nations Summits and Conferences, and services the Second and Third Committees of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council as well as the vast majority of its functional commissions and expert bodies. He also convenes inter-agency coordinating mechanisms such as the Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs.

Mr. Sha also serves as the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, to be convened in Brazil in 2012.

Before joining the United Nations in July 2007, Mr. Sha held a number of posts in the diplomatic service of the People's Republic of China. He has varied experience with multilateral organizations and international conferences. He was Chairman of the Preparatory Committee and Chairman of the Committee of the Whole, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 11th session from 2003 to 2004, President of the Trade and Development Board, 50th Session of UNCTAD, Chairperson of the Government group of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organization from 2002 to 2003, and member of the UN Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Disarmament matters from 1994 to 1999. In addition, he has served as president, vice-president, chairperson, coordinator and expert in many international conferences in the field of arms control, trade, intellectual property, social affairs, and telecommunications, among others.

Mr. Sha is a graduate of Nanjing University, China. He is a native of Jiangsu Province and is married, with one son.

About Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD)
The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) was established in 1996 to preserve Abu Dhabi's natural heritage, protect our future, and raise awareness about environmental issues. EAD is Abu Dhabi's environmental regulator and advises the government on environmental policy. It works to create sustainable communities, and protect and conserve wildlife and natural resources. EAD also works to ensure integrated and sustainable water resources management, to ensure clean air and minimise climate change and its impacts. For more information, visit www.ead.ae

About Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI)
Conceived by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi and launched by the Abu Dhabi Government in 2002, under the guidance and patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, AGEDI provides user-friendly access to high-quality environmental information, through a variety of information products. While EAD champions AGEDI locally, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) champions it regionally and globally. AGEDI's objectives include; to enhance environmental data collection and assessment, to increase data capacities for local, national, regional, and global environmental decision making, to ensure sustainable development planning is based on quality, timely, useable, and updated data and information, to provide accessibility of data and information to all stakeholders, to enhance national and international mechanisms of information processing and exchange and to enhance national capacities in information handling and communications. For more information, visit www.agedi.ae

About United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)
The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and its predecessors have helped countries around the world meet their economic, social and environmental challenges for more than 50 years. DESA's mission - to promote development for all - reflects a fundamental concern for equity and equality in countries large and small, developed and developing. DESA works on issues ranging from poverty reduction, population, gender equality and indigenous rights to macroeconomic policy, development finance, public sector innovation, forest policy, climate change and sustainable development. The Department also supports the effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, a set of time-bound targets, which put the eradication of poverty at the centre of the global partnership for development.

For media enquiries, please contact: Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD), Sobhia Al Masry, Media Specialist, EAD Press Office, Tel: +9712 6934-637, Mobile: +97150 442-5096, Email: pressoffice@ead.ae

Or United Nations Environment Programme, Contact: Mia Turner, UNEP Newsdesk on Tel. +254 20 7625211, Mobile +254 710620495 or E-mail: Mia.Turner@unep.org or unepnewsdesk@unep.org

Or Eye on Earth Summit, Contact: Mustafa Alrawi, M: Communications on Mobile: +97150 657-5945 or E-mail: eyeonearth@mcomgroup.com

© Press Release 2011 from Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi

How many Iranian Government Officials were trained by UN/UNDP (and other UN Agencies) & Saudi Arabia Says ‘Will Never’ Contribute to $100 Billion UN G

How many Iranian Government Officials were trained by UN/UNDP (and other UN Agencies) out of Iran, where and who are they?
Government Officials were trained by UNDP in various disciplines in the last 10 years outside of Iran (since 2002).
But in Iran, UN (or any specialized agency: ie. UNDP, UNOPS) never had a say in selecting the candidates who were trained. All their nomination came from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign affairs after a scrutinized process of validation and how trustful these officials were for the Iranian regime.
Having no way to verify their credentials, UN/UNDP had to take Iranian Government word and include all the "selected" into the list of officials sent abroad to attend international conferences, regional round-tables, or short-medium term training and exchanges in various countries (in the West but also Region).
Today the United Nations, and its operation arm in Iran (UNDP), are very reluctant to make public the names of all Iranian Officials it trained thru out the past 10 years with the World Tax-payers money. Why?
UNDP's Helen Clark brags about the transparency and accountability of UNDP's programmes, how difficult could be to have the following data published:
Individual Name:
Affiliated State Institution:
Purpose of trip:
Country of Destination:
Duration of trip:
This is the UNDP Iran Website. You can all visit and witness the transparency of data UNDP makes available to outsiders on how it conducts business in Iran.

Saudi Arabia Says ‘Will Never’ Contribute to $100 Billion UN Green Fund
Saudi Arabia “will never contribute” to the United Nations’ $100 billion Green Climate Fund, which should be financed by the governments of developed nations, according to the kingdom’s chief climate negotiator.
“Saudi Arabia and other developing countries will never contribute to this Fund as some developed countries are suggesting,” Mohammad al-Sabban said today in an e-mailed response to questions. “It is not acceptable to ask developing countries to contribute to the fund, because and as stated in the Climate Convention, it is the responsibility of the developed countries,” he said referring to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or UNFCCC. “We are very strong on this point along with other developing countries.”
The Green Climate Fund, which was central to agreements reached last year by UN treaty negotiators in Cancun, Mexico, is being discussed at climate talks in Durban, South Africa that began this week. The world’s richest countries pledged to channel $100 billion annually by 2020, part of it through the fund, to help poorer nations reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from energy production and adapt to effects of global warming such as rising sea levels.
Oil Income Loss
Saudi Arabia should be compensated from the fund as climate policies may lead to a loss in oil income to the kingdom, the world’s largest crude exporter, al-Sabban said.
“Those developing countries who are going to be adversely impacted as a result of climate policies should be assisted by the Fund to adapt to such impacts including helping us in achieving economic diversification and reduce our dependency on the exportation of crude oil,” he wrote.
There should be funding to support carbon capture and storage projects in developing countries, in particular fossil fuel exporters such as Saudi Arabia and the UNFCCC should have full authority over the Green Fund rather than the World Bank, al-Sabban said.
“We are fully aware of the economic crisis that the EU and other Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development countries are facing, but that should not lead us to change their commitments,” he said.

Deadlock in Durban
Jagdish Bhagwati
... Indeed, the extravagance of these conferences seems to grow, rather than shrink, as their dismal results become more apparent. COP-15 in Copenhagen lasted 12 days, and is estimated to have attracted 15,000 delegates and 5,000 journalists. The carbon emissions created by so many people flying to Denmark was real, while the emissions targets that the conference sought remained beyond reach. That will be true in Durban as well – and on an even greater scale...
Jagdish Bhagwati is Professor of Economics and Law at Columbia University and Senior Fellow in International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Bloated UNIDO alienates friends: Agency's donors head for the door. & Students Uncover China Nuke Tunnels – Video

“Sesame Street” went on the air in Afghanistan. How can they have "Sesame Street" in a country that doesn't have streets?
Let this be a warning to nations around the world, engage in a war with us and we will invade your country and provide you with quality children's programming. - Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Students Uncover China Nuke Tunnels – Video
UN activates Index Number 19653: Aung San Suu Kyi demands expansion of UNDP Programmes in Myanmar – Photo
Tooting our own horn: GenevaLunch editor wins “Unsung hero” award
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – GenevaLunch editor Ellen Wallace was named “Unsung hero” by the British-Swiss Chamber of Commerce at its first Business Awards Wednesday 30 November in Geneva for her work in developing an online news source in English for the Lake Geneva region and Switzerland. GenevaLunch, staffed by volunteers, will soon hit the 3 million pages viewed mark, with 1 million of those in 2011.
Anglo-German Pullout Casts Shadow Over UNIDO
... The 30-year old organisation's relevance to the present day world, changing priorities and a financial crisis were cited as reasons three weeks ago when Germany said it intend to pull out.
Arguing for a German pull out, Carl-Dieter Spranger, the minister for economic cooperation and development, said UNIDO has no longer any role to play as governments are reducing their own roles in industrial development and allowing the private sector to play to take the lead.
Besides, he also questioned the organisation's willingness to introduce reforms. Spranger said Germany, the second largest donor after Japan at present, would like to withdraw end of next year...
U.N. Agency That Deals With ‘Green Energy’ and ‘Green Industry’ Loses Another Major Funder
(CNSNews.com) – A Vienna-based United Nations agency is pondering how to get by without one of its biggest donors, following a recent British government decision to withdraw from an organization which it said was ineffective and poorly run.
Bloated UNIDO alienates friends: Agency's donors head for the door.
While member states mull how to streamline and prioritize the work of the United Nations, individual countries have forced at least one harshly criticized U.N. agency to undergo a radical reform, possibly putting it out of business.
Syrian Minister of Industry: Sanctions against Syria Will Negatively Affect Syrian Citizens
VIENNA, (SANA) – The Syrian Minister of Industry, Adnan Slakho, on Wednesday said that the sanctions against Syria will negatively affect the interests and the living conditions of the majority of the Syrian workers and citizens.
Speaking at the 14th session of the General Conference of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in the Austrian capital, Vienna, Slakho said that the Syrian people will foil the conspiracy against their country thanks to their determination, national unity and rallying around President Bashar al-Assad despite all misleading media campaigns and some countries' support of terrorism and armed groups against Syria.
The Minister reviewed the standing cooperation between the UNIDO and Syria, hoping that the next stage will contribute to implementing the economic reform program and developing industry in Syria.
The use and effects of payment of allowances when attending meetings, seminars etc.
This has come into focus in recent years, but there is reason to believe that the documentation is limited. It might be interesting to look into this in more detail, deciding whether it is a problem and if so, how big an issue it is. This can be done by mapping the available documentation in the form of a synthesis study, and then possibly conducting a couple of country-specific studies. Chr. Michelsens Institute (CMI) will execute the study.

Timeplan: Final report November 2011
Responsible: Eirik G. jansen
* (170 KB)
How India squanders British aid: We give £1.4bn to a country that has its own space programme. In this damning investigation, the Mail reveals how it's scandalously wasted
... I visited a small maternity clinic in busy Bhopal. It has five beds, although it caters for 250,000 people. The operating theatre on the first floor has a new anaesthesia machine which is still in its plastic cover, the instructions in an unopened manual. The theatre bed is unused. Not one child has been delivered here since it was opened a few years ago...
Fiat Money in Crisis
The printing press has become politicians' last tool to project the mirage of sustainability and solvency.
Is Modern Capitalism Sustainable?
Kenneth Rogoff
... Will capitalism be a victim of its own success in producing massive wealth? For now, as fashionable as the topic of capitalism’s demise might be, the possibility seems remote. Nevertheless, as pollution, financial instability, health problems, and inequality continue to grow, and as political systems remain paralyzed, capitalism’s future might not seem so secure in a few decades as it seems now.
Kenneth Rogoff is Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Harvard University, and was formerly chief economist at the IMF..
Workers of the Western world
... Milanovic, a World Bank economist who earned his doctorate in his native Yugoslavia, has an intuitively international frame of reference. Both qualities are in evidence in “Global Inequality: From Class to Location, From Proletarians to Migrants,” a working paper released this autumn by the World Bank Development Research Group...
Do giant oil field discoveries fuel internal armed conflicts?
Do natural resource windfalls, such as those arising from the discovery of giant oil fields, increase the risk of internal armed conflict? This column argues that giant oil field discoveries, which are largely down to chance, significantly increase the incidence of conflict. This is especially so in countries with recent histories of political violence, where locals may have little to gain from such discoveries.

UN to Roll out Changes to Senior Team for Next 5-Year Term & Kofi Annan Deputy - The risks of sleepwalking into a war with Iran

"When you are totally at peace with yourself, nothing can shake you."
# The Truth About NGO's
# Episode 1
New Documentary Explores China's Growing Presence in Africa – Video
Clinton tells developing world to be wary of donors eyeing resources
(Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged developing nations on Wednesday to be "smart shoppers" on foreign aid, warning that powerful emerging economies such as China may be more interested in exploiting natural resources than promoting real development.
New DSK Book Tells of His Side of Diallo Affair, Prostitution Ring
In a new book that hit French shelves yesterday, the sex scandals and conspiracy theories behind the downfall of Dominique Strauss-Kahn are dissected. Tracy McNicoll on the book’s most explosive charges.
Rep. Walsh to UN: No Gun Control Treaties
Representative Joe Walsh (R-IL) has drafted a bill that would block U.S. funding to the United Nations if it seeks to implement gun control measures affecting U.S. citizens. (UN Agenda Link)
Despite victories by gun owners in elections and legislative battles throughout the country in recent years, on the international front gun control is moving quickly.
UN to Roll out Changes to Senior Team for Next 5-Year Term
... Mr. Ban is currently undertaking a thorough review of his entire team, with the aim of rolling out the changes in a phased manner. It is expected that eight Under-Secretaries-General will leave around the first half of 2012.
They are Muhammad Shaaban, Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly Affairs and Conference Management; Kiyotaka Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information; B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs; and Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.
Also on the list are Sergio Duarte, High Representative for Disarmament; Cheick Sidi Diarra, Special Adviser for Africa; Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA); and Ján Kubiš, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE).
The selection process has also begun for five Assistant Secretary-General positions at the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)...
What Africa means to Minnesota businesses
... Kofi Annan, the former secretary-general of the United Nations, and former Vice President Walter Mondale are cochairs of the Law & Democracy Initiative.
In a commentary published last summer ("Now, sustain those moves to democracy," Aug. 13), they explained the important connection between education, the rule of law and a strong business climate:
"The rule of law is equally fundamental for the development of a healthy democracy, good governance and a prosperous economy... [www.booksforafrica.org/law.html]
Local companies shun UN bidding process
OVER the years, companies in Swaziland have failed to participate in the United Nations (UN) International Competitive Bidding Process thus representatives will visit the country so as to create awareness on it.
Swaziland Investment Promotion Authority (SIPA) Chief Executive Officer Phiwayinkhosi Ginindza said the UN office in Uganda voiced this concern at the Global Expo they participated in a few weeks ago.
The expo was organised by the Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA). Ginindza said in a bid to make Swazis aware of the numerous business opportunities at the UN, the office would come to mobilise locals so that they would tap into the agency’s budget.
“All UN members have a right to tender for goods and services of the organ hence the Uganda office will come and create awareness on the opportunities locals might seize there. The UN has two offices for food procurement,” he said...
CJ rules against Greece in row with Macedonia
The Hague - The International Court of Justice on Monday ruled against Greece in its long-running dispute with Macedonia over the country's use of the name Macedonia, which is also the name of a northern Greek province.
Greece vetoed Macedonia's accession to NATO in 2008 because of the row, violating a 1995 interim agreement between the two nations.
Greece had said it would not block Macedonia's attempt to join international organizations if it used the name Macedonia, which it adopted after it became independent from Yugoslavia in 1991.
The United Nations court ruled 14:2 against Greece, which argues the name Macedonia is a part of its historic legacy.
CTBTO PSA with Michael Douglas – Video
Oscar-winning actor and producer Michael Douglas is well known for his commitment to nuclear disarmament. Now he has teamed up with the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization on a series of austere but powerful TV spots aimed at raising support for the Treaty.
Next War - Iran
The Geopolitics of the times may indicate that the next war is Iran. Although Pakistan being an established nuclear power would logically be higher on the scales of denuking agenda for so called globalists. Still Geopolitical logic dictates otherwise.
'Never Before Has the World Been as Close to War with Iran'
The EU tightened sanctions against Iran Thursday, but stopped short of imposing an oil embargo against the country. Meanwhile, pressure in the US Congress mounts for stricter penalties on Iran. German commentators weigh the options against Iran Friday, concluding that none of them are promising.
Clinton Moves to Inject New Urgency into Bioweapon Concerns at Geneva Event
WASHINGTON -- In a surprise announcement, a senior State Department official said on Thursday that Hillary Clinton would appear next week at an international conference on biological warfare prevention and preparedness -- an event that even policy wonks had previously grumbled would likely prove dull and inconsequential (see GSN, Aug. 2).
China feels India's nuclear heat
NEW DELHI: Given the incendiary moniker ''the China killer'' by the more sensationalist press, India's newest nuclear-capable missile will be its most powerful yet - and an unmistakable signal to its neighbours.
Agni V - named after the Hindu god of fire - is due to be tested within three months. It will be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead 5000 kilometres, meaning it can reach not only Beijing and Shanghai but all of northern China.
India's existing arsenal can already reach every corner of Pakistan using earlier models of the Agni delivery system.
The State Department vs. Free Speech
Hillary Clinton chats up the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which demands world-wide bans on criticizing Islam.
... President Obama should put a stop to this nonsense and declare that in free societies all views and religions are subject to contradiction and critique—and the OIC must learn to tolerate that. The alternative is what the late Indonesian Muslim President Abdurrahman Wahid called "a narrow suffocating chamber of dogmatism."
Ms. Shea and Mr. Marshall are senior fellows at the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom and authors of "Silenced: How Apostasy & Blasphemy Codes Are Choking Freedom Worldwide" (Oxford University Press, 2011).
GAP’s Investigation into World Bank Managing Director Mohieldin Now Available in Arabic
Upgrade Your Life: How to Extend Your Wifi Range – Video
Energy Aid Founded by IBM and Practical Action Launches to Provide Universal Energy Access
--New charity dedicated to the global eradication of energy poverty - Supported by Secretary of State for International Development and United Nations Industrial Development Organization. - Strategy includes a global awareness campaign, an Open Knowledge Base and the creation of an investment fund. - UN estimates that 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity and a further 1 billion have limited or unreliable access.
Suffer $250 per barrel crude oil if you harm us: Iran
... "As soon as such an issue is raised seriously the oil price would soar to above $250 a barrel”, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said to the local Daily Sharq...
Climate right for change to UN voting rules
THE UN climate conference in Durban has been asked to ditch consensus decision-making in favour of a two-thirds majority voting system to speed up the global response to climate change.
The plan is not new, but it has found an active sponsor in Mexico and leading climate change advocates such as former British climate change adviser Nicholas Stern.
Lord Stern told The Times that reaching a legally binding limit on emissions in the next few years would probably mean abandoning the present process, which requires all 192 UN member states to agree.
Yet more talks as UN costs spiral
HARGEISA (Somaliladpress) – Somaliland President Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Siilaanyo met with delegation led by UN special envoy to Somalia Mr. Augustine Mahiga and the meeting was held at the Presidential Palace today. The delegation is currently on a two day trip to Somaliland.
After the closed meeting Mr Mahiga spoke to the press after concluding his meeting with the President. He reported that that they had discussed a range of issues concerning regional security and development.
He acknowledged that Somaliland has clear polices on security. Speaking on this issue, Mr. Mahiga said, “As we know that no country can progress without peace, security and stability and Somaliland achieved to maintain it.” It is believed that the Somaliland President briefed the UN special envoy to Somalia Mr. Mahiga about his five year plan.
No mention was made of the spiralling cost of such continual shuttle diplomacy and seemingly mundane and fruitless talks.
Challenges at the Cutting Edge of Fighting Global Poverty
Jeffrey Sachs
Director, Earth Institute at Columbia University; Author, 'The Price of Civilization'

... In a recent article in the Economist, several wrong claims were made about the project based on an unpublished paper. One claim is that the project is not working since the progress in the Millennium Villages is also occurring in the neighboring villages, albeit at a slower rate. This is a mistaken criticism. The project itself has been encouraging the take-up of a range of interventions (bed nets, fertilizer, high-yield seeds, new diagnostic methods, and so forth) in neighboring villages and at the national scale. In fact, the Millennium Village Project in Kenya directly supported the procurement and distribution of 160 tons of fertilizer and 22 tons of seeds to two of the neighboring "comparison" villages included in this paper. Rather than undercutting the point of the project, progress nearby the Millennium Village sites often helps to prove the point...
Yvo de Boer, Ex-U.N. Climate Chief, Says Talks Are Rudderless
DURBAN, South Africa -- Yvo de Boer said he left his job as the U.N.'s top climate official in frustration 18 months ago, believing the process of negotiating a meaningful climate agreement was failing. His opinion hasn't changed.
"I still have the same view of the process that led me to leave the process," he told The Associated Press Sunday. "I'm still deeply concerned about where it's going, or rather where it's not going, about the lack of progress."
Rise of the TIMBIs
Forget the BRICs. The real economies that will shake up the world over the next few decades need a new acronym.
... Future trends still look robust in Brazil and India, but these countries should now be in new company -- a group of dynamic and democratic emerging economies. Let's call them the TIMBIs: Turkey, India, Mexico, Brazil, and Indonesia. These countries form more than just a cute acronym. They all share favorable demographics and democracy and are already large economies. Their GDPs combined have already surpassed that of China and will be much faster growing in the coming decades. Their combination of booming labor forces and political openness points to rapid increases in human capital and innovation that will propel these regional powers into global powers in the near future...
Narrative Science
...Our proprietary artificial intelligence platform produces reports, articles, summaries and more that are automatically created from structured data sources. With amazing speed and quality, narratives are created in multiple formats, including long-form articles, headlines, Tweets and industry reports. Multiple versions of the same story can be created to customize the content for each audience and narratives can be fully tailored to fit a customer’s voice, style and tone.
Dalai Lama to visit Austria next spring
APA News Service
December 5, 2011
Vienna - The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of the Tibetans and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, will spend a week in Austria in May 2012, according to the Tibetan Center at Huettenberg in Carinthia in southern Austria.
He would be in the Carinthian capital Klagenfurt from May 18 to 20, where his schedule would include a lecture on "The Art of Happiness". In Salzburg on May 21, he would lecture on "World Peace and Universal Responsibility - Harmony in Multiplicity".
In Vienna on May 25, his theme would be "Ethics and Human Values in Today's Society". There would also be a symposium on Buddhism and science the following day.
It is not yet known whether any Austrian officials will receive the world figure Dalai Lama, and risk angering Austria's number one Asian trading partner China. When he last came to Austria in 2007, he was received by then-chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, which led to a diplomatic freeze between Vienna and Beijing.
A recent survey showed the enormous respect in which the Dalai Lama, the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner, is held among the Austrian population.
Predominantly Catholic Austrians would soonest entrust themselves spiritually to the Dalai Lama, said a "confidence index" by the Austria Press Agency and OGM polling institute.
He was far ahead of Austria's highest Catholic dignitary, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, who was in second place, and Pope Benedict XVI who was third. There was least trust in the heads of the Austrian Muslim and Jewish Communities.
The OGM said the Dalai Lama was at the top of the list due to his friendly nature, modest lifestyle, basically liberal attitude, and history as a victim of persecution. People also liked him because of the absence of a church power structure.
The risks of sleepwalking into a war with Iran
Financial Times
2 December 2011
By David Miliband and Nader Mousavizadeh
David Miliband was British foreign secretary from 2007-10. Nader Mousavizadeh is chief executive of Oxford Analytica and was special assistant to former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan
Iran's challenge to global order has been among the most complex and confounding tasks for international diplomacy since that country's 1979 Islamic revolution. A regime with declining domestic legitimacy has increasingly sought to channel discontent towards foreign enemies , imagined and real, and preserve its hold on power by any means. As surprised and disoriented by the Arab awakening as everyone else over the past year, Tehran has been scrambling to respond to the shifting sands of regional geopolitics, amid intensifying rivalries within the leadership itself.
This is the critical context for the escalation in the nuclear crisis now threatening to replace diplomacy with war as the west's response to the Iranian threat. The recent comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran's nuclear programme; public debate in Israel about the wisdom of a military strike, without much pushback from outside the country; private mutterings about the best "window" for such an attack; and now the serious diplomatic consequences of the assault on the British embassy and its staff, are combining to deepen the chasm of distrust to new and dangerous levels.
We subscribe to the view that the price of a nuclear-armed Iran would be very high - unacceptably high. Iran's capacity to destabilise the region would increase considerably. The response from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others would mean the end of the non-proliferation treaty. The chance that nuclear weapons would be used would be much closer.
But that is not an argument for military action now or in 2012. We are not talking about a discrete - or discreet - strike here. Avowed Iranian nuclear facilities are numerous and the regime does not lack for ammunition or targets in return. In addition to its own missile stores, Iran is invested in regional proxy armies, such as Hizbollah. All the war games show that targets as diverse as Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, Israeli and US facilities and the Straits of Hormuz would come into play.
For these reasons we must avoid military action becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy. Diplomacy must take the lead in preventing a major war with Iran - for that is what it would be. What is more, the regime faces at least four serious challenges of its own. First, it is clear that sanctions, cyberwar and covert operations have impaired Iran's progress towards a nuclear weapons capability, with most estimates holding that the regime is at least two years away from achieving it. To be clear, no one has made the case such an achievement is imminent.
Second, IAEA inspectors continue to monitor key installations and operations, providing a tripwire presence able to signal any dramatic change in policy or practice by Tehran. It would be disastrous if the fallout from the Iranian storming of the British embassy included the harassment or expulsion of inspectors by the regime.
Third, Iran's strategic influence in the region is waning. Its sole ally in the Arab world, the Syrian regime, is badly weakened and more likely entering an end game. Among the Arab public, Iran's popularity has plummeted since the highs of the 2006 Lebanon war.
Fourth, and too often neglected, are the aspirations of the Iranian people. They have often shown that they do not share the regime's hostility to the world and instead aspire to the same kinds of open government that the youth of the Arab world are reaching for.
At a time like this, diplomatic drive and creativity are needed more than ever. Now is the time to support, directly and indirectly, the pressures on a regime currently fractured on all matters except the nuclear programme. And in this endeavour, war talk weakens our hand - strengthening the most uncompromising forces within Iran and corroding global cohesion in opposition to the programme.
Non-military options have not yet succeeded, but nor have they failed. However, exasperating the diplomatic track growing talk of a military option risks creating a logic all of its own, where the appalling consequences of a military strike are set to one side and a precipitate and unwise move to war becomes acceptable wisdom.
Nature abhors a vacuum and so does international politics. It cannot be filled by nudges and winks about military options. A concerted diplomatic effort on Iran is needed now to prevent the world sleepwalking into another war in the Middle East.
Expelling Iran's diplomats: a dangerous showdown
The real threat to British diplomacy in Iran is not losing an embassy, but being seen as a US proxy
... In the meantime, for all its other difficulties, Iran enjoys a better ally in a US- and UK-liberated Iraq than it ever did in Saddam Hussein's years. These are developments that Saudi Arabia and other Arab neighbours cannot let go indefinitely unchecked. So the region lurches towards instability and possible conflict as the west desperately ups the ante on sanctions, hoping this can break the regime and avert conflict.
It will be no comfort for British diplomats that they will now not be granted front-row seats in Tehran for what follows. And given the real dangers, that is all our loss...
Mark Malloch-Brown is a former foreign officer minister and deputy secretary-general of the UN. He is currently Europe, Middle East and Africa chairman of FTI Consulting.
The Journalism Foundation launches
The Independent
Monday, 05 December 2011
The Journalism Foundation, a non-for-profit organisation that promotes, develops and sustains free and fair journalism across the world, launched in London today.
Its founding Chief Executive, Simon Kelner, former editor-in-chief of The Independent, said today: “I am delighted to lead this new body, which will show that journalism can be a force for good by supporting initiatives that have a direct and positive effect on people’s lives.”
The Foundation, which was inspired and is backed by the Lebedev family, has a board of Trustees chaired by Evgeny Lebedev, chairman of The Independent and the London Evening Standard. His fellow trustees include Baroness Kennedy, the renowned human rights lawyer, Lord Fowler, former chair of the House of Commons media select committee, and Sir John Tusa, former director general of BBC World Service.
Evgeny Lebedev said: "At a time when, quite rightly, a light is being shone on malpractice in some areas of the British Press, I am delighted to give my backing to an initiative whose purpose is to demonstrate the positive aspects of journalism. Free speech has always been a touchstone issue for me, and an organisation intent on giving people around the world a voice is worthy of widespread support."
The Journalism Foundation is launching with two initiatives to show the scope and range of its work. The Foundation, in partnership with the department of journalism at London’s City University, is establishing the first practical training courses for journalists in Tunisia, teaching local journalists how to report in a free and open society. The second project sees
The Journalism Foundation supporting a grass roots website in an effort to increase interest in local politics in the British town of Stoke-on-Trent. The site, www.pitsnpots.co.uk, was set up in response to a lack of coverage of local council matters, and the Foundation is supporting its development with the aim of bolstering public engagement in the area.
The launch of the Foundation has been acclaimed by figures across the political and cultural landscape. Salman Rushdie said: “ This is an important and valuable – and needed – initiative that aims to uphold and propagate the highest journalistic standards. I wish it the very best.” Jemima Khan said: “A vibrant democracy and a free press go hand in hand. I applaud the work of The Journalism Foundation in trying to strengthen this relationship.” Lord Ashdown said: “There could not be a better time for an organisation like this to be set up to ensure we get the balance right between strengthening what is best in journalism and rejecting what we all now know to be bad.”
Alexander Lebedev said: "I am delighted the Journalism Foundation is launching. For over 20 years I have argued that democracy cannot flourish in countries without a free press. And it is only by championing brave, investigative journalists across the globe that international corruption can be tackled effectively. Now more than ever, we must support journalists who hold the powerful to account – and I am certain this foundation will do that brilliantly.
The Journalism Foundation is seeking new projects to invest in and new partners to help fund those projects. To get involved, go to www.thejournalismfoundation.com or follow @4journalism.
John Kennedy Schlossberg Defends JFK's Legacy in the 'New York Times'
The fallen president's grandson writes an earnest letter to the editor, and possibly launches his own political career
Can yoga and meditation help bring peace to Afghans?
KABUL (Reuters) - As the Afghan government's Western backers pour in cash, and tens of thousands of foreign soldiers patrol the country, a French human rights activist is trying a new way to break the cycle of violence in Afghanistan: yoga and meditation.

New Icelandic volcano eruption could have global impact – Video
Hundreds of metres under one of Iceland's largest glaciers there are signs of a looming volcanic eruption that could be one of the most powerful the country has seen in almost a century.
Now a law for foreign aid! Ministers want to commit Britain to billions in handouts
* Promise to spend 0.7 per cent of national income
* Dozens of Tory MPs expected to oppose the move
Terrorism’s Victims Must Be at Heart of Justice Response
Terrorism’s Victims Must Be at Heart of Criminal Justice Response – UN Guide
New York, Nov 22 2011 - A United Nations policy guide released today offers advice on how to reform and improve criminal justice systems so that they are fairer and more sensitive to the needs of the victims of terrorism and their families.
“Victims matter. Their rights and needs, as well as those of their families, should be at the heart of any criminal justice response,” said Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Yury Fedotov during the report’s launch today at UN Headquarters in New York.
The publication includes advice for policy-makers and criminal justice officials and examples of good practices to support victims of terrorism. Recommended measures include judicial assistance, protection from intimidation and retaliation, material, medical, psychological and social assistance, and access to compensation.
“I hope this marks a positive step forward in our joint efforts to create criminal justice systems that are more responsive to the needs of the innocent,” said Mr. Fedotov.
According to UNODC, victims have long played a secondary and mostly silent role in criminal trials, making it crucial to grant them equal and effective access to justice to ensure the effective prosecution of perpetrators.
Robert Orr, Chair of the UN Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF), stressed the importance of helping victims find their public voice to shed light on issues that would otherwise not be addressed.
“The CTITF continues to be committed to elaborating on the compendium of best practices on supporting terrorism victims including media coverage and exploring options for financial and material support for victims.”
The UN has previously taken measures to emphasize the human rights of victims including the adoption of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy five years ago, which the report aims to expand on.
“The present publication builds upon this mandate and is intended to promote effective criminal justice mechanisms to support victims of acts of terrorism at a national level,” said Mr. Fedotov, and reiterated UNODC’s commitment provide assistance to countries on law enforcement, legal and legislative guidance.
Award-winning actress and UNODC Goodwill Ambassador Mira Sorvino was also present at the launch, and spoke passionately about her experiences talking to terrorism victims, while stressing the importance of making their voices heard.
“Making victims the central part of any criminal justice response to terrorism is imperative. Not only must they be encouraged to be a major part of bearing witness in the courtrooms but their care and compensation for what they and those close to them have suffered must be of utmost importance to legal systems around the world.”
For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news
After the hope of the Arab Spring, the chill of an Arab Winter
By Daniel Byman
One year after a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in an act of defiance that would ignite protests and unseat long-standing dictatorships, a harsh chill is settling over the Arab world. The peaceful demonstrations in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen that were supposed to bring democracy have instead given way to bloodshed and chaos, with the forces of tyranny trying to turn back the clock.
It is too soon to say that the Arab Spring is gone, never to resurface. But the Arab Winter has clearly arrived.
Tunisia, where it all began, recently carried out free elections. But that country — small, ethnically and religiously homogenous, and prosperous — was always a more likely candidate for a successful transition to democracy. Elsewhere in the Middle East, Saudi troops helped orchestrate a crackdown on demonstrators in Bahrain, regime forces gun down protesters in Syria, and Yemen crumbles into civil war, with al-Qaeda running rampant in the countryside. In Libya, we see warlords, Islamists, tribal leaders and would-be democrats vying for power in the post-Gaddafi world. And in Egypt, where the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February gave us the defining images of the Arab Spring, the military is trying to keep its hands on power.
So what went wrong — and what will an Arab Winter mean for the Middle East, the United States and the rest of the world?
The reason the Middle East has long seemed like infertile soil for democracy is not because Arab peoples do not want to vote or otherwise be free — poll after poll confirms the opposite — but rather because entrenched dictators had long imprisoned or killed dissenters, bought off opponents, undermined civil society, and divided or intimidated their people. And when dictators fall, their means of preserving power do not always fall with them.
In Egypt, the military ushered Mubarak out of office, but stayed in as a supposed caretaker and is reluctant to relinquish power. Now the security forces have again shot people in Tahrir Square. In Yemen and Libya, tribes and other power centers often opposed the old order, but they saw one another as rivals, too. Throughout the region, the police and the judiciary are broken after years of dictatorship, but there is nothing to take their place.
Moreover, the demonstrations that led to the ouster of rulers such as Mubarak and Tunisia’s Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali hardly offered a clear governing alternative. Although they embodied a genuine outpouring of popular rage, the protests were largely leaderless and loosely organized, often via social media; there was no African National Congress or Corazon Aquino to take the reins. You cannot govern by flash mob.
And the opposition voices that were organized were not necessarily the most democratic. With the Arab Spring, Islamist forces rose to prominence. In Tunisia, a moderate Islamist party won victory in the October elections, gaining 89 of 217 seats in parliament, dwarfing the 29 seats of its nearest — secular — competitor. In Morocco, where the king has opened the political system somewhat, the Islamist party likewise won a plurality of the vote in the November elections.
Disciplined by years underground, Islamist groups have popular support because of the social services they provide and the repression they suffered. They were allowed to have a role in society but with limited political participation. Now that groups such as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood are poised to do well in free parliamentary elections, they are unlikely to accept those old bargains with the military junta in Egypt or other old-regime forces elsewhere.
Brotherhood leaders have learned to mouth a commitment to pluralism and tolerance, but it is unclear that they would act on it when in power. More hard-line Islamists are openly skeptical of democracy, seeing it as a means of gaining power and not as a model for governing. Egyptian salafists, who espouse a more puritanical version of Islam, have also entered the political system and are performing unexpectedly well in the elections; their demands for Islamicizing society are extreme and may push the Brotherhood to pursue a more radical agenda when in power.
These domestic forces often deter democracy in subtle ways, but some other reactionary forces are more brazen. In March, Saudi troops drove across the causeway to neighboring Bahrain, backing a brutal crackdown against Shiite protesters. At home and abroad, the Saudis have spent tens of billions to buy off dissent. Riyadh has pushed fellow monarchs in the Arabian Peninsula and in Jordan to stop any revolutionary movements, and the Saudis are offering a haven for dictators down on their luck, such