Site Meter UN Dispatch - Page 6 of 1347 - United Nations News & Commentary Global News - ForumUN Dispatch | United Nations News & Commentary Global News – Forum | Page 6
Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size

All Posts

Screen shot 2014-03-10 at 1.52.23 PM

This is What Sustainable Agriculture Looks Like

Ed note. This op-ed is from Issa Martin Bikienga, an agricultural economist who is the former agriculture minister of Burkina Faso. The article originally appeared in Project Syndicate and is reprinted with permission. 

OUAGADOUGOU – Burkina Faso is located in the heart of the Sahel, which means that it is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries when it comes to climate change. Its farmers may know little of the physical causes of global warming, but they know about its effects – not least the huge variability in rainfall patterns, from droughts to flooding, which lead to lost harvests, the erosion of pastureland, and food crises.

As a result, the concept of sustainable agriculture has been gaining ground for several years, both internationally and in Burkina Faso. The term features in political discourse and has become a key approach to global agricultural development. Indeed, sustainability is now a driving force in agriculture – and as important as productivity was in previous decades.

The concept of sustainable agriculture is inextricably linked to that of sustainable development, first defined in 1987 as a model of economic growth “that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Sustainable agriculture is defined as a type of farming that ensures that internal and external resources are used and conserved as efficiently as possible; is ecologically sound (it improves, rather than damages, the natural environment); and is economically viable, offering reasonable returns on agricultural investments.

Close scrutiny of both definitions leads us to conclude that there can be no sustainable development without sustainable agriculture. Indeed, in Burkina Faso, sustainable agriculture features prominently – as it must – in the country’s development policies and strategies.

In 2012, Burkina Faso adopted the National Policy of Sustainable Development, which has become a key tool for realizing the vision set out in the Strategy for Accelerated Growth and Sustainable Development. That vision describes “a productive economy which accelerates growth, increases living standards, improves and preserves the living environment and living conditions through wise and efficient governance.”

All stakeholders in farming in Burkina Faso broadly share a commitment to sustainable agriculture. The national conference of the General Assembly for Agriculture and Food Security, held in November 2011, embraced the following objective: “By 2025, farming in Burkina Faso will be modern, competitive, sustainable, and driving growth. It will be founded on family-owned farms and efficient agricultural businesses, and will guarantee [that] all citizens have access to the food they need to lead healthy, active lives.” Likewise, the aim of Burkina Faso’s National Program for Rural Areas is to “contribute in a sustainable way to food and nutrition security, to strong economic growth, and to reducing poverty.”

Another tried and tested agricultural practice in Burkina Faso is the integrated management of production. The goal is to improve smallholders’ productivity in a sustainable way, equipping them with the knowledge and understanding needed to operate efficiently while respecting human health and the environment. This policy has prompted behavioral changes regarding the management of natural resources and the use of agricultural inputs like pesticides.

Sustainable agriculture has changed farming in Burkina Faso for the better. Here and elsewhere, it is the key to our ability to confront climate change and build resilience against food and nutritional insecurity, because it respects the land and is far more effective in the long term than industrial farming. Moreover, sustainable practices reassert the value of small, family-run holdings, which, in countries like Burkina Faso, produce nearly all of the domestic food supply.

But countries like Burkina Faso cannot address climate change alone. Nor should they: Drought and flooding here and elsewhere occur largely because of climate imbalances caused by industrial activities that produce greenhouse gases. We are victims of a phenomenon caused mainly by developed countries – a phenomenon that is holding back our own development. If we are to take the definition of sustainable development seriously, those responsible for this outcome must also help, particularly by contributing to the adaptation costs that countries like Burkina Faso now face.


Development | | Leave a comment
Kenema Government Hospital, Sierra Leone

An Ebola Vaccine is on its Way

Want these clips delivered directly to your inbox? Sign up here.

But it will take some time. Still, this is encouraging news. “Both GlaxoSmithKline and NewLink Genetics are working to boost their capacity to make Ebola vaccines, with a goal of a “very significant increase in scale during the first half of 2015″, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday. Even under the best conditions, if the experimental vaccines are proven to be safe and confer protection in clinical trials, a significant number of doses will not be available until late in the first quarter of 2015, the WHO said. GSK and NewLink are conducting phase 1 trials in healthy volunteers currently or soon in more than 10 sites in Africa, Europe and North America, the WHO said in a statement after hosting a two-day meeting of 70 experts. Initial safety data was expected by year-end, with phase II trials early next year to generate more data.” (Reuters

USA Waives Sanctions on Countries that Use Child Soldiers…This happens every year. And every year it’s an embarrassment.  Washington is releasing some $26 million to Yemen in military aid and boosting funds to armies in five other nations, waiving sanctions imposed for recruiting child soldiers, a US official said Thursday. President Barack Obama on Tuesday fully waived sanctions and lifted bans on international military, education and training assistance to Yemen, Rwanda and Somalia applied under the Child Soldier Prevention Act, said deputy assistant secretary Michael Kozak. Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan were also given partial waivers for specific military purposes, while sanctions were maintained on Myanmar, Sudan and Syria, found guilty of the widespread recruitment of children into their armies.” (New Vision

Sanitation in india is Getting a Boost…”IndianPM Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan to modernize sanitation within five years. He starting by trying to change attitudes and he set an example by taking a broom and sweeping up rubbish in a Delhi neighborhood occupied by members of the Valmiki caste, whose lot in life is traditionally “manual scavenging”, a euphemism for clearing other people’s feces. “(Reuters


Five people are being infected with Ebola every hour in Sierra Leone and demand for treatment beds is far outstripping supply, Save the Children warned. (AFP

Britain and Sierra Leone are appealing for more help to slow the biggest ever Ebola outbreak — and are proposing a new type of clinic to do that. (AP

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau dismissed Nigerian military claims of his death in a new video obtained by AFP on Thursday and said the militants had implemented strict Islamic law in captured towns. (AFP

French peacekeepers killed up to seven people as they tried to control clashes between armed groups in the Central African town of Bambari that have left at least 16 dead, officials said. (AFP

Lesotho’s feuding political parties have agreed to hold early elections by February, in a bid to exit a crisis that has seen a coup attempt and running battles among the security forces. (AFP

Women’s anger is mounting in Sudan as a result of surging food prices and worsening repression in the name of Islam, rights activists said at the launch of a report. (TRF

Airlines and airports handling travel to countries worst hit by the Ebola epidemic are trying to prove that flying to West Africa is safe, following concerns that the first case diagnosed in the United States could curtail worldwide services. (Reuters


Turkish lawmakers voted Thursday to authorize military force against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, joining a growing international coalition against the Islamist militants as they continued to capture territory just south of Turkey’s border. (CNN

Islamic State militants pushed on with its assault on a Syrian border town on Thursday despite coalition airstrikes meant to weaken them. (TRF

At least 10 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa drowned Thursday and dozens more were missing after their boat sank in the Mediterranean offshore Libya, the coast guard said. (AFP

The Obama administration has approved a $1.75 billion sale of Patriot missiles and associated items to Saudi Arabia to bolster the air defenses of the key U.S. ally in the Arab world. (AP


Thailand will revive talks with Japan and Myanmar aimed at kick-starting the floundering multi-billion dollar Dawei Special Economic Zone in Myanmar, a junta spokesman said. (Reuters

Crowds of protesters in Hong Kong swelled Thursday after police were seen unloading boxes of tear gas and rubber bullets, sending tensions soaring as authorities urged pro-democracy demonstrators to disperse “as soon as possible.” (AFP

A Malaysian low-cost housing project could lift some of the world’s 860 million slum dwellers from poverty by helping to secure jobs and food as well as shelter, Malaysia’s IRIS Corp. Bhd said on Thursday. (Reuters

A Swiss Red Cross worker died when shells burst through the heart of Ukraine’s main pro-Russian stronghold for the first time since the foes struck a September 5 truce aimed at ending Europe’s worst crisis in decades. (AFP

The Americas

Prosecutors in Colombia say they have detained 33 soldiers suspected of killing a farm worker. (AP

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff widened her lead ahead of Sunday’s presidential election and would defeat environmentalist Marina Silva in an expected runoff vote, pollster Ibope showed late on Tuesday. (GlobalPost

Police say violence has erupted in several slums around Rio de Janeiro. At least two people are reported dead. (AP

For more than two months, Mexico did little to explain how a Mexican army patrol escaped practically unharmed from a gunfight that left 22 suspected criminals dead in a grain warehouse. This week, officials changed their story to say soldiers may have committed murder, but questions about the lopsided confrontation remain. (AP


Somaly Mam, in her own words (Global Dispatches Podcast

Accepting flaws & doing good: Cognitive dissonance (WhyDev

The Return of America’s Favorite Anti-Trafficker (The Baffler

Lessons from FDR can help regain public trust during Ebola crisis (GlobalPost

Advice for the #UmbrellaRevolution, from Tiananmen protest veterans (GlobalPost

With camps limiting many refugees, the UNHCRs policy change is welcome (Guardian

Analysis: South Sudan at a crossroads (IRIN

A Double-Edged Sword: Livelihoods In Emergencies (Women’s Refugee Commission

The New Hunger Figures: What Do They Tell Us? (Development Horizons

Seven Million Lives Saved: Under-5 Mortality Since the Launch of the Millennium Development Goals (Brookings Institution

Obama’s Law: When Western advocacy misses the mark (Pambazuka

Top of the Morning | Leave a comment

Canada is Joining the Iraq Coalition–And that Matters. (Really!)

Canada is joining a growing group of nations that have committed military resources to the campaign, including France, Britain, Australia, Belgium, Denmark and the UAE. This is a big deal, and not just for Canadians.

As the coalition of countries supporting the US-led campaign grows – both in size and diversity, as Gulf nations and nations who were not part of the 2003 “coalition of the willing” are offering their support – so too does the legitimacy of the military efforts against IS extremists. In a conflict where the enemy has a powerful social media and PR strategy, the broader and more diverse the coalition, the harder it will be for ISIS to single out the US or “the West” as the enemy.

Canada is considering sending two CF-18 fighter jets to participate in the airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, as well as an air-to-air refueller aircraft and CP-140 Aurora reconnaissance planes. Canada has already contributed a small number of highly trained special forces soldiers, who are currently deployed on a short term mission in Iraq. The Canadian government is debating these options today, with little parliamentary discussion debate, triggering concerns about political and public support for increasing Canada’s military participation in the campaign.

Canada – like France - was strongly opposed to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and while Canada has not shirked away from military involvement in Afghanistan, Libya or even Kosovo, there are concerns that Stephen Harper’s decision would not reflect the will of the people. Harper said he believes “that the mission undertaken by our allies . . . is of necessary actions and of noble actions,” adding that “when we think something is necessary and noble, we do not sit back and say only other people should do it. The Canadian way is we do our part.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister John Baird, warned that “there are no quick fixes“, and that the public should be prepared for a long term involvement. This is not to say that Canada’s participation will involve troops in a combat role, but it is a realistic assessment of the possibility that Canadian military assets might be engaged for a significant period of time. As the Canadian government weighs its options, one thing is clear: Stephen Harper is not prepared to let Canada stand idly by while other allies are directly involved in the fight against IS, and the Canadian public should be prepared for a new Canadian military campaign in the Middle East.

One of the interesting questions raised by Canada’s growing involvement in the fight against ISIS is whether the military support for the US-led campaign constitute “going to war”, and whether parliamentary approval is required. In the UK, parliament voted in support of airstrikes in Iraq – but not Syria. In France, parliamentary approval was not specifically sought, and the government made the decision as part of our routine defense operations. Moving forward, and as the fight against IS extremists expands and deepens, interesting legal questions will arise: can a country be “at war” with a non-state actor? What degree of parliamentary approval is appropriate, and how will public opinion react?

Photo credit: Stephen Harper’s Flickr Stream.

Caption: PM Harper welcomes home members of the Canadian Armed Forces returning from Canada’s mission in Afghanistan

Security | | Leave a comment
Somaly Mam

Somaly Mam, in her own words

Somaly Mam is on the line today. She is the Cambodian anti-sex trafficking activist who came to prominence a few years ago as celebrities in the west rallied around her and her organization. That all came crashing down this year when Newsweek published a cover story calling into question the credibility of her amazing personal story, which includes escaping from the sex trade herself. She was ousted from the organization that bears her name and was tarnished by some of her closest allies. Then, in September, Marie Claire published an article calling into question some of the claims of that Newsweek takedown, suggesting that key details were incorrect.

So what is the real story? I don’t know. The point of this interview was not to engage in a back and forth with Somaly about whether or not she fabricated claims about past. Rather, I was interested in learning what she is up to now, and how this controversy has affected her personally and her work rescuing girls from the sex trade. To be honest, I’m not sure I succeeded. It was a tough interview. I’ll let you decide. Please feel free to direct your criticisms and critiques (or, if you like it, your approbation) of this interview to me personally, via @MarkLGoldberg


Podcast | Leave a comment
syria map

Source of Tainted Measles Vaccine ID’d in Syria

Want these clips delivered to your inbox? Sign up here. 

Last month, at least a dozen Syrian children in a rebel held area died after receiving a measles vaccine. The WHO and UNICEF promptly suspended a vaccination drive and promised an investigation. On Wednesday, the UN released its finding: a tragic mistake by an NGO. “The World Health Organization last month said the muscle relaxant had been kept in the same refrigerator as a substance meant to dilute the measles vaccine. It said the exact person or group responsible for the laboratory was not known.  [A UN Spokesperson] on Wednesday did not name the NGO partner and referred to the WHO report.Syria’s conflict between the government and rebel groups, now in its fourth year, has caused the collapse of its health system in contested areas. Nationwide vaccination efforts have been thrown into disarray, and polio re-emerged in parts of Syria last year.After the children’s deaths, the Western-backed opposition based in Turkey said it had suspended the second round of measles vaccinations. The campaign was meant to target 60,000 children.  (AP

Quote of the Day…World Bank President Jim Kim, re: Ebola: “Now, thousands of people in these (three) countries are dying because, in the lottery of birth, they were born in the wrong place,”This … shows the deadly cost of unequal access to basic services and the consequences of our failure to fix this problem.” (Reuters


Doctors Without Borders said it had rejected cash for the Ebola response from Australia, asking the country instead to deploy desperately-needed medical teams to west Africa. (AFP

Mauritius is going against the advice of the WHO and demands of the Security Council and is banning all travelers from ebola affected countries. (NPR

HRW says more than 100 demobilized fighters in the Democratic Republic of Congo have died from starvation and disease in a remote military camp. (VOA

Pestilence, cyclical droughts and floods, and the West Africa Ebola crisis have pushed hunger to record levels in Gambia, where 200,000 people need urgent food assistance, the United Nations says. (TRF

The United States warned South Sudan’s president and rebel leader to engage in serious peace talks to end nearly a year of violence in the world’s newest state or face United Nations sanctions. (Reuters

Fighting the Ebola epidemic means confronting the issue of inequality, as people in poor countries have less access to knowledge and infrastructure for treating the sick and containing the deadly virus, the head of the World Bank said. (Reuters

Ugandan police Wednesday arrested two men over an anti-unemployment protest where they paraded four piglets painted in the ruling party colors and branded the country’s leaders “pigs.” (AFP

In Senegal, literacy experts are using the new technologies to motivate and teach women to read. The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization rolled out the program in Dakar in 2012,  but is now expanding it to six other African countries. (VOA

In Zimbabwe, the issue of contraceptive use remains controversial and divisive in this country of 13.72 million people. Parents and educators are agreed on one thing: that levels of sexual activity among high-school students are on the rise. What they do not agree on, however, is how to deal with the corresponding increase in teenage pregnancies. (IPS

In Senegal, literacy experts are using the new technologies to motivate and teach women to read. The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization rolled out the program in Dakar in 2012,  but is now expanding it to six other African countries. (VOA


Acts of terrorism and violence in Iraq killed more than 1,100 people in September, continuing what has been a particularly deadly year for the country. (VOA

Morocco has secured a $519 million loan from the World Bank to partly finance two solar power plants with a combined capacity of up to 350 megawatts, the second phase of the 500 MW Ouarzazate project, the bank said in a statement. (Reuters

A wave of violence between militia groups vying for power is sweeping across parts of Libya, prompting international organizations to put forth an ambitious plan to provide humanitarian aid to 85,000 people by the end of this year. Yet concerns remain over the feasibility of such an operation, given the security risks, access issues and communication problems. (IRIN


Reports on leprosy and elephantiasis in India and Bangladesh highlight the prejudice and economic cost faced by sufferers. (Guardian

Hong Kong officials on Wednesday held ceremonies marking the 65th anniversary of the founding of communist China as city leaders remain locked in a standoff with protesters demanding greater democratic reforms. (VOA

Myanmar awarded licenses Wednesday to the first foreign banks allowed to operate in the country in a half-century. (AP

India could run out of a critical medicine in its free HIV/AIDS drugs program in three weeks due to bureaucratic bungling, a senior government official said, leaving more than 150,000 sufferers without life-saving drugs for about a month. (Reuters

WFP is providing food or cash for approximately 190,000 people in urgent need of assistance in Sri Lanka. A WFP-led Rapid Drought Assessment estimates that as many as 770,000 people have been affected by the drought, which has resulted in the loss of about one third of the paddy harvest in parts of the country. (WFP

The Americas

The first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola in a U.S. hospital was evaluated initially and turned away, a critical missed opportunity that could result in others being exposed to the deadly virus, infectious disease experts said. (Reuters

Mexico has some of the strictest abortion laws in the world, and women can find themselves criminalized even after miscarriage. (Guardian

The United States and Brazil have come to an agreement designed to end a decade long dispute over cotton subsidies, reports say. (BBC


Ebola comes to the U.S. and loses its deadly punch (Humanosphere

Why Quantifying the Value of Tropical Forests Matters for Development (CGD

Must Read of the Day: The MDG Leaders Report (UN Dispatch

India-Pakistan Dialogue: Is It Possible? (VOA

On Reproductive Rights, Progress with Concerns (IPS

El Salvador’s ‘hidden war’ being waged against women’s rights (GlobalPost

From “Power to the People” to “Information is Power” (Development Impact

The West Steps Forward in the Fight Against Female Genital Mutilation (Development Channel

The Extreme Poor Shouldn’t Have to Make Extreme Choices (USAID Impact

Could Myanmar’s hunt for energy derail peace? (The Interpreter


Older people are expected to make up one-fifth of the world’s population by 2050. So governments must prepare to expand social pensions and ensure that this growing demographic plays a full role in society, according to the 2014 Global AgeWatch Index. (Guardian

Top of the Morning | Leave a comment

This is the Most Frightening Ebola Statistic

Ebola has reached the United States and there’s a collective media freakout. But ebola will not spread in the United States, so the media’s attention really ought to focus on what is truly frightening about ebola: donors are still not ponying up the resources required to contain the outbreak in West Africa.

Funding levels for the international response to ebola are pathetically low. On September 16th, the UN launched a $987 million appeal for resources to stop the outbreak. The appeal covered things like protective equipment, fuel to keep the lights on in the hospitals, pay incentives for health care workers, and pretty much everything else required to halt the outbreak. Two weeks later the international response has been…muted. To date only $254 million has been committed against that plan. That’s just about 25%.

In other words, ebola is spreading out of control yet donors are doing about one quarter of what needs to be done to beat back the outbreak. Until resources are committed to the fight against ebola in west Africa, we can expect more imported cases to the USA and the rest of the world.  And, of course, we can expect the disease to spread exponentially in West Africa.



Health | | Leave a comment

Diplo Tweets