Egypt Continues Efforts For A WMD-Free Mideast

By Baher Kamal* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

MADRID (IDN) – In spite of social, economic and political instability in Egypt and other Arab countries, Cairo has lastly intensified its efforts aimed at eliminating, as soon as possible, all weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East.

Egyptian diplomacy fears that further delays in taking specific actions to declare the Middle East a nuclear free zone, may lead to a nuclear armament race in the region, in view warnings that some major countries in the region, such as Saudi Arabia, might decide to go nuclear to face Israeli and Iranian nuclear threat. | READ JAPANESE TEXT VERSION PDF

Egypt: From Mubarak To Al-Sisi via Tahrir Square

By Jayantha Dhanapala* | IDN-InDepth Viewpoint

KANDY, Sri Lanka (IDN) – In marked contrast to the vibrant exercise of democracy in India last month, a military coup toppled a controversial but democratically elected government in Thailand – an Asian Buddhist country with which Sri Lanka has ancient bonds and shared traditions. Worse still an election was held from May 26-28 in Egypt – a founder member of the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) – resulting in recently retired Army Commander Abdul Fattah al-Sisi securing an incredible fairy-tale 96.9% of the vote in which only 47.45% of the voters cast their vote.

This column wrote in an analysis of the July 3, 2013 coup, which deposed the democratically elected Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood: “Much now depends on the interim Government and their ability to pave the way for fresh elections when a genuinely representative Government will emerge. The Muslim Brotherhood must also change and settle for a compromise and for reconciliation in the larger interests of the stability and prosperity of Egypt and her people.”

Thailand: Towards A Better Model of Democracy?

By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

SINGAPORE (IDN) – For the past six months thousands of people under the banner of the Peoples’ Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) led by a former Deputy Prime Minister have been rallying across Bangkok calling for the overthrow of the “corrupt Thaksin regime” while the police and military stood by, even sometimes clearing the way for their marches. PDRC sabotaged the February elections called by a government under siege and later succeeded in getting the Elections Commission to nullify the results.

The demonstrators have been calling for the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Yinluck Shinawatra to be replaced by an unelected Peoples’ Council to redraw the constitution to stamp out money-politics in the Thai electoral system. Finally the military seem to have come to their aid, and put democracy to the test.

The Modi Tsunami – The Patel Legacy vs. Nehru’s Legacy

By Jayantha Dhanapala* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

KANDY, Sri Lanka (IDN) – At a time when faith in genuine people-based democracy is waning globally, an electoral exercise of gigantic proportions has just been concluded in the world’s largest democracy – India. A record 66.8 % voted over nine phases and the nationalist Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP), with 63 year old Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its Prime Ministerial candidate, has won an overwhelming majority to rule by itself and, with its coalition allies in the National Democratic Alliance many of them representing regional interests, falling just short of a two-thirds majority in the Lok Sabha.

The “Modi wave”, accurately presaged by the opinion and exit polls, has turned out to be a Modi Tsunami reducing the venerable Congress Party of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi to a state where it may not even qualify to take the post of Leader of the Opposition.

Close the Eritrean Embassies Not The Borders

By Mirjam van Reisen* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BRUSSELS (IDN) – Even though the military regime has closed the border and practices a shoot-to-kill policy to stop people fleeing, nearly every tenth Eritrean has fled the country for political reasons or belongs to the Eritrean diaspora. With over 200,000 having sought refuge abroad or chosen to live overseas recently, more than ten per cent of the population seems to prefer to live abroad.

In fact, according to Dutch Minister Fred Teeven, there has been a rapid increase of refugees during the last months. In 2013 the Netherlands received one thousand Eritrean refugees in total. Meanwhile, the number of asylum seekers arriving in the Netherlands from Syria and Eritrea has gone up from 1,000 a month in February and March to around 1,000 a week.

Pros and Cons of Revisiting India’s Nuclear Doctrine

By Satish Chandra* | IDN-InDepth NewsEssay

NEW DELHI (IDN) – In determining whether or not it is necessary to revisit India’s nuclear doctrine it would be relevant to examine how it evolved, its main features, the reasons behind the calls to revisit it and the factors, which militate against so doing.

India’s nuclear doctrine was first enunciated following a Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting in January 2003 – over four and a half years after the May 1998 tests. It contained few surprises being largely built around the pronouncements made by Atal Bihari Vajpayee following the tests to the effect that India’s nuclear weapons were meant only for self defence, that India was not interested in arms racing, and encapsulating concepts such as “no first use” of nuclear weapons and their “non use” against non nuclear weapon states.

Maldives Lifts Moratorium As Death Penalty Declines

By Richard Johnson | IDN-InDepth NewsReport

GENEVA (IDN) – Since the United Nations General Assembly’s landmark vote in 2007 calling for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty, the trend against capital punishment has become stronger and stronger. An estimated 160 countries have either abolished the death penalty or no longer practice it.

While welcoming these developments, UN Secretary-General Ben Ki-moon has deplored the fact that many States still execute people with little regard to due process. “I am also deeply concerned that some States with long-standing de facto moratoriums have suddenly resumed executions, or are considering reintroduction of the death penalty in their legislation,” Ban said at an event organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on April 24.

UN Consolidating Rule of Law in Haiti

By J. C. Suresh | IDN-InDepth NewsReport

NEW YORK (IDN) – “The objective of every peacekeeping mission is for the national authorities to take over the responsibilities to which the mission makes its contributions,” says Sandra Honoré of Trinidad and Tobago, who is Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Haiti and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission there, known as MINUSTAH, a position she assumed in July 2013.

“The outcome I would like to see in Haiti is one in which the four areas of focus of the Mission in this phase of consolidation is fully taken over by the Government of Haiti, so the Mission can leave with satisfaction that the Government has fully taken up its responsibilities and that security in country is be assured by the National Police with, as I’ve said, at least a minimum of 15,000 agents, putting it into a good situation to keep developing,” Honoré adds.

Disposable Consumer Goods At High Human Costs

By Julio Godoy* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) – Hundreds of thousands around the world demonstrate for better working conditions and fair wages on the International Labour Day. However, when May 1 is over, many of these demonstrators go back to their daily reckless consumption patterns, which consider practically all consumer goods as disposable, and therefore support international corporations, which exploit workers and poison the environment.

The garment industry is a most illustrative example of the follies of modern-times consumerism: Take Bella, a German girl living near the city of Bremen: Several times each year, Bella makes a shopping spree to a local fashion store and comes back loaded with clothes.

The store Bella regularly visits belongs to Primark, the Ireland-based clothing retailer, which due to its aggressive price policies has become a European leader in the sector. As Primark announces itself, it is “Adored by fashion fans and value seekers alike (and) is widely established as the destination store for keeping up with the latest looks without breaking the bank.”

Climate Change Action Has A Future

By e360 digest | Interview with IPCC Chairman

NEW HAVEN (IDN) – This month, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report on steps the world can take to avoid the worst impacts of future climate change. The report by the panel’s Working Group III was the final interim report before the IPCC’s major Fifth Assessment Report due to be released in October. Yale Environment 360 asked Rajendra K. Pachauri, who has served as IPCC chairman since 2002, five questions about the latest report and about the prospects that the international community will finally take decisive action to address climate change.

1. The most recent IPCC report suggests that the political will to tackle the climate issue seems to be growing around the world. Can you give some specific examples of that?

There is nothing that I am aware of in the Working Group III report that speaks to the political will to tackle climate change. But I can say that in my personal view I have been encouraged by a growing level of awareness and concern about climate change among senior government officials, including presidents and cabinet ministers, across the globe.

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