The Mediterranean Catastrophe Calls For An International Response

By Mirjam van Reisen* | IDN-InDepthNews Viewpoint

BRUSSELS (IDN) – Despite one of the largest humanitarian disasters of recent years unfolding on their doorstep, and another 700 deaths on April 19, the EU and its Member States seem totally paralyzed and incapable of providing an urgent and appropriate response. The deaths of men, women and children only seem to promote further rounds of discussion. These will – in due course – no doubt result in yet another political declaration and yet more empty promises.

The urgency of the situation demands action, not words.

After several years of intense debate, the EU seems further away from providing any tangible and effective response to the crisis than ever before. Europe has proved totally incapable of agreeing to anything that could halt the loss of life in the Mediterranean. While the diplomats and politicians talk interminably the death toll is increasing remorselessly. The deliberate downscaling of search and rescue operations, and the blunt refusal to respond to even the most basic requests for international protection, have caused the death and suffering of some of the most vulnerable and desperate people.

Nuclear Testing Legacy Haunts Pacific Island Countries

By Shailendra Singh* | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis

SUVA, Fiji (IDN) – Prominent Pacific Island anti-nuclear campaigners want a revival of their once-robust movement to support the international effort against ‘nuclearism’. Their call coincides with a major international meeting at the United Nations in New York – the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) from April 27 to May 22, 2015.

No Signs Yet Of Mass Destruction Weapon-Free Middle East

By Ramesh Jaura | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis

BERLIN (IDN) – In run-up to the four-week-long quinquennial review of the landmark Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the goal of a Middle East free of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery remains a distant dream. And so does the Helsinki Conference that should have been convened in December 2012.

All indications are that also the Foreign Ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) influential countries of the world – Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and the United States – do not see a silver lining on the horizon. They met ahead of G7 summit June 7-8.

Access To Medicines Key To The Right To Health And Life

By Martin Khor* | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis

GENEVA (IDN) – Access to medicines, even if a person is too poor to afford it, is a cornerstone to the realization of the right to health and life.  There has been significant progress in new and better medicines.  However prices of the medicines are often priced so high so as to be out of reach of the poor or even the middle classes in many countries, not only in developing but also in developed countries.

A major reason for this is the monopoly granted to drug companies through patents, which prevents competition.  Sometimes the prices are so astronomical so as to make super profits for the companies. The latest example is the new drug for hepatitis C, sofosbuvir, which is sold for USD84,000 for a 12 week course, or USD1,000 a pill.  Profits for the company Gilead have run at many billions of dollars already.

Crude Antics Dent India’s Image Abroad

By Shastri Ramahandaran* | IDN-InDepthNews Viewpoint

MUMBAI (IDN) – All these years, if India could bat above its league on the world stage, it is not only because of being favoured – over other, more powerful developing countries – by the Anglo-American axis. The dominance of English and, rightly or otherwise, the values and versatility associated with India’s English-speaking elite, including officials, have contributed greatly to India’s acceptance at high tables.

More than any of the above, India’s distinctive edge in world affairs is because it is a robust, if flawed, democracy: a liberal, tolerant, pluralistic Union with enviable political, social and cultural diversity. India may be a “Third World” economy, but it is valued as being home to minds and human resources that can match, if not excel, the best in “advanced countries”.

So when Narendra Modi rode to office on the promise of development and growth, the expectation abroad was that India would now add to its democratic strengths and attractions by improving economic performance and minimising corruption.

Mixed Middle East Reaction to Iran Nuclear Deal

By Mel Frykberg | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis

RAMALLAH (IDN) – Regional reactions to the April 2 framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme have been mixed both in Israel and its Arab neighbourhood. Vested interests including geopolitical ambitions, economic competition, religious ideology, personal political ambition, and strategic alliances have all played their part in this mixed reaction.

UNDP Unveils Blueprint for Swift, Unified Crisis Response

By Ramesh Jaura | IDN-InDepthNews | IPS

SENDAI, Japan (IDN | IPS) – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has announced a new 10-year global plan to support country efforts to reduce the risk of disasters that kill people and destroy livelihoods. The plan was unveiled at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction which ended on Mar. 18.

“Called ‘5-10-50’, the programme will support countries and communities to deliver better risk-informed development, and targets 50 countries over 10 years, with a focus on five critical areas: risk awareness and early warning; risk-governance and mainstreaming; preparedness; resilient recovery; and local/urban risk reduction,” UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said at a special event on Mar. 17 in Sendai, in the centre of Japan’s Tohoku region, which bore the brunt of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that led to the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster.

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