UN Drone Reports Chide US Transparency Gap

By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW YORK (IDN) – Armed drones are the subject of two landmark reports presented to the 193-nation General Assembly – the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN – in October: one urging transparency over the killing of civilians by U.S. drones in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen; and the other warning against “the use of drones by States to exercise essentially a global policing function to counter potential threats”.

Obama’s Absence Intensely Felt At APEC Summit

By Martin Khor* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

GENEVA (IDN) – The winds of change are blowing, bringing shifts in perceived wisdom and the old order, especially in the Asian region. The recent (October 7-8) APEC summit and associated meetings in Bali were marked not so much by results but by perceptions.

In fact, the lack of results, rather than results, was the main story. This lack was not so much in the APEC itself, but in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). The leaders of TPPA countries met in a separate venue away from the APEC summit.

Cambodia: Buddhist Nuns Crucial To Community

By Kalinga Seneviratne | IDN-InDepth NewsFeature

UDONG (IDN) – “When the war ended I had lost all my family. I was alone. I came here 27 years ago and I have found happiness now,” says 71 year old Sentcheant, one of ten nuns spending their old age together in this Buddhist nunnery, only one of two such places in Cambodia.

The Cambodian Khmer people have a proud Buddhist heritage going back to the 5th century, which is epitomized by the ancient Buddhist monuments of Ankor Wat. Even here in Udong, which is a 18th century Khmer capital city (about two hours’ drive from Phnom Penh), some 101 temples have been built by the kings.

“Our kings built temples to preserve our culture, save Buddhism and our Khmer language,” said Chan Sobunvy, secretary general of the Association of Nuns and Laywomen of Cambodia (ANLWC).

China Restraining Small Arms Exports

By Richard Johnson | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

STOCKHOLM (IDN) – “China has been actively involved in three important processes during 2013 to prevent trafficking of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and promote greater transparency in international transfers of SALW,” says Tilman Brück, Director of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Female Share in Latam Labour Market Rising

By Oscar Ugarteche, Valentina Ballesté* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

QUITO (IDN) – With no haste, but without pause, the participation of women in the labour market has seen accelerated growth since the 1970s, according to the Panorama Laboral 2012 of the International Labour Organization (ILO). There is a gradual closing of the differences in participation between men and women in the labour force.

The participation rate of women in Latin America in 2012 was 49.8%, the employment rate was 40.2% and the unemployment rate 7.7%, while for men the participation rate was 71.4%, employment 59.8% and unemployment 5.6%. (1)

Debate Necessary On UN’s Partnership Facility

By Roberto Bissio* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

MONTEVIDEO (IDN) – According to the official schedule, approved by the United Nations General Assembly in New York, negotiations on a “new development agenda” to replace the Millennium Development Goals should begin in September 2014, in order to give countries time to study the issue. This will culminate in a Development Summit in 2015 attended by heads of state and government.

However, the creation of a “partnership facility”, which is one of the key points of the new agenda proposed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, is already included in the budget for next year. In the coming weeks the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly may approve a substantial piece of the new agenda before a majority of the members having started to analyze it.

Iran-US Relations: Restoration Benefits Both

By Nasser Saghafi-Ameri* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

TEHRAN (IDN | Iran Review) – After nearly 35 years of estrangement between Iran and the United States, a short phone call between President Rouhani and President Obama on September 27, 2013 culminated into a marathon diplomacy which started few days earlier at the United Nations and following the blessing of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in what he qualified as ‘Heroic Flexibility’.

EU-China Investment Pact Of Limited But Global Significance

By Axel Berger* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BONN (IDN) – In the debate regarding the transatlantic free trade agreement one issue has remained below the radar: the European Union (EU) is shortly to also commence negotiations with China. On October 18, 2013 the EU member states are set to pass the mandate for the negotiation of an international investment agreement with China.

Beijing hopes that this treaty will result in the harmonisation of the patchwork of bilateral treaties that China has concluded with the EU member states. For the EU, the opening of new markets for European investors is the key issue.

Afghanistan: Reconciling India’s and Pakistan’s Interests

By Shastri Ramachandaran* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN) – Although the drawdown of NATO forces in Afghanistan is well under way, there remain many uncertainties about the post-2014 situation. The presence and role of the U.S. military and mercenaries, outcome of President Hamid Karzai’s endgames as he prepares the pitch for the presidential election in April 2014 and the consequences of the Taliban’s opposition to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif aiding the reconciliation process are just a few of the uncertainties.

In the event, the only certainty appears to be uncertainty over the peace-building process taking off as planned to bring about reconciliation and cooperation of those involved in Afghanistan. However, “reconciliation and cooperation of countries in the region” of South Asia refers not only to stabilization of the situation in Afghanistan for peace building, but is also a euphemism for India and Pakistan joining hands in and with Afghanistan.

‘Lampedusa’ Forces EU Asylum Policy Overhaul

By Mirjam van Reisen* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

BRUSSELS (IDN) – The Italian government has published the names of the occupants of the boat that drowned near Lampedusa on October 3. All those on the list appear to be Eritreans. At the weekend hundreds of bodies were recovered, washed ashore on the Italian island of Lampedusa. The European Union is soul-searching and identifying the problems of its increasingly repressive refugee and asylum policy.

A meeting of Ministers of Home Affairs has been called in Luxemburg to consider a package of measures, in a first response to the Lampedusa tragedy. Observers are pointing out that the effect of the European policy to effectively control the ‘safe routes’, forces the most desperate refugees to take ever bigger risks in their attempt to reach safety.

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