Look Beyond the Rainforest

By Luc Gnacadja*
IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

BONN (IDN) – It is human development, or at least the quest for it, which caused the conversion of billions of hectares of forests into man-made deserts. It prompted, in the middle of the 19th century, the French novelist Chateaubriand to state that “forests precede civilizations, deserts follow them”. In other words, human beings are the only desert making species.

To reverse the tide and change such an inherent habit, we must think and operate outside of the “forest” box. We must look beyond the rainforest horizon and embrace holistic approaches to the entire landscape if we want to make sustainable forest management a green pathway for human development.

Investment Treaties Can Prove Damn Costly

A spate of lawsuits triggered by transnational corporations against Argentina, Ecuador, India. Indonesia, Uruguay, Vietnam, Australia and Canada, involving compensation worth billions of dollars is causing grave public concern and preparing the ground for reviewing so-called bilateral investment treaties.

By Martin Khor* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

GENEVA (IDN) – A growing number of international law suits has highlighted an emerging global crisis: the nature and effects of investment treaties signed between governments, which are allowing private companies and investors to sue countries for millions or even billions of dollars.

NATO Pushing Europe into New Nuclear Arms Race

By Julio Godoy
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) – Between late 2009 and mid-2010, the German government, represented by its foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, made a case for dismantling B61 atomic bombs on German soil. The actual number of such weapons of mass destruction is a top military secret, but some 20 of these are reported to be stationed in Germany.

Churches Express Solidarity with Greece

By R. Nastranis
IDN- InDepth NewsReport

ATHENS (IDN) – Church leaders from around the world have expressed solidarity with the much pooh-poohed and crisis-ridden Greece in a two-day visit to the country during which they met Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece as well as the Deputy Foreign Minister Constantinos Tsiaras.

Sri Lanka Army Joins People in Rebuilding Activity

By Kalinga Seneviratne
IDN-InDepth NewsReport

SINGAPORE (IDN) – Amid reports that an internal document, made public on November 14 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, has triggered soul-searching in the world organisation on its failure to protect non-combatants in Sri Lanka’s civil war, a visit to the country shows that the army and the people in the Northern Province are busy rebuilding the infrastructure destroyed by 30 years of a gruesome conflict.

US Fails to Uphold Highest Human Rights Standards

By Eric Walberg*
IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice welcomed Washington’s re-election on the United Nations Human Rights Council on November 12, saying that the HRC “has delivered real results”, citing its criticism of Syria. But she criticized the rights council’s continued “excessive and unbalanced focus on Israel” yet again, underlying that though President Barack Obama has ‘improved’ upon his predecessor Bush’s policy, the U.S. Administration has yet to evidence that it upholds “the highest standards regarding human rights”.

China: Internal Problems New Leaders’ Top Priority

By Bernt Berger*
IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

STOCKHOLM (IDN) – The 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party officially endorsed on November 15 the members of the new Politburo Standing Committee, China’s top leadership body. Despite the secrecy, speculation and rumours in the run-up to the announcement, the make-up of China’s fifth generation of leaders was predictable. Although it reflects the outcome of protracted behind the scenes power struggles, generally speaking the result might have little impact on the government’s political directions.

Besides Party Secretary-General (and de facto president-in-waiting) Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, who is expected to become prime minister in the official transition of power in March 2013, the five new Standing Committee members are: Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli. Two candidates said to have an inclination towards greater public participation, Li Yuanchao and Wang Yang, did not make it into the inner circle.

Half-truths Prevail in the Middle East

By Julio Godoy
IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

BERLIN (IDN) – Late last August, during the conference of the non-aligned countries in Tehran, the Iranian press quoted the Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi saying that the government of Bahrain, given its dismal human rights record, had lost whatever legitimacy it had. Nothing surprising in this quote: The regime of Bahrain has indeed a dismal human rights record, it latest performance being to strip opposition leaders of the Bahraini nationality, after harassing them for many months.

US Election: Generals and Their ‘Pen Pals’ Hog the Headlines

By Ernest Corea*
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

Washington DC (IDN) – There’s nothing like a real-life scandal involving a spymaster, who is also a bemedalled and highly regarded retired general, to deprive a big-time political event of major headlines, whether in the print or electronic media.

The scandal turned convolute, and the entire activity considered worthy of even more headlines, when the FBI informed the Pentagon that the retired general’s successor in the army (another general) had exchanged “potentially inappropriate” emails with the woman whose informal complaint to an FBI agent sparked the investigation that initially exposed the scandal.

Battle for Internet Control Looms Over ITU Meet

By Kalinga Seneviratne
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

SINGAPORE (IDN) – A battle for the control of the Internet threatens to overshadow the forthcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) to be held in Dubai from December 3 to 14. WCIT-12 is a United Nations mega-talkfest to be held under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the inter-governmental UN agency entrusted with telecommunication issues.

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