Thorny Road Ahead For Middle East Conference

By Ramesh Jaura
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) – A veil of silence and secrecy has shrouded the fate of a conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction in 2012, since the UN announced on October 14, 2011 that Finland will host it. The veil slowly lifting now corresponds to the “wall of silence” in Israel, which Israeli anti-nuke activist Sharon Dolev is persistently trying to break – with some success.

Knowledgeable sources in Berlin, London and Helsinki are convinced that the conference will indeed take place – from December 14 to 16 with seasoned Finnish diplomat and politician Jaakko Laajava as facilitator. However, hardly anyone appears to be particularly enthusiastic about it.

Anxiety Persists As IMF-World Bank Meet Ends

By Martin Khor*
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

GENEVA (IDN) – There were sobering messages on global economic prospects emerging from the 2012 meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund on October 14 in Tokyo.

Developing countries’ Finance Ministers and Central Bank officials voiced their concerns on the failure of developed countries to deal with their economic situation and on the policy and political paralysis preventing solutions.

First Arab Watch Report Chides Governments

By Bernhard Schell
IDN-InDepth NewsReport

BEIRUT (IDN) – Though legally bound by their respective constitutions to honour basic economic and social rights, Arab government usually violate such rights in practice, which partly explains the socio-political eruptions in the region, widely known as the Arab Spring. This is the upshot of the first Arab Watch Report by civil society organizations of ten Middle East and North African countries.

Kudos For UNCTAD’s Pro-People Approach

By R Nastranis
IDN-InDepth NewsReport

GENEVA (IDN) – The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is living up to its name and mandate given 48 years ago. Its latest Trade and Development Report concludes that austerity measures have not led to economic growth, and recommends supportive government policies to get over the crisis. This pro-people approach corresponds with organization’s goals, explained on its website: to “maximize the trade, investment and development opportunities of developing countries and assist them in their efforts to integrate into the world economy on an equitable basis.”

Japan Braving the Quake and Tsunami Debris

By Ramesh Jaura and Katsuhiro Asagiri
IDN-InDepth NewsFeature

SENDAI (IDN) – While the Fukushima nuclear disaster marks yet another wake-up call to re-think energy policy, the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit Tohoku, the north-eastern region of Japan, has not only left behind a trail of pain and suffering but also an indefatigable resolve of survivors to abandon despair and transform their agony into strength.

Of Canada, Khadr, Chief Nelson and Iran

By Eric Walberg*
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

TORNTO (IDN) – After 10 years in Guantanamo, former child soldier Omar Khadr, the last Western national being held there, was finally repatriated September 29, 2012 after years of mistreatment. The illegality of the procedures used against Khadr from day one mean that the Canadian government faces a multi-million dollar law suit for damages.

Various court cases against the government failed to convince it to expedite his return, until the U.S. government finally pulled the plug, forcing the Canadian government to take him after his plea of guilty to various charges, clearly made as the only way to end his ordeal and give him hope of eventual release.

African Economies Resilient But Vulnerable

By J C Suresh
IDN-InDepth NewsReport

TORNOTO (IDN) – A new report by the World Bank highlights the resilience of African economies despite global slowdown caused by the Euro-zone crisis and decline in growth in emerging economies, particularly China – an important market for the continent’s mineral exports.

In fact, new oil, gas and mineral wealth offer an opportunity for inclusive development. But strong growth rates could yet be vulnerable to deteriorating market conditions in the Euro-zone, the report warns.

So far, consistently high commodity prices and strong export growth in those countries which have made mineral discoveries in recent years, have powered economic activity and are expected to buttress Africa’s economic growth for the rest of 2012, according to the World Bank’s new Africa’s Pulse. African countries’ share in global reserves and annual production of some minerals is sizeable.

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