Latest Developments, December 1

In the latest news and analysis…

Climate fund row
The World Development Movement’s Murray Worthy writes about civil society opposition to perceived attempts by the US and UK to turn the Green Climate Fund into a “Greedy Corporate Fund” at the Durban climate talks.
“The role of private investment in financing climate activities must be decided at the national and sub-national levels in line with countries’ priorities, not corporate bottom lines. The move to allow the private sector to go directly to the Green Climate Fund for money undermines the possibility of a democratic, participatory process for meeting the needs of communities struggling to fight climate change,” according to Lidy Nacpil of Jubilee South Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt and Development.

Durban deadlock
Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati argues there is little hope of a meaningful agreement at the Durban climate talks due in large part to a growing “What’s in it for me?” attitude from the US in global affairs.
“Moreover, abandoning the Kyoto Protocol’s exemption of developing countries from obligations for current emissions, the US has insisted on obligations from China and India that reflect a common form of ‘taxation’ of emissions. But there are persuasive reasons why these countries insist that the obligations must instead reflect per capita emissions, a criterion that would require far greater emission cuts by the US than its leaders now contemplate.”

Big decision
The Tico Times reports Costa Rica’s top court has annulled a Canadian mining company’s concession for the controversial Las Crucitas open-pit gold mine and suggested the project’s approval may have involved corruption at the highest level.
“The court’s ruling is the latest in a long-running battle between opponents of the mine and Industrias Infinto, which is a subsidiary of the Canadian company Infinito Gold. The company was awarded a mining concession by then-president Óscar Arias in 2006, but lawsuits by environmental groups kept the project hobbled through November of 2010 when the Sala I struck down the project. Industrias Infinito appealed that decision.
Wednesday’s ruling, however, dismissed the mining company’s appeals. The court also asked Costa Rica’s public prosecutor to initiate proceedings to see if criminal investigations are warranted for individuals in the Costa Rican government involved in the mining saga, including former President Arias. The project was first proposed in 1993.”

Public-private police
An Atlantic article by Samantha Michaels looks into allegations that American mining giant Freeport-McMoRan is bankrolling the violent repression of an ongoing labour dispute at its Grasberg facility in Indonesia and, indirectly, the fight against Papuan separatists.
“Freeport has given $79.1 million to police and military forces in the past 10 years, according to a group called Indonesian Corruption Watch.  Most of that funding has been through in-kind contributions such as food, housing, fuel, and travel costs, but officers have also received direct payments. A report by the NGO Global Witness shows that, between 2001 and 2003, Freeport gave nearly $250,000 to a controversial commander who in 1999 led military action in East Timor, where soldiers killed more than a thousand people.
Since then, the security funding has grown: Freeport’s financial documents show that the company paid $14 million to support government security forces in 2010, up from $10 million in 2009 and $8 million in 2008.”

Giving with one hand…
The Guardian reports that Norway is facing accusations of hypocrisy for funding forest protection in Indonesia while its state pension fund invests in commercial projects that aggravate deforestation in the Southeast Asian nation.
“The UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency wrote in October to the country’s prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg to call for a new approach. The NGO said Norway’s financial involvement in Indonesia was a net negative for the environment. It said that the $30m (£19m) that Norway provided for Redd projects in 2010 is just of the fifth of the profits and a third of the investment value in companies involved in ‘logging, plantations, and mining companies currently deforesting large areas of Indonesia.’”

Bush in Africa
Amnesty International is calling on the governments of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia to arrest former US president George W. Bush during this week’s visit over his alleged authorization of torture during his time in the White House.
“Amnesty International recognizes the value of raising awareness about cervical and breast cancer in Africa, the stated aim of the visit, but this cannot lessen the damage to the fight against torture caused by allowing someone who has admitted to authorizing water-boarding to travel without facing the consequences prescribed by law.”

Hunger crimes
Picking up on the recent claim by a UN official that the famine in Somalia is the result of crimes against humanity committed by the Transitional Federal Government and the militant group al-Shabaab, the University of Minnesota’s Abdi Ismail Samatar argues the accuser must also share in the blame.
“[W]hile the coordinator [of the UN’s Monitoring Group for Somalia] has blamed al-Shabaab for denying access to agencies like [the World Food Programme], the timeline of events appear to point the blame on the Monitoring Group’s tabloid-like research and report writing. We think that al-Shabaab is guilty of condemning people to starvation, but those who used the United Nations Monitoring Group as the vehicle to deliver unfounded half-truths also played a vital role in inducing the calamity by illegitimately damaging the credibility of WFP, which directly contributed to the dearth of food deliveries to the population.
The gossip-based report also indirectly precipitated al-Shabaab’s cruel decision and appears to coincide with the US’ decision to withdraw support for WFP.”

Philanthropic racism
The University of St. Gallen’s Martin Herrndorf argues the message of an ad intended to draw attention to global poverty – “Millions die, no one cries” – was undermined by its ethnocentric wording.
“Yet – ‘no one cries’ means ‘no one who is white and lives in places with fancy bus stops.’ Apparently, black people in poor countries crying don’t count. The poster thus is at least Eurocentric, if not outright racist.”

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