Latest Developments, May 30

In the latest news and analysis…

Beyond MDGs
The Guardian reports that the UN panel tasked with drawing up the post-2015 development agenda has claimed its new report presents “a clear road map for eradicating extreme poverty by 2030”:

“But the proposals do not include a standalone goal on inequality, reflecting [UK prime minister and panel co-chair David] Cameron’s priorities: growth rather than reducing inequality.

‘Nice goals, but the elephant in the post-2015 room is inequality,’ said Andy Sumner, a development economist at King’s College London. ‘We find in our number-crunching that poverty can only be ended if inequality falls so one should ask: where’s the inequality goal? Something resembling that elephant in the room – on data disaggregation – is in annex 1 of the report, but will anyone remember an annex note in 2030?’

The high-level panel proposed 12 measurable goals and 54 targets. Goals include ending extreme poverty for good, making sure everyone has access to food and water, promoting good governance, and boosting jobs and growth. Targets include promoting free speech and the rule of law, ending child marriage, protecting property rights, encouraging entrepreneurship, and educating all children to at least primary school level.”

Pros and cons
The Overseas Development Institute’s Claire Melamed argues that the post-2015 report’s absence of an inequality goal may prove a “wise decision” but calls the treatment of global partnerships a “missed opportunity”:

“An income inequality goal risks focusing campaigners and policymakers on shifts in, say, a country’s Gini coefficient – which is a pretty poor indicator of how people are actually faring, and doesn’t go to the heart of the multiple, intersecting inequalities, and the different dimensions of inequality. If talk of a ‘data revolution’ is carried through, and we know what is happening to the poorest and most remote communities – if their children are going to school, if they have healthcare, if they are at risk of violence – that is much more useful information than a shift in the Gini coefficient.

The panel has ducked some hard choices [on global partnerships] – or maybe failed to reach a consensus. There’s great language on the need for all institutions, including the private sector, to be much more transparent and accountable. The report goes beyond MDG eight by suggesting a target on keeping global warming within 2C. But there’s little that’s specific – instead of measurable targets, we get vague aspirations to create an ‘open, fair and development-friendly trading system’, or ‘reform the international financial architecture’, or ‘reduce tax evasion’.”

Corporate thinking
The Christian Science Monitor explores the “different paths” that EU and US companies have taken following the garment factory collapse that killed over 1,000 people in Bangladesh last month:

“Clothing firms quickly came under activist and union pressure to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh: a five-year, legally binding commitment from retailers, whose suppliers will be subject to independent inspections and public reports. A finance mechanism also requires each firm to contribute to safety upgrades, at a maximum of $2.5 million each over the five-year commitment.

US firms, which have cited legal liabilities, have embraced a lawyer-driven dialogue that favors a corporate instead of consumer response, [International Marketing Partners’ Allyson] Stewart-Allen says. North American re-tailers say they are drawing up their own safety plan.”

Radioactive workplace
The Daily Times reports on allegations that a uranium mine run by Australia’s Paladin Energy in Malawi is a “death trap” for local workers:

“Rex Chatambalala, who said he worked as control room operator in the final product area until August 2010, said local workers are exposed to radioactive material, highlighting two worst areas.
‘The first is the pit or mine where workers are exposed to radioactive dust, and the second is the processing line starting from crushers to the final product area,’ said Chatambalala in an exclusive interview.
‘When pipes block, Malawians are the ones unblocking them and they do this manually. Supervisors just instruct from far, telling you even to pick a radioactive stone with hands.
‘The expatriates don’t work where they know it is dangerous. They send locals there while they sit the offices drinking coffee.’ ”

Lily pads
Nikolas Kozloff writes in the Huffington Post about the growing US military presence in and around Africa:

“Reportedly, the Pentagon wants to establish a monitoring station in the Cape Verde islands, while further south in the Gulf of Guinea U.S. ships and personnel are patrolling local waters. Concerned lest it draw too much attention to itself, the Pentagon has avoided constructing large military installations and focused instead on a so-called ‘lily pad’ strategy of smaller bases. In São Tomé and Príncipe, an island chain in the Gulf of Guinea and former Portuguese colony, the Pentagon may install one such ‘under the radar’ base, and U.S. Navy Seabees are already engaged in construction work at the local airport.”

Conflict catalysts
Peru-based filmmaker/journalist Stephanie Boyd argues that reporters who accompanied Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper on his recent trip to Latin America should have focused less on scandals back home and more on the human rights records of Canadian mining companies in the region:

“There are currently 229 social conflicts in Peru and over half of these are related to mining, oil and gas projects, according to Peru’s government Ombudsman’s office.

‘Many of Peru’s historic and current mining conflicts are related to Canadian companies,’ says Jose de Echave, who served as vice-minister of the Environment during President Humala’s first cabinet.
One of the most recent involves Vancouver-based Candente Copper, which hopes to build a copper mine in one of northern Peru’s fragile tropical forests. Leaders from the nearby indigenous community of Cañaris say the proposed mine would destroy their source of water and livelihood. Last year the community held a referendum in which 95 per cent voted against the mine, but the company has ignored the results and is pushing ahead with the project.”

Racist violence
Despite recognizing “legitimate concerns about the overbroad scope of some provisions,” Human Rights Watch pushes for parliamentary debate on a Greek bill aimed at protecting immigrants from the country’s growing number of racially motivated hate crimes:

“A version of the draft law seen by Human Rights Watch would protect migrants who are victims of, or substantive witnesses to crime from deportation, as well as their families, while the alleged attackers are prosecuted. Human Rights Watch research indicates that fear of deportation deters undocumented migrants from reporting attacks to the police.”

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