Latest Developments, March 29

In the latest news and analysis…

Migrant deaths
The Guardian reports that the lead investigator into the maritime deaths of dozens of African migrants has called Europe’s talk of human rights “meaningless.”
“Despite emergency calls being issued and the boat being located and identified by European coastguard officials, no rescue was ever attempted. All but nine of those on board died from thirst and starvation or in storms, including two babies.
The report’s author, Tineke Strik – echoing the words of Mevlüt Çavusoglu, president of the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly at the time of the incident – described the tragedy as ‘a dark day for Europe’, and told the Guardian it exposed the continent’s double standards in valuing human life.

The incident has become well known due to the harrowing accounts of the survivors, but the report makes clear that many similar ‘silent tragedies’ have occurred in recent years. Last year a record number of migrant deaths were recorded in the Mediterranean. ‘When you think about the media attention focused on the [Costa] Concordia and then compare it to the more than 1,500 migrant lives lost in the Mediterranean in 2011, the difference is striking,’ Strik said.”

Yemen drones
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports there has been a sharp increase in “covert US strikes against alleged militants” in Yemen since the start of the Arab Spring.
“At least 26 US military and CIA strikes involving cruise missiles, aircraft, drones or naval bombardments have taken place in the volatile Gulf nation to date, killing hundreds of alleged militants linked to the regional al Qaeda franchise. But at least 54 civilians have died too, the study found.

At least five US attacks – some involving multiple targets – have so far taken place in Yemen this month alone, in support of a government offensive to drive militants from key locations. In comparison, Pakistan’s tribal areas, the epicentre of the CIA’s controversial drone war, have seen just three US drone strikes in March.”

Sweden’s Saudi scandal
Agence France-Presse reports Sweden’s defence minister has resigned in the midst of controversy over a secret arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
“Earlier this month public broadcaster Swedish Radio said the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) had secret plans since 2007 to help Saudi Arabia build a plant for the production of anti-tank weapons.
The radio said part of the so-called Project Simoom involved the creation of a shell company called SSTI to handle dealings with Saudi Arabia in order to avoid any direct links to FOI and the government.

Sweden has in the past sold weapons to Saudi Arabia, but classified government documents state that Project Simoom ‘pushes the boundaries of what is possible for a Swedish authority,’ the radio said when it broke the story on March 6.”

Apple/Foxconn promises
Reuters reports that Apple has promised to work with Foxconn to increase wages and improve working conditions in their Chinese factories.
“The moves came in response to one of the largest investigations ever conducted of a U.S. company’s operations abroad. Apple had agreed to the probe by the independent Fair Labour Association in response to a crescendo of criticism that its products were built on the backs of mistreated Chinese workers.

Apple, the world’s most valuable corporation, and Foxconn, China’s biggest private-sector employer and Apple’ main contract manufacturer, are so dominant in the global technology industry that their newly forged accord will likely have a substantial ripple effect across the sector.”

Patent objection
The Economic Times reports that the US has criticized India for greenlighting the manufacture of a generic version of a cancer drug for which Germany’s Bayer holds the patent.
“The compulsory licence would allow the company to make a generic, or copycat, version of the patented cancer drug bringing down prices by about 30 times. ‘[US Commerce Secretary John] Bryson said pharmaceuticals was a competitive area and heavy investments went into R&D every year. Any dilution of the international patent regime was a cause for deep concern for the US,’ the official said.
Defending the move, [Indian Commerce & Industry Minister Anand] Sharma said the compulsory licence strictly complied with the flexibility norms provided in the Trips (trade-related intellectual property rights) Agreement of the WTO since a large number of cancer patients died in the country every year as they could not afford treatment.”

Widening Kimberley
Reuters reports that the Kimberley Process is considering expanding the definition of “conflict” it uses in monitoring of the global diamond trade.
“ ‘What we would like to see is in essence that there be a clear agreed understanding amongst the membership that conflict is something more than only a rebel group seeking to overthrow a legitimate government,’ [Kimberley Process chairwoman Gillian Milovanovic] said.”

Madagascar anniversary
Le Monde marks the anniversary of “one of the most significant colonial massacres” which killed tens of thousands in Madagascar over the course of nearly two years.
“This Thursday, March 29, Malagasies commemorate the 65th anniversary of the start of the insurrection. Independent since June 26, 1960 – after 65 years of French colonization – the Red Island remembers a ‘pacification’ that consisted of torture, burned villages, summary executions and a French expeditionary force composed mainly of colonial troops. Some 18,000 soldiers landed in April 1947. Their numbers reached 30,000 in 1948. ” (Translated from the French.)

Extreme extractivism
Human rights lawyer Magdalena Gómez points to the recent deaths of anti-mining protesters as evidence of the excessive power transnational corporations have gained in Mexico.
“We have already heard the usual arguments that attribute the attacks to rifts in the community—and they do exist–but no one stops to analyze that these divisions are promoted by the alliances forged by the mining companies.
The truth is that, beyond the investigations required to arrest and prosecute the masterminds and perpetrators of these crimes, it’s urgent that we look into the devastating effects of the policy of granting mining concessions without regard to the territorial rights of the peoples.

Until the fallacy that transnational corporations are simply private actors is rejected and what has been called “the architecture of impunity” is deconstructed, peoples’ rights will be impossible to guarantee in the face of the reality of governments subjugated to transnational capital.” (Translated by the Center for International Policy’s Michael Kane)

Latest Developments, March 19

In the latest news and analysis…

Arms stats
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has released new statistics indicating the international arms trade increased by 24 percent in 2007-2011 compared to previous five-year period, with the usual suspects still dominating the market.
“The five biggest suppliers of major conventional weapons in the period 2007– 11 were the United States, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. The USA and Russia remained by far the largest exporters, accounting for 30 per cent and 24 per cent of all exports, respectively. The top 5 suppliers accounted for 75 per cent of exports of major conventional weapons in the period 2007–11, compared with 78 per cent for the same five suppliers in the period 2002–2006.”

Apple dividend
KPCC’s Mike DeBord suggests Apple’s decision to reduce its cash surplus by paying its shareholders a quarterly dividend is both morally and strategically questionable.
“So when you think about it, Apple’s cash hoard has really come from extracting profits from its Asian contract manufacturers, who support Apple’s 30-plus profit margins by slashing their own; and by extracting profits from the likes of Verizon and AT&T, who have to subsidize customer purchases of ex-pen-sive iPhones. For the moment, Foxconn and American’s biggest wireless providers are willing to accept a redistribution of wealth from their balance sheets to Apple’s. But you have to wonder how long that will last — especially if people like [ValueWalk’s Paul] Shea are right and the post-Jobs Apple shifts its focus from product innovation to the care and feeding of shareholders (more than 70 percent of who are big institutional investors and hedge funds).”

Grim forecast
In a blog post announcing the release of a new environmental outlook to 2050, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Patrick Love writes that “we’re all doomed.”
“The [greenhouse gas] mitigation actions pledged by countries in the 2010 Cancún Agreements at the UN Climate Change Conference will not be enough to prevent the global average temperature from exceeding the 2C threshold, unless very rapid and costly emission reductions are realised after 2020.
Projections like these are probably familiar to most people interested in environmental issues, but other figures in the book may prove more of a shock, notably concerning health. We may be damaging the environment, but it’s killing us. Today, unsafe water kills more people than all forms of violence, but air pollution is set to become the world’s top environmental cause of premature mortality, overtaking dirty water and lack of sanitation.”

Dam guidelines
The Guardian reports that new voluntary guidelines for assessing the impacts of large hydroelectric dams are gathering support from corporations, while critics cry “greenwash.”
“Zachary Hurwitz, policy programme coordinator at International Rivers, said the protocol could create opportunities for dam builders to make sustainability claims while potentially undermining legislative and civil society-led efforts to hold them accountable for the social and environmental impacts of their projects.
‘There are ways to better regulate dam building,’ he said. ‘It is by the legislative process, through harmonising-upwards country regulatory systems in order to truly come to a global binding standard, with the ability to penalise developers.’ ”

Trayvon Martin
GlobalGrind.com’s Michael Skolnik writes about last month’s fatal shooting of an African-American teenager in a Florida gated community, arguing that “the rights I take for granted [as a white American] are only valid if I fight to give those same rights to others.”
“I got a lot of emails about Trayvon.  I have read a lot of articles.  I have seen a lot of television segments.  The message is consistent.  Most of the commentators, writers, op-ed pages agree.  Something went wrong.  Trayvon was murdered.  Racially profiled. Race. America’s elephant that never seems to leave the room. But, the part that doesn’t sit well with me is that all of the messengers of this message are all black too.  I mean, it was only two weeks ago when almost every white person I knew was tweeting about stopping a brutal African warlord from killing more innocent children.  And they even took thirty minutes out of their busy schedules to watch a movie about dude.  They bought t-shirts.  Some bracelets. Even tweeted at Rihanna to take a stance.  But, a 17 year old American kid is followed and then ultimately killed by a neighborhood vigilante who happens to be carrying a semi-automatic weapon and my white friends are quiet.  Eerily quiet. Not even a trending topic for the young man.”

Abolishing tax havens
The UN Millennium Campaign’s Charles Abugre writes that corrupt government officials are not the main culprits behind illicit capital flight from Africa, an estimated 65-70 percent of which is attributable to “commercial activities, especially through trade mis-pricing of goods”.
“Africa is experiencing economic growth, and for the increasing wealth to be channelled to public services, development and the achievement of the millennium development goals by 2015, it is urgent the problem of tax havens as a conduit for illicit outflows is addressed. The high-level panel set up by the African Union, the African Development Bank and the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and chaired by former South African president Thabo Mbeki, is a significant step forward – and testifies to the importance of this issue for Africa’s development. The ball is now in the court of the rich countries.”

A world bank
It is time for the US to give up its unwritten right to appoint World Bank presidents in favour of a more open, meritocratic process, according to François Bourguignon, Nicholas Stern and Joseph Stiglitz, all of whom held senior positions at the bank in the past.
“The developed countries have declared the importance of an ‘open, transparent and merit-based process’ many times. They have recognised the importance of trust, credibility and collaboration in overcoming global challenges, particularly that of poverty. Yet when the moment comes for decision, they cannot resist the temptation to perpetuate the monopoly. This is not only hypocritical, it also destroys the trust and spirit of collaboration needed to manage the profound problems facing the world.”

Lundins fight back
The Local reports the sons of Lundin Group founder Adolf Lundin have responded to allegations their company consists of “opportunistic, dictator-hugging businessmen” who show little regard for human rights in their search for natural resources.
“The allegations refer to alleged human rights abuses in connection with oil exploration in southern Sudan between 1997 and 2003.
Magnus Elving of the International Prosecution Chamber in Stockholm (Internationella åklagarkammaren i Stockholm) is investigating claims made in a report entitled “Unpaid Debt” framed by an umbrella group named the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan (ECOS) and present in 2010.
The report alleges that Sudanese troops, in collaboration with militias, attacked and drove away the civilian population in areas where companies could drill for oil.”

Latest Developments, March 18

In today’s latest developments…

Executive punishment
Reuters reports a Brazilian court has decided 17 executives of Chevron and Transocean cannot leave the country as charges loom due to last year’s major oil spill.
“A federal judge in Rio de Janeiro state granted a request from prosecutors who are pressing for charges against both firms, a spokesman for prosecutor Eduardo Oliveira said in a phone interview. George Buck, who heads Chevron’s Brazil unit, and the other 16 executives must turn in their passports to the police within 24 hours, the spokesman said.”

Big-time retraction
Marketplace’s Rob Schmitz has revealed that a critic of labour conditions in Apple’s supply chain has not been entirely truthful – revelations that prompted NPR’s This American Life to retract a high-profile episode that aired last year – but he cautions that the corporate giant should not be let off the hook as a result.
“What makes this a little complicated is that the things [Mike] Daisey lied about seeing are things that have actually happened in China: Workers making Apple products have been poisoned by Hexane. Apple’s own audits show the company has caught underage workers at a handful of its suppliers. These things are rare, but together, they form an easy-to-understand narrative about Apple.”

Uncooperative US
Al Jazeera reports that Afghan officials, including the country’s president, have alleged the US military did not cooperate with an investigation into a recent massacre of civilians purportedly committed by a rogue American soldier.
“[Lieutenant General Sher Mohammed Karimi] said that despite repeated requests from high-level Afghan officials, including the minister of defence, to meet with the accused soldier, they were not granted access by US generals.
Karimi said he wanted to ask the soldier whether he acted alone, or was part of a team, as has repeatedly been claimed by tribal elders.”

Falklands/Malvinas
Al Jazeera also reports that the Union of South American Nations has stated its opposition to current British activities around the “disputed Falkland Islands.”
“ ‘The military presence of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland in the Islas Malvinas … goes against the region’s
policy to seek a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute, and [the region] reiterates its rejection of that presence,’ the foreign ministers of the UNASUR grouping of South American nations said in a joint statement on Saturday.
‘It also rejects unilateral British activities in the disputed zone, which include, among other things, the exploration and exploitation of renewable and non-renewable Argentine natural resources as well as military exercises.’ ”

Embargo busting
Foreign Policy reports that a UN panel is investigating whether France and Qatar violated an international embargo by supplying arms to Libyan rebels last year.
“The eight-member panel has made no ruling on whether the allies of the rebel Libyan government violated sanctions — and it remains unclear whether the panel will in the future — given that France and other allies in the Security Council can exercise considerable authority over the panel.
Still, the report sheds new light on how the anti-Qaddafi opposition was able to transform a collection of militias and tribal leaders into a fighting force capable of defeating the government’s superior military forces. And it includes acknowledgments by France and Qatar that they supplied military advisers to the insurgents to help prevent government attacks on civilians.”

Controversial permits
Global Witness says a British company is planning to proceed with oil exploration “in Africa’s oldest National Park and UNESCO World Heritage site” situated in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“ ‘Undertaking oil exploration or exploitation on the ground in a UNESCO World Heritage site constitutes a breach of the Convention on World Heritage, as well as DRC’s own laws and constitution’, said Colin Robertson of Global Witness. ‘SOCO’s plans are a real threat to the protection of Virunga’s wildlife and to people who depend on Lake Edward. The region is also marked by ethnic tensions and the presence of armed militia groups is still a threat to stability. These factors could be exacerbated if oil exploration is carried out without consulting local people.’ ”

Murder in Oaxaca
The Latin American Herald Tribune reports that, for the second time this year, an opponent of a Canadian-owned mine in Mexico’s Oaxaca state has been shot dead.
“The [Oaxaca Collective in Defense of the Land] said the Cuzcatlan mining firm, a unit of Canada’s Fortuna Silver Mines, and the mayor of the town of San Jose del Progreso, Alberto Mauro Sanchez, are directly responsible for Vasquez’s death as well as the slaying of another activist, Bernardo Mendez, who was killed in January.

That same organization also ‘repeatedly’ complained that ‘the mining firm was financing armed groups in the community with the backing’ of the mayor, the statement added.”

Operation dismantle
A Philippines congressman is calling for a congressional investigation into alleged rights abuses around a Canadian-owned mine in the country’s volatile south.
“[Congressman Antonio Tinio] said that TVIRD has been conducting ‘clearing operations’ in Sitio Balabag since November 2011, making use of paramilitaries supplied by the Philippine Army. ‘According to internal documents of TVIRD that have been brought to our attention, the mining firm has been implementing a security plan known as OPLAN Bongkag (Operation Plan ‘Dismantle’) since the last quarter of 2011,’ said Tinio. ‘The objectives are to secure the area for mining operations in the face of strong resistance from the small-scale miners, many of whom have been working in the area since the 1980s.’ He added that the plan, approved by TVIRD’s Vice-President for Philippine Operations and Chief Operating Officer Yulo E. Perez, called for the deployment of regular troops, along with at least 220 paramilitaries from the 1st Infantry Divison of the Philippine Army, all of them acting under the direction of TVIRD’s Security Manager, retired Army Colonel Valentino V. Edang.”

Latest Developments, February 26

In the latest news and analysis…

Interpreting corporate personhood
In a New York Times op-ed carrying the headline “Should Corporations Have More Leeway to Kill Than People Do?,” the Center for Constitutional Rights’s Peter Weiss writes about what is at stake in a US Supreme Court case, due to begin this week, pitting Nigerian plaintiffs against oil giant Shell.
“A decision affirming that Shell should go unpunished in the Niger Delta case would leave us with a Supreme Court that seems of two minds: in the words of Justice John Paul Stevens’s dissent from Citizens United, it threatens “to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the nation” by treating corporations as people to let them make unlimited political contributions, even as it treats corporations as if they are not people to immunize them from prosecution for the most grievous human rights violations.”

Don’t be evil
The Center for Global Development’s Owen Barder argues “we should all be worried” by a new agreement between Google and the World Bank that aims to promote development through sharing geoinformation.
“The problem is the way the data is licensed: once any data goes in to Google Map Maker, it all becomes the property of Google. If governments and citizens choose to use the Google Map Maker platform to contribute their information, then the data will only be available through Google’s own mapping system, and the data will be available under conditions specified by Google. At least, that is what we believe: ironically, given that both the Bank and Google are trying to market themselves as leaders in transparency and openness, they have refused to publish their legal agreement.”

Apple’s excess money
The Associated Press reports that Apple’s CEO Tim Cook believes his company has “more [money] than we need” and may be considering paying dividends to shareholders, a move likely to be unpopular with those concerned over labour conditions in Apple’s supply chain.
“While shareholders waited in a 40-minute line to get inside the meeting at Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, a few protesters carried signs urging the company to ensure that workers building its products in Taiwanese and Chinese factories are paid more and treated humanely. ‘Stop iSweatshop,’ one sign implored. Another stated: ‘iWant an ethical phone.’ No questions about the conditions in Apple’s overseas factories were posed during the meeting.”

Migrant rights
The Ecologist reports on the “exploitation and squalor” endured by African migrants working in Italy to supply oranges for companies such as Coca-Cola.
“Campaigners are now calling on multinational food and drink firms purchasing orange ingredients from the region to help address the problem. Italy’s largest farmers association says it has written to several companies – including Coca Cola, manufacturer of the Fanta orange drink – complaining that prices paid for orange concentrates are unfair, and fostering unpleasant conditions.

There’s thought to be around 50,000 migrants, mainly Africans, a few Eastern Europeans, currently existing like this across Italy.”

46 ideas
SHERPA, a French non-profit focused on economic justice, has released the English version of a report containing 46 proposals “to bring regulation of multinational companies to the top of the political agenda in 2012”.
46 Proposals explains in non-technical terms the mechanisms giving rise to both corporate impunity and citizens’ suspicion of the globalized economy and financial markets. The objective is to contribute to the debate over corporate accountability and suggest concrete solutions. Legal tools are not meant to weigh multinational corporations down, but to help turn CSR into a reality.”

Human rights vs. investment
The American Lawyer’s Michael Goldhaber writes that the long-running legal battle between Ecuadorian plaintiffs and oil-giant Chevron has taken another turn following an international arbitration panel’s call for Ecuador’s government to block a court decision awarding $18 billion in damages.
“However, on February 17 the intermediate Ecuadorian appellate court issued a four-page order… According to Chevron’s translation, the court rejected the arbitrators’ order as offensive to Ecuador’s Constitution as well as to the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights. ‘A simple arbitration award, although it may bind Ecuador, cannot obligate Ecuador’s judges to violate the human rights of our citizens,’ wrote the court. ‘That would not only run counter to the rights guaranteed by our Constitution, but would also violate the most important international obligations assumed by Ecuador in matters of human rights.’

Ecuador may continue to ignore the arbitrators’ declarations if it wishes to risk the consequences for foreign investment.”

The scramble for Somalia
The Guardian reports on concerns that the sudden international interest in Somalia could be a double-edged sword for the country’s inhabitants.
“The promise of stability coupled with the apparent discovery of oil reserves could help to rebuild this poverty-stricken country. But experts warn the west must not pillage the newly found resources of Somalia, or risk massively escalating the conflicts already in the region. Kenyan, Ethiopian and Ugandan soldiers are in Somalia fighting al-Shabaab and each country has vested interests in Somalia’s future. Already a new militia, led by the unlikely-sounding Sheik Atom, has formed around Puntland’s oilfields.”

Arab caricatures
The Council on Foreign Relations’s Ed Husain writes about the worrying tone of  pronouncements made on the Middle East by the leading Republican candidates for the American presidency.
“To date, not a single Republican candidate has spoken warmly of Arabs and congratulated them for seeking freedom and democracy, nor dedicated US support for and solidarity with the Arab uprisings. Instead, they continue to view the Arab world through outmoded lenses. The stirrings in Arab streets are about dignity, freedom, jobs, healthcare, housing and transparent government. But the Republican contenders continue to view the Middle East through four prisms: Israel’s security, Iranian nuclear ambitions, oil supplies to America, and countering terrorism. This mismatch between understanding reality in the region and the misplaced priorities among Republican contenders leads to the gap in knowledge and flawed analysis only too apparent in this debate.”

Latest Developments, February 13

In the latest news and analysis…

Same as the old boss
Foreign Policy’s Michael Cohen writes that if US President Barack Obama has been no more a champion of civil liberties than his predecessor was, Americans are not complaining.
“The results of a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll provide compelling evidence of how little a price Obama has paid for these policies. According to the poll, 70 percent of respondents support the president’s decision to keep Guantanamo Bay open. Indeed, backing for Gitmo is actually higher today than it was in 2003. Among the president’s political base, 53 percent who self-identify as liberal Democrats — and 67 percent of moderate or conservative Democrats — are also supportive.
What about drone strikes? In total, 83 percent of Americans are on-board with the use of drones — a mere 4 percent are strongly opposed.”

Poison Apple
The Guardian reports the Fair Labor Association has begun an independent audit of some of Apple’s Chinese supplier factories in the wake of allegations of worker abuse, though the most notorious of these suppliers has links to many other industry giants as well.
“Foxconn, which makes equipment for a large number of American and Asian companies, including Apple, Amazon, Acer, Asus, Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Microsoft, Motorola, Netgear, Nokia, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba, has generated huge amounts of attention following claims of poor working conditions in gigantic factories that function like self-contained towns.
In July 2009 a 25-year-old worker committed suicide, reportedly after losing an iPhone prototype, and in 2010 there was a spate of suicides – prompting Foxconn to install nets around the edges of some buildings to prevent people jumping off roofs.”

Living inside the doughnut
Oxfam’s Kate Raworth argues in a new discussion paper that humankind is currently failing to live within “planetary and social boundaries” but could theoretically meet the needs of the poor without further damaging the earth.
“The real source of stress is excessive resource use by roughly the richest 10 percent of people in the world – backed up by the aspirations of a rapidly growing global middle class seeking to emulate those unsustainable lifestyles. Thanks to the extraordinary scale of global inequality, widespread poverty coexists with dangerous planetary stress.

If respecting planetary and social boundaries is the objective, then – in wealthy economies at least – the onus falls on those promoting unlimited GDP growth to show that it can bring humanity within the doughnut. The G20, among others, stand for the vision of ‘inclusive and sustainable economic growth’, but no country has yet shown that it is possible. If unlimited GDP growth is to have a place in doughnut economics, it has a long way to go to prove itself.”

Taking back the banks
The Overseas Development Institute’s Jonathan Glennie argues the current financial crisis presents an opportunity for poor countries to take control of their banks from foreign owners who too often do not operate according to local economic logic.
“…in Africa at least, banking services for rural households and the informal sector (by far the largest part of Africa’s private sector) have generally suffered, according to [the UN Conference on Trade and Development]. ‘These banks lend to larger borrowers such as the public sector, large enterprises and wealthy households. They do not have mechanisms well suited to catering to the needs of small, low-income, and mostly agricultural and rural-based economic agents, despite the fact that these agents constitute the backbone of African economies.’ ”

Peak people
The Globe and Mail’s Doug Saunders considers some of the possible consequences of an aging world where there is “a shift from surplus to scarcity” of working-age people.
“Peak people will be an age when jobs compete for workers rather than vice versa. The cheapest labour will vanish. We’re already seeing this: Because China is aging very fast, its dwindling working-age population is turning down the lowest-paid jobs and pushing up the minimum wage sharply, as well as the once-minimal costs of social services: Stuff from China will stop being cheap, because the Chinese aren’t young.

Peak people will also be an age when countries will be competing for immigrants rather than trying to limit them. Immigration has spared Canada from the worst of aging, but immigrants adopt host-country family sizes very quickly, so they’re a temporary fix. And if their home countries are competing to keep them, then we’ll have a harder time finding young people who want to come.”

The state of nations
Harvard University’s Dani Rodrik argues in favour of strong nation-states as the only plausible source of solutions to current global problems, but he does not entirely rule out the possibility of an alternative future.
“As the philosopher Peter Singer has put it, the communications revolution has spawned a ‘global audience’ that creates the basis for a ‘global ethics.’ If we identify ourselves with the nation, our morality remains national. But, if we increasingly associate ourselves with the world at large, our loyalties will expand, too. Similarly, the Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen speaks of our ‘multiple identities’ – ethnic, religious, national, local, professional, and political – many of which cross national boundaries.

To be sure, the geography of attachments and identities is not fixed; indeed, it has changed over the course of history. That means that we should not entirely dismiss the likelihood that a true global consciousness will develop in the future, along with transnational political communities.”

Arms philosophies
The Instituto Sou da Paz’s Daniel Mack presents the debate over the future shape of the Arms Trade Treaty – which is being further pre-negotiated this week – as a battle between those who want “a little better than the status quo” and those who seek “to ensure the humanitarian imperative is realized in a major arms regulation agreement”
“It is no wonder that many proponents of an “ATT lite” have heavy arms exports; industry is not usually fond of any sort of regulation to its trade, which more often than not means smaller profit margins. As with alcohol and tobacco, less lethal but also legal, you won’t see industries begging for more restrictions on their international sales.”