As the international community mobilizes on all fronts to combat the unfolding Ebola outbreak, the primary emphasis must continue to be on stopping the transmission of the virus within Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three hardest-hit countries, United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) experts on 23 October 2014 said.
Source: UNICEF, WHO
Reporting on the outcome of the third meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which wrapped up yesterday in Geneva, the experts stressed that focusing on the countries at the epicenter of the outbreak, including through reinforcing high-quality exit screening procedures at airports, “is the most important step for preventing international spread.”*
The growing menace of desertification poses a distinct threat to the world’s agriculture and eco-systems, the United Nations agriculture agency on 22 October 2014 warned, as it announced a new initiative aimed at curbing the spread of land degradation and building resilience to climate change.
Recent successes show that problems related to desertification and land degradation are not insurmountable. Photo: FAO/Giulio Napolitano
The program me, named Action Against Desertification and launched by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in partnership with the European Union and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP), will devote some €41million to bolstering sustainable land management across the world’s most vulnerable areas in an effort to fight hunger and poverty.*
Some 20 nations with coastlines on the North Atlantic, and Mediterranean and Black Seas are set to participate in a United Nations-supervised tsunami warning exercise to improve their ability to respond to an alert and enhance regional coordination in the event of a disaster.
A view of the destruction caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami of 26 December 2004 in Point Pedro, a small fishing village in northern Sri Lanka. UN Photo/Evan Schneider
In a press statement released on 23 October 2014 , the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – the body coordinating the warning test since its first implementation in 2005 – reported that four tsunami simulations will be carried out between 28 and 30 October in an effort to assess the overall reactivity of countries participating in the Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System for the North-eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and connected seas (NEAMTWS).*
Human Wrongs Watch
By Siobhan Hagan*, Vienna 20 October 2014 – The International Press Institute (IPI) has joined with eight other press freedom organizations to submit a letter to the U.N. Human Rights Committee listing concerns to be considered during Spain’s sixth country review under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Demonstration in Madrid | Author: Olmo Calvo | Wikipedia Commons
The review process is generally conducted every four years, when members of the U.N. Human Rights Committee analyse state parties’ implementation of the International Covenant.
Other partners to IPI’s submission include Access Info Europe in Madrid, Reporters Without Borders International, Reporters Without Borders Spain, AMARC Europe, Free Expression Associates, the European Federation of Journalists, Article 19 and WAN-IFRA.
The joint submission (available in English and Spanish) emphasises concerns in three areas: defamation, regulation of the audiovisual sector and access to information.
By Roberto Savio*
Rome, 22 October 2014 — The new European Commission looks more like an experiment in balancing opposite forces than an institution that is run by some kind of governance. It will probably end up being paralysed by internal conflicts, which is the last thing it needs.
**Map of the Thirty Years’ War | Author: Map_Thirty_Years_War-fr.svg: historic air | Wikimedia Commons
During the Commission presided over by José Manuel Barroso (2004-2014), Europe has become more and more marginal in the international arena, bogged down by the internal division between the North and the South of Europe.
We are going back to a new Thirty Years’ War – which took place nearly five centuries ago – between Catholics and Protestants. Catholics are considered profligate spenders, and there is a moral approach to economics from the Protestant side.
By Mauricio Savarese*, 21 October 2014 (RT) — About a year ago everyone expected an easy ride for President Dilma Rousseff in her reelection campaign. Now, in the final week of Brazil’s election season, she is technically tied with opposition’s Aécio Neves.
Dilma Rousseff | Roosewelt Pinheiro /ABr | Wikimedia Commons
About 20 percent of voters, who reject both candidates or seem too tired of politics to show up on October 26, are hearing desperate claims from the incumbent and her antagonist. It is likely Brazilians only know what will happen after the last vote is counted.
That uncertainty makes the country’s future a big mystery. And that includes a big chunk of South America’s powerhouse foreign policy. Neither Rousseff nor Neves want to give away much of what they intend to do if victorious.
Aécio Neves | Author: PSDB MG | Wikimedia Commons
But the president’s closest allies have given hints. Rousseff’s foreign advisor Marco Aurélio Garcia says “South America is a big asset” and insists Mercosur – the region’s free trade zone – must be strong to keep Brazil’s position as a Latin American spokesman.
Neves’ aide Rubens Barbosa, a former ambassador to Washington, says Brazil does better by imploding Mercosur (which includes Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay), so there is a deal with the European Union and diplomacy that is friendlier to the US.
At the root of crises confronted by the United Nations usually lies a “complex web” of violations of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights requiring solutions that can only come from more emphatic and comprehensive protections, the Organization’s top human rights official said on 22 October 2014.
In Khanke village, Iraq Kurdistan Region, children from the Yazidi minority eat a meal of rice and tomato stew for lunch. Photo: UNHCR/N. Colt
Addressing the General Assembly’s main body dealing with social, humanitarian, and cultural issues (Third Committee), UN High Commissioners for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said the world is currently facing “deepening turmoil” amid “biting constraints” of funding.