6 May 2015 – Hardly any country in the world hosts as many companies accused of severe human rights violations as Germany, according to a recent survey by the University of Maastricht. EurActiv Germany reports.Of 1,800 human rights violations analysed by the University of Maastricht, 87 can be traced to German companies.
This places Germany in fifth position, according to the number of such cases, behind the United States (511 cases reported), the United Kingdom (198), Canada (110) and China (94).
The list of potential human rights violations is long and includes cases such as water pollution in Peru, due to copper mining for car manufacturing, land expulsions in Uganda for a coffee plantation, villages flooded by a dam in Sudan, and exploitation of workers in the apparel industry.
In all of these cases, German companies were involved either directly or indirectly, according to complaints from NGOs, which were recently backed up by the University of Maastricht’s global comparative study.
A new United Nations-backed report on the link between forests and food production and nutrition says that woodlands could be the key to ending hunger and will be intimately linked to the global fight against climate change.
Launched on 6 May 2015 at UN Headquarters in New York, where the 11th session of the UN Forum on Forests, the Forests, Trees and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition report outlines the potential of forests to improve food security and nutrition, and to ensure the livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people.
The United Nations refugee agency on 6 May 2015 expressed its deep concern over the discovery of dozens of bodies in smugglers’ camps in Thailand, appealing for a regional effort to end human trafficking and protect those who escape difficult conditions from “the hands of ruthless smugglers.”
“It’s distressing to hear that people who escaped difficult conditions back home have had to put their lives in the hands of ruthless smugglers, only to be killed before they could reach safety,” said James Lynch, Regional Representative and Regional Coordinator for South-East Asia for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).*
38 Million Forcibly Displaced People – As Many as the Combined Populations of London, New York and Beijing
By the end of 2014, a record-breaking 38 million people had been forced to flee their homes within their own country because of conflict or violence, prompting the United Nations refugee agency to appeal on 6 May 2015 for “an all-out effort to bring about peace in war-ravaged countries.”
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) along with one of its partners, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), released these alarming figures at a joint press conference in Geneva to launch the report, Global Overview 2015: people internally displaced by conflict and violence.*
The report, compiled by the NRC’s the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), revealed that 38 million people have been internally displaced by conflict or violence, the equivalent of the total populations of London, New York and Beijing combined, representing a 4.7 million increase compared to 2013.
By Robert J. Burrowes*
If you are interested in learning more about the meaning of, and the relationships among, direct, structural and cultural violence and how one peace studies scholar suggests we use the integrative power of nonviolence to address violence constructively, then I suggest you read the new book by historian, playwright and novelist Professor Timothy Braatz called ‘Peace Lessons’.
This book is impressive because it explains important aspects of peace and conflict theory, particularly that developed by Professor Johan Galtung.
It then applies key peace studies concepts to select historical events that are normally perceived as violent – John Brown’s struggle to end slavery in the United States, the battle at Little Bighorn in 1876, ‘World Slaughter II’, as Braatz calls it – as well as some key nonviolent resistance movements of the twentieth century: the toppling of various dictators and the US Civil Rights movement.
Reporter from ARD German TV Florian Bauer tweeted that all of his, as well as colleagues’, materials for ARD and WDR networks have been erased and equipment destroyed.
He and his colleagues were interrogated by the police as well as secret service, Bauer claimed, and were forced to stay in the country for days.
Bauer, a long-time critic of the longtime FIFA president, has been working on a documentary titled ‘The Selling of Football: Sepp Blatter and the Power of FIFA,’ which was scheduled to air on Monday in Germany.
Terrorism continues to represent one of the greatest global challenges to international stability and security, and given the international nature of modern terrorism, no country is immune. To counter this threat, there are many important steps that States need to take, with establishing a strong legal system against terrorism key among them, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said on 4 May 2015.*
In light of this, two new UNODC-developed handbooks – one on human rights and another on air and sea terrorism prevention – aim to assist States in strengthening their efforts against terrorist activities.
The guides are part of UNODC’s ongoing Counter-Terrorism Legal Training Curriculum, a knowledge-sharing platform designed to build capacity among national criminal justice officials to enhance their legal efforts against terrorism.
The Curriculum integrates training materials on related topics, such as money laundering and organized crime, addressing this scourge in a holistic manner.
This helps the target audience – including law enforcement officials such as police, prosecutors and judges; policymakers; and officials from departments such as Foreign Affairs, Justice and Interior – to better draft relevant laws and apply international treaties.
Geneva – The head of the United Nations body tasked with setting the global environmental agenda on 4 May 2015 stressed the need to limit the use of dangerous chemicals and to find a solution to the masses of electronic waste building up around the world, as a Conference of Parties to three major Conventions on the subject began in Geneva on 4 May 2015.
Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), told journalists that the “tsunami of e-waste rolling out over the world” not only accounted for a large portion of the world’s non-recyclable “waste mountain” but also needed dealing with because many elements found in electronic equipment are potentially hazardous to people and the environment.*
Each day some 500 children die from road traffic crashes, thousands more are injured and the situation is only getting worse, the United Nations on 4 May 2015 warned as it launched #SaveKidsLives, a global campaign to generate action to make streets safe for children.
According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), every four minutes, a child dies from a traffic accident. For adolescents aged 15 to 17, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death worldwide, with boys accounting for nearly twice as many road traffic deaths as girls.*
And one third of these deaths are children in cars but two thirds outside cars.