This Week in the World of Conflict

This Week in the World in Conflict… March 12th-19th, 2012.

  • A new Oxford University study has found that a beta-blocker drug may possibly reduce “subconscious” racism. The drug is thought to work by clocking activation of the peripheral autonomic nervous system and in areas of the brain involved with formulating emotional responses, including fear.
  • The Transitional Justice Institute announced its 5th annual Summer School on Transitional Justice on the theme of Gender, Conflict and UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in Ulster, Northern Ireland from June 25th-29th. Deadline for applications is May 4th, 2012.
  •  I’m not sure if this is actually newsworthy or merely conspiracy, and haven’t had a chance to look into it in any great depth, but it appears that there are mass resignations from world banks, investment houses and money funds; reportedly 320 in the last 4 months alone. The latest wrote a scathing resignation letter against Goldman Sachs in the New York Times.
  • The Center for International Peace Operations released a new report on partnerships in peace operations around the world.
  • The competition for the Presidency of the World Bank is heating up, as the current President ends his term on July 1st. For the first time, a normally behind-the-scenes election was shaken up after economist Jeffrey Sachs decided to shatter the ancient taboo and campaign openly for the job.
  • Oxfam released a new report discussing the progress in promoting local participation and empowerment in humanitarian responses, particularly in light of the Sphere Project, the Red Cross, and the Humanitarian Accountability Project.
  • The OECD released a new report warning that pollution will become the biggest cause of premature death, killing an estimated 3.6 million people a year by 2050 and overtaking such mass killers as poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water.

This Week in the World of Conflict… March 5th-12th, 2012.

  • Brandeis University in Massachusetts is offering a Master’s Program in Coexistence and Conflict with several scholarship opportunities. The program is geared towards professionals.
  • The Summer Peacebuilding Institute in Harrisonburg, Virginia is still open for the 2012 year. The institute offers courses in development, humanitarian assistance, monitoring awareness, restorative justice, social movements, community organizing, trauma awareness, mediation and many others from May 7th- June 15th.
  • The Italian branch of the hacking collective Anonymous reportedly took down the Vatican website on Wednesday in retaliation for the “corruption of the Roman Catholic Church. It was revealed this week that a leader hacker with the Anonymous-linked LulzSec allegedly agreed to work with the American FBI after pleading to 12 charges of computer hacking last August.
  • Columbia University’s Jeffrey Sachs announced his intention to be the next president of the World Bank as the current head is near the end of his term. Sachs hopes to change the mistakes of the past and provide a leadership of development experts instead of Wall Street, bankers and politicians. On Wednesday, an insider in the Obama administration said that former American White House adviser Lawrence Summers, diplomat Susan Rice and PepsiCo Inc CEO Indra Nooyi are on a “short list” of possible American candidates to head the World Bank.
  • Several Muslim and African countries reportedly walked out of a Human Rights Council panel set up to tackle the issue of murder and violence against gays and lesbians around the world.
  • The German Chancellor announced on Tuesday that she had received assurances from the Brazilian President that Brazil would take part in a recapitalization of the International Monetary Fund. Brazil has urged Europe to stabilize the euro before the IMF can boost its own capital and release more funds for struggling euro zone states like Greece.
  • The UN Development Programme released a report on the need to strengthen justice and security for peace around the world.
  • UNICEF and the World Health Organization released a report on Tuesday that claimed that the world had met the Millennium Development Goal target of halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water, well in advance of the 2015 deadlines.
  • New psychological research at Cornell University suggests that people don’t always have the capacity to recognize the best political candidate or policy idea, especially if they incompetent in the subject, which results in democratic elections that produce mediocre leadership and policies.
  • In the wake of March 10th‘s International Women’s Day, many sites reminded us of statistics showing how the gender imbalance is still alive and thriving, particularly in the aid sector; while the US State Department chose 10 honorees for the 2012 International Women of Courage ceremony. Top UN officials proposed a UN global conference on women for 2015, 20 years after the last women’s summit in Beijing.
  • The UN cultural agency UNESCO voted on Thursday to remove the name of Equatorial Guinea’s President from the Obiang Prize for science and replace it with that of his country, bowing to pressure over his human rights record.
  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that the world has been able to meet some of the UN goals of reducing poverty and raising living standards in developing nations, though some regions are not reaping many benefits.
  • The United Nations unveiled new guidelines on Friday to help mediators address the problem of sexual violence in conflict by placing the issue high on the agenda when brokering peace agreements and ceasefires.
  • Judge Song was reportedly re-elected as President of the International Criminal Court and judges Monageng and Tarfusser elected as First and Second VPs. Several other new judges were sworn in as well, after being elected last December.
  • A new report by the UN warns that a “radical new approach” to managing the world’s water resources is needed to mitigate increasing scarcity. The report was issued to coincide with the opening of the World Water Forum in France, held every three years.
  • AidData released a report recently discussing how foreign aid affects armed conflict. The report suggests that aid can affect the likelihood of violent armed conflict by influencing a state’s ability to credibly commit to an agreement that averts war at present and into the future.

This Week in the World in Conflict… February 27th-March 5th, 2012.

  • The UN-mandate University for Peace’s Centre for Executive Education is offering an online course on Skills for Effective Negotiations starting March 15th.
  • The Center on International Cooperation completed its Annual Review of Global Peace Operations 2012, covering both UN and non-UN peace operations during 2011.
  • A report by the UN’s Inter-Parliamentary Union expressed concern at the “worryingly low” and barely increasing number of women serving in Parliaments around the world. The report covered 188 countries claiming only 19.5% of the world’s lawmakers are women, and that only 20 countries had parliaments where at least one-third of deputies were women.
  • The World Bank announced on Wednesday that developing countries appear to have already met a UN goal to halve extreme poverty in the world’s poorest countries by 2015, thanks mainly to China’s economic boom.
  • Twenty-five suspected members of the Anonymous hacking movement were arrested in a sweep across South America and Europe in Operation Unmask.
  • Arms sales at the 100 biggest arms makers reportedly grew 1% in 2010, adjusted for currency fluctuations, to $411 billion, defying the global downturn according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The report did not include Chinese arms supplies worldwide and only had limited data on Russian arms manufacturers.
  • The international body dedicated to removal of chemical weapons discussed the destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles in Libya and the existence of possible similar stockpiles in Syria during talks this week.
  • The University of Groningen (Netherlands) and the University of Sousse (Tunisia) announced a joint summer school on democracy and transitional justice. Registration will take place until April 13, 2012.

This Week in the World of Conflict… February 20th-27th, 2012.

  • I ask readers interested in peace and conflict to join the Peace and Collaborative Development Network and donate to help keep them alive, if possible. The network is a great place to meet others working in the field, browse job openings, read great blog entries and learn where to find other conflict resources.
  • The International Centre on Nonviolent Conflict is now accepting applications for the 2012 Fletcher Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict at Tufts University running from June 24-30th, 2012.
  • The Columbia Centre for Oral History announced its 2012 Summer Institute “What is Remembered: Life Story Approaches in Human Rights Contexts” to be held June 4-15th, 2012 at Columbia University in New York City. Sessions will look at the methodological and theoretical implications of doing life story research with individuals who have suffered human rights abuses and other forms of discrimination.
  • A coalition of governments, international organizations and other groups joined forces with the World Bank to confront threats to the health of the planet’s oceans, launching the Global Partnership for Oceans on Friday. Marine life is being threatened by over-fishing, loss of habitat and environmental degradation.
  • The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released its annual Attack on the Press in 2011 report. The report claimed 46 journalists were killed and 179 imprisoned last year in countries around the world, with Pakistan listed as the most dangerous place for journalists to work followed by Libya and Iraq.
  • The President of the UN General Assembly stressed the importance of mediation in the early stages of conflict on Saturday, saying that seeking peaceful settlement of disputes before they become violent can save lives and ensure stability.
  • Earlier this month, Oxfam released a report on the challenges posed by the vast humanitarian crises around the world, in spite of the growing number of vulnerable people, the rise in disasters and the failure to put most fragile states on the path to develop that will significantly increase needs.
  • The Oxford Research Group released a new report on the drivers of insecurity in the Global South, including climate change, increasing competition over resources, global militarisation, and marginalization across much of the “majority world”. The Group suggests the need to change the current approach to security that is based upon the premise that insecurity can be controlled through military force or containment, focusing on “curing the disease” instead of “fighting the symptoms”.
  • Cambridge Scholars Publishing is set to release a new book called Conflict Resolution and the Scholarship of Engagement that looks at the growing field of conflict analysis and resolution and the need for scholars to work on the ground to transform entrenched conflicts.
  • Peace, Conflict and Development: An Interdisciplinary Journal just published its latest special issue on what’s missing in approaches to peace and conflict.
  • The Noble Institute announced that 231 people have been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, including former US President Bill Clinton, former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Bradley Manning.

This Week in the World of Conflict… February 13th-20th, 2012.

  • TRANSCEND Peace University has opened its online courses in peace and conflict studies for the upcoming spring semester. TRANSCEND was founded by Dr. Johan Galtung, widely known as the father of peace studies.
  • NATO announced on Wednesday that it will buy five US-made unmanned drone aircraft capable of countering Afghan insurgents, hunting pirates off Somalia or monitoring arms embargos. The drones will be part of the Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) project) set to begin between 2015 and 2017.
  • TransConflict established a Global Coalition for Conflict Transformation comprised of organizations from over forty organizations from a variety of countries that are committed to upholding the principles of conflict transformation.
  • Bill Clinton is being forwarded as one of the names to replace Robert Zoellick as the head of the World Bank. Other candidates are speculated to be Larry Summers and Tim Geithner.
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation has launched a new map that tracks cases of threatened bloggers around the world. The Foundation also helps bloggers understand their legal rights.
  • Park University’s Centre for Global Peace Journalism has launched a new semi-annual publication highlighting peace and conflict sensitive journalism called The Peace Journalist. They are currently seeking submissions of summaries of a length of one to two pages of upcoming peace/conflict sensitive journalism projects, as well as research/academic papers.
  • UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called upon all countries to move towards realizing the vision of a nuclear-weapon-free world on Friday and especially on those who have not yet endorsed the global treaty to ban nuclear testing, to do so without delay. These words came on the 15th anniversary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization.
  • The Centre for International Peace Operations released a new report on the role of elections in peace processes, when and how they advance stability or exacerbate conflicts.
  • The International Peace Institute released a new report on Security Sector Reform. The report focuses on how practitioners and academics can move from policy of SSR to implementation.
  • The German Institute for International and Security Affairs released a report on the partnership of NATO and the UN.

This Week in the World of Conflict… February 6th-13th, 2012.

  • The UN conference on trade and development (UNCTAD) secretary-general published a report on Tuesday that called for fundamental reform of the global financial system that would be of benefit to the global poor. The report will act as the theme for the UNCTAD XIII conference in Doha, Qatar in April.
  • An Online Dispute Resolution Conference is set to be held from June 27th to 29th, 2012 in Prague.
  • The United States Institute of Peace’s Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding has launched two new courses on nuclear non-proliferation. One is on Iran and Pakistan’s Nuclear Proliferation Challenges and the other is on China’s Nuclear Posture, North Korea’s Nuclear Challenge and US National Security.
  • The Atlantic ran an article about rape in war and how to stop it, based upon a new project by activist Gloria Steinem.
  • An American public interest group has asked a federal court to block Google Inc from consolidating its privacy policies, saying it could make it easier for advertisers to target users.
  • The UPEACE Centre for Executive Education is running an online course in negotiation and conflict resolution. The course will run six-weeks starting March 1st, 2012.
  • The Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) called upon a closer partnership between them and the United Nations during a Security Council meeting on Thursday.

This Week in the World of Conflict… January 30th-February 6th, 2012.

  • The University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies is running its 4th Annual Summer Institute for Faculty in Peace Studies Program Development from June 10-15, 2012.
  • Twitter defended its recently announced online content policy, saying it was meant to be a transparent way to handle government requests for the removal of certain content and did not mean that it is actively monitoring tweets. Last week they announced that they would begin restricting Tweets in specific countries. Google also defended their privacy policy changes, saying they would not take away the control its customers have over how data is collected and used.
  • Debate raged over the FDA approval of a tiny computer chip for implantation in a patient’s arm to hold their medical history. Many were concerned that it would become yet another invasion of pricacy and possibly open new ways to damage the confidentiality of medical records.
  • The Metta Centrer for Nonviolence Research has opened its research fellowship for the summer of 2012. Applications are due March 25th for up to 3 awards of $2,000 and summer housing.
  • Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia, USA has opened the application process for its Summer Peacebuilding Institute 2012. The institute offers three 7-day sessions and one 5-day session in several different aspects of peacebuilding.
  • The University of Ulster and International Conflict Research Institute in Northern Ireland have opened the application process for their MSc in Applied Peace and Conflict Studies (that I would LOVE to apply to if I had the money—looks amazing!). They have also opened application processes for their INCORE Summer School program in conflict resolution and peacebuilding.
  • Mike Bourne released a new article in the Global Change, Peace and Security Journal entitled Guns don’t kill people, cyborgs do: a Latourian provocation for transformatory arms control and disarmament. The article explores existing assumptions about mainstream arms control and disarmament theory.
  • Simon Mason and Sabina Stein wrote a new article entitled Mediating Conflicts with Religious Dimensions that discuss ways to facilitate negotiations between conflict parties with non-compromising religious identities.
  • The Atlantic ran an interesting article about the effect science can have on war.
  • Rights and Resources Initiative released a new study warning of the global rush for land in “developing” countries around the world and how this could trigger a wave of civil unrest if governments fail to recognize the rights of those using communal land.
  • The Open Society Justice Initiative is currently taking applications for the summer school in Human Rights Litigation. The course will run from July 16-20th in Budapest.

This Week in the World of Conflict… January 22nd- 30th, 2012.

  • A new UN report warns that there soon won’t be enough food, water or energy to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population. The world will reportedly need at least 50% more food, 45% more energy and 30% more water.
  • The Fellowship of Reconciliation and Uniting for Peace announced an international conference in peacebuilding “Peace In My Lifetime” scheduled for Thursday, March 15th, 2012 in London, the United Kingdom.
  • The University of Kent and the University of Marburg began accepting applications for their international double degree Masters programme in Peace and Conflict Studies for their 2012-2013 year.
  • The Park University approved the establishment of a Centre for Global Peace Journalism to promote the concepts of peace and peace journalism.
  • On Friday, the world marked the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the day when Soviet troops liberated the German Nazi-run Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland in 1945. The Day has been recognized since 2005 by the UN General Assembly.
  • Micro-blogging site Twitter announced that they altered their technology to allow for country-specific censorship of messages. The move has angered users, some of whom are calling for a boycott and organizing an online protest in response.
  • Google announced that it was revising its privacy policy on how it uses data from users of its services. Many are concerned that the new combined privacy services for all its products would allow them to deduce a more complete picture of who the user is, what they read, where they are going and what they are up to.
  • The UN humanitarian office announced on Wednesday that $104 million was being allocated to support 13 neglected emergencies around the world.  A second round of allocations is scheduled to follow in July.
  • Battles over copyrighted materials on the internet have been raging these last couple weeks, with shutdowns of major websites such as Wikipedia in protest over the SOPA and PIPA bills, and now rising concerns over the fate of the ACTA bill, as well as the Canadian Bill C-11.
  • Freedom House released its 2012 report that categorizes freedom, political rights and civil liberties in the world. Tunisia showed the largest improvement a country has ever made in a single year, while the Gambia’s freedom score declined significantly.
  • Human Rights Watch released its 2012 World Report summarizing human rights conditions in more than 90 countries worldwide. A special introduction examined the Arab Spring uprisings.
  • The Monkey Cage had an interesting blog post about the actions of states after they acquire nuclear weaponry.

This Week in The World of Conflict… December 12th-19th, 2011.

  • Fatima Bensouda was formally elected as chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court on Monday. Bensouda was the only candidate running for the election and will take over from Luis Moreno-Ocampo in June.
  • The UNDP has released its 2011 Human Development Report. This report projects a disturbing reversal in past trends of rising living standards should environmental deterioration and social inequalities continue to intensify.
  • The Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) released a new dataset on armed conflict in Africa from 1989 through 2010. The program contains some 24 000 unique conflict events and three types of armed conflict (state-based, non-state and one-sided violence) and is compatible with a number of software utilities for statistical analysis and GIS software.
  • Routledge has published a new book on Peace and Conflict Studies that presents a range of theories, methodologies and approaches to understanding peace and transforming conflict.
  • Time magazine has named “The Protester” the 2011 “Person of the Year” in their latest issue. 2011 has seen an almost unprecedented rise in dissent.
  • The UN called for $7.7 billion for humanitarian assistance on Wednesday over the next year in the largest appeal in two decades. The UN humanitarian officials said that they are hopeful to receive the assistance that is said will assist some 51 million people in 16 countries facing emergencies.
  • Donor governments pledged a reported $482 million for the UN refugee agency’s operation in 2012 to help forcibly displaced and stateless people worldwide.  An additional $122 million was pledged for 2013 and beyond.
  • The World Health Organization reviewed more than 50,000 scientific papers to help determine interventions that would sharply reduce maternal deaths and deaths of children before the age of 5 in their 3 year global study. Some of the interventions include managing maternal anaemia with iron, preventing and managing post-partum haemorrhage, immediate thermal care for newborns, extra support for feeding small and preterm babies and antibiotics for the treatment of pneumonia in children.
  • The Atlantic published its 10 Biggest International Stories of 2011 this week, which includes the Arab Spring, the death of Bin Laden, the nuclear crisis in Fukushima and many more.
  • On Thursday, the UN issued a new report calling on governments to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, a milestone for the UN where LGBT rights will be treated as human rights. The report outlined the cruelty faced by LGBT people, including mutilation and castration.
  • The UN General Assembly voted on Monday to designate October 11th as the International Day of the Girl Child after a two-year campaign spearheaded by Plan International and the Canadian government. The day will promote girls’ rights, highlight gender inequalities that remain between boys and girls and address various forms of discrimination and abuse suffered by girls around the globe.

This Week in the World of Conflict… December 6th-12th, 2011.

  • Global Witness announced that it had left the Kimberley Process, an international diamond regulatory group, because it refused to address links between diamonds, violence and tyranny. Even if these certification schemes manage to address problems at mines, in many cases, the materials must pass roadblocks and pay “taxes” that directly line the pockets of warlords.
  • The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Office for Drug and Crime (UNODC) have launched an online training portal for justice professionals who deal with cases involving child victims and child witnesses of crime. The portal is open to law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, social workers, health sector workers, lawyers and informal justice providers.
  • The UN refugee chief called upon the international community to assume its shared duty to protect and assist millions of forcibly displaced and stateless people around the world during a two-day forum organized by the UN HCR. More than three quarters of a million people became new refugees in 2011, with global forced displacement figures at a 15 year high at the end of 2010.
  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted the importance of regional organizations to detect potential crises early and to mobilize coordinated international response. Ban called upon these regional organizations to share burdens, strengthen responses and reinforce joint messages.
  • The research analyst group Maplecroft has released its Human Rights Risk Index for 2012 and concluded that over 48% of the 197 assessed nations are at an “extreme” or “high” risk of human rights violations and that there has been a steady trend of deteriorating human rights situation.
  • On Thursday, Uppsala Conflict Data Program released new additions to its datasets detailing violence in Africa between 1989 and 2010 at the level of individual event of violence. They also released new data on external support in internal armed conflicts for the time period 1975-2009.
  • A discussion about the need to protect health care workers in war zone has some suggesting that a special protection force be set up to safeguard healthcare in war zones and that those who perpetrate attacks on health workers be brought before the ICC. The Red Cross estimates that there have been more than 650 attacks on medical staff and patients in 16 conflicts since 2008, in blatant contravention of international laws.
  • The UN High Commission for Human Rights said that human rights went viral in 2011 as people around the world used social media to protest against abuses on Human Rights Day. The IIGG program released its Public Opinion on Global Issues that showed a dramatic international consensus backing fundamental human rights such as free elections with universal suffrage; the right to demonstrate peacefully and express opinions freely; media freedom from government censorship; equal treatment of people—irrespective of religion, gender, race or ethnicity; and government responsibility to provide citizens with basic food, healthcare and education.
  • The UN Climate Change Conference (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa ended on Sunday with a wishy-washy agreement that all countries would work towards legally binding targets for reducing carbon emissions. The EU hailed the new deal as a “historic breakthrough”, while critics wanted it was not enough to slow global warming.
  • The forth UN Alliance of Civilizations Forum began on Sunday in Doha, Qatar, with more than 2,000 participants who will discuss how to improve relations across cultures, combat prejudice and build lasting peace. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged members to combat extremism and promote tolerance during his opening remarks.
  • International leaders met in the Hague for a two-day conference on Internet freedom sponsored by Google and the Dutch government this week. About two dozen nations called upon the adoption of a declaration of freedoms in cyberspace at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe conference, but the proposal has no chance of being adopted because the organization acts only on consensus.
  • The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence wrapped up on Friday. The 16 days is an international campaign that started in 1991 to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.
  • The Nobel Peace Award ceremony took place on Saturday. Among the winners were Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman.
  • A new manual to support self-training and teaching of qualitative research methods was launched by the Evidence for Action research consortium. The manual is intended for those conducting short-term training in qualitative research methods for applied health.
  • The UN General Assembly is considering designating October 11th as the International Day of the Girl Child. The organization Plan International pushed for the designation in order to highlight the unique challenges and issues faced by girls in “developing” countries.

This Week in the World of Conflict… November 29th-December 5th, 2011

  • The Global Campaign for Aid Transparency released its 2011 Pilot Aid Transparency Index that highlights the shortcomings of international aid in an effort to make it more transparent.
  • Friday marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. We can only hope for a day when armed groups no longer use systemic sexual violence as a tactic of terror.
  • An attempt by the US, Russia, China, India, Israel and a few other nations to weaken the comprehensive ban on cluster munitions has failed. The countries tried to cut a deal in which they would ban cluster munitions produced before 1980 but be given specific legal authorization to use all other munitions. More than 50 states said there was no consensus for adopting the weakened protocol.
  • Nations will gather in Durban, South Africa on Monday in an attempt to hammer out a future climate agreement. A growing number of nations are apparently willing to delay climate-treaty negotiations until 2015, meaning that a new binding treaty could not be finalized until 2020 and would not take effect until years later. Saturday was Occupy the Climate or Global Day of Action on Climate Change in several cities around the globe, and thousands took to the street in Durban calling for climate justice.
  • December 5th was the 10th annual International Volunteer Day, a day to say thank you to volunteers for their efforts. The UN’s latest State of the World’s Volunteerism Report shows empirical evidence of the importance and contribution of volunteerism on a global scale and highlights that increased people-to-people contacts could help to better manage communal conflicts and cross-border disputes.
  • Gambia’s Fatou Bensouda is set to be named the new International Criminal Court chief prosecutor, replacing Luis Moreno-Ocampo whose term ends next year. The successor will be formally elected by the Assembly of States Parties at the annual meeting in New York on December 12th, yet so far, Ms. Bensouda is the only candidate in the running.
  • Statistician Howard Friedman reported on the five countries with the highest military expenditure. The US leads this list, spending nearly $700 billion in 2010, or around 43% of the entire global military expenditure, nearly six times more than the amount spent by the next largest, China and more than the total spent by the next 15 largest spenders combined.

This Week in the World of Conflict… June 20th- 26th, 2011

• Monday marked World Refugee Day, the 60th anniversary of the creation of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The UNHCR released its annual report on the state of the world’s refugees to coincide with this day. An estimated 80% of the world’s refugees now live in developing countries and yet anti-refugee sentiment is growing in industrialized nations.
• ActionAid released a new report entitled “A Second Global Food Crisis” highlighting the most recent statistics on food production, prices and world hunger. Anti-hunger group ActionAid warned G20 ministers that the world is one bad harvest from a recurrence of the 2008 food crisis and urged Agriculture Ministers meeting in Paris to take urgent action to stabilize food prices and mobilize a system of regional food reserves to help buffer the worst hit. On Thursday, G20 farm ministers agreed to tackle high food prices in a deal that steered clear of divisive talks on issues such as regulation, but agreed to exclude humanitarian aid from export bans, explore food aid stocks and launch a database to improve market transparency. On Sunday, Brazil’s Jose Graziano da Silva was elected head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
• Military researchers are working on shrinking unmanned drones to the size of insects and birds, so that they can “hide in plain sight”. The micro-drones are designed to carry out espionage or kill.
• Foreign Policy magazine issued its annual list of failed states on Monday. African countries made up 7 of the top 10 with Somalia listed as the worst of all failed states. Afghanistan came in at 7th worst, with Iraq at 9th.
• The UN nuclear chief proposed international safety checks on reactors worldwide on Monday, to help prevent any repeat of the Fukushima crisis. At a five-day meeting, IAEA member states will begin charting a strategy on boosting global nuclear safety. Currently there are no mandatory international safety regulations, only recommendations, which national regulators are in charge of enforcing. The UN agency conducts review missions only with member state’s invitation. A leading expert said that global action to protect the nuclear industry against possible terrorist attacks is urgently needed and that some countries had “extraordinarily weak security measures in place” to deal with such attacks.
• June 26th was the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Torture violates the dignity of the human being and I would like to give thanks to those organizations that provide relief and assistance to those who have experienced this horror.
• The UN Foundation’s board of directors met in Norway this week for a series of meetings on how governments, non-profits and the corporate sector can advance goals related to economic development, climate change and women’s and children’s health. The power packed meeting includes Ted Turner, Kofi Annan, Norway PM Brundtland, and numerous others leaders from Jordan, Russia, Japan, the UK, Pakistan, China, and Bangladesh, among others.
• Ban Ki-moon has won a second-term as the UN Secretary General after a vote in the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. Ban’s second term will formally begin on January 1st, 2012.
• NATO announced on Thursday that one of its websites was the subject of a probable data breach by hackers, but that it did not contain any classified data. The hacking group Lulz Security announced that it was disbanding, giving no reason for its decision.