Fiji warns ‘selfish’ countries amid Paris Agreement climate rulebook deadlock

Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama … urging world leaders to summon the courage and political will to make the switch from dirty to clean energy. Image: Fiji Times

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Talks to draft the Paris Agreement rulebook remained deadlocked today on traditionally tough issues.

Emerging economies – China, India, Brazil and South Africa – stood their ground on financial aid and the division of rich and poor countries.

Others vented their frustration. The UN chief flew back to Poland with a message that failure would be “immoral” and “suicidal”, Fiji’s prime minister said it would be “craven, irresponsible and selfish”, and a coalition of countries born in the Paris talks in 2015 was resurrected, with a call to arms.

READ MORE: Make the ‘clean energy’ switch, urges Fiji’s Bainimarama

Businesses are outpacing national governments in rolling out zero emission vehicles across Europe, North America and New Zealand, says The Climate Group as another five leading companies have joined its corporate leadership initiative EV100 and pledged to electrify their fleets by 2030.

A push has emerged in Poland for countries to step up their climate pledges and Megan Darby of Climate Home News interviews one of the scientists whose work made the world realise it is on the brink.

-Partners-

With new draft rules written by the Polish Cop24 presidency in hand by yesterday afternoon, and many issues still to be resolved, countries and groups came out swinging for their demands.

For the four Basic emerging economies – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – it’s all about differentiating their responsibilities from those of rich countries, and firming up the latter’s commitments to provide financial aid.

Commitments not fully met
“There’s a bit of concern that financial commitments, as agreed to in Paris, have not yet fully been met,” said South African tourism minister Tokozile Xasa.

“It’s quite clear, the evidence shows, that not only do we need reliability in the available finance to support of the initiatives, but that the amount allocated is hopelessly inadequate.”

On the question of how the rulebook applies to countries, the group stressed that the Paris Agreement gives developing countries more leniency as they build up abilities to, for instance, track and report emissions.

“There has to be some degree of flexible reassertion of the differentiated approach … and the allowance made for developing countries,” Xasa said.

Is also another man’s Paris Agreement. The Basic group argued that inserting “equal treatment” of developed and developing countries into the rulebook would amount to a “backslide” on the accord.

EU Climate Action Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete countered that the Paris Agreement called for a more flexible differentiation than the developed/developing line of the 1990s.

“We fully respect what we agreed in Paris, but Paris also points out … that we have to have an enhanced transparency system with built-in flexibilities,” he said.

Countries that need flexibility should get it, while their capabilities are built up, he added.

The Green Climate Fund has extended its search for a new executive director to 3 January. Climate Home News understands big hitters like Nigerian former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and UN desertification chief Monique Barbut have been encouraged to apply, but many potential candidates are deterred by the Songdo location.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Human rights watchdog calls for police probe into ‘unclear’ Papua killings

Christmas spirit at a Human Rights Day rally in the Papuan capital of Jayapura this week. Image: Voice Westpapua

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Indonesian police should investigate a Papuan armed group’s killing of at least 17 people, including a soldier, at a construction area in Nduga in Papua’s densely forested Central Highlands earlier this month, Human Rights Watch said today.

The circumstances of the killings on December 2 remained unclear, said the watchdog.

Papuan militants should cease unlawful killings, and the Indonesian government should ensure that its security forces act in accordance with international standards and not commit abuses in response to the attack, said the watchdog.

READ MORE: Indonesia’s Papua media blacklist

“A Papua militant group’s attack on a worksite raises grave concerns that require a full investigation,” said Elaine Pearson of Human Rights Watch.

“Militants and responding security forces should not inflict harm on ordinary Papuans.”

-Partners-

The West Papua National Liberation Army (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional Papua Barat), the military wing of the Free Merdeka Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka), claimed responsibility for the killings, saying those killed were military personnel from the Indonesian Army Corps of Engineers.

An army colonel said that three of the survivors of the attack were military personnel working as engineers.

Indonesian police prepare to face peaceful Papuan protesters in the capital of Jayapura this week. Image: Voice Westpapua

‘Military engineers’
Sebby Sambom, a spokesman for the Papuan armed group, told the media that the attacks were organised by the militant’s group’s third Ndugama Command.

He said they had monitored the workers for three months and concluded that they were engineering corps personnel wearing civilian clothes.

However, Indonesia’s public works minister, Basuki Hadimuljono, said that those killed were workers from state-owned companies PT Istaka Karya and PT Brantas Abipraya, sent from Sulawesi to work on the 4300 km Trans-Papua highway.

He said that only the soldiers protecting the workers were armed, including the one killed in the attack.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in reaction to the attacks he had “ordered the armed forces commander and the police chief to pursue and capture all the perpetrators of such rude and violent acts”.

Priests, seminarians and students take part in a peaceful Human Rights Day march in the capital Jayapura this week. Image: Voice Westpapua

In West Papua, December 1 is widely commemorated as the day West Papua declared nationhood. In 1961, under Dutch rule, an elected council consisting mostly of indigenous Papuans commissioned the creation of a national anthem and flag.

On December 1, 1961, the West Papuan Morning Star flag was flown beside the Dutch tricolor for the first time.

Indonesia took control over Papua with United Nations recognition in 1969.

500 plus arrested
Over the last five decades, some Papuans have resisted Indonesian rule. On December 1, 2018, more than 500 students were arrested in more than 10 Indonesian cities after peacefully raising the Morning Star flag and demanding a referendum on independence.

Indonesia’s National Police initially announced that the killings in Nduga were in retribution for a worker taking photographs of Papuan militants organising a flag-raising ceremony near a road and bridge construction.

More than 100 military and police officers were evacuating the dead and injured, and engaged in a military operation against the militants.

Human Rights Watch has long documented human rights abuses in Papua’s Central Highlands, where the military and police have frequently engaged in deadly confrontation with armed groups.

Indonesian security forces have often committed abuses against the Papuan population, including arbitrary detention and torture. A lack of internal accountability within the security forces and a poorly functioning justice system mean that impunity for rights violators is the norm in Papua.

“The Indonesian security forces should exercise care when operating in Nduga, directing all security personnel to treat Papuans in accordance with international standards,” said the watchdog.

“They should transparently investigate and hold accountable anyone implicated in a criminal offence. Both the military and the police should allow journalists to operate independently in the area.”


A cartoonist’s depiction of Indonesian government restrictions on media freedom and rights monitoring in Papua. Cartoon: © 2015 Toni Malakian/Human Rights Watch

Remote access
Nduga is an extremely remote area where no journalists have had access since the attacks.

A decades-long official restriction on foreign media access to Papua and controls on Indonesian journalists there have fostered that lack of justice for serious abuses by Indonesian security forces and fueled resentment among Papuans.

“The situation in Nduga is muddled in large part because no journalists can independently go into the area to interview witnesses and verify what happened,” Pearson said.

“Having independent monitors on the ground will help deter abuses by both the militants and security forces, which would benefit all Papuans.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pacific voices tell stories of climate change reality in new documentary

A new documentary Subject to Change, a collection of interviews and personal stories from across the Pacific, explores the impact of climate change. Video: MFAT

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Two young women students are the driving force who created a new documentary titled Subject to Change which highlights the climate change challenges faced by Pacific people in the region.

Among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts, Pacific voices are at the heart of the film which has been premiered at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, at the Pacific and Koronivia Pavilion.

Producer Amiria Ranfurly, who is of Niuean-New Zealand descent, and Polish director Wiktoria Ojrzyńska, are students of Massey University of New Zealand.

READ MORE: AUT’s Bearing Witness climate change project

The young women chose to showcase climate change in their work because of the impact in the region.

-Partners-

“We wanted to explore the impacts that climate change is having on our world, and Subject to Change is a documentary film that presents a collection of interviews and personal stories from across the Pacific,” says Ranfurly.

“With passion and determination, we have created a film that shares insight to New Zealand’s response to the global objectives set by the Paris Agreement, alongside intimate stories from the frontline in a truthful and evocative way.”

Documentary producer Amiria Ranfurly (left) and director Wiktoria Ojrzyńska … “intimate frontline climate stories”. Image: COP24 Pacific

Director Ojrzyńska says: “Directing Subject to Change was an amazing storytelling experience, during which I worked with many inspirational people and gained experience across different aspects of filmmaking.”

Collaboration project
Subject to Change
is a collaboration between Massey University and NZ’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).

Present to launch the film at the premiere was the Ambassador and Climate Change Special Adviser of the Government of New Zealand, with special guest speaker Inia Seruiratu, COP23 High Level Climate Champion of Global Climate Action, and Minister for Defence and National Security of Fiji who introduced the Director and the Producer of the film.

“Climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific,” said Ambassador Stephanie Lee. “Our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has described the climate change challenge as the Nuclear-Free Movement of our generation.”

“We have heard about the IPCC 1.5 degrees report and we already knew that it really underlines this challenge as an urgent one. The documentary you are about to see embodies that sense of challenge, but it also embodies a sense of hope,” said Ambassador Lee.

The documentary featured and drew strongly on the perspective of the Fijian people, particularly of those of the small island of Batiki with a population of around 300 people that was hit hardest by Cyclone Winston in February, 2017.

Inia Seruiratu thanked the NZ government and Massey University for supporting the documentary, as well as New Zealand’s support and partnership on the Pacific and Koronivia Pavilion where the premiere was being held.

Speaking about his experience as a Pacific islander, Seruiratu thanked the producer, director and the team behind the documentary for producing a powerful medium with which the voices of the vulnerable could be heard.

“People need to see and experience visually the realities others such as those in the Pacific are facing in order to better understand. And this is why this documentary is so important and serves as a great tool,” said Seruiratu.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

UN official defends West Papuan rights – free speech, peaceful assembly

UN’s OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani … “there are many West Papuan grievances, and we’ve seen this in many parts of the world where grievances are unaddressed, or there’s a suppression of dissent.” Image: UN interview screenshot

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

West Papuan rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly have been defended by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in a response to the mass arrests of Papuan protesters during flag raising ceremonies earlier this month.

“These are indigenous people at the end of the day,” says spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani.

“So they are trying to defend their rights to be able to pray and to be able to retain their culture, their links to their land, but also the Papua region of Indonesia has not benefitted from all the economic development that the rest of the country has had.

LISTEN HERE: The full interview with OHCHR’s Ravina Shamdasani

“The rates of malnutrition are quite high.”

Shamdasani said in a radio interview with UN News that while President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had been initiating development projects, “the problem here is that the people haven’t really been consulted.

-Partners-

“There haven’t been meaningful consultations [with] the people who are actually affected by this.”

In the interview, Shamdasani put into context the recent arrests of nearly 600 citizens who were detained for participating in West Papua’s national day, December 1, a global event for commemorating the first raising the Morning Star flag – banned by Indonesian authorities.

She also answered questions about development, armed conflict, and trying to gain access to the region.

Behind the West Papuan protests
The UN interview transcript:

[UN NEWS] The mass arrest of demonstrators in Indonesia who were attempting to mark a national day for indigenous people in the east of the archipelago, has been condemned by the UN human rights office, OHCHR.

More than 500 activists were detained at the start of the month – though they’ve since been released.

Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani explained to UN News’ Daniel Johnson what’s behind these latest developments.

Ravina Shamdasani (RS): Last weekend there were peaceful protesters in the Papuan region of Indonesia who were celebrating what they call the “West Papua National Day,” and some 500 of them were arrested, detained. They were all subsequently released within 24 to 48 hours, but this does not take away from the fact that they should not have been arrested in the first place, and that this is not the first time this has happened.

It happens year after year and on several occasions during the year as well.

Daniel Johnson, UN News – Geneva (UN): What exactly are they protesting for apart from the fact that it’s their national day?

RS: Quite often these protests are protests for independence from Indonesia and of course we understand that the situation is complex. The Indonesian government is certainly not happy with these protests, but these people have their right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. So there was really no reason to arbitrarily detain them.

UN: As a minority what particular rights are they trying to defend and what are they trying to say is being threatened?

RS: Well, these are indigenous people at the end of the day. So they are trying to defend their rights to be able to pray and to be able to retain their culture, their links to their land, but also the Papua region of Indonesia has not benefited from all the economic development that the rest of the country has had. The rates of malnutrition are quite high. Now the current president of Indonesia has been initiating development projects. The problem here is that the people haven’t really been consulted. There haven’t been meaningful consultations of the people who are actually affected by this.

UN: Why is that? What structures are there in Papua, in Indonesia, to do this or not?

RS:The president has his analysis that the problem is one of economic development, um so he is trying to tackle that. But what we have emphasised, and what our previous High Commissioner during a visit to Jakarta in February of this year emphasised, was that development can of course bring with it access to many fundamental goods and services that can vastly improve people’s well beings, but if they cannot voice their concerns, and if they can’t participate in these decisions, the resulting development may not really increase their welfare, because it doesn’t really address the problems that they have.

UN: Ok, and what is your presence on the ground in this part of Indonesia given that it’s a huge country archipelago?

RS: We do not have a presence in Indonesia but we have a regional office in Bangkok that covers Southeast Asia – So we are, you know, in close contact with human rights defenders, civil society, government officials as well.

We have actually been seeking access to this region for quite awhile now. In February the High Commissioner was promised access, and we are still in discussions with the government of Indonesia to make that happen.

UN: This issue is not one that I’ve seen very often having been here what four years now. What’s your hope for the follow up and how many other similar cases are there that go really beneath the radar of international mainstream media?

RS: Too many international mainstream media tend to focus on the big conflicts. However there are many places like Papua, which are quite small, which have historic kind of long standing structural issues and unfortunately may not come up to the radar until there is an outbreak of conflict

What our office tries to do is try to ring the alarm bells early on, before the situation rises to the level of an armed conflict.

UN: You’re not suggesting it’s at that level now? Of course.

RS: No we’re not suggesting it’s at that level now, but there are many grievances, and we’ve seen this in many parts of the world where grievances are unaddressed, or there’s a suppression of dissent. And then people take the law into their own hands because they feel they are not being heard.

This is actually happening at a very low level in Papua at the moment. There are armed groups that are operating. In fact, just this week I believe a number of people were killed. These were government contractors who were there doing a development project.

They were killed by armed groups which of course is unacceptable, but you have to understand the root causes and you have to address the root causes.

UN Office of Human Rights defends Papuans right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Keith Rankin’s Chart for this Month: Crisis Postponed

Chart for this Month: Crisis Postponed

By Keith Rankin

Another financial crisis coming? Graphic by Keith Rankin.

There will almost certainly be another major financial crisis, just like there will be another big earthquake (or, as the Australians would instead say, another big bushfire). We can do much to improve our monitoring of systemic stresses, our awareness of critical-state dynamics, and our before-and-after mitigation processes. Wilful blindness is not a strategy that works well.

In the pre-World War 1 capitalist era, financial crises happened approximately every ten years. Some were worse than others, and they became increasingly global in reach. Melbourne’s massive financial crisis of 1893 was initiated by the financial failure of the Buenos Aires Water Supply and Drainage Company, and the ensuing bank crisis in London. But the economy of Victoria in general and Melbourne in particular was in a critical state then, and would have suffered a financial collapse in the 1890s regardless of those particular precipitating events.

The ‘Long Depression’ of the 1880s in New Zealand was triggered by the collapse of the City of Glasgow Bank in 1879; a collapse that was largely caused by that bank’s unsupervised exposure to rampant land speculation in Canterbury.

This month’s chart suggests that, while there is more than enough unspent income to fuel a financial crisis, the global financial system is not presently in a critical state. We still have learning time.

The chart shows global financial balances for the private (non-government) and government sectors from 1981 to 2017. As can be seen clearly, the normal state of the world is for the global private sector to run financial surpluses (ie spending less than its total revenue; this is the ‘private urge to save’), which means that the combined governments of the world must run accommodating deficits (ie spending more than their global total revenues). It’s a zero-sum system. The financial balances of all sectors combined add to zero. This means that the private sector persists in striving for substantial surpluses AND governments persistently seek to avoid deficits, then the capitalist economy finds itself in a state of collapse.

Capitalist collapse is avoided by governments accommodating the private urge to save (Japan’s government provides our best example of accommodating deficits), or by us having periodic private debt‑fuelled spending binges (which enable governments to collect more taxes and run surpluses for a while); binges which lead to acute financial crises within the private sector. Or by our addressing and countering the unsustainable accumulation of financial assets, thereby rendering financial crises unnecessary.

The chart shows three of these private-sector ‘binges’, in the mid-late-1980s, in the late 1990s, and in the mid-late 2000s. The chart shows a different pattern in the mid-late 2010s. The banks struggle to get private households and businesses to spend more, despite record-low interest rates.

Following the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC), the private sector responded to its insolvency by paying down large amounts of debt, and by taking on much less new debt. This private sector objective was partially accommodated by unusually high government deficits (‘fiscal stimulus’) – governments taking on new debt, and running down (or halting contributions to) sovereign wealth funds.

This objective and was somewhat thwarted, however; fiscal stimulus in most countries was never more than a partial accommodation to extreme private caution. The thwarting intensified in 2010 through government ‘fiscal consolidation’ programmes, otherwise known as ‘austerity’. The most egregious example of ‘thwarting’ was the European Union (EU) programme to balance government budgets in the Eurozone countries. Fortunately, governments in the emerging and developing economies were able to increase their deficits, helping the government sector to effectively offset private surpluses in the mid‑2010s.

We can get a sense, from the chart, that world private surpluses (especially those in excess of economic growth rates) represent fuel to be consumed during future crises. A dramatic fall in private balances represents the beginning of an acute financial crisis. In the 1987-92 period, the crisis happened in two parts; New Zealand and the United States (and others) mainly experienced the 1987 shock, while Australia, Japan and Scandinavia experienced their financial crises in 1991. In the 1997 financial crisis, east Asia was most affected, while the United States was little affected until late 2000. In 2008 the crisis was global, although Europe descended into its more chronic crisis around 2011.

The chart also tells us that an early-decade pattern of falling private balances has halted; debt-enabled spending looks unlikely to accelerate in 1919 or 1920. The next major crisis may not occur until the 1927-31 period. And a crisis then likely will be different in character to both the 2008-09 GFC, and the Great Depression of the early 1930s. There may be a critical mass of accumulated private surpluses to fuel the crisis of 2029 (the midpoint of 2027-31), a new ‘yuppie’ generation with little memory of the GFC, and an academic establishment no more equipped to anticipate a sudden change of circumstance than there was in 1928 or in 2007.

The chart shows only one form of dichotomous interconnection – that between private individuals/organisations and governments. There are other financial dichotomies that may prove to be equally as important in the twenty-first century, but generally are much harder to get data for. These include households versus businesses (before the GFC, business surpluses were accommodated by household deficits), advanced current account surplus economies versus developing deficit economies (data is plentiful in this case), young versus old (older persons’ financial surpluses are accommodated by younger persons’ deficits), and rich versus poor (richer persons’ [eg world’s wealthiest five percent] surpluses need to be accommodated by the deficits of the remaining 95 percent as well as the deficits of governments. The cessation of any of these present accommodations can be expected to precipitate financial consequences that we are unprepared for. Unknown unknowns; so long as we persist in a bubble of wilful ignorance.

As private surpluses accumulate (the blue columns in the chart), the tension builds. As the tension builds, accommodating sectors cannot (or, unwittingly, choose not) to play their necessary deficit roles. Debtors default, or otherwise stop spending in favour of debt ‘deleverage’. Asset values diminish as sellers of goods, services and assets struggle to find buyers. Deflation sets in. Real interest rates need to be negative to restore a semblance of balance, meaning that interest rates actually should be more negative than inflation rates. (Negative interest rates since 2014 have already substantially eased financial tensions in non‑Eurozone Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark.)

What can we do today to avert a crisis of liberal capitalism in about ten years’ time?

Governments can commit to long-run deficit targets of two‑three percent per annum. (This is contrary to the fiscal accord that all parties currently in the New Zealand Parliament have signed up to.) Younger people can continue to borrow, and purchase goods/services rather than assets, and then turn to bankruptcy as an accommodating mechanism. (The bankruptcies of persons without assets does represent a systemic rebalancing, albeit an unpalatable one.)

Or other new methods of containing the growth of income inequality (with a view to reducing inequality eventually to 1960s’ levels) – methods other than higher wages, which coexist with unsustainable economic growth – should be adopted. Such methods do exist. It is up to each of us to learn about them; to be willing to see. Don’t wait for the politicians, nor the entrenched political left or right. We, in civil society, need to reclaim our public equity.

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Labour rally in Jakarta, Fiji march highlight global human rights issues

How UN agencies strive to put human rights at the centre of their work. Video: UN

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Hundreds of workers from the Confederation of United Indonesian Workers (KPBI) held a protest march at the weekend in the capital of Jakarta and Fiji’s Coalition on Human Rights staged a march today to commemorate World Human Rights Day.

In Jakarta, the Indonesian workers marched from the Farmers Monument in Central Jakarta to the nearby State Palace on Saturday, reports CNN Indonesia.

During the action, the workers highlighted the problems of corruption and the failure to resolve human rights violations.

READ MORE: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70

“This action is a reflection of the regime that is in power, Jokowi [President Joko Widodo] has failed, particularly in cases of corruption and human rights violations in Indonesia”, said KPBI secretary-general Damar Panca.

The Jakarta rally for human rights at the weekend. Image: Rayhand Purnama Karim/CNNI

-Partners-

Panca said that during Widodo’s administration corruption had become more widespread as had human rights violations. Trade unions had also suffered human rights violations when holding protests.

Panca said that not long ago during a peaceful demonstration, workers were assaulted and had tear gas fired at them by security forces.

“Not just that, 26 labour activists have been indicted. So we are articulating this now because it is the right moment – namely in the lead up to Anti-Corruption Day (December 9) and Human Rights Day (December 10),” he said.

Social welfare demands
In addition to highlighting human rights violations, they also demanded that the government take responsibility for providing social welfare for all Indonesians and rejected low wages, particularly in labour intensive industries, low rural incomes and contract labour and outsourcing.

Panca said that Saturday’s action was also articulating several other problems such as inequality in employment, the criminalisation of activists and the need for free education.

The KPBI is an alliance of cross-sector labour federations. Saturday’s action was joined by the Indonesian Pulp and Paper Trade Union Federation (FSP2KI), the Cross-Factory Labour Federation (FBLP), the Populist Trade Union Federation (SERBUK), the Indonesian Harbour Transportation Labour Federation (FBTPI), the Indonesian Workers Federation of Struggle (FPBI), the Industrial Employees Trade Union Federation (FSPI), the Solidarity Alliance for Labour Struggle (GSPB) and the Greater Jakarta Railway Workers Trade Union (SPKAJ)

“This action is not just in Jakarta, similar actions with the same demands are also being organised by KBPI members in North Sumatra. In Jakarta they have come from across Jabodetabek [Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi, Greater Jakarta],” he said.

According to CNN Indonesia’s observations, the hundreds of workers wearing red and carrying protest gear continued to articulate their demands from two command vehicles near the State Palace, directly in front of the West Monas intersection.

They also sang songs of struggle and followed the directions of speakers shouting labour demands. The protest was closely watched over by scores of police officers.

Fiji rally for rights
In Suva, Fiji, the NGO Coalition on Human Rights organised a march for today to commemorate World Human Rights Day.

The march will begin at 10am from the Flea Market ending in a rally at Sukuna Park and is the culmination of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence from November 25 to December 10.

World Human Rights Day is celebrated annually on December 10 to mark the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

This year is a significant milestone for the UDHR as it marks its 70th Anniversary.

Human Rights Day is a day to celebrate and advocate for the protection of Human Rights globally. Since its launch in 1997, the NGOCHR now includes members such as the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, Citizen’s Constitutional Forum, FemLINK Pacific, Ecumenical Centre for Research and Advocacy, Drodrolagi Movement, Social Empowerment and Education Program and observers, Pacific Network on Globalisation, Haus of Khameleon and Diverse Voices and Action for Equality.

The Indonesian report was translated by James Balowski of Indoleft News. The original title of the article was “Ratusan Buruh Berunjuk Rasa di Istana, Soroti Pelanggaran HAM”.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Nations close ranks to stop ‘big four’ oil producers watering down UN report

By Sara Stefanini and Karl Mathiesen in Katowice, Poland

In a moment of drama in Poland, countries have closed ranks against a push by oil producers to water down recognition of the UN’s report on the impacts of 1.5C warming.

Four big oil and gas producers blocked the UN climate talks from welcoming the most influential climate science report in years, as the meeting in Katowice descended into acrimony yesterday.

By failing to reach agreement after two and half hours of emotional negotiations, delegates in Katowice set the scene for a political fight next week over the importance of the UN’s landmark scientific report on the effects of a 1.5C rise in the global temperature.

READ MORE: 12 activists denied entry to Poland for UN climate summit

The battle, halfway through a fortnight of Cop24 negotiations, was over two words: “note” or “welcome”.

Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia said it was enough for the members of the UN climate convention (the UNFCCC) to “note” the findings.

-Partners-

But poor and undeveloped countries, small island states, Pacific nations, Europeans and many others called to change the wording to “welcome” the study – noting that they had commissioned it when they reached the Paris climate agreement in 2015.

“This is not a choice between one word and another,” Rueanna Haynes, a delegate for St Kitts and Nevis, told the plenary.

‘This is us’
“This is us, as the UNFCCC, being in a position to welcome a report that we requested, that we invited [scientists] to prepare. So it seems to me that if there is anything ludicrous about the discussion that is taking place, it is that we in this body are not in a position to welcome the report.”

The four opposing countries argued the change was not necessary. Saudi Arabia threatened to block the entire discussion if others pushed to change the single word – and warned that it would disrupt the last stretch of negotiations between ministers next week.

The aim of the Cop24 climate summit is to agree a dense set of technical rules to underpin the Paris Agreement’s goals for limiting global warming to well below 2C, and ideally 1.5C, by the end of the century.

The scientific report was published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October. It found that limiting global warming to 1.5C, rather than below 2C, could help avoid some of the worst effects of climate change, and potentially save vulnerable regions such as low-lying Pacific islands and coastal villages in the Arctic.

But it also made clear that the world would have to slash greenhouse gases by about 45 percent by 2030.

Before the plenary on Saturday, the UN’s climate chief Patricia Espinosa said she hoped to see countries “really welcoming and highlighting the importance of this report… Even if the IPCC is very clear in saying how difficult it will be to achieve that goal, it still says it is possible”.

The US, which raised doubts about the science behind the report before it was finalised, said on Saturday that it would accept wording that noted the IPCC’s findings – while stressing that that “does not imply endorsement” of its contents.

Russia said “it is enough just to note it”, rather than welcoming the report, while Kuwait said it was happy with the wording as it stood.

Plenary push
The push in the plenary to change the wording to “welcome” began with the Maldives, which chairs the alliance of small island states. It was quickly backed by a wide range of countries and groups, including the EU, the bloc of 47 least developed countries, the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean, African countries, Norway (another large oil and gas producer), Argentina, Switzerland, Nepal, Bhutan, Marshall Islands, Belize and South Korea.

Negotiators huddled with the plenary meeting’s chair, Paul Watkinson, for nearly an hour to try and work out a compromise.

But Watkinson’s suggestion – welcoming the “efforts” of the IPCC experts and noting the “importance of the underlying research” – fell flat.

Delegates from Latin America, small islands, Europe, New Zealand, Canada, Africa and elsewhere argued it was not enough to highlight the work that went into the report, it needed to address the findings.

Watkinson said he was disappointed that they could not agree. But a negotiator said the talks would continue: “This is a prelude to a huge fight next week,” when ministers arrive in Poland. It will be up to the Polish hosts to find a place for the report’s findings in the final outcome of the talks.

Wording that welcomes, rather than notes, the 1.5C report should be the bare minimum, Belize negotiator Carlos Fuller told Climate Home News. However, “the oil producing countries recognise that if the international community takes it on board, it means a massive change in the use of fossil fuels”, he said. “From the US point of view, this is the Trump administration saying ‘we do not believe the climate science’.”

‘Won the fight’
Fuller added: “In my opinion we have won the fight, because the headline tomorrow will be: the UNFCCC cannot agree the IPCC report’, and people will say ‘Why, what’s in the report?’ and go and look.”

The 1.5C science wasn’t the only divisive issue after a week of Cop24 talks, with countries still mostly holding their ground on the Paris Agreement’s rulebook.

Contentious decisions related to the transparency of reporting emissions and the make up of national climate plans have all been refined, but ultimately kicked to the higher ministerial level. Several observers raised the concern that some unresolved issues may be too technical for ministers to debate with adequate expertise.

Financial aid is still contentious issue. The rules on how and what developed countries must report on their past and planned funding, and the extent to which emerging economies are urged to do the same, remains largely up for debate.

In a further moment of drama on Saturday afternoon, Africa stood firm as UN officials tried to finalise a draft of the rules that will govern the deal. Africa’s representative Mohamed Nasr said the continent could not accept the deal as it was presented, forcing the text to be redrafted on the plenary floor.

“You can’t bully Africa, it’s 54 countries,” said one negotiator, watching from the plenary floor.

The change will mean new proposals to be made to the text next week. That would allow African ministers to attempt to strengthen a major climate fund dedicated to helping countries adapt to climate change and push for less strict measures for developing countries.

‘Voicing our concerns’
“We have been voicing our concerns, maybe the co-chairs in their attempt to seek a balanced outcome they overlooked some of the stuff. So we are saying that we are not going to stop the process but we need to make sure that our views are included,” Nasr told CHN.

Mohamed Adow, a campaigner with Christian Aid, said the African intervention had “saved the process” by ensuring that dissatisfied countries could still have their issues heard.

“It’s actually much better than it’s ever been in this process at this stage,” he said. “Because this is the end of the first week and ministers have been provided with clear options. Of course nothing is closed but the options are actually narrower.”

This article is republished with permission from Climate Home News.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pioneering NZ Pacific research initiative to make ‘reset’ change

Keynote speakers Associate Professor Kabini Sanga from Victoria University and Dr Alisi Holani (right), deputy CEO of the Ministry of Commerce, Consumer, Trade, Innovation and Labour (MCCTIL) in Tonga. They spoke about a “rich gap” and other issues affecting Pacific media reportage. Image: Tom Blessen/PMC

By Sri Krishnamurthi

The NZ Institute for Pacific Research will cease to exist in its current form, Emeritus Professor Richard Bedford said in a bombshell announcement to the Oceans and Islands conference today.

Rumours of NZIPR’s demise were doing the rounds after a review of the organisation earlier this year by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).

“I do want to finish with expressing the gratitude that the institute has for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the investment they have put in to the establishment of a NZ Institute for Pacific Research,” said the acting director in his conference closing address.

READ MORE: NZ think-tank launched to advance Pacific research

“We are in a rather ambiguous situation at the moment and quite a lot of speakers were informed of this in advance. I wrote to alert them to the fact we were in yet another ‘Pacific reset’ around the institute.

“Pacific reset are the words that the ministry has used for the rethinking of aspects of our policy in the Pacific,” said Professor Bedford.

He admitted that he had yet to see the review report which is said to be confidential to the institute’s board. They knew the recommendations that the decision to cease the current arrangement was based on.

-Partners-

“Just for those of you who might be bewildered by this, it’s not about getting rid of the NZ Institute of Pacific Research,” he said.

Review of investment
“Basically, what the ministry has done is have a review of what its investment has achieved.
“I think they’ve been impressed with a number of things that have happened. They have been impressed with some of the research that has been done,” he said.

“But the model and the way it’s worked has not given them the return on investment with regard to research that informs policy.

“I can sympathise a little bit with MFAT here because academic research doesn’t always and should never always fit perfectly some policy objective or goal,” he said in attempting to cushion the blow.

“The drivers of academic research are different from policy orientated research,” he said highlighting the difference in what the ministry had expected from NZIPR.

“This applied especially to discovery-led research, and a great deal of research we’ve heard about in this conference is discovery-led research.

“It’s about understanding and learning ways of doing things, testing models, testing ideas. It’s not about necessarily just producing something to enable a solution. The research may contribute to a solution long-term but that isn’t what drives it initially.”

MFAT-owned brand
He made it clear that the brand name was owned by MFAT and not the three universities (Auckland, Otago and Auckland University of Technology) that have been involved in the initial conglomerate that formed the NZIPR.

It was envisioned initially that long-term the NZIPR would become something like Australia’s think tank Lowy Institute.

When NZIPR was formed, MFAT invested $5 million for a set number of years, but the arrangement was that the NZIPR would look to possible external sources of funding to top up MFAT’s investment but that never eventuated.

“The label NZ Institute for Pacific Research belongs to MFAT, it’s not a label that belongs to the consortium of universities that has worked with MFAT to deliver on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that led to the formation of the current NZ Institute for Pacific Research,” he clarified.

“The NZ Institute for Pacific will continue to exist, operating under a different but as yet unspecified model.

“Whatever actually happens, in my view they’d be mad if they got rid of the opportunity that we’ve had to have this kind of conference,” he said voicing his opinion.

He said the support from MFAT needed to be acknowledged and he aimed to work with the ministry constructively to try and ensure that all the many good things that have emanated from their investment continue in whatever form they chose to implement the institute in the future.

Transition period
“That’s just to clarify that it won’t be the same next year, the current arrangement finishes on March 14,” Professor Bedford said.

“Between now and March 14 Evelyn [Dr Evelyn Marsters – research programme manager] and I, along with others in the University of Auckland, AUT and the University of Otago which are partners in the consortium, will work with MFAT to ensure that the transition from the first generation, the Fresh Off the Boat version of NZIPR moves along to the next generation version under MFAT control.”

Day two of the conference, apart from this sensational announcement, featured keynote speakers Associate Professor Kabini Sanga from Victoria University (Wellington), who spoke about “Pacific research frontiering” and Dr Alisi Holani, Deputy CEO of the Ministry of Commerce, Consumer, Trade, Innovation and Labour (MCCTIL) in Tonga, who spoke about “Bridging the policy-research gap in the Pacific – Insights from labour mobility negotiations in PACER Plus”.

The third keynote speaker, Dr Tapugao Falefou Permanent Secretary Government of Tuvalu, could not attend the conference due to not having his visa processed in time, something which was lamented by Professor Bedford.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

France tax rebate to boost New Caledonia’s AirCalin airliner fleet

An AirCalin promotion poster at Tontouta International Airport, New Caledonia. Image: David Robie/PMC

By RNZ Pacific

New Caledonia’s international airline, AirCalin, has been given tax rebates by France to buy two new Airbus airliners.

The French High Commission in Noumea announced the Economics and Finance Ministry had approved the concession for the purchase of two Airbus A330-900neo planes, which are expected to be delivered in May next year.

The statement did not say how much the airline had saved.

It said this support would help AirCalin develop its activities, be it for tourism or medical evacuations.

The statement said this was also a sign of the French state’s support for the airline and for New Caledonia.

AirCalin flies to destinations in the Pacific, including Auckland in New Zealand, and also provides a service to Japan to link passengers from and to France.

-Partners-

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Stop harassing Rappler, media advocacy groups tell Duterte

Two global media freedom advocacy groups accuse the Philippine government of trying to “silence” Rappler and its journalists. Image: Rappler

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have written a joint open letter to the prosecutor-general of the Philippines calling for an end to the orchestrated harassment of the news website Rappler and its editor, Maria Ressa, which began more than a year ago.

The website, which has more than 3.7 million followers on Facebook alone, has been under constant bureaucratic and legal attack by the government of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Department of Justice earlier this month said that it planned to file unspecified tax evasion charges against Rappler and the website’s founder and executive editor, award-winning Maria Ressa.

READ MORE: The Rappler story: Journalism with an impact

The two media freedom advocacy groups said the government was trying to “silence” the website and its journalists.

Later it filed on November 9 a criminal case against two Rappler executives for allegedly avoiding paying  133.8 million pesos ($9.6 million) in tax.

-Partners-

“We urge you to cease this campaign of intimidation and harassment against Rappler, both for the sake of respecting press freedom and for your government’s international credibility,” said Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders and Joel Simon, executive director of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists in the joint open letter.

Rappler publisher Maria Ressa could face up to 10 years in prison for tax evasion. Noel Celis /RSF/AFP

‘Fearless reporting’
Rappler had said after the tax evasion charges were first reported that: “We are not at all surprised by the decision, considering how the Duterte administration has been treating Rappler for its independent and fearless reporting.

“We maintain that this is a clear form of continuing intimidation and harassment against us, and an attempt to silence journalists.”

The website said there was no legal basis for the action. The open letter said:

Mr Richard Anthony Fadullon
Prosecutor-General
Department of Justice
Ermita, Manila 1000
Republic of the Philippines
Via email: communications@doj.gov.ph

Dear Prosecutor General Fadullon,

We at the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters without Borders, two independent non-profit press freedom organisations, ask that you and your office end the politicised persecution of Philippine news site Rappler.

The Department of Justice earlier this month said that it planned to file tax evasion charges against Rappler and the website’s founder and executive editor, Maria Ressa. The charges relate to a company bond sale in 2015 that, according to reports, resulted in 162.5 million pesos (euros 2,7 million) in financial gains. The Justice Department’s statement did not indicate how much Rappler and Ressa allegedly owed in taxes.

Ressa has denied the allegation and said that Rappler is compliant with all Philippine tax laws, including the transaction in question. She said she believes the legal threat is an attempt to silence her news outlet’s critical reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s government. CPJ and RSF have documented in the past year how authorities have retaliated against Rappler’s coverage, including by banning its reporters from the presidential palace and referring to the site as “fake news” and “biased.”

The Department of Justice’s announcement that it will seek to file tax evasion charges is strikingly and worryingly similar to previous legal harassment of Rappler. The news site is still fighting a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) order to revoke its registration. The Court of Appeals ruled in July that the SEC had erred in its move to revoke Rappler’s certificate of incorporation, but the outlet’s motion to fully annul the order is still pending.

We view the tax evasion charges, which carry potential 10-year prison penalties under local law, as a clear and present threat to press freedom. As Ressa has pointed out, the charges could potentially threaten foreign investors who use similar mechanisms, and could thus damage the Philippine economy

We urge you to cease this campaign of intimidation and harassment against Rappler, both for the sake of respecting press freedom and for your government’s international credibility.

Sincerely,
Joel Simon
Executive Director
Committee to Protect Journalists

Christophe Deloire
Secretary-General
Reporters Without Borders

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media