Central America becomes landmine-free
On10October 1997, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in recognition of its work towards the implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. Thirteen years on, the fruits of their labour can be seen with the announcement that Central America has become the world’s first landminefree region. Nicaragua recently completed its mine-clearing activities, meaning that North and Central
America, from the Arctic Circle to the Colombian border, are now free from the threat of landmines.
However, much work still remains to be done. As Jesús Martínez, Director of the ICBL member in El Salvador, Fundación Red de Sobrevivientes, and a mine survivor himself, explained: ‘Landmine survivors, their families and communities require lifelong assistance. Government funding that previously supported clearance should now be channelled to victim assistance initiatives.’
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35 years ago this month...
...the New Internationalist was arguing the case for the New Economic Order.
Its founding editor Peter Adamson wrote:
The major crises of our times are not unrelated accidents, mere coincidental aberrations from an otherwise wellregulated world system.
The problems of food, population, employment and environment are now recognized as symptoms of the same sickness. And it is clear that a cure will not be found without a diagnosis of what that sickness is.
The 1975 Dag Hammarskjold Report, for example, describes the various crises as ‘only the most obvious signs of a great disorder under heaven’. And the latest Report to the Club of Rome by Mesarovic and Pestel also opens with the statement that ‘the whole multitude of crises appears to constitute one single global crisis of world development’.
Recent events have made it blazingly clear that this single global crisis, the sickness which underlies the symptoms, is none other than common poverty compounded by chronic inequality…
In May 1974 the governments of almost every nation in the world came together to discuss this central problem of inequality in wealth and opportunity. Meeting at the Sixth Special Session of the UN General Assembly – the first Special Session ever called by a developing country – they approved ‘by consensus’ a ‘Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order’. It was a hard-fought 2,000 word document, incorporating a coherent set of principles and accompanied by a definite Plan of Action, with the stated aim of ending the gross inequalities of the present time.
Since then, the New Economic Order has become almost synonymous with world development and provided a common focal point for a legion of conferences, studies and reports over the last 16 months.
Despite the fact that the developed nations filed over 200 pages of reservations on the Declaration, and despite the fact that the degree of inequality inside many poor nations sometimes makes a mockery of their claims, the New Internationalist believes that a New Economic Order – between people as well as nations – is now the main hope and rallying point for change towards a more just, and therefore less hungry, less crowded, less violent and physically degraded world.
In one sense, the issues are still exactly the same. But in another, a great deal has changed. Back then the battle for a new economic order was being driven through the UN and there was genuine hope that we were on the cusp of change. Today the power and wealth of the rich nations remains entrenched and their governments no longer even feel they have to pay lipservice to the idea of a more equal world. And yet the cracks in the global order are widening daily, marked by economic instability and environmental devastation. Perhaps it’s time for the global justice movement to move back to centre stage...
10 ● New Internationalist ● OCTOBER 2010 Climate action back on agenda
10 and 12 OCTOBER TWO DAYS OF GLOBAL CLIMATE ACTION
Reflection gives way to action in the fight for climate justice a g e s
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A global day of direct action for Climate Justice will take place on 12 October. The date was chosen by international activist network Climate Justice Action (CJA) to coincide with the annual In Defence of Mother Earth event, organized by the Latin American Global Minga network to reclaim Columbus Day. The CJA is calling on ‘all those who fight for social and ecological justice to organize direct actions targeting climate criminals and false solutions’.
These actions will follow hot on the heels of the much less confrontational 350.org network’s own global day of action: a Global Work Party on 10 October. The organizers are encouraging people all over the world to ‘do something that will help deal with global warming in your city or community’, sending a pointed message to policymakers that they need to ‘get to work too’.
The differences in tactics are stark, but one thing is for sure: in October, climate activists will be back on the streets, and we will see hundreds of locallevel activities advocating real and just solutions to the climate crisis.
This burst of action comes in the wake of the Copenhagen climate summit last December, which was widely judged a failure. With nothing remotely like a ‘fair, ambitious and binding’ deal emerging, the enormous campaigning momentum which had built to tidal wave proportions found itself suddenly transformed into a directionless stream. Not only did governments lack a meaningful longterm strategy for addressing climate change, but, so far, campaigning organizations have seemed equally unable to present one.
In the months following the
‘global people’s movement for Mother Earth’, and rejecting market incentives such as the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) scheme, which activists believe also diverts attention from over-consumption in the North.
However, most of the world’s focus remains on the UN process and its attempts to reach consensus between Northern industrialized countries and developing countries in the South. The UN meetings since Copenhagen have to date emerged with little more than an overall goal of reducing emissions globally by between 50 and 85 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050, some further agreement on REDD and the
NGOs are supporting a UN process which has been hijacked by the North to point blame at the South summit, campaigning organizations such as 350.org, Avaaz and Campaign against Climate Change, as well as broader alliances and networks such as Tcktcktck, Climate Action Network and CJA, seemed to have lost the voice they had used so powerfully to demand action.
A measure of focus was achieved at the People’s Summit hosted by Bolivia in April 2010. This resulted in a kind of ‘best practice benchmark’, advocating keeping fossil fuels in the ground, protecting indigenous rights,
$100 billion pledged by the rich to be transferred to poor countries every year by 2020.
David Turnbull, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) International, the influential coalition of mainstream NGOs, said that they would consider agreement on REDD, technology transfer, and adaptation, alongside clear commitments to climate finance as a step in the right direction. Activists in many grassroots movements disagree.
Tadzio Mueller of CJA argues that larger campaign groups like CAN repeatedly shift the goalposts of their demands to enable them to praise any progress made at the UN. He is critical of CAN for their support of a UN process which he believes has been hijacked by the North to point blame at the South. ‘Ask anyone in the movement, probably even most governments, what the best way toward climate justice is,’ Tadzio says, ‘and if they gave an honest answer it would most likely be:
“We don’t know.”’ This lack of strategic direction in all sectors of the movement corresponds to what Tadzio calls a ‘problem of excessive actionism’. According to Tadzio, ‘In many places, 2009 was the year of action as we all mobilized towards Copenhagen. In turn, 2010 is the year of strategic reflection.’
New Internationalist ● OCTOBER 2010 ● 11