International Press Syndicate

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Formerly Globalom Media Information . Communication . Publishing Agency Established in March 2009

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Photo: Nigerian-born, London-based writer Ben Okri will be one of the speakers at the Manchester Literature Festival.

By A.D. McKenzie

PARIS – While many literature festivals have become predictable in their line-up of bestselling authors, some innovative events have added a social-issues factor to their sessions, raising awareness about everything from climate change to the need for more diversity in publishing.

The Manchester Literature Festival (MLF), taking place October 7-23 in northern England and celebrating its 11th anniversary, is one such event. This regional gathering of authors and book-lovers has increased its focus on global concerns since 2006, and its programme this year includes topics such as immigration, mental health and the urban experience.

Photo: Benjamin William Mkapa. Credit: Club de Madrid.

Viewpoint by Benjamin William Mkapa*

GENEVA  (ACP-IDN | Daily News) - The EPA issue has once again re-emerged when Tanzania informed EAC (East African Community) Members and the EU that it would not be able to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between EU and the six EAC Member States in early July.

The European Commission reportedly proposed signature of the EAC EPA in Nairobi, on the sidelines of the 14th session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIV).

Photo: A sandstorm hits the UN mission in El Fasher, North Darfur, Sudan. The UN has installed carlogs in its vehicles there to measure idling. Credit: Adrian Dragnea, UNAMID.

By Franz Baumann * | Reproduced courtesy of PassBlue

The author is a former assistant secretary-general of the United Nations and special adviser on environment and peace operations. This article originally appeared with the headline: A Sorry State of Affairs: The UN Secretariat Has No Climate Plan.

NEW YORK (IDN | Passblue) - How green is the United Nations’ own environmental policy?

Shepherding the Paris climate agreement to conclusion in December 2015 has been a major achievement of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The agreement got more than 190 states to commit to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2 degrees centigrade, above pre-industrial levels.

Photo: Prime Minister Modi being welcomed in South Africa. Credit: IndiaTV

By Vineet Thakur and Alexander E. Davis*

JOHANNESBURG - India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded his five-day, four-nation tour of Africa on July 11. He spent two days in South Africa and made brief visits to Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya.

As he left Nairobi at the end of the tour, Modi had covered 42 countries in his 51 trips abroad. Antarctica is now the only continent he has not visited in his two years in office.

Constantly referencing Mahatma Gandhi and donning “Madiba shirts”, Modi left no stone unturned to charm South Africa. But no matter how much he emphasised the special and unique nature of “Africa-India” relations, his “special relationship” stump speech has been made repeatedly around the world.

Photo: Roberto Savio. Credit: Christine Sunbean.

Viewpoint by Roberto Savio*

ROME (IDN | OtherNews) – Polling specialists say that when voters do not feel comfortable in saying how they will really vote, it is because they are not comfortable at a rational level with how they will actually vote. In other words, voters act because of their guts, not because of their brains.

This is what happened when the exit polls after the June 23 British referendum on whether to remain part of or leave the European Union showed the 'remain' vote in a slight lead, only to be proved wrong overnight. 

The Brexit referendum was really based on gut feelings. It was a campaign of fear. The 'leave' campaign was about a massive invasion of Great Britain by Turks because of the possible admission of Turkey to the EU (totally false) and that Great Britain was paying the EU 50 millions pounds a day (again false).

Photo: The parliament buildings in Astana, Kazakhstan. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Viewpoint by Erlan Idrissov | Reproduced courtesy of The Hill

The author is Foreign Minister Kazakhstan. This article originally appeared with the headline High time for Central Asia and Kazakhstan to have a voice in UN Security Council.

ASTANA - No organisation has a greater global responsibility than the United Nations Security Council. The Council has the solemn task of maintaining international peace with the power to intervene if threats put it or the safety of civilian populations at risk. Its effectiveness has a huge impact on our world and the lives of millions of people.

The Council’s authority stems from the UN Charter and the support of the international community. But it is strengthened when its membership is as representative as possible. Its decisions, too, benefit when drawing on differing global perspectives. It is why from the beginning, the Council’s membership included not just the great powers but a rotating group of countries elected on a regional basis.

Photo: Will Dag Hammarskjöld serve as a model for the new UN Secretary-General? Credit: UN/DPI derivative work - 1959. Wikimedia Commons.

Analysis by Franz Baumann *

NEW YORK - Three months before his tragic death, Dag Hammarskjöld gave a powerful lecture in Oxford, entitled The International Civil Servant in Law and in Fact. He positioned the Secretary-General’s role and that of the Secretariat in the architecture of the United Nations.

Hammarskjöld implicitly built on the conclusions formulated by the great U.S. political scientist Inis L. Claude in his classic 1956 study Swords Into Plowshares: The Problems and Progress of International Organization, namely that there are two United Nations: firstly the arena of member states, secondly the Secretariat.

Since it cannot be assumed that the results arrived at in the arena of sovereign states are perforce optimal from a world-wide perspective, the Secretary-General, supported by an independent, effective and loyal Secretariat, has special responsibilities as the guardian of the global interest. And since today’s challenges do not stop at national borders, an effective global institution is ever more crucial.

Photo: United Nations Headquarters in New York City, view from Roosevelt Island

By Franz Baumann * | Reproduced courtesy of PassBlue

The author is a former assistant secretary-general of the United Nations and special adviser on environment and peace operations. This article originally appeared with the headline: UN Bureaucracy? No, Thanks.

NEW YORK - After more than 30 years of service, I retired from the United Nations as an assistant secretary-general, Special Adviser on Environment and Peace Operations, at the end of 2015, but to officially conclude my tenure with the UN, there was bureaucratic paperwork to contend with, to which Bartleby the Scrivener, Melville’s reluctant clerk, might have said, “I would prefer not to.”

During my last week in the office, between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and despite the new information-technology system, Umoja, I had to fill out by hand myriad forms. Originals of my marriage certificate (from 1987) and our daughter’s birth certificate (2000) needed to be submitted, even though the UN had moved us as a family across oceans a few times.

Photo: Japan’s senior vice-minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries Taku Eto tries out a Japanese-made tilling machine in Cameroon. Credit: The Government of Japan

Analysis by Kingsley Ighobor

NEW YORK (IDN | Africa Renewal) - To many Africans, Japan is a country acclaimed for economic and technological prowess. Johnson Obaluyi in Lagos, Nigeria, says Toyota, the ubiquitous automotive manufacturer, comes to mind whenever Japan is mentioned. For Kwesi Obeng, a Ghanaian living in Nairobi, Kenya, it is technology. Beageorge Cooper, a consultant for the World Bank in Monrovia, Liberia, says she thinks of Japan as “a former world economic power”.

But it’s a different matter when Africans are asked about Japan-Africa relations. “I will have to read up on that,” says Cooper. “I think we are importing their Toyotas,” recollects Obaluyi. “They support research into tropical diseases in Africa,” says Obeng.

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