Saturday, 16 June 2012

Africa lays bare its  concerns about Rio outcomes 

ECA Press Release No. 88/2012

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 15 June 2012 (ECA) - African participants in the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) which opens here next week have been warned to stick together in Brazil or lose out on most of the sticking points of the negotiation. 

The warning came from Ambassador Macharia Kamau, the Kenyan Ambassador to the UN and veteran of the Rio process who addressed the first meeting of the African Group last evening, according to the Information and Communication Service (ICS), of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) covering the conference and the negotiations. 

"After two days of negotiations, progress is slow and in some ways, negative. Issues such as Agenda 21, Johannesburg Programme of Action, are now being reopened. There is no resolution on "the world we want", he said. 

In a stark disapproval of what he sees as maneuvers by the developed countries to renege " on all that has all along been agreed on", Ambassador Kamau told his peers and negotiators to stick to the validity of all previous commitments, especially within the G77 + China framework. 

"We should not allow our Heads of State to walk into an ambush", he said, referring to what he sees as tactics by partners from the developed countries to delay discussions on the key issues until the last segment of the Conference, when Presidents might not have the material time for detailed negotiations on those issues. 

Ambassador Kamau said while there had been agreement on what constitutes "equity", there is no agreement yet on "extreme poverty", "common but differentiated responsibilities" and "sustainable production and consumption". 

"We had arrived Rio thinking that there would be renewed political commitment on the the three pillars of sustainable development: shared economic prosperity, social inclusion and environmental protection; but what we see is a systematic attempt to renegotiate even the fundamental issues of the Conference", Kamau lamented at the briefing. 

He cited the example of the Green Economy targets and goals, questioning how the EU could objectively expect Africa to commit to specific targets and goals when there is no agreement on the means of implementation; that is financial, technology transfer and adequate capacity to embrace the green economy model. 

"Without adequate means of implementation, how can we accept any real discussion on the green economy", he wondered. 

"How can we compete with richer countries on new goals as if we have all forgotten about the Millennium Development Goals to which the same developed countries have committed", he asked emphatically. 

Kamau told the meeting that developed countries had stated their intentions to have have poverty-reduction goals removed from the Rio negotiations because, according to them, poverty is no longer uniquely African as a result of the global economic downturn and financial crisis. 

This, he said, was a wicked way of diluting the concept and context of poverty. 

He said that the proposal by developed Countries to put on hold their initial commitment to contribute 0.07 percent of their respective GDP towards development assistance (until after the current financial crisis) was untenable because it was never implemented before the crisis set in; and because nobody knows when the crisis will end. 

In this context, a new Chinese proposal to shelve the commitment by creating a $30 billion annual fund for development assistance appears likely to appease Africa, although the West would still be unlikely to sign up to new commitments in the midst of the current financial woes, according to experts. 

ECA, in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank and other partners, is facilitating Africa's participation in the Rio Conference. 

They have joined with several African Governments and institutions to organize an Africa Day event on 19 June at which there will be dialogue and debates to highlight Africa's position and "sell" it to the rest of the world. 

Issued by ECA 
Information and Communication Service 

On the Occasion of the Official Birthday of Queen Elizabeth II

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
June 14, 2012

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as you celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s official birthday this June 16. The United States has long viewed the Queen and her service to her nation with the deepest respect. In this Diamond Jubilee Year, her tireless dedication is a beacon of hope to peoples and countries around the world.
Our nations have a special history of friendship and close cooperation based on shared democratic values and respect for the rule of law. I am looking forward to the London Olympics where the international spotlight will shine on your country’s culture, commitment to democratic principles and human rights. Our nations are united in the pursuit of a more just and democratic future and these Olympics will give us the chance to once again come together in celebration of these values.
I send Queen Elizabeth II and the British people my most heartfelt congratulations on this special day. Best wishes for a year of peace, prosperity and happiness.

Friday 15 June 1-2pm
52 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9SP Knightsbridge Tube

520 years after Colombus and Pizarro’s genocide for gold, the movement in Peru demands an end to domestic slavery and gold mining. 

A year ago, after decades of organising, domestic workers won the historic Convention 189 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which recognises their rights as workers. Governments must now ratify the Convention. So far, despite promises by President Ollanta Humala’s party during the election campaign, the Convention has not been ratified. On Friday, Lima’s domestic workers’ trade union SINTTRAHOL will take to the streets to demand immediate ratification.

Impoverishment drives thousands of women and children from Indigenous and other rural areas to the city, where they are forced to take domestic work in slave conditions – unending hours; denial of wages, benefits or pensions; rape and other violence.  

Leddy Mozombite, SINTTRAHOL’s General Secretary says: “Convention 189 is a great victory for women, whether we are remunerated or not, domestic workers or housewives, because it recognises the value of work in the home which has been kept invisible until now. Every country should include the economy of caring work in their public policies.”

President Humala is breaking other promises. Before he was elected he promised to fully consult the population on the gold mining Conga Project in the Cajamarca region. Instead he is giving the go-ahead to US multinational Newmont and other mining companies which threaten to destroy the environment and pollute the water supply. But Cajamarca, where Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro murdered Inca leader Atahualpa, is rebelling against this latest colonization. Despite the government sending in the army and killing protesters, the population of Cajamarca has been on general strike since 30 May: children have refused to go to school, there have been massive marches, and communal kitchens feed the strikers. 

With SINTTRAHOL and the Cajamarca movement,
we call on President Humala to:

RATIFY Domestic Workers’ Rights Convention 189
– ¡RATIFIQUEN Convenio 189!