The Central African Republic: silencing the press

Credit GlobalPost

Credit GlobalPost

Conditions for journalists have deteriorated quickly in the Central African Republic. The country was ranked 65th in Reporters Without Borders’s 2013 Press Freedom Index, ahead of countries like Greece and Bosnia Herzegovinia.

In October, Reporters Without Boarders reported there have been “arbitrary arrests and serious threats targeting journalists in the country since the Seleka rebels came to power.”

The NGO reported that “there has been a major escalation in harassment, threats and intimidation against journalists with privately-owned media, which is being carried out or encouraged by the authorities”.

Amnesty International released a detailed report concerning human rights abuses in the country on October 30th of this year. The October report was damning and painted a portrait of a failed state in need international intervention: “The security forces are out of control and urgent action is needed by the national authorities and the international community to establish law and order”.

Amnesty international told News Anois they currently have no representatives on the ground but are hopeful they will have people back in the country documenting what is happening by Christmas.

Joseph Conroy / Simon Maguire

OPINION – Success of the climate summit in Warsaw – conclusions after COP19

Credit BBC.co.uk

Credit bbc.co.uk

Here are four reasons why the UN organised 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19) should be remembered as extraordinarily successful despite strained emotions, problems and controversies.

1.       Hosts’ success despite ecologic NGOs anti-Polish actions

Despite several initial difficulties, Poland managed to perform its role as the host of COP19 well. The main concern was the real possibility of hostile actions by ecology-oriented Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), aiming to boycott Poland’s position as host due to its opposition to decarbonisation policies and 90% of its economy being based on coal. Some NGOs came to Warsaw with the aim of confronting and discrediting the host of the summit, regardless of the power and virtue of their arguments. They appeared to forget that harassment and humiliation is not a path to progress. While calling Poland ‘Coaland’ and its government ‘Coalish’ might have brought attention to their position, in reality they only strengthened the Polish position as a strong and reliable government able to act diplomatically and be decisive even in such unfavourable conditions.

2.       Industry get involved

It may be hard to believe, but this summit was the first in the history of COP conferences when industrial lobbies took an active part on an equal footing to other organisations. Until now all the political decisions on CO2 reduction quotas were made without any consultation with industry representatives.

3.       Resolution – all for one, one for all  

One of the aims of the Polish presidency was to encourage all of the member states to participate in the future agreement, so the Paris resolution would have a worldwide and legally binding character. This was a turning point in international eco politics, as it created a real opportunity to make developing countries take an active part in counteracting climate change.

4.       The €25million budget was not wasted

The estimated cost of organizing COP19 was €25million. That is, indeed, a lot, but looking at the ultimate result of the conference, it is undeniable that the budget was well spent. Apart from the obvious economic benefits, the summit has shown that Poland is not only capable of hosting one of the most important international political events, but can also do so with considerable success.

Katarzyna Sowa

World Toilet Day

Video Credit United Nations’ YouTube

“BY working together – and by having an open and frank discussion on the importance of toilets and sanitation – we can improve the health and well-being of one-third of the human family”, says Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

World Toilet Day is no joke, and rather a matter of life and death, as one third of the world doesn’t have access to proper sanitation. The UN have launched the first World Toilet Day today, November 19th, aiming to change behaviour and policy and tackle the dramatic consequences on human health, dignity and security, the environment, and social and economic development.

The idea of not having a mobile phone in the western world is a shocking idea; not having access to proper toilets and sanitation in the developing world is unfortunately a frightening reality. The disabled, women and children are among the most affected.  According to the UN, 2,000 children die every day from preventable diarrhoeal diseases that decent sanitation and water supplies would prevent.  In countries where sexual violence is a major problem, young girls discontinue their education when they hit puberty due to the lack of private toilets.

The UN aim to gain global awareness as poor sanitation and water supply also result in economic losses estimated at $260 billion annually in developing countries.

Lilah Gafaar