Kiev: Ukrainians voted on Sunday in the second round of the country’s presidential election, with incumbent leader Petro Poroshenko seeking re-election, while TV comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy is making his foray into mainstream politics for the first time. Polling stations opened 8 a.m. and will close 12 hours later, the BBC reported. Sunday’s election comes after the two candidates on Friday appeared at Kiev’s Olympic stadium to debate for the first time. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US Zelensky, 41, who is best known for starring in a political satirical drama called “Servant of the People” where he plays a teacher who accidentally becomes the Ukrainian President, won the first round on March 31 with more than 30 per cent of the vote, almost double what Poroshenko got when he finished in second place with 15.95 per cent. With no previous political experience, Zelensky’s campaign has focused on his difference to others rather than on any concrete policy ideas. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls The 53-year-old incumbent president, one of Ukraine’s wealthiest oligarchs, was elected in a snap vote after former pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was toppled in the February 2014 Maidan Revolution, which was followed by Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and insurgency in eastern Ukraine. The next President will inherit a deadlocked conflict between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatists in the east, while Ukraine strives to fulfil EU requirements for closer economic ties. The EU has said that about 12 per cent of Ukraine’s 44 million people are disenfranchised, largely those who live in Russia and in Crimea.
Bahraich/Barabanki: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday took a swipe at Opposition parties, saying those who cannot win enough seats to claim the Leader of the Opposition post in parliament are getting clothes stitched for becoming prime minister.He also hit out the SP-BSP alliance, saying that May 23 is the “expiry date” for the grouping, and their leaders will tear each other’s clothes after the Lok Sabha poll results are declared that day. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra SinghAt his rallies in Bahraich and Barabanki in the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 MPs to Lok Sabha, Modi said opposition leaders have lost their sleep after four phases of polling In Bahraich, where he addressed the rally first, Modi said, “After the fourth phase, those who are not in a position to become Leader of Opposition (LoP) by getting 50 to 55 seats, are getting clothes stitched for becoming PM.” “They want somehow to make a ‘khichadi’ (alliance) government, a weak government,” he said, adding leaders from his rival parties want to realise their dreams of becoming prime minister by holding the post turn-wise. “Will you accept this?” he asked the gathering. He said ‘mahamilavati’ parties are working to save their deposits on most of the seats. “In 2014, they did not get it (LoP post) and this time people are so angry that they will again not get it,” he said. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroad”Those doing ‘mahamilavat’ (grand adulteration) are having sleepless nights,” he said at Barabanki. Modi has been ridiculing opposition alliance as a ‘mahamilavat’. “Earlier opposition parties played the game of ‘kaun banega PM (who will become the PM)’, now, after four phases of polling, they are playing ‘hide and seek’,” Modi said. The PM alleged the SP and BSP governments have been “discriminating” against people bases on their political leanings as their only concern was their vote bank, but said his government has worked without biases. Did the SP government supply electricity to the places that did not vote for them, Modi asked, suggesting that the same was the case when the BSP was in power. “Only we have worked for sabka saath sabka vikas (together with all, development for all),” he said. He said the SP and the BSP have been bitter rivals but came together fearing a “complete rout”. “This togetherness is for selfish motives.” Reciting a couplet of Rahim, he said, “As the results come on May 23, they (SP, BSP leaders) will tear each others’ clothes.” Referring to the surgical strikes and the Balakot airstrike, he said they were examples of his government’s commitment of extending security of life to 130 crore people. “Kahin bhi ghus kar ke maar sakte hai… (We can hit them (terrorists) anywhere).” “For doing this, we will not ask anybody nor will we come under any influence …because this is our commitment,” he said, adding “because of this commitment our security forces and sapoots have confined terrorism to a limited area. “Now the news of bomb blasts in temples, bazaars, bus stand and railway stations are not heard” he said. “Terror attacks have stopped because of a fear of Modi, but they (the terrorists) have not mended their ways. The danger has been averted but not annihilated. Nurseries of terror are still operating around us. Can the SP-BSP finish these?” Modi asked the gathering The PM said UP’s Awadh region is the centre of “our belief and spirituality. But when terrorism rises, such centres become targets.” Recalling former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he said the late BJP stalwart had said that no person is big or small. “Sabka saath sabka vikas is our mantra ..sabko suraksha sabko samman (security for all, honour to all) is our pledge…we have worked on this and in the coming five years, we will tread this path,” Modi said.
Marrakech – The fifth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES 2014) officially opened Thursday in Marrakech in the presence of high level delegations from around the world.Held under the patronage of King Mohammed VI, the opening session of this global forum was marked by the reading of a message from HM King Mohammed VI to the participants in this summit.During this global conference, held for the first time in an African country, participants will to address several issues, including exploiting technology potential to boost innovation and entrepreneurship. Several workshops will be organized on the sidelines of this summit with a special focus on entrepreneurship themes, such as smart cities, social entrepreneurship, innovation, health professions, agriculture and food security.The works of the 2014 GES were launched Wednesday with a special tribute to women entrepreneurs by celebrating the “Women’s Entrepreneurship Day” (WED/Nov. 19), a global movement to celebrate, empower and support women entrepreneurs worldwide.US president Barack Obama had announced the holding of this forum for the first time on African soil, during his speech at the US Africa Business Forum last August as part of the first USA-Africa Summit.MWN with MAP.
Rabat – Morocco’s national carrier Royal Air Maroc (RAM) has denied reports that a dispute between flight attendants led to trays and bottles to be scattered in the plane’s aisle.Media outlets reported that a ‘fight’ between two flight attendants on board a flight from Casablanca to Lisbon in Portugal caused meal trays and cutlery to be scattered on the plane’s floor.In a communiqué published Wednesday, RAM said that one of the air stewards had forgotten to lock the service trolley in the back of the cabin so its contents fell during landing. Nous regrettons l’info détournée insinuant une dispute entre PNC sur un vol Casa Lisbonne. Il s’agit de plateaux tombés par inadvertance 1/2— Royal Air Maroc (@RAM_Maroc) 21 Août 2015RAM tweeted: “We regret news reports insinuating a fight between two members of staff on a Casablanca-Lisbon flight. The plates actually fell inadvertently”. Nous nous excusons auprès des passagers de ce vol pour la gêne occasionnée 2/2— Royal Air Maroc (@RAM_Maroc) 21 Août 2015In a second tweet, Morocco’s national airliner added: “We are sorry to all passengers on this flight for the disturbance caused”.In another incident, Royal Air Maroc denied reports suggesting that one of its planes was severely damaged during an emergency landing at Agadir International Airport.The accident in question was that of a private jet that was forced to carry out emergency landing after the pilot could not release the landing gear.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission
Rabat – A Dutch port operator said it would fund the construction of the first automated transshipment terminal in Africa at the port of Tangier. The announcement of this major new investment in Morocco was made as King Mohammed VI was wrapping his private visit to the Netherlands on Wednesday.In a statement on Thursday, APM Terminals said the port, which will be operational in 2019, will quadruple the company’s current annual capacity in Tangier by allowing for the receipt and shipment of five million additional TEUs worth of international products to and from Africa.The €758 million investment will allow the company – which makes known its long business history at Tangier Med 1 port – to become the operator of the Tangier Med 2 port complex in a 30-year concession, paving the way for the installment of new equipment. “APM Terminals has been in Morocco since the creation of our first company APM Terminals Tangier in March 2005,” APM Terminals CEO Kim Fejfer said in the statement. “Today’s announcement shows our strong commitment to investing in trade and improving supply chains in the West Mediterranean market.”The Tanger-Med port complex location on Africa’s northwest coast – where the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea meet – makes in the second-busiest container port on the African continent after Port Said, Egypt. The company’s location on the Spanish side of the Strait of Gibraltar – APM Terminals Algeciras – operates in correspondence with the terminal in Tangier as an “integrated Western Mediterranean transshipment hub.”
Rabat – Moroccan authorities said the existence of a suspicious substance in the COP22 village was a hoax.Marrakech’s General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) was informed on Tuesday that there was a “suspicious dangerous substance in a chair.”The incident was reported by United Nations officials at the twenty-second Conference of the Parties’ (COP22) village in Bab Ighli. After investigators scanned the whole the area with radiation and other sophisticated investigative techniques, the DGSN announced that the substance was not dangerous.Earlier this month, Morocco authorized the mobilization of security forces in preparation for the COP22, which is running until November 18. 7,000 officials of the Royal Gendarmerie and 250 police motorcycles and cars have been deployed throughout Marrakech. Additionally, units of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have been arrayed at the Menara Airport and Marrakech’s tourist sites to help monitor the event and provide security and law enforcement.To ensure the highest level of security during the 12-day event, a stand-by force of rescue teams and dozens of ambulances stand at the ready throughout the city aboard three helicopters endowed with medical supplies.
LAS VEGAS — The Latest on legal betting action on Super Bowl 53 (all times local):4 p.m.Regulators say gamblers in Nevada bet less money on the Super Bowl this year.Unaudited tallies released Monday by state gambling regulators show people wagered roughly $145.94 million on the big game at Nevada’s 200 sportsbooks. That’s about $12.65 million less than in 2018.The data from the Nevada Gaming Control Board show sportsbooks made a profit of almost $10.79 million on the action. That’s about nine times what they won last year.The game between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams was the first Super Bowl in which Nevada faced competition from sportsbooks outside the state.Sportsbooks have opened in seven other states since the U.S. Supreme Court issued a relevant ruling last spring.Jay Kornegay, vice-president of race and sports book operations at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, says the sportsbook had a “solid day.” It lost on the game itself but did well on proposition and future bets.___1:17 p.m.New Jersey gambling regulators say its sportsbooks lost $4.6 million on $34.9 million in Super Bowl wagers, the first major sporting event for bettors since sports gambling was legalized in the state last year.The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement said Monday that casinos and horse tracks in the state paid $39.5 million to those who won bets. Many gamblers backed the New England Patriots, who beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 on Sunday night and covered the spread of 2 1/2 points.Nevada, which had an effective monopoly on sports betting until the Supreme Court ruled last year that states could allow it, is expected to report its Super Bowl betting totals later Monday.Joe Asher is chief executive of William Hill US, which runs sportsbooks at two casinos and a racetrack in New Jersey. He says Super Bowl Sunday was by far the company’s biggest day ever in the state in terms of the amount wagered. He says the book broke even and also had a record day for mobile signups and betting.DraftKings, which runs mobile wagering in New Jersey along with an in-person lounge at Resorts casino, also set a new record for handle. Spokesman James Chisholm said the company paid out about $11 million in winning bets to customers, “and took a small, barely seven figure loss.”___More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFLThe Associated Press
HOUSTON — Crews have extinguished a fire that’s burned for days at a Houston-area petrochemicals storage facility.International Terminals Company says the blaze in Deer Park was extinguished as of 3 a.m. Wednesday. The fire began Sunday at the facility southeast of Houston, sending a huge, dark plume of smoke thousands of feet in the air, though officials said air quality remained safe.ITC says crews will continue to spray foam and water on the storage tanks that caught fire to cool them down and prevent the fire from reigniting.The company says steam and smoke will be visible, and the fire could still flare back up.The tanks that caught fire contained components of gasoline and materials used in nail polish remover, glues and paint thinner.The Associated Press
CALGARY — Canadian Pacific Railway has selected the first woman to head the board of directors of the country’s second-largest railway.Isabelle Courville, 56, has been designated to replace Andrew Reardon at the Calgary-based company’s annual meeting in May, according to a proxy circular.An independent director since 2013, Courville is one of four women on CP’s nine-member board. The former Hydro-Quebec executive is also currently a member of the boards at SNC-Lavalin and Laurentian Bank.She received $303,504 in compensation from CP Rail last year — half to be paid in cash, the rest in share-based awards. As chairman, Reardon received $514,344 in total compensation in 2018.CP Rail CEO Keith Creel received $12.5 million in compensation last year, down from $20.1 million in 2017, the year he was appointed president and CEO.The decrease was mainly the result of a reduction in option-based awards. Companies in this story: (TSX:CP)The Canadian Press
BANGKOK — Trade tensions between China and the United States are putting a drag on economies in the region, with growth likely to continue to slow in the coming two years, the Asian Development Bank says in a report released Wednesday.The Manila, Philippines-based regional lender’s latest economic outlook forecasts that growth in developing Asia will slow slightly to 5.7% this year and 5.6% in 2020. In 2017 growth was at 6.2%.“The main risk to the outlook is still the ongoing trade conflict, as heightened trade policy uncertainty can negatively affect investment and manufacturing activity,” it said. “A sharper slowdown in the advanced economies or the PRC (People’s Republic of China) is another risk.”The annual update comes as China and the U.S. prepare for another round of talks, this week in Washington, aimed at resolving their dispute over China’s industrial policies and acquisition of technology.After the dispute escalated in mid-2018, with both sides imposing billions of dollars’ worth of tariffs on each other’s products, world trade weakened, contracting nearly 2% in January from a year earlier, the report shows.It said the solid growth momentum in the first nine months of the year began to fade in the last quarter. Growth in industrial production also showed signs of weakness, the ADB report said.This is an added burden as the business cycle for major economies heads into a “negative trend,” said the ADB’s chief economist, Yasuyuki Sawada.“This global business cycle seems to create some impact on Asian economies,” he said in an interview. “It’s not only trade tensions.”Other reports show similar sluggishness in the region, which remains the main driver for world economic growth.The latest set of purchasing manager indexes showed slight improvements in exports in March from January-February for Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan as well as China.“But other data suggest that growth in China could well weaken again in the near term,” Capital Economics said in a report. “As such, we think it is too soon to predict a turn in fortunes for the region’s manufacturing sectors.”The Asian Development Bank forecasts that growth in major economies will slip to 1.9% in 2019 and 1.6% in 2020 from 2.2% last year. The U.S. economy is forecast to expand at a 2.4% annual rate this year, slowing from 2.9% in 2018, and to decelerate to 1.9% growth in 2020. Japan’s growth will remain flat at 0.8% this year, it estimates, and fall to 0.6% next year.The bank expects growth in the area using the euro to fall to 1.5% in 2019 and 2020 from 1.8% in 2018.On the positive side, inflation should remain manageable and domestic demand in many economies in Southeast and South Asia is vibrant, the Asian Development Bank said.That’s less true of East Asia, where consumers have grown more cautious about spending: auto sales in China, for example, have plunged in recent months in one of the biggest reversals of sentiment.Developing countries in Asia are seeing an uptick in investment from many parts of the world, especially China, it noted. China’s foreign direct investment in new projects such as renewable energy, textile factories and property in the region nearly tripled, while investment by the U.S. jumped by nearly three-quarters.While much of the ADB’s report focused on trade and investment, the bank urged governments across the region to devote more resources to cultivating resilience and taking measures to help prevent or mitigate natural disasters.The report noted that 84% of the 206 million people affected by natural disasters each year in 2000-2018 lived in developing Asian economies. More than half of the 60,000 deaths from such catastrophes each year were in this region, which suffers a large share of extreme weather events and earthquakes.The report says that a large share of the $1.7 trillion in annual investments in infrastructure needed over the coming decade should go to reducing risks from such disasters.One area of concern is insurance.“Almost all direct damage is not covered by insurance,” Sawada said.Another area that could yield strong results is in weather forecasting and warnings in the Asia-Pacific, home to four of every five people affected by storms and other disasters.While earthquakes and tsunamis are virtually impossible to predict, when it comes to extreme weather, “there is room for constructing mechanisms and building up early warning systems,” Sawada said. “There is huge potential.”Elaine Kurtenbach, The Associated Press
Companies in this story: (TSX:S)The Canadian Press TORONTO — Shares of Sherritt International Corp. were down more than 15 per cent after the company reported disappointing earnings blamed on low cobalt prices and complications in Cuba.The Toronto-based miner reported a net loss of $61.8 million for the first quarter, compared with a net loss of $600,000 for the same quarter last year.On an adjusted basis, the company lost $54.9 million or 14 cents per share in its most recent quarter compared with an adjusted loss of $14.8 million or four cents per share a year ago. Analysts had expected a loss of eight cents per share according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.The losses came after the company saw cobalt prices, which had run up on speculation of increased demand from the battery sector and supply disruptions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, fall 70 per cent year over year.The Cuban government also paid out less of the foreign reserves it owes the company than expected, leaving a significant backlog of payments as the country feels the squeeze from increased U.S.-imposed restrictions.Earlier this month, the U.S. said it would no longer suspend parts of the Helms-Burton Act, which could allow lawsuits against foreign companies connected to properties seized from American firms during the Cuban revolution.Sherritt maintains that it has been preparing for the act since it was first passed in 1996 and has no financial exposure to the U.S.
CHICAGO — Seniors in major metropolitan areas, especially in the Northeast and around Washington, D.C., are more likely to continue working past age 65 than those in other areas around the country, according to an analysis of Census data by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.“Those are the areas where all of the jobs are, really,” says Anqi Chen, assistant director for savings research at Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research. “The coastal areas recovered well from the recession, while other areas have not.”But it’s also the types of jobs in those areas — government, finance, law and academia — that keep seniors working longer, analysts say.Among counties with at least 6,000 residents, about 12% have at least 21% of their seniors working or actively looking for jobs, according to an analysis of the Census’ 2017 American Community Survey report. Of that group, nearly 25% are located within the Northeast or in Maryland or Virginia. And nearly 15% are within 70 miles (113 kilometres) of New York, Boston, Philadelphia or Washington, D.C.“I consider myself to be a very fortunate person to still do what I loved at 27 at 74,” says Steve Burghardt, a professor of social work at the City University of New York. “I feel advantaged being in New York, where you’re exposed to sights and sounds and differences that are always exposing me to new ways to understand myself and to learn from other people.”Two Washington suburbs, Falls Church, Virginia, and Alexandria, Virginia, are among the nation’s leaders in terms of senior labour force participation, with rates of nearly 37% and nearly 30%, respectively. This area is also home to one of the fastest growing senior labour forces in the country — three of the 11 counties that saw senior participation rates climb the fastest between 2009 and 2017 are located within 70 miles (113 kilometres) of Washington.But large, populous counties don’t have a monopoly on senior participation in the labour force.Vermont, one of the least populous states, holds two counties that rank among the top 100 (Windham and Washington counties) and eight among the top 329 in terms of senior participation.“Despite whatever misnomers might exist, there is a great demand out there for mature workers,” says Mary Branagan, director of program and partner affairs at Associates for Training and Development, a workforce training and development outfit headquartered in Vermont.Branagan helps oversee the state’s Senior Community Service Employment program, which matches qualifying unemployed state residents at least 55 years of age with paid internships that can help them update their skills and remain in the workplace longer. She says her company’s offices in Washington and Windham counties are among its largest statewide.In other areas of the country, Colorado has six of the top 50 counties both in terms of senior labour force participation in 2017 and participation growth between 2009 and 2017.And rural counties heavy in agricultural employment, especially in Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, boast a considerable senior labour participation rate. Though the jobs are often labour intensive, agricultural professions maintain some of the highest median ages in the country, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.That’s due in part to much of U.S. agriculture being concentrated in family farms, the Department of Agriculture says. People can continue living and working on these operations well into their “retirement” years by scaling things down and renting land to other farmers.Paul Irving, chairman of the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging, sees the older workers as a boon to regional economies, providing additional talent and expertise to tight labour markets in which unemployment tends to be low and where job openings are aplenty. The additional payroll taxes these workers provide and the economic stimulus that comes with working also are considered positives for these graying labour markets.“It’s good for tax revenues, it’s good for GDP growth overall and it’s generally just good for the health of the overall economy,” says Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at employment hub Glassdoor.At the other end of the spectrum, senior labour force participation in 2017 was less than 12% in nearly 14% of counties with at least 6,000 residents. Kentucky, Michigan, Georgia, Alabama, Florida and West Virginia collectively accounted for more than 50% of those bottom-ranking counties in terms of senior labour participation.Senior participation contracted in more than 24% of counties between 2009 and 2017. Nearly 33% of those counties are located in Georgia, Texas, Missouri, Kentucky or North Carolina.Chen notes manufacturing-heavy areas within the Rust Belt and in states including Alabama and Georgia are among those with the lowest senior labour participation. Manufacturing payrolls have plummeted over recent decades amid automation and globalization challenges. Labour-intensive jobs that are prominent in those areas often preclude folks from working later into life, and the types of white collar jobs that are more prevalent in larger cities are in shorter supply.“It’s partly just how grim the job prospects are in a lot of micropolitan, or small city and rural, areas,” says Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “A lot of them are one-industry towns. And if that industry has been hit hard, that’s going to be a problem for younger workers and older workers.”Burtless notes elderly labour force participation tends to be higher in urban areas where older workers are better educated, better compensated and less reliant on labour-intensive blue collar industries.“The thinking as to why highly educated people tend to work longer is that they may enjoy better health. They may enjoy better working conditions,” says Jen Schramm, a strategic policy adviser for the AARP Public Policy Institute. “They are likely to be paid more, so that’s more of an incentive to keep working.”___EDITOR’S NOTE — Andrew Soergel is studying aging and workforce issues as part of a 10-month fellowship at The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which joins NORC’s independent research and AP journalism. The fellowship is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.Andrew Soergel, The Associated Press
Beginning on Monday, thousands of Bhutanese refugees residing in camps in eastern Nepal began a march to exercise their right to return to their homeland, but violence ensued on Tuesday when refugees clashed with Indian police on the Mechi bridge dividing India and Nepal.“Although we still do not have all of the details of what transpired, there is no justification for such violence and loss of life,” said Abraham Abraham, the Nepal representative for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “This is a terrible tragedy and our condolences go to all the families of those who died and were injured.”Roughly 107,000 Bhutanese refugees have been living in seven camps in eastern Nepal since the introduction of strict citizenship laws in their home country 16 years ago. Dissatisfaction has been growing among the refugees, who are unable to work outside the camps in which they reside, as they have seen no solution to their situation since arriving in Nepal in the early 1990s.“We are indeed extremely concerned by the latest developments and fully understand the increasing frustration of the refugees about the lack of progress on repatriation,” Mr. Abraham said.UNHCR has dispatched representatives as well as a medical team to the border town of Kakarbhitta to assess the situation.Echoing the Government’s call, UNHCR appealed to the refugees to return to their camps and urged all parties to abstain from resorting to violence.“For security to prevail and for normalcy to return it is paramount that the civilian character of the camps is maintained,” Mr. Abraham said.The situation in the Bhutanese camps in Nepal was reportedly calm today and the curfew in them has been lifted by the Government, after separate recent clashes there left two people dead.Fighting broke out between groups of refugees with differing opinions over third country resettlement, and that police intervened to curb the violence and to maintain law and order.Last week, High Commissioner António Guterres, during a visit to Nepal and Bhutan, told the refugees that they had the freedom to choose whether to resettle, and urged refugees to respect others’ freedom of choice. He also assured them that he would make every effort to ensure that as many doors as possible would be opened in terms of a lasting solution to their plight, including voluntary repatriation.UNHCR – which supports the right of the Bhutanese refugees to repatriate – invites all sides to engage in an open discussion to find a peaceful solution to the issue. 30 May 2007The United Nations refugee agency today said it was extremely concerned over a violent clash between Bhutanese refugees and Indian police, and expressed its sadness at the death of one Bhutanese and the injury of several others.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on United Nations Member States to endorse his proposals to strengthen and reorganize the world body’s Department of Political Affairs (DPA) so that the UN can respond faster and proactively to conflicts before they become bigger and costlier tragedies. Briefing journalists today on the plans, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe said numerous independent reports, including most recently from the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), have found that DPA is chronically starved of resources and unable to meet ever-growing demands on the UN to prevent and resolve the world’s conflicts. Mr. Pascoe said the extra funds required to pay for the expansion of the department’s preventive diplomacy role are small in comparison to the benefits that a more proactive stance can bring. “It is so obviously cost-effective if we can be successful in stopping the issues, debates, fights, both internal and external,” he said. “It’s so much better if we can do it early on rather than later.” Last month Mr. Ban told the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee, which deals with administrative and budgetary matters, that boosting the UN’s capacity to prevent and resolve conflicts was “among the smartest investments we can make.” The department currently has about 220 staff based at UN Headquarters in New York and a two-year budget of some $64 million. The proposed restructuring will cost about $21 million over the next two years. If the plan is approved by Member States, DPA will gain 70 professional posts and 31 general service staff, while the regional divisions will be re-organized from four units into six: two each for Africa and Asia, and one for Europe and for Latin America. The department will also establish more regional offices, modelled on the lines of the current UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), that are designed to help individual Member States and regional organizations with their preventive diplomacy efforts. Regional offices are planned for Central Asia, and under consideration for the Great Lakes-Central Africa, Central America, South-East Asia and South-Eastern Europe, pending close consultations with Member States in those regions, Mr. Pascoe said. DPA’s mediation unit and its electoral assistance division, which are both already overwhelmed by high workloads, will also be strengthened. The Under-Secretary-General said it was vital that the UN be able to both detect crises before they occur and respond more quickly to them when they do. He described the proposals as a necessary and complementary step in strengthening the UN role in peace and security, following the Secretary-General’s earlier reorganization of UN peacekeeping operations. Mr. Pascoe observed that DPA is already active in dealing with many diplomatic efforts of the UN, including the Darfur conflict in Sudan and the situations in Somalia, Myanmar, Iraq and Nepal. He added that the proposals have received strong support so far in his initial discussions with Member States, especially in Africa, where governments have called for greater UN assistance on the preventive diplomacy front. 6 November 2007Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on United Nations Member States to endorse his proposals to strengthen and reorganize the world body’s Department of Political Affairs (DPA) so that the UN can respond faster and proactively to conflicts before they become bigger and costlier tragedies.
“Without a stable Kosovo, there is no stability in the Balkans,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Kinga Göncz said in her address today, urging the ongoing presence of the international community based on the Security Council resolution from 1999 that established the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). “We also remain committed to contributing to the stability of Kosovo through the EULEX [the European Union Rule of Law Mission], KFOR [the NATO-led Kosovo Force] and an international civilian office as part of the international presence,” she added. Ms. Göncz stressed that the resolution of the Kosovo Assembly and its new constitution must fully commit Kosovo to democracy, the rule of law, the protection of Serbs and other minority communities, and the protection of cultural and religious heritage. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told the Assembly today that the UN, the EU and NATO need to continue to cooperate in Kosovo, which has a majority ethnic Albanian population, to benefit of the wider Balkans as a whole. “Let me assure you that both democratic and prosperous Serbia and Kosovo do have a place in the European family and that the Czech Republic is ready to lend them a helping hand,” he said. Mr. Schwarzenberg also welcomed the recent arrest and transfer of Radovan Karadžić, the former Bosnian Serb leader facing war crimes charges, to the UN-founded International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. Calling it “a promising sign of cooperation of the new Serbian Government with the international community,” he urged the Security Council to provide sufficient time for the ICTY to complete its work. 27 September 2008The United Nations needs to play a continuing role in Kosovo – which declared its independence from Serbia in February – to ensure that there is stability across the Balkans, top officials from two European countries told the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate today.
Escalating conflict between Government forces (FARDC) and a rebel group militia known as the National Congress in Defense of the People (CNDP) has uprooted an estimated 250,000 people since late August, mainly in North Kivu province, which borders Rwanda and Uganda. Other armed groups, including the Mayi Mayi, have also been involved in deadly clashes, some of which have been along ethnic lines. “The situation in the Congo highlights the dilemma, and limits, of peacekeepers caught in ongoing conflict,” Alan Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, wrote in an Op-Ed in The Washington Times. The UN mission in the DRC, known by its French acronym MONUC, is the Organization’s largest, with 17,000 personnel. “However, compared to the enormity of the tasks it is assigned and the vast expanse of the DRC – roughly the size of the United States east of the Mississippi and virtually without infrastructure – this number is actually rather small,” Mr. Le Roy said. For example, in Kosovo, NATO deployed 40,000 highly-trained and well-equipped troops to an area 200 times smaller than the DRC, he added. “Civilians have suffered from intense and often chaotic fighting, driven from their homes, caught in the crossfire and subjected to direct attacks and reprisals by armed groups and undisciplined elements of the national army,” the official said. Over 90 per cent of the UN mission”s troops are deployed in the DRC’s eastern provinces, and 10,000 blue helmets are trying to protect the 10 million-strong population, at a ratio of one peacekeeper for every 1,000 civilians. “MONUC forces cannot serve as a substitute for the Congolese army to fight a war or impose peace,” Mr. Le Roy wrote, adding that UN peacekeepers are “not an expeditionary or counterinsurgency force.” But in the face of such challenges, he said that the Organization’s troops “continue to do their utmost, protecting thousands of civilians every day.” The Under-Secretary-General underscored that the fighting will only end when a political settlement supported by all States in the region has been reached. “With so much at stake, the international community simply cannot afford to let the Congo slide into the abyss,” he wrote. “The time to act is, and indeed must be, now.” The UN envoy tasked with helping to resolve the conflict that has engulfed the east of the DRC is scheduled to launch a dialogue tomorrow in Nairobi between the DRC’s Government and the CNDP. The talks will be facilitated by Olusegun Obasanjo, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on the Great Lakes Region and former Nigerian president, and Benjamin Mkapa, representing the African Union (AU) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes (ICGLR), who is also the former president of Tanzania. The agreement to launch the discussion comes after the their recent talks with regional heads of State, the Congolese Government, the CNDP and other armed groups in which they appealed for dialogue and respect for the ceasefire to allow for humanitarian assistance. 7 December 2008With a “humanitarian tragedy” unfolding in the war-torn eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), it is imperative that action be taken immediately to protect the population and bring an end to the fighting, the top United Nations peacekeeping official said today.
Mónica González Mujica was declared laureate of the 2010 UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, named in memory of a Colombian newspaper publisher murdered in 1987 for denouncing the activities of powerful drug barons in his country.“Mónica González Mujica has undergone years of hardship defending freedom of expression, one of the core values UNESCO was created to uphold. She now shows equal commitment to education, which is another main priority of our Organization,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said.Born in 1949, Ms. González spent four years in exile following the military coup of 1973. She returned in 1978 to Chile, where harassment from the secret services made her lose jobs repeatedly as she investigated human rights violations as well as the financial doings of the coup leader, General Augusto Pinochet, and his family. She was imprisoned and tortured from 1984 to 1985 for this work. Yet, upon her release she went back to investigative reporting, publishing articles and books about the abuses of the military dictatorship. She was detained again and numerous court cases were brought against her. Since Chile’s return to democracy in 1990, she has continued working as a newspaper editor and journalist. She has been directing the Centre of Journalism and Investigation in Santiago, the capital, since 2007, while conducting workshops on investigative journalism at home and abroad.Ms. González was recommended by an international jury of 12 professional journalists from all over the world.“Throughout her professional life, Mónica González Mujica has shown courage in shining the light on the dark side of Chile,” the president of the jury, Joe Thloloe, Press Ombudsman of the Press Council of South Africa, said. “She has embodied the very spirit of the Award. She has been jailed, tortured, hauled before the courts but has remained steadfast. “Ms. González is now ploughing her experience back to the younger generation through her work at the Centre of Journalism and Investigation and her workshops on investigative journalism in various countries.” Ms. Bokova will present the $25,000 Prize to Ms. González in a ceremony on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, which UNESCO will celebrate this year in Brisbane, Australia.Created in 1997 by UNESCO’s Executive Board, and financed by the Cano and Ottaway family foundations and by JP/Politiken Newspaper LTD, the prize is awarded annually to honour the work of an individual or an organization defending or promoting freedom of expression anywhere in the world, especially if this action puts the individual’s life at risk. Candidates are proposed by UNESCO Member States and regional or international organizations that defend and promote freedom of expression. 13 April 2010A Chilean journalist whose investigative reporting led to her torture by the country’s military dictatorship 25 years ago today won a United Nations prize that honours those promoting freedom of expression, especially at the risk of their own lives.
17 January 2011Foreign direct investment (FDI) to developing and transition economies rose last year, while investment flows to developed countries declined, the United Nations agency tasked with promoting trade said in an update on global investment trends released today. Foreign direct investment (FDI) to developing and transition economies rose last year, while investment flows to developed countries declined, the United Nations agency tasked with promoting trade said in an update on global investment trends released today.Developing and transition economies accounted for more than half of global flows, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reported, noting that there was a strong rebound in FDI to developing Asian economies and Latin America, while Europe stood out as the region where flows fell the most sharply.Global inflows of FDI rose marginally by 1 per cent from $1,114 billion in 2009 to almost $1,122 billion in 2010, according to UNCTAD’s Global Investment Trends Monitor (GITM). According to the report, FDI flows are expected to improve this year, but a number of risk factors remain in place.Stagnant global flows in 2010 were accompanied by diverging trends in the components of FDI. While the increased profits of foreign affiliates, especially in developing countries, boosted reinvested earnings, the uncertainties surrounding global currency markets and European sovereign debt resulted in negative intra-company loans and lower equity investments, the GITM notes.Last year’s FDI quarterly fluctuations, as reported in previous monitors, indicate that the worldwide FDI recovery is still unsteady, although after an unexpectedly weak second quarter, global FDI flows registered an increase in the third quarter of 2010.Preliminary data for the fourth 2010 quarter suggests that global FDI flows continue to struggle to establish a sustainable growth path, according to UNCTAD, which pointed out that investment flows in that period are likely to be flat, or slightly down, compared to the third quarter.While reinvested earnings will be helped by higher corporate profits, weak equity capital flows – from cross-border mergers and acquisitions and greenfield (new) investments – will continue to keep FDI flows in a holding pattern during that quarter.
Freerice.com, the online game that allows players to improve their vocabulary while fighting world hunger by making donations to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), launched its Chinese-language version today.Chinese speakers seeking to improve their English and general knowledge can now test their vocabulary and expertise in the worlds of art, chemistry and geography, while helping to feed hungry children around the world, by logging on to Freerice China – which was launched by WFP and its partner, the Chinese game company Shanda Games.“Freerice has been a global phenomenon in English, French, Italian and Spanish and is now reaching a critical and influential part of the global population,” said Nancy Roman, the WFP Director of Communications, Public Policy and Private Partnerships.“China has more Internet users than any other country in the world – they are curious, ambitious and looking for ways to improve their mastery of English.”Shanda Games is no stranger to the fight against hunger. It also helped WFP develop a Chinese version of its award-winning computer game Food Force in 2006.On Freerice.com, players face increasingly difficult vocabulary questions and for every correct answer, they earn 10 grains of rice, which is donated to WFP and paid for by advertisers on the site. The website is also an innovative social media tool, giving players the ability to create online groups with their relatives, friends and co-workers.Originally launched in English in 2007, the online game had within a month raised enough rice to feed over 50,000 people for a day. According to its designer, John Breen, the programme started out as a simple word game to help his teenage sons prepare for their college entrance exams.The game attracts 1.3 million players per month and has raised almost 100 billion grains of rice, enough to feed 4.8 million people for a day in countries in need of food aid. 26 October 2011Freerice.com, the online game that allows players to improve their vocabulary while fighting world hunger by making donations to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), launched its Chinese-language version today.
18 November 2011United Nations Member States today deplored a disrupted plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States and called on Iran to cooperate with any countries trying to bring to justice those who planned, sponsored or attempted to carry out the plot. In a resolution adopted in the General Assembly this afternoon, Member States voiced deep concern at the plot and said they were “alarmed by the new and recurring acts of violence against diplomatic and consular representatives, which endanger or take innocent lives and seriously impede the normal work of such representatives and officials.”The resolution, introduced by Saudi Arabia, received 106 votes in favour and nine votes against. Forty countries abstained. A series of proposed amendments from Iran did not obtain a majority and were not adopted.In the resolution Member States stressed that acts of violence against diplomatic missions or inter-governmental organizations or their officials “can never be justified.”The text noted that the US had last month reported to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on “an Iranian plot” to assassinate the Saudi ambassador.Deploring the plot, the resolution encouraged all countries to take extra steps to prevent the planning, financing or commission of “similar terrorist acts and to deny safe haven to those who plan, finance, support or commit such terrorist acts.”Member States called on Iran to comply with all international legal obligations, including the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons. They also asked Iran to cooperate with countries seeking to bring to justice those involved in the plot against the Saudi ambassador.