Tunisia – “Le Monde” and several international media sources revealed on February 8 data that was uncovered in an investigation called “SwissLeaks.” The result is more than 203 billion USD in tax evasion aided and abetted by HSBC.The bank promised its customers to do its best to reduce “the impact of media intrusion into their private lives”. The SwissLeaks case has not only revealed the bank scandal, but has also reignited the debate over media reactions.HSBC reacts The true face of HSBC Bank in Geneva, Switzerland was unveiled by French newspaper “Le Monde” yesterday, which shared with 50 other media publications — including Germany’s “Süddeutsche Zeitung” and “The Guardian”— the bank’s data base of 100,000 customers and 20,000 offshore companies.The investigation, which is primarily based on information contained in the database, was conducted by 154 journalists with the help of a computer expert and former employee of HSBC bank in Geneva, Hervé Falciani. The data covers the period from November 9, 2006, to March 31, 2007, during which Falciani worked for the bank.HSBC claims that the data base was manipulated. “It is unclear if the integrity of the data has been preserved, or even if the original data itself was complete and accurate. Recent allegations by a French law enforcement official in Nice suggest that the data has been manipulated and could therefore contain material inaccuracies,” states the Bank in its communiqué questioning the methods used in the investigation.HSBC also questions the results of the investigation and the problem of verifying sources credibility. “Over a period of several months at the end of 2006 and early 2007, an IT employee of the SwissPrivate Bank, Hervé Falciani (HF), systematically and deliberately downloaded details of clients accounts. This was a blatant criminal violation of Swiss law. HF is accused of attempting to sell the data of Lebanese banks under a false name, as the Swiss Attorney General made clear in a press release on 11.12.2014,” states the Bank.Other media actWhile some media publications have reported the facts as they occurred without giving any importance to the names, others have merely been interested in the names of famous personalities involved, as if that were the real debate that should change the world. But even if the bank is dissembling, as the investigators claim, then whether the money is of politicians, business people, or show-biz stars should not be the focus of attention.These publications’ search for “the scoop” does not actually sit well with the ethics of journalism. Some media noted the example of Gad Elmaleh, a client of HSBC, and others even mocked the humorist on media and social networks, making a parody of the advertisement “I dream of an ideal bank (HSBC not LCL)”, accusing him of tax fraud and claiming that he is a “bad example” for new generations.Elmaleh’s lawyer said to Le Monde that the file has already been regularized. “No need to make a scandal for nothing, they have regularized their situations, go to other things!!”, said Eddie Suissa, a very active Moroccan, on Facebook, criticizing the media.Internet users, also eager to discover the whole list, have wondered why the newspaper Le Monde did not reveal the entire list of account holders at the bank and on what basis it chose the list that it did publish.The Swiss have on their accounts 31 billion USD. Israel is among the countries that were also directly involved in the investigation. Between 1988 and 2007, approximately 6,500 Israelis have held more than 10 billion USD at the bank. Between 2006 and 2007, Le Monde found that 13.4 billion USD belonged to 7,765 African customers. In France, the Court of Auditors estimated that the average tax evasion amounts each year was between 70 and 90 billion USD.“All this noise makes me laugh. This is a storm in a teacup. Swiss banks have existed for centuries. How could they have existed without customers? Only the media (and many customers) are not apparently aware of the existence of these Swiss accounts”, added Suissa.HSBC, which is headquartered in London, is a British international banking group that was created in 1865 in Hong Kong and operates today in 84 countries with more than 60 million customers. But does this existence justify tax fraud? Joseph Marciano, a Moroccan tax system developer in Israel, commented about the issue in an article in The Times of Israel: “I developed a tax system that allows to triple the revenues for each state, abolishing all taxes and fees known today. This is because the tax systems in the world are archaic and primitive”.“Now all the tax systems of the world are not controllable. The proof are the leaks and the fact that over 30% of the global economy is driven by parallel steps (drugs, weapons, casinos, black market oil and raw materials, etc.)”, explained the tax system developer.Not all the account holders in HSBC are concerned. Gérard Horny, a journalist specialized in economic and financial issues wrote an article for Slate.fr in which he indirectly established a link between action and intention. In the beginning, most media discussed the case of Gad El Maleh who has no particular duty to the public and forgot the example of French minister Eric Woerth. In August 2009, Woerth released, as he was a Minister of Budget, a list of 3,000 taxpayers who were “account holders in Swiss banks”, now Wikileaks has cost him his job. “We can forgive a person, not a minister who was publicly launched against tax evasion”, says Gérard Horny.SwissLeaks has included a new priority on the new agenda of the international media: a debate on tax evasion. When can we talk about tax evasion? Are all the clients involved? What about regularized situations? When does the private life meet with the public interest? What does tax evasion mean now? These are some questions people should be aware of.Instead of discussing the famous people involved, the media should be discussing ideas and solutions. So SwissLeaks and MediaWeaks are two sides of the same coin, and both must be dealt with.The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. 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Taroudant – A Moroccan activist launched an online petition on January 7 demanding that the officials responsible for the use of excessive force against teacher trainees be held accountable.The petition was launched on Avaaz.org under the title “Together to punish anyone who has a hand in the brutal suppression of teacher trainees.”It aims to collect 5000 signatures of those in support of teacher trainees. Since its creation, the petition has already garnered more than 3098 signatures. According to the activist who launched it, the excessive use of force by the Moroccan police toward teacher trainees is in contrast with the speech of the Morocco’s King Mohmmed VI, on the implementation of the Equity and Reconciliation Commission in 2004 in Agadir.This initiative came in response to the “harassment, repression of freedom of expression, and the affront to human dignity,” the petition reads.In the description, the author recalls Article 22 of the Moroccan Constitution, which states, “The physical or moral integrity of anyone may not be infringed, in whatever circumstance that may be and by any person that may be, public or private.”“No one may inflict on others, under whatever pretext there may be, cruel, inhuman, [or] degrading treatments or infringements of [their] dignity. The practice of torture, under any of its forms and by anyone, is a crime punishable by the law,” it adds.Police used unreasonable force to disperse teachers who organized peaceful sit-ins and marches Fez, Marrakech, Rabat, Agadir and other Moroccan cities, demanding the annulment of two government decrees.The photos of injured teacher trainees were shared widely on social media, with comments denouncing the use of force against peaceful protestors.Nabila Mounib, leader of the Unified Socialist Party (PSU) and Mohammed Grine, member of the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS), part of the PJD-led coalition government, condemned the excessive use of force by the Moroccan police.
Rabat – King Abdullah II of Jordan will visit Morocco next week at the invitation of King Mohammed VI. Queen Rania will accompany the Jordanian king on the official visit, which will further strengthen economic and political relations between the two countries, according to a government source cited by Le360.Talks will be held on economic cooperation and the political situation in the Arab world, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The two kings lead important organizations in East Jerusalem; the Moroccan king chairs a committee in charge of preserving the cultural heritage of the holy city, while Jordan maintains the Al-Aqsa mosque. The kings’ countries also participated in a special meeting with the Gulf Cooperation Council earlier this month, during which the council and Jordan affirmed Morocco’s 2007 autonomy plan for the Western Sahara.The king of Jordan and his wife last visited Morocco in March 10th, 2015.
Brussels – A mission from the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Organization (EUROMED-droits) was banned from entering the Algerian territory to inquire about the human rights situation in the camps of Tindouf south-western Algeria.The Euro-Mediterranean NGO said in a statement that two missions, which were scheduled on March 6-12 and May 7-14, were also forbidden to have access to the territory for failure to meet visa requirements by the Algerian authorities.The NGO, which regretted this situation, voiced its concern over leading its investigations on the human rights situation in the camps of Tindouf. The organization had denounced in numerous reports the human rights situation in Algeria.
Rabat – The Association of Moroccan Professionals in America (AMPA) and the American University of Leadership (AUL) have released the agenda for “Education for a Better Morocco,” an international conference that kicks off on Friday June 3, Rabat. The conference focuses on education within the broader context of business, entrepreneurship, and the future economic growth of Morocco. The agenda lays out a program featuring an impressive array of international experts.Speakers include Dr. Lahcen Daoudi, Morocco’s Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research, and Training, who will also offer keynote remarks; Hamid Ben Elafdil, President, La Fondation Marocaine l’Etudiant and former CEO of the Moroccan Investment Development Agency — AMDI, and Prince Youssouf Ouedraogo, Director, African Development Bank and former Prime Minister of Burkina Faso.Others include Malika Laasri, CEO of Education for Employment; Amine Bentahar, Managing Partner of Advantix Digital (formerly with Microsoft and Hilton Hotels) from the U.S., Sarah Ouakim, Multilingual and Multicultural Leadership Executive & Founder of Global Bridging, from Sweden; Professor Kamaleddine Tabine, Moroccan-American university professor; Prof. Christine Clarke, Academic Dean of the European University’s business school in Spain; Zouhair Benjelloun, Managing Director of SNTL Supply Chain; and two core team members representing the Moroccan and U.S. government respectively who participated in the recent establishment of MCC Compact 2. Delegates of the Minister of Moroccans Resident Abroad and Immigration Affairs, Anis Birou, and of the Minister of Equipment, Transportation, and Logistics, Aziz Rabbah, will present remarks on behalf of their ministers.The two panels on macro and micro issues will be moderated by Abdelmounim El Amrani, Bureau Chief in Rabat of Al Jazeera, and Adnane Bennis, Managing Editor of Morocco World News.The day’s session will close with a cocktail reception, celebrating the official launch of AUL’s new American University of Leadership Morocco Foundation. Saturday morning continues with a round table of invited experts to develop recommendations for strengthening and enhancing Morocco’s educational system.“We are looking forward to hosting this international conference, to provide a powerhouse platform for international experts in education and business from around the world to focus on Morocco’s bright economic future,” said Dr. Anass Lahlou, the President of AUL. “With our new foundation and university, AUL is well positioned to facilitate innovation, research, and business best practices in Morocco, thereby contributing to Morocco’s economic stability and growth.”“We are so pleased that we were able to springboard off of AMPA’s initiative last December in its Moroccan American Bridges 2015 conference to present this international conference in partnership with the American University of Leadership Morocco addressing important education issues,” said Chaouki Zahzah, President of AMPA. “This comes at an important time when Morocco is reconsidering its position in the world arena and its national brand in the global economy. It will be critical for Morocco to be able to provide the best qualified workforce to fill the jobs created by increasing entrepreneurship and investment in Morocco.”Morocco World News is a proud media partner of this conference, which is supported by other strategic partners and sponsors, including the Ministry of Moroccans Resident Abroad and Immigration Affairs; the Ministry of Equipment, Transportation, and Logistics; Royal Air Maroc; AMPA; AmCham Morocco; Amoud; AUL Global Radio; Africar; Belmejdoub Events; Event Travel International; Golden Tulip Farah Hotel; PIIMT, and the Washington, D.C.-based Middle East and North Africa Consultants Association.The conference is free, but registration is required. For the full agenda and to register, visit: http://events.aulm.us/education-for-a-better-morocco/.
Rabat – A Spanish surgeon has helped a Moroccan woman recover her face, according to El PaisSamira Benhar was recently rescued in Spain from neurofibromatosis type I, gave a press conference this Thursday, June 1 in Valencia hospital.She was accompanied by her Spanish surgeon, Pedro Cavadas. Within a year, the 39-year-old had three operations in order to extract a tumor that was disfiguring her face and caused her to be unable to see from one eye. Because the physical symptoms caused by this illness, Samira suffered from a “social rejection” as she explained, in addition to harassment that her children were subjected to: “A new life was given to me, because the present situation was unbearable.”Samira’s journey to recovery began with a meeting with a pharmacist in Casablanca. She took a picture of Samira and said to her, “I don’t promise you anything, but I will try to help you.” The pharmacist’s family, who lives in Spain, welcomed Samira into their family. The Islamic center of Valencia offered her interpretation and assistance during her visit.Dr. Cavadas explained to journalists that he helped Samira because her file “presented possibilities for surgical improvements.”He thanked the people who introduced the young woman to him. “Those are engaged people that are willing to help, in contradiction to those that sometimes want to leave the problems without cooperating. ““Living in dignity”The Valencia hospital paid for the entire cost of the surgery. Pedro Cavadas is one of the most well known surgeons in the world. In 2008, he performed the first double hand transplant in Spain, In 2009 he performed the first face transplant in Spain. In two or three weeks, Samira will be able to return to Morocco. Rejected by her husband, the association Adra is prepared to give her financial support in order to allow her to “live in dignity” with her two sons.Edited by Timothy Filla
Rabat – The first round of the race-hard-or-go-home championship, the 2018 World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), clocked out in Marrakech on Sunday, with Gabriele Tarquini taking home the ultimate victory.During the first race on Saturday, 25 pilots competed under the names of the brightest auto manufacturers in the world, including Honda, Audi, Volkswagen, Seat, Alfa Romeo and Hyundai. After 20 laps of intense focus and tension, Gabriele Tarquini from the Hyundai team, managed to take the lead with a 1.338-second lead on his teammate Thed Bjork. Rob Huff from the Volkswagen team finished 3rd, 2.823-seconds behind Tarquini. The Moroccan driver, Mehdi Bennani, raced with the fabulous Volkswagen Hatchback Golf GTI, unfortunately not performing as expected; he finished 9th, 15.025 seconds behind the first-place pilot.The second race was a bit more competitive, with the opening race winner comes at the last position, while hometown favorite Mehdi Bennani came in second, just 0.890 seconds behind of Jean-Karl Vernay.Tarquini made a great comeback during the third race, again placing first, ahead of his team-mate Yvan Muller. Meanwhile, Bennani finsihed sixth.Read Also: Morocco’s Michael Benyahia to Participate in Marrakech Formula-E RaceThe home hero Bennani maintained his positivity and ambition, promising better results in the upcoming races.“It’s a very good result to start with,” said Bennani, adding, “we need something very strong to start the championship and to start with a podium and points means we can be there and we will be fighting.“It was very tough for sure because I started a bit in the middle for both [Sunday] races but I tried to manage not to have big contact, for sure we had some small contact, but I can finish the race and I can score points and keep fighting.”Bennani continued by thanking his fans for their support and trust, and by offering them his second-place win as a token of gratitude for their encouragement.“It was very good because this is the only way I can thank people for trusting in me and to support me from here and far away. I am very happy that I can give them a little bit of thanks with this second position and I hope it’s going to be better and better during the year.”The event was marked by Hyundai’s first appearance as a circuit racing sponsor, entering into one of the fastest-growing categories in motorsport. The newbie has shown great performances so far, as evidenced by its great results during the races, topping off the first three places of the WTCR’s third race with its all new Hyundai I30 N.The next scheduled races will be hosted in Hungaroring, Hungary, on April 28-29.
By Ahlam Ben SagaRabat – How to win back Moroccan brains? A recent study by Moroccan job portal ReKrute reveals how the brain drain phenomenon affects Morocco.According to ReKrute, 91 percent of Moroccan professionals aged 35 and below as tempted to work abroad, in search of better work conditions and quality of life, which includes health care and comfort. The study suggests that motivations vary on an individual basis, as many Moroccan companies fall short of employee expectations and do not put strong efforts into winning back the qualified people who have left for other countries.Young, well-trained Moroccan individuals set their sights on western countries, such as Canada, which attracts 37 percent of Moroccan professionals, making it the hottest destination, not only for Moroccans but for many citizens of the world, ReKrute emphasized.While thousands of high-qualified Moroccans look forward to emigrating to developed countries, 74 percent of Moroccans have already spent several years in foreign countries hope to go back to Morocco to put their talents and expertise to use in the kingdom. However, even these Moroccans hesitate before returning home, due to the unstable or less-stimulating work atmospheres.It is worth mentioning that a previous report issued by Moroccan outlet Medias24, indicates that Moroccan physicians and doctors, in particular, experience tough working conditions domestically–underpaid and under-equipped–which prompts them to emigrate.“After ten years of study, we are sent to faraway regions for miserable salaries and deplorable working conditions,” one Moroccan doctor stated. Facing such prospects, Moroccan medical professionals are increasingly choosing to remain abroad, rather than address the nation’s dire need for medical services.
HOUSTON — Authorities say a drop in water pressure caused a large fire at a Houston-area petrochemicals terminal to intensify overnight and spread to additional storage tanks.The Deer Park Office of Emergency Management says the fire spread early Tuesday to two additional tanks, bringing to eight the total number of tanks overwhelmed by flames at Intercontinental Terminals Company in Deer Park, about 15 miles (24 kilometres) southeast of Houston.Two of the tanks were empty but the others contain components of gasoline and materials used in nail polish remover, glues and paint thinner.The water pressure later normalized and authorities say the fire could continue to burn for at least another day.Students returned to classes Tuesday but outside activities will be restricted as the fire continues to emit a huge plume of smoke that can be seen for miles.The Associated Press
Rabat – No major external support favors continuity of a military-led government in Algeria after the sitting president’s surprise decision to give up on his re-election bid.General Gaid Salah, the chief of staff the Algerian armed forces, who expected to replace President Abdelaziz Bouteflika as the country’s next strongman, has allegedly been told that no major power plans to support his presidential ambitions.As Algerians still experience the aftertaste of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decision to withdraw from the presidential race, the Algerian military leadership is believed to be seeking what most militaries tend to demand in the aftermath of major political development. They want to sustain or increase their visibility and political clout. General Salah, the embodiment of the country’s upper and revered military echelons, is believed to have exerted considerable political power for much of the two decades during which President Bouteflika, himself a fruit of the Algerian independence war, ruled the country.Now that Bouteflika is on his way out of the country’s political arena, Salah expected to seize the moment, according to a number of sources.The general reportedly eyed Bouteflika’s prospective departure as a golden opportunity to assert himself as the man of the hour of post-Bouteflika Algeria.One obstacle however is the suspicion that Western powers, including France and the US, are not especially welcoming of “another military government” in Algeria.According to news outlet Maghreb Intelligence, Paris, Washington, and Brussels have voiced their uneasiness with having General Salah as “the alternative to Bouteflika.”The West’s change of heartCiting “reliable sources,” the newspaper noted that one major reason for the negative reaction to the general’s “behind-the-curtain maneuverings” to be the country’s strong man is the increasing perception that supporting “military dictatorship” might not be the ideal move for Western security interests in the MENA region.Maghreb Intelligence did not provide details or hard evidence to back up its report. But while the newspaper’s claims should not be taken at face value, they are not without precedent.In the heat of the anti-Bouteflika protests last week, General Salah threatened protesters with a heavy-handed reaction from the army. He suggested that “chaos” would ensue should the protests continue.In a plea against “another military dictatorship” on March 4, French political commentator Jean Marie Apathie ranted about the “devastating dangers” of military-led governments in the MENA region.Whatever happens in post-Bouteflika Algeria, Apathie argued, France should make sure that “we do not support another military dictatorship.”He went on to suggest that the original sin of Western political engagement with the MENA region has been “the fundamentally misguided belief that military power is safer” for Western interests because they “keep Islamists at bay.”The reality, Apathie explained, citing Egypt’s experience with President al-Sissi, is that repressive military dictatorships nourish and sustain Islamist groups.Quest for ruptureWhile the argument of the West’s security interests is grounded, there is also the perception that another obstacle on General Salah’s political path is that Algerians want a fundamental rupture from the Bouteflika years.“Small victory” was what many Algerian activists called Bouteflika’s decision not to run for another term. As far as they are concerned, upending the status quo is the way forward for Algeria.That demand was echoed in the statement that announced Bouteflika’s decision to not seek re-election.“I understand the motivations of the many people who chose this method of expression,” the announcement said. It promised a “new system and new republic [that] will be in the hands of a new generation of Algerians.”
3 March 2008Opening the seventh session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on its members to ensure that all nations are held equally accountable for the protection of rights as the new body begins its first-ever universal review of their performance. “No country, however powerful, should escape scrutiny of its record, commitments and actions on human rights,” Mr. Ban said, hailing the start of the Universal Periodic Review, under which all UN Member States – at the rate of 48 a year – will be reviewed to assess whether they have fulfilled their human rights obligations. “The Review must reaffirm that just as human rights are universal, so is our collective respect for them and our commitment to them. It must help prevent the distrust that surrounded the work of the Commission on Human Rights in its final years,” he added, recalling the accusations of bias and politicization that dogged the predecessor body whose work was taken over by the new Council in 2006. Looking back at progress since the issuance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which will celebrate its sixtieth anniversary in December, Mr. Ban said that it had become clear that commitments and accountability are crucial factors in the effort to make those rights a reality for all. That accountability, in turn, depends on the collective scrutiny of international organizations, governments and civil society, he said, calling it “a duty of the highest order for each individual State, and the raison d’être of the Human Rights Council.” As for the record of the Council itself, Mr. Ban said that the establishment of its mechanisms and procedures had been on the right track over the nearly two years of its existence. But he posed the question to Council members of whether they were fully meeting the high expectations of the international community, which included the application of human rights values “without favour, without selectivity, without being impacted by any political machinations around the world.” “If you meet this benchmark,” he said, “you can count on my fullest support and defence in the face of criticisms and attacks, wherever they may come from.” The Council’s seventh session, including a high-level portion for the views of government representatives, as well as expert panels and presentations by Special Rapporteurs, will run through 28 March.
Accompanied by his wife, Yoo Soon-taek, Mr. Ban’s first stop will be Accra, Ghana, where he is scheduled to address the opening of the 12th UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on 20 April. He also plans to meet with Ghanaian President John Kufuor and Foreign Minister Akwasi Osei-Adjei.From Accra, he will travel to the Liberian capital, Monrovia, where he will meet with the country’s leadership, as well as with members of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the UN Country Team. Following that, Mr. Ban plans to travel to Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, where a bilateral meeting is planned with President Blaise Compaoré, the Facilitator of the Inter-Ivorian Dialogue and current Chairman of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).The Secretary-General’s final stop is Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, where meetings are planned with President Laurent Gbagbo, Prime Minister Guillaume Soro and with opposition leaders and civil society. He will also meet with the leadership of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).Meanwhile, Mr. Ban wrapped up a three-day official visit to Russia today, meeting with UN staff working in Moscow.Speaking to reporters yesterday, Mr. Ban said he was strongly encouraged in his meetings in Russia, including with President Vladimir Putin, President-elect Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as well as by the country’s commitment to the central role of the UN and to multilateralism.The Secretary-General and Mr. Lavrov held a tête-à-tête meeting during which they discussed Kosovo. They followed that with a larger meeting, in which their delegations discussed Kosovo; the Middle East, including the meeting to be held in Moscow this summer on that subject; Darfur, and the need for helicopters for the UN-African Union hybrid peacekeeping operation (UNAMID) there; and Afghanistan.The delegations also discussed Cyprus, during which the UN’s political chief, B. Lynn Pascoe, briefed the meeting’s participants on his recent visit to the Mediterranean island and the region. 11 April 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will embark later this month on a four-nation tour of West Africa that will take him to Ghana, Liberia, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, a spokesperson for the United Nations announced today.
“We must act, in Hokkaido and beyond — not merely because it is the right thing to do but also because it is in the enlightened interest of all of us,” Mr. Ban wrote in an op-ed published in all G-8 countries ahead of the group’s meeting scheduled to begin tomorrow on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.That theme was also a key message of the letter the Secretary-General had sent to the G-8 leaders in which he underscored that the world was facing three challenges that required their urgent attention: the food crisis, climate change, and progress on the anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).Mr. Ban warned that unless decisive action is taken on the food crisis, an additional 100 million people around the world could fall below the poverty line. He recommended that the proportion of Official Development Assistance (ODA) earmarked for agricultural production and rural development be increased from the present level of 3 per cent to a new level of 10 per cent, without diverting funds from current education or health budgets. On climate change, he wrote that it is essential to reach agreement on what a new climate change regime will entail, taking into account elements agreed upon by participants at last year’s historic conference in Bali.Yesterday, the Secretary-General issued a call to students taking part in a Model UN conference at Cheongju University, some 200 kilometres from the Republic of Korea’s capital Seoul, to look beyond national boundaries and aim high to help solve world’s numerous problems.“Look at all the names of countries each of you are representing today, you will see that there is a whole world out there,” said Mr. Ban, who himself attended school in the city of Cheongju. “Yes, you are Koreans but you should go beyond that and see that you are also citizens of the world. Korean may not be a global power; but Korea can be a global nation; Koreans can be global citizens.”The Secretary-General also paid a visit to Haengchi village, his birthplace, where he and Mrs. Ban Soon-taek were welcomed by relatives, villagers, traditional music and drum ensembles and many others who traveled to see him.He arrived in the Republic of Korea from China, the second stop on a three-nation tour that also took him to Japan. 6 July 2008Global food crisis and climate change will be among the top issues on the agenda of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he attends the Group of Eight (G-8) Summit in Japan this week, following his just-concluded official visit to the Republic of Korea, his home country.
The 21-year conflict between the Sudanese Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) devastated a significant part of the vast African nation and took a heavy toll on its people. More than two million people died, four million were uprooted and some 600,000 people sought shelter beyond Sudan’s borders as refugees before the war was brought to an end with the signing of the CPA four years ago.In a statement issued today, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) commended the parties to the CPA for their achievements to date including the maintenance of the ceasefire. “Accomplishments and challenges over the past year such as the conduct of the Census and ongoing concerted efforts to restore normalcy in Abyei have reminded all of us of how vital partnership and mutual trust are to sustained and full implementation of the CPA and of how vital the CPA is to the peace process and to the people of Sudan,” the Mission stated.“Now, as implementation of the CPA enters another year, the milestones ahead ranging from elections and border demarcation to the launch of the DDR [disarmament, demobilization and reintegration] process will require the redoubled commitment of both the parties and the international community,” it added. The Mission said it stands ready to continue assisting the parties and the people of Sudan in fulfilling these commitments and achieving full and effective implementation of all aspects of the CPA. 9 January 2009While commending the parties to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the long-running north-south civil war in Sudan for the progress achieved so far, the United Nations today marked the fourth anniversary of the signing of the pact by urging them to redouble their efforts on key goals such as elections and border demarcation.
Russian tennis ace, Olympic bronze medallist and Grand Slam champion Vera Zvonareva was named today as a Promoter of Gender Equality by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).Ms. Zvonareva, who at 24 is currently ranked number 6 in the world, has been appointed to call attention to gender equality issues at the national and global levels, and take part in women’s leadership programmes through the UNESCO-Sony Ericsson WTA Tour partnership.“I am very happy to announce today that Ms. Vera Zvonareva is being designated as the fourth UNESCO Promoter of Gender Equality,” said the agency’s Director-General, Koïchiro Matsuura.Ms. Zvonareva joins other distinguished Promoters of Gender Equality, including current Tour stars Venus Williams of the United States, Tatiana Golovin of France and Zheng Jie of China, as well as Tour founder and pioneering tennis player Billie Jean King, who was appointed Global Mentor for Gender Equality last year. Mr. Matsuura stressed that as global role models, “these formidable athletes and successful women are a source of inspiration in their deeds both on and off the court, driving the message that gender equality is a goal that can and must be realized in order for us to achieve peace and sustainable development.”Since its 2006 launch, the UNESCO-Tour collaboration has raised substantial funds; initiated a series of programmes promoting gender equality and women’s leadership; developed a global TV and print advertising campaign. Also, Sony Ericsson tournaments have kicked off advocacy, awareness and fund-raising activities on behalf of the Partnership.Some of the resulting activities include a women-only night school programme in Liberia; a project to create a group of successful female politicians, business women and athletes in Cameroon; a project to raise the percentage of rural women involved in local affairs in China; and legal rights workshops to empower women in Jordan. 20 May 2009Russian tennis ace, Olympic bronze medallist and Grand Slam champion Vera Zvonareva was named today as a Promoter of Gender Equality by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
22 May 2009The Security Council today expressed its concern over the political impact in Myanmar of the detention of opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. In a press statement, the 15-member body reiterated “the importance of the release of all political prisoners,” repeating the need for Myanmar’s Government to “create the necessary conditions for a genuine dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all concerned parties and ethnic groups in order to achieve an inclusive national reconciliation with the support of the United Nations.”Security forces arrested Aung San Suu Kyi, who leads the National League for Democracy (NLD), and two aides on 14 May and took them to Insein Prison, where they were charged by a special court. They are said to have been charged with violating the terms of her house arrest, after an uninvited United States citizen gained access to their home, and her trial is currently under way.Last week, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that “her continued detention, and now this latest trial, breach international standards of due process and fair trial.”It had been hoped that she would be released when her current detention order, which has already continued for one year longer than the maximum of five years permitted under Myanmar’s laws, expires at the end of this month.“The Myanmar authorities might claim Aung San Suu Kyi has breached the conditions of her detention, but they have broken both their own laws and their international human rights obligations,” Ms. Pillay said. “She should not be detained in the first place.” She has spent over 12 years under house arrest. On 30 May 2003, she was re-arrested under a law which states that a person “suspected of having committed or believed to be about to commit, any act which endangers the sovereignty and security of the state” can be detained. In May 2007, the Government extended her arrest for another year, bringing her detention to the five-year limit, and her detention was prolonged for sixth year last May.
“The plan should have clear targets to address the security, property and reintegration issues that would allow people to return in safety and in dignity,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, said today, at the end of a three-day visit to Iraq, referring to both Iraqis displaced abroad and inside the country.During the visit, Mr Guterres – who heads the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – met with President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. He also held talks with the designated chairman of the National Council for Strategic Policy, Iyad Allawi.Mr. Guterres proposed the plan of action during meetings with the leaders. He said he was encouraged by the concern expressed by government officials over incidents of violence targeting Iraqi minorities; and he also welcomed the formation in December of the new Iraqi coalition government after months of political deadlock.“This new government represents an enormous opportunity for Iraq, but also for our work,” the UN refugee chief said. “I hope today we are marking the beginning of the end of the displacement chapter in Iraq.”Almost 200,000 Iraqis are registered as refugees with UNHCR, mainly in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Additionally, UNHCR estimates there are around 1.3 million internally displaced Iraqis, with 500,000 of them living in extremely precarious conditions.“These people are living in dramatic circumstances. They are homeless or living in slums and feel a high level of despair,” said Mr. Guterres. “We need to provide more humanitarian assistance to the most needy groups.”The proposed plan of action, which UNHCR would help implement, should also include a strategy for people displaced within Iraq to integrate in the areas they sought refuge if they preferred to remain where they are, the UN High Commissioner said, stressing that any returns should be voluntary. While in Iraq, the refugee chief visited the Um Al-Baneen camp in central Baghdad, where 112 internally displaced Iraqi families live in dilapidated former military buildings. He welcomed a decision by the government to suspend their eviction until a solution can be found to relocate the families, many of whom lack documentation and have no source of income.UNHCR has prioritized shelter projects in Iraq, having funded the building or reconstruction of 20,000 two-bedroom homes in areas affected by conflict across the country to date.Guterres noted that while the numbers of Iraqi refugees in neighbouring countries had gone down, their vulnerability had been rising. UNHCR’s registration database of Iraqi refugees shows that 34 per cent of them were considered to be vulnerable, including thousands of people with critical health conditions and a significant number of female-headed households.The majority of Iraqi refugees in Syria and Jordan fled more than three years ago. Many have found it hard to find work, making them reliant on dwindling savings and the support offered by international organizations and local aid groups. One of the consequences of their poverty is that a growing number of refugee children have left school to find casual work to help feed their families. While almost 90,000 Iraqi refugees have returned to their country in the past three years, the rate of return has slowed recently and new asylum-seekers continue to register with UNHCR in neighbouring countries. More than 456,000 internally displaced Iraqis returned to their areas of origin between January 2008 and December 2010. 24 January 2011The UN’s top refugee official has proposed a government-led plan of action to enable thousands of displaced Iraqis to return to their homes in the Middle Eastern country.
6 December 2011The United Nations envoy for Iraq today voiced concern over the situation in a camp housing several thousand Iranian exiles and urged the Iraqi Government to extend the deadline for closing down the settlement as efforts continue o find a peaceful solution that conforms with international law. Situated in the eastern Iraqi province of Diyala, Camp Ashraf houses members of a group known as the People’s Mojahedeen of Iran. The Iraqi Government has repeatedly stated its intention to close down the camp by 31 December and to transfer residents to another location until countries willing to accept them for resettlement are found. Residents want to remain in the camp until a resettlement solution is found.Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), told the Security Council in a briefing on the situation in the country that the UN is making efforts to facilitate a peaceful and durable solution.“Lives are at stake and must be protected,” said Mr. Kobler. “The Government has a responsibility to ensure the safety, security and welfare of the residents. Any forced action that results in bloodshed or loss of life would be both ill-advised and unacceptable.”Mr. Kobler noted that any workable solution must be acceptable to both the Iraqi Government and residents of Camp Ashraf. A solution must respect Iraqi sovereignty, on the one hand, and be in line with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee laws, on the other.Progress has been made in recent discussions, but there are still major obstacles on arriving at a plan that would meet the concerns and requirements of all, he said.The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is ready to begin a process of refugee status determination in the camp, but the exercise will require more time, he added, stressing that the principle of non-refoulement must apply.Mr. Kobler urged the camp’s leadership, and well as all residents, to engage “constructively and open-mindedly” in the process of finding a solution, appealing to them to give serious consideration to all proposals under discussion. He warned them against any provocative acts or violence.Mr. Kobler also urged the international community to do more to help find a peaceful solution to the problem, stressing that a lasting settlement cannot be found unless governments are willing to accept Camp Ashraf residents who wish to be resettled in other countries.“The situation of Camp Ashraf is a complex problem, but not an insurmountable one. A process is underway, and if all concerned act responsibly at this time it is possible to arrive at a peaceful, durable solution that respects both the safety and welfare of the residents and Iraq’s understandable desire to assert its sovereignty,” he added.Meanwhile, Mr. Kobler strongly condemned yesterday’s terrorist attacks targeting pilgrims marking the festival of Ashura in central Iraq. Dozens of people died in the attacks.“I am deeply saddened by the horrific attacks that continue to shatter the lives of Iraqis across the country,” he said.“Yesterday’s attack of pilgrims who gather on Ashura to practice their religious rights is particularly appalling. The Iraqi religious and ethnic diversity is the ultimate strength of this country. This diversity is at the heart of the country’s efforts to establish a peaceful, prosperous and all inclusive society.”He extended his condolences to the bereaved families and his wishes for the full and speedy recovery of those wounded.
15 February 2012The United Nations tribunal set up in the wake of the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s announced today that the trial of Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military chief who is facing charges of genocide and other war crimes, will begin on 14 May. In a statement the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which is based in The Hague, said it had changed the start date – the trial was previously expected to begin in late March – to allow both sides to complete their pre-trial preparations.Prosecutors told the court last week that they expect to call more than 400 witnesses and present nearly 28,000 exhibits during the trial, and they anticipate they will need about 200 hours of tribunal time to present their case.Mr. Mladic, 68, is accused of carrying out genocide and other crimes against Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats and other non-Serb civilians between May 1992 and late 1995.The indictment against him alleges that Mr. Mladic led forces that conducted the notorious massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys in the supposed safe haven of Srebrenica in July 1995 in the most notorious episode of the war.The former army chief also faces charges for the shelling and sniping of Sarajevo during the protracted wartime siege of the city.In addition, the indictment lists more than 70 incidents of murder in 20 municipalities across Bosnia and Herzegovina, and accuses forces under Mr. Mladic’s supervision of torturing, mistreating and physically, psychologically and sexually abusing civilians confined to detention centres.Defence lawyers had argued that the health of Mr. Mladic be considered in determining the trial’s schedule, but ICTY judges said they were not convinced that his health condition required modification of the schedule.Mr. Mladic was arrested in May last year in Serbia after evading capture for 16 years. In July, at a court hearing, a plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf.
CALGARY — Capital spending cuts may be in the cards when oilpatch earnings season kicks off this week, according to an analyst’s report.“With the rapid drop in commodity prices we would not be surprised to see some producers start to reconsider capital plans,” wrote CIBC’s Andrew Potter.Nexen Inc., which is on the hunt for a new CEO after Marvin Romanow’s exit earlier this year, is the first to report on Thursday.Potter said Nexen will be one of the few to post stronger production, as its offshore Usan project in West Africa ramps up and volumes at its Long Lake oilsands project and North Sea platforms improve.The most likely to reduce capital spending is Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., which reports on Aug. 9. Its latest budget of $7.4 billion was based on West Texas Intermediate oil prices of US$104. With prices looking like they’re heading closer to US$90, it could mean a spending reduction of $500 million to $1 billion.“We believe CNQ would most likely cut capex out if its oilsands budget, implying there should be little impact to short-term production forecasts,” Potter wrote.Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. raised its dividend from 30 cents to 35 cents last quarter — a level Potter called “unsustainable” in the current oil price environment.“We believe the company will most likely wait another quarter before making any decisions on dividend cuts,” he said.Generally, Potter doesn’t see much to get excited about this earnings season.“Overall, second-quarter results will likely be quite weak as producers grapple with low natural gas prices, declining benchmark oil prices and widening North American oil differentials vs. benchmarks.”Canadian producers will continue to be whacked by the double-discount they get for their crude.Pipeline bottlenecks have eroded the value of landlocked U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude compared to international varieties that can be transported by tanker to several markets.And oilsands crude, because it’s heavy and more difficult to refine, already trades lower than WTI.“We believe that Q2/12 will continue to illustrate the magnitude of the opportunity cost to Canadian producers as pricing worsened from the levels seen in Q1,” wrote Potter.Oil companies that have refinery interests, such as Suncor Energy Inc. and Cenovus Energy Inc. are expected to do better than peers that don’t. Having a downstream business cushions them against the lower crude prices because it means the cost of the oil they buy to run through their refineries goes down.