Scientists Warn of the Perils of Sea-level Rise

By Rita Joshi | IDN-InDepthNews Report

BERLIN (IDN) - During the past millennia sea level has never risen nearly as fast as during the last century, says a new study. It warns that even if ambitious climate policy follows the 2015 Paris Agreement, sea levels would rise by 20 to 60 centimetres by 2100 and stresses the importance of coastal protection.

The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has in fact come to the conclusion that sea levels worldwide might rise by 50 to 130 centimetres by the end of this century if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced rapidly. For the first time it combines the two most important estimation methods for future sea level rise and yields a more robust risk range.


74 Percent of Poor People Directly Affected by Land Degradation

By Jutta Wolf | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis

BONN (IDN) - 2.6 billion people depend directly on agriculture, but 52 per cent of the land used for agriculture is moderately or severely affected by soil degradation. Land degradation is affecting at least 1.5 billion people worldwide.

Due to drought and desertification each year 12 million hectares are lost (23 hectares per minute), where 20 million tons of grain could have been grown. 74 per cent of the poor are directly affected by land degradation globally.


Sidelining Mother Languages Threat to Global Citizenship

By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis

PARIS (IDN) - While the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has signed an agreement with the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) to measure global citizenship and sustainable development education, the persistent marginalization of mother languages worldwide is threatening Goal 4 of the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Agenda 2030 includes seven targets in Goal 4 that aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.


Kazakhstan Determined to Achieve a Nuclear-Weapons Free World

By Ramesh Jaura | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis

BERLIN | ASTANA (IDN) - Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov has urged the civil society, social movements and the public at large to support governments in achieving a nuclear-weapons-free world by 2045, when the United Nations will turn 100, and to help in the establishment of a Global Anti-Nuclear Movement,

These goals were part of key international initiatives President Nursultan Nazarbayev tabled during the General Assembly session in September 2015. He also called for creating a single global anti-terrorist network, allocating 1 percent of countries’ defence budgets to sustainable development, organizing a high-level international conference on reaffirming the principles of international law and coordinating international efforts under the UN on promoting green technologies.


UN Special Envoy Commends and Faults Afghan Authorities

By J Nastranis | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis

NEW YORK (IDN) - While expressing serious concern about the detention of children recruited as soldiers by the Taliban and other non-state armed groups, in a high security facility for adults, the United Nations has urged the Afghan authorities to treat them primarily as victims and in accordance with juvenile justice standards.

“This is not a place for children . . . There should be no debate about the fact that juvenile justice standards should apply to these children,” said Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.


Sri Lanka Buddhists Divided over Bill To Control Monks

By  Kalinga Seneviratne*

This article is the second in a series of joint productions of Lotus News Feature and IDN-InDepthNews, flagship of the International Press Syndicate.

SINGAPORE (IDN | Lotus News Features) - A bill tabled in the Sri Lankan parliament in January to create a legal framework to control the behavior and conduct of Buddhist monks has created deep divisions within the majority Buddhist community in the country.

Known as the ‘Theravadi Bhikku Kathikawath (Registration) Bill’, the draft legislation to control the behavior of some wayward monks who have tarnished the image of Buddhism in the country in recent years has been discussed in political and legal circles for sometime. And it has elicited wide support in the Buddhist community.


Women and Children Worst Hit in Afghanistan Conflict

By Devinder Kumar | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis

NEW DELHI | KABUL (IDN) - The ongoing conflict in Afghanistan is causing extreme harm to the civilian population and taking huge toll particularly on women and children, says the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which blames anti-government elements such as the Taliban and Islamic State, the country’s government and the international military forces.

Civilian deaths and injuries caused by pro-government forces resulted in 17 per cent of civilian casualties – 14 per cent from Afghan security forces, two per cent from international military forces, and one per cent from pro-government armed groups.


Between Promise and Peril - UN Honours the Memory of Boutros-Ghali

By J Nastranis | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis

NEW YORK (IDN) - The 193-member United Nations General Assembly recalled the legacy of former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in helping the world body find its footing in a new global landscape during the tumultuous early 1990s. Boutros-Ghali passed away on February 16 at the age of 93,

Addressing the Assembly’s special tribute at UN Headquarters in New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Boutros-Ghali, whose second term was blocked by the U.S., had both the fortune and the misfortune to serve as the first post-Cold-War UN chief.


Boutros Boutros-Ghali – The Nobility of Ideas and Ideals

By Roberto Savio* | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis

ROME (IDN) - It is no coincidence that Boutros Boutros-Ghali (BBG), who died on February 16, was the only Secretary-General in the history of the United Nations to have served only one of the two terms that have always been allowed. The United States vetoed his re-election, in spite of the favourable vote of the other members of the Security Council. He was considered too independent.

We have now forgotten that in 1992, on U.S. request, BBG authorised a UN intervention in Somalia, run by a U.S. General, the aim of which was to distribute 90 million dollars of food and aid to the former Italian colony, shaken by an internal conflict among several war lords. The intervention cost 900 million U.S. dollars in military expenses, and ended with the downing of two Black Hawk helicopters and the tragic death of 18 American soldiers, dragged through the streets of Mogadishu.


The Heavy Price of Ignoring Realism in U.S. Foreign Policy

By Jonathan Power* | IDN-InDepthNews Viewpoint

LONDON - There are three schools of thought in American foreign policy: two you have heard about and a third that is relegated to the background.

The first and arguably the most prominent is the neo-conservative. These people, in the days of the Soviet Union, were the rabid anti-communists who wanted to beat the Soviet Union into the ground with vastly increased spending on defence.

Today they are the ones who supported the extreme right wing agitators who overthrew the middle-of-the-road president of Ukraine, Wiktor Yanukovich. They supported President George Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and want President Barack Obama to intervene in Syria.

The second is the liberal. Liberals have always wanted to seek nuclear arms limitations with Moscow. They wanted an end to apartheid in South Africa. But many of them also believe in directly interfering in a country that is carrying out inhumane policies. They persuaded President Barack Obama to intervene in Libya’s civil war which left a political mess that has become a haven for ISIS. Some of them have argued for intervention in Syria’s civil war. They also, in tandem with the neo-conservatives, successfully persuaded Obama to pursue an anti-Russian policy in Ukraine.


UN Stresses Need to End Use of Child Soldiers

J Nastranis | IDN-InDepthNews Report

NEW YORK (IDN) - Tens of thousands of boys and girls are associated with armed forces and groups in conflicts in more than 20 countries around the world, says Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

In a press release marking the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, observed every February 12 since 2002, she said that an upsurge in global conflicts and brutal war tactics continues to make children extremely vulnerable to recruitment and use by armed groups.