- Cote d’Ivoire Notre Voie returns on news stand
- UN/ICTR President assigns four to the Appeals Chamber
- UN rights expert keen on eradicating torture in Tunisia
- African Union, India step up efforts to enhance Africa’s development
- India unveils comprehensive programme of cooperation with Africa
- Bill Gates exhorts global leaders to invest in agriculture in poor countries
- AU Commission and European Commission meeting in Brussels
- Nobel Peace Prize 2011 – “Walking Africa” Conference
Cote d’Ivoire Notre Voie returns on news stand
Notre Voie, a daily that supports former President Laurent Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), was on sale Tuesday in Abidjan for the first time since Gbagbo’s ouster on 11 April.
The newspaper’s premises had been ransacked and occupied by soldiers loyal to the new President, Alassane Ouattara, which prevented its journalists from working, a statement from Reporters Without Borders, RSF said on May 24.
Officers from the Press Support and Development Fund (FSDP) last week visited the headquarters of pro-Gbagbo newspapers that were attacked and ransacked during the prolonged post-election crisis.
“Other pro-Gbagbo newspapers such as Le Temps, Le Nouveau Courrier d’Abidjan, Le Quotidien d’Abidjan and Prestige Mag are expected to resume publishing in the next few days,” the media watchdog said.
After President Ouattara took control, Reporters Without Borders voiced concern that the pro-Gbagbo press would be suppressed at the expensive of media diversity.
Although Notre Voie was guilty of excesses in the past, Reporters Without Borders regards its reappearance as an encouraging sign of respect for pluralism.
UN/ICTR President assigns four to the Appeals Chamber
The President of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Judge Dennis Byron has assigned four Permanent Judges of the Trial Chambers of the Tribunal to the Appeals Chamber of the ICTR.
They are Pakistani Khalida Rachid Khan, Tanzanian William Sekule, Madagascar Arlette Ramaroson and Russian Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov.
Judge Khan is presently assigned to the Bizimungu et al. case, Judge Sekule, the Butare et al. and the Ngirabatware cases, Judge Ramarason, the Butare et al. case and Judge Tuzmukhamedov the Ndahimana and Nzabonimana cases.
A media statement by Judge Byron on Monday May 23, 2011 indicated that the assignments shall take affect from the date on which their respective cases are completed. This follows consultations with the Judges and bearing in mind the need to ensure trial experience from the Tribunal in the work of the Appeals Chamber.
Resolution 1878 (2009) of the United Nations Security Council amended Article 13 (3) of the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda providing that the President may assign up to four additional Permanent Judges serving in the ICTR Trial Chambers to the Appeals Chamber of the ICTR once their cases are complete.
UN rights expert keen on eradicating torture in Tunisia
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, has urged Tunisia’s interim Government to seize the opportunity of the current transition to embark without delay on efforts to establish and institutionalize safeguards needed to prevent torture and ill-treatment from happening in the future.
“A ‘wait-and-see’ attitude in anticipation of the Constituent Assembly election in July may be hampering the possibility of delivering bold and aggressive steps in restoring justice for past and recent abuses, prosecuting perpetrators and honouring victims,” the independent expert said at the end of his fact-finding mission to Tunisia.
“The challenges faced by the ongoing transition in the country are daunting,” Mr. Mendez said. “At the same time Tunisians are living through a period that is full of promise and hope for a better future.”
In his view, the interim Government has come under immense pressure to demonstrate its genuine will and capacity to respond to people’s will to break the cycle of impunity inherited from a regime where torture was known to have been practiced almost routinely.
Mr. Mendez noted that the Government has undertaken a series of positive steps in this regard. The Special Rapporteur stated however, that “although the practice of torture and ill-treatment may have decreased vis a vis the notorious and endemic practice of torture committed during the Ben Ali regime, episodes of beatings of detainees upon arrest or within the first hours of pretrial detention as well as during interrogation reflect the fact that the old habits of police agents are not easily eradicated.”
“Given the lack of effective safeguards during arrest and detention, the legacy of abusive treatment by law-enforcement agents in the past, the lack of sufficiently speedy investigations into allegations of torture and ill-treatment, persons deprived of their liberty remain extremely vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment,” Mr. Mendez said. “For these reasons it cannot be said that the culture of impunity no longer prevails, even though the current authorities have undoubtedly and sincerely pledged to respect the laws,” he added.
Regarding violations committed during the Ben Ali regime and the abuses committed during the revolution, the expert welcomed the preliminary monetary compensation offered to victims and their families of the December and January events, as well as the amnesties and pardons granted to many of those convicted in unfair trials during the regime of Ben Ali.
However, Mr. Mendez stressed that “swift, effective and independent criminal investigations against alleged perpetrators of torture and ill-treatment should be ensured, and administrative programmes should be launched offering redress and reparation services to victims of past and recent violations.”
“Restoring justice for past abuses, honouring victims and reacting firmly when abuses occur are urgent measures that cannot wait,” Mr. Mendez insisted.
“To ensure the establishment of solid safeguards against torture and ill-treatment, broad and participatory debates should be launched on constitutional, legislative and administrative reforms and on what kind of state Tunisians want to build for their future,” the United Nations – Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said on May 23, 2011.
African Union, India step up efforts to enhance Africa’s development
During the ministerial meeting of the Second Africa-India held on 23 May, 2011, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Dr. Jean Ping and India’s Minister of External Affairs, SM Krishna signed five (5) Memoranda of Understanding (MOU).
The move according to the AUC is meant to strengthen the longstanding partnership between Africa and India through the establishment of vocational training and incubation centres across the continent, as well as the creation of the following new institutions:
1) India-Africa Institute of Information Technology (Ghana)
2) India-Africa Institute of Educational Planning (Burundi)
3) India-Africa Institute of Foreign Trade (Uganda)
4) India-Africa Diamond Institute (Botswana)
“These institutions are manifestations of a long tradition of Africa-India solidarity and the strategic partnership between them formalized in 2008 in New Delhi, to consolidate their respective achievements and build a better future,” the AUC Chairperson noted.
On his part, India’s External Affairs Minister underlined that out of US$5.4 billion, in concessional lines of credit, announced at the time of the last Summit, nearly US$2 billion for projects in Africa have had been committed.
SM Krishna said 19 Least Developed Countries in Africa are already availing the benefits of Duty Free Tariff Preference (DFTP) Scheme, which India announced unilaterally during the last Summit.
The AUC said the signing of the five (MOU’s) is a milestone in a series of consultations that began with the First Africa-India Summit Forum in New Delhi in April 2008. There, the New Delhi Declaration and Framework for Co-operation were adopted.
A Joint Action Plan, based on the India-Africa Framework for Cooperation, was concluded in March 2010. One of the highlights of the Joint Action Plan is the establishment of the 19 capacity building institutions referred to here. Talks continue on May 25 at the Heads of State and Government Level.
India unveils comprehensive programme of cooperation with Africa
The African Union Commission has announces that India, on May 24, 2011 said it will offer 5 billion dollars over the next three years under lines of credit to help achieve Africa’s development goals.
An additional 700 million dollars will be made available to establish new institutions and training programmes in consultation with the African Union and its institutions. In doing this, India will engage with Africa at bilateral and multi lateral levels, and strengthen partnerships with the African Union and Regional Economic Communities (RECs).
Summarizing initiatives for enhancing partnership between Africa and India today, at the 2-day 2nd Africa- India Forum Summit being held at the African Union, the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh outlined four broad areas of Indian support: infrastructure development, regional integration, capacity building and human resource development.
At the multilateral level, he said India is looking at establishing an India Africa virtual university to meet some of the African demand for higher studies. 10 000 new scholarships under the proposed university will be available for African students.
The Prime Mister announced an increase in the number of graduate and post graduate scholarships to be offered to African students.
In order to further develop human resources, Mr. Singh proposed the establishment of the following new institutions:
An Africa- India food processing cluster to contribute to value addition and creation of regional and export markets; An India – Africa integrated textile cluster to support the cotton industry; An India – Africa center for medium range weather forecasting to harness satellite technology for agriculture and fisheries sectors; and An India Africa institute of agriculture and rural development
The Prime Minister added that his country would be willing to support the establishment of an India- Africa University for Life and Earth Sciences and to increase the access of African airlines to Indian cities. He also proposed the joint establishment of an India Africa Business Council which will bring together Chief Executive Officers of major corporations from both sides.
To support peace and security efforts, the Prime Minister said India will provide 2 million US dollars for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). He also said India would support the development of the Ethio-Djibouti railway to the tune of 300 million dollars.
In terms of relationships with the Regional Economic Communities, Mr. Singh announced that India would work with the RECs to establish soil, water and tissue testing laboratories, regional farm science centers, seed production- cum- demonstration centers, and material testing centers for highways.
Cooperation between India and Africa was cemented in 2008 with the signing of the New Dehli Declaration and the Africa India Framework for Cooperation. Since then, there have been substantial financial flows from India to Africa in terms of grants, foreign direct investment (FDI), and concessional loans.
African priorities in the partnership were highlighted by African Union Commission Chairperson Mr. Jean Ping as follows: infrastructure, agriculture, human development, technology, knowledge building and sharing, development of the modern sector and market access.
Mr. Ping said the relationship between India and Africa, initiated with the first Africa India summit in 2008 has allowed the two partners to stand up to common challenges through the adoption of common positions. He highlighted the successful e-network project which is promoting e education and e medicine between Africa and India. He also said 19 Least Developed Countries in Africa are already benefitting from the Duty Free Tariff Preference (DFTP) Scheme, which India announced during the last Summit.
The AUC Chairperson announced that the relationship took a further positive turn on May 23 with the signing of agreements to establish vocational training and incubation centres across the African continent, as well as the creation of the following new institutions: India-Africa Institute of Information Technology (Ghana); India-Africa Institute of Educational Planning (Burundi); India-Africa Institute of Foreign Trade (Uganda); and the India-Africa Diamond Institute (Botswana). The agreements were signed at the AU Commission by Dr. Ping and India’s Minister of External Affairs, SM Krishna.
In addition, Mr Ping recalled that low cost housing projects will be implemented in Africa in the near future. Mr. Ping stressed the importance of agriculture to economic development and poverty eradication, adding that there is need to increase trade and to fight against terrorism.
The summit is taking place against the backdrop of a world recovering from a major economic crisis, while at the same time trying to meet the challenges of providing food, energy and security. Global institutions of governance are also increasingly under stress and there are calls for reform, particularly from the developing countries. In this respect, this summit is expected to contribute to the realization of a self reliant and economically vibrant Africa and India.
The 2nd Africa India summit forum will adopt the Africa India framework for enhanced cooperation to supplement the existing framework. It is also expected to adopt an Addis Ababa Declaration.
Issues expected to feature prominently in the Addis Ababa Declaration include: a comprehensive reform of the UN system including the expansion of the UN Security Council, non discriminatory and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons, countering of terrorism, piracy, drug trafficking and trafficking in humans, climate change, enhancement of south- south cooperation, sustainable economic growth, and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals,
The summit was officially opened by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, who is the Chairperson of the African Union. The President said Africa values India’s policy of cooperation and said both sides must profit from the relationship. He encouraged more diversification of the cooperation to cover more areas of development. He placed particular emphasis on the need for peace and security, a just economic and political world order, and a world free of nuclear weapons, terrorism and piracy.
Following the Banjul format, participants from the African side at this Summit include: the Chairperson of the AU (Equatorial Guinea); the Chairperson of the AU in the preceding year (Malawi); the Chairperson of the AU Commission; the five initiating countries of NEPAD, i.e. Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa; the Chair of the Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee HSGOC (Ethiopia); and the Chairs of the 8 Regional Economic Communities (RECs).
Bill Gates exhorts global leaders to invest in agriculture in poor countries
“Helping poor farming families grow more crops and get them to market is the world’s single most powerful lever for reducing poverty and hunger,” Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said on May 24, 2011.
Gates was speaking to a group of political, business, and development leaders that supporting farming families in developing countries is critical to overcoming poverty and hunger.
“I came here today to join those calling on the U.S. and other countries to fund agricultural development for poor farming families,” Gates said.
“The U.S. has a pivotal role to play,” he told world leaders gathered at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security, where leaders discussed how U.S. public and private sector support for agricultural development can advance global security, stability, and economic prosperity.
He was joined by U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, World Food Program Executive Director Josette Sheeran, and others.
Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-Texas) introduced Gates, praising the foundation’s efforts to alleviate poverty and improve global health.
In his first major address on agriculture to high-level members of the Obama administration and U.S. Congress, Gates noted that three-quarters of the world’s poorest people rely on small plots of land for their food and income.
Helping these small farmers grow and sell more so they can become self-sufficient is the most effective way to reduce hunger and poverty, he said, giving examples of progress already happening in Africa and South Asia.
Today, there are nearly a billion hungry people in the world. In 2008, food prices jumped to record levels, causing riots, hunger, instability, and a plunge back into poverty for millions. Early this year, food prices spiked again, even higher than the peak of three years ago.
But Gates argued that sweeping change is already underway. He praised U.S. leadership for helping to secure $22 billion in commitments to food security that were announced at the G8 and G20 meetings in 2009.
While only about half of these pledges have been disbursed or are on track to be disbursed, Gates noted the commitment of President Obama and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to spend $3.5 billion over three years through the Feed the Future program.
He also lauded Congress for including $100 million in the budget for the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program. He noted that France has put food security and agriculture at the top of the G20 agenda this year.
“We have a big budget deficit, and foreign assistance is always an easy target. So we need to tell people over and over why this spending is worth it-even in tight economic times,” Gates said
Gates said farming is a business that helps poor farmers build self-sufficiency and improve their lives. He explained how the foundation and its partners are focusing their efforts on helping farmers get better seeds, healthier soils, and access to markets, as well as supporting better data and policies.
“In country after country, these approaches have improved the livelihoods of small farmers while reducing poverty and increasing economic growth,” noted Gates. “It’s proving the point again and again: helping poor farming families grow more crops and get them to market is the world’s single most powerful lever for reducing poverty and hunger.”
Gates cited examples of foundation-funded projects that are yielding promising results:
--The World Food Program’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) project is helping small farmers, particularly women, gain access to reliable markets and the opportunity to sell their surplus at competitive prices. Since its start less than three years ago, P4P has paid out an estimated $37 million to small farmers and traders.
– A project by the International Rice Research Institute is developing new high-yield varieties of rice that are more tolerant to floods, drought, and other environmental stresses. By the end of 2010, 400,000 farmers had planted a new variety of rice that can survive up to 20 days after being submerged. By the end of 2011, the project is expected to reach 20 million farmers. The new rice varieties will prevent crop loss, reduce hunger, and boost the income of farming families.
At the symposium, the Chicago Council released the first Annual Progress Report on U.S. Leadership in Agricultural Development, which tracks fulfillment of U.S. government food security policy development, implementation, and resourcing.
To date, the Gates Foundation has committed $1.7 billion to agricultural development. The foundation takes a comprehensive approach to supporting small farmers so progress against hunger and poverty is sustainable for the economy and the environment.
AU Commission and European Commission meeting in Brussels
From May 31 - June 1, 2011 the African Union Commission (AUC) and the European Commission will convene in Brussels, Belgium for their annual College-to-College meeting, in the context of the Joint Africa-EU Partnership.
The plenary session on 1st June will focus on consolidating democracy, including developments in Northern Africa, and consolidating growth, a statement from the European Commission said on May 25.
Thematic sessions will also allow for exchanges of view on political, social, environmental and economic matters and the two colleges will adopt a joint declaration.
The Strategic Partnership between Africa and the EU pursues common objectives beyond the traditional donor-recipient focus, in a dialogue of equal counterparts. The EU is the biggest trading partner for the African continent.
In 2009, 36 percent of total imports to Africa originated in Europe. In support of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and its thematic partnerships, the European Commission has committed €24.4 billion through its various financial instruments for the period 2007-2013.
The programme of the meeting between the two Commissions covers two days and is divided between thematic cluster meetings of Commissioners, bilateral meetings and a plenary session, which takes place in the morning of 1 June.
The EU said discussions will be aimed at strengthening the political and technical cooperation between the two institutions; provide fresh impetus to the implementation of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and elements for the future political agenda.
Two key events of this meeting will be broadcast live on Europe by satellite, in English and in French. This means concretely that you can watch these two events live via webstreaming on your computer screen.
On 27 May, the European Commission will publish a background document on the Joint Africa-EU Strategy online at http://europa.eu/press_room/index_en.htm.
The first event is a briefing given by Klaus Rudischhauser, Director for African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries and General Affairs from the European Commission held on 27 May at 13h Brussels time (tbc).
The briefing will inform journalists ahead of the meeting of the priority areas that will be discussed by the two colleges, such as growth, democracy, trade, climate change, but also recent developments in Northern Africa, Ivory Coast or Sudan.
The second event is the joint final press conference held on 1 June at the European Commission by President Barroso and AU Commission Chairperson Ping at 12h40 Brussels time (tbc).
How to proceed technically?
The live signal of both events can be followed via a webstream on the following website: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/ebs/schedule.cfm.
Background on the Joint Africa-EU Strategy
80 Heads of State and Government from Africa and Europe adopted the Africa-EU Joint Strategy in Lisbon in December 2007. Both sides agreed to pursue common interests and strategic objectives together, beyond the traditional donor-recipient focus – the two continents started cooperating as equal partners. The Joint Strategy outlines a long-term shared vision of the future of Africa-EU relations in a globalized world.
It goes based on this vision and on common principles; the Africa-EU Joint Strategy defines eight specific partnerships:
• Peace and security
• Democratic governance and human rights
• Trade, regional integration and infrastructure
• Millennium development goals (MDGs)
• Climate change
• Migration, mobility and employment
• Science, information society and space
In late November 2010, African and EU leaders met again, under the overarching topic “Investment, Economic Growth and Job Creation” to take cooperation between the two continents to a new, more ambitious level.
A joint Action Plan 2011-2013 was adopted, including concrete actions to be pursued or launched on the strategic areas and building on accomplishments since 2007.
Recent publications for the press on the Joint Africa-EU Strategy:
Commission press release IP 10/1605 and background MEMO 10/604 on the 3rd Africa-EU Summit, 29 November 2010
Background information on the Partnership and its eight thematic areas can be found at: http://www.africa-eu-partnership.org/ or the website of the European Commission: http://ec.europa.eu/index_en.htm or the website of the African Union Commission: http://www.au.int/en/commission
Nobel Peace Prize 2011 – “Walking Africa” Conference
African women as a whole have been nominated for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. The campaign will be presented during an international conference taking place at the Italy Foreign Ministry on 25 May.
The event will be opened by Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and his colleague Mara Carfagna. The campaign, known as the Nobel Peace Prize for African Women (NOPPAW), has been taken forward by CIPSI, a non-governmental organisation, with the personal support of Minister Frattini.
The minister signed an official nomination letter to the Nobel Committee and has been raising awareness amongst the entire diplomatic network of the importance of the campaign. CIPSI has also been awarded a grant of 370,000 euros to conduct a development education and information project.
The conference will include an up-date on the campaign, with a presentation on the nomination dossier officially lodged in Oslo on 1 February 2011. The African women present at the event will bring their own testimony and tell their own life-stories.
Guests from Africa will include the promoter of NOPPAW, Hélène Yinda, a theologian from Cameroon; Nafissatou Ndiaye representing Senegal’s Ministry for Equal Opportunities; Amany Asfour, President of Business and Professional Women Egypt and Director of the Human Resources, Science and Technology section of the African Union’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC); Suzanne Ware, President of PAG LA YIRI (“the woman is the foundation of society”); Fatumata Kane, a writer from Mali; Sylvie Jacqueline Ndogmo, President of FEM.NET, a network of women’s associations; Bernadette Muongo, coordinator of the programme helping women victims of conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Fatima Mohamed Lmeldeen, a teacher in West Darfur; and Fatma Fall, from the NOPPAW campaign’s technical committee in Senegal.
The singer Amii Stewart will usher in the conference with a performance that includes the anthem for the event.
Note: The North Bank Evening Standard registers appreciation to the Dakar-based Africa Press Organisation (APO), from whom these statements were obtained. The APO is the leading distributor of press releases related to Africa.