Berto Jongman: Time to Reassess Goals of Humanitarian Aid

Berto Jongman

Berto Jongman

It’s time to reassess the goals of humanitarian aid

Those caught in conflict and natural disasters are part of growing trend exemplified by Syria, South Sudan and the Philippines

David Miliband

The Guardian, 28 February 2014

For the first time the UN has declared three simultaneous crises – in South Sudan, Syria and the Philippines – as level 3, the highest band of emergency. So this is a period of intense activity for NGOs such as the International Rescue Committee. But it is also a good time to reflect on the goals and working methods of the humanitarian system.

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Mar 3

Worth a Look: Sir Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room

Click on Image to Enlarge

Click on Image to Enlarge

MISSION: “We accelerate the adoption of business solution that reduce carbon emissions at gigaton scale and advance the low-carbon economy.”

Carbon War Room

Images

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Feb 19

Berto Jongman: Utility of Informal NGOs (e.g. BRICS)

Berto Jongman

Berto Jongman

The BRICS and the Future of ‘Informal’ IGOs

Are informal intergovernmental organizations such as the BRICS the answer to our future security problems? Felicity Vabulas believes that states are beginning to see their virtues, which include diplomatic flexibility, rapid crisis response, and an unquestioning respect for national interests.

By Felicity Vabulas for ISN

Around the world, the efficacy, equity, and legitimacy of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) are increasingly being questioned. As Stewart Patrick of the Council on Foreign Relations notes, “there has been no movement to reform the composition of the UN Security Council to reflect new geopolitical realities. Meanwhile, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is comatose, NATO struggles to find its strategic purpose, and the International Energy Agency courts obsolescence by omitting China and India as members.”

IGOs have never been a “magic bullet” solution for the world’s security challenges. Because they embody path dependence, they always reflect distributions of power that are quickly outpaced by reality. Today, states are increasingly making use of forms of governance outside of traditional institutions such as the European Union or the United Nations. In particular, informal intergovernmental organizations (a term I coined in an article co-authored with Duncan Snidal) are emerging as both substitutes and complements to existing formal IGOs—in areas as diverse as finance and security. The interplay between informal and formal institutions is what is generating the “messy multilateralism” that has characterized the opening decades of the 21st century.

Why informal intergovernmental organizations?

Informal IGOs are defined as an explicit group of associated states having explicitly shared expectations (rather than formalized treaties) that participate in regular meetings but have no independent secretariat, headquarters, or permanent staff. In its initial years, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) was a good example of an informal IGO: states shared a common goal to cooperate on banking supervision, but they did not codify their agreement under international law. Other examples include the G8, the Concert of Europe, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and the Paris Club.

Typically, states have preferred informal IGOs for five reasons:

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Feb 5

Berto Jongman: Cover-Up on Iraqui Birth Defects Continues — World Health Organization Under Scrutiny

Berto Jongman

Berto Jongman

The WHO must release report on Iraqi birth defects now

The indefinite postponement of the World Health Organisation’s report is alarming scientists and activists

Al Jazeera, 11 Aug 2013 13:28

Mozhgan Savabieasfahani

Dr Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, a native of Iran, is an environmental toxicologist based in Michigan. She is the author of over two dozen peer reviewed articles and the book, Pollution and Reproductive Damage (DVM 2009).

Click on Image to Enlarge

Click on Image to Enlarge

Large parts of the Middle East are now contaminated with war pollutants.

In Iraq, war debris continues to wear away and erode populated cities. Such debris includes the wreckage of tanks and armoured vehicles, trucks and abandoned military ammunitions, as well as the remains of bombs and bullets. Left unabated, the debris will act as dangerous toxic reservoirs; releasing harmful chemicals into the environment and poisoning people who live nearby.

Today, increasing numbers of birth defects are surfacing in many Iraqi cities, including Mosul, Najaf, Fallujah, Basra, Hawijah, Nineveh, and Baghdad. In some provinces, the rate of cancers is also increasing. Sterility, repeated miscarriages, stillbirths and severe birth defects – some never described in any medical books – are weighing heavily on Iraqi families.

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Aug 12

Anthony Judge: Can NATO Learn to Think for Itself?

Anthony Judge

Anthony Judge

I have been mulling over your post, 2013 Robert Steele Reflections on NATO 4.0 — Key Challenges AND Solutions [Written for NATO ACT Innovation Hub].

My sense, for myself, is that we have moved into a new cognitive space in which issues of comprehensibility, credibility and deliverability become fundamental in a context in which attention time is limited.

I no longer think that rational articulations can be either comprehended or delivered — other than use of missiles, if that is to be framed as rational.

Little attention is given to the decision-making dynamics and what to do with those who disagree — other than to design them out

Also of relevance is how to design in that which others perceive as having been designed out.

I think the scope for dialogue on such matters is now very limited. It is interesting to note the messy range of comments on any proposed scheme in a newspaper article. There is no scope or suggestion to map those in any meaningful way. The assumption is that some are “wrong” and some are “right” — with each variously labeling the other. No use is made of argument mapping techniques. Why is the interesting question.

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Jul 16

Mini-Me: America’s 50 Most Dishonest Charities

Who?  Mini-Me?

Who? Mini-Me?

Huh?

Above the law: America’s worst charities

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • A year-long investigation identified America’s 50 worst charities
  • At the top of the list is Kids Wish Network, which gave nearly $110m to corporate solicitors
  • This charity, like many others on the list, mimic well-known charity names that fool donors
  • The data show the worst charities devote less than 4% of donations to direct cash aid

The 50 worst, ranked by money blown on soliciting costs

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Jun 14

Berto Jongman: Deviant Globalization + Legalized Crime Meta-RECAP

Berto Jongman

Berto Jongman

Not new, but now becoming more transparent to the public.

Book: Deviant Globalization: Black Market Economy in the 21st Century (2011)

Criminals of the World Unite: A smart member of the global warrior elite “discovers” the next big threat

Myths of Terrorism

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Jun 6

Berto Jongman: Non-Conventional Violence and Non-State Actors

Berto Jongman

Berto Jongman

Report: Non-conventional armed violence and non-state actors: challenges for mediation and humanitarian action

By  Ivan Briscoe

May 2013

Executive summary

Some of the most lethal episodes of armed violence in recent years have taken place in countries that do not suffer from conflict according to its conventional definitions. At the same time new armed conflicts in Mali and Syria appear to be shaped not just by political differences, but also criminal motives, jihadist ideology and an extraordinary level of violent factionalism.  The hybrid character of both armed violence and conflict stands at the heart of current global security concerns.  But the specific challenges posed by armed violence in non-conflict settings have yet to receive a coherent response from peace and development professionals. The coercive power exerted by non-state armed groups over communities and territories, and their connection with transnational networks make it hard to negotiate anything more than short-term deals aimed at reducing violence or providing humanitarian relief. Legal provisions to protect civilian lives are particularly difficult to enforce.  Hostility towards these groups from states and the international community is deep and widespread, particularly when they are associated with terrorist acts or organised crime. However, this report outlines four areas of future research in policy and programming that would be highly relevant to the work of organisations devoted to peace and humanitarian affairs: the nature of an outreach strategy to armed groups, the legal instruments that are available, the sort of community engagement that should be sought, and the approach towards formal economic and political structures. Establishing a broad network of practitioners, scholars and policymakers is suggested as a means to make progress on all these fronts.

PDF (8 Pages)

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May 29

Owl: Neo-Cons Trolling for Terrorist Recruits in Caucasus — Did CIA Fund and FBI Lend Tamerlan as a Spotter?

Who?  Who?

Who? Who?

Revelations and significant new details on the Boston bomber story just keep on coming.

The latest appears in today’s Justin Raimondo’s column. It turns out there is a Georgian connection (not the state where Atlanta is located). Raimondo found that the Russian daily Izvestia and the Russian-1 television network uncovered the identity of a fund that was set up to conduct “outreach” to Chechen youth. These media report that…

“…the contents of an intelligence dossier leaked by Col. Grigory Chanturia, of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs…claims that, in the summer of 2010, an organization calling itself the “Caucasian Fund,” or, alternately, the “Kavkazsky Fund,” co-sponsored with the Washington, D.C.-based Jamestown Foundation a series of “seminars” for North Caucasian youth – and that Tamerlan was one of the attendees. The Fund was set up after the Georgian-Ossetian war, with $2.5 million expended to do “outreach” to “North Caucasian youth.” The program brought in Chechens and others from the European diaspora, and reportedly encouraged the participants in their militance…”

But here’s the key takeaway (my emphasis):
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May 1

Mini-Me: American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus

Who?  Mini-Me?

Who? Mini-Me?

Huh?

American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus

acpc

The American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus (formerly the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya) is a Freedom House initiative that bills itself as the ”only private, nongovernmental organization in North America exclusively dedicated to promoting the peaceful resolution of the Russo-Chechen war.”[1] According to Freedom House, ACPC “coordinates with an international network of activists, journalists, scholars and nongovernmental organizations to advocate for and support human rights and rule of law, to monitor the upward trend of violence in the region, and to promote peace and stability in the North Caucasus.”[2] As of early 2013, the committee appeared to be largely defunct.

Founded in 1999 by U.S. liberal hawks and neoconservatives primarily interested in using the conflict in Chechnya to press an anti-Russian agenda, the ACPC eventually updated its name and broadened its focus after conflicts erupted between Russia and other parts of the Caucasus, including Ingushetia, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, and North Ossetia.[3]

In early 2013, the committee attracted attention when the suspects in the April 2013 Boston marathon bombing were identified as ethnic Chechens. Although early reports did not indicate that the suspects were driven by Chechen nationalist motivations, some writers questioned whether the FBI had improperly ignored warnings from Russian authorities that one of the alleged bombers had met repeatedly with a suspected terrorist leader in Dagestan.

A writer for Antiwar.com suggested that groups like ACPC had promulgated an anti-Russian bias in Washington that precluded serious consideration of Russian warnings about potential Chechen terrorists. “How did [the bombers] manage to evade the multi-billion dollar ‘security apparatus, which was set up with so much fanfare after 9/11? The answer is to be found in the manipulations and odorous alliances dictated by our interventionist foreign policy, a throwback to the cold war era, which has deemed Russia an enemy and the Chechens the Good Guys.”[4]

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Apr 26