Mend ways, Trump tells U.N.

UNITED NATIONS — President Donald Trump on Monday opened his first visit to the United Nations since taking office with a polite but firm call for the 72-year-old institution to overhaul itself and a veiled threat to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement.

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In a meeting with counterparts from around the world, Trump said the U.N. had grown too bureaucratic and ineffective and should reorient its approach. He complained that spending and the staff at the U.N. had grown enormously over the years but that “we are not seeing the results in line with this investment.”

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Still, he pledged U.S. support for the world body he had excoriated as a candidate, and his criticisms were more restrained than in years past.

“That’s why we commend the secretary-general and his call for the United Nations to focus more on people and less on bureaucracy,” Trump said, with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sitting beside him. “We seek a United Nations that regains the trust of the people around the world. In order to achieve this, the United Nations must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistleblowers and focus on results rather than on process.”

He added that any overhaul should ensure that no single member “shoulders a disproportionate share of the burden, and that’s militarily or financially,” a sore point for many American conservatives who bristle at the share of U.N. costs borne by the United States. Trump said nothing about whether he would pursue his proposal to cut U.S. funding for the organization.

The United States is the largest contributor to the U.N. budget, reflecting its position as the world’s largest economy. It pays 25 percent of the U.N.’s regular operating budget and over 28 percent of the separate peacekeeping budget.

The short remarks at a forum on U.N. overhauls were a precursor to today’s main event, when Trump will address the U.N. General Assembly for the first time, a speech awaited by world leaders concerned about what the president’s “America first” vision means for the future of the world body.

Trump riffed on his campaign slogan when asked to preview his central message to the General Assembly, saying: “I think the main message is ‘make the United Nations great’ — not ‘again.’ ‘Make the United Nations great.'”

“Such tremendous potential, and I think we’ll be able to do this,” he added.

But even as the president chastised the U.N., he pledged that the United States would “be partners in your work” to make the organization a more effective force for peace across the globe.

He later met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the first of a string of sessions he will conduct with counterparts during four days in New York, and used the occasion to once again hint that he could pull out of the Iran deal negotiated by President Barack Obama, the other four permanent members of the Security Council and Germany. Netanyahu planned to press Trump to either revise the agreement or scrap it.

Asked by reporters whether he would withdraw, Trump said, “You’ll see very soon. You’ll be seeing very soon.” He added: “We’re talking about it constantly. Constantly. We’re talking about plans constantly.”

The meeting with Netanyahu was followed by another with President Emmanuel Macron of France where the two traded warm words and recalled Trump’s visit to a Bastille Day military parade in Paris in July. He mused about ordering up a military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington to rival the one he witnessed in Paris.

Trump also hosted a dinner Monday night with leaders of Brazil, Colombia, Panama and Argentina. Venezuela’s deepening economic and political crisis was under discussion.

The U.S. president also lashed out against Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, calling his presidency “disastrous.” He said that people in Venezuela “are starving and the country is collapsing.”

The U.S. “has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable, and we’re prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on a path to imposing authoritarian rule,” Trump said. He thanked the Latin American leaders for “condemning the regime.”

Brazil’s President Michel Temer said all leaders “agreed on maintaining pressure on Venezuela’s government” but that further sanctions on the country should be “verbal.”

FOCUS ON IRAN

The president has until mid-October to certify under a U.S. law whether Iran is complying with the deal, a certification he has made twice already this year but that he has told advisers he does not want to make again. If he were to refuse to do so, it could potentially unravel the agreement.

The meeting with Netanyahu focused on Iran, although Trump also repeated his commitment to finding peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. “I think there’s a good chance that it could happen,” he said. “Most people would say there’s no chance whatsoever.” He will meet with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday.

Trump and Netanyahu discussed Iran’s “malign activities” in the Middle East and spoke about the need to prevent Iran from establishing any deep roots or organizing in Syria, according to a readout provided by Brian Hook of the State Department.

In a harsh message to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors compliance with the nuclear agreement, Trump on Monday warned that the United States could withdraw if the accord is not properly policed. “We will not accept a weakly enforced or inadequately monitored deal,” Trump said in a message read by Rick Perry, the energy secretary, at the agency’s annual meeting in Vienna, according to news reports.

The United States asserts that Iran is obligated to open its military sites to agency inspection on demand if the agency suspects unreported nuclear activities at any of them. That’s something Tehran rejects, and Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi urged the agency and its head, Yukiya Amano, to “resist such unacceptable demands.”

Iran has accused Trump of failing to comply with the deal by undercutting it and slapping sanctions on Tehran for other activities such as ballistic missile tests, an assertion it repeated in Vienna on Monday.

“The American administration’s overtly hostile attitude and actual foot-dragging policies and measures aim at undermining the nuclear deal and blocking Iran’s legitimate benefits from its full implementation,” Salehi said, according to news reports.

The U.S. stance has worried allies such as France, as well as Russia.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that tearing up the accord would be a blow to efforts to limit nuclear proliferation and “we’re trying to convince President Trump of the pertinence of this view.” All the signs are that Iran is respecting its obligations under the deal, he said at a press conference in New York.

When asked about the U.S. leader and Macron’s meeting with him, Le Drian said France would stress the value of the Iran deal for nuclear nonproliferation and international security. He suggested that France may be open to an extension of nuclear limits on Iran past 2025, one of the main demands of critics of the deal.

“I’ll try to convince President Trump,” that the deal can be rigorously enforced now, Le Drian said. Even if a follow-on deal or other changes are contemplated, “we need to acknowledge the validity of the agreement as it is.”

Russia opposes any renegotiation of the Iranian nuclear agreement, said a senior member of the Russian delegation to the U.N. meeting. “To go back on an agreement that was the result of colossal diplomatic efforts without any justification just because the new U.S. president doesn’t like it would be extremely dangerous,” Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the foreign affairs committee of the Russian upper house of parliament, told reporters in New York.

WORDS TONED DOWN

The president’s comments to the U.N. meeting on Monday morning lasted only four minutes and included none of the criticism he had directed at foreign institutions in the past. As recently as December, after winning the presidential election but before being sworn in, Trump dismissed the U.N. as “just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.”

The tension has gone both ways. Last month, the U.N. human rights chief chastised Trump for his repeated attacks on the news media, saying that they could incite violence and set a bad example for other countries.

No mention was made during Trump’s opening appearance Monday of the global crises that the U.N. has rung alarm bells about: attacks on the Rohingya minority in Burma, climate change, the nuclear threat in North Korea, and a record 65 million people displaced from their homes.

Aides have said Trump’s address today will stress “sovereignty and accountability,” a contrast to his predecessors who used the annual occasion to rally joint action on issues like terrorism, weapons proliferation and climate change.

The cooperative relationship — at least in a few key areas — can be attributed to the relationship forged between two seasoned politicians: U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor, and Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister who, like Trump, took office in January. While many UN officials watched with horror as the Trump administration vowed to slash spending on foreign aid, including the UN, by about one-third, Guterres and Haley found a way to target troubled peacekeeping efforts.

Those programs, in countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, had long been criticized for not protecting civilians and, in some cases, sexually exploiting the very populations they were meant to defend.

Source :  Democratic Gazette

About Behaviour                     About Attitude

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ULC Strike : Oyo Workers At their Duty Posts, As Commuters Wait Endlessly For Commercial Vehicles

Workers in Oyo state have continued to go about their normal duties, despite the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by the United Labour Congress(ULC).

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A visit to the state secretariat and some other establishments indicated that the workers did not down tools, even though they expressed satisfaction with the present situations of things.

However, on Tuesday, commuters had difficulties in getting to their destinations at the state  capital, Ibadan, as there were few commercial vehicles on the road, while commuters waited endlessly for the vehicles. Those who could not wait for long, trekked to their destinations.  In addition, some filling stations were without fuel.

In a chat with Federationews2day, the Chairman of the state council of the Trade Union Congress(TUC), who doubles as the Chairman Public Service Joint Negotiating Council, Comrade Emmanuel Ogundiran maintained that members of the TUC and Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) were at their duty posts, while insisting that the ULC was not yet registered and therefore was not competent  to call out the workers on strike.

”As at today in Nigeria, we operate only based on laws and ethics, there are only two registered and recognized labour centres, the first is the Nigeria Labour Congress, that is for the junior staff and some craft unions and the second one is the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, which is the umbrella centre for senior staff unions or senior staff associations.

”We know ULC came about  as a break away faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress, but as at today that union or conglomerate of unions is yet to be registered and recognized. If they are registered and recognized, maybe they have the right to do so. As  a matter of fact, when you look at it, out of the unions that broke away to form the ULC, we know that NUPENG is a major factor and NUPENG is not on strike, NUPENG has never called out its members on strike, the junior staff of airport and maritime workers union, they are members, they also broke away, they even made publications that they are not on strike, in the public service we have the National Union of Typists and Stenographers, they are also with the so called ULC they are  not on strike”.

”NUBIFIE is a member of ULC, they are not on strike, so where  does ULC derive its power, and which power ? Because these registered and recognized trade unions know that if they proceed on that strike, they risk their certificates of registration  been withdrawn, because it is an  illegal act, they risk losing their membership, their members risk losing their jobs. So, they know what it takes, because it is not according to the laid down labour laws, for a non registered conglomerate of unions to declare strike”, Comrade Ogundiran concluded.

About Behaviour                         About Attitude

New Gates Foundation Report Against Global Poverty and Disease

Bill and Melinda Gates Call for Strong Leadership to Address “Solvable Human Misery”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on September 13 2017, launched an inaugural annual report showcasing the remarkable progress that has been made in reducing extreme poverty and disease in recent decades, but issuing a stern warning to the world that future progress is in jeopardy.

Goalkeepers : The Stories Behind the Data, co-authored and edited by Bill and Melinda Gates and produced in partnership with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, highlights past progress against some of the most devastating issues facing poor countries and uses breakthrough data projections to forecast good and bad future scenarios – with millions of lives hanging in the balance.

In all, the report tracks 18 data points from the UN Sustainable Development Goals, or Global Goals, including child and maternal deaths, stunting, access to contraceptives, HIV, malaria, extreme poverty, financial inclusion and sanitation. The report looks beneath the numbers to pinpoint the leaders, approaches and innovations that made a difference.

Through the data and first-person accounts from six contributors, the report showcases the stunning progress the world has made in the past generation: cutting extreme poverty and child deaths in half and reducing HIV deaths and maternal deaths by nearly half, among many other accomplishments. But as the report shows, serious challenges remain – including deep disparities between countries – and future progress is not inevitable.

The projections are showcased in charts and explore three potential 2030 scenarios for each indicator. The first is what could happen if we continue along the current path, based on past trends – without significant changes to approaches or current spending levels. Two additional scenarios provide a glimpse at a better and worse future: what could happen with strong leadership, innovation and investment and, starkly, what could happen if attention and funding waned. For example, a mere 10 percent cut in global donor funding for HIV treatment could result in more than 5 million more deaths by 2030.

In their introduction, Bill and Melinda Gates express concern that shifting priorities, instability and potential budget cuts could lead the world to turn away from its commitments, jeopardizing the positive trajectory needed to end extreme poverty and wipe out diseases by 2030.

“This report comes at a time when there is more doubt than usual about the world’s commitment to development,” Bill and Melinda Gates state in the report. “Take it from the point of view of justice, or take it from the point of view of creating a secure and stable world: development deserves our attention.”

Bill and Melinda Gates will produce the Goalkeepers report every year through 2030, timed for the annual gathering of world leaders in New York City for the UN General Assembly. In 2015, world leaders committed to the Global Goals, which are focused on ending extreme poverty and fighting inequalities. The Goalkeepers report focuses on a subset of the indicators in the Global Goals and is designed to highlight best practices and help hold the Gates Foundation, its partners and leaders around the world accountable. It will document not just what is working, but where the world is falling short.

The report includes first-person accounts from leaders whose innovations and policies have already made a difference – from tackling stunting in Peru to increasing uptake of modern contraceptives in Senegal to bringing more women in India into the formal financial sector.

It is clear from the report that decisions the world collectively makes in the next couple of years will have a significant impact on the futures of millions, if not billions, of people. Leadership, Bill and Melinda Gates argue, will make the difference in which path the world takes:

“Poverty and disease in poor countries are the clearest examples we know of solvable human misery. It is a fact that this misery is solvable and we have it within our power to decide how much of it actually gets solved. Let’s be ambitious. Let’s lead.”

In conjunction with the report, the Gates Foundation will be hosting two Goalkeepers Events in New York City around the UN General Assembly. Former President Barack Obama, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, Malala Yousafzai, Richard Curtis, screenwriter, producer and film director, and Stephen Fry, actor, writer and presenter will join events on Sept. 19 and 20. Participants will celebrate progress toward eliminating disease, inequality and poverty around the world, and inspire a new generation of advocates to work towards sustainable development. On the evening of Sept.19 the Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards dinner will honor outstanding activists and groups who have demonstrated a positive impact on people’s lives and are inspiring others to accelerate progress and leave no one behind. The Gates Foundation will livestream the Sept.19 and 20 Goalkeepers events.

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

About Goalkeepers
Goalkeepers is the foundation’s first annual report and global event dedicated to accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (or Global Goals). By sharing stories and data behind the Goals, we hope to inspire a new generation of leaders – Goalkeepers who raise awareness of progress, hold their leaders accountable and drive action to achieve the Goals.

About the Global Goals
On September 25th 2015, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, 193 world leaders committed to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (or Global Goals). These are a series of ambitious targets to achieve three extraordinary things in the next 15 years: end extreme poverty; fight inequality and injustice; and fix climate change.

Source : Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Political Office Holders As Servants of the People

The basis for true civilization is the respect for law and order. Due process and the rule of law, features prominently in the lexicon of societies all over the world.

Indeed, unstable power supply, lack of good roads, declining standard of education, unreliable health care delivery, high unemployment rate and insecurity are just some of the challenges threatening  the diminishing  hopes of Nigerians, who before this time, had high expectations.

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The myriad of challenges persist because the political class are in short  supply of Democrats, who possess finesse and are willing to embrace the culture of Democracy and the rule of law.

At a point in time in Nigeria’s history, the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari was the Presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP), while a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar was the standard bearer of the Action Congress(AC). The stake holders of the coalition are now singing different tunes.

Indeed, constitutional Democracy is a vital tool for a stable united Nigeria, with emphasis on unity in diversity.

This line of thought recommends that the  of leaders of each ethnic group should have  a basic willingness to engage in cooperative efforts with the leaders of other segments in a spirit of moderation and compromise, while still retaining the support and loyalty of their own followers.

The commitment of leaders of all ethnic segments to the continued unity of the country becomes crucial and debatable.

Without doubt unity is synonymous with the safety of lives and property, in a workers’ friendly environment. With this in mind, it would not be wrong to call for the restructuring of the Nigeria Police Force by Government and at the same time, it is high time workers restructured their trade unions for better results.

In the present dispensation, a major characteristic of governance at all tiers, is the constant abuse of power.

Sadly, over the years, the servant leadership ideology has failed to take root in the country’s national life, with political and public office holders as prominent actors.

However, Nigerians are hoping that sometime very soon, political and public office holders will reconsider their present positions, and become servants of the people. Maybe.

About Attitude                                           About Behaviour

 

 

Preventing Election Violence in Liberia

By: Jonas Claes; Inken von Borzyskowski

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Liberia will hold presidential and legislative elections on October 10. The run-up to the vote has been primarily peaceful, and the country has engaged in ongoing efforts to prevent election violence. This Peace Brief, based on USIP research, assesses the risk of election violence and the scope of violence prevention efforts, and provides recommendations for ongoing prevention.

Summary

  • There is reason for optimism as Liberia prepares for its October 10 elections. Thus far the run-up to the vote has been calm and peaceful, with few instances of hate speech and property damage reported and no intimidation or physical attacks. A peaceful transition of power would be an impressive achievement considering Liberia’s brutal civil wars ended only fourteen years ago.
  • Despite the cautious optimism there is no room for complacency as tensions could escalate rapidly. Most concerning are budget gaps and the lack of institutional strength that, even with significant international investments, could prevent the Liberian National Police and National Election Commission from providing adequate election administration and security.
  • Ongoing efforts to prevent election violence, including domestic and international election observation and peace messaging efforts, may help the country achieve this important milestone in its recovery from civil war.
  • In the coming weeks, international diplomats should coordinate with African leaders in the region and encourage the leading candidates to call for restraint and live up to their commitments to avoid violence.

Introduction

On October 10, the people of Liberia will participate in critical presidential and legislative elections in what may become Liberia’s first post-war transition between democratically elected governments. Considering the overwhelming development challenges Liberian institutions face, peaceful elections cannot be taken for granted. Elections often present significant challenges in countries that recently emerged from violent conflict, but Liberia may be defeating the odds. Civil society, the police, the electoral commission, international diplomats and—above all—leading Liberian politicians will further determine whether the country’s fragile peace will hold.

Sources of Conflict

Liberia remains one of the least developed countries worldwide. Roughly the size of Virginia, the country was battered by two civil wars (1989–2003) that claimed the lives of 250,000 Liberians, and experienced an Ebola crisis (2014–2015) that killed another 4,800 people. Liberians appreciate the political stability of the past fourteen years but remain cognizant about the risk elections pose to peace. A nationally representative survey indicated that a majority of Liberians (61 percent) were convinced that election disputes could reignite violent conflict.1

As provided for by the country’s constitution, current Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf will leave office in 2017 after two terms (2005, 2011). The 2017 presidential race is quite competitive, with two major and several other presidential candidates, and almost one thousand candidates for the 73 seats in the House of Representatives. About half of all voters (49 percent) are undecided, according to a recent poll. One of the current frontrunners is Joseph Boakai, who also served as vice president under Sirleaf, from the president’s Unity Party. His main challenger is George Weah, leader of the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change.2 Weah ran for president in 2005, for vice president in 2011, and remains popular among the growing youth population. His vice presidential candidate is Jewel Howard Taylor, the former wife of warlord Charles Taylor, who maintains a broad support base. Other contenders include Charles Brumskine, leader of the Liberty Party, Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party, Senator Prince Johnson of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction, and Alexander Cummings of the Alternative National Congress.

In its previous post-conflict elections (2005 and 2011) Liberia experienced limited violence despite significant administrative flaws and heated rhetoric. The memory of civil war was still fresh, the international community endorsed the elections, and the political elite generally kept their cool in the face of technical challenges, urging restraint among their supporters.

Despite optimistic expectations for peaceful elections, important sources of conflict remain that could escalate into violence. Primary concerns are budget gaps and institutional weaknesses that can prevent the election commission and Liberian National Police from guaranteeing adequate election administration and security. Any technical mistakes or delays by the National Election Commission, any real or perceived fraud, and a close or tense race may encourage candidates to mobilize their supporters and challenge the election result.

Moreover, the recent enforcement of a national Code of Conduct has raised tensions among political candidates and their supporters. Section 5.2 of the Code requires ministers and other officials who want to run for an elected office to step down at least two years prior to election day. Presidential appointees with tenure positions are required to resign three years prior. The rule is designed to prevent the use of state resources to fund campaigns, but was heavily contested as it could block several lead candidates from participating in the 2017 elections.

Elections often present significant challenges in countries that recently emerged from violent conflict, but Liberia may be defeating the odds.

Whether the elections are a democratic success or precipitate a return to violence is to some extent determined by the efforts taken to prevent election violence—first and foremost by the leading candidates, but also by election observers, the election commission, police, international diplomats, and civil society. Currently, various efforts are ongoing to prevent election violence, including engaging youth constructively, restoring popular trust in the Liberian police, and ensuring the ability of the National Election Commission to hold credible elections.USIP research in Liberia aims to assess the risk of election violence in carefully selected counties and the effectiveness of the most common and promising tools to prevent its outbreak. The findings will help identify ways to prevent violence with demonstrated impact, prioritize efforts in the upcoming months, and develop more effective remedies for future elections in Liberia and other countries.

The Road to a Critical Election—Will Prevention Work?

With the support of the Liberia-based Center for Democratic Governance, USIP conducted a survey in 150 communities across Montserrado, Nimba, Lofa, and Bong counties, interviewing 1,050 community representatives. The communities were randomly selected from a larger pool of towns at risk of election violence, as they are all voter-rich and have some history of local conflict. The baseline data gathered through USIP research offers an initial indication of the risk of violence and the scope of violence prevention efforts, and may help inform ongoing prevention efforts. The same respondents will be interviewed again after the election to assess the impact of prevention activity.

The scope of violence prevention programming in Liberia has varied. The USIP survey indicated that election monitoring, peace messaging, and—to a lesser extent—civic and voter education are widely used to promote credible elections and prevent violence. Respondents valued the role of monitors in helping to reduce violence and prevent fraud. Peace messaging efforts were praised for their inclusive character: 91 percent of respondents indicate that peace messages usually reach all members of society. Civic education finds a fertile environment in Liberia, since most Liberians already demonstrate strong civic attitudes, recognizing the value of democracy and the importance of peaceful participation in elections.

Despite several ongoing initiatives, including a youth debate series and leadership trainings held by NAYMOTE,3 the survey revealed a striking need for youth programming outside Monrovia. Youth are important because children were heavily recruited during the civil wars, particularly by the army of Charles Taylor. Without appropriate education, training, or employable skills, today’s youth (ages 18–34) could be easily mobilized by charismatic politicians.

Citizens consider the police a trustworthy security provider. However, Liberian respondents also indicate that police are rarely present to prevent election violence and do not have the necessary resources to guarantee election security. Building a capable police force remains a priority given the gradual withdrawal of the UN Mission in Liberia, which helped provide election security after the civil war. Despite significant capacity-building efforts, the budget and equipment of the Liberian National Police does not match its increased responsibilities for election security, especially in the communities outside of Monrovia. A majority of Liberian respondents (57 percent) have not communicated with police officers about election security, and most (82 percent) think that police officers do not protect all voters and candidates equally.

Unlike the Liberian National Police, the National Election Commission is perceived by Liberian respondents as well prepared to organize free, fair, and credible elections, and received praise for its voter registration drive. That said, the National Election Commission has sizeable shortages in budget and equipment to organize smooth elections during the rainy season and is often confronted with impassable roads and a poorly informed electorate. Respondents’ preferred point of contact for complaints about the election is security forces or community authorities rather than the National Election Commission4, and only about half of Liberian respondents know their local National Election Commission magistrate.

Given the limited institutional capacity in Liberia, international efforts are mainly focused on technical election assistance.5 The European Union, the UN Development Program, and the US government fund the majority of programs and materials needed to ensure a credible election process. International donors seem to be focused on the right priorities, emphasizing support for both the election and security authorities as, according to prior USIP research, these are often critical in mitigating election violence.6 Internationals also engage in preventive diplomacy, but only 17 percent of Liberians interviewed think foreign diplomats can influence local leaders. The UN Mission in Liberia is considered the most influential diplomatic presence to engage on election security, followed by the US Embassy and the Economic Community of West African States.

Risk of Violence in the Months Ahead

The election process has been calm and peaceful thus far, with few instances of hate speech reported between parties and some damage to posters and banners at the start of the campaign period. While the risk of violence remains low in the coming weeks and months, promising indications should not lead to complacency as significant capacity gaps remain.

Domestic and international election observers play a valuable role in detecting technical deficien-cies, but should also report on intimidation, gender-based violence, hate speech, and other forms of election violence. Support for youth programming and the build-up of a capable police force should not end on election day, but carry forward across several election cycles.

While international prevention efforts can help, Liberian politicians and institutions hold the keys to peaceful elections. International diplomats should coordinate with African leaders in the region and encourage the leading candidates to call for restraint, and live up to their commitments to avoid violence. So far, there is reason for optimism. The election process will not be perfect (it rarely is), but Liberia seems well on its way to a historic election.

Notes

  1. “State of Peace, Reconciliation, and Conflict in Liberia,” Catholic Relief Services Report Brief, (2016): 8, www.crs.org/sites/default/files/tools-research/state-of-peace-reconciliation-liberia_0.pdf.
  2. The Coalition for Democratic Change includes the Congress for Democratic Change, National Patriotic Party, and Liberia’s People Democratic Party.
  3. NAYMOTE–Partners for Democratic Development is a grassroots organization promoting democracy, peacebuilding, and human rights by empowering community representatives and youth leaders in Liberia.
  4. The NEC and local magistrates are mandated to hear and investigate complaints.
  5. Inken von Borzyskowski, 2016, “Who Seeks and Receives Technical Election Assistance?” Review of International Organizations, 11, no. 2 (2016): 247–82, http://www.borzyskowski.net/wp-content/uploads/Technical-Election-Assistance.pdf.
  6. Jonas Claes and Geoffrey Macdonald, “Findings and Conclusions,” in Electing Peace, ed. Jonas Claes (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, 2016): 200–01.

About this Brief

Through evaluative research the US Institute of Peace aims to identify what works to prevent election violence in Liberia. This preliminary analysis is based on baseline findings from Montserrado, Nimba, Lofa, and Bong counties, and offers insight into the risk of violence and the scope of prevention efforts. Jonas Claes is a senior program officer at USIP, where he conducts research and analysis on the prevention of election violence. Inken von Borzyskowski is an assistant professor of political science at Florida State University. Her research focuses on international organizations and their effect on domestic conflict and elections.

Source : United States Institute of Peace

Agitations : Nigerians Should Follow The Path of Constitutionality and Law- Senator

Nigerians with grievances have been called upon to follow due process and the rule of law, while agitating for a change in the status quo.

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This call was made  by the Senator representing Delta Central Senatorial District in the upper chamber of the National Assembly, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.

“Whoever has genuine grievances should follow the path of constitutionality, law, dialogue, love, brotherhood and peace. We are one. We have the resilience and infinite capacity to handle all challenges confronting us as a people”.

“Every Nigerian should feel at home and protected wherever he or she finds himself or herself in the territory of Nigeria”.

“So I want to strongly advise and appeal for peace and urge our security agencies to be vigilant and maintain the peace at all times. We don’t want our fellow citizens to be intimidated, harassed or killed extra-judicially for whatever reasons”.

“I must advise also that this should not be a pretext by any security agent to harass our peace-loving people. That shouldn’t happen at all.  Let’s constantly engage with ourselves in wisdom as we build a better society for all, Senator Omo-Agege  concluded.

 

Should “hate speech” be free?

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Recent events in the US have not only shown clearly the disturbing levels of hatred espoused by those following neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideologies, but they have also shown the power of challenging such views, and highlighted the issues around ‘hate speech’ and freedom of expression. 

Our latest Q&A looks at how to challenge hateful and discriminatory expression, while protecting free expression and promoting equality.

 

Can the right to freedom of speech be limited? If so, what limits are allowed?

Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right – crucial not only to how we express and exchange ideas – but to the very functioning of democracies. It is how we learn what our governments are doing, and how we exercise dissent and demand accountability.

Because freedom of speech is so important, any limits on it have to be exceptional, clearly defined, and justified. International human rights law doesn’t just draw a line around what can and cannot be said, but sets out strict criteria which States must adhere to in order to justify any measures they take to restrict speech.

These requirements are often called “the three-part test”. Any restriction must be:

  1.  Clearly set out in an accessible law;
  2. Pursue one of a few narrowly defined objectives (such as protecting the rights of others, for public order or national security); and
  3. Be necessary and proportionate in a democratic society.

Within this, for example, direct threats of violence may be prohibited in order to protect public order.

Similar limitations apply to the freedom to peacefully assemble. It is permissible, for example, for a government to prohibit the carrying of weapons during an assembly, to both ensure public order and the rights of others to peacefully engage in proximate counter-protests.

At the same time, international human rights law recognises that certain categories of speech can be so harmful that prohibitions may be mandatory. This includes, for example, the advocacy of discriminatory hatred to incite discrimination or violence. Assemblies that have incitement as their aim may similarly be restricted.

However, limiting speech solely because it is critical of the government, or because some people find it offensive, is never justified.

What is the definition of ‘intolerance’ and ‘hate speech’?

There are no universally agreed legal definitions of “intolerance” or “hate speech”.

“Intolerance” and “hate speech” are very broad terms – they can be used to describe any discriminatory expression that denies the humanity of others or incites harm against a particular group. Such speech undeniably has a negative impact on societies, in particular for minority and marginalised groups.

International human rights law is clear that expression cannot be limited solely on the basis that it is offensive or insulting, and this includes speech that may be hateful. However, governments are required to limit speech where it is so clearly dangerous that limitations are the only way to prevent serious harms from occurring. These types of speech may be understood as the most severe forms of “intolerance” or “hatred”, namely the advocacy of discriminatory hatred, intended and likely to incite violence or discrimination. Restricting direct threats of discriminatory violence, may similarly be restricted.

Generally speaking, national governments define these terms in their own laws, which is why approaches vary so greatly between countries. Confusion has led to many laws being enacted that do not comply with international human rights law.

ARTICLE 19 observes two main problems with “hate speech” laws as governments define them. On the one hand, we see powerful individuals inciting or threatening violence with impunity where they should be held accountable. On the other hand, we commonly see these laws abused to target legitimate dissent in many parts of the world, when such speech should be protected.

If racists aren’t allowed to speak freely, how can societies fight back against their ideologies? Is it better to allow them to speak out so that their ideas can be challenged?

Yes – ARTICLE 19 believes that more, counter speech is definitely the best response to “hate speech.”

Since hatred is rooted in fear and in ignorance, and peddled through propaganda and disinformation, it is only by countering this with solidarity for the oppressed and with informed and accurate argument, that equality and justice can win out.

But this isn’t the only reason. Before rushing to advocate greater controls on expression, we should consider the unintended consequences of giving the government too much power to control what we can and cannot say. It is only in the most extreme cases, where a person intends to incite harm and that harm is likely to occur, that limiting speech may be necessary.

Once censorship powers broader than this are created, they are difficult to roll back and can easily get into the wrong hands. For example, a racist demagogue could rise to power and turn these laws against advocates for equality and justice. It is then easier for them to entrench their power to see off any form of opposition, and commit other human rights violations.

Even where only the most serious forms of “hate speech” are prosecuted, censorship can prove ineffective at addressing the root causes of hatred and counter-productive to the aim of promoting inclusion and equality. There is little evidence that censorship, in particular criminal prosecutions, changes hearts and minds, whereas education, combined with a range of positive measures seeking to break down barriers between groups does. Rather, censorship may be used by hate-mongers to feed their paranoid conspiracy theories as their movements go underground, while prosecutions may elevate racists from the fringe to greater prominence by turning them into martyrs for their “cause”.

It is important to remember that the true cause of racists and fascists is not “freedom of speech”, no matter how often they might claim that it is.

Fascists are often the first to respond with violence to their ideas being challenged, and when in power to react to dissent with censorship. The weakness of their arguments is why in Charlottesville they brought guns and other weapons to a battle of ideas; the intimidatory tactic these groups trade in is censorship, not free speech. Free speech has never meant an obligation for one group to acquiesce to ideas another imposes by force, in particular where that means staying passive in the face of bigotry and hate. Free speech requires one to expect that when one’s ideas are vile, others will shout back louder and with greater moral force and clarity and win the argument.

It is incumbent on all people, but most importantly political leaders and other influential figures, to firmly denounce racism and hatred, and speak out for those who are oppressed and marginalised. It is entirely coherent to do this while defending free speech.

What is the role of a free press when it comes to supremacist demonstrations? Should journalists provide an equal platform to let everyone defend their ideas?

The media are among those who have a special responsibility to ensure the public is informed on matters of current affairs, and to use their privileged position in the information landscape to challenge discrimination and promote equality. In order to play this role, the press needs to be free and able to operate independently in an environment that favours the development of pluralistic and diverse media landscapes.

It is not the role or obligation of a journalist to simply convey all views they encounter, for example by giving an uninterrupted platform for persons to advocate hatred without challenge. At the same time, issues around racism and other forms of discrimination are clearly matters that are in the public interest to be openly debated, and which the public has a right to know about.

Journalism is a profession that is informed by robust rules of ethics. Professional standards guide journalists on how to approach difficult questions around racism and incitement to violence in the course of reporting on current events.

Journalists must not become passive intermediaries. They have a role to play in avoiding drawing false equivalencies between opposing views; they should inform the public where one side of an argument is based on deliberate lies, and when another is based in evidence and experience. They ought therefore play an active role in determining that the public receives timely and accurate information on matters in the public interest. It requires determining whether a hateful viewpoint is newsworthy at all, and whether covering such fringe groups risks elevating their status. If it is newsworthy, it means ensuring that when proponents of hate spout lies, that these are contested with facts (there can be no “alternative facts”), and that when hateful stereotypes are peddled, they are countered with the voices of marginalized groups whom the hatemongers seek to disparage.

Unfortunately, this is too often not the reality. Sensationalism is often favoured over accuracy and impartiality, and marginalized groups are widely denied any meaningful opportunity to speak for themselves on outlets with the largest audiences. This can often be a product of a media sector lacking diversity, media ownership being monopolized or concentrated among a privileged few, and increasing economic strains in a changing media landscape. This is why it is important that governments support independent media, and promote policies that promote pluralism and equality in the media sector.

Lastly, in the digital age we are all more easily publishers of content if we chose to be, and can in our own ways fulfill the function of journalists through the various social media and blogging platforms we use. We should therefore all become more active as consumers and producers in the media landscape, and recognize our own responsibilities to challenge hatred wherever it exists and promote equality.

Source : Article 19

Govt. Has Not Fulfilled Its Promise To Workers-Labour Leader

Nigerian workers discuss their pitiable state on a daily basis, and conclude that Government is not ready to make life bearable for them. In this interview with Federationews2day, the immediate past Chairman of the Trade Union Congress(TUC)Oyo state council, who is also an ex-official of the TUC, the state Chairman of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria(ASCN)Oyo state chapter and South west coordinator of the Socialist Workers league, Comrade Andrew Emelieze,  says government is insensitive to the plight of Nigerian workers.

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Excerpts :

How have your members fared under the economic recession ?

As regards the issue of the recession, in the first place, those who claim to have announced that Nigeria is in recession are the same people who put the country in recession, the ruling class, they are the same people that have now come out to say that Nigeria is out of recession.

We might to some extent agree with them, looking at the increase in the price of crude oil in the international market, and the rise in the GDP, we might want to say that, technically, Nigeria is out of recession. The question we will now ask thereafter, is how will it impact on the people of Nigeria, especially the workers and the senior civil servants, which I represent.

It is too early to judge, but then, looking at the history of Government and governance in Nigeria, especially this government, which we all know that it is a multi government, they talk so much, even based on so many things that they cannot achieve, one might begin to also think  that it might still be the same old story and that Nigerians might not feel any impact. On the issue of recession, especially now that the ruling class has started the struggle for 2019 elections and so one might not eventually, get anything that will benefit  the Nigerian working class, on the issue of Nigeria getting out of recession. Also, looking at the struggle for the minimum wage, now that the Government says we are out of recession, one will also expect the Nigerian Government to say that there is hope for a new national minimum wage. The workers have endured for over two years in very harsh conditions. And the Government has been able to manoeuvre us within this period and they have not been able to achieve a new minimum wage for workers.

Now that we are out of recession and they have announce it, we should expect them to also announce that, even without  negotiating with the labour movement, that Government should be able to pay a particular amount of money as new minimum wage, then let labour come out to say that Government has announced is too small. In fact our earlier position  was that the new national min mum wage should be anchored on the President’s salary. And what we are saying here, is that if equity and justice must prevail i Nigeria, whatever our  President is earning as the Chief Executive of the country, he should be able to give part of it as minimum wage and what is it we are  demanding, at our own local level here, we have been able to do our arithmetic and we have  said that the President should graciously give the Nigerian working class one per cent of his own salary, we are not talking about allowances. Just one per cent of his own salary as new national minimum wage. And if he is able to do that, I think everything is anchored around him, then now begin to believe that the President has  a sense of justice. Besides, coming out of recession, we also expect that government, will fulfill its promise to pay workers all  it owes them at the local, state and federal levels. Before now, at the federal level, lots of allowances are  been owed workers, especially promotion allowances, transfer allowances and Basic Travel Allowances. It should be noted that there have been attempts by the labour movement especially our association, Association of Senior Civil Servants to put pressure on government to see how it can pay this money. What we’ve been hearing is that they’ve released so, so and so amount of money, N20 billion, N40 billion, they are compiling, they are yet to pay and people are just too tired of  hearing these excuses. Money that they have been owing for the past 7, 8, 9, 10 years. And with this government coming on board, they promised that they will pay these allowances, two years after, they have not paid these allowances owed federal workers. In fact, if you look at the allowances owed federal workers, the money owed them is even more than what  states which have not been able to pay salaries to their workers in the past 7 to 8 months owed them.  Those in a particular level are not receiving salaries for that level. Tkae for instance, someone  in grade level 12 is still receiving salary  of someone in grade level 9. And that is the predicament we find ourselves. If you go the Federal secretariat, all over the federation,  you see workers who are not happy, they are confused, in fact, even their condition of service is such that most times, they lament and regret that they took up jobs to work for their country. Apart from the fact that the pay is too poor, N18,000 minimum wage, all the allowances owed them has not been paid. they are no longer motivated to work. If you go to most offices now at the federal level, it is zero allocation. Money is not coming from Abuja. They don’t have money to operate. The various  Directors are just in the offices, almost  made redundant by the Federal Government. Probably the money has been budgeted for, but  it is not leaving Abuja. It is our strong belief that now that they have announced the end of recession, they should explore way through which the state Governors can have enough funds to clear the arrears of  workers’ salaries, gratuities  of pensioners, including the issue of social security for the unemployed. Unfortunately, nothing is  been done in this regard, based on what we’ve bee hearing  at the Federal level and even from the Governors.

Restructuring : Is the People’s Welfare the Issue ?

In 1998, the Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohaneze Ndigbo restructured, 12 months after the structure became the platform to campaign for Igbo Presidency.

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In 2004,  the socio-cultural organization restructured, even though  the general elections came up in 2007, and Nigerians  were of the opinion that the Presidency of Nigeria was for  all Nigerians. Their argument was hinged  on the fact that no section of the country was excluded from aspiring to become the number one  citizen.

Indeed, there has never been and there is  still not any  constitutional law  that stated that a particular  tribe  cannot vie for the position of President.

Interestingly, Ohaneze is a South East  Geo-Political zone based organization, which seeks to project the image of the Igbos and the  rest of Nigeria in  general.

Although at a particular point in time, the organization was accused of been elitist, its  objective  according to a cross section  of  members is to  ensure that the ordinary  man  in the street  is  a member.

The members  argue that anybody who  is  Igbo or  of Igbo  extraction, within  Igboland or in diaspora, should be considered as a member of Ohaneze. Such individuals, according to them  can attend meetings without a  third party making  introduction.

”You can come to Ohaneze meeting without anybody introducing you. If  there is need to introduce yourself, you get up and tell them who you are”, they stated.

In an interview session with a Lagos based news magazine in 2004, the then President of the Anambra chapter of Ohaneze, Dozie Ikedife, insisted that restructuring was on course, irrespective of any presidential election.

”If it happens that no  Igbo man is installed  as President this  time around, Ohaneze will still play  its role to ensure that a President is installed  in this  country and that things move peacefully with a sense of  equity, fair play, justice and enhancement of the sense of  belonging  for  all”, Ikedife had declared.

Since no  tribe or ethnic  group has been excluded from Nigeria, the debate about who occupys the  number one seat in 2019 and other election dates, should be for  all and sundry. Perhaps.