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Archive for May 21st, 2013

Kenya cases: International Criminal Court Presidency decides on new composition of Trial Chamber V

Posted by African Press International on May 21, 2013

According to the decision, Trial Chamber V(a) in charge of the case of Mr Ruto and Mr Sang, will be composed of Judges Olga Herrera Carbuccia, Robert Fremr and Chile Eboe-Osuji. Trial Chamber V(b), in charge of the case of Mr Kenyatta, will be composed of Judges Kuniko Ozaki, Robert Fremr and Chile Eboe-Osuji.

It is the role of the ICC Presidency as part of its judicial functions to constitute Chambers, decide on their composition, and assign cases to Chambers. Similar changes in the composition of Chambers have been made in previous cases before the ICC, such as the cases of Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngud= jolo Chui, of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo and of Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus.


source ICC

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Norway: Jo Benkow, former President of the Norwegian Parliament has died leaving behind a memorable legacy

Posted by African Press International on May 21, 2013

  • by KipArapKorir

Jo Benkow. Foto: Kjetil Ree / Wikimedia Commons.The trustworthy former  president of Norwegian Parliament and Conservative politician Jo Benkow is dead. – As president, he contributed to strengthening Parliament’s role and reputation. With his passing a man of honour in the public debate has been lost, say Parliament President Dag Terje Andersen.

 Jo Benkow, born Josef Elias Benkowitz on the 15th of  August 1924 died on the 18 May 2013. He was a writer and a focused Norwegian politician. Benkow was a strong personality in the Conservative Party of Norway. He served as the President of the Parliament from 1985 through 1993.
His first election to parliament was in 1965.

In parliament he became a leading figure, and as party leader from 1980 through 1984 and group leader of the Conservative Party in parliament between 1981 and 1985, he excelled to become the President of the Storting (Speaker) on 9 October 1985, a position he held until his retirement on 30th September 1993, after 28 years in parliament.

Benkow was born in TrondheimNorway but moved to the municipality of Bærum near Oslo the Norwegian capital city together with his family when he was a young child. As a member of the tiny Jewish minority of Norway, he experienced first-hand prejudice while growing up. In 1942, he fled persecution by the Nazis occupying Norway, into Sweden and subsequently the United Kingdom where he served in the Royal Norwegian Air Force. He returned after the war and took up photography as a trade.

Benkow served as president of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, taught international relations at Boston University, and has written books on human rights, modern monarchy in Norway, and other issues. His self-biography Fra Synagogen til Løvebakken (From the synagogue to Løvebakken; Løvebakken refers to a place outside the Parliament) published in 1985 sold 250,000 copies in Norway and earned him the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize. His book Olav – menneske og monark(“Olav – Man and Monarch”), a product of several conversations with his friend King Olav V, was a huge bestseller as well.

He was also a much sought-after lecturer on issues concerning the Middle East and anti-semitism. In recent years he managed to create some controversy when he criticized former prime minister and party colleague Kåre Willoch, calling him “the most biased person in the country,” on account of Willoch’s views on the Middle East and his criticism of Israeli politics.

His death, having clocked 88 years, in a Oslo hospital brings his chapter to a close.

Jo Benkow married twice, his second marriage was with fellow Conservative politician Annelise Høegh.

During his lifetime he was honoured and received the Defence Medal 1940–1945, the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize, 1985, the Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose of Finland, 1990, the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria, 1996 and the Knights of the Order of St. Olav, 1998.

We in African Press International pray that his soul be blessed and to rest in peace in eternity.

We send our condolences to the members of his entire family.



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Everyone has the right to be safe – Disaster risk reduction

Posted by African Press International on May 21, 2013

By Jaspreet Kindra 

Everyone has the right to be safe


  • Focus on implementation
  • Need to make countries accountable
  • A human rights-based approach to making people safer
  • New-found attention to resilience could help

JOHANNESBURG, 17 May 2013 (IRIN) – A month after the Indian Ocean tsunami struck in December 2004, affecting millions, 168 countries signed on to a 10-year plan to make the world safer from natural hazards. Yet the plan, the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2015, focused primarily on “what to do to prevent disasters, but not enough on how to implement it,” says Neil McFarlane, chief coordinator and head of all regional programmes at the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

Countries have since begun discussing what a follow-up action plan, the Hyogo Framework for Action 2 (HFA2), should look like. The results of these talks, a sketch of the HFA2, will be presented at the Fourth Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, which begins in Geneva on 19 May.

A draft will be finalized towards the end of 2014, for consideration and adoption at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Japan in 2015.

The HFA2 will need to take on a number of emerging risks and concerns. While the HFA has helped countries reduce the loss of human lives, the economic consequences of natural disasters have continued to rise. For three consecutive years, natural hazards have cost the world more than US$100 billion a year, according to data from the Brussels-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) released in March 2013.

Additionally, disaster risks are changing: The effects of the changing climate are expected to prompt more intense and frequent extreme natural events, including floods, droughts and cyclones. Urban populations are growing, as is demand for food, ratcheting up pressure on resources like land and water.


In tackling the HFA2, experts are discussing how to improve accountability. “We have a framework with options to develop good disaster plans in the Hyogo, but how do we make governments, agencies… ensure it is implemented?” Tom Mitchell, head of the climate change programme at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), told IRIN.

Mitchell says one of the major weaknesses of the HFA is its failure to ensure that “well-crafted” disaster risk reduction (DRR) policies were actually implemented. The agreement is voluntary, and there are no penalties for failing to put in place measures to protect citizens.

“Because it [HFA] is voluntary, we have to ask how… effective it can be,” remarked Frank Thomalla, senior research fellow with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) in Asia.

Some question whether the world should consider a legal disaster-prevention treaty with a provision for penalties.

The new plan’s timing is significant for the global community; 2015 also marks the end of the Millennium Development Goals and possibly the implementation of new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are still under discussion. A new agreement on addressing and adapting to climate change is also likely to be put into place around that time. Aid agencies and think tanks are all calling on the global community to consider the synergies among these policy-shaping developments.

Many observers now question whether DRR policies should become a part of the legal climate deal, which might ensure their implementation. Countries’ DRR activities are increasingly considered part of their climate change adaptation plans, and are being funded as such.

But there is no appetite for a legal treaty on DRR, says UNISDR’s McFarlane.

Harjeet Singh, ActionAid‘s international coordinator for DRR and climate change adaptation (CAA), says he is uncertain if a legal treaty “will bring about a dramatic change… After all, we have seen how [the UN’s] climate convention (UNFCCC) … failed to deliver in the last 20 years.”

Besides, the climate change deal will not consider geophysical events such as earthquakes and other triggers of potential disasters unrelated to climate, he added.

“Many of the drivers of vulnerability result from inequality and marginalization, meaning certain regions and social groups are more vulnerable to hazards than others and are more strongly affected by the impacts”

That fact, plus the range of social and economic factors contributing to disaster risk, calls into question the rationale for viewing DRR, CCA and development from a purely climatological perspective, SEI’s Thomalla told IRIN in an email.

But the Cancun Adaptation Framework adopted by countries at the UNFCCC talks in Mexico in 2010 urges countries to implement the HFA, so it does make it a part of a stronger commitment linked to climate change says UNISDR’s MacFarlane.

Taking measurements

Under the HFA, countries are required to report on how far they have complied with implementing DRR strategies and policies. But how “reliable is this data?” asked Thomalla. “How much opportunity is there for governments to ‘manipulate’ the information in order to be seen to be doing something?”

For instance, a country might report to the HFA that it has established an early warning system to reduce hazard vulnerability. “But how can we be sure that the system works…? That people know how to respond to the warnings?” Thomalla said.

There is no proper baseline at the start of HFA, nor are there specific targets for countries to follow, said Singh.

“Targets and milestones for implementation should… be relevant and realistic for each country and agreed on through multi-stakeholder consultations,” noted Mitchell in a briefing paper co-authored with colleague Emily Wilkinson.

McFarlane and Mitchell suggest the development of a peer-review mechanism, which is just taking off in some developed countries, could be an effective way to ensure countries comply.

UNISDR Chief Margareta Wahlstrom said there has been a change in mindset since HFA: “The most visible signs of this change are summarized by the facts that 121 countries have enacted legislation aimed at reducing the potential impact of disasters, and 56 countries have national disaster-loss databases, which illustrates the growing recognition that you cannot manage risk management if you are not measuring your disaster losses.”

Mitchell’s ODI briefing paper also suggests “a human rights approach, in which countries fulfil obligations to respect, protect and fulfil basic human rights, including the ‘right to safety’ of vulnerable people exposed to hazards.”

This suggestion has support. Singh says, “Legislation to ensure safety and security of people is a good first step.” But it has to be implemented effectively all the way down to the community level, and must take into account the voices of the poor and women, he added.

Thomalla says a rights-based approach would be a good way to address DRR “because many of the drivers of vulnerability result from inequality and marginalization, meaning certain regions and social groups are more vulnerable to hazards than others and are more strongly affected by the impacts.”

But, again, creating global legislation could be problematic, he noted. “Monitoring and enforcement will also be difficult. Rich countries must come forward to provide resources and transfer skills to developing countries to reduce disaster risks.”

Resilience is key

Most experts pin their hopes on the new-found interest in “building resilience”. Resilience is billed as a concept that will better link development, DRR and CCA by bringing the humanitarian aid community, which deals with disasters, closer together with development agencies. A focus on resilience might also help push for the implementation of DRR plans and promote funding.

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami helped disaster risk reduction get the attention it needed

“The current separation of what is mainly [a] humanitarian response to disasters, through DRR and CCA, from business-as-usual development funding no longer makes sense,” said Thomalla.

In fact, disasters routinely reverse development gains. For example, floods in Thailand in 2012 cost three percent of the country’s annual GDP, affected education and caused the loss of vulnerable families’ household assets.

“New development goals must factor in risk, whereby all goals, to the extent possible, are risk- informed,” said Antony Spalton, the DRR specialist with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). “Given the significance of the risks posed by climate change, fragility and conflict, a post-2015 framework that better draws together DRR, climate change adaptation and conflict prevention/peace building under a goal or target for resilience could be considered.”

UNISDR has already drafted a resilience-based disaster plan for the post-2015 development agenda, the Plan of Action on Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience. It calls for an assurance that “DRR for resilience” is central to post-2015 development agreements and targets. It calls for timely, coordinated and high-quality assistance to countries where disaster losses pose a threat to development, and for making DRR a priority for UN funds, programmes and specialized agencies.

Singh says countries “should develop a comprehensive resilience strategy rather than a piecemeal …strategy, when ‘pushed’ by donors.”

Building resilience to a range of changes and risks does make sense, according to Thomalla. But we have a long way to go.

“While we have made a lot of progress in thinking about resilience as a unifying concept, we need to strengthen our methods and tools to help… develop the institutions and governance structures that enhance resilience and enable them to measure and demonstrate success,” he said.

Ultimately, Singh says, “it all depends on the willingness of country governments to take concrete steps from local to national levels and enhance [the] resilience of poor and vulnerable communities.”

McFarlane says there are lots of ideas and suggestions on the table. Stay tuned.

jk/rz source


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