Despite Rapid Advances in New Platforms, Traditional Media Remain World’s Primary Means of Communication, Speakers Tell Fourth Committee

Language Parity Emphasized amid Continuing Debate on Information Questions

While the Department of Public Information’s emphasis on the latest advances in information technologies would broaden the reach of the United Nations, conventional media remained the primary means of communication in many developing countries, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard today, as it continued its general debate on questions relating to information.

Many speakers expressed support for the Department’s focus on harnessing the various communications technologies at the Organization’s disposal and its use of social media platforms while urging it to be mindful of the technological gap within and across countries.

In that vein, Cuba’s representative said the image of the United Nations must not only be bolstered through online channels, but also through radio, television and print media.  Pointing out that 793 million people around the world did not know how to read or write, he emphasized that the new platforms were no substitute for traditional media.

Echoing that sentiment, Paraguay’s representative stressed that most of the world’s population could only be informed about the Organization’s work through traditional media.  Technological progress was critical for equitable growth, he said, adding that equal access to new technologies had the potential to provide better economic opportunities.

In addition, some delegations voiced concern about the politicizing of public information and possible inappropriate use of information and communications technology to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign States.  Iran’s representative said that while digital media platforms were effective in connecting peoples of different faiths and cultures around the world, they also ran the risk of falling afoul of misuse, warning that distorted information could have a negative impact on States and their citizens.  The use of such technologies should, therefore, be fully compatible with the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of States, he emphasized.

In similar vein, the representative of the United Arab Emirates said the role of the Public Information Department was becoming increasingly valuable as terrorist groups used modern technology to spread hatred and recruit foreign fighters.  Commending the Department’s efforts in the field of counter-terrorism, he emphasized that a platform for moderate voices must emerge to reject terrorist practices.

Other speakers, associating themselves with the Group of Friends of Spanish to the United Nations, reiterated the Secretariat’s responsibility to respect multilingualism in all its activities on the basis of equity for all six of the Organization’s official languages.

In that regard, Mexico’s delegate called upon the United Nations to expand content and increase accessibility to information materials in Spanish, while expressing her country’s readiness to help identify solutions that would enable the Organization to publicize its work.  Echoing that sentiment, Costa Rica’s representative said that in order to achieve true multilingualism, the Department must publish press releases in Spanish, in addition to its French and English language coverage.

Also today, many speakers praised the efforts of the 63 United Nations information centres around the world in disseminating messages about the Organization’s work.

Japan’s representative pointed out that the centre in Tokyo had played an active role in promoting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and had recently organized a student photography contest that had received 600 entries from 50 countries.  Similarly, Lebanon’s delegate said the information centre in Beirut continued to shed light on the efforts of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), to celebrate international days and to publish articles in Arabic on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Also speaking today were representatives of South Africa, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Syria, Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Ukraine, Nigeria, India, El Salvador, Libya, Cameroon, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation.

The representative of Ukraine spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. tomorrow, 19 October, to conclude its general debate on questions relating to information.

Background

The Fourth Committee convened this afternoon to continue its general debate on questions relating to information.  (For background information, see Press Release GA/SPD/615).

Statements

ROLANDO CASTRO CORDOBA (Costa Rica), reiterating his country’s commitment to freedom of expression, emphasized that citizen participation played an essential role in strengthening democratic coexistence.  While doing so, it was critical to generate opportunities for all, promote innovation and combat corruption.  Calling attention to the technological gap within and across countries, he stressed the need to maintain the use of conventional media while capitalizing on the latest advances in information and communications technologies.  He said the Department had improved its cooperation with actors within and outside the United Nations system, including Member States, civil society organizations and academia, through the use of new technologies.  While commending its measures to improve its website and content, he underlined the need to publish press releases in Spanish in order to achieve true multilingualism.

LORENA ALVARADO QUEZADA (Mexico), emphasizing the importance of multilingualism and language parity, called upon the United Nations to expand content and increase accessibility to information materials in Spanish since it was the second most spoken language in the world.  Mexico stood ready to help identify solutions that would enable the Organization to publicize its work.  She went on to acknowledge the Department’s proactive efforts in using new technologies, while stressing that millions of people still used traditional media to obtain information.  Drawing attention to the digital divide between developed and developing countries, she said no tool would be a substitute for a presence on the ground, adding in that regard that it was critical to improve coordination among various actors.

CAROLINE ZIADE (Lebanon), acknowledging the Department’s evolving role in maintaining the highest level of awareness about the work of the United Nations, expressed support for its strategic approach in capitalizing on the latest Internet and social media advances to facilitate access to information.  The Organization’s youth and educational outreach programmes enabled young people to engage in discussion and to find solutions to current problems.  Regarding strategic communications, she emphasized that the success of information campaigns hinged upon collaboration and partnership with academia and civil society organizations, and in that respect, it was critical to use the six official United Nations languages as well as both traditional and digital media.  She said the information centre in Beirut continued to shed light on the efforts of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), to celebrate international days, and to publish articles in Arabic on the Sustainable Development Goals.

OYAMA MGOBOZI (South Africa), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, noted his country had been a beneficiary of the promotion by the United Nations of global awareness and public action against apartheid.  Today, South Africa worked with the Department on the global promotion of Nelson Mandela International Day.  Emphasizing that the question of Palestine deserved special attention, he welcomed the Department’s work in training Palestinian journalists and commemorating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.  He recalled that his country, in partnership with the United Nations, had recently co-hosted the International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East, which had helped to heighten awareness of the question of Palestine in a balanced and objective manner, he said, encouraging the Department also to disseminate information on Western Sahara because it was important to publicize the plight of that Non-Self-Governing Territory’s people.

U AUNG LYNN (Myanmar), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), expressed support for the Department’s efforts to use social media platforms to complement traditional media, but warned that words of intolerance, hatred and hostility, as well as extremist ideas, could have harmful effects.  Myanmar would work with the Department to promote interreligious dialogue and tolerance and to counter the spread of extremism.  He noted people in countries where none of the official United Nations languages were spoken had to rely on their Governments for information about the Organization’s work.  He encouraged Member States to help promote that work by disseminating information in local languages.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) encouraged the Department to continue promoting a culture of peace and non-violence as part of its outreach to the public, particularly to young people.  Sustained investment in education and awareness was required to build resilience against war, violence and hatred.  The Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism had been an important addition to the Organization’s efforts to implement the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and the Department could further build its partnership with the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force in order to inform national and regional dialogue.  Its expertise could represent a useful resource offering viable alternatives to terrorist ideologies and narratives.  He expressed appreciation for the role played by the Dhaka United Nations information centre in disseminating critical messages concerning sustainable development, migration, peacekeeping, human rights as well as general and complete disarmament.

COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), while welcoming the Department’s focus on harnessing the various communications technologies at the disposal of the United Nations and its use of social media platforms, urged it to be mindful of the technological gap within and across developing countries.  Sharing national efforts, he said that his country’s Ministry of Education, Youth and Information was reviewing plans to modernize its information and communications technology framework.  The review would include the development of a funding model for sustainable public broadcasting operations, and the existing legislative framework for electronic media would be amended.   Jamaica had partnered with the Department on numerous projects, most notably the initiative to commemorate the International Day of Remembrance of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, he said.

MOUNZER MOUNZER (Syria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, observed that the media had great influence on public opinion and their importance was growing.  However, some in the media did not respect the norms of conventional journalism and were instead trying to make political statements.  In conflict situations, the United Nations must be able to rely on credible media sources, he emphasized, while condemning attacks on journalists as well as actions by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and other terrorist groups against media practitioners.  He went on to urge the Department to redouble its efforts to address the question of Palestine and provide information on the Palestinian people’s suffering, noting that the occupying Power had committed human rights violations, including attacks targeting journalists and human rights advocates.  The Department should also ensure equality among the six official United Nations languages and strengthen the status of Arabic within the Organization, particularly on its website.  Freedom of expression must be respected, but not used to attack the beliefs of others or to denigrate their cultures or faiths, he stressed.

ASSIA JAZAIRY (Algeria), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, noted that the selection and appointment of the ninth Secretary-General, António Guterres, had been guided by improved transparency and inclusivity.  However, the global audience could have been better educated about the General Assembly’s role so that the recommendation contained in Security Council resolution 2311 (2016) was not seen as the end of the selection process.  The Department could deepen understanding of the General Assembly’s role more broadly, thereby promoting the revitalization of its work.  She expressed concern over the potential for politicizing public information and possible inappropriate use of information and communications technology to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign States.  While the Department’s emphasis on social media would broaden the Organization’s reach, particularly among youth, conventional media was the primary means of public communications in many developing countries, she emphasized.  It was also important to use all the official United Nations languages, particularly Arabic, and to ensure their full and equitable treatment in the Department’s activities.  She expressed regret that the Department’s coverage of the Fourth Committee, in particular its French-language press releases, did not always reflect facts.

RIADH BEN SLIMAN (Tunisia) reaffirmed his country’s support for the Department’s dissemination of information and acknowledged its cooperation with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.  Capitalizing on advances in information and communications technologies, the Department had raised public awareness of various issues, including violent extremism, food security and pandemics.  He emphasized that in order to reach as many people as possible the United Nations must ensure parity among all six of its official languages.

HASSAN IDRISS (Sudan), expressing concern about the imbalance among the six official United Nations languages, urged the Organization to ensure that multilingualism prevailed in all its activities.  “We need to bridge this gap,” he said, emphasizing that language parity would create better understanding of United Nations activities.  Acknowledging the key role played by the information centres, he said the use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter was essential in reaching out to communities.  However, that should not prevent the United Nations from using conventional media since millions of people lacked access to the Internet, he pointed out.

HAJIME KISHIMORI (Japan), recalling that his delegation had participated in the Peace Bell Ceremony on 16 September, thanked the Department for its annual efforts to promote that event.  He said the United Nations information centre in Tokyo played an active role in promoting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and had recently organized a student photography contest which had received 600 entries from 50 countries.  Japan appreciated the Department’s efforts to promote the 2030 Agenda, but neither the Department nor Member States should forget the importance of multiculturalism.  He emphasized that the popularity and success of characters like Wonder Woman might not automatically translate in places like Japan and the wider East Asia, where characters such as Doraemon may be more familiar.  He urged the Department to take a more tailored approach, stressing the role that information centres could play in that regard.  The principle of multilingualism should also be extended beyond the official United Nations languages, he added, pointing out that Africa Renewal, the Department’s only printed magazine, could be translated into more languages, thereby providing opportunities for students all over the world to learn about Africa’s development initiatives in their own languages.

HUMBERTO RIVERO ROSARIO (Cuba), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Group of Friends of Spanish to the United Nations, said the Department’s message should be accessible to all, eliminating the language barrier and the digital divide.  The plan to increase resources in order to expand the Department’s multilingual capabilities was vital to parity and respect for all six official United Nations languages, he said, adding that financial and human resources earmarked for the Department should be adequately distributed among them.  Noting the rise of new information and communications technologies, he emphasized that they were no substitute for traditional media.  As noted by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 793 million people around the world did not know how to read or write.  The image of the United Nations must be bolstered not only through online channels, but also through radio, television and print media, which represented the main sources of information in many countries.  He also expressed concern about covert and illegal use by individuals, organizations or States of the information systems of foreign States to do harm to other countries.  Such actions represented a violation of international norms, the effects of which could generate tensions, he cautioned.

OLEG NIKOLENKO (Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, said that some Governments continued to build State-sponsored information campaigns to bring chaos to other nations.  Since the beginning of the Russian Federation’s illegal occupation of Crimea in 2014, journalists had been regular targets for attack.  They had been detained, beaten, deprived of their jobs and expelled from their native lands.  Ukraine regretted that the same methods were being used in its Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where the Russian Federation and its proxies were waging military aggression.  Independent media outlets had been forced to close and leave the conflict-affected zones, he said, condemning such actions as being in contravention of international norms, including freedom of speech and expression.  The “hybrid war” against Ukraine, involving State-controlled media, was a direct threat to United Nations values, he said, calling upon the international community to draft a legal instrument prohibiting international propaganda in order to protect societies from State-led information wars.

ANTHONY BOSAH (Nigeria) acknowledged the Department’s collaboration with the departments of Peacekeeping Operations, Field Support and Political Affairs in disseminating information about United Nations peacekeeping efforts.  He also commended its reporting of Boko Haram’s terrorist activities in north-eastern Nigeria’s region and the efforts of the Multinational Joint Task Force — comprising forces from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin — to combat the extremist group.  While technology offered extensive channels for dispersing information about the Organization’s work, information systems in most developing countries remained at a basic level, he noted.  That emphasized the need to balance the use of newer digital products with traditional means of communication, such as radio and television and radio.  Commending the Department’s Africa Renewal, published in English and French, for raising global awareness of and support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), he underlined the need to strengthen the communication and delivery of media products in all six official United Nations languages.

SRINIVAS PRASAD (India) said that his country’s commitment to both the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change had been reflected in two events organized by his delegation: the International Day of Yoga and the ratification of the Paris Agreement on the occasion of Mahatma Ghandi’s birthday, which was celebrated every year at the United Nations as the International Day of Non-Violence.  He especially commended the Department’s coverage of the first event, noting that it had been important in promoting the contributions of yoga to holistic health care.  India noted with satisfaction the Department’s engagement with United Nations counter-terrorism initiatives, and hoped they would contribute to building a consensus around the adoption of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, he said.  He also commended the Department’s various efforts to raise awareness of the unprecedented refugee crisis, including the humanitarian situation of Syrian refugees.  Regarding multilingualism, he urged the Department to pay greater attention to languages in South Asia, adding that the country could build on its partnerships with universities in the region to develop the required language capabilities.

CARLA ESPERANZA RIVERA SÁNCHEZ (El Salvador) emphasized that the Department must focus on providing accurate, relevant and timely information about the work of the United Nations.  Turning to multilingualism, she encouraged the Department to develop its information products, including webpages and press releases, in the six official United Nations languages in a cost-neutral manner in order to reach audiences all over the world.

MOHAMED H.S. ELMODIR (Libya) commended the Department for providing updated information on the work of the United Nations and for its continued partnership with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.  The Department was responsible for covering the challenges that the world faced, he noted, emphasizing that it must be cautious and promote a culture of dialogue among nations.  Given the digital divide within and across States, it was essential to maintain conventional media to ensure that all people had access to information about the Organization.  Financial instability in Libya had disrupted the work of the United Nations information centre in Tripoli, but the authorities were working to address that situation, he said.

HOSSEIN MALEKI (Iran) encouraged the Department to continue focusing on matters of international peace and security, including occupation, violence and terrorism, which had claimed countless lives.  In that regard, he called upon the Department to help explore ways in which to promote the General Assembly resolution on “A World against Violence and Violent Extremism”.  Concerning social media, he said that while they were effective in connecting peoples of different faiths and cultures around the world, they also ran the risk of misuse, warning that distorted information could have a negative impact on States and their citizens.  The use of such technologies should therefore be fully compatible with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and international law, in particular the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of States, he emphasized.

JOSE OSVALDO SANABRIA RIVAROLA (Paraguay), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Group of Friends of Spanish to the United Nations, noted that most of the world’s population could only be informed about the Organization’s work through traditional media.  Technological progress was critical for equitable growth, and Paraguay was concerned about the growing digital divide.  Equal access to new information and communications technologies had the potential to provide better economic opportunities for individuals, and in that regard, developing countries needed more financial and technical cooperation on transferring knowledge and building capacity.  He went on to emphasize the importance of multilingualism and language parity among the six official United Nations languages, calling for real-time information to be made available in Spanish.  He also encouraged the Department to continue disseminating information on peacekeeping missions, the peacekeeping architecture and special political missions.

Ahmed Abdelrahman Ahmed ALMAHMOUD (United Arab Emirates) said the Department should continue to develop its services in the areas of awareness-building, public engagement, knowledge-sharing and partnerships.  With terrorist groups using modern technology to spread hatred and recruit foreign fighters, the Department’s role was becoming increasingly valuable.  A platform for moderate voices must emerge to reject terrorist practices, he said, commending the Department’s efforts in the field of counter-terrorism, including the design of a new online hub.  He went on to applaud other activities undertaken by the Department, including the annual International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East, noting that the Department’s coverage of international events relating to such issues had helped in reaching new audiences.

MAMOUDOU MANA (Cameroon) said that numerous United Nations resolutions called for improving access to information for all, but a monopoly over technologies maintained by a small number of countries persisted.  Cameroon did not intend to remain outside the technological revolution and wished to be part of the information society, he said, adding that the country had a strategic plan that involved establishing multipurpose community telecentres to provide Internet access to people in rural areas.  The Government would provide incentives to encourage entities working on closing the digital divide.  United Nations actions could have greater impact if information were made available to the international community in real time.  Despite the hesitancy of some who deemed such initiatives too expensive, additional efforts should be made to ensure that materials were provided in all official languages, he said, emphasizing that there should be no delays between publishing in one language and publishing in another.

LIM HOON-MIN (Republic of Korea) said the Department’s strides in new media were appreciated, but many delegations had expressed concerns about multilingualism, which could be addressed through the enhanced use of information centres.  They could directly involve people around the world in their own local languages and help to form comprehensive local partnerships.  Multi-stakeholder partnerships were critical in promoting various initiatives, particularly the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The Republic of Korea had participated in such efforts by hosting the United Nations Public Diplomacy Symposium in April, as well as the sixty-sixth Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organizations Conference in May.

FEDOR STRZHIZHVSKIY (Russian Federation) said that in order to guarantee language parity, the United Nations must step up efforts to translate information products into various languages, including Russian.  Equally important was the need to ensure that United Nations information centres were fed updated information on the Organization’s activities.  Turning to the safety of journalists, he emphasized that it was unacceptable to turn a blind eye to Ukrainian aggression.  Expressing concern over the killings of journalists, he said Ukrainians “must sort out the situation in the country before lecturing others”.  It was unfortunate that the country’s Government was preventing broadcasts in the Russian language.

Right of Reply

The representative of Ukraine, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, condemned attacks against journalists, emphasizing that their safety must be guaranteed.  The Government of Ukraine aimed to protect its citizens while facing aggression from another Member State, he said, adding that temporary measures had been undertaken, including steps to ensure the maintenance of public order.

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Nuclear-Weapon States Justify Deterrence Policies amid Calls for Transferring Bloated Defence Budgets to Development Efforts, First Committee Hears

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea defended its nuclear weapons programme before the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today, with its representative saying his Government had no option but to build a nuclear deterrent in response to threats from the United States.

“Going nuclear is the policy line of our State,” the representative said on the fourth day of the Committee’s general debate on disarmament and related international security agenda items.  He pointed out that Security Council resolutions and sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea constituted an abuse of the United Nations Charter.

He went on to say that neither the Charter nor international law stipulated that nuclear tests or satellite and missile launches constituted threats to international peace and security.  For its part, his Government would simultaneously promote economic construction and build up its nuclear forces “in quality and quantity” as long as nuclear blackmail and arbitrary actions continued.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the United States called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea a clear and present danger on the Korean Peninsula.  Its provocations would only increase the international community’s resolve in seeking new sanctions, he said, adding that the United States remained prepared to defend itself and its allies.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the Republic of Korea’s representative said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s hostile policy against her country was being used as a pretext for its nuclear programme.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must abide by Security Council resolutions and honour its pledge as a Member State of the United Nations, she added.

Responding in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea attributed the situation on the Korean Peninsula to the United States’ long-held hostile policy dating back to the Korean War.

During the general debate, a number of speakers shared views of nuclear deterrence policies.  India’s representative said that as a responsible nuclear-weapon State, his country’s national doctrine continued to emphasize a policy of credible minimum deterrence and of non-first use and non-use against non-nuclear weapon States.  As such, India remained committed to maintaining a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on testing.

Expressing another perspective, Cuba’s speaker rejected attempts made by nuclear-weapon States to legitimize holding such weapons and said a nuclear deterrence policy was unacceptable.  The $1.7 trillion currently being spent on the military and arms industry was also unacceptable, she said, adding that those funds should instead be allocated towards development.

Japan’s delegate, noting that his country was the only one to have experienced the use of nuclear weapons, said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s claim to have successfully detonated a warhead had brought the threat to a whole new level.  In response, Japan would coordinate with others on a new Security Council resolution that would include additional sanctions.

Speakers raised other concerns during the debate.  Fiji’s delegate emphasized the risk that an accidental or intentional nuclear detonation posed to the people and environment of Pacific island nations.  The representative of Burkina Faso drew attention to the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, calling it the primary threat to peace and security in Africa.

Also speaking today were representatives of Paraguay, Iraq, El Salvador, Cameroon, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Liechtenstein, Republic of Moldova, Cambodia, Georgia, Botswana, Malawi and Portugal.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the Russian Federation and Georgia.

The Committee will meet again on Friday, 7 October, at 10 a.m. to continue its debate on all disarmament and related international security agenda items.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate on all agenda items before it.  For background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3545 of 3 October.

Statements

ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) called for compliance with all provisions of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  Reaffirming Paraguay’s commitment to the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, he encouraged Member States to discuss the possibility of increasing such zones around the world.  Nuclear weapons threatened mankind and the principles of the United Nations Charter.  While Paraguay had advocated for the peaceful use of nuclear technologies, it believed that the production of nuclear energy could damage the environment.  States that carried out this type of production should do so responsibly and adhere to international best practices, taking into account any cross-border impacts.  Turning to small arms and light weapons, he called for a complementary framework to the Arms Trade Treaty to stop the production of those weapons and encouraged technical assistance from the international community to developing countries such as Paraguay to implement the instrument.

MOHAMED ALI ALHAKIM (Iraq), associating himself with Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the maintenance of international peace and security was the responsibility of all.  Concerned about the threat of nuclear weapons, he stressed the importance of prioritizing that issue until their complete elimination was achieved.  The Conference on Disarmament was the only negotiating forum for those issues, he said, expressing disappointment that it had not upheld its responsibilities for more than 20 years.  Iraq supported the Open-ended Working Group taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations and its efforts towards creating a non-discriminatory, legally binding instrument that prevented the production, use and stockpiling of nuclear weapons.  Deeply concerned about the continued failure to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he stressed the importance of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, calling for Annex 2 countries to ratify the instrument.  Turning to other concerns, he said small arms and light weapons had catastrophic effects that did not differ from weapons of mass destruction and highlighted the need to prevent terrorist groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) from gaining access to those arms.

RUBÉN IGNACIO ZAMORA RIVAS (El Salvador) said the elimination of weapons of mass destruction could be achieved through multilateral negotiations.  Noting that the Test-Ban Treaty was not yet in force, he urged Annex 2 countries to ratify it as soon as possible.  The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons jeopardized the United Nations Charter, international law and human rights.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones were a solid foundation for the universal prohibition of nuclear weapons.  It was evident that most Member States were aware of the need to negotiate a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.  In that vein, he urged all delegations to pursue discussions on the humanitarian consequences of weapons of mass destruction, highlighting the connection between human development and security.

Mr. AHIDJO (Cameroon) said that through strong political resolve, Member States would reach agreement on disarmament.  Hopefully, a General Assembly conference to start negotiations on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons would lead to their complete elimination.  The quest for a safer world must be carried out comprehensively, he said, adding that Cameroon attributed great importance to multilateral disarmament efforts.  Turning to counter-terrorism, he said it was absolutely crucial to pool efforts.  Thanks to cooperation between Lake Chad Basin countries, the operations of Boko Haram had been seriously harmed.  That group had to be eradicated and reconstruction must begin.  Like its Lake Chad Basin neighbours, Cameroon would spare no effort in that regard, he said, urging a greater commitment from partners, given the scale of the need.

DELL HIGGIE (New Zealand) said recent discussions had “breathed new life” into the nuclear disarmament agenda.  The Open-ended Working Group taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations had been dynamic, innovative and inclusive.  With all United Nations Member States invited to join proceedings, it had also forged a “new mainstream”, unifying regional groupings into a single vision set out in the recommendation that the General Assembly convene a conference in 2017 to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.  With international humanitarian law being routinely flouted in Syria and elsewhere, the international community must move forward on the promise of the Non-Proliferation Treaty by matching prohibitions on both other types of weapons of mass destruction — chemical and biological — with one now on nuclear weapons.  On the Arms Trade Treaty, New Zealand would serve on the selection committee reviewing projects for financing from the voluntary trust fund and had contributed almost NZ$100,000 to it for such initiatives in the Pacific and Africa.

RI TONG IL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his Government fully supported the global struggle for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  Recently, the United States had announced a programme to modernize its nuclear weapons over three decades at a cost of $1 trillion, making its talk of a nuclear-weapon-free world only a screen to cover up a strategy of nuclear monopoly and world hegemony.  Actual nuclear threats came from fully operational nuclear weapons, ready to be launched at any time, and not from proliferation.  The United States was using nuclear threats against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Joint military exercises and the United States’ decision to deploy an air defence system in the Republic of Korea clearly indicated a programme envisaging a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had entered an implementation phase.  His Government’s only option of possessing its own nuclear deterrent was “a self-defensive measure to safeguard its national sovereignty and the right to existence and survival”.

The Security Council, he said, had adopted resolutions to ban his Government’s nuclear tests and satellite and rocket launches, but nothing in the United Nations Charter or international law stipulated that such actions were threats to international peace and security.  The Council had meanwhile repeatedly turned a blind eye to joint military exercises conducted every year in the republic of Korea and sanctions against Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were an abuse of power and a misuse of the Charter.  “Going nuclear is the policy line of our State,” he said, adding that as long as the imperialists continued with nuclear blackmail and arbitrary actions, his Government would simultaneously promote economic construction and the building up of its nuclear forces “in quality and quantity”.  Having declared itself a responsible nuclear-weapon State, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would not use nuclear weapons first.  At the same time, it would faithfully observe its commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and to strive for global denuclearization.

AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) said that as the entire world was geared towards implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, disarmament had assumed an “extraordinary” degree of significance.  It would therefore be imperative to divert resources from armaments to sustainable development.  In that regard, Sri Lanka believed in a sustainable plan for multilateral nuclear disarmament.  Warning of the threat posed by terrorism, he stressed a dire need to strengthen the coordination of efforts on national, subregional, regional and international levels.  On non-proliferation, he said nuclear-weapon States must continue their work on eliminating stockpiles and, equally, tests carried out by Member States must be denounced.  Concerning the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons, he said eradicating that scourge required concerted efforts by all nations.

CLAUDIO NARDI (Liechtenstein) said the recent nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had dealt an additional blow to the non-proliferation and disarmament regime under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  It was essential to achieve universality of the Treaty without delay, and, in particular, States must become serious about implementing all three of its pillars.  Liechtenstein had already prohibited all weapons of mass destruction and the financing, brokerage, development, production, acquisition, transfer, import, export, carriage in transit, storage or possession of them.  He expressed hope that other States would take similar legislative action.

TOSHIO SANO (Japan) said that as the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings in wartime, it was keen to promote nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts geared towards a world free of such arms.  The engagement of nuclear-weapon States was imperative in disarmament deliberations.  The most effective way to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world was to take concrete measures that considered security considerations in regions facing challenges involving nuclear threats, such as those of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The international community must avoid further division and fragmentation and instead pursue consensus-based efforts in taking forward nuclear disarmament measures.

He condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for conducting its fifth nuclear test and urged it to immediately comply with relevant Security Council resolutions and other commitments.  In this year alone, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had launched more than 20 ballistic missiles, some of which had fallen into Japan’s economic zone, he noted.  During the latest nuclear test, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had claimed to have successfully detonated a nuclear warhead, bringing the threat it posed to a whole new level.  As a result, Japan would continue to coordinate with relevant countries towards the adoption of a new Security Council resolution that would include additional sanctions.

LUKE DAUNIVALU (Fiji) expressed serious concerns about the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.  Fiji had witnessed first-hand the long-lasting effect of nuclear weapons and it was still living with the repercussions of more than 300 forced nuclear tests in the Pacific region.  Fiji supported strengthened nuclear-weapon-free zones, the prohibition on nuclear weapons and redress for those who had suffered the effects of testing.  It also supported the establishment of a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.  Recalling the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said Fiji and the Pacific region did not want to be left behind due to an accidental or intentional nuclear detonation.  “An accident in our waters can wipe away our environment and our livelihood,” he said.

LILIANNE SÁNCHEZ RODRÍGUEZ (Cuba) said the possibility of nuclear war was ever closer and unpredictable, making it an international priority deserving of attention at the highest level.  Some 15,000 nuclear weapons existed in the world and a new generation of weapons was being developed, she said, adding that the detonation of such weapons would have disastrous effects on the planet.  In that context, Cuba would continue to advocate for the adoption of a comprehensive convention that would work towards eliminating those weapons within a defined timeframe.  In the meantime, a treaty was needed to provide security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States.  She rejected attempts made by nuclear-weapon States to legitimize holding such weapons and said a nuclear deterrence policy was unacceptable.  The $1.7 trillion currently being spent on the military and arms industry was unacceptable, she said, adding that those funds should instead be allocated towards development.

VLAD LUPAN (Republic of Moldova) said widespread armed violence continued to result in civilian deaths on a daily basis and unresolved conflicts had created opportunities for the spread of illicit weapons trafficking.  Conventional arms gravely affected civilians, he said, underlining his Government’s concern that those weapons could reach unauthorized actors, thus making it even more difficult to contain wars.  That issue was of particular concern to the Republic of Moldova as it had been confronted by an unresolved conflict in the Transnistrian region, where foreign troops were illegally stationed and regularly carried out military exercises.  Other concerns included ammunition depots and the danger of “black zones” for arms control regimes that could be used both as sources and transit points for international conventional arms trafficking.

SOPHEA YAUNG CHAN (Cambodia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), stressed the importance of mechanisms to guarantee that nuclear weapons would not be used.  Pending the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty, States should refrain from carrying out tests or other nuclear explosions.  As a post-conflict country, Cambodia still suffered from unexploded ordnance in farm lands and border areas.  While there were fewer victims than in past decades, mine clearance work needed to be accelerated.  Cambodia commended the solidarity of States parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.  He expressed concern over the illicit manufacturing, transferring and circulation of small arms and light weapons, adding that Cambodia’s draft ASEAN convention against trafficking in firearms would complement the Arms Trade Treaty.

YEMDAOGO ERIC TIARE (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, called the proliferation of small arms and light weapons the primary threat to peace and security on the continent and particularly West Africa.  Burkina Faso had never wavered in its commitment to address the illicit traffic and uncontrolled trade in such weapons.  He underscored the role of the Arms Trade Treaty and the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and urged all States and stakeholders to ensure their full implementation in order to combat terrorism and the socioeconomic collapse of States.  The African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, known as the Pelindaba Treaty, demonstrated the will of African States to reinforce the non-proliferation regime.  Noting the link between disarmament and development, he emphasized the need to combat poverty, which underpinned conflict and the need for weapons.

KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia) said European security was challenged by the Russian Federation’s ongoing military aggression against Ukraine.  Further, 20 per cent of Georgia remained under illegal military occupation after the 2008 invasion.  As long as international mechanisms were absent in the occupied territories, there were no guarantees that the most dangerous weapons systems would not be transferred to terrorist or criminal groups.  Between 2006 and 2016, 25 cases of illicit smuggling of radioactive materials had occurred, 11 of which were from the occupied territories of Georgia.  Georgia, along with Morocco and the Philippines, had established a United Nations Group of Friends on Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Risk Mitigation and Security Governance, a forum to integrate that component into the international security architecture.

NKOLOI NKOLOI (Botswana) said that as long as the world remained seized with various conflicts and threats to international peace and security, the 2030 Agenda would only be a dream.  Expressing concern about the continued existence of nuclear weapons, the scourge of international terrorism and the illicit trade and flow of small arms and light weapons, he said those realities had brought into question the commitment of nuclear-weapon States to achieve complete disarmament.  While acknowledging security concerns, he warned against the potential catastrophic humanitarian impact of those weapons.  Deeply troubling was the notion that non-State actors and radical extremists could possess such weapons, deploying them with impunity.  “Should this occur, we only have ourselves to blame,” he said.  Expressing support for the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, he emphasized that Botswana was proud to be associated with the Pelindaba Treaty.  He also fully supported the implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the International Tracing Instrument.  However, resource limitations and differing capacities of States hindered the Programme of Action’s full implementation.

D.B. VENKATESH VARMA (India) said that his Government’s support for global, non-discriminatory, verifiable nuclear disarmament remained firm.  That goal could be achieved through a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework.  The current complex international environment was in need of measures to enhance strategic trust globally.  At the same time, the international community must stand united against those whose persistent violations had increased nuclear threats and proliferation risks, he said.  As a responsible nuclear-weapon State, India’s doctrine continued to emphasize a policy of credible minimum deterrence and of non-first use and non-use against non-nuclear weapon States.  As such, India remained committed to maintaining a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on testing.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, responded to the statement made by her counterpart from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The so-called hostile policy against the Republic of Korea was being used as a pretext to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear programme, she said.  The Republic of Korea’s military exercises, which had been conducted to respond to the military threat of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, were defensive in nature and had operated in a transparent manner.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must abide by relevant Security Council resolutions and honour its pledge as a member of the United Nations.

The representative of the United States, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, also took the floor to respond to the statement made by the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Member States had witnessed a “hypocritical and delusional diatribe”, he said, adding that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea presented a clear and present danger to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula.  Provocations only served to increase the international community’s resolve in seeking new sanctions.  The United States would not accept the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as a nuclear-weapon State nor allow it to possess nuclear weapons, he said, noting that the United States remained prepared to defend itself and its allies.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, responding to the representatives of the United States and the Republic of Korea in exercise of the right of reply, rejected their remarks as misleading.  The explosive situation on the Korean Peninsula was the result of the United States’ long-held hostile policy toward the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which dated back to the Korean War.  For more than half a century, they had held large-scale military exercises in the peninsula.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had no other choice but to “go nuclear” to protect its sovereignty.  Meanwhile, there was no provision in the United Nations Charter that stipulated that nuclear activity posed a threat to international peace and security.

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, responded to the statement made by the delegate from Georgia and a reference made to the events of August 2008.  He said the establishment of two new States was due to the unfriendly policy of the Tbilisi regime at the time.  Moreover, any reference to the Russian Federation’s actions in the Ukraine had brought into doubt the rest of the representative of Georgia’s statement.

The representative of the Republic of Korea, taking the floor for a second time, said the actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, rather than of any outside force, were threatening peace.  By doing so, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would only jeopardize its economy by isolating itself and was in fact worsening living conditions for its people.  Nothing would be achieved by continuing provocative acts, she said.

The representative of Georgia, responding to the remarks made by the delegate from the Russian Federation, noted that the Russian Federation had not complied with the conditions of the 2008 ceasefire agreement brokered by the European Union.  The Russian Federation maintained thousands of troops in Georgia without the consent of Georgia’s Government, she said, calling on the Russian Federation to withdraw those troops without further delay.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, taking the floor a second time, rejected the remarks made by the Republic of Korea, saying they distorted realities and misled the world.  That country was a colony of the United States, which had long ago turned over control of its armed forces — a symbol of its sovereignty — to the United States.  It was moreover a servant to its master’s strategy in Asia, he said.

The representative of the Russian Federation, taking the floor a second time, said the second statement by his counterpart from Georgia had confirmed what he initially said.  He reminded the Committee that, on 8 August 2008, it was the Georgian authorities who had started military operations against South Ossetia that had bordered on genocide.  The then-leader of Georgia who had given the “criminal order” to begin those operations had not become the subject of an international arrest warrant, issued at the request of Georgia’s authorities.  In fact, Georgia’s authorities had recognized the criminal act that had been carried out by the former regime.  Georgia itself was guilty in terms of what had happened in 2008, making it also guilty of the consequences, namely the establishment of two independent States.

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Antitrust: Commission takes further steps in investigations alleging Google’s comparison shopping and advertising-related practices breach EU rules

The European Commission has sent two Statements of Objections to Google. The Commission has reinforced, in a supplementary Statement of Objections, its preliminary conclusion that Google has abused its dominant position by systematically favouring its comparison shopping service in its search result pages. Separately, the Commission has also informed Google in a Statement of Objections of its preliminary view that the company has abused its dominant position by artificially restricting the possibility of third party websites to display search advertisements from Google’s competitors. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives. But that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate. Today, we have further strengthened our case that Google has unduly favoured its own comparison shopping service in its general search result pages. It means consumers may not see the most relevant results to their search queries. We have also raised concerns that Google has hindered competition by limiting the ability of its competitors to place search adverts on third party websites, which stifles consumer choice and innovation. Google now has the opportunity to respond to our concerns. I will consider their arguments carefully before deciding how to take both cases forward. But if our investigations conclude that Google has broken EU antitrust rules, the Commission has a duty to act to protect European consumers and fair competition on European markets.” Commissioner Vestager is presenting these decisions at 12 pm CET today, which you can follow live here. A full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE and all other EU languages. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

Capital Markets Union: New Rules To Support Investment In Venture Capital And Social Enterprises

The European Commission has today proposed amendments to the European Venture Capital Funds (EuVECA) and the European Social Entrepreneurship Funds (EuSEF) regulations, marking another step towards the creation of the Capital Markets Union. Today’s proposal aims to make it easier and more attractive for investors to invest in small and medium-sized innovative companies and social projects. In particular, the Commission is proposing to open up EuVECA and EuSEF funds to fund managers of all sizes, and to expand the range of companies that can benefit from venture capital funds. The Commission also aims to make the cross border marketing of EuVECA and EuSEF funds cheaper and easier by explicitly prohibiting fees levied by Member States and simplifying registration processes, in order to increase the number of managers, funds, and investments in venture capital and social enterprises. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Today we are removing another barrier to investment at EU level which is a key objective of the Investment Plan for Europe. The three main changes we are proposing to the EuVECA and EuSEF regulations today – broadening the scope of eligible managers; expanding the list of EuVECA eligible assets; and prohibiting fees imposed by competent authorities – will result in a greater number of SMEs getting access to the vital finance they need to grow their businesses.” Commissioner Jonathan Hill said: “This proposal is part of the package of measures in the CMU Action Plan to strengthen venture capital markets. This proposal will build up scale, diversity and choice for investors, venture capital and social enterprises. Other actions foreseen include the launch of a large-scale fund-of-funds, blending EU and private capital, to support investment in innovative companies across the whole EU.” Today’s proposal has been submitted to the European Parliament and the Council (Member States) for adoption under the co-decision procedure. Today at 12:30 CET, a press release and memo will be published, and a statement by Commissioner Hill can be watched on EbS. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Letizia Lupini – Tel.: +32 229 51958)  

 

European Commission announces €145 million in humanitarian aid for 7 countries in Africa’s Sahel region

During a visit in Niger today, Commissioner Stylianides will announce €145 million in EU humanitarian assistance for the Sahel region in 2016 to address the basic needs of the populations, tackle malnutrition and provide food to the most vulnerable people. “Saving lives continues to be the EU’s first priority in Niger and the Sahel region. Our new humanitarian funding will provide essential nutrition and health treatment to young children and their mothers, water, sanitation and hygiene as well as training and support to health centres. The EU is working hand in hand with humanitarian organisations to help the most vulnerable”, said Commissioner Christos Stylianides, who will visit EU funded aid projects in Niger. A significant amount, totalling €29 million will be allocated to the most vulnerable in Niger. The country is facing persistent acute food insecurity, child malnutrition and the displacement of people fleeing conflicts in neighbouring Mali and Nigeria. Overall, funding will be provided to those in need in 7 countries: Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Chad and Cameroon. Read the full press release here. (For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

President Juncker addresses Asia-Europe Business Forum

Today 14 July in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, President Juncker addressed the 15thAsia-Europe Business Forum. Bringing together business leaders from both regions, the Forum is part of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. In his speech, President Juncker set out his commitment to work for a global economy that is fair, transparent and governed by rules. He underlined the need for strong public-private partnerships to deliver this. “The business community will play a central role,” said the President. “You are the engines of change and innovation. You have the power to bring our two great regions closer together. But with your power comes responsibility. You have a duty to act as good citizens: respecting the rules of the game, investing in people and taking care of our planet.” On 15-16 July, still in Ulaanbaatar, President Juncker will attend the 11th ASEM Summit together with EU High Representative and Commission Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, and European Council President, Donald Tusk. Government leaders from both regions will discuss a range of global and regional issues including security, terrorism, climate change, migration, economic cooperation and sustainable development. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)

Investment Plan for Europe: new EFSI deals signed in Greece and Spain

Today two new deals have been signed under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. In Athens, the European Investment Fund signed an agreement with the National Bank of Greece to provide EUR 100 million in loans to over 350 Greek SMEs. Chief Spokesperson of the Commission, Margaritis Schinas, was in Athens to attend the agreement signature on behalf of President Juncker and Vice-President Katainen. Meanwhile in Madrid, the European Investment Bank signed a contract with car manufacturer Gestamp Automoción in Spain to invest EUR 160 million in research, development and innovation. The EFSI-backed financing will allow the company, which has factories in Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland and the UK, to invest in RDI to make more environmentally-friendly cars with safer and lighter bodywork. Commenting on the Gestamp project, Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “The European Union is investing in research and innovation to support growth and jobs, and to tackle today’s challenges. The project signed today by the European Investment Bank and Gestamp Automoción under the Commission’s Investment Plan is a great example of the value of our investment. The funding will make cars safer and greener, and create hundreds of jobs in Spain and elsewhere.” (For more information see here or contact Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)

Commission publishes further TTIP documents in ongoing transparency commitment

The European Commission is today publishing a record number of EU proposals from the ongoing 14th round of talks for a trade agreement with the United States, taking place in Brussels this week. As part of its drive for a more transparent trade and investment policy, the Commission is making these proposals public only days after submitting them to our negotiating partners. The nine proposals published today are intended to simplify technical regulations without lowering standards, and to set global rules of trade. Specifically, the published texts represent the EU’s negotiating position on regulatory cooperation in the sectors of cosmetics, medical devices, cars, chemicals and textiles. Also published today is a new article on climate protection as a part of the chapter on sustainable development, as well as separate chapters on energy and raw materials,market access for financial services, and on institutional cooperation within TTIP. The proposal for regulatory cooperation in the engineering sector will follow. The published texts show that the Commission is delivering on the goal established at the beginning of the year – to have almost all proposals for chapters of TTIP on the table and consolidate as many texts as possible by the summer break. Yesterday, the Commission organised a series of stakeholder events at the fringes of the negotiations, where interested stakeholders were briefed on the status of the negotiations and exchanged views with the chief EU and US negotiators. Tomorrow at 15:00 in Brussels there will be a press conference with the two chief negotiators on the 14th round of TTIP negotiations, which will also be broadcast live on Europe by Satellite. Photos of the negotiation round are also available. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Axel Fougner – Tel.: +32 229 57276)

Annual Agri-food trade report 2015: EU first exporter worldwide

The European Commission today published the Agri-food trade in 2015 report, which shows EU exports for agricultural products reached €129 billion in 2015. This means an annual increase of 5.7%, securing the EU’s position as first world agri-food exporter with a net trade surplus of €16 billion. The entire output of the European Union’s agricultural sector was valued at €410 billion in 2015. Agriculture and the food and drink industry together employ millions of people, accounting for 7.5 % of employment and 3.7 % of total value added in the EU, according to the annual report. Although some Member States and sectors still suffered from the Russian ban and from low world market prices, the overall EU agricultural trade performance was positive in 2015. EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan commented on the report: “Our trade performance continues to be a real good news story for the EU agri-food sector. Our high production standards and commitment to quality food and drink products ensure continuing global demand. In the coming months, I hope to see further export growth for Europe’s farmers and agri-food businesses, and the Commission will support them every step of the way.” A press release on the annual report and the monthly agri-food trade report for May are now available online. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Clemence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)

           

Commission adopts measures to protect against money laundering and terrorist financing from high risk third countries

Today, the European Commission has formally adopted a list of third countries having strategic deficiencies in their regimes on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering Terrorist Financing (CFT). This completes the package of stronger transparency rules to tackle terrorism financing and money laundering brought forward last week. Banks will have to carry out additional checks (‘enhanced due diligence measures’) on financial flows from these 11 countries. Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: “Today’s list is part of our broader drive to tackle terrorism financing and money laundering. We need to cut off terrorists and other criminals from their resources. To put Europe at the forefront of the global fight against money laundering, we have proposed a common European set of stricter checks in relation to financial flows from these countries.” The Commission proposed on 5 July 2016 to harmonise the list of checks applicable to high-risk countries to prevent loopholes in Europe, where terrorists could run operations through countries with lower levels of protection. The EU will continue to engage across all relevant policy areas with the concerned countries, including through development cooperation, the ultimate goal being their compliance and removal from the list. The list of the Commission will be reviewed at least three times a year, after each Financial Action Task Force meeting assessing the latest developments. The Delegated Regulation will now be transmitted to the European Parliament and Council who have a one-month period to express objections (extendable to two months). If no objection has been expressed, it will be published in the Official Journal. The list is available online and more information on the latest Anti-Money Laundering amendments is available here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

EUROSTAT: Sommet Asie-Europe – les partenaires ASEM ont représenté en 2015 plus d’un tiers du commerce de biens de l’UE, déficit de l’UE de 277 milliards d’euros

En 2015, les 21 pays non-AELE participant au Sommet Asie-Europe (ci-après dénommés partenaires ASEM) comptaient ensemble pour 37% des échanges internationaux de biens de l’Union européenne (UE), avec une part des partenaires ASEM s’établissant à 29% pour les exportations de l’UE et à 46% pour ses importations. Sur la décennie 2005-2015, l’UE a constamment accusé un déficit commercial, toujours nettement supérieur à 200 milliards d’euros, avec les partenaires ASEM. En 2015, il se situait à 277 milliards d’euros, en baisse par rapport au pic de 320 milliards d’euros enregistré en 2008. Un communiqué de presse EUROSTAT est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Axel Fougner – Tel.: +32 229 57276)

 

Quarterly Report on the Euro Area published today

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs today publishes its Quarterly Report on the Euro Area (QREA), featuring in-depth technical analyses of economic issues affecting the euro area. In this edition, staff economists look at the role of cross-border risk sharing, both through financial and labour market incomes generated across borders and through cross-border fiscal transfers, in mitigating asymmetric shocks, and compare the situation in the euro area to that of the United States. Other sections examine the mechanisms through which financial systems affect the real economy and confidence spill overs in the euro area. QREA Vol.15 No.2 will be published today at 15.00. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Audrey Augier – Tel.: +32 229 71607)

Raw materials: Commission highlights need for security of supply and investment*

Today the Commission is publishing the first Raw Materials Scoreboard prepared by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), under the responsibility of Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. The Scoreboard provides a comprehensive set of indicators on both primary and secondary raw materials. It highlights the need to address the EU’s growing skills shortage, innovation needs and its import-dependency, providing valuable information for policy decisions. Speaking at a meeting of the High-Level Steering Group of the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials this morning, Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: The supply and affordability of raw materials are of strategic importance for the future of the European economy and society. With the European Innovation Partnership, the raw materials community has taken important steps towards increased security of supply and a more circular economy. Today, we made the case for the need to support investment in the field of raw materials, in particular for start-ups and SMEs trying to optimise their resource use. The meeting was organised by the European Commission as part of its efforts to secure a sustainable supply of raw materials for Europe and to boost investment into the raw materials and recycling sectors. The group, which is composed of representatives of the industry, NGOs, researchers, ministers and the Commission, adopted a’Strategic Evaluation Report’ on future priorities in the area of raw materials. The group also presented a voluntary ‘Declaration of Support’ for the setting up of a European Investment Platform on Raw Materials and Recycling for start-ups, brought forward by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and its innovation community, EIT Raw Materials, under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). More information regarding the ‘Strategic Evaluation Report’ and the ‘Declaration of Support’ on the websites of DG Grow and JRC. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Innovation performance compared: How innovative is your country?

Today, the Commission released the 2016 results of the European Innovation Scoreboard, the Regional Innovation Scoreboard and the Innobarometer. The main findings of the three reports are that Sweden is once again the innovation leader, Latvia has become the fastest growing innovator, and EU innovation is catching up with Japan and the US.By boosting private investment and improving the framework conditions for innovation, the EU has the potential to lead in innovation at the global stage.Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “I want Europe to be a place where innovative SMEs and start-ups flourish and scale up within the Single Market. This requires a concerted effort. At EU level, we need to simplify VAT regulation, adapt insolvency rules, make information on regulatory requirements more easily accessible and work on a clear and SME-friendly intellectual property framework. We also need to keep adapting the Single Market to ensure that innovative services such as the collaborative economy find their place.” Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, added: “Leading countries and regions are supporting innovation across a wide range of policies from investment to education, from flexible labour conditions to ensuring public administrations that value entrepreneurship and innovation. The Commission is doing its part by promoting innovation across policy areas too. Not only that, we’re also improving access to private finance through the €315 billion Investment Plan for Europe and the Capital Markets Union, as well as creating a new European Innovation Council.“Corina Crețu, Commissioner for Regional Policy, said: “Smart specialisation strategies help Member States and regions capitalise on their competitive assets in Research & Innovation and find opportunities for cooperation between business and academia. As such, they are compasses for innovative, long-term investments supported by ESI Funds and, when possible, other EU sources of finance. This contributes greatly to Europe’s shift towards a knowledge-based economy.” For further details on the results and the Commission’s actions to support innovation, a press release, frequently asked questions, the European Innovation Scoreboard, the Regional Innovation Scoreboard and the Innobarometer are available online. (Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184, Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

European Commission appoints new Head of Representation in Lisbon

The European Commission has appointed Ms Sofia Colares Alves as the new Head of its Representation in Portugal. She will take up office on 16 July, bringing over twenty years of European and International affairs experience to the post. Ms Alves is an experienced lawyer and works for the European Commission since 2003, specialising in competition policy. She was a member of the Cabinet of former Commission Vice-President Joaquín Almunia (from 2010 to 2013), a Head of Unit in DG Competition (from 2013 until 2015) and since May 2015 was seconded to the Portuguese Competition Authority (PCA) in Lisbon as Head of Cabinet advising the Board on all areas of competence of the PCA. Ms Sofia Colares Alves obtained a Law Degree from the University of Lisbon and a Master of European Legal Studies (LLM.) from the College of Europe in Bruges. A complete press release for Ms Sofia Colares Alves is available online, also in DE, FR and PT. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265)

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Vice-President Dombrovskis visits Japan

Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, will visit Tokyo, Japan on 14 and 15 July. During this visit, he will participate in the 16th EU-Japan Symposium, delivering the opening address on the theme of contemporary social and employment issues. He will also hold bilateral meetings with Mr Haruhiko Kuroda, Governor of the Bank of Japan; Mr Taro Aso, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister; and Mr Nobuteru Ishihara, Minister of Economic Revitalisation. Finally, he will meet representatives from the European Business Council. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Siobhan Millbright – Tel.: +32 229 57367)

 

Commissioner Thyssen attends the Informal Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

Labour Ministers will hold an informal meeting on 14 and 15 July 2016 in Bratislava, under the Council Presidency of Slovakia. The Commission will be represented by Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen. Ministers will focus their discussions around three main topics: ageing, digitalisation, and migration. They will discuss how these three key challenges impact Member States’ labour markets and social security systems and exchange experiences and policies to turn these challenges into opportunities for Europe. In this context, Commissioner Thyssen will highlight some of the emerging issues in its consultation on the European pillar of social rights, a key initiative to make social rights in Europe fit for purpose in the 21st century. The meeting will also include a field visit to a Slovak company, which has expanded its production and innovation in times of global competition and digitalisation. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 6225)

 

Commissioner Hogan on official visit to Slovenia

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, is today on official visit in Slovenia. Together with Mr Dejan Židan, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food for Slovenia, he visited this morning an educational farm in Poljane. In the afternoon, Commissioner Hogan and the Minister will meet with representatives of the consultative Council for Agriculture. This meeting will be followed by a joint press conference, after which they will visit a cheese dairy farm in Gorenja vas. From 2014-2020, the CAP will invest around €1.8 billion in Slovenia’s farming sector and rural areas. More information about the CAP in Slovenia can be found here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Clemence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)

 

Commissioner Andriukaitis visits Montenegro

EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis is visiting Montenegro today and tomorrow (14-15 July). Commissioner Andriukaitis will meet national authorities, including the Deputy-Prime minister and the ministers in charge of Health and Agriculture, with whom he’ll mainly discuss the recent (30 June) opening of the Chapter 12 (Food Safety, Veterinary and Phytosanitary Policy) of the negotiations of accession. The Commissioner will underline the importance of this Chapter since it deals with the safety of food products, a topic of the highest concern for EU citizens and consumers. He will detail to his interlocutors how they can learn from previous negotiations in this area. On the occasion of the visit he said: “It is of the utmost importance that Montenegro follows as closely as possible its strategy for transposition and implementation of the EU acquis for this Chapter. Montenegro has a major task ahead since this is a very demanding area, but I’ll make sure that all the expertise needed will be pooled to help this country. A step-by-step harmonisation with EU standards will allow Montenegrin products to access the EU markets“. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

 

 

Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)

* Updated on 14/07/2016 at 14:44, adding “and its innovation community, EIT Raw Materials”

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USA Sending Hundreds of Troops to Cameroon

The White House stresses that the troops will not take part in combat operations. “US President Barack Obama will deploy up to 300 military personnel to Cameroon for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations against militant Boko Haram insurgents, he informed Congress on Wednesday. In a letter released by the White House, Obama said 90 personnel had already been deployed, marking a modest but significant escalation of US involvement in the fight against the Islamic State-allied group.” (AFP http://yhoo.it/1NHPAAd)

AIDS Vaccine to Undergo Human Testing…A vaccine that seeks to cure acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, will undergo its first human trial, 15 years since it was developed. Dr Robert Gallo, the biomedical researcher who first discovered the cause of AIDS in 1984, is launching the clinical test in his role as the director of the Institute of Human Virology. In 1984, Gallo and a team of scientists revealed that AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. To date, HIV has remained incurable.” (IB Times http://bit.ly/1X4AXIx)

Quote of the Day: Our very own Mark Goldberg with the wild story of his son’s birth in his car and why his family is lucky to live in the U.S. “[E]very baby deserves the care of someone like our heroic ER nurse, to increase the chances of a safe and healthy delivery for mother and baby — at home, in a medical facility or, in some cases, in an old car.” (Washington Post http://wapo.st/1LkEFGI)

And…On his podcast, Mark interviews his wife about giving birth in the passenger seat of the family car and has an extended conversation with Dr. Luc de Bernis of the UN Population Fund about the role of skilled birth attendants in reducing maternal mortality around the world. (Global Dispatches Podcast http://bit.ly/1NHNErk)

Stat of the day: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported Wednesday that the amount of opium produced in Afghanistan during the current year dropped by 48 percent. (VOA http://bit.ly/1K9avUV)

Humanity Affirming Trend of the Day… The world has now gone two consecutive weeks with no new ebola cases reported. (WHO http://bit.ly/1LkJgJ0)

Africa

Guinea’s government called for calm on Wednesday after police fired teargas at protesters in Conakry, the capital, before provisional election results are announced later this week. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1K98F6r)

Amnesty International on Wednesday said there can be no impunity for Burkina Faso troops who shot dead unarmed civilians including children in the days following their September 17 coup. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1K98GaI)

For weeks the government of Sudan has been refusing to release rations and other essential supplies for international peacekeepers in the conflict-torn Darfur region, Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1K97ROZ)

Ethiopia’s government is calling for international assistance to help feed 8.2 million people after erratic rains devastated crop yields. (AP http://yhoo.it/1K98IiQ)

European Union observers gave Guinea’s presidential elections a clean bill of health despite protests by opposition supporters who accuse President Alpha Conde of rigging the vote to win a second term. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Gdn1aS)

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete dismissed opposition accusations on Wednesday that his CCM party planned to rig a presidential vote next week and warned against violence ahead of the Oct. 25 elections. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Gdn1ri)

At least seven people were killed in shootings and a grenade attack in Burundi’s capital, police and residents said, in a further spate of violence following the election of President Pierre Nkurunziza to a third term. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Gdn5aC)

Blasts detonated by three suicide bombers in the northeastern Nigeria city of Maiduguri killed at least seven people, the Red Cross and a vigilante group member said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1K97Ri1)

MENA

Islamic State militants battled rival insurgent groups on Wednesday north of the city of Aleppo, where officials say the Syrian army is preparing an offensive of its own backed by Iranian soldiers and Russian jets. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1QsKUvH)

China said on Wednesday it had no plans to send military ships to Syria to fight with Russian forces after reports in overseas media that it was planning to do so. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1QsKRzS)

Egypt’s state-run news agency says the Egyptian government is negotiating a $3 billion loan with the World Bank and another $500 million from the African Development Bank to finance its budget deficit. (AP http://yhoo.it/1K98Fn7)

Asia

An international panel of experts is ready to investigate the U.S. bombing of a Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in Afghanistan but awaits a green light from both governments, MSF and the Swiss foreign ministry said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1K98DLU)

The Philippine army on Wednesday rejected demands by Islamist militants to start negotiations for the release of three abducted foreign tourists and a Filipino woman and halt an offensive on a remote southern island. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1QsKOEl

With the failure of its scheme to resettle refugees in Cambodia and growing concerns about its offshore detention centres, the Australian government is hoping the elusive solution to what has become a policy nightmare might be found in the Philippines. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1QsPfif)

Just when Nepal was recovering from the devastating earthquake that killed thousands, flattened communities and chased away foreign tourists, protests by ethnic groups and severe fuel shortages are again keeping visitors away from the nation known for the world’s highest peaks. (AP http://yhoo.it/1ZDujLy)

Cambodian activist Phymean Noun has been awarded the $50,000 World’s Children’s Prize for helping children who live in garbage dumps in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. (AP http://yhoo.it/1K98FU6)

Bangladesh earned a place in the 2015 Global Impunity Index published by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Bloggers and rights activists say the ranking accurately reflects a growing “culture of impunity” in the country, particularly after four secular bloggers were hacked to death this year. (VOA http://bit.ly/1K9aws4)

The Americas

Planned Parenthood says it will no longer accept reimbursement for the cost of providing fetal tissue to researchers. The move is a response to sting videos and accusations that the organization unlawfully profits from such donations. (NPR http://n.pr/1K98J6i)

Prosecutors, narcotics police, former military officers and current and former U.S. drug agents say that Peru’s narco-flight plague is the military’s failure because it controls the remote jungle region known as the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro river valley. (AP http://yhoo.it/1QsKZzf)

Embattled Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has accused the political opposition of seeking to oust her government by “coup-mongering”. Speaking at a meeting of union leaders, Ms Rousseff also said her opponents were spreading hatred and intolerance across the country. (BBC http://bbc.in/1VSIBTT)

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has announced the launch of a process to draw up a new constitution for the country. A new constitution to replace the one drawn up under military rule had been one of President Bachelet’s main campaign pledges. (BBC http://bbc.in/1VSJ48N)

… and the rest

Europe’s ageing economy may just find that the biggest refugee crisis since World War Two gives it a new lease of life – even if huge uncertainty about the future scale of immigration and how refugees are integrated cloud any long-range forecasting. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1K97Uua)

The Swiss head to the polls Sunday to vote in a new parliament, with the populist right seen as likely to strengthen its already dominant position amid concerns over migrants and asylum rules. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1QsKWDM)

Basic rights, and sympathy, are in short supply for thousands of migrants around the northern French city of Calais, even though the travelers — many fleeing wars in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere — live in what may be the European Union’s biggest and most squalid ghetto. (AP http://yhoo.it/1ZDulTS)

Opinion/Blogs

Philanthrocapitalism: A Self-Love Story (The Nation http://bit.ly/1VSIJD4)

10 International development priorities for the UK: parliamentary (ODI http://bit.ly/1K93vaB)

Eat the Rich and Pay the Poor (Foreign Policy http://atfp.co/1OC1tGt)

Why Wal-Mart And Other Retail Chains May Not Fix The Food Deserts (Goats and Soda http://n.pr/1K93HXr)

Lowering the flag: The ANC and the ICC (Daily Maverick http://bit.ly/1K9afW0)

Why those promoting growth need to take politics seriously, and vice versa (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/1OC1qKD)

Piketty in Africa: heat, hype and heterodox economics (African Arguments http://bit.ly/1QsFjpc)

Africa’s Experience Useful in Achieving Goals (Nation http://bit.ly/1K99ooa)

Nobel Prize for Economics Reflects Issues on U.N. Development Agenda (Inter Press Service http://bit.ly/1OC12Me)

Uganda pullout boosts South Sudan peace prospects (IRIN http://bit.ly/1OC1c6e)

MSF is pressing for an independent investigation of the recent attack in Kunduz, but do they have legal leverage? (ATHA http://bit.ly/1NHQ5tV)

Discussion

comments…

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Motion for a resolution on the displacement of children in Northern Nigeria as a result of Boko Haram attacks – B8-2015-1031

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to its previous resolutions on Nigeria, last one on April 29th 2015,

– having regard the plenary debate on the matter on Wednesday, 14 January 2015,

–       having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, including the statements of 8 January, 19 January, 31 March, 14 and 15 April 2015,

– having regard to the Council Conclusions of 9 February 2015,

–       having regard to the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and terrorist financing(1),

–       having regard to the Resolution of the European Parliament on tax avoidance and tax evasion as challenges for governance, social protection and development in developing countries of July 2015,

–       having regard to the fifth Nigeria-EU ministerial dialogue held in Abuja on 27 November 2014,

–       having regard to the preliminary conclusions of the EU and EP Election Observation Missions,

– having regard to the regional conference on security held in Niamey on 20 January 2015;

–       having regard to the statements made by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon,

–       having regard to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of September 2015,

–       having regard to the statements by the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights on the possibility that members of Boko Haram could be accused of war crimes,

–       having regard to the UN Declaration of 1981 on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief,

–       having regard to the African Charter on Human Rights and Peoples of 1981, ratified by Nigeria on 22 June 1983,

–       having regard to the International Covenant on Civil Rights of 1966, ratified by Nigeria on 29 October 1993,

–       having regard to the Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified by Nigeria on 16th April 1991,

–       having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–       having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

–       having regard to Article 208 TFEU, which establishes taking into the principle of policy coherence for development in all European Union external policies,

–       having regard to the Geneva Conventions,

–       having regard to the convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and its Optional Protocol,

–       having regard to the UN Security Council resolution 2122 and 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security,

A.     whereas Nigeria is the most populous, ethnically diverse country in Africa marked by and a North-South division with severe economic and social disparities,

B. whereas Nigeria is the biggest economy in the African continent but despite its vast resources, Nigeria ranks among the most unequal countries in the world; Whereas the majority of the 148 million people in Nigeria live below the poverty line, while the country is the eighth largest oil producer;

C.     whereas there are endemic problems in Nigeria from an economic point of view, due to the monopolization of resources by a minority and major responsibilities of the former colonial powers in the plunder of Nigeria; whereas this situation has led to decades of social and cultural divisions between indigenous groups for control of fertile farmlands and with migrants and settlers from the north of the country; whereas oil revenues have been steadily decreasing and an economic crisis is looming.

D. whereas fair and progressive tax regimes with welfare and social justice criteria provide vital finance to governments to cover citizens’ rights to basic public services, such as healthcare and education for all, and whereas effective redistributive fiscal policies are essential in decreasing the effect of growing inequalities by shaping the redistribution of wealth from higher income citizens to those most in need in a country;

E. whereas illicit financial flows (IFFs), i.e. all unrecorded private financial outflows involving capital that is illegally earned, transferred or utilised, typically originate from tax evasion activities, trade missinvoicing and abusive transfer pricing, against the principle that taxes should be paid where profits have been generated;

F.     whereas social equality, education, literacy, women’s rights, social justice and a fair distribution of state revenues in society, reducing inequality and the fight against corruption are key for good governance and to fighting fundamentalism, violence and intolerance.

G. whereas throughout North East Nigeria and across the border regions in Cameroon, Chad and Niger, children are in critical danger. Insecurity caused by the conflict between the armed group ‘Islamic State’s in West Africa’, commonly known as ‘Boko Haram’, military forces and civilian self-defence groups in North East Nigeria has escalated into a worsening humanitarian crisis, with over 3.500 registered deaths as from January 2015.

H. whereas over 1.4 million children were forced to flee conflict and violence. In the past months, the total number of children on the run has increased by a further 500,000 across the region. In northern Nigeria alone, nearly 1.2 million children – over half of them under 5 years old – have had to leave their homes. An additional 265,000 children have been uprooted in Cameroon, Chad and Niger after their villages were attacked or threatened; whereas these children are at risk of being trapped in a cycle of violence being separated from their families, exposed to exploitation and recruited by armed groups. Many of among them have been killed, maimed and subjected to unimaginable atrocities.

I.     whereas the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate with worsening food insecurity combined with poor access to education, safe drinking water and health services. In the most affected areas health centres have been destroyed. Many health workers have fled while others are not able to access those in need, leaving many families without health services, such as routine immunization, maternal and child care. Children are at risk of dying from diarrhoea, malaria or malnutrition.

J. whereas specifically young women and girls have been abducted by Boko Haram -at least 2,000 since the start of 2014, as reported recently by Amnesty International-, forced into sexual slavery, subjected to forced marriage, physical and psychological abuse, forced labour and rape.

K. whereas since the beginning of 2015 there has been an increase in the frequency and intensity of bombings in Northeast Nigeria. Women and girls are involved in approximately three-quarters of the attacks. Children are often used without knowing, to carry bombs that were strapped to their bodies and detonated remotely in public places, not only in Nigeria but also in neighbouring countries, in Chad and Cameroon.

L.     whereas fear of attacks by Boko Haram has uprooted a half-million children in the past five months -as reported recently by UNICEF- raising a total number of children who have fled from Boko Haram militants in Nigeria and neighbouring countries to 1.4 million as reported by UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.

M.    whereas the spill over of Boko Haram insurgency in the neighbouring countries reveal the importance of greater regional cooperation; whereas Nigeria plays a key role in regional and African politics and is a driving force of the regional integration through ECOWAS.

N.     whereas gender equality and women´s empowerment reminds a pending issue in Nigeria; further to last electoral processes in Nigeria, fewer women were elected than in the previous ones in 2011, which marked already a negative trend;

1.      Strongly condemns the ongoing and increasing violence in Nigeria which has led to thousands of deaths and injuries and displaced hundreds of thousands of people and specifically hundreds of thousands of children. More than 17000 deaths and 2 million of displaced people over the last six years;

2.   Deplores the massacre of innocent women, men and children, the rapes, the use of torture, the recruitment of child soldiers, and stands with the people of Nigeria in their determination to fight all forms of violence in their country;

3. Insists on the paramount importance of duly protecting children’s rights in a country with over a 40% of the total population between the ages 0 to 14.

4.      Asks the President, Mr. Buhari to ensure respect for human rights for all its citizens; asks the government to protect its population and to address the root causes of violence aiming to ensure equal rights to all citizens and by addressing problems related to inequality, the control of fertile farmland, unemployment and poverty; asks the government to fight against corruption, poverty and inequality and promote social, political and economic reforms in order to create a free, democratic, fair, stable and secure State;

5. Reiterates its concern about the death penalty in Nigeria, further to confirming that in 2014 over 659 death sentences were reported by Amnesty International and urges for the abolition of the death penalty;

6. Calls the Nigerian government to adopt measures to starve Boko Haram of their sources of illegal income, through cooperation with neighbouring countries, in particular with regard to smuggling and trafficking while reminding actions undertaken against Boko Haram should not lead to further fuelling of the violence; in this regard, condemns the Nigerian military for using disproportionate force in its pursuit of Boko Haram; calls for a reform of the Nigerian state security forces, including police, ensuring their proper equipment and effective democratic oversight and conducting investigations against those who are responsible for any human rights violations including extrajudicial killings, torture, rapes, children abuses, arbitrary arrests, and extortion-related abuses;  

7. Calls for an independent investigation to shed light on the different acts perpetrated by Boko Haram, and specify whether war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed;

8.      Points out that increasing impoverishment of citizens, declining economic opportunities, increasing inequalities and limited educational opportunities have swelled the ranks of the unemployed, which in turn offers the socio-economic basis for Boko Haram’s development; notes also with concern that in many regions, the state offers no crucial public services for people such as water, sanitation, health or education; urges, under these circumstances, the Nigerian authorities to address the socio-economic basis for Boko Haram’s development and to fight against deteriorating living standards to reach social justice; asks the EU to use all its tools to promote these measures;

9.      Believes that the peaceful resolution of disputes is only possible through respect for human rights, including the inalienable right of the people to dispose of itself and of its resources;

10.    Emphasises the importance of an independent, impartial, accessible judiciary system for all citizens, to put an end to impunity, to enhance respect for rule of law and fundamental rights of the population; accordingly, calls for improving efficiency and independence of Nigeria’s judiciary system as a mean of effective use of criminal justice to combat terrorism;

11.    Demands an international investigation under the auspices of the UN to determine the third country responsibilities in the organization and financing of terrorist groups in the region, and responsibility of multinationals and governments in the hoarding of wealth and deepening economic, social and cultural tensions;

12.    Urges the international community to do more to help the Nigerian Government, in particular to secure the release of the Chibok girls abducted in April 2014;

13.    Calls on the international community to also help the Nigerian forced migrants in neighbouring countries, calls the EU and it´s Member States to facilitate their access to European asylum and ensure human rights to all migrants;

14.    Calls on the European Union and its Member States to fulfil their commitment to providing a comprehensive range of political, development and humanitarian effective support to Nigeria and its people. Urges that the provision of humanitarian aid by the EU and the Member States should not be subject to restrictions imposed by other stakeholders regarding necessary medical treatment, including access to safe abortion for women and girls who are victims of rape in armed conflicts, and should instead follow international humanitarian law;

15.    Calls for a fair and redistributive tax system able to address the problematic of inequalities in the country, especially regarding natural resources revenues;

16. Urges the Commission to take concrete and effective measures to support tax administration frameworks in the fight against tax dodging, in developing fairer and progressive tax policies, in promoting administrative reforms and in order to increase the share, in terms of aid and development, of financial and technical assistance to the Nigeria national tax administrations;

17. Recalls the European Union and its Member States when negotiating tax treaties, shall comply with the principle of policy coherence for development established in Article 208 TFEU; The European Union shall take account of the objectives of development cooperation in the policies that it implements which are likely to affect developing countries such Nigeria.

18.    Calls on the European Union and its Member States to take concrete measures to efficiently curve illicit financial flows, tax evasion and avoidance, and boost democratic international cooperation in tax matters by promoting an intergovernmental body on tax matters, to ensure a forum where all countries could participate on equal footing;

19.    Reproves the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Law, criminalizing LGTBI people; strongly condemns the severe criminalization of homosexuality in Nigeria, punishable with 7 years’ imprisonment (or death penalty in 12 states where Sharia law applies); Thus, calls for the abolition of this law as well as sections 214 and 217 of the Nigerian Penal Code. Calls the Nigerian Government to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment through boosting women and women rights organisations participation in public and political life; calls for a comprehensive EU approach on violence against women and girls with increased efforts and resources to prevent and eliminate all discriminatory practices against women as well as to combat and prosecute all forms of violence including trafficking in human beings, female genital mutilation, forced sterilisation, forced pregnancy, gendercide, domestic violence and marital rape, child, early and forced marriage and gender-based violence in conflict and post-conflict situations; calls for the development of specific EU actions to strengthen the rights of different groups of women, with a special attention to youth, migrants, women living with HIV, LGBTI persons and persons with disabilities;

20.    Strongly calls for the Nigerian Government to protect the children and youth rights in line with the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda;

21.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the government and parliament of Nigeria, the Representatives of ECOWAS and the African Union;

(1)

OJ L 309, 25.11.2005, p. 15.

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