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Russia cracked Snowden files: Identities of US and UK Spies Revealed

Dimitris Giannakopoulos

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The 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region for Monday, June 15:

1Britain has been forced to remove some of its spies after Russia and China accessed the top-secret raft of documents taken by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, British media reported. The BBC and the Sunday Times cited senior government and intelligence officials as saying agents had been pulled, with the newspaper saying the move came after Russia was able to decrypt more than one million files.“It is the case that Russians and Chinese have information. It has meant agents have had to be moved and that knowledge of how we operate has stopped us getting vital information,” a Downing Street source said, according to the newspaper. An intelligence source told the Sunday Times: “We know Russia and China have access to Snowden’s material and will be going through it for years to come, searching for clues to identify potential targets.”

2The meetings of the presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkey in Baku during the opening of the first European Games shed little light on the prospects of processes taking place in the South Caucasus and other regions. The meeting between Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan proceeded behind closed doors, and no statements were made after that or other meetings with their participation. Experts conclude that the three presidents have failed to reach agreement on various issues, including in relation to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The expectation was that the three leaders would find some common language, as the policy of international isolation has been applied to all the three nations. Perhaps some separate agreements were reached, but there are so many contradictions in the interests of Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan now that these agreements will necessarily hit one of the sides. [ArmeniaNow]

3Azerbaijan as a Model of Civility in the Caspian Region. “almost everything about the way Azerbaijan is handling their transition from a Soviet Republic to a modern, sovereign nation is admirable. From their ambitious efforts to preserve their ancient history to their desire to promote peace and stability in the region to their ability to build and maintain diplomatic relationships with key players in the Caspian Sea region (and beyond), Azerbaijan appears to have a very promising future. Their approach may have the potential to change the way the West and the Muslim world relate” writes JJ Harper for the Modern Diplomacy.

4Iran eyeing $30bn Turkmen barter plan. Iran said on Sunday that it plans to offer a barter scheme to Turkmenistan through which it would pay for natural gas imports by gas industry equipment as well as technical services. Mohammad-Taqi Amanpour, an advisor to the petroleum minister of Iran on exports of equipment and technical services, told a forum in capital Tehran that the value of the barter scheme will be $30 billion for a period of 10 years. Amanpour also said that Iran has so far paid a maximum of $3 billion per year for importing natural gas from its northern neighbor.

5Baiting the Bear: U.S. Congressional Attitudes Keeping Russia the Enemy. “That mindset sets a fairly stark characterization: Russia is an aggressive and untrustworthy dictatorship that is an innate contradiction to American values. As such it will inevitably always be a threat to U.S. interests and global security” writes Dr. Matthew Crosston for the Modern Diplomacy.

6The Presidents of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Turkmenistan will hold a meeting in Ashkhabad. Oxu.Az reports citing APA that the statement came from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He said the meeting is due in December. Noting that he met the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, Erdogan said more decisive steps will be taken for development of relations between the two countries.

7Boosts competitiveness of Kazakh small businesses. The EBRD helped Kazakhstan’s Almaty Ventilation Plant improve production and start exporting. Optimal air conditioning and ventilation are essential for maintaining a healthy environment and efficient use of energy. Producing quality ventilation and filtering systems is therefore not just hot air but a great business opportunity. The EBRD helped a Kazakh ventilation manufacturer improving production and start exporting its products. This project is currently funded by the Government of Kazakhstan as a core donor, by the United States and BG Kazakhstan.

8Kazakhstan beyond Borat. “Kazakhstan has been trying since the early years of independence to introduce the country to the awareness of the global community. Although reluctantly declaring independence from the Soviet Union, it has become vital for the country to differentiate itself from Russia to gain significantly in its soft power repertoire of tools. This process, along with the strategic positioning of the country, gave rise to the well- known Kazakhstan image of being able to balance the interests of many great powers, intersecting in the Central Asia, including Russia, China, US, EU, Turkey and Iran” writes Petra Posega for the Modern Diplomacy.

9Iran says it plans to establish a joint bank with Azerbaijan in the near future. Mohsen Pak Ayeen, the Iranian ambassador to Azerbaijan, told Trend news agency on Sunday that the joint bank will be opened in Tehran. Pak Ayeen added that the issue will be discussed during a meeting between Valiollah Seif, the governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), and his Azeri counterpart in Tehran. Nevertheless, he did not specify when the meeting will take place. At present, non-oil trade between Iran and Azerbaijan amounts to $500 million, he said, adding that the figure will reach $2 billion if tourism revenues and other incomes are taken into account.

10Football, money and politics. “Football has long turned into something more than just a sport. It is now a real instrument of soft power and yet another sticking point between Russia and the West” writes Nina Lavrenteva for the Modern Diplomacy.

Journalist, specialized in Middle East, Russia & FSU, Terrorism and Security issues. Founder and Editor-in-chief of the Modern Diplomacy magazine. follow @DGiannakopoulos

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70 years on, landmark UN human rights document as important as ever

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photo: UN

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights reaches its 70th anniversary on Monday, a chance to highlight the many important breakthroughs brought about by the landmark UN document, and to remind the world that the human rights of millions are still being violated on a daily basis.

Thanks to the Declaration, and States’ commitments to its principles, the dignity of millions has been uplifted, untold human suffering prevented and the foundations for a most just world have been laid.

High Commissioner hails continued relevance of Declaration

Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement released on Wednesday that the document has gone from being an “aspirational treatise” to a set of standards that has “permeated virtually every area of international law.”

The Declaration has shown itself to be as relevant today, as it has always been, and is applicable to situations and scenarios that could not have been foreseen at its inception, such as the need to govern artificial intelligence and the digital world, and to counter the effects of climate change on people.

Ms. Bachelet said the she remains convinced that the human rights ideal, laid down in the Declaration, has been one of the most constructive advances of ideas in human history, as well as one of the most successful.

The human rights chief pointed out that women played a prominent role in drafting the document: Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the drafting committee, and women from Denmark, Pakistan, the Communist bloc and other countries around the world also made crucial contributions. Consequently, the document is, for its time, remarkably free from sexist language, almost always referring to “everyone,” “all” or “no one” throughout its 30 Articles.

Human rights violations perpetrated ‘on a daily basis’

Celebrating the resilience of the human rights system, and the contributions of the Declaration to advancing human progress, peace and development, a team of independent experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, in a statement published on Friday, echoed Ms. Bachelet’s comments, noting that the “protection provided by the international human rights system has increased including by addressing new and emerging human rights issues and demonstrating its capacity to evolve and respond to people’s needs and expectations.”

However, the experts detailed some of the many violations of international law and human dignity that are perpetrated on a daily basis in many countries: “Recent memory is replete with multiple examples of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Impunity reigns supreme in many countries undergoing conflicts or political upheavals, encouraged by narrow national objectives, geopolitics and political impasse at the United Nations Security Council.”

They also said that the upsurge of nationalism and xenophobia seen in countries of asylum, at a time of rising forced-migration, is “reversing the gains of international humanitarian cooperation of the last 70 years.”

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day.

In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, the UN is urging people everywhere to “Stand Up for Human Rights”: www.standup4humanrights.org.

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Preparing teachers for the future we want

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At its annual meeting in Montego Bay, Jamaica, from 5-9 November, the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 adopted a declaration focused on ensuring that teacher issues stay at the centre of the global education agenda.

Through this declaration, the Teacher Task Force reinforces its vision that at the heart of the right to education is a highly valued, qualified, and well-trained teaching profession. It therefore recommends that:

International partners should intensify efforts to develop robust definitions and classifications of qualified and trained teachers and strengthen cooperation and reporting mechanisms to ensure full monitoring of Sustainable Development Goal target 4c.

Governments should ensure adequate financing for all public goods, including the teacher workforce, and this should be achieved primarily through domestic resource mobilization based on socially just fiscal policies, rigorous measures against corruption and illegal financial flows, efficient and effective teacher policies and deployment practices, developed with the full involvement of teachers and their organisations, and continued focus on external resource mobilization to complement domestic resources for countries.

Moreover, the dual focus of the Education 2030 agenda on equity and learning puts teachers at the heart of policy responses that should foster equal participation and learning globally. Teachers can be an impactful equalizing force to overcome unequal life chances from birth. The massive recruitment of new teachers, particularly in least develop countries, with little or no training is a real cause for concern.

The Teacher Task Force also expressed its concern over the fact that teacher education has not kept pace with preparing new teachers to face the rapid changes in globalization, migration, demographic change, and technological advances that will mark the future of education.

Furthermore, teacher education in this increasing complex world must be forward-looking and prepare teachers who are continuous learners themselves. It must enable teachers to think about the kind of education that is meaningful and relevant to young people’s needs in the different 21st century’s learning environment.

The Teacher Task Force acknowledges the ever-growing importance of Information and Communication Technologies in education. However, technology should be treated as a supportive tool for teachers and not a replacement. Teacher education should therefore empower teachers to use technologies to support learning within a holistic and human-centred educational framework.

The Teacher Task Force also called attention to the fact that teacher education needs to be seen as career-long education and special attention should be paid to the nature of teachers’ professional development, competency frameworks, curriculum development and professional learning communities/communities of practice. As teaching is a knowledge-based profession, teachers and trainers should be supported to continually update their knowledge base.

Through this declaration, the Teacher Task Force advocates for a teacher education that allows teachers to prepare learners to manage change and to be able to shape a just and equitable future, leaving no one behind.

This declaration reflects UNESCO’s belief that the right to education cannot be fulfilled without trained and qualified teachers. Teachers are one of the most influential factors to the improvement of learning outcomes and UNESCO has for long been an advocate of better training for teachers to ensure inclusive and quality education for all.

UNESCO, which is one of the founding members of the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030, has supported its work since its creation in 2008 and hosts the Teacher Task Force Secretariat.

UNESCO

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ADB to Partner on New $4 Million Facility to Help Asia Meet Climate Commitments

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today announced the launch of the Article 6 Support Facility, a $4 million initiative to help developing member countries (DMCs) in Asia and the Pacific combat climate change through a key provision of the Paris Agreement.

Funded by ADB, the Government of Germany, and the Swedish Energy Agency, the facility will provide technical, capacity building, and policy development support to help the DMCs meet Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, in which countries have voluntarily committed to lower their carbon emissions.

The ultimate goal of the Article 6 Support Facility is for DMCs to achieve critical expertise on Article 6, draw lessons from pilot activities, and enhance their preparedness for participation in carbon markets beyond 2020, while contributing to international negotiations.

The Paris Agreement will go into effect on 1 January, 2020 and aims to limit the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C.

“This new facility will play an important role in the implementation of the Paris Agreement and we are delighted to be establishing it at this very critical time,” says ADB Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department Director General Mr. Woochong Um.

“Climate change is a challenge that must be met on a global level and we are confident that this facility will help deliver the critical practical experience, innovation, and learning necessary for our developing member countries to meet their emissions targets.”

The facility is another step by ADB toward meeting its commitment to address climate change, a core part of its long-term strategy, Strategy 2030. The strategy commits ADB to scaling up support to address climate change, climate and disaster risks, and environmental degradation as one of seven operational priorities.

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