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Azerbaijan shows interest in SCO

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Welcome to the Caspian Daily, where you will find the 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region. We appreciate ideas, reports, news and interesting articles. Send along to Caspian[at]moderndiplomacy.eu or on Twitter: @DGiannakopoulos

1Azerbaijan shows interest in SCO. Azerbaijan, Cambodia and Syria are showing interest in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), but there are clear criteria for joining which should be observed, Anton Kobyakov, the advisor to the Russian president, the executive secretary of the organizing committee on preparation and chairmanship of the Russian Federation in the BRICS and the SCO, told TASS.

2The UN Security Council has delayed a vote on a British-drafted resolution that would condemn the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica during the Bosnian war as “a crime of genocide” after Russia informed council members it would veto the measure. Russia has circulated a rival draft resolution which does not mention either Srebrenica or genocide, but no vote has been scheduled on it. Last week, Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Petr Iliichev called the British draft “divisive”, saying the Russian draft was “more general, more reconciling”. [the guardian]

3North Caucasus — a Wall Against or a Bridge for IS? “Amid the vast ocean of Islamist radicalism, the particular focus given to Islamic State (IS) is merited by its role as the main center of gravity in the transformation of transnational violent jihadism today. Before exploring how this phenomenon is linked to and affects Russia in and beyond the North Caucasus and in the broader Eurasian context, and before examining the character, scale and the contextual limits of such links, it makes sense reflect on IS itself and the plethora of views and interpretations of this movement” writes Ekaterina Stepanova for the RIAC.

4Russia is set on Wednesday to host summits for the BRICS emerging economies and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a Eurasian economic and military alliance. Putin is expected to meet with the leaders of China and Iran during the event, which runs until Saturday in the Russian city of Ufa, about 1,200 kilometres east of Moscow. One of the event’s highlights is the expected launch of a BRICS bank, seen as a challenge to Western financial dominance.

5Ashgabat has hosted a forum on rational use of water resources. The forum was organized by Turkmenistan’s Water Industry Ministry and the embassy of South Korea in the country. The main purpose of the forum was to exchange experience and present projects and services based on the latest technologies and research in this sphere.South Korean companies presented projects on creating advanced integrated water supply management systems, purification and desalination of water and controlling its quality. South Korea’s leading “K-water” company which is the provider of services in this sphere presented projects on river restoration, including the construction of multipurpose dams and other facilities.

6The European Azerbaijan Society addresses open letter to Chatham House. The letter says: “Your invitation to this man (Bako Sahakyan) is an outrageous slap in the face to a people who have surely suffered enough for the past 23 years and, especially given the current situation in Armenia, is certainly a blow to the prospects for peace and democracy in the region… your credibility is shot; you should be ashamed to claim the status of an independent policy institute”

7How the Senate could make or break the Iran nuclear deal. “Under the terms of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act passed in May, if President Obama sends an agreement to Congress after July 9, the length of time Congress has to review the deal doubles from 30 to 60 days. Lawmakers can’t stop the U.S. from implementing the agreement entirely. But they can block the president from lifting some of the toughest sanctions against key sectors of Iran’s economy that were implemented by Congress, which would almost certainly cause the deal to fall apart” writes Rebecca Kaplan for the CBS.

8India Signs Five Key Agreements With Kazakhstan to Enhance Ties. “India and Kazakhstan today inked five key agreements including a defence pact to enhance military cooperation and a contract for supply of uranium after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev held comprehensive talks in which they decided to actively engage in the fight against terrorism and extremism” [NDTV]

9Why Russia’s turn to China is a mirage. “Since Japan has joined the West in imposing economic sanctions against Russia, and India’s trade with Russia remains small by comparison, the Kremlin’s turn to Asia has in essence been a turn to China. In the months following the escalation of the crisis in Ukraine, Moscow announced plans for a number of projects with China — ranging from a new method of inter-bank transfers, to a joint credit agency — that seek to create a shared financial and economic infrastructure between the two countries that would allow them to function independently of Western-dominated financial institutions” writes Björn Düben for Reuters.

10A delegation led by the minister of State for Foreign Trade of France, state secretary on the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad Matthias Fekl visited Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Energy. The sides discussed issues of energy cooperation between Azerbaijan and France. Deputy Minister of Energy Gulmammad Javadov emphasized that, “Shah Deniz-2” field will allow the wide range of export of gas reserves through TANAP and TAP. Deputy Minister also spoke of the works carried out in the direction of reducing the country’s economy’s dependence on oil and gas, programs and projects realized in the field of alternative energy. He noted that, there is a need to benefit from the French experience in this direction. Mr. Matthias Fekl said that, energy cooperation with Azerbaijan covers the areas of oil production, geological exploration, petrochemical and gas industry. Speaking about the activities of Total in Absheron field, Matthias Fekl said that France is ready to provide financial support to gas projects.

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

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Fight against human trafficking must be strengthened in Ethiopia

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A group of internally displaced people due to the Tigray conflict gather in a site in Ethiopia's Afar region, Ethiopia. © UNHCR/Alessandro Pasta

Throughout Ethiopia’s Tigray, Afar and Amhar regions, women and girls are becoming increasingly vulnerable to abduction and sex trafficking as they flee ongoing armed conflict, a group of UN-appointed independent human rights experts warned on Monday.

The protracted conflict in the three northern regions have heightened risks of trafficking for sexual exploitation as a form of sexual violence in conflict, the experts said in a statement.

“We are alarmed by reports of refugee and internally displaced women and girls in the Tigray, Afar, and Amhara regions being abducted while attempting to move to safer places,” they said.

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“We are concerned at the risks of trafficking, in particular for purposes of sexual exploitation, including sexual slavery.” 

Women and children in crosshairs

Amidst abductions and displacement, the UN experts raised serious concerns over Eritrean refugee women and children being at particular risk of sex trafficking.

“Urgent action is needed to prevent trafficking, especially for purposes of sexual exploitation, and to ensure assistance and protection of all victims, without discrimination on grounds of race or ethnicity, nationality, disability, age or gender,” they said.  

Meanwhile, the hundreds of children who have been separated from their families, especially in the Tigray region, are particularly vulnerable, warned the independent experts.

“The continuing lack of humanitarian access to the region is a major concern,” the experts continued, urging immediate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent all forms of trafficking of children and to ensure their protection.

Identifying victims

They added that sufficient measures were not being taken to identify victims of trafficking, or support their recovery in ways that fully takes account of the extreme trauma being suffered.

“The failure to provide accountability for these serious human rights violations and grave crimes creates a climate of impunity, allows trafficking in persons to persist and perpetrators to go free,” underscored the six UN experts.

They urged all relevant stakeholders to ensure that victims of trafficking can adequately access medical assistance, including sexual and reproductive healthcare services and psychological support.

The experts said they had made their concerns known to both the Governments of Ethiopia and neighbouring Eritrea.

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35 years of Cultural Routes: Safeguarding European Values, Heritage, and Dialogue

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A Europe rich in history, heritage, dialogue and values: the Council of Europe Cultural Routes’ programme celebrates its 35th anniversary, on the occasion of the 11th Advisory Forum in Minoa Palace Hotel, Chania, Crete (Greece) on 5-7 October, with a special event to highlight the relevance of Cultural Routes for the promotion of cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and sustainable tourism.

The Forum is organised by the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe and the European Institute of Cultural Routes, in co-operation with the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Hellenic Ministry of Tourism, the Greek National Tourism Organization, the Region of Crete, the Municipality of Chania, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Chania, and the Historic Cafes Route. The 2022 edition will be the opportunity to underline the growing relevance of the Cultural Routes methodology and practices in promoting Europe’s shared cultural heritage while fostering viable local development.

Deputy Secretary General Bjørn Berge will participate in the high-level dialogue, together with Minister of Culture and Sports of Greece Lina Mendoni, Minister of Tourism of Greece Vassilis Kikilias, Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) Vice-President and Chairperson of the Greek Delegation Dora Bakoyannis and Chair of the Statutory Committee of Cultural Routes Ambassador Patrick Engelberg (Luxembourg). 

Over three days of workshops and interactive debates, three main general sessions will be explored:

  1. Promoting European Values and Intercultural Dialogue;
  2. Safeguarding Heritage in Times of Crisis;
  3. Fostering Creative Industries, Cultural Tourism, Innovative Technologies for Sustainable Communities.

The Forum will discuss trends and challenges in relation to Cultural Routes, providing a platform for sharing experiences, reviewing progress, analysing professional practices, launching new initiatives and developing partnerships across Europe and beyond. Participants range from managers among the 48 cultural routes to representatives of national ministries, International Organisations, academics, experts and tourism professionals.

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Little progress combating systemic racism against people of African descent

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More than two years since the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in the United States sparked the global Black Lives Matter movement, there’s been only “piecemeal progress” in addressing systemic racism, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Friday, in a new report.While more people have been made aware of systemic racism and concrete steps have been taken in some countries, the Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights called on States to demonstrate greater political will to accelerate action.

“There have been some initiatives in different countries to address racism, but for the most part they are piecemeal. They fall short of the comprehensive evidence-based approaches needed to dismantle the entrenched structural, institutional and societal racism that has existed for centuries, and continues to inflict deep harm today,” said Nada Al-Nashif, who will present the report to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday.

Triggering change

The report describes international, national and local initiatives that have been taken, towards ending the scourge of racism.

These include an Executive Order from the White House on advancing effective, accountable policing and criminal justice practices in federal law enforcement agencies; an Anti-Racism Data Act in British Columbia, Canada; measures to evaluate ethnic profiling by police in Sweden; and census data collection to self-identify people of African descent in Argentina.

The European Commission has issued guidance on collecting and using data based on racial or ethnic origin; formal apologies issued, memorialization, revisiting public spaces, and research, to assess links to enslavement and colonialism in several countries.

‘Barometer for success’

The report notes that poor outcomes continue for people of African descent in many countries, notably in accessing health and adequate food, education, social protection, and justice – while poverty, enforced disappearance and violence continues.

It highlights “continuing…allegations of discriminatory treatment, unlawful deportations, excessive use of force, and deaths of African migrants and migrants of African descent by law enforcement officials”

The barometer for success must be positive change in the lived experiences of people of African descent,” continued Ms. Al-Nashif.

“States need to listen to people of African descent, meaningfully involve them and take genuine steps to act upon their concerns.”

Higher death rates

Where available, recent data still points to disproportionately high death rates faced by people of African descent, at the hands of law enforcement, in different countries.

“Families of African descent continued to report the immense challenges, barriers and protracted processes they faced in their pursuit of truth and justice for the deaths of their relatives”, the report says.

It details seven cases of police-related deaths of people of African descent, namely George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (US); Adama Traoré (France); Luana Barbosa dos Reis Santos and João Pedro Matos Pinto (Brazil); Kevin Clarke (UK) and Janner [Hanner] García Palomino (Colombia).

While noting some progress towards accountability in a few of these emblematic cases, “unfortunately, not a single case has yet been brought to a full conclusion, with those families still seeking truth, justice and guarantees of non-repetition, and the prosecution and sanction of all those responsible,” the report says.

Ms. Al-Nashif called on States to “redouble efforts to ensure accountability and redress wherever deaths of Africans and people of African descent have occurred in the context of law enforcement, and take measures to confront legacies that perpetuate and sustain systemic racism”.

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