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22 years since occupation of Azerbaijan’s Aghdam district by Armenia

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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

122 years have passed since the invasion of Armenian armed forces in the Azerbaijan’s Aghdam district.Azerbaijan’s Aghdam district was occupied by the units of Armenian armed forces on July 23, 1993. 1154 sq m territory of Azerbaijan‘s Aghdam district went into the control of Armenia as a result of occupation. Azerbaijan controls only 22,6 percent of Aghdam with a population of 147,000. Armenians destroyed the historical monuments, cemeteries, hospitals, libraries, schools, offices and facilities in the occupied territory.

2Construction of East-West gas pipeline is going on rapidly, Turkmenistan’s Ministry of Oil and Gas Industry and Mineral Resources said July 23.Commissioning of this pipeline will allow to ensure the efficiency of maneuvering with the directions of gas export and increase the reliability of the domestic gas supply.Moreover, this gas pipeline will allow to deliver 30 billion cubic meters of commercial gas from the richest fields in the country’s east to the projected international gas pipeline systems which run from Turkmenistan’s west.It was earlier reported that Turkmenistan plans to complete the construction of this main gas pipeline in late 2015.

3The recent decision by Washington to continue deploying elements of missile defense systems in Europe even after the historic nuclear deal with Iran was reached, confirmed Russia’s “worst fears,” Russian envoy to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said in an interview with the Rossiya 24 television channel. “Europe is an empty shell when it comes to the draft of the European missile defense system, because it is an exclusively US initiative… Now there is a reasonable question: if Iran is no longer a threat, even if neither a partner nor an enemy, then what’s the use of [missile defense system] construction? The US stance on the issue is notable and confirms our worst fears

4Iran is prepared for “win-win” economic ties with other countries, says the chief of staff of President Hassan Rouhani.Mohammad Nahavandian made the remarks at a meeting with Yves Rossier, the state secretary at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in Tehran on Wednesday.“At present, a lot of the Western countries have come to the conclusion that the artificial (and) unnecessary crisis of Iran’s nuclear program is a big obstacle for their benefit from the Islamic Republic of Iran’s high economic capacity,” Nahavandian said. He further noted the “cruel sanctions regime” against Tehran led to the “loss of financial transparency” in business transactions with Iran.

5EU wants Azerbaijan to enter Schengen area, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council President, said on July 22 during a joint press conference with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku.Tusk said he discussed with the Azerbaijani president the issue of facilitating the visa regime, noting that the negotiations in this regard will be completed by the end of this year.

6Lukoil discusses resuming Iran oil project.Negotiations are currently continuing in Moscow following talks in Tehran on Lukoil’s resumption of a project to develop the Azar field in Iran’s Anaran block, the Mehr news agency reported. “The new round of NIOC’s negotiations with Lukoil has begun in Moscow which is expected to pave the way for the return of the Russian firm to the Azar field development project,” Mehr said. An official at the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum, Ali Mohammad Yar-Mohammadi, has said there were also plans to hold talks with several other Russian oil companies specializing in other fields.

7“Pyrrhic Sovereignty” – The Treasure of the Tengiz. “The Tengiz oil field is at the center of this economic dance, both in the 90s and today. Chevron’s entrance into the Western portion of Kazakhstan did not come without regional backlash. This, among other similar US corporate ventures, pushed Russia and Iran into a strategic partnership and created Russian-led legal debates around drilling rights and Caspian Sea boundaries for the better part of the decade” writes Evan Thomsen for Modern Diplomacy.

8Computers and Office Machinery in Russia Industrial Report. Slowing Russian economy results in declining shipments of computing equipment, driving down market value by 7% in 2013. Cheaper production such as tablets, nettops and all-in-one PCs among the best-selling products in Russia in 2013. Production of computers and office machinery in Russia grows 5% in 2013, stimulated by soaring exports to Belarus and Kazakhstan due to newly imposed duties on computing equipment imports to the Customs Union. [Euromonitor]

9Azeri state energy company SOCAR has resumed oil exports via Russia this month, SOCAR’s president said on Wednesday, after they were suspended for several weeks.”SOCAR resumed oil shipments through the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline this month, which were halted in the beginning of June,” Rovnag Abdullayev told reporters.It’s not immediately clear why oil flows were halted.Azerbaijan’s SOCAR shipped 678,046 tonnes of oil via Russia in the first half of 2015, up from 508,222 tonnes in the same period last year.

10Azerbaijan hosts the International Summer School entitled “Multiculturalism as lifestyle in Azerbaijan: Learn, Explore, Share“.The project was jointly organized by Baku International Multiculturalism Centre, “Knowledge” Foundation under the Azerbaijani President and Baku Slavic University.The summer school, which is to be attended by the local and foreign students who completed the interdisciplinary course “Azerbaijani multiculturalism” during the spring semester of the current year, as well as influential figures of science, will be held from July 21 to August 1.

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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‘We cannot rest’ until child labour is eliminated

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A woman watches children working at a stone quarry, Zambia. (file) IRIN/M. Deghati

Countries taking part in the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour this week in South Africa, are being urged to do more to end child labour by 2025.

The strong call for urgent action at the conference taking place in Durban, aims to combat an uptick in the numbers of children being forced into work.

Latest figures indicate that 160 million children  – almost one in ten worldwide – are still being affected. Furthermore, numbers are on the rise, with the pandemic threating to reverse years of progress, as child labour becomes a bigger scourge in particular among the vulnerable five to 11-year-old age group.

Make a difference

Speaking at the start of a week of hybrid format discussions, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called on delegates to commit to taking “far-reaching actions” to make a difference in the lives of children.

“We are here because we share a common conviction that child labour in all its facets is an enemy. Child labour is an enemy of our children’s development and an enemy of progress.

“No civilization, no country and no economy can consider itself to be at the forefront of progress if its success and riches have been built on the backs of children.”

Mr. Ramaphosa’s call was echoed by Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), who underlined that “child labour is a violation of a basic human right, and our goal must be that every child, everywhere is free from it. We cannot rest until that happens.”

According to the ILO, global progress against child labour has stalled for the first time in 2020, after two decades of moving in the right direction. In addition, the COVID-19 crisis is likely to have pushed millions more children into the workforce.

First in Africa

This is the first time the Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour is being held in Africa, a region where child labour numbers are highest, and progress has been slowest, ILO notes.

According to recent data, most child labour on the continent – some 70 per cent – is in the agricultural sector, often in settings where children are working alongside other family members.

The conference builds on four previous Global Conferences, held in Buenos Aires (2017), Brasilia (2013), The Hague (2010), and Oslo (1997), which raised awareness of the issue, assessed progress, mobilized resources, and established a strategic direction for the global movement against child labour.

Call for action

With the 2025 UN Sustainable Development Goals  deadline for the elimination of child labour looming, many speakers outlined the urgent need to recover the progress that had been made in many regions, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Conference is expected to conclude with a formal Call to Action that will outline concrete commitments to scale up action to eliminate child labour.

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Israel: UN rights chief calls for end to ‘culture of impunity’

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The funeral of Shirin Abu Akleh in Jerusalem. Photo: Maisa Abu Ghazaleh

Investigations must be held into the actions of the Israeli security forces, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Saturday, calling for accountability and an end to impunity.

Her appeal comes in the wake of the killing of Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, who was fatally shot on Wednesday while covering an Israeli raid in Jenin, West Bank.

The veteran Palestinian-American journalist was buried in East Jerusalem on Friday and huge crowds turned out for her funeral.

‘Shocking’ use of force

The High Commissioner issued a statement saying she was following “with deep distress” the events in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

“Footage of Israeli police attacking mourners at the funeral procession of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in East Jerusalem on Friday 13 May was shocking. Reports indicate that at least 33 people were injured,” she said.

Ms. Bachelet said the Israeli use of force, which was being filmed and broadcast live,  appeared to be unnecessary and must be promptly and transparently investigated.

“There must be accountability for the terrible killing not just of Shireen Abu Akleh but for all the killings and serious injuries in the occupied Palestinian territory,” she said.

Call for investigations

The UN rights chief reported that 48 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces so far this year.

The latest death occurred on Saturday when a young man called Walid al-Sharif, succumbed to injuries sustained during clashes last month at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.

“As I have called for many times before, there must be appropriate investigations into the actions of Israeli security forces,” said Ms. Bachelet. 

“Anyone found responsible should be held to account with penal and disciplinary sanctions commensurate to the gravity of the violation. This culture of impunity must end now.”

Security Council condemnation

The killing of Ms. Abu Akleh has sent shockwaves across the globe, and UN officials have been among those calling for an investigation.

The journalist was shot even though she wore a vest that identified her as a member of the press corps. Her producer also was wounded.

The UN Security Council issued a statement on Friday strongly condemning her killing, reiterating that journalists should be protected as civilians.

The Council also called for an immediate, thorough, transparent, and fair and impartial investigation into her killing, and stressed the need to ensure accountability.  

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World Bank to support Education Recovery Strategy in Brazil

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The World Bank Board of Directors approved today the US$250 million Recovering Learning Losses From COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil project. The program will support the Brazilian strategy to promote learning recovery and address school dropout rates related to the health emergency crisis, by implementing innovative programs and systems to strengthen education management in primary and lower secondary schools in the North and Northeast region of the country.

“The COVID-19 pandemic inflicted unprecedent challenges to global education. A systematic recovery strategy will allow Brazil not only to revert learning losses related to the pandemic, but also to promote solid and sustained improvement in education,” says the Ministry of Education Victor Godoy Veiga.

Brazil had one of the longest school closures in the region due to the pandemic. According to Brazilian Ministry of Education, public schools remained closed for 287.4 days on average (or about 9.5 months) while private schools closed for 247.7 days (about 8 months), representing a 40-day public-private difference. The North and Northeast regions registered an even longer period of school closure, with the state of Bahia registering the longest school closure (366.4 days on average), followed by Roraima (349.4 days), Rio Grande do Norte (336.5 days), Acre (332.7 days) and Amapá (332.4 days).

Despite efforts to promote online classes, connectivity barriers both in schools and in students’ homes impaired learning, especially in the North and Northeast regions of Brazil. According to the 2020 School Census, only 60 percent of public schools in Brazil have internet. This situation is even more serious in North and Northeastern Brazil, where internet connectivity is only available in 48.5 percent of public schools (broadband in only 39 percent).

The proposed Operation aims to reduce regional gaps by supporting innovative online and face-to-face programs. Some key initiatives include: (i) the implementation of National and State Observatories of School Dropouts (OSD); (ii) an Early Warning System (SAP), to help identifying students at high risk of dropping out; Personalized Tutoring for Teachers and Socioemotional Initiative (SIS), to rebuild students’ socioemotional skills and to incentivize them to learn effectively.

Once back in school, the challenge is to make students (re)learn effectively. In this aspect, the program has two lines of action: face-to-face approaches by offering  Personalized Tutoring (APA) Program to small groups of students with similar learning gaps; and structured group discussions in SIS to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on student socioemotional skills. The second line of action focuses on hybrid strategies and education systems to recover learning losses, by providing internet connectivity to schools, access to internet for vulnerable students under the law 14,172 and to take to inner municipalities the Creativity and Innovation Labs, facilities in which teachers and principals will be trained to use technology in the classrooms and to master the foundational teaching skills needed to help students recover learning losses.

The project will also offer support to two innovative educational systems: The Education Solution Ecosystem, that aims to offer an array of education tools to public schools, including adaptive learning platforms; and  the Integrated Education Management Platform, that focuses on integrating the education management system from the Ministry of Education. By strengthening hybrid learning models, training teachers to use technology and consolidating education systems, the project expects to build resilience to future pandemics and natural disasters that may disrupt learning and teaching.

“The world is facing a silent crisis in education. Urgent action is necessary. By supporting this comprehensive and innovative learning recovery program, the World Bank strongly believe that Brazil will become a role model for countries in the region on how to fight against learning crisis”, says World Bank Director for Brazil, Paloma Anós Casero.

Outcomes supported by the program include:

  • Creation of National and State Observatories of School Dropouts (OSD).
  • Implementation of an Early Warning System (SAP).
  • Implementation of an Education and Family Program.
  • Implementation of a Personalized Tutoring (APA) Program.
  • Implementation of Socioemotional Initiative (SIS).

This loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) to the Ministry of Education is guaranteed by the Federative Republic of Brazil and has a final maturity of 34.5  years, with a 5 years grace period.

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