The military victory against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) is only one component of a complex battle that addresses the root causes of extremist ideology, the United Nations envoy for Iraq said Wednesday.
“Da’esh remains able and determined to continue devastating random attacks against the Iraqi civilian population, against civilians globally,” Ján Kubiš, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), told the Security Council.
“Da’esh is down but not yet out even in Iraq,” he stressed, adding that “only by defeating its loathsome ‘takfiri’ ideology, choking off its external support, and addressing the causes that prompted so many Iraqis to join or tolerate Da’esh can this terrorist organization finally be eliminated.”
He noted that on 17 November, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) fully recaptured Rawa, the last remaining densely settled area under Da’esh control in Iraq. Since summer 2014, Da’esh has lost 95 per cent of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria and more than 7.5 million people have been liberated from its grasp.
But “this victory has come at a very high cost,” said Mr. Kubiš, noting that thousands of fighters and civilians were killed or wounded, hundreds of thousands of children brainwashed, entire cities in ruins, and some six million people have been displaced.
Further, Da’esh has exterminated or enslaved thousands of Muslims, as well as minority communities, particularly women and girls, in action amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity, perhaps even genocide.
Mr. Kubiš encouraged the global coalition against Da’esh to continue both military and non military efforts to help Iraq ensure the lasting and sustainable defeat of Da’esh.
He said that inside Iraq, priority must be accorded to facilitating the voluntary return of internally displaced persons, stabilization, reconstruction and rehabilitation. It would also be crucial to reform the security sector and to enforce law and order against armed groups outside State control, including criminal gangs, militias and tribal elements.
Tensions between Central Government and Kurdistan Regional Government
He went on to state that among the prominent current concerns are the tensions between the Central Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government in the wake of a decision by the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to hold a unilaterally-declared independence referendum. The central authorities have rejected the referendum as unconstitutional and have taken steps to re assert federal authority over Iraq’s external border crossings, including the international airports in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
On 6 November, he reported, the Federal Supreme Court issued an opinion stating that the constitution does not provide for authorizing the secession of any component of Iraq’s federal system, and that the referendum was illegal.
All outstanding issues between the Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government must be resolved through sustainable solutions based on the constitution, he emphasized, noting that UNAMI has also called for immediate negotiations with Government representatives on such issues as the budget, salaries and oil exports.
Turning to elections, he said the new Board of Commissioners for the Independent High Electoral Commission has a herculean task ahead, including holding two simultaneous elections, a tight timeline and security concerns.
He called upon the Council of Representatives to pass legislation to ensure that elections are held on 15 May 2018, adding that a United Nations electoral needs assessment mission has been deployed to help in identifying priority areas for support. UNAMI has also completed a draft law on the Establishing of National Specialized Court on Most Serious Crimes, to be discussed with relevant authorities.
Turning to the question of missing Kuwaiti and third country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property, including that country’s national archives, he said Iraq and Kuwait served as models of good neighbourly relations in a region fraught with instability. Iraq’s Government has made impressive efforts to identify grave sites, but efforts to identify missing Kuwaiti property has met with limited success.
Although there has been no progress in locating the national archives, the Government of Iraq has identified more than 6,000 Kuwaiti books. The United Nations and the international community will continue to pursue the matter and to support Iraq on that question until that chapter could be closed, he said.
Erasmus+: a turning point in the lives of 5 million European students
New evidence shows that Erasmus+ makes students more successful in their personal and professional lives and helps universities to become more innovative, according to two new independent studies released today by the European Commission.
The large-scale studies based on the feedback from nearly 77 000 students and staff and over 500 organisations measure and analyse the impact the Erasmus+ programme has on its main beneficiaries. Results show how the EU programme helps prepare young Europeans for the new digital era and thrive in their future careers. Erasmus+ also boosts innovation capacity of universities, their international engagement and ability to answer the needs of the labour market.
Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics said: “It is impressive to see how Erasmus+ enables young people to thrive in the modern labour market and in a more diverse society. I am happy to see that Erasmus+ graduates feel more ready to take on new challenges, have better career prospects and are more aware of the benefits the EU brings to their daily lives. At the same time, universities that take part in Erasmus+ are not only more international but also better placed to respond to the needs of the world of work.”
The key findings of the studies are:
Erasmus+ helps students find their desired careers and get jobs quicker
Over 70% of former Erasmus+ students say that they have a better understanding of what they want to do in their future careers when they return from abroad. Their experience abroad also enables them to re-orient their studies to better match their ambitions. The higher education impact study further reveals that 80% were employed within three months of graduation and 72% say their experience abroad helped them get their first job. Nine in ten Erasmus+ alumni say they make use of the skills and experiences acquired abroad in their daily work. Erasmus+ addresses skills mismatches by focusing on soft and interdisciplinary skills development businesses need.
Erasmus+ boosts European sense of belonging
More than 90% of Erasmus+ students also improve their ability to work and collaborate with people from different cultures and feel they have a European identity. The biggest impact is on the students who felt less convinced about the EU prior to their exchange and the students that spent time in a more culturally different country. Of all Erasmus+ students those coming from Eastern Europe identify the most with the EU.
Erasmus+ supports digital transformation and social inclusion
Erasmus+ cooperation projects make the majority of participating universities better prepared for digital transformation. Making use of new technologies and innovative teaching and learning methods helps strengthen their international cooperation and innovation capacity. Academic staff, who made use of Erasmus+ are more open to involving staff from enterprises in their courses than their non-mobile peers, around 60% compared to 40%. More than 80% of academics report that their experience abroad has led to the development of more innovative curricula. Moreover, two out of three participating universities stated EU-wide projects also contribute to increasing social inclusion and non-discrimination in higher education.
Other findings show that former Erasmus+ students are more satisfied with their jobs compared to those who have not gone abroad. They also have careers that are more international and are almost twice as likely to work abroad. Erasmus+ also supports entrepreneurship. One in four cooperation projects contributed to entrepreneurial education and strengthened entrepreneurship. A third of projects helped create spin-offs and start-ups.
Between 2014 and 2018, more than 2 million students and staff in higher education undertook a learning, training or teaching period abroad as part of the Erasmus+ programme. During the same period, almost 1 000 Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships between higher education institutions and 93 Knowledge Alliances between universities and businesses received EU funding. More than 40% of these trained students and academic staff in forward-looking skills related to environment and climate change, energy and resources, digital (ICT and digital skills) and entrepreneurship.
The two studies (Erasmus+ Higher Education Impact study and the Erasmus+ Higher Education Strategic Partnerships and Knowledge Alliances study) assessed the impact of the programme on its two main beneficiaries: individuals and organisations.
For the first study, almost 77 000 responses, including from around 47 000 Erasmus+ students, 12 000 graduates and 10 000 staff members with Erasmus+ experience were analysed. The findings of the second study are based on responses from 258 Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships and Knowledge Alliances (representing 504 organisations) awarded funding in 2014-2016 as well as 26 detailed case studies.
IEA holds Energy Efficiency Training Week in Paris
The International Energy Agency is hosting its 11th Energy Efficiency in Emerging Economies Training Week from 20 to 24 May. More than 120 energy efficiency professionals from 40 countries have come together in Paris for the event.
The objective of the training week is to enable participants to learn from leading experts in the field and from each other, strengthening the knowledge and networks needed to meet some of today’s most pressing challenges. The weeklong activities focus on the critical role of energy efficiency in mitigating growing energy demand across all sectors in the world’s fastest‑growing economies.
Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, kicked off the event by stressing the importance of energy efficiency as the first fuel. “Many of the challenges the world is facing today – climate change, energy security, access to electricity – can be met at a large scale only by implementing the right energy efficiency policies,” he said.
Ambassadors from Brazil, Switzerland and the United Kingdom joined Dr Birol in the open plenary session to share their experiences and support for the training week. His Excellency, Mr. Carlos Márcio Cozendey, Ambassador and Delegate of Brazil to International Economic Organisations in Paris, commended the opportunity that the training week presents. “Energy efficiency will remain very important in Brazil, and international cooperation through the IEA and bilateral cooperation with different countries will be an important part of that,” he said.
Participants are engaged in one of five parallel courses, which focus on energy efficiency in buildings, industry, appliances and equipment, cities, and indicators and evaluation. Experts from the IEA are guiding participants through an interactive agenda, with lectures, discussions, practical exercises, site visits and group activities.
The IEA will host its first Energy Efficiency Training Week for Africa later this year and a specialised training programme on green buildings in Singapore from 16 to 18 July. Please keep an eye on our website for registration opening dates.
Aviation Strategy for Europe: Commission signs landmark aviation agreements with China
The European Union and China have today signed an agreement on civil aviation safety and a horizontal aviation agreement to strengthen their aviation cooperation.
The agreements follow up on the EU-China Summit of 9 April and will serve to boost the competitiveness of the EU’s aeronautical sector and enhance overall EU-China aviation relations. This marks yet another key deliverable under the Juncker Commission’s Aviation Strategy for Europe – designed to generate growth for European business, foster innovation and let passengers profit from safer, cleaner and cheaper flights.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “In an increasingly unsettled world, Europe’s partnership with China is more important than ever before. The EU firmly believes that nations working together makes the world a stronger, safer and more prosperous place for all. Today we took a first big step in this direction by signing two aviation agreements with China that will create jobs, boost growth and bring our continents and peoples closer together. Today’s agreements show the potential of our partnership and we should continue on this path of cooperation. For it will always be in unity that we find strength.”
Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “China is one of the European Union’s most important strategic partners and we attach a lot of importance to our excellent relations on transport matters. We are mutually interested in better connecting Europe and Asia and making it easier to move goods, services and people between Europe and China. That applies to aviation, too. Today’s agreements will boost the European Union’s trade in aircraft and related products, and ensure the highest levels of air safety.”
The main objective of the bilateral civil aviation safety agreement (BASA) is to support worldwide trade in aircraft and related products. This agreement will remove the unnecessary duplication of evaluation and certification activities for aeronautical products by the civil aviation authorities, and therefore reduce costs for the aviation sector. The BASA will also promote cooperation between the EU and China towards a high level of civil aviation safety and environmental compatibility.
The second agreement signed today is a so-called horizontal aviation agreement. It marks China’s recognition of the principle of EU designation, whereby all EU airlines will be able to fly to China from any EU Member State with a bilateral air services agreement with China under which unused traffic rights are available. Up until now, only airlines owned and controlled by a given Member State or its nationals could fly between that Member State and China. The conclusion of a horizontal agreement will thereby bring bilateral air services agreements between China and EU Member States into conformity with EU law – a renewed legal certainty which will be beneficial to airlines on both sides.
Both the European Commission and the Chinese transport administration will now proceed with their respective internal procedures to put the conclusion of the agreement in place.
WWF Launches Activation Hub to Help Prevent 10 Million Metric Tons of Global Plastic Waste
The global plastic pollution crisis is threatening the natural environment on which we depend – impacting oceans, communities, wildlife, and...
Erasmus+: a turning point in the lives of 5 million European students
New evidence shows that Erasmus+ makes students more successful in their personal and professional lives and helps universities to become...
Iran vs. US: Bracing for war?
On May 8, 2018, President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better...
Turkey is the Guarantor of Peace in the Black Sea region
The wider Black Sea region—which brings together the littoral states plus neighbouring countries—is experiencing a rapidly shifting security environment that...
IEA holds Energy Efficiency Training Week in Paris
The International Energy Agency is hosting its 11th Energy Efficiency in Emerging Economies Training Week from 20 to 24 May....
A survey of Arab youth highlights gaps between policies and aspirations
Results of a recent annual survey of Arab youth concerns about their future suggest that Arab autocracies have yet to...
Breitling Celebrates a Powerful Partnership with the Premier Norton Edition
The Breitling Premier Norton Edition is a potent representation of a partnership between two iconic brands that share intriguingly similar...
Travel & Leisure3 days ago
7 Must Visit Sites in Chiang Rai
East Asia2 days ago
The origin of the Four Modernizations and President Xi Jinping’s current choices
Science & Technology3 days ago
Organisations that embed cybersecurity into their business strategy outperform their peers
Economy3 days ago
Euro – 20 years on: Who won and who lost?
Economy3 days ago
Convergence Of Competitive Markets And Indian Elections
South Asia2 days ago
Indian Nuclear Explosions of May 98 and Befitting Response
Energy2 days ago
Four Things You Should Know About Battery Storage
Economy2 days ago
Uber & the Neoliberal State