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UN again calls for full ratification of nuclear test-ban treaty

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Achieving a nuclear-free world is the best way to honour lives devastated by these weapons, the UN disarmament chief told a virtual meeting held on Wednesday to commemorate the International Day against Nuclear Tests, observed annually on 29 August. 

Speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General, Izumi Nakamitsu said this year’s commemoration falls 75 years after the United States first conducted a nuclear test, resulting in the use of atomic weapons against Japan and some 2,000 more tests carried out by at least eight countries over the succeeding decades. 

Impacts on the environment, health and economic development are still being felt today. 

“The best way to honour the victims of past nuclear tests is to prevent any in the future,” she stated

“As the Secretary-General has said, nuclear testing is a relic of another era, and should remain there.” 

Prioritize a nuclear-free world 

The International Day Against Nuclear Tests has been commemorated annually since 2010. 

The date 29 August marks the anniversary of the 1991 closure of the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan, the largest nuclear test site in the former Soviet Union. 

Despite the adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty in 1996, thousands of nuclear weapons remain at the ready in stockpiles across the world. 

As Ms. Nakamitsu, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, pointed out, the current era is marked by “increasingly hostile” relations between nuclear arm states seeking to improve the quality and, in some cases, quantity, of their arsenals. 

For UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for collective action to safeguard humanity, including by making a nuclear-free world a priority. 

“The very survival of humanity hinges on our resolute agreement that nuclear weapons are not to be used and should be forever eliminated. A nuclear weapons-free world is the only true guarantee to safeguard civilization from this existential threat,” he said, speaking from New York. 

Impacts on First Nations 

Aboriginal people in Wallatina, Australia, experienced this threat first-hand when the United Kingdom conducted two separate atmospheric nuclear tests in October 1953, according to activist Karina Lester. 

“Nuclear testing has and still does impact our country, our traditional lands, and our lives,” said Ms. Lester, whose father, the late Yami Lester, was blinded by the tests. 

“It’s time to put an end to nuclear weapons tests. It is time to put an end to nuclear weapons.” 

‘Nuclear menace on the rise’ 

Although 184 countries have signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, and 168 have ratified it, the treaty has yet to enter into force.  

This will only happen when it is ratified by eight countries:  China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States. 

UN Secretary-General António Guterres once again called for all states that have not signed or ratified the treaty to do so without further delay.  

“The nuclear menace is once again on the rise. A complete ban on nuclear testing is an essential step in preventing the qualitative and quantitative improvement of nuclear weapons and in achieving nuclear disarmament,” he said in a message for the Day. 

Learn from history 

With next year marking the 25th anniversary of the test-ban treaty’s adoption,  the fear is that hope is slipping away, according to Lassina Zerbo, head of the UN office working towards its entry into force.

“As we survey the international landscape, with peoples and governments reeling from the chaos and suffering caused by COVID-19, let us reflect on the past in order to learn how to better shape the future,” he advised. 

“This is not to say that the past will give us all the answers, but learning the lessons of history will enable us to make sound decisions, and implement effective strategies and policies, going forward.” 

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3 Amazing Success Recipes from TED-speakers That All Students Will Love

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What is success for you? Does it have to do with grades, money, or popularity? Or do you feel successful when people around you respect you and trust your opinion? Or does success equal winning? There are approximately 7.8 billion definitions of success in the world right now because, for every single individual, it would mean something different. But Maya Angelou, an outstanding American writer and civil rights activist, managed to sum it all up in one sentence when she wrote that “success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” You will hardly find a single person who could disagree with this axiom. However, though the task outlined by Angelou might sound like a simple one, very few people know how to achieve success and are ready to share their secrets. TED is the unique platform that unites such people around their mission to make the world a better place. We invite you to join this vibrant community of enthusiasts and learn more about the amazing success recipes that will help you unlock your potential and make the best of it. 

4 Pillars of College Success from Freeman Hrabowski

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When Freeman Hrabowski was 12 years old, he marched with Martin Luther King and was taken to jail in the aftermath of the historic event, which later became known as the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham (1963). He did this because he believed in the transformative power that education possesses and his right to let this power define his future and the future of every single child on this planet irrespective of their skin color and social background. Since then, Hrabowski has faithfully served his ideals. As president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), he turned a mediocre commuter college into the ninth most innovative university in the USA known for its focus on research, high teaching standards, and inclusive education.

In his TED-talk “4 pillars of college success in science,” Hrabowski shares four principles that helped him achieve success and make the dreams of thousands of students come true. First and foremost, students’ lives can be changed by high expectations. And here, Hrabowski is not talking about scores and grades. He believes that it is not enough to be smart and ready to learn. You have to be excited about learning and eager to ask good questions. “High expectations have to do with curiosity,” he argues. Secondly, students need to learn to work in groups, “to understand each other, to build trust among them, to support each other, to learn how to ask good questions, but also to learn how to explain concepts with clarity” and thus form a flourishing community. Third, whatever the discipline, research has to be placed into the very focus of attention because “it takes researchers to produce researchers.” Finally, there is no place for indifference at college. So, be curious and eager to learn, ask good questions, become a team player, focus on the research, and take ownership of your studies – no doubt, you will reach great heights!

If you want to find out more about this tested success recipe, listen to this illuminating TED-talk. It lasts 15 minutes, yet it is definitely worth the effort. But if you are short on time, you can always delegate some of your assignments to highly-skilled professionals from essayservice.com and spend some quality time boosting your motivation.

8 Secrets of Success from Richard St. John

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The short TED bio offers a humorous and yet precise description of Richard St. John’s life achievement: “A self-described average guy who found success doing what he loved, Richard St. John spent more than a decade researching the lessons of success — and distilling them into 8 words, 3 minutes and one successful book.” Great news! You only need 3 minutes to learn the universal formula of success. Let us name the key ingredients of St. John’s recipe to get you started. To become a success story, you need to:

  1. be passionate about what you are doing (because “if you do it for love, the money comes anyway”);
  2. work hard (and yet manage to have fun!);
  3. focus on one thing;
  4. persist;
  5. come up with good ideas;
  6. be good at what you are doing;
  7. push yourself (or let your mother do it!);
  8. serve other people.

For more details, a dose of good mood, and motivation, watch this funny and insightful talk from one of the most inspiring TED-speakers ever. It is an absolute must for students all over the world!


A Millennial’s Unexpected Secret to Success from Daniela Zamudio

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Millennials are only too often criticized for failing to be resilient, loyal, determined, and hardworking enough, as well as jumping from job to job. However, Daniela Zamudio, a millennial and the head of marketing and communications for Tommy Hilfiger Mexico, believes that the notorious propensity of the millennials to quit when feeling uncomfortable is a strength rather than a weakness and also an essential ingredient of the success recipe. Zamudio has developed a philosophy of “conscious quitting,” which teaches you to follow your heart but also to be ready to face the consequences of your life-changing decisions. Listen to her enthusiastic and humor-packed TED-talk to discover how quitting consciously has helped Zamudio achieve personal success and happiness.

No matter which recipe you pick, we wish you good luck on your way to achieving success and living your dream!

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Most countries failing to protect women from COVID-19 economic and social fallout

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Photo: ILO

The COVID-19 pandemic is “hitting women hard”, but most nations are failing to provide sufficient social and economic protection for them, the head of the UN gender empowerment agency said on Monday.

And women have often become victims of domestic violence “locked down with their abusers, as unpaid caregivers in families and communities, and as workers in jobs that lack social protection”, adds the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

New data released by gender agency and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) taken from the COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker, reveal that most countries are not doing enough to protect women and girls from the economic and social fallout being caused by the virus.

Lacking support

The analysis signals that one-fifth of the 206 countries analyzed, or 42 States, had no gender-sensitive measures in place to respond to the pandemic.

And only 25 countries have introduced measures aimed at tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG), support unpaid care and strengthen women’s economic security. 

These may include helplines, shelters or legal support to counter the surge in violence; cash transfers directly targeted at women; or childcare services and paid sick leave.

“The COVID-19 crisis provides an opportunity for countries to transform existing economic models towards a renewed social contract that prioritizes social justice and gender equality”, said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. “This new gender response tracker can help accelerate policy reform by guiding on gaps in national efforts and funding and highlighting best practices”.

Breakdown

Across 135 countries, the tracker identified 704 measures to prevent and/or respond to VAWG. Of these, 63 per cent focused on strengthening essential services, such as shelters, helplines and other reporting mechanisms. 

However, only 48 countries, less than a quarter of those analyzed, treated VAWG-related services as an integral part of their national and local COVID-19 response plans – with very few adequately funding these measures.

At the same time, social protection, care crisis and jobs response has been largely blind to women’s needs, with only 177 measures in 85 countries explicitly aimed at strengthening women’s economic security, and just 60 taking action to support unpaid care and strengthen care services for children, older persons or persons with disabilities.

Varying responses

The tracker also shows that gender actions vary widely across countries and regions. 

According to the analysis, Europe is leading the response on addressing VAWG and unpaid care – accounting for almost 32 per cent of all violence measures and 49 per cent of all unpaid care measures. 

Meanwhile, the Americas has the largest number of measures aimed at strengthening women’s economic security, followed by Africa.

“The Global Tracker supports Governments in making the right policy decisions by sharing good practices and monitoring progress in care policies and measures to address violence against women”, said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. 

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Technological Revolution Accelerated by Coronavirus Crisis in Latin America

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Latin America and the Caribbean is in the midst of a “Fourth Industrial Revolution” of technological innovation which requires enhancing the productivity of the services sector, investing in human capital and rethinking labor regulations and social protection policies, according to a new World Bank report.

These policy priorities have become all the more urgent now that the COVID-19 pandemic is fueling the biggest contraction in economic activity since the great depression. Digitization has become more important to support economic activity at a time of social distancing and is accelerating this technological transformation, potentially putting jobs at risk across Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

According to Going Viral: COVID-19 and the Accelerated Transformation of Jobs in Latin America and the Caribbean employment transformations that were already apparent in the last few decades are bound to deepen, and the question in this context is how to recover from the crisis and build back better.

We need to rethink the future and not just try to get back to where we were before the pandemic,” said World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean Carlos Felipe Jaramillo. “Governments need to find ways to support the creation of new jobs, train workers to be ready for these new jobs and support their citizens through this disruptive transformation.”

Premature deindustrialization and rapid technological innovation will require policies to support a smooth transformation of jobs that is socially acceptable. The region was already struggling with the end of the so-called “Golden Decade” (2003-2013) of rapid development and strong improvements in social indicators. Economic growth and poverty reduction had stalled. The pandemic has only made things worse.

While fears of mass “technological unemployment” are largely unfounded, many jobs are at risk due to lower external demand, a protracted period of quarantines and lockdowns, solvency problems for firms, and financial crises in some cases. In addition, the social unrest seen in 2019 is a warning. It is urgent to restore economic growth and create more and better jobs.

However, this “Fourth Industrial Revolution” of technological innovation means that further industrialization or re-industrialization will be limited in many developing countries. Low-paid, uneducated workers and those in high-contact activities typical of the informal sector are at highest risk of being replaced by machines. In addition, informal workers are harder to reach with essential social protection programs. The COVID-19 crisis could accelerate these changes, bringing the future much closer than anticipated.

With limited scope for employment growth in manufacturing, modernizing the services sector is a priority. This calls for  an emphasis on removing the distortions that prevent competition and innovation from occurring at a rapid pace.

Preparing workers for the changes is also fundamental. “Education offers the best insurance against the risks of automation,” said the report’s lead author Guillermo Beylis, Research Economist in the World Bank’s Office of the Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Workers will have to adapt to demand for cognitive or analytical skills, as well as interpersonal skills.”

Adult learning and re-training will be key as new automation technologies are adopted in LAC countries. The focus should be on policy reforms to increase productivity in the services sector, which already employs 60% of the workforce and will play an increasingly important role in the future.

Finally, a rethinking of labor regulations and social protection policies is needed. This involves flexible regulation of the emerging forms of work in a way that encourages employment and supports formalization, thereby expanding the coverage of social protection to larger segments of the population.

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