By March 2021, Vietnam has experienced 3 phases of the Covid-19 pandemic (phase 1: from March to April 2020; phase 2: from July to September 2020; phase 3: from January to March 2021), with 2,575 infected cases, 302 cases undergoing treatment, 2,234 recovered cases and 35 deaths. Similar to many other countries in the world, Vietnam has suffered serious impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic in all fields: economy, politics, culture, social life, yet the most direct influences were on Vietnamese workforce.
Major impacts that the Covid-19 epidemic has exerted on the Vietnamese workforce can be summarized as follows:
First, the impacts on the employees’ job
This was one of the basic and direct dominant impacts over others. According to the Report of the General Statistics Office of Vietnam (GSO), due to the sudden fall in the labor force in the2nd quarter, the general number of employees (aged 15 and above) in the economy in 2020 sharply decreasedin comparison to that in 2019. The number of working employees aged 15 and abovewas53.4 million people (a decrease of 1.3 million people compared to that in 2019 – arespective decrease of 2.36%). A comparison of the decrease in the number of labor force between 2019 and 2020 is shown in Figure (1). This demonstrated an obvious drop in the number of jobsfor Vietnamese workforce under the impacts of Covid-19 pandemic.
Figure 1: Labor force growth/decrease rate
The Covid-19 pandemic did not only deprive many workers of opportunities for formal employment, but also left them inunemployed. To be specific: generally in 2020, the number of under-employed workers was roughly 1.2 million, an increase of 456.7 thousand people compared to that in 2019. The underemployment rate in the working age group is 2.51%. (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Number of people and underemployment rate by quarter, 2019-2020
With animproving multilateral diplomacy and expanding international relations, Vietnam now has diplomatic relations with 189 countries and territories around the world,maintains close relations with more than 30 countries and three major countries (China, Russia, India) are comprehensive strategic partners. Economic-trade relations play a key role in the international relations of Vietnam and the country is currently considered an attractive destination for investment and international cooperation in Southeast Asia. As a result, the Covid pandemic has influenced Vietnam’s economic relations with their international partners in both ways. Approximately one third of businesses suffered shortage of input materials; the larger the enterpriseswere, the more serious the shortage was; domestic and foreign consumption markets were narrowed, export orders declined and goods circulation faced various difficulties … Due to theweak financial potentials and liquidity in the business sector, the fact thatthe COVID-19 pandemic spread with complicated progressesresulted in production delays, difficulties in production capital, with 52.8% of businesses experiencing a decline in annual business profits4 in 2020. Therefore, businesses were forced to use redundancy, unpaid job leave, shortened working hours … as temporary solutions to maintain their operation and stability.
However, thanks to proactive and creative countermeasures at all levels and decisive policies to prevent economic slowdown, Vietnam’s economy has developedits ownresilience, gradually resumed its operation under new normal conditions, becoming one of three countries in Asia with positive growth in 2020.Accordingly, the number of unemployed and underemployed workers in the fourth quarter of 2020 witnessed a sharp decrease compared to that in the previous quarters and gradually stabilized.
Secondly, the Covid-19 pandemic affected employees’ income
Loss of job opportunities, shortened working hours, layoffs, unemployment had direct impacts on employees’ income. According to the Report of the General Statistics Office, compared to that in 2019, the average monthly income of Vietnamese employees in 2020 decreased in all three economic sectors. Specifically: In 2020, the average income of employees was 5.5 million VND, a 2.3% decrease compared to that of 2019 (equivalent to 128 thousand VND less). Income of employees in service sector witnessed the highest decrease of215 thousand VND; followed by those in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, with 156 thousand VND. Employees in industry and construction suffered the lowest decrease, with 100 thousand VND /person/ month. This impact was clearly illustrated in Figure 3 below:
Figure 3: Average income of workers by economic sector, 2019-2020
Unit: million dong
Third, the Covid-19 pandemic directly affected the employees’ mental factors
When employment and income are affected, workers’ mental health will be direcly influenced too. To be specific, employees may experience frequent anxiety, pessimism, insecurity and mood swings. Results from a scientific survey showed that: only 8% of office employees and managers suffer from stress and pressure during a pandemic, but up to 86.9% of workers have feelings of anxiety, pessimism, insecurity and mood swings. This impact was most evitable among workers with children (including married or single parents), female workers, and especially female migrant workers with children.
In addition, the Covid-19 crisis created aninconsistent impact on relations among employees’ family. In particular, forsome part of employees, family relationships were greatly improved when members stayed at home and spent more time together; on the other hand, a large part had the opposite experience(more disputes, domestic verbal or behavior abuse), especially forimmigrated workers and female immigrated workers with children. This was an evitable consequence when they worried about their health and future. TheCovid-19 pandemic also increased the risk of gender-based violence. Statistics of the Central Vietnam Women’s Union showed that, during Covid-19social distancing, the number of calls from violence-suffering women to the Association’s hotline increased by 50%; the number of victims receiving rescue assistance and acceptance to the House of Peace also increased by 80% over the same period last year.
Some solutions from the Government and businesses to contribute to overcoming the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on Vietnamese workforce
Solutions from the Government of Vietnam
Confronting serious impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on the economyoverthree consecutive phases, the Government of Vietnam actively put their focus on administrating and providing methods as well as decisive actions with the mottos: “Fight the pandemic like fighting against enemies”, “Go to each alley, knock on each door andcheck on each person”; and “dual goals” (preventing and combating the pandemics while promoting socio-economic development), “lightning-speed tracking, zoning”, “four On-sitesguidelines”(on-site commands, on-site forces, on-site vehicles and equipments, on-site logistics), withcore focus on the active role of local governments. These directions were supported by all administrative levels, branches, localities and citizens. The Government as well as their organizations called for and mobilized all social resources for the pandemic prevention; citizens and business groups actively joined hands to fight the epidemic despite numerous difficulties. (For example, when the medical lacked espiratory machines, Vingroup immediately produced their own to provide for the country).
Also since then, the Government has quickly introduced monetary, fiscal, and social security policies in order to support businesses and people during the most difficult period of COVID-19 shock. Specifically: a financial package of 180 billion VND to support business; zero-interests loans to pay wages to workers; Social protection package of 61.580 billion VND (for employees who were distanced, delayed or lost their jobs due to post-pandemic impacts); 11.000 million VND of electricity bill discount; bank loans interest rates reduction; 285.000 billion credit package for commercial banks…..These practical guidelines and measures have assisted businesses to overcome difficulties, improved perseverence, gradually normalized or adjusted their production and business plans, enhancing digital transformation and trade promotion… These activitieshave created positive impacts on stabilization of job, incomes, daily necessity and mental health of the workforce.
Second, solutions from businesses and unions
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the enterprise community quickly came up with new directions and solutionsin order tocontinue their operation duringhard time. Approximately two thirds of enterprises have applied at least one of the abovementioned solutions, trying to adapt their production activities to new normal conditions.
Demonstrating the motto“love and support”, many businesses used different combined measures, such as deferred goods payment (used by 33.3% of businesses), shared orders (used 7.9 % of businesses), barter goods (used by 3.8% businesses), customers loans (used by 2.8% of businesses) …
Besides, in order to join hands with businesses in supporting employees, government organizations, especially trade unions, constantly stand out to help workers overcome their difficulties (for example: The Trade Union of Ho Chi Minh City Industrial -Processing Zone has organized various activities such as visiting, sending gifts, supporting funding and persuading landlords to reduce house rental, especially for female pregnant workers or those nursing a child under 12 months old …)
In general, the Covid-19 pandemic has created great impacts on all aspects of life in Vietnam, especially the workforce – the most vulnerable group facing numerous difficulties so far. However, the Government and people of Vietnam are determined and strictly follow these policies: “Joining hands to protect the workers’ interests and rights, encouraging workers to overcome difficulties together”;targeting at “dual goals” to secure stable jobs and income for employees, supporting post-Covid-19 business recovery. On the spirit of “Employees First”, the government and enterprises are unanimously determined to overcome theevitable challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, to make Vietnam a spotlight in the region and the world in preventing Covid-19 in generaland protecting the legitimate rights of employees in particular.
Reforming Islamic jurisprudence shapes the battle to define moderate Islam
The world’s largest, most moderate Muslim civil society movement has called for abolishing the concept of a caliphate in Islamic law.
In a radical break with Islamic orthodoxy, Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, or Revival of Islamic Scholars, wants to replace the concept with notions of the nation-state and the United Nations that are non-existent in Islamic legal tradition.
The reform is one pillar of the Indonesian movement’s campaign to update or, in its words, recontextualise Islamic law, free it from obsolete or outdated concepts, and deprive militants and jihadists of the ability to employ references to the Sharia to justify their theology, extremism, and violence.
Islamic scholars from across the globe discussed the call in February at a day-long gathering in the Javan city of Surabaya.
The call was made public at a commemoration of Nahdlatul Ulama’s centennial, according to the Hijra calendar, attended by more than a million people and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
“Nahdlatul Ulama believes it is essential to the well-being of Muslims to develop a new vision capable of replacing the long-established aspiration, rooted in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), of uniting Muslims throughout the world into a single universal state, or caliphate,” the group said in a declaration read out at the rally.
“It is neither feasible nor desirable to re-establish a universal caliphate that would unite Muslims throughout the world in opposition to non-Muslims. As recently demonstrated by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, attempts to do so will inevitably be disastrous and contrary to the purposes of Sharia (Islamic law): i.e., the protection of religion, human life, sound reasoning, family, and property,” the declaration went on to say.
The declaration asserted that Islam faces a choice: maintaining the obligation to create a caliphate or reforming Islamic jurisprudence so that it would “embrace a new vision and develop a new discourse regarding Islamic jurisprudence, which will prevent the political weaponization of identity; curtail the spread of communal hatred; promote solidarity and respect among the diverse peoples, cultures, and nations of the world; and foster the emergence of a truly just and harmonious world order.”
In a discussion paper distributed shortly after the conference and rally, Nahdlatul Ulama argued that “Muslims should acknowledge that a socio-political construct (or imperium) capable of operationalizing these normative views across the Muslim world no longer exists” and that “as a consequence of choosing to retain the established fiqh view and norms associated therewith it would automatically be a religious duty incumbent upon Muslims to revive the imperium. This, in turn, would necessarily entail dissolving any and all existing nation-states, under whose governance Muslims currently live.”
With its assault on the concept of a caliphate, Nahdaltul Ulama laid down a gauntlet for autocratic and authoritarian Muslim leaders by insisting that change needs to involve reform of religious jurisprudence, not just social change as enacted, for example, by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and United Arab Emirates President Mohammed bin Zayed.
These reforms have enhanced women’s social rights and professional opportunities, eased restrictions on gender interaction and embraced Western-style entertainment. However, the two men anchored these changes in civil law and ignored the need to synchronise religious jurisprudence.
Anchoring the United Nations and its charter in Islamic religious law would increase the pressure on regimes in Muslim-majority countries to respect human rights.
The UN charter obliges member states to honour “fundamental human rights…the dignity and worth of the human person, (and)…the equal rights of men and women” and makes it legally binding for its Muslim signatories.
Muslim-majority states accepted that obligation when they joined the United Nations but couched their religious legitimacy in the language of Islamic jurisprudence employed by the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) rather than the law itself. The OIC groups the world’s 57 Muslim-majority countries.
By reforming the jurisprudence, Nahdlatul Ulama would introduce guardrails for the incorporation by OIC members of Islamic law into domestic legal systems.
Muslim-majority states have used the OIC framework to monopolise the right to interpret Islamic law and bend it to their will, for example, in the justification of abuse of human rights or, in the case of countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to demand on religious grounds absolute obedience of the ruler.
The OIC and some of its members have also used the organisation’s religious framing and the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam to curtail rights enshrined in the UN charter and lobby the United Nations to classify blasphemy a violation of human rights and a form of hate speech.
In its discussion paper, Nahdlatul Ulama asserted that the view that Muslims “should have a default attitude of enmity towards non-Muslims, and that infidels…should be subject to discrimination is well established within turats al-fiqh (the tradition of Islamic jurisprudence).”
An earlier Nahdlatul Ulama concept note argued that “views that legitimize and encourage suspicion, segregation, discrimination, and even hostility and conflict towards those who bear the legal status of infidels…are scattered throughout classical texts on Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh). These views…are still considered…credible…and should…be practiced to the present day. Muslim groups involved in conflict – including the use of violence and terror – defend their position by citing references from these classical fiqh texts.”
In 2019, the Indonesian movement put its money where its mouth is when 20,000 of its scholars issued a religious finding that eliminated the category of the kafir in Islamic law.
Nevertheless, notions of the kafir and the caliphate remain at the core of the Muslim world’s response to religious extremism and jihadism.
An open letter to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the late leader of the Islamic State, written after he declared in 2014 a caliphate with himself as caliph, insists that “there is agreement (ittifaq) among scholars that a caliphate is an obligation upon the Ummah (Muslim community).” The letter was signed by 126 prominent Islamic scholars, including participants in the Surabaya gathering.
Among the letter’s signatories were state-aligned proponents of autocratic forms of moderate Islam.
They included Egyptian Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam; Egypt’s former grand mufti, Ali Goma, who religiously endorsed the killing on a Cairo square in 2013 of some 800 Muslim Brotherhood protesters by security forces; several members of Egypt’s state-controlled Fatwa Council; and scholars At Al Azhar, Cairo’s citadel of Islamic learning.
Also among the signatories were Abdullah Bin Bayyah, the head of the Fatwa Council of the United Arab Emirates, and one of its other members, popular American Muslim preacher Hamza Yusuf, men who do the Gulf state’s religious bidding.
For over two decades since the 9/11 Al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington, Muslim leaders and their Western counterparts have insisted that Islam and Islamic jurisprudence need no reform. Instead, they asserted that jihadist ideology was not rooted in religious jurisprudence and misrepresented and misconstrued the faith.
Muslim autocrats and authoritarians have used that argument to squash criticism of their often brutal, repressive rule that brooks no dissent and potentially breeds violence.
Moreover, casting jihadists as deviants rather than products of problematic tenants of religious jurisprudence allowed them to project autocracy as a necessary means to combat extremism and promote a moderate Islam.
At the core of the debate about Islamic jurisprudence is a battle for the soul of Islam, involving competition for religious soft power and leadership of the Muslim world and who will define what constitutes moderate Islam.
The battle pits Nahdlatul Ulama’s concept of Humanitarian Islam, which calls for religious reform and unambiguously endorses pluralism, the United Nations Charter, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights against an autocratic definition of moderate Islam that rejects religious and political reform but supports a formalistic, ceremonial form of inter-faith dialogue and the loosening of social restrictions long advocated by orthodox Islam.
Autocrats and their clerical surrogates ignore Nahdlatul Ulama at their peril.
The Indonesian movement is a player with an estimated 90 million followers, 18,000 religious seminaries, 44 universities, tens of thousands of Muslim scholars that constitute a religious authority independent of traditional centers in the Middle East, a five million-strong paramilitary militia, and a political party that was part of Indonesian President Widodo’s coalition government and is an influential member of Centrist Democrat International (CDI), the world’s largest alliance of political parties.
The degree to which Nahdlatul Ulama threatens proponents of an autocratic definition of moderate Islam was reflected in how prominent state-aligned Islamic scholars responded to invitations to attend the Surabaya conference.
Messrs. Bin Bayyah and Goma initially said they would attend but then backed out. Others opted for making statements on a video link but not participating in person or any of the conference’s deliberations.
Mr. Allam used his video remarks to express opposition to Nahdlatul Ulama’s proposition.
Muhammad Al-Issa, the head of the Muslim World League, Mr. Bin Salman’s vehicle for propagating his autocratic version of moderate Islam, chose to ignore Nahdlatul Ulama’s proposition in his video statement. Like Mr. Allam, Mr. Al-Issa had initially indicated that he would attend.
Theirs is a tactic that, at best, buys time for state-aligned Muslim scholars.
“The majority of the Arab and Islamic delegations at the First International Convention on Islamic Jurisprudence for a Global Civilization expressed a traditional mindset that has become outdated. For they dealt with the centenary of Nahdlatul Ulamas as if it were a carnival,” said Muhammad Abu Al-Fadl, deputy editor of Egypt’s Al Ahram newspaper, in his coverage of the Surabaya conference.
“If the leadership of religious institutions in the Arab world continues to insist on burying their heads in the sand, then Arab states may require another 100 years to absorb the Nahdlatul Ulama project in Indonesia,” Mr Abu Al-Fadl went on to say.
In the ultimate analysis, state-aligned Islamic scholars are either able to coopt the Indonesian reformers or will be forced to join the bandwagon.
So far, efforts to coopt Nahdlatul Ulama have failed.
These efforts included the Muslim World League joining Nahdlatul Ulama in hosting the November 2022 Religion Forum 20 or R20, a summit of religious leaders in Bali on the eve of the meeting of leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) that groups the world’s largest economies.
Indonesia, last year’s G20 chair, designated the R20 as an official G20 engagement party.
To be sure, Nahdlatul Ulama’s jurisprudential reform is not binding in a Muslim world where religious legal authority is decentralised.
Nevertheless, influential commentators in Saudi Arabia and Egypt echoed Nahdlatul Ulama’s call for religious reform without referencing the Indonesian group.
“All religious institutions must work to create contemporary jurisprudence… The Islamic world is waiting for (Saudi Arabia) to lead it towards contemporary jurisprudence,” said Okaz newspaper columnist and Jeddah-based lawyer Osama Al-Yamani.
Earlier, journalist Mamdouh AlMuhaini proposed top-down Martin Luther-like religious reforms that would be led by Mr. Bin Salman, even though the writer stopped short of identifying the crown prince by name.
“There are dozens, or perhaps thousands, of Luthers of Islam… As such, the question of ‘where is the Luther of Islam’ is wrong. It should instead be: Where is Islam’s Frederick the Great? The King of Prussia, who earned the title of Enlightened Despot, embraced major philosophers in Europe like Kant and Voltaire and gave them the freedom to think and carry out scientific research,” Mr AlMuhaini said.
The journalists’ comments suggest that, at the very least, Nahdlatul Ulama has laid down a marker that other Muslim religious authorities will ultimately be unable to ignore if they want recognition as proponents of a genuinely moderate Islam.
Commenting on Nahdlatul Ulama’s campaign, Mr. Abu Al-Fadl, the Al Ahram editor, asserted that Middle Eastern Islamic scholars risk missing the boat.
“The majority of Muslims look to the Arab world for guidance, and the failure of this region’s ulama (Muslim religious scholars) to keep up with the transformations taking place will lead to the rug being pulled out from under them. For the openness adopted by Nahdlatul Ulama and its new Chairman, Yahya Cholil Staquf, will not stop at one specific country or region.”
Bali governor puts Indonesia on the spot
A refusal by the governor of Hindu-majority Bali to host an Israeli soccer team at this May’s FIFA Under-20 World Cup puts the Indonesian government, football association, and foremost Muslim civil society movement on the spot.
Wayan Koster’s refusal threatens to lead FIFA to deprive Indonesia of its hosting rights, which oblige it to allow national teams to compete irrespective of whether countries recognise one another.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) stripped Malaysia of its right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championship because it refused to allow Israel to participate.
“We request the Minister adopt a policy of banning the Israeli team from competing in Bali. We, the provincial government of Bali, declare that we reject the participation of the Israel team to compete in Bali,” Mr. Koster wrote in a March 14 letter to the youth and sports ministry a day after the minister resigned because he was elected deputy chairman of the Indonesian Football Association.
Indonesia has refused to establish diplomatic relations with Israel as long as it fails to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians.
The rise of a far-right, ultra-nationalist, and religiously ultra-conservative Israeli government has further dampened already dim hopes that the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country and democracy would follow the United Arab Emirates and other Arab states in recognising Israel soon.
This week, the Indonesian foreign ministry condemned Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotric’s denial of Palestinian existence. “Indonesia continues to consistently support the Palestinian people’s struggle,” the ministry said.
Earlier, ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah asserted that Israeli participation in the FIFA tournament would “not weaken Indonesia’s consistent position on Palestine.”
If world soccer body FIFA deprived it of its hosting rights, Indonesia would suffer a setback in positioning itself as a Southeast Asian sports powerhouse. In addition, Indonesia would lose its spot in the championship.
Indonesia qualified for this year’s tournament as the host rather than because of its performance in qualification matches.
Mr. Koster’s refusal was celebrated by Muslim oragnisations, including the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI), which groups the country’s top clerics, and Muhamadiyya, the country’s second-largest civil society movement with tens of millions of followers. The groups this week protested Israeli participation in the tournament.
The refusal and the protest shine a spotlight not only on pro-Palestinian sentiment in Indonesia but also the at times blurred distinction between legitimate criticism of Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment.
To be sure, the slogans of the protest were anti-Israel, not anti-Jewish.
Even so, Israel has sought to spin crossovers between the two to discredit all criticism as anti-Semitism.
The controversy over Israeli participation in the Bali tournament also highlights the outreach to Jews and other faith groups by Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest and most moderate civil society movement.
Nahdlatul Ulama has been a driving force in reforming Islamic law to rid it of supremacist concepts. Some 20,000 Nahdlatul Ulama Islamic scholars in 2019 replaced the notion of the kafir or infidel with that of a citizen.
In addition to tackling problematic concepts in Islamic law, Nahdaltul Ulama has been at the forefront of efforts to take inter-faith dialogue beyond hollow, feel-good, lovey-dovey declarations by putting historical grievances, truth-telling, and the troubled histories of Islam and other faiths on the agenda.
Nevertheless, Aan Anshori, a young Nahdlatul Ulama religious scholar, cautions that antipathy in Indonesia toward Jews is “culturally deep-seated.”
“The key to turning this around is to instill the importance for coexistence between Islam and other faiths today,” Mr. Anshori said.
Last year a poll showed that 51 per cent of Indonesian Muslims had serious misgivings about having Jewish neighbors, 57 percent opposed allowing Jews to teach in public schools, and 61 per cent objected to Jews becoming government officials.
Also last year, the alliance of Islamic scholars on the Javan island of Madura, a region with a history of intolerance, and a conservative cleric who identifies himself as a Nahdlatul Ulama associate, protested against the participation of an Argentinian rabbi, known for her advocacy of human rights, in a summit of religious leaders organised by the group under the auspices of Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
“I am an NU (Nahdlatul Ulama) member, rejecting (the leadership’s) efforts to bring the Jewish rabbi, Silvina Chemen, to Indonesia… The infidels from the children of Israel have been cursed through the words of Prophet Dawud (David) and Prophet Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary),” said Luthfi Bashori Alwi.
A Sunni Muslim mob armed with machetes and sickles attacked and burnt a Shiite-majority village in Madura in 2012, killing a 45-year-old woman and seriously injuring several others.
Nahdlatul Ulama secretary general Yahya Cholil Staquf set the tone for his leadership by addressing, shortly after his election in January 2022, the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Holocaust Remembrance Day as well as the Palestinian embassy in Jakarta at about the same time.
Calling for compassion, Mr. Staquf referred only obliquely in his Wiesenthal Center speech to the Palestinians and other repressed groups.
He noted that “Holocaust remembrance serves as a memorial and vivid reminder of the cruelty, violence, and suffering that so many human beings — acting in the name of their ‘group identity,’ whether ethnic, racial, religious, or political — have, for thousands of years, inflicted upon others. This pattern of malignant behavior continues to threaten humanity, and civilization itself, to the present day.”
Mr. Staquf was more explicit in his speech at the Palestinian embassy.
“If the people of the world fail to ensure a better, more noble future for Palestinians, humanity will have failed in its collective responsibility to ensure a better future for everyone, by fostering the emergence of a global civilization,” Mr. Staquf said.
Mr. Staquf is one of two Nahdlatul Ulama leaders, alongside former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, to visit Israel. Mr. Wahid travelled when he was head of Nahdlatul Ulama rather than when he was head of state.
Discussing his own experience Ezra Abraham, a 29-year-old Indonesian Jew, suggests that engagement with others as well as frank and honest dialogue as pursued by Mr. Staquf produces results.
“Part of the problem (in Indonesia) is that the decades-long invisibility of the Jewish people has made us into the convenient, never-seen bogeyman,.. At past interfaith events, (Indonesian) Muslim participants were initially uncomfortable when I told them I was Jewish. But by the end of our frank discussions, most would’ve modified their stance,” Mr, Abraham said.
Indonesia: Climate Change Challenges
Indonesia is a nation that faces the threat of drowning land due to the impact of global warming. Rising sea levels, caused by the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere, are leading to the submergence of low-lying areas in the country, particularly in coastal regions. The effects of this problem are not limited to the loss of land, but also include the displacement of populations, environmental degradation, and the potential exacerbation of social, economic, and political issues.
The impact of rising sea levels on Indonesia’s archipelagic status is a real concern as many of its outermost islands and basepoints could potentially be submerged in the future. As an archipelagic state, Indonesia benefits greatly from UNCLOS, which permits Indonesia to claim sovereignty over all of the waters between its islands. If sea levels rise, the basepoints used for drawing archipelagic baselines might be partly or fully covered by water, affecting the measurement of the allowable distance between all the basepoints. In a worst-case scenario, where the basepoints are completely underwater, Indonesia may have to find alternative basepoints or rebuild them. Rising sea levels could cause total territorial loss, including the loss of baselines and maritime zones measured from them.
To protect its archipelagic status, Indonesia needs to assess the impact of sea level rise on the outermost points of its islands and drying reefs of its archipelago. It should also record the heights above sea level of these basepoints, and how much they will be impacted by sea level rises. Indonesia could consider declaring its archipelagic baselines as final once defined and declared notwithstanding sea level rise. Additionally, Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries threatened by rising sea levels could adopt a regional declaration recognizing the stability of their baselines and secure their maritime entitlements. As chairs of ASEAN this year, Indonesia could take this opportunity to take collective action to respond to rising sea levels.
The issue of environmental migrants is closely tied to this problem. Environmental migrants are individuals or groups of people who are forced to migrate from their homes or communities due to environmental factors, including sea-level rise, drought, desertification, and deforestation. In the case of Indonesia, many people are likely to be displaced by the submergence of coastal areas, which can lead to a variety of challenges, including housing insecurity, food insecurity, and economic instability.
In the face of these challenges, it is crucial that effective protection of fundamental human rights is prioritized. This includes ensuring that the rights of environmental migrants are protected, including the right to adequate housing, food, and healthcare, as well as the right to seek asylum and protection from persecution. Governments must also take steps to address the root causes of environmental migration, such as by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable development.
Existing policies and international frameworks, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, provide a basis for action on this issue. However, it is essential that governments and other stakeholders take concrete steps to implement these policies effectively, and that the voices of affected communities are heard in the decision-making process. This requires a commitment to collaboration, transparency, and accountability at all levels of governance, as well as a recognition of the urgent need to address the threat of climate change and its impact on vulnerable populations.
International efforts, such as the International Organization for Migration’s support for a research project on climate and migration in Indonesia, and the World Bank’s South Asia Water Initiative and Climate Adaptation and Resilience for South Asia project, are encouraging but insufficient. Therefore, three policy recommendations to reduce the risk of climate-induced migration in South Asia are offered:
-Promote more livelihood opportunities in non-agricultural sectors to reduce the vulnerability of agriculture workers to climate-driven displacement.
-Empower non-federal authorities to better tackle climate-induced displacement risks, particularly at the local level.
-Host and sponsor dialogues and other exchanges to generate greater regional cooperation so that South Asian states can jointly combat the shared and transnational threats of climate change and climate-induced displacement.
The threat of drowning land in Indonesia due to global warming highlights the urgent need for action on the issue of environmental migration and the protection of fundamental human rights. Governments and other stakeholders must work together to address the root causes of this problem and to provide effective support and protection to affected communities.
Ways to Overcome Afghanistan Crisis in Post-Republic Collapse
On August 15, 2021, the Afghan Republic government collapsed and the Taliban took over the Afghan capital city of Kabul....
Foreign Affairs: What sanctions on Russia can and cannot achieve
“U.S. policymakers began planning major sanctions on Russia in late 2021” (before the beginning of Ukrainian conflict!), recognizes ‘Foreign Affairs’....
Elsie Initiative Fund: call for proposals to continue investing in women’s meaningful participation in peacekeeping
At an event that brought together more than 350 representatives from Member States, UN organizations, academia and civil society, the Elsie...
What Beijing’s Iran-Saudi deal means
The agreement to reestablish diplomatic relations between Tehran and Riyadh was no “peace deal,” but the rivals did decide to...
De-dollarization is gaining momentum
Brazil and China have reportedly struck a deal to ditch the U.S. dollar in favor of their own currencies in...
Between Consensus and Efficiency: The Future of Multilateralism
The Multilateral world has been attempting to evolve for some time now. From Reformed to Effective Multilateralism, its struggles to...
Defining moments for geopolitics
A video of Xi’s departure on Wednesday was filmed with translators speaking for both men. “Right now there are changes...
Finance3 days ago
U.S. bank trouble heralds The End of dollar Reserve system
Americas3 days ago
Bulletproof Panama: An Isthmus of Stability Becomes a Magnet for Migration
Economy4 days ago
How Saudiconomy, is an economic-transformational miracle?
International Law4 days ago
Putin, Xi, the ICC, and the Demise of Global Judiciary
East Asia4 days ago
Japan-Indian Equalizer of China’s Rise
Middle East3 days ago
The New Middle East: The Winners and Losers
South Asia4 days ago
Pakistan’s Priority Ranking of SDGs
New Social Compact4 days ago
The Untapped Potential of Women’s Contributions to Peace building