“Someone submitted millions of fake comments against the open Internet using stolen identities — including mine.”
My identity was stolen this year. The perpetrator didn’t open credit cards in my name or gain access to my finances. Instead, they used my name to submit a comment to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in support of repealing net neutrality rules.
Those rules, enacted in 2015, declared the Internet to be a free and open place. They prevent Internet service providers, or ISPs, like Comcast and AT&T from restricting access to any websites — either permanently or to charge you more money to access them.
Imagine your water company charging you more for the water that comes out of your shower than the water that comes out of your sink. Or imagine not being allowed to use your shower at all, even though you pay a water bill.
That’s what net neutrality rules protect consumers from when it comes to the Internet.
But Ajit Pai, the current FCC chairman and a former lawyer for Verizon, has scheduled a vote to repeal net neutrality. To do this, he had to solicit public to comment on the matter.
Why? Because of the 22 million comments received, half or more of them appear to be fake, likely posted by bots or special interest organizations attempting to sway the FCC’s opinion. When I checked the FCC’s website, I learned that one of those fake comments used my own name and address.
Someone had stolen my identity to advocate for a position that I didn’t agree with.
Several people and organizations, including the New York attorney general, have petitioned the FCC for information on the scale and origin of fake comments. However, the FCC has rejected these petitions.
As a federal agency, the FCC should be far more concerned about the identity theft of the citizens they’re tasked to represent.
Internet providers like Verizon, the former employer of the FCC chairman, complain that net neutrality rules slow their investments in Internet technology. However, ISPs exist in a shockingly non-competitive market.
More than 50 million households in the United States have only one choice of provider, and those providers score the lowest customer satisfaction rates of all 43 industries tracked by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index. Personally, I’ve never had an ISP that offers reasonable customer service or Internet speeds and reliability at the levels I pay for.
This isn’t an industry that consumers are satisfied with, so why should they hold even more power than they already do? No wonder they have to rely on sleazy tactics like stealing identities and posting fake comments.
The Internet has become an essential tool in the 21st century. A small handful of companies shouldn’t have the power to decide which parts of it people can access.
Corporate-funded lies and identity theft highlight a major threat to the benefits of increased communication. How can we prevent special interest groups from warping the Internet to spread misinformation and further their political goals?
That’s a question we must answer, because misinformation campaigns are rampant, and they’re being used to restrict your rights and freedoms. But at the very least, a former Verizon employee shouldn’t hold the power to give ISPs a major win at the expense of consumers — and a free and open Internet.
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Carlos Duboy, the administrator of the state-owned Tocumen SA, which runs the nation’s airports, admits that through a private company he owns, Strategic Management, he was the intermediary for $150,000 in “contributions” by the hoodlum Brazilian company Odebrecht to the Panameñista Party to which he and President Juan Carlos Varela belong.
Prosecutors are investigating, which given the track record of all the Odebrecht scandals here, should not reassure anyone except perhaps criminals. What is happening, however, is that the Public Ministry is doing hardly any real investigations of Odebrecht on its own, but just relying on what foreign governments provide and then complaining about these sources being too slow for the Panamanian courts to accept their data. Adding to it are recent revelations that the Panameñistas, and perhaps other political parties here, have not kept any registry of cash contributions they received, or to whom and what this money went. It’s all a dance of corruption and impunity, leaving Panama as an international laughing stock. Do you think that this show has nothing to do with the European Union imposing sanctions on Panama? Think again.
Tocumen Airport has ongoing contracts with Odebrecht, as do the Metro commuter train system, the Panama City municipal government and the Colon city renovation project. Most of these contracts were awarded on a no-bid or rigged-bid basis.
Now Duboy says he sees no reason to step down during the investigation, Varela says that Duboy stays where he is, and the Odebrecht contracts continue.
Any concession that Duboy has to leave or that the Odebrecht contracts ought to be suspended would be an admission that there are serious questions about the president’s behavior as well. And it might just be the case that in no branch of government is there any will to admit another failed presidency, and even if more than 60 percent of Panamanians disapprove of Varela’s conduct there isn’t the public appetite for any sort of regime change before the 2019 elections.
The right thing would be for Duboy to step down and for all public works contracts in Panama with Odebrecht to be rescinded. If that would be annoyingly inconvenient and a terrible blow the the chances of Varela’s party in 2019, all those problems are of Varela’s making. When a person or institution is brought to justice it’s always inconvenient for somebody. So what?
The ungodly pedophile loses in Alabama, just barely
Most of Alabama’s white voters, particularly the men, voted for a grown man who, a witness who says she was there claims, asked a 14-year-old girl to take her clothes off for him. This candidate believes that it was a terrible constitutional error when the United States ended slavery by way of the 13th Amendment. The man was thrown off of the Alabama bench for defying the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.
Those fanatics, and people like them all throughout American society, in the USA and abroad, comprise between one-quarter and one-third of the American electorate. They are not going away anytime soon, but demographic trends indicate that they are on the whole older so can be expected to die off sooner the people who are not like that.
That crowd and its allies now dominates all branches of the federal government and most state governments. But polls indicate that most Americans now find them alarmingly toxic, not just fellow citizens who disagree but truly dangerous.
In about 11 months’ time there is a referendum scheduled on that — the 2018 mid-term elections. There will probably be a lot of turmoil between now and then, especially considering that so many of the ultra-right Republicans believe in End Times religion, which holds that the world is ending soon so any damage that they do doesn’t matter.
The ballot box is the best way out of the predicament. However, the whole US electoral system is broken under the weight of unlimited campaign contributions by billionaires. These power brokers may be malicious and may be doing the bidding of foreign powers. The fanatics wave guns around and in many states have gerrymandered the congressional districts. They may not accept a democratic verdict. It’s a recipe for a constitutional crisis, one that was shoved only a little way back from unfolding by a close election in Alabama.
Bear in mind…
Some third person decides your fate: this is the whole essence of bureaucracy.
Even the smallest dog can lift its leg on the tallest building.
There are two kinds of artists left: those who endorse Pepsi and those who simply won’t.
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Protection arbitrarily removed from Honduran journalist
by Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the arbitrary withdrawal of the protection that Honduran freelance journalist Jairo López had been receiving from the National Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists since February.
His protection was withdrawn on 26 November although he continues to be the target of frequent death threats, especially on social networks. A former host of the Canal 21 TV news program “El Informador” he is currently at the center of a defamation trial that is marred by major irregularities.
López has been the victim of a major smear campaign ever since he reported acts of corruption allegedly involving elected officials and politicians including the speaker of the national congress in 2015.
“We condemn this baseless decision and call on the government to restore the security measures without delay,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America bureau. “The threats to which Jairo López continues to be exposed are every worrying and, as well as hampering his journalistic work, are taking a constant psychological toll.”
López was summoned by the military police yesterday and accused of being an opposition leader in the street protests against President Juan Orlando Hernández, whose reelection is being widely disputed.
López told RSF that he was covering the demonstrations as a reporter and that, at the same time, he feared that he could be on a hit-list of persons to be murdered by the Honduran military and police.
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Crops are in across the US farm belt, with record harvests filling farmers’ silos with grain and their hearts with pride. Yet persistent and punishingly low prices for those crops leave them no better off for their efforts. Net farm income this year is about half what it was in 2013.
US farmers are not alone. The world is experiencing what Reuters called a “global grain glut,” with many staple food crops filling silos from Brazil to the Ukraine. Crop prices have fallen dramatically, with serious repercussions for farmers, particularly poor farmers in developing countries.
Unfortunately, two institutions with the power to address the the problem seem poised to make things worse rather than better. The US Congress has begun discussions of a new Farm Bill, and there is little indication it will include the kinds of provisions that might curb unchecked production.
Meanwhile, the World Trade Organization gathers December 10 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, ostensibly to address the kinds of trade policies that can allow governments to protect their farmers from cheap exports flowing from US and other dominant exporters. All indications are that WTO ministers, mis-led by the United States, are unlikely to even consider measures to address the global grain glut or its impacts.
US Farm Bill feeds global crop glut
The adage in farm country is that the cure for high prices is high prices, and that seems to be the case with the current global surpluses. They follow a series of price spikes, starting in 2008 and dubbed the new “global food crisis,” which drew investment into agriculture. US farmers pulled land out of conservation areas and planted every available inch in corn, soybeans, and other commodity crops. Brazil, Argentina, the Ukraine, and other exporters followed suit.
Crop prices came down quickly, falling back to pre-food-crisis levels in 2014. They have remained low since, and economists project little upward movement in coming years. There is nothing unusual about this. In fact, global agricultural markets tend toward overproduction and have for decades.
US policy-makers used to know this, and they used to address the problem with farm policies that managed production to keep prices from crashing. They paid a support price, rather than crop subsidies, and actively encouraged farmers to take some land out of production.
No more. Since the 1980s, US policies have encouraged maximum production. The 2014 Farm Bill was little different, despite some tweaks to the subsidy programs, which are far more a symptom of the overproduction problem rather than its cause. And the 2018 Farm Bill, now taking shape in Congress, promises to do more of the same.
Subsidized crop insurance will encourage farmers to extend planting onto marginal lands, knowing they can get a payout if the crop fails. Other subsidy payments will compensate them if prices or revenues fall below minimum thresholds, taking even more of the risk out of expanding acreage. Few measures will take land out of production, for conservation or just to ease the grain glut and price squeeze.
Some alternative proposals advocate for shifts in subsidy programs, to encourage healthier foods or more sustainable farming practices. Few address the overproduction problem.
WTO prevents developing countries from defending themselves
The surpluses of corn, soybeans, wheat, and cotton don’t stay in the United States. Neither does the harm. The US is still the world’s largest agricultural exporter, and it is once again exporting those surplus crops at prices below what it cost to produce them — one definition of “dumping” at the WTO.
According to new research from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), in 2015 the United States exported corn at 12% below what it cost to produce it. “Dumping margins” were significant for other crops as well: 10% for soybeans, 2% for rice, 32% for wheat, and 23% for cotton.
US exports often set international prices, meaning that farmers in other countries get less for their crops. I estimated that such US dumping from 1997-2005 cost Mexican farmers some $13 billion in lost revenues as below-cost imports pushed down domestic prices.
The World Trade Organization is supposed to prevent unfair trade practices such as dumping. But on the eve of the Buenos Aires ministerial conference the WTO sits poised to take no action on long-standing developing country proposals that would allow them to defend themselves against dumping.
Since 2013, the United States has objected to India’s program of paying support prices to grain farmers and using the food stocks to feed the poor. It is far and away the most ambitious anti-hunger effort in the world, promising to reduce hunger for more than 600 million people in India while improving the lives of small-scale farmers by paying them a decent and stable price. With no sense of irony or shame, the US accused India of unfairly subsidizing its farmers, using arcane WTO rules that dramatically exaggerate the estimate of the subsidy portion of the support price.
The conflict has dragged on, but a resolution was mandated for the 2017 WTO agenda. Don’t count on it.
Also off the table are developing country proposals for a “Special Safeguard Mechanism” to allow developing countries to do what rich countries are already allowed to do — take protective measures to insulate domestic producers from sudden import surges that disrupt local markets.
Most egregious is continued inaction on the dumping of US cotton, which was found illegal under existing WTO rules. The WTO in 2005 promised “expedited action” to remedy the problem, and still, 12 years later, little has been done. US officials have ruled out further discussions or action on cotton in Buenos Aires despite continued dumping.
US and global farmers need action, or low prices and dumped crops will drive even more into hunger and poverty. As a stark reminder, the same week Reuters reported on the global grain glut the UN Food and Agriculture Organization announced that despite the grain surpluses there had been a five percent increase in the number of the world’s chronically hungry in 2016, to more than 800 million.
Many of those millions are poor farmers. They need fair prices.
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by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association
Panamanian youth will have an opportunity to play with their big league heroes at the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) Legends for Youth baseball clinic series. In conjunction with MVP Sports City and the Panama government, the MLBPAA’s first trip to Panama since the Legends for Youth baseball clinic series’ inception will feature* two-time Toronto Blue Jays World Series champion Roberto Alomar and MLB veterans Carlos Baerga, Roger Deago, Carlos Hernandez, Carlos Lee, Rafael Medina, Davis Romero and Olmedo Saenz as well as current players Enrique Burgos and Paolo Espino. The clinics and autograph sessions will occur from Thursday, December 14th through Sunday, December 17th, as listed below.
The clinics will take place in Panama City at various venues. Clinicians will train at different instructional stations for approximately 200 local youth ages 6 – 16. The clinics will conclude with an autograph session for children in attendance.
Full Clinic Schedule:
Thursday, December 14: Coaches Clinic in Panama City, Panama held at MVP Sports City, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Friday, December 15: Legends for Youth Clinic in Panama City, Panama held at MVP Sports City, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Saturday, December 16: Legends for Youth Clinic in Panama City, Panama held at Rod Carew Field, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Sunday, December 17: Legends for Youth Clinic in Panama City, Panama held at Rod Carew Field, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
For more information regarding the clinic, please contact Nikki Warner, Director of Communications, at (719) 477-1870, ext. 105 or visit www.baseballalumni.com.
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Thank you for inviting me to speak here in this historic setting at the Palais des Nations in Geneva a city that has been a place of refuge and philosophy since the time of Rousseau. The headquarters before the Second World War of the ill-fated League of Nations, which now houses the United Nations. It’s a particular privilege to be speaking here because the constitution of our party includes a commitment to support the United Nations. A promise “to secure peace, freedom, democracy, economic security and environmental protection for all.”
I would like to use this opportunity in the run-up to International Human Rights Day to focus on the greatest threats to our common humanity, and why states need to throw their weight behind genuine international cooperation and human rights — individual and collective, social and economic, as well as legal and constitutional at home and abroad — if we are to meet and overcome those threats. My own country is at a crossroads. The decision by the British people to leave the European Union in last year’s referendum means we have to rethink our role in the world.
Some want to use Brexit to turn Britain in on itself, rejecting the outside world, viewing everyone as a feared competitor. Others want to use Brexit to put rocket boosters under our current economic system’s insecurities and inequalities, turning Britain into a deregulated corporate tax haven, with low wages, limited rights, and cut-price public services in a destructive race to the bottom. My party stands for a completely different future when we leave the EU, drawing on the best internationalist traditions of the labor movement and our country. We want to see close and cooperative relationships with our European neighbors, outside the EU, based on solidarity as well as mutual benefit and fair trade, along with a wider proactive internationalism across the globe.
We are proud that Britain was an original signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights and our 1998 Human Rights Act enshrined it in our law. So Labour will continue to work with other European states and progressive parties and movements, through the Council of Europe to ensure our country and others uphold our international obligations, just as the work of the UN Human Rights Council helps to ensure countries like ours live up to our commitments — such as disability rights, where this year’s report found us to be failing.
International cooperation, solidarity, collective action are the values we are determined to project in our foreign policy. Those values will inform everything the next Labour government does on the world stage, using diplomacy to expand a progressive, rules-based international system, which provides justice and security for all. They must be genuinely universal and apply to the strong as much as the weak if they are to command global support and confidence. They cannot be used to discipline the weak, while the strong do as they please, or they will be discredited as a tool of power, not justice.
That’s why we must ensure that the powerful uphold and respect international rules and international law. If we don’t, the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 will remain an aspiration, rather than a reality and international rules will be seen as a pick and mix menu for the global powers that call the international shots. Most urgently we must work with other countries to advance the cause of human rights, to confront the four greatest and interconnected threats facing our common humanity.
First, the growing concentration of unaccountable wealth and power in the hands of a tiny corporate elite, a system many call neoliberalism, which has sharply increased inequality, marginalization, insecurity and anger across the world.
Second, climate change, which is creating instability, fueling conflict across the world and threatening all our futures.
Third, the unprecedented numbers of people fleeing conflict, persecution, human rights abuses, social breakdown and climate disasters.
And finally, the use of unilateral military action and intervention, rather than diplomacy and negotiation, to resolve disputes and change governments.
Building a social economy
The dominant global economic system is broken. It is producing a world where a wealthy few control 90 percent of global resources; a world of growing insecurity and grotesque levels of inequality within and between nations, where more than 100 billion dollars a year are estimated to be lost to developing countries from corporate tax avoidance; a world where $1 trillion dollars a year are sucked out of the Global South through illicit financial flows. This is a global scandal.
The most powerful international corporations must not be allowed to continue to dictate how and for whom our world is run. Thirty years after structural adjustment programs first ravaged so much of the world, and a decade after the financial crash of 2008, the neoliberal orthodoxy that delivered them is breaking down. This moment, a crisis of confidence in a bankrupt economic system and social order, presents us with a once in a generation opportunity to build a new economic and social consensus which puts the interests of the majority first.
But the crumbling of the global elite’s system and their prerogative to call the shots unchallenged has led some politicians to stoke fear and division. And deride international cooperation as national capitulation. President Trump’s disgraceful Muslim ban and his anti-Mexican rhetoric have fueled racist incitement and misogyny and shifted the focus away from what his Wall Street-dominated administration is actually doing.
In Britain, where wages have actually fallen for most people over the last decade as the corporations and the richest have been handed billions in tax cuts, our Prime Minister has followed a less extreme approach but one that also aims to divert attention from her Government’s failures and real agenda. She threatens to scrap the Human Rights Act, which guarantees all of our people’s civil and political rights and has actually benefited everyone in our country. And she has insisted “if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere.”
There is an alternative to this damaging and bankrupt order. The world’s largest corporations and banks cannot be left to write the rules and rig the system for themselves. The world’s economy can and must deliver for the common good and the majority of its people. But that is going to demand real and fundamental structural change on an international level.
The United Nations has a pivotal role to play, in advancing a new consensus and common ground based on solidarity, respect for human rights and international regulation and cooperation. That includes as a platform for democratic leaders to speak truth about unaccountable power.
One such moment took place on 4 December 1972, when President Salvador Allende of Chile, elected despite huge opposition and US interference, took the rostrum of the UN General Assembly in New York. He called for global action against the threat from transnational corporations, that do not answer to any state, any parliament or any organization representing the common interest. Nine months later, Allende was killed in General Augusto Pinochet’s coup, which ushered in a brutal 17-year dictatorship and turned Chile into a laboratory of free market fundamentalism.
But 44 years on, all over the world people are standing up and saying enough to the unchained power of multinational companies to dodge taxes, grab land and resources on the cheap and rip the heart out of work forces and communities. That’s why I make the commitment to you today that the next Labour government in Britain will actively support the efforts of the UN Human Rights Council to create a legally binding treaty to regulate transnational corporations under international human rights law. Genuine corporate accountability must apply to all of the activities of their subsidiaries and suppliers. Impunity for corporations that violate human rights or wreck our environment, as in the mineral-driven conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, must be brought to an end.
For too long, development has been driven by the unfounded dogma that unfettered markets and unaccountable multinational companies are the key to solving global problems. So under the next Labour Government the Department for International Development will have the twin mission of not only eradicating poverty but also reducing inequality across the world. To achieve this goal we must act against the global scandal of tax dodging and trade mis-invoicing — robbing developing countries and draining resources from our own public services.
In Africa alone an estimated 35 billion dollars is lost each year to tax dodging, and 50 billion to illicit financial flows, vastly exceeding the 30 billion dollars that enters the continent as aid. As the Paradise and Panama Papers have shown the super-rich and the powerful can’t be trusted to regulate themselves. Multinational companies must be required to undertake country-by-country reporting, while countries in the Global South need support now to keep hold of the billions being stolen from their people. So the next Labour government will seek to work with tax authorities in developing countries, as Zambia has with NORAD — the Norwegian aid agency — to help them stop the looting.
Saturday marks International Anti-Corruption Day. Corruption isn’t something that happens “over there.” Our government has played a central role in enabling the corruption that undermines democracy and violates human rights. It is a global issue that requires a global response. When people are kept in poverty, while politicians funnel public funds into tax havens, that is corruption, and a Labour government will act decisively on tax havens: introducing strict standards of transparency for crown dependencies and overseas territories including a public register of owners, directors, major shareholders and beneficial owners for all companies and trusts.
Delivering climate justice
Climate change is the second great threat to our common humanity. Our planet is in jeopardy. Global warming is undeniable; the number of natural disasters has quadrupled since 1970.
Hurricanes like the ones that recently hit the Caribbean are bigger because they are absorbing moisture from warmer seas. It is climate change that is warming the seas, mainly caused by emissions from the world’s richer countries. And yet the least polluting countries, more often than not the developing nations, are at the sharp end of the havoc climate change unleashes — with environmental damage fueling food insecurity and social dislocation. We must stand with them in solidarity. Two months ago, I promised the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, that I would use this platform to make this message clear.
The international community must mobilize resources and the world’s biggest polluters shoulder the biggest burden. So I ask governments in the most polluting countries, including in the UK:
First, to expand their capacity to respond to disasters around the world. Our armed forces, some of the best trained and most highly skilled in the world, should be allowed to use their experience to respond to humanitarian emergencies. Italy is among those leading the way with its navy becoming a more versatile and multi-role force.
Second, to factor the costs of environmental degradation into financial forecasting as Labour has pledged to do with Britain’s Office of Budget Responsibility.
Third, to stand very firmly behind the historic Paris Climate Accords.
And finally, take serious and urgent steps on debt relief and cancellation.
We need to act as an international community against the injustice of countries trying to recover from climate crises they did not create while struggling to repay international debts. It’s worth remembering the words of Thomas Sankara, President of Burkina Faso, delivered to the Organization of African Unity in 1987 a few months before he too was assassinated in a coup. “The debt cannot be repaid,” he said, “first because if we don’t repay lenders will not die. But if we repay… we are going to die.”
The growing climate crisis exacerbates the already unparalleled numbers of people escaping conflict and desperation. There are now more refugees and displaced people around the world than at any time since the Second World War. Refugees are people like us. But unlike us they have been forced by violence, persecution and climate chaos to flee their homes. One of the biggest moral tests of our time is how we live up to the spirit and letter of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Its core principle was simple: to protect refugees. Yet ten countries, which account for just 2.5 percent of the global economy, are hosting more than half the world’s refugees.
It is time for the world’s richer countries to step up and show our common humanity. Failure means millions of Syrians internally displaced within their destroyed homeland or refugees outside it. Rohingya refugees returned to Myanmar without guarantees of citizenship or protection from state violence and refugees held in indefinite detention in camps unfit for human habitation as in Papua New Guinea or Nauru. And African refugees sold into slavery in war-ravaged Libya. This reality should offend our sense of humanity and human solidarity.
European countries can, and must, do more as the death rate of migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean continues to rise. And we need to take more effective action against human traffickers. But let us be clear: the long-term answer is genuine international cooperation based on human rights, which confronts the root causes of conflict, persecution and inequality.
Working for peace
I’ve spent most of my life, with many others, making the case for diplomacy and dialogue over war and conflict, often in the face of hostility. But I remain convinced that is the only way to deliver genuine and lasting security for all. And even after the disastrous invasions and occupations of recent years there is again renewed pressure to opt for military force, America First or Empire 2.0 as the path to global security. I know the people of Britain are neither insensitive to the sufferings of others nor blind to the impact and blowback from our country’s reckless foreign wars. Regime change wars, invasions, interventions and occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and Somalia have failed on their own terms, devastated the countries and regions and made Britain and the world a more dangerous place.
And while the UK government champions some human rights issues on others it is silent, if not complicit, in their violation. Too many have turned a willfully blind eye to the flagrant and large-scale human rights abuses now taking place in Yemen, fueled by arms sales to Saudi Arabia worth billions of pounds. The see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil approach undermines our credibility and ability to act over other human rights abuses. Total British government aid to Yemen last year was under £150 million — less than the profits made by British arms companies selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. What does that say about our country’s priorities, or our government’s role in the humanitarian disaster now gripping Yemen? Our credibility to speak out against the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims is severely undermined when the British Government has been providing support to Myanmar’s military.
And our governments pay lip service to a comprehensive settlement and two state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict but do nothing to use the leverage they have to end the oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people. 70 years after the UN General Assembly voted to create a Palestinian state alongside what would become Israel, and half a century since Israel occupied the whole of historic Palestine, they should take a lead from Israeli peace campaigners such as Gush Shalom and Peace Now and demand an end to the multiple human rights abuses Palestinians face on a daily basis. The continued occupation and illegal settlements are violations of international law and are a barrier to peace.
The US president’s announcement that his administration will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, including occupied Palestinian territory, is a threat to peace that has rightly been met with overwhelming international condemnation. The decision is not only reckless and provocative — it risks setting back any prospect of a political settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict. President Trump’s speech at the UN General Assembly in September signaled a wider threat to peace. His attack on multilateralism, human rights and international law should deeply trouble us all.
And this is no time to reject the Iran Nuclear Deal, a significant achievement agreed between Iran and a group of world power to reduce tensions. That threatens not just the Middle East but also the Korean Peninsula. What incentives are there for Pyongyang to believe disarmament will bring benefits when the US dumps its nuclear agreement with Tehran? Trump and Kim Jong-un threaten a terrifying nuclear confrontation with their absurd and bellicose insults. In common with almost the whole of humanity, I say to the two leaders: this is not a game, step back from the brink now.
It is a commonplace that war and violence do not solve the world’s problems. Violence breeds violence. In 2016 nearly three quarters of all deaths from terrorism were in five states; Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria and Somalia. So let us stand up for the victims of war and terrorism and make international justice a reality.
Let us also demand that the biggest arms exporters ensure all arms exports are consistent, not just legally, but with their moral obligations too. That means no more arms export licenses when there is a clear risk that they will be used to commit human rights abuses or crimes against humanity. The UK is one of the world’s largest arms exporters so we must live up to our international obligations while we explore ways to convert arms production into other socially useful, high-skill, high-tech industry.
That is why I welcome the recent bipartisan US House of Representatives resolution which does two unprecedented things. First, it acknowledges the US role in the destruction of Yemen, including the mid-air refueling of the Saudi-led coalition planes essential to their bombing campaign and helping in selecting targets. Second, it makes plain that Congress has not authorized this military involvement.
Yemen is a desperate humanitarian catastrophe with the worst cholera outbreak in history. The weight of international community opinion needs to be brought to bear on those supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, including Theresa May’s Government, to meet our legal and moral obligations on arms sales and to negotiate an urgent ceasefire and settlement of this devastating conflict.
If we’re serious about supporting peace we must strengthen international cooperation and peacekeeping. Britain has an important role to play after failing to contribute significant troop numbers in recent years. We are determined to seize the opportunity to be a force for good in peacekeeping, diplomacy and support for human rights.
Labour is committed to invest in our diplomatic capabilities and consular services and we will reintroduce human rights advisers in our embassies around the world. Human rights and justice will be at the heart of our foreign policy along with a commitment to support the United Nations. The UN provides a unique platform for international cooperation and action. And to be effective, we need member states to get behind the reform agenda set out by Secretary General Guterres. The world demands the UN Security Council responds, becomes more representative and plays the role it was set up to on peace and security.
We can live in a more peaceful world. The desire to help create a better life for all burns within us.
Governments, civil society, social movements and international organizations can all help realize that goal. We need to redouble our efforts to create a global rules based system that applies to all and works for the many, not the few.
No more bomb first and talk later.
No more double standards in foreign policy.
No more scapegoating of global institutions for the sake of scoring political points at home.
Instead: solidarity, calm leadership and cooperation. Together we can:
Build a new social and economic system with human rights and justice at its core.
Deliver climate justice and a better way to live together on this planet.
Recognize the humanity of refugees and offer them a place of safety.
Work for peace, security and understanding.
The survival of our common humanity requires nothing less.
We need to recognize and pay tribute to human rights defenders the world over, putting their lives on the line for others — our voice must be their voice.
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