The UN Violates Venezuela’s Right to Vote on Matters of World Interest

Gustavo A Maranges

RESUMEN | November 06, 2022

This week the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) passed the resolution presented by Cuba to demand the end of the economic, commercial, and financial blockade of the United States of America over the island. The rejection was overwhelming, but there was a missing vote among those in favor. Venezuela, which traditionally supports Cuba’s position and is also a victim of the same type of unilateral sanctions, was absent.

In this context, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro once again called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to restore his country’s right to vote in the UNGA taking into account that Venezuela owes almost US$40 million, this right was withdrawn in January 2022 for the 5th time in the last 7 years.

The South American country has always been willing to pay, but the U.S. blockade has impeded Venezuela to fulfill its economic obligations. At first, the economic sanctions provoked a crisis that prevented Venezuela from paying its dues. Nevertheless, the current reason is even more Machiavellian.

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UN General Assembly declares access to clean and healthy environment a universal human right

Countercurrents | July 29, 2022

With 161 votes in favour, and eight abstentions*, the UN General Assembly adopted a historic resolution on Thursday, declaring access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, a universal human right.

The resolution, based on a similar text adopted last year by the Human Rights Council, calls upon States, international organisations, and business enterprises to scale up efforts to ensure a healthy environment for all.

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, welcomed the ‘historic’ decision and said the landmark development demonstrates that Member States can come together in the collective fight against the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

“The resolution will help reduce environmental injustices, close protection gaps and empower people, especially those that are in vulnerable situations, including environmental human rights defenders, children, youth, women and indigenous peoples”, he said in a statement released by his Spokesperson’s Office.

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Stockholm syndrome: What should ‘+50’ be about

The 50th anniversary celebration of the Stockholm conference should be about our common future, not the divisions of the past

Sunita Narain

Down To Earth | June 01, 2022

The Stockholm conference on the human environment marked the initiation of global consciousness on sustainability. It brought the world together to discuss the big issues of growth and environmental management.

This was the time when Rachel Carson, through her seminal book Silent Spring, had told the story of poisoning of nature. It was also the time when the industrialised West was battling against pollution and toxification.

Our colleague Anil Agarwal, who was at the conference in 1972, often recalled how Stockholm’s lakes were so contaminated with chemicals that you could develop a film negative in the water.

This conference was about the fallout of industrialisation and how to cope and mitigate its harmful impacts.

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Environment and war today

Farooque Chowdhury

Countercurrents | June 05, 2022

War environs environment.

War destructs and demolishes life, all forms of environment. It’s war’s powerful approach to contradictions within and with environment surrounding life. Wars including the current Ukraine War bear this signature of destruction of and on environment and ecology. The first victim is life; and, then comes surroundings of life that help sustain life. Activities to secure, nourish and sustain environment are hampered/suspended during war, and in war zones also.

Military activities, preparatory to war including training/drills/exercises, itself is threat to environment and ecology. Military/war expenditure is in direct and hostile contradiction with environment and ecology. The expenditure takes away a lot of resources, which can be allocated for life, steps to nourish and secure environment and ecology. The sphere of destruction of environment and ecology widens as the sphere of war widens. Today’s Ukraine is the witness. Iraq and Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and Vietnam are witnesses. Hiroshima and Nagasaki stand as witnesses.

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Stockholm+50: Is science for just solutions

If science-policy interfaces are to deliver just and effective solutions to climate change, they must involve indigenous peoples and local communities

Pia M Kohler

Down To Earth | June 04, 2022

When presenting my research on global institutions established to guide policymaking on environmental challenges, my (mostly North American and European) audiences will often wonder at the need to scrutinise these science-policy interfaces. Isn’t the only thing that matters, someone will inevitably ask, is that we have asked the best scientists on the planet to guide us?

This is typically when I draw from Anil Agarwal and Sunita Narain’s seminal 1991 piece, ‘Global warming in an unequal world’. Agarwal and Narain called out the environmental colonialism evident in a 1990 report by the US-based World Resources Institute purporting to measure a country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

I invite my interlocutors to consider the distinction Agarwal and Narain draw between “luxury” and “survival” emissions. We then consider what gets erased when we take up the now commonplace unit: the metric tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) or of CO2 equivalent.

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Stockholm+50: We need decentralisation of ‘power’

Power generation and transmission models that are local and self-sustaining can increase access to energy in the future

Koshy Mathew Cherail

Down To Earth | June 03, 2022

Availability and access to uninterrupted and reliable energy sources is a prerequisite to enable an equitable and just development of communities, nations, and regions at large.

Countries that have clear goals of raising the socio-economic conditions of their population have prioritised access to energy above other development goals.

Construction and operation of power plants, as well as ensuring a steady supply of fuel of consistent quality, is a time-consuming and capital-intensive process.

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50 years since Stockholm conference: The summer lingers

Richard Mahapatra

Down To Earth | May 31, 2022

From June 5 to June 16, 1972, countries across the world shed a bit of their sovereignty. The aim was to create a common governance structure for the planet’s environment and natural resources.

The occasion was the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, the first such worldwide convergence on planetary environment, with the theme ‘Only One Earth’.

When the participating 122 countries — 70 of them developing and poor countries — adopted the Stockholm Declaration on June 16, they essentially committed to 26 principles and an action plan that set in a multilateral environmental regime.

One of the overarching principles was that sovereignty should be subject to not causing harm to the environment of other countries as well.

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Record malnutrition: Africa’s Sahel region to have over 6 million wasted children in 2022, warn UN agencies

Over 900,000 young lives can be at risk in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal

Madhumita Paul

Down To Earth | April 14, 2022

Around 6.3 million children in the 6-59 months age group will suffer wasting in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal in 2022, a new report warned. 

Over 1.4 million of these children in these six countries in Africa’s Sahel region will suffer severe wasting, United Nations agencies said in the report published March 2022. 

The number of children under five experiencing acute malnutrition will be the highest in 2022 for the region, the paper by West and Central Africa Regional Nutrition Working Group showed. 

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U.S. And Ukraine, Only Two Countries Vote Against UN Resolution Condemning Nazism

Countercurents | December 17, 2021

The UN General Assembly has adopted a resolution condemning Nazism, neo-Nazism and all forms of racism, and the U.S. and Ukraine voted against it, while a few countries, mainly US allies, abstained. The resolution was co-sponsored by Russia.

On December 16, the UN General Assembly passed its annual resolution on “Combating Glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” with 130 countries voting in favor and only two in opposition.

Out of a total 193 members countries, 51 countries including all members of the EU, Australia, New Zealand and Canada were among those who abstained from voting on the UN resolution asking members to eliminate all forms of racism and attempts to glorify Nazism. The resolution was passed with overwhelming support from the Third World countries.

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200+ medical journals demand emergency climate action

Editors urge ‘fundamental changes to how our societies and economies are organized’

The editorial below is being published this month by over 200 medical journals, including the Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, the British Medical Journal, the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the East African Medical Journal, the Chinese Science Bulletin, the National Medical Journal of India, and the Medical Journal of Australia, and others from around the world. (Click here for a full list of the authors and journals.)

Climate and Capitalism | September 07, 2021

Wealthy nations must do much more, much faster

The UN General Assembly in September 2021 will bring countries together at a critical time for marshaling collective action to tackle the global environmental crisis. They will meet again at the biodiversity summit in Kunming, China, and the climate conference (COP26) in Glasgow, UK. Ahead of these pivotal meetings, we — the editors of health journals worldwide — call for urgent action to keep average global temperature increases below 1.5°C, halt the destruction of nature, and protect health.

Health is already being harmed by global temperature increases and the destruction of the natural world, a state of affairs health professionals have been bringing attention to for decades. The science is unequivocal; a global increase of 1.5°C above the pre-industrial average and the continued loss of biodiversity risk catastrophic harm to health that will be impossible to reverse. Despite the world’s necessary preoccupation with Covid-19, we cannot wait for the pandemic to pass to rapidly reduce emissions.

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