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OHCHR | Statement on Visit to the USA, by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights*
[See also:

"A journey through a land of extreme poverty: welcome to America"
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/15/america-extreme-poverty-un-special-rapporteur

"Extreme poverty in America: read the UN special monitor's report"
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/15/extreme-poverty-america-un-special-monitor-report

"Trump turning US into 'world champion of extreme inequality', UN envoy warns"
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/15/america-un-extreme-poverty-trump-republicans ]

[Thread by Allen Tan:
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/942934883244171264

"if a progressive party wanted to build a platform for 2020, it could just copy paste this

if a newsroom wanted to cover US poverty in a systematic and rigorous way, here is the blueprint

this is how you make a case for a social safety net when you don't assume that everyone is already on board with you ideologically

1) human rights
“the US is alone among developed countries in insisting that while human rights are of fundamental importance, they do not include rights that guard against dying of hunger, dying from lack of access to affordable healthcare, or growing up in…total deprivation.”

2) debunking myth of poor people as lazy or scammers
“poor people I met from among the 40 million living in poverty were overwhelmingly either persons who had been born into poverty, or those who had been thrust there by circumstances largely beyond their control such as…”

“…physical or mental disabilities, divorce, family breakdown, illness, old age, unlivable wages, or discrimination in the job market.”

3) disenfranchisement in a democratic society (just gonna screengrab this one)

4) children
“In 2016, 18% of children – some 13.3 million – were living in poverty, with children comprising 32.6% of all people in poverty.”

etc, etc, etc

stay for the extended section on homelessness and its criminalization

re: drugs testing [screen capture]

treating taxation as a dirty word and third rail means the state must raise money on the backs of the poor [screen capture]

Ok one last thing and then I’m done:
notice how you can talk about poverty and not make it just about white people, weird"]
philipalston  us  poverty  un  himanrights  policy  politics  inequality  2017  donaldtrump  mississippi  alabama  california  puertorico  housing  georgia  exceptionalism  democracy  employment  work  socialsafetynet  society  incarceration  warondrugs  criminalization  children  health  healthcare  dentalcare  disability  race  racism  fraud  privatization  government  governance  environment  sustainability  taxes  taxreform  welfare  hunger  food  medicare  medicaid  chip  civilsociety  allentan  journalism  homeless  homelessness 
december 2017 by robertogreco
The Other Refugee Crisis - The New York Times
"Dadaab may be the world’s largest, but there are many other examples of these temporary-but-permanent cities. In Pakistan, along the border with Afghanistan, the camps founded in 1979 for Afghan refugees are now a string of 79 permanent slums run by the United Nations and home to nearly a million people. Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Darfur have been living in a collection of 12 camps across the border in Chad since 2004, with no end in sight. Similar numbers and situations exist in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Thailand, Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan, Turkey and elsewhere, where people are living, and reproducing, in limbo. The numbers are growing not only because of a world in turmoil, but also because whole generations are growing up in camps.

Gaza is perhaps the best example of this. The eight original refugee camps have morphed into towns that, together, are now one of the most densely populated areas in the world, home to 1.7 million people. Separate from the U.N.H.C.R. and with a different mandate, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East was founded in 1949 for around 750,000 Arab Palestinians forced to flee their homes in 1948. But with no peace deal or return in sight, the agency looks after their five million descendants at a cost to the international community of over $1 billion a year. The agency was supposed to be an exception, but Gaza now looks like the rule. In Dadaab, the United Nations resettles around 2,000 refugees annually to Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States. But the birthrate in the camp of 1,000 a month will always outstrip that effort.

As refugee populations spiral higher, host nations usually move toward ever stricter encampment policies. Kenya is one of the strictest; last year the police rounded up thousands of refugees found outside designated camps and incarcerated them in the national stadium. Pakistan has threatened several times not to renew refugee status for Afghan refugees, and periodically attempts to force people back to Afghanistan. In Jordan, refugees have the right to move and work in theory, but authorities have reportedly issued no new work permits since 2014 and have begun coercive administrative measures to keep them in the camps.

To leave Dadaab, residents require a “movement pass,” just like under apartheid. Acquiring one usually involves a bribe. Thus, members of the third generation that is now beginning life in Dadaab may well spend their whole life in the camp. If they win one of the fiercely contested slots at secondary school, they could gain diplomas and degrees online or through the mail, but when there’s no viable path to a free future elsewhere, education in the closed camp is a cruel trick: There are no jobs except volunteer positions with the aid agencies that run the hospitals, schools and social programs, and these pay a fraction of what Kenyan staff members receive for doing the same job.

One might expect that in such circumstances, talent would curdle into bitterness, but the most striking thing about Dadaab is that the miserable conditions do not seem to have engendered radicalization. People are frustrated, but until now, the isolation of the camp and the United Nations mantras on rights and gender balance have fostered a subdued but tolerant society in which women are more emancipated than their sisters back in Somalia.

This is the ultimate contradiction of camp life: how to locate hope for the future in a desperate situation that appears permanent. People are trying. Life in Dadaab and all the other camps is a daily exercise in manufacturing hope. But for many, the fiction of temporariness no longer holds. And we are seeing the results of that realization washing up on Europe’s beaches.

Separate enclaves are beginning to appear in the rich world, too: slums such as “the Jungle” in Calais, where refugees and migrants wait to try to enter Britain illegally, or the detention centers that are now common in Europe, Australia and the United States where people must wait sometimes for years while their status is determined. In a world centered on nation-states, the full range of human rights is increasingly unavailable to those without citizenship. A whole gray population of second-class citizens has emerged, and their numbers are growing.

The proper and legal response should be to allow refugees and asylum seekers freedom of movement within their host nations and all the rights accorded to other citizens, including the right to travel abroad and seek work legally. But the tide of public opinion in most countries is moving in the opposite direction.

Of course rich nations should take more. But even if Europe and the United States stepped up and admitted much larger numbers than the paltry offers that have been suggested in recent weeks, it would still make only a small dent in the global refugee population.

Until our current wars die down, the world needs to adjust to the new reality of permanent refugee cities in legal limbo. Even if host nations wish to deny citizenship to long-staying refugees, it would make sense to allow the United Nations and refugees themselves to invest in infrastructure to reduce disease, provide employment and make these ramshackle slums more habitable. They could perhaps become autonomous open cities or international zones where those with United Nations documents were permitted to move and trade within the normal international visa regime. If camps were economically viable they might at least offer some pull to remain there. As one man told me as I was nearing the end of my time in Dadaab: “I belong nowhere. My country is the Republic of Refugee.”"
dabaad  kenya  somalia  citizenship  refugees  limbo  2015  geopolitics  impermanence  permanence  hope  hopelessness  calais  afghanistan  benrawlence  pakistan  darfur  un  unitednations  africa  unhcr  migration  palestine  refugeecamps  future  futures 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Exclusive: Rwanda Revisited | Foreign Policy
[See also: “What did the Clinton administration know about Rwanda?”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/04/06/what-did-the-clinton-administration-know-about-rwanda/ ]

"The indifference of outside powers, particularly the United States, was a central theme of the talks.

A lot of the criticism centered on the fact that the U.N. and other world powers failed to respond to a clear warning, issued in January 1994, that a plan for the extermination of the Tutsi was underway.

The contents of that cable, drafted by the U.N.’s Canadian force commander, Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire, were never shared with the U.N. Security Council.

But the U.N.’s top officials in Rwanda shared the cable’s contents with representatives of the United States, Britain, and Belgium.

“I never knew about the genocide fax. I am not sure my colleagues in the African affairs bureau knew about it,” said John Shattuck, the then-U.S. assistant secretary of state for labor, human rights, and democracy. “Had this fax become more widely known in the U.S. government, it would have provided ammunition for those who were trying to resist” efforts to constrain U.N. peacekeeping.

“I do think the genocide fax could have made a difference to those like myself who were trying to impact on the debate,” he added.

But Dallaire, who attended the conference, cut Shattuck off.

“I must rebut rapidly. President Clinton did not want to know,” he said. “I hold Clinton accountable. He can excuse himself as much as he wants to the Rwandans, but he established a policy that he did not want to know.”

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Prudence Bushnell reinforced the view that top policymakers in the Clinton administration paid little attention to events in Rwanda leading up to the genocide.

“I was way down the totem pole and I had responsibility for the Rwanda portfolio,” she recalled. “That shows you how important it was in the U.S. government.”

Indeed, there had been other warnings that had been ignored or missed. As far back as August 1992, Leader wrote a cable to Washington citing local concerns that an extremist political party linked to President Habyarimana was pursuing a “Ku Klux Klan-like approach to ethnic relations” that was “widely interpreted as a call for the extermination of Tutsis.”

In August 1993, Bacre Waly Ndiaye, a U.N. human rights researcher from Senegal, produced a troubling report about the prospects of genocide. And on Feb. 25, 1994, following a visit to Rwanda by Belgian Foreign Minister Willy Claes, the Belgian Foreign Ministry sent instructions to its United Nations envoy to explore how to strengthen the U.N. peacekeeping mission.

That document cited the “possibility of genocide in Rwanda…. It will be inacceptable for Belgians to be passive witnesses to genocide in Rwanda.”

On April 6, the day the Rwandan and Burundian leaders’ plane was shot down, French President François Mitterrand walked into the office of his foreign affairs advisor, Hubert Védrine, and asked: “Have you heard? It is terrible. They are going to massacre each other.”

U.N. officials and diplomats in New York said at the review that they were unaware of the reports. Iqbal Riza, a retired U.N. official who oversaw Rwanda for the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping, and Colin Keating, a New Zealand diplomat who served as the president of the U.N. Security Council, said they were unaware of the Ndiaye report.

The U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, meanwhile, never provided the U.N. Security Council with a briefing of Dallaire’s troubling cable.

The backdrop for America’s lack of interest in Rwanda went back to the end of the Cold War, when then-Secretary of State James Baker sought cuts in the State Department to fund the establishment of more than a dozen new embassies in the former Soviet Union, Bushnell recalled. The Africa bureau in the State Department saw its budget shrink. Clinton also showed little interest in Africa.

“Early in the Clinton term, I was not able to get a new, democratically elected president in Africa, a former human rights activist, to see the president because, I was told, ‘President Clinton would find him boring,’” Bushnell said.

The one initiative that sought considerable engagement was Somalia, where President George H.W. Bush had authorized the deployment of U.S. Marines to pave the way for a massive humanitarian relief effort. Clinton inherited the operation, which gradually entangled American military forces in a war with Somali militia challenging the international presence.

The Oct. 3, 1993, the deaths of 18 U.S. soldiers in a botched raid in Mogadishu put the Clinton administration on the defensive, and cooled the Pentagon’s attitude toward U.N. peacekeeping.

As the genocide unfolded in Rwanda six months later, the White House was finalizing a presidential directive, known as PDD-25, which placed severe constraints on the conditions required for U.S. support for peacekeeping missions. President Clinton, meanwhile, was preoccupied with producing a health care bill and upcoming midterm congressional elections — and was determined to keep America out of any foreign military entanglements, said Shattuck.

“It was effectively a straitjacket for U.S. decision-making, vis-a-vis various kinds of peacekeeping operations,” said Shattuck. “In a sense, PDD-25 was the U.S. equivalent of the withdrawal of Belgian forces after the killing of the peacekeepers, in the sense that it gave a ‘green light’ to the genocide planners.”

Even after the killing began, the White House was focused more on getting Americans and the U.N. out of Rwanda than coming to the aid of Rwanda’s victims.

Thomas S. Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive, who moderated the 2014 discussion, said that a review of declassified State Department cables and logs of a task force set up to handle the crisis showed that 80 percent of the discussion in the United States concerned the evacuation of American citizens.

Most of the remaining 20 percent was about convincing the warring parties to abide by a cease-fire and resume talks on a power-sharing agreement, Blanton said.

The White House focus on protecting civilians was largely limited to one individual, a Rwandan human rights activist named Monique Mujawamariya, who had met with President Clinton in the White House in December 1993, several months before the genocide began.

“Oh my god, all hell is breaking loose, and I am getting phone calls, ‘Where’s Monique?’” Bushnell recalled. “The greatest pressure from the White House during the entire Rwandan affair was finding Monique.” Mujawamariya fled Kigali in one of the last flights by foreigners out of the country.

The U.S. military, meanwhile, showed little interest.

The Defense Department “did not want to spend money,” Bushnell recalled. “I used to call them the ‘nowhere, no how, no way, and not with our toys’ boys.”

“Boy, oh boy, did the shooting down of the plane on April 6 and the withdrawal of the Belgians give us the excuse we need to pull the plug,” she said. “It was an unfortunate period in my government’s history. I regret it greatly, as I think all of us do.”

The U.N. peacekeeping mission was woefully unprepared for the violence, and Rwandan government troops killed 10 Belgian peacekeepers."



"ter years of blocking U.N. efforts to pressure Israelis and Palestinians into accepting a lasting two-state solution, the United States is edging closer toward supporting a U.N. Security Council resolution that would call for the resumption of political talks to conclude a final peace settlement, according to Western diplomats.

The move follows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decisive re-election Tuesday after the incumbent publicly abandoned his commitment to negotiate a Palestinian state — the basis of more than 20 years of U.S. diplomatic efforts — and promised to continue the construction of settlements on occupied territory. The development also reflects deepening pessimism over the prospect of U.S.-brokered negotiations delivering peace between Israelis and Palestinians."



"France, however, recently renewed its appeal to the United States to consider taking up the issue before the council, according to diplomats familiar with the matter.

The United States, according to the diplomats, gave no firm commitment. But the administration indicated that it was willing to consider action in the council once a coalition government is put into place.

“I think they probably just want to see how it pans out,” said one U.N.-based diplomat. “But certainly the message we got back in December was that they might be able to show more flexibility after the election.”

Security Council diplomats say there remain significant differences between the U.S. approach and that of France. “There are discrepancies between the U.S. and European positions but I think they will bridge them soon,” said an Arab diplomat. “The key elements are the same: a framework for a peaceful solution that leads to the establishment of a Palestinian state … plus guarantees for Israel’s long-term security.” The United States is unlikely to hit Israel or the Palestinians with punitive measures if they fail to comply.

During a recent meeting of U.S. and European officials in Washington, a senior State Department official said the United States was considering a draft resolution at the Security Council but that no decision had been made.

Of course, two other options lie before the Obama administration with regard to the Israel-Palestine issue: continuing to reflexively back Israel at the United Nations, and simply enduring the widespread criticism of the international community, or raising the pressure on Jerusalem by abstaining from a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements.

In 2011, the United States vetoed a resolution demanding that Israel’s settlement … [more]
rwanda  1994  us  romeodallaire  africa  genocide  un  va:vruba  unitednations  policy  israel  palestine 
april 2015 by robertogreco
International Migrant Population by Country of Origin and Destination | migrationpolicy.org
"This incredibly handy map, based on estimates from the UN Population Division, shows the immigrant and emigrant populations by country of origin and destination. Select a country from the dropdown menu to learn where immigrants originate and the countries in which emigrants settle. If "emigrants" is selected, bubbles will appear over top countries of destination, sized according to the estimated emigrant population in each country. (Hover over individual bubbles to learn the population sizes by country.) Selecting "immigrants" as the population indicator will display bubbles over key countries of origin for the immigrant population of a selected country based on estimated population size."
maps  mapping  data  immigration  migration  world  un  population 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Making Poverty History | Jacobin
"How does the UN explain this rise in inequality? What the data suggests, the UN reports, is that “inequality has increased mainly because the wealthiest individuals have become wealthier, both in developed and developing countries.” The top 1% has siphoned off the social wealth for its private gain, and the bottom 99% — which produced the social wealth – has to live off its crumbs. What’s clear is that capitalism is incapable of ending poverty or substantially reducing inequality.

Word comes from China and India that they have dramatically reduced poverty. Take the case of India. Based on official data on poverty, things appear better now than before. But the data is based on a reassessment of the indicators.

The government created a new measure – one is poor if one consumes less than twenty-four pounds of grain per month. The UN World Food Program asked quite simply if it was reasonable to assume that the person who had twenty-five pounds of grain per month was not poor.

Let us remain at the level of calorie consumption. In 2009, almost three quarters of the Indian population consumed less than 2,100 calories per day. This percentage is up from 64 percent in 2005 and 58 per cent in 1984. So caloric intake in India has declined for very many more people during its relatively high growth rates."



"What we do instead is insane: we build homes that are heated. Inside the heated homes, we have a freezer that draws power against the heated home to keep food frozen. Then in the freezer, because we do not want to allow it to become impacted by ice, we have a small heating coil to maintain the temperature. In other words, we have mass marketed a commodity – the freezer – that uses an obscene amount of energy and makes little sense for at least four months of the year.

A world that makes a freezer in the Global North an essential household item, but not a smokeless stove in the Global South, is a society that has subordinated itself to the laws of capital. “The ruling ideas of a time are the ideas of the ruling class,” wrote Marx and Engels. They were right.

The powerful not only control the social wealth, they also control the public policy discussion – and what counts as intellectually correct. Good ideas are never sufficient. They are not believed or enacted simply because they are right. They become the ideas of our time only when they are wielded by those who come to believe in their own power, who use this power to struggle through institutions and advance their ideas.

Everyone knows about wealth inequality. Everyone knows about poverty. Boredom greets conversations about these kinds of things. Someone must be doing something to take care of it. That’s true. There are a host of people’s movements across the world who are trying to battle the existence of the greatest purveyor of social brutality – poverty. But with little success.

The Arab Spring was a vast anti-poverty protest – a revolution for “Bread, Freedom, and Social Justice” (aish, hurriya, adala igtimaiyya) as the slogan went. It resonated across Tahrir Square. Bread or ‘aish, in the Arabic of Egypt, refers to life. The call for bread is a call for life."



"What produces poverty? Not the lack of property titles, or the lack of high growth rates or the lack of twenty-first century infrastructure. What produces poverty is a system of social production for private gain — in other words, capitalism. Capital superbly organizes all the hitherto slumbering forces of production into one effectively organized social process. The gentle time of the pre-capitalist era is thrust aside as capital condenses labor power into each second. Waste is forbidden, and rest is sin.

Capitalism – terrifying in its long-term social effects – is imperiled by its own contradictions. Crises emerge, and then get sorted out before the next crisis comes. But these crises do not bring capitalism to its knees, do not inaugurate a new order.

The protagonist for the transformation, even in the twenty-first century, remains the working class. Whether employed or not, this is the class that has no capital and must forage in the dark alleyways for livelihood. Sentiments of impossibility have turned us away from the possible history of the future.

This has to be shrugged off. It is more realistic to believe that a socialist alternative, rather than charity or World Bank policies, will make poverty history."
poverty  inequality  politics  2014  capitalism  socialism  karlmarx  friedrichengels  marxism  vijayprashad  measurement  statistics  un  worldbank  infrastructure  hernandodesoto  olivierdeschutter  arabspring  society 
november 2014 by robertogreco
AP News: UN selects unarmed surveillance drone for Congo
"The United Nations has selected its first unarmed surveillance drone, an Italian-made plane that will be tried out by peacekeepers in eastern Congo.

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Thursday the world body's peacekeeping department chose an unmanned aerial vehicle produced by SELES ES, known as the Falco, which is "capable of carrying a range of payloads including several types of high-resolution sensors."

In January, the U.N. Security Council gave approval for the trial use of unarmed drones for eastern Congo. It's also given peacekeepers an unprecedented offensive mandate to attack rebels.

Nesirky said deployment of the medium-altitude, medium-endurance drone is planned in the coming weeks.

He said it will allow U.N. peacekeepers, especially in eastern Congo, "to monitor the movements of armed groups and protect the civilian population more efficiently.""
drones  droneproject  2013  via:vruba  congo  un 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Paddy Ashdown: The global power shift | Video on TED.com
"Paddy Ashdown claims that we are living in a moment in history where power is changing in ways it never has before. In a spellbinding talk at TEDxBrussels he outlines the three major global shifts that he sees coming."
government  interconnectivity  interconnectedness  communities  networks  brasil  india  china  world  multipolar  us  un  turbulence  global  governance  society  unregulatedspace  terrorism  crime  regulation  corporations  history  2011  politics  power  paddyashton  brazil  interconnected 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Young People, Action and Education
"This example of student driven action goes well beyond adult organized marches, or adult driven activity for social justice. Many of these young people show an enduring understanding of their interdependence & interconnection with a nation and the world. For example, at minute 11:00 in the video a young woman articulates a distinct article of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (More on the declaration & UNPFII here!)

For all of us who see open and free learning as a fundamental human right, it’s important to recognize that there is global deliberation & decision making on issues well beyond neoliberalism happening in the UN and in other spaces….How we participate in these movements and with others around the world on these issues will shape the common bond we have as humans in the 21st century. As ecological and economic overshoot continues, understanding how to participate and network for education and global civic culture will increase in importance."
education  activism  tcsnmy  learning  action  thomassteele-maley  neoliberalism  civics  globalcitizens  networks  participatory  participation  un  humanrights  indigenous  deschooling  unschooling  lcproject  2011 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Photo Booth: Living Ghosts: In Exile with the Sahrawi Bedouins : The New Yorker
"Andrew McConnell’s thoughtful & poignant project on the Sahrawi Bedouins—now into 35th year of exile from native Western Sahara.

McConnell says: “In pursuing the Sahrawis’ story, what struck me more than anything else was how forgotten these people are. How is it possible, in 21st century, for tens of thousands of men, women, & children to languish in refugee camps for 3.5 decades—unknown? How can continuous U.N. resolutions & international laws be ignored & abused w/out censure? & how can human-rights abuses proceed unchallenged?”

McConnell decided to stage his portraits in the darkness: “I wanted to give a sense that this is one long night for the Sahrawis—lasting 35 years. My showing very little of the land emphasizes that the Sahrawis are landless. By lighting them simply & in darkness, I am trying to say, ‘Look! These people are here!’ …a people utterly forgotten, abandoned, hidden from the world’s consciousness—a people living as ghosts.”
bedouins  sahrawi  humanrights  photography  darkness  andrewmcconnell  westernsahara  northafrica  refugees  un  2011  africa  exile 
may 2011 by robertogreco
How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room | Mark Lynas | Environment | The Guardian
"Copenhagen was a disaster. That much is agreed. But the truth about what actually happened is in danger of being lost amid the spin and inevitable mutual recriminations. The truth is this: China wrecked the talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted on an awful "deal" so western leaders would walk away carrying the blame. How do I know this? Because I was in the room and saw it happen. ... Copenhagen was much worse than just another bad deal, because it illustrated a profound shift in global geopolitics. This is fast becoming China's century, yet its leadership has displayed that multilateral environmental governance is not only not a priority, but is viewed as a hindrance to the new superpower's freedom of action. I left Copenhagen more despondent than I have felt in a long time. After all the hope and all the hype, the mobilisation of thousands, a wave of optimism crashed against the rock of global power politics, fell back, and drained away."
politics  environment  change  international  barackobama  climate  china  globalwarming  climatechange  copenhagen  economy  geopolitics  blame  2009  global  green  un 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
"Article 25. (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."
humanrights  un  government  international  activism  culture  society  politics  humanity 
december 2008 by robertogreco

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