The UN Human Rights Council has introduced more comprehensive measurements to ensure the global safety of journalists and protect press freedom. The latest resolution has been described as a “wonderful reiteration” by Reporters Without Borders’ Advocacy and Communications Officer Margaux Ewen. However, while calls have been made to member states to implement their international obligations, it has been noted that this first step must be directly translated to action on the ground.
Controversy continues amid one of South Africa’s worst droughts in recorded history, as its government continues to permit the construction of new coal mines and power plants in protected land areas. One mine in particular has come under scrutiny, having received the permission to operate in a high yield water area of special environmental importance. The mining companies argue that the new mines will create jobs and sustainability, but locals and scientists are concerned about the effects of further water shortages on communities and ecosystems.
Scores of atheist writers, bloggers, publishers, gay activists and religious figures have been murdered by suspected Islamist militants in Bangladesh in the past few years. IPS investigates the ensuing climate of fear and speaks to the father of murdered writer Avijit Roy.
A rare case of collaboration between Big Oil, scientists and environmentalists has been hailed as a success story in protecting an endangered species of whale from extinction. At the turn of the century the number of western grey whales stood at 115 around Russia’s far eastern waters. After this unusual group joined forces, the grey whale population was estimated to have grown to 175.
Children make up more than half of the world’s 65.3 million refugees. The vast majority are out of school, threatening to leave almost an entire generation behind. At the at the UN leaders’ summit last week, member states faced criticism for their short-fallings on addressing this issue. President Obama called the refugee crisis, “a test of our common humanity” - but critics called attention to the United States’ record of detaining unaccompanied minors and young women from Central America.
Elephants in Africa are being killed by poachers for their tusks at the rate of one every 15 minutes, but Japan and South Africa are opposing a proposal to ban domestic trade in elephant ivory. Japan and South Africa say they are just as much for saving Africa’s elephants as everyone else but that the right way forward is through regulated and tightly controlled domestic trade, not a ban. Campaigners, meanwhile, are horrified. “This is atrocious,” said Mike Chase, founder of Elephants Without Borders and the principal investigator for the Great Elephant Census. “Six elephants were killed while they were deliberating over one sentence.”
Uganda has one of the highest birth rates in the world: the average Ugandan women will give birth to six babies during her lifetime. The Christa clinic in Jinja, Uganda offers free and low-cost family planning services. But women in the area are also at high risk of HIV infection, as it is not easy for them initiate condom use. By the time she is 21, a young woman in Uganda has a one in ten chance of being HIV positive.
Yemen is a hotbed of human rights violations. IPS reporter Rose Delaney investigates why global media has turned a blind eye to the plight of the country’s inhabitants – particularly its children. With its recent history of bloodshed and deprivation, how long can the world turn away from reports of impoverished families forced to enlist their children with pro-government forces in exchange for the equivalent of 7-15 USD per day?
Deep in the mountains of central Papua New Guinea, the Panguna copper mine was the focus of a civil war 27 years ago. Today, local leaders and entrepreneurs, including former combatants, believe that the area could play a key role in sustainable development. Leaving mining behind due to the dangers of its past, they’re focusing on bringing in tourists. Villagers keen to see visitors in their enigmatic valley, learning of its extraordinary history. Local landowner Lynette Ona says, "That is what we were fighting for: environment, land and culture.”
“Go and tell my dad that they’re holding me here,” Maximiliano Gordillo Martínez told his travelling companion on 7 May at the migration station in Chablé, in the southern Mexican state of Tabasco. It was the last time he was ever seen. Gordillo had gone to look for work in the tourist town of Playa del Carmen but was picked up by police on the way. He is one of thousands of people who have vanished along migrant routes in Mexico in the last decade. Human rights organisations say the problem does not only affect migrants, with forced disappearances in Mexico “widespread and systematic”.
With the world population set to increase to more than nine billion by 2050, the need for sustainable food production is increasing dramatically. But many see farming as a job for the old. According to Agricord, an international NGO that provides support to farmers’ organisations in developing countries, the industry can only get the attention of the young by emphasising smart, sustainable practises. 24-year-old German farmer Cornelia is a convert. She believes agriculture is an important profession to humanity, because “everyone needs something to eat, drink, and this requires every one of us to do something to make it a reality.”
The issue of finding war-related missing people has been contentious since Sri Lanka’s war ended seven years ago. By October the government will set up the Office for Missing Persons, which is expected to coordinate a nationwide tracing programme. But for now, officials who attempt to trace missing people still face intimidation and threats.
The Syrian volunteers who rescue civilians from collapsed buildings – known as the White Helmets – have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by an unprecedentedly large number of organisations. The nomination comes at a difficult time for the group, however, as one of the best known White Helmets, Khaled Omar Harrah, was killed during a rescue operation in Aleppo, Syria in the same week.
Bernard, a 14-year-old student in Ntam Carrefour in South East Cameroon would like to be someone special in life. Maybe a teacher, a soldier, or a police officer. The dreams of the ethnic Baka children of the region like Bernard are unlikely to be realised. Many of their parents don’t see the benefits of modern education, as what is important to them is the present. “The past and the future does not matter,” says David Angoula, a Baka parent whose two sons left school to pursue this traditional role of hunter-gatherer.
In the first half of 2016 alone, there were 54 femicides and 118 attempted femicides in Peru, according to the nation’s Women’s Ministry. The statistics also indicate that on average 16 people are raped every day. Following the lenient one-year suspended sentence for the rape and attempted femicide by the ex-boyfriend of Arlette Contreras, Peruvians took to the streets in numbers to protest against the rising culture of violence against women.
Globally, an estimated 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of female genital mutilation (FGM). In Africa, FGM is practiced in at least 26 of 43 African countries, with prevalence rates ranging from 98 percent in Somalia to 5 percent in Zaire. But after years of wrangling and debates among African leaders, the movement to end the practice is gaining real momentum on the continent.
Since 8 July, there have been deadly clashes between protestors and government forces in the Himalayan region of Kashmir. Pellet guns were introduced in Kashmir as a “non-lethal” alternative to bullets after security forces killed nearly 200 people during demonstrations against Indian rule from 2008 to 2010. But there is increasing evidence that these pellets cause severe harm to those shot.
Despite their large presence and strong influence in the region, the native peoples of Latin America still represent one of the most disadvantaged population groups. Access to education – the most powerful instrument in the struggle against exclusion and discrimination – is still elusive for these groups. IPS investigates.
Madagascar is facing the worst drought in 35 years and many farms have been devastated. But for Mirantsoa Faniry Rakotomalala, a farmer in the south of the island, the story is different. Thanks to a U.N. programme to promote climate-smart agriculture, her farm is thriving. IPS reports on a project that’s using simple techniques to ensure that people in the region have enough produce to eat and sell.
The displacement of rural populations due to erratic and extreme weather, a fallout of climate change, has become a frightening reality for millions of people across India. Cyclones, landslides, mass flooding and droughts have destroyed many fishing and farming communities, forcing communities to leave their parched fields for India’s cities in search of work. With climate change only set to worsen in the coming years, how can India adapt to and tackle its impact? IPS investigates.