Ban commends successes of mine action, calls for more support to eradicate explosives threat

4 April 2015 – As the world marks the 10th anniversary of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action today, the United Nations Secretary-General pointed to a decade of much progress in efforts towards eradicating the threat of anti-personnel landmines.

A total of 162 States were now Parties to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and the UN was playing a vital role in freeing the world from the threat of mines and explosive remnants of war and meeting the needs of victims and survivors and ensuring their human rights.

&#8220Last year alone, the United Nations destroyed more than 400,000 landmines and explosive remnants of war and more than 2,000 tons of obsolete ammunition,&#8221 said Ban Ki-moon in a message to mark the International Day, which noted that the UN had also verified more than 1,500 kilometres of roadways, provided mine risk education to millions of people and trained thousands of military and police officers to handle and safely dispose of explosive hazards.

&#8220I commend all who contributed to this success,&#8221 he said. &#8220However, women, girls, boys and men continue to fall victim to landmines laid decades ago in places such as Afghanistan and Cambodia, and I am alarmed that these indiscriminate weapons are still being used in conflicts today.&#8221

Civilians were also exposed to an increasingly wide range of explosive hazards, going beyond mines to cluster munitions, unsafe and unsecured weapons and ammunition, and improvised explosive devices.

&#8220I am extremely concerned by the extensive use of improvised explosive devices by armed groups in Iraq, which poses a major threat to civilians,&#8221 he said. &#8220In Syria, the widespread use of ‘barrel bombs’ and other explosive weapons in populated areas has caused great devastation and human suffering, leaving a legacy of explosive remnants of war that will remain a threat until their removal.&#8221

This year’s theme for the Day, ‘More than Mines,’ reflects that changing reality. When explosive hazards block the way, food is not delivered, refugees and internally displaced people cannot safely return home, children cannot attend school and peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development efforts are hindered.

&#8220On this International Day, I urge Member States to stay committed to the cause of mine action through financial contributions and political support, which is particularly crucial this year as the General Assembly debates assistance in mine action,&#8221 said the Secretary-General. &#8220The proposed resolution will provide an opportunity to recognize that mine action is indeed ‘More than Mines’ and to recommit ourselves to working with affected states to reduce the menace of mines and explosive hazards.&#8221

UN dialogue: sustainable development needed to transform Asia-Pacific’s least developed countries

6 March 2015 – Transforming the lives of some 300 million people in the least developed countries in Asia and the Pacific “is not about ticking the boxes on a few variables,” but to ensure that economic growth and development is sustainable to lift the millions above the extreme poverty line, a senior United Nations official in the region said today.

That was among conclusions at the three-day High-Level Asia-Pacific Dialogue on the Implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) for the Decade 2011-2020 in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

“Graduation is not about ticking the boxes on a few variables alone to move beyond least developed country status,” said Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

“It’s about real transformation of the lives of the 293 million people living in our 12 LDCs, of whom 113 million remain below extreme poverty line, with high exposure to natural disasters, and about the 130 million who have yet to enjoy access to education, health and other basic services,” Ms. Akhtar said.

According to ESCAP, the greatest challenge facing the Asia-Pacific least developed countries is to promote inclusive and sustainable growth and development for reducing poverty and improving the quality of life of the people.

“In these countries, such growth requires measures to accelerate growth with structural transformation, diversifying their economies towards manufacturing and services, along with a focus on increasing agricultural productivity and promoting rural development, strengthening social protection, and enhancing financial inclusion especially of the poor and disadvantaged groups,” ESCAP said.

A clear message from the three-day meeting was that least developed countries, development partners and the UN system must meet the commitments and implement the actions agreed in the Istanbul action plan, including those related to mobilizing financial resources for development and capacity building.

The meeting’s outcome document will be delivered by the Government of Cambodia to ESCAP’s 71st Commission session for its consideration as the basis for the regional mid-term review ahead of the global mid-term review of the programme of action to be held in 2016.

The Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries, held in Istanbul, Turkey in 2011, adopted the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020.

It sets out actions to be undertaken by the least developed countries and their development partners in eight priority areas of action, each supported by concrete deliverables and commitments. These priority areas are: productive capacity; agriculture, food security and rural development; trade; commodities; human and social development; multiple crises and other emerging challenges; mobilizing financial resources for development and capacity-building; and governance at all levels.

The Gates Letter, 2015

The release of an annual letter from Bill and Melinda Gates has become an event akin to the State of the Union Address for the international development and health crowd. The big highlights from this year: The Gates’ predict what life will be like in 2030, including worldwide child deaths halved; diseases like, polio, guinea worm and river blindness will be eradicated; and a cure for malaria. Also, the Gates’ announce an ambitious plan to organize “global citizens” and are ambitiously backing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Read the letter. Read a news story about the letter from Reuters.

Why Obama’s India visit is such a big deal…President Obama is heading to India this weekend. This is the first time that a president will visit India twice while in office. Tanvi Madan of Brookings explains the significance of this trip, what can be expected on the climate change front and why this trip could have profound historic consequences. (Global Dispatches Podcast http://bit.ly/1yVcGMR)

Saudi Arabia’s long King Abdullah has died at the age of 90. He was best described as a cautious reformer.  The transition to Prince Salman seems to be smooth, at least on the surface. NYT http://nyti.ms/1yVchKk

Is private equity really hot for sub-saharan Africa? The Economist thinks so. http://econ.st/1CHO2wo

Ebola

Sierra Leone said on Thursday it would reopen schools across the country in March, with the deadly Ebola epidemic slowing throughout west Africa. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1E6B6V3)

Even though the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues, the U.N. says it’s time to plan for the recovery of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. A joint mission has just completed its assessment in Sierra Leone. (VOA http://bit.ly/1t2AaNp)

Recent news reports indicate a drop in the number of new cases the three countries hardest hit by the Ebola: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.  Some treatment centers built with foreign aid are operating at a fraction of their capacity.  Health care specialists say now’s the time to focus on revitalizing weakened health care systems. (VOA http://bit.ly/1t2AjAp)

Africa

The Democratic Republic of Congo‘s Senate has announced a one-day delay for its vote on a proposed electoral law that has sparked days of violent protests. Senators now say they will vote Friday on the bill, which would require completion of a national census before a presidential election can be held. (VOA http://bit.ly/1t2AcVr)

Nigeria should delay next month’s elections to give organisers more time to distribute millions of biometric ID cards to voters, the country’s top security official said on Thursday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1CGddPT)

Madagascar’s opposition is to challenge the appointment of Prime Minister Jean Ravelonarivo in the constitutional court after the administrative court said it would not hear the case, extending uncertainty in a country struggling to repair its economy. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1yJMCTa)

A new report by Human Rights Watch accuses the Ethiopia’s government of systematically cracking down on media ahead of the May 2015 elections. The report, released Thursday, details how Ethiopia has restricted independent reporting since 2010. (VOA http://bit.ly/1y3sq9r)

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. (VOA http://bit.ly/1y3sB4K)

An outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in Nigeria has spread to 21 commercial farms in seven different states, with more than 140,000 birds having been exposed to the virus, the agriculture minister said on Thursday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1y3uXAC)

The slaughter of rhinos in South Africa hit a new record in 2014, with poachers killing 1,215 of the iconic savannah animals as Asian-led demand for their horn showed no sign of abating, authorities said Thursday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1E6B8fC)

Chad’s President Idriss Deby has secured control of regional operations against deadly Boko Haram Islamists, riding roughshod over his supposed allies in a week-long diplomatic and military offensive. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1E6Ba78)

MENA

The Yemeni government has offered its resignation to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a source close to Prime Minister Khaled Bahah said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1CjcwhD)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on world leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum on Thursday to unite against the global threat of terrorism. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1y3uRci)

Rights group Amnesty International said Thursday that Saudi Arabia would postpone the flogging of blogger Raef Badawi, whose case has sparked international criticism, for a second week on medical grounds. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1y3xLxK)

The U.N. agency in charge of aiding Palestinians will run out of money by the end of January to repair homes in Gaza damaged in the 2014 war with Israel, worsening an already dire humanitarian situation, an agency spokesman said on Thursday. (TRF http://yhoo.it/1Bi67lg)

It is an unlikely friendship that ties the fates of war correspondent Kenji Goto and troubled loner Haruna Yukawa, the two Japanese hostages for whom Islamic State militants demanded a $200 million ransom this week. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1ClB3CO)

It costs thousands of euros for a false passport and place on a boat to Turkey, but Syrian refugees stranded in Cyprus are ready to try anything. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Bi6E6B)

Asia

Thirteen Vietnamese social activists say they were attacked by police and taken into custody after visiting recently freed dissident Tran Anh Kim. (VOA http://bit.ly/1y3rUZ4)

Pakistan says it wants an early repatriation of Afghan refugees in the country but does not intend to forcefully evict them. Meanwhile, Afghan officials are warning that unwarranted pressure on the refugee population as part of Islamabad’s increased counterterrorism measures could hinder bilateral ties. (VOA http://bit.ly/1t2zE20)

Cambodia has managed to reduce poverty in many parts of the country but admits it is still falling behind on many of its United Nations development targets as a deadline to reach such goals approaches. (VOA http://bit.ly/1y3rVMM)

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Wednesday that China’s slowing economy reflected the broader, global situation and promised that he would forge ahead with major reforms to boost growth prospects. (VOA http://bit.ly/1y3rW3p)

The disclosure by a key United Nations witness, that parts of his testimony about his life in North Korean prison camps were untrue, is raising questions about the credibility of the U.N. report on human rights abuses in that country. (VOA http://bit.ly/1t2zHL9)

“We cannot be counted as citizens of the 21st century” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a hard-hitting message to the country during the launch of a nationwide campaign to save and educate girls. (VOA http://bit.ly/1t2Afkn)

Pakistan has outlawed two militant groups accused of plotting terrorist attacks in neighboring India and Afghanistan. The announcement comes before President Barack Obama’s trip to New Delhi this week. (VOA http://bit.ly/1yJLMWL)

Thailand’s former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra strongly defended herself in parliament before a vote by members on whether to impeach her for her role in a controversial rice subsidy scheme. (VOA http://bit.ly/1CGcC0C)

India will look to the United States for more private sector partnerships and technology to support a drive to expand its use of clean energy, as Washington looks to secure political support for a global climate change deal in 2015. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Cjdjiu)

Myanmar’s government has accused ethnic rebels of trying to scuttle a nationwide peace deal, as tensions soar in the northern state of Kachin, where an activist said sporadic clashes between the army and insurgents have trapped more than 1,800 villagers. (AP http://yhoo.it/15vNQ8U)

The Americas

Amnesty International is calling on the Mexican government to investigate the army in the disappearance of 43 students in southern Mexico on September 26. (AP http://yhoo.it/1E7biIl)

A bill that would prohibit using federal money to pay for “any abortion” or for “health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion” has been approved by the US House of Representatives. (NPR http://n.pr/1Bit9IN)

Opinion/Blogs

Bill and Melinda Gates Want the UN to Get Real (Businessweek http://buswk.co/1E6Voxw)

Africa’s Economy Is Rising. Now What Happens to Its Food? (Upshot http://nyti.ms/1JdYD6r)

Microfinance not a quick escape from poverty, studies show (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/1JdYAHV)

Nigerians Don’t Need More Boko Haram Coverage, They Need Action (Vanity Fair http://vnty.fr/186mg3E)

Is USAID Helping Haiti to Recover, or US Contractors to Make Millions? (The Nation http://bit.ly/1yKfKbw)

Why Boko Haram Has Stepped Up Attacks in Nigeria (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/15tX5GK)

Double standards of celebrity humanitarianism (WhyDev http://bit.ly/1yOavHT)

Every movie rewrites history. What American Sniper did is much, much worse. (Vox http://bit.ly/1CGBeX9)

Heartfelt and provocative on Boko Haram (Storify http://bit.ly/1yOaseY)

Research/Reports

The United Nations asked governments on Thursday to submit plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions as the building blocks of a deal due in Paris in December to limit global warming, after scientists said 2014 was the hottest year on record. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1y3xAlQ)

Countries are divided on how a new global plan to reduce the risk of disasters should measure progress, with some governments opposed to setting numerical targets for cutting deaths and economic losses and protecting infrastructure. (TRF http://yhoo.it/1y3xHOi)

Discussion

comments…

Helen Clark: Opening Speech at the South-South Co-operation on Climate Change Forum UN Climate Change Conference COP20, Lima, Peru

08 Dec 2014

UNDP is very pleased to be co-sponsoring this Forum with the National Development and Reform Commission of China and the United Nations Environment Programme. We also thank UNFCCC, the Swiss Development Co-operation, WWF-China, INTASAVE, and the China Academy of Science for their support for this event.

There are many experiences on tackling climate change to be exchanged through South-South Co-operation. The path which China itself is taking is of great global interest.

The large population and economy of China make its moves on climate change very significant. We see that four of the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturers and five of the world’s largest solar energy equipment manufacturers are now from China. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that in 2013 there were 2.6 million people employed in the renewable energy sector in China. That is around forty per cent of the entire global labour force employed in that sector.

Recently China has made two very important announcements on climate change. At the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in New York in September, China pledged to double its support to South-South Co-operation on climate change. Then, just last month, the Presidents of China and the United States announced new climate change commitments. Accordingly, China intends to achieve the peaking of CO2 emissions around 2030, and to make best efforts to peak early. It also intends to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around twenty per cent by 2030.

I congratulate Minister Xie and NDRC for their important role in making these commitments. Your actions will undoubtedly inspire others to pursue pathways to more sustainable futures.

UNDP works with many developing countries to support both adaptation to climate change and mitigation strategies. All have experiences to share. Let me mention just three of many countries where we are proud to be associated with groundbreaking work:

Ethiopia’s “Climate Resilient Green Economy” (CRGE) strategy is a central element in the country’s ambition to become a low-carbon middle income economy by 2025. The Government has set up a national financial mechanism to mobilize, access, and combine domestic and international public and private sources of finance to support the implementation of the Strategy.

• The Government of Viet Nam is taking a number of steps to address climate change and advance green growth, including through developing national climate change and green growth strategies and legal frameworks on environmental protection.

• In Egypt, with backing from UNDP and the GEF, the Government is creating enabling conditions for the implementation of a Bioenergy National Programme (BNP) which focuses on addressing climate change through low emission energy generation. The Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) is leading the development of a commercially-viable, market-oriented, biogas sector through a range of measures, including piloting technology, capacity building for policy makers, and support to households.

In tackling climate change, we can all learn from the many initiatives which have been taken around the world. Policies, skills, and technical expertise originating from countries in the South on low emission and climate resilient development pathways are being shared through South-South Co-operation.

As the largest service provider in the UN system on climate change and environmental initiatives, UNDP has supported more than 140 countries to pursue low emission and climate resilient development pathways. Supporting South-South Co-operation is an important and growing part of our work. Our role is that of a knowledge broker, a builder of capacities, and a facilitator of exchanges of expertise and experiences. We bring to this task an understanding and experience of what is working around the world, which derives from our universal presence in developing countries.

In 2012, for example, UNDP hosted a sustainable energy forum, where representatives from a number of developing countries came together to showcase and share energy access solutions. The Forum enabled participants to learn from each other’s successes, and to apply that knowledge to sustainable energy policy and planning back home.

Under its new Strategic Plan, UNDP is significantly stepping up its promotion of South-South Co-operation, with the Canada-UNDP Climate Change Adaptation Facility supporting us to do that. Under the Facility, we are supporting six countries – Cambodia, Cape Verde, Haiti, Mali, Niger, and Sudan – to address food security through climate-resilient approaches to agriculture and water management, with special attention paid to women’s needs. A central element of this programme is the promotion of exchanges of knowledge and experiences between the six countries.

Another example of our commitment to supporting South-South Co-operation on climate change is the Adaptation Learning Mechanism (ALM) – UNDP administers this online forum, and works in partnership with other agencies to provide a platform for practitioners to exchange knowledge and experiences on climate change adaptation. The majority of the exchanges on the platform are between countries in the South.

Conclusion

Today’s Forum will raise awareness of the role which South-South Co-operation can play and is playing in climate change adaptation and mitigation. It will discuss the opportunities to play that role – and the challenges which lie ahead.

I am convinced that South-South Co-operation will have a vital role to play in implementing the new global climate agreement -which we all hope to see reached in Paris next year.

I hope that participants at the Forum today will leave energized to step up the promotion of South-South Co-operation on climate change even further. We at UNDP are committed to partner with you to help make this happen.

FACT SHEET: 2nd ASEAN-U.S. Summit

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

November 13, 2014

Today, President Obama met with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders and foreign ministers and the ASEAN Secretariat’s Secretary-General at the 2nd ASEAN-U.S. Summit in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. President Obama reaffirmed the importance of U.S.-ASEAN ties as a crucial element of the United States’ strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region and highlighted many of the cooperative activities the United States has undertaken with ASEAN across its economic, political-security, and socio-cultural pillars.

Economic Engagement

U.S.-ASEAN Expanded Economic Engagement (E3): To expand trade and investment ties between the United States and ASEAN and to create new jobs and business opportunities, President Obama in 2012 announced the creation of an Enhanced Economic Engagement Initiative (E3).  Under the E3, the United States is working with ASEAN to promote trade facilitation, standards development and practices, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and establishing open and transparent investment and information technology environments. In August 2014, U.S. businesses participated in the 2nd ASEAN-U.S. Business Summit, which focused on improving the capacity of SMEs to connect to regional and global supply chains.

Commercial Engagement: The U.S. Departments Commerce and State will sponsor four business and trade delegations to ASEAN next year focused on a range of sectors, including health and energy.  The first delegation will take place in February 2015, going to the Philippines and Indonesia, and focusing on the health sector.  These delegations will visit several ASEAN countries, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia, and will be led by senior officials.

Lower Mekong Initiative Business Delegation: The U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and USAID, in cooperation with U.S. businesses, will lead a business delegation to the Lower Mekong region in 2015 to highlight regional energy security and sustainability.  The delegation will complement the Extraordinary Meeting of the Friends of the Lower Mekong scheduled for January 2015, in which eight of the largest donor states and organizations will meet to discuss regional development strategies.

ASEAN Reverse Trade Mission and Symposium: In collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Commerce, State, and Energy, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency plans to lead a high-level ASEAN Ministers Energy and Transport Infrastructure Symposium and Reverse Trade Mission in 2015. The event will enhance U.S. economic engagement in Southeast Asia, increase U.S. economic opportunities and jobs, and advance ASEAN’s infrastructure priorities targeted by the U.S.-Asia Pacific Comprehensive Energy Partnership (USACEP) and the U.S.-ASEAN Connectivity Cooperation Initiative by connecting policy makers with U.S. suppliers.

Advancing Entrepreneurship and Business Growth: The U.S.-ASEAN Business Alliance for Competitive SMEs, a public private partnership between USAID and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, held training programs in five ASEAN countries and will soon begin creating an online academy to support SMEs in three key areas: access to finance; access to regional and international markets; and access to information and information technology.

ASEAN Integration and ASEAN Single Window (ASW): The United States is supporting the creation of an ASEAN Single Window through the ASEAN Connectivity through Trade and Investment (ACTI) program. The ASW is a hallmark of ASEAN’s progress toward building the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 that is designed to speed customs clearance procedures and lower costs for businesses, allowing increased trade.

Environmentally Sustainable Energy Development: The U.S. Department of Energy, the Department of State and USAID continue to support the U.S.-Asia Comprehensive Energy Partnership, and in 2014 held a workshop on rural electrification with the ASEAN Center for Energy, cosponsored with Brunei a Renewable and Alternative Energy Financing Workshop to highlight financing and technical assistance resources available for renewable energy project, and co-sponsored with Vietnam a regional Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program workshop.

Collaborative ASEAN and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Activities: The United States is working to include non-APEC ASEAN members (Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos) in APEC capacity building activities in areas of mutual interest to both organizations so all ASEAN economies fully benefit from this work as ASEAN advances toward the AEC.

Political-Security Engagement

Enhancing Maritime Cooperation: As part of our ongoing efforts to strengthen U.S.ASEAN defense cooperation in areas including maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, Secretary of Defense Hagel hosted the ten ASEAN Defense Ministers at an informal meeting In Hawaii in April 2014.  In September 2014, the United States and the Philippines hosted the 2nd Expanded ASEAN Seafarer Training Counter Piracy workshop to exchange best practices on counter-piracy training, welfare, and safety issues in support of ASEAN seafarers.

Combating Piracy:  Also in September, the United States became the 20th contracting party to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), an international organization that serves as a platform for information exchange and for promoting and enhancing cooperation to combat piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia.

Building ASEAN’s Cyber Confidence: The United States is helping to build ASEAN’s capacity to increase cybersecurity cooperation and reduce the risk of conflict during a cyber incident by supporting an ASEAN cybercrime workshop hosted by Singapore in 2014, jointly chairing with Singapore the ASEAN Regional Forum Seminar on Operationalizing Cyber Confidence Building Measures scheduled for 2015.

Combating Human and Wildlife Trafficking: The United States is working with ASEAN partners to combat human and wildlife trafficking.  In October 2014, the United States co-chaired with Burma a seminar on combating trafficking in persons, and is providing training for Heads of Anti-trafficking Specialist Units (HSUs) in crime scene management and victim-centric approaches in investigations. On wildlife trafficking, the United States worked with Myanmar to draft the East Asia Summit Declaration on wildlife Trafficking.

ASEAN Youth Volunteer Program: The United States and the National University of Malaysia entered into a multiyear agreement for USAID to provide support for the ASEAN Youth Volunteer Program (AVYP) to support ASEAN’s efforts to sponsor young volunteers to work throughout ASEAN on solutions to development challenges facing their communities.

Climate Change Cooperation: The United States and ASEAN announced the U.S.-ASEAN Joint Statement on Climate Change, demonstrating their commitment to a successful United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015.

Promoting Women and Children’s Rights: In April 2014, the United States and ASEAN launched the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurship Network in Vietnam. The project brings together the resources of USAID, the U.S. Department of State, the ASEAN Committee on Women, and the private sector to provide mentorship, training, and networking resources to women entrepreneurs.

U.S.-ASEAN Science and Technology (S&T) Fellow Program: The United States and the ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology (COST) launched the S&T Fellow Program in April 2014. Seven fellows worked on issues related to biodiversity, climate change, water management, health, and disaster risk reduction. The United States and ASEAN plan to expand the program in 2015.

Mali Not Clear of Ebola

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Ebola in Mali…Mali is racing to control a fresh Ebola outbreak after confirming its second death from the disease, just when it appeared the country would be given the all clear. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1pQWJn8)

Getting serious about indoor air pollution…The WHO is issuing new guidelines aimed at reducing health-damaging household pollutants in order to reduce the number of people killed by indoor air pollution. (VOA http://bit.ly/1xOhhvp )

On the Docket for Thursday…USAID Admin Shah will deliver keynote remarks at the third Global Conference on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Human Rights and Inclusive Development on Friday at 11AM EST. And…The WHO will release new data on global progress against measles later today.

Ebola

More than 400 health workers at the only Ebola treatment centre in southern Sierra Leone went on strike on Wednesday over unpaid risk allowances the government is meant to fund, officials said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1pR0hFZ)

The U.N. peacekeeping chief is urging the Security Council to extend the mandate of its 7,000-member peacekeeping force in Liberia, as the Ebola crisis continues to strain national institutions and threaten gains made since that country’s civil war ended in 2003. (VOA http://bit.ly/1unMpCD)

Britain’s foreign secretary announced plans for 700 Ebola treatment beds in Sierra Leone within weeks, admitting the global response had been too slow as he visited the former colony. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1xOiToW)

The Ebola epidemic is still outstripping efforts to contain it, according to doctors from Médecins Sans Frontières who have mounted most of the early response in west Africa. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1EBoCm4)

Sierra Leone will make a one-off payment of $5,000 to the family of any health worker who dies as a result of treating an Ebola patient, authorities said, as a sixth doctor in the country tested positive for the virus. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1EBycoU)

Critical gaps in “behind-the-scenes” infrastructure are hampering Ebola response times and containment efforts in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, aid agencies and health workers say. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1pQWwQI)

Africa

South Sudan: Young boys dream of carrying kalashnikovs not books as arms airdrops and night raids for child soldiers make peace in the world’s newest nation ever distant. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1EBtQ11)

H&M, the world’s second-biggest fashion retailer, said that it made every effort to ensure its cotton did not come from appropriated land in Ethiopia but could not provide an absolute guarantee. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1pR1EnQ)

For subsistence farmers in rain-scarce Kenya, drip irrigation can mean the difference between hand-to-mouth survival and being able to grow an agricultural business. (TRF http://bit.ly/1EBzikH)

Medical experts say cervical cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer related deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa. A majority die of ignorance. Less than one percent of women are scanned for the disease. Free vaccination campaigns for 9 to 13 years old girls are ongoing. (VOA http://bit.ly/1EBzW1y)

A protester was killed and two others badly wounded after angry crowds accused UN troops of shooting a man in the head in the troubled east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, rights groups said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1umJdHq)

Sudan’s government and rebels from South Kordofan and Blue Nile launched their latest round of peace talks Wednesday, as mediators called for an “urgent” end to over three years of war. (Yahoo http://yhoo.it/1xOhYF1)

Kenyan law provides for life imprisonment when a girl dies from FGM/C, which in addition to excruciating pain, can cause hemorrhage, shock and complications in childbirth. Officials are optimistic they can force a change in attitude but still worry that the practice is too ingrained for legal threats to have an impact. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1unMSVp)

MENA

Amnesty International on Wednesday criticised “woefully insufficient” steps taken by Qatar so far to end abuses of migrant workers building facilities for the controversial 2022 World Cup. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1xMMYVZ)

The U.N. World Food Program has begun distributing food vouchers to Iraqis displaced by war. The WFP gave out the first vouchers in Erbil to about 500 Iraqis last week. (VOA http://bit.ly/1EBwxzV)

Air strikes by U.S.-led forces in Syria have killed 865 people, including 50 civilians, since the start of the campaign in late September against Islamic State militants, a group monitoring the war said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1EBEFQH)

Asia

Myanmar’s transition from military rule has not been as fast as hoped and the government is “backsliding” on some reforms, U.S. President Barack Obama said in an interview published on Wednesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1EBFGbJ)

Furious protesters took to the streets in central India on Wednesday, smashing up cars and demanding the chief minister resign, as the death toll from a mass government-run sterilisation programme rose to 13. (AP http://yhoo.it/1pR6v8x)

A team of doctors rushed to central India on Wednesday after at least 13 women died and dozens of others fell ill following sterilization surgeries in a free, nationwide program aimed at limiting births in the world’s second-most populous nation, officials said. (AP http://yhoo.it/1EBEkxs)

Cambodia’s mainly agricultural society is changing fast, driven by urbanization and falling fertility rates. As young workers move to the cities, older people are staying back in the villages, where they have little support. (VOA http://bit.ly/1pQYL6z)

Seven Cambodian housing and land rights activists have been sentenced to a year in prison, just one day after they were arrested during a protest. The activists, who were protesting poor flood management in Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak neighborhood. (VOA http://bit.ly/1pQZcOm)

Cambodia on Wednesday raised the controversial monthly minimum wage for garment workers by 28 percent, a decision likely to infuriate unions seeking a higher increase and revive calls for strike action. (VOA http://bit.ly/1pR2eC6)

The U.S. has expressed reservations about the China-sponsored Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, but some experts say opposing the newly established bank may not a wise choice for Washington. (VOA http://bit.ly/1xOh0Zw)

The Americas

The number of Americans struggling to afford food has remained stuck near recession-era highs. But a recent Gallup poll suggests things may be starting to get back on track for some. (NPR http://n.pr/1pR2Ibm)

Colombia’s largest left-wing rebel group, the Farc, says it is sorry for killing two members of the Nasa indigenous group last week. (BBC http://bbc.in/1pR2tx5)

Cuba clearly is on the minds of the editors of the New York Times. In the last month the paper has published five weekend editorials in English and in Spanish asking the US administration to re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba. (BBC http://bbc.in/1EBtwPQ)

The presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador will present the United States with a proposed plan to stem child migration from their countries. (AP http://yhoo.it/1unMrdU)

Opinion/Blogs

Militarizing Global Health (Boston Review http://bit.ly/1xhHs0D)

Obstacles to Development Arising from the International System (IPS http://bit.ly/1EBx8By)

Should NGOs jump on board the Payment by Results bandwagon? New research suggests proceed with caution (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/1xhH6Y0)

Sterilization deaths show India’s health care ills (AP http://yhoo.it/1EBFQzF)

When being on the fence is a good thing:  GMOs and loss of autonomy for African farmers (HURDL Blog http://bit.ly/1xhH1Uf)

ICAI report slams DFID’s anticorruption efforts, aid experts slam report (Dev Policy http://bit.ly/1xNeBht)

Why it’s time for Band Aid to disband… (Development Truths http://bit.ly/1xhGUIj)

Justice in Syria: If not the ICC, then What? (Justice in Conflict http://bit.ly/1xhHmpY)

Most Money for Health Is Subnational, But What Will Donors Do About It? (CGD http://bit.ly/1xOgsTe)

Research/Reports
Death rates of young children have dropped to record lows in developing countries. Experts say there are two main reasons for the decrease: improved government action and simple protective health measures. (VOA http://bit.ly/1pQYUXO)

And the Most Transparent Aid Donor Is…UNDP

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The UN Development Program is atop a new list published by the International Aid Transparency Index. And in case you were wondering, China is on the bottom. Overall, donor countries are off pace to meet their promise to join the transparency standard by the end of 2015. “A lot of progress was made at the political level in the early days of aid transparency, including a promise to publish aid information to an internationally-agreed common standard by the end of 2015,” said Rachel Rank, Director of Publish What You Fund. (Humanopshere http://bit.ly/1BSDrNG)

Man who brought Ebola to USA Dies…Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, died on Wednesday morning at a Dallas hospital. This was the first death of an ebola patient in the developed world. “Duncan became ill after arriving in the Texas city from Liberia on Sept. 20 to visit family, heightening concerns the world’s worst Ebola outbreak on record could spread outside of the three worst-hit West African countries. About 48 people with whom Duncan had been in contact are being monitored.” (Reuters http://bit.ly/1BSHk5p)

Most of the world’s governments are taking measures to reduce the worst and most hazardous forms of child labor, according to a major report released by the U.S. Labour Department. (IPS http://bit.ly/1vRfh6C)

Ebola

Britain will send 750 troops to West African state Sierra Leone to help build an Ebola treatment centre, the BBC reported on Wednesday following a meeting of the government’s emergency response committee chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron. (BBC http://bit.ly/1t36PlQ)

The deadly Ebola epidemic could deal a $32 billion-plus blow to the West African economy over the next year if officials cannot get it under control, the World Bank warned Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1BSF4uW)

Sierra Leone burial teams have gone back to work one day after organizing a strike over pay and abandoning the dead bodies of Ebola victims in the capital. (AP http://yhoo.it/1BSE75Y)

Travelers arriving in the United States from Ebola-stricken Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will face mandatory screening measures for the deadly virus as soon as this weekend, according to a media report on Wednesday. (CNN http://bit.ly/1BSHHNg)

The United Nations mission in Liberia says a second member of its staff has contracted Ebola. In a statement Wednesday, the mission said the international medical official is undergoing treatment, but did not specify their nationality. (VOA http://bit.ly/1t38QOU)

Africa

An angry crowd killed a Muslim man in the capital of Central African Republic overnight, decapitating and burning his corpse, and in revenge Muslims killed a taxi driver, witnesses said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1t36gYY)

A court in Tanzania granted bail to an opposition member of parliament on Wednesday and eight others after charging them with illegal protests for demonstrating last week against a draft constitution. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1t36X4F)

The new head of the U.N. Mission in South Sudan, Ellen Margrethe Loej, called for “the guns to fall silent” in South Sudan to allow the United Nations and aid agencies to stop focussing on protecting people from violence and start helping the young country to grow. (VOA http://bit.ly/1vRf8ji)

Somalia’s first-ever cash withdrawal machine has been installed in the capital, Mogadishu. (VOA http://bit.ly/1qjb0Cm)

MENA

The governments of Europe and the United States have criticized Israel for announcing it will build 2,600 new housing units in a sensitive part of East Jerusalem. (VOA http://bit.ly/1t39oUK)

The U.N. refugee agency on Wednesday said it was urging the European Union to overhaul its policy toward Syrian refugees, warning the number of fatal accidents at sea could rise further as winter approaches. (AP http://yhoo.it/1BSEQ71)

Asia

Pakistan is losing ground in the battle against polio, with the country suffering its worst outbreaks in more than a decade, but suspicions about the vaccine itself are also proving an obstacle. (VOA http://bit.ly/1BSMrlX)

Five Afghan men were hanged on Wednesday for the gang rape of four women despite the United Nations and human rights groups criticising the trial and urging new president Ashraf Ghani to stay the executions. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1BSDU2s)

Authorities sealed off villages in Myanmar’s only Muslim-majority region and in some cases beat and arrested people who refused to register with immigration officials, residents and activists say, in what may be the most aggressive effort yet to force Rohingya to indicate they are illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh. (AP http://yhoo.it/1BSEFbP)

Indian PM Modi, in his biggest attempt at fiscal change since he swept to power in May, has been less bold than some would wish, steering clear of reforming the most sensitive and costly benefits – food and fertilisers. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1t356gf)

Rescuers and fishermen found eight survivors and 17 bodies Wednesday after two days of searching for a motorboat lost since its captain reported an engine failure off Indonesia’s main island of Java. (AP http://yhoo.it/1t35Zp4)

Cambodia enacted a regulation Wednesday to protect nightclub hostesses and other adult entertainment workers under the same laws that protect other workers’ rights, a move that was hailed by the U.N.’s labor body. (AP http://yhoo.it/1BSFZvx)

Protracted fighting in northern Myanmar is displacing entire villages, including those of ethnic Palaung, who say they need more help to build up local civil society groups to allow aid to flow more effectively to their people. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1t37p2K)

The Americas

Colombia must invest at least $44.4 billion to implement a peace deal with Marxist rebels to end a 50-year conflict, says a senator who backs the current peace talks, adding the amount is much less than the cost of waging war. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1t36nUv)

As sea levels rise, tidal flooding along the U.S. coast is likely to become so common that parts of many communities, including the nation’s capital, could become unusable within three decades, according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1t353AV)

Opinion/Blogs

Meet the Company That’s Bringing the LED Revolution to the Developing World (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/Zep2i6)

When it comes to aid, learn from those who know what poverty is really like (Guardian http://bit.ly/1t37gML)

Alibaba.com: Supermarket for torture devices? (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1BSHTfz)

A big deal in the ICC: 6 questions with GlobalPost’s Tristan McConnell http://bit.ly/1BSHWb2)

Rethinking US Foreign Assistance: MCC Tops US Government in Aid Transparency Again (CGD http://bit.ly/1t37eVl)

Alternatives to refugee camps: Can policy become practice? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1BSIKNb)

Marine Protection as Stand-Alone Goal for Post-2015 Agenda? (IPS http://bit.ly/1qjbpor)

How do donors imagine more effective humanitarian aid? (OECD http://bit.ly/1qjbLv4)

Africa On the Rise – a Myth or Reality? (New Times http://bit.ly/1qjcFYG)

Journalists Must Avoid Mass Hysteria Over Ebola (allAfrica http://bit.ly/1vRgIC1)

Categories: Uncategorized

Press Releases: Remarks at the U.S-ASEAN Business Council 30th Anniversary Gala Reception

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you so much, Evan. Thank you. Wow, thank you. I didn’t know I was going to be interrupting cocktails. (Laughter.) I feel entirely guilty. It’s okay if you don’t eat, but not drinking is really serious. (Laughter.)

Thank you very, very much. It’s sort of complicated to parachute in like this and then race off. And I think I’m hearing music accompanying my speech, which is interesting. (Laughter.) Beg your pardon?

PARTICIPANT: The heavenly choir.

SECRETARY KERRY: Beg your pardon?

PARTICIPANT: The heavenly choir.

SECRETARY KERRY: That’s fine by me, so long as it’s not calling me somewhere. (Laughter.)

But I’m really grateful. Evan, thank you so much for a very generous introduction. And I know I’m all that stands between all of you and dinner, so I will be – try to be respectful of that. On the other hand, this is an important gathering for an important effort, and I want to be very clear to everybody about why that is. Let me start by thanking the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council. I want to congratulate you on an extraordinary 30 years. To get an understanding of why this organization has been so successful, you only have to look to your right, look to your left, look at the leadership of the businesses of that are represented here. I just came from a small reception of a number of the folks who’re sponsoring it. But Evan, Alex Feldman, the president, CEO, others – US-ABC has some of the best and brightest businesses that are participating in – not just this evening, but in the ongoing enterprise of ASEAN efforts. And I thank all of you for your partnership over the years.

It’s also a pleasure to be among a lot of familiar faces. I was walking around, and from where I’m standing there’s – a whole bunch of the State Department is here. (Laughter.) Fair warning, I don’t care how much champagne you drink tonight, you’ve just got to be at work tomorrow morning. (Laughter.) Let me just quickly take this opportunity, if I can, to embarrass somebody who’s in the audience tonight, and he’s one of the most important people on my team. And I’m talking about Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Danny Russel, who’s standing right over here. (Applause.) When I first became Secretary, President Obama and I sat down to talk about his priorities, among them the Asia rebalance. And we realized that we really needed somebody who had the respect of people in the region and knew the region intimately and had the relationships which are a critical part of any kind of effort in East Asia, as all of you know. And there was never a doubt in President Obama’s mind or my mind who that person had to be. He had worked very closely with Danny in the White House – the President had – and Danny was actually one of the architects of the rebalance.

So before too long, I got to know Danny a lot better. I’d only known him parenthetically. But I’ll tell you, there are few people who understand the region better than he does. He lives it and he breathes it. It’s a mantle that he wears on his shoulders and carries with him all the time, and he loves it. And a year or two ago, just to prove this, I was walking through the White House one day and I passed the Situation Room and I saw Danny sitting across from Henry Kissinger. So I pop my head in and I say, “Henry, you’re giving Danny a briefing on Asia. That’s great.” And he turned to me and said, “No, John. Danny’s the one briefing me.” (Laughter.) Very, very – and it’s true, actually. That’s Danny, and there’s nobody better to drive our policy forward.

I’m also very, very delighted that tonight there are so many members of the diplomatic corps who are here. Thank you all for coming. I met with a number of the ambassadors just as I walked in and others – our ASEAN partner nations – are here in the audience. And I had an opportunity just the other day in New York at this massive speed dating exercise we get involved in in New York called UNGA, the UN General Assembly. So I met with all of the foreign ministers from the region there. We had a session in the evening, several hours. And I also met with our terrific U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN Nina Hachigian, and I think she’s here somewhere. Nina, why don’t you raise your hand? There she is. Our new ambassador right here, folks. (Applause.) She’s got a brother she’s marrying off, and the minute she got rid of him she’s heading out there, right? All right.

As I told everybody on Friday, ASEAN really is front and center in the region’s multilateral architecture, and we want it to remain there. ASEAN is central to upholding the rules-based system throughout the Asia Pacific and is the best way to ensure that countries big and small are going to have a voice as we work together to address the challenges that maritime security present, climate change presents, food security presents, not to mention just working our way through the complicated differentials between countries and barriers, non-tariff barriers, the different impediments to doing business. And it’s critical, because this group actually is creating significant economic opportunities, and the members who are here are helping to foster a very different playing field, which is critical. And I thank all of you for your partnership in that effort.

Lastly, I’m particularly excited to be among a lot of America’s elite business leaders heading up some of the most innovative and exciting businesses in the world. And that includes our own Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Charlie Rivkin, who I saw somewhere. There he is right there. We actually had to call Charlie back from Paris where he had been serving as ambassador for a number of years so he could focus fulltime with me on advancing our economic agenda. And the reason we picked Charlie to lead our efforts and to promote American business abroad is very simple: Not a lot of assistant secretaries have been CEO of a billion-dollar company and a U.S. ambassador at the same time overseeing a bilateral relationship that clears one billion in business transactions every day. I might add that diplomacy is also in his blood, because his father, William Rivkin, was one of our finest ambassadors. He served in Luxembourg and Senegal. And Charlie has proven himself more than worthy of his father’s legacy, and we couldn’t be happier than to have him part of our team. So Charlie, thank you for taking on this job. (Applause.)

And the team includes Under Secretary Cathy Novelli, who also came from the private sector, from Apple; and Ambassador David Thorne, who became an ambassador from the private sector; and Scott Nathan, who has been a finance – who’s been engaged in finance, in funds – very, very successful in Boston, and who has joined our team. So we have a team that understands your challenges. They understand what it means to try to start a business, grow a business, open more opportunities, and get your decisions rapidly and get government out of the way as you try to do that, except to the degree that government can help you move forward.

So with so much focus on the challenges that are confronting us today, from ISIL to Ebola to Ukraine to Iran to Syria, and you can run the list, Afghanistan, it can be easy to miss the fact that there are also unprecedented opportunities staring us in the face at this moment, particularly when it comes to business and economic growth. And each and every business leader in this room would tell you that few regions in the world are as ripe for those opportunities as Southeast Asia.

Many of you have been involved initiative his region for decades. US-ABC includes some of the very first American businesses to open up shop in the ASEAN states. So you know better than anybody how dramatic the region’s transformation has been. I will personally never forget my first visit back to Vietnam as a civilian and as a senator in 1991. And I watched with great excitement because I was down in the south of Vietnam in prior years, never in the north. The north we looked at with great sort of trepidation, except for the pilots who obviously flew over it.

And as I flew into Hanoi, I looked down and I could see all kinds of craters from bombs that had been dropped. This is in 1991. And I noticed the streets as I drove in along the river, it was a very narrow road. The main highway had not yet been built. There was some construction going on. The streets were filled, chock-a-block full of bicycles, bicycles, and bicycles. No cars. Very few cars. There were few motorcycles, very few tall buildings. Not a stoplight worked in the entire city when I set foot there, not one stoplight. And it was just a massive constant mesh of bikes that somehow made it across and made it through.

And it was a place that had literally been frozen in time. I was back in Vietnam last year for maybe my 20-something trip over the last 30 years. And I’m sure many of you have experienced this as well. It just stuns you how far things have moved in this span of time.

The energy in Vietnam today is absolutely remarkable, and the transformation is nothing short of amazing. In the years since we lifted the embargo and normalized relations, Vietnam has become a modern nation and an important partner of the United States. And when you talk to the young people in Vietnam, you can feel the enthusiasm for the potential of the future: 65 percent under the age of 35.

This isn’t just Vietnam’s story. This dynamism, energy, transformation – similar stories can be told throughout Southeast Asia. I was at the Malaysian entrepreneurial fair that they had last year, summit, and it was just stunning: 15,000 kids cheering like at a rock concert, excited about entrepreneurial activity and possibilities. And the year – in 1984 – that was the year that the US-ABC was founded – the annual GDP of the 10 countries that are now ASEAN was about $220 billion in today’s dollars. Today, that GDP has grown more than 10 times over to more than $2.4 trillion.

Now, it’s not a coincidence that President Obama and the Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Represent Mike Froman and I have all individually made a trip to one or more of the ASEAN states just within the past six months. Roughly $100 billion of exports to Southeast Asia every year, and every year that supports millions of jobs both there in the region as well as right here on our own shores.

Now, I don’t need to convince you probably – most of the leaders here – of these enormous opportunities. But for the folks who are tuning in tonight to understand what this is about, I want them to understand that enormous business opportunities exist throughout ASEAN, and all of you here are already the choir, so I don’t need to preach further.

I don’t need to remind you also that our embassies are there to help you, and I want you to understand that, from the ambassadors on down. We have a number of the ambassadors here tonight representing the countries of ASEAN. I know many of your businesses work with our ambassadors every single day. We’ve worked to bring about a billion dollars in business deals throughout the ASEAN region, including the largest – in billions, multiple billions – which we have been working towards, including the largest single commercial aircraft sale in Boeing’s history to Indonesia’s Lion Air. And our then-ambassador Scot Marciel played a critical role in helping Boeing to secure that deal which ultimately is worth almost $23 billion.

So what we need to focus on today is how do we make sure this growth continues. As you sit around your tables tonight, as you enjoy this dinner, as you think about the next years, think about that, because it’s not a given. There are still many places in the region where steep tariffs and unclear rules of the road breed uncertainty and stifle the flow of goods and ideas. And that will tampen down the capacity to keep on keeping on what we’re doing.

There are places where businesses don’t have access to the financing that they need to get off the ground, where infrastructure challenges like crumbling roads and inadequate internet and inconsistent power grids prevent businesses from reaching markets. Now, we can’t – I certainly can’t and I don’t know anybody here who can – just wave a magic wand and address all of these challenges tomorrow. But there are steps that we can take together in order to help bring about a more prosperous future for both the United States and our ASEAN partners, and I’ll be very, very quick.

First and foremost, as any business leader would agree, freer markets create more opportunity, more competition, more growth, more dynamism, and more innovation. And we need to do more to open up trade and investment in every corner of the globe, and particularly in that region. Every one of you knows the enormous difference that the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement – one that includes a number of ASEAN countries – could make. Just this afternoon, I hosted a lunch with Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, and we spoke at length about the potential of this agreement and how urgently we need to get it off the ground, and he agreed. The TPP is a state-of-the-art, 21st century trade agreement that will connect more than 40 percent of the global GDP and one-third of global trade, and it raises the standards. It brings everybody up, not a race to the bottom. It’s consistent with our shared economic interests and our shared strategic interests, and it’s rooted in our shared values.

And it’s about promoting stability in this dynamic region and also establishing a fair and transparent framework that enables countries throughout the region to deepen their economic integration and grow in harmony. We need to make it happen, folks, and we can’t do it without you. We need you to help make the case for TPP with the Congress and with the American people, and we need you to make the phone calls and set up the meetings and do all you can to get Capitol Hill on board. And this is a battle we need to prepare for and it’s a battle we absolutely need to win.

Second, we need to make sure that the leaders of the future are getting the training and the education that they need in order to thrive in a growing economy. About 65 percent, as I said, of the population of ASEAN region is under the age of 35, and these young people are innovative, creative, and they’re eager to contribute their ideas, energy, to improve not only their own lives but the lives of others in their communities and their country. I’ve seen this firsthand in Malaysia and the Philippines and Indonesia on every trip I’ve taken to Southeast Asia. And that’s why we are investing in programs like President Obama’s Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, the YSEALI, as it’s known. Through YSEALI, every year we bring young men and women from Southeast Asia to universities in the United States where they can receive training, deepen their knowledge about regional issues and experience and perspectives. This year’s YSEALI class includes women like Sovan Srun from Cambodia. She’s an aspiring social entrepreneur who coauthored a handbook for high school graduates to plan for their career paths, in hopes that she will help her community become more self-sufficient and less dependent on foreign aid. She’s a remarkable young woman, and we need to make sure that others like Sovan have the opportunities they need to make the mark on their communities and that their energy is harnessed in a completely positive way.

Third – and this is especially important – we need to do more at the State Department to make sure that the U.S. Government and the U.S. business community are working with one another, not against one another. I tell every Foreign Service officer that they are, each and every one of them, an economic officer, no kidding. That’s how we have to think. And we need to show the world that the State Department means business, literally. We’re planning to do this by expanding what we call detail opportunities with the private sector. Department employees spend a year working with our private sector partners so they can get a better understanding of the business world and what’s needed from government for when they return. And we’re developing similar programs that will bring folks from the private sector to the State Department on detail as well so the bureaucracy can benefit from their entrepreneurial world view.

But all of us in government and business alike have to keep in mind that the true measure of our success is going to be whether our economies continue – is not whether they continue to grow, but it’s how they grow. If we make the correct choices in the months and years to come, U.S. trade and investment has the potential to create shared prosperity up and down the food chain: growth that’s sustainable and environmentally friendly, wealth that lifts up communities and creates opportunity, and enormous amounts of jobs for the United States and for all of our partner nations. And on top of that, if we commit high standards when it comes to business practices, we absolutely encourage this race to the top, which I think every one of you understands with globalization is at risk. So we need a race to the top from companies all around the world, and I think that’s a race that we can win.

So all of us at the State Department know well that in the 21st century a nation’s interests and the well-being of its people are advanced not just by troops and diplomats but also by entrepreneurs and executives in ways that are really quite significantly different from prior centuries. It is happening by virtue of the businesses that they build and the workers that they employ and the students that they train, and ultimately, the shared prosperity that they create. I say it all the time. I said it in the first days of my nomination to be Secretary. I said it in my opening statement to the committee: Economic policy is foreign policy, and foreign policy is economic policy. And the fact is that American businesses are some of the best ambassadors our country has. Just think about it. US-ABC businesses collectively represent more than 6 trillion in annual revenue. Your businesses support more than 13 million employees worldwide, and you do it all the time while wearing America’s jersey, so to speak.

And I underscore this: The reason we are so grateful to have such a capable and influential group of ambassadors throughout America’s business community is not simply because you do well, but also because you do good. And that’s particularly true in the ASEAN states. I’ve seen it firsthand in the factories I’ve been into, in the people I’ve talked to and the businesses they work for. American businesses have been the number one investor in ASEAN economies for decades. In fact, U.S. investments are larger than Chinese investments, Japanese investments, and Korean investments combined.

And it’s not just about the quantity of our investments; it’s about the quality. When we invest in countries, we actually do it differently. When businesses from some countries enter new markets, they bring in their own workers, their own tradesmen. We, on the other hand, hire local employees. And guess what – we train them as well. Some businesses in the world recklessly pollute the environment, knowing full well that it’ll be difficult to hold them accountable. But so many of our businesses make a point of investing in clean energy and environmental solutions in order to accompany their facilities abroad. And businesses that come in from other nations have been known to promote corruption instead of working to stop it, not held to account by our Foreign Corrupt Businesses Act. But we take every step we can to end corrupt practices abroad or elsewhere, because we know that when we eliminate corruption we’re able to build the long-term relationships that will withstand the test of time and make the environment safer for new businesses to be able to invest in.

So we do all of this because business doing right is part of the American brand. It’s part of our what our companies stand for and it’s part of the proposition of how we attract more investment to follow. What I’m talking about is more than agreeing to abide by a set of principles or guidelines. It’s really rolling up your sleeves and taking action to integrate responsible investment and objective corporate management decision making.

Now, there are a lot of other things that we could go on to say. I’m going to – I said I wouldn’t – I’ve gone on longer than I meant to. But I want to just emphasize to everybody here that the real excitement that comes with this is watching these countries go through these amazing transformations. I am nothing less than stunned by what has happened, the transformation taking place. I have absolute confidence, and as we go forward in these next years the differences between our nations, even as we respect cultures and history, but differences will evaporate in the way that people have fears and that they suspect people from abroad. There’ll be a unity because everything in the world is different today. Today’s kids all have smartphones; they all talk to each other. They’re talking to everybody in the world all the time about everything. And it changes everything in life. Politics is different. Building consensus is different. Getting your market share is different. Holding onto it is different. We’re living in a very, very different time, and nowhere are the possibilities more evident than in the transformations taking place throughout Southeast Asia.

So I think you all are onto something, and I profoundly say congratulations to ABC. We’re going to be in Burma. The President and I are going to be there a month from now. We’re looking forward to being in China, likewise, in November for the APEC conference. We’ll be there for the East Asia Summit. We are front and center and present because we’ve been a Pacific nation all of our history and we will never turn away from that.

So I thank those of you who have been the pioneers. I thank those of you who are on the front lines today. I say congratulations to all of you. Celebrate well tonight and tomorrow we all get back to work and continue on the road. Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)

Will the USA Target ISIS in Syria?

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The Obama administration is sending strong signals that it may expand its air assault against ISIS to Syria, despite the fact that such a move would probably contravene international law. First, National Security Council advisor Ben Rhodes tells NPR that the USA is not ruling out hitting ISIS in Syria. Then, the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey says this: “This is an organization that has an apocalyptic end-of-days strategic vision that will eventually have to be defeated. Can they be defeated without addressing that part of the organization that resides in Syria? The answer is no.” (NYT http://nyti.ms/1roTeo3)

Navi Pillay’s Parting Shot to the Security Council…Outgoing U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay  gave her final briefing to the UN Security Council. Her tenure ends at the end of the month, where she will be replaced by Prince Zeid of Jordan–who just happens to currently serve on the Council. Pillay was rather unsparing in her criticism of the ways in which divisions in the council prevented adequete responses to urgent human rights catastrophes. Money quote: “I firmly believe that greater responsiveness by this council would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives” (VOA http://bit.ly/1s5wZiA)

Ebola

The two U.S. patients who were treated for Ebola have been discharged from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where they had been in an isolation ward since returning from Liberia early this month. They are the first patients treated for Ebola on American soil. (NPR http://n.pr/1wdDjLp)

South Africa said on Thursday that due to fears over the spread of the Ebola virus it was banning travellers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from entering the country, apart from its own citizens. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1s4VFrr

Up to 30,000 people could have used experimental treatments or vaccines so far in the world’s worst outbreak of Ebola currently plaguing West Africa, British scientists said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1s4W4u4)

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease – using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. (VOA http://bit.ly/1wdHWF4)

Hundreds of residents of a Liberian slum lined up to receive rice and water from government officials Thursday in their neighborhood which was sealed off from the rest of the capital in an attempt to halt the spread of Ebola. (AP http://yhoo.it/1we7vWy)

An emergency research call has been launched to help fight the world’s worst Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with the British government and the Wellcome Trust medical charity pledging a combined $10.8 million. (VOA http://bit.ly/1wdIlaI)

Africa

Children accused of being members of armed groups in the conflict in Mali are languishing in adult jails while human rights abuses continue, said Amnesty International. (ReliefWeb http://bit.ly/1wdC5jc)

A cash transfer scheme in Zambia provides a bi-monthly cash allowance of $25 and $50 respectively for vulnerable households and households where there are people with disabilities, to help people deal with shocks created by climate. (IPS http://bit.ly/1wdDTZq)

Uganda has been hailed as a success story in fighting HIV/AIDS, with prevalence rates dropping from 18 percent in 1992 to 6.4 percent in 2005. But activists fear a new HIV Bill will lead to lead to people shunning testing and treatment. (IPS http://bit.ly/1s4URmz)

The 40,000 people sheltering from South Sudan’s civil war in a flooded and crowded UN camp are enduring conditions “barely compatible with life and incompatible with human dignity”, and must be helped before disease and danger force them back into the conflict zone, MSF has warned. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1s4X0yA)

Fighting erupted in the Central African Republic capital Bangui, killing a humanitarian worker and injuring dozens of civilians hours after the UN said it would dispatch thousands of peacekeepers to quell religious violence. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1wdH2sh)

Human Rights Watch says South Sudan’s army used child soldiers during recent fighting against opposition forces in violation of international law. (VOA http://bit.ly/1wdIdI7)

The UN refugee agency called for East African countries hosting Somali refugees to make voluntary repatriation possible and sustainable. (VOA http://bit.ly/1wdIw5L)

West Africa must openly confront its political and governance weaknesses to curb the growing drug trade in the region, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said. http://yhoo.it/1wdIYkq

Former child soldiers in war-torn Somalia are being held in prison conditions in foreign-funded camps, “punishing” rather than rehabilitating them, the top UN children’s envoy said Thursday. http://yhoo.it/1s5wcOw

MENA

America has returned to war, of a sort, in Iraq with airstrikes that have intensified in recent days against Islamic State militants. But details about the execution of this limited campaign, which so far includes no reported U.S. ground combat, are thin. (AP http://yhoo.it/1we896t)

About 10,000 mourners on Thursday buried three senior commanders of the armed wing of Hamas who were killed in a predawn airstrike by Israel, the most significant blow to the group’s leadership since Israel’s operation in Gaza began more than six weeks ago.(NYT  http://nyti.ms/1roUoQi)

Asia

Sri Lanka’s government is scrambling to ease the impact of record harvest losses on millions of farmers as the country enters its tenth month of an acute dry spell. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1s4SLTu)

Thousands of rescuers combed through the wreckage of homes engulfed by landslides in western Japan on Thursday in the slim hope of finding survivors, a day after a wall of mud claimed at least 39 lives. http://yhoo.it/1wdJuyZ

Flooding in Cambodia has killed at least 45 people since last month, officials said Thursday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1we7lyA)

The Americas

Brazil expands labor rights for domestic workers through new legislation. (AP http://yhoo.it/1s50Jfy)

Police on Mexico’s Caribbean coast arrested 13 activists during a demonstration by Maya Indians against water rate hikes. (NYT http://nyti.ms/1roUtna)

Opinion/Blogs

South Sudan’s Looming Famine (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1nfAQq7)

How Uganda Stopped Previous Ebola Outbreaks (DW http://bit.ly/1s5yayk)

Microfinance in Jordan isn’t helping to empower women (Guardian http://bit.ly/1s5yvRI)

Can alternative economic indicators ever be any good if they are devised solely by experts? (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/1piMipH)

Shouldn’t “anti-poverty” and “pro-middle class” be synonyms? (Campaign for Boring Development http://bit.ly/1piMG7Q)

There always needs to be a product: ‘Self-reflection’, volunteering & the emerging development entertainment industrial complex (Aidnography http://bit.ly/1nfB7tn)

150 million bank accounts – is that enough? (IPA http://bit.ly/1piN32i)

Research/Reports

A new study finds cancer affects even simple, ancient multicellular organisms — which means the disease and the deaths it causes may simply be a part of life. (NPR http://n.pr/1wdDd6u)

The international community needs to stop looking at neglected tropical diseases as a sub-Saharan African problem and realize that the G20 countries are now home to the “lion’s share” of the dangerous, debilitating, yet low-profile illnesses, a US expert has warned. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1s4Yf0v)

Annual UN Asia-Pacific policy forum spotlights

4 August 2014 – Asia-Pacific countries will gather in Bangkok this week for the annual policy session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), focusing on the role of regional connectivity in supporting economic growth and development.

With a particular focus on the three dimensions of sustainable development &#8211 social, economic and environmental &#8211 senior Government officials from over 40 member countries and associate member countries will meet at ESCAP’s 70th session today through 6 August, ahead of the Commission’s high-level ministerial segment, which will run from 7 to 8 August, to be attended by Heads of State and senior ministers.

In a press release kicking off the annual session, ESCAP says that more than 30 ministers from Asia and the Pacific are expected to participate in the ministerial segment.

In addition, Ministers from Cambodia, Indonesia, India, Myanmar, Philippines, Pakistan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, Solomon Islands and Tonga will be among key speakers at panel discussions during the high-level session this week, focusing on steering the region towards equitable, environment-friendly and resilient growth.

The ESCAP session is being held against the backdrop of high public debt levels and declining international development assistance, which has affected Asia-Pacific growth and contributed to rising income inequality, both within and between countries in the region.

A Ministerial Round Table on the theme of the 70th session, &#8220Regional connectivity for shared prosperity&#8221, on the opening day of the ministerial segment will focus on transport, ICT and energy connectivity and multi-sectoral and cross-border cooperation.

At a media launch on 6 August, ESCAP Executive Secretary Shamshad Akhtar will present the key findings of the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2014, the Commission’s flagship publication, outlining the latest macroeconomic projections and policy advice for the region.

On the second day of the ministerial segment, Asia-Pacific Government leaders and policymakers will join a panel discussion on sustainable development and development finance to suggest policy options for addressing existing and emerging vulnerabilities.

Key events during the week, including all panel discussions, will be webcast live at http://www.unescap.org/commission/webcast.

The Commission session can also be followed on social media using the hash tag #CS70.