Friday, 19 December 2014


Clockwise from top-left: Oxfam Director of Aid Effectiveness
Gregory Adams, former USAID Chief Scientist Alex Dehgan, Center
for Global Development President Nancy Birdsall, ONE Campaign
President and CEO Michael Elliott and Chemonics International
President and CEO Susanna Mudg
Rajiv Shah’s announcement on Wednesday morning that he will step down as U.S. Agency for International Development administrator in February did not exactly take the development community by surprise, but it did elicit some strong — and mostly laudatory — reactions.
Shah’s departure plans have been met with a predictable outpouring of thanks and admiration from his Obama administration contemporaries, but many other leaders within the wider international development community — even some who have been at odds with a few of the USAID chief’s decisions — voiced their support and admiration.
Devex community members still wonder what Shah, the youngest-ever USAID administrator, will do next, and we are eager to learn who will be his permanent replacement. But for now, we’ve taken the opportunity to solicit reactions from leaders in this field who have worked with Shah to reflect on his impact at what many consider the end of an era in U.S. foreign assistance.
Many remarked that Shah has moved USAID forward on a range of “substantive” issues, including food security — through the administration’s Feed the Future initiative — energy access, maternal and child health, and leadership over the response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa.
‘Initiative fatigue’
Some within the agency, who wished to maintain anonymity in order to share candid, sensitive comments, however expressed relief that a new administration could return a welcome sense of focus to the core business of development. USAID staff are frequently said to suffer from “initiative fatigue,” a sense that Shah identifies and mobilizes new priorities by the day and, in doing so, disrupts ongoing operations and programs.
“[Shah] has chased initiatives while sacrificing core issues in favor of hoped-for deals, gadgets and jargon,” one current USAID official told Devex in an email. “The budgets for economic growth and democracy, rights and governance are negligible, with any loose money being swept into the supply-side [Global Development Lab] or to pursue power investments without attending to the enabling environments for those investments.”
The criticism points to an apparent divide in the appraisal of Shah’s tenure — between those who have embraced the change he has sought to bring about, and those who view it as a distraction from USAID’s traditional portfolio and expertise. Outside the agency, Shah’s leadership has drawn mostly high marks.
Devex will continue to feature community perspectives on what the Shah administration has meant for U.S. foreign assistance and for the daily practice of global development around the world, and we’ll soon publish an in-depth exploration of the the current administrator’s legacy.
Unfinished business
Michael Elliott, president and CEO of the ONE Campaign, shared with Devex that the USAID chief “has the enthusiasm of a kid. I don’t know how he manages to keep his spirits up so uniformly.”
Rajiv Shah, with a great deal of help from leadership on Capitol Hill and from the whole community around town, “has demonstrated that development, fighting poverty and preventable disease is the one thing where everyone in [Washington] can get behind common objectives and make something work,” Elliott said.
“His successor will have to somehow join the rest of us in making sure that everyone understands that 2015 is a really big deal with a new set of development goals and a real re-energization of the movement to defeat extreme poverty and preventable disease,” he added, but pointing out: “That’s not for Raj. That’ll be for the next person.”
Elliott noted USAID has “unfinished business” for 2015, a year he hopes will get “off to an absolutely cracking start with a really fabulous replenishment of Gavi [the Vaccine Alliance].”
Redefining the development sector
For Gregory Adams, director of aid effectiveness at Oxfam, Shah “leaves behind a powerful legacy at USAID.”
“Raj saw early and clearly that dollars alone will never be enough to achieve our development goals; that the United States can maximize our impact if we can exercise world-class intellectual and policy leadership to match our moral and financial leadership,” he told Devex. “He did this by reframing USAID’s mission, to ensure it wasn’t stuck being just a pass through for funds, but a smart, creative partner for local development leaders.”
The most divisive part of Shah’s legacy, according to Adams, was the fact that some longtime USAID partners felt their contributions were being “shortchanged,” but he noted, “few of those same partners would argue that USAID should stand still.”
“Ultimately, those partners who are embracing Raj’s approach are helping to redefine the relevance of the development sector for this new era and marketplace,” Adams concluded.
Pushing the envelope
From the start, Rajiv Shah was Obama’s man to lead U.S. foreign aid efforts, and Nancy Birdsall, founding president of the Center for Global Development underscored how the outgoing USAID chief was a “major force” behind President Barack Obama’s goal to eliminate global extreme poverty by 2030.
Shah, she told Devex, managed to sustain congressional support for the USAID budget, “including by clarifying that development progress around the world helps undergird long-term global stability and U.S. security.”
“I give Shah high marks for USAID Forward. He spearheaded unsexy internal negotiations with the State Department and the White House, which allowed USAID to once again have a serious policy shop, its own chief economist, a focus on technical expertise and innovation, and an office with some budget and planning expertise if not formal authority,” Birdsall explained. “That pushed the envelope of what was bureaucratically and politically possible.”
‘The end of an era’
Alex Dehgan, the agency’s former chief scientist, has expressed concerns about the direction of some of Shah’s initiatives — the Global Development Lab, in particular — but voiced support overall for the administrator’s efforts to effect change.
“Raj Shah was a transformative thinker, who was willing to take risks, and to elevate the role of science, technology and innovation at USAID,” he told Devex. “This was historic for a technical agency that sought to restore its core capabilities, and elevate the importance of development.”
Shah, Dehgan noted, helped meet Obama’s promise to restore science to its rightful place, to make developing world farms flourish, to nourish starved bodies, and feed hungry minds.  
“This was his job from nearly day one when he was thrown into Haiti,” he said. “It is an end of an era.”
A stronger USAID
Many in our community equate the administrator’s success with USAID’s standing among its peer agencies and departments. George Ingram, Brookings Institution senior fellow and co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network told Devex, “There is no question that Shah leaves USAID stronger than when he entered the agency.”
Ingram described Shah’s leadership as “energizing and innovative, if sometimes disruptive and diffuse,” but noted it is “unfortunate” that Shah is stepping down “before his key initiatives are securely implemented and institutionalized.” USAID’s new Global Development Lab still lacks clear Congressional authorization, as do the Power Africa and Feed the Future initiatives, and U.S. aid does not appear any closer to a rewrite of the Foreign Assistance Act, which many feel is long overdue.
Shah, Ingram wrote, may not be the ideal model for the next USAID chief to emulate. Ingram pointed to Henrietta Fore's brief tenure as administrator as an example to follow.
“She chose a few priorities and today is widely acknowledged for her commitment to USAID as an institution and to rebuilding its staff through the Development Leadership Initiative,” Ingram said, adding that “fulfilling the commitment to transparency and use of data would be a worthy legacy for the next administrator.”
Finally, Chemonics International President and CEO Susanna Mudge also weighed in on Shah’s departure to highlight how his leadership over the past five years “has been instrumental in redefining and elevating the importance and value of development work.”

“It has been an honor to partner with him and USAID to help transform lives around the globe,” Mudge told Devex.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


All political parties need funding to play their part in the political process, yet the role of money in politics is arguably the biggest threat to democracy today. This global threat knows no boundaries, evident across all continents from huge corporate campaign donations in the United States and drug money seeping into politics in Latin America, to corruption scandals throughout Asia and Europe. Attempts to tackle these challenges through political finance laws and regulations are often undermined by a lack of political will or capacity, as well as poorly designed and enforced measures. This handbook addresses the problems of money in politics by analysing political finance regulations around the world and providing guidance for reform. The chapters are divided by region; each assesses the current state of regulations in relation to its challenges and offers a series of recommendations to tackle the identified shortcomings. This contextual approach has the benefit of revealing regional trends and patterns. An additional chapter focuses on gender, reflecting the reality that women remain grossly under-represented in politics, and how the increasing influence of money in politics perpetuates this inequality.

To read more details about funding political parties and elections, click this link

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


A gunman who burst into a Sydney chocolate shop and took hostages has been killed, along with two of the hostages, Australian police said.
Mr Johnson, 34, was shot dead after he tried to wrestle the gun
from Islamic extremist Man Haron Monis inside the cafe just after 2am

The suspect was identified by police as Man Haron Monis. He was declared dead at the scene, New South Wales Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said. Tori Johnson, a manager of the store, was killed, according to Lindt Chocolate Cafe Australia. The other hostage who was killed was identified as attorney and mother of three Katrina Dawson, 38, according to the New South Wales Bar Association. Six people at the scene were treated for injuries.
Burn said that “from what I have heard, there were shots fired and an emergency plan was followed” but she could not confirm whether the gunman fired shots at the hostages. She said that Monis was on bail for another crime and police believe he was mentally unstable.
Police stormed the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in the early hours of Tuesday morning, ending the siege.
Ms Dawson, a 38-year-old whose children are all under 10, died in hospital.
She was a barrister at Eight Selborne Chambers in Sydney's Phillip Street,
opposite the site of the siege.
New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said that the decision to enter the premises came after they heard gunshots coming from inside. Scipione also confirmed that, in total, Monis had been holding 17 people hostage, though up to 12 of those individuals had been able to get out of the store before police began their assault.
Scipione and New South Wales Premier Mike Baird said that Monis was a "lone gunman" and no explosives had been found in the area surrounding the Lindt Chocolat Cafe.
"We have lost some of our own in an attack we never thought we would see here in our own city," Baird said at a news conference Tuesday morning, local time.
Explosions of what were believed to be flash bang grenades were heard when police stormed the shop and while there were many loud noises, it is not clear if or how many shots were fired by either police or Monis during the face off.
At 10:19 a.m. ET, a group of at least seven heavily armed police officers went into the Lindt cafe under the cover of loud bangs of what local news Channel 9 is calling stun grenades. Shortly after the police stormed the café, at least two hostages emerged, looking visibly shaken.
A few minutes later, a few paramedics were seen entering the café behind police officers with medical packs -- followed by at least two stretchers. The explosive police action came shortly after a new wave of hostages emerged from the shop.
Monis was believed to be a self-proclaimed Islamic "sheikh" who is known to Australian police because he was allegedly involved in dozens of counts of sexual assault, according to Australia's 9News.

He was born in Iran as Manteghi Bourjerdi and migrated to Australia in 1996, according to the station.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014


A giant storm left the Philippines Tuesday after killing at least 27 people and devastating remote coastal towns, but the government won praise for unprecedented preparations that were credited for saving lives.

Hagupit hit the far eastern island of Samar on Saturday with winds of 210 kilometres (130 miles) an hour, making it the most powerful typhoon in the Philippines this year and threatening widespread destruction.
Most of the 27 people reported by the Red Cross to have been killed were on Samar, one of the nation's poorest islands where thousands of homes in fishing communities facing the Pacific Ocean were torn apart.
In San Julian, a tiny farming and fishing town on Samar, mother-of-four Rosario Organo sat with a daughter in front of their ruined bamboo and palm thatch home on Tuesday.
"My only wish is that my family could get a good night's sleep," Organo, 41, told AFP as neighbours sifted through the debris of their destroyed houses to start rebuilding, using salvaged material.
In San Julian and neighbouring coastal towns, Hagupit's winds had snapped coconut trees and power lines, cutting off roads and making the delivery of supplies difficult.
The military flew emergency flights with food, water and other essentials from Cebu to the worst-affected areas on Samar on Tuesday.
Interior Minister Manuel Roxas said 200,000 people were believed to be in need of help on eastern Samar, but this could rise as more comprehensive assessments were carried out in isolated communities.
"It breaks my heart to hear their stories," Roxas said in an interview with local television network ABS CBN.
"All we can do is give them physical support, moral support, give them food and hope we can give back their spirits so they can rise again."
·         Relief -
Still, after a barrage of catastrophic storms in recent years that have killed thousands, there was widespread relief that Hagupit had not claimed more lives.
The storm crossed over many farming and fishing communities yet to recover from Super Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm ever recorded on land, which killed more than 7,350 people in November last year.
One important factor in fewer lives being lost this time was that Hagupit steadily weakened as it travelled west across the central Philippines.
By the time it brushed Manila, the capital of 12 million people, on Monday night, it had been downgraded to a tropical storm and led to only a fraction of previously forecast torrential rain.
When it exited into the South China Sea on Tuesday morning, Hagupit was officially a tropical depression with sustained winds of just 60 kilometres an hour.
·         Prepared -
President Benigno Aquino spearheaded what the United Nations said was one of the biggest peacetime evacuation efforts ever.
Nearly 1.7 million people sheltered in evacuation centres as Hagupit passed their areas, according to government figures, and aid agencies hailed the strategy as a template for coping with future disasters.
"One of the lessons (from Haiyan) was to evacuate before the storm hits, evacuate if you live near the sea, evacuate if you live near trees whose branches might fall on you. That lesson was learnt," Philippine Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon told AFP.
The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization representative in the Philippines, Jose Luis Fernandez, also released a statement commending the government for its "quick and timely" preparations.
International aid group Oxfam expressed similar sentiments.
"The successful evacuation of residents by communities and the government has saved lives," said Justin Morgan, Oxfam country director for the Philippines.
In Manila, there was widespread relief that the city had been largely spared, after the local weather agency warned of heavy rain and big storm surges.
Tens of thousands of people, mostly the city's poorest residents who live in shanty homes along the coast and riverbanks, spent Monday night in evacuation centres to wait out the storm.
They returned to their homes on Tuesday in drizzly weather after only moderate rain and no major flooding throughout the night.
"I'm relieved and thankful that I still have my house," 63-year-old Corazon Macario told AFP as she prepared to leave a Manila evacuation centre and head back to the riverside shanty she shares with her husband and seven relatives.

"But I pity those who have lost their homes in the Visayas," she said, referring to Samar and other central Philippine islands.

Monday, 8 December 2014


Aid groups have their first big chance to prove what they learned in disaster preparedness, risk mitigation and emergency relief one year after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines as the country is once again ravaged by a similar storm.

This scenario, somewhat more positive so far than expected, is in part due to preparation efforts, partnerships formed and the lessons learned during the relief and recovery phase of Haiyan, an official from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told Devex.While early signs of the country’s preparations against Typhoon Hagupit have been encouraging with zero casualties in Tacloban — Haiyan’s “ground zero” — and parts of Leyte province compared to last year, at least 21 people have died so far according to the Philippine Red Cross and over 1 million have been affected, according to the latest report by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
“The Haiyan experience has been invaluable for Typhoon Hagupit for both the government and its humanitarian partners and the people themselves,” said Kasper Engborg, OCHA’s head in Tacloban. “Lessons learned and evaluations have all brought in experience to the way the preparedness was managed and handled.”
The U.N. official added that the partnerships that have been forged between the government, the aid community and the private sector throughout the year have been crucial in coordination and collaboration. Engborg, however, pointed out that the initial reports should not be used as a case for stakeholders to be complacent as the real work is far from over with a lot of people still locked in a vicious cycle of recovery and picking up the pieces after Haiyan.
Many affected people, particularly those in the areas traversed by Haiyan which incidentally is in the same path as that of Hagupit, cannot afford another lashing wound when they are still nursing a relatively fresh one.
Cecil Laguardia, World Vision’s communications manager for emergency response in the Philippines, shared that relief organizations and humanitarian groups will have to roll with the punches and be flexible and innovative in how they respond, as the standard operation procedure should be moving two steps ahead and not two steps backward.
“Food, water and ensuring proper sanitation in the evacuation camps were identified as major needs at this point. Challenges include helping the rebuilding process as recovery efforts for Haiyan getting hampered and stalled,” she told Devex, adding that apart from deploying nongovernmental organization staff in the affected areas and incorporating members of local communities in their teams enhances both the former’s understanding of disaster response as well as their level of empowerment.
Although it may be misleading to compare Hagupit to Haiyan in terms of strength, the enduring effect brought about by the latter undoubtedly helped prepare for the consequences of the former.
Haiyan was one the strongest typhoons ever recorded to make landfall, while Hagupit is a very slow-moving typhoon at about 10 kilometers per hour — prolonging the devastation and amount of rainfall — that has confused several trusted weather agencies around the world when they reported extremely different paths of the storm last week.
“This is a very unpredictable storm. Knowing where to deploy teams has been challenging,” Michael Rooijackers, Save the Children deputy country director for the Philippines, told Devex, adding that this unpredictability has made response and preparation difficult for international organizations involved in the operations.
For Katherine Manik from ChildFund, Hagupit’s very slow traverse through the central Visayas region makes preparing a full assessment extremely challenging.
“As Hagupit is still making its path across the Philippines, and some communities are bracing while others are already reeling from it, the ‘fog’ of Hagupit has not lifted, and while agencies do not yet fully know the extent of damage and need, we worry communities might not have fared as well,” the organization’s Philippine country director told Devex.

Engborg, however, is optimistic that the affected parts of the country will fare better this time and they “don’t foresee major humanitarian implications” as stakeholders have relatively done their part so far.

Friday, 5 December 2014


Alexandra Palt aims to set the tone for sustainability in the beauty sector, and is not resting on her laurels.
Alexandra Palt, chief sustainability officer at L’Oréal
The chief sustainability officer at cosmetics giant L’Oréal, one of France's largest companies, wants the firm to integrate sustainability into its global business strategy — and along its entire value chain.
In order to accomplish her goals, Palt believes she has the right qualities and skillset.
“You have to be a very good change manager, not a sustainability expert,” she said during an exclusive interview with Devex in Paris. “There are 100,000 sustainability experts out there, but what we need most are people who know how to lead change on sustainability.”
Here are more highlights from our conversation.
You've been chief sustainability officer at L’Oréal since 2012. Which of your achievements are you most proud of?
I would not say “proud of” because it is always a team that collectively works with a chief sustainability officer. Any successful accomplishment results from the involvement of a whole group of managers, and the leadership of our CEO. And we're lucky at L’Oréal to have a CEO [Jean-Paul Agon] with a very strong commitment to those issues. So I'm proud of the team spirit that allows us to better work towards our goal: building together an even more sustainable business model. Thanks to this whole team, we managed to adopt a long-term vision of sustainability at L’Oreal for 2020 through our "Sharing beauty with all" strategy, which completely transforms our business and the way we're doing business.  
What exactly are the links between your CSR strategy and your business goals?
Sustainability is completely integrated into our business model; it is not a program apart. In order to be embedded into the business strategy, it has to cover the entire value chain. First innovation; then production.
For example, regarding production, we decided to reduce our environmental footprint by 60 percent. And then, we have our consumers to whom we want to propose the most sustainable products, so that they can make sustainable lifestyle choices. We try to encourage them in this direction.
In addition, we have decided to help our suppliers to improve their own sustainability strategy. We encourage them to reduce their environmental footprint and to increase their social impact.
We share our growth with our employees, through our social performance program "Share and Care." L’Oréal always had an ambitious social model in France. As we are global, we want to extend this social performance. We want every L’Oréal employee in the world to get the best available health care system in their country. In addition, everywhere in the world, women will have access to 14-week maternity leave. In a lot of countries, maternity leave is not a legal requirement.
Additionally, employees will benefit from a security system, what we call “prevoyance” in France, that is to say payments in case of invalidity or death of the employee. Not to mention access to training for everybody.
L’Oréal has developed several programs in emerging markets, including, for example, a program aimed at empowering micro-entrepreneurs in Brazil who sell your hair care products …
Yes, we have community programs with an important ambition: We want to enable 100,000 people from underprivileged communities to access work.
And you also work with the nonprofit sector to achieve those goals?
We work with different partners for the achievement of our goals: it can be researchers, experts, NGOs, consumers' associations, institutions … Regarding our "Share and Care" social performance program, for example, we work with the International Labor Organization. As part of the community programs, for our microdistribution programs for example, we cooperate with national training institutions and banks. And for our responsible sourcing programs, we partner with fair trade organizations … so we continuously work with a lot of partners in order to achieve our objectives.
Could you give us a concrete example of a partnership you've developed with an nongovernmental organization?
For our argan oil sourcing program in Morocco, we worked with our suppliers and an NGO called Yamana, which helped us create a social fund and the cooperative of argan oil produced by women. The international community recognized it as a best practice for the improvement of working and living conditions of Moroccan women collecting argan oil.
What are your main challenges now as a chief sustainability officer?
We have to continue our efforts with the same energy to achieve our targets. We have to be ever more innovative in order to change consumers' behaviours, through packaging innovation for example. How do we get the consumer on board? This is the most important challenge.
You don't work directly for the CEO, but you're attached to the communications department. Does this present any difficulties?
L’Oréal’s sustainability strategy impacts its entire value chain and is fully supported by our CEO and the executive committee. All brands and entities are involved and it's my responsibility to work with them to help them achieve our objectives.
CSR is sometimes used as an argument to support PR campaigns. What is your point of view regarding CSR and communication?
At L’Oréal, sustainability goes far beyond communication as we're about to live a transformation process of our entire value chain to meet our sustainability objectives. Communication is part of our strategy to make sustainability desirable by offering consumers sustainable products without compromising on performance or look.
What would be your key piece of advice to those working in CSR?
What is very important is to try to not just use catastrophic messages to get people on board. Sustainability has to become inspirational.
And if you had to name one thing that global development professionals should avoid regarding work around sustainability initiatives?
You have to be a very good change manager, not a sustainability expert. There are 100,000 sustainability experts out there, but what we need most are people who know how to lead change on sustainability.
What areas should NGOs improve regarding the way they work with private companies?
Of course NGOs have to continue to challenge companies. I really encourage NGOs to share constructive criticism to help us become better. But if they want to build new long-term relationship models, they really have to put themselves into our shoes and ask: what are their big business challenges and how can we help address environmental and social challenges while keeping in mind these business challenges?
Is it easy for a company like L’Oréal to work with NGOs?
It is never easy to work with anybody! Corporations, NGOs — we all have to try and work together on the basis of trust, with a constructive ambition and without a preconceived opinion.

It does help, because I know how NGOs function and what they expect from corporations. So it's perhaps easier to respond to their needs.

Thursday, 4 December 2014


Madeleine Albright, former U.S. secretary of state
In a world marked by increasing interdependence, technological innovation and rising inequality, Madeleine Albright believes many of the international development institutions of the past are failing to keep up with the changes.
“Many of the institutions on which we have long depended are beginning to show their age,” the former U.S. secretary of state said Tuesday at the Inter-American Development Bank’s Demand Solutions conference in Washington, D.C. “Our postwar institutions simply move too slowly for a world that spins at Internet speed. The result is a kind of ad hocery in global affairs.”
The concern today, she explained, should be over how little power institutions like the United Nations actually wield. Those institutions are reacting too slowly and in some cases are being outpaced by the rise of nonstate actors — not just terrorists, but also nongovernmental organizations, pension funds and multinational corporations — who make decisions that are shaping the future.
“I’m not saying we should just put nonstate actors at every decision-making table, but the international system has not yet adjusted to the impact of these agents of change,” Albright said.

The private sector, she added, has an important role to play in the coming years in sorting through today’s conflicts, inequality gaps and stagnant growth, as business can provide the know-how, innovation and job creation that will invigorate communities and countries.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014


As part of its Darfur-wide campaign geared to prevent the recruitment of
children as soldiers, the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur
(UNAMID) reached out to Masteriha community, North Darfur, in an event
attended by more than 1,000 men, women and school children
The United Nations-African Union Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has launched a campaign throughout the western region of Sudan against the recruitment of children as soldiers with an event that was attended by more than 1,000 people.
Held in conjunction with the Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the event saw performances of songs as a show of solidarity with issues related to the protection of children, and clothing was distributed bearing messages promoting peace and protection of children, and against the use of child soldiers.
“The protection of children will not be complete without peace in Darfur,” said Boubacar Dieng, Head of UNAMID’s Children Protection Unit, in his speech at the event. “We believe that with your continued support, child protection is in progress.”
His view was echoed by the Head of UNAMID Sector North, Mohamed El-Amine Souef, who underlined the Mission’s focus on protection of civilians, delivering humanitarian assistance and contributing to peace and reconciliation.
Sheikh Musa Hilal, a tribal leader, called on the humanitarian community, UNAMID and the UN agencies to engage in further activities in the field of development in the region. He reiterated a Command Order he issued on 26 July 2013 prohibiting communities under his leadership from using children in tribal clashes and underlined his commitment to a community-based Strategic Plan against child soldiering initiated by him on 6 October 2014.
The strategic plan establishes an implementation follow-up committee not only to raise awareness about the negative impact of using children as soldiers but also to identify children who have served as fighters in past ethnic conflicts and to work with relevant organisations to rehabilitate and reintegrate them into society including through access to education and vocational training skills.
The plan is supported by UNAMID, which expects that its successful implementation to foster relations between communities, contribute to ending tribal clashes and enhance protection of children.
“We are glad to witness that communities are taking the lead role in protecting children who are the future of Sudan. UNAMID will continue to support on-going efforts to rid Darfur of child soldiering and other grave violations against children,” said UNAMID Acting Joint Special Representative and Joint Chief Mediator a.i., Abiodun Bashua.

Since 2009, six parties to the conflict in Darfur have established action plans to end recruitment and use of child soldiers, and nine have issued command orders prohibiting the practice. Meanwhile, more than 1,200 former child soldiers have been registered to benefit from reintegration programs with the support of Sudan’s Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission, UNICEF and UNAMID.


The trade in illicit cigarettes is not a victimless crime. The illicit cigarette trade funds organised crime in Zambia. This was the opinion of Nase Lungu, Senior Collector from the Investigation Department of the Zambian Mobile Compliance Unit and other international speakers at an annual Anti Illicit Trade conference which was held in Cape Town, South Africa last week.
Mr Lungu was one of the speakers from over 20 countries across Africa and the rest of the world who joined representatives from Europol, Interpol and Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs Organisation in the UK on discussing ways of combating the illicit tobacco trade.
Mr Lungu said that one of the problems facing law enforcement officials in Zambia was that many people did not see the sale of illegal cigarettes as a crime, and that they did not realise the impact that it has on their lives.
The illicit cigarette trade in Zambia resulted in a loss of an estimated US$2.4 million from the government fiscus in 2013 alone, a figure which is estimated to have increased during 2014. This is money that could be spent on building roads and schools and improving the health service.
Industry sources at the conference indicated that illicit cigarette products in Zambia can be identified through the absence of the required Zambia Revenue Authority tax stamps on the pack. These cigarettes are therefore being sold in contravention of the law. 
“We need to educate people so that they know that this is not a victimless crime. We are all the victims of this activity.”
Mr Lungu outlined a number of methods that were being used in the fight against illicit trade, but emphasised that none would be effective without increased information sharing and joint operations with customs officials from neighbouring countries.
“Zambia shares the challenge of many African countries in that its borders are porous,” Mr Lungu said. “It is a global, regional and national problem which has several adverse effects, including a loss of government revenue, unfair competition and health risks associated with poor quality counterfeit products.
“Cooperation is the key. We need to cooperate on a government level, and we need to cooperate with the legitimate traders and cigarette manufacturers to stamp out this scourge,” he said.
Mr Lungu also called for the increased use of modern technology including scanners which could identify the vehicles used for smuggling the cigarettes.

“It is not impossible for every vehicle that crosses our borders to be searched,” he said. “The searching of just one truck can take up to five hours. The only way to stop the smuggling is to make use of more sophisticated technology.”

Wednesday, 26 November 2014


On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we are reminded of the horrific acts of violence against women that take place every day — in Australia and across the Pacific, in the countries of the Indian Ocean Rim and beyond.
Women gather for the White Ribbon Day march to highlight
the issue of domestic violence

Violence against women persists as one of the most heinous and prevalent human rights abuses. While there is no shortage of good work being done in every country, the statistics remain deeply disturbing, and the impact of violence on individual’s lives and on the well-being of our communities is devastating.
Globally, more than 1 in 3 women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused in some other way, most often by someone she knows, including her husband or another male family member. In some parts of the Pacific, the reported rate is as high as 2 in 3 surveyed women. In Australia, one woman is killed every week by a current or former partner.
Australia’s National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children reported that in 2009 violence against women and their children cost the Australian economy an estimated 13.6 billion Australian dollars ($11.7 billion) and, without appropriate action, this could rise to 15.6 billion Australian dollars by 2021-22.
Violence affects women first and foremost, but also their children, families and communities. However, it is also a burden on national economies, as well a barrier to lasting peace and a threat to sustainable national development. International evidence shows we can create the change necessary to prevent violence against women and their children. To do this, we must address the attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate, justify, excuse and fail to counter such violence.
Australia recently launched its Second Action Plan: Moving Ahead 2013-16 which unites the Australian community to make a significant and sustained reduction in the levels of violence against women and their children. With this plan, we expect that cultural change will advance; women will feel encouraged to report their experiences; and more members of the Australian community will actively reject violence.
Recognizing that violence against women is an issue that affects women and girls around the world, Australia is committed to supporting and partnering with other countries to end violence against women.
Earlier this year, Australia launched a four-year 20 million Australian dollar program aimed at addressing both the causes and consequences of violence in East Timor by working to prevent violence and provide support services. In Fiji, Australia has supported the Fiji Women’s Crisis Center since its establishment in 1984 to provide counseling and support services to over 35,000 new clients and 41,000 repeat clients. We have also contributed more than 30 million Australian dollars to ending violence against women and girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan since 2013. This funding is providing support services for women and their children as well as innovative approaches to engaging with men, women, religious and community leaders to challenge attitudes and behaviors that tolerate violence against women.
Women are particularly susceptible to violence during times of conflict, emergencies and crisis. This is why Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop is a champion of the United Kingdom’s Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict initiative. It is also why Australia is active at the U.N. Security Council to promote the Women, Peace and Security peacekeeping agenda. In October this year, Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls Natasha Stott Despoja, drew attention at the Open Debate on Women Peace and Security to the particular vulnerability of women and girls displaced by conflict and called for an end to sexual violence in conflict.
Each individual, community and government has a responsibility to speak out against violence against women. In our workplaces, in our schools and universities, in our communities and in our homes, we must all say “enough”.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is leading by example as a White Ribbon Ambassador. At the highest level of the Australian government, Abbott has made clear that Australia has zero tolerance for violence against women.

Our collective efforts are needed to achieve profound and lasting change around the world — not just for the benefit of women and girls, but for all of us.