Will the Rohingyas ever return to Myanmar?

Rohingya refugees gather near the fence in the ‘no man’s land’ between Myanmar and Bangladesh. PHOTO: PHYO HEIN KYAW/AFP

By Mahmood Hasan
May 24 2019 (IPS-Partners)

Since the massive exodus of Rohingyas from Rakhine to Bangladesh in 2017, a lot has been written and said about the plight of these unfortunate people. After nearly two years, it appears that the outraged world community has forgotten about this persecuted ethnic minority.

Regarding the repatriation process of Rohingyas, Myanmar has been stalling continuously. Given the fact that majority of Rohingyas are Muslims, whose language is related to Chittagonian and who share similar physical features with Bengalis, with time these people will eventually be assimilated into the local Bangladeshi population. It appears that both Aung San Suu Kyi and her Army Chief Min Aung Hlaing are in a cosy situation now that this ethnic community has been driven out of Myanmar. For them, there is practically no scope for these people to return to Rakhine.

Understandably, the diplomatic démarche that Myanmar has undertaken to thwart the return of Rohingyas is quite well-known. The three big countries that have given support to Myanmar against repatriation of Rohingyas have two arguments: religious antagonism and that Rohingyas are a part of overpopulated Bangladesh. Sandwiched between Hindu-majority India and Buddhist-majority Myanmar, Muslim-majority Bangladesh is in an unenviable situation as far as its population is concerned. Both India and Myanmar look upon Muslims of Bangladesh with great deal of suspicion.

BJP is well-known for its anti-Muslim stance, especially its policies since it came to power in Delhi. Delhi’s antipathy towards Rohingya Muslims was more than evident when it threatened to drive out 40,000 Rohingya refugees who took refuge in India, provoking sharp criticism from the United Nations. India has invested heavily in developing the coastal belts around Sittwe to gain access to the northeastern states of India. Furthermore, having a foothold in Rakhine will give India sway over the southern Bay of Bengal. The other aspect that Delhi openly believes is that Muslim-majority Bangladesh is bursting along the seams with its rapidly growing population. The statements coming from Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat in 2018 and top BJP leaders are not political rhetoric—rather they clearly expose Delhi’s worries over overpopulated Bangladesh.

Having served in Bangladesh missions in Yangon and Delhi, I have often come across government officials and journalists inquiring about the population growth of Bangladesh. The underlying point was that Bangladeshis were spilling across the borders into neighbouring India and Myanmar.

Contiguous neighbour China has high stakes in Myanmar and has blocked UN resolutions against Myanmar. China not only has growing business and military ties but has also invested enormously in Rakhine state as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Here, like India, China wants access to the Indian Ocean through Rakhine and the Bay of Bengal. It is well-known that Beijing is at odds with its Uyghurs Muslims and it is clear that China has consciously overlooked the state-sponsored crimes against the Rohingya Muslims by Naypyidaw. Then again, Myanmar’s narrative that inhabitants of overpopulated Bangladesh have spilled across the borders into Myanmar has caught the attention of Chinese diplomats.

Strangely though, while China and India are competing for strategic influence over Myanmar, both Beijing and Delhi are on the same page over the Rohingya issue.

Russia is also having difficulties with Muslim-majority Commonwealth of Independent States. Moscow has no love lost for Muslims and probably sees the Rohingya Muslims as a source of trouble in Rakhine. Besides, Myanmar’s military procurements from Russia have no doubt played an important role in Moscow supporting Naypyidaw against Dhaka.

The recent rise of Arakan Army in volatile Rakhine has added a new dimension to the instability in the state. The Myanmar Army (Tatmadaw) has suffered serious losses when this unknown insurgent group attacked several Tatmadaw outposts since January 2019. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and Arakan Army are cooperating with each other to fight the Tatmadaw.

On the Bangladesh side, there are some disquieting developments. Living in relatively safe conditions in Bangladesh, the Rohingyas are unwilling to return to Rakhine, where the situation is completely insecure. Then again, many international NGOs working to provide succour oppose their return to Myanmar. The longer these refugees are in Bangladesh, the better it is for some of these NGOs. There are allegations that INGOs are engaged in profitable businesses doing little for the Rohingyas. Bulk of the available funds are being spent for the comfort and travel of NGO functionaries.

But the most disturbing development has been the decision of Bangladesh government to relocate some 100,000 refugees to Bhasan Char. This is evidently very good news for Naypyidaw. Aung San Suu Kyi and General Hlaing will take it as victory—that Bangladesh has accepted the Rohingyas as part of its population.

Rohingya refugees herded in Teknaf area have been trying to break out of the camps to either get out of Bangladesh or to get assimilated into the Bangladeshi population. There are reports of police arresting Rohingyas at Bangladeshi airports and from boats in the Bay of Bengal. Having nothing much to do, these refugees are increasingly getting involved in all kinds of criminal activities—drug smuggling, women trafficking and, above all, becoming susceptible to radicalisation.

Myanmar has actually launched a non-military aggression against Bangladesh to destabilise the country socially, economically, environmentally and politically. The only way this aggression can be tackled is to get stringent UN Security Council sanctions against

Myanmar. For that to happen, Bangladesh will have to get all the five permanent members of the Security Council on its side. But China and Russia have repeatedly blocked any statement from the UN Security Council. Fourth Joint Working Group meeting between Bangladesh and Myanmar was held in Naypyidaw on May 3, 2019, but no concrete movement on repatriation was seen.

Procrastinating on the Rohingya problem is favouring Myanmar. Clearly, Bangladesh is caught up in a complicated geo-political game involving big powers and is doomed to host the Rohingya refugees indefinitely.

Mahmood Hasan is a former ambassador and secretary of the Bangladesh government.

This story was originally published by The Daily Star, Bangladesh

The UN Has Failed Civilians

Syrian mother and child near Ma’arat Al-Numan, in a photo dated 2013. A collapse in waste management services, often disrupted due to fighting, can also lead to contamination and health risks, posing a challenge not only for civilians still living in Syria but also for those who wish to return. Credit: Shelly Kittleson/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, May 24 2019 – Despite the United Nations Security Council’s task of protecting civilians, millions around the world are still being displaced and killed with little to no accountability for perpetrators.

Marking 20 years since the UN Security Council included the protection of civilians in its agenda, the group convened for an open debate on the subject.

While there has been some progress, the global picture remains dire as civilians continue bear the brunt of the cost of war.

“Grave human suffering is still being caused by armed conflicts and lack of compliance with international humanitarian law…we have the rules and laws of war. We all now need to work to enhance compliance,” said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the council.

Ahead of the meeting, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Director Tirana Hassan urged the Security Council to end its “catastrophic failure,” stating: “World leaders have all but abandoned civilians to the ravages of war. This week’s open debate in the Security Council must yield more than just posturing and empty promises. Concrete action is needed to reverse course, effectively protect civilians, stop war crimes and end impunity.”

According to the UN, more than 22,8000 civilians were killed or injured in 2018 alone across just six countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen.

All five permanent Security Council members are parties to many of these conflicts, and are thus responsible for the failure to protect civilians.

For instance, the United States-led coalition killed more than 1,600 civilians in the Syrian city of Raqqa over four months in 2017.

The Saudi-led coalition, supported by Western arms from the United States, United Kingdom, and France, have also injured and killed thousands of civilians and deliberately blocked food assistance in Yemen, contributing to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

The UN Secretary-General particularly pointed to the indiscriminate use of explosive weapons in populated areas and its devastating impact as 90 percent of those killed and injured are civilians.

Many of those civilians are too often children.

“The great military powers cynically boast about ‘precision’ warfare and ‘surgical’ strikes that distinguish between fighters and civilians. But the reality on the ground is that civilians are routinely targeted where they live, work, study, worship and seek medical care. Parties to armed conflict unlawfully kill, maim and forcibly displace millions of civilians while world leaders shirk their responsibility and turn their backs on war crimes and immense suffering,” Hassan said.

Beyond the deaths and injuries of civilians, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer noted the long-term impacts of such conflict on communities, stating: “We see damaged infrastructure leading to the collapse of essential health, water systems, and more. It is not only civilian infrastructure that is harmed – the environmental consequences of conflict are often overlooked. This includes vital natural resources which, if damaged can have implications not only for the survival of civilian populations but also for environmental risks.”

Since September 2014, a coalition led by the U.S. has conducted air strikes targeting many oil installations in Syria.

Dutch non-profit PAX found that such damage can generate significant air pollution and soil and water contamination, producing further long-term negative health consequences, including respiratory disorders and cancer.

A collapse in waste management services, often disrupted due to fighting, can also lead to contamination and health risks, posing a challenge not only for civilians still living in Syria but also for those who wish to return.

Maurer highlighted the need for the Security Council to protect displaced communities or at the very least to let them protect themselves. 

“Too often do we see that in addition to being exposed to war and violence, populations are stopped from reaching safer spaces, are constrained by bureaucratic obstacles and are limited in their free movement,” he said.

Guterres pointed to the need to enhance compliance with international humanitarian law as well as greater and more even progress on accountability.

“For the Security Council, this means being more consistent in how it addresses protection concerns within and across different conflicts, and being more comprehensive in terms of, for example, grappling with the protection challenges of urban warfare. And it means keeping today’s conversation going,” he told the council.

Such decisions are crucial for the peace, security, and protection of civilians worldwide.

“These decisions can save lives or end them; they can create hope or misery; and they can bolster or break the norms that protect universal humanitarian laws and principles…not only are the decisions of all UN Member States and especially the Security Council important, the absence of decisions by the Council also takes its toll on civilians,” Maurer said.

Sol-Gel to Present at Upcoming Healthcare Investor Conferences in June

NESS ZIONA, Israel, May 23, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Sol–Gel Technologies, Ltd. (NASDAQ: SLGL) ("Sol–Gel" or the "Company"), a clinical–stage dermatology company focused on identifying, developing and commercializing branded and generic topical drug products for the treatment of skin diseases, today announced the company's participation in the following upcoming investor conferences taking place in June in New York.

Jefferies 2019 Healthcare Conference
Speaker: Dr. Alon Seri–Levy, Chief Executive Officer
Date: June 6, 2019
Time: 8:00 am Eastern Time
Location: New York, NY
Raymond James Life Science and MedTech Conference
Speaker: Dr. Alon Seri–Levy, Chief Executive Officer
Date: June 19, 2019
Time: 9:10 am Eastern Time
Location: Lotte New York Palace
JMP Life Science Conference
Speaker: Dr. Alon Seri–Levy, Chief Executive Officer
Date: June 19, 2019
Time: 11:00 am Eastern Time
Location: The St. Regis, New York
BMO Prescription for Success Healthcare Conference
Speaker: Mr. Gilad Mamlok, Chief Financial Officer
Date: June 25, 2019
Time: 2:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Mandarin Oriental, New York

Live audio webcasts of all presentations will be available in the Investors/Events & Presentations section of the Sol–Gel Technologies website at http://ir.sol–gel.com/events–and–presentations. The webcast replay will also be available at the same link shortly after the conclusion of the event for 30 days.

About Sol–Gel Technologies

Sol–Gel is a clinical–stage dermatology company focused on identifying, developing and commercializing branded and generic topical drug products for the treatment of skin diseases. Sol–Gel's current product candidate pipeline consists of late–stage branded product candidates that leverage our proprietary, silica–based microencapsulation technology platform, and several generic product candidates across multiple indications. For additional information, please visit www.sol–gel.com.

For further information, please contact:
Sol–Gel Contact:
Gilad Mamlok
Chief Financial Officer
+972–8–9313433

Investor Contact:
Chiara Russo
Solebury Trout
+1–617–221–9197
crusso@soleburytrout.com

Source: Sol–Gel Technologies Ltd.

Women & Youth Remain Politically Underrepresented in Africa’s Most Populous Nation

Women queue during Nigeria’s presidential election at Capital School polling unit, in Yola. Credit: Reuters

By Ulrich Thum and Lena Noumi
ABUJA, Nigeria, May 23 2019 – Two months after the general elections in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, things are back to normal. The incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, a 76-year-old general and former military Head of State, clearly defeated his challengers.

With his All Progressives Congress (APC), he has been propagating the fight against rampant corruption, economic recovery and the restoration of security. Especially the North-Eastern part of the country has been terrorised by the Islamist insurgency group Boko Haram for over 10 years.

While his progress in economic recovery and restoration of security can at best be described as moderate, Buhari’s anti-corruption war is the subject of much contention. Some have trust in his efforts while others criticise his onslaught as one-sided and directed mostly at the opposition.

The main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), had put forward 72-year-old Atiku Abubakar, former Vice-President from 1999 to 2007, as their candidate. He’s a millionaire entrepreneur and now four-time presidential candidate who faced several allegations of corruption.

Even though the euphoria and hope that accompanied Buhari’s election in 2015 had long vanished, Atiku seemed for most to be no viable alternative to Buhari.

The opposition parties failed to come up with a joint candidate who could challenge the political establishment and bring fresh air into the country’s political scene. The tense security situation along with the postponed elections, which was announced only a few hours before, resulted in the lowest voter turnout since 1999 with only 35 per cent.

This suggests that a large portion of the population see little potential for positive change by casting their votes. Many others just sold their votes to at least reap some benefit.

Moreover, the two elderly men’s campaign was rather dispassionate and accompanied by frequent political manoeuvring and allegations against each other, rather than programmatic discussions.

In the aftermath of the election, disillusionment and frustration are widespread. The 2019 elections have shown that a real alternative to the established system of the ‘rule of old men’ has yet to emerge. Women and youths in particular, who make up the majority of the Nigerian population, are not adequately represented in the political system.

Nigeria at lowest rate of women representation

Women are gravely underrepresented in Nigerian politics. Currently, Nigeria has the lowest rate of female representation in parliaments across the continent. Globally, it ranks 181 out of 193 countries, according to the International Parliamentary Union.

Provisions to increase the percentage of women in elected and appointed positions to 35 per cent had no success. According to the Global Gender Gap Report, the gap between men and women in areas like economic participation, education and health, is not nearly as wide as in the realm of politics.

Women are deterred from entering politics by the patriarchal system, in which men are believed to be natural leaders of women, and a lack of transparency in the candidate selection process.

According to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), 47 per cent of registered voters and only 7 of the 71 presidential candidates for the 2019 elections were women. Nonetheless, there has never been a female president or state governor elected in Nigeria.

Women currently make up less than 6 per cent of the national parliament members. And it doesn’t look much better when looking at candidatures: of the candidates for the national and gubernatorial elections, women made up roughly one-in-eight. Why’s that?

Women are deterred from entering politics by the patriarchal system, in which men are believed to be natural leaders of women, and a lack of transparency in the candidate selection process. Cultural believes that women are supposed to be in charge of the family rather than being in politics and money politics support the existing system.

Moreover, the lack of a well organised grassroots women’s movement backing and supporting promising candidates results in poor political participation. Obiageli Ezekwesili, known through the successful #BringBackOurGirls campaign, bowed out to the final run-up for the presidential elections disillusioned.

‘We are waiting for the day the political class will now change and decide to be nice. They are never going to be nice, quote me. There is no incentive on the part of our political class to do things differently’.

Too young to run?

While registered youth voters (up to the age of 35) make up more than half of the voter population of 84 million, the young generation has no say in Nigerian politics. There might have been a sense of hope in 2018 within the circles of youth activists: as a result of the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign initiated by the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), a law was passed that opened up the political space for increased youth participation. It reduced the age for presidential candidates from 40 to 35 and for House of Representatives candidates from 30 to 25 years.

Overall, there’s a positive trend in youth participation, as youth candidacy has increased from 21 per cent in 2015 to 34.2 per cent in the 2019 elections. However, the actual numbers of young women and men under the age of 35 voted into elected positions are more sobering. According to YIAGA, only twelve youth candidates under 35 managed to get elected into the House of Representatives, an increase by nine compared to 2015.

At least however, the discourse has shifted and the lack of representation is discussed publicly. For most Nigerian political parties, young people are at best seen as supporters, mobilisers or political foot soldiers.

They are hired to instigate violence, manipulate the elections and intimidate the opposing parties. Some of the smaller parties actively tried to promote women and youth participation through lowering the horrendous costs for the candidacy forms.

But for the major parties, only a few of the women and youth emerged from the primaries on state and federal political level.

The system remains the same

All in all, the Nigerian political system remains dominated by temporary political alliances of ‘old men’ and sustained by huge flows of money. Politics is a way of getting access to huge spoils of money. Political candidates have to invest heavily or are being invested in by others.

The aim is to get a return on that investment. Politicians, rather than considering themselves as representatives of the people, have obligations or intentions that are more monetary than anything else.

Women and youths do not feature well in this money game. Because their probability to win elections is more unlikely, they are not considered a secure investment.

Unfortunately, in the 2019 elections, political movements advocating for the participation of youth and women were unable to challenge the political structures of patriarchy supporting corruption and making Nigerian politics a dirty business.

Nonetheless, first important steps towards change have been made, even though they did not translate into votes yet to a significant degree.

At least however, the discourse has shifted and the lack of representation is discussed publicly. Nevertheless, it will be crucial to actually increase the representation of women and young people, without letting them become a part of the predominant system of money politics that currently exists.

Instead of seeing their future turn as a chance to get their own piece of the national pie, women and young people need to be ready and willing to be monitored and held accountable.

Accordingly, it’s important to nurture and select a future class of principled politicians, especially women and young people, who are ready to truly represent the Nigerian people.

YPO Global Pulse Survey Finds the Customer is Always Right

NEW YORK, May 23, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — YPO, the premier global leadership organization for more than 27,000 chief executives, conducted a survey of its members in over 130 countries to get their latest thoughts on innovation and its implications for the future of their businesses.

YPO's 2019 Global Pulse Innovation Survey, conducted between 29 April through 6 May 2019 with more than 1,600 chief executive respondents, confirmed that the majority of global business leaders (57 percent) feel an urgent need to innovate now. Where do they look to find inspiration to innovate? Their customers.

Nearly half of global business leaders cited customers as their top source of innovation inspiration (48 percent) with employees (36 percent) ranking second. Consultants (10 percent) and think tanks (7 percent) lag far behind in the minds of respondents. The importance of keeping this key constituency happy is a focal point with nearly one in five respondents citing customer experience as their primary business area most needing innovation now. This ranks ahead of products, data/business intelligence and technology.

According to additional YPO Global Pulse findings, location, geographic location, industry, company size and length of job tenure greatly inform business leaders' opinions and go–forward innovation action plans:

  • While the need to innovate is a top priority for global business leaders, only 4 in 10 strongly believe they have the appetite for experimentation.

    • While 57 percent of chief executives strongly believe there is an urgent need for their business to be innovative, more than one–third of this group (37 percent) however indicated they are not likely to invest in innovation over the next 12 months.
    • Industry plays a significant role in business leaders' attitudes toward risk in business with those executives in the IT & Software, Health Care and Advertising & Marketing industries embracing risk (more than 55 percent have an appetite for experimentation and risk) while leaders in the Distribution, Automotive and Apparel industries are more risk adverse (only 35 percent have an appetite for experimentation and risk).
  • Over the next 12 months, global business leaders who are extremely likely to invest will be doing so in products (45 percent), internal processes (44 percent) and technology (42 percent) to help them win customers.

    • Respondents in Africa (45 percent) cited their spending will be focused on product innovation.
    • Business leaders in Latin America (26 percent) and Asia (19 percent) are more likely to invest in business model innovation compared to their peers in the United States (16 percent) and Canada (13 percent).
    • U.S.–based business leaders (34 percent) are slightly more likely to invest in talent compared to all others (29 percent).
    • Leaders who have been at the helm three years or less are less likely to invest in talent (26 percent) compared to those who have been at the helm longer (32 percent).
    • Leaders of larger organizations (USD250 million+) indicate that innovation investment in the next 12 months will be targeted toward data/business intelligence (47 percent), while leaders of USD25–250 million businesses plan to invest in technology (42 percent). Leaders of smaller organizations (USD25 million or less) reported they will be focusing their spending in the next 12 months on product innovation (45 percent).
  • More leaders strongly agree that changing market conditions are redefining their business (36 percent) than technology (24 percent) and new competitors (20 percent).
    • U.K. respondents (43 percent) were much more likely than their European peers (31 percent) to strongly agree that changing market conditions are redefining their business.

    • Business leaders in Latin America (19 percent) and Asia (15 percent) are more concerned that technology changes are making their business model obsolete, especially when compared to their peers in Europe (9 percent) and the United States (7 percent).
    • Leaders of large organizations (USD250 million+) cited new competitors threatening their traditional business model as a strong concern, well more than chief executives of smaller businesses (27 percent for large companies compared to 19 percent for all others).
    • Chief executives who have been at the helm of their business one year or less believe their competitors are innovating faster than they are (18 percent), especially when compared to all executives (6 percent).
    • Regionally, chief executives in Middle East/North Africa (10 percent) and Asia (9 percent) are more likely to strongly believe their competitors are innovating faster compared to leaders across all regions (6 percent).

The YPO 2019 Global Pulse Innovation Survey follows on the heels of YPO Innovation Week. Occurring last week, YPO Innovation Week connected influential entrepreneurs, innovators and thought leaders to exchange ideas about inspiration, breakthroughs and transformation through signature and digital events around the world.

YPO 2019 Global Pulse Innovation Survey Methodology:

The YPO 2019 Global Pulse Innovation Survey of its members was conducted by YPO from 29 April "" 6 May via an online questionnaire with a representative probability sample of 1,661 YPO members. The sample included members in 105 countries and representing 34 industry sectors. The questionnaire was in English. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

About YPO:
YPO is the premier global leadership organization for more than 27,000 chief executives in over 130 countries and the global platform for them to engage, learn and grow. YPO members harness the knowledge, influence and trust of the world's most influential and innovative business leaders to inspire business, personal, family and community impact. Today, YPO member–run companies, diversified among industries and types of businesses, employ more than 22 million people globally and generate USD9 trillion in annual revenues. For more information, visit ypo.org.

YPO Media Contacts:
Amy Reid, areid@ypo.org, +1 646 678 0575 (United States)
Natalie Naude, nnaude@ypo.org, +27 83 641 0429 (Africa/MENA)
Vickie Tikam, vtikam@ypo.org, +60 012 331 7411 (Asia)
Angela Mers, amers@ypo.org, +1 415 298 8534 (Canada)
Serena Marchionni, smarchionni@ypo.org, +34 699 903 472 (Europe)

Emergency Assembly on the Rise of Global Racism: Providing new impetus to the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

By Geneva Centre
GENEVA, May 23 2019 (IPS-Partners)

On 9 May 2019, the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, the World Against Racism Network and the Global Coalition for the International Decade for People of African Descent organized an Emergency Assembly on the Rise of Global Racism. It was held at the United Nations Office in Geneva in the presence of more than 150 representatives of Permanent Missions, UN staff, civil society and academics.

The aim of this Assembly was to invite the international community to take a joint stand against racism, racial discrimination and intolerance and to address the fundamental structural root causes of these scourges through a robust and universal implementation of the DDPA.

It served as a timely opportunity to give a new impetus to ongoing efforts to counter the rise of extremism and xenophobia in all its forms and manifestations, which is taking openly aggressive forms expressed through Islamophobia, Afrophobia, anti-Arabism and anti-Semitism. The recent spate of terrorist attacks of 15 March 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand and of 21 April 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka as well as in California on 27 April 2019 are a reminder that the rise of hate and supremacist ideologies erupts into blind violence unexpectedly.

The Emergency Assembly was likewise held strategically in between two important events in Geneva that brought international human rights experts to the UN on the issue of racism.

In its 6-9 May session the Group of Independent Eminent Experts – composed of HE Hanna Suchocka Dr Edna Roland, Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari and Dr. Saied A. Ashshowwaf – discussed the continued relevance of the DDPA, commemorating its 20th anniversary and developing a multiyear outreach programme for DDPA information and public mobilisation.

In order to consult with the Independent Eminent Experts on the continued relevance of the DDPA, the co-organizers of the Emergency Assembly invited Dr Roland to offer her viewpoints on the imperative need for the full and effective implementation of the DDPA.

In her statement, Dr Roland observed that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) do not mention the ethics and issues of racism which represent an impediment to development. Dr Roland suggested that national governments should include this in their national SDG implementation plans provisions concerning the implementation of the DDPA. She likewise stressed the need to develop a multi-year outreach programme to implement the DDPA including mobilizing NGOs and seeking new ideas to fight against xenophobia, racism and related intolerance.

The day after the Emergency Assembly, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) organized a consultation on People of African Descent through a meeting of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent. This is an integral part of the full and effective implementation of the DDPA. The Forum was established by the UN General Assembly in resolution 69/16 of 1 December 2014 entitled “Programme of activities for the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent.”

At the Emergency Assembly, the co-organizers highlighted that the pursuit of the International Decade for People of African Descent and the establishment of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent should not be seen as a substitute for the DDPA. These frameworks should instead complement existing mechanisms related to the implementation of the DDPA, its programme of activities and the Independent Eminent Experts’ recommendations to achieve full and effective equality.

In this connection, the Emergency Assembly underscored the importance of political will, unity of purpose and international cooperation in the pursuit of action-oriented recommendations to address all forms and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance through the implementation of the DDPA, whether the issue refers to Afrophobia, Arabophobia, Islamophobia or Anti-Semitism.

The Continuing US Strategy for Regime Change in Venezuela: A Tragedy is Unfolding

By Haider A. Khan
DENVER, May 22 2019 (IPS-Partners)

The Venezuelan crisis is festering. For the moment the elected President Maduro has hung onto power against the machinations of Bolton and his crew. However the pressure from the imperialists continues with the propaganda machines of the “liberal” North in full operation.The situation for the Venezuelan people is bleak but a right wing coup will not settle this problem.

Haider A. Khan

We may recall that as of 24 January,2019 President Trump ordered the US diplomats in Venezuela to stay put against the January 23 orders of the Venezuelan president for the same diplomats to leave within 72 hours. Thus the stage was set for a confrontation and the outcome became far from certain. Some in the US diplomatic community feared a Benghazi-like development.

According to the Guardian at that time:

The head of Venezuela’s armed forces has thrown his weight behind the embattled president, warning that the country could be thrust into a devastating civil war by what he called a US-backed “criminal plan” to unseat Nicolás Maduro.

The most recent crisis was precipitated when on Wednesday, January 23, President Trump announced that the United States will recognize the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido who had just declared himself as the legitimate president of Venezuela unconstitutionally. President Maduro was quick to respond. He announced immediately that Venezuela was cutting off diplomatic ties with the US. Venezuela gave the embassy’s diplomatic staff 72 hours to leave the country.

Juan Guaido claims that Nicolas Maduro, the current president of Venezuela, is illegitimate.According to him since the president and the vice president both are illegitimate, he is the next in line for the presidency. His unprecedented declaration based on his own claims were set in motion in no small measure, one suspects, by the US Vice President Mike Pence’s announcement directed at Venezuelans, urging them to rise up against President Maduro.

The quick recognition of what appears to be a calculated move to up the ante and the orders for the US diplomats to stay put seemed consistent with a US plan for regime change. However, that did not succeed and diplomats eventually left. Nest, the US asked Venezuelan diplomats to leave so that Guido’s diplomats could occupy the Venezuelan embassy in Washington DC. However, the local US anti-imperialist activists occupied the embassy against US opposition. Indeed this part has turned out to be a tragi-comic farce.

Domestically, Venezuelans are divided. Clearly the government has mismanaged the economy, creating hyperinflation. Furrthermore, it did not take firm timely countervailing steps to circumvent the sanctions. But it still has support among 30 percent at least of the poor and working people. While Maduro’s rating has dived to 20 percent, the Bolivarian revolution of Chavez and the Chavezistas are supported by a significant segment who have seen a rapid improvement of their position in the past. Also, for the first time, they have been part of the political process.

The opposition is not united behind the oligarchy and big business which the US wants to see in power. The National Assembly which has just one house—a reform carried out by the Chaezistas— is not controlled by them although their agents are in key positions.

As a result fewer than 30 percent of the masses support the assembly. Thus Juan Guaido’s claim that he represents the will of the people is less than impressive and lacks credibility.

What about the international situation?

Although Canada and Colombia quickly echoed the US position, by now Russia, Cuba, China, India many others have either declared themselves for the status quo or are noncommittal. Thus short of US military intervention, the external support for Juan Guaido’s claims at present seems tenuous. Short of US military intervention, or a domestic coup, there will either be a negotiated solution or civil war.

Most analysts with expertise on Venezuelan politics tell us that Maduro’s survival depends on the backing of the military. In the past Maduro has rewarded the top brass with senior positions in government and the state oil company PDVSA. Some of these appointments are also part of the mismanagement problem. For the moment though, the top echelon in the army seems to be with Maduro. As Padrino declared:

“We are here to avoid, at all costs … a conflict between Venezuelans. It is not civil war, a war between brothers that will solve the problems of Venezuela. It is dialogue….We members of the armed forces know well the consequences [of war], just from looking at the history of humanity, of the last century, when millions and millions of human beings lost their lives….I have to alert the people of Venezuela to the severe danger that this represents to our integrity and our national sovereignty.”

The so-called special envoy, Eliott Abrams so far has not delivered a Nicaraguan style counterforce to revolution. It is certainly not for lack of trying or generous expenditure of US resources. A combination of a lack of grassroots support in the region, internal strength of Venezuelan revolution and the weakness of Guido’s illegitimate coup all combine to produce the current frustrations for Abrams. However, he is hoping to foster a counterrevolution nevertheless.

The role of corporate media is all too clear and pro-imperialist.”It’s obvious that the corporate media has been following U.S. policy,” says Venezuelan sociologist Edgardo Lander. “It happened during the Iraq War. It’s happened in Libya. It’s happened in all over the place.” Without exonerating the incompetence of Maduro, analysts like Lander point to other factors from sanctions to fostering counterrevolution. Deepening the crisis hoping for a regime change to US liking is not the solution that the Venezuelans and the world need.

One thing is clear. Venezuela is dangerously close to a civil war with the real possibility of direct US intervention upping the ante. The US policy has already worsened the situation. Apart from a Benghazi-like tragedy for the US, the greater tragedy for Venezuela and the region looms large. We can only hope that the domestic forces in Venezuela will find a just solution to this crisis through peaceful negotiations.

The writer is a Professor of Economics, University of Denver. Josef Korbel School of International Studies and former Senior Economic Adviser to UNCTAD. He could be reached by email hkhan@du.edu

Poverty, policy and economic ruin? The true folly of neoliberalism

By Eresh Omar Jamal
May 22 2019 (IPS-Partners)

No matter which approach is used, every method of measurement shows inequality has risen in Bangladesh (at least) over the last 10 years. If we take the latest Household Income and Expenditure Survey of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, we see that the country’s Gini coefficient—a measure of inequality—went up (indicating disparity has grown) from 0.458 in 2010 to 0.482 in 2016. From a different angle, a report released by Oxfam towards the close of last year ranked Bangladesh 148th in the world—out of 157 countries—for reducing inequality.

Around the same time, reports were coming out that the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank were forecasting Bangladesh’s economy to grow by 7.5 percent in the current fiscal year—illustrating a somewhat confusing contradiction of inequality rising significantly at the same time as GDP.

While some have since then dismissed this as inevitable, in reality that is far from the truth.

“The economic growth in recent years has been far from inclusive,” according to Selim Raihan, executive director of the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling. And is the result of failed economic policies—time-tested to have proven disastrous.

According to a 2018 Transparency International Bangladesh study, over 63 percent households seek healthcare from the private sector, which shows either a lack of availability of public healthcare facilities, or that they are abysmal—forcing people to seek treatment elsewhere.

And, according to a 2015 study by the health ministry, out-of-pocket (OOP) healthcare expenditure in Bangladesh was 67 percent—the highest in South and Southeast Asia—whereas the global average was 32 percent. Which shows the lack of government control over healthcare costs because the private sector has no meaningful competition from the public sector.

The combination of these two has been devastating. A study by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, found that four to five million people were being pushed into poverty by OOP healthcare expenditures every year. Yet, the government has shown minimal interest in increasing its involvement in providing better healthcare service, even though healthcare is a quasi-public good in the sense that it benefits everyone in the community—and thus where government support should be focused on.

Public expenditure on education and health, which were already low, has declined in recent years. And “such low expenditure does not help…reduce poverty and inequality,” according to Raihan, whose view has been echoed by Zahid Hussein, lead economist of the World Bank’s Dhaka office who added that the poor are not “in a position to access privileges that the government gives to particular businesses and interest groups” such as “bailouts”, which have vacuumed away Tk 10,272 crore of government funds as of September last year, that could have gone into providing improved healthcare—not only to offset the aforementioned problems, but because that generally benefits less wealthy sections of society.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

In his book And Forgive Them Their Debts, professor of economics and economic history, Dr Michael Hudson, mentions how one of the first things the Babylonians, who first invented the concept of the Jubilee Year (derived from debt jubilee), realised was that “finance was not a part of the economy, but grew by its own mathematical laws.” Their scribes noted how while compound interest grew “at the equivalent of 20 percent a year, doubling in five years and quadrupling in 10,” their herd population and agriculture grew (GDP of ancient times) as an “S-Curve and tapered off”.

So, every ruler, going thousands of years back into history, knew that debts tended to grow faster than the economy’s ability to pay. Giving rise to the idea of debt jubilee—but with one catch: it was personal debts that were forgiven, not business debts or debts of the criminally rich who made their fortunes by borrowing from the public exchequer with the intention of never paying back.

During the last century (era of neoliberalism), everything somehow got reversed. And debt was turned from being “a balance sheet item to a growth item,” according to financial expert Max Keiser—popularising the perception that “the faster companies could incur debt”, the faster it could be “securitised” to “other banks to create this daisy-chain”, not only making debt “okay” but the “basis of the economy”.

This brought about a historic change because “never in history did people think that the way to get rich was to go into debt,” says Dr Hudson. And yet this was being done by countries “on a national level” to commit “economic suicide”.

What neoliberals failed to see was that money, despite being needed to buy a car or education, was not a factor of production. And that banks, in the process of giving people access to credit—which is an unproductive activity in itself as it produces nothing extra but simply allows someone to acquire what has already been produced—were simply extracting wealth out of the economy for themselves, and not even reinvesting it back into the economy.

Basically, finance became the tool for the ultra-rich to gain their “unearned” share from the “productive” activities of others. And instead of providing tangible services that balance the scale such as healthcare, the service that the government has been providing is the facilitation of this wealth extraction—which, to some extent, is the service of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” essentially.

Similar to every other country suffering from the curse of neoliberalism, parallel to the hollowing out of banks and government-backed extortion of the public exchequer, Bangladesh too saw huge amounts of money fleeing the country during this period.

In late January, the Global Financial Integrity released a report ranking Bangladesh second in South Asia for illicit money outflows. And said that some USD 5.9 billion was siphoned out of Bangladesh in 2015 through trade misinvoicing, after a report released in 2017 estimated that Bangladesh lost between USD 6-9 billion to illicit outflows in 2014. What has been the government’s (policy or any other) response? To do nothing—except siphon off more and more taxpayers’ funds and ship them into dying banks that seem to be taking the economy with them, to the grave.

In the process of extracting wealth from the real wealth producers, what these “real dependent” classes are doing is killing the Golden Goose that they rely on, which is why we see such capital outflows as the corrupt set aside their retirement funds before escaping to other countries.

But, have these people looked around properly? Nearly the entire world (especially developed countries) is under the thumb of neoliberalism. And so, those who believe they can profit by leeching off the productive powers of others in this country because of their “position” can only be the feed of others doing the same elsewhere.

Because neoliberalism is the economic and financial ideology that is most akin to that of today’s radicalism, which makes the role of its agents equivalent to that of suicide bombers—whose ultimate destination too is one of complete economic and financial ruin.

Eresh Omar Jamal is a member of the editorial team at The Daily Star.

This story was originally published by The Daily Star, Bangladesh

Sol-Gel Technologies Reports First Quarter 2019 Financial Results and Corporate Update

Top–line results from Phase III Epsolay and TWIN trials remain on track; mid–2019 and 4Q19, respectfully

Reports top–line generic product revenues of $6.3 million

NESS ZIONA, Israel, May 22, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Sol–Gel Technologies, Ltd. (NASDAQ: SLGL) ("Sol–Gel" or the "Company"), a clinical–stage dermatology company focused on identifying, developing and commercializing branded and generic topical drug products for the treatment of skin diseases, today announced financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2019 and provided an update on its clinical development programs.

"This year is an exciting year for Sol–Gel as we reach two critical inflection points with the pivotal Phase III read–outs of our proprietary branded product candidates, Epsolay and TWIN," commented Dr. Alon Seri–Levy, Chief Executive Officer of Sol–Gel. "We believe our expertise in formulation chemistry will yield supporting data for much–needed effective and differentiated products for both rosacea and acne. Additionally, we are delighted to report revenues from the sales of acyclovir cream, 5% and we congratulate Perrigo for their success on the launch of this complex product. We look forward to continued collaborations in our generics pipeline."

Corporate Highlights and Recent Developments

  • In the first quarter, Sol–Gel realized first–time revenues of $6.3 million from the sale of a first generic version of Zovirax (acyclovir) cream, 5% with partner Perrigo.
  • On April 15, 2019, Sol–Gel announced that it had completed 50% patient enrollment in both pivotal Phase III clinical trials of TWIN for the treatment of acne vulgaris. TWIN is a once daily topical cream containing a fixed–dose combination of encapsulated benzoyl peroxide and encapsulated tretinoin using Sol–Gel's proprietary microencapsulation platform.

Clinical Program Update

  • Top–line results from the pivotal Phase III Epsolay trials in papulopustular rosacea continue to be expected in mid–2019.
  • Top–line results from the two pivotal Phase III TWIN trials in acne vulgaris continue to be expected in the fourth quarter of 2019.
  • Results from a bioequivalence study for generic 5–fluorouracil cream, 5%, indicated for actinic keratosis, continue to be expected in 2019 with a planned abbreviated new drug application (ANDA) during 2019. This study is part of a generics collaboration with partner Douglas Pharmaceuticals.

Financial Results for the Three Months Ended March 31, 2019

Sol–Gel reported revenue of $6.4 million for the first quarter of 2019 compared to $0.0 million for the same period of 2018. Of this amount, $6.3 million is attributed to sales of our partnered generic product, acyclovir cream, 5%.

Research and development expenses were $10.8 million in the first quarter of 2019 compared to $4.6 million during the same period in 2018. The increase was primarily due to an increase of $5.7 million related to clinical trial expenses and an increase of $0.6 million in manufacturing expenses.

General and administrative expenses were $1.7 million in the first quarter 2019 compared to $1.1 million during the same period in 2018. The increase is mainly due to an increase of $0.3 million in share–based compensation expense resulting from a fair value adjustment accounted for in the first quarter of 2018 and an increase of $0.1 million in insurance expenses. Sol–Gel reported a loss of $5.7 million for the first quarter of 2019 compared to loss of $5.7 million for the same period in 2018.

As of March 31, 2019, Sol–Gel had $9.2 million in cash, cash equivalents and deposits and $45.2 million in marketable securities for a total balance of $54.4 million. Based on current assumptions, Sol–Gel expects its existing cash resources will enable funding of operational and capital expenditure requirements through mid–2020.

About Sol–Gel Technologies

Sol–Gel is a clinical–stage dermatology company focused on identifying, developing and commercializing branded and generic topical drug products for the treatment of skin diseases. Sol–Gel's current product candidate pipeline consists of late–stage branded product candidates that leverage our proprietary, silica–based microencapsulation technology platform, and several generic product candidates across multiple indications. For additional information, please visit www.sol–gel.com.

Forward–Looking Statements

This press release contains "forward–looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements contained in this press release that do not relate to matters of historical fact should be considered forward–looking statements, including, but not limited to, the clinical progress of our product candidates, plans and timing for the release of clinical data, our expectations surrounding the progress of our generic product pipeline, and the sufficiency of our cash resources to meet our operational and capital expenditure requirements. These forward–looking statements include information about possible or assumed future results of our business, financial condition, results of operations, liquidity, plans and objectives. In some cases, you can identify forward–looking statements by terminology such as "believe," "may," "estimate," "continue," "anticipate," "intend," "should," "plan," "expect," "predict," "potential," or the negative of these terms or other similar expressions. Forward–looking statements are based on information we have when those statements are made or our management's current expectation, and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual performance or results to differ materially from those expressed in or suggested by the forward–looking statements. Important factors that could cause such differences include, but are not limited to: (i) the adequacy of our financial and other resources, particularly in light of our history of recurring losses and the uncertainty regarding the adequacy of our liquidity to pursue our complete business objectives; (ii) our ability to complete the development of our product candidates; (iii) our ability to find suitable co–development partners; (iv) our ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approvals for our product candidates in our target markets and the possibility of adverse regulatory or legal actions relating to our product candidates even if regulatory approval is obtained; (v) our ability to commercialize our pharmaceutical product candidates; (vi) our ability to obtain and maintain adequate protection of our intellectual property; (vii) our ability to manufacture our product candidates in commercial quantities, at an adequate quality or at an acceptable cost; (viii) our ability to establish adequate sales, marketing and distribution channels; (ix) acceptance of our product candidates by healthcare professionals and patients; (x) the possibility that we may face third–party claims of intellectual property infringement; (xi) the timing and results of clinical trials that we may conduct or that our competitors and others may conduct relating to our or their products; (xii) intense competition in our industry, with competitors having substantially greater financial, technological, research and development, regulatory and clinical, manufacturing, marketing and sales, distribution and personnel resources than we do; (xiii) potential product liability claims; (xiv) potential adverse federal, state and local government regulation in the United States, Europe or Israel; and (xv) loss or retirement of key executives and research scientists. These and other important factors discussed in the Company's Annual Report on Form 20–F filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") on March 21, 2019 and our other reports filed with the SEC could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward–looking statements made in this press release. Any such forward–looking statements represent management's estimates as of the date of this press release. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update publicly any forward–looking statements after the date of this press release to conform these statements to changes in our expectations.

SOL–GEL TECHNOLOGIES LTD.
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
(U.S. dollars in thousands, except share and per share data)
(Unaudited)

December 31,
2018

March 31,
2019
A s s e t s
CURRENT ASSETS:
Cash and cash equivalents $ 5,325 $ 8,175
Bank deposit 1,000 1,000
Marketable securities 56,662 45,253
Accounts receivable 6,354
Prepaid expenses and other current assets 2,987 2,518
TOTAL CURRENT ASSETS 65,974 63,300
NON–CURRENT ASSETS:
Restricted long–term deposits 462 466
Property and equipment, net 2,604 2,507
Operating lease right–of–use assets 1,058
Funds in respect of employee rights upon retirement 642 662
TOTAL NON–CURRENT ASSETS 3,708 4,693
TOTAL ASSETS $ 69,682 $ 67,993
Liabilities and shareholders' equity
CURRENT LIABILITIES:
Accounts payable $ 2,924 $ 4,093
Other account payable 1,971 2,898
Current maturities of operating leases 647
TOTAL CURRENT LIABILITIES 4,895 7,638
LONG–TERM LIABILITIES
Operating leases liabilities 445
Liability for employee rights upon retirement 878 940
TOTAL LONG–TERM LIABILITIES 878 1,385
COMMITMENTS
TOTAL LIABILITIES 5,773 9,023
SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY:
Ordinary Shares, NIS 0.1 par value "" authorized: 50,000,000 as of December
31, 2018 and March 31, 2019; issued and outstanding: 18,949,968 as of
December 31, 2018 and March 31, 2019
520 520
Additional paid–in capital 190,853 191,642
Accumulated deficit (127,464) (133,192)
TOTAL SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY 63,909 58,970
TOTAL LIABILITIES AND SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY $ 69,682 $ 67,993

SOL–GEL TECHNOLOGIES LTD.
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS
(U.S. dollars in thousands, except share and per share data)
(Unaudited)

Three months ended
March 31,

2018 2019
REVENUES $ 44 $ 6,358
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT EXPENSES 4,645 10,793
GENERAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES 1,142 1,694
TOTAL OPERATING LOSS $ 5,743 $ 6,129
FINANCIAL INCOME, NET (30 ) (401 )
LOSS FOR THE PERIOD $ 5,713 $ 5,728
BASIC AND DILUTED LOSS PER ORDINARY SHARE $ 0.39 0.30
WEIGHTED AVERAGE NUMBER OF SHARES
OUTSTANDING USED IN COMPUTATION OF BASIC
AND DILUTED LOSS PER SHARE
14,523,161 18,949,968


For further information, please contact:

Sol–Gel Contact:
Gilad Mamlok
Chief Financial Officer
+972–8–9313433

Investor Contact:
Chiara Russo
Solebury Trout
+1–617–221–9197
crusso@soleburytrout.com

Source: Sol–Gel Technologies Ltd.

The Contribution of Humanitarian Action to Peace

By Peter Maurer
STOCKHOLM, May 22 2019 – The connection of humanitarian action to broader objectives like peace, development and human rights is understandably complex, but it is also an area in which some fresh thinking is important.

The dilemma we are facing today is how to expand and uphold neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian action while designing and understanding such action as a bridge to broader and more ambitious transformative agendas.

No matter how we characterise this dilemma, above all we must anchor our discussions in the realities of people living under the shadow of conflict, insecurity and fragility. This is particularly important given that more than 80% of people displaced by violence and conflict today originate from fewer than 20 particularly vulnerable contexts, most of them privileged areas of humanitarian action – and that those contexts endanger achievement of the SDGs.

Working on the frontlines, the ICRC bears witness to suffering in conflicts around the world; and we also observe how the new dynamics of violence are taking a heavy toll on the lives of every day men, women and children.

In recent years we have seen how the gap is widening between the scale of humanitarian needs and the available humanitarian response. Despite all the efforts to grow the humanitarian sector and to respond through emergency operations to such contexts, we also recognize that gaps do not and will not be closed by traditional humanitarian action.

The dominant features of fragility that we see today include:

    • • High levels of violence, whether though military or counter terrorism operations, intercommunity violence or criminality;

 

    • • Under development, and a lack of reliable essential services;

 

    • • Failures of governance and endemic corruption;

 

    • • The impacts of climate change, exacerbating existing pressures and embedding new fragilities; and

 

    • Enormous humanitarian needs, whether through displacement, pandemics, or the loss of education or livelihoods.

These factors are exacerbated by protracted, urbanized conflicts, which not only kill and maim, but destroy systems, infrastructure and economies and thus compel humanitarian actors to take a fresh look at what people need in such environments.

ICRC in Syria

I am reminded of the shells of destroyed cities we’ve seen in recent years – Mosul, Aleppo, Taiz and many more. The deep structural degradation of infrastructure and social systems in cities will be incredibly difficult to repair and will require high levels of investment over the long term.

But it is exactly in these places where we see a patent absence of development actors – because of security risks or political blockages to envisage broader development engagement.

In protracted, decade-old conflicts, people’s needs go beyond emergency assistance. Even though battles are being fought, chronic diseases still need to be treated, children still need education, adults still need jobs.

People’s needs are many-sided: they are short, medium and long term. They are individual and community oriented. They are material, but also psychosocial and psychological.

The realities on the ground are moving further away by the day from the classical bureaucracies, structures, processes and policy categories which the international community has created to deal with such issues of concern: human rights, peace-building, development, humanitarian action. Realities don’t fit the boxes.

At the same time, with these deep needs, it is clear that no actor working alone will be able to meet the demands. Today’s needs landscape has long surpassed any individual approach.

And there are no blanket solutions: instead, we must the adapt to the particular needs of communities, to their skills and resilience capacities. Approaches will differ enormously, for example in low or middle-income countries.

Approaches must be strongly localized as well as supported by neutral international actors. Complementarity of efforts centered on creating maximum impact for people will therefore be essential.

Humanitarian actors are not peace builders: neutral, impartial, independent humanitarian action is distinct from political agendas and it must remain so.

Yet, I would argue that while others make peace, humanitarian action helps to make peace possible.

International humanitarian law has positive and multiplying impacts when it is respected. For example, when the principles of proportionality and distinction are applied, lives are saved, hospitals and schools remain open, markets can function and reconciliation after the conflict becomes easier.

Frontline humanitarian action too is a vital stabilizing factor in fragmented environments and a building block towards greater stabilisation. Principled humanitarian action serves to protect against development reversals caused by the effects of war and division in societies.

For example, in recent years in Syria, as the war has shifted into new phases, ICRC has adopted a two-track approach – providing emergency food, shelter to displaced populations; but also working in areas with greater stability to repair water, sanitation and electricity infrastructure.

We have also shifted to replace in-kind by cash assistance and thus prepare the ground for a return of regular economic life or to support market creations and income generating activities.

And it is not only in Syria, but in many contexts millions of people survive and can go back to previously stable lives because of sustained humanitarian upkeep of infrastructure, health systems or investments in community-building and livelihood support.

Also, today the ICRC is fulfilling varying requests to act as a neutral intermediary in conflict. Each and every month, when my colleagues brief me on the engagement, we entertain to establish links between belligerents, I wonder whether out of isolated humanitarian activities, we are able to build a more sustained engagement pointing beyond humanitarian action.

We are called on to prevent relations from deteriorating or to find mutual trust-building measures that would help increase stability.

Here in Stockholm, the Yemeni parties agreed to make detention exchanges an important next step in peace negotiations and it is ICRC’s humanitarian experience, which has supported the negotiation of a draft agreement, which hopefully one day will also lead to something broader than a humanitarian result.

Our mode of working is distinct, drawing on our humanitarian experience and relying on the principles of neutrality, independence and impartiality but the effect of our action hopefully allows for more.

Through humanitarian disarmament initiatives, we are engaging bilaterally, mini-laterally and multilaterally to build consensus to limit the use of indiscriminate, harmful weapons.

Over the years, we have seen strong support from the international community on weapons treaties, including to ban chemical and biological weapons and landmines.

Now with conventional arms reaching record levels, we are also urging States of influence to lead by example and ensure no weapon is supplied where there is a clear risk it would be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian law.

We are also working with others to create greater impact. New financing models, such as the Humanitarian Impact Bond, the Famine Action Mechanism with the World Bank and the United Nations, are testing grounds to align complementary experience, data and finance and to bring States, the private sector and humanitarian actors together in finding new and more meaningful tools to address some of the big disruptions of our times.

With humanitarian demands vast and complex, we must find a basis on which to work differently. It will take all of us – working together and through our distinct roles – to prevent and alleviate suffering, to build stability, and take the first steps on long path back to peace and development.

I am aware that some are afraid that principled humanitarianism risks losing its soul by trying to build pathways to peace and development. But may I remind them what the founding fathers of the ICRC in their foundational assembly of 1863 agreed: that humanitarian action could only escape the danger of prolonging war, if it were shaped in a way that it would contribute to the creation of peace in the long run.

As a four-time recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, the ICRC hopes Norway and Sweden may have a clearer understanding than anybody else about the intrinsic link of principled humanitarianism with broader societal aspirations.

*In an address to the Stockholm Forum on Peace & Development.