World leaders call for global action to restore degraded land

By UNCCD Press Release
NEW DELHI, Sep 9 2019 (IPS-Partners)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called on the international community to set up a global water action agenda as the central theme to achieve land degradation neutrality. He announced that India will restore an additional 5 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, raising the land to be restored in India to 26 million hectares.

Modi made the announcement when he opened the ministerial segment of the 14th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification that opened in New Delhi, India, a week ago.

The restoration is part of India’s commitment to achieve land degradation neutrality, a flagship initiative under the UNCCD. To date, 122 of the 170 countries affected by land degradation have committed to achieve land degradation neutrality.

India’s Initiative complements and strengthens two other previous initiatives, namely, the Changwon Initiative of the Republic of Korea and the Ankara Initiative of Turkey, also launched at previous COPs.

Prakash Javadekar, India’s Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the current COP14 President, also announced that the Delhi Declaration will be adopted from this special ministerial segment of the Conference.

The segment is meant to draw attention to the human face of desertification, land degradation and drought, he said, and ensured the stakeholders that “India has the COP presidency for the next 2 years. We will work with all of you and I can ensure that our positive actions will help us give a better earth to the future generations.”

Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint-Vincent The Grenadines, said, “The collective responses of nations globally have not measured up adequately or sufficiently to the enormous task at hand, so as to obviate disaster. Accordingly, COP 14 convened under the aegis of United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification is a seminal staging post in humanity’s quest for a better and sustainable condition of our lives, living and production.”

Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations welcomed the Prime Ministers and other dignitaries to the Conference, and said, “we no longer have the luxury of spending the next 10 years meeting preparing the targets. We have two weeks to move our common agenda in the right direction to bend the curve on a planet of less than 2 degrees, towards action and impact.”

She highlighted that 800m people are still going hungry and that crop yields are dropping, and demand for food is set to increase by 50 percent in the coming decades. Restoring 150 million hectares of farmland could feed 200 million more people every year. At the same time, it would provide greater resilience and over 30 billion a year in increased income for small stakeholders and sink an additional 2 gigatones of carbon dioxide per year.

It is in these critical times where our individual and collective responsibilities will be needed, even more than they ever have been. It is a massive effort but together we can lift and achieve the aspirations of the climate agenda,” she added.

“The [Climate Action] Summit “is not the first and last stop. It is the first step towards concrete actions and we are asking commitments from our member states. I will say considerable engagement with financial sector is really important, since there is a barrier, if we don’t have resources. So, we are saying public funds, must move. We are not correct in saying the Green Climate Fund doesn’t have money on the table, they do, and the states do make contributions that is a good signal towards the climate action summit in the next two weeks. It is continuous engagement, that is what it is about,” she added.

Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary, highlighted the present and inter-generational impacts of land degradation globally and underlined the plight of the children being born “whose future is not in the hands of the parents alone, but of humanity at large.”

He drew attention to recent scientific assessments that revealed the harm caused by land degradation, stressed importance of the current COP in laying “the groundwork for change” for the five United Nations Summits to be held in New York soon, and said “combining our land with three little concepts of equality, partnerships and scale could take us a very long way towards our common goals.”

Thiaw also concurred with Mr. Mohammed regarding the role of the private sector in ramping up land restoration particularly for vulnerable, rural and smallholder farmers, and clarified that the engagement with the private sector is not the same as privatizing land.

COP14 President Javadekar said that, “combating desertification have to be a national goal. In India, we are already on the way of combating desertification, the green covering is rising in India. From 24% in the last 5 years, it has increased by nearly 15,000 square km and we are inching towards our target of having 33% of green cover.”

“If human actions have done damage to the world and the environment, now positive human actions will make a difference and will give a better earth for future generations,” he added.

Over 8,000 delegates, including ministers, heads of United Nations and intergovernmental bodies, youth, local governments, business leaders and representatives of non-governmental organizations are attending the Conference, whose theme is “Investing in Restoration to Unlock Opportunities.”

COP14, which ends Friday, is expected to adopt over 30 decisions and a few country-led initiatives on the actions governments will take to reverse land degradation especially over the next two years, and also beyond.

Notes to Editors:
India is a signatory to the United Nations Convention for Combating Desertification (UNCCD). The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is the nodal Ministry of Government of India (GoI) that oversees implementation of the Convention in the country.
India’s population is projected to reach 1.7 billion by 2050. About 2 billion hectares of land – an area over three times the size of India – are degraded, but can be restored back to health. India was one of the first countries to commit to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal target of achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN).
India is the current President of COP14 and will serve for 2 years. As with previous COP sessions, a high-level segment is in progress to raise political momentum for the negotiations and boost the engagement of stakeholders in the Convention’s implementation.

About UNCCD
The UNCCD is an international agreement on good land stewardship. It helps people, communities and countries to create wealth, grow economies and secure enough food and water and energy, by ensuring land users have an enabling environment for sustainable land management. Through partnerships, the Convention’s 197 Parties set up robust systems to manage drought promptly and effectively. Good land stewardship based on a sound policy and science helps integrate and accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, builds resilience to climate change and prevents biodiversity loss.

Background Information and Resources
For background materials, including photos for use, and other resources are available here: https://www.unccd.int/conventionconference-parties-copcop14-new-delhi-india/cop14-media-resources
The opening statements will also be uploaded on this page as soon as they are available to the secretariat
Free photographs for use with credits are available here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/r2al252no2m5t2f/AACI5_HQHYf6SOV1l6_DgQTPa?dl=0

Civil Society Urges Inclusive, Resilient & Sustainable Urban Areas of the Future

By Cristina Fan
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, USA, Sep 9 2019 – The United Nations held its first major international conference in one of America’s mountain states, bringing scores of civil society organizations (CSOs) to discuss ways on making “cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable by 2030.”

The annual UN Civil Society Conference, which had been meeting mostly in New York, site of the UN world headquarters, and in some foreign capitals, was hosted by Salt Lake City’s Mayor’s office August 26-28 under the title “Building Inclusive and sustainable cities and communities.”

More than half of the current world population of 7.7 billion now live in cities big and small. The UN has projected that the world population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050 and 5 billion of them will be in living in urban areas. Megacities of 10-20 million people each will be even bigger.

The conference adopted a lengthy outcome document that pledged to implement one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which calls for focusing on cities and human settlements throughout the world buffeted by climate change, insecurity and economic problems.

The document urged all stakeholders “to enhance inclusivity and respect for the dignity of all, from which human rights originate” and “to work to remove unjust systemic barriers to success, noting that bias and discrimination marginalize and segregate large segments of society.”

It urged stakeholders to “apply conscious inclusivity and respect for human dignity and rights in our daily lives while advocating for similar efforts in our corporate and organizational lives, in our laws, regulations, policies, and practices, and in our economy.”

The president of the UN General Assembly, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, praised NGOs for their contribution to strengthen the work of the UN. But she warned that many major challenges have remained unaddressed.

“I encourage you to continue to engage with your governments to ensure that we use these opportunities to put us on the right path, and work in your communities on local solutions and initiatives that have the potential to be scaled-up and replicated.”

Salt Lake City introduced its Youth Climate Compact during the conference, calling for raising awareness in “our own communities about policy that is detrimental to the health of our planet and promote policy which works to confront the main causes of the climate crisis.”

The Youth Climate Compact said an estimated 143 million people around the world will be displaced by climate change by 2050.

The delegation from China was headed by Dezhi Lu, vice president of China Charity Alliance, and chair of the Huamin Charity Organization.

Attendees included a delegation from China headed by Dezhi Lu, vice president of China Charity Alliance, and chair of the Huamin Charity Organization, a non-governmental organization among the dozens of UN-recognized NGOs.

NGOs are the “most powerful part of society” and they can bring inclusiveness and collective sharing in human settlements, said Lu.

“Inclusiveness is a celebration of our diversity,” Lu noted. “The first step of this is communication and mutual learning. NGOs are diverse, open, and peaceful organizations and are therefore in the best position to understand the value and strength of an inclusive society.”

Lu said he spent the last 10 years visiting NGOs around the world and found that inclusiveness and collective sharing are the most important values for the development of human civilization.

Efforts to build and protect cities and human communities come at a time the world, human lives and all creatures and the eco-systems are threatened by climate change, conflicts and a long list of woes that are chipping away the earth’s habitable environments desired by its inhabitants.

The focus on cities and human settlements is one of 2030 Global Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.

The rural-to-urban migration is expected to continue in some of the most populous countries like China, India and some African countries.

China, the world’s most populous country with 1.4 billion, has acknowledged that 56 percent of its population already live in cities and the urban population is expected to increase to 60 percent by 2020. China’s massive migration to cities has been unprecedented in world contemporary history.

Culture of Peace Takes Big Stride as UN Observes 20th Anniversary of Norm-Setting 1999 Decision

Credit: UN

By Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury
NEW YORK, Sep 9 2019 – It has been a long, arduous journey – a journey ridden curiously with obstacles and indifference. Two decades have passed by since the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted, by consensus and without reservation, its landmark and norm-setting resolution 53/243 on the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace in 1999.

The current President of the UNGA Ms Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, former Foreign Minister of Ecuador is convening on 13 September the UN High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace underlining the importance the world body attaches to full and effective implementation of this forward-looking decision.

It was exactly on that date 20 years ago the UN took its most forward-looking stride in ensuring a peaceful planet for all of us since the Charter of the UN in 1945. The UN Charter arose out of the ashes of the Second World War and the UN Declaration and the Programme of Action on Culture of Peace was born in the aftermath of the long-drawn Cold War.

Simply put, the Culture of Peace as a concept means that every one of us needs to consciously make peace and nonviolence a part of our daily existence. We should not isolate peace as something separate or distant. We should know how to relate to one another without being aggressive, without being violent, without being disrespectful, without neglect, without prejudice.

It is important to realize that the absence of peace takes away the opportunities that we need to better ourselves, to prepare ourselves, to empower ourselves to face the challenges of our lives, individually and collectively.

It is also a positive, dynamic participatory process wherein “dialogue is encouraged and conflicts are solved in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation.”

Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury

Each and every individual is important to the process of transformation required to secure the culture of peace in our world. Each person must be convinced that nonviolent, cooperative action is possible.

If a person succeeds in resolving a conflict in a nonviolent manner at any point in time, then this individual has made a big contribution to the world because this singular act has succeeded in transferring the spirit of non-violence and cooperation to another individual. When repeated, such a spirit will grow exponentially, a practice that will become easier each time the choice is made to face a situation, resolve a conflict non-violently.

On 16 December 1998, at a Security Council meeting on the maintenance of peace and security and post-conflict peace-building, I implored that “International peace and security can be best strengthened, not by actions of States alone, but by women and men through the inculcation of the culture of peace and non-violence in every human being and every sphere of activity. The objective of the culture of peace is the empowerment of people.”

As we were coming out of the Cold War, it dawned on us to see how best to take advantage of the end of that era of bitter rivalry and proxy wars and to make peace sustainable.

The Constitution of UNESCO says, “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” The concept of the culture of peace started evolving in this spirit, to promote a change of values and behavior.

Soon after I became the Ambassador of Bangladesh to the United Nations in New York in 1996, I felt that the culture of peace is a marvelous concept that humanity needs to embrace. I took the lead in proposing in 1997 along with some other Ambassadors in a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to include a specific, self-standing agenda item of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on culture of peace.

A new agenda item on the culture of peace was thus agreed upon after considerable negotiating hurdles and the new item was allocated to the plenary of the General Assembly for discussion on an annual basis.

Under this item, UNGA adopted in 1997 a resolution to declare the year 2000 the “International Year for the Culture of Peace”, and in 1998, a resolution to declare the period from 2001 to 2010 the “International Decade for the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World”.

On 13 September 1999, the United Nations adopted the Declaration and Programme of Action on the Culture of Peace, a monumental document that transcends boundaries, cultures, societies and nations.

It was an honour for me to Chair the nine-month long negotiations that led to the adoption of this historic norm-setting document that is considered as one of the most significant legacies of the United Nations that would endure generations.

I introduced the agreed text of that document (A/RES/53/243) on behalf of all Member States for adoption by the Assembly with its President Didier Opertti of Uruguay chairing the meeting. Through this landmark adoption, the General Assembly laid down humanity’s charter for the new approaching millennium.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of that momentous action by the most universal global body in a “befitting manner” on 13 September 2019, the on-going 73rd session of the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution 73/126 on 12 December 2018 – with the co-sponsorship of 100 Member States led by Bangladesh – which requested “the President of the General Assembly to give special attention to the appropriate and befitting observance of the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action, which falls on 13 September 2019, by holding the high-level forum on that date, which will be an opportunity for renewing the commitments to strengthen further the global movement for the culture of peace.”

A significant aspect of the essential message as articulated in the UN documents effectively asserts that the “culture of peace is a process of individual, collective and institutional transformation.” Transformation is of the most essential relevance here.

The Programme of Action identifies eight specific areas which encourage actions at all levels – the individual, the family, the community, the nation, the region – and, of course, the global level. Though the Declaration and Programme of Action is an agreement among nations, governments, civil society, media and individuals are all identified in this document as key actors.

It is essential to remember that the culture of peace requires a change of our hearts, change of our mindset. The Culture of Peace can be achieved through simple ways of living, changing of our own behavior, changing how we relate to each other.

How do we build and promote the culture of peace? To turn the culture of peace into a global, universal movement, the most crucial element that is needed is for every one of us to be a true believer in peace and non-violence.

A lot can be achieved in promoting the culture of peace through individual resolve and action. By immersing ourselves in a mode of behaviour that supports and promotes peace, individual efforts will – over time – combine and unite, and peace, security and sustainability will emerge. This is the only way we shall achieve a just and sustainable peace in the world.

All educational institutions need to offer opportunities that prepare the students not only to live fulfilling lives but also to be responsible and productive citizens of the world. For that, educators need to introduce holistic and empowering curricula that cultivate the culture of peace in each and every young mind. Indeed, this should be more appropriately called “education for global citizenship”.

Such learning cannot be achieved without well-intentioned, sustained, and systematic peace education that leads the way to the culture of peace. If our minds could be likened to a computer, then education provides the software with which to “reboot” our priorities and actions away from violence, towards the culture of peace.

For this, I believe that early childhood affords a unique opportunity for us to sow the seeds of transition from the culture of war to the culture of peace. The events that a child experiences early in life, the education that this child receives, and the community activities and socio-cultural mindset in which a child is immersed all contribute to how values, attitudes, traditions, modes of behavior, and ways of life develop.

We need to use this window of opportunity to instil the rudiments that each individual needs to become agents of peace and non-violence from an early life. I would like to add that young people of today should embrace the culture of peace in a way that can not only shape their lives but can also shape the future of the world.

Let us – yes, all of us — embrace the culture of peace for the good of humanity, for the sustainability of our planet and for making our world a better place to live.

Anomali Demonstrates Threat Intelligence Driven Cybersecurity Solutions at MENA Information Security Conference 2019

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 09, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Anomali, a leader in intelligence–driven cybersecurity, today announced it is participating in the MENA Information Security Conference 2019, hosted at the Crowne Plaza, Riyadh RDC Hotel & Convention Center.

As part of the company's continued expansion into the region, Anomali representatives will be available at their booth to demonstrate how customers are using its intelligence–driven solutions to make effective cybersecurity decisions.

Additionally, Anomali Senior Solutions Consultant Andrew de Lange will participate in the panel discussion: Leveraging Threat & Vulnerability Intelligence to Make Cyber Space Safe, scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 12:10 PM.

According to a recent report by UAE–based Dark Matter, businesses and government agencies across the region are being hit with an increasing number of cyberattacks. Observed adversaries were primarily targeting organizations with espionage campaigns. In one instance, attackers using Triton malware may have been trying to inflict physical damage on a Saudi oil producer, according to the report.

"In cyber space, the public and private sectors are under constant attack from adversaries backed by nation states and independent hackers looking to earn fast money on the dark web and through ransomware attacks," said de Lange. "Threat intelligence shows organizations who their adversaries are, when they are being attacked, and helps them to make smart decisions about how to respond. At MENA, Anomali will show organizations how to use threat intelligence to prevent and respond to attacks."

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Anomali
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/anomali/
Blog: https://www.anomali.com/blog

About Anomali
Anomali is a leader in intelligence–driven cybersecurity. Organizations rely on Anomali to detect threats, understand adversaries, and respond effectively. Our threat–intelligence driven solutions are optimized with machine learning, helping our customers to make smart security decisions. The platform enables organizations to collaborate and share threat information among trusted communities and is the most widely adopted platform for ISACs and leading enterprises worldwide. For more information, visit us at www.anomali.com.

Contact:
Joe Franscella
News Media Relations
+1–209–597–6656
jfranscella@anomali.com

Kashmir: How Modi’s Aggressive ‘Hindutva’ Project has Brought India and Pakistan to the Brink – Again

The Indian government put an end to large scale protests by revoking the autonomy of Indian-administered Kashmir – a status provided for under the Indian Constitution. Thousands of troops were deployed and the valley region faced unprecedented lockdown. Credit: Umer Asif/IPS

By Abdullah Yusuf
Sep 9 2019 – August is immensely important in the history of the Asian subcontinent, marking the month that India and Pakistan gained independence from the British in 1947. Now, in 2019, it has once again proved momentous, when, ten days before India’s Independence day celebrations, prime minister Narendra Modi’s government revoked the autonomy of Indian-administered Kashmir – a status provided for under the Indian Constitution.

This latest move was a manifesto pledge from Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which claims that Kashmir’s autonomy has hindered its development while fostering an area of thriving terrorism and smuggling.

Soon, thousands of troops were deployed and the valley region faced unprecedented lockdown. Experts say that Modi’s move to tether the Muslim majority of Kashmir is a gamble that could trigger conflict with Pakistan while reigniting an insurgency that has already cost tens of thousands of lives.

Kashmir: a brief history

Until 1947, Kashmir was a territorially well-defined and functional state that had existed for a century before its seizure by the British in 1846. The British decolonisation of the subcontinent in 1947 was instrumental in creating disorder that pushed Kashmir into a repeated cycle of war and stalemate between Pakistan and India, which have both claimed the region as sovereign territory for the last 70 years.

Today, Kashmir’s geopolitical position and glacial water reserves – which provide fresh water and hydro-electric power to millions – add an extra dimension to the existing sectarian and ideological conflict between India and Pakistan over this small northern region.

The Kashmir issue has resulted in three wars between these two countries – in 1947, 1965 and 1999 – triggering numerous UN Security Council Resolutions – which unequivocally call for the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist project

Many within the region feel that Modi’s BJP is brazenly trying to change Kashmir’s ethnic composition to disadvantage India’s Muslim minority by encouraging more Hindus into the region. Since the revocation of Article 370 (which assured the region’s autonomy), Indian Kashmiri leaders who vehemently opposed the decision – including two former chief ministers – have been sent to jail.

Modi’s government has a history of stoking tensions between Hindus and Muslims, with its political rule now focused on “Hindutva”, which translates roughly as “Hindu-ness”, and reframes Hinduism as an identity rather than a theology or religion.

Modi has fostered Hindu nationalism through anti-Islamic rhetoric, accusing Muslim men of attempting to change India’s demographics by seducing Hindu women, as well as encouraging lynching of Muslims falsely accused of eating beef (from the sacred Hindu cow) in BJP controlled states. Clearly, these are tactics designed to expand the notion of Hindutva and further isolate the Muslim population within India. Targeting Kashmir is a crucial part of the strategy.

Dangerous tensions and nuclear options

In the wake of India’s decision to revoke Kashmir’s special status, there are two key questions.

First, will it be beneficial to Kashmir as claimed by Modi’s government? The situation on the ground would suggest not. After a month of curfew and lockdown, protests have turned violent. The Indian government has been unable to restore peace in the valley despite the increasing atrocities. According to news reports, 4,000 people have been arrested since the territory lost its status.

Second, how is the situation affecting the already tense relations between India and Pakistan? India’s land grab comes just five months after a breakdown in relations following claims by India that a Pakistani-based suicide bomber killed 44 Indian soldiers in the Kashmir region, leading to airstrikes by both sides. The situation threatens to reignite this conflict with both countries cautioning the world about the nuclear option.

Addressing a joint session of Pakistan’s parliament on August 6, prime minister Imran Khan briefed lawmakers on the steps his government had taken towards peace in the region. But he maintained the situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir would deteriorate and its neighbour would blame and attack Pakistan.

Days later, Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh stated that India is committed to “no first use” of nuclear weapons, but future policy is dependent on the ever-evolving circumstances. These sentiments have led to international debate over the possibility of nuclear weapons being unleashed.

Parallels with East Timor

With this nuclear threat ever present, the situation in Kashmir is now one of the most dangerous in the world. Since the two countries have consistently failed to make any progress, external help from the international community and the UN is crucial in resolving the conflict and preventing further escalation.

As the world witnessed in the case of East Timor in 1999, independence from Indonesia after two decades of bloodshed was achieved following a referendum held under the stewardship of the UN. This result was not accepted by Indonesia, which launched a scorched-earth campaign, killing more than 1,500 Timorese, displacing nearly half the population, and razing much of East Timor to the ground.

The subsequent progression towards independence and peacebuilding was facilitated by external bodies such as the UN-mandated International Force in East Timor and the Transitional Administration in East Timor, underscoring the importance of support from both the UN and the international community.

The UN didn’t achieve success overnight, but endured through increasing international pressure, combined with a change in the Suharto government. Soon, Indonesia found itself falling out of favour with the international community.

There are parallels here for the Kashmir situation. Although progress may be slow while Modi’s populist BJP remains in power, pressure from the international community would likely go a long way towards pulling both countries back from the brink. In the meantime, while Modi tries to remake India in the BJP’s Hindutva image, for Kashmiris the struggle for self-determination goes on.The Conversation

Abdullah Yusuf is a lecturer in politics at the University of Dundee

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the article here.

What Research Reveals about Drivers of Anti-immigrant Hate Crime in South Africa

Key leaders from the coalition of faith based organisations, trade unions, NGOs and corporate South Africa marched in 2015, speaking out against xenophobia during a peoples march in Newtown. Courtesy: GCIS

By Steven Gordon
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Sep 9 2019 – Mobs have attacked foreign-owned businesses on the streets of at least three South African cities in recent days. This has caused outrage across Africa. There have even been retaliatory attacks. The South African government, under pressure to protect her large international migrant community, quickly defused the attacks.

Such attacks are not new. For more than two decades, this type of crime has bedeviled the country. There is growing frustration that so little has been done to stop it.

To combat anti-immigrant hate crime, we need to understand its drivers. Scholars at the Human Sciences Research Council have recently made new discoveries about the drivers of anti-immigrant hate crime in South Africa.

We found that a significant share of the general population hold anti-immigrant views and blame foreign nationals for many of the socio-economic challenges facing South African society. Yet there is little empirical evidence that immigrants are driving problems like crime or unemployment.

But beliefs about the role played by foreign nationals in the country clearly influence how people think about anti-immigrant hate crime. Anti-immigrant statements by politicians also feed into the problem.

Tracking anti-immigrant hate crime

Data from the South African Social Attitudes Survey, conducted annually since 2003, was used. The survey series consists of nationally representative, repeated cross-sectional surveys. It is designed as a time series and is increasingly providing a unique, long-term account of the speed and direction of change of public participation in anti-immigrant behaviour in contemporary South Africa.

Using this data, researchers have found that anti-immigrant hate crime is more widespread than previously thought.

Beginning in 2015, the following item was added in the survey questionnaire:

Have you taken part in violent action to prevent immigrants from living or working in your neighbourhood?

People may be disinclined to disclose this type of potentially incriminating information during face-to-face interviews. But community research suggests that the stigma attached to participation in xenophobic activities may not be as great as we may imagine. Still, the reader should be aware of this possible under-reporting of anti-immigrant behaviour when reviewing the survey’s results.

A minority of the South African adult population reported that they had participated in this form of anti-immigrant aggression. The share of the general public who admitted engaging in violence fluctuated within a very narrow band over the period 2015-2018. This shows the willingness of survey participants to respond to this question varies by only a small margin between the two periods. It also suggests a linear relationship between behavioural intention and attitudes.

The survey results demonstrate the ugly reality of violent anti-immigrant hate crime in South Africa. Although this is an important and dangerous type of prejudice, such crime is not the only form that xenophobia may take. Other forms of peaceful anti-immigrant discrimination are also evident in South African society.

Research has shown that more peaceful forms of anti-immigrant activities are often the first step in a process of escalation that leads to xenophobic violence. Past participation in peaceful anti-immigrant activity (such as demonstrations) was found to be a major determinant of this type of violence.

For this reason, we suggest in our study,

policymakers should consider non-violent anti-immigrant activities as early warning signs of forthcoming anti-immigrant hate crime.

Conclusion

One of the most troubling findings to have emerged concerned possible participation in anti-immigrant aggression among those who had not taken part before. More than one in ten adults living in South Africa reported in the 2018 survey that they had not taken part in violent action against foreign nationals – but would be prepared to do so.

This finding is quite disturbing given that there may be under-reporting of the propensity for violent action. Anti-immigrant stereotypes were shown to be a robust driver of this kind of behavioural intention. This suggests that anti-immigrant attitudes could have a mobilising effect, spurring individuals towards acts of violent xenophobia.

The results of this study show that millions of ordinary South Africans are prepared to engage in anti-immigrant behaviour. So it is vital that the resources dedicated to combating xenophobia be equal to the size of the problem.

The South African government has a national action plan to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The progressive measures put forward in the plan include immigrant integration, better law enforcement, civic education and increased immigrant access to constitutionally entitled rights.

Recent research suggests that many of these measures have a degree of public support. The plan was approved in March this year. If it’s to work, it requires adequate resources and support from all sectors of South African society.

Instead of focusing on short-term solutions civil society, foreign governments and the general public must work with the state to progressively implement this plan.The Conversation

Steven Gordon is a senior research specialist at the Human Sciences Research Council.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.