Liberation, Not Liberalization, Responsible for China’s Economic Miracle

By Vladimir Popov and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
BERLIN and KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 2019 – Any balanced assessment of the so-called Chinese economic miracle will recognize that it was extremely successful, not only during the reform period from 1979, but also since Liberation in 1949 despite the setbacks of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

The Chinese economy grew at about 5% on average during 1949-1979 and at almost 10% in 1979-2019. Five percent growth was impressive, higher than in most countries of the world at that time, but ten percent growth over the last four decades is quite unprecedented.

Vladimir Popov

Miracle of economic liberalization?
The conventional explanation of this miracle is liberalization, or more accurately, the marketization reforms started in 1979 by Deng Xiaoping. But in other regions of the world, economic liberalization has had rather different outcomes.

In Latin America, the so-called Washington Consensus, implemented after the debt crises of the early 1980s, led to economic stagnation, the ‘lost decade’ of the 1980s. Sub-Saharan Africa lost a quarter century to such policies, while the former Soviet Union and much of Eastern Europe lost real and potential output in the 1990s on a scale greater than in the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Why did economic liberalization seem to work in China, but not in other regions? Reforms needed to accelerate growth depend on historical and other conditions, which are necessarily varied at different times for countries with various backgrounds.

Growth acceleration conditional
Rapid economic growth can only materialize if enough minimal conditions are met. Growth acceleration is complicated, requiring several crucial inputs—which may include infrastructure, human resources, enabling state institutions, and economic stimuli, among other things.

Without some crucial necessary ingredients, a growth acceleration may not start, or cannot be sustained. Some economists invoke ‘growth diagnostics’ to identify ‘binding constraints’ holding back economic growth.

In some cases, these constraints may be due to lack of market liberalization, e.g., when inappropriate regulation or state interventions deter productive investments and technological progress. In others, inappropriate liberalization may frustrate and block such progress.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Likewise, other factors, such as particular state capacities or capabilities, human resource deficits or infrastructure may be the key constraint. One size does not fit all. There is no universal formula which is not sensitive to conditions, historical and others.

Liberation and developmental governance
So, why did liberalization work in China, but not in Africa and Latin America? In China, the pre-conditions for the last four decades were mostly created in the preceding 1949-1979 period.

Without the progress and achievements of the Mao era, the market-oriented reforms since 1979 would not have had the same impressive results. Needed ingredients, most importantly, people or human resources, had already been prepared in the previous period.

Market reforms from 1979 accelerated economic growth because China already had capable governance created by the state, including the ruling communist party, after Liberation in 1949; the country had lacked such developmental governance for centuries.

Through party structures at all levels, including every village, China’s communist party-led government has been able to enforce rules and regulations all over the country more efficiently than any emperor, not to mention the infamously corrupt Kuomintang (KMT) regime of 1912-1949.

In the late nineteenth century, central government revenues were equivalent to only 3 percent of GDP compared to 12 percent in Japan right after the Meiji Restoration. Under the KMT government, this increased to only 5 percent of GDP.

Mao’s economic legacy
The Mao government left the Deng reform regime with revenues equivalent to a fifth of GDP. China’s crime rate in the 1970s was among the lowest in the world; a Chinese black market or shadow economy was virtually non-existent, and corruption was estimated by Transparency International to be the lowest in the developing world in 1985.

Literacy rates in China increased from 28 percent in 1949 to 65 percent at the end of the 1970s (compared to 41 percent in India). Chinese life expectancy almost doubled to 65 years in the mid-1970s from 35 years in 1950 while India’s rose from 35 to 52 years over the same period.

In short, without the foundations established during the Mao period following Liberation seven decades ago, the selective economic liberalization of the last four decades could well have been ruinous. Liberation also allowed the Chinese authorities to chart their own course without being subject to policy conditionalities imposed by foreign powers.

Vladimir Popov is Research Director at the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute in Berlin and author of Mixed Fortunes: An Economic History of China, Russia and the West. Oxford University Press, New York, 2014.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, was United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought in 2007.

Seeing Through the Smog: Can New Delhi Find a Way to Limit Air Pollution?

A view of India Gate, a war memorial located in New Delhi, covered by a thick layer of smog. Credit: Malav Goswami/IPS

By Umar Manzoor Shah
NEW DELHI , Nov 19 2019 – Ankita Gupta, a housewife from south Delhi, is anxious about whether she should send her 4-year-old daughter to kindergarten. Outside visibility is poor as smog — a combination of emissions from factories, vehicle exhausts, coal plants and chemicals reacting with sunlight — has settled over the city, surpassing dangerous levels.

Gupta knows that sending her daughter to school is akin to forcefully taking her inside a chemical factory and filling the toddler’s lungs with toxic and lethal smoke.

“Why should I endanger her life by letting her travel through the roads, which are infested with the toxic air? Everything comes later. It is her health which for me is supreme,” she told IPS.

Last week, New Delhi, India’s capital with a population of 11 million, shut down schools for the second time in two weeks, 17 flights were diverted and several delayed due to poor visibility and construction across the city was halted as the Air Quality Index (AQI) measured 447. The AQI works on a scale of 0 to 500, where 0 measures good air quality and 500 measures hazardous.

The government responded declaring a public health emergency.

Children at risk from high levels of air pollution

Gupta is not the lone parent here who has been plunged into anxiety by the city’s worsening air quality.

Bijay Kumar, a mid-level employee in Delhi government, has similar concerns.

Last week, Kumar’s 14-year-old daughter, Ruchi, returned home from school with chest pains and sudden breathlessness. Her family rushed her to hospital where they were told that the ongoing high pollution was a cause of Ruchi’s illness. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution is linked to cases of pneumonia, stroke and ischaemic heart disease (characterised by reduced blood supply to the heart).

Courtesy: World Health Organisation (WHO)

Ruchi was admitted to hospital for two days.

“I even fret to imagine what if something bad had happened to my daughter. This toxic smoke is killing us all silently,” Kumar told IPS.

According to Sanjeev Verma, an environmental activist, air pollution in Delhi is becoming a silent killer, brutally murdering newborns, pregnant women and the elderly.

“Various studies have revealed that air pollution in Delhi is responsible for approximately 10,000 to 30,000 annual deaths. It is more than the people getting killed by the terror attacks on the country evert year. We are in a dire need to take drastic measures to put lid over the crises or else, the situation will turn catastrophic very very soon,” Verma told IPS. 

System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), an air quality information service in India, also issued an advisory, asking people to reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.

“Take more breaks and do less intense activities. Asthmatics, keep medicine ready if symptoms of coughing or shortness of breath occur. Heart patients, see doctor, if get palpitations, shortness of breath, or unusual fatigue,” it said.

Too many private cars on the roads

But the heart of the pollution problem lies with the city’s overburdened roads, according to Samiya Noor, a research scholar in environment studies. Noor told IPS that the lakhs of public and private vehicles driving on Delhi roads every day contribute to nearly 72 percent of the city’s worsening air quality.

According to a 2019 economic survey, there are more than 10 million vehicles on the city’s roads very day, emitting toxic gases that play a major factor in worsening the air quality of country’s capital.  

Noor told IPS that in addition to vehicular pollution, domestic pollution, industrial emission, road dust, construction and the burning of garbage also contributes to Delhi’s total pollution load.

There has also been an 18.35 percent increase in industries operational  in Delhi in the last decade.

“In many of the industries, installed air pollution control devices are found in idle conditions which lead to the emission of pollutants directly into the atmosphere without any filtration. Construction of short chimneys also restricts the polluting gases from escaping into the upper layers of the atmosphere. This all, in unison, is wreaking havoc,” Noor said.

  • The government is already restricting the number of vehicles on the roads. Known as the odd-even vehicle rule, private cars with old and even numbers on their licence plates are only allowed on the roads on alternating days.
  • It was first implemented in 2016 and subsequently stopped in 2017. However, it was implemented again this month as smog levels rose but stopped last week.
  • The government has also attributed, in part, the declining air quality to the burning of crop residue in north India.   

Humayun’s Tomb, a UNESCO Heritage site built in 1570, in New Delhi last week. Air pollution in New Delhi hit hazardous levels, forcing government to shut down schools and declare a public health emergency. Credit: Malav Goswami/IPS

A government response but is it enough?

This July, India formally joined the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), becoming the 65th country to join the partnership. The announcement underlined the country’s commitment to combat air pollution with a solutions-oriented approach.  

India also announced that it will work with coalition countries to adopt cleaner energy producation and management practices to promote clean air.

The BBC also reported that municipal authorities were also “converting vehicles to cleaner fuel, restricting vehicle use at specific times, banning the use of polluting industrial fuel, prohibiting the entry of the dirtiest vehicles into the city and closing some power stations”. 

But Rajesh Bhatia, a social activist based in New Delhi, said government efforts were not enough and the active participation of people is required to reduce the ongoing pollution in the county’s capital.

According to Bhatia, the use of public transport needs to be promoted and  an adequate number of feeder buses for Metro stations had to be provided. 

“There have been various researchers who have shown how frequent checking of Pollution Under Control Certificates [a certificate issued after a test on a vehicle’s emission levels] needs to be undertaken by the civic authorities in order to ensure that vehicles are emitting gases within permissible norms. People need to be educated to switch-off their vehicles when waiting at traffic intersections,” Bhatia told IPS. 

But as the country’s parliament convenes for the second day of its winter session in Delhi, pollution in the capital is expected to top the agenda. 

Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, told reporters outside parliament yesterday that the government was slowly switching to electric vehicles but urged people to use public transport rather than their private vehicles.  

But for Sanjeev Sharma, a retired government school teacher, it is time to bid adieu to New Delhi — where he has lived for a quarter of a century. 

Along with his ailing wife, who is suffering from chronic bronchitis, Sharma is moving to Bangalore a southern India state where his son is working as a network engineer.

Sharma told IPS that in the very beginning of November, his wife’s health began to deteriorate and suffocation became a constant complaint. “She is on constant oxygen support but the medicos attending attending her told us that her condition is only worsening instead of getting any better in spite of increasing the  daily drug dose,” Sharma told IPS. 

While the capital is currently experiencing reduced levels of pollution, these are expected to rise dramatically by Thursday, according to SAFAR.

“Delhi is no longer a place to live during the winters. The air is getting thinker with toxic smoke with each passing day.

“Gone are the days when you used to find the place green and clean.”

 

** Additional reporting by Nalisha Adams in Johannesburg.

The 2019 Global Gender Summit

The Global Gender Summit is organized by the African Development Bank with other multilateral development bank partners. The biennial event brings together leaders from government, development institutions, private sector, civil society and academia. With the theme “Unpacking constraints to gender equality”, the summit will consider three dimensions in which gender equality and women’s empowerment can be achieved: scaling up innovative financing; enabling legal, regulatory and institutional environments; and securing women’s participation and voices.

By External Source
Nov 19 2019 – The 2019 Global Gender Summit will be held from 25-27 November 2019 in Kigali Rwanda.

 

The Global Gender Summit is organized by the African Development Bank with other multilateral development bank partners. The biennial event brings together leaders from government, development institutions, private sector, civil society and academia.

With the theme “Unpacking constraints to gender equality”, the summit will consider three dimensions in which gender equality and women’s empowerment can be achieved: scaling up innovative financing; enabling legal, regulatory and institutional environments; and securing women’s participation and voices.

The main objective of the summit is to share best practices and catalyze investment to accelerate progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment in Africa and around the world.

 

 

Climate Change and Loss of Species: Our Greatest Challenges

Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating. Credit: UN

By Farhana Haque Rahman
ROME, Nov 19 2019 – Mottled and reddish, the Lake Oku puddle frog has made its tragic debut on the Red List, a rapidly expanding roll call of threatened species. It was once abundant in the Kilum-Ijim rainforest of Cameroon but has not been seen since 2010 and is now listed as critically endangered and possibly extinct.

Researchers attribute its demise to a deadly fungal disease caused by the chytrid fungus. As noted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the skin fungus has devastated amphibian populations globally and holds the distinction of being the world’s most invasive killer, responsible for the decline of at least 500 amphibian species, including 90 presumed extinctions.

The IUCN’s Red List has expanded to cover more than 105,000 species of plants and animals, and its most recent update in July found that 27 percent of those assessed were at risk of extinction. No species on the list was deemed to have improved its status enough since 2018 to be placed in a lower threat category.

Human exploitation is often responsible, as with the now endangered red-capped mangabey monkey hunted for bushmeat while its forest habitat in West Africa is destroyed for agriculture; or the East African pancake tortoise critically endangered because of the global pet trade. Thousands of tree species now make the list too.

Farhana Haque Rahman

In its multi-faceted approach towards combating species loss, the IUCN has launched its First Line of Defence against Illegal Wildlife Trade program in eastern and southern Africa, engaging rural communities as key partners in tackling wildlife crime. But this is just a small part of a much wider challenge.

As Grethel Aguilar, IUCN acting director general, noted: “We must wake up to the fact that conserving nature’s diversity is in our interest, and is absolutely fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. States, businesses and civil society must urgently act to halt the overexploitation of nature, and must respect and support local communities and Indigenous Peoples in strengthening sustainable livelihoods.”

Jane Smart, global director of the IUCN Biodiversity Conservation Group, said the Red List update confirms the findings of the recent IPBES Global Biodiversity Assessment: “Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history.”

More than one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, “unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of bio-diversity loss”, according to a landmark report by IPBES, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

It bleakly warns that the global rate of species extinction is already at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years, and the rate will accelerate if action is not taken.

A summary was released in May and the full report is expected to be approved soon, assessing changes over the past 50 years and offering possible future scenarios.

Frightening statistics detail how 32 million hectares of primary or recovering forest were lost across much of the highly biodiverse tropics between 2010 and 2015 alone. Put in perspective that totals an area nearly the size of all Germany.

“Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing. The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed,” said Professor Josef Settele, co-chair of the report. “This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.”

Crucially, for the first time on such a scale of evidence, the report’s more than 400 authors rank the five main drivers of this global disaster. In descending order they are listed as: (1) changes in land and sea use; (2) direct exploitation of organisms; (3) climate change; (4) pollution and (5) invasive alien species.

Clearly such challenges are interwoven and cannot be tackled in isolation. Some species are affected by all of these main drivers, or a deadly combination. Researchers into the fungal diseases wiping out amphibians like the Lake Oku puddle frog believe the most important factor in the spread of the pathogens is the global trade in wildlife. Some have also suggested that local changes in climate have also enabled the chytrid fungus to flourish in new habitats.

That governments are failing to address these warnings comes as little surprise, however.

“Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations, with few exceptions, we have generally conducted business as usual and have largely failed to address this predicament,” declared 11,258 scientists grouped under the Alliance of World Scientists in a recent report, warning that the climate crisis is accelerating faster than most of them had expected and could reach potential irreversible climate tipping points, making large areas of Earth uninhabitable.

The UN Climate Change Conference, COP25, is to be held in Madrid from 2-13 December amidst severe signs of leadership stress. Brazil was to have hosted the summit but President Jair Bolsonaro ruled that out on his election and in the first nine months under his government over 7,600 sq km of rainforest were felled. The baton was then passed to Chile which pulled out because of ant-government unrest. And then this month President Donald Trump formally launched the process to withdraw the US from the 2015 Paris Agreement.

COP25 has unfinished business from COP24, held in Poland’s coal-mining area of Katowice, namely negotiating the final elements of the Paris Agreement ‘rulebook’. Work must also start on future emissions targets ahead of the crunch 2020 conference next November in Glasgow, in the knowledge that commitments submitted by governments and current greenhouse gas emission trajectories fall far short of what is needed to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.

“Loss of species and climate change are the two great challenges facing humanity this century,” warns Lee Hannah, senior scientist in climate change biology at Conservation International. “The results are clear, we must act now on both…”

UNESCO launches three reports on journalists’ safety, access to information, and election coverage

By PRESS RELEASE
PARIS, Nov 19 2019 (IPS-Partners)

UNESCO has presented three reports concerning media issues to Member States meeting at the Organization’s Headquarters for the 40th session of its General Conference. The three reports, available online in English are:

Intensified Attacks, New Defences: Developments in the Fight to Protect Journalists and End Impunity assesses trends in safety of journalists around the world over five years (2014-2018) and flags an 18% increase in the killing of journalists compared to the previous five-year period (495 killings compared to 418 from 2009 through 2013). The report shows that 88% of killings recorded since 2006 remain unpunished. The study also examines the evolution of threats against the profession, notably online attacks and harassment, which disproportionally affects women journalists, undermining freedom of expression. Nevertheless, the report also highlights a growing commitment to protect the media through the establishment or strengthening of mechanisms to monitor, prevent and prosecute attacks on journalists and protect those facing threats. Coalitions seeking to improve the safety of journalists are forming worldwide with the participation of governments, academia, civil society organizations, regional and intergovernmental bodies.

Access to Information: A New Promise for Sustainable Development explores recent legislative developments and their effect in the field, as well as evolving international standards and practices concerning access to information, recognized in Sustainable Development Goal 16.10 which urges governments to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.” The report furthermore examines models for implementation bodies, new digital challenges and opportunities for access to information. In order to understand the drivers of change, the Report examines trendsetting activities within UNESCO, the Sustainable Development Agenda, the Universal Periodic Review, the Open Government Partnership, and the standard-setting work of regional intergovernmental organizations and national oversight bodies. The research also draws on unique UNESCO surveys and analysis of Voluntary National Reports presented at the United Nations’ High-level Political Forum in July this year. The surge of ATI laws reflects growing awareness of the impact of access to information on human rights, development, democracy and people’s private lives.

Elections and Media in Digital Times highlights three converging trends affecting the media and elections in the digital age: the rise of disinformation, intensifying attacks on journalists, and disruptions linked to the use of information and communications technology in the election process. Offering possible responses to the challenges at hand, the study is a tool for governments, election officials, media organizations, journalists, civil society, the private sector, academia and individuals. It also proposes possible responses to safeguard media freedom and integrity while strengthening news coverage of elections in a digital environment.

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Media contact: Roni Amelan, UNESCO Press Service, r.amelan@unesco.org , +330)145681650

With the UN Security Council in Paralysis, Are there New Hopes for Rohingya Muslims?

Rohingya refugee children wade through flood waters surrounding their families’ shelters following an intense pre-monsoon storm in Shamlapur makeshift settlement in Cox’s Bazar district, Bangladesh. Credit: UNICEF/UN0213967/Sokol

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 19 2019 – The 15-member UN Security Council (UNSC) stands virtually paralyzed in the face of genocide charges against the government of Myanmar where over 730,000 to one million Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee to neighboring Bangladesh since a 2016 crackdown by Myanmar’s military.

A team of U.N. investigators has declared that the crackdown was carried out with “genocidal intent”.

The paralysis at the UNSC, attributed to inaction by two of its veto-wielding members, namely China and Russia, has now triggered interventions by both the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which are expected to sit in judgment over the atrocities.

Although judges at the ICC last week agreed to authorise a full-scale investigation into allegations of mass persecution and crimes against humanity, Myanmar is not a party to the Rome statute that established the ICC.

Asked how effective any ruling would be against Myanmar as a non-party, Param-Preet Singh, Associate Director, International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch, told IPS: “Any action by the ICC would be against individual defendants, not the state”.

“If your question is whether Myanmar would surrender any suspects to face justice in The Hague, based on its current position with respect to the ICC, it would be easy to say that the authorities would never cooperate.”

But the same was said about Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Slobodan Milosevic – each of whom fell from positions of power and eventually found themselves in the dock at the Yugoslav tribunal, she pointed out.

“Of course, it was a long and complex process to get those defendants before the court, and that’s exactly why it’s difficult to speculate about the success of any ICC efforts to hold individuals to account”, she declared.

Dr Tawanda Hondora, Executive Director of World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP), the organisation that houses and coordinates the work of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), told IPS

“While Myanmar disputes that genocide has taken place, it has done very little to prevent and stop the persecution, deportation, forced displacement, killing and torture of the Rohingya community, which acts may amount to genocide.”

Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. Credit: Anurup Titu/IPS

“We hope that the ICJ will reaffirm the legal principle that any States Parties to the Genocide Convention have legal standing to sue another States Party, which has failed to take steps to prevent and punish acts of genocide.”

“A declaration by the ICJ that Myanmar has failed to prevent and punish those responsible for these heinous acts will help to address the plight of the Rohingya community.”

This case, he pointed out, is a wake-up call for the United Nations Security Council, which continues to shirk its responsibility to maintain international peace and security and has so far failed to protect the Rohingya community.

The formal submission to the ICJ, accusing Myanmar of genocide through the murder, rape and destruction, was made on November 11 by the Republic of the Gambia, on behalf of the 57-member Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Meanwhile, in a statement released November 14, ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said: “I welcome the decision by ICC judges to “authorise my request to open an investigation into the situation in the People’s Republic of Bangladesh/Republic of the Union of Myanmar.”

She said the ICC judges have “accepted my analysis that there is a reasonable basis to believe that coercive acts that could qualify as the crimes against humanity of deportation and persecution on grounds of ethnicity and/or religion may have been committed against the Rohingya population”.

With that decision, a formal investigation has been authorised, for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court, allegedly committed on or after 1 June 2010, at least in part on the territory of Bangladesh, or on the territory of other state parties, as described in the decision.

This is a significant development, sending a positive signal to the victims of atrocity crimes in Myanmar and elsewhere, she declared.

After a reported military-led crackdown, widespread killings, rape and village burnings, nearly three-quarters of a million Rohingya fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state to settle in crowded refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh, according to an ICC press release.

Asked what the next step would be if Myanmar refuses to abide by the decisions of the two international courts of justice, HRW’s Singh said: “I think it’s important to discuss both cases as proceedings, since final decisions in both courts are a long way off”.

She said the fact that Myanmar’s actions are being scrutinized by two judicial mechanisms – through the separate but complementary lenses of state and individual responsibility – challenges Myanmar’s empty denials of its role in atrocities and raises the political cost of ongoing abuses, both for Myanmar and the countries that would rather ignore its dismal human rights record.

Asked if the intervention by the two courts also send an implicit message to the UN Security Council which has so far refused to impose sanctions or take punitive action against Myanmar, Singh said: “The actions by Gambia and the ICC prosecutor to find a measure of justice for the Rohingya contrast sharply with and further expose the UN Security Council’s paralysis on the crisis in Myanmar”.

“And with that exposure, there is a rising political cost for its refusal to discharge its responsibility to address concerns about international peace and security in the region,” she noted.

Asked for a reaction from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters November 14: ‘No, it is not for us to comment on procedures going on in the judicial end of the UN system. I think the Secretary General has spoken out very clearly and very forcefully on the need to address the situation of the Rohingyas and for the Government of Myanmar to put in place a number of actions and for justice to be done, but we have no specific comment on that case.’

Meanwhile, back in October 2018, Marzuki Darusman, chair of the fact-finding mission of the Human Rights Council (HRC), briefed the Security Council on the mission’s report.

Among its findings was that Myanmar security forces had committed what amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity in their treatment of several ethnic and religious minorities in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States.

He also said there was sufficient information regarding the treatment of the Rohingya ethnic group in Rakhine State for senior officials in the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s military) to be investigated to determine their liability for genocide, according to the Security Council Report, a NGO publication monitoring the activities of the UNSC.

Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, told IPS that it is worth keeping in mind that Bangladesh is a member of ICC. Any indictment from the ICC would mean that some of Myanmar’s senior generals, who are responsible for atrocities, would not be able to travel outside Myanmar without the fear of being arrested and possibly ending up in a prison cell in The Hague.

Symbolically, it may also result in Aung San Suu Kyi‘s final ignoble transition from Nobel Peace Prize winner to indicted suspected perpetrator of Crimes Against Humanity.

He also pointed out that the ICC is about individual criminal responsibility and the ICJ is about state responsibility. But ICC indictments and a condemning judgement from the ICJ would puncture the Myanmar authorities’ culture of denial, exposing them in front of the entire world as a government responsible for genocide, the crime of crimes.

“Both of these international courts, which are sometimes criticized as being distant, bureaucratic and slow-moving, have done more to address the issue of the genocide against the Rohingya than the UN Security Council. More than two years have passed since the genocide began in northern Rakhine State. The UN Security Council needs to name the crime and hold the perpetrators accountable. Anything less is a total abdication of their historic responsibility,” Dr Adams declared.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

End Rape—an Intolerable Cost to Society

Credit: UN Women

By Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 19 2019 – If I could have one wish granted, it might well be a total end to rape. That means a significant weapon of war gone from the arsenal of conflict, the absence of a daily risk assessment for girls and women in public and private spaces, the removal of a violent assertion of power, and a far-reaching shift for our societies.

Rape isn’t an isolated brief act. It damages flesh and reverberates in memory. It can have life changing, unchosen results—a pregnancy or a transmitted disease. Its long-lasting, devastating effects reach others: family, friends, partners and colleagues.

In both conflict and in peace it shapes women’s decisions to move from communities through fear of attack or the stigma for survivors. Women and girls fleeing their homes as refugees also risk unsafe transport and insecure living conditions that can lack locked doors, adequate lighting and proper sanitation facilities.

Girls married as children in search of increased security at home or in refugee camps can get caught up in legitimized conditions of rape, with little recourse for those wishing to escape, such as shelter and safe accommodation.

In the vast majority of countries, adolescent girls are most at risk of sexual violence from a current or former husband, partner or boyfriend. As we know from our work on other forms of violence, home is not a safe place for millions of women and girls.

Almost universally, most perpetrators of rape go unreported or unpunished. For women to report in the first place requires a great deal of resilience to re-live the attack, a certain amount of knowledge of where to go, and a degree of confidence in the responsiveness of the services sought – if indeed there are services available to go to.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. Credit: UN Women

In many countries, women know that they are overwhelmingly more likely to be blamed than believed when they report sexual assault, and they have to cope with an unwarranted sense of shame. The result of these aspects is a stifling of women’s voices around rape, significant under-reporting and continuing impunity for perpetrators.

Research shows that only a small fraction of adolescent girls who experience forced sex seek professional help. And less than 10 per cent of women who did seek help after experiencing violence contacted the police.

One positive step to increase accountability is to make rape universally illegal. Currently more than half of all countries do not yet have laws that explicitly criminalize marital rape or that are based on the principle of consent.

Along with criminalizing rape, we need to get much, much better at putting the victim at the centre of response and holding rapists to account. This means strengthening the capacity of law enforcement officials to investigate these crimes and supporting survivors through the criminal justice process, with access to legal aid, police and justice services as well as health and social services, especially for women who are most marginalized.

Having more women in police forces and training them adequately is a crucial first step in ensuring that survivors begin to trust again and feel that their complaint is being taken seriously at every stage of what can be a complex process.

Progress also requires that we successfully tackle the many institutional and structural barriers, patriarchal systems and negative stereotyping around gender that exist in security, police and judicial institutions, as they do in other institutions.

Those who use rape as a weapon know just how powerfully it traumatizes and how it suppresses voice and agency. This is an intolerable cost to society. No further generations must struggle to cope with a legacy of violation.

We are Generation Equality and we will end rape!