Anaqua and ASU Co., Ltd. Announce Strategic Partnership

TOKYO, Dec. 06, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Anaqua, the leading provider of innovation and intellectual property management solutions, and ASU Co., Ltd. (ASU), one of the foremost companies in Japan providing support for IP management systems in Japan, today have announced a strategic partnership. Through this collaboration, the two companies will work together to support customers in their migration to Anaqua's IP management platform, AQX. The companies' shared goal is to accelerate customers' innovation lifecycles, enhance their intellectual property operations and augment their strategic portfolio management capabilities.

This partnership will provide a pathway for companies onto Anaqua's globally recognized and highly secure cloud intellectual property management solution, AQX. Anaqua is ISO 27001 certified, the leading international standard for measuring information security management systems, and has completed a Type 1 SOC 2 examination. Dedicated to upholding the highest security standards, Anaqua already provides its trusted AQX platform for many Japanese companies to manage their valuable IP assets. ASU's extensive experience in the Japanese IP industry and their ability to support companies before, during, and after their migration to AQX will give continuity of service and deep technical expertise for new and future AQX customers.

ASU will work in partnership with Anaqua to support customers' internal IP operations, AQX software implementations and provide ongoing post go–live support for AQX users.

"We are delighted to partner with ASU to offer a smooth migration for Japanese companies who need to move to a secure, efficient, and strategic platform," said Karen Taylor, General Manager of Asia Pacific at Anaqua. "This is a long–term partnership and we plan to develop and deepen our collaboration together over time. Anaqua and ASU have a shared commitment to ensuring our customers' success and continued growth. We are looking forward to our collaboration with customers and with each other."

About Anaqua
Anaqua, Inc. is a premium provider of integrated intellectual property (IP) management technology solutions and services. Anaqua's AQX platform combines best practice workflows with big data analytics and tech–enabled services to create an intelligent environment designed to inform IP strategy, enable IP decision–making, and streamline IP operations. Today, nearly half of the top 100 U.S. patent filers and global brands, as well as a growing number of law firms worldwide use Anaqua's solutions. Over one million IP executives, attorneys, paralegals, administrators, and innovators use the platform for their IP management needs. The company's global operations are headquartered in Boston, with offices across the U.S., Europe, and Asia. For additional information, please visit anaqua.com, or on LinkedIn.

About ASU
Founded in 1998, ASU Co., Ltd. is a FUJITSU partner and ATMS product sales company. ASU sells, builds, and supports FUJITSU's IP package ATMS products to companies and patent offices in the Tokyo–Osaka area, and has about 150 companies and about 400 patent offices as customers. ASU also invested in China (Baoding City) since 2000 to develop its IP business. Please see asu.co.jp for company details.

Company Contact:
Amanda Hollis
Associate Director, Communications
Anaqua
617–375–2626
ahollis@Anaqua.com

PDF available at: http://ml.globenewswire.com/Resource/Download/c18bff74–7111–49aa–bf6e–2448d81a535a


Anaqua and ASU Co., Ltd. Announce Strategic Partnership

TOKYO, Dec. 06, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Anaqua, the leading provider of innovation and intellectual property management solutions, and ASU Co., Ltd. (ASU), one of the foremost companies in Japan providing support for IP management systems in Japan, today have announced a strategic partnership. Through this collaboration, the two companies will work together to support customers in their migration to Anaqua's IP management platform, AQX. The companies' shared goal is to accelerate customers' innovation lifecycles, enhance their intellectual property operations and augment their strategic portfolio management capabilities.

This partnership will provide a pathway for companies onto Anaqua's globally recognized and highly secure cloud intellectual property management solution, AQX. Anaqua is ISO 27001 certified, the leading international standard for measuring information security management systems, and has completed a Type 1 SOC 2 examination. Dedicated to upholding the highest security standards, Anaqua already provides its trusted AQX platform for many Japanese companies to manage their valuable IP assets. ASU's extensive experience in the Japanese IP industry and their ability to support companies before, during, and after their migration to AQX will give continuity of service and deep technical expertise for new and future AQX customers.

ASU will work in partnership with Anaqua to support customers' internal IP operations, AQX software implementations and provide ongoing post go–live support for AQX users.

"We are delighted to partner with ASU to offer a smooth migration for Japanese companies who need to move to a secure, efficient, and strategic platform," said Karen Taylor, General Manager of Asia Pacific at Anaqua. "This is a long–term partnership and we plan to develop and deepen our collaboration together over time. Anaqua and ASU have a shared commitment to ensuring our customers' success and continued growth. We are looking forward to our collaboration with customers and with each other."

About Anaqua
Anaqua, Inc. is a premium provider of integrated intellectual property (IP) management technology solutions and services. Anaqua's AQX platform combines best practice workflows with big data analytics and tech–enabled services to create an intelligent environment designed to inform IP strategy, enable IP decision–making, and streamline IP operations. Today, nearly half of the top 100 U.S. patent filers and global brands, as well as a growing number of law firms worldwide use Anaqua's solutions. Over one million IP executives, attorneys, paralegals, administrators, and innovators use the platform for their IP management needs. The company's global operations are headquartered in Boston, with offices across the U.S., Europe, and Asia. For additional information, please visit anaqua.com, or on LinkedIn.

About ASU
Founded in 1998, ASU Co., Ltd. is a FUJITSU partner and ATMS product sales company. ASU sells, builds, and supports FUJITSU's IP package ATMS products to companies and patent offices in the Tokyo–Osaka area, and has about 150 companies and about 400 patent offices as customers. ASU also invested in China (Baoding City) since 2000 to develop its IP business. Please see asu.co.jp for company details.

Company Contact:
Amanda Hollis
Associate Director, Communications
Anaqua
617–375–2626
ahollis@Anaqua.com

PDF available at: http://ml.globenewswire.com/Resource/Download/c18bff74–7111–49aa–bf6e–2448d81a535a


FXCM wins Best Forex Trading Platform at the Shares Awards 2021

LONDON and SYDNEY, Australia and JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Dec. 06, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — FXCM Group, LLC ("FXCM Group' or "FXCM'), the leading international provider of online foreign exchange (FX) trading, CFD trading, cryptocurrencies and related services, has today announced that it has won the Best Forex Trading Platform award at the 2021 Shares Awards.

The award was decided by an open vote by readers of the Shares Magazine who were required to go to the website and manually enter the name of the broker they wished to nominate. This win follows on from similar success in last year's awards, where FXCM won the Best Trading and Research Tools award.

FXCM has continually expanded its services throughout 2021, underlining its commitment to a "Client First, Trader Driven" approach. In addition to expanding its CFD offering with the doubling of its French, German and UK share offerings, the firm also launched Australian single share CFD trading with zero data fees and commissions# to level up the service provided to clients.

Success in these awards demonstrates FXCM's continued status as an innovator and cements its position as one of the leading trading platforms for both new and experienced brokers.

Brendan Callan, CEO of FXCM, said: "Our Client First, Trader Driven approach is more than just a tagline and this award win demonstrates that we truly deliver what our clients need: a best–in–class trading experience. We will maintain this focus on bringing value to our client's trading experiences as we close out the year and look forward to building on our success to date with further innovation in 2022."

This award win follows up on the numerous awards won by FXCM in the past year, including Most Transparent Forex Broker in Europe, Best Forex Trading Platform in Europe and Best Forex Mobile Trading Platform / App provider globally at the Global Forex Awards, the Best Zero Commission Broker in the ADVFN International Financial Awards 2021 and Best FX Platform at the 2021 Online Personal Wealth Awards.

*Zero Commission: FXCM can be compensated in several ways, which includes but are not limited to adding a mark–up to the spreads it receives from its liquidity providers, adding a mark–up to rollover, etc. Commission–based pricing is applicable to Active Trader account types.

#Terms and Conditions apply. More details please https://www.fxcm.com/au/no–rollover–campaign/.

Third Party Links: Links to third–party sites are provided for your convenience and for informational purposes only. FXCM bears no liability for the accuracy, content, or any other matter related to the external site or for that of subsequent links, and accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss or damage arising from the use of this or any other content. Such sites are not within our control and may not follow the same privacy, security, or accessibility standards as ours. Please read the linked websites' terms and conditions.

About FXCM:

FXCM is a leading provider of online foreign exchange (FX) trading, CFD trading, and related services. Founded in 1999, the company's mission is to provide global traders with access to the world's largest and most liquid market by offering innovative trading tools, hiring excellent trading educators, meeting strict financial standards and striving for the best online trading experience in the market. Clients have the advantage of mobile trading, one–click order execution and trading from real–time charts. In addition, FXCM offers educational courses on FX trading and provides trading tools, proprietary data and premium resources. FXCM Pro provides retail brokers, small hedge funds and emerging market banks access to wholesale execution and liquidity, while providing high and medium frequency funds access to prime brokerage services via FXCM Prime. FXCM is a Leucadia Company.

Forex Capital Markets Limited: FCA registration number 217689 (www.fxcm.com/uk)

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.

67% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

FXCM EU LTD: CySEC license number 392/20 (www.fxcm.com/eu)

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.

Between 74–89% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs.

You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

FXCM Australia Pty. Limited: AFSL 309763. Losses can exceed your deposited funds. The products may not be suitable for all investors. Please ensure that you fully understand the risks involved. If you decide to trade products offered by FXCM AU, you must read and understand the Financial Services Guide, Product Disclosure Statement, Target Market Determination and Terms of Business on www.fxcm.com/au.

FXCM South Africa (PTY) Ltd: FSP No 46534 (www.fxcm.com/za). Our service includes products that are traded on margin and carry a risk of losses in excess of your deposited funds. The products may not be suitable for all investors. Please ensure that you fully understand the risks involved.

FXCM Markets Limited: Losses can exceed deposited funds. (www.fxcm.com/markets).

Media contact:

Chatsworth Communications
+44 (0) 20 7440 9780
fxcm@chatsworthcommunications.com


Africa Should Bargain Hard for COVID Vaccine Equity: Lessons from Indonesia during Avian Flu

The Republic of Congo received just over 300,000 doses of the COVID vaccines through the COVAX Facility in August 2021. The international COVAX initiative aimed at guaranteeing global access to the vaccines, recently announced that it was being forced to slash planned deliveries to Africa, by around 150 million doses this year. The scheme is now expected to deliver 470 million doses through the end of December. These will be enough to protect just 17 per cent of the continent, far below the 40 per cent target, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Credit: UNICEF/Aimable Twiringiyima

By Victoria Fan and Steve Kuo
MANOA, Hawaii / TAIPEI, Taiwan, Dec 6 2021 – Many countries around the world have punished most of the African continent for the scientific discovery of the Omicron variant through the imposition of travel bans.

These travel bans are more injury upon the injury of low vaccination in Africa. Even well-intentioned rallying phrases such as “vaccine apartheid” or “vaccine equity” still lack the moral weight, indignation, and urgency that we should all feel, no matter which country we live. Words fail us.

How can it be that—even now—vast swaths of a continent go without access to these lifesaving vaccines? How is this situation even possible, let alone acceptable? For sure, there’s not been enough vaccines arriving to African countries.

Flowery donor pledges gone unfilled are no better than empty promises. Some say it’s the monopolized production from a vaccine company based outside of Africa or intellectual property issues.

Others cite supply chain and cold chain problems, the need for refrigeration, and lack of electricity. Still others note vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. Throw in “corruption” and “poor governance.” Yadda yadda yadda.

Let us please transfer all the energy spent on the manufacturing of excuses to create ideas for how we’ll get vaccines to Africa.

One thing we should have learned during COVID-19 is that so-called “leaders” are amazing at coming up with excuses for things not getting done. Let’s remind ourselves of the HIV pandemic when world “leaders” were hesitating to distribute antiretroviral treatment to so-called “developing countries.”

There was even an administrator of USAID, supposedly a leading aid agency, who conveniently came up with a racist excuse that the reason why Africans couldn’t get treatment against HIV was because they couldn’t tell time.

Excuses easily come out of the human mouth. Let us please transfer all the energy spent on the manufacturing of excuses to create ideas for how we’ll get vaccines to Africa.

If Africa can’t get the vaccines it needs, perhaps Africa should take a play from the Indonesian playbook during the 2007 avian flu.

The Indonesian Government argued that its decision in January 2007 to stop sending avian flu samples (H5N1 virus) to the WHO’s reference labs was justifiable because the samples provided freely from lower-income countries were used by companies in higher-income countries to develop vaccines that the lower-income countries couldn’t afford and couldn’t benefit from.

Indonesia wanted a guarantee that it would benefit from the samples it provided. After months of withholding the samples, WHO and the Indonesian government eventually came to an agreement and changed the terms of reference for sample sharing.

As Sedyaningsih et al noted in 2008, “This event demonstrates the unresolved imbalance between the affluent high-tech countries and the poor agriculture-based countries.” Their words still hold true more than a decade later.

When dealing with those who are habituated to a “me first” mentality, you must negotiate and bargain hard. African countries trying to gain support through an idealistic notion of global solidarity will fail unless applying “shrewd business practices.” Not just African countries, but the whole world will fail.

So, negotiate hard. Know what your opponent wants the most, and don’t give them what they want so easily till you get what you need. Empty promises and excuses won’t stop COVID-19, but hard bargaining might.

Victoria Y. Fan, ScD, is an associate professor and interim director of the Center on Aging at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a non-resident fellow at the Center for Global Development. Steve Kuo, MD, PhD, served as director of Taiwan Centers for Disease Control including during SARS, and most recently he was the president of National Yang Ming University, now National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University.

 


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Global Arms Industry Thrives Amid Worldwide Pandemic Devastation

A US Army soldier coaches an Afghan National Police officer in a bygone era before US forces withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021. Credit: The US Army/Flickr via SIPRI

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 6 2021 – The 21-month long pandemic, which began with the outbreak of the deadly corona virus back in March 2020, ravaged hundreds and thousands of businesses and industries resulting either in widespread losses, closures or bankruptcies.

But one of the few industries that survived and prospered in 2020 was the multi-billion-dollar global arms industry led by the United States.

A new report released December 6 by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says sales of arms and military services by the industry’s 100 largest companies totalled a staggering $531 billion in 2020—an increase of 1.3 per cent in real terms compared with the previous year.

The arms sales of the Top 100 arms companies in 2020 were 17 per cent higher than in 2015—the first year for which SIPRI included data on Chinese firms. This marked the sixth consecutive year of growth in arms sales by the Top 100.

Arms sales increased even as the global economy contracted by 3.1 per cent during the first year of the pandemic.

According to SIPRI, the United States once again hosted the highest number of companies ranked in the Top 100.

Together, the arms sales of the 41 US companies amounted to $285 billion—an increase of 1.9 per cent compared with 2019—and accounted for 54 per cent of the Top 100’s total arms sales.

Since 2018, the top five companies in the ranking have all been based in the US.

“The (US) industry giants were largely shielded by sustained government demand for military goods and services,” said Alexandra Marksteiner, Researcher with the SIPRI Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.

“In much of the world, military spending grew and some governments even accelerated payments to the arms industry in order to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.”

Nevertheless, said SIPRI, operating in the military market did not guarantee immunity to the effects of the pandemic.

French arms manufacturer Thales, for example, ascribed a drop in arms sales of 5.8 per cent to lockdown-induced disruptions in the spring of 2020. Some companies also reported supply chain disruptions and delayed deliveries.

Meanwhile, even as the more deadly Omicron virus threatens another lockdown, the Associated Press (AP) reported December 3 of a multibillion-euro French deal to sell fighter planes and combat helicopters to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), “aiming to boost military cooperation with its top ally in the Persian Gulf amid their shared concerns about Iran”.

The UAE has agreed to buy 80 upgraded Rafale warplanes in a deal the French Defense Ministry said is worth a whopping 16 billion euros ($18 billion) and represents the largest-ever French weapons contract for export. It also announced a deal with the UAE to sell 12 Airbus-built combat helicopters.

AP said the arms deal was a shot in the arm for France’s defense industry after the collapse of a $66 billion contract for Australia to buy 12 French submarines that ultimately went to the U.S. But the deals faced criticism by human rights groups concerned about the UAE’s involvement in the years-long war in Yemen.

The UAE contracts were signed as French President Emmanuel Macron visited the country on the first stop of a two-day visit to the Persian Gulf. France and Gulf countries have long been concerned by Iran’s nuclear ambitions and influence across the region, particularly in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, according to AP.

Dr. Natalie Goldring, a Visiting Professor of the Practice in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, told IPS the SIPRI data demonstrate once again that the military-industrial complex is severely disconnected from real world needs. Even as the global economy was suffering from the effects of the global covid pandemic in 2020, global arms sales were increasing.”

“This disconnect between economic realities and the global arms trade is profoundly disturbing. Every dollar that is spent on arms sales is a dollar that isn’t available for responding to the covid pandemic and meeting basic human needs such as food, clothing, and housing.”

“Unfortunately, these statistics are not surprising. What we’re seeing is the continuation of business as usual.” said Dr Goldring, who is also the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy’s UN representative for conventional weapons and arms trade issues.

“Although these data are for 2020, there is little evidence that the Biden administration is changing these patterns. On the campaign trail, for example, candidate Biden said that his administration would take seriously Saudi Arabia’s consistent pattern of human rights abuses.

But in reality, said Dr Goldring, the Biden administration continues to ignore these abuses and proposes to transfer weapons that will allow Saudi Arabia to perpetuate its systematic patterns of abuse. The Biden administration has also labeled proposed arms sales as defensive in nature even when the weapons have both defensive and offensive capabilities.”

“The US and other arms suppliers have an opportunity to learn from the Covid pandemic, reevaluate priorities, and reallocate resources to human needs. We can’t afford business as usual,” she declared.

According to the SIPRI report, the US arms industry is undergoing a wave of mergers and acquisitions. To broaden their product portfolios and thus gain a competitive edge when bidding for contracts, many large US arms companies are opting to merge or acquire promising ventures.

‘This trend is particularly pronounced in the space sector,’ said Marksteiner. ‘Northrop Grumman and KBR are among several companies to have acquired high-value firms specialized in space technology in recent years.’

Norman Solomon, Executive Director, Institute for Public Accuracy, told IPS the insatiable appetite of weapons dealers for bloated profits has continued to result in financial killings while literally killing many people around the world – directly with guns and bombs and indirectly by siphoning off desperately needed resources for human survival.

So many people in the world, he said, are in great pain due to lethal shortages of everything from medicine, potable water and minimal food supplies to housing and health education. And vast numbers of people are suffering and dying while powerful governments avidly serve the institutionalized greed of weapons industries, said Solomon, who is also Director, RootsAction.org

“That the United States has continued to lead the way in profiteering from technological instruments of mass killing is a shameful and ongoing crime against humanity,” he added.

The synergy between governmental power and corporate military enterprises is a global toxin that embodies a downward spiral. In any year, this would have been a colossal betrayal of the scantest human decency. In a year that brought the world the emergence of the Covid pandemic, this record is nothing short of systemic mass homicide, he argued.

“The fact that the United States is the source of upwards of half the world’s total arms sales is a profound indictment of the U.S. government’s role on this planet. One way or another, any government of a nation engaged in massive arms exports is a partner in that activity. The US and other countries engaged in large-scale exporting of weaponry should be vehemently and unrelentingly condemned,” he declared.

Meanwhile, the combined arms sales of the five Chinese companies, included in the Top 100, amounted to an estimated $66.8 billion in 2020, 1.5 per cent more than in 2019. Chinese firms accounted for 13 per cent of total Top 100 arms sales in 2020, behind US companies and ahead of companies from the United Kingdom, which made up the third largest share.

‘In recent years, Chinese arms companies have benefited from the country’s military modernization programmes and focus on military–civil fusion,’ said Dr Nan Tian, SIPRI Senior Researcher. ‘They have become some of the most advanced military technology producers in the world.’ NORINCO, for example, co-developed the BeiDou military–civil navigation satellite system and deepened its involvement in emerging technologies.

The Chinese were followed by European arms companies, French companies, German and Russian companies—all of them in the top 100.

Thalif Deen is a former Director, Foreign Military Markets at Defense Marketing Services; Senior Defense Analyst at Forecast International; military editor Middle East/Africa at Jane’s Information Group; and a former UN correspondent for Jane’s Defence Weekly, London.

 


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All Humans Are Born Equal in Rights? That’s Still Far from Being True

By Baher Kamal
MADRID, Dec 6 2021 – ”All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” These words are a sound introduction to the transcendental issue of human rights and equalities, as stated by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The Declaration proclaims the “inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

“All Human, All Equal” is the slogan for the 2021 Human Rights Day, marked 10 December. Its theme relates to equality: “The principles of equality and non-discrimination are at the heart of human rights.”

According to the UN, “equality, inclusion and non-discrimination, in other words – a human rights-based approach to development  – is the best way to reduce inequalities and resume the path towards realising the 2030 Agenda”

“Equality includes addressing and finding solutions for deep-rooted forms of discrimination that have affected the most vulnerable people in societies, including women and girls, indigenous peoples, people of African descent, LGBTI people, migrants and people with disabilities, among others.”

According to the UN, “equality, inclusion and non-discrimination, in other words – a human rights-based approach to development – is the best way to reduce inequalities and resume the path towards realising the 2030 Agenda,” which principle is leaving no-one behind.

Shamefully, this is not the case. In spite of all well-intentioned words, declarations, statements and appeals, the grave spread of inequalities all over the world remains prevailing and expanding.

The numerous and severe aspects of inequality are manifested in rampant poverty, pervasive inequalities and structural discrimination are human rights violations and among the greatest global challenges of current time.

 

A new social contract urgent

Human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights as well as the right to development and the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, are central to building a new human rights-based economy that supports better, fairer and more sustainable societies for present and future generations. A human rights-based economy should be the foundation of a new social contract, according to World Day.

Here are just some examples of the prevailing violation of the most basic freedom, equality and human rights.

 

Racism

Racism is just one of the various severe forms of inequalities.

In fact, racism, xenophobia and related discrimination and intolerance exist in all societies, everywhere. Racism harms not just the lives of those who endure it, but also society as a whole.

“We all lose in a society characterised by discrimination, division, distrust, intolerance, and hate. The fight against racism is everyone’s fight. We all have a part to play in building a world beyond racism,” the UN urges.

 

The COVID generation

Successive financial and health crises have had long-lasting and multidimensional impacts on millions of young people, according to this year’s World Day.

Unless their rights are protected, including through decent jobs and social protection, the “COVID generation” runs the risk of falling prey to the detrimental effects of mounting inequality and poverty.

 

Vaccine inequality

Vaccine injustice through unfair vaccine distribution and hoarding contravenes international legal and human rights norms and the spirit of global solidarity.

In fact, while rich societies have reached between 70 and 80 percent of vaccination, only 1 percent of the population of some countries in Africa has been vaccinated.

 

Climate injustice

Environmental degradation, including climate change, pollution and nature loss, disproportionately impacts persons, groups and peoples in vulnerable situations. These impacts exacerbate existing inequalities and negatively affect the human rights of present and future generations.

In a follow-up to the Human Rights Council’s recognition of the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, urgent action must be taken to respect, protect and fulfill this right.

“Such action should be the cornerstone of a new human rights-based economy that will produce a green recovery from COVID-19 and a just transition.”

According to recent estimates, the number of climate migrants and refugees could rise to up to one billion in the coming few years.

They would proceed from continents and countries that are the least polluting and the least responsible of the ongoing climate emergency.

For example, Africa has generated around four percent of the causes of the climate crisis, while bearing the brunt of 80 percent of its consequences.

 

Conflicts inequality

Human rights have the power to tackle the root causes of conflict and crisis, by addressing grievances, eliminating inequalities and exclusion and allowing people to participate in decision-making that affect their lives, says the UN.

“Equality and non-discrimination are key to prevention: all human rights for all ensure everyone has access to the preventive benefits of human rights but, when certain people or groups are excluded or face discrimination, the inequality will drive the cycle of conflict and crisis.”

 

Women, girls

Such an abohrent abuse against women and girls is carried out all over the world. In fact, one third of all women and girts have been subjected to physical or sexual violation in their life-time.

And it is estimated that 800 million girls are being pushed into early marriage and forced to become child-mothers.

 

Child forced labour

Meanwhile, it has been reported that more than 160 million boys and girls are subjected to the abuse of forced child labour.

Many of them are recruited as child soldiers in armed conflicts. Others are being smuggled and trafficked for sexual exploitation, begging, and organs removals, among other forms of cruelty.

 

‘Modern’ slavery

It is estimated that one billion humans are victims of the so-called ‘modern’ slavery, including forced labour, migrants smuggling, sexual exploitation, youth sold and bought in public squares, migrants and refuggees stranded in borders behind barbed walls, millions of dispalced due to violence and armed conflicts they did not launch.

 

Smuggling, trafficking

“Human trafficking and migrant smuggling have evolved a lot since I first took over this job. They have become more severe, in the sense of what the criminals involved inflict on people. There is more violence, victims are younger and there are more child victims,” said Ilias Chatzis who heads up a global team of more than 60 experts at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), committed to countering Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling.

“It is a crime that can sometimes happen in front of our eyes, as we go to work, do our shopping, drive our children to school or meet friends for dinner. There are industries that we come into contact with in our everyday lives, like hospitality, agriculture, construction, and others where trafficking victims are exploited.”

Traffickers in Europe take groups of children from country to country and force them to beg. Then they take all the money and often let them starve. For criminals, it is all about the money, and people are just a way to make a profit, the expert warned.

 

Poverty, hunger

The number of the poor and poorest and hungry is steadily rising. It is estimated that the figure is now approaching one billion, in a world that produces enough food for the global population. And that rich societies waste up to one-third of purchased food.

”All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Nice words. But the dramatic reality shows all the opposite.

 

Poor Communities on the Salvadoran Coast Face Constant Threat of Eviction

Members of families threatened with eviction ride in a boat down a mangrove channel in the community of Cuatro Vientos, in the municipality of San Luis La Herradura, on the Salvadoran coast. They denounced to IPS that one of the country's main banks now claims to be the owner of the land where they have lived for 20 years. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Members of families threatened with eviction ride in a boat down a mangrove channel in the community of Cuatro Vientos, in the municipality of San Luis La Herradura, on the Salvadoran coast. They denounced to IPS that one of the country’s main banks now claims to be the owner of the land where they have lived for 20 years. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

By Edgardo Ayala
SAN LUIS LA HERRADURA, El Salvador, Dec 6 2021 – Small farmer Francisco Martínez pushed his son’s wheelchair to another part of the courtyard of their house, located in a small coastal community in El Salvador, before saying sadly: “It would be a great injustice if they kicked us out of here.”

Martínez, 77, lives with his wife Gloria García, 50, and their severely disabled 21-year-old son Fredy Martínez in the Cuatro Vientos community, formed some 20 years ago by homeless families from different parts of the country.

The settlement is located in San Luis La Herradura, a municipality in the south of the department of La Paz, on the Salvadoran coast.

Martínez, his skin toasted by the sun, added: “Now we have reached the difficult moment when they want to remove us, which is very unfair,” referring to the threat of eviction that is hanging over his family and others in the settlement, from a bank and wealthy families in the area, as they told IPS during a day spent in their community.”They are State lands, we have cadastral records that say they are State lands, but when people clear them and fix them up, others want to take them over.” — Mélida Alvarado

Driven by necessity, some 180 poor families settled in Cuatro Vientos, on what they considered to be public land: a narrow 17-kilometer-long strip of land separating the Pacific Ocean and the Jaltepeque estuary, one of the main wetlands in this Central American country.

A paved road runs through the middle of the strip connecting the highly touristic area with the rest of the country.

In addition to Cuatro Vientos, 18 other settlements or communities have sprung up in the area over the past 50 years and have also been threatened with eviction, either by private consortiums or by wealthy families who have beach houses there.

Extreme inequality

On this strip of land, ostentatious wealth coexists with painful poverty.

Some families do have legal title to their plots, the ones that are located along the roadside, lawyer Teresa Hernández of the Foundation for Legal Studies for the Application of Law (Fespad) told IPS.

However, some 40 meters further inland towards the estuary, the situation is different for most of the people, who live in conditions of poverty and without documents certifying that they own the land.

“In general, all 19 communities find themselves in this legally precarious position,” the lawyer explained.

Francisco Martínez, 77, with his wife Gloria García, 50, and their severely disabled 21-year-old son Fredy Martínez pose for a photo in the courtyard of their house in Cuatro Vientos, a settlement formed some 20 years ago by homeless families from various parts of El Salvador. The Martínez family fears that they will be evicted because the property is claimed by one of the country’s main banks. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Francisco Martínez, 77, with his wife Gloria García, 50, and their severely disabled 21-year-old son Fredy Martínez pose for a photo in the courtyard of their house in Cuatro Vientos, a settlement formed some 20 years ago by homeless families from various parts of El Salvador. The Martínez family fears that they will be evicted because the property is claimed by one of the country’s main banks. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Fespad and the Movement for the Defense of the Land in El Salvador (Movitierra) are providing legal assistance to the affected families, especially in 12 communities that have organized to fight for their rights.

About 850 families live in these 12 settlements, but the lawyer said she did not know the total number of inhabitants of the 19 communities.

Insecurity of title

According to official figures, about 10 percent of El Salvador’s 6.7 million people are in a position of land tenure insecurity.

Cases like those of the families in Cuatro Vientos, who thought they were living on land that they could call their own because it belonged to the State, but who now face the risk of removal.

The conflict over property rights in this area known as Costa del Sol arises from the fact that the land has a high value as a result of tourism, which drives the construction of hotel complexes.

In addition, for decades it has been impossible to establish exactly which land is privately owned and which belongs to the State, which has generated disputes over land ownership, the Fespad lawyer added.

Tourism businesses such as hotels and restaurants have set up shop there because of the beauty of the area: the sea on one side and the lush estuary, with its mangroves and wildlife, on the other.

Wealthy families have also built beach houses in the area for decades to spend vacations or weekends. That is why the real estate sector is also in high demand in the area.

Boats are moored to private docks in one of the channels of the Jaltepeque estuary. On El Salvador's Costa del Sol, a narrow 17-kilometer-long strip separates the Pacific Ocean from one of the country's main wetlands, where luxury homeowners and tourism and real estate companies are threatening to evict poor communities. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Boats are moored to private docks in one of the channels of the Jaltepeque estuary. On El Salvador’s Costa del Sol, a narrow 17-kilometer-long strip separates the Pacific Ocean from one of the country’s main wetlands, where luxury homeowners and tourism and real estate companies are threatening to evict poor communities. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Institutions should clarify

Every beach, whether on an estuary or on the sea, belongs to the State, and wealthy families and companies have been buying up adjacent or nearby lands, initially considered private in origin. But after decades of disorder, the limits of what is private and what belongs to the State have become entangled.

Hernández said that in order to clarify these boundaries, the government’s land registry should carry out a cadastral survey to determine the background of these lands and define who owns them. But this has not been done and the communities do not have the resources to carry it out on their own.

She added that, in view of this situation, Fespad and Movitierra requested in 2019 that the governmental Institute of Property Legalization (ILP) conduct an inspection to determine the boundaries between State and private land in at least five communities on the Costa del Sol, as a pilot test.

The covid-19 pandemic stalled the effort, but it was resumed in April.

However, although the investigation into the legal status of the property in these settlements has been completed, the final report has not been released.

“The final report of those inspections has been requested and the ILP has not delivered it to us, the communities or Fespad, as applicants together with Movitierra,” said Hernández.

A group of women from the community of El Mozote, on the Salvadoran coast, express their concern about the uncertainty of not knowing if they will be evicted from their homes built on a plot of land claimed by a real estate company. They are asking the authorities to carry out a complete survey of the land. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

A group of women from the community of El Mozote, on the Salvadoran coast, express their concern about the uncertainty of not knowing if they will be evicted from their homes built on a plot of land claimed by a real estate company. They are asking the authorities to carry out a complete survey of the land. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Evictions have already started

Threats of eviction, which in some cases have already materialized, are based on the argument that the poor families do not have property titles, while the companies and wealthy families claim to possess them.

These sectors claim part of the land where poor people live, many of whom work in the hotels or in the vacation homes of the opulent families who generally sail their yachts in the estuary.

“There was a hole here, and with the pennies I earned, I filled it in and made my champita (hut) covered with coconut and banana palm leaves,” Martínez told IPS, while taking care of his son in the wheelchair.

On a visit to the area by IPS, the affected families in Cuatro Vientos said the threats come mainly from the private Banco Agrícola, one of the most important banks in the country.

According to the families, the bank owns a plot of land about a block and a half in size – approximately one hectare – where several families built their houses two decades ago believing that it was abandoned land, which is common in the area.

These plots had owners decades ago, but for one reason or another were no longer used and over time became overgrown by weeds.

Now the bank has reportedly found a buyer and wants to remove the families living on that specific plot.

“We did not come to this land to take advantage of anybody, but out of need. I had nowhere to live,” said Martinez, whose small house stands on the disputed land.

According to some estimates, El Salvador has a housing deficit of 1.3 million homes.

Along El Salvador's Costa del Sol the ostentatious wealth of families who own beach houses and yachts moored at the docks stands in sharp contrast with the poverty of hundreds of families who have built shacks in areas that were considered state property and from which companies and families now want to evict them. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Along El Salvador’s Costa del Sol the ostentatious wealth of families who own beach houses and yachts moored at the docks stands in sharp contrast with the poverty of hundreds of families who have built shacks in areas that were considered state property and from which companies and families now want to evict them. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Several families in Cuatro Vientos met with IPS to explain how the situation affects them.

They live with the uncertainty of not knowing when they may be forced by the police to leave their homes, which took them so much effort and sacrifice to build.

“I have sleepless nights, my eye twitches, I have nightmares, I’m so worried,” Alba Díaz told IPS.

Diaz, 48, is a single mother raising three teenage sons and a daughter without many job opportunities. She manages to earn a living by going to take care of her mother and grandfather, for which an uncle pays her 100 dollars a month. She also sells pizzas from time to time.

“We are threatened by the bank, they want to take back the property and sell it, we don’t know exactly,” she added.

But that’s not all.

The bank also seems to be interested in seizing other areas outside the land it owns, plots of land where other families live.

Those affected in Cuatro Vientos mentioned a strange situation in which police officers wearing masks showed up in July accompanying two people who told some families that they were there on behalf of the government to carry out a census.

The two people, who they said were probably representatives of the bank, collected personal identity document numbers, they added.

“I ran, but I couldn’t find them. I asked myself: Masks? Masked policemen don’t come to conduct a census,” said Diaz.

Francisco Martinez’s wife Gloria García confirmed that the hooded men and the two other people came to their house.

“They came here, who knows why. We gave them our identify document numbers and signatures. We don’t know if they came from the bank or from where,” Garcia said.

On Nov. 16, the Banco Agrícola sent an official statement of its position in an e-mail to IPS.

“It is important to clarify that, as an agricultural bank, no eviction action is being considered or planned for the inhabitants of the Cuatro Vientos community,” it stated.

The bank confirmed a day later that it did own a piece of land there since June 2000, but that it sold it in March 2021 and that the property is currently in the process of being registered in the name of the new owner. The bank also denied that any of its representatives had visited the community.

Meanwhile, in another community located on the Costa del Sol strip, El Mozote, some 125 families are also living in uncertainty and threatened with eviction, because a real estate company is trying to evict them, claiming to be the owner of the land.

“They are State lands, we have cadastral records that say they are State lands, but when people clear them and fix them up, others want to take them over,” one of the residents, Mélida Alvarado, an activist in the collective struggle against eviction, told IPS.