ROSEN, A LEADING INVESTOR RIGHTS LAW FIRM, Encourages Butterfly Network, Inc. f/k/a Longview Acquisition Corp. Investors with Losses Exceeding $100K to Secure Counsel Before Important Deadline in Securities Class Action – BFLY

NEW YORK, Feb. 28, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — WHY: Rosen Law Firm, a global investor rights law firm, reminds purchasers of the securities of Butterfly Network, Inc. f/k/a Longview Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: BFLY) (a) between February 16, 2021 and November 15, 2021, both dates inclusive (the "Class Period"), and/or (b) all holders of Butterfly common stock as of the record date for the special meeting of shareholders held on February 12, 2021 to consider approval of the merger between Longview and Butterfly (the "Merger") and entitled to vote on the Merger, of the important April 18, 2022 lead plaintiff deadline.

SO WHAT: If you purchased Butterfly securities during the Class Period you may be entitled to compensation without payment of any out of pocket fees or costs through a contingency fee arrangement.

WHAT TO DO NEXT: To join the Butterfly class action, go to https://rosenlegal.com/submit–form/?case_id=3602 or call Phillip Kim, Esq. toll–free at 866–767–3653 or email pkim@rosenlegal.com or cases@rosenlegal.com for information on the class action. A class action lawsuit has already been filed. If you wish to serve as lead plaintiff, you must move the Court no later than April 18, 2022. A lead plaintiff is a representative party acting on behalf of other class members in directing the litigation.

WHY ROSEN LAW: We encourage investors to select qualified counsel with a track record of success in leadership roles. Often, firms issuing notices do not have comparable experience, resources, or any meaningful peer recognition. Many of these firms do not actually handle securities class actions, but are merely middlemen that refer clients or partner with law firms that actually litigate the cases. Be wise in selecting counsel. The Rosen Law Firm represents investors throughout the globe, concentrating its practice in securities class actions and shareholder derivative litigation. Rosen Law Firm has achieved the largest ever securities class action settlement against a Chinese Company. Rosen Law Firm was Ranked No. 1 by ISS Securities Class Action Services for number of securities class action settlements in 2017. The firm has been ranked in the top 4 each year since 2013 and has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for investors. In 2019 alone the firm secured over $438 million for investors. In 2020, founding partner Laurence Rosen was named by law360 as a Titan of Plaintiffs' Bar. Many of the firm's attorneys have been recognized by Lawdragon and Super Lawyers.

DETAILS OF THE CASE: According to the lawsuit, the Proxy was negligently prepared and, as a result, contained untrue statements of material fact or omitted to state other facts necessary to make the statements made not misleading and were not prepared in accordance with the rules and regulations governing its preparation. Additionally, throughout the Class Period, Defendants made materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company's business, operations, and compliance policies. Specifically, the Proxy and defendants made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (1) Butterfly had overstated its post–Merger business and financial prospects; (2) notwithstanding the ongoing COVID–19 pandemic, Butterfly's financial projections failed to take into account the pandemic's broad consequences, which included healthcare logistical challenges, and medical personnel fatigue; (3) accordingly, Butterfly's gross margin levels and revenue projections were less sustainable than the Company had represented; (4) all the foregoing was reasonably likely to have a material negative impact on Butterfly's business and financial condition; and (5) as a result, the Company's public statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times. When the true details entered the market, the lawsuit claims that investors suffered damages.

To join the Butterfly action, go to https://rosenlegal.com/submit–form/?case_id=3602 or call Phillip Kim, Esq. toll–free at 866–767–3653 or email pkim@rosenlegal.com or cases@rosenlegal.com for information on the class action.

No Class Has Been Certified. Until a class is certified, you are not represented by counsel unless you retain one. You may select counsel of your choice. You may also remain an absent class member and do nothing at this point. An investor's ability to share in any potential future recovery is not dependent upon serving as lead plaintiff.

Follow us for updates on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/the–rosen–law–firm, on Twitter: https://twitter.com/rosen_firm or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rosenlawfirm/.

Attorney Advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

———————————————–

Contact Information:

Laurence Rosen, Esq.
Phillip Kim, Esq.
The Rosen Law Firm, P.A.
275 Madison Avenue, 40th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (212) 686–1060
Toll Free: (866) 767–3653
Fax: (212) 202–3827
lrosen@rosenlegal.com
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cases@rosenlegal.com
www.rosenlegal.com


Legit Security Announces Free Risk Assessment to Help Organizations Secure Themselves From Escalating Software Supply Chain Attacks

PALO ALTO, Calif., Feb. 28, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Legit Security, a cyber security company with an enterprise SaaS platform to secure an organization's software supply chain, today announced a free Rapid Risk Assessment to help organizations proactively mitigate the risk of crippling software supply chain cyberattacks in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The free risk assessment can provide organizations with immediate insight into vulnerabilities across their software supply chain environment as well as guidance on where to optimally place security resources and tools to mitigate future attacks. Qualifying organizations can obtain the free assessment at Legit Security's website: info.legitsecurity.com/rapid–risk–assessment.

Software supply chain attacks infiltrate an organization's internal software development supply chain and introduce vulnerabilities and backdoors within the organization's software, which are then passed on to unsuspecting customers making them vulnerable with a powerful and dangerous multiplier effect. Since the devastating SolarWinds attack in 2020, software supply chain attacks have increased 3x to 6x per year based on analysis from multiple government, industry and security vendor sources. The specter of further escalation of these attacks is anticipated in the wake of Russia's recent military invasion, including warnings to U.S. companies from government agencies such as the Cyber Security & Infrastructure Agency to "adopt a heightened posture when it comes to cybersecurity and protecting their most critical assets" and for companies to put their "shields up".

"Software supply chain cyberattacks can be extremely disruptive, and we want to help organizations become more resilient against these attacks," said Roni Fuchs, CEO of Legit Security. "Unfortunately, there's not enough best practice information and security tooling available freely in the market to help against this relatively new attack vector. After seeing the increase in frequency and severity of cyber–attacks related to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, we decided to step up and offer a free risk assessment to do our part to help."

The no–cost Rapid Risk Assessment uses Legit Security's SaaS–based security platform to conduct automated discovery and analysis of an organization's software supply chain environment to identify vulnerabilities, misconfigurations and security incidents. This automated scan analyzes the software delivery pipelines for gaps and leaks, the security posture of systems and infrastructure deployed within those pipelines, and the people and their security hygiene as they operate within it. Risk assessments are implemented in minutes via an agentless connection and the assessment is non–invasive with no changes or impact to existing development tools and workflows. Typical assessments take between a few minutes to two hours to complete, depending upon the environment size. More information on the full range of use cases available in the Legit Security platform and a list of Frequently Asked Questions are available on the company's website.

"Improving cyber defenses and staying alert to cyberattacks is now part of the business landscape, whether you are concerned about state–sponsored attacks, common cybercriminals or poor security hygiene," said Liav Caspi, Chief Technology Officer, Legit Security. "You can't protect what you can't see and unfortunately most organizations today do not have a handle on their own software supply chain environment. Regardless of an organization's current security maturity, we can help boost their awareness of current gaps and help them mitigate those risks much faster and easier than without an assessment. If every organization is more resilient to attacks, the chance of wide–ranging business and societal disruption goes down significantly."

For more information, visit legitsecurity.com.

About Legit Security
Legit Security protects software supply chains from attack by automatically discovering and securing the pipelines, infrastructure, code and people so that businesses can stay safe while releasing software fast. Legit provides an easy to implement SaaS platform that supports both cloud and on–premises resources and combines automated discovery and analysis capabilities with hundreds of security policies developed by industry experts with real–world SDLC security experience. This integrated platform keeps your software factory secure and provides continuous assurance that your applications are released without vulnerabilities.

Media Contact
Tony Keller
OutVox
tkeller@outvox.com


NetSfere and HP Partner to Enable Secure Messaging and Collaboration Services for Healthcare Service Providers

CHICAGO, Feb. 28, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — NetSfere, a global provider of next–generation secure and compliant messaging and mobility solutions, has been named an authorized HP Independent Software Vendor (ISV) Program Partner to further the digitization of healthcare communication, streamline patient care and workflows, and curb the use of risky, non–compliant consumer–grade messaging apps.

"There is a critical need for secure, efficient communication in healthcare, especially as the pandemic has strained the time and resources of hospitals and medical staff," said Harsh Mamgain, NetSfere's VP of Product. "The vital work clinicians perform requires secure, compliant, and flexible messaging options that eliminate the need to turn to risky consumer–grade apps. By working with HP, NetSfere can now deliver the necessary secure and compliant collaboration solutions the industry needs to HP Healthcare's portfolio of clients as they digitize to streamline communications and continue to provide life–saving care to patients."

The pandemic accelerated the need for compliant, instantaneous communication tools to optimize clinical workflows, streamline staff communication, and make vital information readily accessible to authorized personnel across the healthcare industry. Replacing consumer–grade apps that pose crucial privacy and compliance risks and data–limited pagers, NetSfere Enterprise offers a HIPAA–compliant messaging platform that allows staff to safely communicate in real–time via a user–friendly web interface or mobile messaging app.

NetSfere's industry–leading secure messaging platform provides all preferred means of communication "" text, video, and voice "" in addition to emergency alert capabilities to present the most holistic, compliant, all–in–one communication solution for healthcare providers on the market. Created with end–to–end encryption and full IT control, the platform is compliant with global regulations and provides medical professionals with a private, highly secure and reliable, centrally managed and controlled, cloud–based messaging service.

The additional capabilities of NetSfere Lifeline allow personnel to send high priority, critical messaging to targeted teams or an entire organization to disperse emergency information in an attention–grabbing manner. Messages can include text, images, or locations, ensuring that all essential information is quickly shared in critical situations.

"HP Healthcare solutions are designed to help ensure safety, boost efficiency, and protect against security risks, making NetSfere's HIPAA–compliant platform an ideal fit as an ISV partner," said Cory McElroy, Vice President of Retail, and Industry Solutions at HP. "Healthcare is transforming rapidly, and this collaboration with NetSfere will fill a gap for providers as they implement other technology on HP Solutions."

For more information on NetSfere's portfolio of products, visit www.netsfere.com.

About NetSfere
NetSfere is a secure enterprise messaging service and platform from Infinite Convergence Solutions, Inc. NetSfere provides industry–leading security and message delivery capabilities, including global cloud–based service availability, device–to–device encryption, location–based features, and administrative controls. The service is also offered in partnership with Deutsche Telekom GmbH, one of the world's leading integrated telecommunications companies, and with NTT Ltd., a global information communications & technology service provider, to jointly offer NetSfere to its worldwide customers. The service leverages Infinite Convergence's experience in delivering mobility solutions to tier 1 mobile operators globally and technology that supports more than 500 million subscribers and over a trillion messages annually. NetSfere is also compliant with global regulatory requirements, including GDPR, HIPAA, Sarbanes–Oxley, ISO 27001, and others. Infinite Convergence Solutions has offices in the United States, Germany, India and Singapore. For more information, visit www.netsfere.com.

Media Contact
Erin Robertson Davila
Uproar PR for NetSfere
904–716–4439
erobertson@uproarpr.com


The Anti-Corruption Compass in Mexico

By Rosi Orozco
MEXICO CITY, Feb 28 2022 – For a country like Mexico, which in recent years has made the fight against corruption one of its highest priorities, a story published earlier this year fell like a bucket of cold water.

One of the most important international rankings on public administration, the Corruption Perception Index created by Transparency International, stated that Mexico was paralyzed during the pandemic: the country, for the second consecutive year, had a rating of 31 points out of 100.

Rosi Orozco

In the school system that means failing the class. Entrepreneurs, public servants and specialists who evaluated the fight against corruption in the country concluded that, from 2020 to 2021, there has not been a step backwards… but not forward either.

The 31 points put Mexico on a par with nations ravaged by corruption and experiencing recent democratic crises, such as Gabon, Niger and Papua New Guinea.

Denmark, Finland and New Zealand are in the first places and Mexico seems closer than previously thought to the worst ranked countries, such as Syria, Somalia and South Sudan.

To make the news worse, the 31 points obtained by Mexico puts it in a dishonorable place: the worst evaluated country in terms of corruption of the 38 countries that make up the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The information revealed earlier this year is especially harsh for the current administration, which came to power in December 2018 with the promise of rooting out corruption and establishing a new public morality.

The efforts of the current government have been extensive and well known. Among them, the simplification and digitization of procedures, the use of technological platforms to make public purchases transparent, more audits in real time and detailed publication of the federal budget. All of that fuels the battle against the rottenness in government.

However, there is still a long way to go, especially in the areas of law enforcement and victim assistance, where pending issues remain.

A few months ago, one of the most important events for public administration — the III Convention of Anticorruption Prosecutors brought together top experts to discuss how to move Mexico towards the best international practices.

The venue was the state of Coahuila, which in ten years achieved an amazing transformation: from being a drug cartel land to one of the safest regions in the country.

The key was to make changes that were apparently insignificant, but that dealt strong blows to the social base of organized crime: since 2011, the illegal businesses that corruption in government kept open —such as casinos, cockfights, clandestine bars, table dance and newspaper ads promoting prostitution were banned.

These measures had an immediate effect on peace in the region, since they cut off an important flow of money to the drug cartels, which were unable to pay bribes to public officials and buy the wills of the people who lived in their strongholds.

In 2016, following the path of Coahuila, Tamaulipas closed those illegal businesses and went from the third most insecure state to the 26th, according to official figures. Edomex has also advanced with a firm hand to prevent human traffickers from disguising themselves as businessmen.

Specialists such as the prosecutor in the Fight Against Corruption at the Attorney General’s Office, María de la Luz Mijangos Borja, the Coahuila anti-corruption prosecutor Jesús Homero Flores, prosecutor Gerardo Márquez Guevara, among others, discussed these measures and new public policies that can lead Mexico to the next frontier of human rights.

They focused on the road ahead: the urgency of installing state anti-corruption systems, creating citizen councils on public security, implementing external audits and articulating crime prevention networks

During my speech I focused on the debts of the past: the need to recognize the burdens that stagnated us with the dishonorable 31 points out of 100 that Transparency International evaluated.

In Mexico, it is a reality that there are still public servants who sit down with owners of illegal businesses to accept the bodies of girls and women in exchange for impunity.

There are still judges who close cases by putting piles of dirty money on top of victims’ files. And there is still the habit of purposely losing lawsuits that affect the entire country so that a few get richer.

I remember the case of the former president of the Federal Court of Fiscal and Administrative Justice in the state of Tlaxcala, Juan Manuel Jiménez, supposedly a great judge, who today is out of that important position because he had 52 folders with irrefutable evidence of human trafficking, kidnappings and rapes and yet he freed the criminals involved.

For the fight against corruption to advance, it’s urgent to stop the flow of dirty money, but that is not enough.

The conclusions of the III Convention of Anti-Corruption Prosecutors are clear: small actions can lead to big changes, but only if it is accompanied by a moral renewal and the certainty that we all have the right to a life free of the evils of corruption.

That compass must be the dignity of people and their value as human beings. If we’re heading there as a country, there’s no way we can go wrong. We will move in the right direction.

 


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Not Exactly Sun Tzu: Russian Military Blunderings & the Global Democratic Deficit

Security Council votes on draft resolution on Ukraine, 25 February 2022. Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

By Purnaka L. de Silva
NEW YORK, Feb 28 2022 – Russian President and former intelligence officer Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has been at the helm of power since 1999, promoting jingoistic nationalism to keep his hold on power and creating a democratic deficit on the home front.

In a long list of extrajudicial crimes under the aegis of Mr. Putin, it is alleged that critics and potential rivals generally meet an untimely demise – ranging from helicopter crashes (e.g., LTG Alexander Lebed), murdered in elevators (e.g., in the high profile case of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya), falling out of windows (e.g., former third secretary of Russia’s delegation to the United Nations in Vienna found at the bottom of the Russian Embassy in Berlin) to Polonium poisoning (e.g., Alexander Litvinenko) or getting incarcerated on trumped up charges like Russian opposition leader Alexie Navalny.

A throwback to Soviet totalitarian times Mr. Putin is a vocal proponent of ongoing hybrid militarized ‘foreign policy’ aggressions that aim to reclaim Russia’s sphere of influence in former Soviet Republics, as well as further afield, primarily in the continent of Africa.

Kremlin-controlled Spetsnaz mercenaries from the Wagner Group, who it is alleged hold Russian diplomatic passports, conduct military spearhead operations on behalf of the Kremlin and maintain bureaus in all 55 member states of the African Union – for more details see: https://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/world/russia/vagner.htm.

The antecedents of this hybrid militarized ‘foreign policy’ stratagem follow a trajectory that begins in Chechnya with the Second Battle of Grozny from 25 December 1999 to 6 February 2000 during the premiership of Mr. Putin – where the world’s democratic powers were silent witnesses to the devastation of a city of almost 400,000, which led to a pratically halving of the population through an exodus of internally displaced persons.

In 2003, the United Nations called Grozny “the most destroyed city on earth”. It could be speculated that at the time democratic Western powers were largely silent given that the Chechens were perceived as Islamist terrorists.

After ‘success’ in Chechnya, in November 2007 Mr. Putin next withdrew Russia’s participation in the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which limited the deployment of heavy military equipment across Europe. It enabled Mr. Putin and the Kremlin to thereafter experiment with a hybrid militarized ‘foreign policy’ adventure in the 5-day, 2008 August War in Georgia.

Russian troops invaded and established control over the occupied Tskhinvali region (now called South Ossetia) and Abkhazia constituting over 20% of Georgian territory – for more details see: https://www.csis.org/analysis/russias-hybrid-aggression-against-georgia-use-local-and-external-tools. Once again, the world’s democratic powers were little more than passive bystanders.

While the world’s leading democratic powers stayed silent, a timeline of notable hybrid militarized ‘foreign policy’ aggressions orchestrated by Mr. Putin and the Kremlin, demonstrating their global reach in Europe and Africa, includes:

    • Invasion and annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in southern Ukraine (February-March 2014) – successful.
    • Invasion and occupation of Donetsk and Luhansk in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine (March-November 2014) – successful.
    (NB: Russia’s Wagner Group mercenaries made their first overseas combat appearance in the Donbas region in 2014).
    • Military intervention in Syria to support President Assad and winning the civil war for the regime (in September 2015-2019) – successful.
    • Military intervention in the Libyan civil war in support of renegade eastern Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar by Kremlin-controlled Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group (April 2019-October 2020) – failure.
    (NB: followed by smaller, inconclusive Wagner Group interventions in Mozambique, Sudan, and the Central African Republic). For details see: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-58009514
    • Invasion of Ukraine (February 24, 2022) – ongoing – with Mr. Putin and the Kremlin looking at long-term occupation and subjugation of the Ukrainian people in a carefully orchestrated military campaign that was planned for at least 8-10 years.
    (NB: in the case of Ukraine, Mr. Putin and the Kremlin orchestrated a non-stop war of attrition in the Donbas and Crimea since February 2014, and the Wagner Group has been redeployed in Ukraine in February 2022 after withdrawing mercenaries from Africa).

Since November 2007 the slippery slope towards a global democratic deficit – attempting to prove that might is right – was taking shape and gathering momentum, harbingers of the return of authoritarianism, imperialism, and possibly totalitarianism.

A democratic deficit occurs when seemingly democratic governments fail to fulfill the principles of democratic governance for the benefit of their citizenry. When that happens in many countries worldwide it becomes a global democratic deficit with the rise to power of authoritarian and antidemocratic political leaders as in the case of Russia, North Korea, China, Hong Kong, The Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan under the Taliban, and most recently in West Africa – Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea.

All countries are susceptible, including countries like Brazil, and the United States of America, as was the case during the Trump presidency from 2016-2020.

The biggest fear of authoritarians of the ilk of Mr. Putin is that the common people will be able to exercise their democratic rights through free and fair elections, and popular protests to repudiate the egregious corruption and misgovernance of political leaders, as was the case in Ukraine when pro-Kremlin president Viktor Yanukovych abandoned his country and fled in the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution.

A similar fate was reversed in Belarus with the illegitimate reinstatement of Mr. Alexander Lukashenko, and its tacit occupation in plain sight by the Russian military in January-February 2022.

To the thus-far silent democratic powers it must strongly be pointed out that parallels can be drawn to Mr. Putin’s extrajudicial hybrid military ‘foreign policy’ actions to what Pastor Martin Niemöller said about crimes against humanity during the Nazi reign of terror under Adolf Hitler:

First, they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Martin Niemöller

Having noted the above in all its gory detail, it must be pointed out to Mr. Putin and the Kremlin that their perceived ‘successful’ hybrid militarized ‘foreign policy’ blunderings will only further weaken Russia’s economic and political standing in the 21 Century – especially once draconian long-term sanctions start to bite with alacrity, and deeply.

It all depends on the sleeping giant of democratic world powers waking up, uniting in common purpose, and responding to an existential threat to peace, security, and democracy. Sun Tzu was right all along Mr. Putin – “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”.

Dr Purnaka L. de Silva is Adjunct Professor UN Studies (M.A. Program) at the School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University, and Director, Institute of Strategic Studies and Democracy (ISSD) Malta.

 


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Excerpt:

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting” – Sun Tzu

Gender Lens Crucial to Leaving No One Behind (Part 2)

Creative ways are needed to meet the ICDP 25 goals. Here girls and young women are learning to code in North Darfur as a way to increase future job prospects and economic empowerment. Credit: UNFPA Sudan

By IPS Correspondent
Johannesburg , Feb 28 2022 – A crucial two-day meeting of Parliamentarians from the Asian, Arab and African regions will put human-rights-based legislative frameworks under the spotlight as the regions work to implement the ICPD Programme of Action.

In the first part of this series, IPS spoke exclusively to the Regional Director of UNFPA ASRO, Dr Luay Shabaneh. He outlined the many responses the UNFPA had to gender-based violence, child marriage, and eradicating female genital mutilation in the Arab region.

In part 2, IPS spoke to Dr Rida Khawaldeh, MP Jordan, and Larry Younquoi, MP Liberia, Member of Executive Committee of the African Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (FPA).

 

Larry Younquoi, MP Liberia, Member of Executive Committee of the African Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (FPA) and Dr Rida Khawaldeh, MP Jordan spoke to IPS about creating a just, equitable and sustainable society post-COVID-19.

Here are excerpts from the interviews:

IPS: How are parliamentarians in your country ensuring adequate laws to protect women?

Dr Rida Khawaldeh, MP Jordan 

There is a Women’s Rights Committee at parliament and is considered one of the major and most influential committees. It includes specialists and lawyers, and they are acutely aware of developing a legal framework to protect women’s rights.

Larry Younquoi, MP Liberia, Member of Executive Committee of the African Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (FPA)

The Liberian Legislature has taken a number of steps to ensure there are adequate laws to protect women’s rights. For instance, the body has passed the devolution law, which provides enhanced women’s land rights. Women are guaranteed equal participation through the amendment of the electoral acts.

IPS: How are parliamentarians in your country ensuring the justice system (from the police to the courts) are adequately sensitized to GBV and have the budgets to ensure that perpetrators are charged, and women supported adequately?

Khawaldeh: The Legal Committee is one of the parliament’s major committees in Jordan, and specialists on this committee ensure the law, regulations, and practices are sound and supportive of women.

Younquoi: Parliamentarians in my country are on record for fighting against GBV. For instance, she has passed laws to amend the Gender Ministry Law and strengthened its role in protecting women and girls from GBV. Equally, the lawmakers have passed a law to establish the Women and Children Unit at the National Police. Of course, they ensure adequate budgetary appropriations for implementing the regulations.

The provisions of the Rape Law also criminalize sexual relationships with girls below 18 years of age. The Legislature has made rape a non-bailable crime. Through the National Budget, it provides funding allocations to enhance the welfare of the girls while in school.

IPS: As parliamentarians, what programmes are you putting in place to ensure that child marriages are eradicated?

Khawaldeh:  Women Rights Committee ensures that the laws conform to good marriage practices. This issue is emphasized by both the Women’s Rights Committee and the Legal Committee to provide better protection and follow up on the implementation of the legislation.

Younquoi: The Legislature has taken practical steps by not only raising the age of marriage to 18 years but making it a criminal offense to engage in sexual activities with girls under the age of 18. This is irrespective of whether or not the girl consents.

To ensure that the laws are implemented, legislators create awareness about them during town hall meetings with their constituents. They further sensitize them not to keep the issue of such statutory rape secret within the family. Additionally, they speak openly against early marriage.

IPS: How are parliamentarians in your country ensuring that the practice of FGM is being eradicated?

Khawaldeh: This issue is consistently raised and addressed by the Women’s Rights Committee to ensure better practices and eradicate any misuse of the regulations.

Younquoi: Legislators’ major step towards eradicating FGM is the passage of a law that states that no one should be forced to undergo FGM. The Legislature is contemplating passing a law to eliminate it. However, the practice is deeply rooted in the culture of the people – despite this, the legislators continue to persevere.

IPS: Is your country on track to achieve ICPD 2030 agenda, and if not, what is required to ensure that the country moves towards this objective?

Khawaldeh:  Jordan’s Parliament is aware and working toward the ICPD 2030 agenda. The National Council for Family Affairs, in the Department of Family Affairs at the Police Directorate, civil societies organizations, and NGOs involved in family affairs and gender issues are working towards the ICPD25 PoA.

Hon. Larry Younquoi,

My country is on track to eradicate GVB by 2030, in line with ICPD25.

IPS: What is your expectation of the inter-regional meeting in Cairo?

Khawaldeh:  I expect a thorough discussion of different aspects of human security. We will learn from the experiences of others. In addition, I would expect coordination at the regional level to help achieve the 2030 goals.

Younquoi:

At the upcoming inter-regional meeting in Cairo, I expect a robust cross-fertilization of ideas and lessons learned from the various countries in attendance.

IPS UN Bureau Report

 


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Cuba Steps Up Pace on Renewable Energy Expansion

Wind turbines at the Gibara 1 wind farm generate electricity in the municipality of the same name in Holguín province, eastern Cuba. The aim is for at least 37 percent of Cuba’s electricity to come from clean energies by 2030; this is a first step towards a much more ambitious goal that envisions an energy mix made up 100 percent of domestic sources. CREDIT: Jorge Luis Baños / IPS

Wind turbines at the Gibara 1 wind farm generate electricity in the municipality of the same name in Holguín province, eastern Cuba. The aim is for at least 37 percent of Cuba’s electricity to come from clean energies by 2030; this is a first step towards a much more ambitious goal that envisions an energy mix made up 100 percent of domestic sources. CREDIT: Jorge Luis Baños / IPS

By Luis Brizuela
HAVANA, Feb 28 2022 – Cuba has readjusted its plans to achieve at least 37 percent of electricity from clean energy by 2030, a promising but risky challenge for a nation that is a heavy consumer of fossil fuels and has persistent financial problems.

This is a first step towards a much more ambitious goal: an energy mix made up of 100 percent domestic sources, in order to achieve sovereignty.

Approved in 2014, the Policy for the Prospective Development of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) and their Efficient Use projected that solar, wind, biomass and hydroelectric power would account for 24 percent of electricity generation by 2030.

Currently, 95 percent of the electricity produced in this Caribbean island nation comes from burning fossil fuels, including natural gas.

Based on government indications and research by the Electric Union and Cuban universities, “it was determined that we can reach 37 percent (by 2030) with RES,” said Rosell Guerra, director of Renewable Energies at the Ministry of Energy and Mines, in an interview with IPS.

The official pointed out that since it is an island nation, “Cuba is not interconnected with any major power system,” which means that as the use of RES gradually expands, “it is important to ensure the stability of the electric system and the quality of the service, voltage and frequency, as well as the storage of electric power for the night time.”

This archipelago consumes just over eight million tons of fuel annually, of which 4.4 million tons are used for electricity.

Nearly 40 percent of the fuel must be imported, mainly fuel oil and diesel, which have higher prices on the international market.

The country spends some 2.8 billion dollars annually on the electricity sector, including the purchase of fuel, the operation and maintenance of aging thermoelectric plants and the purchase of energy from independent producers.

“We have no alternative, the country cannot continue to pay such large energy bills, which together with food purchases (estimated at some two billion dollars annually), are our largest,” Guerra stressed.

Cuba’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions decreased in the last five years, to 22.9 million tons in 2020, according to international data, but energy generating activities are still the main domestic sources of polluting gases.

Achieving 37 percent generation with sustainable energies “will mean the emission of nine million fewer tons of carbon dioxide per year,” added the official.

A floating power plant arrives at Havana port from Turkey in November 2021. In Cuba, 95 percent of the electricity produced comes from the burning of oil and oil derivatives, together with natural gas. CREDIT: Jorge Luis Baños / IPS

A floating power plant arrives at Havana port from Turkey in November 2021. In Cuba, 95 percent of the electricity produced comes from the burning of oil and oil derivatives, together with natural gas. CREDIT: Jorge Luis Baños / IPS

Picking up the pace

The largest island nation in the Caribbean will have to step on the gas if it wishes, within eight years, to have 3954 megawatts per hour (MW/h) of installed capacity in renewable energies, as outlined in the government’s plan.

“The implementation of the RES Policy is behind schedule; by the end of 2021 we should have had 649 MW/h in operation, but today only 47 percent of what was planned, 304 MW/h, has been achieved,” Guerra acknowledged.

He attributed the delay to the country’s three-decade-long economic crisis, with its main sources of income impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led the authorities to request a moratorium on debt interest payments to international creditors.

Guerra also referred to the effects of the U.S. government’s embargo against Cuba, in force since 1962, which hinders access to credit and technology, increases the cost of freight for transporting fuel and keeps investors away.

However, he clarified, since 2014 “500 million dollars were invested in RES,” which provide energy for some 300,000 households at noon, in a country of more than 3.8 million homes and 11.2 million inhabitants.

The shift in the energy mix by 2030 will require an investment of some six billion dollars “that will have to be sought from external sources, whether through credits or foreign direct investment,” since the country is not in a position to assume the cost alone, said the official.

He pointed out that “in addition to the economic and environmental analysis, the vision in this matter is based on the need to move towards energy independence.”

Ongoing projects

Cuba has eight thermal plants with an average operating life of more than 30 years.

Most of these plants process heavy domestic crude oil, with a sulfur content between seven and 18 degrees API, which makes more frequent repairs necessary, that are sometimes postponed due to lack of financing.

Malfunctions in the facilities have caused generation crises in recent years, the most recent from April to July 2021, affecting industrial production and Cuban families, most of whom use electricity to cook food, among other uses.

Distributed in Cuba’s 168 municipalities, fuel engines and diesel generators, also suffering from a lack of parts, complement the electric power system.

The rest of the electricity is generated by the natural gas produced along with domestic oil, floating units (patanas), together with five percent renewable energies.

The solar program appears to be the most advanced and with the best growth opportunities in a nation whose solar radiation averages more than five kilowatts per square meter per day, which is considered high.

Solar parks contribute 238 MW/h, a little more than 78 percent of the renewable energy in the country, according to the statistics.

Guerra said that “Cuban universities are very proactive with RES and energy efficiency, with several innovative and applied science projects, and with funding, both nationally and in collaboration with the European Union.”

Marlenis Águila, an expert with the Renewable Energy Directorate, told IPS that “some of these programs or projects are based on national technologies, applied on farms, and with results in the field of agro-energy, which are worth replicating widely.”

Both experts referred to the installation, especially in rural areas, of more than 1,000 pumping systems with solar panels that save energy and provide water to livestock and farming families, while a 4,000 cubic meter biogas plant is planned to generate electricity.

“There are seven biogas plants in the country. They are small, the largest has a capacity of 250 kW/h, but they contribute during peak hours, when they are most needed,” said Guerra.

In addition, two new bioelectric plants with a capacity of 40 MW/h, three wind farms (151 MW/h) and two small hydroelectric plants (3.4 MW/h) are under construction, among other projects in different phases with foreign investment and credit management.

A store specializing in household appliances sells equipment to obtain electricity from renewable sources in the municipality of Playa, Havana. In recent years, Cuba approved regulations with tariff and tax benefits for foreign investors who participate in the expansion of renewable energies, and began selling solar panels and heaters to promote their use by the public. CREDIT: Jorge Luis Baños / IPS

A store specializing in household appliances sells equipment to obtain electricity from renewable sources in the municipality of Playa, Havana. In recent years, Cuba approved regulations with tariff and tax benefits for foreign investors who participate in the expansion of renewable energies, and began selling solar panels and heaters to promote their use by the public. CREDIT: Jorge Luis Baños / IPS

Opportunities

The second edition of the Renewable Energy Fair, scheduled to take place in Havana Jun. 22-24, will seek to attract foreign investors for the transition to renewable energies in Cuba.

“The first fair, in January 2018, was modest in size but very useful,” Guerra said. “Prestigious international agencies came and transferred knowledge to us. This time we intend to emphasize solar energy – both photovoltaic and thermal – and biomass.”

Representatives of international agencies, projects and companies such as the International Renewable Energy Agency, the World Wind Energy Association, the International Solar Alliance, the Green Climate Fund, the Belt and Road Energy Partnership, the French Development Agency and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are expected to attend.

In recent years, Cuba approved regulations to encourage the presence of foreign investors in the development of sustainable energy, both in large and small local projects.

Resolution 223 of the Ministry of Finance and Prices, published in June 2021, exempts wholly foreign-owned companies implementing electricity generation projects with RES from paying taxes on profits for eight years, from the start of their commercial operations.

Other regulations, such as Decree-Law No. 345 of 2019, contain incentives to promote self-supply, the sale of surpluses to the National Electric System, as well as tariff and tax benefits for individuals and legal entities that use them.

The government strategy also proposes the installation of the more efficient LED bulbs in public lighting and the sale of solar water heaters and efficient equipment, which despite their high prices are aimed at expanding the use of renewable energies among the public.

Pacific Islanders: Failure to Commit to 1.5 Degrees at COP27 will Imperil the World’s Oceans

Pacific Islanders depend on coastal fisheries for food and commercial livelihoods. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

By Catherine Wilson
CANBERRA, Australia , Feb 28 2022 – Oceans play a pivotal role in regulating the world’s climate and maintaining the conditions for human life on earth. And they are a crucial source of sustenance and economic wellbeing in many developing countries, including small island developing states. But Pacific Islanders are deeply concerned about the fate of the oceans if world leaders fail to secure the pledges needed to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 Degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels at the next COP27 climate change summit in November.

“We all need to do more. The target has been set. In the coming year, in the lead-up to the next climate change conference, there is a huge emissions gap. We are not translating that into tangible commitments on the ground that enable us, as humanity, to say we are on the right trajectory,” Cameron Diver, Head of the Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Programme at the regional development organisation, Pacific Community (SPC), in Noumea, New Caledonia, told IPS.

The Pacific Ocean is the world’s largest and covers one-third of the planet’s surface. It’s a major carbon sink. Oceans absorb nearly one-quarter of all carbon emissions associated with human activities every year. But, after mid-century, continuing high emissions will generate a decline in the capacity of oceans to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reports the IPCC. And this will compromise their role in regulating climate and weather extremes.

The socioeconomic impacts of climate change in this scenario “could be catastrophic. It will have a massive impact on people who ultimately live their lives with the ocean,” Diver emphasised. He elaborated that sea-level rise would diminish arable land and lead to population displacement, while higher levels of ocean acidification will threaten coral reefs and coastal fisheries. Food insecurity is a very real risk, given that 70 percent of Pacific Islanders derive their protein from inshore fisheries.

In the Polynesian atoll nation of Tuvalu in the Central Pacific Ocean, “all communities in Tuvalu live around the coast. We are surrounded by the sea, and coastal erosion is a great issue impacting on our food, especially inundating our pulaka pits,” Teuleala Manuella-Morris, Country Manager for the Live and Learn environmental non-governmental organisation, told IPS. “Pulaka is a root crop and is grown in pits dug down to reach the rainwater trapped in the water pan. However, these can become salty during droughts or cyclones when the waves manage to get into the pulaka pits.” Sea surges and cyclones are destroying many of these crops, she said.

Pacific Islanders have emerged as some of the world’s strongest campaigners for the conservation and sustainable development of the sea, a role that is driven by their dependence on the ‘Blue Continent’.

“All Pacific Islands have a reliance on tuna and other marine resources for government income, food security, livelihoods, and ecosystem services. In terms of income, this is particularly notable for many Pacific small island developing states and territories where there are limited resources to provide alternative revenue streams, such as in Tokelau and Kiribati,” Dr Graham Pilling, Deputy Director of the Pacific Community’s Oceanic Fisheries Programme told IPS.

The Pacific is the world’s largest ocean and plays a vital role in regulating the earth’s climate. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

It’s not just the Pacific but the world’s oceans that will be threatened if carbon emissions continue to rise. And this would have serious consequences for the more than 260 million people across the globe with livelihoods that rely on marine fisheries and developing countries which benefit from the US$80 billion which the sector generates in export revenues.

Over time, rising greenhouse gases lead to greater acidification and depletion of oxygen in the seas and changes in the circulation of sea currents. Rising temperatures are boosting thermal stress on coral reefs. Mass coral bleaching would lead to the deterioration and mortality of corals and the marine life they support.

The breakdown of reef and coastal marine ecosystems will have repercussions for coastal populations which depend on coastal fisheries and tourism for food and incomes. By 2050, only an estimated 15 percent of coral reefs worldwide will be capable of sustainable coral growth, according to the sustainable development organisation, Pacific Environment (SPREP).

Meanwhile, offshore fisheries, especially the tuna industry, provide essential government revenues and tens of thousands of jobs across the Pacific Islands. The tuna market is a global one, and the western and central Pacific Ocean is the source of 60 percent of the world’s tuna catch. Two-thirds of all tuna caught is acquired by foreign fishing vessels, with 90 percent taken by other countries for processing, reports the Pacific Islands Forum. The main nations that ply Pacific waters include Japan, the United States, Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

Fishing access fees, for example, amount to US$128.3 million or 70.6 percent of government revenue per year in Kiribati and US$31 million or 47.8 percent of government revenue in the Marshall Islands.

However, a recent study by a group of international scientists, including several such as Steven R. Hare, Dr Graham Pilling, Dr Simon Nicol and Coral Pasisi, from the Pacific Community, highlights the serious consequences of global warming for the future of the region’s tuna fisheries. Changes in the ocean are projected to drive tuna populations away from tropical waters.

“Modelling results suggest that overall, climate change may lead to reduced abundance of tuna in the waters of many Pacific Island countries and territories, and key tuna resources are likely to move further east into the high seas outside the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of Pacific Islands,” Dr Simon Nicol, Principal Fisheries Scientist in the Pacific Community’s Fisheries Division told IPS. “Given the contribution of tuna to annual GDPs of Pacific nations, reduced abundances and greater variability in annual catches will enforce ‘Global Financial Crisis’ type stressors on government services provided by the Pacific Islands on a regular basis.”

The study, published in the Nature Sustainability journal, concludes that, by 2050, the purse-seine catch of tuna in 10 Pacific Island nations could decline by an average of 20 percent, leading to a loss of US$90 million in foreign fishing fees per year. The broader effects on islanders’ lives could be more precarious economies, food insecurity and higher unemployment.

The repercussions of climate change on the oceans will be experienced not only in the Pacific but also in nations dependent on the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. This could affect the lives of more than 775 million people worldwide who rely on marine resources for socioeconomic survival and jeopardise the global market for marine and coastal resources and industries, which is currently valued at about US$3 trillion every year.

Last year, Pacific Island Forum countries’ leaders issued a statement calling for meaningful global action. We “note with significant concern that based on current trends, we will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius as early as 2030 unless urgent action is taken, with significant adverse impacts on the ocean.”

Diver also emphasised that climate pledges had to be embraced not only by world leaders but by everyone. “We need a whole of society approach. We need the whole of society to meet their obligations. We can’t just rely on the public sector to do this; it has to go right across every sector. An integrated approach is needed,” he said.

COP27 will be held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on 7-18 November 2022.

IPS UN Bureau Report

 


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CS Global Partners: Bitcoin Heaven El Salvador Newest Nation to Consider Citizenship by Investment 

LONDON, Feb. 28, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Salvadorian President Nayib Bukele on Sunday said he will send Congress a proposal to grant citizenship to foreigners who invest in the Central American country, another step in the populist leader's plan to bolster the country's economy by attracting non–traditional capital.

"I'm sending 52 legal reforms to congress to remove red tape, reduce bureaucracy, create tax incentives, citizenship, in exchange for investments, new securities laws, stability contracts, etc.," Bukele said on Twitter.

Since September, El Salvador has attracted increasing international interest when it passed a law that made the cryptocurrency Bitcoin legal tender. Like the new package of El Salvador reforms, that law was first proposed by Bukele.

If the new citizenship legal reform is passed, El Salvador would become one of the few countries to offer a citizenship by investment programme, joining several other small countries, mainly in the Caribbean, according to the world's leading government advisory and marketing firm CS Global Partners.

CBI Programmes usually require a vetted applicant to make a minimum monetary contribution to a government fund or purchase real estate in the country to obtain citizenship.

Greater crypto freedom with CBI

"An increasing number of crypto investors and tech entrepreneurs have started looking to second citizenship as a means of achieving greater freedom", says Micha Emmett, the CEO of CS Global Partners. She added that this growing demographic has combined assets like cryptocurrency with additional citizenships to unlock financial autonomy and wealth diversity.

"As crypto gained more traction in the last few years, we've started seeing an increase in interest for second citizenship from the tech community. This demographic, technologically, is already global, so it makes sense that they want their assets to reflect this mindset," she said.

A second citizenship offers a level of safety and security that investors can rely on during political or economic turmoil. The onset of the COVID–19 pandemic has particularly triggered families to obtain second citizenship to better protect themselves and their financial assets whilst increasing their global mobility.

The dual–island nation of St Kitts and Nevis has been a popular destination amongst the wealthy, mainly because of"its CBI Programme. This initiative provides a trusted route to second citizenship once an applicant invests in the nation. Established in 1984, St Kitts and Nevis' programme is internationally recognised as a "Platinum Standard' brand.

Despite being the smallest sovereign state in the Western Hemisphere, St Kitts and Nevis is one of the most technologically advanced nations in the region regarding its crypto–friendly approach to banking. The islands recently passed a bill simplifying the trade of virtual assets and are also currently running a digital currency pilot programme known as DCash. St Kitts and Nevis also does not impose income, inheritance, or capital gains tax, allowing citizens to breathe a little freer as they focus on the investments that matter to them.

More countries are considering the CBI route

El Salvador is not the only country tossing with the idea of citizenship by investment to boost its economy. Just last month, Pakistan's Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the Government would offer Pakistani nationality to foreign investors, particularly as a way to recruit heavy investments from the wealthy individuals of neighbouring China and Pakistan.

Jamaica's Government is also being pushed to consider adopting a citizenship by investment programme with the funds gained through the process used for various development projects.

Julian Dixon, CEO and broker at Jamaica Sotheby's International Realty, made the call in October 2021. She said funds gained from the project should be used to invest in the country's infrastructure, real estate, job creation and business development.

"For a number of countries, especially in the Caribbean, there is no denying that CBI programmes offer a much–needed injection of foreign direct investment, often in a way that can make a significant developmental difference. These funds are channelled into reducing international aid and debt, developing the tourism sector, job growth as foreigners often employ locals when expanding offices or constructing properties, and sustainability initiatives," CS Global Partner's Emmett commented.

Dixon particularly pointed out that St Kitts and Nevis, which pioneered the citizenship by investment programme close to four decades ago and has invested upwards of US$300 million from the programme in modernising its infrastructure. She said Jamaica could do the same.

A trusted product

St Kitts and Nevis offers a trusted product that has been acclaimed globally by independent studies like the annual"CBI Index"published by the Financial Times' PWM magazine. With an influx of citizenship programmes on the market, St Kitts and Nevis continues to be a powerhouse within the industry with one of the longest–standing programmes in operation.

Those who become citizens gain a wealth of benefits, including increased global mobility to financial centres in Asia, Europe and Africa, alternative business prospects, and the ability to pass citizenship down, thus establishing a future legacy for one's family. Additionally, St Kitts and Nevis does not impose any personal income, gift or inheritance tax and has a currency pegged to the US dollar, making it a financially lucrative destination for savvy investors.

The country's CBI Unit, which processes all economic citizenship applications, usually issues approvals or denials within a period of three months. There are no interviews, language, education, or business requirements.

Travel to the island is not obligatory, and no minimum residence stays apply either before or after Citizenship is obtained. Due diligence"procedures remain among the industry's most robust, and the nation is strengthening them by focusing on enhancing fingerprinting and biometrics.

For those looking to hedge against future risks, combining the dual–island nation's crypto–friendly policies and second citizenship provides investors with the ultimate insurance policy during times of unpredictability. St Kitts and Nevis remains the best destination for securing your future with a thriving financial services sector and a growing crypto hub.

Contact: pr@csglobalpartners.com, www.csglobalpartners.com / +447824029952


Gender Lens Crucial to Leaving No One Behind (Part 1)

Getting back on track post-COVID-19 is crucial says Regional Director of UNFPA ASRO, Dr Luay Shabaneh. The UNFPA runs several programmes for women and girls, here girls listen to a youth educator network Y-PEER presentation on the harms of female genital mutilation at their school in Garowe, Puntland. Credit: UNFPA Somalia/Tobin Jones

By IPS Correspondent
Johannesburg , Feb 27 2022 – Parliamentarians’ leadership in a post-COVID-19 recovery is crucial to achieving the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) agenda. The involvement of lawmakers in ensuring a more equal, just, and sustainable society will come under the spotlight during a two-day inter-regional meeting organized by the Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) and the Forum of Arab Parliamentarians on Population and Development (FAPPD,) and supported by UNFPA ASRO in early March 2022.

The Regional Director of UNFPA ASRO, Dr Luay Shabaneh, spoke exclusively to IPS.

Under the spotlight at the meeting will be efforts by lawmakers to ensure that no one is left behind.

“To this end, parliamentarians’ leadership is vital in ensuring population issues are addressed using a human rights approach and a gender lens and in securing rights and choices for all,” Shabaneh says.

At the Cairo hybrid meeting, APDA, with support from UNFPA ASRO and FAPPD, will engage parliamentarians in a debate on issues impacting human rights and gender-based violence (GBV). The aim is to champion a rights-based approach to policies and legislation to achieve the 2030 Agenda and ICPD PoA.

Regional Director of UNFPA ASRO, Dr Luay Shabaneh.

Here are excerpts from the interviews:

Inter Press Service:

UNFPA works extensively with women displaced, often affected by wars/conflicts, living in crises, and now over the past two years, has had to deal with COVID protocols characterized, in many countries, by lockdowns and restrictions. How has UNFPA continued with its GBV services during this time?

Regional Director of UNFPA ASRO, Dr Luay Shabaneh

It is well known that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women and girls and has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities, resulting in alarming health and economic impacts for women and increased reports of GBV.

UNFPA adjusted its support to mitigate against some of the impacts through programmes like Women and Girls Safe Spaces. UNFPA and partners have adopted different delivery modalities due to COVID-19 restrictions such as hotlines and online counseling instead of face-to-face engagement. It is increasingly investing in cash and voucher assistance (CVA) in the Arab States region to address economic barriers to access SRH and GBV services or purchase necessary items.

On the ground, UNFPA continues to address GBV prevention and response through sensitizing national partners on intersections of gender and public health and how to manage the increased risk of GBV ethically and effectively.

UNFPA works to ensure barriers and risks of exclusion faced by women and girls with intersecting and multiple forms of discrimination are lowered. It developed online tools on GBV prevention and response during COVID-19 supported hotlines to address the immediate needs of GBV survivors. It distributed dignity kits adapted to COVID-19 for female healthcare workers, women and girls in quarantine and isolation, and refugees and asylum seekers. UNFPA updated the GBV referral pathways to compensate for the disruption of services, particularly for clinical management of rape and offering GBV prevention and response essential services package at UNFPA-supported safe spaces.

At the regional level, UNFPA continues to provide capacity building and support to government and civil society representatives responsible for delivering GBV services to ensure that service provision continues to meet international human rights standards in light of COVID-19 restrictions.

In 2021, capacity-building training was delivered online to officials in Iraq, Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, and Bahrain based on a regional handbook on essential services for GBV developed by the UNFPA ASRO.

IPS:  In the Arab region, as in other areas, child and early marriage, harmful practices like FGM continue. How is UNFPA working with parliamentarians to ensure legislation, budget, and support services for women and girls?

Shabaneh: The collaboration with the parliamentarians in Somalia includes advocacy efforts for the passage of the draft sexual offenses bills, which considers child marriage as a violation of the bodily autonomy of young girls and therefore is considered a sexual offense. The women’s caucus of the national parliament is the focal point for child/women-related policies and strategies.

On June 10, 2021, Puntland State in Somalia passed a zero-tolerance FGM bill to the parliament. It is expected that this bill, once passed into law, will have a ripple effect in the campaign to end FGM in Puntland. The approval of the FGM bill in Puntland makes it one of the first constituencies in Somalia to approve a zero-tolerance FGM bill.

Substantial advocacy efforts have been invested ahead of the passing of this legislation. The Ministry of Justice in Puntland, which is among the key recipients of UNFPA UNICEF Joint Program funds, has been vigorously pushing to endorse the zero tolerance of FGM. UNFPA supported consultations with religious leaders, parliamentarians, and communities and in drafting the FGM Zero Tolerance Bill. UNFPA has also supported FGM campaigns in Puntland, leading to many abandoning the practice. Currently, UNFPA Somalia is working with the women caucus in the parliament and the human rights committee to ensure the passage of the zero-tolerance bill.

In Djibouti, the UNFPA has put two strategies to end harmful practices and child marriages.

This includes article 333 of the penal code and Article 13 of the 2013 Family Code now stipulate that the legal age of marriage is 18 years old. In February 2020, a law on the promotion, protection, and care of victims of gender-based violence with the technical support of UNFPA was adopted by a presidential decree.

UNFPA continues to implement activities through a joint program against FGM. UNFPA has also supported the development of a national protocol for the care of victims of GBV, including FGM. It established a circuit for the care of victims through the adoption of essential service packages by the three key sectors such as health, justice, and social.

IPS:  How is UNFPA supporting parliamentarians in developing human rights-based legislative frameworks in the region?

Shabaneh: ICPD affirmed the application of universally recognized human rights standards to all aspects of population programmes. Its Programme of Action (PoA) provides that the promotion rights for all people in reproductive health, including family planning and GBV, is deeply rooted in gender inequality. It is a notable human rights violation in all societies.

To this end, parliamentarians’ leadership is vital in ensuring population issues are addressed using a human rights approach and a gender lens and securing rights and choices for all.

ASRO proved to have interlinkages between the executive and legislative authorities to collaborate and work closely towards implementing Nairobi commitments and the ICPD’s unfinished agenda through Parliamentarians’ declarations.

These declarations rolled out at the country level, for example, Lebanon, Morocco, Djibouti, Palestine, to ensure concrete implementation and linkage between the regional and national levels, promoting and advocating for the UNFPA mandate.

IPS: Many countries are far off course to meeting the ICPD25 agenda. How can parliamentarians assist in getting the Programme of Action back on track?

Shabaneh: Parliamentarians can support the enforcement of laws and policies to respect and protect human rights-based approaches and eliminate GBV to accelerate the implementation of the ICPD PoA.

IPS: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Shabaneh: It is important to plan for growing numbers and proportions of older persons and ensure budgetary issues to achieve the goals laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

There is a need to invest in young people (life cycle approach) by promoting healthy habits and ensuring education and employment opportunities. We also need to broaden access to health services and social security coverage for all workers to improve the lives of future generations of older persons.

Overall, opportunities to strengthen partnerships to use informal support systems and unveil the potential capacities can significantly drive the agenda forward.

IPS UN Bureau Report

 


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