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New Poll: How Americans in All 50 States View the United Nations

20. Januar 2021 - 20:00

A majority of Americans across the political spectrum and across all 50 states are broadly supportive of United States engagement with the United Nations. A new poll of 9,960 registered voters across the United States, conducted in early December, shows broad support for the United Nations — even across party lines.

The poll, conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the Better World Campaign, finds that 74% of all registered voters say it’s important for the United States to be a member of the United Nations, with over half saying it’s “very important.” To be sure, liberal leaning voters are more likely to have favorable views of the UN than more conservative voters, but even a majority of moderates (80%) and conservatives (60%) agree that it’s important for the U.S to be a member of the United Nations.

Uniquely, this poll offers a state-by-state breakdown of the image of the United Nations.

 

The poll also asked what issues were top of voters mind for the United States to address globally. Amid the covid-19 pandemic it is not surprising that voters cited global health as the top priority, followed by terrorism.

Congress, of course, has a role to play in shaping America’s relationship with the United States. Specifically, it is Congress that sets the appropriations levels that fund much of the United Nations work around the world. This is the cornerstone of America’s relationship with the United Nations — without American leadership, the United Nations is a far less effective institution. This means making dues payments to the United Nations on time and in full. To that end, the poll also finds strong support across the country for continued U.S. funding of the United Nations.

This strong and diverse support of the United Nations across the country may inform key decisions around funding in the coming weeks as the 117th Congress gets to work.

You can see the full polling results here

 

The post New Poll: How Americans in All 50 States View the United Nations appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Becomes International Law

19. Januar 2021 - 16:22

A treaty to ban the use of nuclear weapons becomes international law on January 22, 2021. This is the date the treaty will enter into force, having secured the requisite number of ratifications from countries around the world.

So far, 86 countries have signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and 51 have ratified it. The treaty seeks to do to nuclear weapons what previous international treaties have done to chemical and biological weapons — that is, ban their use on humanitarian grounds.

Securing the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has been a years-long effort. And at the center of it all has been my guest today, Beatrice Finh. She is the executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for its work on this treaty.

The last time Beatrice Finh and I spoke was just a few weeks after she received the call that her organization had won the Nobel Peace Prize, so I kick off by asking her what impact winning the Nobel Peace Prize has had on her work and the progress on the treaty?  We then spend the bulk of this episode discussing what exactly this treaty obliges of its member states and also the broader politics surrounding the effort to get countries to sign onto the treaty. So far none of the treaty’s state parties are nuclear weapons states nor member states of NATO. Still, as Beatrice Finh explains the treaty nonetheless is already having an impact on international affairs.

If you have 25 minutes and want to learn about the new treaty to ban nuclear weapons, have a listen

 

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The post The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Becomes International Law appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

The Siege of the US Capitol and the Future of US Foreign Policy

13. Januar 2021 - 19:14

The insurrection on January 6 in Washington, D.C. painfully exposed to all that a country that ostensibly seeks to promote democracy around the world has a violent anti-democratic underbelly — and this anti-democratic sentiment is apparently shared by a significant portion of the Republican Party.

How might the Capitol Hill violence impact US Foreign Policy and International Relations?

I reached out to Ambassador Klaus Scharioth for an interview about this crisis because of something he told me last time we spoke.

Klaus Scharioth joined the German foreign service in the 1970s and served as the German Ambassador to the US from 2006 to 2011. He is now a professor of practice at The Fletcher School of Tufts University and dean of the Mercator College for International Affairs in Germany.

We spoke last in April 2018, around the time of Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election. This was over a year into the Trump presidency and during that interview Ambassador Scharioth described his long admiration for America’s ability to self-correct; a lesson he initially learned as a young diplomat following the Watergate hearings. The implication was that he hoped the US would somehow right itself in response to the Trump presidency.

Given the events of January 6, I wanted to learn if he still held that view and also learn what he believes are some of the broader implications to US foreign policy of the insurrection at the US Capitol?  We kick off discussing how the violence in Washington, D.C. is being interpreted and understood in diplomatic circles in Europe; we then discuss what corrective measures the Biden administration can take to help restore America’s soft power. This includes, he says, re-joining multilateral agreements and institutions like the WHO, and paying American dues to the United Nations.

If you have 20 minutes and want to learn what a veteran foreign diplomat believes are the long term international implications of the riots in D.C., have a listen.

 

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The post The Siege of the US Capitol and the Future of US Foreign Policy appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

What the Criminal Conviction of Saudi Women’s Rights Activist Loujan al-Hathloul Says About the Future of Saudi Arabia

11. Januar 2021 - 18:57

Loujan al-Hathloul is a 31 year old Saudi women’s rights activist currently in jail. She was first arrested in a protest advocating for right of women to drive and has been imprisoned by Saudi authorities since she attended a meeting at the United Nations focused on women’s rights and equality in 2018.

In early January 2021, she was handed down a nearly six year prison sentence.  Much of the sentence was suspended and she may be released as early as February or March. Her potential early release is likely due to international diplomatic pressure, including from the incoming Biden administration.

On the line to discuss her case and what the persecution of Loujan al-Hathloul can tell us about the future of Saudi Arabia, is Sari Bashi, consultant with the advocacy group DAWN — Democracy for the Arab World Now. We discuss the history of Loujan al-Hathloul’s activism and the circumstances around her arrest, detention and conviction.

We also discuss what her story and experience says about the Saudi kingdom under Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and how international pressure on human rights.

If you have 20 minutes and want to better understand what the plight of one Saudi human rights activist can teach us about the future of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, have a listen.

 

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The post What the Criminal Conviction of Saudi Women’s Rights Activist Loujan al-Hathloul Says About the Future of Saudi Arabia appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Mozambique is Experiencing a Surge of Violence as Crisis Worsens in Cabo Delgado Region

7. Januar 2021 - 16:05

There is a worsening Jihadist insurgency in a  province in Northern Mozambique called Cabo Delgado. The insurgency began in 2017, but in recent weeks the fighting has intensified substantially. Over half a million people have been displaced — most over the last few months. And in early January 2021, the French energy company Total announced it was suspending operations on a massive $3.9 billion natural gas project in the region amid concerns about the safety of personnel.

The jihadist group known as Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jammah. It also  referred to locally as al-Shabaab, though it has no known ties to the Somali group with the same name.

The group espouses a puritanical view of Islam and has pledged fidelity to the Islamic State. And like the Islamic State, it is capturing territory and committing atrocities in the process, including several reported mass beheadings.

My guest today, Zenaida Machado is a senior researcher with the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch. I caught up with hear from Maputo, the capitol of Mozambique. She explains the history of this insurgency, including how this group has shifted tactics from targeted assassinations to more recently capturing territory, including strategically important cities and corridors. We discuss how the response by the Mozambican security forces have sometimes undermined counter-insurgency efforts and how the fighting is causing a massive humanitarian crisis in Mozambique.

The crisis in Northern Mozambique is not something that is generating many headlines here in the United States, but it is something that the humanitarian community and people around the United Nations are increasingly concerned about and this conversation does an excellent job of explaining exactly what we know about this jihadist insurgency.

 

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The post Mozambique is Experiencing a Surge of Violence as Crisis Worsens in Cabo Delgado Region appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

How the United States Can Strengthen UN Peacekeeping and Support International Peace and Security

4. Januar 2021 - 16:00

One of the most visible tools of international cooperation on peace and security are UN Peacekeepers — Blue Helmets. Since the advent of UN Peacekeeping in the late 1940s, the institution of UN Peacekeeping and the circumstances in which Blue Helmets deploy have changed considerably; and in recent years the role of UN Peacekeepers and the peace and security architecture of the United Nations itself have undergone a very rapid transformation.

Today there are about 95,000 uniformed personnel deployed to 13 missions around the world.

Though the United States deploys very few boots on the ground to peacekeeping missions, it is the single largest funder of UN Peacekeeping. Also, as a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, it determines where peacekeepers should be sent. This means that the United States holds tremendous potential to determine the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping.

My guest today, Victoria Holt, has spent a career studying what makes UN Peacekeeping effective and designing policies to strengthen American support for UN Peacekeeping. Victoria Holt is Vice President at the Henry L Stimson Center and served as  Deputy Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Security during the two terms of the Obama administration. We kick off discussing a brief history of UN Peacekeeping and how it has changed over the years before having a broader conversation about what opportunities exist for the United States to help strengthen UN Peacekeeping and to support the larger peace and security architecture in which UN Peacekeeping operates.

 

Get the podcast to listen later Apple Podcasts  | Google Podcasts |  Spotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

Today’s episode is produced in partnership with the Better World Campaign as part of a series  examining the opportunities for strengthening multilateral engagement by the new Biden-Harris administration and the incoming 117th Congress. To learn more and access additional episodes in this series, please visit http://getusback.org/

The post How the United States Can Strengthen UN Peacekeeping and Support International Peace and Security appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

How the Biden-Harris Administration Can Advance a Global Human Rights Agenda

28. Dezember 2020 - 16:51

The last four years have altered the global human rights landscape in some significant ways. The Trump administration by and large abandoned multilateral forums for advancing a human rights agenda, like the UN Human Rights Council. At the same time China has begun to more proactively engage in those platforms.

The United States was a member of the Council up until 2018, when the Trump administration abruptly abandoned its seat at that table. Now, starting in 2021 the Human Rights Council will include China, but not the United States.

As Suzanne Nossel explains this has some real world implications for how the international community approaches human rights, particularly issues related to the regulation of technology and free speech in the digital space.

Suzanne Nossel is the CEO of PEN America and author of Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech to All. She served as Deputy Assistant Secretary State for International Organizations during the Obama administration where she helped design and implement US policy towards the Human Rights Council. We kick off discussing how human rights issues have evolved over the last four years before having a deeper conversation about how the Biden-Harris administration may more effectively use multilateral platforms to advance a global human rights agenda

Suzanne Nossel makes the compelling argument that the time has never been more urgent for the United States to reassert itself at multilateral human rights platforms like the Human Rights Council.

 

Get the podcast to listen later Apple Podcasts  | Google PodcastsSpotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

Today’s episode is produced in partnership with the Better World Campaign as part of a series  examining the opportunities for strengthening multilateral engagement by the new Biden-Harris administration and the incoming 117th Congress. To learn more and access additional episodes in this series, please visit http://getusback.org/

The post How the Biden-Harris Administration Can Advance a Global Human Rights Agenda appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Vaccine Multilateralism Gets a Shot in the Arm

22. Dezember 2020 - 18:30

It is the end of 2020 and two recent developments augur well for the prospects for international cooperation to confront the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.

On December 18 the multilateral platform for international cooperation around the development and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, known as COVAX, announced that it had secured nearly 2 billion doses of the vaccine for participating countries. Furthermore, it is on track to hit its target of providing 1 billion doses of the vaccine to populations of poorer countries by the end of 2021.

“190 participating and eligible economies will be able to access doses to protect vulnerable groups in the first half of 2021,” the announcement said. “At least 1.3 billion donor-funded doses will be made available to 92 economies eligible for the Gavi COVAX AMC, targeting up to 20% population coverage by the end of the year.”

This announcement by COVAX serves as an important corrective to a kind of vaccine nationalism that was threatening to pit wealthier countries against each other (and exclude poorer countries all together) in a nationalist race to secure vaccines for their populations alone.

From the Washington Post

By mid-November, wealthy nations had reserved 51 percent of various vaccine doses even though they are home to only 14 percent of the world’s population, according to a new study published by two Johns Hopkins researchers in the BMJ, a journal published by the British Medical Association.

An earlier study by researchers at Duke University estimated that people in low-income countries could be waiting for a coronavirus vaccine until 2024.

Covax on Friday announced new deals with drug companies, including an advance purchase agreement with AstraZeneca for 170 million doses and a memorandum of understanding for 500 million doses from Johnson & Johnson.

These deals will build on existing agreements with India’s Serum Institute for 200 million doses, plus options for up to 900 million doses more of either the AstraZeneca or Novavax candidates, as well as a statement of intent for 200 million doses from Sanofi/GSK, according to the WHO.

The United States is not a member of COVAX, but Congress just allocated billions to the effort.

The Trump administration has declined to enter the United States into the COVAX facility, potentially denying the American people access to millions of doses of a vaccine procured through the facility.  When the White House made that announcement it justified this decision by invoking a political narrative that sought to shift blame from its own mishandling of COVID-19 to the World Health Organization. The WHO’s participation in COVAX, said the White House, means that the United States would not participate.

Still, the United States Congress passed an end-of-year $900 billion spending and COVID-19 relief bill that included among its provisions $4 billion for GAVI–the Global Vaccine Alliance. GAVI is a public-private partnership with a long history of delivering vaccines to countries that do not have the capacity to purchase and distribute vaccines on their own. It is also the lead partner and convener of COVAX. This allocation by Congress demonstrates that America’s commitment to vaccine multilateralism will endure beyond the Trump administration’s few weeks left in office.

This is good news.

The COVID pandemic will only end through a massive global cooperative effort to deliver the vaccine to all corners of the earth.  The announcement from the World Health Organization and the COVAX partners suggested that most governments around the world have embraced this kind of self-interested approach global solidarity. Meanwhile, the incoming Biden administration has signaled that it would support COVAX. This allocation of of $4 billion by Congress is certainly a step in the right direction.

 Want to learn more? Listen to this Global Dispatches podcast interview with GAVI managing director Thabani Maphosa who explains how COVAX plans to make the vaccine widely available throughout the world.

Get the podcast to listen later Apple Podcasts  | Google PodcastsSpotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

The post Vaccine Multilateralism Gets a Shot in the Arm appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

How the Biden Administration Can Reset America’s Approach to Refugees, Asylum Seekers and International Migration

21. Dezember 2020 - 17:09

The United States has a long history of supporting refugees and asylum seekers. Until the Trump administration took office, the United States was the single largest country for refugee resettlement in the world. In most years prior to 2017, about half of all refugees who were resettled to a developed country came to the United States.

Soon after taking office, however, the Trump administration began an unprecedented rollback of US support for global refugees. By comparison, in the last year of the Obama administration the White House authorized the resettlement of over 100,000 refugees in the US. In the last year of the Trump administration that number was not to exceed 15,000.

Beyond refugee issues, the Trump administration has enacted policies the Southern US border that also upended decades of US policy on granting asylum to people fleeing persecution.

With Trump leaving office, the incoming administration has an opportunity to reset America’s approach to refugees, asylum seekers and international migration more broadly.

On the line with me to discuss some of the concrete steps the incoming Biden-Harris administration may take on these issues is Nazanin Ash, vice president for global policy and advocacy at the International Rescue Committee  We kick off discussing the ways in which refugee and asylum policy have historically enjoyed bi-partisan consensus before discussing the ways in which the incoming Biden-Harris administration can re-assert US leadership on these issues, including through some key multi-lateral platforms.

Get the podcast to listen later Apple Podcasts  | Google PodcastsSpotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

Today’s episode is produced in partnership with the Better World Campaign as part of a series  examining the opportunities for strengthening multilateral engagement by the new Biden-Harris administration and the incoming 117th Congress. To learn more and access additional episodes in this series, please visit http://getusback.org/

The post How the Biden Administration Can Reset America’s Approach to Refugees, Asylum Seekers and International Migration appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

The Western Sahara Conflict, Upended By a Trump Tweet

17. Dezember 2020 - 15:50

On December 10th, Donald Trump upended over 30 years of US diplomacy with a Tweet in which he declared American support for Morocco’s claims of sovereignty over Western Sahara.

Today, I signed a proclamation recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara. Morocco’s serious, credible, and realistic autonomy proposal is the ONLY basis for a just and lasting solution for enduring peace and prosperity!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2020

Since the 1970s, Morocco and a local group called the Polisario Front have fought for control of Western Sahara. In the early 1990s the United States brokered a ceasefire agreement which called for the people of Western Sahara, who are predominately Sahrawis, to vote in a referendum to determine their status as an independent country. A UN Peacekeeping mission was deployed to region to help maintain the ceasefire and prepare for the vote.

Despite years of diplomacy, that referendum has never taken place, for reasons we discuss in this episode.

Now, the United States has abandoned its previous support for the determination for the Sahrawi people and simply affirmed that Western Sahara is part of Morocco. In exchange, Morocco has begun to establish formal diplomatic ties with Israel.

On the line to help make sense of the significance of this move by outgoing US administration is Intissar Fakir.  She is a fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and editor of Sada, a publication that focuses on political, economic and social developments in the middle east. We spend a good deal of time in this episode discussing the recent history of the Western Sahara conflict from the 1970s to today. We then discuss the implications of the United States’ sudden reversal of its long held diplomatic position.

If you have 25 minutes and want to better understand the conflict in Western Sahara, have a listen

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The post The Western Sahara Conflict, Upended By a Trump Tweet appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

A Global Health Agenda for the Biden Administration

14. Dezember 2020 - 16:26

The COVID-19 pandemic has made global health a top tier issue in Washington. In today’s episode we explore what opportunities might exist for the incoming Biden administration and Congress to advance a global health agenda premised on strengthening international cooperation to take on common health challenges

Loyce Pace is President and CEO of the Global Health Council. We kick off discussing how the Trump administration’s approach to global health was something of departure from typical bi-partisan support for health and development around the world before discussing in depth how a Biden administration and new Congress may advance a global health agenda, including what a global response to COVID-19 might look like.

Get the podcast to listen later Apple Podcasts  | Google PodcastsSpotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

Today’s episode is produced in partnership with the Better World Campaign as part of a series  examining the opportunities for strengthening multilateral engagement by the new Biden-Harris administration and the incoming 117th Congress. To learn more and access additional episodes in this series, please visit http://getusback.org/

The post A Global Health Agenda for the Biden Administration appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

This is How European Countries Rank in their Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals

11. Dezember 2020 - 19:51

Even within a wealthy region like the European Union, it turns out that no country is on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and one of the goals in most need of improvement is No Hunger. That’s according to the new Europe Sustainable Development Goal Report published Tuesday.

The report is based on data from before the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning it presents a more optimistic outlook than what is likely the current reality. The pandemic, the report says, is a “serious setback” for sustainable development in the region and globally. Nevertheless, the SDGs are a “global affirmation of European values” and are achievable with strong political leadership.

The report also ranks the progress of every EU country toward the SDGs (with the exception of Liechtenstein for which there was insufficient data to calculate a score and ranking). At the top of the index is Finland, with an overall score of 81.1, which the report says can be interpreted as the percentage of SDGs the country has achieved. Still, even for the number one country in the region, major challenges remain for Finland toward achieving No Hunger (SDG 2), Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12) and Climate Action (SDG 13).

These challenges largely reflect the biggest challenges the EU faces as a whole: No Hunger, Climate Action, Life Below Water (SDG 14) and Life On Land (SDG 15). The report says that the EU performed especially poorly on No Hunger because of high and rising obesity rates, unsustainable diets and unsustainable agricultural and farming practices.

At the bottom of the index was Bulgaria, which earned an overall score of 55.8. On every SDG except four, it faces “significant challenges.” On the other four – Quality Education (SDG 4); Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (SDG 9), Reduced Inequalities (SDG 10); Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG 16) – it faces even bigger “major challenges.”

The index also assigned countries a “Leave No One Behind” score and a “Spillover” score. Because the SDGs are guided by a principle of leaving no one behind in the pursuit of progress, the former score is based on inequalities in poverty, services, gender and income. A higher score, therefore, corresponds with fewer population groups left behind in a country. In this regard, Norway topped Finland with a score of 87.03. At the bottom, Romania scored just slightly worse than Bulgaria with a score of 47.74 to Bulgaria’s 47.97.

Finally, the “Spillover” score takes into account that in an interconnected world, every country’s actions will have an impact, whether positive or negative, on other country’s abilities to achieve the SDGs. Based on trade, economic and security policies, the index assigned each country a third score. The higher the score, the more positive and fewer negative spillover effects a country causes. Here, the rankings are very different from the previous two measurements, with Poland, Romania and Hungary securing the first three spots in that order and with Switzerland bringing up the rear.

Overall, the report says that European countries are causing serious negative environmental, social and economic spillovers outside the region. For example, clothing, textiles and leather-product imports from other regions are related to 37 fatal workplace accidents and 21,000 nonfatal accidents every year.

Negative spillovers also increase the likelihood of future pandemics, the report says. When any country doesn’t have global health security (SDG 3 target d), the whole world is at risk, as we’ve seen this year. According to the report, suppressing the pandemic should be the region’s top priority, including learning from other countries, like those in the Asia-Pacific region, that have done a better job than Europe of handling the pandemic. Once that is tackled, the report says the SDGs provide a sustainable and inclusive framework for Europe and the world to build back better.

The post This is How European Countries Rank in their Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Five Years on from the Paris Agreement, How Can Countries Give A Boost To Their Climate Action Plans?

10. Dezember 2020 - 15:42

December 12, 2020 is the five year anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement. On that day a number of governments, civil society organizations, and other world leaders will convene virtually for a Climate Ambition Summit hosted by the United Nations, the United Kingdom, and France, in partnership with Chile and Italy. 

The idea behind the summit is to encourage governments around the world to submit what are known as enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs. These NDCs are each countries’ individual plans to take on climate change within their own national contexts. NDCs are the core of the Paris Agreement and when it was signed in 2015 there was an explicit expectation among the parties that in 5 years each country would re-sumbit revised NDCs that were of increased ambition — that is, the NDCs that countries were to announce in 2020 would do more and be farther reaching than the NDCs of 2015. 

Ahead of this summit, the podcast partnered with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) for a live taping that explored ways countries can take on climate change while also improving human health and spurring economic development. We use Chile as a starting off point for a broader conversation about ways countries can design policies to take on climate change that have knock-on benefits for health and the economy. 

Panelists:

Marcelo Mena Carrasco, Director, Center for Climate Action, Catholic University of Valparaiso, and the former Environment Minister of Chile 

Dr. Laura Gallardo Klenner, a Professor at the Center for Climate and Resilience Research at the University of Chile

Graham Watkins, Chief of the Climate Change Division, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Chris Malley, Senior Research Fellow, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)

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The post Five Years on from the Paris Agreement, How Can Countries Give A Boost To Their Climate Action Plans? appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

A Global Study Shows the Link Between Misinformation on Social Media and Vaccine Hesitancy

9. Dezember 2020 - 15:27

Steven Lloyd Wilson, Brandeis University and Charles Shey Wiysonge, South African Medical Research Council

Vaccine hesitancy is a severe threat to global health, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The term refers to the delay in acceptance or the refusal of vaccines, despite the availability of vaccination services. It’s a serious risk to the people who aren’t getting vaccinated as well as the wider community.

Vaccine hesitancy is not new. There have been some sceptics ever since vaccination began. Soon after Dr Edward Jenner invented the smallpox vaccine in 1796, rumours started spreading that cow heads would erupt from the bodies of people who received the vaccine.

But the issue is particularly urgent now in efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Preliminary results from four clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines suggest that they are highly effective in preventing COVID-19 infection. This is promising. But the mere existence of vaccines is not enough. People would need to accept and take the vaccines in sufficient numbers to interrupt the transmission of COVID-19 infection.

A recent survey shows that a substantial proportion of people may refuse or delay taking a COVID-19 vaccine. It’s important to understand why.

Social media has spread a lot of anti-vaccination misinformation over the last 20 years. We recently evaluated the effect of social media on vaccine hesitancy globally.

We saw that in countries where social media is used to organise offline action, more people tend to believe that vaccinations are unsafe. We also found that foreign disinformation campaigns online are associated with both a drop in vaccination coverage over time and an increase in negative discussion of vaccines on social media.

Delays and refusals of vaccination for COVID-19 – or any other vaccine-preventable disease – would prevent communities from reaching thresholds of coverage necessary for herd immunity. Community transmission of COVID-19 would continue, keeping the pandemic alive.

Research design

We measured social media usage in two ways. Firstly, we assessed the use of any social media platforms by the public to organise offline political action of any kind. Secondly, we measured the level of negatively oriented discourse about vaccines on social media using all geocoded tweets in the world from 2018 to 2019. Geocoded tweets generate an indication of place either from contextual clues or from the global position of the device. We also measured the level of foreign-sourced coordinated disinformation (that is, intentional misinformation) on social media in each country, using Digital Society Project indicators.

Intentional pushing of anti-vaccination propaganda has been traced to pseudo-state actors affiliated with Russia as part of general efforts to disrupt trust in experts and authorities throughout the western world.

We measured vaccine hesitancy using the percentage of the public per country who feel that vaccines are unsafe, using Wellcome Global Monitor indicators for 137 countries. We also used annual vaccination coverage data from the World Health Organisation for 166 countries.

Our purpose was to evaluate whether social media organisation and foreign disinformation were associated with increases in vaccine hesitancy and actual levels of vaccination.

Numerous studies of single countries and populations have found that anti-vaccination propaganda has increased vaccine hesitancy. Our study aimed to quantify this effect around the world.

Results

We found that the use of social media to organise offline action is strongly associated with the perception that vaccinations are unsafe. This perception escalates as more organisation occurs on social media. In addition, foreign disinformation online is strongly associated with both an increase in negative discussion of vaccines on social media and a decline in vaccination coverage over time.

We used a five-point scale to measure how much foreign governments disseminate false information in a country. It ranged from “Never or almost never” to “Extremely often”. A one-point shift upwards on this scale was associated with a 15% increase in negative tweets about vaccines and a two percentage point decrease in the average vaccination coverage year over year.

Social media allows for easy mass public communication. This makes it easy to share fringe opinions and disinformation widely. Since any opinion can be presented as fact, it’s more difficult for individuals to be informed about issues. Truth is lost in noise. It’s hard to tell whether something is an established fact.

The creation of doubt is particularly harmful when it comes to vaccination, because uncertainty causes vaccine hesitancy. Vaccine hesitancy has resulted in many of the measles outbreaks in Europe and North America from 2018 to 2020.

In 2003, widespread rumours about polio vaccines intensified vaccine hesitancy in Nigeria. This led to a boycott of polio vaccination in parts of the country. The result was a five-fold increase in cases of polio in the country between 2003 and 2006. The boycott also contributed to polio epidemics across three continents.

Recommendations

Our study suggests that combating social media disinformation regarding vaccines is critical to reversing the growth in vaccine hesitancy around the world. These findings are especially salient in the context of the current pandemic, given that COVID-19 vaccines will require deployment globally to billions of people. Policymakers need to begin planning now for ways to work against the patterns found in this study.

The findings demonstrate that public outreach and public education about the importance of vaccination will not be enough to ensure optimal uptake of COVID-19 vaccines. Governments should hold social media companies accountable by mandating them to remove false anti-vaccination content, regardless of its source.

The key to countering online misinformation is its removal by social media platforms. Presentation of arguments against blatant misinformation paradoxically reinforces the misinformation, because arguing against it gives it legitimacy.

Steven Lloyd Wilson, Assistant Professor of Politics, Brandeis University and Charles Shey Wiysonge, Director, Cochrane South Africa, South African Medical Research Council

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

The post A Global Study Shows the Link Between Misinformation on Social Media and Vaccine Hesitancy appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Legendary US Diplomat Thomas Pickering Explains How the US Can Get Its Multilateral Groove Back

3. Dezember 2020 - 15:15

Ambassador Thomas Pickering is a legendary retired US foreign service officer. He had a four decade career in diplomacy, including stints as United States ambassador to Russia, India, Israel, Nigeria, and El Salvador, among other key postings.

In 1989, President George H.W. Bush appointed him United States Ambassador to the United Nations where he played a critical role in marshaling broad international support against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

The diplomacy that accompanied the international effort to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait in the early 1990s is considered to be a high water mark for US multilateral engagement.This is why I was curious to learn from Ambassador Pickering about what opportunities may exist for the incoming Biden administration to re-establish US global leadership and multilateral engagement?

We kick off discussing the Trump administration’s approach to multilateralism before having a broader conversation about the changing nature of the UN and ways the Biden administration can productively work with with allies and adversaries to advance American interests and the global good.

If you have 20 minutes and want to learn from one of America’s most decorated diplomats, have a listen.

 

Get the podcast to listen later Apple Podcasts  | Google PodcastsSpotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

Today’s episode is produced in partnership with the Better World Campaign as part of a series  examining the opportunities for strengthening multilateral engagement by the new Biden-Harris administration and the incoming 117th Congress. To learn more and access additional episodes in this series, please visit http://getusback.org/

 

The post Legendary US Diplomat Thomas Pickering Explains How the US Can Get Its Multilateral Groove Back appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a Wide-Ranging Climate Interview Urges US To Join “Net Zero By 2050 Coalition”

2. Dezember 2020 - 18:20

By Mark Hertsgaard

This story originally appeared in The Nation. It is republished through the Covering Climate Now consortium of news outlets, of which UN Dispatch is a member. 

“The way we are moving is a suicide,” United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said in an interview on Monday, and humanity’s survival will be “impossible” without the United States rejoining the Paris Agreement and achieving “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050, as the incoming Biden administration has pledged.

The Secretary General said that “of course” he had been in touch with president-elect Biden and looked forward to welcoming the US into a “global coalition for net zero by 2050” that the UN has organized.  The US is the world’s largest cumulative  source of heat trapping emissions and its biggest military and economic power, Guterres noted, so “there is no way we can solve the [climate] problem … without strong American leadership.”

In an extraordinary  if largely unheralded diplomatic achievement, most of the world’s leading emitters have already joined the UN’s “net zero by 2050” coalition, including the European Union, Japan, the United Kingdom, and China (which is the world’s largest source of annual emissions and has committed to achieving carbon neutrality “before 2060”).  India, meanwhile, the world’s third largest annual emitter,  is the only Group of 20 country on track to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, despite needing to lift many of its people out of poverty, an achievement Guterres called “remarkable.”  Along with fellow petrostate Russia, the US has been the only major holdout, after Donald Trump announced he was withdrawing the US from the Paris Agreement soon after becoming president four years ago.

The new pledges could bring the Paris Agreement’s goals “within reach,” provided that the pledges are fulfilled, concluded an analysis by the independent research group Climate Action Tracker.  If so, temperature rise could be limited to 2.1 C, the group said—higher than the Agreement’s target of 1.5 to 2 C, but a major improvement from the 3 to 5 C future that business as usual would deliver.

“The targets set at Paris were always meant to be increased over time,” Guterres said.  “[Now,] we need to align those commitments with a 1.5 C future, and then you must implement.”

Reiterating scientists’ warning that humanity faces “a climate emergency,” the Secretary General said that achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 is imperative to avoiding “irreversible” impacts that would be “absolutely devastating for the world economy and for human life.”  He said rich countries must honor their obligation under the Paris Agreement to provide $100 billion a year to help developing countries limit their own climate pollution and adapt to the heat waves, storms, and sea level rise already underway.

The trillions of dollars now being invested to revive pandemic-battered economies also must be spent in a “green” way, Guterres argued, or today’s younger generations will inherit “a wrecked planet.”  And he predicted that the oil and gas industry, in its present form, will die out before the end of this century as economies shift to renewable energy sources.

The Secretary General’s interview, conducted by CBS News, The Times of India, and El Pais on behalf of the journalistic consortium Covering Climate Now, is part of a 10-day push by the UN to reinvigorate the Paris Agreement before a follow-up conference next year.  That conference, known as the 26th Conference of the Parties, or COP 26, was supposed to take place this week but was postponed due to the pandemic.  On December 12, 2020, Guterres will mark the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement by convening a global climate summit with Boris Johnson, who as prime minister of the UK is the official host of COP 26, which occurs in Glasgow, Scotland, next November.

A total of 110 countries have joined the “net zero by 2050” coalition, the Secretary General said, a development he attributed to growing recognition of the increasingly frequent and destructive extreme weather events climate change is unleashing around the world and the “tremendous pressure” governments have faced from civil society, including millions of young people protesting in virtually every country as well as more and more of the private sector.

“Governments, until now, thought to a certain extent that they could do whatever they wanted,” Guterres said.  “But now … we see the youth mobilizing in fantastic ways all over the world.”  And with solar and other renewable energy sources now cheaper than carbon-based equivalents, investors are realizing that “the sooner that they move … to portfolios linked to the new green and digital economy, the best it will be for their own assets and their own clients.”

For a global economy that still relies on oil, gas, and coal for most of its energy and much of its food production, moving to “net zero” by 2050 nevertheless represents a tectonic shift—all the more so because scientists calculate that emissions must fall roughly by half over the next 10 years to hit the 2050 target.  Achieving those goals will require fundamental shifts in both public and private policy, including building no new coal plants and phasing out existing ones, Guterres said.  Governments must also reform tax and subsidy practices.

There should be “no more subsidies for fossil fuels,” the Secretary General said.  “It doesn’t make any sense that taxpayers’ money is spent destroying the planet.  At the same time, we should shift taxation from income to carbon, from taxpayers to polluters.  I’m not asking governments to increase taxes.  I’m asking governments to reduce the taxes on payrolls or on companies that commit to invest in green energy and put that level of taxation on carbon pollution.”

Governments must also ensure a “just transition” for the people and communities affected by the phase-out of fossil fuels, with workers getting unemployment payments and retraining for jobs in the new green economy.  “When I was in government [as the prime minister of Portugal], we had to close all the coal mines,” he recalled.  “We did everything we could to make sure that those who were working in those mines would have their futures guaranteed.”

The “cycle of oil as the key engine of the world economy is finished,” Guterres said.  By the end of the 21st century, petroleum might still be used “as raw materials for different products… but the role of fossil fuels as [an energy source] will be minimal.”  As for fossil fuel companies’ stated ambitions to continue producing more oil, gas and coal, Guterres said that throughout history various economic sectors have risen and fallen and that the digital sector has now displaced the fossil fuel sector as the center of the global economy.  “I’m totally convinced that a lot of the oil and gas that is today in the soil,” he said, “will remain in the soil.”

The post UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a Wide-Ranging Climate Interview Urges US To Join “Net Zero By 2050 Coalition” appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

How Joe Biden Could Restore US Leadership at the United Nations in His First 100 Days

1. Dezember 2020 - 15:52

The first 100 days of any new presidential administration offers a key inflection point, signaling the policies that the new administration will prioritize and champion. It is during those first 100 days that the new administration gets the most leeway from congress, the media, and the general public to set their agenda.  

Setting that agenda often includes a mix of new executive actions, supporting specific pieces of legislation, and releasing a federal budget request to congress which demonstrates the new administration’s funding priorities. 

This is the opportunity for the Biden administration when it takes office on January 20. In today’s episode, we take a deep dive into what a Biden-Administration’s first 100-day agenda may look like when it comes to re-setting America’s relationship with the United Nations and other multilateral organizations.

Peter Yeo is the President of the Better World Campaign and Senior Vice President of the United Nations Foundation. He has had a long career in congress, the federal government and advocacy; and he explains the various executive actions and legislative priorities that the Biden administration will likely pursue to signal the United States’ renewed commitment to multilateralism. 

Get the podcast to listen later Apple Podcasts  | Google PodcastsSpotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

Today’s episode is produced in partnership with the Better World Campaign as part of a series  examining the opportunities for strengthening multilateral engagement by the new Biden-Harris administration and the incoming 117th Congress. To learn more and access additional episodes in this series, please visit http://getusback.org/

 

The post How Joe Biden Could Restore US Leadership at the United Nations in His First 100 Days appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Inside Yemen’s Hunger Wards

30. November 2020 - 18:38

Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and is in imminent danger of descending into the worst famine the world has ever seen.

Years of fighting in a civil war that has been internationalized has ground Yemen’s economy to a halt. The importation of food and fuel has been weaponized by the belligerents, causing increasing levels of acute malnutrition, particularly among children

In early November,  UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres sought to stir international attention and action to avert a looming famine.

“Yemen is now in imminent danger of the worst famine the world has seen for decades. In the absence of immediate action, millions of lives may be lost.

This arises from the combination of a drastic reduction in funding for the UN-coordinated relief operation this year compared to 2018 and 2019, a failure to sustain external support for Yemen’s economy, especially in stabilizing the value of the Yemeni Rial, and the impact of the ongoing conflict and impediments imposed by powerful Yemeni and other parties on the life-saving work of humanitarian agencies. Locusts and floods compound these problems.

I urge all those with influence to act urgently on these issues to stave off catastrophe, and I also request that everyone avoids taking any action that could make the already dire situation even worse.

Failing that, we risk a tragedy not just in the immediate loss of life but with consequences that will reverberate indefinitely into the future.”

His warnings have so far, not been heeded.

What a hunger crisis looks like, up close and personal

Earlier this year, filmmaker Skye Fitzgerald documented heroic efforts by doctors and health workers fight acute malnutrition that is inflicting children in Yemen. His new film “Hunger Ward” gives viewers a vivid account of how the war in Yemen is causing widespread starvation and malnutrition among Yemeni children. The film depicts healthcare providers in two separate hospitals who specialize in treating acute malnutrition in children. In both cases, specially trained doctors and nurses fight malnutrition, one child at a time. It is an intense but  vital film that in may ways that humanizes statements like this one from the Secretary General.

I speak with Skye Fitzgerald about the film and what he hoped to achieve by making a documentary about these two Hunger Wards.

Get the podcast to listen later Apple Podcasts  | Google PodcastsSpotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

The post Inside Yemen’s Hunger Wards appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Linda Thomas-Greenfield Will Bring “Gumbo Diplomacy” to the United Nations

23. November 2020 - 18:02

Linda Thomas-Greenfield will be nominated by President-elect Joe Biden to serve as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield is a veteran diplomat who most recently served as Assistant-Secretary of State for African Affairs in the Obama administration. Prior to that she served as the US Ambassador to Liberia during a critical time in that country’s transition to democracy.

Her experience in African affairs will serve her well at the United Nations. The majority of the work of the Security Council pertains to peace and security issues in Africa and many recent American ambassadors have had deep experience in conflict management issues in Africa, including Susan Rice (also a former Assistant Secretary of Secretary of State for African Affairs) and Samantha Power.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield left the State Department in 2017, amid a wider purge by the Trump administration of senior career diplomats. Not long after, she sat down with me for a long interview about her life and career.  We cover a lot of ground in this interview, which alternates between a discussion about policy and her own fascinating life story.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who is African American, was born in a small segregated town in Louisiana, the oldest of eight children. Her father was a day laborer, and not literate. Her mother was a cook. She graduated from a segregated high school and was one of the few African American women to be accepted into Louisiana State University in the 1970s, which was a deeply racist institution at the time. (The notorious KKK leader David Duke was a fixture on campus at the time, she explains).

After LSU,  Linda Thomas-Greenfield went to graduate school in Wisconsin before joining the Foreign Service in the early 1980s. She served in several posts throughout Africa and in senior positions in the State Department before becoming Ambassador to Liberia in 2008.

At the start of the interview, Linda Thomas-Greenfield tells me that her second career choice is to be a famous Louisiana chef. To that end, she explains to me her theory and practice of Gumbo Diplomacy — which she is sure to bring to the United Nations.

If you want to learn the fascinating life story of the next US Ambassador to the United Nations, have a listen.

Get the podcast to listen later Apple Podcasts  | Google PodcastsSpotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

The post Linda Thomas-Greenfield Will Bring “Gumbo Diplomacy” to the United Nations appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

What’s Next for the Iran Nuclear Deal?

19. November 2020 - 17:16

When President Trump came to office in 2017, he inherited from President Obama the Iran Nuclear Deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.  The JCPOA was negotiated between the United States, Iran and the rest of the permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany. It offered Iran a lifting of international sanctions in return for verifiable limits on Iran’s nuclear program. The deal was signed in 2015 and shortly thereafter approved by the UN Security Council.

Of course, President Trump left this diplomatic agreement. The Trump administration embarked on a campaign of so-called “Maximum Pressure” against Iran, presumably in an effort to secure what Trump would considered a better deal. The campaign included the re-imposition of US sanctions and an effort to deter allies in Europe from doing business with Iran. Also, in January this year the United States assassinated a top Iranian military figure, Qassam Soulameni.

Even though the Trump administration is leaving office in a few weeks, it is still seeking to ratchet up pressure on Iran, despite having very little to show for this strategy.  On Wednesday November 18, Trump’s Treasury Department announced yet more sanctions against Iranian linked entities.

Needless to say, the Iranians have not been swayed by this maximum pressure campaign, and indeed they have taken certain steps in breach of the JCPOA.

Such is the state of relations between the United States and Iran that Joe Biden will inherit when he takes office in January. So, to help me understand whether or not it is even possible for a Biden administration to revive the JCPOA; and what steps a Biden administration can take to get diplomacy with Iran back on track is Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute.

We kick off discussing the Trump administration’s relationship to Iran before discussing how a Biden administration may more productively approach diplomacy with Iran. If you have 20 minutes and want to learn what may be next for US diplomacy with Iran, have a listen.

 

Get the podcast to listen later Apple Podcasts  | Google PodcastsSpotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

The post What’s Next for the Iran Nuclear Deal? appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

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