Daily Archives: March 3, 2015

Security Council approves system to impose targeted sanctions in South Sudan

3 March 2015 – The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution today creating a system by which it would to impose sanctions on those blocking peace in South Sudan, the 15-member body’s latest step towards ending a conflict that has killed thousands in the world’s newest country.
According to the text, the Council endorsed the Cessation of Hostilities Agreements accepted and signed by both the Governments of South Sudan and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM)-in Opposition on 23 January 2014, 6 May 2014 and 9 May 2014.
Reiterating that there is no military solution to the conflict, the Council demanded that all parties adhere to and immediately implement the cessation of hostilities agreements, “including the progressive withdrawal of foreign forces deployed in South Sudan since 15 December 2013,” and, among other terms, demanded that the parties commit to finding a comprehensive agreement without further delay.
The resolution also expressed deep concern at the “failures” of both parties to engage in a palpable peace process which would lead to political resolve and bring an end to the violence. The text underscored its “willingness to impose targeted sanctions in order to support the search for peace.”
While no listings were made, the resolution sets out a series of listing criteria. The sanctions are expected to apply to those responsible for, complicit in, or engaged directly or indirectly in actions or policies threatening the peace, security or stability of South Sudan.
These actions or policies apply but are not limited to those expanding or extending the conflict or obstructing reconciliation and peace talks or processes, threatening transitional agreements or undermining the political process and planning, directing or committing acts that violate applicable international humanitarian and human rights law and human rights abuses.
The resolution, drafted by the United States, also applies to those targeting civilians or attacking hospitals, religious sites, schools or locations where civilians seek refuge and recruiting or using children by armed forces or groups. In addition, those obstructing the work of international peacekeeping, diplomatic or humanitarian missions or hindering the delivery and distribution of humanitarian aid or access to such aid also apply.
Furthermore, the Council decided that it could impose a travel ban and an assets freeze for an initial period of one year on individuals and entities designated by a sanctions committee to be established through the resolution. The travel ban would apply to individuals, while the assets freeze would apply to individuals as well as entities such as government, opposition or militia groups.
To assist the relevant Sanctions Committee in its work, the Council requested the Secretary-General to set up a five-member panel of experts to provide information relevant to the potential designation of individuals and entities. Renewal of the panel’s mandate would be considered no later than 2 March 2016. Among other responsibilities, the panel will collect and analyse information regarding the flow of arms and related military assistance to those undermining the peace process and committing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
The security situation in South Sudan has deteriorated steadily over the past year since political in-fighting between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his former Vice-President, Riek Machar and their respective factions erupted in December 2013. The hostilities subsequently turned into a full-fledged conflict that has sent nearly 100,000 civilians fleeing to bases around the country managed by the UN Missions (UNMISS).
While the crisis has uprooted an estimated 1.9 million people and placed more than 7 million at risk of hunger and disease, a recent peace deal between the warring factions had fostered hope of a definitive end to the year-long conflict.

From emergency to recovery: EU mobilises efforts to end Ebola and alleviate its impact

The “Ebola: from emergency to recovery” conference is taking place in Brussels today under the organisation and patronage of the European Union. While international efforts have reduced the number of Ebola infections in recent months, it is critical to maintain the momentum to prevent a sharp increase in new cases. The conference today aims to sustain the international mobilisation and to plan the next steps in the fight both against the current outbreak and the Ebola virus in general.
The Ebola conference is co-chaired by the European Union, the Presidents of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the United Nations, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). It brings together all key international players to prepare the actions needed now to bring the number of Ebola infections down to zero – and the measures to help the affected countries recover from the severe blows that the epidemic has dealt their people and economies.
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, said: “To end Ebola and ensure sustainable development in the affected region is the best way to honour the memory of the victims. I would also like to pay tribute to all those who have been involved in the outbreak response with expertise, dedication and courage. Together with our Member States, we have mobilised more than €1.2 billion for the fight against this disease. And we will continue to help until we win the battle against Ebola”.
High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini added: ”Ebola is a challenge that we must continue to tackle collectively, quickly and for the long term, also to help make sure that no other epidemic will have such a devastating impact in the future. Today is the time to do so: we have the opportunity and the responsibility to be effective in our development aid, to promote good governance and invigorate regional cooperation. With its political, diplomatic, humanitarian and financial tools, the EU is part of the solution and a partner”.
Today’s conference will review progress and outline concrete steps to:
Ensure funds already pledged are made available and maintain international support (medical teams, laboratories, epidemiologists, research efforts and other resources) until there are no more cases of Ebola
Make the response more mobile and flexible
Promote regional cooperation
Assist countries in West Africa work on prevention, containment and preparedness – to help secure that no other epidemic will have such devastating impact in future
Build resilient health systems in the affected countries with enhanced infection control and capacities to adhere to International Health Regulations
Improve governance and accountability in the affected countries
Priority areas for recovery include resuming and improving basic services (health, education, water, sanitation) and the need to return to sustainable economic development. At the conference today, the governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are presenting their assessments and plans for national recovery.
Background
The high level conference “Ebola: from emergency to recovery” gathers EU Member States, the countries affected by Ebola and those contributing to the fight against the disease, international and non-governmental organisations, the private sector and the scientific community. The EU is represented by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and EU Commissioners Christos Stylianides, Vytenis Andriukaitis, Neven Mimica and Carlos Moedas. Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of Belgium will be opening the conference.
In the margins of the event, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica will present a new EU mobile laboratory: a large truck lab which is set to be transported to West Africa where it will be used for the training of local specialists on diagnosis of highly dangerous pathogens.
The European Union has mobilised substantial political, financial and scientific resources to help the affected people and to contain, control, treat and ultimately defeat the Ebola virus. The EU’s total financial contribution to fight the epidemic is over €1.2billion. This includes funding from Member States and the European Commission.
The Commission has provided over €414 million to fight the disease, covering emergency measures, urgent Ebola research, as well as longer-term support. The recent announcement of the first results ever to show that a treatment (favipiravir) might be effective against early Ebola disease is a result of this financial support.
 For more information
The EU’s contribution to the fight against Ebola:
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-15-4507_en.htm
The EU’s support for sustainable development in the Ebola-affected countries:
https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/sites/devco/files/ebola-memo-20150227_en.pdf
EU contribution to urgent Ebola research:
http://ec.europa.eu/research/health/infectious-diseases/emerging-epidemics/ebola_en.html
DG Health and Food Safety – latest developments:
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ebola/index_en.htm

Holding Us in Check – When Emotions Are High & Expediency Beckons [analysis]

The Constitution & Bill of Rights in a nutshell
In the heat of the moment, when short-term expediency beckons, when emotions are high we need to take a step back. We need to assess the righteousness of any action or decision as an important way of securing the progress our democracy enables. We need a yardstick. This ‘yardstick’ is our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Just over 20 years ago, we reached agreement to establish a constitutional democracy. It was the basis for a new understanding of how to advance the goals of equality, dignity and freedom. For the first time in South Africa, we accepted the value of a ‘yardstick’ against which actions in our society could be measured.
Although the extension of the franchise, the protection of freedom of speech and protection of choice are all clear examples and indications of how dramatic the shift from apartheid to democracy is, the Constitution also acts as a social compact on the basis of which far more transformation is required.
The imperative to move away from the apartheid discrimination and its legacy is referenced in the preamble.
However, the substance of this injunction is contained in explicit terms in a number of the rights, particularly those dealing with social and economic transformation. And the primary duty for the fulfilment of these rights does not lie exclusively with government but to all the holders of power – political and economic.
The obligations to respect and safeguard the rights of others are limits on individual freedom and apply to every person. Existing laws – whether part of customary practice or as a result of statute – or those that elected representatives enact have to comply with this Constitutional framework.
But the Constitution is a law and like all laws its strength lies with the tangible benefits that its implementation brings. The idea that any law can be upheld simply through Court processes and enforcement mechanisms is delusional. At the same time, some of the benefits of our transition are not purely measurable in terms of material gains. Consequently, for ordinary citizens to assess the impact of constitutional democracy and to measure its progress, it is vital for on-going education to all citizens to be provided about the Constitution, the bill of rights and apartheid history. Part of judging how strong the Constitution remains as a social compact is the exploration and debate around the narrative of our past.
Race is a key part of our social fabric as a consequence of colonialism with the slavery and enslavement it involved and our apartheid history. It touches every part of our lives and is embedded in the spatial geography of our country. Yet it is an ‘uncomfortable topic’ because to recognise it has the potential to shake our optimism that we have advanced and can unleash many of the manifestations of the underlying, untransformed and/or unresolved trauma of our recent history. Yet we avoid these issues at our peril.
The Human Rights Commission is called upon every day to deliberate on complex issues of race, gender and class in South Africa. We do so, recognising that even in contexts where we expect egalitarian relationships to flourish, there remain deep historical wounds that must be factored into our findings. The vision of a transformed society, with rights that are secure and progressively realised and where dignity is restored and protected are inextricably linked and at their centre, lies the core of our exploitative and repressive past – namely, racialism. For us to move ahead, we need to consciously confront the politics of identity. We need to do this not as a mantra or with any illusion that we have all the answers.
Many of the interventions that have been devised have sought to bring about change in the shortest time possible. Schemes have been crafted with a view to laying out that which can be promised by representatives with an electoral mandate of a five-year term. It is not surprising that many of these measures fall short of the structural changes that need to be made to our economy, our education system and our infrastructure – changes which will take decades of consistent policy and implementation. Often failure needs to have something to blame and more often than not, blame is placed on the law, on the bill of rights and on the people whose expectations spill over into manifestations of anger.
Yet, blame is usually waived about at times when the real source of anger and frustration need a cloak to hide behind. It is when people who do not have water to drink anywhere near their homes are promised solutions repeatedly that fail to materialise with no attempt at explanation. It is when community members are informed about plans at meetings which masquerade as consultations. It is the failure to repair roads in the face of local government spending on convoys of cars to accompany politicians. It is the unexplained wealth of those who wield power – political and economic – and are then not held to account when evidence of corruption emerge. One only has to look at housing projects that see millions being paid to private developers who abscond.
The transparency, fairness and accountability promised in our Constitution are vital to secure our democracy. These are primary forces for good or evil and without them our democracy is not only undermined but is placed at risk.
The year 2015 will mark the South African Human Rights Commission’s (SAHRC) own 20th anniversary. As one of the institutions established to support democracy through its ability to independently promote, protect and monitor rights in South Africa, the Commission will reflect on its existence, functionality and impact over the period. The state of the country’s economic and social rights has a bearing on the institution’s monitoring mandate, and how it is exercised to influence the promotion and protection mandates. Disregard for environmental rights – for which business is responsible – have a huge impact on economic and social rights including pollution, water scarcity, food shortages, waste disposal, natural disasters and their impact on food, housing, health, service delivery and so on.
It is hoped that through the processes of celebrating 20 years of constitutional democracy and the institutions that our Constitution created, we will be able to genuinely reflect. It is in this regard that those involved in all areas of media and journalism can play a critical role.
Janet Love serves as a Commissioner of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on a part-time basis and is the National Director of the Legal Resources Centre (LRC). Having been involved as an anti-apartheid activist from1974, Janet was involved in the negotiations for a settlement in South Africa from the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA), through the Multi-Party Process to the establishment of the Transitional Executive Council (TEC). She served as an ANC Member of Parliament from 1994 to 1999 and was a member of the 22-person Constitutional Committee of the Constitutional Assembly, the body responsible for steering of the constitution-making process. She studied through both the University of the Witwatersrand and of London and has post-graduate qualifications in public administration, development management and economics. Before joining the LRC, she worked in the South African Reserve Bank for five years as head of strategic analysis and support in the currency department.

SAIIA At the 2015 Mining Indaba [analysis]

Both the industry-led African Mining Indaba and its Civil Society-led counterpart, the Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI), take place in Cape Town every February. In 2015, SAIIA has continued with its efforts to help build a bridge across the Indaba divide, with two separate stakeholder engagements during the Indaba week involving government, corporate and community participants.
On 9 February 2015, SAIIA convened its third Mining Indaba Roundtable which focused on environmental governance of the extractive industries in South Africa. The theme for this year was: ‘ From acid mine drainage to fracking’. We attracted our widest and most diverse audience yet.
Four expert speakers addressed the need for greater legislative coherence, political will and technical capacity to ensure that mining did indeed produce genuine social benefits.
Substantive problems include the difficulty of tasking the Department of Mineral Resources with both administering mining licences as well as the responsibility for environmental oversight.
Other issues such as deficient technical and administrative capacities as well as lingering co-ordination challenges among responsible state institutions were also highlighted.
Speakers revealed that a large proportion of mining projects are delayed primarily due to social and environmental opposition. There are no easy solutions in this complex field, but a fruitful discussion with informed contributions from an audience of 85 individuals pointed to some of the potential paths forward.
Our second Indaba event – the SAIIA Changemakers Forum – took place on 13 February with high-profile participants from across the Indaba divide, including corporate leaders, community voices, the diplomatic community and multilateral organisations.
The objective of this Forum was threefold. First, to facilitate engagement among key stakeholders who may not otherwise be in the same room. Second, to reflect together on critical blockages to extractive sector transformation and explore prospective joint undertakings to provide needed solutions.
Thirdly, the interaction generates concrete outcomes to inform regional and continental level governance initiatives for the extractive sector, such as the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the Africa Mining Vision.
This was the third meeting of the Changemakers Forum. Each year has provided a clearer picture of the forum’s practical utilities, especially in forging new relationships and stimulating new ideas for lasting transformation in the African extractive sector.
These initiatives and related events will provide the basis for ongoing policy engagement by SAIIA’s Governance of Africa’s resource Programme (GARP).
We will also continue to leverage insights from our convening role at the Indaba to inform multi-stakeholder processes in which GARP is involved, including in South Africa, SADC and the broader African context.
This article was written by Ola Bello, Alex Benkenstein, Romy Chevallier, Ross Harvey, Lala Nongalaza and Busisipho Siyobi.
Related Mining research
SAIIA has released a number of useful research papers which speak directly to issues on the agenda of the 2015 Mining Indaba:
‘Illegal sand mining in South Africa’, SAIIA Policy Briefing (2014), by Romy Chevallier.
‘ Towards Agenda 2063: Reinventing Partnerships on extractive governance’, SAIIA Policy Briefing (2015), by Ola Bello.
‘ Maximising Positive Impacts of Mining Projects: Stakeholders and Partnerships,’ SAIIA Policy Briefing (2015), by Daniel Limpitlaw.
‘ From Natural Resource Dependence to Diversified Economies: An Agenda for Future Research (PDF, 112.66 kB)’, SAIIA Policy Note (2015), by Ross Harvey.
‘ Revamping artisanal gold mining in Zimbabwe to catalyse poverty reduction’, SAIIA Policy Briefing (2014) by Ola Bello and Megan Bybee.
‘ Seabed mining: Lessons from the Namibian experience’, SAIIA Policy Briefing (2014) by Alex Benkenstein.
‘ Botswana’s coal: Dead in the water or economic game-changer?’, SAIIA Policy Note (2014), by Ross Harvey.
‘ Minefields of Marikana: Prospects for forging a new social compact’, SAIIA Occasional Paper (2014), by Ross Harvey.
‘ Nationalism with Chinese characteristics: How does it affect the competitiveness of South Africa’s mining industry?’, SAIIA Policy Briefing (2014), by Ross Harvey.
‘ Africa’s extractive governance architecture: Lessons to inform a shifting agenda’, SAIIA Policy Briefing (2014), by Ola Bello.
‘ Mining for development in Guinea: An examination of the Simandou iron-ore project’, SAIIA Policy Briefing (2014), by Ross Harvey
‘ Future oil revenues and political dynamics in West and East Africa: A slippery slope?’, SAIIA Occasional Paper (2014), by Ross Harvey
‘ Mining and development: Lessons learnt from South Africa and beyond’, SAIIA Policy Briefing (2014), by Ross Harvey

University of KwaZulu-Natal Wins Share of Global US$1 million Healthcare Innovation Award

Ground-breaking ‘FoneAstra’ system gives premature babies access to safe donated breast milk
 Mobile phone app supports banking of breast milk in poor and remote rural areas to cut infant mortality
A team from the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has been awarded US$370,000 for a low-cost toolkit that supports the provision of donor breast milk through human milk banks (HMBs) and breastfeeding support centres using a simple mobile-phone app. The ‘FoneAstra’ human milk pasteurisation toolkit, originally developed by UKZN, health NGO PATH and the University of Washington, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, is one of four African initiatives to have won a share of the second GSK and Save the Children Healthcare Innovation Award. The initiative was highlighted during a roundtable discussion with stakeholders and policy makers convened by GSK and Save the Children today to discuss the impact of the Award on health innovation trends in South Africa.
Up to 25 per cent of premature or low birth-weight babies cannot get sufficient breast milk from their mothers, often for reasons of illness or low supply, which leaves them more vulnerable to life threatening conditions such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and neonatal sepsis.
Professor Anna Coutsoudis, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, UKZN, said: “Breastfeeding is one of the key strategies in South Africa for reducing infant mortality. Donated breast milk is a lifeline for premature babies whose mothers aren’t able to give them the nutrition they need. The FoneAstra system makes it much easier to provide safe donated milk and set up small-scale human milk banks in poorer settings as part of a comprehensive breast-feeding promotion campaign.”
The FoneAstra system uses a mobile phone app that connects a cell phone to a probe that monitors the temperature of the donated breast milk. It provides a step-by-step guide through the pasteurisation process and makes it easier to track and trace donor milk for increased quality control and assurance. It can be adapted for use in settings with no electricity.
Ramil Burden, Vice President, Africa and Developing Countries, said: “The simplicity, low cost and intuitive nature of this innovation is a great example of a sustainable intervention that addresses neonatal health issues. Linking this to government priorities and engaging the community also helps promotes education and good practice.”
Gugulethu Ndebele, Chief Executive Officer, Save the Children, South Africa, said: “In order to bring life-saving healthcare to the hardest to reach children, there is a need for ambitious new ideas and collaboration. So it is fantastic that the Healthcare Innovation Award has recognised an innovation that is using a low-cost system to enable the safe storage of breast milk, which will help to save children’s lives. Through the recognition and funding from this Award this initiative can help make a bigger impact for some of the most vulnerable children.”
Currently used in four milk banks at district-level hospitals in South Africa, the team from the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at UKZN, is also, in collaboration with the Department of Health, rolling out the FoneAstra system to an additional five district hospitals across the KwaZulu-Natal Province. The team aims to set up a network of human milk banks across the country, which will act as local focal points for breast-feeding promotion and support beyond the district hospital level, reaching the needs of newborns and vulnerable infants in the community. The model has already been requested by Kenya, Ethiopia, Cameroon and India.
The Healthcare Innovation Award is a key initiative delivered as part of an ambitious partnership between GSK and Save the Children, which aims to deliver a new model for corporate-charity working to help save the lives of one million of the world’s most vulnerable children.