DGI Brief - Sep 13, 2016
- The commander of COLOMBIA’s Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Ivan Marquez, formally apologized in a video message for the group’s tactic of kidnapping people for ransom. Marquez, who was also the group’s lead negotiator in the peace process, acknowledged causing “great pain” & “harming entire families”. In a span of 40 years, FARC kidnapped about 27,000 people – that’s the official figure. Why this matters: the apology and a promise to never use the practice again will not undo the harm, but it is the fundamental step towards reconciliation. We see, all around the world, the wounds of injustice festering into deep resentment because the perpetrators did not acknowledge their wrongdoings. There are many more egregious crimes to acknowledge & accept just punishment for, and this is a very positive start. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council approved the deployment of a special political mission of 450+ observers to monitor the ceasefire & other terms of the peace agreement.
- NORTH KOREA: The two US supersonic B-1B bombers were a show of strength & could even be seen as a message that the international community means business – North Korea’s denuclearization is the only option. Why this matters: Pyongyang seems to be on a defiant trajectory to coerce the world to acquiesce to the idea of a nuclear North Korea. They are betting that world powers want peace & stability at all costs & will give up the idea of denuclearization eventually. The US (& our allies) are using the standard tactic of military deterrence, but will this work? As awful a taste the idea leaves in one’s mouth, diplomacy & political engagement are the only solution here. Who will do that – President Clinton or Trump?
- The leader of Russian-backed separatist rebels in eastern UKRAINE, Alexander Zakharchenko, announced a unilateral ceasefire & accused Ukrainian government of unwillingness to seek peaceful solutions. He was joined by the Luhansk region rebel leader Igor Plotnitsky. Both confirmed their commitment to the Minsk agreements – peace accords signed in Minsk, Belarus in 2015 signed by Ukraine & the separatists that were never fulfilled. Why this matters: This is the first time that separatists group ever promoted unilateral ceasefire in a brutal conflict that killed at least 9,500 people since its start in April 2014. Interestingly, the announcement came hours after Ukrainian President Poroshenko said he expected the parliament to vote on constitutional amendments that would grant autonomy to eastern Ukraine “in the nearest future”. Is this the start of political peace process & a permanent ceasefire?
- The Caribbean island of Bonaire, DUTCH ANTILLES, is known as divers’ paradise but pollution, climate change & aggressive development have been devastating its iconic coral reefs (& reefs everywhere in the world). A partnership between Fabien Cousteau’s Ocean Learning Center & the Harbour Village Beach Club – resort active in conservation efforts – want to use 3D printing technology & create artificial coral from sandstone & limestone to create more natural looking structure & foster natural growth of reefs & help preserve vital marine habitats around the world. Why this matters: Coral reefs “are the rainforest of water, of life under water, including about 70% of species which live & thrive or depend on coral reefs at some point within the life cycle” says Cousteau. Healthy oceans are a critical part of combatting global warming. The joined efforts between a local business & a conservation organization are an excellent example of successful private-public partnerships in climate change action. Well done.
- SOUTH SUDAN: A new report by the Sentry, a partnership btw policy experts & human rights advocates documents 2-yrs of research into what fuels the brutal conflict that erupted in 2013. Contrary to the belief that this is a civil war rooted in ethnic tensions, the report draws a direct causal link to public corruption & the fight over control of South Sudan’s vast oil reserves & mineral resources. To this end, the report provides evidence that the two leaders, President Salva Kiir & former VP & rebel leader Riek Machar, their families & top advisors are benefitting financially from the armed conflict – in millions of dollars. Why this matters: when there is a sensing that others want peace more than the countries engulfed in violent conflict, it is usually true. The Sentry report reminds us to always follow the money. The question is when we find the link – because it is always there – what do we do about it? It is a warning to global businesses to invest in corporate foreign policy & geopolitical due diligence. It will land them on the right side of history once the chips fall.
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