Jakarta: India’s external affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has utilised the 10th anniversary of the New Asian African Strategic Partnership to send out a message to the world that shared will and capacities of the Afro-Asian countries will contribute to peace, stability and sustainable development with the United Nations playing a central role in dealing with global challenges and threats.
Ms. Swaraj was speaking at the 60th Anniversary of Asian-African Conference and the 10th Anniversary of the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership, under the theme of “Strengthening South-South Cooperation to Promote World Peace and Prosperity” in Jakarta this Monday.
The Indian external Affairs Minister underscored that the 10th anniversary of the New Asian African Partnership is taking place in the year 2015 in which various streams of the global discourse are gathering pace to culminate in four key events – COP21 on Climate Change in Paris, Summit to finalize Post-2015 Development Agenda, 70th Anniversary of the UN and the 10th WTO Ministerial in Kenya – each one of which will have far-reaching political and economic ramifications.
Ms. Swaraj drew attention to “significant transitions and developments” taking place in Asia, Europe and the Middle East with regional and global implications. Every country in this world, she said, had faced the scourge of terrorism.
The year 2015 marks the 70th year of the foundation of the United Nations and 10th anniversary of the World Summit and also comes with an unique opportunity to demonstrate collective will to reform the UN which is the global institution for political governance, Ms. Swaraj emphasised adding: “Our failure to push for any kind of outcomes only adds to the increasing sentiment of frustration amongst the wider membership and dents the credibility of the Security Council’s decisions, if it continues to ignore contemporary realities of the 21st century.”
US Administration is obviously keeping its fingers crossed while the world waits for the outcome of the Israeli election results that would come in tomorrow but at the same time it is not silent when it comes to reasserting that “the only way to have peace and stability in the region is for there to be a two-state solution”. Significantly the “two State solution” remark was made by the US Department of State Spokesperson Jen Psaki at her daily press briefing Monday. She was responding to a pointed query on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comment on the eve of elections that if he is reelected, he will not allow there to become a Palestinian state. The journalist asking the question specifically wanted to know what does the US Administration make of this comment?
In contrast with Netanyahu’s belligerent posture especially his saber rattling vis-a-vis the Middle-East Gaza conflict and opposition to any Nuclear deal or agreement between the US and Iran to prevent the latter from acquiring or building a nuclear weapon, the Israel opposition is offering support for moves that could ignite peace talks if elected. Political analysts, keeping a close eye on Israeli elections, have noted how Netanyahu’s foreign policies have come under heated debate and the centrist parties in Israel are drawing the voters’ attention towards social inequalities and the challenges confronting the nation as a consequence. Centre-Left Zionist Union led by Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog is also being watched closely as the rightist groups are looking forward to the possibility of a fractured mandate and have started working out the strategy to gain power in Israel by cementing a coalition of smaller parties.
Washington DC: At a special function to mark David Saperstien’s swearing in as US Ambassador-at-Large on Friday, US Secretary of State John Kerry stated since the days of Thomas Jefferson, religious freedom has been at the absolute center of American values and an essential component of US foreign policy, and it is especially relevant right now for all of the obvious and tragic reasons.
For Religious Freedom, Kerry said, Saperstein is President Obama’s and his chief adviser. Recalling how the two of them have worked together, the Secretary said: “Together we got behind the CHIPS legislation for children’s health care. We pushed for the proposed Workplace Religious Freedom Act, which unfortunately never passed. We were partners in the struggle to help veterans who had been affected by Agent Orange. And we have been allies in trying to awaken the world to the dangers of climate change – and let me just say that when it comes to the fundamental health of Earth, folks, we’d better stick to the Creator’s original plan, because there is no Planet B.”
Kerry said: “Our generation prides itself on its modernity, and yet we are still grappling with rivalries that have their roots in the distant past. Today, thousands of people are in prison because of their religious practices or beliefs. In the Central African Republic, Christian and Muslim militias are engaged in a bloody conflict. In Burma, radical Buddhists are seeking to deny citizenship to an Islamic minority. In the Middle East and Africa, terror networks such as Daesh and Boko Haram are betraying fundamental principles of their own religion of Islam. Major European cities are struggling to cope with the aftermath of terror attacks, amid evidence of anti-Semitism, radicalization, Islamophobia. Our own country has mourned the loss of journalists – earlier this month the death of a young woman who said she saw God in the eyes of the suffering and who dedicated her life to helping others – and lost hers for doing so.”
It’s certainly the case that when we look at what violent extremists are up to around the globe – the killings, the rapes, the slavery, the bigotry, the destruction of religious sites – we all feel an unbelievable, deep sense of horror, a sense of being dragged back somehow centuries, diverted from the path that we all aspire to for the 21st century. But the horror that we witness should not make us stupid. The terrorists may scream from the roof tops that their crimes are God’s will; but you can’t frame God for what thugs do. This is a kind of criminal anarchy that we are witnessing. Any idiot can murder a human being, but there isn’t a sword sharp enough to destroy truth.
Either David Saperstein was created with the job of ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom in mind or the job was created with him in mind.- John Kerry
Saperstein spent four decades, as Director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism. He is one of America’s leading voices on behalf of social justice in its dimensions. He served on the boards of the NAACP, the National Religious Partnership on the Environment, the World Bank’s “World Faith Development Dialogue”. He was also the first chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and in 2009 was appointed by President Obama to the White House Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Before the swearing-in, Saperstein went to Canada to meet with his counterpart there. He’s been part of the presidential delegation already for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and he just returned from Iraq, where religious issues are intimately connected to one of the top priorities on the entire international agenda of the US.
It will not be enough for us to mourn victims of religious persecution or even to condemn the traducers of faith who murder in its name. That just-concluded summit dramatizes America’s role in actualizing, facilitating, coordinating, mobilizing, shaping effective responses, even while learning from the best practices across the globe. And the Inter-Religious Freedom office, the IRF office, must play a key role in this effort.- David Saperstein
Taking up the new responsibility Saperstein said: “I cannot remain silent. When we see historic Christian, Yezidi, other communities in Iraq, from which I have just returned, in Syria being devastated; when we see Baha’is in Iran, Tibetan Buddhists in China, Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, Rohingya Muslims in Burma, all victims of governmental or societal discrimination, harassment, persecution, physical attacks, sexual violence, enslavement – even in Western Europe we are witnessing a steady increase in anti-Muslim acts and rhetoric and anti-Semitic discourse and acts of desecration and violence against Jewish individuals, synagogues, and institutions and communities that we thought we would never, never see again after World War II.
Sadly, Saperstein said, this list is far from exhaustive, but shows a broad range of serious threats to religious freedom and religious communities in nearly every corner of the globe. According to the Pew Forum, he pointed out, 75 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where religious freedom remains seriously limited and many religious minorities face persecution, intimidation, and harassment. Most vividly, the whole world has witnessed the tragic, violent attacks by ISIL, known as Daesh, against peoples of many faiths – most recently the tragic, tragic targeting of Egyptian Copts in Libya. Even as we must respond to this specific crisis, we will win the battle of freedom only when our long-term goal must be to ensure the internationally recognized right to religious freedom for everyone and every group. It is an urgent task and the needs are great.
Washington DC, Feb. 7: US will advance its security and that of its citizens, and U.S. allies and partners by maintaining a national defense that is the best trained, equipped, and led force in the world and by reinforcing its homeland security to protect Americans from terrorist attacks and natural hazards; striving for a world without nuclear weapons and ensuring nuclear materials don’t fall into the wrong hands; and developing a global capacity to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to biological threats like Ebola through the Global Health Security Agenda.
These are the 4-key ways defined by the US President’s National Security Strategy (NSS), which has been projected as the blueprint for “America’s leadership in the world — how that country would address global challenges while advancing its “interest, values, and vision for the future.”
The US President’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice Friday outlined America’s National Security Strategy in 2015 at the Brookings Institution — She said that it lays out what needs to get done in the near-term to secure America for the long-term.
Releasing the new NSS, Rice said America’s resurgence is now real –she said, a strong and sustainable American leadership is key to building greater peace and prosperity throughout the world
Rice said strong and sustained American leadership remains essential, as ever. Think for a minute where the world would be today without decisive U.S. leadership. Ebola would be spreading throughout West Africa and likely to far corners of the world. Instead, America galvanized the world to roll back this horrible disease. Without us, Russia would be suffering no cost for its actions in Ukraine. Instead, the ruble is in a free fall, and Russia is paying dearly for flaunting the rules. Without us, there would be no military campaign or sixty countries countering ISIL’s advance. There would be no prospect for a global deal on climate change; no pressure for Iran to be at the negotiating table; and, no potential for trade that meets a higher standard for our workers and businesses.
Rice went on emphasise that the US will advance a strong, innovative, and growing US economy in an open international economic system by:
Strengthening American energy security and increasing global access to reliable and affordable energy to bolster economic growth and development worldwide
Advancing a trade agenda — including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership — that creates good American jobs and shared prosperity
Leading efforts to reduce extreme poverty, food insecurity, and preventable deaths with initiatives such as Feed the Future and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief
Further, the National Security Advisor further stated that US will promote respect for universal values at home and around the world by:
Holding ourselves to the highest possible standard by living our values at home even as we do what is necessary to keep our people safe and our allies secure
Leading the way in confronting the corruption by promoting adherence to standards of accountable and transparent governance
Leading the international community to prevent and respond to human rights abuses and mass atrocities as well as gender-based violence and discrimination against LGBT persons
Read the other key ways the President’s plan encourages respect for universal values here.
US will also advance an international order that promotes peace, security, and opportunity through stronger cooperation by:
Strengthening and growing our global alliances and partnerships, forging diverse coalitions, and leading at the United Nations and other multilateral organizations
Pursuing a stable Middle East and North Africa by countering terrorism, preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and reducing the underlying sources of conflict
Promoting a prosperous, secure, and democratic Western Hemisphere by expanding integration and leveraging a new opening to Cuba to expand our engagement
Rice said. “The challenges ahead will surely continue to be many and great. Progress won’t be quick or linear. But, we are committed to seizing the future that lies beyond the crisis of the day and to pursuing a vision of the world as it can and should be.”