2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 5 fully loaded ships.


In 2010, there were 7 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 113 posts.

The busiest day of the year was April 19th with 137 views. The most popular post that day was Rape as a Weapon of War.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were en.wordpress.com, mahalo.com, search.aol.com, facebook.com, and vhoagland.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for rape, somalia, war rape, aisha ibrahim duhulow, and e-waste.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Rape as a Weapon of War May 2009


Somalia is the World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis December 2008


United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development June 2009
1 comment


Africa’s future grows bleaker as drug shortages roll back the clock on beating AIDS April 2009


A Brave New World March 2009


Human Rights and HIV/AIDS

Today the United Nations marked World AIDS Day by highlighting the connection between human rights promotion and successful efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an urgent end to discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. “I urge all countries to remove punitive laws, policies and practices that hamper the AIDS response, including travel restrictions against people living with HIV,” said Mr. Ban. “Successful AIDS responses do not punish people; they protect them.”

We must ensure that AIDS responses are based on evidence, not ideology, and reach those most in need and most affected,” said the Secretary-General. “On this World AIDS Day, let us uphold the human rights of all people living with HIV, people at risk of infection, and children and families affected by the epidemic.

Progress in reversing the AIDS epidemic in some countries is outpaced by new infections on a global scale making AIDS one of the leading causes of premature death worldwide.  For every two people who begin treatment, five become newly infected with HIV. Women and girls have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.

  • Worldwide, women constitute half of all people living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Globally and in every region, more adult women (15 years or older) than ever before are now living with HIV.
  • Women are at least twice as likely to acquire HIV from men during sexual intercourse than vice versa.
  • Only 20% of young women aged 15 to 24 correctly identify ways of preventing HIV transmission and reject major misconceptions about HIV transmission.
  • In low- and middle-income countries, only one-third of pregnant women are currently offered services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, women constitute 59% of all people living with HIV/AIDS. Among young people aged 15-24, the HIV prevalence rate for young women is almost three times higher than the rate among young men.

For this reason, laws that criminalize HIV transmission, such as the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Bill before the Ugandan legislature, can result in disproportionate prosecution of women and girls because more women are tested as part of pre- or ante-natal medical care and therefore know their HIV status. Women’s and girl’s inability to safely negotiate condom use or disclosure to partners who might have been the source of their infection is not recognized in this bill as defenses against criminal penalties. Women who transmit HIV to their infants after birth via breast milk would also be subject to criminal prosecution.

The punitive approach of this bill is likely to make people shy away from requesting testing or treatment. Experience has shown that programs that emphasize prevention and reduce stigma are far more effective in combating HIV/AIDS and are better for women and girls.

United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development

Clip Art0020Early in May several NGOs urged their members to write to their government leaders and and urge them to personally attend the United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development, originally scheduled for June 1-3, here in New York.  Only occasionally do we get to see results from the letters and emails we send to government officials but it is clear that our our action in May is having an impact. The US Mission to the UN indicated that more that 700 letters were received on this topic!

The impact of the global financial and economic crisis continues to cut deeper into the economies of the world, especially in the so-called developing world. Since the beginning of May government representatives at the UN have been meeting regularly to negotiate the text of an outcome document for the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development now scheduled for the 24th-26th June 2009.


One of our  NGO colleagues, who has been monitoring the current negotiations, reports the following:

  • Areas of considerable agreement among the governments: need follow up reform process beyond conference itself; UN is legitimate forum as all countries represented; need improve current system and address needs of the poorer countries; keep focus on people-centered development
  • Areas needing further clarification before any agreement: naming the root causes of the crisis; has economic growth brought benefits to those living in poverty?
  • Areas of marked differences: G77 (developing countries) want to address role of specific developed countries and the international financial institutions (IFIs) in current crisis and see as essential reform of the IFIs; EU and US (developed economies) hesitant to affirm these

For more information and references: http://www.un.org/ga/econcrisissummit/webcast.shtml; http://www.un-ngls.org

The sessions of the Conference will be webcast, cf. http://www.un.org/ga/econcrisissummit/webcast.shtml

The upcoming summit from the perspective of the General Assembly. http://www.un.org.ga/econcrisissummit/

The summit from the perspective of the NGOs working on Financing for Development. http://www.FfDngo.org

Center of Concern response to G-20 meeting: http://www.coc.org/node/6370

OXFAM analysis of G-20 meeting: http://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/what-happened-g20

Take Action!

Even if you acted in May, please send another letter to your government leader: Below is a sample letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama:

We are writing to urge you to attend the United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development that will be held from the 24th to 26th of June 2009 in New York.

Your message of hope and change has inspired people across the globe, but this current crisis has shattered many people’s hope for a better future, replacing it with despair.  Developing countries are suffering disproportionately from this crisis for which they bear the least responsibility, and we believe, as you do, that peace, stability and prosperity are inextricably linked.

The responses currently proposed by the G20 are not sufficient to address the root causes of this complex crisis. And we know that real recovery for the global economy must include input from the developing world.  This crisis may be the impetus for transformational change, but such change requires strong leadership.  Your presence and input could make a tremendous difference and move us closer to a more equitable and sustainable global economic structure.


Email the White House:

You can also call or fax:
Phone Numbers
Comments: 202-456-1111
FAX: 202-456-2461
Comments: 202-456-6213

How Can We End Human Trafficking?

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Yesterday, United Nations’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in remarks to a special General Assembly Thematic Debate on Human Trafficking related the story of Grace Akallo.

“Grace Akallo was a young high school student in Uganda who dreamed of being the first person from her village to go to university. Then came the Lord’s Resistance Army. Rebels took her and 138 other girls from their dormitory and marched them into the forest.

Grace told her story at the Security Council last week. I listened with the heaviest of hearts. “My spirit died,” she said, recounting how she was forced to kill and was repeatedly raped.

She was followed into the forest by the headmistress, Sister Rachele, who confronted the rebels. They threatened to kill her in front of the girls. She was asked to leave, but instead she faced them down, risking her own safety so that others could be freed. In the end, she was able to rescue more than 100 girls.”

The Secretary-General then challenged those present. “If this seemingly powerless educator from Uganda could face down armed rebels, surely we in this room can stand up to this threat with bold and decisive action.

Trafficking in weapons, drugs and blood diamonds has long been on the UN agenda. Now we must add people to that list.

I spoke just now about Uganda, but examples could be drawn from any of a number of countries from Asia, across the Americas, to Europe. Millions are bought and sold like chattel, most of them women and children.”

He called on member states to:

  • Criminalize human trafficking. All countries must ratify the UN anti-trafficking Protocol.
  • Prevent victimization by teaching people about their rights and protecting them.
  • Reduce demand.
  • End to impunity.
  • Protect the victims.

The Secretary-General’s call for a coordinated effort to combat forced labor and human trafficking comes at a time when, because of the world financial crisis and increasing restrictions on legal migration more people are likely to fall victim to traffickers. The most vulnerable, people already living in poverty, especially women and children will suffer the most.

According to a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) entitled “The Cost of Coercion”, the value of the work done by people who are trapped in forced labor is over 20 billion US dollars per year.

Trafficking and forced labor are a scourge that reaches across the globe. The ILO report highlights facts and figures from each region.

Europe and Central Asia

Trafficking in Europe reflects shifts in patterns of economic development and the gradual enlargement of the European Union. While most of the victims identified by authorities are women trafficked for sexual exploitation, the number of cases of men trafficked for labor exploitation is on the rise. A recent case in Italy illustrates the international nature of the business of trafficking.  Police discovered a group of Chinese workers trapped in forced labor in a hidden factory. A lengthy investigation revealed that the leader of the trafficking ring that brought these workers to Italy lived in a suburb of Paris.

The biggest share of the world’s forced laborers are from Asia. Many are migrants, either from elsewhere in Asia or from their home country. Three issues are of particular concern.

  • The persistence of bonded labor systems, particularly in South Asia, despite legislation to ban it.
  • Widespread trafficking of children and adults, for both sexual and labor exploitation.
  • Continued use of forced labor by the State and official institutions, notably in Myanmar.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the third highest incidence of forced labor in relation to population after Asia and Latin America. It reflects long-standing patterns of discrimination against vulnerable groups, sometimes linked to the historical legacy of slavery. People in areas of conflict are at risk, an extreme example being child soldiers. There is trafficking of people for labor and sexual exploitation both within and across African countries and to Europe, North America, and the Middle East. Women are especially affected.

Latin America accounts for the second largest number of forced laborers in the world after Asia. Those most at risk are migrant workers in sweatshops, agriculture and domestic service. The main form of forced labor is through debt bondage.

Forced labor in Latin America is closely linked to patterns of inequality and discrimination especially against indigenous peoples.

In the United States and Canada the increased focus on human trafficking have brought to light more and more cases of forced labor among foreign workers, particularly in debt bondage in agriculture and domestic service.

Middle East
Forced labor and human trafficking are closely intertwined with migration in the Middle East, particularly in the Gulf States where there is a high proportion of migrant workers mainly from Asia. Labor recruitment companies operating in source countries alter contract terms and charge high recruitment fees, which the worker must ultimately repay. Employers retain control of work visas and illegally buy, sell and trade them. These costs are also passed on to the workers creating a situation of debt bondage.

The United Nations General Assembly is considering the request of some member states for a Global Plan of Action on trafficking and forced labor. The Secretary-General urged all States, whether they support this proposal or not, to move beyond fine rhetoric and moral outrage to deeds particularly by mainstreaming the fight against human trafficking into broader programs, from poverty reduction to reducing gender discrimination.

Has your country ratified the UN anti-trafficking protocol? Find out here: http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CTOC/countrylist-traffickingprotocol.html

Resources on human trafficking from the International Organization for Migration

  • English: http://www.iom.int/jahia/Jahia/counter-trafficking/lang/en
  • Español : http://www.iom.int/jahia/Jahia/activities/by-theme/regulating-migration/counter-trafficking/lang/es
  • UN.Gift – Global Initiative to Fight Human Traffickinghttp://www.ungift.org/

    Can the United States do more to fight world hunger?

    President Obama said recently he will work with Congress to double US support for global food security to over $ 1 billion. What does this mean for the 963 million people in the world who do not have enough to eat? (963 million is more than the populations of the USA, Canada and the EU combined.)

    At present, there are between 350 and 400 million children in the world who are suffering from hunger.

    It’s not enough. The World Food Programme, which is the United Nations frontline agency in the fight against global, provides food assistance to about 100 million people in 80 countries every year. It’s the world’s largest humanitarian organization.

    WFP needs about $6 billion in 2009 to meet the needs of those 100 million and it depends on the United States as its largest donor to meet about 40% of those needs.

    The US made an extraordinary effort in 2008, providing WFP over $2 billion in contributions. But current US food aid budget appropriations for fiscal year 2009 can only sustain a US contribution of about $1.3 billion this year.

    Let’s take a closer look. In our world:

    • 25,000 people (adults and children) die every day from hunger and related causes.
    • More than 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women.
    • Every six seconds a child dies because of hunger and related causes.

    The number of undernourished people in the world increased by 75 million in 2007 and 40 million in 2008, largely due to higher food prices.

    Hunger is not caused by a shortage of food. In fact there has never existed such an abundance of food, yet 963 million people in the world go hungry. Read about what causes hunger here: http://www.wfp.org/hunger/causes

    The economic stimulus passed by the US Congress earlier this year included $20 billion in additional funding for food and nutrition programs for the economically vulnerable in the United States. This is good and right. No one should go hungry in the richest country in the world. The question is, can we Americans and citizens of other rich countries dig deeper during this time of economic challenge? If the US provided a little under a billion more in new food assistance we could continue to sustain our commitment at a $2 billion level during this fiscal year. Are you willing to write to your Congressman, or Senator, or Member of Parliament to make sure your country continues a high level of financial support to global food assistance programs?

    You can also help fight world hunger this Mother’s Day by feeding a hungry child in your mother’s name.

    The Equal Sharing of Responsibilities between Women and Men

    The annual Commission on the Status of Women took place during the first two weeks of March at the United Nations in New York. This commission was established in 1946 to promote, report on and monitor issues relating to the political, economic, civil, social and educational rights of women. The theme this year was “The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS.”

    Providing care for children, the sick, the elderly, and the disabled has always been considered women’s work, while men have been expected to be the primary breadwinners for their families.  Even though this traditional division of labor has long been the norm in most societies and cultures, there is a need for change today because there is evidence that this arrangement increases poverty, limits girls’ access to education, negatively impacts the health of women and girls, limits their participation in political decision making and reduces their ability to help their communities cope with climate change. The challenge of caring for those effected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic has compounded these problems.  All of this leaves families, communities and nations worse off.

    While the outcome document from CSW 53 still needs to be extensively studied and analyzed, one important result of the commission is already being widely noted and discussed within UN circles. Many believe that CSW 53 has moved the issue of the equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men from the private and family sphere into the public square in the same way that the issue of domestic violence was moved over a decade ago. Just as domestic violence was once regarded as a “family matter” and is now the subject of public policy in most countries, many believe that this commission brought to light how the unequal sharing of responsibilities circumscribes the full benefits of citizenship for women and girls and marks the beginning of a change in the way that families, communities and nations think about “women’s work.”

    Visit the website of the 53rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

    World Moves Closer towards Abolition of the Death Penalty

    Amnesty International released its annual report on the death penalty today. According to the group, the world moved even closer towards abolition of the death penalty in 2008.

    In December, the United Nations General Assembly (UN GA) adopted by a large majority a second resolution calling for a moratorium with a view to abolish the death penalty. This resolution consolidates three decades of steady progress towards complete abolition of the death penalty. It was passed by a vote of 104 in favor and 54 against, with 29 abstentions.  The United States, along with countries such as China, Iran, North Korea and Saudi Arabia voted against.

    See the vote of every country here: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2007/ga10678.doc.htm

    On a positive note, in its overview of the use of the death penalty worldwide, Amnesty International noted that :

    Europe and Central Asia is now virtually a death penalty free zone following the abolition of the death penalty in Uzbekistan for all crimes. There is just one country left – Belarus – that still carries out executions.

    In the Americas, only one state – the United States of America (USA) – consistently executes. However, even the USA moved away from the death penalty in 2008. This year, the smallest number of executions since 1995 was reported in the USA.

    Two states, Argentina and Uzbekistan abolished the death penalty.

    The majority of countries now refrain from using the death penalty. Furthermore, in 2008 Amnesty International recorded only 25 out of 59 countries that retain the death penalty actually carried out executions. The practice of states indicates that there is increasing consolidation of majority international consensus that the death penalty cannot be reconciled with respect for human rights.

    However, tough challenges remain. Countries in Asia carried out more executions in 2008 than the rest of the world put together.

    The five countries with the highest rate of executions were:

    • China – at least 1,178 (the exact number is a state secret)
    • Iran – at least 346
    • Saudi Arabia – at least 102
    • Pakistan – at least 36
    • United States of America – 37

    Some of the methods used to execute people in 2008 included beheading, electrocution, hanging, lethal injection, shooting and stoning.

    Read more and link to the full report here: http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty