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WikiLeaks Receives Amnesty International New Media Award

December 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Posted by Christie Silk on June 9, 2009 at 11:10 AM
The governmental and corporate document leaking site, Wikileaks, has been awarded Amnesty International’s New Media Award, for its role in the production of the revelatory document, “Kenya: The Cry of Blood – Report on Extra-Judicial Killings and Disappearances, Sep 2008”.  The attribution of this award is indicative of recognition of the work done by the site by bodies similarly concerned by the exposure of human rights abuses. Moreover, the accolade should function as an alert to the mainstream press to the exisitence of a penetrative and useful journalistic resource.

The report was based on evidence provided by Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, which suggested that more than 500 men were killed or made to disappear in a police campaign.  As expressed by Wikileaks, this may have been ‘with the connivance’ of the Kenyan Government.  The document is not publicly available in Kenya. On Friday, a UN special rapporteur investigating the events called for the resignation of the top Kenyan officials, emphasising the political significance of the evidence revealed in the report, and the utility of the online resource in global campaigns for social justice.

In an interview with journalism.co.uk, Julian Assange, the editor of Wikileaks discussed the relationship of the site and the press.  Prior to the events in Kenya being brought into the public eye by the work of Sunday Times journalist, John Swain, the press was relatively indifferent to the blood spilling across the East African nation.  Even though Wikileaks ran the story on the front page for over a week, “Most journalists didn’t care about it. Even regular [Wikileaks] readers didn’t care about it”.

The current condition of news reporting is a widespread concern, as publishers strive to cut costs and journalists avoid entanglement in stories with potential legal ramifications, it is unsurprising that investigative pursuits have been increasingly neglected.  Assange is determined to reverse these detrimental trends:

“As newspapers cut back on most expensive journalism, part of our goal is to decrease the input costs, by [publishing] those documents, by decreasing the legal costs.

“I do know that mainstream journalists sit on an enormous number of leaked documents for economic reasons”.

Could the model and ethos on which Wikileaks functions provide a solution to the current impasse in quality reporting?  According to the website, Wikileaks is “a multi-jurisdictional organization to protect internal dissidents, whistleblowers, journalists and bloggers who face legal or other threats related to publishing”.  It sees its responsibility as involving the publication of leaked documents, which at the moment stand at 1.2 million, mostly offered by “dissident communities and anonymous individuals”.  To concretise their value, the next stage requires “someone familiar with that material” to investigate it and put it in political context. Once that is done, then it becomes of public interest”.

It is a disconcerting awareness that the mainstream Western press remains largely ignorant of the work that the organisation does in the developing world.  In order to achieve maximum impact and subsequent leverage to generate any changes in situations, leaked documents must be brought into the public domain.  To use a very different case but pertinent example, the expenses row in the UK has recently emphasised the fact that newspapers remain arguably the most effective medium of raising public consciousness.   Thus, if newspapers are to continue as the principle carriers of reliable investigative journalism, whether stories concern Kenya or the UK, it is in their interests to capitalise upon the groundwork produced by such organisations, which hold exposure as a crucial step towards the ultimate aim of rendering social, political and corporate justice.

Indeed, Assange is clear in his perception of the overall dynamic.  This is expressed in his conviction that investigative journalism is ‘a large driver of political reform’, which, as it is also the principle aim of the project, it is logical that the two concepts should cooperate.

Source: Wikileaks
Journalism.co.uk

 

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WikiLeaks Reveals State Department Discord Over U.S. Support for Canadian Tar Sands Oil Program

December 7, 2010 Leave a comment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 7, 2010
10:32 AM
CONTACT: Friends of The Earth
Kelly Trout, 202-222-0722, ktrout@foe.org
Alex Moore, 202-222-0733, amoore@foe.org

Leaked cable warns of tar sands oil’s ‘higher environmental footprint’ as agency considers pipeline that would double U.S. dependence on it

WASHINGTON – December 7 – A diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks has revealed that a U.S. diplomat warned the Obama administration about significant environmental impacts stemming from Canada’s controversial tar sands oil production program.

The language in the cable contradicts recent statements by U.S. State Department officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that underplay the environmental impacts of tar sands oil while defending a proposed pipeline that would bring the extremely polluting oil from Canada to the U.S.

In the January 2009 cable, which was prepared for President Obama and Secretary Clinton in advance of the president’s first trip to Canada, the diplomat states that Canada has “keen sensitivity over the higher environmental footprint of oil from western Canada’s oil sands.” The diplomat goes on to warn the president that among Canadian officials there is “concern about the implications for Canada of your energetic calls to develop renewable energies and reduce our reliance on imported oil.”

This candid admission of the impacts of tar sands oil production, which results in three times more global warming pollution than production of conventional oil, differs markedly from the description of tar sands oil given by the State Department in public documents.

In its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared to analyze the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would pump tar sands oil from Canada through six U.S. states to refineries in Texas, the State Department claims that tar sands oil is “similar” to other oils and that the impact of increasing reliance on tar sands oil “would be minor.” Despite the fact that her agency is still completing its final EIS, Secretary Clinton has stated that she is “inclined” to approve the pipeline.

“It’s hard to understand why State Department officials in Washington, D.C. would deny a problem acknowledged by the expert on the ground,” said Alex Moore, dirty fuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “Tar sands oil production takes an unacceptable toll on the environment and public health and should not be supported by the U.S. government.”

Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth, added, “It appears as though the State Department sought to deceive the American public about the environmental impacts of tar sands oil in conducting its draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Keystone XL pipeline. The department is required by law to fully evaluate potential environmental impacts, including the extreme levels of pollution produced by tar sands oil.”

“Failure to fully assess the environmental impacts of this tar sands oil pipeline would violate the National Environmental Policy Act and leave the agency vulnerable to litigation,” concluded Keever.

If approved by the Obama administration, the Keystone XL pipeline would pump 900,000 barrels of tar sands oil into the U.S. daily, doubling our country’s consumption of tar sands oil and leading to additional global warming emissions equal to adding more than 6 million new cars to U.S. roads.

The leaked cable warning of tar sands oil’s impact is available at: http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/01/09OTTAWA64.html

The State Department’s draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline is available at: http://keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov

More information about the Keystone XL pipeline is available at: http://www.foe.org/keystone-xl-pipeline

###

Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

Submitted by Heidi

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Desperate times for millions: No jobs, no benefits

December 4, 2010 Leave a comment

By Christine Owens, Special to CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Christine Owens: Jobless rate at 9.8 percent, bad news for millions looking for work
  • Congress let unemployment benefit lifeline run out for millions of jobless, she says
  • Owens: People jobless for longer and longer periods of time; retirement, savings gone
  • Each dollar spent on jobless benefits creates $2 in economic activity, she says

Editor’s note: Christine L. Owens is the executive director of the National Employment Law Project. A long-time employment and civil rights attorney, Owens previously served as public policy director of the AFL-CIO. During the 1990s, she led the broad coalition of labor, religious, civil rights and community organizations that won passage of the 1996 federal minimum wage increase.

(CNN) — Just as the economy started showing a few hopeful signs of improvement — a brisk kick-off to holiday shopping, fewer people filing unemployment claims — the Department of Labor reported Friday that a paltry 39,000 jobs were added in November and the unemployed rate rose to 9.8 percent. This news could not be worse for the economy and the 15 million unemployed Americans who desperately want to work.

It’s bad out there, and Americans know it. With just one job opening for every five unemployed people, it doesn’t matter how many hundreds or thousands of resumés someone sends out — the jobs just aren’t there. For 19 months in a row, unemployment has sat above 9 percent, where it is expected to remain through 2011. Even temporary hiring, while up last month, was still less than half the growth we experienced this time last year, when the retail sector hopes to get a boost from the holidays.

What’s more alarming than the grim jobs report, however, is the fact that Congress allowed the federal unemployment insurance lifeline to millions of jobless Americans expire earlier this week. If these programs are not renewed through 2011, 2 million people will be cut off in December alone, and at least 7 million more next year.

This is nothing short of a terrifying prospect for someone who is unemployed. Today, the average unemployed person is without work for nearly 34 weeks, or about eight months, and many face stretches much longer. About 42 percent of the unemployed — 6.3 million Americans — have been out of work for six months or more, and the ranks of the long-term unemployed keep growing.

With their savings depleted, retirement funds likely cashed-in and spent, the reality of long-term unemployment means that millions of Americans are trying to get by on just $290 per week, the average unemployment check, to cover all of life’s necessities — food, mortgage and housing, transportation, kids.

At roughly one-third the average salary, and less than the average person spends on housing alone each week, it’s hardly lavish, but for millions of families it is the sole thing allowing them to make ends meet and feed and shelter their children while they look for work.

Many try to paint the long-term unemployed as lazy and happy to stay at home “enjoying” their $290 per week. But the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. It is a painful existence marked by deprivation and sacrifice, but at least it allows families to keep afloat until the economy improves and jobs return.

Robert Horvath of Glenview, Illinois, is a 58-year-old banking professional who was laid off in June and is one of thousands who’ve shared their heartbreaking story with us at UnemployedWorkers.org. Despite decades of work and business experience, Robert has applied for all types of jobs without any offers. His unemployment insurance has enabled him to maintain health insurance coverage for himself and his wife, but the COBRA payment takes $1,200 of his monthly $1,500 in unemployment benefits.

“Unless Congress acts to continue the expanded benefits program, I’ll have my unemployment benefits cut off in December,” Robert says. “We’d lose our insurance right away, perhaps our home next. I’ve applied for all kinds of positions — but at my age, well, there’s an awful lot of competition out there for very few jobs.”

Those who lost their jobs after May face a particularly daunting battle if the programs are discontinued — most of them would receive no more than 26 weeks of state unemployment insurance, and then lose any further federal support amid unrelenting levels of unemployment.

Despite the grim outlook, there are things we can do to keep steering the economy in the right direction — namely, create more jobs. And one of the most effective ways to do that is to keep the federal unemployment insurance programs up and running through all of next year.

Every dollar spent on unemployment insurance generates roughly $2 in economic activity, the Department of Labor and Congressional Budget Office have both found, because unemployed workers spend the money immediately. This spending keeps people working in our local grocery stores, gas stations, small businesses and utility companies.

While the cost of these programs is real — renewal through next year would run about $56 billion — the cost of doing nothing is far greater. On Thursday, the President’s Council of Economic Advisors estimated that losing the federal unemployment insurance programs could cost the country 600,000 more jobs by the end of next year, and economists across the board agree that scaling back now would only make things worse.

The same people who argue that we can’t afford to support the long-term unemployed with meager benefits also contend that we can afford $700 billion in debt-financed tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans — claiming that they will also stimulate the economy, even though the Congressional Budget Office has found that those cuts are the least economically stimulative activity being contemplated. The rank hypocrisy of such a position should offend everyone’s sense of logic and decency.

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have introduced proposals to keep these programs going through the end of 2011. With the expiration already passed, it’s time they get to a vote. If you’re like many Americans who want to help and think it’s the right thing to do, call your local Congress member.

Today’s jobs news was a blow to the economy — and it means that we, as a nation, cannot afford to let congressional gridlock and misplaced priorities delay our recovery any longer than it already has.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Christine Owens.

Links referenced within this article

UnemployedWorkers.org
http://unemployedworkers.org/

Find this article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/12/03/owens.jobs.report/index.html 

 

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Workers face a struggle for power in France

October 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Sarko-5

Sarko-5

22 October 2010

Police action to break strikes and blockades in the oil sector has not ended France’s fuel shortage or curtailed strikes and protests by workers and students against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s deeply unpopular pension cuts. The French strike wave is the most developed expression of growing working class resistance to the drive by European governments to impose austerity measures in the face of overwhelming popular opposition.

The refusal of the unions to organize broader strikes or protests against the police attacks on oil blockades must be taken as a serious warning. These organizations will mount no struggle to defend workers from state violence. On the contrary, they are sending Sarkozy a signal that he can employ even greater police violence with their tacit support.

The unions’ silence on government strike-breaking is the clearest expression of their hostility to the developing mass movement and their determination to work with Sarkozy to weaken and ultimately defeat it. In this, they are supported by the official “left” parties—the Socialist Party and the Communist Party—as well as the so-called “far left” parties, such as the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA), which provide political cover for the unions and insist that workers look to these agencies of the ruling elite and the state to defend them.

The only major actions approved by the unions are two more one-day national protests, on October 28 and November 6. Such “days of action” are already widely seen by workers as ineffective. Indeed, the first is set to take place the day after the combined houses of Parliament agree on the final version of the pension “reform” bill, which the government is trying to force to a vote in the Senate today.

Under conditions where police repression has failed to crush the strikes, Sarkozy is relying more directly than ever on the unions and the “left” parties to defuse and suppress the mass movement. Union spokesmen are already promoting the notion that opposition to the cuts is a hopeless cause. They are counting on mounting financial pressures on strikers and the impact of the unions’ deliberate isolation of strikes in the oil and transportation sectors to sow exhaustion and resignation.

Buttressed by the middle-class pseudo-left organizations such as the NPA, they promote the absurd and dangerous illusion that the government can be pressured to drop or seriously modify its austerity policies. This despite Sarkozy’s repeated declarations that the cuts will be imposed no matter what, and his use of state violence against the workers.

Protest alone will not shift the policies of the government, and those who argue otherwise are encouraging complacency and confusion. They ignore the context in which the austerity drive in France and every other major industrialized country is taking place—the deepest crisis of the world capitalist system since the 1930s.

At the same time, they promote the lie that the Socialist Party—a tried and tested party of the French bourgeoisie which initiated the program of social cuts when it held power in the 1990s—represents a genuine alternative to Sarkozy and the Gaullists. The unions and their “left” allies are seeking to wind down the strike movement and channel popular discontent into the blind alley of support for the Socialist Party in the 2012 presidential election.

The working class is objectively in a fight against the ruling class and its state. The government openly does the bidding of the banks and the financial aristocracy with utter contempt for the democratic will of the people.

The workers’ opposition has immense support in the population as a whole, which overwhelmingly opposes the cuts and supports the strike movement. It is critical, however, that the struggle be consciously conducted as a political fight for power—to bring down the Sarkozy government and replace it with a workers’ government.

The first prerequisite for victory is a break with the trade unions and the establishment of new, democratic organizations of working class struggle. The World Socialist Web Site urges workers in France to form committees of action, independent of the unions and the existing “left” parties, to broaden the strike movement, unite all sections of the working class—the employed and unemployed, native-born and immigrant, union and non-union, young and old—and mobilize behind the immense social power of the working class all of the oppressed layers of society.

The committees will provide a means for French workers to reach out to workers across Europe and internationally who face the same attacks from the same source—the international capitalist class. The crisis can be solved only on a European-wide and worldwide basis, through the revolutionary unification of the international working class.

The committees of action will fight for a general strike to bring down Sarkozy. As the mass movement develops, these committees can be broadened into workers’ councils, which will become the organs of working class political power.

Only on this basis can revolutionary socialist policies be carried out to harness and expand the productive forces for the benefit of the people, and end their subordination to corporate profit and the personal enrichment of a tiny elite.

The fight for workers’ power is deeply ingrained in the history of the French working class. One hundred and forty years ago next year, the besieged workers of Paris rebelled and formed the Commune. This was the first time in history that the working class took power into its own hands. The Commune was ultimately smashed by the bourgeois government of President Adolphe Thiers, which carried out savage repression.

But the example of the Commune played a critical role in the Russian Revolution of October 1917 and continues to stand as a tribute to the revolutionary capacities of the working class. It is to such traditions of revolutionary struggle that workers in Europe and around the world will return in the coming period.

Alex Lantier

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Copyright © 1998-2010 World Socialist Web Site – All rights reserved

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The Chocolate You Eat Is Likely Made by Enslaved Children

October 20, 2010 Leave a comment

 

By Andrew Korfhage, Other Words
http://www.alternet.org/story/148532/

Sorry to scare you, but on Halloween much of the chocolate Americans will hand out to trick-or-treaters will be tainted by the labor of enslaved children.

Hershey’s, Nestlé, and the other big chocolate companies know this. They promised nearly a decade ago to set up a system to certify that no producers in their supply chains use child labor. They gave themselves a July 2005 deadline for that, which came and went without meaningful action. A second voluntary deadline sailed by as well in 2008. There’s a new deadline for voluntary action at the end of this year. Don’t hold your breath.

Few Americans had heard of this problem before reporters Sudarsan Raghavan and Sumana Chatterjee exposed the scandalous conditions under which most U.S. chocolate is made, in the summer of 2001.

In one of their articles, a slave described his 13-hour workdays on the 494-acre plantation as brutal, filled with harsh physical labor, punctuated by beatings, and ending with a night of fitful sleep on a wooden plank in a locked room with other slaves.

“The beatings were a part of my life,” said the boy who was sold into slavery at not yet 12 years old. “Anytime they loaded you with bags and you fell while you were carrying them, nobody helped you. Instead, they beat you and beat you until you picked it up again.”

The reports shocked some members of Congress into action. That fall, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) prepared bills to require U.S. chocolate companies — by force of law — to certify their products as slave-free. Engel’s bill passed the House, but before Harkin’s bill could pass the Senate, the chocolate industry had announced a voluntary four-year plan to clean up its own supply chains, without legislation.

Meanwhile evidence that child slavery still bedevils the chocolate industry isn’t hard to find. For example, in late September, a research team from Tulane University (specifically charged by Congress with oversight of the voluntary supply-chain efforts) reported that “the industry is still far from achieving its target…by the end of 2010…and the majority of children exposed to the worst forms of child labor remain unreached.”

The just-released documentary The Dark Side of Chocolate, by filmmakers Miki Mistrati and U. Roberto Romano takes a less detached tone, going undercover and exposing child slavery in the cocoa supply chain from the inside.

And if that’s not enough, the State Department‘s own 2010 Trafficking in Persons report lists several West African countries where children are traded and taken to work cocoa plantations.

All the while, the biggest chocolate companies cavil that because they don’t own the cocoa plantations outright, cleaning up their supply chains is too hard. But some of them aren’t even trying. The biggest cocoa company in the country, Hershey’s — even after nine years to get started — has no certification system in place whatsoever to ensure that its cocoa isn’t tainted by labor rights abuses.

Here are three things you can do this Halloween to ensure that your chocolate isn’t tainted by the exploitation of children overseas.

  1. Look for chocolate from companies that do certify their supply chains, via labels such the Fair Trade label and the IMO Fair for Life label. My non-profit organization, Green America, offers a scorecard that explains these labels in detail, and ranks chocolate companies.
  2. Contact conventional chocolate companies like Hershey’s — call them, write to them, write on their Facebook pages — and tell them you expect them to prove their supply chains aren’t tainted by child labor and slave labor.
  3. Contact your representatives in Congress. If after a decade the chocolate companies can’t monitor their own supply chains, we need to go back to the drawing board, and demand by law that slave-produced chocolate doesn’t belong on the shelves of stores in the USA.

The people who produce the raw materials for our chocolate treats deserve fair wages and safe working conditions. African children shouldn’t have to suffer unspeakable horrors so that our children can have a happy Halloween.

Andrew Korfhage is the online and special projects editor for Green America. Download Green America’s chocolate scorecard at greenamerica.org/go/chocolate.

© 2010 Other Words All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/148532/

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Armed gang ‘kidnaps 20 Mexican tourists in Acapulco’

October 2, 2010 Leave a comment

breaking news

An armed gang has kidnapped at least 20 Mexican tourists in the resort city of Acapulco, the prosecutor’s office in the southern state of Guerrero has said.

The tourists had recently arrived in Acapulco, local media reported.

They were looking for a hotel when they were seized by armed men in cars with Michoacan state number plates.

There were conflicting reports as to when the incident had taken place.

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Russia signals warning to NATO through Arctic deal with Norway?

September 22, 2010 1 comment

By: peopleforum.cn on: 20.09.2010 [09:05 ] (415 reads)
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Russia signals warning to NATO through Arctic deal with Norway?

Russia and Norway today ended a bitter 40-year dispute over their maritime borders and signed a treaty that will allow for new oil and gas exploration in the Arctic region.

The agreement lays to rest a long-running Soviet-era row over the Barents Sea. Both countries claimed a 175,000 sq km (67,567 sq mile) zone, about half the size of Germany, situated north of Russia’s Kola Peninsula and the Norwegian coast. The treaty divides the disputed area equally between the two countries.

The dispute flared up in the 1970s and was initially about fish. But the area is now thought to be not only rich in fishing but also in oil and gas, with proven petroleum reserves on both the Russia and Norwegian sides.

Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev, and Norway’s prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, signed the treaty Sep 15 in the Russian city of Murmansk, north of the Arctic circle and not far from the Norwegian border.

Jens Stoltenberg (left) and Dmitry Medvedev in Murmansk after signing a treaty ending a border dispute over the Barents Sea.

With the five Arctic powers – Russia, the US, Canada, Denmark and Norway – scrambling to file territorial claims over the Arctic, Medvedev hailed the agreement as a “constructive” model of how rival Arctic nations should settle their differences. He also warned NATO not to “exacerbate” its presence in the region.

Mr. Medvedev said Russia is wary of NATO’s presence in the Arctic region. “Russia is watching such activities with serious concern,” he said. “It’s a zone of peaceful economic cooperation, and a military factor would raise additional problems.”

“This is a historic milestone,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement after a signing ceremony held in Murmansk with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the two countries’ foreign ministers.

“The treaty resolves what for several decades remained the most important outstanding issue between Norway and Russia,” Stoltenberg stated. “It sends an important signal to the rest of the world — the Arctic is a peaceful region where any issues that arise are resolved in accordance with international law.”

Chris Weafer, chief economist at Moscow investment bank Uralsib, said ending the dispute was part of a broader Russian push to win diplomatic points and attract investment by projecting itself as a fair player on the international stage.

Moscow is “keen to project this new softer and pragmatic approach as it looks to improve Russia’s image and investment credentials internationally,” Weafer said in a note to investors.

He also said the move made it more likely that Norway would back Russia’s Arctic claim.

The competition is driven by resources in the Arctic.

The oil and gas reserves in the Barents Sea could be worth billions of dollars

Under existing rules states have exclusive economic rights up to 200 miles from their shores. But they can claim even more if they can demonstrate that their continental shelf extends beyond this limit. In 2007 Russia planted a flag at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean in support of its claim that it was entitled to a much bigger chunk of the Arctic.

The gesture triggered a series of furious counter-claims by Canada and Denmark that their territory is continuous with the Lomonosov ridge, an underwater ridge in the Arctic Ocean. The competition is driven by estimates that the Arctic could hold 13% of the world’s remaining oil deposits and 30% of its gas reserves, not to mention precious metals.

Melting ice is opening up the Arctic for oil and gas companies

One Arctic expert said climate change would make the extraction of oil and gas from the Arctic much easier. “In the future it will be more acceptable. It extraction isn’t so difficult,” Professor Anatoly Kolodkin, the president of the International Maritime Law Association said.

Kolodkin denied accusations that Russia was trying to “grab” Arctic territory and said the Kremlin was a signatory to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which decides all Arctic claims. “As Mr Vladimir Putin emphasised we are not going to take something unilaterally. We will only act in accordance with international procedures,” he said.

Two years ago Russia’s security council identified the Arctic as an important “strategic resource” to be exploited – but also said its ecological system should be preserved. Putin, Russia’s prime minister, is hosting an international conference on the future of the Arctic in Moscow soon.

Norwegian-Russian deal puts more pressure on Canada?

An unexpected landmark agreement between Norway and Russia on where to draw an offshore boundary in the oil-rich Barents Sea heralds a new era of circumpolar peace, says a leading Canadian expert on Arctic affairs.

But University of British Columbia professor Michael Byers, author of the Donner Prize-nominated book Who Owns the Arctic?, says the surprise Norwegian-Russian deal puts more pressure on Canada, the U.S. and Denmark to resolve their outstanding Arctic territorial disputes at a time when the region’s economic opportunities and environmental challenges are coming into sharper focus.

“The fact that Moscow has surrendered its claim to half the area is hugely significant. It provides concrete evidence of Russia’s willingness to co-operate in the Arctic — even with much weaker states,” Byers told Canwest News Service.

“It also raises the question of why (Canada’s) two remaining Arctic sovereignty disputes of any significance — the Beaufort Sea and Northwest Passage — have not yet been resolved,” he added. “We’ve become the laggards of Arctic diplomacy, with still messy boundaries in an increasingly neat neighbourhood.”

On September 16, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Moscow with his Canadian counterpart, Lawrence Cannon. Mr. Cannon said Canada intends to provide scientific evidence proving that the Lomonosov Ridge is Canadian territory. Three expeditions from Russia, Canada and the United States are currently carrying out research in the Arctic to substantiate their respective counties’ claims to this underwater mountain.

The current Russian expedition aboard the research vessel Academician Fyodorov will come to an end in October, and then a fresh team of explorers will set out. Their primary objective is to collect evidence to back up Russia’s Arctic shelf bid, which it will submit to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in 2013. Moscow made its first such application in 2001, but that one was rejected for a lack of scientific evidence. The only other country to have submitted a similar bid is Norway in 2006.

According to Jiang Yi, a Chinese expert on Russian issues, Russia has more conflicts with Canada in the Arctic region. Russia resolves decades-long disputes with Norway through deal on Arctic boundary in order to deal with the “real rival”.

http://www.peopleforum.cn/viewthread.php?tid=38402&extra=page%3D1

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