changes force review of IMF quotas (23
International Monetary Fund faces its
biggest test as it pushes to reform itself,
giving more power to emerging countries in
Asia and elsewhere after decades of
Managing Director Rodrigo Rato was mandated
by the Fund's 184 member countries in April
to present a concrete proposal for change to
the IMF's quotas, or voting shares, at the
IMF/World Bank meetings in Singapore in September.
economies in Asia have warned they would
have less to do with the IMF unless they
were given more say in how it is run.
power in the IMF stems from quotas, or
subscriptions, which generate most of the
IMF's financial resources and are fiercely
protected because they determine who has the
biggest influence on IMF policies.
IMF's Board of Governors conducts general
quota reviews every five years usually. Any
change in quotas, like other important board
decisions, must be approved by an 85 percent
United States has veto power with 17.4
percent of the quota share, followed by
Japan with 6.2 percent, Germany at 6.1
percent and France and Britain with 5.0
quotas are based broadly on a country's size
in the world economy. A member's quota
determines its maximum financial commitment
to the IMF and its voting power, and has a
bearing on its access to IMF financing.
Total quotas at end-March 2006 were about
quota formulas generally benefit small, open
economies but penalise large, fast-growing
example, China's economy is double the size
of Belgium and the Netherlands combined, yet
both European countries have a bigger quota
are two main issues addressed in a general
quota review: the size of an overall
increase and the distribution of the
increase among the members.
last quota increase under a general review
was in January 1999. The 45 percent overall
increase reflected changes in the size of
the world economy, the increased risk of
financial crisis, and the rapid
liberalisation of trade and capital flows.
last general review was concluded on Jan.
30, 2003, with no proposal by the IMF's
board to increase quotas. The next review is
scheduled for January 2008.
IMF's 24-member executive board, which
oversees the daily running of the fund, is
dominated by Europe, which has eight of the
seats, compared to two for all of Africa,
three for the Middle East, five for Asia,
four for the Americas and one each for the
United States and Russia. Reuters
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aid workers walking a tricky tightrope (9
brutal murder of 17 Sri Lankan aid workers
last week highlights the difficulties faced
by relief organisations around the world
trying to balance helping people with
massacre, which took place in the
northeastern town of Mutur after days of
fighting between troops and Tamil Tiger
rebels, was one of the bloodiest attacks on
an aid group in history.
will change how we operate, who we help and
how we do it," said one aid worker in
Trincomalee, aid hub both for the conflict
area and also for a swathe of the island's
east coast hit by the 2004 tsunami.
the last few days, aid crews have found
access to the area limited by angry mobs,
mainly from the island's ethnic Sinhalese
majority, who say non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) are biased in favour of
minority Tamils and the rebels.
since this government got into power, it has
whipped up anti-NGO feeling," said
Rohan Edrisinha, analyst at the Centre for
Policy Alternatives in the capital, Colombo.
"I think that has percolated down to
the army, bureaucrats and officials."
is not only in Sri Lanka that aid workers
are under fire. In Sudan's Darfur region,
aid agencies say July was the worst month on
record with eight Sudanese staff killed and
access restricted by violence and
Iraq and Afghanistan, aid staff say western
agencies are often seen as simply an
extension of the United States military and
Zimbabwe, aid agencies continually have to
lobby the government simply to remain -- and
so barely dare talk about their conditions,
food shortages or abuse.
have ceased work all together.
aid gets politicised, you have to negotiate
simply to have the space in which to
operate," said one Trincomalee-based
aid worker who also worked in Africa.
"That makes things much more difficult.
It can also make it more dangerous."
governments increasingly moving into the aid
sphere, and relief programmes more involved
in trying to engineer long-term social
change that can involve contact with rebel
groups rather than simply handing out food,
it seems a growing trend.
Sri Lanka, some attribute the rising
anti-NGO sentiment to political pressure
from hardline Buddhist and Marxist
rebuilding after the 2004 tsunami slower
than many hoped, aid workers and officials
also blame each other.
problems seem to have been exacerbated by
the fact that some foreign governments want
to work through the NGOs rather than the
government," said Edrisinha.
government says it will launch a proper
investigation into the killing of the 17
staffers from the aid group Action Contre La
Faim, but family members and increasing
numbers of aid workers say it already
appears likely that government troops were
but one of the victims were Tamils, trapped
in a majority Muslim town.
a large number of victims of both the
tsunami and the two-decade civil war being
Tamils, aid workers say with hindsight that
they probably did not do enough to win over
hearts and minds of Sinhalese and Muslim
residents -- although with thousands of
Muslims now displaced by the current crisis,
they are trying hard.
see our white vehicles go through their
village almost every day and they see us
give them nothing," said one aid
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Countries Urged To Develop Regional Labour
Mobility (30 June 2006)
Islands countries are being urged to
consider establishing labour schemes among
themselves, even as they push for greater
access to New Zealand and Australia.
number of authorities on the Pacific labour
market have been presenting papers at a
Wellington conference over the past two
sociologist from the University of the South
Pacific, Carmen Voigt Graf, is an advocate
for the benefits of well managed and
regulated schemes for the temporary movement
she says the island countries should also
look at the transfer of workers among
Voigt Graf says, for instance, the current
teacher shortage in the Cook Islands could
be overcome by bringing in unemployed
teachers from Vanuatu and Fiji. Pacific
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traffickers prey on children of Ghana's poor
(30 June 2006)
Emmanuel Nkorbo does not know how much money
his mother got for him. He knows she was
promised money if she gave him up,
delivering him into the hands of
traffickers, who trade people for
profit. "It is a long time since
I saw her," he said in the local
language twi, his bright eyes betraying
little emotion. "It is difficult
to tell what I remember, but when I meet her
I will know it is her," he said.
the years since then, Emmanuel has worked in
Yeji, a Ghanaian town on the shores of
Africa's largest reservoir, Lake Volta, home
to thousands of fishermen.
was not paid but says he liked fishing,
frequently diving deep to disentangle the
net when it caught in the lake's many
stumps, holding his breath until his lungs
could no longer bear it before breaking the
water to gulp for air. However,
careless work could lead to a torn net and a
at a centre for trafficked children in
Madina, he says he is happy to be in a place
"where nothing bad is being done"
to him and where he does not get beaten for
criminal and commercial trade in human
beings, known as trafficking, thrives in the
poorest corners of the world, and Ghana, a
poor country in West Africa, is no
exception. Nearly 600 trafficked
children have been rescued from Ghanaian
fishing communities in the past three years
under a programme run by the International
Organization for Migration (IOM).
has concentrated on fishing communities but
the group says trafficked children can be
found working throughout Ghana in markets,
farms, as illegal miners or as household
of human beings became punishable by law in
Ghana only last December but some poor and
ill-educated parents, unable to provide for
their children, still sell them into labour.
and promises vary but in fishing communities
parents can be offered about 500,000 cedis
($55) in cash and a pledge of more money
later, said Joseph Rispoli, the IOM's head
hand their children over to fishermen,
sometimes people they know, who promise
work, education, care and shelter either in
their homes or someone else's.
reality fails to match the promises.
in tatters, denied an education and often
abused, trafficked children are treated
differently from the fishermen's own
children. Many parents believe they are
putting their children on the path to a
better life, a deception that fuels the
traffickers' trade. "They believe they
will get a higher standard of living than if
they stay with the parents," Rispoli
trade in children is a corruption of a
tradition whereby poor families look to
better-off relatives to care for their
children. "In the past, money
never changed hands, it was done in good
faith, unlike now...in the past you were
thinking of what your child was going to
gain," said Sharon Abbey, a social
worker and the manager of the Madina centre.
"You were free to go for your child if
you felt they were not being treated well.
It is different when money changes hands, it
is more like a commodity," she said.
children were so young when they left home
that memories of their families are hazy.
David Mahu looks far younger than 10. He
says he has five brothers and sisters but
can only remember the name of one, Esther.
He cannot remember when he left home but he
does remember how he felt. "I was
happy...they said my mother would be given a
cow," he says.
David's new life, he rose at dawn to go to
work and was afraid to ask about his mother,
fearing he would be beaten.
fragmented childhood memories have provided
enough evidence for the IOM and Department
of Social Welfare investigators to find his
mother. These reunions are frequently
difficult and tearful occasions. Some
parents don't want to take their children
back while others want a second chance to be
the next few months, David is likely to
return home. Is he angry with his mother?
Fidgeting, he looks at the ground and
whispers "no". Reuters
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showed way forward in disaster response (27
Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004 showed
both countries and aid groups need better
early-response planning to help them cope
with future disasters, a top World Health
Organisation official said on Tuesday.
tsunami's waves left more than 230,000
people dead or missing around the Indian
Ocean rim, with most of the casualties
inflicted in the initial impact and
people better handle the first stages of a
disaster was one of the tsunami's lessons,
Samlee Plianbangchang, WHO Regional Director
for Southeast Asia, told Reuters by
telephone from Bali.
from the U.N., non-governmental
organisations (NGO) and Southeast and South
Asia governments are meeting there this week
to discuss how to put into effect the
said a key priority was "strengthening,
or what we call empowering, the community
and the people on the ground so that they
know how to face the emergency during the
first hours", when outside help may be
absent or minimal.
tsunami aid efforts also saw bottlenecks in
which medical supplies, food and clothing
piled up at air terminals and ports waiting
to be moved to victims desperate for it.
were also situations of too many aid workers
concentrated in the same spots, for example
when several medical teams from different
agencies and NGOs set up in towns or
villages where there were relatively few
cannot come alone. We also have to work with
other international agencies, other
stakeholders including NGOs. If we are not
properly coordinated we create also the
problems on the ground, and the problems to
the government also."
have to rely on other sectors also to come
and help," he said.
individual nations' capacities to handle
disasters is another area the Bali meeting,
which ends on Thursday, will look at,
country should have a national plan for
emergency preparedness and response,"
he said, adding emergency drills were needed
to guard against complacency.
you don't exercise, they will forget"
and "then everybody will think that,
OK, no emergency, and they become
and detection systems effective against
disease in disaster situations, as well as
building networks to warn people when
disasters like quakes and tsunamis may
occur, are other priorities, Plianbangchang
Bali group will incorporate its
recommendations into a declaration to take
back to participating groups' headquarters
and countries' capitals. Then,
Plianbangchang said: "we have to work
hard" to see that the lessons are
applied in practice. Reuters
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time for global control of small arms (25
by the harrowing lessons of World War II,
the United Nations Charter was signed in San
Francisco on June 26, 1945. Exactly 61 years
later, the UN review conference on small
arms will open on Monday in New York. This
will be the first major conference on the UN
program of action on the global menace of
small and light weapons of combat.
recent years, discussions on terror and
safety have tended to concentrate on weapons
of mass destruction. And yet there are other
problems that are already causing havoc,
which also demand urgent attention. It is
important to appreciate why an effective
system of the control of trade in small arms
is so badly needed right now.
the use of small arms is constantly fed and
heavily promoted in the world by the
sellers, for there is much profit to be made
there. While it is true that arms trading
needs willing buyers in addition to eager
sellers, the pushing of arms is no less a
phenomenon today than the pushing of drugs.
the fact that arms buying tends to be
concentrated in relatively few hands,
typically governmental administrators or the
military or paramilitary (including
insurgents), swaying the purchasers is often
relatively easy and well within the
profitable reach of the merchants of death.
The French economist Jean-Baptiste Say might
have enunciated a rather doubtful general
principle when he argued, 200 years ago,
that "supply creates its own
demand," but his maxim fits the arms
trade alarmingly well.
arms trading would not be hard to control if
the international community were resolved to
do so. Arms production tends to be
concentrated regionally, and so is the
export of arms. As it happens, the leaders
of the world, in the shape of the Group of 8
countries, have been persistently
responsible for more than 80 percent of
global arms exports.
the states of the world seem to have already
agreed in previous meetings that they would
restrict arms transactions to what
international law allows. Yet there is no
current agreement between the states on
standards for arms transfers. At the UN
conference that starts Monday, states need
to agree on global principles restraining
arms transfers if there were a likelihood
they would be used to commit genocide or
comprehensive approach would have to address
direct transactions, indirect transfers,
brokering, transit and transshipment. The UN
General Assembly can then move toward
agreeing on an international Arms Trade
the conference could also bring out the fact
that the terrible consequences of the use of
small arms go well beyond the outrageous
killing and maiming they cause. Small arms
are vital ingredients of terrorism, civil
war and generalized violence, which in turn
lead to the disruption of social services,
health care and basic education, and can
also reduce the incentives for long-term
investment and economic development. Many of
the difficulties faced by Africa from the
1970s onward can be traced to this process.
G-8 countries have not taken an active
leadership role in curbing arms trade until
recently, but there are some welcome signs
of greater resolve right now. It is also
important for non-G-8 countries to take more
initiative on this.
own country, India, has good reason to use
whatever influence it has, especially with
the growing recognition of its importance in
the global world. This is not only because
reduction of armed conflicts fits well into
the global objectives that were championed
by India when it struggled for independence
and sought a global voice, but also because
India itself suffers a great deal from the
illicit movement of arms that feed local
insurrections and terrorist acts.
though China is currently the
seventh-largest exporter of arms in the
world, it also has a stake in limiting the
movement of arms into its own territory. The
G-8 countries, too, have reasons of
enlightened self-interest to do this
(despite the money that these countries make
from this terrible trade), given the growing
threat of terrorism that affects these
countries as well.
across the world, despite their many
variations, increasingly have a shared
vulnerability. The time has come for the
world as a whole to turn a page, through
effective controls on the global arms trade.
International Herald Tribune
Sen, who was awarded the 1998 Nobel Memorial
Prize in economics, is a professor at
Harvard University. He is an honorary
adviser to Oxfam and author of many books
including "Development as
displaced, but number of refugees
down--UNHCR (9 June 2006)
number of people uprooted by conflict or
persecution rose to 20.8 million last year,
but refugees who have actually fled their
homeland now account for only four out of
every 10, the United Nations said on Friday.
overall figure, up by six percent from 19.5
million a year before, swelled due to fresh
surges of internally-displaced people in
Iraq, Somalia, and Darfur, Sudan, the U.N.
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.
includes just 8.4 million refugees who
crossed an international border -- the
lowest level since 1980 -- and 6.6 million
internally-displaced, forced to leave their
homes but remaining within their country's
rest are either stateless, asylum-seekers,
or those who have returned home but remain
of concern to the UNHCR.
of the increase is due to a rise in the
number of people living in refugee-like
situations within their own countries,"
the Geneva-based agency said its "2005
Global Refugee Trends" report.
was the fifth consecutive year in which the
global refugee population dropped, as
refugees returned home in droves to
Afghanistan, Liberia, Iraq and Angola.
WAY TO GO
2001, the world's refugee population has
fallen by nearly one-third from 12.1
million, according to the agency.
now account for just four out of every 10
people of concern to the UNHCR and will
probably drop further to three out of every
10, it added.
Guterres, U.N. High Commissioner for
Refugees, welcomed the drop, noting that
last year also saw the smallest movements of
new refugees into neighbouring states since
the bad news is that the international
community still has a long way to go in
resolving the plight of millions of
internally displaced people in places like
Darfur, Uganda and the Democratic Republic
of Congo," said Guterres, a former
Portuguese Prime Minister completing his
first year in office.
UNHCR said it had an "expanding
role" in caring for the world's
internally displaced, also known as
"internal refugees", who are not
covered by the 1951 Refugee Convention but
still face many of the same problems as
least 2 million people remain uprooted in
Colombia, followed by 1.2 million in Iraq,
according to the agency.
number of refugees fell by 15 percent last
year in Europe, which hosted about a quarter
of all refugees," it added.
remained the source of the largest number of
refugees worldwide -- 1.9 million in 72
countries -- while Pakistan is still the
main asylum country, hosting more than 1
million refugees, mostly Afghans. Reuters
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flu exercise tests APEC communications (7
21 members of the Asia Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) group began a bird flu
disaster exercise on Wednesday to test how
countries inform each other about the risks
of a flu pandemic.
exercise, the first of its kind to involve
all major economies of the Asia-Pacific
region, involves a hypothetical outbreak of
the deadly virus among fishermen in an
unidentified Asian village, which then leads
to human-to-human transmission.
notification and making sure early
notification is to the right people in the
different economies is absolutely central to
us collectively developing a response to an
international pandemic," exercise
coordinator Trevor Clement told Reuters.
deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed
more than 125 people worldwide since
reappearing in 2003. Scientists fear it
could evolve into a virus which can pass
easily from person to person, triggering a
pandemic that could kill millions.
has reported almost 40 outbreaks of bird flu
in poultry across a dozen provinces over the
past year and 12 people are known to have
died there of bird flu. In Indonesia, 37
people have died from the virus.
seems so simple, but it is remarkably
complex when you are talking about
communicating with 21 separate
economies," said Clement, acting
director general of Australia's disaster
coordination centre Emergency Management
and Singapore are coordinating the 24-hour
exercise, which is designed to test phone,
fax and e-mail communications between
authorities among the 21 APEC members.
the exercise, suspicious symptoms are
reported in a number of villages and in
neighbouring countries. The infection is
being called the Straits Flu and the World
Health Organisation upgrades its pandemic
alert, ordering affected countries to
initiate containment measures immediately.
said air travel meant people could spread
the disease to different countries within
hours, making fast notification of an
said eight APEC members -- Chile, China,
Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia,
Taiwan and Vietnam -- were primary players
in the exercise and might have to advise of
a hypothetical response to the situation.
APEC nations, including the United States,
the Philippines, Brunei, Singapore,
Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and Hong
Kong, would play a secondary role. Reuters
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number 191 million across globe, UN says (6
191 million people now live outside their
country of birth and migration is a major
feature of international life, U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan reported on
most migrants move to wealthy nations, 75
million people have moved between developing
countries, Annan said in a report to the
191-nation U.N. General Assembly.
the report "an early road map for this
new era of mobility," he proposed a
standing forum on migration at the United
Nations to help governments pursue an
integrated approach to migration and
development at both the national and
report recognizes the right of governments
to decide who may enter their territory but
encourages them to work together to upgrade
economic and social benefits at both ends of
the migrant chain.
is for governments to decide whether more or
less migration is desirable," Annan
said. "Our focus in the international
community should be on the quality and
safety of the migration experience and on
what can be done to maximize its development
has several positive benefits for both the
host nation and the country of origin,
according to the report.
undertake less desirable jobs in the host
country while stimulating demand and
improved economic performance. They also
help to shore up pension systems in
countries with aging populations.
countries benefit by receiving an estimated
$167 billion a year in remittances, up from
$58 billion in 1995.
money sent home by migrants totaled $232
billion in 2005, up from $102 billion in
1995. One third of global remittances went
to just four countries, India, China, Mexico
report found that one third of all
immigrants in the world have moved from one
developing country to another.
migration to high income countries --
including some still regarded as developing
such as South Korea, Singapore, Saudi Arabia
and the United Arab Emirates -- has grown
much faster than to the rest of the world,
out of 10 international immigrants reside in
countries considered "high
income," according to the report.
hosted 34 percent of all migrants in 2005,
North America 23 percent and Asia 28
percent. Only 9 percent were living in
Africa, 3 percent in Latin America and the
Caribbean, and another 3 percent in Oceania.
half of all immigrants are women, and in
developed countries they outnumber men, the
report said. Reuters
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Benefit From Migration, U.N. Study Says (6
General Kofi Annan said Tuesday that the
rapid growth in global migration should
help, not harm, all countries but that broad
international cooperation would be necessary
to ensure it.
now understand better than ever before that
migration is not a zero-sum game," Mr.
Annan said. "In the best cases, it
benefits the receiving country, the country
of origin and migrants themselves."
made his comments in a report he delivered
to the General Assembly on migration and
development, subjects that will be a focus
of the annual gathering of heads of state at
the United Nations in September.
report noted that alarm over the growing
numbers of migrants had cast the issue in a
negative light but asserted that the
emphasis was misplaced, citing the aging of
populations in developed countries that it
said could be offset only by migration.
think that societies don't ask themselves
enough what they would do without
migrants," said Hania Zlotnik, director
of the United Nations Population Division.
Annan said he hoped the September meeting
would take up measures to better conditions
for migrants, including tightening law
enforcement to curb smuggling and
trafficking, easing visa and naturalization
rules, and establishing reliable financial
services to enable money to be sent home.
1990 to 2005, the numbers of migrants in the
world rose to 191 million from 155 million,
the report said. It estimated that migrants
sent $232 billion home in 2005. Of that,
$167 billion went to developing countries,
Mr. Annan said.
report said that migration sometimes reduced
the wages of low-skilled workers in advanced
economies, but that it more often freed
citizens to perform high-paying jobs.
demographic statistics that will make a
continued rise in migration inevitable, the
report said that in developed countries
there is an average of 142 young entrants to
the labor force for every 100 people about
to retire, but that in 10 years, the ratio
will be 87 young entrants for every 100 who
leave the labor force.
trend, it argued, creates a deficit that
only migrants can close. At the same time,
developing countries will have 342
candidates for every 100 jobs that open up. New
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