What’s New December 2008

This page lists changes to this site for December 2008.

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Are some emerging nations able to command more influence at global talks now? For years developing countries have found themselves sidelined in global matters. Now with the financial crisis, rich countries are admitting that emerging nations need to be involved in discussions. Recent international meetings included some emerging countries more, but it will not be easy for them to get the bigger voice they have long been denied. This update includes a few links and details on this issue as well as inclusion of some videos that explain some aspects of the financial crisis further.

Irresponsible arms trade can fuel conflicts and divert precious resources away from tackling poverty and other issues. Previous attempts at arms sales codes of conduct have been problematic because of loopholes and other workarounds. At the end of October 2008, 147 states at the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to move forward with work on the Arms Trade Treaty. The US and Zimbabwe voted against it, while 18 others abstained: Bahrain, Belarus, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Libya, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Yemen.

The latest data covering global arms sales shows that sale of arms in 2007 increased to almost $60 billion, 70% of which went to developing countries. Updated graphs and charts on arms sales data are provided here. The arms trade is big business. The 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council (US, Russia, France, United Kingdom and China), together with Germany and Italy, account for over 80% of the arms sold between 2000 and 2007. Some of the arms sold go to regimes where human rights violations will occur. Corruption often accompanies arms sales due to the large sums of money involved.

According to the UN, inequality in cities around the world is increasing. Almost half of humanity lives in urban areas. In the developing world, 1 in 3 city dwellers live in urban slums. At the same time, some American cities are as unequal as African and Latin American cities. For example, New York was found to be the 9th most unequal in the world. The most unequal cities were in South Africa, Namibia and Latin America. Europe has generally more equal societies, but amongst the most unequal European countries is UK, which is one of the wealthiest.

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