What’s New January 2000

This page lists recent changes made to this site. The "Find Out More" links will take you to the changes. If this jumps to the middle of a page, you can easily scroll up to understand the context of the new information a bit further.

Date of Update


January 31, 1999

  1. Just a few months after the Kosovo crisis, East Timor had faced gross human rights violations as Indonesian-backed violence erupted after most East Timorese voted for independence. However, what happened to the new Clinton doctrine of humanitarian interventions? There has been a lot of criticism against the NATO bombing of Kosovo for not being humanitarian like the US and UK leaders kept claiming it was. After the Kosovo crisis, President Clinton announced that the US would intervene in other countries where human rights violations were occurring and if needed, without the authorization of the United Nations Security Council. This is a pretty serious precedent for a powerful country to set as it in effect undermines international law and treaty obligations. However, none of that rhetoric was seen in East Timor, or in the countless other conflicts where the human rights violations were much worse than in Kosovo. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Crisis in East Timor / Geopolitics

  2. There have been numerous complex reasons for the various conflicts seen in Africa today. One aspect that has fueled many conflicts has been the 1.5 billion dollars worth of weapons that the US has sold. Other reasons include the debt and structural adjustment programs and the impacts they have had on societies, the legacy of colonialism and imperialism, the support of corrupt officials and dictators by the US and former Soviet Union, as well as corporate interests that have often been put above the interests of people in the regions. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Geopolitics / The Arms Trade / Trade Related Issues

  3. The sales of arms is accompanied by a lot of propaganda. A variety of reasons are used to promote arms sales. For example, the point is made that many other nations are heavily armed and therefore, development, research and sales of modernized weapons needs to continue. (This omits the point that the other nations have arms sold by the very same manufacturers!). Arms corporations use emotional manipulation in their advertising and also mention how weapons sales will result in more jobs at home. (However, they forget to mention that a lot of arms sales, especially in large deals involving fighter jets etc, are accompanied by economic incentives for the target country, such as setting up facilities to manufacture them in their nation, hence creating jobs, but far from home!) Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): The Arms Trade / Geopolitics

  4. The feminization of poverty is a phenomenon that is unfortunately on the increase. Basically, women are increasingly the ones who suffer the most poverty. This then also affects children which makes the dire situation even worse. For example, even in the richest country in the world, the USA, the poorest are women caring for children. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Causes of Poverty / Human Rights

  5. Will genetically engineered food be the answer to world hunger? Possibly. However, this claim has often been criticized because world hunger has been caused by a variety of political issues that need to be tackled. To deal with those issues would also aim to reduce dependencies and alleviate poverty so that people can afford to by food. World food production is actually at a high enough level to adequately feed the world population. Things like global politics and international trade policies, however, denies access to so many. It is often the corporate drive that has marketed this claim, while a report observes that many of the genetically modified products in the market place today are profit-driven, rather than need-driven. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Genetically Engineered Food

  6. There has been a somewhat successful biosafety treaty that has been agreed to. This treaty will help to regulate the international transport and release of genetically modified organisms to protect natural biological diversity. Some labeling of genetically modified food will also be possible. This is a major step forward, especially compared to the fiasco of the previous year. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Genetically Engineered Food / Biodiversity

  7. Monsanto is changing its name. The biotech company is merging with a US-Swiss drugs group, Pharmacia & Upjohn. The result will the name of Pharmacia. Monsanto has faced harsh criticism from concerned citizens around the world for the way it has tried to promote genetically engineered food very aggressively, without giving adequate time to test and assure that genetically engineered, or modified, foods are safe for consumption. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Genetically Engineered Food

  8. An additional source of information on poverty has been added. This one is a link to an organization called Food First. They are working to highlight the causes of poverty and hunger and to establish food as a fundamental human right. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Causes of Poverty / Fair Trade

January 24, 1999

  1. Germany has announced that it will write off 100 percent of the bilateral debts owed to it from some 30 poorest countries of the world. This is estimated to be worth around 5 billion dollars and follows the example set by Britain, Canada and the USA, as well as large public pressure from groups such as the Jubilee 2000 Coalition. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Causes of Poverty / Fair Trade

  2. The US has backed and promoted leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo for strategic and resource related reasons. Often the interest of the local people has not been considered much and arms dealing has been an important aspect of the relationship. Meanwhile, the peace agreement falters in a war that has involved over seven nations. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Geopolitics / Arms Trade / Human Rights / Trade Related Issues

  3. Racism in Europe is on the increase again. Recent months have seen what the UK-based Institute for Race Relations describe as unparalleled electoral successes for extreme-Right anti-immigration parties in Austria and Switzerland. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Human Rights /

  4. Governments recently agreed on a treaty establishing eighteen as the minimum age for participating in armed conflicts. This in effect, eliminates the legal use of children as soldiers. In the past it has been very difficulty just to get this through, because even nations such as the US has sent in seventeen-year old troops into conflicts. It is estimated that around 300,000 child soldiers are currently participating in conflicts around the world. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Geopolitics / Human Rights /

  5. Where do you draw the line between protectionism and deregulation? Large industries are often attracted by protectionist policies (and many industries in the US and Europe are still protected by the state, even though the US and Europe frown on protectionism by others.) Large corporations are also attracted at the possibilities that deregulation offers in terms of reduced costs and hopefully increased prosperity. Throughout history, empires have often used their military might to ensure trade and resource access are in their favor. Protectionist policies for themselves while liberalizing other nations resources has often been the recipe followed. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Fair Trade / Causes of Poverty / Geopolitics

  6. USA, which is the wealthiest nation on Earth, has the widest gap between rich and poor of any industrialized nation, and disparities continue to grow. The report that has been linked to provides a lot of research and statistics. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Fair Trade / Causes of Poverty

  7. The Biosafety Protocol talks in 1999 failed dramatically. This year people are hoping for slightly better results. Last year saw a gate-crash by the United States. Part of the Miami group, they put forward the idea that the World Trade Organization was a better place to conduct talks. The rest of the countries (130 of them) wanted to talk about safety concerns, not freely trading a technology that has not been proven to be completely safe. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Environment Issues / Trade Related Issues

January 19, 1999

  1. The Chechen civilian population gets caught in the middle of the conflict there. Access to oil and other trading routes and resources has also been a major factor in this conflict as well as an independence struggle. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Geopolitics / Trade Related Issues

  2. A link to more information about the Seattle, or Millennium, Round of WTO talks has been added. This one is from the French paper le Monde Diplomatique. It summarizes well how the Southern nations had been treated during the negotiations. Corporate dominance and influence in global trade together with hypocritical calls from industrialized countries forced a massive protestor turnout and a lot of criticism from developing nation delegates at the conference. That combination helped result in a WTO failure. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Fair Trade / Causes of Poverty

  3. The mainstream media praised the largest merger in history, between AOL and Time-Warner. But is it really a positive move? Many critics fear that this will further reduce media diversity and hamper meaningful democracy even more. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Mainstream Media / Corporations and Trade / Human Rights

  4. A YoYo of rulings on the Pinochet extradition to Spain now suggests that he may be returned to Chile. The former dictator has been accused of gross human rights violations during the time of his rule. Spanish and French citizens amongst many Chileans had been killed. Upon his visit to UK for health treatment, Spain and UK managed to agree to have him extradited to Spain to stand trial. However, British Home Secretary, Jack Straw, may have misled people saying that medical doctors claimed Pinochet unfit to stand trial and now must be returned to Chile. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Geopolitics / Human Rights

  5. Capitalizing on public knowledge is raising some serious concerns. As large multinational biotech corporations buy up indigenous knowledge and patent their usage, it has caused outrage with affected people. Sometimes, these patents have been taken out without the knowledge of the local people. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Genetically Engineered Food / Environment Issues

  6. Al Gore and the pharmaceutical industry wanted to try and penalize some developing nations for trying to develop their own drugs to help their increasing number of citizens suffering from AIDS. Fortunately, for now, it seems that thanks to public outcries, this has been reversed. However, it is not just AIDS drugs at issue. There are many types of diseases that can be easily treated but medicines are not available in developing poor nations because the companies that produce the drugs may not get a return on investment. (Many articles from le Monde are also linked to). Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Fair Trade / Causes of Poverty

  7. An additional source of population related information has been added. This one is a from the United Nations Population Fund and its 1999 report about the coming choices for the 6 billion population. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Environment Issues / Trade Related Issues

January 7, 1999

  1. While public protests and outcries about the rapid, unregulated push for genetically engineered food has been very loud there are still many issues at hand. Getting such food labeled is still difficult for political and commercial reasons, for example. A great quote has been added from an article worth checking out. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Genetically Engineered Food / Trade Related Issues / Environment

  2. Many national economies in the Caribbean would lose out a lot if the WTO style of liberalization for trade is to take hold. A WTO ruling declared that the preferential treatment towards former colonial African, Caribbean and Pacific nations in the trade of bananas was against WTO rules. If the Millennium Round in Seattle had not been derailed by public protests, the Caribbean nations would likely have been affected severely and end up trying to compete with the giant corporations such as Chiquita. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Fair Trade / The Millennium Round in Seattle / Causes of Poverty

  3. People in the Molucca islands of Indonesia and its capital Ambon, are still facing human rights abuses. While the Indonesia/East Timor crisis is off the radar screen of most of the mainstream media, in Ambon, there have been violent crackdowns and abuses for many years as well. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Geopolitics / Human Rights

  4. In some regions around the world people are already fighting for basic needs. As we head into the next millennium, global trading politics will affect an increasing population. Coupled with environmental degradation and a competition for resources, conflicts will and have resulted. Find Out More »
    - Related Section(s): Geopolitics / Human Rights