Regular News Update from Eurostep, N° 724
Eurostep Weekly 724, 13 May 2013
Pakistan election: what do women want? Food, freedom and peace
Nearly 14 years after being ousted from power by a military coup, Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is poised to lead the country once again. In addition to economic problems, the country has been plagued by shootings and bomb attacks by Taliban insurgents. The militants have used violence in recent months to try and undermine the election process because they believe Pakistan's democracy runs counter to the laws of Islam. Despite the attacks and the pre-election violence, Pakistanis turned out to usher in the country's first democratic transfer of power.
Now that the elections are over, it is important to take a step back and ask what do Pakistan’s women voters want.
It is not easy for women in Pakistan "Women face disproportionately high levels of poverty, work in exploitative labour conditions, get little or no remuneration, face the double burden of housework and reproductive responsibility, and are subjected to gender-based violence," stated, Tahira Abdullah, a peace activist in the capital, Islamabad.
According to gender specialist Naheed Aziz, in Islamabad, women are more concerned about day-to-day affairs like food, water, health, sanitation and the welfare of their children.
"The country a woman wants is one where she is not treated as a secondary citizen," said Aziz, "where she can live with peace and dignity, has a say in the affairs affecting her life, and is not subjected to age-old negative socio-cultural traditions; where her honour and life are not threatened within her home or her community, where she feels secure, where she and her family members will not be subjected to violence and exploitation, where the rule of law prevails, and where everyone has equal and equitable justice."
EU to extend welfare rights, despite UK warning
European Commission vice-president Viviane Reding proposes an extension to EU nationals' welfare rights despite a warning on "benefit tourism" by major EU countries.
Ms. Reding added that countries should extend unemployment benefits from the current three months to six months for any EU national who leaves their home state to seek work in another EU country. This is part of a package of 12 initiatives to improve EU citizens’ quality of life. The aim is for these to be implemented by the Commission during the remainder of the year and into 2014.
Member states’ concerns were transmitted in March to the Commission in a letter from government Ministers from Austria, Germany, Netherlands, and the UK. They said they want an end put to EU nationals being able to claiming benefits when they move from their home state to another EU.
Reding argues that the proposals are consistent with the provisions of the EU’s Treaties on movement of citizens, and that they can contribute to economic growth within the Union. She stated that “EU citizens working only become eligible for social security benefits under a very strictly defined habitual residence test. All this is in the national law, all this is clear,” She also told reporters that “no member state has provided the commission with facts about a 'perception' [that something is wrong]."
Somalia conference finds funds for stability
The European Union has pledged €44 million ($58 million) toward building Somalia's justice system and police force. Delegates gathered in London Tuesday for a conference on the east African nation.
With the pledge, the EU has given more than € 1.2 billion of aid to Somalia since 2008.
Somalia has been wracked by internal conflict since 1991, but a new UN-backed administration that took power in September is regarded as at least a partial success. Still, militants continue to launch attacks. The latest, killing 11 people came on Sunday when a suicide attacker rammed a car filled with explosives into a government convoy.
Brazilian to lead world trade body
Roberto Azevedo, Brazil's ambassador to the World Trade Organization, was selected to be the body's next director general, WTO diplomats said Tuesday, taking the helm of the arbiter of trade disputes as its role as a broker of ambitious global trade deals has been thrown into doubt.
Mr. Azevedo, a 55-year-old diplomat with a record of challenging the farm-subsidy policies of the U.S. and Europe, will succeed Pascal Lamy, a French Socialist who led the WTO for the past seven years but failed to complete the body's biggest project: the Doha Development Round, an effort launched nearly 12 years ago.
LDC request for waiver of intellectual property obligations meets conditions from developed countries
The request by least developed countries (LDCs) to push back the date on which they would have to enforce intellectual property rules under the World Trade Organization is the subject of informal consultations between delegations, as the end of the existing waiver is fast approaching. At stake is the time period of the proposed extension, which developed countries would prefer to be limited. Over 100 academics have voiced support for the LDCs’ request.
The “Global Academics’ Expert Letter on LDCs’ TRIPS Extension Request,” was published on 27 April. In the letter, the signatories ask for an “unconditional extension of the time period within which LDC Members must become compliant with the WTO TRIPS Agreement,” referring to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
The signers are legal and other academics from high, middle, and low income countries specialising mainly in areas such as international intellectual property and trade law, development studies, and human rights.
According to a developed country source, developed countries would like to have a clear sense of direction. Taking a “step backward” on IP measures already established in LDCs could be hindering the process of integration, the source told Intellectual Property Watch. Discussions are ongoing as LDCs have been requested to give examples of potential “rollbacks,” the source said.
LDC Watch and network of civil society organisations from LDCs argues that the proposed extension is necessary to enable LDCs to develop their IP systems gradually in line with their economic and technological development. They will be able to address challenges such as bridging the knowledge and technology gap by facilitating access to affordable educational materials and technology. “LDCs need to invest their scarce resources towards pressing development needs rather than on implementing TRIPS-compliant IP systems, which are not only costly but may adversely impact development” commented Dr. Arjun Karki, Coordinator of LDC Watch.