European Migrant Crisis

One of the most urgent problems of the European Union is a crisis of migration. How exactly does it affect our lives? And what does it bring? We have known this not from today – people move. Many years traveling, searching for a better life or work. They run the risk of leaving the current life and go on a long journey. However, in recent years this phenomenon has intensified posing new challenges of the European Union. It is worth considering what are the reasons and, more importantly, the consequences.

Ongoing since 2011 bloody war in Syria has intensified the phenomenon of migration. People began to flee both from hunger and lack of work but most of all – to protect themselves. In subsequent years, the situation has became even worse. The migrants were moving on the Western Balkans trial to Macedonia and Serbia, then to Hungary and next European countries. There has been a sharp increase in the number of people applying for political asylum, among others from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2014, it was up to 600,000 people. One year later, record was beaten – 1.2 million people have tried to get asylum. The worst situation was in Greece. Aegean Sea has become an attractive route for illegal immigrants. This situation quickly brought other consequences, intensified border controls. 8 countries of Schengen area have started borders controls. It is the largest wave of migration after the 2nd World War.

Initially, the presence of the refugees wasn’t a big problem. German Chancellor decided to welcome their starting a policy of „open door”. Refugees were not economic burden – their admission and stay covered with the surplus, which amounted to approximately EUR 5 billion. Businesses were also positive, as a result of demographic decline – Germany needs hands to work. Unfortunately, with the passage of time they began to notice that this is not a perfect solution.

Fundamental dimension of this crisis is the conflict between the countries of the European Union and the European Commission. Conflict grows because the solution still can not be found. However, the migration crisis brings many other consequences – cultural, social and above all – economic. The European Commission has issued a decree on the separation of the number of refugees between Member States. In a recent newspaper interview, the Italian Prime Minister said that Italy can not accept such number of refugees as they did the previous year. The basic economic problem is that costs generates adoption and maintenance of refugees. Not all EU countries are able to receive the number of refugees and do not feel the economic effects . Especially, the number of refugees seems to have no end. Year after year, the number increases. The issue of economy is not only focused on helping refugees start a new life. The issue of economic concerns all funds invested in helping to save their lives. Every day thousands of them cross the long and exhausting road in search for a better life. Help starts in entering them safely ashore from boats or pontoons which they use. The funds are invested also increased last time border protection. On the other hand, however, we note that the richest countries take the largest number of refugees which is opposed to the theory – refugee burden the economy. With the integration of refugee programs they can develop not only in terms of jobs and wages, but also to approach socially.

The problem of migration crisis has many faces. Economic, political. It became an international dispute that desperately needs a solution. This is reflected also on the public mood. People are becoming more reluctant to refugees. Often it comes to acts of violence against them. Increasingly, we hear about nationalist sentiment. The natives are worried about their jobs and safety. More and more often we meet with xenophobia.

How and where should we look for solutions? Should we focus on the distribution of the number of refugees between countries or maybe we should get to the sources of conflict, including the war in Syria? Unfortunately, in the near future we will not know the answer to that question. We can only hope that it will not happen at the expense of people who desperately cry out for help.

by: Karolina Banaś

Bibliography

 

Invisible hand!… TO THE RESCUE! How handy has the ‘invisible hand’ really been?

 

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In the beginning, once upon a time, economist Adam smith looked out of his window and observed the economy’s slow rate of growth during the early industrial revolution and thought to himself the states not doing a very good job of this! An “invisible hand “could do better.

And soon after the Neoliberal ideology was born, the idea that growth and development was dependent on Market Competitiveness permeating all aspects of life.

The main way in which this was achieved was through increasing ‘labour market flexibility’ which transferred the risk of de-regulation and insecurities onto workers and their families creating what Guy Standing labelled the “Global Precariat” referring to a dangerous new emerging social class. (Standing.2014)

I’m sure when the socialist group named ‘Robin Hood gang’ consisting of 20 youths in a 2006 stunt, raided a gourmet supermarket and later re distributed the goods to interns; the class they believed were most exploited in society (Standing.2014), would have had Karl Marx sitting on a cloud looking down with popcorn cheering, but whether neoliberalism has sparked ‘class consciousness’ by the masses is an entirely different argument. However, I’m sure we can agree that neoliberalism has created a mass of inequality.

Neoliberalism is a model for ‘trickle down’ economics (notably favoured by none other than Osborne and Trump). It’s justified by the subtlety of replacing consumer choice with consumer welfare, this means any action by a firm to improve consumer welfare is welcomed however unequal that might be. It is always seen as desirable because some of the benefits the wealthiest receive will ‘trickle down’ to the poorest. This ‘handy’ device vindicates supply side economics; where the shift in economic thinking went from encouraging people to consume (Keynesian thinking) to encouraging producers to produce (Supply side, because producers supply goods and services). One result has been that instead of the ‘invisible hand’ (which requires the existence of a large number of firms so that no individual firm can manipulate prices) small to medium sized enterprises have been destroyed/taken over while giant corporations are predominant (Crouch, 2011).

Cuts in corporation tax are advocated and labour is just another commodity whose price must be kept low to encourage production. It has been ‘handy’ when governments step in so that when this results in pay so low people cannot maintain an adequate standard of living the government supplements low wages via working tax credits. In effect governments subsidise firms stingy pay regimes, Jobs tend to become less secure, more intense patterns of work results in exploitation and unhappiness, but it’s all justified by the concept of consumer welfare because some of the extra profit generated will trickle down to the poor.

Simultaneously, with the same supply side justification, governments have reduced regulations resulting in huge company crashes for example Enron US and the financial crash of 2008. Banks are considered too big to fail and so squeezed tax payers are forced to bail out irresponsible banks. Then austerity imposed, thus state spending was very high but much of this is subsidising firms’ low pay and bailing out corporate greed. Its ‘handy’ how the arguments we are fed are that we must cut costs to giant corporations whereas people’s incomes must be minimised. High profits will trickle down.

Furthermore, these huge conglomerates Google, Apple, Starbucks etc. get away with paying risible levels of tax. Globalisation allows companies to have a ‘virtual’ HQ in countries with favourable tax regimes; Irish government are fighting an EU decision to make Apple Pay 11 billion euros back in taxes to them (Robinson, 2016). The power of multinationals might not be the biggest threat to world peace, but they are undemocratic and unaccountable and can only get more huge and powerful. Its ‘handy’ we must always cut their costs.

I’m going to have to agree with Joseph Stiglitz when he says it’s called the invisible hand because it doesn’t exist (Stiglitz, 2009), how ‘handy’ can it really be then? Economic models always rely on underlying assumptions – any assumptions that such a thing as the perfectly free market exists are wrong. Hence conclusions based on such assumptions are unreliable.

Natasha Boyce (Dubai Campus)

Bibliography:

The Precariat: the new dangerous class, Guy Standing, p.1-8, June 5th 2014

The global crisis, social protection and jobs, Joseph Stiglitz, 2009

The strange non-death of neoliberalism, Collin Crouch, 2011

Apple holds Europe to ransom: Tech giant threatens to cut jobs in EU after Brussels orders it to pay back £11BILLION in tax over ‘illegal’ sweetheart deal with Irish government, Martin Robinson, 2016 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3764393/Apple-faces-bill-billions-Irish-tax-affairs-EU-rules-company-effectively-received-state-aid.html

Huge Victory for Food Security!

House of Representatives Passes Global Food Security Act: Bill Ready for President’s Signature

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So it’s official- the Global Food Security Act (GFSA), a key piece of legislation to fight hunger and strengthen food security, is about to become law. Yes, it really is about to become a reality! This exciting news is a result of years of work by the US Congress and the food security community and is a significant step forward to ensure greater food security for the masses of people across the globe that do not have proper access to it. If this success is to be put in the words of the late Neil Armstrong. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

It’s important to remember that the world ends up producing enough food to feed the entire population of 7 billion people. However, there is one person out of 8 even right now who is starving and end up going to bed hungry. This shouldn’t be the case in the world, especially in this day and age.  Also in some countries, one in every three children are underweight due to lack of food. Why does hunger still exist? Isn’t it time everyone did something? There are so many interconnected reasons for the presence of hunger in the world.

Therefore heading in the right direction, on the 6th of July 2016 The House of Representatives voted by a margin of 169-53 in order to get the approval of the GFSA. This bill will now be sent to President Obama to be analyzed and signed.

This is a major announcement for many food security organizations including Action Against Hunger who have been campaigning for years in order to pass this bill. This is also a pivotal point for a vast number of hungry people across the world who will definitely be benefitting from the passing of the GFSA. Personally, this news is of great importance to me as well as many people around the world largely due to the fact that the world is in a dire state at the moment with starvation and over usage of food and an action like this could only benefit towards the wellbeing of the world’s populace.

795 million people suffer from starvation around the world (World Hunger, 2016).  While there has been progress in the recent years the journey is still not yet over to eradicate hunger once in for all. At this pace, it would definitely be a reality in the near future.

The GFSA provides a strong foundation to combat hunger by developing and executing a comprehensive global food and a nutrition security strategy which will permanently allow the work which is being done by feed the Future. Feed the Future is the US Governments Global Hunger and Food Security initiative that was born of the belief that global hunger is solvable. The bill will build upon the progress that already been made by Feed the Future, which is achieved by developing a whole-of-government strategy that supports country ownership food security and nutrition.

The House of Representatives and the Senate had both agreed on the GFSA during the spring by large margins, but there was evidently some minor variations between the two bills. This resulted in the House of Representatives to have a second vote in order to approve the Senate measure. This time, however, the GFSA will be officially signed into law by President Obama, which will consequently ensure that Feed the Future’s continual efforts to enhance food security will continue to flourish even after his term ends by 2017.

Charith Wijetunge

Dubai Campus

References

War Rages on In Syria: The Ultimate Failure of the International Community

The refugee crisis in Syria has displaced over 6 million people. Efforts from both the international community and nation states have been negligable, and highlights a dangerous lack of coordination.

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(Image Credits: The Cartoon Movement)

In 2015, persecution and war had internally and externally displaced more people than ever recorded in history. A detailed study by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) tracked worldwide government databases to find that last year, on average 24 people were forced to flee their homes every 60 seconds. Additionally, a large number of these migrants and refugees have been losing their lives in attempt to flee their country, and migrate to safer places.

I do believe that this is the most pressing issue the world faces today. The number of people whose lives are currently at risk are in the millions. Whilst it’s terrible enough that they are losing their lives today, the consequences of this war is not just effecting Syria today- but will continue to haunt Syrians for decades to come. The discourse is beginning to question whether Syria will have a ‘lost generation’, since a large majority of children are out of school and are not currently receiving any formal education to prepare them for their formative years. Regardless of whether Syria finds peace in the future, the damage done to it’s children today will effect how resilient the country will be.

In January 2016, the United Nations held a high-level summit focusing on the large movements of refugees and migrants around the world, with the aim of coming together with a more humane and coordinated response. The Summit put together the New York Declaration- which consisted of a list of bold commitments to be carried out by nation states in order to protect rights, save lives and share responsibility on a global scale. Although I do think this seems promising, since the beginning of the crisis, the UN has had little to no success in attempting to control the political situation and the movement of refugees. Following World War II, the formation of the United Nations was based on the precedence that humankind has to prevent the recurrence of such catastrophic events. However, I find the lack of a coordinated response from international agencies appalling. Today, more than 1 in 10 Syrians have been wounded or killed since the beginning of the war.

Nation states must shoulder some responsibility for the crisis that’s occurred. Perhaps the most disappointing factor about this entire crisis is the villainous role that politics has played; with many countries unwilling to take in refugees, and even going as far as closing borders. Whilst there is a case to be made by nations in defense of not being able to freely accept refugees, such as for national security reasons- it’s a difficult argument to make when the alternative for those fleeing is often, death. Furthermore, the sheer amount of bureaucracy that goes into assimilating into a country even after one is offered a refugee status is painful. In a majority of cases, living in camps can get  people stuck in a limbo, especially when there are restrictions on working and growing economically. Alarmingly, the average time a refugee takes to integrate completely into society after being uprooted is 17 years (USA for UNHCR, 2016). Despite a significant amount of the media and civil society’s prejudice towards refugees, these victims of war aren’t illiterate and unskilled. Those who flee are inclusive of doctors, engineers and teachers. Even if they were illiterate or unskilled, I think it’s revolting if we only gave value to the lives of those who are formally educated.

Image result for refugee crisis comic

(Image Credits: The Columbus Dispatch )

Last year, Brandon Stanton from Humans of New York carried out a photo series that told the stories of different refugees that reduced me to tears. In one story, told by a man named Muhammad- the refugee walks the readers through the struggles he faced as he attempted to flee Syria, including having his father beaten by police, his brother murdered and his sister finding the body, and using the last of his savings to help his family escape the country. For me, stories that outline the personal struggles that these refugees have to go through makes the issue all the more agonizing. It brings to light that every one of them is an individual person and has their own story- often, this thought can get lost in all the statistics. We have to keep reminding ourselves that each one of the 65.3million displaced people have struggled similarly.

The international community has failed us with their inaction. We had turned to the United Nations and other international actors, only to find that they had been pushed aside by the power players of Assad’s regime and Russia. I believe the world must burden the responsibility as their own.  I used to think back to the Holocaust and all the damage Adolf Hitler had caused during his peak and had wondered why the world seemed to sit back and watch. Now, it’s become more difficult to criticize when it feels like we are in a very similar position today. In a documentary that covered the horrors of the Holocaust, the Mauthausen concentration camp jail cells were visited. The following quote was allegedly carved into the walls by a WWII Jewish prisoner and thinking about the applicability of it today is chilling. It read- “If there is a God, he will have to beg for my forgiveness”.

Bibliography

USA for UNHCR. (2016). Aid To Refugees & Displaced People Worldwide. [online] Available at: http://www.unrefugees.org/what-we-do/

Un.org. (2016). General Assembly Meetings Coverage | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases. [online] Available at: http://www.un.org/press/en/content/general-assembly/meetings-coverage

Humans of New York. (2016). Humans of New York – refugee stories. [online] Available at: http://www.humansofnewyork.com/tagged/refugee-stories#0

IRIN. (2016). The “buffer zone” plan for 70,000 stranded Syrian refugees. [online]

Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants. (2016). New York Declaration. [online] Available at: http://refugeesmigrants.un.org/declaration

Refugees, U. (2016). Figures at a Glance. [online] UNHCR. Available at: http://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html

FRONTLINE. (2016). A Staggering New Death Toll for Syria’s War — 470,000. [online]

ReliefWeb. (2016). Losing Syria’s Youngest Generation: The Education Crisis Facing Syrian Refugees in Jordan. [online]

Sumaya Nair
Dubai Campus

The Energy masterplan for Peace

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Hydrocarbons consists a huge part of the global wealth. The Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Industry (E&P), is upon to reach 4.5% of the global gross domestic product and approximately $6.7 trillion by 2025. Energy is a natural necessity for countries and stability cornerstone for whole regions. The claim of oil and gas caused more than half of the conflicts in the world’s contemporary history. An unequivocal example is the open case of the Middle East experiencing the rise of terrorism as a consequence.

After recent drillings in the basin of southeastern Mediterranean oil and gas has been discovered in substantial amounts. Neighbours such as Turkey, Greece, Cyprus and the rest of the neighbouring countries who geographically touch the basin developed every interest in raising it’s wealth from the depths of the sea. Right in Europe’s doorstep those three countries already have their own political conflicts such as the Cyprus Dispute. In the same time the EU lives with the Russian dependence in natural gas and under the fear of energy cut-off.

How can the hydrocarbons settle out the Cyprus Dispute and why this resolution is so essential for the broader region? Will the natural resources push conflicts similar to the Middle East inside the EU or can they be an alternative supply for Europe’s energy security?

In an era where the EU faces enormous challenges such as terrorism, migration, the effects of the global economic crisis and the reliance in Russian natural gas among others, it seems that in it’s last southeastern frontier a new deal is about to begin.

After chronicles of exhausting negotiations for the reunification of Cyprus between the two communities, the two leaders of the divided island, both the Greek-Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and the Turkish-Cypriot Leader Mustafa Akinci found common ground to cooperate and overcome major obstacles that occurred during the process in the past four decades. In their recent presence in the Annual Meeting of World Economic Forum in Davos, the two leaders declared that significant progress has been made and settlement might be agreed even before the end of 2016.

It must be highlighted that the Cyprus Dispute is another European problem for two major reasons. Firstly because Cyprus is a member-state of the EU, consequently inextricably linked with the Euro -Turkish affairs. Only when the Dispute is resolved Cyprus will withdraw the VETO for the integration of Turkey in the EU. Secondly because Cyprus seems to be the most efficient way to serve as a hub for pipelines transferring natural gas to the EU through Cyprus and Turkey and thus provide an alternative natural gas supply for the EU, beyond the reliance on Russia. Although the energy exploitation of the Cyprus natural gas belongs equally in both communities, thus only reunited Cyprus will be able to play this role. Hence if Turkey wants to unlock the door to the EU, it must first unlock the door to the Cyprus Dispute.

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The southeastern Mediterranean sea divides defacto two worlds. The European zone of stability and the chaos of the Middle East. If we understand that we can also understand that we are experiencing a momentum in this neighbourhood which will determine the future for Cyprus, Europe and the broader area. The settlement of the Cyprus Dispute can be a win-win situation for all interested actors and can be seen as a catalyst for peace, security and regional incorporation in an unstable region.

The ex President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy stated some years ago that ‘’the historic compromise between France and Germany after many wars was based on the idea of sharing carbons. With a masterful move political leaders turned a threat into common opportunity.’’

In conclusion history shows us the bright examples beyond the failed ones. Reminds us that energy can achieve peace and cooperation.

What happened between France and Germany sixty years ago can be reincarnated in Cyprus through reunification. The road of reconciliation, tolerance and coexistence for the whole region, where Christians and Muslims will not be living as enemies anymore, but as partners in prosperity through settlement and sale of oil and gas. In the same time another road can be opened for the European Union, leading to a new energy masterplan for peace.

By Pantelis A. Poetis

Bibliography: 

Research and Markets – Global Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Market Analysis and Trends, Industry Forecasts to 2025:http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/3634911/global-oil-and-gas-exploration-and-production#pos-11

The Guardian – Oil and Gas reserves around Greece and Turkey more to fight about:https://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/10/oil-gas-reserves-cyprus-greece-turkey

The Guardian – Divided Cyprus begins to build bridges:https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/31/mustafa-ankinci-advocates-focus-future-for-splintered-cyprus

World Economic Forum – Energy for economic growth:http://reports.weforum.org/energy-for-economic-growth-energy-vision-update-2012/

BBC News – Cyprus aims to heal its great divide:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35522456

BBC News – Cyprus Leaders in joint TV address:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35178163

Politico – Best chance Cyprus has had for peace:http://www.politico.eu/article/cyprus-reunification-peace-nicos-anastasiades-mustafa-akinci/

World Economic Forum: Reuniting Cyprus: https://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-annual-meeting-2016/sessions/reuniting-cyprus/

Handing the trigger-happy that loaded weapon

The United States of America has made its fair share of mistakes, and although ‘to err is human, to forgive divine’, can the world’s most intimidating superpower really be considered human? The country single-handedly brought the world to its knees in 2008 by causing the infamously volatile financial market to collapse entirely. That phenomena is better known to us as the financial crisis… the worst of its kind since the Great Depression (which also unsurprisingly originated in America).

To understand how the USA so thoughtlessly ruined other economies, we must first understand globalization. World renowned economist, Joseph Stiglitz explains it perfectly when he highlights how integration, AKA some extent of dependency, can have its consequences too.

“Globalization has meant that the world economy has become integrated, there cannot be a major downturn in the world’s richest country without implications for every other country” (Stiglitz, 2009)

Anyone who isn’t a businessman, accountant, economist, or financial expert of any sort, would have trouble comprehending the complex process – riddled with loopholes, considered failure on the mighty government’s part – that led to the crisis itself. Banks colluded, mortgage brokers and credit rating agencies committed mass fraud and the entire economy was balancing itself on credit (The Economist, 2013), convincing citizens, either practically robbed of their savings, or those with none whatsoever being duped into borrowing, they’d see a light at the end of the tunnel.

The real injustice, however, lies mainly in the aftermath of the burst bubble. If capitalism is expected to stay true to its purest and cruel form, the weak would eventually perish, and the market would regulate itself. Government intervention went from being a big no-no (taxes on large corporations which “help the economy” being considered a travesty) to a readily welcomed gift when it arrived in the form of a monumental bailout.

America proudly introduced the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, courtesy of President (now former) George W Bush and Henry Paulson (Bancroft.berkeley.edu, 2016). It was justified because apparently letting the banks go to ruin would let the people go to ruin. Well, funny how it turned out that way for us regardless. The number we all know is a lovely round figure of 700 billion US dollars, but according to the Special Inspector General for TARP summary in 2015, seven years down the line, the bailout has proven to be the gift that keeps on giving, in the form of 16.8 TRILLION US dollars, with 4.6 trillion already dished out.

Once reliable rating agencies like Standard and Poor’s, labeled toxic mortgages as safe, with their triple AAA ratings, and restitution fees they are liable to pay are only 5 billion US dollars, what they most likely made in days before it backfired on them. HSBC American Division was proven to be involved with money laundering from Mexican drug cartels worth a whopping 881 billion US dollars, and the fine? Not even a slap on the wrist, it would make a feather’s touch feel like an attack. Indictment was out of the question. “Nobody goes to jail at a time when an unemployed black person gets 10 years for robbing a minute mart” sums up the great inequality, disparity and favoritism in the world for the invincible corporations (Forbes.com, 2016).

Uncle Sam  is raising cheaters with the comfort that they will always have a cushioned fall, whereas you and I, the average citizens of the world, will not taste one measly drop of the trickledown effect they so confidently boast of.

Once again, Joseph Stiglitz manages to phrase it as such, that a terrible situation almost sounds comforting (well, it would if I was Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac). “The fact is that the United States and Western Europe have signaled to big companies that if they have problems, they will be bailed out. Or at least, they may be bailed out” (Stiglitz, 2009). That said, the question on all our lips should be, where is our ‘at least’?

Selina Ikramullah
(Dubai campus)

Bibliography

Bancroft.berkeley.edu. (2016). 2008 Emergency Economic Stabilization Act – Timeline – Slaying the Dragon of Debt – Regional Oral History Office – University of California, Berkeley. [online] Available at: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/ROHO/projects/debt/economicstabilizationact.html [Accessed 20 Oct. 2016].

CounterThink. (2016). How the Financial Bailout Really Works – CounterThink.com. [online] Available at: http://www.counterthink.com/How_the_Financial_Bailout_Really_Works.asp [Accessed 18 Oct. 2016].

Forbes.com. (2016). Forbes Welcome. [online] Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikecollins/2015/07/14/the-big-bank-bailout/#7551ae563723[Accessed 21 Oct. 2016].

Grosz, C. (n.d.). Bank Bailout cartoon. [image] Available at: https://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/b/bank_bailout.asp [Accessed 19 Oct. 2016].

Sgclub.com. (2009). Financial Crisis Comics | SGClub Portal. [online] Available at: http://www.sgclub.com/humour/financial-crisis-comics/ [Accessed 20 Oct. 2016].

STIGLITZ, J. (2009). The global crisis, social protection and jobs. International Labour Review, 148(1-2), pp.1-13.

The Economist. (2013). Crash course. [online] Available at: http://www.economist.com/news/schoolsbrief/21584534-effects-financial-crisis-are-still-being-felt-five-years-article [Accessed 17 Oct. 2016].

The Huffington Post. (2015). [online] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/phil-davis/trickle-down-mythology-ex_b_8166728.html [Accessed 20 Oct. 2016].

Is Colombia moving forward to achieve peace with the FARC?

When people think about development they consider economic growth, political participation, security and social welfare. But, what if all those aims were impossible due to a major issue of violence and drug trafficking? Would that nation still be able to develop?

The FARC, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, is a pressure group created during the 60’s and 70’s to help field workers . Their aims were to generate influence in the Colombian senate and to demand a better legislation to prevent further exploitation of workers and social regulations against the strong surge of capitalism. Doesn’t sound bad, does it?

But would you still think the same if they were responsible for the different terrorist attacks, kidnappings and illegal activities that caused blood to be shed all over the territory? The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is a rebel group, holding a particular Leninist and Marxist ideology. They pose a constant war with the government and don’t only represent a threat to security but a threat to development. 

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), sustains that the FARC is a subversive group but also an organisation that deals with drug trafficking groups such as the Cartel of Medellin in Colombia and the Cartel of Sinaloa in Mexico, being their suppliers of Cocaine.

“A drug trafficker displays his product at a clandestine cocaine lab in the jungle”

Image Source Alvaro Ybarra. Retrieved here.


The primal idea that the FARC held, it is now declining, they became violent and radical; they ventured in transnational crimes to enrich themselves, attack the government and impose their political ideology. According to official Colombian government facts, between 1958 and 2016, the FARC were accountable for 220.000 kills in Colombia.
The government spend a lot of their economic resources to sustain the war derived by the intern conflict. Expenses are made to rebuild local infrastructure such as energy towers, pipeline, roads infrastructure. The FARC’s settlement and their illegal crops have generated deforestation and a decrease of national production, the rising insecurity in the conflict zones, lack of health care, education and basic sanitation and currency devaluation have stopped international investments. Because of the insecurity and the internal conflict, there has been a regression in the touristic aspect of the country.

Furthermore, this internal conflict has triggered polarisation between the right and the left wings of the Colombian senate, it also stopped the democratic practice generating fear in the conflict zones. In the international aspect, FARC has provoked issues with neighbour countries such as Ecuador and Venezuela because of the shared borders. In addition, the mobilisation of human capital to different countries implies the need of a refugee agenda in the frame of foreign policy.

President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos proposed after many years of impossible peace a new agreement, in which FARC would have to renounce to the military forces, give up their armoury and munitions and install themselves with the Colombian rules.

This proposal was rejected by Colombian citizens after a referendum held the 2nd October 2016; 50.2% did not agree to leave unpunished the crimes committed by the group for decades. Therefore, all the effort done by President Santos to achieve peace was erased. In this unforeseen circumstance, will the FARC still fight for a Colombia united or will the peace be something impossible?

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Woman living in a FARC camp. Women make 30% in the army.

Image Source Alvaro Ybarra. Retrieved here.


According to public interviews, the answer seems to be positive in the sense that both of the leaders said that they will not give up but remain to negotiate to reach the agreement in the near future.

It is precise to explain that this kind of major issues does not have a quick or easy solution. They demand advanced techniques of international negotiation, cooperation of third parties and experts to assign positions and defend interests for finding a balanced agreement. The Colombian peace process is of common interest, not only for the Colombian society but also for the neighbouring countries which foreign policies have to contribute to solve the problems of international relations.

By Anna Norata

Bibliography

Bagley, B., 1998. Colombia and the War on Drugs.Council on Foreign Relations, 67(1).

Brodzinsky, S., 2016. Colombia referendum: voters reject peace deal with FARC guerrillas. [Online]
Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/02/colombia-referendum-rejects-peace-deal-with-farc
[Accessed 14 10 2016].

Cosoy, N., 2016. BBC World. [Online] Available at: http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias/2016/02/160201_colombia_plan_colombia_15_aniversario_consecuencias_inesperadas_nc
[Accessed 2016].

Labrousse, A., 2005. The Farc and the connections to drugs. Journal of Drug Issues, Issue 35.1.

Molano, A., 2016. The Evolution of the FARC: A Guerrilla Group’s Long History. NACLA Report on the America, 34(2).

Renwick, D., 2016. Council on Foreign Relations. [Online]
Available at: http://www.cfr.org/colombia/colombias-civil-conflict/p9272

Reuters, 2016. The New York Times. [Online]
Available at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/14/world/americas/colombia-farc-rebels-cease-fire.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FRevolutionary%20Armed%20Forces%20of%20Colombia&action=click&contentCollection=timestopics&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=collection

Ybarra, A., 2014. In the Jungle with the FARC. [Art] (TIMES). Available at: http://content.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1728836_1562006,00.html

The true cost of wearing a skirt

Starting from the standard setting of a typical science class from your childhood, you were told that the probability of a baby being born of either gender was 50 percent; that both boys and girls had an equal chance of being born into the world, you live in today. However, it took you much longer to discover that those odds were not the same when it came to thriving in it.

The starting point for unequal income begins with the median average of revenues earned in the same profession by both sexes.Statistically (white) full-time female workers make only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 20 percent(Institute For Women’s Policy Research). Extending further into the galling combination of racial disparities as well “; 69 cents for black women” and ” 57 cents, for Latina women”(Bennet,2012) only makes the issue more unjustifiable to be prevalent in modern society. Vulnerability to poverty, Lower market value for the feminised workforce and occupational segregation is the ongoing result of an economic and social oppression against women(Pearson,2016). Unfortunately with no exception of even female dominated or centralised professions such as nursing and civil service work(Elkins,2015), the reality of a woman in either the private or public sector is the sad certainty of being paid a percentage less than their male counterpart ( Petersen, Morgan,1995).

Although this practically archaic practice happens on a global scale, the most relevant and current examples in the media are generally centralised in The United States of America.The political situation of the inequality in the US(United States) can clearly be described as an ongoing debate in a seemingly polarised conflict for legislation change. Where the supposedly “righteous” opposition believes uncompromisingly for inaction in closing the gap and justifies the income disparity on the female gender themselves, or all together writing the difference off as a myth(Pearson,2016). Notwithstanding the argument of denial, the pay gap is not due women choosing less profitable or demanding fields or even possessing familial responsibilities, but merely because they were born a girl.In her article in the NewYork Times Jessica Bennet states that “In many ways, the wage gap is a complicated problem tied to culture, tradition and politics. But one part of it can be traced to a simple fact: many women just don’t negotiate or are penalised if they do”(2012).

The prime example for female advocates this year, surprisingly came not from the legislators but from the U.S. women’s soccer team when they stood against their unequal pay in early March, filing a legal suit against the wage discrimination of earning a degrading 40 percent of what their fellow male players receive.Despite the fact that the female team not only played more games throughout the season but brought in $20 million more revenue than the male team as well(Carpenter,2016).Frustratingly enough although they won through legal action and negotiated better terms with the  U.S. Soccer Federation ; male players are still getting paid significantly more just for showing up. Granting that the sports industry is notorious for not so subtle wage discrepancies for the even champion and Olympic level female athletes; the evidence clearly demonstrates the motivation of government and institutions has yet to reach the point to elevate women to the decent financial and economic security of their male equals for 2016.

by Georgia Rebecca Mae Massey

(Dubai campus)

References

Bennet, J. (2012). How to attack the gender wage gap? speak up. New York Times, [online] pp.2-9. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/business/to-solve-the-gender-wage-gap-learn-to-speak-up.html [Accessed 12 Oct. 2016].

Carpenter, L. (2016). US Soccer’s wage gap is America’s shame | Les Carpenter. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/mar/31/us-soccers-wage-gap-is-americas-shame [Accessed 12 Oct. 2016].

Elkins, K. (2016). 20 jobs that are dominated by women. [online] Business Insider. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/pink-collar-jobs-dominated-by-women-2015-2 [Accessed 12 Oct. 2016].

Iwpr.org. (2015). Pay Equity & Discrimination — IWPR. [online] Available at: http://www.iwpr.org/initiatives/pay-equity-and-discrimination [Accessed 12 Oct. 2016].

Diversified, M. (2015). The Gender Pay Gap Does Exist – and Childcare is Key to Tackling it. [online] Media Diversified. Available at: https://mediadiversified.org/2015/07/20/the-gender-pay-gap-does-exist-and-childcare-is-key-to-tackling-it/ [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].(Image)

pearson, c. (2016). No, The Gender Pay Gap Isn’t A Myth — And Here’s Why. [online] The Huffington Post. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/no-the-gender-pay-gap-isnt-a-myth-and-heres-why_us_5703cb8de4b0a06d5806e03f [Accessed 12 Oct. 2016].

Petersen, T. and Morgan, L. (1995). Separate and Unequal: Occupation-Establishment Sex Segregation and the Gender Wage Gap. American Journal of Sociology, 101(2), pp.329-365.