American University of Leadership to Host International Education Conference in June

Rabat – The American University of Leadership (AUL) and the Association of Moroccan Professionals in America (AMPA) are co-sponsoring an International Education Conference on  June 3-4, 2016, at AUL’s corporate headquarters at the Zenith Center, in Hay Riad, Rabat, the capital of Morocco.  The conference, entitled “Education for a Better Morocco,” will address important issues in education within the broader context of business, entrepreneurship, and the future economic growth of Morocco.  The conference will gather experts and decision makers to reflect on the crucial role of education in the economic and social development of Morocco, by creating a practical dialogue platform for the development of recommendations to strengthen and enhance Morocco’s educational system as a catalyst of sustainable, positive change.  The conference will also celebrate the official launch of AUL’s new American University of Leadership Morocco Foundation.The main conference on Friday, June 3 will include presentations, panel discussions, and keynote speeches by prominent government leaders and specialists.  Dr. Lahcen Daoudi, Morocco’s Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Training will offer keynote remarks and participate on the panel addressing the macro-economic educational issues. The second day is a closed working group session, by invitation only, made up of experts in the field to begin developing specific proposals and recommendations as part of the ongoing dialogue.Supported by strategic partners and sponsors, including the Washington-based Middle East and North Africa Consultants Association and media partner Morocco World News, the conference is a follow-on from AMPA’s Moroccan American Bridges 2015 conference held December 2015 in Washington, D.C., and is part of a continuing dialogue on education in Morocco, initiated by AMPA, among many of the participants and attendees.Approximately 500 attendees are anticipated to attend, including Moroccan and U.S. government officials, Moroccan and American business leaders, and a diverse array of academics, educators, and other leaders in relevant fields.The American University of Leadership Morocco Foundation (AULMF) is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization created by American University of Leadership (AUL) to enable private-public partnerships, enhance learning, entrepreneurship, research, and educational programs, and serve as the financial portal for philanthropic giving to AUL.AMPA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) membership organization designed to develop and maintain a strong network of Moroccan professionals in the U.S., and to develop strategic trans-Atlantic alliances in Morocco and the U.S. to promote bilateral commercial exchanges between the two countries.For more information and to register for the conference, visit http://events.aulm.us/education-for-a-better-morocco/. read more

Rare Moroccan Manuscripts to Be Displayed in Paris

By Safaa KasraouiRabat – In coordination with Arab World Institute of Paris, the Direction of Royal Archives will organize an event on Moroccan rare manuscripts March 22 to 6 April in Paris.The event, entitled “Rare and unpublished manuscripts”, will feature several sacred books, historical documents and scientific works reflecting the different currents of thought that flourished in Morocco. Three ancient unpublished sacred books will be featured in the exhibition: a Koran in parchment, a Gospel translated into Arabic and a parchment scroll of the Torah.The event will also showcase documents of the various scientific disciplines that thrived in Morocco, such as “al-tasrif liman ‘ajaza ‘ani at-t’aleef” by Abu Al-Qasim Khalaf Ibn Abbas al-zahrawi and “Kitab fi A’mal Al-hissab” by Abi Al-Abbas Ahmed Ibn Otman Al-Azdi.Other books related to astronomy, agriculture, architecture will also be on display.The exhibition will also highlight arts related to the production of books, such as calligraphy, decorations and gilding. read more

Third Annual Jidar StreetArt Festival Kicks Off in Rabat

Rabat – Cementing Rabat’s reputation as a place of artistic expression and cultural diversity, the Third Annual Jidar Street-Art Festival got underway April 21.Scheduled to span ten days, this year’s annual event is being held under the theme of multiculturalism.The 22 international artists set to decorate the walls of Rabat were chosen on the basis of their artwork, “inspired by their national heritage, the ancient cultures of their countries or simply for their fascinating works,” said the event’s organizers, the EAC- Boulevarassociation. The artists originate from several countries, namely Morocco, Spain, Germany, Italy, Colombia, Romania, Ukraine, Egypt and Mexico.Moroccan artists participating in the event include Mehdi Zemouri and AyoubAfrofatcap.Jidar 2017 promises to result in a colorful and compelling scenic view that will enrich the urban landscape of the city.The street artists’ work will showcaseMayan symbols, Byzantine-inspired drawings, medieval prints and Ukrainian folklore figures, which will be engraved on ten walls of the city.Half a dozen Spanish artists will jointly create “a visual identity” in Rabat’s skate park under the supervision of Spanish artist, AntonyoMarest.At the same time, three young African artists will work together to create “Residence Grafitti Connexion,” on Avenue Al Marsa,highlighting “the extraordinary vitality of an artistic movement that has taken off in the streets of several African capitals,” explained organizers.Finally, classes will be held at the National School of Architecture in Rabat with AntonyoMarest and the Grafitti Connexion group from April 28-30 to exhibit a street art performance. read more

Car Driver Hits Three German Tourists in Agadir During Epileptic Seizure

Rabat – A car hit on Thursday three German tourists in Agadir after the driver suffered from an epileptic seizure, causing him to lose consciousness, reports Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).The tourists were transferred to Agadir’s provincial hospital, where they received primary treatment. The tourists have reportedly left the hospital, added the MAP.The driver was also transferred to the hospital. An investigation has been initiated by the local authorities to determine the circumstances of the accident.

Saida Fikri Honest Journalists and Artists Are Moroccos Last Hope

By Eddahmani AbdeselamRabat – Saida Fikri is a Moroccan author, composer, guitarist, and performer widely known in the Maghreb and Europe for her songs that deal with social issues.Fikri’s songs combine the influences of contemporary world music: rock, blues, jazz, folk, pop, country, and reggae. But in the mixture of these various currents, one invariably discovers notes of the Middle East and North Africa, including traces of Gnawa, Rai, and Chaabi, as well as traditional Berber, Andalusian, and Arab-classical songs. Fikri writes her lyrics in Darija (Moroccan Arabic dialect), French, classical Arabic, and also English. Morocco World News caught up with Fikri to talk about her latest hit “Mansoura,” her committed style, and her legendary career.Your latest song, “Mansoura,” is inspired by your childhood. What can you tell us about this subject?Saida Fikri: Contrary to what was promoted by some media platforms that did not bother to read my statement – the idea that I was a housemaid in America – the song “Mansoura” is inspired from a personal experience I lived in my childhood.As everyone knows, Saida Fikri was not born with a golden spoon in her mouth, but from a poor family. Due to our harsh [living] conditions, I started working as a housemaid at the age of eight on holidays, especially summer vacation, to help myself and my family.Almost all your songs discuss social issues, which has led you to be called the “people’s artist.” Was this commitment a choice or a duty?Saida Fikri: My music been called “committed” and I have been called the “people’s artist.” But in fact all that it is, is that my music resemble me. It was not a choice, but was imposed due to the circumstances that I experienced in my life. After all, my music translates my feelings.Thanks to God, my music has given me freedom and pleasure at an early age. I was just 16 years old when I started, and my career music has always been my personal psychological therapist. It gave me balance and psychological stability.How do you see today’s art and artists?Saida Fikri: Today’s art reflects today’s Morocco, with its volatility and all that happens in our society.Art is the mirror of societies. Unfortunately, our young people are lost in a storm of questions with no answers, because they lack values, which are about to disappear.I remember my beginnings in the 1990s. It was difficult to express our opinion under the circumstances we were living in. But things were clear. Today, everything is mixed up and our youth are living the same.After years abroad, I thought that when I came back things would be different, but unfortunately not. Enough is enough. There is no art in Morocco; our cultural field is shaky because it has no foundations. At a time when world-wide artists search for simplicity, our youth live in a fake fame: videos clips with rented cars and too many lies that have nothing to do with their reality.They are selling illusion to people while Morocco still suffers from hunger and ignorance.I wish to see a credible art that can help change this country, because honest journalists and artists are the last hope of this country.You’ve spent almost 25 years as a committed artist. Was it worth the sacrifice?Saida Fikri: Honestly, I do not consider it a sacrifice. On the contrary, my music helped me to find spiritual peace and balance in my life.God blessed me with this spiritual communication between me and my fans. I can not talk about a sacrifice in front of all the love, appreciation. and respect that fans give me.Nothing can compensate this feeling, which gives me a positive energy and encourages me to continue, and I will continue because my biggest wish is to spread my messages to as many people as much as I can and influence them positively.You been part of DBF Productions. What can you tell us about your work with Don Big?Saida Fikri: My partnership with DBF Productions ended a long time ago.Despite what has been publicized about this partnership, we worked in good conditions and we parted in better conditions. As everybody knows, Don Big has a high sense of professionalism. I enjoyed working with him, but we have different visions, and despite the dissolution of our partnership we still have a strong friendship.What are your future projects?Saida Fikri: Frankly, everything I am working on will be abroad because I no longer understand what is happening in Morocco. We were preparing for a dozens of concerts this summer, but I was surprised that they were canceled at the last moment after we agreed on everything. And what made it worse is the foolish excuses that were presented to me. I do not know whether it is intentional exclusion or that something else is happening. read more

Hong Kongs chief voices worries over global trade

DAVOS, Switzerland — Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed chief executive says she’s “quite worried” that the rules-based system that has governed global trade for decades is under threat.Speaking Wednesday at the World Economic Forum at the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Carrie Lam said any diminution in the traditional rules could lead to rising political tensions around the world.She said Hong Kong has prospered “on the basis of free and open trade.”Worries over the future of the rules governing global trade have been stoked over the past couple of years, certainly since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump. His administration has taken particular umbrage against China and the two have imposed tariffs on each other that has raised concerns of a full-scale trade war.The Associated Press read more

Spanish Press Unveils Moroccos Achraf Hakimis New Girlfriend

Rabat – Spanish magazine Semana has revealed that Moroccan footballer Achraf Hakimi is dating Spanish actress and model Hiba Abouk, who is well-known for her role in the television show “El Principe.”Hakimi’s first steps in his new club Borussia Dortmund is not the only thing that has attracted the interest of the public and international press. The Atlas Lion’s dating life is also making headlines.Despite not scoring in the 2018 World Cup, the 19-year-old sensation has scored the heart of the model and social media influencer with whom he spent a well-deserved vacation. Pictures of their romantic getaway were published Wednesday, July 25, by Semana, which revealed that the two lovers spent their holidays together in the Maldives Islands. The actress and footballer, who tried to keep their relationship secret, have not confirmed the rumors yet. Before they had been exposed by the tabloids, each had shared pictures on their own Instagram accounts from the same resort in the exotic destination.According to the Spanish press, Hakimi may take his relationship to the next level, as his girlfriend, who lives in Spain, may move to Germany to be close to the striker.Hiba Abouk, 12 years older than Hakimi, was born to Tunisian parents and became one of the most popular actresses in Spain. Her role in “El Principe” launched her to fame. Following her breakout in 2014, Abouk scored additional television roles that have made her a popular face in the country. Abouk has had several known partners, including Spanish actor Hugo Silva and French rapper Joey Starr. read more

UNHCR Expresses Concerns over Algerias Shutting Border to Refugees

Rabat – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has issued a statement after Algeria decided to shut its border to Syrian, Palestinian, and Yemeni refugees.The agency expressed concerns about the safety of refugees reportedly stranded at Algeria’s southern border with Niger.The agency said that it had received information that the “group, comprising some 120 Syrian, Palestinian and Yemeni individuals, were detained at the Tamanrasset Centre in southern Algeria before being taken to an area near the Guezzam border post on 26 December.” A group of the refugees remain “stranded in the desert, three kilometers from the Guezzam border post where they are exposed to the elements.”The other group “who were taken to the border are unaccounted for.”The UNHCR said that it contacted Algerian authorities regarding the matter. It also denied that the group of refugees were moved to the border “with the agreement of UNHCR,” saying that it had no involvement.Read Also: Algeria Shuts Border to Syrian Refugees, Invokes Terrorism ThreatUNHCR called on Algeria for “access to those individuals, to address humanitarian needs and to identify those in need of international protection and to ensure their safety.”After receiving criticism from the international community, Algeria cited concerns over terrorism.Hassen Kacimi the head of the migration department at the interior ministry in Algeria, said that the country cannot “accept members of armed groups fleeing from Syria when it comes to our security.”Quoted by Reuters, he added that “this is a criminal network and we must be very vigilant not to allow them to enter into Algeria.”In the summer of 2018, UNHCR strongly criticized Algeria for abandoning migrants in the Sahara desert. The Globe and Mail reported in June 2018 that Algeria had abandoned 13,000 migrants over the past 14 months, including women and children, without food or water. read more

Police Arrest Foreigners Allegedly Linked to Criminal Fraud Network

Rabat – The National Judicial Police Brigade on Wednesday in Rabat arrested six foreigners for their supposed involvement in fraud through social networks.The suspects, are of Senegalese, Nigerian and Guinean nationality. Two of the six suspects are women, according to the National Security Directorate General (DGSN). The network’s members are accused of accessing Internet discussion sites using false accounts and identities. In the online discussions, they would claim to be European nationals wishing to marry Moroccan women. They also convinced their victims that they would send them packages containing precious gifts and large sums of money earmarked for so-called investments in Morocco. The group then asked victims to transfer money as customs taxes, according to a DGNS press release.The suspects made large amount of money through these fraudulent acts. The DGNS press release noted the seizure of money transfer receipts, computer equipment, mobile phones, and the booty resulting from the scam. One of the suspects was arrested red-handed with 75,000 dirhams sent by one of the victims.The police took the suspects into custody for the investigation conducted under the supervision of the competent prosecutor’s office. Investigations are ongoing for the arrest of others people involved with the network. Such fraudulent practices are a common occurrence in the country. Last December, the Judicial police in Kenitra, north of Rabat, arrested two women who were charging people for a fake opportunity to get a government job. Two people who fell victim to the suspects showed up at the police school in Kenitra carrying false “summonses” to take the police exam. read more

Angry Passengers Wage Online War Against Royal Air Maroc

Rabat – Baggage handlers at Casablanca’s Mohammed V International Airport went on strike last weekend, causing flight and baggage delivery delays for the national airline company Royal Air Maroc (RAM).Some customers who flew to the US and lost their baggage on Sunday still don’t have their bags today. Angry at how RAM has handled the lost baggage claims, they have turned to Twitter to express their frustration. The main anger is around RAM’s lack of communication and “radio silence” on the whereabouts of people’s luggage. “We just spent 30 minutes on the phone and were basically yelled at for asking for information. They couldn’t even tell us if some bags have left Morocco, let alone where ours were,” tweeted one user.The bags on flights to New York and Miami were left on the tarmac at departure.“Zero communication regarding the bags that flight AT0200 left at Casablanca and departed for JFK. Waited on the Tarmac for an hour before departure to be told that we were leaving 60% of the baggage at Casablanca. How do I get my bags that were left?” said another user.“There is nothing more heartbreaking than calling an airline and them telling you they have no clue where your luggage is – meanwhile we saw a pile of bags sitting on the tarmac as we flew away. @RAM_Maroc can you provide us with any information?!”Read also: Baggage Handlers’ Strike Causes Delays at Casablanca AirportWhen contacted by Morocco World News, RAM’s Customer Service line was not available.In a press release on Monday, RAM denied responsibility for the baggage delays, shifting the blame on its subcontractor General Private Interim (GPI), the company responsible for RAM’s baggage handling services at Casablanca airport.RAM’s website, however, states that the aircraft takes responsibility for finding lost baggage, and will do “all it can to return it as quickly as possible.”For some passengers, RAM is clearly responsible.“By buying a ticket on RAM, we are in an agreement for you to take us and our bags safely to our destination,” tweeted one user.Passengers want to know where their bags are, and they want compensation from RAM.RAM and its baggage handling subcontractor GPI have been butting heads since mid-April over contract terms, each accusing the other of not respecting its obligations.  GPI accuses the airline of imposing additional work on baggage handlers without fair remuneration and baggage handlers want a pay rise to reflect what they feel is an increased workload.  RAM accuses GPI of breaching the contract by intentionally slowing down its baggage handling services and causing flight delays.The delays this week are another blow to RAM’s reputation. read more

Betting predictions to be part of Fox Sports analysis

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Fox Sports viewers tuning in to broadcasts this fall will not only see the game, but also will get betting predictions.The network announced a partnership Wednesday night with the parent company of the PokerStars online gambling giant.Fox Sports is buying just under 5% of The Stars Group for about $236 million. Both companies will offer real-money sports betting this fall in states where it is legal and they are licensed.The Stars Group says it has market access through licensing in 13 states, and is seeking licensing in others.The network has the option to acquire half of the Stars Group’s U.S. business within 10 years.Wayne Parry, The Associated Press

Sorting out recycling programs Which ones work best

Changing markets and confusion over what can be thrown in recycling bins has forced some communities to rethink or even suspend their recycling programs. But many more recycling programs are working well, experts say.The difference is partly based on which methods are being used for collection and processing.Are you sorting paper from plastic at the start, for instance, or tossing it all in one bin? Are you certain the items going into the bin are the ones your recycler can accept? How up to date is the processing facility in your area?“Some programs are hurting and need to adjust, particularly in the residential stream. But the majority of programs are working successfully and continuing to grow,” says Robin Wiener, president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. The non-profit trade association represents more than 1,300 companies that make, process, sell or consume scrap commodities, including metals, paper, electronics, plastics, glass and textiles.Success or failure seems partly linked to whether recyclables are going into one mixed curbside bin for pickup (single-stream recycling) or is divided by residents into separate bins (multi-stream recycling).Single-stream was adopted by many communities and companies because it costs less to haul. But creating one big pool of recyclables creates more difficulty later, when they must be sorted out. In addition, experts say people tend to be sloppier about what they put in a single, combined bin. That produces a lower grade end product.Multi-stream tends to produce a less-contaminated, thus more valuable, end product.For the past two decades, it hasn’t mattered so much because China and a few other countries were buying large quantities of low-grade, single-stream recyclables, which cost them less and could be sorted out using inexpensive labour there.All that changed in January 2018, when China stopped accepting lower-grade recyclables. That left many communities in the U.S. without a market for the low-grade, mixed recyclables they were producing.“A total of $5.6 billion of scrap a year was going to China before the policy change,” says Wiener. In 2018, that number dropped precipitously to $3.5 billion, with most of the loss in low-grade materials. It takes time to find another home for that volume of materials, she says.In some cases, says Dylan De Thomas of The Recycling Partnership, an industry-sponsored non-profit dedicated to transforming the recycling system in the United States, the problem is a combination of contamination and macroeconomics.“In March of 2017, mixed paper was trading at almost $90 a ton. Now it’s worth roughly zero. Almost all the recycled paper on the West Coast was going to China,” he says.Despite the challenges of finding new markets, he says his organization has identified only 31 programs across the country that have suspended their recycling programs. Its data base includes 2,000 of the estimated 10,000 recycling programs across the country, he says.Sorting recyclables at the front end turns out to make more sense for many communities, and the market for higher grade, pre-sorted recyclables — both domestically and with big international players like China — remains strong, experts say.Areas where single-stream recycling continues to thrive tend to be those with a series of good practices to help ensure a less contaminated recycling stream. They also tend to be areas with access to advanced sorting and processing technologies, Wiener says.Of course, tweaking a recycling program is easier said than done. Some cities and towns have had to limit the types of recycled material they accept and accept cost increases.A lot depends on educating the public, says Mitch Hedlund, executive director of Recycle Across America, a non-profit that pushes for clear, standardized labels on recycling bins.“There are certain materials that manufacturers want to reuse, but the public is confused about what is recyclable and which bin it should go in, so there’s too much garbage ending up in recycling bins,” she says.Standardized labels, like those developed by Recycle Across America, are an important tool to help improve recycling, Wiener says.But Heidi Herzberg, mayor of Deltona, Florida, which suspended its recycling program because it had become too expensive and ineffective, says it’s more complicated than that. While part of the problem was that almost 40 per cent of what people were putting in bins shouldn’t have been there — like Christmas lights and greasy pizza boxes — there also turned out to be no market in her area for glass or certain types of plastics, she said.“They say ‘reduce, reuse, recycle,’ but people have been skipping straight to recycling in order to feel better,” she said. Her community was facing a $25,000 a month increase, she said, and much of the collected material was ending up in landfills anyway.“It’s a reality check, and it’s very emotional.”Environmentalists agree that producing less waste in the first place is preferable to even the best recycling programs.“We need to figure out how to reduce and reuse, not just how to recycle,” said Herzberg.Katherine Roth, The Associated Press read more

New UN Sudan envoy arrives in Khartoum for meetings with toplevel officials

23 October 2007Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s new Special Representative for Sudan arrived today in the country’s capital, Khartoum, where he is expected to hold meetings with top-level officials. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s new Special Representative for Sudan arrived today in the country’s capital, Khartoum, where he is expected to hold meetings with top-level officials.Ashraf Jahangir Qazi, who also heads the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), is expected to meet over the next few days President Omar Al Bashir, First Vice President and President of the Government of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir, and senior officials of the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan.Mr. Qazi, a Pakistani national who was appointed last month, served previously as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq since 2004. This followed a long diplomatic career with his country’s foreign service, including postings in the United States, India, China, the Russian Federation, Germany and Syria. Diplomatic activity on Sudan has intensified in recent weeks as preparations continue for talks on the Darfur conflict scheduled to be held in Libya on 27 October. The UN Special Envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, and his African Union counterpart, Salim A. Salim, have been heading up that effort. read more

UN human rights body begins firstever examination of all countries records

Over the next two weeks, a first group of 16 countries – starting with Bahrain and Ecuador – will have their records scrutinized, as part of the Review, one of the reforms which differentiate the Council from the Commission on Human Rights, which it succeeded in 2006.The Review meetings will feature interactive discussions between the States in question and a working group comprises all of the Council’s 47 members, according to a UN spokesperson. The discussions will be based on national reports and information from a variety of sources, including treaty bodies, Special Rapporteurs – independent experts on specific topics that report to the Council – non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions and academics.Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Czech Republic, Finland, India, Indonesia, Morocco, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Tunisia and the United Kingdom are the other countries being reviewed over the next two weeks. Under the Review’s work plans, 48 countries are scheduled to be reviewed each year, so that the UN’s complete membership of 192 countries will be reviewed once every four years.Last month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the Council to assure that all countries were scrutinized equally. “The Review must reaffirm that just as human rights are universal, so is our collective respect for them and our commitment to them,” he said. 7 April 2008The Universal Periodic Review, a new mechanism to examine the human rights record of every United Nations Member State, was launched today at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. read more

UNESCO chief deplores murder of senior Iraqi cultural official

26 August 2008The head of the United Nations culture agency today condemned the murder of a senior Iraqi Government official who had long worked to protect and preserve his country’s cultural heritage. Kamel Shiya, 57, an adviser at the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in central Baghdad on Saturday afternoon.UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura issued a statement describing the killing as a crime against Iraqi society and a sad loss for UNESCO.“Those who murdered this champion of Iraq’s reconstruction must be seen for what they are: criminals working against the interests of the people of Iraq,” Mr. Matsuura said, offering his condolences to Mr. Shiya’s family, friends and colleagues.“Mr. Shiya was a devoted public servant who was committed to the safeguarding of Iraq’s rich cultural heritage,” Mr. Matsuura added.Since 2003, Mr. Shiya – who was a philosopher by training and a well-known cultural critic – served as UNESCO’s focal point in the Ministry of Culture. He also chaired the National Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding of the Cultural Heritage of Iraq. read more

Ban calls on Pakistans leaders to resolve differences through dialogue

13 March 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, concerned about the current political crisis in Pakistan, has called on the country’s leaders to engage in dialogue to resolve their differences. There is reportedly growing tension in the South Asian nation amid a dispute between President Asif Ali Zardari and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif concerning the restoration of fired judges and other issues. This has been accompanied by increasing demonstrations around the country. “The Secretary-General is concerned about the current political and security situation in Pakistan,” UN spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters in New York.“Pakistan’s leaders, whether in power or in the opposition, have the responsibility first and foremost to ensure the safety and security of the Pakistani people,” Mr. Haq said. “Any action that they undertake should bear this in mind. “The Secretary-General calls upon Pakistan’s leaders to solve all their differences through an honest dialogue to be able to deal with the multitude of challenges the country and the region face,” the spokesperson added. read more

Top UN officials urge global movement of minds to realise universal values

“The Academic Impact aims to generate a global movement of minds to promote a new culture of intellectual social responsibility,” the Secretary-General told the conference, held on 1 and 2 November in advance of the formal launch of the initiative, which will take place at UNHQ in New York on 18-19 November. In institutional terms, Academic Impact will serve as a clearing house to match academic innovation with particular areas of the UN’s work, including neglected areas of research, countries in need of specific help, research that will help deliver concrete change on the ground, and the best ideas to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. “It is animated by a commitment to certain bedrock principles, among them, freedom of inquiry, opinion and speech; education opportunity for all; global citizenship; sustainability; and dialogue,” the Secretary-General added. Mr. Akasaka, UN Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, spoke of the integrity and universality of the initiative. “It is our conviction that principles inherent in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are universal values that education can promote and help to fulfil,” he said. “There can be no alliance more formidable than that between scholarship and social responsibility.” Mr. Akasaka added that the spirit and intent of the UN’s Academic Impact initiative was “to unleash minds and their potential by asserting the right to enquire; the right to challenge every dogma, even if it happens to be the only dogma prevalent at the moment; to allow the liberty to express views and opinions, and to acknowledge the responsibility to substantiate them.” He said the conference, organized by China’s Ministry of Education, and attended by some 200 representatives from more than 80 universities and research institutes had helped to define the core principles of the initiative in advance of its New York launch. 2 November 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and senior UN communications chief Kiyo Akasaka have urged academics and scholars to spearhead a movement to further freedom of expression and educational opportunity for all, at a conference on the UN’s Academic Impact initiative in Shanghai. read more

UN telecoms agency urges use of technology to tackle climate change

25 November 2011The United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU) said today that it will, with partners, urge delegates at the UN climate change conference in South Africa next week to harness the power of information and communication technology to promote measures to mitigate and adapt to global warming. Modern advanced technologies can transform social, industrial and business processes to effect the changes needed to achieve environmental sustainability, ITU said in a statement ahead of the 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which opens in the South African city of Durban on Monday.While the potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to make a real difference is widely recognized by the technology community and government ICT ministries, it is still far from being understood and embraced by environmental lobby groups and policy-makers, ITU pointed out.“ITU and its partners will be using COP 17 to promote ICTs as the 21st century’s most valuable problem-solving tools. ITU believes it imperative that they be included as an integral part of global climate change policy,” said the statement.The UN body and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) have initiated the Global Coalition on ICT and Climate Change to send a coordinated message to the conference in Durban. Organizations in the coalition include the UNFCCC Secretariat, the UN Global Compact, TechAmerica, as well as high-level representatives from the governments of Ghana, South Africa and Egypt.The coalition’s message is that ICTs, such as smart grids, intelligent transport systems and the ‘Internet of things’ have extraordinary potential to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of other high energy-consuming sectors, and must be included in any meaningful climate change policies at the global, regional and national level.The coalition will also demonstrate how the ICT industry is using technology to reduce its own carbon footprint.“It is imperative that our massively inter-connected world also becomes a greener, more sustainable world,” said Hamadoun Touré, the ITU Secretary General.The so-called ‘smart’ technologies can help to bridge the digital divide and improve the lives of millions of people, Dr. Touré said.“Look at the benefits which can be achieved with intelligent transport systems, or through the digitization of goods, processes and services. We need to move now to take advantage of the powerful tools already in our hands,” he added. read more

Rise in intellectual property filings point to innovation despite economic crisis –

Intellectual property filings worldwide increased significantly in 2010, pointing to continuing innovation driven mainly by the United States and China despite the global economic crisis, according to a report released today in Geneva by the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).The report highlights the strong rebound in IP filings after a slump in 2009, with a 7.2 per cent growth in patent applications in 2010 – the highest growth rate in five years – compared to a 3.6 per cent decline the previous year. WIPO Director-General Francis Gurry noted that the increase in IP filings shows that companies across the globe have continued to innovate despite the difficult economic conditions.“This can help to create new jobs and generate prosperity once macroeconomic stability is restored,” he notes in the report’s foreword.However, Mr. Gurry warned that “if economic conditions were to deteriorate sharply in the short term – as happened in 2009 – companies might be forced to curtail or abandon their investments in innovation, stifling an essential source of growth.”The total number of patent applications worldwide rose by 7.2 per cent, reaching 1.98 million, while trademark filings rose by 11.8 per cent and reached 3.66 million, both all-time high figures according to WIPO.The report shows that computer technology, electrical machinery, audio-visual technology and medical technology accounted for the largest shares of patent filings worldwide. However, the importance of different technology fields varied substantially across countries. For example, information communications and technologies (ICTs) made up the largest share of filings in Finland and Sweden, while pharmaceuticals were more prominent in Belgium, India and Switzerland.China and the US accounted for the greatest share of IP filings, with 7.2 per cent, while in Europe IP growth in IP filings in France, Germany and the United Kingdom exceeded the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of the countries. The US patent office saw 7.5 per cent growth in 2010 after two years of near-zero growth, and received the largest total number of applications, while the patent office of China overtook Japan to become the second largest recipient of patent applications in 2010. This mirrored wider economic trends as China overtook Japan to become the second largest economy in the world in 2010, as measured by GDP.Other countries which saw double-digit growth in their patent filings include Singapore, Russia, Colombia, Malaysia, Philippines, Ukraine and Viet Nam. 20 December 2011Intellectual property filings worldwide increased significantly in 2010, pointing to continuing innovation driven mainly by the United States and China despite the global economic crisis, according to a report released today in Geneva by the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). read more

Calling for end to provocations Ban says Israel and Palestinians must restore

“The status quo is unsustainable. All efforts must be made towards a positive change,” Mr. Ban said in remarks to the 2012 session of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.“The parties should do their utmost to resolve all permanent status issues, end the conflict, and establish an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace with a secure Israel,” he added.The committee was set up in 1975 by the General Assembly to enable the Palestinians to exercise their rights to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty and to return to their homes and property from which they were displaced.“It is time to realize the legitimate rights and aspirations of the people of Palestine and the people of Israel,” said Mr. Ban, who recently returned from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, where he encouraged the parties to re-engage in earnest towards the resumption of permanent status negotiations.He cited the need for concrete steps on the ground to restore confidence and trust. The parties have a particular responsibility to cease provocations and create a conducive environment for direct talks, he said.“Israel’s continued settlement activity is a major obstacle and prejudices final status issues,” said the Secretary-General. “It must cease.” He added that unilateral actions on the ground will not be accepted by the international community.For its part, the Palestinian Authority should also find ways to de-escalate the situation, improve the divisive climate, including by combating incitement, and engage directly in the search for a negotiated solution, said Mr. Ban.He also renewed his call for immediate steps towards lifting the closure of the Gaza Strip and the full opening of legitimate crossings for the import of construction materials critical for the area’s economic recovery – changes that can be implemented “with due consideration for Israel’s legitimate security concerns, while making a significant difference in the lives of ordinary Gazans.” 13 February 2012Israel and the Palestinians must cease provocations and take concrete steps to restore trust and create a conducive environment for direct talks, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed today, pledging to do everything in his power to help the parties advance the peace process. read more